Supreme Court questions maintainability of Subramanian Swamy’s plea in Sunanda case

The Supreme Court today asked BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to satisfy it on the aspect of maintainability of his plea seeking an SIT probe into the death of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar in 2014.

Pushkar was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a suite of a five-star hotel in Delhi on the night of January 17, 2014.

Swamy has moved the apex court after the Delhi High Court had in October last year dismissed his plea seeking a probe by a court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) into Pushkar’s death.

During the hearing today, a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy told Swamy that he has to first satisfy the court on whether his plea was maintainable.

“Before going into merits, we need to be satisfied on maintainability,” the bench told Swamy who said that it is a matter of public interest.

He claimed that it took nearly one year for the Delhi Police to lodge FIR in the case and the post-mortem report said that Pushkar had died an unnatural death.

The bench, however, asked him to argue on the issue of maintainability and and posted the matter for hearing after three weeks.

The Delhi High Court had on October 26, last year, rejected Swamy’s plea for a court-monitored SIT probe into Pushkar’s death and termed his PIL as a “textbook example of a political interest litigation”.

Swamy, in his plea before the high court, had alleged that the police had “botched up” the probe and accused Tharoor of “interfering” in the investigation now and even earlier when he was a minister in the UPA regime.

When the high court questioned the source based on which he had made the allegations, the BJP leader and his lawyer, who is a co-petitioner, had said that they would file affidavits to reply to the court’s query.

However, the bench had rejected their offer, saying it appeared that they had concealed information pertinent to the case, which they ought to have disclosed when they had filed the petition.

The high court had also said that Swamy ought to have mentioned his political affiliation as well as that of Tharoor in his petition as these facts were important to the adjudication of the case.

SC sets aside exoneration of ex-TN minister in DA case

 In a setback to DMK veteran K N Nehru, the Supreme Court has paved the way for further investigation into the alleged disporportionate assets of his son and set aside his exoneration in the case.

The apex court has set aside the order of the Madras High Court exonerating Nehru, a former transport minister, and his wife terming their discharge pending investigation as “visibly prematured” and “unsustainable in law as well as on facts”.

Nehru, his wife Shanta and son Arun are accused of acquiring assets disproportionate to their known sources of income during his tenure as the transport minister of Tamil Nadu between 2006 and 2011.

Currently an MLA from the Tiruchirappalli West constituency, he has been a four-time legislator of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party.

“The impugned order directing the discharge of the respondents is hereby set aside and the order of the Trial Court vis-a-vis them is restored,” a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy said.

It directed the vigilance department to complete further investigation at the earliest so as to enable the trial court to proceed in accordance with law.

The bench upheld the direction of High Court and the trial court for further probe and said the probe agency should keep in mind “the seriousness of the charge and the avowed objectives of the anti-corruption law involved and conduct the investigation as expected of it and submit its report as expeditiously as possible”.

The apex court allowed the appeal of the state government challenging the High Court order exonerating Nehru and his wife but affirming the direction for further probe against his son Arun.

“Having regard to the FIR, the explanation provided by the respondent No.1 (Nehru), the charge-sheet submitted as well as the indispensability of the scrutiny of the sources of income of Arun and his assets, we are of the view that the courts below had rightly directed further investigation to verify the genuineness or otherwise of the source(s) of income of Arun and his assets and the bearing thereof, if any, on the charge levelled against the respondents,” it said.

The court observed that the High Court, having endorsed the direction for further investigation vis-a-vis Arun, ought not to have recorded its findings of exoneration of Nehru and his wife at this stage.

“In fact, the discharge of the respondents flies in the face of the direction for further investigation into the affairs of Arun in order to verify the lawfulness or otherwise of his source of income and his assets.

“In our estimate, in view of the correlation of the explanation provided by the respondent No.1 to the imputation of disproportionate assets and the probe ordered into the affairs of Arun, to say the least, the discharge of the respondents before the completion of the investigation is visibly prematured,” the bench said.

Nehru in his explanation about his income said he had received the amount only from his son Arun and the latter had received remuneration for which he had paid TDS under the Income Tax Act and therefore the question of disproportionateness of his assets did not arise.

The court said that the exoneration of Nehru and his wife pending investigation amounted to “prejudging the charge” against them.

“We have thus no hesitation to hold that the order of the High Court, discharging the respondents herein, pending the investigation against Arun, at this stage, is unsustainable in law as well as on facts,” the bench said.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the state government, contended that on taking into account the materials on record, the High Court ought not to have discharged them at this stage while affirming further probe into the sources of income of Arun.

He said the outcome of the further probe would have a vital bearing on the charge leveled against the accused and their discharge at this stage is wholly unwarranted.

Counsel appearing for Nehru and others said that the available materials do not substantiate the allegation and the discharge of the respondents is perfectly justified and does not merit any interference.

An FIR was lodged in 2011 against Nehru, his wife and son by the Deputy Superintendent of Police (vigilance & anti- corruption), Trichy, alleging that Nehru while serving as the transport minister had acquired assets in his name and in the names of his wife and son far beyond their known sources of income.

