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.

Indian judiciary strongest, most robust institution in world: CJI Dipak Misra

NEW DELHI: As Justice Dipak Misra’s term comes to an end the outgoing Chief Justice on Monday said that Indian judiciary is the “most robust institution”  in the world.

Our judiciary has been strongest judiciary in the world having capability to handle mind boggling number of cases,” Justice Misra, who will retire as the CJI Tuesday, said while speaking at the farewell function organised at the premises of the Supreme Court.

In his farewell address, outgoing CJI Misra said, “I do not judge people by history, I judge people by their activities and their perspectives.” Misra retires as the Chief Justice of India on Tuesday; today, however, was effectively his last day in office since Tuesday, October 2, is a public holiday.

Justice Ranjan Gogoi, the Chief Justice of India-designate, said Justice Misra was a remarkable judge.

Explore use of advanced technology to give RTI replies to differently-able’ says SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court directed the Centre as well as the stste to explore the use of advanced technology in providing information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act  to differently-abled persons. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said such people should have a functional-facility to receive the information as permissible under the Act.

Observing that information makes an individual “empowered”, the top court said the right to acquire and disseminate information has been regarded as an intrinsic component of freedom of speech and expression. “They should not be deprived of the benefit of such a utility,” the court said.

On a writ petition filed by Aseer Jamal, the bench said, We think it appropriate to ask the authorities to explore any kind of advanced technology that has developed in the meantime so that other methods can be introduced,” the bench said.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, however, said that according to the provision, it was obligatory on the part of the central public information as it prepares a reply in the printed format and forwards it to the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped where it is converted to Braille.  He said that Audio files were also being prepared.

In view of the submission, the top court said that if any representation was made of further difficulties the same shall be dealt not only with sympathy but also with concern and empathy.

Bhima-Koregaon Case: Supreme Court extends house arrest of five activists, rules out SIT probe

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday extended the house arrest of five rights activists who were taken into custody by the Pune Police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case. The plea for an SIT was not entertained, with the accused given the liberty to pursue other appropriate remedies and the top court declined to appoint a SIT for probe into their arrest.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India, Dipak Mishra and comprising Justices A M Khaniwlkar and D Y Chandrachud, on Friday gave a 2:1 judgement on the plea seeking the immediate release of the activists.

“Arrests were not because of dissent of activists, there is prima facie material to show their link with banned CPI (Maoist),” CJI Dipak Misra said.  Chandrachud says the petition was genuine and lashes out at Maha police for press meet, distribution of letters to media.

“Accused can’t choose which probe agency should examine case,” Justice AM Khanwilkar said while reading out the verdict.

The five activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha, were in jail since 29th August. The police claimed to have proof of the arrested activists’ involvement in an event called Elgaar Parishad that later triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon in Maharashtra.

Supreme Court lifts ban on entry of women to Sabarimala Temple

NEW DELHI: A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra on Friday pronounced its verdict on entry of women into the Sabarimala temple of Kerala. While reading out the verdict, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, “The practice of barring women in age group of 10-50 to go inside the temple is violative of constitutional principles.”

Verdict is disappointing but since the highest court of the country ruled we are duty-bound to accept it, says Sabarimala head priest Tantri Rajeevaru Kandarar. Women said to be of menstrual age are restricted from entering the temple as its presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is considered to be a celibate.

In 2006, Indian Young Lawyers Association filed a petition in the Supreme Court opposing this practice and sought the lifting of the ban. Justice Indu Malhotra–the lone woman judge on the five-judge Constituion Bench–delivered a dissenting verdict. The other judges on the bench are Justices R.F. Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud.

Bhima-Koregaon case: Supreme Court To Deliver Verdict on the arrest of five activists today

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will be going to pronounce its verdict on the arrest of five rights activists in Bhima-Koregaon violence case on a plea by historian Romila Thapar and others seeking the immediate release of five activists.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had reserved the judgment on September 20 after counsel for both parties, including senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harish Salve and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, concluded their submissions. The bench, that also comprised Justices A M Khaniwlkar and D Y Chandrachud.

The five activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha, were in jail since 29th August. The police claimed to have proof of the arrested activists’ involvement in an event called Elgaar Parishad that later triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon in Maharashtra.

The apex court had on September 19 said it would look into the case with a “hawk’s eye” as “liberty cannot be sacrificed at the altar of conjectures”. The five accused are under house arrest at their respective homes since August 29.

