Cancellation of nomination: Supreme Court dismisses plea of sacked BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav

The Supreme Court Thursday rejected the plea of sacked BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav, challenging the Election Commission’s decision to reject his nomination papers from Varanasi Lok Sabha seat.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, “we do not find any grounds to entertain the plea of Yadav”.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Yadav, said, as per earlier verdict of the apex court, the election petition can be filed during enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the Election Commission, also referred to various apex court judgments and said election petitions can only be filed after polls are over as it would vitiate the electoral process.

At the fag end of the hearing, Bhushan sought liberty from the court to file an election petition after polling is over.

“We have done what we could have done. We find no grounds to entertain this petition,” the court said.

Yadav, who was dismissed in 2017 after he posted a video online complaining about the food served to troops, was fielded by the Samajwadi Party as its candidate from the Varanasi seat. Prime Minister Narenda Modi is contesting from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat.

Yadav, in his plea, had termed the decision of the poll panel discriminatory and unreasonable and had said it should be set aside.

Supreme Court directs political parties to furnish receipts of electoral bonds and donors’ identity details to EC

The Supreme Court Friday directed all political parties to furnish receipts of political funding received through electoral bonds and details of identity of donors in a sealed cover to the Election Commission.

In an interim order, the apex court also directed all political parties to provide details of the amount of the bond and bank account of donors by May 30 to the poll panel.

The apex court said it would examine in detail changes made in Income Tax law, electoral law and banking laws to make them in consonance with the electoral bond scheme and ensure balance does not tilt in favour of any political party.

It also directed the Finance Ministry to reduce the window of purchasing electoral bonds from 10 days to five days in April-May and said it would fix a date later for final disposal of the petition filed by an NGO.

The NGO has challenged the validity of the scheme and sought that either the issuance of electoral bonds be stayed or names of donors be made public to ensure transparency in the poll process.

The order was pronounced by a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.

The government had notified the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018 on January 2, 2018.

As per provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India.

A person being an individual can buy electoral bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.

Only political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which secured not less than one per cent of votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the State, shall be eligible to receive electoral bonds.

As per the notification, electoral bonds shall be encashed by an eligible political party only through a bank account with an authorised bank.

The Centre and the Election Commission had taken contrary stands in the Supreme Court on Wednesday over political funding with the government wanting to maintain anonymity of donors of electoral bonds and the poll panel batting for revealing names of donors for transparency.

The bench on Thursday had reserved the order, saying if the identity of the purchasers of electoral bonds meant for transparent political funding was not known, then efforts of the government to curtail black money in elections would be “futile”.

The Centre, through Attorney General K K Venugopal, had vehemently supported the scheme saying the purpose behind it is to eliminate the use of black money in elections and asked the court not to interfere with it at this stage and examine whether it has worked or not only after the elections.

However, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR)’, had said the scheme has nothing to do with the effort to curb black money and it opens the banking means also to donate by remaining anonymous.

During in an earlier hearing, Bhushan had claimed that the party in power was the major beneficiary of the scheme.

The EC, represented by senior lawyer Rakesh Dwivedi, had opposed Centre’s submissions and said secrecy allowed in the electoral bonds scheme “legalises anonymity”.

The bench had also observed, “If the identity of purchasers of bonds is not known then there will be greater ramification on the Income Tax law and all your (government’s) efforts to curtail black money will be futile”.

Venugopal had also said the anonymity of donors of electoral bonds is to be maintained for various reasons such as fear of repercussions on a firm or an individual if the other political party or group wins.

The Attorney General had also said: “Historically, black money is used in elections. This is a reformatory steps. The scheme can be examined after the elections.”

In its affidavit, the Centre had said electoral bonds “attempt at bringing greater transparency, ensuring KYC compliance and keeping an audit trail in comparison to the earlier opaque system of cash donations.

JNU violence: SC rejects plea for SIT probe, contempt action

 The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking an SIT probe into the February 2016 violence inside a trial court here during which former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar and others were assaulted, saying it would not “flog a dead horse back to life”.

A bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R Banumathi did not accept the contentions advocating contempt action against the police officials and others for the incident which was described as “ghastly action” by the petitioner.

“What ghastly action,” the bench asked advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for petitioner and advocate Kamini Jaiswal.

Bhushan referred to the February 15 and 17, 2016 incidents of attacks on Kanhaiya, scribes, students, JNU teachers and defence lawyers inside the Patiala House district court premises here.

