PM scholarship scheme: Supreme Court extends admission deadline till Sept 15 for J-K students

In a relief to thousands of Jammu and Kashmir students selected for a special scholarship scheme, the Supreme Court on Friday extended by a month the deadline for taking admission in various engineering colleges due to situations prevailing in the state after abrogation of its special status.

The Jammu and Kashmir government said that counselling by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) was completed on July 30 and the students selected for Prime Minister Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) were supposed to take admissions by August 15, but many were unable to join the colleges due to restrictions imposed in the state after revocation of its special status.

A bench of Justices U U Lalit and R Subhash Reddy agreed with the contention and said that due to circumstances and situation prevailing in the state, the deadline for admission needs to be extended till September 15.

The PMSSS was launched by the Centre during 2010-11 to encourage J-K students. It provides scholarship to deserving candidates to meet the expenditure towards tuition fees, hostel fees, cost of books and other incidental charges while studying across the country in various engineering and regular courses.

“Due to recent developments and peculiar situation in Jammu and Kashmir, a request is made that the last date shall be extended till September 15. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has no objection to the prayer made. We allow the application and last date for selected PMSSS students stands extended till September 15, 2019,” the bench said.

At the outset, J-K state standing counsel Shoeb Alam said they were seeking extension as around 2,401 PMSSS students were not able to take admission in different engineering colleges across the country due to the prevailing situations.

He said that as per the figures available, 3,672 students have availed the benefits of scholarship for admissions in the allotted institutions.

Alam said although the figure of students reported to have taken admission was 3,672, due to restrictions many may not have been able to make it to their colleges before the cut off dates and hence relief needs to be granted for them also.

The court agreed with the request of Alam and said that besides the 2,401 students, any other candidates selected under PMSSS who have not yet joined the respective engineering college due to the curbs and the prevailing situation, the last date of joining is extended till September 15 for them also.

On August 9, the apex court had agreed to hear the state government’s plea seeking extension of August 15 deadline for admissions of selected PMSSS students.

Delhi court commences trial in 2017 Unnao rape case

A Delhi court on Friday commenced the trial in a case of alleged rape of a minor girl in Unnao in 2017.

District Judge Dharmesh Sharma completed recording statement of a prosecution witness in an in-camera hearing in the case in which expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar is a key accused.

The court will continue the examination of other witnesses on Monday.

It had earlier directed the media to abstain from reporting names and addresses of the rape survivor, her family and witnesses and certain other aspects of the case.

“The media shall refrain from reporting testimony of any witness, wholly or partly, and refrain from appreciating such evidence or giving any opinion on the merits of the case during the course of this enquiry/trial as the case may be,” the court had said.

The court had on August 9 put on trial the expelled BJP MLA for allegedly kidnapping and raping the woman in 2017, who was a minor then, saying charges were “prima facie” found.

It had said prima facie charges were found against Sengar for allegedly conspiring with co-accused Shashi Singh to bring the girl to the legislator’s residence on the pretext of getting her a job, sexually assaulting her and threatening to harm her and her family members if she disclosed the incident to anyone.

The court also framed charges against Singh for allegedly taking her to Sengar’s house on June 4, 2017 without the consent of her parents with the knowledge that she would be subjected to rape.

The charges framed against Sengar include sections 376 (1)(rape), 363 (kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping or inducing a woman to compel for marriage etc.), 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 506 (criminal intimidation), punishable under India Penal Code, and sections 3 and 4 (penetrative sexual assault) of the POCSO (Protection of Child from Sexual Offences) Act.

The charges framed against Singh include sections 363 (kidnapping), 376 (1) (rape), 366 (abducting or inducing a woman to compel for marriage etc), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 109 (abetment) of the IPC and sections 3 and 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act.

The offences entail a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

Both the accused, had however, denied the allegations, saying they have been falsely implicated in the case and claimed trial.

Supreme Court expresses anguish over filing of defective petitions on Article 370

The Supreme Court on Friday refrained from examining the legal challenges posed to the changes made in the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, saying that the petitions filed on the “serious issue” of abrogation of provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution suffer from defects.

The apex court, which was dealing with the first petition filed on August 6, a day after the decision to scrap Article 370 was announced, expressed its anguish that there have been six petitions on the issue and all were filed with the defects.

It pulled up advocate M L Sharma, the first petitioner on the issue, saying his petition has “no meaning”.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said he spent 30 minutes reading the petition but could not make out anything and also could not understand what was the prayer.