Before the check-period (May 13, 2006-March 24, 2011) both husband, wife and son had assets worth over Rs 2.83 crore which swelled to over Rs 18.52 crore at the end of the period.

After the charge sheet was filed against them, the accused moved trial court seeking discharge but the court ordered further probe into the assets and income of Arun.

The High Court on December 19, 2013, exonerated Nehru and his wife but affirmed further probe into the assets and income of Arun.

Supreme Court cancels AIPMT 2015, orders CBSE to re-conduct exam

Supreme Court cancels AIPMT 2015, orders CBSE to re-conduct exam
Supreme Court cancels AIPMT 2015, orders CBSE to re-conduct exam

In a big development that affects over six lakh medical aspirants, the Supreme Court on Monday set aside the 2015 All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT) over irregularities in the conduct of the exam.

The apex court directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which conducts the exam, to re-conduct the test within four weeks.

The order was passed by the vacation bench of Justices RK Agrawal and Amitava Roy which ruled on a batch of petitions seeking re-conduct of the AIPMT following the leak of the question paper and circulation of answer keys through electronic devices at different examination centres across 10 states.

The apex court bench had last week reserved its verdict on the matter.

The CBSE, which had conducted the exam on May 3, had opposed the plea for re-conduct of the test, saying that it would involve a mammoth exercise spread over a long period.

The court had earlier restrained the CBSE from declaring the 2015 exam result that was originally scheduled to be announced June 5.

Appearing for CBSE, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar had said that for the examination conducted this year on May 3, the preparations were started in October last year, noting this shows the magnitude of efforts that goes into the conduct of the examination and which will have to be re-done if court orders a re-conduct.

Contending that only 44 students have been identified to be alleged beneficiaries of the paper leak, he had said that it should not come in the way of the declaration of the results affecting 6.30 lakh students who had taken the entrance test at 1,050 examination centre across the country.

The court had, however, asked: “What message it will send to the hard working students whom burn midnight oil to prepare for the examination if they lose it to merit to such candidates.”

Telling the CBSE that it was in the know of such things going on for some time but it failed to take precautionary steps, Justice Roy had said: “You should have taken precautionary steps from 2012. Whatever precautions you have taken have failed. All these precautionary steps taken by you are outdated. You were outwitted and out-manoeuvred.”

“We are not holding the CBSE guilty for the leak,” the court had said, observing that “ultimately it was CBSE’s responsibility to have taken steps to meet the challenges posed by the information technology which has over-taken our lives”.

Asking the CBSE that it could not have been “complacent”, the court had stated that it should have taken the steps to “minimise the possibilities” of papers getting leaked and the board being outsmarted by those playing foul.

Appearing for one of the petitioners, senior counsel Jaideep Gupta had mocked the CBSE for its resistance to the fresh conduct of the examination. “Government can’t defend it. It is not proper for it to defend it. Once such facts come to light, the sanctity of exam goes. It is becoming an industry. Vijay Yadav who succeeded in the exam last year (by adopting such means), is a master solver this year.”

Interestingly the position taken by the petitioner had found backing by the Haryana Police which told the court that it was not only the 44 identified beneficiaries but the number could be much more and time frame could not be cited by the CBSE to oppose the re-conduct of the exam whose integrity stands compromised.

The court was hearing a PIL by Tanvi Sarwal, Jahnvi Shanker and others seeking the re-conduct of the AIPMT in the wake of the leakage of the question paper and subsequent answer key being circulated through electronic devices.

Hate speech: SC bench recuses from hearing Swamy’s plea

Hate speech: SC bench recuses from hearing Swamy's plea
Hate speech: SC bench recuses from hearing Swamy’s plea

A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice R K Agrawal today recused itself from hearing the plea of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against the order of an Assam trial court issuing a non-bailable warrant against him for failing to appear before it in a case of alleged hate speech.

The bench, also comprising Justice Amitava Roy, referred the matter to another bench saying, “If it has to come before another bench, why apply mind. List it before another bench on June 22.”

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who was appearing for Swamy, then asked the bench “In the meantime, what should the man do if there is an order that he be arrested and produced before the judge.” To this, the bench said that till June 22 nothing will happen but refused to pass an interim order. “We cannot pass any interim order,” it said.However, it allowed Swamy to mention it before Chief Justice H L Dattu after Jethmalani sought permission.

“You have the liberty to mention it before the Chief Justice,” the bench said.Earlier, on May 21, a judge of the apex court had recused from hearing his plea challenging the validity of some penal provisions relating to “hate speech”.

The apex court was hearing Swamy’s plea against the order of an Assam trial court issuing an NBW against him for failing to appear before it on March 19 in a case of alleged hate speech.

The NBW was issued on June 1 by a court in Karimganj on a complaint accusing him of allegedly delivering an inflammatory address on March 15 at Kaziranga University.The Karimganj court had ordered that the arrest warrant be complied with on or before June 30.