“We do not think of proceeding further. There is no need for an SIT (special investigation team),” the bench said.

To this, the lawyer said if no action is taken, then it might encourage people to do such acts.

“We will not proceed. We do not think we will flog a dead horse back to life. If you have grievances, you can take appropriate steps. You can lodge an FIR,” the bench said.

“We find no reason to continue to entertain the present writ petition any further. The writ petition is accordingly dismissed,” the top court said.

“Needless to say that the present order does not prevent the petitioner from taking appropriate action in accordance with law, if so advised. We have expressed no opinion on merit,” it said in the order.

Senior advocate Ajit Kumar Sinha, appearing for Delhi Police, did not have to labour hard to oppose the plea.

The petitioner had sought initiation of contempt action against police officials and others for their alleged failure in protecting Kanhaiya from being assaulted inside the court.

The apex court had earlier questioned the police over the presence of some unsolicited persons in black robes in the courtroom where the then JNUSU leader was purpotedly assaulted before being produced in connection with an alleged sedition case.

Coal scam: SC-appointed team seeks former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha’s visitors’ diary

The Supreme court had on September 14, entrusted M L Sharma with the power to summon any person in his inquiry against Sinha, accused of ranjitscuttling probe in the coal block scam as the agency’s chief.

The apex court-appointed probe team led by ex-CBI Special Director M L Sharma today moved the Supreme Court seeking a copy of original visitors’ diary having names of persons who had visited the official residence of Ranjit Sinha, the then Director of CBI.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur, which has been hearing matters related to coal blocks allocation scam, said “we realise that this document is important.”

The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and A K Sikri, referred the plea of the special probe team to another bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu on the ground that the visitors diary, submitted by advocate Prashant Bhushan, has been kept in a sealed cover in pursuance of the order of that court.

The bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) has been monitoring cases relating to the 2G scam and had earlier ordered that the visitors diary, given by Bhushan on behalf of NGO Common Cause, be kept in a sealed cover.

Now the plea filed by the special probe team would be heard by the CJI’s bench on Monday.

The diary allegedly contains names of persons, including those who are facing court cases in the 2G and coalgate scams, who had visited official residence of Ranjit Sinha during his tenure as the CBI Director.

The apex court had on September 14, entrusted M L Sharma with the power to summon any person in his inquiry against Sinha, accused of scuttling probe in the coal block scam as the agency’s chief.

It had also ordered that Sharma will have access to all documents required by him for his probe and asked him to submit the report of inquiry in three months.

Sharma, who had emerged as the first choice of the apex court, had given his consent to assist the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in its probe against Sinha.

The court had on September 7 said the scope of inquiry was limited to recording the statements of persons accused in the coal allocation scam to draw an inference whether the probe into the cases were in any way influenced or interfered with, as suggested by the CVC.

PTI

PIL filed in Supreme Court on political-corporate nexus

A petition was on Friday filed in the Supreme Court seeking a court-monitored probe by an SIT or CBI into alleged “political-bureaucratic-corporate nexus” saying corporates use their money power to change public policies, and grant favours to politicians and bureaucrats for receiving benefits in return.

The PIL, filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), said corporates used their money and influence to plant stories in media and there was a need for the government to cancel the privileges like subsidised land, newsprint and houses extended to media organisations and journalists who indulge in paid news, or publishing news reports to favour corporates.

The petition filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan said it is based on internal emails and documents from Essar Group of Companies, which is one of India’s leading business conglomerate having multi-billion dollar investments in oil, steel, energy, ports, shipping, infrastructure and services sectors in India.

“This information is being placed before the Court by the petitioner’s society for its kind consideration and appropriate directions,” the petition said giving details of how since 2009 onwards top officials exchanged intra official mails indicating the alleged nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and corporates.
The PIL also sought framing of guidelines to curb favours being bestowed on public servants or those who can exercise influence over government officials.

The petition has sought framing of guidelines on three key issues related to “phenomenon of corporate gifts and favours being bestowed on public servants or on those who can exercise influence over public servants; access, meetings and interviews between the ministers and bureaucracy and the representatives/employees of commercial interests including consultants, facilitators, middlemen and lobbyists; and issue of paid news/stories planted in the media through journalists who are conferred various favours by corporate houses.” Referring to the leaked in-house communications of senior officials of the company, the PIL alleged that the group was “apparently planting questions in Parliament”.

“The petitioner society requests this court to direct a thorough investigation into these disclosures since they might involve high level corruption and sanctity of Parliament which is vital for democracy,” the plea, filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, said.
It claimed that internal notes and e-mails of corporate house “reveal how the company has institutionalised a mechanism to bestow significant favours, monetary benefits and shower gifts on persons with influence

SC refuses to stop govt ads

Supreme Court today refused to direct stopping the publication of government advertisements carrying photos of political figures and sought replies from the Centre and others on a court-appointed panel’s recommendations to regulate such publicity materials.

“Before we pass such an order, we should be giving an opportunity to other side,” a bench comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and Arun Mishra said.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for one of the NGOs, said he endorsed as “salutary” the recommendations of the court-appointed committee. He sought that for the time being, the government and others be restrained forthwith from giving such advertisements, as everyday crores of rupees were being spent on political advertisements.

The court said it will consider this aspect on February 17, the next date of hearing, and asked the Centre and others including NGOs, Common Cause and Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) which had filed the pleas, to submit their responses on the report of the panel.

Earlier, the panel had submitted the report and made several recommendations including that the names and pictures of political parties and their office-bearers like Presidents should not be mentioned in government advertisements.

Holding that there has been “misuse and abuse” of public money on such advertisements, the three-member committee headed by eminent academician Prof N R Madhava Menon had framed guidelines to regulate expenditure and contents of such advertisements paid out of tax payers’ money.

The report had emphasized that only pictures and names of the President, the Prime Minister, Governor and Chief Ministers be published to “keep politics away from such ads”.

The panel had also endorsed the suggestions of the Election Commission that there must be “severe” restrictions on such advertisements six months prior to elections.

It had recommended that a deadline should be fixed for prohibiting their publication and the poll panel should be authorised for the purpose.

The apex court had on April 24 decided to frame guidelines to prevent misuse of public funds by the government and its authorities in giving advertisements in newspapers and television to gain political mileage and set up the committee.

Encroachments on govt land are of your own making: HC to DDA

The Delhi High Court on Thursday pulled up DDA for allowing encroachments upon its land saying it was responsible for the situation as it did not take preventive action earlier.

“The moment the first encroachment came up, you should have taken preventive action. This situation is of your own making,” Justice V K Shali said while hearing a plea of a slum cluster in Vasant Kunj against Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) decision to demolish their homes.

The court directed DDA to not demolish the slum colony till it places on record an affidavit on whether it has carried out a survey of the area to identify who among the residents are eligible for rehabilitation.

The court ordered DDA to indicate on affidavit whether it has carried out the survey and what was its result as well as the policy it was following with respect to the removal of the slum, Dalit Ekta Camp, and whether it followed guidelines laid down by the court in 2010 regarding removal of such clusters.

The court also sought names of the officials who were custodians of the land in question and measures taken by them to protect the same from being usurped by land grabbers.

It also queried whether any action was taken against the officials concerned if they were found to have not done the needful in protecting the land from encroachment.

The court issued the directions after observing that DDA allowed the encroachment to occur by not fencing or protecting the land and permitting commercial establishments to come up there.

The court also questioned how the authority can go about demolishing the slum cluster without first carrying out the survey as per government policy and high court guidelines.

“You (Delhi govt) as state and they (DDA) as public authority can’t throw the central government policy into the winds and carry out demolition,” it said.

The court granted eight weeks time to DDA to file its affidavit and listed the matter for further hearing on February 26.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the slum cluster said that not only a survey has to be carried out, but an alternative land has to be provided to those eligible for rehabilitation, else where will they go in the middle of winter.

Meanwhile, in another matter relating to a slum cluster, Jhuggi Jhopri camp, near Rangpuri pahari nala, another bench of the high court has asked the city government to file an affidavit stating that the land in question is forest land.

The second matter will be heard by the court on December 9.

Petitions on behalf of both slum clusters were moved in the high court on the apprehension that houses there would be demolished as had been done on November 25 in the case of another cluster- Israil camp- located in the same area.

The pleas have sought a stay on the authorities decision to demolish the houses there saying the residents have been living there since before 1998 and thus, a survey needs to be carried out to see who among them were eligible for rehabilitation.

 

SC asks Centre to reply on fate of Delhi Assembly by Oct 10

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to apprise it by October 10 about the outcome of political process initiated by Lt Governor by writing a letter to the President on exploring the possibility of government formation in Delhi.

A five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Justice H L Dattu, said that it is not going to keep this matter pending for a longer period of time and asked the Centre to inform it about the decision to be taken by the President of India on the LG’s letter.

“What is the possible time by which his Excellency would take a decision?” the bench asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Narsimha, who was appearing for the Centre.

At the outset of the hearing, the ASG referred to the letter written by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung on September 4 to the President seeking to explore the possibility of government formation in Delhi.

In his letter to the President, the LG had sought permission to call the single largest party (BJP) to take a shot at power though it is well short of majority in the Assembly.

Senior advocate Fali S Nariman and advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), raised the issue of horse-trading by BJP for getting the numbers to form the government in Delhi.

The bench, however, said that it will not take on record the additional affidavit filed on this issue by AAP and asked Nariman to wait till October 10.

Referring to the LG’s letter to the President, the ASG said that the political process has started again to explore the possibility of government formation in the national capital and four more weeks be granted for the same.

On August 5, the apex court had given five weeks’ time to the Centre to take a decision on dissolution of the Delhi Assembly “one way or another”, questioning it for continuing to keep the House in suspended animation when no party was coming forward to form the government.

The bench had also asked why the MLAs should be paid from taxpayers’ money for sitting idle when the Assembly had been kept in suspended animation.

On the petition filed by AAP seeking dissolution of the Assembly, the bench had asked the Centre what steps it has taken to explore the possibility of government formation during the last five months.

SC to hear plea on non-dissolution of Delhi assembly

supreme courtThe Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on Monday the Aam Aadmi Party’s plea seeking a direction to the lieutenant governor to dissolve Delhi assembly and hold fresh polls along with Lok Sabha elections.

The bench headed by chief justice P Sathasivam said that it will hear the petition on February 24.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for AAP, said, “There is no possibility of any alternate government in Delhi and the lieutenant governor should have dissolved the assembly.”

The joint petition filed on the basis of newspaper reports and documents available in public domain by AAP and Saurabh Bhardwaj, who was the transport minister in Kejriwal Cabinet, challenged the decision to impose President’s rule in Delhi on the recommendation of lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung alleging it was done to protect Congress leaders and former chief minister Sheila Dikshit from corruption charges.

It contended that the February 16 order imposing President’s rule was with a motive to frustrate the ongoing investigation in those corruption cases in which FIR has been lodged by the Arvind Kejriwal government.

“Apparently, the motive behind not dissolving the Delhi Legislative Assembly and holding fresh election is to allow a political party, which had badly lost the Delhi legislative assembly election, held in December 2013 and of which several important leaders including ministers in central government and the former chief minister are facing serious corruption charges.

“….to govern the NCT of Delhi indirectly through the central government as the same party is presently in power in the Centre and also to frustrate the ongoing investigations in those corruption charges under the FIRs which were recently lodged by the Delhi government.

“Thus, the aforesaid decision is not only arbitrary and illegal and in violation of the democratic rights of the citizens of Delhi but also malafide,” the petition has said.

(Source: IANS)

Plea withdrawn against assembly session outside building

 

pbhushan

A petition against the government’s proposal to hold a session outside the assembly building to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill was Thursday withdrawn from the Delhi High Court. Appearing for the Arvind Kejriwal government, advocate Prashant Bhushan told a division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sidharth Mridul that the venue is up to the discretion of the Lt. Governor under the aid and advice of the council of ministers. He told the court Lt. Governor has not given any direction with regard to holding the assembly session outside the Vidhan Sabha premises.

During the hearing, the bench said: “Suppose if the Lt. Governor decides to hold the assembly session in Goa, is it possible? It will come under judicial review. We understand if there was some special circumstances. We are holding court here, tomorrow can we say we want to hold the court at India Gate?” The court was hearing a plea by Kedar Mandal, an assistant professor in Delhi University, against the decision of the government to hold the assembly session at a stadium, saying it will incur an expenditure of Rs.50 lakh.

The court also questioned the government on spending extra money in holding the session outside. Answering the court’s query, Bhushan said: “I don’t think there is going to be an issue or crisis here, if the session is held outside. “Since the council of ministers is yet to fix the time and place of the assembly, and no decision has been taken as yet, the petition is premature.” The court said that as the Lt. Governor has not given any direction with regard to holding the session outside the Vidhan Sabha premises, the petitioner has withdrawn his plea with the liberty to file a fresh petition after the decision is taken.