Outgoing CJI Gogoi declines requests for interviews and lauds media for maturity in trying times of Supreme Court.

Outgoing Chief Justice India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi on Friday expressed his inability to have one-to-one interview with scribes and lauded the press for its “maturity” and “character” in preventing “canards and falsehood” in “trying times” of the judiciary.

Justice Gogoi, the 46th CJI and the first from a north-eastern state, said it was not the requirement of the Supreme Court that judges “reach out to our citizenry through the press”.

“Such outreach (to the press) ought to be symbolic of an extraordinary situation demanding an exception to the norm,” said Justice Gogoi who would demit office on November 17, a Sunday.

Justice Gogoi and three other senior most apex court judges — Justices J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph had held an unprecedented press conference on January 12, 2018 alleging that the administration and allocation of cases in the apex court, then headed by the then CJI Dipak Misra, was “not in order”.

In a three-page common letter to journalists, the CJI declined the request for interviews and said: “I would not be able to meet your request for a one-to-one meet.”

The letter said: “I am keen that you would appreciate that the ordinary freedoms are finely balanced in our institutional functioning – while you have the Bar whose members can exercise their freedom of speech to the extent of even pushing the boundaries of such freedom, the bench requires its judges to maintain silence, while exercising their freedoms.

“This is not to say that Judges do not speak. They do speak, but only out of functional necessity, and no more. Bitter truth must remain in memory.”

The CJI lauded the role of media for its reportage during the “trying times” of the apex judicial institution.

“Good press is also a parameter amongst others that is known to be indicative of our institutional health. In such view, I do wish to put on record that by and large, the press corps has been kind to my office as well as to our institution during my tenure at the helm of the institution.

“Even during trying times. When our institution was keeping an ambush or two at bay, most members of the press displayed maturity and character ad exercised exceptional discretion to prevent canards and falsehood from clogging the news space,” the letter said.

Justice Gogoi said that as a public functionary, who was entrusted with onerous Constitutional duties to perform, the idea of “courting the press” never came as a choice for him in the interest of the institution.

“I chose to belong to an institution whose strength lay in public confidence and trust earned not through good press, but through our work as Judges on the bench.

“In fact, our work-places are, by our functional necessity, required to be public places as justice is ordained to be delivered in presence of ordinary citizens to ensure that it is never far removed from them. In that view, our institutional connect and interface with the citizenry is proximate,” the letter said.

Though the CJI is officially retiring on November 17, a Sunday, Friday was his last working day.

Lawyer-police clash: HC grants interim protection from arrest to two cops

The Delhi High Court granted interim protection from arrest on Friday to two police officials who were booked in connection with the clash between lawyers and the police in Tis Hazari court earlier this month.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar sought responses of the Centre, the Delhi police, the Bar Council of India (BCI) and various other bar associations on the plea of the two assistant sub-inspectors (ASI) seeking protection from arrest till a judicial inquiry into the incident was over.

The court said “no coercive action” should be taken against Kanta Prasad and Pawan Kumar, suspended after the incident, till the next date of hearing on December 23.

A parking dispute between an on-duty police official and a lawyer triggered the clash between the two sides at the Tis Hazari court complex on November 2, leaving 20 security personnel and several advocates injured.

Lawyers in six district courts have been on strike since November 4 to protest against the clash.

In unprecedented protests by the Delhi Police, thousands of its personnel had laid siege outside the police headquarters for 11 hours on November 5 and staged a virtual revolt sparked by two attacks on their colleagues by the lawyers.

Supreme Court on Ayodhya case: Temple at disputed site and to allot alternative land for mosque.

The Supreme Court in a unanimous verdict on Saturday cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.

In one of the most important and most anticipated judgements in India’s history, a 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi put an end to the more than a century old dispute that has torn the social fabric of the nation.

The apex court said the mosque should be constructed at a “prominent site” and a trust should be formed within three months for the construction of the temple at the site many Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.

The site was occupied by the 16th century Babri mosque which was destroyed by Hindu kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.

The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said possession of the disputed 2.77 acre land rights will be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla, who is one of the three litigants in the case. The possession however will remain with a central government receiver.

The Supreme Court said the Hindus have established their case that they were in possession of outer courtyard and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board has failed to establish its case in the Ayodhya dispute.

Delivering its verdict in the politically-sensitive case of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya, the apex court directed allotment of alternative land to Muslims to build a new mosque.

