The Supreme Court today said it would refer to a five-judge constitution bench a batch of pleas challenging Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra laws allowing bull-taming sport ‘Jallikattu’ and bullock cart races.A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice R F Nariman, while reserving its order, said the larger bench would decide whether states have the “legislative competence” to make such laws on grounds, including that ‘Jallikattu’ and bullock cart racing fell under the cultural rights enshrined under Article 29(1) and can be protected constitutionally.Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have amended the central law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and allowed Jallikattu and bullock cart racing respectively in their states. The state laws have been challenged in the apex court.Also readPost Jallikattu protest, Chennai police in crackdown modeThe apex court also said that it would hear separately the pleas challenging the Karnataka Ordinance allowing Kambala (buffalo races) in the state and issued notice on the petitions filed by parties including PETA and fixed them for hearing after six weeks.The bench said it wanted to “put an end to the controversy” in view of the fact that Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have been asserting that the laws were enacted to protect the cultural rights of a section of society.Also readPETA moves Supreme Court against amendments in law to allow JallikattuThe larger bench would decide whether state legislatures have legislative competence to make law on the subject, it said.The issue whether the state laws were in “consonance with the basic tenets” of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, a central legislation, would also be tested, it said.Also readViolence in pro-jallikattu protests;Commission tenure extendedThe top court referred to Article 25 (right to freedom of religion) and Article 29(1) (protection of cultural and educational rights) of the Constitution and said they may not enable states to make such laws.”The interpretation will have far-reaching consequences,” the bench said, adding that it would deliver a judgement and refer the matters to a larger bench.Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra respectively, argued in support of the state laws and said the law-making powers of state assemblies cannot be curtailed.”There cannot be fetters on the legislatures on making laws,” Rohatgi said, adding that bulls are taken care of as family members and moreover, Jallikattu has been part of cultural tradition for over 2,500 years. Rules have also been framed to ensure that bulls are not hurt during Jallikattu.Naphade sought an interim stay on a Bombay High Court order holding that the Maharashtra’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act will not come into force for the time being.”Can state law be stayed by the high court in this manner,” he asked.Every year, after Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations, bullock cart racing in great numbers are organised in Maharashtra.Jallikattu, also known Eruthazhuvuthal, is a bull-taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as part of the Pongal harvest festival.The apex court, on November 6, had sought the response from the Tamil Nadu government on a plea of animal rights body PETA, challenging the state law that allowed bull-taming sport Jallikattu there. After issuing notice on the PETA’s plea, it had tagged it with other pending petitions on the issue.PETA has assailed the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Bill 2017 passed by the state assembly on grounds including that it circumvented apex court verdict holding the bull-taming sport as “illegal” in the state.PETA alleged that Jallikattu was a blood sport in which the bulls were subjected to various types of cruelty.Prior to this, the apex court had dismissed the plea of the Tamil Nadu government seeking a review of the 2014 judgement banning the use of bulls for jallikattu events in the state and bullock cart races across the country.The court in its 2014 judgement had said that bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country and had banned their use across the country.
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<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Election Commission on Wednesday concluded hearing the AIADMK symbol case and reserved the order which is likely to be delivered in the next few days.At the seventh hearing today, the rival E K Palaniswami-O Panneerselvam and the Sasikala Natarajan factions concluded their arguments. The Sasikala faction wanted to counter certain points raised by the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction, but was asked by EC to give it in writing by early next week. Counsel for the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam faction and former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said the hearings were concluded today and the order will be delivered soon.A senior functionary said the order has been reserved and would be made public in the next few days. Sasikala faction counsel Raja Senthoor Pandian claimed that the Palaniswami-Panneerselvam side took up most of the time today, leaving little time for them to respond. “But we will place our arguments in writing and say on record that we were denied an opportunity to verbally place our stand,” Pandian told reporters. Initially two factions led by Panneerselvam and Sasikala had staked claim to the ‘two leaves’ symbol. The poll panel had frozen it, pending decision on their pleas.Later, a large group of legislators led by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami revolted against Sasikala, who is in jail in a graft case, and announced merger with Panneerselvam faction. Resolutions ousting Sasikala as interim general secretary and her nephew Dhinakaran as her deputy were also adopted at the party’s general council meeting held on September 12. On September 14, representatives of Dhinakaran had approached the EC urging it to declare as invalid the general council meeting, citing a high court order that said any decision taken at the impugned meeting will be subject to the final outcome in the appeal.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Monday, directed the members of the District Bar Association of Gurugram not to obstruct in any manner the proceedings going on before a special judge there relating to the murder of a seven-year-old student in the Ryan International school.The apex court was informed by the bar body that they have withdrawn their earlier resolution in which they had said that no lawyer will represent any of the accused in the case.A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra observed that an accused has the right to be represented by an advocate and the bar was under an obligation not to obstruct any lawyer from appearing on behalf of an accused.”We must say without any hesitation that any accused, whatever the offence maybe, has a right to be represented by an advocate. The tradition of bar does not authorise any bar association to pass a resolution like this.”However, the solace is realising the fault. The bar association has withdrawn it (resolution),” the bench, also comprising Justice A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.The bench was hearing a plea filed by Francis Thomas, the northern zone head of Ryan Group, seeking transfer of the student murder case from the local court at Sohna, alleging that the bar has restrained lawyers from representing the accused in the sensational case. Thomas was arrested in connection with the case.During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi and advocate Sandeep Kapur, appearing for Thomas, told the bench there was “hostile atmosphere” at the Sohna court and no lawyer was appearing for the accused in the case.Class 2 student Pradyuman was found with his throat slit on the morning of September 8 in the toilet of the Ryan International School in Gurgaon.Police allege that 42-year-old bus conductor Ashok Kumar killed him with a knife after the boy resisted an attempt to sodomise him.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed that the Centre backed privacy as fundamental right, former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said he would have admitted that the government lost the case. “If I was there (as Attorney General), I would have said we have lost the case. As lawyers, we are used to winning and losing cases. Because the fact is, we haven’t won this case. The eight-judge bench has been overruled (an eight-judge bench had ruled in 1954 that the right to privacy cannot be a fundamental right) and the Aadhaar issue has been left unresolved. So where is the question of winning?,’’ Rohatgi told The Indian Express.Rohatgi stepped down from the position of AG in June and said he was surprised with the government’s reaction. He also said that the govt should not have diluted its stand before the Bench.“The government should not have diluted their stand in court because the inclusion or exclusion of fundamental rights is only the proviso of Parliament. Here, the judiciary is taking over the functions of Parliament and it is a very unsatisfactory resolution of the dispute,” he told the daily.A nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar delivered verdict on August 24 that said “the right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution”.Rohatgi had previously argued against treating privacy as a fundamental right. “The fundamental rights are engrafted in the Constitution so they have to be physically put in a book called the Constitution,” Rohatgi argued as the then Attorney General. “The right belongs to the Parliament, to make the law, amend the law, repeal the law. The court has no power to engraft more fundamental rights in the Constitution.”The top-level law officer has widely believed that there are two spheres – judiciary and Parliament – and both cannot overlap each other.”There is no amendment in the Constitution by a court as you have two different spheres. The sphere of the judiciary and the sphere of the Parliament. Both the spheres cannot overlap,” he said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on Thursday said a court has no power to engraft more fundamental rights in the Constitution as the right to make a law or amend it belongs to the Parliament.Reacting to the Supreme Court verdict declaring right to privacy a fundamental right, the senior advocate said “there is much a do about nothing” as the government had already agreed with the stand taken by the petitioners and the court. “The fundamental rights are engrafted in the Constitution so they have to be physically put in a book called the Constitution.”The right belongs to the Parliament, to make the law, amend the law, repeal the law. The court has no power to engraft more fundamental rights in the Constitution,” Rohatgi, who had argued in the matter as the then Attorney General, said. “I still maintain there is much ado about nothing for the simple reason that I do hear that government has stated that they agree that privacy is a fundamental right,” he said. Rohatgi, while speaking to a TV channel, also said there are two spheres — judiciary and Parliament — and both cannot overlap each other. “There is no amendment in the Constitution by a court as you have two different spheres. The sphere of the judiciary and the sphere of the Parliament. Both the spheres cannot overlap,” he said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Triple talaq victim and petitioner Shayara Bano on Tuesday said that she is confident that the judgment will be in her favour, adding a law would certainly be made regarding the matter. ?I feel the judgement will be in my favour. The time has changed and a law will certainly be made,? Bano told ANI. Meanwhile, as the Supreme Court is set to announce its verdict on Triple Talaq today, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) expressed its confidence that the apex court would not interfere in the Muslim Personal Law and would not ban the Islamic practice of divorce. Speaking to ANI, member of AIMPLB and Muslim cleric Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali said that whatever judgement the apex court pronounces, it will be in the light of the Constitution of the country. Another Muslim cleric Maulana Sajid Rashidi, however, said that the apex court would not pronounce final verdict and extend the matter till 2019. The apex court will today pronounce its verdict on the controversial issue of Triple Talaq. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar had reserved its verdict on May 18 after a six-day marathon hearing. During the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had assured the apex court that the government would come out with a law to regulate marriage and divorce among Muslims if triple talaq is upheld as invalid. Rohatgi also conveyed to the apex court bench that triple talaq violates Muslim women’s right to equality within the community and also within the country. Earlier in the hearing, the apex court refused to hear all the three cases of polygamy, nikah and halala at once, saying it will focus on one matter at a time. The Centre, earlier on May 11, told the apex court that it opposes the triple talaq practice and wants to fight for women equality and gender justice. However, the AIMPLB counsel Kapil Sibal told the apex court that triple talaq is a matter that comes under the Muslim Personal Law Board and therefore, in his opinion, the top court should not interfere in it. While hearing several pleas filed by Muslim women challenging the practice of triple talaq, the apex court observed that it would examine whether the issue is fundamental to religion or not. Relentless debates on the validity and plausibility of this practice were instigated soon after the petitioner, Shayara Bano, challenged the Muslim Personal Law over instantaneous application of triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat), polygamy and nikah-halala. Supporting the stance of ending the practice of triple talaq, the Allahabad High Court had earlier asserted that the rights of any person, including Muslim women, cannot be violated in the name of ‘Personal Law’. In December last year, the Allahabad High Court termed the Islamic practice of divorcing a woman by uttering the word “talaq” thrice “unconstitutional?.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> As the Supreme Court will on Tuesday pronounce verdict on the controversial issue of Triple Talaq, the victims hope for a favourable judgment. They, however, plan to protest if the verdict doesn?t come in their favour. Talking to ANI, a victim said, ?If verdict comes in favour of us, then this will be the victory for those fighting against Triple Talaq. If in any case, the verdict comes against us, then we all women will protest because then it will be victory for exploiters not for us.? Meanwhile, another victim said, ?We hope that the judgment will come in favour of us. We were waiting for this day since long. We want complete justice, proper punishment for the culprits and enacting of new law.? A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar had reserved its verdict on May 18 after a six-day marathon hearing. During the hearing, the Centre had assured the apex court that it would come out with a law to regulate marriage and divorce among Muslims if triple talaq is upheld as invalid. “The government will come out with law to regulate marriage and divorce among Muslims if court holds triple talaq as invalid,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench. Rohatgi also conveyed to the apex court bench that triple talaq violates Muslim women’s right to equality within the community, and also within the country. Earlier in the hearing, the apex court refused to hear all the three cases of polygamy, nikah and halala at once, saying it will focus on one matter at a time. The Attorney General and top law officers representing the Central government told the five judge Constitution bench that apex court should hear other cases also, besides Triple Talaq. However, the top court said that they have limited time, so all the matters could not be covered at present. The Centre, earlier on May 11, told the apex court that it opposes the triple talaq practice and wants to fight for women equality and gender justice. However, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) counsel Kapil Sibal told the apex court that Triple Talaq is a matter that comes under the Muslim Personal Law Board and therefore, in his opinion, the top court should not interfere in it. While hearing several pleas filed by Muslim women challenging the practice of triple talaq, the apex court observed that it would examine whether the issue is fundamental to religion or not. Relentless debates on the validity and plausibility of this practice were instigated soon after one petitioner, Shayara Banu, challenged the Muslim Personal Law over instantaneous application of triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat), polygamy and nikah-halala. Supporting the stance of ending the practice of triple talaq, the Allahabad High Court had earlier asserted that the rights of any person, including Muslim women, cannot be violated in the name of ‘Personal Law’. In December last year, the Allahabad High Court termed the Islamic practice of divorcing a woman by uttering the word “talaq” thrice “unconstitutional?.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Noida Toll Bridge Company Ltd. (NTBCL) today sought a copy of a report filed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in the Supreme Court on the toll collected from the Delhi-Noida Direct (DND) flyway. The apex court asked the CAG to give the report to the company to enable it to approach the court. A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud gave liberty to the company to mention the matter on receiving the CAG report. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for NTBCL said that the Allahabad High Court had cancelled the concessionaire (Noida Toll Bridge Company) agreement to collect toll from the DND flyway. He said that the apex court by its November, 2016 order had asked the CAG to assist in the matter and verify the company’s claim that the total cost of the project had not been recovered and submit a report. “We have information that the report has been filed by CAG. Our request is that a copy of the report should be given to us, so that we can make appropriate response,” Rohatgi said. Counsel appearing for the CAG said that the report had been filed in sealed cover to the court. “We see no reason to keep the report in sealed cover. You (CAG) give the report to them,” the court said. On November 11, 2016, the apex court had said that the flyway would remain toll free for commuters, while disagreeing with the company that its refusal to stay the Allahabad High Court’s verdict would cause the firm irreparable loss. The apex court had said while the company could be compensated later if it succeeded in its appeal, it would be impossible to provide restitution to the lakhs of commuters from whom the toll fee would be collected to repay them on dismissal of the Special Leave Petition (SLP). It had asked the CAG to submit its report in four weeks and had directed the firm to place before the CAG the entire record pertaining to recovery of the total project cost of the DND flyover project as per the agreement. It had declined to stay the high court’s October 26, 2016 judgement restraining it from levying the cess. The high court had on October 26, brought cheers to millions of commuters by ruling that no toll would be collected henceforth from those using the 9.2 km-long, eight- lane flyway. The order was passed as the high court allowed a PIL by the Federation of Noida Residents’ Welfare Association. The PIL, filed in 2012, had challenged the “levy and collection of toll in the name of user fee” by NTBCL. The firm had challenged the high court verdict saying it did not take into account all aspects and submitting that factors like interest on construction cost, depreciation and maintenance expenses, which come to around Rs 12.5 lakh per day, have not been duly considered. To this, the apex court had said prima facie the issue that arose in the appeal required a detailed scrutiny as conflicting claims have been made regarding recovery of the total cost of the project by the concessionaire.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court will commence hearing from Wednesday to decide if the contentious issue of right to privacy is a fundamental right under the Constitution.Hours after referring the matter to a larger bench, the apex court today set up the nine-judge bench to be headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar. It will also comprise Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, R K Agrawal, Rohinton Fali Nariman, Abhay Manohar Sapre, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and S Abdul Nazeer.A five-judge Constitution bench headed by the CJI, which was to deal with pleas challenging the validity of the Aadhaar scheme and the right to privacy attached to it, was faced with the two past verdicts, delivered in 1950 and 1962 by larger benches, holding that the privacy right was not a fundamental right.The apex court said the nine-judge bench would deal with the limited issue of right to privacy and the correctness of the two judgements. The matter challenging the Aadhaar scheme would be then referred back to a smaller bench, it said. “During the course of the hearing today, it seems that it has become essential for us to determine whether there is any fundamental right of privacy under the Indian Constitution,” the bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud and S Abdul Nazeer, said.”The determination of this question will essentially entail whether the decision recorded by this court in M P Sharma and Ors vs. Satish Chandra, District Magistrate, Delhi and Ors. (of 1950) by an eight-judge Constitution bench, and also, in Kharak Singh vs. the State of UP and Ors. (of 1962) by a six-judge Constitution bench, that there is no such fundamental right, is the correct expression of the constitutional position,” it said in its order.The court asked Attorney General K K Venugopal, representing the Centre, and other senior advocates, including Arvind Datar, Shyam Divan, Gopal Subramanium and Anand Grover, who appeared for petitioners opposed to the Aadhaar scheme, to submit their written briefs in the meantime. At the outset, Venugopal reiterated the arguments of his predecessor Mukul Rohatgi that there have been inconsistent views so far as judicial pronouncements on right to privacy was concerned.He said the apex court in M P Sharma and Kharak Singh cases have held that right to privacy was not a fundamental right and later, the smaller benches have said that it was a fundamental right. Venugopal also said that the right to privacy is not a fundamental right and rather it is common law right which is not recognised by the Constitution.One of the counsel for petitioners termed as “regressive” the stand of the Centre that the right to privacy was common law right and not a part of fundamental right under the Constitution.The apex court, initially, referred to the 1978 judgement in the Maneka Gandhi case and said that there was no need to revisit the judgements in Kharak Singh and M P Sharma cases on right to privacy. A three-judge bench had in 2015 referred to a larger bench a batch of pleas, including the one filed by Justice (retd) K S Puttaswamy, challenging the validity of the Aadhaar scheme and the aspect of right to privacy attached to it. The apex court had agreed to set up a bench on July 12 to deal with the Aadhaar-related matters after the attorney general and senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for petitioners, had jointly mentioned the matter.The petitioners had claimed that collection and sharing of biometric information, as required under the scheme, was a breach of the “fundamental” right to privacy. Allowing the Centre’s plea, the court had framed various questions, including as to whether right to privacy was a fundamental right, to be decided by a Constitution bench. “If yes, then what would be contours of right to privacy,” the bench had said while referring the matter to the then CJI for setting up a larger bench.At an earlier hearing, then AG Rohatgi, while backing the Aadhaar card scheme, had contended that right to privacy was not a fundamental right. “No judgment explicitly cites right to privacy as a fundamental right. It is not there under the letters of Article 21 either. If this court feels that there must be clarity on this subject, only a Constitution bench can decide,” Rohatgi had said. He had cited the two judgements, pronounced by six and eight-judge benches, which had held that right to privacy was not a fundamental right.Subsequently, smaller benches had held a contrary view and, hence the matter needed to be decided by a larger bench, he had said. “Whether right to privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution of India, in the light of express ratio to the contrary by an eight-judge bench in M P Sharma case and also by a six-judge bench of this court in Kharak Singh’s case has to be decided,” Rohtagi had said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today allowed the Centre to replace the oversight committee set up to supervise the functioning of the Medical Coucil of India (MCI) with a fresh panel of five eminent doctors. A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, said the Centre had proposed the names of five eminent doctors to replace the oversight committee whose term had just expired. “The doctors proposed are all outstanding people. We are satisfied with the names,” the bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar, R K Agrawal, D Y Chandrachud and S Abdul Nazeer, said. It also gave the Centre liberty to replace any doctor in the list with another if he does not wish to be a part of the oversight committee. The bench had yesterday asked the Centre to constitute a panel which would replace the oversight committee set up last year by the apex court to oversee the MCI’s functioning till the government put in place an alternate mechanism. The committee, set up by the court on May 2 last year, was to function for a period of one year or till a suitable mechanism was brought in by the Centre to substitute it. During the hearing, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for some medical colleges, had told the bench that till date, no alternative mechanism had been put in place by the Centre despite the fact that the oversight panel was to function for only one year or till a suitable mechanism was evolved. He had argued that the MCI was bound by directions of the oversight committee but the council was not adhering to them. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, had said the tenure of the oversight committee should be extended by one more year or till the time the Centre comes out with a mechanism to deal with the issues relating to the MCI’s functioning. The apex court had on July 13 agreed to set up a five- judge constitution bench to deal with the matter after Rohatgi had said it was an urgent matter as counselling for admissions in MBBS and BDS was underway. The Centre had earlier told the apex court that it had taken steps to put the alternative mechanism in place and there was no need now for the oversight committee to continue. MCI had contended that the directions of the constitution bench which had set up the oversight committee were based on certain material which could not be controverted at the time of the order.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today directed the Centre to set up a panel to substitute the court-appointed oversight committee, headed by former CJI R M Lodha, to look after the affairs of the Medical Council of India (MCI), with the government saying it would come up with names by tomorrow. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar observed that the Centre should constitute a panel which would replace the oversight committee set up last year by the apex court to oversee the MCI’s functioning till the government put in place an alternate mechanism. “We all want this. The whole country want this. You (Centre) should have your committee. There is no shortage of eminent persons,” the bench, which also comprised Justices J Chelameswar, R K Agrawal, D Y Chandrachud and S Abdul Nazeer, said. “If the government does it, fine. And if the government will not do it, then we will have to do it. There should be an alternate mechanism as per the earlier order of this court,” the bench said. Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the apex court that the government would come up with the names for the alternate committee by tomorrow morning. “We will come up with an alternate mechanism which will deal with the grievances of medical colleges in the country,” he told the bench after which the court fixed the matter for tomorrow. The court was dealing with the question whether the apex court-appointed three-member oversight committee will continue to look after the affairs of MCI. The committee, set up by the court on May 2 last year, was to function for a period of one year or till a suitable mechanism was brought in by the Centre to substitute it. During the hearing, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for some medical colleges, told the bench that till date, no alternative mechanism has been put in place by the Centre despite the fact that the oversight panel was to function for only one year or till a suitable mechanism was evolved. He argued that the MCI was bound by the directions of the oversight committee but the council was not adhering to them. “If oversight committee has passed certain directions, the MCI is bound to obey it. They cannot say we will not obey the committee’s directions. It will amount to contempt of this court because the committee was constituted by the Supreme Court,” he said. Sibal also said that even the committee has said that the MCI has adopted an “non-compliant attitude” and defied them on several aspects. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, said the tenure of the oversight committee should be extended by one more year or till the time the Centre comes out with a mechanism to deal with the issues relating to functioning of MCI. “One year has gone by. What is the problem if the court will say that oversight committee’s term is extended by another one year? Why are we fighting over this? There are a number of petitions related to MCI issue which are pending in this court,” he said. The Solicitor General said the government had constituted a high-level committee under the chairmanship of the vice- chairman of the Niti Aayog and a National Medical Commission Bill has been drafted, which will replace the Indian Medical Council Act. He said that a Group of Ministers had suggested some changes in the draft and the bill is now ready to be placed before Parliament. The bench, however, asked, “From May 16, 2016 to May 15, 2017, you (government) were supposed to find an alternative mechanism. But you didn’t do that. Now, you give us the scheme. Is it (bill) likely to be passed in this session?” Responding to this, the Solicitor General said he cannot say whether the bill will be passed in the ongoing session. Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh told the apex court that a five member committee, comprising special Director General of Health Services and others, has been set up which will be an “alternate mechanism” to deal with the issues. During the hearing, the bench observed that the Centre was well within its right to accept or decline the recommendations of the oversight committee but the government must come out with its own panel. “I feel that this court never wanted to constitute a committee. You choose a committee having eminent persons. You are the government and you have all the resources. You do it,” the CJI said, adding that if the government had come out with its committee, the oversight panel would have gone by now. The apex court had on July 13 agreed to set up a five- judge constitution bench to deal with the matter after Rohatgi had said it was an urgent matter as counselling for admissions in MBBS and BDS was underway. The Centre had earlier told the apex court that it had taken steps to put the alternative mechanism in place and there was no need now for the oversight committee to continue. MCI had contended that the directions of the constitution bench which had set up the oversight committee were based on certain material which could not be controverted at the time of the order.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Law Ministry is learnt to have proposed the name of senior advocate K K Venugopal as the next attorney general after Mukul Rohatgi decided against continuing as the top law officer of the government. The file has been referred to the Prime Minister’s Office for a final call, highly placed sources in the Law Ministry said today. The president signs the warrant of appointment of the attorney general. Rohatgi had told the government that he would not like to go for another term as the AG. Venugopal, 86, is likely to represent the government as a law officer for the second time as he was one of the Additional Solicitors General during the Morarji Desai government. The noted constitutional expert has been associated with several government instrumentalities to represent them as a senior advocate. Lately, he has been appearing for the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate before the Supreme Court in the 2G spectrum allocation scam. Venugopal recently appeared for senior BJP leader L K Advani and others before the apex court which restored the charge of criminal conspiracy against them and ordered completion of the trial in two years.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
Sun, 11 Jun 2017-08:43pm , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attorney General of India (AGI) Mukul Rohatgi has written to the government, stating his disinterest in continuing as the top law officer. Rohatgi said he does not want to seek to continue as the AGI for the second-term.”I do not want to seek reappointment for the post. I have been made as AG for two terms. During the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government I was the AG,” he said.Rohatgi’s decision comes days after the Centre extended his term along with Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar and Additional Solicitor Generals (ASGs) for indefinite period.Son of former Delhi high court judge, Justice Awadh Behari Rohatgi was appointed as the 14th attorney general of India in June 2014. He has represented the Gujarat Government in the Supreme Court in the 2002 Gujarat riots and fake encounter death cases, including the Best Bakery and Zahira Sheikh cases.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Tuesday, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the Supreme Court (SC) that triple talaq was a matter of faith that was almost 1,400 years old, and asked who were we to say that it was un-Islamic.”If I have faith that Lord Rama was born at Ayodhya, then it’s a matter of faith and there is no question of constitutional morality,” Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the AIMPLB, told a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar.Sibal was the first from the pro-triple talaq contingent to present his argument. “We are not saying that it (triple talaq) is good and should continue permanently. We are aware that we need to change, though we do not want others to interfere and force the change on us,” he said.
