BCI panel discusses SC crisis with Justice Arun Mishra

A Bar Council of India panel today met Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra and discussed the crisis in the apex judiciary.

Justice Mishra was assigned by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra a PIL relating to the death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.

Four senior Supreme Court judges — J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — had on Friday mounted a virtual revolt against the CJI at a press meet here, raising questions on “selective” case allocation and certain judicial orders, sending shockwaves across the judiciary and polity.

The panel led by BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra arrived at Justice Mishra’s residence at around 2 p.m. and discussed the crisis during a short meeting.

The BCI delegation had earlier met justices Chelameswar, R K Agrawal, A M Khanwilkar and other top court judges and is likely to meet Chief Justice Misra.

Two top court judges — justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao — also met Justice Chelameswar, who had led the four judges in the unprecedented press conference on Friday at his official residence here, sources said.

The meeting of these judges took place soon after the seven-member delegation of the BCI, the regulatory body of lawyers, met Justice Chelameswar at his residence to discuss the crisis that has hit the judiciary.

A BCI source said that the BCI delegation’s meetings with the judges will be on till late in the evening as some of the judges are away from Delhi.

I was pressurised to withdraw Loya plea in SC : Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla

A Congress leader, who filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking an independent probe into the alleged mysterious death of Special CBI judge B H Loya, today alleged he was pressurised by a senior advocate to withdraw his petition.

Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla, who had filed the petition, said just before his plea was to be heard this morning in the court of Justices Arun Mishra and M M Shantanagoudar, the senior advocate had pressurised him to withdraw the petition.

He, however, refused to divulge the name of the senior lawyer.

“I have full faith in the judiciary. I have nothing to do with the politics surrounding the case. I was called names but I refused to back off. I requested my advocate on record to argue the matter despite the pressure,” Poonawalla said.

He said he had told the senior advocate that he will not withdraw the petition as “I have full belief in the institution.

Source : PTI

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.

Farmer on leased land after expiry period can’t be evicted: SC

leased landThe Supreme Court has held that a farmer, who is in possession of leased land even after expiry of the lease period, cannot be evicted if the owner either acknowledges the tenancy or is accepting the rent.

Referring to a provision of the Transfer of Property Act, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi set aside the judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had ordered the eviction of a farmer after expiry of the lease period of the land.

“The operation of section 116 of the Transfer of Property Act would confer legitimacy to the possession of the tenant even after the termination or expiration of the deemed period of the lease so as to confer on him a status akin to that of a statutory tenant and hence protection from eviction as envisaged by the provisions of the Act (Punjab Security of Land Tenure Act) of 1953,” the bench, also comprising Justices Arun Mishra and P C Pant, said.

The bench said there was no legal provision to evict the farmers as the eviction conditions laid down in the Punjab Security of Land Tenure Act 1953 and Punjab Tenancy Act 1887 do not include a tenant whose lease has expired.

“It would necessarily follow that to be entitled to protection from eviction under the 1953 Act, any person claiming such protection has to come within the fold of the expression ‘tenant’ under the 1953 Act read with the relevant provisions of the 1887 Act.

“Statutory protection would be available only to a statutory tenant, namely a tenant under the Act. The Punjab Act of 1953 read with the relevant provisions of the 1887 Act do not include a tenant whose lease has expired,” the bench noted in its judgement.

The apex court said the continuance of occupancy even after expiry of deemed period of the lease under the Transfer of Property Act “would clothe the occupant with the status of a tenant under the Act in view of section 116 of the Transfer of Property Act which deals with the consequences of holding over.

SC refuses to stay Goa Cricket Association election process

SC refuses to stay Goa Cricket Association election process
SC refuses to stay Goa Cricket Association election process

The Supreme Court today refused to stay the election process of the Goa Cricket Association (GCA) scheduled on Sunday but directed that the poll results would not be announced.

A vacation bench of Justice Arun Mishra said the polling would be subject to the outcome of the matter pendingbefore the Bombay High Court.

The apex court also restrained the outgoing managing committee from taking any financial or important decisions while allowing it to carry out the day to day functioning of the GCA.

The court was hearing GCA’s plea against a Bombay High Court order which had constituted a new election committee comprising former judge of Bombay High Court to monitor the election process.

During the proceedings, GCA contended that the High Court order was illegal and it has put a new election committee in place when there was a valid committee already working.

On this, the apex court said, “normally the court would observe the rules and not interfere with an ongoing election process but to maintain the purity and sanctity of the process it has to step in.

“When there are serious allegations, the court cannot remain a spectator. Let the election process go on,” the bench said.

Taking note of charges of “non-transparency”, the High Court had yesterday refused to stay the election process and appointed a committee headed by Justice (Retd) A P Lawande and two members, Nitin Sardesai and Rajnikant Lavanis.

