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Allahabad HC to pronounce judgment on plea challenging PM Modi’s election

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Allahabad High Court will pronounce its judgment on a petition challenging the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat on Monday.Justice Vikram Nath earlier on November 24 passed the order after arguments were presented by petitioner Ajay Rai as well as from the respondent’s side.The court also granted time to both parties till December 1 for filing any further written submissions.Rai, who is a sitting Congress MLA from Pindra assembly segment of Uttar Pradesh, was the party’s candidate from Varanasi in the 2014 general elections.He has challenged the election of Prime Minister Modi on a number of grounds, including alleged discrepancies in his nomination papers, expenditure on election campaign and use of religious sentiments for garnering votes.The contentions made by Rai have been strongly repudiated by Modi’s team of counsels led by Satya Pal Jain, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Additional Solicitor General of India.Jain had argued that the petition was “not maintainable” and prayed for dismissing the same “in limine”.The team of lawyers arguing on behalf of Rai was led by senior high court advocate Umesh Narain Sharma, who is a former head of the legal cell of the Congress party’s state unit.

Demonetization: HC order tomorrow on plea against Rs 2.5 Lakh withdrawal limit for weddings

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court has reserved its order for Tuesday on a plea seeking relaxation of the Rs 2.5 lakh withdrawal limit for marriages after demonetization.The plea, which has also sought that old currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 should be accepted for paying court fees, came up for hearing before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal.During he hearing, the counsel appearing for petitioner said that cap of Rs 2.5 lakh withdrawal for marriages should be relaxed as there were various “customary donations” which one gives during the wedding ceremony.Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, who appeared for the Centre, told the bench that government has already given relaxation and if certain conditions are not there in place, anyone can misuse it.”We cannot have an unmeasured and uncanalised situation. We have given exemptions. For wedding, if we will not put conditions, anybody can get a marriage card printed and go to the bank to withdraw Rs 2.5 lakh,” the ASG said.Regarding the issue of payment of court fees, the bench asked Jain, “We understand that they are accepting it (old currency) for court fees?”Responding to this, the ASG said that old currency of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 was accepted as court fees and government has given various relaxation on issues concerning common people.He, however, added that Rs 100 and the new note of Rs 500 are in the market and could also be used for paying court fees.At the fag end of the hearing, the counsel for the petitioner told the bench that some kind of liberty should be given to the parents of the bride and groom to withdraw money as per their requirements and the Rs 2.5 lakh cap should be relaxed.”We will pass order tomorrow,” the bench said.The High Court is hearing a batch of petitions against Centre’s demonetisation move announced on November 8.The Supreme Court is also hearing Centre’s plea seeking transfer of all petitions pending before various courts across the country to either the apex court or one high court. The hearing is scheduled to take place on December 2.Last week, the high court had also made it clear that it will not go into the correctness of demonetisation policy as the apex court is already seized of it, on a plea against the weekly withdrawal cap of Rs 24,000.

Delhi HC not to go into correctness of demonetization policy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court said on Friday that it will not go into the correctness of the Centre’s policy on demonetization as the Supreme Court is already seized of the issue.A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice VK Rao also refused to issue any direction to the Centre to remove the cap on daily withdrawal of money deposited by the public in banks before demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. “We would not go into the correctness of the Centre’s policy on demonetization as the Supreme Court is already seized of the issue,” the bench said.The court said the people can always withdraw their money, so there is not point of issuing any direction.It said that the government decision to put a cap on weekly withdrawal of Rs 24,000 has come to an end on November 24 midnight, therefore it do not want to go into the merit of the case which has sought quashing of Clause 2 (VI) of the Centre’s notification. “Virtually by way of this writ petition you are challenging the notification on demonetization, we cannot go into it as the Supreme Court is already looking into it,” the bench said, adding that even otherwise “we find that the restriction was till November 24, and the same has expired”.The court’s order came on a plea by Ashok Sharma, who, through his counsel A Maitri, had urged for a relief on the ground that the Centre’s decision to put a cap on weekly withdrawal of Rs 24,000 is “affecting right to livelihood” of the people at large. Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, however, said that the two high courts have already dismissed the pleas challenging the demonetization and the Supreme Court is seized of the issue.He further submitted that the cap on withdrawal was till yesterday midnight and now the government has come out with a new press release with certain amendments. Yesterday, the Centre had extended till December 15 the facility of using old Rs 500 notes in public utilities and included more services like mobile recharge but stopped the over-the-counter exchange of defunct currencies and use of Rs 1,000 notes.The petitioner, a resident of Delhi and a businessman, had urged the high court to quash clause 2 (VI) of the notification by which conditions were imposed on withdrawal of money from bank accounts. “A reading of the notification shows that Clause 2 (VI) was intended for cash deposits, which were to be tendered between November 9 and December 30. This clause as well as the notification has no connection with the bank deposits, which were made prior to November 8,” the plea had said.”On account of the notification, there is no normal banking transaction available, so the petitioner has been unable to carry out his business and Clause 2 (VI) of the notification has affected his right to livelihood,” Sharma’s lawyer had submitted.Under the earlier clause 2 (VI), the weekly withdrawal limit from the banks was Rs 20,000, while the daily limit was Rs 10,000. Later, the weekly limit was increased to Rs 24,000 and the daily limit was scrapped. From the ATMs, the daily limit is Rs 2,000.

Sheena Bora murder case: Peter Mukerjea’s bail plea rejected by High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bombay High Court on Wednesday rejected the bail plea of former media baron Peter Mukerjea, arrested in the 2012 murder case of Sheena Bora, his wife Indrani’s daughter from an earlier relationship. Justice N W Sambre, while rejecting the bail, said he would pass a reasoned order on Thursday.Peter, who was arrested in the case by CBI in November last year, had approached the high court seeking bail after the sessions court rejected the same.In his bail plea, Peter refuted CBI’s contention that he and Indrani hatched the conspiracy to murder Sheena as they were against her relation with Rahul Mukerjea, Peter’s son from his first marriage.His lawyer Aabad Ponda argued that Peter had no hatred towards Sheena, and that he was fooled by Indrani and kept in the dark.”Peter only objected to Rahul and Sheena living together without getting married and when jobless. But when he came to know later that they both got engaged, he sent a message to Rahul giving them his blessings,” Ponda argued.He further claimed that Peter was kept in the dark by Indrani, who claimed that Sheena was alive and had fled from the country.”Peter was fooled by Indrani till 2013 that Sheena was alive and was in some foreign country. Peter had no clue. He was a henpecked husband who just agreed to what his wife said,” Ponda argued.He further claimed that the confessional statement of Indrani’s driver Shyamwar Rai exonerates Peter completely.Ponda had earlier said before the court that Peter was not aware of any conspiracy allegedly hatched by Indrani, her ex-husband Sanjeev Khanna and her driver Shyamwar Rai to kill Sheena.Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for CBI, reiterated that Peter was also part of the conspiracy to murder Sheena and that he too was against Sheena’s relation with Rahul.”Both Indrani and Peter were against the relationship and wanted them to separate. Moreover, Peter and Indrani together were involved in several businesses worth crores of money and hence Peter would not want to do anything to displease Indrani,” Singh said.He further argued that for over three years, a family member (Sheena) was missing and nobody in the family except Rahul was worried and making any effort to look for her.According to the prosecution, Sheena was murdered on April 24, 2012, but the crime came to light after the arrest of Rai in another case in August 2015.

SC to hear plea filed by DU professor accused of murder

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear a plea filed by Delhi University Professor Nandini Sundar, who has been named as an accused in the alleged murder of a tribal person in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.The Chhattisgarh government on last Friday assured the Supreme Court that it will not arrest Sundar, in connection with the alleged murder of a tribal person in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.The state government told this to the apex court division bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur and also comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel while replying to the plea filed by Sundar.While telling the court that no coercive action would be taken against Sundar, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the state would submit to the court its report in a sealed cover before the next date of hearing on November 15.Earlier, refuting charges of murder Nandini Sundar said it was part of the state police’s vendetta against all researchers, journalists, lawyers and activists who have been critical of their fake encounters and mass gang rapes, adding that she would take up the matter legally.”It’s part of the Chhattisgarh Police’s vendetta against all researchers, journalists, lawyers, activists who have been critical of their fake encounters, their mass gang rapes of women and the complete lawlessness of the police. This FIR against us is absurd. We haven’t even been to the area for five months. We will be taking it up legally,” Sundar told ANI.Sundar and 10 others have been booked for the murder of a tribal in Sukma.Sundar has been named in a complaint by the wife of Shamnath Baghel, who was killed by Maoists last Friday in his village in Maoist-hit Bastar.Baghel had been leading a campaign against Maoist activities since April and had recently formed the “Tangiya (axe) group”.Baghel and other villagers had in May lodged a complaint against Sundar and others for allegedly inciting tribals against the police.

Ban cash donations to political parties: Former SC judge Santosh Hegde

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lauding the move to abolish high-currency notes, former Supreme Court Judge N Santosh Hegde said the government should now take steps to bring back black money stashed in foreign banks, and ban cash donations to political parties.”I fully agree with Government of India decision. Every decision will cause some sort of a hardship to the people (in the short-term) but that cannot be a ground to say that we should allow to keep the black money in circulation,” he said.”At the time, I wish they (the government) should do something more in bringing the money in the foreign banks which was their (BJP’s) election manifesto actually,” said Hegde, who was a key figure in the Anna Hazare-led India Against Corruption movement a few years ago.Demonetising 500 and 1,000 rupee notes is as important as bringing back the black money stashed abroad, the former Solicitor General of India argued. “Huge amount of money is there outside the country, I am sure either equal or more than that in India”, he told PTI. Real estate transactions, in particular, do have large portions of black money in them, he said. “And this (the demonetisation) is good move and our financial security should improve by this. I fully appreciate this step”, added the former Karnataka Lokayukta. “They (the government) should take some steps (to bring back black money stashed abroad). I heard the Prime Minister as saying they have taken steps, shortly they may get it back but it’s two years since they came to power,” he said.According to him the demonetisation move would definitely affect political parties in the coming round of Assembly elections, including in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab Hegde termed banning of cash donations to political parties as a “very good idea”, and favoured government making it mandatory for such donors to share their PAN or Aadhaar number. “It will (then) be easy to cross-check with Income Tax Department whether such a person could have made that much of a donation. Then it becomes extremely difficult for them to give false names and give donations. Some such radical step should be taken to see that this type of black money transactions are stopped,” he said.Hegde said the effort should be to see that black money “totally becomes useless”.

