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Author: Maneesh Chhibber

DNA Edit: A Zero-Sum trial

Years wasted, business ventures stalled/finished, reputations tarred -in some cases, forever. This, in 11 words, is the sum and substance of what we all know as the 2G scam, post the judgement delivered by Special CBI Judge OP Saini on Thursday morning.Was there a scam? Yes, most certainly. After all, rules aren’t changed overnight, unless to give undue advantage to somebody. But, it was the CBI’s and Enforcement Directorate’s job to follow the leads and deliver a water-tight case. That they didn’t proves, for the nth time, that the country’s premier investigating agencies don’t deserve the “premier” tag.Was the scam really worth Rs 1.76 lakh crore? Ask Vinod Rai, the then Comptroller and Auditor General of India, who came out with this figure.Today, when the Special CBI Judge OP Saini acquitted every accused, including politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats in the 2G spectrum allocation case dating back to the UPA-1 era, the main question that requires an immediate answer is: Who killed the telecom sector, or at least pushed it back by several years? Shouldn’t Rai be answering questions on the ‘presumptive loss’ theory? Shouldn’t the CBI and ED officers be held accountable for the shoddy probe that has allowed the accused to get away?A single sentence in the 1,552-page judgment is enough to indict the CBI and ED: “However, by the end, the quality of prosecution totally deteriorated and it became directionless and diffident.”It is not without reason that Judge Saini laments: “For the last seven years, on all working days, summer vacation included, I religiously sat in the open court from 10 am to 5pm, waiting for someone with legally admissible evidence in his possession, but all in vain. Everybody was going by rumour, gossip and speculation.”Another line in the judgment that merits some thought is: “Thus, some people created a scam by artfully arranging a few selected facts and exaggerating things beyond recognition to astronomical levels.”There are many who seem enraged by the fact that Judge Saini acquitted all the accused. They forget that a judge delivers a judgment on the basis of material before him, without falling for “rumour, gossip and speculation”. The job of convincing the court about the illegality and arbitrariness of a decision was left to the prosecution and its lawyers.Judges, not all unfortunately in these media-driven times, are seldom impressed by big numbers, unless they come with enough proof.Now that both CBI and ED have announced their intention to appeal against the judgment in the high court, one only hopes the premier agencies would do a better job there.

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DNA EXCLUSIVE: SC collegium meets today to select HC judges

Over a fortnight after the medical colleges scam exposed deep fissures in the higher judiciary, the Supreme Court collegium is set to start meeting again to clear names for appointment to various high courts.Sources told DNA that the first meeting of the collegium is scheduled to be held on Monday where the pending cases for appointments to various high courts are likely to be considered. Currently, there are more than 390 vacancies for judges in different high courts.It is learnt that the Supreme Court has been sitting on about 120 recommendations – 58 fresh cases and 60-odd cases for making Additional Judges in various high courts permanent – and there could finally be some movement on these names.There are also indications that the larger, five-Judge collegium – CJI, Justice Chelameswar, Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph will meet in mid-December to clear names of HC Judges for appointment as Chief Justices of various high courts.Currently, eight high courts are without full-time chief justices – the number will go up to 9 when Bombay High Court Chief Justice Manjula Chellur retires on December 4.There are six existing vacancies in the Supreme Court also.Sources told DNA that Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has already circulated the proposals that he intends to place before the three-member collegium – CJI himself and the two senior-most Judges after him, who are Justices Jasti Chelameswar and Ranjan Gogoi, on Monday.The Supreme Court Collegium last met on November 1 and recommended some names for appointment as Judges of the Jharkhand High Court and Tripura High Court.It is learnt that recommendations for appointment of new judges from several high courts are awaiting the nod of the Supreme Court collegium. These include Madras High Court, Karnataka High Court, Gujarat High Court, Calcutta High Court, Bombay High Court, Madhya Pradesh High Court and Gauhati High Court.Sources said when it decides to recommend names of additional judges for appointment as permanent judges, the collegium will also take into consideration their performance as additional judges.It may be recalled that, on October 23, the SC collegium had restored the earlier system of evaluating the performance of Additional Judges of the high courts through a detailed scrutiny of their judgments.The collegium had also decided that judgments of Additional Judges would be evaluated by a committee of two Judges of the Supreme Court to be nominated by the CJI.
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DNA EXCLUSIVE: Cash seized during DeMo tagged benami