ALSO READ Law Commission to go slow on report on uniform civil code; await SC verdict on triple talaqThe AIMPLB had, on several occasions, admitted that triple talaq is sinful. However, they contend that no matter how undesirable the practice, it is still lawful.Sibal contended that all three forms of talaq — Ahasn, Hasn, and Talaq-e-Biddat (triple talaq) — do not find mention in the Quran or the Hadiths. He confessed that the procedure to be followed was not laid down in the Quran. However, Sibal added that though the “Hadiths declare that talaq is not a good practice, it recognises the factum of talaq.”
ALSO READ Will bring law to regulate marriage & divorce among Muslims if SC strikes down triple talaq: GovtSibal argued that the Quran was a matter of interpretation. “All that is in the Quran, that was said and practised by the Prophet Mohammad, was recorded and memorised in the Hadiths by his companions.””These teachings, in turn, were interpreted by the scholars and communicated down the line,” he said. All this has now become part of the religious faith of various Islamic denominations. All of this constitutes the Sharia law, Sibal said.On Day 4, Sibal took the entire day to place his arguments on record before the multi-faith, all-male Bench.Sibal is expected to continue on Day 5, and will be followed by senior advocates Raju Ramchandran and VV Giri, who represent the Jamiat-ul-Hind.On Monday, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the Centre considered all forms of Muslim divorce “unilateral, extrajudicial, and unequal.” The Union would enact a new divorce law for Muslim men, if the SC struck down the existing practices, he had said. Rohatgi further contended that the apex court was not an ecclesiastical court and suggested that it was not the place to interpret the Quran.On Friday, the SC had observed that triple talaq, though legal, was the “worst and undesirable form for dissolution of marriages among Muslims.” The CJI had compared the controversial practice to capital punishment.The SC is hearing a batch of petitions that challenge the constitutional validity of triple talaq and ‘nikah halala’. However, due to paucity of time, the SC Bench ruled that a discussion on ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy would be referred to another Bench.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> With the hearing over Triple Talaq entering its third day today, the Centre on Monday assured the Supreme Court that it will come out with a law to regulate marriage and divorce among Muslims if Triple Talaq is upheld as invalid. ?The government will come out with law to regulate marriage and divorce among Muslims if court holds Triple Talaq as invalid,? Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench. Rohatgi also conveyed to the apex court bench that Triple Talaq violates Muslim women’s right to equality within the community, and also within the country Earlier in the hearing today, the Supreme Court refused to hear all the three cases of Polygamy, Nikah and Halala at once, saying it will focus on one matter at a time. The Attorney General and top law officers representing the Central government arguing in front of the five judge Constitution bench said the apex court should hear other cases also, beside Triple Talaq. However, the top court said that they have limited time, so all the matters could not be covered at present. On the second day of the hearing last Friday, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, who is the amicus curiae in the matter, said before the Supreme Court that the controversial Islamic divorce system cannot be justified whatsoever. Citing examples, Khurshid told the court that the Triple Talaq practice cannot be validated constitutionally. “There was a discussion that whether Triple Talaq is valid constitutionally. Substantiating my view with reasons and examples, I asserted that it cannot be justified and cannot be given law’s validation,” Khurshid said during the hearing. The Centre, earlier on May 11, told the apex court that it opposes the triple talaq practice and wants to fight for women equality and gender justice. However, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) counsel Kapil Sibal told the apex court that Triple Talaq is a matter that comes under the Muslim board and therefore, in his opinion, the top court should not interfere in it. “The Central Government makes rules but in my opinion the apex court should not interfere into it,” Sibal said. While hearing several pleas filed by Muslim women challenging the practice of triple talaq, the apex court observed that it would examine whether the issue is fundamental to religion or not. A five-judge bench of the apex court further observed that it would not hear polygamy issue along with the triple talaq case. Relentless debates on the validity and plausibility of this practice were instigated soon after one petitioner, Shayara Banu, challenged the Muslim personal law over instantaneous application of triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat), polygamy and nikah-halala. Supporting the stance of ending the practice of triple talaq, the Allahabad High Court had earlier asserted that the rights of any person, including Muslim women, cannot be violated in the name of ‘personal law’. In December last year, the Allahabad High Court termed the Islamic practice of divorcing a woman by uttering the word “talaq” thrice “unconstitutional.” The court further observed that triple talaq sanctioned under Muslim Personal Law that governs marriage, property and divorce violates the rights of Muslim women. “Triple talaq is unconstitutional. It violates the rights of Muslim women,” ruled the high court, adding that no personal law board was above the Constitution.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today said it was keeping open for adjudication in the future the issues of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims as the Centre insisted deliberations on these aspects as well. “It may not be possible to deal with all the three issues in the limited time we have. We will keep them pending for future,” a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said. The observation was made when Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, said that the issues of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ were also part of the order of a two-judge bench which had referred to the Constitutional bench the three issues, including the practice of triple talaq among Muslims. “The scope of referring had all the three issues that was divorce, nikah halala, polygamy. All these three issues are before this court by virtue of the reference order of the two- judge bench,” Rohatgi said. The Centre’s assertion assumes significance in the backdrop of the remarks of the apex court that it will only deal with the issue of triple talaq that too if it was fundamental to Islam. The AG asked the bench also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, U U Lalit and Abdul Nazeer to make it clear that the issues of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ are still open and would be dealt by other bench in future. “It will be dealt in future,” the bench clarified. The bench is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the practice of triple talaq among Muslims. The Centre has resumed its arguments in the case today.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India today said it is a secular state with no state religion and safeguarding the rights of minorities forms an essential core of its polity, as it came under criticism from Pakistan over treatment of minorities. Speaking at the 27th session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group at the UNHCR here, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that the Indian Constitution enshrines various provisions for the protection of the rights and interest of the minorities. Rohatgi, who led the Indian delegation at the UN Human Rights Council, said India makes no distinction between caste, creed, colour or religion of a citizen. “India is a secular state with no state religion,” he said, adding that the Indian constitution guarantees freedom of religion to every individual. He said the right to free speech and expression occupies its rightful place in the core of the Indian Constitution. “As the world s largest multi-layered democracy, we fully recognize the importance of free speech and expression. Our people are conscious of their political freedoms and exercise their choices at every opportunity,” Rohatgi told the member states. The Pakistan delegation raked up the Kashmir issue and demanded a ban on the use of pellet guns by Indian security forces. It also asked India to allow a UNHRC fact-finding team to visit Kashmir and review the situation. It also raised the issue of “mob violence” against the minorities Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Dalits in India.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India’s human rights record is set to be scrutinised at Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council in (UNHRC) at Geneva on Thursday. While the government has chosen to send Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, its highest legal officer, to defend it and explain the legal jurisprudence in India, representatives from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and from several NGOs are set to put forward a shadow report. The reports accessed by DNA show they are at variance with each other, making government position more difficult.Even as the official report filed by India’s permanent mission at the UN has highlighted achievements related to human rights front, the NHRC has made scathing comments on legal system, calling it dysfunctional with slow disposal of cases. The NHRC has also pointed out inordinate delays in providing criminal and civil litigation, with the NHRC report stating that there is need for governments to be more vigilant in view of the recent happening in a few states. Maintaining that the turmoil in Kashmir was “augmented by trans-border terrorism and jihadi funding from the neighbouring country”, it has said the use of plastic pellets by CAPFs (Central Armed Police Forces) was controversial.In its report, the government has said that AFSPA is a matter “of on-going and vibrant political debate in the country.” The government’s report further added that, “While on the one hand in 2015 one state withdrew the application of AFSPA to that state, in another the judiciary has asked the Government to consider imposing AFSPA in parts of that state.”Advance questions, that are submitted by member countries, will follow India’s presentation of its report on human rights at the nearly four-hour session. Some of these questions include India’s stand on torture, specially in Jammu and Kashmir. Czechia has asked about the measures India has adopted to step up the fight against caste-based violence and discrimination, including deeply-rooted caste-based prejudice. Netherlands has asked about rights of religious minorities and freedom of religion and belief protected under the various anti-conversion laws that are practice in seven states, and to what degree has their situations improved since the last UPR.Belgium has put forward questions on India’s measures to ensure a standard operating procedure for all state-level police personnel to register and investigate cases of violence against women. While Spain has asked India if it intends to repeal section 377 of the Penal Code to affirm the equal rights of transgender people.The hearings are held every five years for every country, that call for reports from both governmental and non-governmental agencies from the other countries of the council of 47 members, the US Congress and civil society groups, and other international agencies like Human Rights Watch.Ministry of External Affairs here said they would convey the Indian legal system’s impartial standards. On the NHRC report, which is at variance with the government, MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said it demonstrates strenghth and impartiality of Indian institutions. The council has also received dozens of submissions regarding hate speech against minorities, cases of cow vigilantism and love jihad, from advocacy groups like Centre for Justice and Peace (CJP), among others that Rohatgi will have to answer.Advocacy groups have described government report as deeply disappointing. Director Advocacy at the Indian American Muslim Council Ajit Sahi, said the government had promised at both the previous UPRs of 2008 and 2012 that it would take several steps, including the ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture, But there has been no action on these fronts.” This despite the fact that a large number of stakeholders including the civil society, the UN agencies, rapporteurs and manadates and even the NHRC have explicitly detailed such human rights abuses in India in their reports to the UPR,” he said.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lifting the curtains on the ambiguity on enrolment being voluntary, the Centre on Tuesday submitted that it will be mandatory for all. Defending the Centre’s ambitious identification system, Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi added that Aadhaar was a more robust and foolproof method when compared to the Permanent Account Number (PAN) card.Suggesting that perhaps the opposing counsels had wrongly interpreted the contested sections of the Aadhaar Act and Finance Act, the AG said, “Aadhaar is not as voluntary as they say.”The Supreme Court was hearing a batch of petitions pertaining to the constitutional legality of making Aadhaar compulsory under the Finance Act. According to that Act, passed by the Parliament in the last session of the Lok Sabha, the PAN of an individual will be invalidated unless the Aadhaar number or the enrollment number is quoted while filing tax returns.Claiming that biometrics cannot be faked — since fingerprints and irises were unique to individuals — Rohatgi said the PAN required secondary documents like ration card and driving licence, among other identity proofs, which in itself were not foolproof.”Aadhaar makes a secure and robust system through which the identity of a person cannot be faked,” the AG said before a bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan.Giving the example of an individual who is being investigated for fraud to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore, the AG said the PAN was more liable to be misused by mischief-makers. “Almost 113 crore individuals have enrolled for Aadhar as compared to 29 crore who have PAN,” the AG said. “Of them, almost 10 lakh PAN cards have been found to be fake,” he said, adding, “while the government found no instance of duplicate Aadhaar cards.”Rohatgi also said that the government has saved more than Rs 50,000 crore while disbursing subsidies since the introduction of Aadhaar. However, commenting on the issue of leaked Aadhaar details in Jharkhand, Rohatgi defended the Union saying that it was the state that leaked the data, not the Centre. He further added that it wasn’t a big deal if Aadhaar numbers were leaked — the important point was that the biometrics weren’t.Addressing the elephant in the room, the AG said, “In this world, there is no concept of reasonable privacy.” He essentially submitted that if one wanted to live in a civilised society and not like a hermit in the Himalayas, then they would have to deal with their privacy being intruded upon…. & ANALYSISThe Centre pushed for mandatory Aadhaar cards, saying that it was a more robust and foolproof method than PAN cards, which can be faked.
