Apex court issues notice to Amit Shah on bail

The Supreme Court Saturday issued notice to former Gujarat minister Amit Shah on a petition by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seeking stay of the Gujarat High Court order granting him bail in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

Shah, former minister of state for home, was arrested by the CBI July 25 for his alleged involvement in the killing.

He was granted bail by the high court Friday on his executing a personal bond of Rs.1 lakh along with a surety of like amount.

The apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice R.M. Lodha, directed Shah to stay away from the territorial limits of Gujarat till Nov 15 – the next date of hearing.

The court said this after the CBI told the court that if his bail could not be cancelled then he should not be allowed to stay in Gujarat as he could influence witnesses.

The matter was heard by the apex court judges at the Krishna Menon Marg residence of Justice Alam here.

Shah has been given time till Nov 10 to file his reply to the CBI appeal against the high court order.

The apex court gave the CBI time till Nov 12 to file its rejoinder to Shah’s response. K.T.S. Tulsi, appearing for the CBI, told the court that his release at 10.30 p.m. Friday night was in violation of the jail rules.

Opposing the CBI plea, Shah’s counsel Bhupinder Yadav said that now that he had been released on bail, his liberty could not be taken away without substantive grounds.

The counsel told the court that as it was a festive season, Amit Shah’s right to celebrate Diwali with his family should not be taken away. The court said that “Diwali was everywhere”.

The CBI in its appeal accused Amit Shah being a part of “criminal conspiracy” who gave “illegal instructions” to then Additional Director General of Police, CID (crime) G.C. Raiger regarding investigations into the encounter case.

The appeal said that Raiger had to suffer being “immediately and unceremoniously” transferred Feb 3, 2007, for not carrying out the wishes of Shah.

The appeal said that on Shah’s instructions, the case papers of the Sohrabuddin case were sought to be changed to exclude the names of police officers D.G. Vanzara, R.K. Pandiyan and others.

The CBI said the investigations revealed that Amit Shah and Abhay Chudasama “while in judicial custody, conspired with some Gujarat Police officers to destroy the crucial evidence to shield the accused from the law”.

The appeal cited the instance when one of the witnesses, Mohammed Azam Khan, was allegedly abducted Sep 21, 2009, and was forced to “prepare and sign a false affidavit” retracting his statement given to CBI before a magistrate.

Citing various instances and chain of events, the CBI told the court that Shah was the “main conspirator and has committed the offences punishable under various provisions of criminal law”.

Karnataka High Court upholds disqualification of 11 BJP legislators

The Karnataka High Court Friday upheld the disqualification of the 11 rebel legislators of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from the state assembly by Speaker K.G. Bopaiah.

Delivering the judgment in a packed courtroom, Justice V.G. Sabhahit said the rebel legislators stood disqualified under the 10(a) schedule of the anti-defection law.

The BJP government had won the vote of confidence with 106 members supporting it and the opposition logging 100 votes in a House with an effective strength of 208.

This meant that even if the five independents earned legal reprieve in the case, the government would continue to have the numbers in its favour.

Those BJP MLAs , who were disqualified are: Balachandra Jarkiholi, Belur Gopala Krishna, Anand Asnotikar, Dr Sarvabowma Bagali, V Nagaraju, Raje Kage, Y Sampangi, Nanjundaswamy, S K Bellubbi, H S Shankara Lingegowda and Shivanagouda Naik.

Former Ministers Venkataramanappa, Shivaraj Tangadagi, Goolihatti Sekhar and M P Narendraswamy and independent MLAs were also disqualified.

Orissa moves Supreme Court over POSCO mining

Orissa Friday moved the Supreme Court against an Orissa High Court order that disapproved its grant of permission to South Korean steel major POSCO to mine iron ore in Sundergarh district, a state minister said.

‘The state government has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court today (Friday) against the high court order,’ Steel and Mines Minister Raghunath Mohanty told IANS.

‘The state steel and mines department had recommended the Khandadhar mines in favour of POSCO as per the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. There was no violation,’ he said.

A bench of the Orissa High Court July 14 set aside the state government permission to POSCO for prospecting iron ore in over 2,500 hectares in the Khandadhar hills in the state’s Sundergarh.

How long will 2G spectrum probe take, asks Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the central government how long it would take to complete investigations into the 2G spectrum scam.

The court also sought the central government’s response to a Comptroller and Auditor General’s ( CAG) report pointing out irregularities in allocation of spectrum 2G licences to telecom operators.

The apex court bench headed by GS Singhvi said that it would like to hear Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium on this and several other counts.

The court directed the listing of the case on Nov 15.

Apex court reserves verdict in Ghaziabad courts’ scam

The Supreme Court Thursday reserved its verdict on a petition by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for transfer of the trial in the Ghaziabad district courts provident fund scam from Ghaziabad to Delhi.

The apex court’s special bench headed by Justice D.K. Jain discharged District Judge V.C. Gupta from the charge that he was interfering in the trial of accused in the scam, allegedly involving high court and district court judges.