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what is possibly the first such order under the amended Prohibition of Benami Property Transaction Act, 1988 for an offence committed during the period when the demonetization order was in force, the Adjudicating Authority under the Act has confirmed provisional attachment of assets seized as benami property.In its detailed order, the Authority, comprising Mukesh Kumar, Chairman, and Tushar V Shah, Member (Law) has ruled that the decision of the Initiating Officer under the Act to attach the property of the accused was “reasonable” and, therefore, upheld.In his reference made to the Adjudicating Authority, Maruti Wamanrao Maddewad, Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax (Benami Prohibition), had sought confirmation of the department’s action in provisionally attaching Rs 1.11 crore seized from a car, which was intercepted during a joint operation of the police and Income Tax authorities on December 15, 2016 at Pragati Nagar Naka, Oswal Nagari, Nalasopara (East), Palghar.More importantly, money recovered from the car included Rs 47 lakh in new Rs 2,000 notes, which were still scarce then. The two occupants of the car – Sudarshan Anand Sheregar and Dhananjay Vithal Gawde — coudn’t provide a convincing explanation about the source of the cash.Later, one of them told the authorities that the cash had been handed over to them by Pramod Mukund Dalvi of Virar (East), Mumbai.When confronted during a search-and-seizure, Dalvi denied ownership of the cash, claiming that the money had actually been delivered to his house for Gawde, who later collected it. On the other hand, both Gawde and Sheregar denied ownership of the money. During hearing before the Adjudicating Authority, neither Gawde nor Sheregar appeared. Gawde, incidentally, is a sitting Shiv Sena corporator.In its order, the Adjudicating Authority held that the fact showed that the money was “benami property”.The Centre had amended the Benami Property Transaction Act in April 2016, empowering the specified authorities to provisionally attach benami properties which can later be confiscated. The amended law also provides for jail term of upto seven years plus fine if the person is found guilty of offence of benami transaction by the competent court.

HC judge impeachment: Jurists’ panel submits report to V-P

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over two years after the then Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari set up a three-member committee of jurists to probe allegations of sexual harassment (forcing a female Additional District Judge to resign to protect her ‘dignity’) against Justice SK Gangele, a sitting judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the committee has finally submitted its report.Sources told DNA that the committee comprising Supreme Court Judge R Banumati, Bombay High Court Chief Justice Manjula Chellur, and Attorney-General KK Venugopal submitted the report to Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, last week. While the original committee was headed by Supreme Court judge Vikramjit Sen, after his retirement, it was taken by Justice Banumati.The committee examined several witnesses and also heard the complainant and the accused high court judge. Sources in Naidu’s office said that the report is being “studied” and will be placed before the House at the next session. However, neither the three members nor the RS Chairman’s office was ready to disclose the contents of the report.Ansari had constituted the committee in April 2015 after receiving a motion signed by 58 RS MPs seeking impeachment of Justice Gangele for allegedly sexually harassing a former Additional District and Sessions judge of Gwalior.The judge had resigned in 2014, saying she had done so to protect her “dignity, womanhood, and self-esteem”.In her complaint to the CJI, the ADJ had accused Justice Gangele of sending her a message through the district court registrar to “perform a dance on an item song” at a function in his residence. She said, a day after the function, which she chose not to attend, the judge allegedly told her “he missed the opportunity of viewing a sexy and beautiful figure dancing on the floor”.Incidentally, an in-house committee of judges constituted by the CJI to probe the charges against Justice Gangele, had exonerated him, stating there was “insufficient” evidence to establish a charge of sexual harassment.However, the committee had also found Justice Gangele to be “ambivalent and evasive about facts which are within his knowledge”. It had also raised questions of propriety of a high court judge (Justice Gangele) holding a public event to celebrate his 25th marriage anniversary on December 11, 2013, which was attended by many government officers.

