SC to take up Amit Shah’s plea Monday

amitThe Supreme Court will on Monday hear BJP leader Amit Shah’s plea seeking modification of its order asking him to report to the CBI office every alternate Saturday after he was allowed to enter Gujarat following the trial in Sohrabuddin Sheikh staged shooting case being shifted to Mumbai.
As senior counsel M.N.Krishnamani pointed to the court about the plea of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, an accused in the case, a bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai observed that it was nearly a year ago when the order stipulating the condition was passed.

However, it adjourned the hearing till Monday for further consideration.

A bench of Justice Aftab Alam (since retired) and Justice Desai Sep 27, 2012, while lifting its order restraining the former Gujarat minister for state of home from entering the state, had asked him to report to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on every alternate week.

 Amit Shah who is now national BJP general secretary and inchage of party’s Uttar Pradesh affairs, has submitted that he has scrupulously complied with the condition till date and also with other conditions.

Shah has contended that the object of the conduction was to ensure his presence at the time of trial and till the competent magistrate has not taken cognizance of the alleged crime.
That this stage is now crossed as a magistrate has taken the cognizance and case has been committed to session court and it is seized of it, said Shah’s application, adding that no prejudice would be caused to any part if the said condition was deleted.
The application said that there was no apprehension that he would “flee from the justice, or would become an outlaw and would not be available for trial if the condition requiring him to report before the CBI is deleted for the order dated Sep 27, 2012”.

(Source: IANS)

Judge who upheld Kasab’s hanging demits office

Justice Aftab Alam, the judge who was part of the Supreme Court bench which upheld the death sentence of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case, demitted office today.

Justice Alam also headed the bench which delivered the recent verdict dismissing Swiss pharma major Novartis AG’s plea seeking a patent for its cancer drug Glivec and thus paving the way for Indian firms to manufacture generic drugs which can be afforded by lakhs of cancer patients here.

He headed the forest bench after the retirement of ex-Chief Justice S H Kapadia, which delivered the verdict yesterday on the mining issues in Odisha and Karnataka.

65-year-old Justice Alam was also the part of the bench which had ordered CBI probe into the fake encounter killing of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh and subsequent elimination of his wife Kauser Bi by Gujarat Police.

The judge headed the bench which had ordered a CBI probe into the murder of Tulsiram Prajapati, a key witness in the Sohrabuddin case.

In both the cases former Gujarat Minister and BJP General Secretary Amit Shah is an accused.

However, dealing with Gujarat riot cases, he created some controversy when as an estranged former aide of social activist Teesta Setalvad, who is pursuing cases on behalf of riot victims, sought his recusal from the matter.

Rais Khan Pathan, who was accused of fabricating evidence along with Setalvad in the Naroda Gam case in which 11 people were killed in 2002, contended “a reasonable likelihood of bias” in hearing the matter by Justice Alam.

He said the reason why the judge should recuse is that he had delivered a lecture in London on ‘Promoting Pluralism Knowledge Program’ with which his daughter is associated.


Ex Setalvad aide seeks recusal of SC judge from riots case

Seeking recusal of Justice Aftab Alam from the bench hearing a matter relating to alleged “fabricating” of evidence in a post-Godhra riots case in which both of them are accused an estranged former aide of social activist Teesta Setalvad moved the Supreme Court .
Rais Khan Pathan, who was an accused of fabricating evidence along with the activist in the Naroda Gam case in which 11 people were killed in 2002, has contended that there is “a reasonable likelihood of bias” in hearing the matter by Justice Alam.

He said the reason why the judge should recuse is that he had delivered a lecture in London on ‘Promoting Pluralism Knowledge Program’ (PPKP) with which his daughter is associated.

Pathan referred to an article titled, “The Idea of Secularism and the Supreme Court of India” authored by Justice Alam and presented by the judge at the annual lecture on October 14, 2009 in London.

“The tone and tenor of the article depicts the strong belief of His Lordships, as regards the victimization of the minority community,” he said, while also making reference of his daughter who is associated with PPKP’s India initiative and was part of some NGO’s working for the riot victims in Gujarat.

