SC lifts ban on rallies, dharnas at Jantar Mantar, Boat Club

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today lifted a blanket ban on rallies, dharnas or sit-ins at the Jantar Mantar and Boat Club areas, saying there could not be an “absolute” ban on protests in such localities.

The top court also asked the Centre to frame guidelines within two months for according sanctions to such events.
A bench of justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said, “There is a need to strike a balance between conflicting rights such as the right to protest and the right of citizens to live peacefully.”

“There cannot be a complete or absolute ban on holding protests at places like Jantar Mantar and Boat Club (near India Gate),” the bench added, while directing the Centre to frame guidelines on the matter.
The verdict came on a batch of petitions, including one filed by the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, an NGO, challenging the decision of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to ban all kinds of protests at the said places.

The top court had earlier observed, “When, during elections, politicians can go among the public to seek votes, why can’t people come near their offices after the polls to protest.”

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO and other petitioners, had contended that the Centre had completely banned protests or assembly of people in whole of central Delhi and imposed section 144, CrPC permanently in the guise of avoiding traffic obstruction.
He had said the authorities had asked the protesters to go to the Ramlila Maidan to stage agitations, while there were several court verdicts that recognised the “people’s right to protest”.
“The protests have to be near the seat of power, so that the people can make their voices heard,” Bhushan had submitted, while referring to a Delhi High Court verdict, recognising the people’s right to protest at the gate of a factory, so long it did not affect the traffic.

Earlier, the Centre had justified the continuous imposition of prohibitory orders under section 144, CrPC in central Delhi, which houses most of the government offices and VIP residences.
The Centre’s counsel had told the apex court that this was an era of “professional protesters”, who liked to protest outside Parliament or the president’s or prime minister’s house to make their voices heard.
He had added that the government had to take holistic steps while dealing with such protests, rallies and dharnas to ensure that peace and harmony prevailed in an area.

The Centre, while justifying the permanent imposition of prohibitory orders in its affidavit, had referred to over a dozen instances when protests had turned violent and the police had to use teargas shells and water cannons to control the mobs at the Jantar Mantar and Boat Club areas.

The plea moved by the NGO had challenged the complete ban on assemblies and protests in the central and New Delhi areas imposed by the NGT.

It had claimed that there could not be a continuous imposition of prohibitory orders in entire central Delhi, which was an emergency provision to be used when there was an apprehension of violence or law-and-order problems.

It had said it would have been understandable if the government’s decision to impose prohibitory orders was based on a specific intelligence input or apprehension of a protest turning violent.
The NGT had, on October 5 last year, banned all protests and dharnas around the historic Jantar Mantar here, which had been a hotspot of many agitations over the past decades, saying such activities violated environmental laws.
The green panel had said the State had totally failed to protect the right of a citizen to enjoy a pollution-free environment at the Jantar Mantar Road area, which was located close to Connaught Place at the heart of the national capital.
It had added that it was the duty of the State to ensure that the right of the people to live a peaceful and comfortable life was not infringed by those who created noise pollution in the name of their right to freedom of speech and expression, which could never be unlimited.
The tribunal had directed the authorities to shift the protesters to an alternative site at the Ramleela Grounds in Ajmeri Gate “forthwith”.

It had also said those participating in protests and raising slogans through loudspeakers had no right to compel the people living in the area to tolerate it day and night.

SC dismisses CBI probe into WB BJP workers death

New Delhi:The Supreme Court today refused to entertain a plea seeking a CBI probe into the recent killing of two BJP workers in Purulia district of West Bengal after panchayat polls.

A vacation bench of Justices A K Goel and Ashok Bhushan asked the petitioners to approach the Calcutta High Court for the relief.

Advocate Gaurav Bhatia, appearing for petitioners, said that it is a serious matter as the killing of BJP workers have taken place after the panchayat polls in Purulia district.

On May 30, 18-year-old Tirlochan Mahato, a BJP worker from Balrampur village of Purulia district was found hanging from a tree with a poster written in Bengali struck on his back, saying he was killed for canvassing for the BJP during panchayat election.

Another death of one Dulal Kumar, also a BJP worker, had taken place on June 2 in a similar manner in the same district.

The petition was filed by the father of Kumar, who sought a CBI probe into the killings.

SC seeks reply from UP govt in Convict’s appeal against death penalty

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has sought the Uttar Pradesh government’s response on a plea by a death-row convict challenging the Allahabad High Court’s judgement upholding the capital punishment awarded to him for burning alive his son and two brothers.

A vacation bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Ashok Bhushan issued notice to the state on the appeal and called for the original records of the case.

The counsel representing convict Irfan requested the apex court to stay the execution of sentence.

“When the appeal is pending before us, nobody is going to be executed,” the bench observed.