AG Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court that in this world, there is no concept of reasonable privacy.
He essentially submitted that if people wanted to live in a civilised society and not like hermits in the Himalayas, then they would have to deal with their privacy being intruded upon.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Conference today hit out at Mehbooba Mufti, alleging that she is interested in remaining the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir despite the “humiliating snub” by her allies on Kashmir issue. “Mehbooba Mufti will have to ask her own conscience why she is continuing as the chief minister for even one more day now. Every promise the PDP-BJP government made has been officially abandoned by the BJP without any scope for review,” the NC’s state spokesperson Junaiz Azim Mattu said in a statement here. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has said in the Supreme Court that “the government would come to the negotiation table only if the legally recognised stakeholders participate in the dialogue and not with the separatist elements who rake up the issue of accession or Azadi in Kashmir.” “This was another clear and humiliating snub to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti,” Mattu said. “It was now unambiguously clear that Mehbooba had become an insult-proof politician solely interested in remaining in her chair regardless of how she is mistreated and ridiculed by her own allies,” the NC leader alleged. “We reiterate our demand that New Delhi should waste no time in initiating open-ended, comprehensive and sustained dialogue both with Pakistan and the Hurriyat Leadership in Kashmir in a sincere effort to resolve the political issue,” he said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Paving the way for more transparency in governance, the Supreme Court on Thursday observed that the Lokpal Act in its current avatar was an “eminently workable piece of legislation and there is no justification to keep the enforcement of the Act under suspension.”Dismissing the Centre’s contention, the top court gave the Lokpal Committee the go ahead to appoint the rest of the members, including an eminent jurist, even if there was no Leader of Opposition (LOP).”If, at present, the LOP is not available, surely, the chairperson and the other two members of the Selection Committee, namely the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or his nominee, may proceed to appoint an eminent jurist as a Member of the Selection Committee under Section 4(1)(e) of the Act.”The bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha further found that Acts undergo amendments all the time and that does not mean the operation and execution of the law should be halted. “Attempts at achieving better results in the working of any statute is a perpetual and ongoing exercise dictated by the experiences gained on the working of the act. Such attempts cannot halt the operation and execution of the law which the Executive in its wisdom has already given effect to and has brought into force by resorting to the provisions of Section 1(4) of the Act.”Though the Lokpal Act was passed by the parliament in December 2013, and notified the following month, it was inactive since there was no LOP — as understood by the parliament.In fact, the Centre’s entire defence evolved around the fact that since Congress – the single largest opposition party did not have the requisite number of seats in the parliament and hence, did not have a recognized LOP, the act could not be implemented.Representing the government, Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi had said, “In the current scenario, it is impossible to constitute the Lokpal Bill because there are more than 20 proposed amendments that need to be cleared.”In the lokpal bill, the Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister, the Speaker and the LoP — a constitution post — would select the committee that would investigate allegations of corruption against public servants and officials. However, since the current Lok Sabha does not have a LoP, the bill needed to be amended to include the leader of the main opposition party – a non constitutional post in the committee, the AG explained.”(Mallikarjun) Kharge is the leader of the main Opposition party, but the government did not give him the status of Leader of Opposition,” Rohatgi had submitted before the bench. “Unless the proposed amendment is not made, the committee cannot be formed,” Rohatgi added.Senior counsel Shanti Bhushan, representing the NGO Common Cause, however contended that the Union was delaying this issue because it no longer had honest intentions. “Can there be the slightest excuse for not implementing this Bill,” Bhushan had questioned.Bhushan emphatically submitted that there was “no rule of law in this country”. Leading the argument over a batch of petitions that sought the implementation of the Bill, Bhushan prayed for a time bound direction from the apex court.The Jan Lokpal Bill, also known as the Citizen’s Ombudsman Bill, is an anti-corruption bill that was drafted by civil society activists in India seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal — an independent body to investigate corruption cases, and complete them within a year. The bill also envisaged the subsequent trial to be complete in the following year.Key points1. Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in each state will be set up.2. It would be independent to prevent any influence from ministers or bureaucrats.3. The loss caused to the exchequer would be recovered from the accused at the time of conviction.The Lokpal Bill makes a government official responsible towards his public duties. If the government official failed to dispense his duties, he/she would be liable to a financial penalty which would be given to the complainant as compensation.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today put a poser as to why there was no objection from lawmakers on the government’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for making PAN cards, a move which was given effect by the latest budget from July 1. “542 persons are sitting in Parliament, why do they not object to it? If they are not objecting on it, why should we go into it,” a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said. When it was told that the Centre has earlier made a statement in the apex court that they would not make Aadhaar mandatory, the bench said, “they cannot be bound by it. It cannot preclude Parliament from enacting a statutory provision.” The apex court was hearing three petitions challenging the constitutional validity of section 139AA of the Income Tax (IT) Act. Section 139AA, introduced through the latest budget and the Finance Act 2017, provides for mandatory quoting of Aadhaar or enrolment ID of Aadhaar application form for filing of income tax returns and making application for allotment of PAN number with effect from July 1 this year. During the hearing, the bench also observed that tax evasion existed in India and it was a “shame” that citizens do not want to pay taxes. The top court said there was no doubt that Aadhaar should be voluntary and observed that since tax evasion existed, the government could bring in new statute to stop such “leakage”. “We know that tax evasion is there. When tax evasion is there, the government is trying to block these leakages by bringing new statute. We citizens are like that. It is a shame that we do not want to pay tax,” the bench said. Defending the Centre’s stand to make Aadhaar mandatory for filing of Income tax returns and to apply for PAN, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi referred to around 10 lakh fake permanent account number (PAN) cards in the country and said Aadhaar was the only system which could prevent duplication or fake cards. “We have reached to 99 per cent of India’s population. We are not at a nascent stage,” he told the bench and questioned the maintainability of these writ petitions saying they have not raised the issue of violation of privacy. Senior advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for a petitioner, told the bench that section 139AA was not part of the original Finance Bill and was introduced at the last moment. He referred to the Aadhaar Act and said there was not a single word saying that the intention behind the statute was to check the black money and weed out fake PAN cards. To this, the bench said, “the purpose of the Aadhaar Act is different from that of section 139AA of the IT Act. Therefore, validity of section 139AA cannot be seen at the touchstone of what is there in the Aadhaar Act.” “It (Aadhaar) is voluntary, there is no doubt about it,” the apex court said, adding, “Today, we are dealing with a statutory provision which is enacted by Parliament”. The bench, which would continue hearing the arguments tomorrow, also said the purpose of Aadhaar was to extend the benefits of government welfare schemes to the poorer sections so that the money was not misused. During the hearing, the apex court, on a lighter vein, observed that when a man is getting married, he has the best income and once a maintenance petition is filed, he becomes a pauper. However, Datar said when Aadhaar has not been made mandatory in the Aadhaar Act, the government cannot make it complusory in the IT Act and the Centre had earlier given an undertaking before the court that except for social welfare schemes, they would not make it mandatory. “The Supreme Court had directed them that they cannot make it mandatory. The mandate of the Supreme Court can not be undone. My right of not to have a Aadhaar can not be taken away indirectly,” he said. He also argued that the “dangerous” thing was that as per proviso of section 139AA of the IT Act, if someone does not quote his Aadhaar number while filing IT return, his PAN card will be deemed invalid. When the bench asked whether section 139AA would also apply to non-natural persons like a company, Datar said. “No. It is applicable to individuals only.” He said that section 139AA discriminated between firms and individuals and forces a person to quote his Aadhaar for PAN and it was “virtually like a civil death”. When the petitioners said they were not raising the issue of privacy in the matter, the bench asked, “the entire thinking change the moment you exclude the privacy part.” “We are going into the validity of a Parliamentary legislation. Parliament, in its wisdom, has decided that Aadhaar should be made mandatory for PAN….It is not for this court to say that PAN was not working, so this is good. That is not permissible. We cannot question the wisdom of Parliament like this,” the bench observed. However, the Attorney General countered the petitioner’s submission and said, “10 lakh PAN cards have been found to be fake. Are they propagating a general public interest or propagating the fraud (fake PANs) which is going in”. Rohatgi also clarified that nowhere in section 139AA of IT Act, was it mentioned that it would be effective with retrospective effect. However, Datar said that in Delhi, for 100 persons, 132 Aadhaar cards have been issued and 34,000 private enrollment agencies have been blacklisted. To this, the Attorney General said in Delhi, there were migrants and the government cannot destroy the Aadhaar cards of people after their death. Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for two other petitioners, also questioned the government’s move and said no one can be compelled to have a Aadhaar card just because section 139AA says so. He also said the biometric system in Aadhaar was not fool proof and there were instances where data has been leaked. “These are issues of public interest. It is like an electronic leash and people do not want to live with it. People cannot be compelled to part away with their vital details to private enrollment agencies,” he said. The Centre had earlier faced searching questions from the apex court for making Aadhaar mandatory for PAN cards, despite its order that it should be optional. The government had earlier said that fake PAN cards were being used to “divert funds” to shell firms.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Operations against militants or insurgents may be affected if FIRs are lodged against the Army, the Supreme Court was told . The Army also told the apex court that it cannot be subjected to FIRs for carrying out anti-militancy operations in insurgency-prone areas like Jammur and Kashmir and Manipur, while alleging local bias in the judicial inquiries conducted against it in these regions, which have tarnished its image.”Judicial inquiries which are biased due to local considerations have tarnished the image of Army. Military operations cannot be dissected in a particular way. Army cannot be subjected to FIR otherwise military operations cannot be carried out,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench of Justices M B Lokur and U U Lalit. Rohatgi, appearing for the Army and the Assam Rifles, said it cannot be subjected to investigation by the state police with regard to its operations against militants in strife-torn areas.”Whether it’s Jammu and Kashmir or Manipur, we are facing the same local bias. Why doesn’t any judicial inquiry ever exonerate the Army? These inquiries (have) never said that Army did the correct thing. Army is facing problems due to bias in such inquiries,” he said.Pointing out that Army was working in very difficult situations in these areas, Rohatgi said it has its own system in place, has its own approach and is governed by different set of rules.”In every military operation, Army cannot be disbelieved. Every judicial inquiry cannot be against the Army. The alleged extra-judicial killing cases in Manipur are not cases of massacre, rather these are cases of military operations,” he said.He said the petitions under Article 32 of Associations of Widows from Manipur, seeking FIR into alleged extra- judicial killings and SIT probe, should not be considered and the court should not embark into it.During the hearing, the bench also questioned the Army over its Court of Inquiry, a fact finding proceeding.”Court of Inquiry is for the benefit of the Army. It is not for the satisfaction of public which has the right to know the truth behind any incident,” the bench said after Rohatgi alleged bias in the judicial probes conducted by district judges.The bench also pulled up the Manipur government for not taking action on such alleged fake encounters by armed forces and asked was it “not supposed to do anything”.Senior advocate V Giri, appearing for Manipur, accepted the lapse on the state government’s part but said even the High Court never asked it to register FIRs in such cases.The court then asked the Manipur counsel whether now the state government can register FIRs into these alleged cases of extra-judicial killings.”Yes, we can register FIR, if the court so directs under Article 142. There is no blockage in law with regard to lodging of FIR,” the senior advocate said.The bench asked the parties including the Centre and Manipur to suggest five names each of officials, ex-officials whom they fit are suitable for Special Investigating Team (SIT) to be constituted to investigate such cases.The apex court after perusing the names reserved its verdict on the point of lodging of FIR and constituting a SIT for investigation into the killing in which judicial inquiries have been conducted.The court is hearing a PIL seeking probe and compensation in alleged 1,528 extra-judicial killings in Manipur from 2000 to 2012 by security forces and police.The court, which has conducted hearing for three consecutive days, had earlier rapped Manipur for remaining silent over rape and murder charges against Army personnel.The bench said three such cases in which the Commissions of Inquiry had given its findings, including that of Thangjam Manorama, a Manipuri woman who was allegedly killed in the custody of the Assam Rifles on July 10, 2004, after being picked up on suspicion of working for the insurgent outfit, People Liberation Army.The Army had yesterday told the court that the judicial probes conducted into alleged extra-judicial killing charges were “biased” and slanted against them due to local factors.It alleged that the district judges, who were locals, had conducted the judicial inquiries into the alleged killings and local factors came in the way of the probe reports which went against the armed forces.During the hearing, the court was earlier told that there were 265 cases of deaths which have to be examined and there were various reports of the commission of inquiry in which serious allegations have been levelled against armed forces personnel.The apex court had earlier asked the Centre to segregate the cases related to the armed forces from the list of 265 incidents of extra-judicial killings in Manipur.The Centre had said that out of the 282 cases, which were referred to it for verification, 70 matters were found to be related to the Army and Assam Rifles, while the rest concerned the state police.In July last year, the apex court had directed a thorough probe into the alleged fake encounter killings in Manipur saying the use of “excessive or retaliatory force” by the armed forces or police was not permissible in ‘disturbed areas’ under the controversial Armed Force Special Powers Act.