No sympathy for Katju after he faces contempt of court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The turn of events in the Supreme Court which witnessed a contempt notice being issued to its former judge Markandey Katju for his comments on a blog about apex court judges, today prompted experts, barring an activist lawyer, to say that he “invited” the trouble himself. Former Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee, Rajya Sabha MP and senior advocate K T S Tulsi and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Vice President and senior advocate Ajit Kumar Sinha said that Justice Katju himself “invited it”.However, former Additional Solicitor General and activist lawyer Indira Jaising differed with them saying the blog contained Justice Katju’s personal opinion which cannot invite contempt notice.”It was his personal opinion. Whether a Supreme Court judge agrees or disagrees does not amount to contempt. I personally do not think it was contempt,” she said.Differing with her, Sorabjee said, “The statement he (Katju) made was not appropriate. He himself invited it (order). It is a sad thing and his statement was contemptuous.”His view was shared by Sinha, who said, “Katju should have confined his criticism to the judgement and not the judges. Being critical of a judge is not permissible”.”Truth is a defence and if you say something, you have to justify it. You cannot make such comments on a person like a judge. You cannot attribute motives to a judge,” he said agreeing with the apex court order issuing contempt notice to Katju.Tulsi too felt that Justice Katju’s remarks on the blog on the judges were “contemptuous”. The senior advocate and Rajya Sabha MP, who responded to the question after also going through the deliberations in the court room where Justice Katju was engaged in a heated exchange with the bench, said “today was a repeat of his contemptuous behaviour”.”Justice Katju’s response to Supreme Court in court amounted to him repeating his contemptuous behaviour. The apex court judge told him that his blog was an assault on the judges and not the judgement.”To this, Justice Katju started lecturing them. Justice Katju has to remember that he was appearing as a citizen and not as a judge or former judge. He ought to know that law is same for all citizens. By his intemperate language, the Supreme Court had no option but to issue him a contempt,” Tulsi said.Sinha was in agreement with Tulsi over the former judge’s conduct in the court room and said “in my personal capacity, I feel that his behaviour today in court was inappropriate”.

Delhi HC allows NGO to utilise funds in FCRA account

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi High Court has allowed an NGO, whose registration to receive foreign funding was not renewed by the government, to continue using the funds already available in its FCRA account.Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva however made it clear that the NGO, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), would not be entitled to receive any fresh foreign contribution till the next date of hearing on November 31.”It is directed that till the next date of hearing, the registration of petitioner shall be deemed to continue for the purposes of withdrawal of money from the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) Account for utilisation in accordance with the Act.”However, petitioner would not be entitled to receive any fresh contribution in foreign exchange till the next date of hearing,” it said.INSAF is one of the over 11,000 NGOs which recently lost their foreign funding registration under FCRA after the Centre refused to renew them.The government had recently denied FCRA registration to 25 NGOs for being allegedly involved in anti-national activities and derecognised over 11,000 such organisations for failing to apply for renewal.In the instant case, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain told the court that the action of non-renewal was taken based on intelligence inputs.He said he would place the relevant records before the court on the next date of hearing.The NGO in its plea has claimed the only communicated to it said “your application for renewal is refused”.It contended that due to non-renewal of its registration, it would neither be entitled to receive foreign contribution, nor utilise the funds already received and kept in the designated FCRA account and “all the money lying therein, for all practical purposes, would be frozen”.

Judges appointment row: ‘Underground elements’ may get into system, warns Santosh Hegde

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Sharing Chief Justice of India T S Thakur’s concern over “delay” in appointment of judges, retired Supreme Court Judge N Santosh Hegde today warned that it may lead to “all types of systems” like underground elements coming to fore for “settling” disputes.Hegde said in almost all high courts, pending vacancy of judges is 50 per cent. “As it is, there is a delay of 10 to 15 years (in disposing of cases). What will happen in the days to come? People will lose faith in the system,” he told PTI. “Once people lose faith in the system then all types of systems will come into existence, underground people would say they would settle the dispute, recovery of bad loans, ‘goondas’ (goons) go and take over and do so called ‘justice’,” he said. In a scathing attack, the Supreme Court yesterday said the government can not bring the judiciary to a “grinding halt” by not appointing high court judges despite the recommendations of its collegium long ago.The government has, however, insisted that it has increased the sanctioned strength of high court judges from 906 to 1,079 and there has been no abnormal increase in the vacancies in the high courts under NDA rule.Hegde, a former Solicitor General of India, said if the government is not agreeable to some names, they can send them back to the collegium citing reasons and the collegium would then consider it and “if it (collegium) says it (names) should be done (approved), the government is bound to accept it”. “They (government) are now harping on MoP (Memorandum of Procedure) or something, not yet drafted. All that cannot be an excuse for the purpose of filling up of vacancies. As it is, the lot of delay is causing problems to litigants,” he said.”It takes 10 to 15 years in the first court, second court and third court and then Supreme Court (to dispose of cases),” Hedge pointed out, adding, “by the time finality (judgement comes) is reached, people are tired of the whole exercise.” “They (Supreme Court and government) should sit together and thrash out the problem,” he said, adding the Chief Justice had sent the names to the government three to four months back.He said Allahabad High Court has 60 per cent vacancies, and Karnataka HC has 50 per cent.”No high court in the country has full strength. How do you expect justice delivery to go on early? That’s the expectation of all litigants,” asked Hegde. Taking into consideration the urgency because of the number of vacancies and consequential delay in disposal of cases, government should take some steps to at least clear pending names, asserted Hegde.

Delhi stung by chikungunya, dengue: Angry SC rebukes Najeeb Jung, Arvind Kejriwal

In September last year, parents of a seven-year-old boy named Avinash ran from hospital to hospital, trying in vain to save their dying child. They begged everyone to admit their child, who was suffering from dengue, but by the time someone consented to treat their son, it was too late.

The parents, not able to cope with their loss, committed suicide by jumping off a four-storeyed building in south Delhi’s Lado Sarai.

Following a Times of India report, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) passed an order on 16 September, 2015 to treat the case as a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

Dengue. Representational image. AFPDengue. Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The petition came up for hearing on 4 October. After hearing from all the parties in the case – CU Singh, senior counsel appearing on behalf of the government of Delhi, the Solicitor General appearing for the government of Delhi, the Amicus Curiae – the court held that “as all the parties have expressed the view that everybody would like to co-operate for the benefit of the people of Delhi. In our opinion, for the general interest of the people of Delhi and considering the fact that a large number of people are affected by dengue and chikungunya, it would be appropriate if a meeting is convened by the Lieutenant Governor on 5 October, 2016 at 2 pm.”

The order further read, “The participants should resolve issues relating to the better management of the problems faced by the people of Delhi due to dengue and chikungunya – and other issues, if so advised. The interests of the people of Delhi are paramount.”

According to the 4 October order, the Solicitor General stated that he will request the chief secretary of the government of Delhi to convey this to the Lieutenant Governor and the participants in the meeting will be: the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal; Health Minister Satyendra Kumar Jain; Dr Puneet Kumar Goel, commissioner of South Delhi Municipal Corporation; Mohanjeet Singh, commissioner of East Delhi Municipal Corporation; PK Gupta, commissioner of North Delhi Municipal Corporation;  Naresh Kumar, chairman of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation; Mangu Singh, chairman of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation; AK Puthia, general manager of the Northern Railway;  KK Sharma, chief secretary of Delhi; CK Mishra, union health secretary; Uday Pratap Singh, the vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and B Reddy Sankar Babu, chief executive officer of the Delhi Cantonment Board.

Further, it was agreed that the Amicus Curiae will also be present in the meeting and the L-G will be assisted by an officer of his choice in the meeting.

The meeting, however, did not bear any results as reflected in the 6 October order of the apex court when the petition was called on for hearing again. The apex court in its order observed, “We have gone through the minutes of the meeting held yesterday and are quite disappointed with the outcome.”

The order states that the Solicitor General informed that another meeting will be convened on Thursday by the Lieutenant Governor at 5.30 pm with the amicus and the officers mentioned in the order dated 4 October, 2016. However, as stated in the order, senior counsel CU Singh stated  that the chief minister is unwell and perhaps may not be able to attend the meeting. Also, that the Delhi Development Authority does not have any incumbent vice-chairman and that the chief secretary, KK Sharma, is on leave and in their place other persons in charge would participate in the meeting.

The court also made an important observation that “it was pointed out to us by learned amicus on 4 October, 2016 that there is a huge amount of garbage lying in and around the city and that is also one of the reasons for vector-borne diseases.”

“The participants will discuss effective ways to have the garbage cleared so that standards of sanitation and hygiene are maintained in and around Delhi,” the court stated in its order.

It further states that “we expect the participants to keep the interests of the people of Delhi in mind and look out at the entire exercise in a positive manner and think about the future rather than the past. We also expect the efforts to be consultative, collaborative and cooperative.”

