Hapur lynching case: Supreme Court directs Police IG Zone to supervise the investigation

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Inspector General of Police of Meerut zone in Uttar Pradesh to directly supervise the probe into the lynching of a Muslim man by a mob in Hapur.

A bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said the officer will also act in accordance with the apex court’s earlier order pertaining to mob lynching. The bench also compromises Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud .

The court was hearing a plea for a court-monitored Special Investigation Team probe into the lynching of Qasim, a cattle trader, in Bajhera village in Hapur district on June 18. In August, while hearing the plea of a survivor in the case, the court had asked the IG Meerut to submit a report on the entire incident.

“The investigation in the case will be carried on under the direct supervision of the IG of Meerut range,” the bench ordered, fixing the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

Samiuddin and 45-year-old Qasim Qureishi were assaulted at Hapur on June 18 by a mob allegedly by cow vigilantes. While Samiuddin survived, Qureishi succumbed to his injuries.

SC agrees for urgent listing of pleas against ‘nikah-halala’, polygamy

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today agreed to consider listing of a batch of petitions challenging the practices of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered the submissions of senior advocate V Shekhar that the petitions be listed before a five-judge constitution bench for final adjudication.

“We will look into it,” the bench said.

Shekhar and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, appearing for one of the Delhi-based petitioners Sameena Begum, alleged that she was threatened and asked to withdraw her petition challenging ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy among Muslims.

The bench, meanwhile, allowed Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, to file a response to the petition on the issue.

Nikah-halala is a practice intended to curb the incidence of divorce under which a man cannot remarry his former wife without her having to go through the process of marrying someone else, consummating it, getting divorced and observing a separation period called ‘Iddat’ before coming back to him.

The petition, filed by the Delhi-based woman, has said that by virtue of the Muslim Personal Law and Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code (marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife) was rendered inapplicable to Muslims and no married woman from the community has the avenue of filing a complaint against her husband for the offence of bigamy.

Vacant pvt medical college seats can be filled as per NEET merit list: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court today agreed to suggestions that the vacant post-graduate seats in private unaided medical colleges could be filled up as per the order of merit in the All-India National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) list.

A bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra said this while hearing a matter of Uttar Pradesh during which the Medical Council of India (MCI) said that almost 41.95 per cent of post-graduate medical seats for academic year 2018-2019 in private unaided medical colleges in the state have remained vacant.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand, who appeared for the Centre, suggested to the bench that “a similar dispensation can be followed in other states, if they so desire, while ensuring that the cut-off date of May 31, 2018 is strictly adhered to”.

“We agree with this suggestion,” the bench said and disposed of the plea filed by the UP unaided medical colleges welfare association.

The ASG and MCI’s counsel assured the apex court that its order would be forthwith published on the official websites of MCI, Medical Counselling Committee and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Earlier during the hearing, the MCI counsel told the bench that since the cut-off date of May 18 was already over, the Director General of Medical Education of Uttar Pradesh must take the responsibility of allotting the seats to students from the NEET merit list in respective colleges by May 31.

“We find this suggestion to be most appropriate and also assuage the grievance of the private medical colleges and open up new opportunity to the aspiring candidates in the merit list who otherwise could not secure admission in other medical colleges,” the bench noted in its order.

The top court accepted the MCI’s suggestions and asked the Director General of Medical Education of Uttar Pradesh to take immediate steps in this regard while ensuring that the cut-off date of May 31, 2018 was adhered to in its letter and spirit.

The bench also made it clear “that in the guise of recommending names of candidates to private colleges, the candidate who has already secured admission elsewhere cannot be permitted to resign from the concerned college to avail of the opportunity under the stated dispensation.

Supreme Court dismisses plea of former UP minister Angad Yadav

The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea filed by former Uttar Pradesh minister Angad Yadav challenging an Allahabad High Court order cancelling the bail granted to him and also vacating the stay on his conviction in a 1995 murder case.

A bench comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and Navin Sinha refused to interfere with the high court’s April 17 this year order and granted him liberty to request the high court to dispose of his pending criminal appeal within six months.

“We are not inclined to interfere with the impugned judgement (of high court) cancelling the bail and recalling the order of suspension of conviction and sentence. The only relief that can be given to the petitioner (Yadav) is that he can request the high court to dispose of the pending criminal appeal within six months,” the bench said.

Yadav had moved the top court challenging the high court’s April 17 order.