The apex court said the extensive nature of Hindus worshipping at outer courtyard at the disputed site has been there, and the evidence suggests the Muslims offered Friday prayers at mosque which indicates that they had not lost possession of the site.

It said that despite obstruction caused in offering prayers at Mosque, the evidences suggest that there was no abandonment in offering prayers.

The apex court further said that the underlying structure below the disputed site at Ayodhya was not an Islamic structure, but the ASI has not established whether a temple was demolished to build a mosque.

It said that terming the archeological evidence as merely an opinion would be a great disservice to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The court also said that the Hindus consider the disputed site as the birthplace of Lord Ram and even Muslims say this about that place.

The faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed, the apex court said.

The bench said the existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih are the testimony of the religious fact of the place.

The apex court said however that the title cannot be established on the ground of faith and belief and they are only indicators for deciding the dispute.

Disqualified Karnataka MLAs move Supreme Court for postponement of Dec 5 bypolls

The disqualified Karnataka MLAs moved the Supreme Court on Friday, seeking further postponement of the Assembly bypolls which are scheduled to take place on December 5.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana on October 25 had reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions filed by the 17 MLAs, challenging their disqualification as lawmakers ahead of the trust vote by the then H D Kumaraswamy government.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the disqualified MLAs, mentioned the matter and said that the bypolls for the Assembly seats are scheduled on December 5 and candidates are required to file their nomination papers between November 11 and November 18.

He said the disqualified MLAs will not be able to file their nomination and moreover the apex court verdict has not been delivered on the particular issue.

Rohatgi sought postponement of the bypolls till the apex court delivers its verdict on the petitions challenging the disqualifications.

The apex court asked the counsel for the MLAs to file a fresh application in this regard.

Earlier, the Election Commission had postponed the bypolls, which were scheduled on October 21, to December 5 in view of the pendency of the petitions filed by the disqualified lawmakers.

CJI Gogoi to meet UP chief secretary and DGP to review law and order situation in UP.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is likely to have a meeting with Uttar Pradesh chief secretary and director general of police on Friday to assess the law and order arrangement in the state ahead of the verdict on the Ayodhya land dispute case to be pronounced next week, sources said.

The CJI has called UP Chief Secretary Rajendra Kumar Tiwari and DGP Om Prakash Singh and will have the meeting in his chamber, they said.

The judgement on the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute was reserved on October 16 after a marathon hearing of 40 days. The judgement is likely to be pronounced before November 17 as Justice Gogoi’s tenure as the CJI comes to end on that day.

Delhi High Court to hear in Feb plea for action against police officials for protesting against clash with lawyers

The Delhi High Court on Friday said it will hear in February a plea seeking action against police officials who were agitating in public and sitting on ‘dharna’ after their November 2 clash with lawyers at the Tis Hazari Courts Complex.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar refused to give shorter date for hearing the plea and asked the lawyers to use their good officers for settling the issue with police.

The court was hearing a petition filed by a lawyer seeking action against police officials who had issued statements on social media when the matter is already sub judice.

When the counsel appearing for the petitioner sought a shorter date for hearing the matter, the bench said, “We will see it later. Just wait and watch. You (lawyers) use all your good officers for settlement. A long date is required. ”

Advocate Vivek Narayan Sharma, appearing for the petitioner lawyer, said he has to make submissions on the point of law.

The bench, however, said it will hear the matter later on February 12.

In unprecedented protests by Delhi police, thousands of its personnel on Tuesday laid siege outside the Police Headquarters for 11 hours and staged a virtual revolt sparked by two attacks on their colleagues before calling off their stir following multiple appeals including from their chief.

The petition filed by lawyer Rakesh Kumar Lakra has arrayed as parties the Union of India, the Delhi Police, its Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, Deputy Inspector General of police of Arunachal Pradesh Madhur Verma, former Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police Aslam Khan, Superintendent of Police of NIA Sanjukta Prashar and IPS officer Meghna Yadav.

The plea has sought direction to the Centre to initiate departmental inquiry against the Delhi Police officials who were sitting on ‘dharna’ and “making provocative slogans” and issuing inciting statements on electronic and social media.

It has alleged that the police officials were protesting and agitating in public, which was in contravention of their official duties.

The plea has claimed that it was a failure on the part of Delhi Police Commissioner for not taking action against Aslam Khan who has been giving statement on social media through Twitter when the matter is sub-judice in the high court.