Modi’s 2019 squad is ready

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, once again, managed to outwit the Lutyens’ Delhi insiders, including the media, would be akin to saying milk is white. All speculation proved to be incorrect. Who would have thought Modi would dish out a masterstroke by giving India her first full-fledged woman Defence Minister? In the Modi era, political guesstimate doesn’t work.Today’s reshuffle exercise has Modi stamped all over it. Be it the elevation of Nirmala Sitharaman as Defence Minister or the induction of four former officers — two IAS, one IPS and one IFS – in the council of ministers, the PM has sent a clear message: This reshuffle is aimed at drastically ramping up his government’s performance with an eye on the 2019 general elections.Everybody, especially Modi himself, is aware that when voters enter the polling booths in 2019, the main factor would be Modi and his performance in achieving his stated goal of Maximum Governance, Minimum Government. Therefore, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone to see the PM bringing in outside talent to strengthen his own hands.The induction of former Union Home Secretary RK Singh, former IFS officer Hardeep Singh Puri, former Kerala cadre IAS officer KJ Alphons and former IPS officer Satya Pal Singh underlines the premium that Modi puts on experience and capacity to deliver and match the gruelling pace set by him.Having said that, there is no denying the fact that the Prime Minister’s search for credible names was also hampered by absence of talented and experienced bench-strength among the current lot of MPs.It is now clear that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will continue to play a more proactive role in running various ministries. Even in the elevation of Sitharaman, the signal is that the PMO will continue to micro-manage defence, like it does in foreign affairs.Apart from Modi, the only other man whose hand is clearly visible in the reshuffle is BJP president Amit Shah, who seems to have given significant inputs on the exercise.By ignoring the JD(U) and the ever-complaining Shiv Sena, Modi has again made it clear that he isn’t open to any kind of political blackmail.The laggards have been punished, while performers have been amply rewarded. Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s elevation as Railway Minister is a sign that the PM wants an end to continuous derailments and accidents. Nobody understands better how to contain ‘derailments’ than Goyal. As Power and Coal Minister, he put an end to scams in the Coal Ministry while at the same time ensuring production was increased so that shortage of the crucial material couldn’t derail the India growth story.Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has been awarded for the success of the Ujjwala and LPG (DBT) schemes – both pet projects of the Prime Minister.Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has been rewarded for his handling of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha as Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs.

DNA EXCLUSIVE: Sonia signals to party leaders: Priyanka as working president?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When the Congress Working Committee (CWC) met in New Delhi on August 8, supposedly to discuss the issue of the 75th anniversary of the Quit India Movement, party president Sonia Gandhi had something else on her mind as well.At the end of the meetings, she quietly broached the subject of a change in leadership of the party with some senior leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — wondering aloud if Priyanka Gandhi should be made Working President of the party.”It wasn’t a casual question. She clearly had something on her mind. There is lot of merit in this move, if it happens,” observed a CWC member.If the response of the small group of leaders — just three to four, as the source described it — is an indication, her thought received strong support.While there have been demands in the past that Priyanka should be given some formal role in the party, the family has repeatedly sidestepped the issue. On her part, Priyanka has restricted herself, politically that is, to the Gandhi family bastions of Amethi and Rae Barelli.Sources present in the meeting shared with DNA that Sonia told the select few that if the party wants to put up a credible show in the next Lok Sabha elections, a young face would have to assume control and manage the affairs of the party, including strategising with senior leaders.A final decision on the future of the party is expected to be taken in the next one month or so.Incidentally, party vice-president and the man many consider to be the president–in–waiting, Rahul Gandhi, did not attend the meeting as he is in the grip of a viral fever.While the possibility of Rahul’s elevation as party president has been the subject of intense speculation for the past many years now, possibility of Priyanka being the face of the party in the run up to the 2019 general elections, many feel, could galvanise the moribund party and its cadre.”Whether we want to admit it or not, the truth is that the Gandhi family is the glue that binds this party. Even when a member of the family wasn’t at the forefront, like when PV Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister or when Sitaram Kesari was party president, the shadow of the family always loomed large. Despite attempts to malign the name of the family, there is little doubt that the Gandhis have a connect with voters in large parts of the country,” observed a senior Congress MP and a former minister.Since 2014, when Narendra Modi led the BJP to a spectacular victory in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has witnessed a steady departure of several prominent state-level leaders.Many in the party also suggest that the reason for the absence of an effective game-plan to counter the Modi juggernaut is the sharp divide between the thought process of Team Rahul and the Old Guard represented by the likes of Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad and many state satraps.While some who don’t enjoy much support within the party or even among common voters have talked of looking beyond the Nehru-Gandhi family to revive the party, this line of thinking hasn’t found any traction within the Congress.