As on 30 August, as reported by PTI, a massive surge in vector-borne diseases in the national capital was observed. Chikungunya and dengue cases in the city shot up to 423 and 487 respectively. According to the report released by the civic authorities, 423 chikungunya cases were diagnosed in Delhi till 27 August, while 368 out of the 487 dengue cases were recorded in August.

The PIL that is being heard by the apex court is a reminder of the sad episode involving Avinash’s parents and stands testament to the fact that vector-borne diseases, when not tackled sensitively, can shatter lives. In this context, the role of civic authorities becomes most important and any lethargy on their part is sure to create ‘disappointments’.

Dengue and Chikungunya case: SC imposes Rs 25K fine on Delhi Minister Satyendra Jain

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court on Monday imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain for failing to file an affidavit disclosing names of officials whom he had alleged of not cooperating in checking the menace of dengue and chikungunya in the national capital.A bench of Justices M B Lokur and D Y Chandrachud asked Jain to file the affidavit by tomorrow, saying “the allegations are very serious and you (Jain) should file it (affidavit) by October 4.”Senior advocate Chirag Uday Singh, appearing for Jain, said the politician would file the affidavit by tomorrow.”Give us 24 hours,” the counsel said. To this, the court said, “when people are dying, you don’t need 24 hours.”Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar also sought the court’s permission to file affidavit on behalf of Delhi Health Secretary.The bench then listed the matter for tomorrow.The court had on September 30 taken strong exception to Jain’s allegation that officials were not cooperating and taking responsibility to check vector-borne disease like dengue and chikungunya in the national capital and asked him to give names and evidence of those officials by October 3.An affidavit filed by Jain in response to notices issued to Delhi government on a PIL, which was taken suo motu cognisance of by the apex court, said officials have not been cooperating to curb the diseases.Jain, in the affidavit, had said that officials were not taking responsibility and all files pertaining to diseases like dengue and chikungunya were being sent to LG for clearance.Jain had filed the affidavit after the apex court on September 26 had sought response from the Delhi government on steps being taken to check vector-borne diseases. The Centre had told the apex court that it was the duty of Delhi government to ensure that the national capital remained clean and free from diseases like chikungunya and dengue.The apex court had suo motu taken cognizance of the death of a 7-year-old boy due to dengue last year after being allegedly denied treatment by five private hospitals and subsequent suicide by his parents, and sought response from Delhi government.

Cauvery dispute: Special session of Karnataka Assembly to decide on SC’s order called on Friday

Bengaluru: In a move that may set the state on a collision course with the judiciary, a special session of both Houses of Karnataka legislature will be held on Friday to take a call on the Supreme Court’s direction to the state to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu.

Representational image of Cauvery water. CNN-News18

Representational image of Cauvery water. CNN-News18

Ahead of the session, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah met Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti in Delhi on Thursday, a day after the cabinet decided to defer the release of water and convene the legislature session amid escalating row between the two neighbouring states.

Apprising the Union Minister of the ground realities on its inability in implementing the Apex Court order, the chief minister requested the Union Government to file an objection against the court’s direction to constitute Cauvery Water Management Board.

“It is difficult for us to release water, already as per the Supreme Court order we have released 12,000 cusecs for 14 days.There is no water in our reservoirs. What is remaining in four reservoirs is only 26 TMC water,whereas we need 27 TMC to
supply drinking water to Mandya, Mysuru,  Bengaluru and nearby areas,” he told reporters in Delhi after meeting Bharti.

Pointing out that Tamil Nadu is seeking water for irrigation and the Mettur reservoir there has storage of 52 TMC water, he said “I have explained all this to the Minister.”

Noting that the Apex Court had also asked the Centre to constitute the Cauvery Management Board, he said “it was uncalled for, neither us nor they (Tamil Nadu) had made a prayer for it. “I have requested that Solicitor General or Additional Solicitor General who represents government of India file an objection for it on 27 September.”

The Cauvery Supervisory Committee had on 19 September asked Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs per day from 21 September to 30 September, but the Apex Court had on 20 September doubled the quantum to 6,000 cusecs from 21 to 27 September after Tamil Nadu pressed for water to save its samba paddy crop.

It had also directed the Centre to constitute within four weeks the Cauvery Water Management Board as directed by Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in its  award. Siddaramaiah on Thursday also met Governor Vajubhai Vala and former Chief Minister SM Krishna ahead of his visit to Delhi.

Danish woman gangrape: Quantum of punishment likely to be declared tomorrow

Delhi court had on Monday held the five accused guilty in the 2014 gang-rape case, they were held guilty under Sections 376 D, 366, 342, 395 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Delhi Police on Thursday sought maximum punishment for five convicts involved in the gang-rape of a 52-year-old Danish woman. Meanwhile, the Delhi court has reserved its order for pronouncing the quantum of punishment on the convicted till Friday.The court had on Monday held the five accused guilty in the 2014 gang-rape case. All five adult accused namely Mahendra alias Ganja (24), Mohd Raja (22), Raju (23), Arjun (21) and Raju Chakka (22) were held guilty under Sections 376 D, 366, 342, 395 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Nine men, including three juveniles, were accused of robbing and raping the 52-year-old Danish woman at knife-point near New Delhi railway station in January 2014 after she sought directions to her hotel in Paharganj area.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Additional Solicitor General had earlier on May 26 fixed the matter for judgement after he concluded hearing final arguments of both the Delhi Police and the defence counsel. While the prosecution submitted that all evidence nails the accused, the defence counsel claimed that his clients were innocent.Shyam Lal, one of the accused, died in February in Delhi’s Tihar Jail and the proceedings against him in this case were abated. The three minors are facing proceedings before the Juvenile Justice Board in connection with this case.

Cops should be like pizza delivery boys, reach crime scene in 10 minutes: Delhi HC

“Like a pizza boy delivering the stuff faster than the guaranteed half-an-hour”, the Delhi police should reach the crime scene before the current response time of ten minutes to earn the “faith” of people, the Delhi High Court today said. “We are concerned over the response time of the police team in reaching the crime spot.They should reach quickly in order to give guarantee to citizens of Delhi that they are safe here,” a division bench of B D Ahmed and R K Gauba said, adding “police will have to earn the faith of the public that they are always there for them in need”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The court was hearing a PIL initiated by it after the December 16, 2012 gangrape case, in which it has been giving directions from time to time with regard to improving crime investigation and protection of women in the national capital. The court said, “The response time as given by you (police) is very important. It is to check the efficiency of the police. You will have to ensure that you reach the crime scene before ten minutes.”The bench gave the direction on the submissions made by Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain who, while reading the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), said that to “ensure safety and security of women in the national capital, response time of the Delhi police to distress calls reportedly reduced to 10 minutes”.”The response time of police should be known to everyone so that the citizens here are aware that the police are always there on time at the crime scenes,” the bench said. The court asked the police to file an affidavit with regard to the concern raised by it.It also expressed concern over the way the police detect crimes, saying in most of the cases the criminals “go scot free due to absence of strong evidence, like proper photos of crime scenes and lack of forensic experts”. The bench said that the police team should comprise “experts, including a forensic pathologist, who determine the cause of death by examining a corpse”. It said the Centre, AIIMS, Delhi government and municipal bodies here should file an affidavit before July 27 indicating whether there is any forensic pathologist working in their hospitals

Najeeb Jung causing delay in regularisation of govt teachers jobs, says AAP; LG office denies

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday accused Lt Governor Najeeb Jung of “delaying” Delhi government’s proposal to give priority to regularise the jobs of 17,000 guest teachers working in government schools, a charge refuted by the LG’s office.Sisodia, who also holds education portfolio, claimed that the proposal is pending with the LG office since January but the Lt Governor is yet to give his nod.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, sources in the LG office said the government had sent the proposal to the LG office on April 28 and it has been sent to the Additional Solicitor General for legal advice after consultation with the Deputy CM.The Deputy CM has written to Jung requesting him to give approval to government’s proposal so that 17,000 guest teachers can be ensured permanent jobs for them.He has also written to the Opposition leader in Delhi Assembly, Vijendra Gupta, to take up the issue with the Centre and request it to ask the LG to give his nod to the proposal.Sources in the LG office said “there is no delay on the part of the LG. We received the proposal from Delhi government on April 28. There is a need to discuss legal and constitutional provisions on the proposal, following which it has been sent to the Additional Solicitor General for legal advice.””Once we get legal advice, we will proceed accordingly,” they said, adding the charge that the file was pending with the LG’s office since January is “totally baseless”.The proposal is a part of AAP government’s decision to make the jobs of all contractual employees, who are working with its different departments, permanent.”I want to ask why the Lt Governor is not giving his nod to this proposal. I have personally requested him several times to do the same but still it is pending with his office.”LG had made some suggestions which we have incorporated in our proposal. He had objected to give weightage to guest teachers’ experience. If we remove this weightage point, how will these guest teachers get opportunity in getting their jobs permanent?” Sisodia told reporters here.As per proposal, guest teachers will be given priority while applying for permanent jobs. They will be given priority on the basis of their experience, exams and age.Since AAP has come to power, the Arvind Kejriwal government and the LG have been at loggerheads on a range of issues, including transfer and postings of officers and formation of Commission of Inquiry.Two days ago, Jung had sought a file pertaining to app-based Premium Bus Scheme to be rolled out from June 1 even as the transport department of government had notified it earlier.

Right to die? Here’s what you need to know about the euthanasia debate

Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, while dealing with a case regarding passive euthanasia, had quoted an evocative line written by the Urdu post Mirza Ghalib—“Marte hain aarzoo mein marne ki/maut aati hai par nahi aati.”  The apex court’s judgment in March 2011 gave rise to a debate on the ethics surrounding euthanasia, and gave rise to the question of whether the right to die could be included as a part of the right to life.