Riot victims’ rehabilitation national duty: SC

The Supreme Court Wednesday said that the rehabilitation of riot victims was a national responsibility and could not just be construed within legal and moral parameters.

Rehabilitating the riot victims was a “national liability and you have to be responsible not just legally or morally but in all dimensions of the word”, said an apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prajash Desai.

The court said this while directing the Punjab government not to evict some petitioners who were displaced due to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and were allegedly in illegal possession of accommodation meant for similarly-placed other riot victims.

The eviction from “unauthorised” possession of Dharminder Singh and other petitioners was ordered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court July 10.

The high court ordered “…we, accordingly, direct the deputy commissioner and commissioner of police, Ludhiana, to proceed in the matter in accordance with the law forthwith and ensure that the unauthorised possession is removed and vacant flats are delivered to those who have been found entitled to and eligible for allotment as per government policies”.

Senior counsel Jaspal Singh, appearing for the petitioners, said that as per the state government policy the riot victims who were in an unauthorised possession of government premises since Oct 15, 2010, would be allotted other accommodation and would not to dispossessed.

Jaspal Singh, who was assisted by counsel Satinder Gulati, told the court that his clients were victims of anti-Sikh riots and were forced to leave their homes and come to Punjab from different parts of the country to save their “lives, honour and property”.

He told the court that since then his clients were seeking a safe abode in Punjab and for long pleading to the state government for the same.

As the counsel for the Punjab government, Kuldip Singh sought a week’s time to take a decision, Justice Alam said: “We have decided. Your job is to do it (implement it).”

The court told the state government’s counsel: “You come back to us. Give us some positive, concrete action.”

Justice Alam directed the Punjab government to provide accommodation to the petitioners. They will not be evicted from the present dwellings.

Directing the state government to make arrangements for the petitioners, the court directed the listing of matter Sep 28.

Patents law provisions conflicting, Novartis tells SC

Swiss pharma company Novartis Tuesday told the Supreme Court that there cannot be conflicting provisions in a patents statute where one provision recognises innovation in drug development and another knocks it down.

Novartis told an apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai that once the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) had accepted that beta crystalline form of compound imatinib mesylate was an innovation under 2(j) and 2(j)a) of the Patents Act, then it could not be asked to re-establish its patentability under Section 3(d) of the law.

“Can there be a situation that a product is an innovation under sections 2(j) and 2(j)a) and sought to be denuded of invention under section 3(d) in terms of pharmaceutical efficacy,” senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, appearing for Novartis, told the court.

“Section 3(d) is not intended for invention but discovery of a new form. It deals with a known substance with known efficacy,” Subramanium told the court.

The apex court was told this during the hearing on a petition by the pharmaceutical giant challenging the IPAB verdict declining patent to Novartis anti-cancer drug Glivec (imatinib mesylate) used for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and malignant gastrointestinal stromal tumors (MGST).

The IPAB asked the pharmaceutical company to prove the enhanced therapeutic efficacy of its pharmaceutical product Glivec under 3(d) of the Patents Act, 1970.

The Section 3(d) of the Patents Act seeks to thwart the “evergreening” of the pharmaceutical products with minor changes in the content and form without any innovation. Section 2(j) and 2(j)(a) deals with the grant of innovation to the product claimed to be an original and a novelty.

As Subramanium sought to point to the fine distinction between Sections 3(d) and 2(j) and 2(j)(a), Justice Alam asked him if these were not the two sides of the same coin.

Responding to the query from the court, Subramanium said: “Section 3(d) is an exception to 2(j) and 2(j)(a) and has a restricted meaning and can’t be used to destroy each other.”

“It is impossible to conceive that that something is an innovation under Sections 2(j) and 2(j)(a) and not so under Section 3(d),” the court was told.

Responding to the plea of Additional SolicitorGeneral Paras Kuhad that larger public interest had made inroads even in international law, Subramanium said that “there should not be an imbalance between the right that should come to me and the doctrine of larger public interest”.

Jagan facing charges in three cases, CBI tells SC

The CBI, opposing bail plea of jailed YSR Congress Party leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, told the Supreme Court Friday that the charge sheets filed against him were related to three different cases which are still being investigated.