Inter-caste marriage : SC orders to protect newly-wed

Inter-caste marriage : SC orders to protect newly-wed
Inter-caste marriage : SC orders to protect newly-wed

The Supreme Court today asked the Haryana police to provide security to a newly-wed couple against whom a ‘khap panchayat’ in Faridabad has issued diktat for having an inter-caste marriage.

A vacation bench of justices Prafulla C Pant and Amitava Roy also asked Haryana Police and its Delhi counterpart to file response within four weeks to the petition filed by the couple.

Ashish, working in the nephrology department of AIIMS and his wife Bharti, who claims to be a major, had moved the apex court seeking protection from their kin, apprehending threat to their lives for having an inter-caste marriage.

The petition, filed through lawyer Sugriv Dubey, said that the girl was an adult and had solemnised marriage with Ashish, a resident of Uttar Pradesh, in an Arya Samaj temple as per Hindu rites against the wishes of her family.

The girl, hailing from Haryana, was residing “happily with her husband in Faridabad”, the plea said and claimed that her parents, on the directions of a ‘khap panchayat’, were trying kill her and her husband.

Khap panchayats, prevalent in northern India, are village councils generally dominated by members of a single clan or caste.

The couple has claimed they had approached the police in Faridabad seeking protection, but did not get any support.

“The petitioner had intimated the SHO, Faridabad that they will be murdered as a khap of Haryana has decided to get them eliminated, but the police have not taken any step,” the plea alleged.

Dr Dang’s lab closure: SC extends deadline till Aug 20

Dr Dang's lab closure: SC extends deadline till Aug 20
Dr Dang’s lab closure: SC extends deadline till Aug 20

In a relief to Delhi-based leading pathological laboratory Dr Dang’s Diagnostic Centre, the Supreme Court on Friday extended till August 20 its deadline to shut down one of its centres located in a posh residential area here.

The apex court had earlier ordered that the lab be shut down by June 28 on the ground that besides causing health hazards, the lab has been creating air and sound pollution.

A vacation bench of justices Praffulla C Pant and Amitava Roy granted the relief to the owners of the laboratory on the condition that they will file an undertaking to the effect that no more extension would be sought by them.

“Having considered the submissions and facts of this case, the interim application is disposed of with the direction that the applicant shall shift the lab from the premises in question by August 20,” it said.

A bench of justices V Gopala Gowda and C Nagappan had earlier ordered the authorities to seal the premises being run at south Delhi’s posh Hauz Khas locality from 1995 and file a compliance report.

The apex court had said that both MCD and DPCC “abdicated” their statutory duties in permitting the owners to carry on with the unlawful activities.

“The conduct of the MCD and the DPCC for their inaction is highly deplorable as they have miserably failed to discharge their statutory duties on account of which there has been a blatant violation of the rule of law and thereby a large number of residents of the locality are suffering on account of the unlawful activities of the respondent-owners, whose activities are patronised by both the authorities,” the bench had said.

The court had also quashed the Regularisation Certificate issued by MCD under Mixed Land Use for running the path lab as there was a lot of “inconsistency” within the document.

The court was hearing a plea by Anirudh Kumar who had contended that it has become completely impossible for him to live on the second floor of the premises due to the sound and air pollution caused by the centre.

SC declines to hear plea on communal clash

supremeSC declines to hear plea on communal clash
SC declines to hear plea on communal clash

The Supreme Court Thursday declined to entertain a plea seeking a CBI or SITprobe into the recent alleged attacks on members of a minority community at a village in Faridabad district of Haryana, asking the pleader to approach the high court.

A vacation bench of justices Prafulla C Pant and Amitava Roy asked Shakir Ali, one of the victims of the violence, to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court with his plea.

“Have you approached the High Court? Who prevented you from going there? First go to the High Court,” the bench said when Mushtaq Ahmed, Ali’s counsel, mentioned the matter seeking urgent hearing.

Ali, in his plea, has sought award of compensation for those who suffered injuries in the incident and whose houses were attacked.

Besides seeking permission to construct a mosque, Ali has also sought security for members of the minority community.

It was alleged that some members of the majority community had attacked around 20 houses belonging to the members of the minority community on May 25.

The alleged communal clash had begun when some members of the minority community started construction of a mosque allegedly on a disputed piece of land at Atali village in Faridabad district.

The petition, however, claimed that the construction site was no longer disputed.

Couple living together will be presumed married: SC

If an unmarried couple is living together as husband and wife, then they would be presumed to be legally married and the woman would be eligible to inherit the property after death of her partner, the Supreme Court has ruled.

A bench of Justice MY Eqbal and Justice Amitava Roylive in said continuous cohabitation of a couple would raise the presumption of valid marriage and it would be for the opposite party to prove that they were not legally married.

“It is well settled that the law presumes in favour of marriage and against concubinage, when a man and woman have cohabited continuously for a long time. However, the presumption can be rebutted by leading unimpeachable evidence. A heavy burden lies on a party who seeks to deprive the relationship of legal origin,” the bench said.