Former Kerala cop gets life term for Maoist’s murder

A 40-year-old case came back to haunt a retired Kerala police officer Thursday when he was sentenced to life imprisonment by a CBI Special Court for killing a Maoist leader in cold blood and passing it off as a shootout.

Retired Inspector General of Police K. Lakshmana, now 74, was found guilty of murdering the Maoist leader – popularly known as ‘Naxal Varghese’ – by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court judge S. Vijayakumar a day earlier.

Lakshmana, the second accused in the case, has been sent to the Central Jail in Thiruvananthapuram.

The case goes back 40 years to Feb 18, 1970, the day Lakshmana directed Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) constable Ramachandran Nair to shoot dead Varghese, who was in police custody, in Wayanad district.

Until Nair revealed the real story, it was believed that Varghese was killed in a shootout with police. The Maoist movement was very strong in Kerala at that time.

Nair, haunted by guilt, came out with the truth in 1998 and said he was asked to commit the crime and that there never was a police ‘encounter’ — the official euphemism for deaths in real and staged gunbattles.

After a series of petitions, the Kerala High Court asked the CBI to conduct a probe.

Nair later passed away. But clinching evidence for the CBI came when Nair’s colleague and retired constable A.K.M. Haneefa, who was a witness in the case, said Lakshmana was present at the spot when Varghese was shot dead.

The CBI court observed there was ample evidence to prove that Nair shot Varghese to death on the command of Lakshmana, who was an inspector then.

Lakshmana has been a controversial officer. He ran into trouble in the disappearence of engineering student Rajan, who was picked up by police during Emergency but was never seen again. After a long drawn legal battle, Lakshmana was exonerated in the case.

A. Joseph, Varghese’s brother, said he was happy that truth had triumphed.

However, a third accused in the case, former director general of police P. Vijayan, was given the benefit of doubt by the court and exonerated.

India, US can learn from constitutional experience: Moily

The Indian constitution is flexible and vulnerable to Supreme Court action, union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said, adding that India and the US can learn from each other’s experiences.

He was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Indian Constitution and the United States Bill of Rights’ here Wednesday.

‘This vulnerability of the (Indian) constitution is an issue, is a concern and is a problem,’ Moily said at the discussion, organised ahead of the visit of US President Barack Obama to India.

Former attorney general Soli J. Sorabjee, former Indian ambassador to US Abid Hussain, Deputy Chief of the US Mission Donald Lu and several diplomats and constitutional experts participated in the discussion, organised by the Indo-American Friendship Association.

Moily said the constitution was not a legality-based document but more a document reflecting the social rights and concerns through the fundamental rights.

He said the constitution had drawn insight and influence from various constitutions, including the US statute, but the basic idealism of the constitution was drawn from the ‘idea of India – a 5000-year-old civilisational idea.’

In the march of time, Indian constitution will have to learn much from US experience and vice versa, he said.

Abid Hussain said that under the guidance of Jawaharlal Nehru, India opted for a modernist constitution.

The debates of the constitutional assembly is an excellent record of varied discourse where the three different streams – Hindutva, pluralist and modernist – were discussed threadbare, he added.

Donald Lu said that the human rights part of the US constitution evolved late through the Bill of Rights.

The American pro-independence slogan of ‘no taxation without representation’ and the evolution of the Indian freedom struggle had a lot of things in common, Lu added.

Two cases filed over MCD’s ghost staff, court told

Delhi Police Wednesday informed the Delhi High Court that two criminal cases had been registered on the issue of ghost employees in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).

The two first information reports (FIRs) were registered under penal provisions related to cheating, forgery and harbouring offenders.

Police counsel Najmi Waziri informed the division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan, that the FIRs were registered in matters where 22,853 gardeners and sweepers were found to be ghost employees.

He said police have completed investigation in the matter after going through the records and documents supplied by the MCD.

In yet another matter, police are yet to commence investigation as the MCD supplied the documents related to another set of 22,223 ghost employees Oct 23.

‘Police will go through the records and after final investigation an FIR will be registered in the matter,’ said Waziri.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Jagrook Welfare Society, an NGO, through counsel C.S. Parashar seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation or an independent agency probe into the scam.

According to the NGO, a complaint was lodged with the anti-corruption branch but no FIR was registered.

The petitioner also sought the court’s direction for initiation of a departmental inquiry against MCD officers for alleged involvement in the scam.

Man gets death sentence for raping, killing child

A court in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district Wednesday sentenced a man to death for the rape and murder of a minor girl, police said.

Additional Sessions Judge Rajendra Singh handed down the death sentence to Guddu alias Jitendra Kumar, a native of Gajnera village in Bareilly, some 250 km from here.

Kumar had raped the girl in 2007 in fields in Bhuta town of Bareilly and later killed her by slitting her throat.

The girl’s father Pappu Saxena alias Krishna Kant had lodged an FIR against Kumar Jan 30, 2007, after which Kumar was arrested, a police official said.

‘The judge heard around 10 witnesses before pronouncing the death penalty,’ police inspector Pankaj Awasthi told reporters in Bareilly.