The high court had passed the order on an application filed by the state seeking cancellation of bail granted to Yadav on November 23, 2000 after he was convicted by a trial court in a murder case lodged in 1995.

The state had also filed another application in the high court seeking vacation of the stay granted on his conviction in the case. The high court had noted in its order that several cases were lodged against Yadav.

The state had told the high court that after Yadav was enlarged on bail, he along with others had allegedly murdered an advocate on December 19, 2015 and an FIR was lodged in this regard in Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh.

Yadav’s counsel had opposed the contentions of the state and claimed before the high court that he was not involved in the lawyer’s murder and was roped in due to “political rivalry”.

The high court had observed in its order that Yadav had got bail and also a stay on his conviction but after securing the relief, he was allegedly involved in another murder case.

Supreme Court approves draft Cauvery Management Scheme

The Supreme Court today approved the Centre’s draft Cauvery Management Scheme for smooth distribution of water among four southern riparian states.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra rejected the suggestions of Karnataka and Kerala governments over the scheme, terming them as devoid of merits.

The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal’s award, which was modified by the apex court, has to be taken to the logical conclusion by the Cauvery Management Scheme.

It also dismissed Tamil Nadu’s plea seeking initiation of contempt against the Centre for non-finalisation of Cauvery scheme.

Karnataka, which is facing political tug of war between BJP and Congress-JD (S) over government formation, had earlier made a failed bid to temporarily stall the finalisation of draft Cauvery management scheme.

The top court had made it clear that it would see that the draft scheme is “in consonance with its judgement only.”

Earlier, the bench had red-flagged the provision empowering the Centre to issue the directions, saying “this part (power of Centre to issue directions) of the scheme is not in consonance with the judgement. We make it clear to you”.

The observation was made after the Centre had submitted the draft Cauvery management scheme in the court for its approval.

The apex court, in its verdict delivered on February 16, had asked the Centre to frame the Cauvery management scheme, including creation of the Cauvery Managament Board, for release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

The scheme, once finalised, would deal with the issue of water share of the four states in different circumstances like normal and deficient water years in the Cauvery river basin.

The top court had modified the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) award of 2007 and made it clear that it will not be extending time for this on any ground.

It had raised the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share, while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin, saying the issue of drinking water has to be placed on a “higher pedestal”.

Supreme Court notice to Centre on fresh plea seeking to decriminalise gay sex

The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre seeking its reply on a plea by a group of 20 former and current students of the prestigious IITs challenging section 377 of the IPC, which criminalises unnatural sex between two consenting adults of the same gender.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, while seeking response from the government, ordered tagging of the plea with other similar petitions which have already been referred by the top court to a five-judge constitution bench on January 8.

The 20 IITians, including scientists, teachers, entrepreneurs and researchers of different age groups, who all are Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgenders (LGBT), have claimed that criminalisation of sexual orientation has resulted in a “sense of shame, loss of self-esteem and stigma”.

Their plea was filed on behalf of LGBT alumni association of the IITs, which claims to have over 350 members. Among the petitioners, the youngest one is a 19-year-old student of IIT Delhi, while the oldest one graduated from an IIT in 1982.

The apex court had earlier referred to a constitution bench several pleas filed by eminent citizens and NGO ‘Naaz Foundation’ challenging the 2013 apex court verdict which had re-criminalised gay sex between consenting adults.

Section 377 of the IPC refers to ‘unnatural offences’ and says whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse “against the order of nature” with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to pay a fine.

“The petitioners contend that the continued existence of section 377 severely curtails the protection of equality, dignity, liberty and expression that the Constitution guarantees to all Indian citizen,” the plea filed by the group of IITians said.

“The stigma, silence and violence that section 377 brings in its wake, deeply hurts the petitioners’ professional promise and personal fulfilment,” it said.

It has alleged that several petitioners have had to grapple with depression, self-harm and other mental health issues, all of which have had a very deleterious effect on their academic and career prospects.

The petition urged the court to intervene to finally settle the controversial issue as government and Parliament had been reluctant to examine it.

On May 1, the top court had dealt with two separate pleas filed by LGBT rights activists Arif Jafar, Ashok Row Kavi and others including Mumbai-based NGO ‘Humsafar Trust’ which fights for LGBT rights.

The top court had on April 23 sought the Centre’s reply on a hotelier’s plea for striking down section 377.

While agreeing to reconsider the 2013 verdict criminalising gay sex, the top court had in January said the section of people or individuals who exercise their choice should never “remain in a state of fear”.

