Sacked from Ayodhya case, says Muslim parties’ lawyer Rajeev Dhavan

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who appeared for Muslim parties in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case, on Tuesday said he has been sacked from the matter on the ‘nonsensical’ ground that he is unwell.

Dhavan, who posted the information on Facebook, said he is no longer involved in either the review or the case.

“Just been sacked from the Babri case by AOR (Advocate on Record) Ejaz Maqbool who was representing the Jamiat. Have sent formal letter accepting the ‘sacking’ without demur. No longer involved in the review or the case,” he wrote.

“I have been informed that Mr Madani has indicated that I was removed from the case because I was unwell. This is total nonsense. He has a right to instruct his lawyer AOR Ejaz Maqbool to sack me which he did on instructions. But the reason being floated is malicious and untrue,” Dhavan added on the social networking site.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, headed by Maulana Arshad Madani, on Monday filed a review petition challenging the Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict.

Dhavan later said he didn’t want to divide the Muslim parties.

“I have argued the case for all the Muslim parties in a united manner and would like the same way. The Muslim parties should sort out their differences first,” Dhavan told PTI.

He said he expressed his opinion on Facebook only after Maqbool went public about him being sacked because he is unwell.

“If I am unwell, then how come I am appearing in courts in other cases,” Dhavan said.

“I am committed to the cause and to the Muslim parties but making such a statement is completely wrong,” he said.

In a separate December 2 letter addressed to Maqbool, the AOR in the review petition, Dhavan narrated the sequence of events related to drafting of the review plea in the case.

“As promised, I am responding to your call at 10.14 AM today when I was at the doctors, informing me that I have been sacked from further involvement in the Babri case on behalf of your client. We were in agreement that the correct term was ‘sacked’ and you explained you had no choice in the matter. With humility and respect and the norms of my profession, I accept the sacking without demur,” Dhavan said in his letter.

The senior lawyer also wished Maqbool the best for his future endeavour and said, “The cause is bigger than all of us.”

A five-judge Constitution bench on November 9 unanimously cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot a five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.

A plea seeking review of the verdict was filed in the apex court on Monday by Maulana Syed Ashhad Rashidi, legal heir of original litigant M Siddiq, and the Uttar Pradesh president of the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind. It stated that “complete justice” could only be done by directing reconstruction of the Babri Masjid.

SC to hear after four weeks PIL seeking greater autonomy for ECI

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear after four weeks a PIL seeking that the chief election commissioner and election commissioners be appointed by a three-member collegium.

The collegium will comprise the prime minister, the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and the chief justice of India.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant took note of submissions that the plea needed an urgent hearing.

“We will list it for hearing after four weeks,” the bench said.

BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay has filed the PIL seeking to ensure more autonomy for the chief election commissioner’s (CEC) office and election commissioners.

The plea has also sought an independent secretariat for the Election Commission of India (ECI) and that it should also be given the power to make rules.

Muslim party seeks review of Ayodhya verdict, says Babri be rebuilt for complete justice

A plea seeking review of the verdict which cleared the way for construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday stating that “complete justice” could only be done by directing reconstruction of Babri Masjid.

A 5-judge bench, headed by the then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, had in a unanimous verdict on November 9 decreed the entire 2.77 acre disputed land in favour of deity ‘Ram Lalla’ and also directed the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque in Ayodhya.

While key litigant, Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board, decided against challenging the verdict, Maulana Syed Ashhad Rashidi, legal heir of original litigant M Siddiq and UP President of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, sought review of the verdict on 14 counts.

The litigant, in review plea filed through lawyer Ejaz Maqbool, has also sought an interim stay on operation of the verdict in which it had directed the Centre that a trust be formed within three months for construction of the temple at the site.

Rashidi also questioned the direction asking the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government to allot 5 acre land for construction of a mosque at a prominent place in Ayodhya, saying that such a prayer was never made by the Muslim parties.

It was also submitted that despite acknowledging several illegalities committed by the Hindu parties, including the destruction of the mosque at the disputed site, the apex court condoned them and granted the land to them.

“By virtue of the impugned judgment, this court has effectively granted a mandamus to destroy Babri Masjid and to construct a temple of Lord Ram in the said place,” the plea said.