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Supreme Court on Thursday will hear the petition seeking direction to ban sex determination test advertisements on search engines. The apex court, last on April 11 heard the plea in the regard and observed that it cannot curtail free choice of a researcher as right to know is a fundamental right. A three-judge bench presided by Justice Dipak Misra asserted that the court cannot refrain a researchers quest. “We cannot curtail free choice of researcher as right to know is a fundamental right. This will be dangerous,” the apex court said. “There should be no advertisement on sex determination. If somebody does it, it is an offence. But suppose we pass any general order (banning all info relating to sex determination on web), it would offend Article 19(1)(a). It has got its own pedestal and sanctity and we don’t think anybody should derail it,” it added. Sabu Mathews George, the petitioner in this case, sought blocking of sex determination test advertisements on web portals including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi presented that the distinction between right to know and advertisement must be recognised. The apex court adjourned the matter till April 13. The apex court had earlier on February 17 pulled up search engine giants Google, Yahoo and Microsoft for allowing online advertisements on sex determination tests, prohibited in India.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking hearing on its curative plea against the verdict by which the protection given to armed forces during anti-militancy operations in areas where AFSPA is in force has been negated.The apex court in its verdict delivered on July 8 last year had given the state police liberty to probe the role of armed forces in alleged encounter cases in areas where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is in force.A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul agreed to hear the curative plea in which it has been alleged that the army and paramilitary forces are combat forces and there should not be this kind of fetter on them in anti-militancy operations.Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, assailed the apex court verdict which gave the powers to the state police to probe the role of armed forces in anti- militancy operation.”This court ought to have appreciated that the principles of right to self defence cannot be strictly applied while dealing with militants and terrorist elements in a hostile and unstable terrain.”This court ought to have taken into account the complexity and the reality of the conduct of military operations and tactics especially while combating terrorists,” the curative plea said.The apex court verdict on investigating the role of armed forces in encounter cases had come on a plea alleging that armed forces were misusing the protection under AFSPA in Manipur during anti-militancy operation.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi today told the Supreme Court that the right to know is a fundamental right and it cannot be curtailed by banning information on the Internet. His response came after the apex court asked him to assist in a matter related to banning of pre-natal sex determination advertisements and contents on the Internet. “There is distinction between information and advertisement. A person out of curiosity wants to know or study some thing. The right to know is a fundamental right and we cannot curtail it,” Rohatgi, who was present in the court room for some other matter, told a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra. The bench, which sought the AG’s assistance, said, “We cannot curtail free search. The right to know is a fundamental right. If we stop information, then we stop knowledge, then we stop thinking…” It said that it has to see whether section 22 of the PNDT Act does not go against the Article 19(1)(a) of Constitution which gaurantees the freedom of speech and expression. Section 22 of the Act pertains to prohibition of advertisements relating to pre-natal determination of sex and punishment for its contravention. Advocate Binu Tamta, appearing for Centre, said that it is difficult to control or supervise the content on the Internet but the stand of the other side is that there should be no advertising. Internet majors Microsoft and Google told the bench that they cannot block the information on the information expressway but they can certainly block the advertisements with regard to pre-natal sex determination under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act. The counsel for Google said it will comply with the apex court direction by removing advertisements based on terms linked to gender selection tests but cannot delete the contents with regard to research materials or medical journals. It said that preventive blockage of the content is very difficult and can only be done by curative blockage. The Internet maajors said that if the content with regard to pre-natal sex determination is blocked then entire research materials or journals will get blocked. The bench asked the parties to submit their written submissions and posted the matter for detailed hearing to April 13. The apex court had on February 16 warned that the declining numbers of the girl child was a “disastrous signal for mankind”, and directed search engines — Google, Yahoo and Microsoft –to set up in-house expert bodies “forthwith” to ensure deletion of materials which went against Indian laws prohibiting pre-natal sex determination. The court was hearing a petition by Sabu Mathew George, a doctor, who is seeking the court’s intervention in view of the falling sex ratio in the country.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A Delhi High Court judge today turned down Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s plea to recuse from hearing his petition in a DA case as he was a close relative of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, saying he was capable of judging the matter independently and fairly. Justice Vipin Sanghi, who dismissed the petition of Singh and his wife for quashing of the disproportionate assets case filed against them by the CBI, said the Congress leader and his lawyers were aware of his relationship with Rohatgi when the hearing in the case had commenced but they made the prayer at a “highly belated” stage after the judgement was reserved. “As a judge of this court, I owe my allegiance only to the Constitution of India and the laws of the land. I am completely independent – financially and otherwise, and I am not subordinate to any one, much less to the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi – either on account of his office, or on account of my personal relationship with him,” Justice Sanghi said. He said, “I am fully conscious of my responsibilities as a judge of this court and the trust that has been reposed in me including in my integrity and my independence, by the President of India in appointing me as a judge of this court. He said he would have himself recused from a case if he had even the slightest inkling or doubt in his mind that he would not be able to decide the cause freely or independently. “Like all men, I am my own conscience keeper. I would myself recuse from a case if I have even the slightest inkling or doubt in my mind that I would not be able to decide the cause freely or independently, or that it would be improper for me to judge a cause, even though, I find myself in no way incapable of judging the cause independently and fairly.” Singh had sought Justice Sanghi’s recusal from the matter on the ground that Sanghi and Rohatgi were related to each other and the Attorney General had represented CBI before the Supreme Court and pressed for transfer of the proceedings from the Himachal Pradesh High Court to the Delhi High Court. The judge said if the parties had any apprehension, they should have mentioned it at the start of the proceedings and if such a request had been made at the initial stage itself, he might have recused from the case. “… I may have recused from the case not because I find myself incapable/unable to decide this petition strictly on its merits due to my relationship with Rohatgi, but because I have no particular interest in, or attachment with any particular cause that is listed before me as per roster,” the judge said, adding that his relationship with Rohatgi does not pose a real danger of bias against Singh. (More)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways will have to shut down from tomorrow, the Supreme Court today said, exempting hill states of Sikkim, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh and areas having population up to 20,000. In a significant order passed on pleas of various states seeking modification of the court’s December 15, 2016 verdict, a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar also made it clear that the judgement banning liquor vends along highways would also be applicable to bars, pubs and restaurants as drunken driving leads to fatal road accidents. The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said that “it is suitably modifying” its December 15 verdict as there has been “some substance” in seeking the relief and exempted Sikkim and Meghalaya from the 500-metre cap on liquor vends alongside highways. It further modified the 500-metre cap rule for Himachal Pradesh and local areas which are alongside highways with a population up to 20,000, and said that they may have liquor vends at a distance of 220 metres from the highways. On the issue of non-extension of liquor vends’ licences beyond March 31, the apex court said the licences, which were given before December 15, 2016, will be valid till September 30 in case of Telangana and the same would be operational till June 30 in Andhra Pradesh. The court, however, did not give relief to Tamil Nadu, represented by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, from the 500- metre criteria. The bench said that the count’s direction that no licences for liquor vends on highways would be renewed after March 31 would remain effective for rest of the country. The court had yesterday reserved its order on pleas for a relook at its verdict banning liquor vends along national and state highways from April 1 with the attorney general saying the judgement needed rectification as the “budget of the states will go for a six”. Rohatgi had said national highways and state highways cannot be compared and what can be considered for the former cannot be considered for the latter. Besides some liquor vendors’ associations, states like Kerala, Punjab and Telangana had approached the apex court seeking modification of the judgement. The court had ordered a ban on all liquor shops along the national as well as the state highways and had made it clear that licences of existing shops will not be renewed after March 31. The verdict had come on a PIL alleging that nearly 1.42 lakh people died per year in road mishaps and that the drunken driving is a major contributor. It had also directed that all signages indicating the presence of liquor vends will be prohibited along national and state highways.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court will tomorrow pronounce its order on pleas for a relook at its verdict banning liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways from April 1 with the top law officer saying the judgement needs rectification as the “budget of the states will go for a six”. “Errors that may have crept in may be looked at. The error that has crept in is that what is good for national highways is good for state highways,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted before a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar. He said that the December 15, 2016 verdict will have its repercussion as “the budget of every states will go for a six”. Rohatgi said national highways and state highways cannot be compared and what can be considered for the former cannot be considered for the latter. “All of India cannot be compared. Some towns in totality are situated along the state highways and if you say that liquor vends cannot be allowed in the vicinity of 500 meters then where will they go,” he told the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L N Rao. He further said, “Some exception can be granted to the states to relax the condition especially as far as the state highways are concerned by reducing the limit say to 100 metres.” To this, the bench asked the attorney general to address it on the issue if he thinks the verdict is not justified as the parties have done nothing since December 15, 2016. “You cannot come at the last moment and say that relax the conditions. Where were you after December 15,” it said. A battery of lawyers appearing for several private parties said there was a need for extending the deadline of April 1 and sought modification of the order in terms of what was argued by the attorney general. Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for one of the parties, said that refusal of licences to liquor vends within 500 meters of the highways will make states suffer a huge revenue loss. The submission did not go well with the bench which told him, “Do not carry the state piggyback. You are appearing for a private party. States can bear the revenue loss unlike you.” Dhavan replied if the court says that such a law is not tenable then the entire law needs to be tested, but such “a sweeping order is not acceptable”. He said that every state has its own peculiarities and the court cannot give an order that will be application for every states. Dhavan said after hearing the parties, if the court accepts that the judgement is unconstitutional, there will be no need to go into the issue of finding a solution as has been urged. The bench said, “Whatever exercise has been taken in the judgement is under the rule. The judgement in the instant case was on the policy of the Centre and the judgement does not supplant the rules and after the judgement, many states decided to amend the law. “We have not laid down a policy,” the bench said when Dhavan questioned the apex court as to on what basis the directions were given to deprive people of the licence to run liquor vends. When he objected to the intervention of the Centre in the matter, the bench said, “You cannot say that the Union of India has no role as it has been getting the directions since 2004.” (More)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After standing up the states and several liquor associations, the Supreme Court finally held an urgent hearing on pleas that challenged the December 15, 2016 order which mandated the closure of liquor vends along state and national highways from April 1.A batch of petitions that reached the Supreme Court read that the proposed 500 metre distance from the state and national highways, after which liquor vends can be set up, is high and should be reduced.Many senior advocates representing interested parties crowded Court number 1 and unanimously sought a modification of the December order. A bench comprising of the Chief Justice of India JS Khehar along with Justices L Nageshwara Rao and DY Chandrachud heard from a battery of lawyers who all submitted that the blanket ban should be modified and appropriate measures to be taken after considering the topography of each state.Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who was speaking for two states including Kerala, submitted that the closure of the liquor vends would result in “incalculable loss of revenue to the states.” Rohatgi said that a distance of 500 metres would result in different outcome in different states. In Goa, Rohatgi said, 500 metres would mean virtually in the “middle of the sea.” Another state submitted that state highways were small and crisscrossed, hence logistically, it would be difficult to relocate the liquor vends.“States follow different excise policy that have indigenous rules, let that be considered instead,” Rohatgi added. “A blanket ban is not going to achieve the intended purpose. What can be done is accident prone spots can be identified and the ban could be tweaked accordingly,” Rohatgi said.Advocate like Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harish Salve, Rajeev Dhawan, Salman Khurshid and many others supported the idea of tweaking the order and enforcing the ban at problematic spots.After hearing the matter for around 90 minutes all the arguments opposing the ban, the CJI posted the matter for Thursday when he would continue hearing the issue. “Rest assured we do not want to be any impediment in your earning revenue. But drunken driving, a person dying is dead and gone. Imagine about his family. We are not against revenue earning by you. But suggest some alternative. We want to balance it,” CJI Khehar said.In a move to curb the menace of drunken driving, the Supreme Court banned liquor shops along national and state highways. Stressing the importance and the need to improve road safety, a bench led by then-Chief Justice of India TS Thakur further ordered that no liquor shops can operate or been seen within 500 metres of the highways.Liquor shops that are functional have been allowed to operate till April 1, 2017, however, licenses will be not be renewed or issued post March 31, 2017. The bench has ordered the chief secretaries of all the states to chalk out a plan to enforce the ban in consultation with excise and municipal officials.The SC gave this directive in response to a PIL filed by the NGO Arrive Safe. According to the NGO, around 1.42 lakh people were killed in road accidents, a majority of which were caused by drunk driving. The NGO claimed that the easy availability of liquor along highways was one of the main reasons for road accidents.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today commenced hearing on a batch of pleas seeking a relook at its verdict banning liquor vends within 500 metres of national and state highways across the country from April 1, saying that the issue is “serious” and it cannot shut its eyes. The court categorically said that the interim applications for modification of the December 15, 2016 order were not proper as no application before it has stated that which areas on national and state highways were prone to accident. It said the verdict has specifically mentioned that drunken driving on such stretches have resulted in fatality. However, a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said that it was “very conciously thinking” about what to do in the matter and for this it needed to continue the hearing tomorrow as the “matter is serious and it cannot shut its eyes”. “We are very conciously thinking what we should do. We are keeping the hearing for tomorrow. Let us be very clear. What we understand in law, the IAs (interim applications) are not proper but the issue is serious, therefore we cannot be shutting our eyes,” the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L N Rao, said. “We will not shut you (applicants) down also and we will hear the matter tomorrow. We may or may not have a relook at the issue. We are keeping our mind open. For forming our opinion, we need to hear the matter in detail,” it said. During the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that two high courts — Madras and Punjab and Haryana — had said that highways mean not only the national but also the state ones due to which liquor vends along highways across the country were on the verge of shutting down on March 31. He said the state highways across the country “criss-cross” through small towns and almost every district of a state and “if you will take 500 metres as a universial barrier” it will create problems in various states. Rohatgi said as per the verdict of December 15 last year, the licences of existing liquor vends which fall within 500 metres of the national and state highways will not be renewed after March 31. “If they are removed from commercial area then they would enter residential areas,” he said, adding that “sale of liquor, which is a major source of revenue for the states, will take a huge toll”. (More)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union government on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it cannot operationalise the Lokpal because the Parliament needs to clear several proposed amendments.Representing the government, Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi said, “In the current scenario, it is impossible to constitute the Lokpal Bill because there are more than 20 proposed amendments that need to be cleared.”In the Lokpal Bill, the Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister, the Speaker and the Leader of Opposition (LoP – a Constitution post), would select the committee that would investigate allegations of corruption against public officials. However, since the current Lok Sabha does not have an LoP, the Bill needed to be amended to include the leader of the main opposition party, a non-Constitutional post in the committee, the AG explained.”(Mallikarjun) Kharge is the leader of the main Opposition party, but the government did not give him the status of Leader of Opposition,” Rohatgi told a bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha.”Unless the proposed amendment is not made, the committee cannot be formed,” Rohatgi added.Senior counsel Shanti Bhushan, representing NGO Common Cause, made a scathing remark on the government’s delay to constitute the Bill. “They (the government) no longer have honest intentions. Can there be the slightest excuse for not implementing this Bill,” Bhushan questioned.Bhushan emphatically submitted that there was “no rule of law in this country”. Leading the argument over a batch of petitions that sought the implementation of the Bill, Bhushan prayed for a time bound direction from the apex court. “Give time-bound direction to the government. Keep the matter pending so that you may monitor the situation periodically and pass appropriate directions as and when required,” he added.The top court reserved its judgment after hearing lengthy submissions from all interested parties.Shortly after the Supreme Court announced its decision, Congress spokesperson and MP Gaurav Gogoi released a statement to the media saying how the party wanted “to raise very important subject of how the BJP government is systematically dismantling the checks and balances of our Indian democracy and it is dismantling the pillars of transparency and accountability which are so important in a modern democracy”. The statement went on to read: “The Lokpal was passed by the Congress government. We want the Lokpal; and having a Lokpal would mean that all political parties are open to scrutiny but I think the BJP government does not want them to be held accountable to any other institution except for its political masters – the RSS. They only want to be held accountable to RSS.”The Jan Lokpal Bill, also known as the Citizen’s Ombudsman Bill, is an anti-corruption bill that was drafted by civil society activists in India seeking the appointment of a Jan Lokpal — an independent body to investigate corruption cases, and complete them within a year. The bill also envisaged the subsequent trial to be complete in the following year.Key points1. Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in each state will be set up.2. It would be independent to prevent any influence from ministers or bureaucrats.3. The loss caused to the exchequer would be recovered from the accused at the time of conviction.The Lokpal Bill makes a government official responsible towards his public duties. If the government official failed to dispense his duties, he/she would be liable to a financial penalty which would be given to the complainant as compensation.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking the appointment of Lokpal in the country. A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “We have heard the arguments of all the parties. Judgement (is) reserved.” During the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the Lokpal cannot be appointed in the current scenario as amendments regarding the definition of the Leader of Opposition in the Lokpal Act was pending in Parliament. As per the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act of 2013, the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha will be part of the Lokpal selection panel. At present, there is no Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. He said that the Congress, the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, lacks requisite number of MPs. Therefore, the Leader of Opposition post was not granted to it. “Unless the proposed amendment making Leader of the Largest Opposition party as Leader of Opposition is passed by Parliament, the Lokpal can’t be appointed,” Rohatgi said. Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, said that even though the Lokpal Bill was passed by the Parliament in 2013 and came into effect in 2014, the Lokpal is not being appointed by the government deliberately. He said that the Lokpal Act mandates that the Lokpal should be appointed expeditiously. (MORE)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Supreme Court will on Tuesday hear the plea filed by Gurlad Singh Kahlon, one of the victim?s in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. Earlier, the apex court directed the Centre to deposit more than 190 files in connection with this case. Expressing serious concern over the closure of more than 190 cases, out of a total of the 293 cases referred to SIT on 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases, the court asked the Union of India to produce on record on April 25 all the files related to closure of these cases by SIT. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the apex court that the SIT in as many as 263 cases had no case files and there was no trace of any victim or witness. On February 20, the Centre filed a status report in the top court on the investigation conducted by the SIT into anti-Sikh riots cases. The court had asked the government to brief it within four weeks on the steps taken in the matter, after the Centre had said that the SIT’s work was “in progress”. Earlier, the apex court directed petitioner Gurlad Singh Kahlon to file his suggestions in connection with the riot cases. Kahlon had sought the court?s direction for setting up of the SIT to ensure speedy justice to the riot victims. Anti-Sikh riots that broke out after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi had claimed 2,433 lives in Delhi alone.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today expressed concern over the pellet gun injuries suffered by minors who indulged in stone pelting in Jammu and Kashmir and asked the Centre to consider other effective means to quell the protests as it concerns “life and death”. It conceded that though the use of pellet guns by the security forces was not a judicial issue, it can intervene in the matter to find a solution acceptable to the parties concerned. “We are trying to understand our indulgence in the matter which cannot be considered as an interference but we are putting in the points where both parties can be protected as far as possible,” a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said. The court expressed concern on the issue and gave two weeks time sought by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to ponder over the suggestions to look into the effective alternatives to the pellet guns, saying it is the issue of “life and death”. When the bench also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul made the life and death remark, Rohatgi retorted, saying, “What life and death, it has happened to us (security forces) also.” The attorney general, who was countering the contention of the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association counsel over the death and injuries of protestors besides spectators watching incidents from window of their house, said total of 1775 CRPF personnel were injured out of which 79 were grievously injured in the protests held between July 8 and August 11, 2016. He said that during the period, 252 attacks were carried out on CRPF camps and ambulances, hospitals and police vehicles were trageted with cocktails of petrol bombs, kerosene bombs, sharp-edged weapons, besides stone pelting by the protestors who usually muffled their face. The attorney general also countered the submission of the state lawyers’ body that the security forces should identify the people in the mob and follow the traditional security drill and use of pellet guns should be the last resort. He said that it is an impossible task as there are people who join the protests “in enthusiasm” and also there are those who are anti-national and trained across the border. Rohatgi said, “Pellet guns are used sparingly as the last resort. There are very serious and delicate situations. The protests there are not like a procession of lawyers marching from the Delhi High Court to the Supreme Court. “Here is the question of the nation’s integrity and security. You don’t know who is in the crowd. They are having weapons. There are stone pelters who comes from various directions. People carry sharp-edged weapons. There are a cocktails of weapons.” To this, the court asked the attorney general whether there was any instance when people from across the border were also injured. “We can’t find out. They indulge in violence and run away. We cannot find out who is innocent or who is an instigator or who is their leader,” Rohatgi said, adding that every day people from across the border are coming and attacking the security forces and the civilians. The court said that it is not the subject that has to be decided by the courts nor can there be a judicial redressal as it is a delicate situation. “It is not a question of courts saying what to do. But the situation concerns a welfare state. You need to protect the country. You need to protect the citizens. You need to protect the security forces. You need to protect the property. “Every state is specific to the needs of a situation. The situation is different and we are aware of the consequences but what concerns us is that children have suffered,” the bench observed during an hour-long hearing. It suggested that the records before the court point out that there are four to five spots of such agitation and what is required is that a constructive study to have a infrastructural set up to stop such crowds from proceedings ahead of a point. “If you can do that at four or five points then you will deal with 90 per cent of the job. You don’t have to take such measures using pellet guns,” the bench said. The court also said, “We will also not accept damage caused to the property by the people. But today we understand that there are means that can be brought into effective use to control such situations.” It suggested to the attorney general to consider other technology-based measures like microwave to disperse the protestors and water which tastes and smell aweful that will make people go away.