The Union government has now come up with a draft bill on passive euthanasia and has invited comments on it from people till 19 June. This comes more than five years after a bench of the Supreme Court expressed its opinion that passive euthanasia should be legalised. The court laid down a set of guidelines by which passive euthanasia can be legalised through a High Court-monitored mechanism.

File photo of Supreme Court. AFPFile photo of Supreme Court. AFP

File photo of Supreme Court. AFP

In January, after initially opposing passive euthanasia, the Union government told the Supreme Court that it was finalising a legislation which would permit it, as per a report in The Times of India. On 15 February, the Supreme Court directed the government to consider the matter of passive euthanasia and made it clear that pendency in the apex court should not come in the way of authorities to take a decision on the matter.

Urging that the public debate on the contentious issue would be a better course, Additional Solicitor General PS Patwalia, appearing for the Centre, told an apex court bench of Justices Anil R Dave, Kurian Joseph, Shiva Kirti Singh, AK Goel and RF Nariman that the law commission report was under examination of the health ministry.

Seeking deferment of court hearing till July, Patwalia told the constitution bench that once the health ministry examined the law commission report, the law ministry will draft the necessary law.

The proposed Bill gives patients the right to withdraw medical treatment to herself or himself and ‘allow nature to take its own course.’ If a patient expresses a decision to withdraw treatment, the decision would be binding on the medical practitioner. The medical practitioner, however, is not barred from giving palliative care.

The draft, however, disappointed experts who wanted clarity on the concept of a ‘living will’, as per The Times of India report. A living will is a directive for the future given by a patient that he or she should not given medical treatment in a case of terminal illness. The proposed Bill mentions that advance medical directives will not be binding on the medical practitioner.

With inputs from IANS

Euthanasia by Firstpost

Centre seeks SC’s nod to hold NEET in six regional languages

New Delhi: The Supreme Court may consider the central government’s plea to hold the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) in Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Assamese, Bengali and Gujarati, besides English and Hindi.

Supreme Court. File photo. Reuters

Supreme Court. File photo. Reuters

An apex court bench comprising Justice Anil R Dave and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said they will consult Justice Shiva Kirti Singh as Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar sought the court’s clarification as to whether the phase two of NEET could not be held in six languages other than English and Hindi.

The phase two of NEET for admission to medical courses is scheduled on 24 July.

When Ranjit Kumar brought up the matter, the bench said: “We have left it to you,” on Tuesday.

Ranjit Kumar told the court that this aspect of Monday’s proceedings have not been addressed in the order passed by the court.

On Monday, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had expressed the apprehension that getting the question paper translated into six languages other than English and Hindi could result in its leakage.

Even the Medical Council of India (MCI) had said that eventually the NEET should be conducted in English only as medical books are not available in any language other than English.

NEET issue: Private medical colleges can’t take separate entrance tests, says SC

Unaided private medical colleges across the country cannot be permitted to go ahead with their pre-scheduled tests for admissions to MBBS and BDS courses in addition to the recently revived single-window entrance NEET, the Supreme Court on Thursday said.”There is no question of allowing any exam by private institutions,” a three-judge bench headed by Justice A R Dave said when some lawyers sought clarification on the fate of the entrance tests which have either been conducted or about to be held by the private colleges.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In another key development, the bench, also comprising justices Shiva Kirti Singh and Adarsh Kumar Goel, asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to take instruction from the Centre on feasibility of allowing some states, which have already conducted their separate entrance tests, to continue with the admission process for the current academic session. It also asked Kumar to apprise it as to whether all the students, who appeared in All India Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Test (AIPMT) which later became National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) on May 1, can be allowed to re-appear on NEET-II to be held on July 24.The bench said the students, who focused on state tests believing that they had better chances of being selected and did not seriously prepare for AIPMT despite filling up the forms, should be allowed to re-appear in NEET-II.”I cannot say it is impossible, but it would be very difficult,” Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for CBSE, said and referred to the fact that over 6 lakh students appeared in NEET-I.Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who represents MCI, suggested that the students cannot avail two opportunities in one examination and those, who take up tests twice, will have to forgo the ranking obtained in one of the two tests results.The court sought views of the Centre and the CBSE when the counsel for various states including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir made fervent appeals against the NEET.States like Gujarat and Maharashtra said the students who prepare for the state entrance tests in vernacular languages like Gujarati and Marathi would be at “disadvantage” if they are suddenly asked to take up the NEET in view of the fact that the state tests are now invalid.Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Gujarat, said, “Had this NEET come six months back, I would not have said all this. At least consider deferring the NEET by one year.” He also referred to the question papers, written in Gujarati, of the entrance tests to highlight the inconvenience which could be now faced by students in suddenly taking up the NEET.Senior advocate Shyam Diwan, appearing for Maharashtra, echoed the same views and said that moreover, the entrance examination in the state is backed by the statute which is still in force and its validity is not under challenge before the apex court.”35 questions out of 200 in NEET-I was outside the syllabus of the Maharashtra board and such things dis entitle many students who prepare for the state test,” he said, adding that the state can file an affidavit to this effect.”Is this not changing the goal post,” he asked, adding that the state, at least, be allowed to continue with its test for this academic year.Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, also opposed the NEET and referred to additional legal and constitutional points to highlight that the state has special status and cannot be compelled to go for the NEET.Jammu and Kashmir government cited constitutional provision of Article 370 read with Article 35 A and section 6 of the J&K constitution to contend that it is the state which is entitled to conduct the test and the students cannot be admitted to these courses from outside the state through NEET.Further, on the educational aspect, only the state government has the legislative competence and Centre cannot interfere in it, he said, adding that the students, hailing, from the state, do not take up AIPMT.Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Rajeev Dhawan went a step ahead and questioned the legality of the subsequent orders passed by the court on NEET saying after recalling of the verdict, scraping the NEET, a larger bench should hear and pass further orders in the matter.”The recall order nullifies the judgement. It is quite clear that your lordships are in great hurry… This is not the way a judgement is reviewed and recalled,” Dhawan said.At the outset, some lawyers sought clarification regarding pre-scheduled examinations, which have either been conducted or about to be held, of states and private medical colleges and referred to a report published in a leading news paper.”Go and seek clarification from the …paper. As of now, the (NEET) regulations are revived. The clarity would be required when there is confusion,” the bench said.The Solicitor General, during the hearing, read amended NEET notification and said they take care of the rights of minority and linguistic institutions. The reservation policy of a particular state is not being tampered with by the NEET regulations, he said.Earlier, the court had commenced the crucial hearing on the pleas of state governments, private medical colleges and minority institutions like CMC Vellore and Ludhiana seeking nod to hold pre-scheduled separate entrance exams for MBBS and BDS courses. The states, opposing NEET, alleged that there are marked differences in syllabus for the state entrance tests and the NEET.During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the CBSE, had said the first phase of NEET was conducted without any glitch and around 6.5 lakh students took up the test.The apex court had on April 29, said the entrance test for admission to MBBS and BDS courses for the academic year 2016-17 will be held as per the schedule through the two- phased common entrance test NEET on May 1 and July 24.On April 28, the court had rejected opposition for holding NEET by states, including Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Association of Karnataka Medical Colleges, besides minority institutions like CMC, Vellore.The apex court order had implied that all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under NEET and those examinations which have already taken place or slated to be conducted separately stand scrapped. It had also revived the government’s December 21, 2010 notification for holding a single common entrance test through NEET with a clarification that any challenge on the issue would directly come before it and no high court can interfere.

AAP govt, MCDs have responsibility to pay salaries: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court on Monday told the AAP government and the three municipal corporations here that they are responsible for paying salaries to the employees of civic bodies and cannot say they do not have the funds. “You (government and civic bodies) cannot say we do not have the funds so we cannot release the salaries. You have a responsibility and if you will not comply with the directions then we will pass appropriate order,” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench said this after it was informed that salaries for March were not paid to all the employees of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC). Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, who appeared for EDMC, claimed they have paid salaries for March to all the employees.”As far as the EDMC is concerned, we have paid all the salaries till March 2016,” she said.However, the employees union alleged that 50 per cent employees of EDMC have not been paid the salary of March.The counsel appearing for the Delhi government informed the bench that funds have been released for paying salaries to the employees of EDMC. The bench has fixed the matter for hearing on May 10 and has asked the employee unions to file affidavit if salaries are not paid to them till “7th of every month”.On April 19, the bench had directed the three civic bodies to ensure that the wages for the month of March be paid to all the sanitation workers “within a week without fail”.It had directed the civic bodies to pay regular salaries to the safai karamcharis “on or before 7th of every month” for smooth functioning of corporations, whose employees frequently go on strike due to non-payment of salaries.

Delhi Culture Minister Kapil Mishra targets Centre over Kohinoor flip-flop

New Delhi: Delhi Culture Minister Kapil Mishra on Thursday accused the Centre of “embarrassing” the country through its flip-flop on the return of Kohinoor diamond from Britain.

Mishra pointed to government’s stand in the Supreme Court that the Kohinoor diamond was given to Britain as gift by erstwhile Punjab rulers and expressed surprise over the subsequent U-turn wherein it vowed to make all efforts to bring back the valuable piece.

The Kohinoor diamond. File photo. Getty imagesThe Kohinoor diamond. File photo. Getty images

The Kohinoor diamond. File photo. Getty images

In a letter to Union culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, Mishra wondered whether the government is unaware of its own policy on a priced heritage like Kohinoor.

This comes a day after the government claimed it has not yet conveyed its views to the court “contrary to what is being misrepresented” in the media.

Although Mishra claimed that the “affidavit” filed by the Centre ran against facts, the government has maintained that it was merely an “oral statement”.

“The Solicitor General of India was asked to seek the views of the government of India, which have not yet been conveyed. The Solicitor General of India informed the honourable court about the history of the diamond and gave an oral statement on the basis of the existing references made available by ASI.