Supreme Court cancels HC judge’s transfer

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a clear sign of the increasing clout of the Narendra Modi government, the Supreme Court collegium has cancelled its earlier decision to transfer Justice Valmiki Mehta of the Delhi High Court to the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Court.Sources told DNA that the five-member collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, met last week and decided to write to the Centre, informing it of its decision to recall the proposal made by the collegium to transfer Justice Mehta. Justice Mehta will continue in the Delhi High Court.The move comes almost five months after the Centre, after sitting on the collegium’s recommendation for almost a year, quietly sent it back for reconsideration. It had also sent back a similar recommendation for transfer of Justice MR Shah of the Gujarat High Court to the Madhya Pradesh High Court.Before doing so, the Centre had also indicated to the SC its reluctance to process the transfers.All the transfers had been recommended by the collegium, then headed by previous CJI Tirath Singh Thakur. The failure of the government to process the recommendations had became a major bone of contention between the higher judiciary under CJI Thakur and the Modi government, with the SC questioning the government inaction on numerous occasions.Authoritative sources told DNA that the government had last year reached out to the then CJI Thakur, requesting him to get the collegium to rescind the transfer recommendations but he refused to play along.Upset with the refusal of the government to implement the recommendations, during the hearing of a petition, a bench headed by then CJI Thakur, in August last year, had threatened to withdraw judicial work from Justices Mehta and Shah if the transfer of these judges was not given effect to.Sources said that the collegium hasn’t decided anything so far in the case of Justice Shah but there are indications that the collegium may send him as Chief Justice of a High Court soon.Incidentally, even as it sent back the recommendations about the two High Court judges, another recommendation, this one for transferring Uttarakhand High Chief Justice KM Joseph as Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Court, continues to remain pending with the Centre without any action since the last over one year.