“What kind of petition is this? It could have been dismissed but there are five other pleas with the registry which are under defect,” the bench also comprising Justices S A Bobde and S A Najeer said.

“You are not praying for setting aside the Presidential order. What is the prayer it is not clear. It can be dismissed on technical grounds. In a matter of this nature if this is the petition, there is no meaning,” the bench said.

The apex court asked lawyers to cure defects in their six petitions on Article 370 and adjourned the hearing.

“The petitioner, who is appearing in person prays for leave to amend the writ petition. The leave as prayed for is granted. The matter be listed along with other connected matters, some of which are lying with defects.

“The Registry is directed to place the matter before the Chief Justice on the administrative side no sooner the defects are removed,” the bench said in the order.

The bench also noted that it was hearing the petition on Article 370 by breaking the combination of judges which was hearing the sensitive Ayodhya matter.

During the hearing, advocate Shakil Sabeer said he was a resident of Jammu and Kashmir and had filed the petition against the scrapping of Article 370 and the creation of union territories of J-K and Ladakh.

He said he had cured the defects but the petition was not listed.

The bench enquired from the apex court registry and found that the defects were cured only on Wednesday evening.

The bench said the defects were cured on Wednesday evening and Thursday was a holiday. Then how did he expect the listing of his petition on Friday?

“Why did you file a defective petition in the matter of this importance,” an anguished bench asked the lawyer.

“You file a defective petition and trouble my officers,” the CJI said.

The bench asked the lawyer if he knows how many petitions on the J-K issue are in the apex court and are under defects?

The bench told him that six petitions have been filed on the issue.

“In the matter of this seriousness, people are filing petitions with defect,” the bench said.

The National Conference, a political party in Jammu and Kashmir, has also filed a petition posing legal challenges in the apex court to the changes made in the constitutional status of J-K, contending that these have taken away rights of its citizens without their mandate.

Arguing that the legislation approved by Parliament and orders issued by the President subsequently were “unconstitutional”, the petition prayed for these to be declared as “void and inoperative”.

The petition has been filed by Mohammad AKbar Lone and Justice (rtd) Hasnain Masoodi, both Lok Sabha members belonging to the NC.

Lone is a former speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Masoodi a retired judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, who ruled in 2015 that Article 370 was a permanent feature of the Constitution.

Some other individuals have also filed a petition in the Supreme Court but they were not listed for hearing on Friday.

High Court rejects PILs seeking extension of Athi Varadar festival

The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed two PILs seeking extension of the 48-day-long Lord Athi Varadar festival which is ending Saturday.

A bench comprising S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad rejected the prayer of the public interest litigation petitioners who sought more time citing the huge rush of devotees thronging the Devarajaswamy temple in neighbouring Kancheepuram.

The petitioners sought extension of the festival by another 40 days.

The court had earlier this week dismissed another similar plea after the Tamil Nadu government submitted it was not possible to extend the period.

The deity made of fig wood is taken out of the temple tank once in 40 years and kept for darshan of devotees for 48 days. This year, the festival began on July 1 and Friday is the last day for public ‘darshan’.

The idol would be placed back in the Anantasaras tank of the temple on Saturday.

In another related petition, Justice P D Audikesavalu on Friday directed that the water let in to the temple tank shall satisfy the norms of the Pollution Control Board.

The judge gave the direction on a petition seeking a direction for cleaning up the tank.

Over one crore devotees have offered prayers to the deity, officials said.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Telangana and Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers K Chandrashekar Rao and K Palaniswami, respectively, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and superstar Rajinikanth are among the prominent people who had ‘darshan’ of Athi Varadar.

High Court restrains portal from using ‘Vistara’ mark for selling products

The Delhi High Court citing the fact that the mark Vitara has become quite popular & has acquired a unique status, restrained an aviation studies portal from using the mark permanently.

Justice Pratibha M Singh also directed M/s Pilot18 Aviation Book Store – which operates an aviation studies portal named as – & its owner to pay costs of ₹ 2 lakh to Tata SIA Airlines Ltd – a Joint Venture of TATA Sons Private Ltd & Singapore Airlines Ltd.

High Court stated, “The mark Vistara is quite popular in India & has acquired a unique status. It is a distinctive mark that enjoys enormous goodwill & reputation in the airline, travel & tourism industry. Use of this mark, even in respect of unrelated services would create confusion & deception. It deserves to be declared as a well-known mark.”