It had also said the determination of the order of nature was not a constant phenomenon as social morality changes from age to age.

The apex court is already seized of similar pleas filed by celebrities like dancer N S Johar, chef Ritu Dalmia and another hotelier Aman Nath challenging the validity of section 377 criminalising the consensual gay sex.

The Delhi High Court, on July 2, 2009, had legalised homosexual acts among consenting adults, holding that the 149-year-old law making it a criminal offence was violative of the fundamental rights

Supreme Court asks JAL to deposit Rs 1,000 crore by June 15

The Supreme Court today asked realty firm Jaiprakash Associates Limited (JAL) to deposit an additional Rs 1,000 crore with its Registry by June 15 to provide refunds to the hassled home buyers.

On submission of this amount, the liquidation proceedings against Jaypee Infratech Limited (JIL), a subsidiary of holding company JAL, shall remain stayed, a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said.

The bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said if there was any default in depositing the money by June 15, the statutory proceedings against JIL, which has been facing insolvency proceedings, shall proceed.

The supreme court had earlier directed JAL to deposit Rs 2,000 crore with the apex court Registry. So far, the real estate firm has deposited Rs 750 crore.

Lawyer Anupam Lal Das, appearing for JAL, said its proposed revival plan for JIL ought to be considered afresh by the Committee of Creditors (COC).

“We have proposed the best revival plan and the liquidation of JIL is neither in the interest of creditors, nor in the interest of home buyers,” he said.

The firm has proposed to offer 2,000 equity shares of JIL, the company facing the insolvency proceedings, to each home buyer as part of its Rs 10,000-crore proposal to revive it, he added.

The company had sought a direction for restraining the National Company Law Tribunal (NLCT) at Allahabad from proceeding further with the insolvency proceedings.

It had also said that the handing over of the company to the “sole resolution applicant” will result in compromising the interests of home buyers, minority shareholders, employees and even the financial creditors of the company.

The realty firm had said it was completing 500 dwelling units for delivery to the home buyers every month and urged that its representation be considered by the Insolvency Resolution Professional (IRP) as per law.

The court had directed its Registry that if any money was lying with it, then it could be invested in short-term fixed deposit with a nationalised bank.

It had on January 10 directed JAL, the holding firm of Jaypee Infratech Ltd (JIL), to provide details of its housing projects in the country, saying the home buyers should either get their houses or their money back.

It had refused to accord urgent hearing on a plea of the Reserve Bank of India, seeking its nod to initiate insolvency proceedings before the NCLT against JAL, saying it would be dealt with at a later stage.

The home buyers, including one Chitra Sharma, had moved the apex court, stating that around 32,000 people had booked flats and were now paying instalments.

The plea had also stated that hundreds of home buyers were left in the lurch after the NCLT, on August 10 last year, admitted the IDBI Bank’s plea to initiate insolvency proceedings against the debt-ridden realty firm for allegedly defaulting on a Rs 526-crore loan.

Supreme Court to examine plea seeking prosecution of UP CM in Gorakhpur riot case

The Supreme Court today agreed to examine a plea challenging an Allahabad High Court order dismissing a petition seeking prosecution of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in a hate speech case of 2007.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked petitioner Rasheed Khan to serve the copy to all the parties who were before the High Court.

The High Court had earlier this year upheld a sessions court order which had quashed a magistrate’s order taking cognizance of the chargesheet filed by the police in 2009.

While dismissing the petition, the high court had said the sessions court was right in holding that there was no prosecution sanction to initiate trial against the BJP leader and others in the case.

The Sessions Court at Gorakhpur district had on January 28, 2017, quashed the magisterial court’s cognisance order saying there was no sanction to prosecute the accused including the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and others.

On January 27, 2007, several incidents of violence were reported in Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh and Khan had lodged the FIR under various sections of IPC.

Supreme Court to hear Kathua witnesses plea alleging police harassment on May 16

The Supreme Court will hear the plea of three witnesses in the Kathua gangrape and murder case, alleging that they are being harassed by the state police, on May 16.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud today agreed to hear on Wednesday the plea of Sahil Sharma and two others, who are college friends of the juvenile accused in the case.

According to their plea, they had already recorded their statements before the police and the magistrate.

The three witnesses had in their statement before the magistrate said they gave their statement to the police under coercion.

The petition today alleged that the state police was now asking them to re-appear and re-record their statements and exerting pressure in their families.