It has said it was a failure on the part of Madhur Verma, Aslam Khan, Meghna Yadav and Sanjukta Prashar in making provocative statements in public through social media, and sought disciplinary action, including their dismissal, for allegedly violating provisions of the Delhi Police Act and Central Civil Services Conduct Rules.

The tension between police personnel and lawyers had been building up since last Saturday when a clash over a parking dispute led to at least 20 security personnel and several advocates being injured.

Thousands of police personnel protested outside the Police Headquarters on November 5, holding up placards with slogans such as “We are human in police uniforms”, “We are not punching bags” and “Protectors Need Protection”, and urged their seniors to stand with them to save the honour of the uniform.

The incidents drew sharp criticism from senior police officials who took to Twitter to register their discontent.

Man gets life imprisonment for raping and killing teenaged girl

A farmer has been sentenced for life by a court in Maharashtra for raping and killing a 17-year-old girl in 2014.

District Judge H M Patwardhan on Monday pronounced Shankar Bhogade guilty under Indian Penal Code Sections 376 (rape), 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) and provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

The judge also imposed a fine of Rs 5,500 on him.

Additional Public Prosecutor Ujjwala Moholkar told the court that the farmer from Thane’s Jawhar taluk was already married but was involved in a relationship with the girl.

He raped her on several occasions following which she became pregnant.The accused then asked the victim to consume a pill to terminate the pregnancy.

The girl however, wanted the accused to allow her to live with his wife and continue her education, but he opposed it.

On July 20, 2014, the accused offered the girl a poison-laced drink while telling her that he had mixed an abortion pill in it.

After consuming the drink, the girl fell drowsy. The accused then strangulated her to death and hung the body from a window rod to make it appear as a case of suicide, the prosecution told the court.

The accused also forged a suicide note in her notebook, blaming a third person for her ordeal and stating that she was ending her life by consuming poison.

A handwriting expert proved in court that the suicide note was forged and the accused wrote it to hide the crime.

The judge held that the prosecution proved all charges beyond reasonable doubt against the accused who “needs to be punished”.

No bail for two students arrested under UAPA

A court here on Wednesday dismissed the bail applications of two CPI(M) student activists, who were arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly distributing pro-Maoist pamphlets.

Thaha Fazal and Allan Shuhaib, who are students of Journalism and Law respectively and CPI(M)’s branch committee members, were arrested on November 2 from here, causing widespread criticism in the Left-ruled state.

The counsel of the two students told reporters that the Principal Sessions court had dismissed the bail pleas.

The grounds on which the bail applications were dismissed will be known only after getting copies of the order, they said.

The court has permitted the counsels to meet the accused for an hour this evening.

The petitioners are also likely to move the high court to quash the FIR against them and to seek bail.

The two accused are under judicial custody till November 15.

The brother and aunt of Taha Fazal said they have faith in the judiciary and the police had presented “fabricated evidence”.

Delhi police protest darkest day in history : Bar Council of India

The Bar Council of India Wednesday said that the protest by Delhi Police yesterday seems to be “politically motivated” and the “darkest day in the history of independence” and asserted that the guilty police officials should be arrested within a week.

BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said in a press release that earlier the BCI had asked the Bar Association of Delhi to call off their ongoing strike but after seeing “Delhi Police’s conduct”, it cannot “sit tight over the matter”.

The apex bar body alleged that the policemen remained “absent from duty, shouted slogans, used filthy language” and threatened to “smash and kill lawyers” openly.

The BCI in its letter has also demanded constitution of a high-level committee to find out who were involved in “planning the illegal protest of police yesterday”.

“Our demand is to arrest the guilty police officials within a period of one week, falling which we shall resort to peaceful dharna for the arrest of these people and for proper disciplinary action against them. The Bar stands united,” said the release.

 The Supreme Court asks J&K HC Juvenile Justice Committee to examine fresh allegations of detention of minors

The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the four member juvenile justice committee of Jammu and Kashmir High Court to examine afresh allegations of detention of minors by security forces in the state after abrogation of provisions of Article 370.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana asked the committee to place its report as expeditiously as possible and posted the hearing for December 3.

The bench said there was a need for examining the allegations afresh as the earlier reports of the committee was not in accordance with the apex court order due to time constraints.

The top court was hearing a petition which has raised the issue of alleged illegal detention of minors in Kashmir.