HC had also pulled up Salkar for exercising his powers in a “totally arbitrary and unreasonable” manner.

It also observed that the decision not to allow some clubs to vote because they did not submit names of their representatives 15 days in advance “appears prime facie to be calculated move on the part of Salkar”.

The HC allowed all 104 clubs to vote in the polls on Sunday.

The GCA had allowed only 64 out of total clubs to vote as the rest had failed to submit names of their representatives 15 days in advance as mandated by the cricketing body’s constitution.

SC agrees to hear plea challenging Punjab travel law

SC agrees to hear plea challenging Punjab travel law
SC agrees to hear plea challenging Punjab travel law

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear the plea of Punjab-based travel agents seeking scrapping of the Punjab Travel Professionals’ Regulation Act on the grounds that the law to curb human smuggling has nothing to do with them.

A vacation bench of Justice Arun Mishra, which took the matter on mentioning, posted the case for hearing tomorrow.

The plea challenges the validity of the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act 2012, now renamed as The Punjab Travel Professionals’ Regulation Act 2012, as unconstitutional and seeks that it should be struck down.

Advocate R K Kapoor, appearing for the travel agents, said the provision of the Punjab Travel Professionals’ Regulation Act 2012 and its 2013 Regulation Rules mandate that all those in the travel agents’ business, consultancy or ticketing would have to get themselves registered upon the payment of licence fee.

The travel agents have said that human smuggling had nothing to do with travel agents and therefore could not be curbed through the Act.

The petition contends that Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling (Amendment) Act 2014 states that the Act has been enacted to curb the illegal and fraudulent activities of persons involved in organised human smuggling in Punjab, but it is not understandable as to how the same can be curbed by regulating the profession of travel agents.

SC stays tribunal order re-instating sailor in Indian Navy

SC stays tribunal order re-instating sailor in Indian Navy
SC stays tribunal order re-instating sailor in Indian Navy

The Supreme Court today stayed the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) that had modified the order of the Chief of Naval Staff to sack a sailor for slapping his senior, that too while on duty.

The tribunal, though upholding the summary trial of the Navy that had held R Karthik “guilty”, had also diluted the punishment of dismissal from service by awarding 75 days of detention.

A bench of justices M Y Eqbal and Arun Mishra issued notice to Karthik on the plea of the Centre and stayed the AFT order after Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh sought an urgent intervention on the issue.

The Centre, in its plea, claimed that if the tribunal’s order was not stayed, it would have a bad effect on the morale of the services.

“The conduct of the respondent (Karthik) was such that it tends to shake up the confidence and trust that was reposed in him and the misconduct directly impinges upon the discipline and morale of the force on which the entire edifice of Navy is built,” the government said.

“The AFT having upheld the finding of ‘guilty’ could not have substituted the punishment of dismissal with detention for 75 days,” it said.

Karthik, who was part of the Aviation Core team on board of INS Gharial that had sailed from Visakhapatnam to Brunei, was awarded punishment of detention for 60 days for slapping his superior officer on his face on May 29, 2013.

He had pleaded guilty, and later his punishment was modified by the administrative authority, the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, and was dismissed from naval services. The dismissal was upheld by the Chief of the Naval Staff.

The AFT, however, altered the punishment and awarded detention for a period of 75 days, observing that sacking was not commensurate with the gravity of offence.

It had held that the action on part of the officer to instigate Karthik by using explicit abusive language needed to be considered whilst mitigating the quantum of sentence.

Lawyers’ body moves SC on NHRC Chairperson appointment

supreme court A lawyers’ body moves SC against any moves for appointing former Chief Justice of India Justice P Sathasivam for the post of Chairman in National Human Rights Commission.The petition filed by All India Bar Association (AIBA), also seeking direction to the Centre to frame a transparent selection procedure and take consent from other available former CJIs who are below the age of 70 years, was mentioned before a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra.

“Let me see the papers,” the CJI said after senior advocate S P Singh sought urgent hearing on the petition filed through AIBA’s chairman Adish C. Aggarwala.

SC to hear plea against re-promulgated land ordinance

land ordinance 2015The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on Monday the plea of farmers’ organisations challenging legality of the fresh promulgation of the land ordinance by the Narendra Modi-led government.

“We will have it on Monday,” a bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Arun Mishra said, when senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, appearing for farmers’ organisations sought urgent hearing of the petition.

The farmers’ organisations, in their plea filed on Thursday, challenged the re-promulgated land ordinance, terming it as “unconstitutional” and ultra vires of the Constitution and as a “colourful exercise of power” by the executive usurping law—making powers of the legislature.

The petition was filed by Bharatiya Kishan Union, Gram Sewa Samiti, Delhi Grameen Samaj and Chogama Vikas Avam, seeking a direction to restrain the government from acting upon in furtherance of the Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015

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.