“Intimation of this matter be sent to the concerned jail authority,” the bench noted in its order.

Irfan challenged the April 25 verdict of the high court which had upheld the death penalty awarded to him by a trial court in Bijnor district.

Fifty-year-old Irfan was convicted by the trial court for offences under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including murder.

According to the police, Irfan had set the room, in which his son and two brothers were sleeping, on fire by pouring inflammable substance and bolted the door from outside on the intervening night of August 5-6, 2014.

It had said that injured persons — Irshad, Naushad and Islamuddin — were rushed to a hospital in Delhi where they died during the treatment.

The police had also said Islamuddin opposed his father’s second marriage leaving Irfan annoyed.

Irfan had assaulted his son two days prior to the incident and Irshad and Naushad had mediated between them, the police said.

Following the incident, a complaint was lodged by Irfan’s father-in-law.

During the trial, Irfan alleged that he was falsely implicated in the case by some of his relatives so as to deny a share in their ancestral property.

Government not debarred from reservation in promotion to SC/ST employees: Supreme Court

In a major relief to the Centre, the Supreme Court today allowed it to go ahead with reservation in promotion for employees belonging to the SC and ST category in “accordance with law”.

The top court took into account the Centre’s submissions that entire process of promotion has come to a “standstill” due to the orders passed by various high courts and the apex court had also ordered for “status quo” in a similar matter in 2015.

A vacation bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Ashok Bhushan said that the Centre was not “debarred” from making promotions in accordance with law in the matter.

“It is made clear that the Union of India is not debarred from making promotions in accordance with law, subject to further orders, pending further consideration of the matter,” the bench said.

The government said there were separate verdicts by the high courts of Delhi, Bombay and Punjab and Haryana on the issue of reservation in promotion to SC/ST employees and the apex court had also passed different orders on appeals filed against those judgement.

“We will say you (Centre) can go ahead with promotion in accordance with law,” the bench told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, representing the Centre.

During the hearing, the ASG cited the case laws on the issue of quota in promotion in government jobs and stated that the apex court’s 2006 judgement in M Nagaraj case would be applicable.

The M Nagaraj verdict had said that creamy layer concept cannot be applied to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for promotions in government jobs like two earlier verdicts of 1992 Indra Sawhney and others versus Union of India (popularly called Mandal Commission verdict) and 2005 E V Chinnaiah versus State of Andhra Pradesh, which dealt with creamy layer in Other Backward Classes category.

Singh said the petition before the bench was the Centre’s challenge to the Delhi High Court’s August 23 last year verdict quashing government’s order extending reservation in promotion to employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes beyond five years from November 16, 1992.

At the outset, the ASG referred to orders passed by the apex court earlier, including a reference made to a five-judge constitution bench, and contended that one of the orders says there would be “status quo” as far as reservation in promotion to SC/SC employees was concerned.

He referred to a May 17 order passed by a bench headed by Justice Kurian Joseph in a similar matter in which it was said that pendency of petition before it shall not stand in the way of the Centre taking steps for the purpose of promotion.

“How the promotion is taking place as of now,” the bench asked.

Responding to the query, the ASG said, “They are not. It is all standstill. This is the problem.”

“I am the government and I want to give promotion as per constitutional mandate,” he told the bench and urged that he was seeking a similar order as passed on May 17.

He said that another bench of the apex court had earlier said that a five-judge constitution bench would examine the issue as to whether the M Nagaraj judgement, which dealt with the issue of application of the ‘creamy layer’ for reservation to SC and ST categories in promotion in government jobs, was required to be re-looked at or not.

He also referred to Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution, which enables state to provide for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST which in its opinion were not adequately represented in the services.

“That is the enabling provision,” the bench observed.

It said that according to Article 16 (4A), state would have to make out a case for providing reservation in promotion to SC/ST based on quantifiable data.

The provision also says that the data should be based on factors like backwardness, inadequacy of representation and overall efficiency.

The bench has tagged the Centre’s appeal with pending matters.

Earlier on November 15 last year, a three-judge bench of the apex court had agreed to consider whether its 11-year-old judgement in M Nagaraj case was needed to be re-visited.

The top court had referred the matter to a constitution bench while it was hearing a batch of petition which arose from a Bombay High Court verdict quashing two state government notifications terming them as ultra vires to Article 16(4A) of the Constitution.

The Delhi High Court, in its August 23, 2017 verdict, had set aside an August 1997 office memorandum issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on the issue of reservation in promotion to the employees belonging to SC/ST.

The high court had also restrained the Centre from granting reservation in promotion without first collecting the data on inadequate representation.

The nine-judge bench of Supreme Court had, in the Indira Sawhney case in 1992, permitted reservation for the SCs and STs in promotion to continue for a period of five years from November 16, 1992.

Kamala Mills owner says it’s illegal detention in Supreme Court.

The owner of Mumbai’s Kamala Mills today moved the Supreme Court challenging his arrest in connection with a fire that claimed 14 lives in December last year.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked Ravi Bhandari to serve a copy of his petition to the Maharashtra government.

The top court listed the matter for further hearing on March 27.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Bhandari, said his arrest is illegal detention and he can’t be booked for the offence of culpable homicide.

He said the apex court has already held in the Bhopal gas tragedy and Uphaar cinema hall fire case that they are cases of negligence, which is a bailable offence.

The Bombay High Court had recently dismissed Bhandari’s bail application.

Bhandari was arrested in January along with fire officer Rajendra Patil and Utkarsh Pandey, who supplied hookahs to the pubs Mojo’s Bistro and 1 Above where the fire started. All three are in judicial custody.

Fourteen persons were killed and several others injured when a fire broke out at the two pubs in the Kamala Mills compound in central Mumbai on December 29, 2017.

Supreme Court rejects GJM leader Bimal Gurung’s plea seeking protection from arrest

The Supreme Court today dismissed former GJM leader Bimal Gurung’s plea seeking protection from arrest in several cases lodged against him in West Bengal and for an independent probe into the alleged killings of Gorkhaland supporters in the state.

A bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan rejected the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s plea saying it was not a fit case for relief.

“It cannot be said to be a case of individual persecution by the state,” the bench said while pronouncing the order.

The apex court had on November 20 restrained the West Bengal police from taking any coercive steps against Gurung.

The GJM leader had claimed in the top court that he was being politically persecuted by the West Bengal government.

However, the Mamata Banerjee government had submitted a list of 53 FIRs lodged against Gurung and said he was facing trial in another 24 cases as well.

The GJM central committee had recently suspended Gurung for six months and appointed Binay Tamang as the party’s new president.

The police had earlier claimed that Gurung and some of his aides were absconding after being booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the violence in Darjeeling hills during the recent agitation for a separate Gorkhaland.

Gurung has approached the apex court seeking an independent probe into the alleged killings of Gorkhaland supporters during the protests.

Ayodhya: Supreme Court asks parties to file English translation of documents

 The Supreme Court today asked parties before the Allahabad High Court in the Babri Masjid- Ram Janmabhoomi dispute to file in two weeks English translation of documents exhibited by them.

A special bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that it would hear the appeals on March 14 and clarified that it never intended to hear the case on a “day-to-day basis”.

The bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, said it will deal with the instant matter as a “pure land dispute” and indicated that impleadment applications of those which were not before the High Court would be dealt with later.

The top court said the excerpts of vernacular books, which have been relied upon in the case, be translated in English and be filed within two weeks from today.

The apex court also directed its Registry to provide copies of video cassettes, which were part of high court records, to parties on actual cost.

The special bench of the apex court is seized of a total 14 appeals filed against the high court judgement delivered in four civil suits.

A three-judge bench of the Allahabad High Court, in a 2:1 majority ruling, had in 2010 ordered that the land be partitioned equally among three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

SC sets aside HC order on strictures against judicial officer

 The Supreme Court has set aside an order of the Himachal Pradesh High Court by which action was recommended against a judicial officer for granting bail to an accused within four days of rejection of his pre-arrest bail by a higher court.

The high court had termed the action of the magistrate as “judicial impropriety” and “gross indiscipline” and recommended the chief justice to take appropriate action on the administrative side.

It had set aside the order of magistrate and cancelled the bail plea of an accused, arrested for allegedly giving fake educational degrees to students for money.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said the approach of the high court was “erroneous in law” and set aside the order of single judge of the high court.

“Merely, because an application for anticipatory bail preferred by the appellant was rejected, it could not be said that thereafter the magistrate was precluded from even considering the application for grant of regular bail,” the bench said.

The top court said, “The grounds for grant of anticipatory bail are altogether different from that of regular bail.”

“No doubt, anticipatory bail was rejected on August 26, 2016 and within four days thereafter regular bail was granted.

However, the high court could not have cancelled the bail, only on the ground that the anticipatory bail was rejected,” it said.

It said that the high court was also wrong in observing that in the circumstances the only remedy for the accused was to approach the high court alone “as if he was precluded from filing an application for regular bail before the magistrate”.

Advocate D K Thakur, appearing for the Himachal Pradesh government, claimed that the accused had threatened the complainant immediately after coming out on bail.

The top court said it was an event that occurred after the accused came out on bail and could be a ground which could be raised by the complainant before a trial court for cancellation of bail.

An FIR was lodged at Dharamshala police station of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh. The accused Chander Kant was charged with the offences of forgery, criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and other sections of IPC.

After registration of the FIR and when the probe was pending, the accused had moved high court seeking anticipatory bail, which was dismissed on August 26, 2016.

Thereafter, the accused was arrested and taken into police custody. After his police remand got over, he moved a regular bail application, which the judicial officer allowed and enlarged him on bail on August 30, 2016.

The complainant challenged the order of magistrate granting bail to the accused before the high court, which on June 2, 2017, after seeking explanation, passed various strictures against the judicial officer.

The judicial officer in her explanation to the high court had said there were “direct or indirect directions to grant bail liberally. Taking into consideration that anticipatory bail has been rejected but now as the accused remanded to custody and opportunity was given to police for custodial interrogation and recovery, I considered it to be a changed circumstance”.

However, the single judge in his order said, “To my mind, the action of the magistrate is clearly subversive to judicial discipline and amounts to gross impropriety because so long the order passed by this court was in force, the magistrate could not have entertained the application for bail much less granted the bail.”

The high court said, “Judicial discipline requires decorum known to law which warrants that the appellate directions should be followed in the hierarchical system by the court which exists in this country.”

“It is necessary for each lower tier to accept loyally the decisions of the higher tier. The judicial system only works if someone is allowed to have the last word and if that last word, once spoken, is loyally accepted,” the bench had said.

It had said that once the judgement rendered by the high court was absolutely clear and the bail granted to the accused had been rejected by a detailed order, then judicial comity, discipline, concomitance, pragmatism, poignantly point, per force to observe constitutional propriety and adhere to the decision, so rendered by the high court.

Source : PTI

SC upholds life term for 3 for killing Gujarat Shiv Sena leader

The Supreme Court has upheld the life term awarded to three persons for killing a Shiv Sena leader in Gujarat whose younger brother had married a woman from a minority community.

A bench of Justices P C Ghose and Ashok Bhushan said the homicidal death has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt with the recovery of the weapon which was a “sharp knife” and the high court order did not call for any interference.

“The fact that the accused had been identified and recovery made from accused no.1 has left no room for doubt that all the appellants were involved in the commission of the murder with the common object to do away the deceased…

“We are of the view that the present appeal is devoid of merits and we, therefore, do not find any reason to interfere with the order of the high court. Hence, the appeal is dismissed,” the bench said.

On July 4, 2009, five persons had barged into the house of Rameshbhai Prajapti, a taluka president of Shiv Sena when he was sleeping with his wife and children, and had assaulted him with the knife inflicting grievous injuries in his neck.

The whole incident was witnessed by Prajapati’s wife as she woke up after hearing the noise and saw the men escape from the spot.

The trial court in 2010 convicted four persons including Soyebbhai Yusufbhai Bharania who had led the group and awarded them life sentence while holding them guilty for murder and rioting. It has said that the younger brother of the victim had got married to a woman hailing from a particular community despite protest by the men.

The trial court, however, had given benefit of doubt to Umarbhai, one of the five men, and acquitted him.

The four convicts had challenged the verdict of the trial court in the Gujarat High Court which had upheld the life sentence given to three persons and acquitted one of them.

The apex court, while dismissing the appeals, said that in furtherance of the common intention to kill Prajapati, the men had entered his house and they were seen by his wife.

It said that since out of the five men, two were acquitted by the trial court and the high court respectively, the charge of unlawful assembly does not meet the pre-requisite condition of a minimum of five persons.

“In our view, albeit the murder is proved but the ingredients of the unlawful assembly remained elusive, as pre-requisite condition for an unlawful assembly i.e., minimum five persons, has not been met. Nevertheless, the common object has been proved by the prosecution,” it said

Source: PTI

Greater Noida land row: Land acquisition of 3 villages cancelled

A full bench of the Allahabad High Court today ordered cancellation of land acquisition of three villages – Asadullapur, Shaberi and Devla village – in Noida extension while ordered hiked compensation in 64 villages besides raising the developed areas to be given to the farmers by the developers.

The court also ordered a high-level probe by the Uttar Pradesh government over the land scam in the Noida extension.

The full bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, S U Khan and V K Shukla gave their judgement after hearing the case of housing projects on nearly 5000 hectares of land on the 491 petitions against land acquisitions in Noida and Greater Noida.

The court has fully cancelled the acquisition of land Chak Sheberi, Devla and Asadullapur villages in Noida Extension and has asked the state government to return all the land to the farmers. The farmers have also been asked to return the compensation received from the State government.

In another order, the court has ordered 60 per cent hike in the rate of compensation in remaining villages while the developed area to be given to the farmers have also been hiked from 6 per cent to 10 per cent by the builders.

Now the farmers of these villages who had received Rs 850 per sq meter compensation would get another additional Rs 544 as compensation for per sq meter after the court judgement.

The full bench has also asked the state Chief Secretary to order a probe into how the farmers’ land were wrongfully acquired enforcing emergency clause by the authorities.