Since 2014, Tata SIA Airlines Ltd, is using the mark ‘Vistara’ for airline services.

Tata SIA Airlines Ltd, the operator of Vistara Airlines, moved the Court seeking to restrain the aviation portal from selling of ‘Vistara’ branded products on its website as well as on e-commerce portals like Amazon and Snapdeal, following which the court gave this order.

The claimed before the High Court that they have not used the trademark ‘Vistara’ & that the airline company has concocted a false story.

A Local Commissioner was appointed by the Court to look into the matter, who found a large number of products bearing the mark ‘Vistara’ being used by the portal. The portal’s owner didn’t accept the same & claimed themselves to be innocent.

In the given order the Court noted that, “a perusal of the statement (portal’s owner) shows that the plea taken in the written statement was false, i.e., that the mark ‘Vistara’ has not been used by the defendants (portal & its owner). This is a grave misstatement made by the Defendants in the face of the Commissioner’s report & in the face of the admission in the statement recorded on 25th July, 2019.”

This High Court’s ruling on land laws has thrown infrastructure projects in this State out of order

Big projects such as the second phase of Metro Rail & expansion of Airport are stuck as the Govt. agencies cannot take possession of Private Land.

Land acquisition for phase-2 of Chennai metro rail has been stalled. `69,000 crore project requires 117 hectares of land spread over Chennai, Kancheepuram & Tiruvallur districts.

Metro rail official has stated that acquisition has been delayed due to judgment. He further added that,”Court declared Section 105A of the Land Acquisition Act 2013 as unconstitutional, illegal & inoperative. As a consequence, the Tamil Nadu Acquisition of Land for Industrial Purposes Act is now unconstitutional, illegal & inoperative”.

Acquisition of land for the metro project is executed under the Tamil Nadu Industrial Purposes Act, 1997, stands quashed.

High Court also declared all the land acquisition made under Tamil Nadu Acquisition of Land for Harijan Welfare Scheme Act, 1978, & Tamil Nadu Highways Act, 2001, after September 27, 2013, illegal.

Issue relates to amendment made to Centre’s Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013, by inserting a new section, 105 A.

In order to overcome the situation, Government passed Tamil Nadu Land Acquisition Laws (Revival of Operation, Amendment & Validation) Act, 2019, with provisions to determine compensation, rehabilitation & resettlement, & infrastructure amenities on a par with Centre’s Land Acquisition Act.

According to Official Sources,Governor Banwarilal Purohit has reserved the bill for consideration of the President.

High Court commutes rape-murder convict’s death penalty to 25 yrs in jail

Citing absence of criminal antecedents & also the possibility of reform, the High Court has commuted the death penalty awarded to a youth who had raped & murdered an eight-year-old girl in Aug 2012 to 25-year imprisonment.

Saleem, a tailor by profession & resident of Goripalya in Bengaluru, will have to serve the jail term without any remission & also pay a fine of ₹1 lakh.

He was also sentenced to 10-year imprisonment & levied a fine of ₹1 lakh fine to be paid to the girl’s mother & ₹10,000, which will vest with the state.

Quoting several Apex Court judgments, a division bench comprising of Justice Ravi Malimath & Justice HP Sandesh has said the imposition of life sentence is not adequate & a death penalty is too excessive as the case on hand doesn’t fall under “rarest of the rare “ category.

Saleem was 29 when he committed the offence. He had gone to his elder sister’s house at Janata Colony in Tavarekere on the outskirts of Bengaluru. He was staying alone in the house as his sister had gone to her parents’ home. The girl lived next door & was in class 3. Her mother worked in an incense stick manufacturing unit.

Around 7pm on Aug 15, 2012, Saleem asked the girl to buy beedis for him. At that time, her mother was busy preparing dinner. When the girl returned, Saleem closed the main door of the house & raped her. He smothered her to death when she tried to raise alarm.

Neighbours caught Saleem & thrashed him before handing him over to police. Acting on the girl’s complaint, Tavarekere police probe the matter & filed the charge sheet. On January 23, 2018, the third additional district & sessions court in Ramanagara convicted Saleem for offenses under IPC Section 302 (murder) & Section 376 (rape).

The next day, the court awarded him death penalty. It also sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment & a fine of ₹50,000 for rape.

In view of the death penalty, the matter was referred to the high court for confirmation as provided under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) section 366(1).

Saleem’s Counsel claimed the Trial Court failed to consider the contradictions in the statements of the girl’s mother & other prosecution witnesses & also there was a failure to explain the injuries sustained by him.