We cannot fight it out in the streets with political parties or their leaders: CEC Nasim Zaidi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government is wanting to change political funding through electoral bonds etc. Has there been any movement on this?The top most areas of electoral reforms is transparency in political finance. People have the right to know where the funds have come from and where are they going. It should be applicable at both candidate and party level so that people can later on see whether the donors had some interest or not. Few years ago, the Government had referred these matters to the law commission whose recommendation were again referred to some task force committee which, I believe, is also more or less did its job.In the Income Tax Act, the political parties need not maintain documents, records, names etc of the contribution received by electoral bonds. If it is not to be disclosed to Income Tax, then our RP Act also got an amendment that political parties will not show their contribution to the Commission of amount received through the electoral bonds.Our problem is that if parties resort to funding via electoral bonds, and if it does not show up in the contribution report, we are not able to display it on our website. Thus, people won’t get to know. It introduces a lot of opaqueness. The big donors apparently don’t want to be known for being supporters of multiple parties. They fear that if the party they have supported does not win, they would face reprisals later.Changes have been done in the Companies Act by removing the cap that barred a company from donating more than 7.5 per cent. Now companies can donate unlimited amount. In fact, they can work to entirely donate their profit to the political parties. Secondly, earlier, there used to be a clause that a Company has to be in profit for the last three years to donate. With that clause gone, even loss-making companies can be setup to contribute.The changes in Companies Act, in our view, are going to be a big challenge. Commission has taken up this issue, asking the government to review the interest of transparency. Hopefully, they will take these things into account.What is your take on the use of words and language in speeches that polarises the voters and have become a norm in elections after 2014?Yes, even after 2014, political leaders indulged in provoking passions, creating disharmony, hatred etc. We employed the authority of the Commission through the Code of Conduct and through some laws.The Supreme court order passed in January this year came in handy which styates candidates seeking votes or asking voters not to vote for the opposite candidate on account of religion etc will be deemed to be a corrupt practice.The solution is via election petition classifying it as a corrupt practice. I am sure, if these grounds are raised by petitioners in some election petitions, and if courts follow the Supreme Court guidelines after weighing all evidence, it will be a trendsetter.This is a very serious matter, because given the social structure, any provocation can swing the voters. I would urge request all political parties and leaders not to indulge in it.Has there been any progress on the issue of paid news?No. One of the important areas of electoral reforms is strong anti-corruption plank having three elements. First, make bribery a cognisable offense, on this issue more than 50 per cent states have concurred. I was told that a cabinet note has been moved, but were expecting something to happen in future. Second, criminalise paid news with three years imprisonment, it has not happened so far. The third one is power to countermand elections on widespread bribery. We have exchanged correspondence thrice. We have again taken it up after seizure of Rs 100 core in RK Nagar. After the ever-increasing seizure in the last five elections of Rs 350 crores, we have again re-emphasised that this is the need of the hour.Pending all those legislation, we have started using our own powers. Recently, we disqualified a person from Madhya Pradesh using section 10 A in a paid news case.But, generally, in such cases people go to the court but end up spending not just one, but two terms before the case is closed.We are hopeful that higher courts will make time bound decisions. This act has a deterrence, the Commission feels that such actions will definitely act as a deterrence. The more these cases come to the Commission, more action will follow irrespective of the position of the person.Why does the Election Commission want the power to issue contempt?This is related to the recent controversy. We are a constitutional authority, we cannot fight it out on streets with political parties or their leaders. What are we to do? Another alternative is to file defamation case and stand as a complainant — Election Commission Hazir Ho! We do not want that. We say if you persist with your unfounded allegations without evidence or material information, we should have something to tell these fellows.Have you visualised any quantum of punishment?No, we have not. We have only expressed our concern that it is becoming difficult. We don’t know what lies in future. But it is definitely becoming difficult.But your respect in the eyes of masses overshadows any unfounded criticism that can be levelled against you. It hardly matters.I fully agree with you, the Commission does enjoy a great amount of trust and confidence. We are not seeking unnecessary empowerment. But for the last three four months, the tirade was unstoppable. If we don’t react, people say you are sitting silent. Tell me how should we react?You don’t need to react. People punish those who breach Model Code of Conduct in elections.Whether people teach them a lesson or not is not our concern. In recent controversy, it was becoming a bit too much. If political parties behave responsibly, we don’t need these powers.But criticism may be due to the fact that the Commission has been too soft on ruling party leaders. In case of Kejriwal and Parrikar, both said the same thing, but you were quick to haul one up and went slow on another.In both cases, we issued show-cause notices, we issued censure and cautioned them. Of course, in one case, depending upon what has been stated there was also penal action, in another there was no such action because the judgement of the Commission did not warrant it. Now as I am leaving this job, I would say that the Commission takes a lot of care that we are perceived as being soft on ruling parties, and we apply our judgements, our actions uniformly to the full extent. There could come perception, but we are not soft.Your predecessors have repeatedly talked about the need to change the appointment system through a collegiate system. Do you think the time has come for it?Even the present system of appointment has served well. Chief Election Commissioners and Election Commissioners, even under the present system, have acted very well. But at times, it is important to have the confidence of all political parties. There is an established system to consult with Opposition leader. If that system is agreed upon, then nobody can accuse that this person was appointed by A Party or B Party. I won’t comment whether the time has come. I think the Commission’s stand, actions and continued demonstration of neutrality will show if there is any need for change.If at the time of demitting office I say that Collegium system should be adopted, than I am not being fair because I have been appointed by the same system.Do you think retired Election Commissioners should seek post-retirement government jobsPersonally, I am totally opposed to this. Nobody should accept it. As I understand, there is an unwritten ethos in the Commission. Nobody has thought over it.In terms of autonomy and independence of the Commission, are you satisfied with the powers and support you have, or something more is required.I would say three things are required as far as administrative autonomy is concerned — protection to other Election Commissioners, they should not feel they are on probation; Budget of the Commission should be from the Consolidated Fund, and our secretariat should be on the lines of Supreme Court and Parliament. These three things are still pending.Are there any regrets that these steps could not be taken during your tenure as CEC?My satisfaction is that I have flagged all the issues. I have compiled a compendium that has sent about 50 reform proposals to the law ministry. I think with the passage of time people will demand these reforms more rigorously. Something will come out. I have no regrets.You are completing an eventful tenure in the Election Commission. Anything more you want to share?Actually, I am leaving my office with, I would say, satisfaction. Having been a part of so many elections, right from 2012, general Lok Sabha elections, state elections, Union Territory elections, I did not see any great low. Our main mandate was to conduct free and fair elections, and I feel that during my tenure as CEC and even as EC, we did our level best to ensure that voters are able to participate, and that money movement from the ground level is restrained. The most exciting times were when we seized Rs 350 crores, millions of litres of liquor and so much of drugs and narcotics in the Northeast, Punjab and other places.Of course, another important feature of these years was our clamp down on abuse of money, particularly in RK nagar constituency, where the Commission had to use Article 324. We had to do it thrice, twice in 2016 and once this year. This year our enforcement agencies seized over Rs 100 crores in one constituency. We don’t know how much money was seized from another source. I would only say that we could leave a good impact on the movement of money, liquor and drugs which is used to influence voters. Though a lot remains to be done, we are satisfied that we have brought complete control on muscle power, especially in most difficult areas of West Bengal, where there is a lot of tension among political parties. We could also ensure voters to come to these polling stations. By and large our mandate was fulfilled.It appears that the government is not open to the Commission’s suggestions to bring about transparency. The government either sits on those proposals, or says it cannot be done.Both the Government and the Commission work for the people. Ideally, there should be no conflict. There could be some adjustments in terms of legal amendments etc, but ultimately it should happen.There is renewed clamour for simultaneous polls for the Parliament and States. Do you think, the time has come for it, or is it an ill advised idea.All necessary work by the Parliamentary committee, by the Commission, and our response to the law ministry, has been completed. All that needed now is a debate where all political parties sit and take a call. Whether there is some adjustment among political parties or not is for them to decide. Someone has to lead this building-up of political consensus because it requires a lot of Constitutional amendments.You must have done some exercise in terms of requirement of administrative and security arrangementsOf course, there would be challenges of logistics — large number of EVMs, now 100 per cent VVPATs, security personnel etc. But we are sure if there is a will, we can run simultaneous elections, may take few more phases, more time but it can be done.Do you think 100 per cent VVPAT coverage will settle the controversy about EVMs for once and for all?I think the challenge we ran last month has already settled the issue. But the final thing has come with the commitment of the Commission for 100 per cent VVPAT coverage. Nothing more can be done. We are now going to prescribe procedures where a definite percentage of paper slips will also be counted. At least, in one round, they will be counted first and then tallied with the result of the EVMs. So, this matter is also going to be settled in the next few days.