“Thus, it should be reaffirmed that the government of India has not yet conveyed its views to the court, contrary to what is being misrepresented,” the government has said in a release.

Mishra said,”People who are aware of the country’s history are also baffled as to why the Centre is in a hurry to end India’s right over the diamond forever… Today even Pakistan is claiming its right over Kohinoor and India’s position will strengthen Pakistan’s claim.

“This is embarrassing for the government of any country. Is the government unaware of its own position on a priced heritage which can also be described as its national identity?.”

Govt makes a U-turn on Kohinoor, says will make all efforts to bring back the diamond

New Delhi: Government on Tuesday night made a U-turn on the Kohinoor issue saying it will make all efforts to bring back the valued diamond it had said in the Supreme Court was “neither stolen nor forcibly taken” by British rulers but given to it by erstwhile rulers of Punjab.

In a statement, the government claimed it has not yet conveyed its views to the court “contrary to what is being misrepresented” in the media.

The government statement came a day after the Solicitor General told the Supreme Court, “Kohinoor cannot be said to have been forcibly taken or stolen as it was given by the successors of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to East India Company in 1849 as compensation for helping them in the Sikh wars.”

The court was hearing a PIL which sought government action for the return of over USD 200 million Kohinoor diamond from the UK.

Kohinoor Diamond. Image courtesy: Getty imagesKohinoor Diamond. Image courtesy: Getty images

Kohinoor Diamond. Image courtesy: Getty images

Wishing to put on record that the news items on the issue “are not based on facts”, the official release said the government reiterates its resolve to make all possible efforts to bring back the Kohinoor Diamond in an amicable manner.

The release said the factual position is that the matter is sub-judice at present and the PIL is yet to be admitted.

“The Solicitor General of India was asked to seek the views of the government of India, which have not yet been conveyed. The Solicitor General of India informed the honourable court about the history of the diamond and gave an oral statement on the basis of the existing references made available by the ASI.

“Thus, it should be reaffirmed that the government of India has not yet conveyed its views to the court, contrary to what is being misrepresented,” it said.

The release also noted that the court granted six weeks time on the prayer of the Solicitor General to take instructions for making his submission in the matter.

“… With regard to the Kohinoor Diamond too, government of India remains hopeful for an amicable outcome whereby India gets back a valued piece of art with strong roots in our nation’s history,” it added.

“The status report on which the preliminary submission was made by the Solicitor General have references to the stand taken by Governments earlier that the Kohinoor was a gift and cannot be categorised as an object stolen.

“The material further has references to the views of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru dating back to 1956. Pandit Nehru went on record saying that there is no ground to claim this art treasure back. He also added that efforts to get the Kohinoor back would lead to difficulties,” the release said.

According to the release, Nehru also said, “To exploit our good relations with some country to obtain free gifts from it of valuable articles does not seem to be desirable. On the other hand, it does seem to be desirable that foreign museums should have Indian objects of art.”

Ever since Narendra Modi has taken over as Prime Minister, it said his efforts led to three significant pieces of India’s history coming back home which did not affect the relations with the respective countries.

“In October 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel returned a 10th century Indian statue of Goddess Durga that was stolen in 1990 and found in 2012 at a museum in Germany.

“In April 2015, then Canadian PM Stephen Harper returned a sculpture known as the ‘Parrot Lady’, which dates back to almost 900 years.

“Then Australian PM Tony Abbott, on his India visit in 2014 had returned antique statues of Hindu deities that were in Australian art galleries.

“None of these gestures affected India’s relations with either Canada, Germany or Australia. It was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who as the Chief Minister got back the ashes of Shyamji Krishna Varma almost 70 years after his death,” the release said.

Govt tells Supreme Court, India should not claim Kohinoor

The NDA Government on Monday told the Supreme Court that as per the Ministry of Culture, India should not stake a claim to the famed Kohinoor diamond as ‘it was neither stolen nor forcibly taken away.’Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the government, said this was the stand of the Culture Ministry. “Ministry of External Affairs is also a party and their response is yet to come,” he informed the court. He also told the apex court that the Kohinoor diamond was handed over by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to the East India Company. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Justice TS Thakur asked the Centre if it wants the case to be dismissed as they would face a problem in the future when putting forward any legitimate claim. The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to file a detailed reply within six weeks. The apex court had on April 9 asked the Centre to disclose its stand on bringing back the diamond. The apex court made this observation while hearing a petition filed by All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front.The petition had said that the government was not making efforts to bring the diamond back.The Solicitor General said that he would seek an instruction from the government and then inform the court. The diamond was, by force, made to be presented to Queen Victoria in 1850, by the Marquess of Dalhousie, the British governor-general of Punjab. The people have been demanding the return of the 105-carat stone for years.The British Government had in 2013 rejected demands for the return of the Kohinoor.

SC asks Centre to clarify stand on bringing back Kohinoor

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the government to clarify its stand on a PIL seeking return of Kohinoor diamond in the country. A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur, which did not issue notice on the PIL, asked the Solicitor General to seek instructions in the matter within a week.”Everybody is claiming the Kohinoor. How many countries are claiming Kohinoor? Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and even South Africa. Somebody here is also asking for the Kohinoor. Do you know about it,” the bench asked the Solicitor General.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said he was unaware about it and would need time to seek instructions and get back.During the hearing, the bench, also comprising Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit, said there has been a press report attributing statements to the British Prime Minister quoting him as saying, “if we were to accept such demands, British Museums would be empty”.”Why don’t you approach the government? Hasn’t the government taken up the matter? Government has done something. They have done whatever it could,” the bench told the petitioner.The apex court was hearing a PIL filed by All India Human Rights & Social Justice Front seeking directions to the High Commissioner of United Kingdom for return of the diamond besides several other treasures.The PIL has made Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Culture, High Commissioners of UK, Pakistan and Bangladesh as parties in the case. It has also sought return of the “ring and talwar of Tipu Sultan and other treasures of Tipu Sultan, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Rani of Jhansi, Nawab Mir Ahmad Ali Banda and other rulers of India.”

Supreme Court asks Centre to file committee report on personal laws

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to file before it the report of a committee which was constituted earlier to look into the aspects of personal laws relating to marriage, divorce and custody prevalent in various religious minorities, including Muslims.A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur asked Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, to submit the report within six weeks in the court.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench also asked the Ministry of Minority Affairs to file its response to the petition filed by one Shayara Bano challenging the constitutionality of Muslim practices of polygamy, triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat) and nikah halala.Talaq-e–bidat is a Muslim man divorcing his wife by pronouncing more than one talaq in a single tuhr (the period between two menstruations), or in a tuhr after coitus, or pronouncing an irrevocable instantaneous divorce at one go (unilateral triple-talaq).Earlier, the court sought response of the Centre on Bano’s plea challenging constitutionality of Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 in so far as it seeks to recognise and validate polygamy, triple talaq and nikah halala, and had tagged the matter with a similar suo motu petition.Bano has said she was subjected to cruelty and dowry demands from her husband and in-laws and was administered drugs that “that caused her memory to fade, kept her unconscious” and made her “critically ill” at which point her husband divorced her by triple talaq.The petitioner has also challenged the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, saying that it fails to provide Indian Muslim women with protection from bigamy.Bano has stated in her petition that the issue of gender discrimination against Muslim women under Muslim personal laws, specifically the lack of safeguards against arbitrary divorce and second marriage by a Muslim husband during currency of first marriage notwithstanding the guarantees of the Constitution, needs to be examined by the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court gives govt time to suggest ways to ban child pornography

The Supreme Court on Monday gave time to the government to suggest ways to ban child pornography in all its forms and took on record the Centre’s earlier direction to internet service providers to block porn sites.”In pursuance to our earlier order, some suggestions have been filed. The Centre has sought two weeks time to file its suggestions. Put up the matter for further hearing in the week commencing from April 18,” a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said. Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, said due to holidays, the meeting of concerned departments could not be held and sought two weeks to file suggestions on the issue of banning child pornography.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench, also comprising Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, took on record the suggestions given by the advocate Vijay Panjwani appearing on behalf of petitioner Kamlesh Vaswani to block the pornographic sites, especially those containing child pornographic contents. Panjwani also placed on record, the government’s last year’s order in which Internet Service Providers were directed to block websites containing pornographic content, submitting that similar steps are required to be taken to ban such websites containing child pornographic materials.The apex court had on February 26, asked the government to suggest ways to ban child pornography saying the nation cannot “afford to carry on any experiment” in the name of “liberty or freedom of speech and expression”.It had said that innocent children cannot be made prey to this kind of painful situation and a nation cannot afford to carry on any experiment on children in the name of liberty or for that matter freedom of speech and expression. It had asked the government to seek advice from experts and suggestions from the National Commission for Women (NCW) on banning of websites dealing with adult and child pornography.A women lawyers’ body had earlier moved the apex court seeking blocking of all porn websites, saying that pornography “corrupts” the mind of the young generation and leads them to commit crime against women and children. The intervention application filed by the SCWLA, had come after the Centre’s decision to lift ban on 857 porn sites.On August 10, last year, the government had told the Supreme Court that it does not believe in a “totalitarian” state and cannot become moral police. It had termed the issue relating to banning of porn sites as a “grey area” and said that violation of fundamental right of speech and expression will also arise and hence, the matter needed public debate.The petitioner had pleaded that although watching obscene videos is not an offence, pornographic sites should be banned as they were one of the major causes for crimes against women. “The sexual content that kids are accessing today is far more graphic, violent, brutal, deviant and destructive and has put entire society in danger, so also safety threats to public order in India.”The petitioner most respectfully submits that most of the offences committed against women/girls/children are fuelled by pornography. The worrying issue is the severity and gravity of the images are increasing. It is a matter of serious concern that pre-pubescent children are being raped,” it had said.