The Central Bureau of Investigation told this to the apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prasad Desai during the hearing on the bail plea of Jaganmohan Reddy, or Jagan as the Lok Sabha member from Kadapa constituency is popularly called. The hearing was deferred till later in the month.

The court also quizzed Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Mohan Jain on the exact amount that the CBI has alleged against Jagan in the graft case against him.

After ASG Jain said that the amount involved in the three cases was different, the bench asked him to add up the amount and give the final figure to the court.

Earlier, senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam appearing for Jagan told the court that his client was arrested when he was fully cooperating with the federal investigating agency.

Counsel told the court that the amount alleged against him was initially under Rs.100,000 crore, which later came down to Rs.50,000 crore, and now it is being cited as Rs.20,000 crore.

Taking note that the CBI has filed a bulky 90-page reply opposing Jagan’s bail plea, the court adjourned the matter saying that it would take it up either on Sep 24 or Sep 28.

Jagan was arrested by the CBI May 27 on charges of corruption.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court last month rejected the bail plea of the YSR Congress Party leader, expressing fears that he may influence witnesses if allowed to leave jail.

The decision has been challenged in the apex court.

SC slams Karnataka on iron ore mining, orders CBI probe

In blistering criticism of the Karnataka government for overlooking the illegal mining, transport and export of iron ore, the Supreme Court Friday ordered a CBI probe into the illegal extraction and export of 50.7 lakh tonnes of iron ore from the state’s forest areas from January 2009 to May 2010.

“Can there be any doubt or denial about the complete failure of the state machinery in preventing the illegal mining in the state,” the court observed, slamming the state government for its total inaction.

The forest bench of Justice Aftab Alam, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar directed a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe while accepting the report of its central empowered committee on environmental matters recommending the probe.

Slamming the Karnataka government, the court said it was a case of “the fence eating the grass”.

Directing the CBI to register a case and undertake investigations, the court said that if need be it could also hold “custodial interrogations”.

In line with 2G order barring all the courts from entertaining any plea, the apex court directed that no authority or court will entertain any plea arising out of its order for a CBI probe, effectively meaning that any matter in respect of this direction can only be raised before it.

Asking the investigating agency that it wanted results, the court permitted the CBI to approach it as and when it wanted to seek any directions.

“Let us go beyond investigation. We want results.”

Asking the CBI to even take into account the former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde’s report on illegal mining, the court directed the state CID to hand over all the records to the CBI.

Justice Alam said: “Can anyone imagine that the state authority, right from bottom to top was not aware of the illegal mining of iron ore to the tune of 50.7 lakh metric tonnes, its transportation and export. The state machinery, instead of governing, was involved in all these illegalities.”

This court also pointed to the CEC report which said: “The transportation of such a huge quantity of iron ore involving more than five lakh trucks could not have been possible without the knowledge and active connivance of concerned officers and other public servants.”

Senior counsel, Raju Ramachandran sought to resist the ordering of the CBI probe, saying that the state CID was already investigating the matter.

Noting that the “state CID would be fully knowing what was happening while it was happening”, the court asked, “Have you arrested a single person involved in illegal mining so far?”

As Ramachandran sought to persuade the court that since the CEC’s April 27 report, the state CID had undertaken its investigations in right earnest, Justice Alam observed: “Mr. Ramachandran if we were satisfied with the steps you had taken, then we would not have taken these steps.”

The apex court direction of CBI probe is based on the two reports of the CEC – on April 27, and November 8, 2011. The court directed CBI to register FIRs, making two reports as its basis.

The court said that CBI shall also register FIR about the export of 8 lakh MT iron ore which was under seizure where 4 stevedores at Belekere port were directly involved.

Illegal export of 8 lakh metric tones of iron order under the seizure of the magistrate court was mentioned in the CEC’s April 27 report.

SC reserves verdict on Amit Shah’s bail in Sohrabuddin case

The Supreme Court Thursday reserved its order on a CBI plea seeking cancellation of bail granted to former Gujarat minister Amit Shah by the state high court and the transfer of trial in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh staged-shootout case outside Gujarat to Mumbai.