It further stated that though in the impugned judgment this court has acknowledged few of the several illegalities committed by the Hindu Parties, particularly in 1934 (damaging the domes of the Babri Masjid), 1949 (desecrating the Babri Masjid) and 1992 (demolition of the Babri Masjid), it has “proceeded to condone those very illegal acts and has awarded the disputed site to the very party which based its claims on nothing but a series of illegal acts”.

However, Rashidi submitted he was not seeking review of the entire judgement and several findings, and was limiting the plea to apparent errors on the face of records such as the title in favour of Hindus “virtually amounts to a mandamus to destroy the Babri Masjid” and “no person can derive benefit out of an illegality while granting title to Hindu parties”.

It said the judgement erred in disregarding the settled principle of law that a “tainted cause of action cannot be sustained or decreed in a civil suit”.

“This court erred in wrongly applying Article 142 of the Constitution as doing complete justice or restituting the illegality could only be done by directing the reconstruction of the Babri Masjid,” said the review plea, running into 93-pages.

Rashidi said he was conscious of the sensitive nature of the case and understood the need to put a “quietus to the dispute” to maintain peace and harmony, but there “can be no peace without justice”.

“Further, this court has, in an attempt to balance the reliefs between the parties, while condoning illegalities of the Hindu parties, has allotted alternate land ad-measuring five acres to Muslim parties, which was neither pleaded nor prayed for by the Muslim parties,” it said.

The verdict disregarded the settled legal principle and supported “a party which based its cause of action upon an illegal act”, it said.

The top court “committed an error apparent by elevating a mere look at the central dome by the Hindu parties to a claim of possessory title”, it said.

The fact that Babri mosque was a waqf property was wrongly not accepted, it said and alleged uneven appreciation of evidence.

The verdict gave “precedence to oral testimonies of the Hindu parties vis-a-vis the contemporary documentary evidence of the Muslim parties, which resulted in incorrect application of doctrine of preponderance of probabilities”, it said.

“This apex court committed an error apparent by not appreciating that the structure in question had always been a mosque and had been in exclusive possession of Muslims,” it said, adding that the principle of presumption under the Evidence Act on the issue of offering of namaz at the site between 1528 to 1856 was disregarded.

“This court committed grave error by elevating the mere prescriptive rights of the Hindu parties, which were settled as far back as in 1886, to those of possessory title,” it said.

The lawsuit of the deity should not have been entertained by the court as it was based “on mere impatience” which can never be a valid cause of action for any litigation, it said.

“This court erred in relying on travellers’ accounts and archaeological findings in order to decide issues of title, despite noting that travellers accounts were not conclusive and archaeological findings could not be the basis of deciding a title dispute.

“Further, despite noting that only the facts after the annexation of Oudh in 1856 were to be considered for adjudicating the present dispute, this court proceeded to rely upon the facts prior to 1856,” the review plea said.

The plea, however, said it was not assailing certain findings of the court such as Nirmohi Akhara’s lawsuit was barred by limitation and the birth place was not a juristic entity.

The plea also did seek review of SC’s findings that “deity is not a perpetual minor for the purposes of limitation”.

NGT asks authorities to ensure no illegal sand mining is carried out in UP’s Shamli district

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed authorities in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district to ensure that no illegal sand mining is carried out in the area.

The orders came after the Shamli District Magistrate told the tribunal that the illegal mining activity being carried out by a private lease holder has already been stopped and the temporary bridge made by him has also been removed.

The green panel said that since illegal sand mining by project proponent has been suspended, it may be ensured that no illegal mining is done by anyone else in the district.

The green panel also noted that a cumulative environmental compensation of Rs 20.45 lakh has been assessed to be imposed on the sand miner for non-compliance of environment clearance conditions and for not seeking required consent from the state pollution control board under the notified provisions.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel also sought a report in this regard by the Principal Secretary, Environment, UP after coordination with the concerned authorities within two months.

Noting the submissions, the tribunal directed that further action should be taken in accordance with law after considering the viewpoint of the project proponent.

“It will be open to the authorities to asses and recover further compensation in accordance with law. The basis of compensation may be indicated in the report.

“Since, we are informed that mining by project proponent has been suspended, it may be ensured that no illegal mining is done by anyone else which may be ensured by the District Magistrate, Shamli, SEIAA, UP and state pollution control board,” the tribunal said in a recent order.