Hate speech: Centre opposes Subramanian Swamy’s plea in Supreme Court

The Centre on Monday termed as “not maintainable” and opposed in the Supreme Court the plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy challenging constitutional validity of certain IPC provisions on hate speech and writing.Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre, told the bench comprising justices Anil R Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel that the plea is not a “writ petition but a personal interest litigation” as NBW has been already been issued against him with regard to alleged hate speeches. “He is aggrieved because a non-bailable warrant (NBW) has been issued against him by a court with regard to his hate speeches. He is being personaly prosecuted for an offence and, hence his plea is infact a personal interest litigation,” he said, noting that the plea was not maintainable.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The bench then asked Swamy whether converting the warrant from non-bailable to bailable one would suffice his cause or not. Swamy vehmently opposed the contention of the Solicitor General and said that his plea has already been considered by the previous bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi which has agreed to examine the constitutional validity of 156(3) of IPC and he is not on the issue of bailable warrant. “The previous bench of the Supreme Court had in its last order asked all the parties to file their affidavits with regard to the matter and it has agreed to examine the provision of IPC constitutionally,” he said.He argued that his plea for quashing of NBW was already before the Gauhati High Court. The Solicitor General intervened and contended that Swamy can also raise the same issue of constitutional validity before the high court which is seized of his NBW issue. To this, the bench asked Swamy whether he has challenged the provisions before the high court or not and asked, “Why can’t you raise the issue there.””How many high courts should I go to. Across the country, FIRs are being lodged against me by several state governments.This is a question of my fundamental right. This court is an appropriate forum to examine the validity of the provisions of the IPC,” Swamy said, adding that he has not challenged the validity before the high court. Swamy also sought transfer of matter to the bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, saying the previous bench headed by him was ready to examine the constitutional validity of the provisions.The apex court was hearing Swamy’s plea against the order of an Assam trial court which issued an NBW against him for failing to appear before it on March 19, last year in a case of alleged hate speech. To this, the bench said that due to change of roster the matter has come before it and granted time to Swamy to think over the issue of raising it before the high court while posting the case for further hearing on July 11.On July 2, last year, the apex court had stayed the execution of a non-bailable warrant issued against him by the Assam court for allegedly delivering a hate speech at a university there. Swamy, who is facing a court case in Karimganj in Assam for allegedly delivering an inflammatory address at Kaziranga University, had sought relief from the apex court in the case.He has also challenged the constitutional validity of Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code. Swamy has alleged that in the “past few years”, these sections have been invoked against him, “sometimes malafide and maliciously, by various authorities to penalise him for his clearheaded extensive research and his ideological beliefs and thereby make him conform to the norms of certain special ideological and religious groups”.At least five recent FIRs or summons have been issued against him from Delhi, Mumbai, Karimganj, Mohali in Punjab and Thrissur in Kerala, for “presumed hate speech”, he has said.

Watching porn in public can’t come under freedom of speech: SC seeks means to curb child pornography

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the central government to suggest ways and means to curb child pornography in all its forms. “Suggest ways and means so that these things are curbed. Innocent children can’t be made prey to this kind of painful situations. Nation can’t afford to carry on any experiment with its children in the name of liberty and freedom of speech,” said a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh.

Representational Image. AFPRepresentational Image. AFP

Representational Image. AFP

The court said this as the government told the court that “as far as the child pornography is concerned, exercise has been undertaken and the central government shall come with the scheme so that appropriate directions in that regard can be issued”.

The court said, “What is not permissible under Indian law must be curbed, it is matter of mechanism of doing it.

“Watching pornography or compelling watching pornography can’t come with the freedom of expression, speech and thought.”

As Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand tried to explain the difficulty that government faced in dealing with the issue, the court said that watching pornography can’t come with the freedom of expression, speech and thought.

Not clear about the stand taken by the government, the bench asked, “Are you supporting or opposing the plea” for banning child pornography.

At one point in the course of the hearing, the court sought to make distinction in pornography, obscenity and art saying that “everything that is obscene is not pornography”.

“Some people will find the picture of Mona Lisa obscene, others may not,” it said.

“Doing it for art purpose is different from some one doing for gains, business..”

Justice Singh said that government will have to draw a line. “You can block the child pornography websites. There has to be ways and means. What has United Kingdom done?”

The court recorded the submission by the senior counsel Vijay Panjwani appearing for the petitioner Kamlesh Vaswani that “watching pornography or being compelled to watch pornography in a public place can never come within concept of freedom of speech or expression or thought as enshrined under article 19(1)(a) of the constitution, for the freedom, as envisaged under the Constitution, is not absolute”.

Directing the next hearing of the matter on 28 March, the court allowed intervention by the Supreme Court Women Lawyers association seeking “strict measures to prevent distribution and access to pornography including measures regarding file sharing software”.

Counsel Mahalakshmi Pavani and Sneha Lakita had further sought the adoption of “various measures towards improvement in the effectiveness of blocking child pornography on the internet and to take measures to eliminate child pornography”.

IANS

Supreme Court to confine hearing to violent incidents at Patiala House

The Supreme Court on Monday made it clear that it would confine itself to the violence in Patiala House court complex on February 15 and 17 in which JNU students, teachers and journalists were attacked during the hearing of sedition case against JNUSU head Kanhaiya Kumar.”We are not concerned with other incidents. We are only concerned with the episode that had happened on February 15 and 17,” a bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre said when a Karkardooma District bar body sought itself to be impleaded as a party. The terse response of the court came when the counsel for the district bar body referred to the cultural programme at JNU campus alleging that anti-national slogans were raised there and the execution of Parliament Attack case convict Afzal Guru was termed as “judicial killing”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is not the subject matter of the case here. We are sorry,” the bench said, adding, “You (Karkardooma bar lawyer) come from different bar and you are not an interested party.” The bench also said it was not concerned with subsequent events and will not broaden the scope of hearing. R P Luthra, a lawyer who had sought intervention in the case, said the same Patiala House Court has heard and decided the bail plea of former Delhi University lecturer SAR Gilani and that an atmosphere has been “created”. “Do not settle personal score,” the bench asked Luthra.During the hearing, the bench perused reports filed by Delhi Police, Bar Council of India, Delhi High Court Registry and the six-member lawyers’ panel formed by the apex court. “There are allegations and counter-allegations” and the reports be exchanged and the objections be filed, before the matter is heard on March 10, the bench said. Apex bar body Bar Council of India (BCI) sought the court’s response as to whether it should proceed with the proposed inquiry against lawyers who had allegedly participated in the violent incidents in Patiala House on February 15 and 17 when jailed Kanhaiya Kumar was being produced in connection with the sedition case.”Let all the concerned receive reports. Today we are not saying anything on it,” the bench said. The BCI said it has decided to set up a three-member panel which would also have a former Judge of the High Court and senior advocate M N Krishnamani. During the hearing, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre and Delhi Police, asked the court that contents of the reports should not be made public for the time being as it may influence the hearing of the bail application of the accused, which will come up before the Delhi High Court tomorrow.Senior advocate Ajit Kumar Sinha, representing Delhi Police, also endorsed the view of the law officers. Referring to various reports, the bench said there were conflicting views in them and “let all the parties examine all the reports” before any further hearing.The bench, in its order, referred to the names of lawyers who would be getting various reports in the matter and will be entitled to file their objections, if any. The apex court had on February 19 transferred Kanhaiya’s bail plea to Delhi High Court while declining to entertain the petition, saying its direct intervention will be a dangerous proposition. Kanhaiya’s lawyers then immediately moved the high court with the bail petition.It had also asked the high court to expeditiously deal with the matter. While transferring the bail plea, the bench had taken an assurance from Solicitor General that in the “prevailing extraordinary situation” pertaining to this matter, the Government and the Delhi Police Commissioner would provide adequate safety and security to the accused and the stream of lawyers who will be appearing in the high court.It was not in agreement with the arguments advanced by a battery of senior advocates, including Soli Sorabjee, Raju Ramachandran and Rajeev Dhawan that an extraordinary law and order situation, threat to life of the accused and his counsel, hostile environment at the lower court and the simmering situation had compelled them to rush directly to it.Kanhaiya had on February 18 directly moved the apex court seeking bail while claiming threat to his life in Tihar jail. In the petition, filed through advocate Anindita Pujari, Kanhaiya, who was also attacked in Patiala House court complex by a group of lawyers, has claimed innocence.Kanhaiya was arrested on February 12 on sedition charge following a controversial event at JNU campus where anti-India slogans were allegedly raised. The student leader was produced in the court on February 17 after expiry of his police custody, where a group of men dressed in lawyers’ robes unleashed a brazen attack on him and others including journalists present there. Kanhaiya had sought the apex court’s intervention, saying no purpose would be served by keeping him in the jail and the police was finding it difficult to even produce him in the court.