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cause, opposed Sinha’s contention and said that the former CBI chief was given due opportunity to respond to the allegations. Bhushan alleged that Sinha had tried to scuttle the probe and met some high-profile accused who were under investigation in coal scam cases. In its January 23 order, the apex court had made it clear that it was not expressing any opinion on the merit of the allegations levelled by the petitioner or on the contents of the report prepared by the M L Sharma panel. The bench had said that CBI Director may take assistance of two officers of the agency after duly intimating the court and also take the Chief Vigilance Commissioner into confidence in respect of the investigation. It had also said that special public prosecutor for coal scam cases, senior advocate R S Cheema, would assist the CBI Director and his team on legal issues related to the matter. The apex court had earlier appointed a committee headed by M L Sharma and former central information commissioner to look into the allegations against Sinha. Sharma had submitted a report on March 4 last year. The court had on July 12 last year reserved the order on the issue after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that the panel headed by Sharma had held that Sinha’s meetings with some high-profile accused in the case prima facie indicated an attempt to influence the probe. Rohatgi, who had only received an initial report of the panel for perusal on condition of confidentiality, said it found that the visitors’ diary at Sinha’s residence was genuine. However, he had said the correctness of entries in the diary could only be ascertained by the court on the basis of evidence produced. The panel had held Sinha’s meetings with the accused as “completely inappropriate”. On December 7, 2015, the apex court had ordered handing over the original visitors’ diary at the former CBI director’s residence the Sharma panel.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today left the issue of designating lawyers as seniors to the discretion of the apex court and the high courts, and referred to a larger bench the pleas seeking framing of guidelines on the issue. Noting that the issue of designating lawyers as seniors was of “utmost importance”, the bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha asked the secretary general of the apex court to place its order and case files before Chief Justice J S Khehar today itself for consideration and setting up a larger bench to deal with it. The bench, meanwhile, considered the argument that there should not be a ban on designating lawyers as seniors by the apex court and the high courts across the country. It was argued that some of the high courts, while keeping in mind the penedency of the petition before the apex court, were not dealing with applications of lawyers seeking to be designated as senior advocates. “So far as designating lawyers as seniors is concerned, we leave it to the discretion of the full court of the Supreme Court and the high courts,” the bench said in its order. Referring to a larger bench the batch of petitions, including the one filed by senior advocate Indira Jaising, the apex court said the instant issue has “ramifications” for all High Court Bar Associations and hence needed to be dealt with by a bigger bench. At the outset, Jaising said the apex court should deal with the matter on the “judicial side” and frame uniform guidelines for designating senior lawyers. She also sought a ban for the time being on designating lawyers as seniors till the apex court decides the case. The plea, however, was opposed by Bar leaders like Ajit Kumar Sinha and Gaurav Bhatia. Jaising has sought transparency and overhaul of the “opaque system” of designating lawyers as senior advocates. Earlier, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had said that due to the pending petition, the process of designating lawyers as seniors had stopped in various high courts. He said no senior lawyer has been designated for the past one-and-a-half years. The process of designating retired high court judges as senior lawyers to enable them practise in the Supreme Court has also been stuck, he said. (More)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Friday said it would decide whether an organisation, whose members may also part of a political outfit, can file a public interest litigation (PIL) or not.The apex court’s observation came when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi objected to a PIL filed by ‘Swaraj Abhiyan’, of which Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan are members, saying the same set of people had been registered a political party with the Election Commission of India.Swaraj Abhiyan is seeking an SIT probe into alleged irregularities in the purchase of an Agusta Westland helicopter by the Chhattisgarh government for VVIP use.Seeking dismissal of the PIL, Rohatgi told the bench of Justices Dipak Misra, A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar that politicians cannot be allowed to approach the court with PILs to settle political scores.Taking note of the submission, the bench said it would first decide the “maintainability” of the plea and the issue whether such an organisation can file PILs. “The people behind this unregistered organization had sought registration as a political party called ‘Swaraj India’ before the Election Commission. Functionaries are the same in both the organisations,” the Attorney General said.Lawyer Prashant Bhushan opposed the plea of Rohatgi, saying ‘Swaraj Abhiyan’ is not a political outfit but an unregistered organisation fighting against corruption and for public welfare. Some members are common in both the organisation and the political party, he said, adding this does not render ‘Swaraj Abhiyan’ ineligible for filing a PIL.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supreme Court today said it was “tentatively not convinced” with the grounds taken by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh to challenge Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision to certify a bill to amend Aadhaar law as a money bill. As the government asserted that it fulfilled the criteria as the expenditure for the welfare schemes has to be drawn from the Consolidated Fund of India, the apex court said the issue was “important and serious” and it did not want to take a call on it in haste. It granted four weeks to Ramesh’s counsel and senior advocate P Chidambaram to prepare his case by taking into account all the objections raised by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who also said that the decision of the Speaker cannot be brought under judicial scrutiny. The remarks “tentatively, we are not convinced and you can convince us” came from a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana, after the Attorney General countered Chidambaram’s submissions by stating that all criteria laid down under the Constitution have been incorporated in the bill to be designated a money bill. Chidambaram, the former Finance Minister, was trying to convince the bench that the bill was certified as a money bill to avoid its scrutiny before the Rajya Sabha which does not have any say on a money bill. “More and more bills are certified as money bills to bypass the Rajya Sabha,” Chidambaram told the bench which asked, “what ex-facie can you show us in it (Aadhaar bill) that does not fall in the criteria for money bill”. However, after Rohatgi said the bill fulfilled all the constitutional requirements including that all the expenditure incurred on subsidies for welfare scheme would be withdrawan from the consolidated fund, the bench told the Congress leader that before this submission by the Attorney General, it was in agreement with the points raised by them. “We were quite agreeable but now certain points have been raised by the Attorney General,” the bench said. Rohatgi submitted that the Speaker of the House was a high constitutional post and decisions are taken with responsibility. However, the bench said, “So be it. But does it mean it cannot be examined. We are also holding constitutional posts. We also pass judgements and the constitution bench overturns them”. “This is a serious issue. Your (Centre) intention may be good,” the bench observed. (More)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>autopsy report to buttress its point that the young man, who was allegedly killed at Tengpora in Batamaloo area of Srinagar on July 10, had died of pellet injuries. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for state government, had then said that the post-mortem report belied the claim of the victim’s father that he was shot by policemen from point-blank range. On August 12, 2016, the apex court had ordered exhumation and autopsy of the body of Shabir under the supervision of the district and sessions judge. Rohatgi had assured the court that the probe would have the highest level of transparency and the authorities would leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of the case. The court had given liberty to the district and sessions judge of Srinagar to have the assistance of officers of his choice for the impartial exercise of carrying out the autopsy and exhumation. The apex court had observed that it was a serious matter and such a situation should be handled with a humane approach and extreme sensitivity. It had earlier stayed contempt proceedings initiated against the senior superintendent of police and inspector general of police (Kashmir Range) for not lodging an FIR against the policemen, including a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), allegedly involved in the killing of Mir. It had also issued notice to Mir’s father on the plea of the Jammu and Kashmir government. The chief judicial magistrate, Srinagar, had on July 18 directed the SSP to file an FIR against DSP Yasir Qadri and others on an application of Mir’s father. Later, contempt proceedings were initiated by the CJM for non-filing of the FIR against the police officers in connection with the incident. The family of the deceased has contested the state’s plea, claiming the killing to be a separate incident which had nothing to do with the FIR registered by the police.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today asserted that it cannot “run away from its own cause” and refused to budge on the Centre’s plea that the petitions on judicial reforms, including appointments of judges in the high courts and the apex court, should not be heard on the “judicial side” and be rejected. A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said that once a petition has been admitted for hearing by issuing notice, it cannot be wished away without a “formal order” of finality. “It is our cause. How can we run away from our own cause,” the bench, also comprising Justice N V Ramana, said when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Centre and a lawyer, who has sought to intervene in the proceedings, submitted that this court should not hear the pleas. The bench also prima facie did not agree with the contention of lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhaya, one of the PIL petitioners, that there should be all India judicial services to select judges. “In a federal structure, the high court is the highest court of the state and it is not under the control either of the central government or the Supreme Court,” it said. At the outset, Rohatgi said that there should not be parallel proceedings as the executive and the judiciary are dealing with the issue of appointment of judges on the administrative side and the pleas be dismissed. The court rejected the submission. Referring to earlier proceedings, the top law officer said that the Centre has been filing reports as and when it has been asked by the court to inform about the latest status on the appointment and transfer of judges in higher judiciary. “I have been instructed to say that the government will render all assistance,” he said while repeatedly submitting that the pleas should not be heard on the judicial side. Rohatgi referred to the NJAC judgement and said that for almost last six months, the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), which would deal with the appointment procedures of judges, is lying in limbo. The bench got irked when lawyer Mathews J Nedumpara, who has sought to intervene in the hearing of PILs on the issue, sought recusal of the CJI from hearing the case. (More)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Government today sought the dismissal of a batch of petitions on judicial reforms, including appointments of judges in High Courts and Supreme Court, saying there should not be parallel proceedings when the matter is being dealt in the administrative side. A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana said the matters have come up before it for the first time and the court would consider them after one month. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, said the matters are being dealt at the administrative side and they should not be taken up on the judicial side. He said the Memorandum of Procedure for appointment of judges have not been finalised in the last six months. Rohatgi also said the government has been filing status reports as sought by the SC at different points of time. The apex court then deferred the hearing on several petitions on the issues for a month. (More)(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre to issue a fresh notification within a week on appointment of Karnal Singh as director of Enforcement Directorate (ED) for two years in consonance with provision of the CVC Act.A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana gave the direction after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that an order was issued on October 27 last year appointing IPS officer Karnal Singh as director of ED.The bench said that the fresh order would make it clear that Singh’s appointment as ED director would be for two years from October 27 last year.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supreme Court today refused to direct the Centre to place before it the minutes of the meeting of a high-powered committee, comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition, which has selected Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma as the new CBI Director.”It (direction to call for minutes of the meeting) is not within the ambit of this writ petition. As far as this writ petition is concerned, it is over now,” a bench comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and A M Khanwilkar said. The apex court said this after it was informed by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the appointment to the post of CBI Director has been made and senior IPS officer Alok Kumar Verma has been appointed.The Centre also ruled out the demand by the NGO, Common Cause, seeking a direction to it to place before the bench the minutes of the meeting of the high-level panel on the matter.”Where is the question of placing the minutes of meeting now? A decision has been taken and order has been issued. Why are you (Bhushan) pushing for something which is over? There is no question of placing the minutes of the meeting,” Rohatgi told the bench, which disposed of the plea.Mehta also told the bench that the committee comprises the Prime Minister, CJI and the Leader of Opposition and “their wisdom cannot be questioned” like this. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the NGO, urged the bench to direct the Centre to place before it the minutes of meeting of the committee. “Let them place the minutes of meeting. Last time the Attorney General had said they would place the minutes of the meeting before the court,” he said.Bhushan also told the bench that the minutes have to be seen to ascertain whether the new appointment has been made by following the law and procedure laid down by the apex court earlier.He claimed that the meeting of the selection committee was not convened in December despite the fact that the earlier CBI Director Anil Sinha had retired on December 2.However, his arguments did not cut much ice with the bench which reminded him that there was a “change in guard” at the helm of CJI also. Bhushan also raised the issue of appointment of Rakesh Asthana as an interim CBI Director allegedly without following the prescribed procedure, but the bench said now “nothing survives in this writ petition” as the Centre has informed it that a new person has been selected. He also said there have been media reports that there was a dissent in the selection of Verma as the CBI Director and therefore there was a need to place on record the minutes to see how the decision was taken.Alok Kumar Verma, the Delhi Police Commissioner, was yesterday appointed as the new CBI Chief and his name was cleared by a three-member selection panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and comprising Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge as members. Kharge is understood to have recorded his dissent note on Verma’s name during the meeting of the selection committee held on January 16, on the ground that the officer had never served in the CBI.Earlier, the Centre had rubbished the claim that services of senior IPS officer R K Dutta, who was overseeing probe in 2G and coal scams, was curtailed in a “malafide” manner and asserted that the provisions governing the probe agency had been complied with. Rohatgi had also opposed the contention that there was malafide in shunting out Dutta from CBI and appointing Rakesh Asthana as the interim Director. The apex court had on December 9 last year sought the Centre’s response on the plea challenging the appointment of Asthana as the interim director of CBI after shifting of Dutta by curtailing his tenure in the agency.The petition had alleged that the Centre took a series of steps in a “completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Asthana was given the charge of CBI director”. Asthana, an IPS officer of 1984-batch, was elevated as CBI’s Additional Director on December 2 when its Special Director R K Dutta, who was reportedly among the frontrunners for the top post, was shifted to the Ministry of Home Affairs as Special Secretary.The plea had claimed that the government did not convene a meeting of the selection committee, even though it was fully aware that Anil Sinha was going to demit office of CBI Director on December 2. It had alleged that the government had “prematurely curtailed” Dutta’s tenure and transferred him to MHA on November 30 just two days before Sinha was slated to demit office.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As protests continue at Marina Beach in Chennai demanding removal of ban on the bull taming sport Jallikattu, the Supreme Court on Friday agreed not to pass any interim order for a week.Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the matter before the apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar. “The Central Government and the state government are trying to solve the issue,” Rohatgi told the apex court bench. The submissions, which were made to the court by the Centre, were accepted by the apex court. The apex court had earlier in its order banned Jallikattu by terming it as a ‘cruelty’ to the animal.Meanwhile, the protests over Jallikattu intensified in Chennai with thousands of protestors thronging the Marina Beach for the fourth consecutive day. DMK working president MK Stalin was earlier taken into preventive custody for halting a train during the ?Rail Roko? agitation. He has, however, been released now. The people in Coimbatore held ‘dharna’ in support of Jallikattu.In Chennai, the members of South Indian Artists association, Nadigar Sangam came out in support of Jallikattu. DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi said, “DMK working president requested the state government for an all-party meeting on the issue for demanding enactment of emergency law for Jallikattu.”Urging the protestors to end their protest, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has said that Jallikattu will return to the state in a couple of days through an ordinance or executive order that will be reviewed by President Pranab Mukherjee.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would consider the issue of maintainability raised by the Centre on a plea seeking an SIT probe into alleged irregularities in the purchase of an Agusta helicopter for VVIP use by the Chhattisgarh government and look into the CAG report on the matter.While dealing with the plea filed by Swaraj Abhiyan, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi said the issue of maintainability would arise as it would deal with the question whether applying for registration as a political party takes away an organisation’s right to raise issues relating to the economy of the country. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the apex court that petitioner Swaraj Abhiyan has applied to Election Commission for registration as a political party called ‘Swaraj India’ and the issue relating to purchase of the helicopter has been gone into by the CAG as well as Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Chhattisgarh Assembly.”We will hear after four weeks (the issue of) maintainability of the plea and also the CAG report. Cases like 2G and Coal are fundamentally based on CAG reports. We will see the CAG report (in the matter),” the bench said.When senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for Swaraj Abhiyan, said in the 2G case, the apex court had held that such petitions are maintainable, the bench said, “we want this controversy to rest”.”Assuming if one has applied for registration as a political party, does it take away his right to raise such issue relating to economy of the country? We will deal with it,” the bench said. However, Bhushan told the bench that Swaraj Abhiyan and Swaraj India were separate organisations.On the issue of maintainability of the plea, Rohatgi said some of the petitioners in the matter were either politicians or related to political parties and they were “scandalising” the issue. He said the helicopter was purchased almost 10 years ago after tendering process and there was no violation of fundamental rights as claimed by the petitioners. “Even if (petitioners) feel that an alleged offence has been committed, they have to go to police first. They have come to the court. How will the Supreme Court answer this? Documents of CAG and PAC of the Assembly are there,” he said.Bhushan alleged that helicopter was purchased at a higher price by the state government. However, the bench observed, “whether a state minister or the Chief Minister should have a helicopter or not, we will not enter into that area. We don’t think we should encroach into that area”. To this, Bhushan said, “I am only saying it should have been purchased from the company and not through middleman”.On the allegation by Bhushan that tender floated by state government was for a single vendor, the bench asked Rohatgi “how can a tender be floated for one vendor only?” To this, the Attorney General said certain specifications were required for the helicopter and ultimately it was purchased after tendering process. “Where is the question of any criminality? The CAG, PAC of the Assembly has looked into it,” he said. When the counsel for one of the petitioners claimed that names of a prominent politician from the state and his kin were there in the Panama papers, the bench shot back, “Don’t mix it. We are not hearing Panama matter”.The apex court observed, “since 2006, PILs are taking a different turn. We don’t mind it but there must by genuineness in PILs”. During arguments, Bhushan said CBI was already probing a case of purchase of choppers from AgustaWestland by the Centre so “what is the problem if this matter is also investigated”. Rohatgi said in the case which is being probed by CBI, it was discovered that there was involvement of middlemen and “India doesn’t allow middlemen”.”The Centre acted. The Ministry of Defence acted. They have cancelled some contracts. Litigation is going on. CBI is probing the case but that has nothing to do with the helicopter purchased by Chhattisgarh government way back in 2006-07.” At the fag end of hearing, the bench detagged from the main issue a PIL seeking a court-monitored probe by CBI and Enforcement Directorate in AgustaWestland helicopter scam case and allegation that some mediapersons took bribes from foreign arms dealers in connection with the deal. The bench listed this plea for hearing after six weeks.Earlier, the Centre had questioned the maintainability of petition filed by Swaraj Abhiyan and had said a “political protagonist” cannot approach the court in the “guise of a public interest litigation to settle political scores”. Swaraj Abhiyan is led by former Aam Aadmi Party members — psephologist Yogendra Yadav, advocate Prashant Bhushan and others. The Attorney General had said that another plea on a similar issue has been filed by T N Singhdeo, the Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh Assembly, and such a petition at his instance is not maintainable.Rohatgi had also contended that the Centre has cancelled all contracts with AgustaWestland after the allegations of irregularities surfaced. The apex court had on September 23 asked the Centre to clarify its stand on the plea which also sought an SIT probe into foreign bank accounts purportedly linked to the son of Chief Minister Raman Singh. The petition has sought an SIT probe into the purchase of a chopper in 2007-08 by the state government.”The actions of the Chhattisgarh government in issuing a pre-decided tender inviting bids for the purchase of specific model of a specific brand of helicopter for VIP movement shows a complete mala fide intention on the part of the respondents to subvert the tendering process and to make sure that a pre-decided seller would be given the contract,” the plea has said. “The petitioner is also seeking an inquiry into the alleged offshore accounts of Abhishek Singh (son of Raman Singh, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh) a few months after the alleged scam in the purchase of Agusta helicopter for VIP use,” the plea, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, said.It has alleged that so far no genuine attempt has been made to investigate this deal.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the Centre as to why judges and chief justices of high courts are not being transfered despite the recommendations of the collegium and asked it to file a status report on such pending transfers with detailed reasons in two weeks.
The apex court said it gives rise to “speculation and misgivings” due to continuance of such judges in the same high court and instead of sitting over the recommendation, the Centre should return back to the collegium for reconsideration.
“Continuance of judges in the same high courts despite being transferred is giving rise to speculation and misgivings. If you (the Centre) have any problem with the recommendations then send it back to us. We will look into it. There is no point sitting over it,” a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur told Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi.
Justice Thakur, who is demitting office on Tuesday as the Chief Justice of India, has been regularly questioning the government over the appointment of judges for higher judiciary and both (the Centre and the judiciary) are at loggerheads with each other over the issue.
The AG said that the collegium has sent back 37 names of judges to the government which is looking at them.
“What about the transfers of judges which has been recommended by the collegium? You are sitting over them for over 10 months,” a bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.
Rohatgi said he needs to take instructions on the pending recommendations of transfers and sought three weeks of time.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani said the top law officer of the government should have all the information.
“I have no information about the transfers. Give me some time. I will come back in three weeks with full details,” Rohatgi said.
Jethmalani said that transfer recommendation of Justice M R Shah of the Gujarat High Court is pending since February 2016.
“I do not understand why is the government so interested to keep this man over there,” he said.
At the outset, senior advocate Yatin Oza said, “Things are really bad. I cannot say a lot of things in open court in the presence of journalists and media. Recommendations which were made six months after Justice Shah’s have seen light of the day.”
First Published On : Jan 2, 2017 19:17 IST