The NGT was hearing a plea filed by Sandeep Kharb against the illegal sand mining in the district in violation of Sustainable Sand Mining Management Guidelines, 2016 issued by Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The petitioner also referred to tribunal’s direction to Haryana and Uttar Pradesh that no mechanical mining be permitted on the river beds at any place.

Delhi court grants bail to Ratul Puri in AgustaWestland money laundering case

A Delhi court Monday granted bail to businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, in AgustaWestland money laundering case.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar granted bail to Puri on a personal bond of Rs 5 lakh and two sureties of like amount.

Puri will however remain in jail as he was also arrested in another case — the one related to bank fraud.

In his bail plea, Puri had said that he was not required for further investigation and no purpose will be served by keeping him in custody.

The Enforcement Directorate had recently filed a supplementary Prosecution Complaint against Puri and Jaspreet Ahuja in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case.

In January 2014, India had scrapped a contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary, AgustaWestland, for supplying 12 VVIP choppers to the Indian Air Force, over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of kickbacks worth Rs 423 crore being paid to secure the deal.

Shahjahanpur law student granted bail in extortion money from Swami Chinmayanand.

The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday granted bail to the law student charged with trying to extort money from Swami Chinmayanand, the BJP leader whom she has accused of rape.

Chinmayanand, whose trust runs the Shahjahanpur law college where the woman studied, was arrested under section 376-C of the IPC and continues to be in judicial custody.

But, in a related case, the 23-year-old woman and her three friends were also booked on Chinmayanand’s complaint that they had demanded Rs 5 crore from him.

The former Union minister alleged that they had threatened to make public video clips that showed him getting massages from the student.

Allowing the student’s bail application, Justice S D Singh observed that the police had already completed the investigation and filed a charge sheet.

He said no reasonable apprehension had been cited by the state that her release on bail will delay the trial. Hence, there is no need to detain her further, the court added.

During the bail hearing, the woman’s counsel argued that she is a victim of sexual harassment and claimed that all allegations against her are fabricated.

The counsel alleged that the student was raped by Chinmayanand over a long period of time.

Chinmayanand’s lawyer opposed the bail application and said the student had used a spy camera for recording the video clips.

The BJP leader was arrested on September 20 by a special investigation team (SIT), formed by Uttar Pradesh Police following directions from the Supreme Court.

He was booked under section 376-C, a charge short of rape. It is applied when someone in authority takes advantage of his official position and induces or seduces a woman to have sex with him.

Apart from the rape allegation, the 23-year-old student said she was often called for giving massages to Chinmayanand, and used a concealed camera to record video clips as evidence.

But Chinmayanand said the clips were recorded to blackmail him. She and her friends had asked him to shell out Rs 5 crore, he alleged.

Last month, the woman was taken from the jail in Shahjahanpur to Bareilly so that she could take an exam at a college there.

She was given admission at the Bareilly college on the Supreme Court’s directions so that she could continue her education.

SC grants bail to Chidambaram in INX Media money laundering case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to Congress leader P Chidambaram in a money laundering case related to INX Media and directed that he could not leave the country without its prior permission nor speak to the media.

Chidambaram, who has been in custody for 105 days, should neither try to influence witnesses nor tamper with evidence, the court said while setting aside the Delhi High Court November 15 verdict denying the former Union finance minister bail

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice R Banumathi, granted the relief to the 74-year-old Congress leader on a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh with two sureties of the like amount

The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, restrained Chidambaram from giving any press interview or making any statements with regard to the case

The top court, which observed that economic offences are grave in nature, said “grant of bail is rule and refusal is exception”

Chidambaram has been custody since August 21 when he was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the INX Media corruption case. On October 16, the Enforcement Directorate arrested him in the money-laundering case. Six days later, on October 22, the apex court granted him bail in the case lodged by the CBI.