Two High Courts recommended same name for Judge post

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In December last year, the name of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) Judicial Member NV Vasudevan was recommended for appointment as a judge of a High Court. Nothing wrong in that — there are already at least six instances of ITAT Judicial Members being appointed Judges of various high courts in the past.The only issue was that Vasudevan’s name was recommended, almost at the same time, by two different high courts — Calcutta and Madras.Sources told DNA that even as the Ministry of Law was processing the recommendation of the collegium of Calcutta High Court to appoint Vasudevan to the bench, it received another recommendation — this one from the collegium of the Madras High Court — recommending his appointment as additional judge of the Madras HC.Soon thereafter, the views of the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also arrived, with the CM taking strong exception to the HC recommending the name of a non-Bengali for appointment as a judge, something that would have taken away one post meant for a local.The Supreme Court collegium also got into the picture and the Calcutta HC collegium eventually recalled the recommendation.Vasudevan, a native of Tamil Nadu, was appointed Judicial Member of ITAT in 2001 and is currently posted at Kolkata.According to publically-available information, Vasudevan has never been posted in the Chennai bench of the ITAT.Sources in the SC told DNA since Calcutta HC collegium has withdrawn its recommendation, the issue of Vasudevan’s elevation to the bench, pending with the SC collegium since mid-April, could see some forward movement.Meanwhile, the SC collegium is learnt to have recalled its recommendation for appointment of a Uttar Pradesh District and Sessions Judge as judge of the Allahabad High Court after intelligence bureau inputs suggested that the judge allegedly received bribes to facilitate grant of bail to former Uttar Pradesh minister Gayatri Prajapati.Prajapati had contested the recently concluded UP Assembly elections from Amethi on a Samajwadi Party (SP) ticket but lost. He is accused, along with many others, of the serious charge of gangraping a woman and molesting her minor daughter.After receiving a report from Allahabad HC Chief Justice Dilip B Bhosale, Chief Justice of India JS Khehar immediately wrote to the government, withdrawing the recommendation.