JNU row: Here’s what the Supreme Court said about Kanhaiya Kumar’s bail plea

The Supreme Court transferred the bail plea of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar to the Delhi High Court and asked it to expeditiously deal with the matter, while declining to entertain the petition saying its direct intervention will be a dangerous proposition. “You are leading a dangerous proposition. If this court will entertain it, it will become a precedent which will be available to all the accused in the country. Wherever there will be sensitive cases involving political persons or prominent persons or others…you know the atmosphere in the court.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”So in every case if it is said that Supreme Court is only the court, it would be a dangerous precedent,” a bench comprising justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre said. Further, it said, “Remember, this is not the only case of this type.” While transferring the bail plea of Kanhaiya, who has been charged with sedition, the bench took an assurance from Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar that in the “prevailing extraordinary situation” pertaining to this matter, the Government of India and the Delhi Police Commissioner would provide adequate safety and security to the accused and a stream of lawyers who will be appearing in the High Court.
ALSO READ JNU row fallout? Delhi Police Chief BS Bassi dropped from CIC post shortlistThe bench also said that the counsel for all the parties would be given preference while entering into the court room at the High Court and the Registrar General would be responsible for limiting number of people to be allowed to enter inside.The bench which asked the High Court to expeditiously deal with the matter did not give any specific date for listing it. The Supreme Court permitted the counsel for Kanhaiya to amend his petition, which is to be filed shortly in the Delhi High Court. The apex court was not in agreement with the arguments advanced by a battery of senior advocates including Soli Sorabjee, Raju Ramachandran and Rajeev Dhawan that extra- ordinary law and order situation, threat to life of the accused and his counsel, hostile environment at the lower court and the simmering situation compelled them to rush directly to it.
ALSO READ JNU Row: Arvind Kejriwal lashes out at Centre, says opposing BJP, RSS is biggest crime nowThe advocates also submitted that they moved the apex court for bail as already a writ petition concerning the arrest of the JNUSU President was pending before it.However, their submission was objected to by the lawyers for Centre and Delhi Police, including SG Ranjit Kumar, ASG Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Ajit K Sinha, who said the facts of the writ petition and bail plea are different and even opposed it being heard directly by the high court.
ALSO READ JNU row: Thousands join solidarity march for arrested student, demand action against Delhi Police chiefThe bench was also of the view, “What is under scrutiny is something different and the writ petition is to be heard on Monday. It is totally different than the bail application.” When the argument was made by Kanhaiya’s counsel about the law and security situation, the bench said, “We do agree with you that it is an exceptionally extraordinary circumstance.”The counsel said that they preferred the apex court to hear his bail plea as the situation in the High Court also would not be much different, to which the bench asked, “Is it so in the high court? Are we to understand that the HC is also agitated?”While concluding the one-and-a-half-hour hearing, the bench said, “We permit them to make and amend the bail application today itself.”At the outset when Kanhaiya’s bail plea was taken up, the bench asked his counsel, “Did you move bail petition before the trial court?” When there was a negative reply, the bench asked the counsel, “Why are you rushing here?” Ramachandran responded to the query and said the incident of February 17 does not require recounting, that is why they are before the apex court.He said in the prevailing atmosphere, moving the sessions court for bail in the Patiala House Court complex was not possible and because of the general atmosphere, other lawyers were agitated yesterday.”To go for me at any sessions court in Delhi is impractical, unsafe, dangerous to me as accused, dangerous to me as a lawyer who performs professional duty in calm and peaceful environment,” he said.Noting his submission, the bench wanted to know from him that why he did not then approach the Delhi High Court. The senior advocate said, “It was my statutory right to apply for bail and having experienced in the past few days, there was a feeling that there was denial of access to justice to my client.” He said he is also answering why he approached this court for the bail and continued with his submission that this court is seized of the matter concerning access to justice for Kanhaiya Kumar and he was seeking apex court indulgence. However, the bench interrupted him and said, it was fully aware of the situation prevailing in the Patiala House Court complex and will examine the reports placed before it by the apex court-appointed commissioners, Registrar General of the Delhi HC and the Delhi Police. “There were some commotions in the Patiala House Court. We know there is a difficult situation there. However, what is the difficulty and what prevents you from going to High Court,” the bench asked. Replying to this question, Ramachandran said, the facts relating to Kumar’s arrest and subsequent events are still under the scrutiny of the apex court which is going to hear it on Monday. However, the bench differed with him saying the matter listed for Monday and the bail pleas are not similar.The senior advocate agreed that the bail plea was not put on merit but only because of particular situation in and around the Patiala House Court complex. The senior advocate, appearing for Kumar, said they have approached this court because of the prevailing hostile environment and apprehensions that they may not get justice as the accused and his lawyers are not safe and there is also a “simmering local situation”. When the bench asked about the problem in approaching the high court, Ramachandran said the high court is in the “same city and the same hexagon” so they are moving the Supreme Court which has better security arrangements.Further, he contended that the prayer was not without precedent as there was an extraordinary situation prevailing. Since the accused was lodged in judicial custody the logical conclusion was that he was not required for custodial interrogation. Hence, the petition was directly filed in the apex court for bail, he submitted. “I am here because this court deals with totality of the matter,” he said. At this point, the bench came out with the stern observation that taking his bail plea directly would lead to “a dangerous proposition” and set a “dangerous precedent”. Ramachandran said, “In this particularly charged situation, the Bar is agitated and there is a need for the apex court to hear the bail plea.” Joining him, Dhawan argued, “The apex court is the safest court in the country and in view of the prevailing situation, the matter should be heard by it.” He said the question is whether the Delhi Police can guarantee safety and security of the counsel in the situation “which has turned vicious”. He said the court has only to see whether the apprehension expressed by the team of lawyers was genuine or not.Ramachandran said that approaching the High Court would mean another round of “elaborate bandobast” and hearing the matter by the apex court, “will not open the flood gate”.”I request you to entertain this extraordinary petition under extraordinary circumstances,” Dhawan said. However, the submission was opposed by the Solicitor General who said there is no reason why there won’t be security in the high court. He said the opposite side was representing the accused and will be representing a set of accused in future too and their apprehensions have to be taken with a pinch of salt. The SG also raised objection to the “averment” made in the bail petition and said there is not even one word on the merit of the case. He said there is a “serious charge” against the accused and the investigation is going on.The Solicitor General said that the accused is not needed during the arguments on bail as his lawyers will be arguing the case and he will be totally safe and secure. “They (accused) have appropriate alternative remedy and the matter should be considered according to that remedy,” the SG submitted. He also said that the situation of commotion is not an isolated incident as film actors, politicians and prominent persons also appear in courts. “Such commotions do take place and the matters are heard and the courts do function,” he said, adding that the issue of bail comes under the jurisdiction of High Court. The SG said that a wrong message would go that the high court is incapable of looking into the matter and said the security situation has been improved and tightened since the blast incident at the high court in 2011. During the hearing, the bench said it would transfer the matter to HC only after getting an assurance from the Centre and the Delhi Police that apprehensions expressed would be taken care of as certainly it was not a normal situation in Patiala House courts. “If you can assure us that proceedings can happen in peaceful manner, we will consider sending the bail matter in the high court,” the bench said.The SG responded that the police is duty-bound to provide safety and security to all and “every arrangement required to be made will be done”. At the fag end of the hearing, Sorabjee, also appearing for Kumar, said the apprehensions expressed were genuine for hearing the matter in the apex court. He said it was not an imaginary apprehension and that errant lawyers have been garlanded and they have no repentance or any remorse for their action. However, the bench said that even if the matter is heard in the apex court, nothing prevents them from coming here also. “Can we prevent them from coming here?” Justice Chelameswar said, adding, “I personally believe that security is a concern.””We do agree with you that it is an exceptionally extraordinary circumstance,” the bench said while keeping on hold the several reports placed before it in a sealed cover.”We simply transfer the bail petition to the high court.We permit them to move the bail today itself in the high court,” the bench said and dictated the order to this effect asking the High Court to expeditiously deal with the matter.

Poor timing? BJP MP Gopal Shetty dubs suicide a ‘fashion among farmers’ ahead of PM Modi’s Sehore outreach to farmers

Mumbai: In controversial remarks, BJP MP Gopal Shetty has attributed farmers’ suicides to a “fashion” and “trend” to end lives. The remarks come at a time when Maharashtra is reeling under an agrarian crisis with 124 farmers committing suicide in the state since January this year. “Not all farmers’ suicides happen due to unemployment and starvation. A fashion is going on. A trend is on,” Shetty, who represents north Mumbai, said after an event held in Borivili.

“If Maharashtra government is giving five lakh rupees as compensation, then some other government in neighbouring state is giving seven lakh,” he said. “There’s a competition in these people in giving money (compensation) to farmers,” the first time MP said.

Gopal Shetty. Image Courtesy: FacebookGopal Shetty. Image Courtesy: Facebook

Gopal Shetty. Image Courtesy: Facebook

Condemning the comments, Congress said the “insensitive” remarks by Shetty show BJP’s “insensitivity” towards farmers.

“At a time when Maharashtra is undergoing its worst-ever agrarian crisis, Shetty’s remarks show how insensitive he and his party are towards thousands of farmers who have committed suicide due to debt and crop failure,” MRCC president Sanjay Nirupam said.

Notably, the state government had two days back informed the Bombay High Court that 124 farmers have committed suicide in the state since January this year. The HC had asked the Centre what kind of assistance it provides to the state to deal with the grim agrarian crisis.

Observing that this was a serious issue, a bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil had asked the Additional Solicitor General to inform the High Court whether the Centre can chip in to provide schemes and financial help to the state to tide over the crisis.

Advocate General Srihari Aney had informed the bench that 124 farmers have taken their lives in the past one-and-half month, of whom 20 cases were reported from Osmanabad alone.

The AG said factors such as crop failure due to scanty rainfall, meagre water supply for drinking and growing crops, insufficient capacity to repay loans and pressure from banks and money lenders were the causes that drove the farmers to commit suicide.