However, the apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai indicated that it might grant bail to former minister of state for home Amit Shah, subject to certain conditions but transfer the trial in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case to Mumbai.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh was killed in a staged shootout by Gujarat police in 2005. Shah was in the Gujarat cabinet when the killing took place.

On a query from the court as to what assurances Amit Shah could give that he would not interfere with the investigation and the course of the trial, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani told the court that Amit Shah would give an undertaking that he would not do so.

If he (Amit Shah) breaches it, Jethmalani said, he would not appear to defend him but to prosecute him.

Taking exception to the conduct of the Gujarat government in the course of the hearing, the court said the Gujarat government, instead of being an ally of the court in reaching to the bottom of the case, has acted in an adversarial manner, often adopting a hostile attitude.

Shah was named as an accused in Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s killing in which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) described him as a head of extortion syndicate in Gujarat. Shah was arrested by the CBI July 25, 2010, for his alleged involvement in Sohrabuddin’s killing.

Karnataka: SC may allow some iron ore mining to resume

The Supreme Court on Friday indicated that it may permit resumption of iron ore mining in category A mines in Karnataka’s Bellary, Chitradurga and Timkur districts, provided they complied with all statutory forest and environmental clearances.

“The statutory compliance must be there. There can be no compromise on the statutory clearance and the undertaking by the lease holder on rehabilitation and reclamation of devastated mines,” said the forest bench of Justice Aftab Alam, Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar.

The A category mines are those who are either free of any illegality or had committed marginal illegalities in their mining operations.

The court made it clear that the resumed mining activities would come to halt if the existing statutory clearances are not renewed before they expire.

The court’s statement came when it was told that the statutory clearances in respect of some A category mines were coming to end in October and the statutory clearances for the renewal of leases has not come so far, despite applications for renewal made more than a year back.

Justice Alam held that mining activities must stop before the end of statutory clearance of the lease. “If statutory clearance comes to an end tomorrow then mining activity will stop today evening,” he said.

As Justice Swatanter Kumar inquired whether mining lease holders could not apply well in advance for renewal of statutory clearances, the court was told that such applications were made but no decision was taken by the central environment ministry because matter was pending before the court.

As court appeared inclined to permit mining in category A mines, counsel Prashant Bhushan opposed it saying that all those who had indulged in illegal mining of an “unprecedented scale” could not be allowed to resume the mining operations.

He even mentioned the instance of a mining lease holder who “bribed the relatives of former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa” to get mining lease.

Opposing the reopening of the mines even of A category, Bhushan said that first they should be asked to make good of the loss that they have caused to environment, forest and agriculture before mining operations are allowed to be resumed.

“We fully appreciate your concerns but we can’t put the state in a pre-iron stage,” Justice Alam said adding that “we want to ensure that minimum requirement of iron ore (are met) with minimum damage to environment and implementation of R&R”.

“The question of damages is very open in our minds. Let there be no other impression. We are very much alive to it,” he said.

Addressing Bhushan’s apprehensions, Justice Alam said that the court was not saying that law breakers should go unpunished. “You give specific allegation against any of the 21 A category mine lease holders. We will consider them on merit.”

“If they are not involved in any violation and they have statutory clearances then why should they be stopped (from resuming mining activities),” he said.

Leaving nothing to doubt, the court said that “resumption of mining activities shall not come in the way investigation of any other law that has been transgressed” by the lease holders.

The court will pass its orders on the Central Empowered Committees recommendations on Monday.

CBI to File Charge Sheet in Prajapati Case Few Days

The CBI told the Supreme Court Tuesday it will file a charge sheet in the Tulsiram Prajapati staged shootout case in a couple of days.

Senior CBI counsel Vivek Tankha told this to the apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai in the course of the hearing of the agency’s plea challenging grant of bail to former Gujarat home minister Amit Shah by the Gujarat High Court.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also told the court that it had collected the call records showing the involvement of six to eight Andhra Pradesh cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officers in the run up to the encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.

The CBI maintained that Parajapati was the third passenger who was taken off the bus along with Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi while they were travelling from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra.