Nirbhaya case : Supreme Court to hear curative petitions of 2 death-row convicts on Jan 14

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court will hear on January 14 curative petitions of two of the four death-row convicts in the Nirbhaya case.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Arun Mishra, R F Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan will hear the curative petitions filed by Vinay Sharma (26) and Mukesh Kumar (32) at 1.45 pm on Tuesday.

Curative petitions are decided in-chambers by the judges. It is the last and final legal remedy available to a person.

Mukesh Kumar and Vinay Sharma had filed curative petitions in the apex court on Thursday.

Two other death-row convicts, Akshay Kumar Singh (31) and Pawan Gupta (25), against whom death warrants have been issued by a Delhi court, have not filed curative petitions.

A 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012, in a moving bus in south Delhi by six people before being thrown out on the road. She died on December 29 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

A Delhi court had on Tuesday issued death warrants against the four convicts and said they would be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail.

The Supreme Court had in 2017 upheld the capital punishment awarded to them by the Delhi High Court and a trial court.

One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail.

A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.

On July 9, 2018, the apex court had dismissed the review pleas filed by three of the convicts in the case, saying no grounds had been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.

SC dismisses convict’s review plea in Nirbhaya case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the plea filed by one of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, seeking review of its 2017 judgement upholding his death penalty.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice R Banumathi said there are no ground to review the 2017 verdict and the contentions raised by convict Akshay Kumar Singh were already considered by the top court in the main judgement.

The bench also comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna, said that review petition is not “re-hearing of appeal over and over again” and the top court had already considered the mitigating and aggravating circumstances while upholding the death penalty to the convict in the 2017 verdict.

The apex court said that it found “no error” on the face of the main judgement requiring any review.

As soon as the bench pronounced the verdict, advocate A P Singh, appearing for convict Akshay, sought three weeks time to file mercy petition before the President.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi government, told the bench that one week time is prescribed under the law for filing the mercy petition.

“We are not expressing our view in this regard. If as per the law any time is available to the petitioner, it is for the petitioner to avail the remedy of filing mercy petition within that stipulated time,” the bench said.

While pronouncing the judgement, the bench said the convict has again sought to assail the prosecution case and the findings of courts on it and this cannot be permitted.

The bench said that the grounds raised by Akshay were almost identical to the grounds taken by the other three convicts in the case whose review pleas were rejected by the top court last year.

Regarding Singh’s submission about the alleged flaws in the investigation, the bench said, “All these things have already been well considered by the trial court, High Court and the Supreme Court.

Maharashtra crisis: Supreme Court refers to previous judgements on floor test

While ordering floor test for Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, the Supreme Court Tuesday referred to its past decisions on Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand where it had ordered similar exercise in times of political crisis.

The first decision it mentioned was upholding the disqualification of 17 Congress-JD(S) MLAs in Karnataka by the then Assembly Speaker, which was pronounced on November 13 by the 3-judge bench led by Justice N V Ramana.

Justice Ramana also headed the 3-judge bench in the Maharashtra matter and referred to the Karnataka judgment which had emphasised the requirement of imbibing constitutional morality by constitutional functionaries.

The apex court also mentioned its 2016 verdict in the case of Union of India vs Harish Chandra Singh Rawat in which it ordered the former chief minister of Uttarakhand to take a ‘vote of confidence’ on the floor of the Assembly.

Rawat had moved the apex court after the Modi government dismissed the then Congress government and imposed President’s rule after nine Congress MLAs sided with the BJP on the Appropriation Bill.

The rebel MLAs were subsequently disqualified by the Speaker under the anti-defection law, a decision that was upheld by the high court and the Supreme Court.

The High Court bench was then headed by Justice K M Joseph, who was then the Chief Justice and now the judge in the Supreme Court.

In its order, the top court had directed that “floor test be conducted on a special session of Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly to be summoned/ convened in which the only agenda would be the vote of confidence sought by the first respondent and apart from the said agenda nothing will be discussed”.

It had also issued directions to the chief secretary and the Director General of Police, Uttarakhand, to see that “all qualified Members of the Legislative Assembly, freely, safely and securely attend the Assembly and no hindrance is caused to them”.

The top court had also said that entire proceedings would be video graphed and the recording placed before it.

Holding that if the floor test is delayed, the top court said that there is a possibility of horse trading and it becomes incumbent upon the court to act to protect democratic values.

An immediate floor test, in such a case, might be the most effective mechanism to do so, it said.

It referred to its May 18, 2018 order in which it had directed that a floor test be held in the Karnataka Assembly at 4 pm to ascertain whether BJP chief minister B S Yeddyurappa enjoys majority in the state

The bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna, pointed to the 9 -judge bench decision in S R Bommai case in 1994 in which it had said that “wherever a doubt arises whether the Council of Ministers has lost the confidence of the House, the only way of testing it is on the floor of the House…”

The 9 -judge bench had also held that imposition of President’s rule in states was unconstitutional as the governors did not give an opportunity for a floor test.

The apex court also referred to its 1999 order in the Jagdambika Pal vs Union of India in which it ordered composite floor test between contending parties in order to see which out of the two contesting claimants of chief ministership had a majority in the House.

The matter had come to the Supreme Court after UP Governor Romesh Bhandari sacked Kalyan Singh as chief minister and appointed Congress leader Jagdambika Pal as his successor.

Six years later, in Anil Kumar Jha vs Union of India (2005), the top court had issued similar directions after recording and taking notice of events that had taken place and few developments which were in the offing, as reported in the media.

The apex court had ordered a floor test in the Jharkhand assembly in March 2005 to decide whether Arjun Munda or Shibu Soren enjoyed a majority in the Assembly.

Ten years later, in Union of India vs Harish Chandra Singh Rawat, (2016) again an interim order was passed after the special leave petitions were taken up for hearing, though after concession which was made by Mr Mukul Rohatgi, the then Attorney General for India, that the Union of India has no objection, which the Court had appreciated.

Supreme Court asks Centre to produce governor’s letters inviting BJP to form govt

The Supreme Court on Sunday asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place before it on Monday morning the letters of the Governor recommending revocation of President’s Rule and inviting Devendra Fadnavis to form government in Maharashtra.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna also issued notices to the Centre and Maharashtra government on a petition filed by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine against the Maharashtra Governor’s decision to swear in Fadnavis as chief minister.

The court also issued notice to Fadnavis and Dy chief minister Ajit Pawar.

The bench asked Solicitor General Mehta to produce letters of the Governor tomorrow at 10.30 am for passing orders.

The apex court declined the fervent request of Mehta seeking two days time to place the Governor’s communication on record.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal and A M Singhvi, appearing for the combine, told the bench that floor test be conducted today itself so that it can be ascertained that Fadnavis enjoys majority in the house.

They maintained that post-poll alliance of the three parties have the majority in the 288-member house.

While Sibal termed as ‘bizarre’ the Governor’s decision to revoke President’s rule and anoint Fadnavis as the chief minister, Singhvi said it is a “murder of democracy”.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for two BJP MLAs and some independents, questioned the maintainability of the writ petition filed by the combine and said they should have approached the Bombay High Court.

Supreme Court on Ayodhya case: Temple at disputed site and to allot alternative land for mosque.

The Supreme Court in a unanimous verdict on Saturday cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.

In one of the most important and most anticipated judgements in India’s history, a 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi put an end to the more than a century old dispute that has torn the social fabric of the nation.

The apex court said the mosque should be constructed at a “prominent site” and a trust should be formed within three months for the construction of the temple at the site many Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.

The site was occupied by the 16th century Babri mosque which was destroyed by Hindu kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.

The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said possession of the disputed 2.77 acre land rights will be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla, who is one of the three litigants in the case. The possession however will remain with a central government receiver.

The Supreme Court said the Hindus have established their case that they were in possession of outer courtyard and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board has failed to establish its case in the Ayodhya dispute.

Delivering its verdict in the politically-sensitive case of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya, the apex court directed allotment of alternative land to Muslims to build a new mosque.

The apex court said the extensive nature of Hindus worshipping at outer courtyard at the disputed site has been there, and the evidence suggests the Muslims offered Friday prayers at mosque which indicates that they had not lost possession of the site.

It said that despite obstruction caused in offering prayers at Mosque, the evidences suggest that there was no abandonment in offering prayers.

The apex court further said that the underlying structure below the disputed site at Ayodhya was not an Islamic structure, but the ASI has not established whether a temple was demolished to build a mosque.

It said that terming the archeological evidence as merely an opinion would be a great disservice to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The court also said that the Hindus consider the disputed site as the birthplace of Lord Ram and even Muslims say this about that place.

The faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed, the apex court said.

The bench said the existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih are the testimony of the religious fact of the place.

The apex court said however that the title cannot be established on the ground of faith and belief and they are only indicators for deciding the dispute.

Supreme Court to hear Ayodhya land dispute case Friday

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Friday the issues relating to the Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

A notice in this regard was put up on the apex court website which said that the matter will be heard by a five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.

The matter will come for the first time on Friday since March 8 order by which the top court had referred the decades-old politically sensitive case for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge F M I Kalifulla for exploring the possibility of an amicable settlement.

Spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a renowned mediator, are the other two members of the panel of mediators.

The panel was asked by the apex court to hold an in-camera proceedings and complete it within eight weeks.

The Contentious Issue Is Relating To Ram’s Birth Place, That Is Not Negotiable”: CS Vaidyanathan

At the outset of the Ayodhya hearing on Wednesday, it was contended that in view of Order VIII Rule 4 of the CPC, the instant dispute being in the nature of a representative suit, no part of the claim could be abandoned and no compromise could be effectively recorded unless the Court has given notice to all persons so interested. The Supreme Court five-judge bench had assembled to decide on the reference of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute for mediation.

Justice Ashok Bhushan clarified that the said provision would apply in the event of court proceedings, when the court decided the matter, and not on mediation. “If the Hindus are not ready for mediation, then nobody has the right to negotiate. It is a sentimental issue and there is no position to compromise”, it was insisted.

“When the court orders mediation in a matrimonial proceeding, it is with the understanding that it may result in either divorce or conciliation . The outcome is not in the mind of the court. You are just saying that we can’t compromise so it may be not be necessary…”, interjected Justice S. A. Bobde. “Are you saying it is a failure if it is attempted even before it is attempted? That is not fair. When the court is ordering mediation, we are not led by the assumption that someone will give up something or that someone will get something. We know the dispute is not just about property or an arch of land but about sentiments and faith. Don’t think we are not conscience of it. We are aware of the impact and the gravity of the dispute and its effect on the body politic of this country.

Apart from the law, we are inspired by these factors in ordering mediation- the Mind, the heart and the feelings. We don’t understand how it is being rejected even without attempt…We have also read the history. You don’t have to argue on the history to postpone all this. You know what you are doing…We have no control over what happened in the past, whether there was a temple or a mosque. We can only undo what exists in the present, and that is the dispute!”, continued the judge. Placing reliance on the 2010 apex court decision in M/S Afcons Infra. Ltd, Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhawan (for the Sunni Waqf Board) argued that the consent of the parties is not a prerequisite for a reference to mediation- “Arbitration and conciliation require consent. But in the other forms of ADR, like Lok Adalats, it is not required.

The Nature of the mediation process is not affected by an agreement of the parties or the lack of it. It is not binding, so you are still free” “It is not necessary for the court to formulate the terms of settlement. Your Lordships may merely describe the nature of the dispute in a sentence or two”, he continued. “As for the selection of the mediator, there could be a well-trained mediator. Or alternatively, the parties may nominate the mediator”, suggested Dr. Dhawan. Justice Bobde added that there could also be a panel as in the case of arbitration. The Senior Counsel advanced that even the original record need not be sent to the mediator, unless the process is under the supervision of a judicial officer. He advanced that the proceeding may be held in-camera, the parties being instructed to not divulge any details.

Agreeing that confidentiality is a mandatory condition, Justice Bobde weighed in, “Now take a case where there is a matrimonial dispute which is sent for mediation. Or a case of partition of property between brothers. When is confidentiality breached- when someone known to the party talks. It is important that it is not printed in the media or commented on while the process is on. A gag order is not our intention or the point. But It should not be reported while the process is on because it is simple to make some comment attributing some motive to someone” Venturing that the concerned counsel ask clients to not make any revelations, Dr. Dhawan pointed out that there may even lie an action of contempt for a publication in respect of an in-camera proceeding if the court has so prohibited. At this point, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud posed a question as to how a compromise between the parties could be effectuated to dispose off the dispute- ” this is a not a dispute between just the parties, but a wider dispute between communities.

How will we bind them?” “You can’t…you will bind when the judgment comes if mediation fails”, conceded Dr. Dhawan. “One point of mediation could be- where? The Hindus on this side or the Muslims on this side? An area has to be considered”, he continued. In the light of section 89(2)(d) of the CPC, which provides that where a dispute is referred for mediation, the court shall effect a compromise between the parties and shall follow such procedure as may be prescribed, Justice Chandrachud reflected, “The desirability of a negotiated outcome cannot be understated. But what if there is no compromise? That is the issue. For adjudication, it is this side or that side, but not for mediation” On the argument of the proceedings being representative in nature, Justice Bobde noted, “Whether it is mediation or a court proceeding, if a party is recognized as representative of a community, it will bind everybody. If it is good for one, it is good for the other” “Beyond rule 8, if there is a difficulty of non-consensus, it is all between the parties and nobody else”, added Dr. Dhawan. “And parties would include those who they have been allowed to represent”, clarified Justice Bobde.

At the Hindu side, an objection was raised on account of Order XXIII Rule 3B of the CPC, which stipulates that no compromise shall be entered into in a representative suit without the leave of the court and that before granting such leave, the Court shall give notice to all such persons as may appear to it to be interested in the suit. “Suppose there is a decree, it will bind all? You know what happens to a compromise when it is presented to the court- it becomes a decree…After a public notice, we can still appoint those who would represent either side. Will it then not bind those who are not party to the proceeding?..

.A decree passed in compromise is no different from the one passed in judgment. There is no defect or lacuna in the law that it can’t be done!”, observed Justice Bobde. While the other faction- the All India Hindu Mahasabha headed by Swami Chakrapani- batted for mediation, On behalf of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, the need for a public notice was reiterated. Justice Bhushan asserted that that formality applies not at the appellate stage but for deciding the suit, which the Allahabad High Court should have considered.

Opposing a reference to mediation,  advanced that the contentious issue being which is the Ram Janma Sthan, the present matter is non-negotiable. “In a mediation proceedingSenior Counsel C. S. Vaidyanathan, for Ram Lalla,, nobody can agree to some other place as the birth place. An alternative place for the mosque can be considered. We are even prepared to crowdfund it”, he said. “You are assuming that this is not a point of view you can put forth in mediation. You can!”, assured Justice Bobde. Indicating the definition of ‘decree’ in Section 2(2) of the CPC, Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar (representing Mahant Suresh Das) again argued that if a decree is to be binding, in a representative suit, the question of mediation does not arise. “It doesn’t arise because settlements can’t be effected without involving others? The compromise can’t be made a decree without notice to all?”, asked Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

As Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought to make submissions for the state of UP, Dr. Dhawan opposed him vehemently, saying that it is “unacceptable”, that the SG appears for the statutory receiver, that the state had initially said that it is not interested in the dispute. “I am not on merits. Even if it appears that there are elements of settlement, the state thinks that considering the facts, the nature of dispute and the possible fall-out, it will not be advisable or prudent to take this path”, submitted the SG.

Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute : SC says aware of outcome of mediation on body politic of country


The Supreme Court Wednesday said it was conscious of the gravity of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute and the outcome of mediation on the body politic of the country.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the case was not only about property but also about sentiment and faith.

“It is not only about property. It is about mind, heart and healing, if possible,” the bench also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer said.

“We are not concerned about what Mughal ruler Babur had done and what happened after. We can go into what exists in the present moment,” the bench said.

The apex court is considering whether the dispute can be settled through mediation.

The top court had asked the contesting parties to explore the possibility of amicably settling the decades-old dispute through mediation, saying it may help in “healing relations”.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

Ayodhya dispute: SC likely to hear pleas against HC verdict on Monday


New Delhi:
The Supreme Court is likely to hear Monday a batch of pleas challenging the Allahabad High Court’s 2010 verdict by which the disputed land on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid area in Ayodhya was divided into three parts.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph would hear the appeals filed in the matter.

On September 27, the apex court had declined to refer to a five-judge constitution bench the issue of reconsideration of the observations in its 1994 judgment that a mosque was not integral to Islam which had arisen during the hearing of the Ayodhya land dispute.

In a majority verdict of 2:1, a three-judge bench headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra had said the civil suit has to be decided on the basis of evidence and the previous verdict has no relevance to this issue.

Justice Ashok Bhushan, who had penned the judgment for himself and the Chief Justice of India, had said it has to find out the context in which the five-judge bench had delivered the 1994 verdict. 

However, Justice S Abdul Nazeer had disagreed with the two judges and had said whether a mosque is integral to Islam has to be decided considering religious belief which requires detailed consideration.

The court had on September 27 said the civil suit on land dispute would be heard by a three-judge bench on October 29.

The issue whether a mosque is integral to Islam had cropped up when the three-judge bench was hearing the appeals filed against the Allahabad High Court’s verdict.

The three-judge high court bench, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had ordered that the 2.77 acres of land be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

SC to check whether there should be total ban on firecrackers

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said it would examine whether there should be a total ban on use of firecrackers as it noted that air pollution reached hazardous proportions during Diwali.

It said around 20-25 per cent of children in the city suffer from respiratory problems due to abnormally high levels of pollution during the festival.

“Are we supposed to take a holistic approach and ban everything that contributes to pollution or take an ad-hoc approach and simply ban firecrackers?” a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked.

The court also noted that air pollution posed a major threat to infants and the toxicity of the air increased exponentially after burning of crackers.
Senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for a firecracker manufacturer, argued that according to studies, the effect of ban on crackers on air pollution has been meagre and that there should be a scientific study on the issue.

The matter was listed for hearing on August 8.
The top court had last year banned the sale of firecrackers for a limited period while hearing a plea filed by three minors through their guardian.
The court had refused to relax its October 9 order banning the sale of firecrackers while dismissing a plea by traders who had sought its permission to sell crackers for at least a day or two before Diwali on October 19, 2017.
It had said that its ban order during Diwali that year was an experiment to examine its effect on the pollution level in the region.