PTI

No order on euthanasia, Supreme Court leaves it open for government to take call

The Supreme Court on Monday refrained from passing an order on a plea to legalise passive euthanasia and the right of terminally-ill persons to execute ‘Living Will’ not to prolong their lives by putting them on life support systems and kept it open for the government to take a call on both the issues.”The issues of passive euthanasia and Living Will is being considered by the government. However, we may clarify that the pendency of the petition should not come in the way of the authority to take a decision,” a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice AR Dave said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are not passing any order at this stage,” the bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph, Shiva Kirti Singh, AK Goel and RF Nariman, said while agreeing with the view of the Centre that the court should post the next hearing in July and till then allow a public debate to take place in the peoples’ court, that is Parliament.Additional Solicitor General PS Patwalia opposed the plea of NGO Common Cause and its advocate Prashant Bhushan that the court should consider and pass an order at least on the limited issue of Living Will, till a legislation is enacted.He submitted that since the Health Ministry was examining the Law Commission report after which a Bill would be drafted by the Law Ministry, the apex court should defer the hearing and wait till July for the debate to take place.When the bench asked Bhushan, “do you want court’s verdict or the people’s verdict on it,” he said the issue of Living Will is not the subject of parliamentary debate as it concerns the fundamental right to life guaranteed under the Constitution which also covers the right to die with dignity.However, the bench was of the view that “it is something which should be debated in peoples’ court, i.e Parliament.” As Bhushan argued for consideration of the limited issue of Living Will saying that it is given by the terminally-ill persons of sound mind, the bench asked, “would it not be a case where you are permitting a miracle to happen?”During the hearing, the ASG gave an example of former Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher, who is in coma for over two years, saying that his family members are hoping that medical science has developed and he will return to normalcy and are against withdrawing life support system. A doctor-turned-advocate, who has sought intervention in the matter, said the issue concerning euthanasia is very sensitive and has to be deliberated in a careful manner.

DDCA row: Delhi HC dismisses Kirti Azad’s plea seeking court-monitored probe

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea filed by former Indian cricketers Kirti Azad and Bishan Singh Bedi demanding a court-monitored investigation by the CBI into alleged criminal offences committed by DDCA officials.

Justice Manmohan refused to entertain the plea, saying the petition was “premature” while noting that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had already initiated preliminary inquiry on 23 October, 2015.

“The court is of the view that present writ petition is premature as preliminary enquiry has already been registered,” the court said, adding that a court-monitored probe can not be ordered “just because union minister was named in the petition”.

Azad, a suspended Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP, and Bedi had also sought appointment of an independent administrator to look into alleged financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).

Kirti Azad. File photo. PTIKirti Azad. File photo. PTI

Kirti Azad. File photo. PTI

They had impleaded the central and state governments, the CBI and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) besides all current and former DDCA officials, including its former president, union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Refusing to entertain the plea as CBI initiated investigation in October, the court said: “This court is also of the view that SIT as well as court-monitored investigation should take place in rarest of rare cases and not in every normal matter or just because union minister is named in writ petition.”

It further directed CBI to “investigate all aspects of matter in accordance with law”.

Appearing for Bedi, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, told the court that there is a need of a court-monitored probe as it is apprehended that CBI will not be able to conduct a free and fair investigation of allegations made against DDCA, especially since Arun Jaitley (during whose tenure as president most of the allegations pertain to) is presently a senior cabinet minister in the union council of ministers.

Additional Solicitor General Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for CBI, opposed the plea saying the agency is seized of the matter and it will bring the probe to conclusion.

The CBI had asked for some documents from DDCA and other connected bodies and some of the witness have also been examined, the ASG told the court.

“The CBI is an independent agency. This petition is premature. Merely on the allegations, they (petitioners) want investigation should be court-monitored. There is no need of court-monitored probe. Petitions can’t be used to settle scores,” Kaul added.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain appearing for the central government also opposed the plea saying it has given land to other sports bodies at concessional rates and petitioners have not challenged the policy on which allotment has been made.

The plea was filed by Azad, Bedi, Maninder Singh, Dronacharya awardee cricket coach Gurcharan Singh and two others, and had sought direction to the central government to cancel the privileges like subsidised land that have been extended to DDCA and to ensure that no loss is caused to exchequer.

IANS

SC raps states including Gujarat for not implementing Food Act

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today on Monday serious note of non-implementation of Central welfare law National Food Security Act by some states like Gujarat, saying they cannot “disobey” the legislation cleared by Parliament.

Supreme Court of India. ReutersSupreme Court of India. Reuters

Supreme Court of India. Reuters

The apex court, in particular, was more critical of the reply of Gujarat that the law was “being implemented” and
asked: “Does Gujarat want to breakaway from India? A law is passed by Parliament. Can a state say that it will not follow the law?”

“What is Parliament doing? What is Government of India doing? Is Gujarat not a part of India? The Act says it extends to whole of India and Gujarat is not implementing it. Tomorrow somebody can say that it is not going to implement the CrPC, IPC and the Evidence Act,” a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said.

The remarks came during the hearing of a PIL filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan, run by people like psephologist Yogendra
Yadav, when Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre, said so far, nine states and Union Territories, including Gujarat, have not implemented the Act.

The plea has sought implementation of various welfare schemes for families in 12 drought-hit states.

The bench also asked the Centre to collect and collate information from these states on the status of welfare schemes like MGNREGA, National Food Security and mid-day meal. It asked the Centre to file an affidavit by February 10 and posted the matter for further hearing two days thereafter.

The Solicitor General said out of 12 states, the names of which have been provided by the NGO, Bihar, Gujarat and
Haryana have not declared drought.

The apex court had on 18 January asked the Centre to give information about implementation of schemes under MGNREGA, Food Security Act and the mid-day meal schemes as to whether those affected were being provided the minimum required employment and food or not.

The PIL alleged that parts of states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana,
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chattisgarh had been hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief.

Earlier, the court had also asked the affected states to provide the requisite information on the welfare schemes to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare which, in turn, would collate the data and file them before it.

The Solicitor General had said that affected states have been provided financial aid from the State Disaster Relief
Fund (SDRF) and the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).

Funds to the tune of over Rs 1,500 crore, Rs 1,276 crore, Rs 2,032 crore, Rs 3,044 crores have been made available to Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharshtra respectively, he had said, adding that for 2015-20, a total fund of Rs 61,291 crore has been earmarked to provide relief to the states which may be hit by disasters.

The PIL has sought implementation of the National Food Security Act which guarantees 5 kg of food grain per person
per month. It has also sought a direction to the authorities that affected families be also given pulses and edible oils.

The plea has further said that school-going children be also given milk and eggs under the mid-day meal scheme.

The plea has also sought adequate and timely compensation for crop loss and input subsidy for the next crop to the
farmers affected by drought and subsidised cattle fodder for animals.

The PIL, filed through Prashant Bhushan, alleged that the Centre and states “have been highly negligent in performing their obligations, causing enormous damage to the lives of the people due to their inaction, which is in contravention of the rights guaranteed under Articles 21 and 14 of the Constitution of India”.

“Unfortunately, most states have not yet implemented this. Except Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, the states have stuck
to the previous Public Distribution System schemes that fall short of the NFSA obligations,” Bhushan had said.

“Research shows that the APL/BPL distinction used by most of the states is useless and that the implementation of NFSA has had positive outcomes for these two states,” he had said.

The petition submitted that drought has led to severe decline in farm employment available to the rural poor.

PTI

Cooperate with probe or face arrest: SC tells Teesta Setalvad

The Supreme Court on Thursday extended the interim bail of social activists Teesta Setalvad and her husband till March 18 but asked them to cooperate in the probe in two criminal cases of alleged embezzlement of funds and the foreign contribution law lodged by Gujarat Police and CBI.CBI and the state police told a bench headed by Justice A R Dave that Teesta was not cooperating with the investigation and the couple was also not supplying relevant documents relating to how the funds were spent.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Gujarat police is probing the alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum at Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society that was devastated in the 2002 riots, the CBI is investigating the purported violations of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) in connection with the utilisation of funds received from Ford Foundation by Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd, run by the couple.The submissions of Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar and senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani on behalf of CBI and the state police respectively was refuted by senior advocate Kapil Sibal and Kamini Jaiswal, who said the allegation of non- cooperation was being made against Teesta and her husband Javed Anand as the probe was not suiting the investigators.Taking note of submissions of both sides, the bench, also comprising Justices F M I Kalifulla and V Gopala Gowda, directed Teesta and Javed that if they have not supplied the relevant documents relating to the embezzlement case to Gujarat Police in accordance with the list provided to them by investigators, they would “furnish those documents as soon as possible and preferably within two weeks.”In the FCRA case, the bench asked the couple to file an affidavit within two weeks explaining their stand on the issue of utilisation of funds procured by Sabrang and posted both the cases for hearing on March 9.At the outset, both CBI and the state police alleged that they were not getting cooperation from Teesta in their probe and the matter of anticipatory bail has been pending for almost a year.”They are not special accused,” Jethmalani said while seeking for early hearing of the matter. He said the couple also filed an application on May 6, 2015 in the pending anticipatory bail matter seeking to know the “scope of investigation.”Taking note of the submission, the bench orally observed “we will pass an appropriate order giving time for supply of documents and if the order is not complied with, we can even vacate our order (granting anticipatory bail).”

Need to increase coaches to take load of road transport, Delhi Metro tells Supreme Court

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on Thursday told the Supreme Court that to strengthen the public transport system to reduce the number of vehicles on the city roads the number of coaches will be increased.Appearing for DMRC, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the bench headed by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur that by December 2017, 906 coaches will be added.At present 1,282 coaches are there for all the metro lines in the city.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the plea of Special Protection Group (SPG) to allow them to have more than 2000cc vehicles as they are armed vehicles for VIP protection, the bench asked amicus curaei Harish Salve to place his suggestions on it.The court also sought responses of the Centre and the NTPC on a plea seeking closure of the coal-based power plant catering to needs of the national capital.The apex court, reviewing the actions taken in pursuance of its various directions on pollution, agreed to the suggestion of amicus curiae Salve that even the Delhi government favoured closure of NTPC’s coal-based power plant near the Yamuna river and the plea needed to be examined.The Solicitor Genral told the bench that at present, government vehicles which are either 8-year old or have run over 1.5 lakh kms, were being phased out.