Supreme Court Acquits Two Men Sentenced To Death By Chhattisgarh High Court

“It is difficult to draw an inference that the appellants had committed the crime.”
In yet another judgment delivered on Tuesday, the Supreme Court acquitted two men whose death sentence was confirmed by the Chhattisgarh High Court.

The bench comprising Justice AK Sikri, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice MR Shah, acquitted Digamber Vaishnav and Girdhari Vaishnav who were accused of robbery and murder of five women.

Perusing the evidence on record, the bench noted that the case of prosecution mainly relied on the deposition made by the child witness. The court said that it is clear from the testimony of the child witness that she was not an eyewitness to the incident and that her evidence is fraught with inconsistencies. The bench said:

“This Court has consistently held that evidence of a child witness must be evaluated carefully as the child may be swayed by what others tell him and he is an easy prey to tutoring. Therefore, the evidence of a child witness must find adequate corroboration before it can be relied upon. It is more a rule of practical wisdom than law.”
The court also observed that there was an unexplained delay in reporting the crime. The examination of expert is crucial especially if reliance is placed on the finger print report to suspect the guilt of the accused, the bench said as it noted that the person who took the sample finger prints was not examined by the prosecution.

The court also noted that, even in FIR, there is no averment of any article or money being stolen or lost. Therefore, when the money allegedly recovered is being sought to be relied upon as stolen from the house of the deceased, the same is unreliable when there is nothing on record to support the claim of theft or robbery from the scene of crime, the court added.

On ‘last seen together’ aspect, the bench said that, to constitute the last seen together factor as an incriminating circumstance, there must be close proximity between the time of seeing and recovery of dead body.

Holding that it is difficult to draw an inference that the accused had committed the crime, the bench acquitted them and ordered their release.

SC approves Centre’s draft witness protection scheme

NEW DELHI: The draft witness protection scheme of the Central government was on Wednesday approved by the Supreme Court and asked all the states to implement it till the Parliament comes out with a legislation. A bench headed by Justice AK Sikri said that they have made some changes in the scheme.

The issue of witness protection scheme had cropped up earlier when the top court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking protection for witnesses in rape cases involving self-styled preacher Asaram Bapu. On November 19, Attorney General KK Venugopal had told the apex court that the draft scheme, which has now been finalised, would be made into a law “in due course”, but till then the court should direct the states to start implementing it.

The top court had asked the Centre to finalise the scheme after getting response from the states and Union Territories.

Quota for disabled can’t be confined, can be for promotion: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday held that three percent reservation for differently-abled persons cannot be restricted to entry level of government jobs and should be applied for considering promotions to Group A and Group B officers category.

“Why confined it to entry level? They are disabled means disabled. We seriously feel they should be given benefit at other level also,” a bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and AK Sikri said.

“How do you expect disabled persons to compete with the abled persons,” the bench asked while dismissing the appeal filed by the Centre against the Bombay High Court order directing it and the Union Public Service Commission to implement a three per cent quota in direct recruitment and promotions for the disabled in the IAS.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi contended that reservation is counted on the basis of vacancy and not in the terms of the post.

He submitted that reservation on promotion is not the mandate of legislation, Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, which was passed in 1995.

The AG said reservation can be applied in horizontal manner and not vertically.

The apex court did not agree to examine the issue in detail on the ground that there was difference in view between Bombay and Delhi high courts.


What they said: SC refuses NJAC petitions but leaves door ajar

supreme courtThe Supreme Court bench of justices Anil Dave, Chelameshwar and AK Sikri has declined to entertain the five writ petitions against the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) bill.
What they said

Fali Nariman eloquently argued why it is not a premature matter. He said he is all for the NJAC but not in its present format. Earlier, in 2003, the JAC had an odd number of members (five) which was better than the NJAC’s system of six members. If only two oppose an appointment, it doesn’t go through. In the present NJAC there are three Supreme Court judges so if any of the other two reject a candidature, then there is no primacy of judges’ opinion.

Ex-additional solicitor general and petitioner Bishwajit Bhattacharya argued that the matter was already covered by a 1978 reference, where, according to him, even a bill can be challenged and constitutional amendments can be challenged despite the entire process not having completed.

Petitioner ML Sharma raised several eyebrows by talking about parliamentary procedure and arguing, how can there be a commission under article 124A when such an article does not exist.

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi confidently argued for the government saying that the writs were premature.

Justice Sikri was very vocal, Justice Dave a little annoyed by the Mumbai lawyer’s behaviour, and Justice Chelameshwar was attentive on giving inputs.

(Source: PTI)

Difficult to find suitable persons to man tribunals: SC

supreme courtThe setting up of tribunals have come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court which on Thursday cast doubts as to whether they have achieved the desired objectives or not as competent persons are averse to presiding over them and keen ones are not suitable for such assignments.

“Many retired judges who are fit to be on the tribunals are not interested and those who are keen are not suitable,” a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha observed adding it was like the government creating a parallel justice dispensing machinery in the form of tribunals.

The bench said it was difficult to find a right judicial person for tribunals dealing with specific areas of laws.

While hearing a batch of petitions against the setting up of tribunals, the CJI said that in the last four days, he has received requests for the appointment of four judicial members in various panels, including the Securities Appellate Tribunal.

The bench said earlier it was apex court judges who were preferred to be brought into the scheme of tribunals but with the passage of time, the Chief Justices and judges of High Courts were considered and now, it has gone down to people from administrative backgrounds. It has been contended in a batch of pleas that there was a grave danger that the judiciary will be substituted by a host of quasi-judicial tribunals which function as departments of various ministries.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi sought to defend the creation of tribunals but the court posed several questions to him on the issue.

“Which enactment conferred the tribunals with exclusive power to decide a substantial question of law and if the validity of that Act has been upheld”? the bench, also comprising justices JS Khehar, J Chelameswar, AK Sikri and Rohinton Nariman, asked.

“What are you achieving ultimately? You are making a mockery of the procedure,” it observed as Rohatgi submitted that creation of tribunals has not eclipsed the powers of the high courts under Article 226 of the Constitution.

(Source: PTI)

Legalising euthanasia be left for Parliament to debate and decide: Centre

Legalising euthanasiaThe Centre on Tuesday opposed in the Supreme Court the plea for legalising passive euthanasia by allowing a person in vegetative condition to die by withdrawing life-support systems, saying such issues should be debated and decided in Parliament and not by court.

Appearing before a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi opposed the petition and said that the issue should be left for the legislative body to decide.

The Centre also submitted that Law Commission in its reports had also opposed the idea of legalising euthanasia.

The bench, also comprising justices JS Khehar, J Chelameswar, AK Sikri, and RF Nariman, after a brief hearing asked the government to place Law reports before it and posted the case for hearing tomorrow when it will decide how to proceed with the case.

The bench was constituted to decide the contentious issue after a three-judge bench had on February 25 referred to case to larger bench to decide the issue saying it was extremely important to have a clear enunciation of law in view of inconsistent opinions in its previous judgement.

It had said that its earlier verdict of 2011 allowing passive euthanasia was delivered on a “wrong premise”.

“In view of the inconsistent opinions rendered in Aruna Shanbaug case and also considering the important question of law involved which needs to be reflected in the light of social, legal, medical and constitutional perspective, it becomes extremely important to have a clear enunciation of law. Thus, in our cogent opinion, the question of law involved requires careful consideration by a Constitution Bench of this Court for the benefit of humanity as a whole,” the court had said.

The apex court had said that its earlier Constitution bench verdict, which was wrongly relied in Aruna Shanbaug case, had held that right to live with dignity will be inclusive of right to die with dignity but the judgement did not arrive at a conclusion for validity of euthanasia.

The direction had came on a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause which said when a medical expert opines that the person afflicted with terminal disease has reached a point of no return, then he should be given the right to refuse being put on life support system as otherwise it would only prolong his agony.

The NGO prayed for declaring right to die with dignity as a fundamental right and had sought direction to governments to adopt suitable procedures to ensure that the persons with deteriorated health or terminally ill should be able to execute living will & Attorney authorization termination of life.

The petitioner had contended that a person whose life was ebbing out should be allowed to die as the continuance of the life with the support system was an unnatural extension of the natural life span.

(Source: PTI)

Panel wants 64 schools to refund excess fee

Sixty-four private city schools have illegally collected higher fee from students since September 2008, a committee has informed the Delhi high court while recommending a refund of the money with 9 percent per annum interest.

The 600-page interim report of Justice Anil Dev Singh Committee, which randomly examined the accounts of 200 schools, was opened by a special bench of Acting Chief Justice AK Sikri and Justice Siddharth Mridul Friday.

The committee was constituted about a year ago to submit a report on the determination of fees in the unaided schools in Delhi.

Its first interim report was based on an examination of 200 unaided private schools out of a total 1,172 institutions.

In the case of 13 schools, the committee found that either no records were maintained or the accounts were fudged. It recommended strict action against these schools.

“The committee recommends that the schools be directed to refund the increased monthly fee from September 2008 till the date of actual refund along with the interest at the rate of 9 percent per annum,” the report said.

It also raised questions on the working of the department of education as it did not act in accordance with the law in inspecting the schools.

“The regulatory mechanism envisaged by the law has been thrown to the winds by the directorate of education. Schools are enjoying total and unbridled freedom in acting in the manner they like,” the report said.

“Right from the stage of granting recognition, the lack of supervisory control of the directorate is writ large. Hardly any inspections are done and even if they are, they are conducted in a most perfunctory manner,” the report said.

The bench July 20 directed the committee to submit a report on the fee hike in unaided private schools in Delhi.

After the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission, the schools increased the fees citing additional financial burden due to increased salaries of teachers.

The court gave directions for setting up a committee to audit the accounts of each of the schools to ascertain if the fee hike by them was required.

The committee also said that there were 143 schools which increased the fee without implementing the Sixth Pay Commission.

Many of the schools in the city were operating without even a bank account and years after years they were granted recognition, it said.