Will women be allowed entry at Sabarimala temple? Supreme Court to Decide Today

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will on Friday is likely to pronounce a verdict on the Sabarimala case of petitions challenging restrictions on the entry of women between the ages of 10 and 50 inside Kerala’s Sabarimala temple. Women of menstrual age are restricted from entering the temple as its presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is considered to be a celibate.

The five-judge bench of the court, headed by CJI Dipak Misra, had in August reserved its verdict on the pleas challenging the age-old practice. Lord Ayyappa in a “naishtika brahmacharya”, meaning perennial celibate is one of the much-awaited judgments before Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra retires on October 2.

The Kerala government, which has been changing its stand on the contentious issue of women of a particular age group entering the Sabarimala temple, had on July 18 told the Supreme Court that it now favours their entry. The plea challenging the ban has been filed by petitioners Indian Young Lawyers Association and others, has challenged the 800-year-old practice of prohibiting the entry of women into the famed Lord Ayyappan Temple.

Adultery law verdict: SC Strikes Down Section 497

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously declared that Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code which deals with adultery. A bench of CJI Dipak Misra, Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. SC strikes down Section 497.

The five-judge Supreme Court bench is unanimous in ruling that Section 497 of the IPC that makes adultery a criminal offence is unconstitutional. Calling the law archaic and saying that it violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution the justices said that: “Adultery can be ground for civil issues including dissolution of marriage but it cannot be a criminal offence.”

Adultery will remain a ground for divorce, the bench added. The top court said society has two standards for judging sexual behaviour. “Make them as objects able to being possessed depriving dignity and privacy to women. Respect for sexual autonomy is founded on equality between partners,” the court said.

According to the adultery law, a man can be punished for having a sexual relationship with a married woman without the consent of her husband. The Centre wants adultery to continue in the Indian Penal Code as it ensures the sanctity of the marriage and is for the public good.

On August 8, the court asked the Centre “what public good” the law on adultery serves as adultery is not an offence if a woman’s husband approves of such a relationship.

Four senior judges say situation in SC “not in order”

 In an unprecedented move, four senior most judges of the Supreme Court today called a press conference and said the situation in the top court was “not in order” and many “less than desirable” things have taken place.

Unless this institution is preserved, “democracy will not survive in this country,” the four judges said.

Justice J Chelameswar, the second senior judge after the Chief Justice of India, said “sometimes administration of the Supreme Court is not in order and many things which are less than desirable have happened in the last few months”.

Chelameswar, who was accompanied by Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph at the press conference, said they had met CJI Dipak Misra this morning and “raised issues affecting the institution”.

Soon after the press conference by the four senior-most judges, the CJI called Attorney General K K Venugopal for a meeting, court sources said.

At the presser held at his house, Justice J Chelameswar said “unless this institution is preserved, democracy will not survive in this country” and added it was “extremely painful” to hold press conference in such a manner.

He said the four judges had written a letter to CJI Dipak Misra some time back, raising important issues.

But all of them “failed to persuade CJI that certain things are not in order and therefore you should take remedial measures. Unfortunately our efforts failed.

“And all four of us are convinced that democracy is at stake and many things have happened in recent past,” he said.

Asked what these issues were, he said they included the “allocation of cases by CJI”. The remarks assume significance as the Supreme Court today took up for consideration the issue of alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.

Justice Chelameswar said “we owe a responsibility to the institution and the nation. Our efforts have failed in convincing CJI to take steps to protect the institution.”

“This is an extraordinary event in the history of any nation, more particularly this nation and an extraordinary event in the institution of judiciary … It is with no pleasure that we are compelled to call this press conference.

“But sometimes administration of the Supreme Court is not in order and many things which are less than desirable have happened in the last few months.”

All the judges rubbished questions on whether they have broken ranks, with Justice Gogoi saying “nobody is breaking the rank and it is a discharge of debt to the nation, which we have done.” Justice Gogoi would be succeeding the incumbent CJI in October this year.

Asked whether they wanted the Chief Justice to be impeached, Justice Chelameswar said “don’t try to put words in our mouth”.

The four judges, in their seven-page letter to the CJI, said “It is too well settled in the jurisprudence of this country that the chief justice is only first amongst the equals — nothing more or nothing less.”

The letter reads, “It is with great anguish and concern that we have thought it proper to address this letter to you so as to highlight certain judicial orders passed by this court which has adversely affected the overall functioning of the justice delivering system and the independence of the high courts besides impacting the administrative functioning of the office of the Chief Justice of India.”

“There have been instances where cases having far reaching consequences for the nation and the institution have been assigned by the chief justices of this court selectively to the benches ‘of their preference’ without any rationale basis for such assignment. This must be guarded against at all costs,” it said.

Source : PTI