However, the state public prosecutor contended that the accused did not deny the allegations nor did he say the murder was committed by some other individual.
“The evidence of prosecution witnesses & the doctor’s evidence not only corroborates that the accused not only raped the girl, but also committed the murder in a cruel manner & he sustained the injuries while committing the crime,” argued the prosecutor.

The Judgement has been delivered by Justice Ravi Malimath & Justice HP Sandesh.

Ayodhya Case(Day 6): ‘Mosque built on ruins of Temple not a valid Mosque under Shariat law’ submits advocate for Ram Lalla

Senior Advocate CS Vaidyanathan resumed his arguments for Ram Lalla before the 5-Judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India, Justice Ranjan Gogoi. Vaidyanathan referred to various books and travelogues which describe the city of Ayodhya and also the temples in the city dedicated to Lord Ram.

He stated that earliest document is publication by English traveller William Finch, named ‘Early Travels in India, 1583-1619’ in which he wrote with respect to Ayodhya. Mr. Vaidyanathan submitted that the fact that reference of any such mosque built at Ayodhya is absent in his travelogue is of significance.

Vaidyanathan relied upon a book speaking about demolition of temple and construction of mosque by either Babar or Aurangzeb. The author of the book has narrated what he had heard, not witnessed. However, he submitted that the book is of sufficient antiquity, credibility.

Justice Chandrachud asked Vaidyanathan who allegedly demolished the temple – Babar or Aurangzeb?

Vaidyanathan said that though there is difference of opinion on who demolished it, and also on whether it has been demolished twice, first time by Babur then later by Aurangzeb, but it is clear it was demolished before 1786.

He further said that it is doubtful that the structure was built by Babur, but it is clear that the structure came up at the place which is believed by Hindus to be birthplace of Lord Ram.

Justice Bobde asked the counsel when was the structure called Babri Masjid for the 1st time?

Vaidyanathan said that it was called Babri Masjid for the 1st time in 19th century. There is no document of earlier than 19th century which refers to the structure as Babri masjid.

When Justice Bobde asked whether Baburnama is silent on the whole thing? Vaidyanathan said, Yes, it’s silent. Babar ordered his military commander to build it.

Justice Bobde further inquired whether there was any evidence of the command.

Inscriptions on which substantial doubt has been cast are the only evidence Mr. Vaidyanathan said.

Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, counsel for Sunni Waqf Board, intervened saying that Baburnama is silent because the pages of Baburnama referring to this episode are missing.

Mr. Vaidyanathan then stated that it is difficult to record finding that the structure was built by Babur, however, what is important is that at the place of Janmasthan, another structure has been put up, either by Babur or Aurangzeb.

Mr. Vaidyanathan referred to the work of Montgomery Martin a British surveyor of 19th century who found that inscriptions suggest that the mosque was built by Babur. The book Montogomery in 1838, made the first reference to the mosque having been built by Babur.

Mr. Vaidyanathan referred to the documents which record that pillars of the mosque have pictures which are non-Muslim and could have been taken from the temple.

Mr. Vaidyanathan submitted that these works are being relied upon by him not to establish historical facts like dates, names etc. but to establish the way the people lived, their faith and their belief of people and religious significance the place holds to them.

Mr. Vaidyanathan relied on a document from 1854 – The Gazetteer of Territory under East India Company quoting that “Close to the town on the east, are the extensive ruins said to be those of the fort of Rama, Hero of Ramayana”. He thereby submitted that due to existence of the ruins, the site cannot be disputed.

There are three mosques on the site of three Hindu shrines, Mr. Vaidyanathan said.

Reports of Archaeological Survey of India (1862-1865) by Alexander Cunningham were relied upon by Mr. Vaidyanathan.

Mr. Vaidyanathan submitted that Muslims have destroyed numerous temples. 1st temple known to succumb at hands of a Muslim ruler is temple at Ram Janmbhoomi. And, the oldest piece of archaeological evidence is usage of black pillars in the mosque which are originally from temple which was destroyed.

Justice DY Chandrachud observed that there has been influence of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, there has not been dominance of any one throughout.

Mr. Vaidyanathan said there has been different influences in different phases, starting with Hinduism followed by Jainism, Buddhism and then Islam, but people’s belief in Lord Ram has continued throughout all the phases. Continuous worship has remained unaffected by these influences. Persistent worshipping shows belief and faith of Hindus.

He stated that it is believed by general consensus that the mosque was built in place of temple.