The apex court had on May 7 transferred the trial in the sensational Kathua gangrape and murder case of an eight-year-old girl from Jammu and Kashmir to Pathankot in Punjab, but refrained from handing over the probe to CBI saying there was no need as the investigation has been conducted and the chargesheet filed.

The victim, from a minority nomadic community, had disappeared from near her home in a village close to Kathua in the Jammu region on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The state police has filed the main chargesheet against seven persons and a separate chargesheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district.

Supreme Court stays High Court order to accept nominations through e-mail: Panchayat polls

The Supreme Court today stayed the Calcutta High Court order asking the West Bengal State Election Commission to accept the nomination papers filed through e-mail for the panchayat elections and directed the poll body not to declare s those candidates who have won unopposed as winners.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra termed as “worrying” the High Court order allowing e-mail filing of nomination papers and the nearly 17,000 candidates of the ruling party winning unopposed in the panchayat polls in the state.

But the bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, did not agree to the submissions that the poll process was vitiated and should be stayed, observing that there were a plethora of judgements which have held that once the poll process has begun, it cannot be interfered with by any court.

“Once the election process starts, it cannot be interfered with. I have said this in one of the cases in the morning also,” the CJI reiterated.

The counsel for CPI(M) and the BJP alleged that several of their candidates were not allowed to file nomination papers, which has led to 34 per cent candidates, belonging to the ruling Trinamool Congress, winning unopposed.

“The High Court order has read the Information Technology Act into into the Representation of People Act. Both things are worrying — the High Court order directing the State Election Commission to accept nominations through e-mails and 34 per cent candidates winning unopposed,” the bench said.

“There shall be a stay on the Calcutta High Court order,” it said, adding that the state poll panel “shall not declare the results” of those candidates who have won unopposed.

The bench directed the state and the poll panel to ensure “free and fair” panchayat elections on May 14 in West Bengal.

However, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, representing the state poll panel, opposed the plea regarding the winning candidates and said this was not part of the litigation.

Referring the High Court order on nomination papers as “the most absurd kind of order”, Dwivedi said the nomination papers are filed before the returning officer (RO) and candidates sign the documents. After such filings, the RO scrutinises the nomination papers and either accepts or rejects them on merits.

Here, the High Court simply asked the state poll panel to accept the nomination papers, he said, adding, “what will happen to the procedures prescribed under the law”.

At the outset, senior advocate Ashok Bhan, appearing for CPI(M), referred to Constitution schemes and said the right to contest elections was being infringed in the state due to the prevailing circumstances and it was reflected from the fact that 34 per cent candidates have won the panchayat polls unopposed.

Senior advocate P S Patwalia, representing the BJP, also said there has been no contest for 17,000 out of nearly 54,000 panchayat posts, which indicated the position at the ground level.

When both lawyers alleged that the poll panel was acting at the behest of the state government, it was strongly opposed by the West Bengal Election Commission.

The bench made it clear that the “singular legal question” was whether the nomination papers can be filed electronically and can the IT Act be read into the RP Act.

The bench posted the plea of the state poll panel for further hearing on July 3.
On May 8, the high court had directed the SEC to accept the nominations of those candidates named by CPI(M) who had filed their papers through e-mails within the stipulated time before 3 pm on April 23.

The SEC today moved the apex court challenging the Calcutta HC order directing it to accept the nominations of candidates who have filed their papers electronically within the stipulated time for the panchayat elections.

The CPI(M) has claimed that many of its candidates were prevented from filing nominations by the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress.

The SEC petition arrays CPI(M) as a respondent, besides the state government, the ruling Trinamool Congress, state panchayat secretary and others.

Passing the order, the HC had observed that the poll process itself involved participation and to shut out an intending bona fide candidate from participating in it, thwarted the very basic democratic principles on which it stood.

The court had said that though the filing of nominations through e-mail was not a recognised procedure under the West Bengal Panchayat Act of 2003, but in a situation where allegations of obstructing candidates from filing nominations had surfaced and had also been noted by the SEC, it should have allowed the filing of papers through e-mail.

The SEC, being a constitutional body, has to act “fairly, transparently and independently” to advance the democratic principles by allowing the intending candidates to contest, the high court had said.

The CPI(M) had submitted a list of over 800 intending candidates, claiming they were prevented from filing nominations at the designated offices and had hence sent their documents to the SEC through e-mail.

The SEC had said it had received 340 complaints on the last day of filing of nominations, of which 25 were sent through e-mail.