The bench said its order would not have any bearing on other accused in the case and Chidambaram would have to join further investigations if asked by the probe agency

Holding that the high court was justified in considering the gravity of offence while denying Chidambaram bail, the apex court disapproved of the manner in which the high court had made observations with regard to merits of the case

It said the gravity of the offences are to be examined by the court on the basis of facts and circumstances of each and every case

The bench said it was initially not inclined to open the sealed cover material placed before it by the ED. But since the high court had perused the material, it was imperative for the top court to go through the documents, it said

After pronouncing the verdict, it directed the apex court registry to return the sealed cover material back to the ED

The apex court made it clear that its order would not be construed to be the findings on merits of the case

The court said the alleged complicity of Chidambaram in the case would be examined during the trial

The apex court passed the judgement on the appeal filed by Chidambaram challenging the November 15 Delhi High Court verdict

During arguments in the top court, the ED claimed that Chidambaram continued to wield “substantial influence” on crucial witnesses in the case even while in custody. The Congress leader said the agency cannot “destroy” his career and reputation by making baseless allegations

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, said economic offences like money laundering are grave in nature as they not only affect the nation’s economy but also shake people’s faith in the system, especially when it is committed by people in power

Representing Chidambaram, senior advocates Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi countered Mehta’s submissions and said there was neither any evidence linking Chidambaram directly or indirectly with the alleged offence nor any material to show that he had influenced witnesses or tampered with any evidence

The CBI had registered its case on May 15, 2017, alleging irregularities in a Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance granted to the INX Media group for receiving overseas funds of Rs 305 crore in 2007 during Chidambaram’s tenure as finance minister

The ED lodged a money laundering case after that.

The Delhi High Court permits bar elections at Tis Hazari and Karkardooma district courts on Dec 13

The Delhi High Court on Friday allowed elections of the bar associations at Tis Hazari and Karkardooma district courts here to be held on December 13.The elections of the bar associations at Tis Hazari and Karkardooma courts were earlier scheduled to be held on November 5 and 7 respectively. However, they were stayed by the high court following the November 2 clash between lawyers and police here.

A bench of Justices G S Sistani and Anup Jairam Bhambhani said the elections shall be monitored by retired Justice Kailash Gambhir at Tis Hazari court and by retired Justice Vinod Goel at Karkardooma courts.

The high court had on November 4 postponed the elections till further orders.

Lawyers and police had clashed at the Tis Hazari court complex here on November 2 during which at least 20 police personnel and several lawyers were injured while many vehicles vandalised or set on fire, according to officials

UP man gets 20 years in jail for raping minor daughter

 A special court here awarded a 20-year jail term to a 50-year-old man for raping his minor daughter three years ago.

The court, set up under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, convicted the man on Saturday.

Judge Sanjiv Kumar Tiwari also imposed a fine of Rs 56,000 on him after holding him guilty of raping his 17-year-old daughter in 2016.

According to special lawyer Dinesh Kumar Sharma, the police had registered a case against the man for raping his daughter in the district on February 18, 2016.

It was alleged in the complaint that the girl had been raped over a period of three-four months and was threatened with dire consequences.

New roster released by SC to hear works like PILs by CJI S A Bobde.

 The Supreme Court has released a new roster of work saying that PILs would now be heard by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and three other senior most judges of the apex court.

In the roster of allocation of work that took effect from November 26, CJI Bobde has kept Public Interest Litigations and letter petitions to himself along with Justices N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and R F Nariman.

The new roster is slightly different from the last time when the outgoing CJI Ranjan Gogoi had kept PIL matters for top five judges of the apex court, including the CJI.

Besides PIL matters, CJI Bobde has kept with him matters of contempt, election, habeas corpus, social justice, direct and indirect tax cases, among others.

The CJI will also be dealing with criminal matters and cases related to commissions of enquiry, company law, Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practices, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India and the Reserve Bank of India, among others.

As per the new roster, bench headed by Justice Ramana would deal with matters pertaining to armed forces, paramilitary, compensation, criminal and ordinary civil matters and issues related to judicial officers, employees of Supreme Court, high courts, district courts and tribunals, among others.

Justice Ramana will also be hearing matters related to eviction under public premises act, special leave petitions challenging arbitration matters, admirality and maritime laws and issues of commercial transactions.

Similarly, bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra would also deal with land acquisition and requisition matters, quota in admission to medical colleges, appeal against orders of statutory bodies and issue of establishment and recognition of educational institutions, among others.

Justice Mishra will look into indirect tax matters, contempt of court, ordinary civil issues and admission or transfer to engineering and medical colleges.

Besides PIL matters, Justice R F Nariman would look into cases of family law and hear matters related to armed and paramilitary forces, cases of leases, contracts by government and local bodies.

Justice R Banumathi led bench would hear matters related to labour, rent act, land laws and agricultural tenancies, among others.

Besides the CJI, Justices Ramana, Mishra, Nariman and Banumathi are part of the apex court Collegium.