He said that the disputed area is hardly 10,000 square feet, it cannot be divided into 3 portions, and they are against that part of the Allahabad High Court Judgement.

Mr. Vaidyanathan stated that in 1945 a suit pertaining to conflict between Shias and Sunnis regarding the disputed site was filed by Shia Central Waqf Board. The plaintiff had contended that during the era of Babur beautiful masjid was constructed at the birthplace of Lord Ram.

Justice Bobde asked what was the stance of Sunnis in that dispute?

Mr. Vaidyanathan submitted that the contention was not objected by the Sunnis and the suit was later dismissed.

Mr. Dhavan said that was a 1945 suit, and it does not affect the 1989 suit.

Mr. Vaidyanathan further submitted that under Muslim law it is unlawful to build mosque on illegally acquired land. He said that it has not been proved that land on which the mosque was built belonged to Babur.

He added that divinity of place of birth is a belief, and prior existence of temple is a fact. Since mosque was built on ruins of temple it cannot be a valid mosque, being contrary to Shariat law itself.

Mr. Dhavan submitted that sanctity is placed on Chabootra which came up later, and temples built around a mosque do not make a mosque invalid, is not prohibited under the Shariat law.

Why not make Transport Corporations private-public entities: High Court

Criticizing the transport corporations in the state for failing to serve the people & generate revenue for the government, the Madras high court has suo motu impleaded the transportsecretary & questioned whether the government can bring all transport corporations under the public-private partnership model to improve efficiency.

The Court asked the Govt. if it wants to denationalize the Public Transport Corporations. It also raised the issue of militant unionism & the need to appoint experts to enhance efficacy. The court raised the questions while hearing an appeal against a tribunal order awarding a compensation of ₹45 lakh to the family of a man killed in an accident involving an MTC bus. A division bench of Justice N Kirubakaran & Justice Krishnan Ramasamy enhanced the compensation to ₹1.06 crore after perusing the submissions.

Observing that transport corporations face similar problems as Govt. offices — corruption, inefficiency & political intervention — the court said reckless driving by some of the drivers of the corporations has led to loss of lives & payment of hefty compensation by the corporations.

After awarding the enhanced compensation in the present case, the Division Bench impleaded the transport secretary, director general of Police & the Chairman and managing directors of the Transport Corporations in the State. It also sought details on accidents involving state-owned transport corporation buses in the past 10 years.

The Court sought for details of lives lost & injured people, the number of claim petitions & amount awarded as compensation in the past 10 years by each transport corporation with annual breakup. It also wanted
details of departmental proceedings against drivers involved in accidents & the number of people convicted for the accidents in the past decade.
“Is it a fact that even in departmental proceedings initiated against workmen (drivers & conductors), in the inquiry proceedings, the management witnesses are turning hostile, thereby no action can be taken effectively against erring staff?” the said, & sought a response on the claims that trade union leaders are preventing officials from taking action against deviant staff.

The bench also sought for the percentage of absenteeism in each of the transport corporations for the past decade & whether accidents caused by the corporations’ buses are because of improper maintenance by successive governments. “Are substandard motor spare parts purchased for repairing buses resulting in mechanical failure?” the Court asked.

Justice N Kirubakaran & Justice Krishnan Ramasamy suggested the government appoint a committee of experts from various fields including management professionals & technocrats to find reasons for the losses & suggest remedial measures.

The transport secretary & others are to respond to the questions by Sep 5.

Ayodhya: On 5th day of hearing, arguments in Supreme Court on whether temple existed on disputed site

Arguments on whether a temple existed at the disputed site in Ayodhya were presented on Tuesday before the Supreme Court which heard the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case for the fifth day.

Senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan, appearing for deity Ram Lalla Virajman, advanced arguments on whether there was an existing temple over which the mosque came up, before a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

Three judges of the Allahabad High Court had held that there was a temple at the disputed site, Vaidyanathan told the bench also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer.

“Justice SU Khan of the high court had said that the mosque was built on the ruins of the temple,” the senior advocate told the bench.

Senior advocate K Parasaran, also appearing for deity ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’ told the court that it must do “full and complete justice” in all matters before it.

The bench had on Friday last asked as to whether anyone from the ‘Raghuvansha’ (descendants of Lord Ram) dynasty still resides in Ayodhya.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

On December 6, 1992, the Babri Masjid, which was constructed at the disputed site in the 16th century by Shia Muslim Mir Baqi, was demolished.