Real fight to save Kulbhushan Jadhav will take place in Pakistan court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case on Thursday, asking Pakistan to “take all measures at its disposal” to ensure that he isn’t executed till its final judgment, is binding on the Pakistan government. Jadhav is currently in a Pakistani jail.Simply put, Pakistan won’t be able to execute Jadhav till the ICJ’s final decision.The Pakistan government’s official stand is that the ICJ has “no jurisdiction in national security matters”, and that Thursday’s order “does not change the status of Jadhav in any manner.” This is just a brave front, for the fact is that it will be extremely difficult for Pakistan to not implement the order.In case Pakistan refuses to accept the ICJ order, which seems unlikely, India can approach the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).For the Indian security establishment, the initial grandstanding notwithstanding, the real fight has not even started. More importantly, most people, including those in the security establishment, don’t seem too sure of what India is fighting for, right now.Legal experts point out that, under the UN charter, the ICJ is not a court of appeal where countries or individuals can take their grievances in criminal matters. That’s one reason why India or Jadhav’s family can’t appeal in the ICJ against his conviction and death sentence by the Pakistani military court.That legal assault would have to be mounted in Pakistan’s Supreme Court or the proper court of appeals that is empowered to hear appeals against orders of the Field General Court Martial, commonly known as military court.In fact, late last month, India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, Gautam Bambawale, handed over to Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary a petition from Jadhav’s mother, seeking an appeal against the military court’s order in the appropriate court of appeals.The Indian government would do well to concentrate on this appeal also, since even a final victory at the ICJ will only result in consular access to Jadhav. A loss in the Pakistan court’s appeal process, however, could mean the end of the road, and life, for him.All that the ICJ can and will decide is whether Pakistan violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, in denying, as India alleges, consular access to the former naval officer after he was arrested by Pakistani authorities.When this happens, India will have to be ready with a strong defence to Pakistan’s allegations that Jadhav was a spy, caught with two passports, etc. The good omen for India is that Thursday’s order was a unanimous one from the 15 judges of the ICJ.

Kulbhushan Jadhav case: ICJ to give verdict on death sentence by Pakistan today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three days after it finished hearings in India’s plea for directions to Pakistan to suspend the death sentence awarded to former Indian naval officer Kulbushhan Jadhav by a military court there, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will deliver its verdict on Thursday afternoon.India has sought immediate suspension of Jadhav’s death sentence, also expressing fears that Pakistan could execute him even before the ICJ decided its plea.However, it now emerges that before India decided to move the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the first week of May, the government had spent a lot of time deliberating on the possible “consequences” of the move.For before moving the ICJ, the government had to take into consideration that this move would mean that, if it succeeded, Pakistan could in future try and take the same route against India in the same forum, especially to help Pakistan-trained terrorists caught by Indian security forces.In the end, after hectic parleys, it was decided at the highest level that such a possibility couldn’t be allowed to stand in the way of Indian government coming to the assistance of Jadhav, who, India strongly feels, had been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death.”India has always played by the book and has never allowed its territory to be used for terror activities aimed at another country. We have nothing to hide. This is the reason we decided to move the ICJ,” top sources privy to discussions told DNA.Multiple sources in the Ministry of External Affairs, Law Ministry and the security establishment put together the sequence of events leading to the filing of the case at The Hague.According to sources, worried that Pakistan could execute Jadhav any day, Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj personally consulted legal and foreign affairs experts.A retired foreign service officer was also drafted as a consultant to assist in the plans.However, when the decision got stuck due to the wording of a key clause in the Agreement on Consular Access, a bilateral agreement dated May 21, 2008 between India and Pakistan, Swaraj called Minister of State for Law and Justice P P Chaudhary and asked him to take the final call.Sources said, on May 3, Chaudhary, who was out of station, was summoned back to Delhi and asked to resolve the issue.The issue pertained to Clause 6 of the agreement and which reads: “In case of arrest, detention or sentence made on political or security grounds, each side may examine the case on its merits.”This clause, many within the government felt, could be cited by Pakistan to refuse India’s case. However, eventually, legal experts consulted by the government assured it that the bilateral agreement couldn’t override the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 and that India had a strong case.Sources said that while the Vienna Convention allows two or more nations to enter into separate agreements “confirming or supplementing or extending or amplifying” the provisions of the Convention, the terms of any such agreement couldn’t run counter to or be incompatible to the Convention.It was also the view of the experts that Pakistan hadn’t shown any valid ground to invoke Clause 6 of the bilateral agreement.It was finally decided that in its case, India should categorically state that it wasn’t seeking “reinforcement” of the bilateral agreement nor “basing its claim on any rights or obligations under it”. Rather, it was basing its claim solely upon the Vienna Convention.HOW IT UNFOLDEDMarch 3, 2016: Kulbhushan Jadhav arrested by Pakistan on charges of spying.
March 29, 2016: Pakistan releases video showing Jadhav “confessing” to his crimes.
Dec 2016: Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs advisor to Pak PM, admits there isn’t enough evidence against Jadhav
April 4, 2017: Jadhav handed over a death sentence by a military court.
April 26, 2017: Pakistan denies India’s 16th request for consular access to Jadhav.
May 9, 2017: India petitions the ICJ, which stays the execution.

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