Widow Can Claim Absolute Right on ‘Maintenance’ Property: SC

The right to maintenance of a Hindu widow is not a “mere formality” but a spiritual and moral right that can be judicially enforced upon by claiming “absolute right” on the property given to her for sustaining herself, the Supreme Court has ruled.

A bench, headed by Justice M Y Eqbal, while upholding a Andhra Pradesh High Court verdict in favour of a widow who had transferred the property willed to her by her husband for her lifetime to a relative, said it was the woman’s “absolute right” and she was free to bequeath the property.

“It is well settled that under the Hindu Law, the husband has got a personal obligation to maintain his wife and if he is possessed of properties, then his wife is entitled to a right to be maintained out of such properties.

“It is equally well settled that the claim of Hindu widow to be maintained is not a mere formality which is to be exercised as a matter of concession, grace or gratis but is a valuable, spiritual and moral right,” the bench, which also comprised Justice C Nagappan, said.

Referring to various judicial pronouncements, it said that though the right of a widow to be maintained does not create a charge on the property of her husband but she can certainly enforce her right by moving the Court for passing a decree for maintenance by creating a charge.

Discussing the details of the case at hand, the bench said, “In our opinion in whatever form a limited interest is created in her favour who was having a pre-existing right of maintenance, the same has become an absolute right by the operation of Section 14(1) of the Hindu Succession Act.”

No SC relief for ‘slander’ lawyer in BBC rape documentary

advocate M L SharmaThe Supreme Court on Monday turned down a plea by a Delhi lawyer, accused of making derogatory remarks against women in a BBC rape documentary on the December 16 gangrape, to let him “settle” the matter with the women lawyers who want him barred from the court premises.
A bench of Justices V Gopala Gowda and C Nagappan asked advocate M L Sharma, who represents two convicts in the case, to file his written reply even as the lawyer claimed innocence and sought an oral hearing.

Citing a shloka in Sanskrit, Sharma told the bench that he respects women and that he was willing to “mediate” or “settle” with the representatives of the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA). Sharma also denied giving controversial statements to the documentary-makers but the court directed him to file his written response.

The women lawyers had filed a petition through advocate Mahalakshmi Pavani, seeking a ban on the entry of Sharma and another advocate, A P Singh, into the apex court premises. The petition had said that their remarks in the documentary India’s Daughter were “inhumane, scandalous, unjustifiable, biased, outrageous…ill-minded”.

SC refuses to monitor CBI probe in Odisha chit-fund scam cases

chit fund scam in odishaThe Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking a court-monitored CBI probe into multi-crore rupee chit-fund scam matters cases in Odisha and gave time to agency to come out with suggestions to ensure effective investigation of huge number of such cases in West Bengal.

“We see no reason to allow the application (seeking court’s monitoring of CBI probe),” a bench of justices T S Thakur and C Nagappan, which had earlier rejected similar plea of West Bengal’s ruling party Trinamool Congress, said.

CBI has recently moved the court seeking modification of the May 9, 2014 order asking it to take over the entire probe into chit fund scams in West Bengal, Odisha and Assam in which companies, including Saradha, allegedly duped investors of around Rs 10,000 crore.

Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar and Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for CBI, listed out problems faced by the agency, like lack of skilled manpower in probing all matters relating to chit fund scam cases, especially in West Bengal.

The SG said CBI has taken over probe against the firms which has “paid up capital of Rs 50 lakh and there are minimum five FIRs against them” in connection with the offence as it is “not possible” to investigate all kind of complaints of private investors against all the companies.

The bench said, “this distinction only shows that you (CBI) are investigating bigger company and not the small companies”.

“Number of under-investigation (UI) cases which have not been taken over by CBI in West Bengal is 393 and they relate to complaints of private investors for refund of deposited monies to the tune of Rs one to five lakh. State CID may be allowed to continue with the investigation,” the SG said.

To this, the bench said “you (CBI) are investigating the cases with larger conspiracy angle where large number of people, who were supposed to regulate or police, came together and allowed duping of gullible depositors…

“If that is so then what happens if you leave some of them to go state police… Where upon trial, they (cases) lead to acquittal.”

It said such inconsistencies may create “100 holes” in CBI’s cases in other related cases.

Judges expect informed criticism of judgments: SC

Supreme court on Friday upheld the Kerala High Court order holding former CPI(M) MLA M V Jayarajan guilty of contempt of court for using “abusive and pejorative” language to criticise a judgement but reduced the six months jail term awarded to him to four weeks.

“Judges expect, nay invite, an informed and genuine discussion or criticism of judgments, but to incite a relatively illiterate audience against the Judiciary, is not to be ignored,” a bench comprising justices Vikramajit Sen and C Nagappan said.

The bench affirmed the high court order to incarcerate Jayarajan for contempt of court, saying the right of free speech certainly does not extend to “inciting the public directly or insidiously to disobey court orders.”

The apex court said the CPI(M) leader, being an advocate and also a former legislator, was aware that the Constitution was premised on the separation of powers between executive, legislature and the judiciary to perform their duties within the constitutional framework.

“He is fully aware that while he has the right of freedom of speech of expression, this postulates a temperate and reasoned criticism and not a vitriolic, slanderous or abusive one; this right of free speech certainly does not extend to inciting the public directly or insidiously to disobey court orders,” the bench said.

The apex court in its 16-page order said “having perused the translations of his speech, we are left in no manner of doubt that he intended to lower the dignity of Court, to obstruct and impede its functioning and not merely to criticize its pronouncement which was not to his liking.”

The bench observed that since Jayarajan has shown no remorse or contrition for his conduct, his conduct leaves him unquestionably guilty of the offence of contempt of courts, calling for him to be punished for his illegal act.

 

Government must alter fraudulent records in reasonable time : Supreme Court

Government has to exercise its powers to take corrective course within a reasonable period to change an order that has been secured by a beneficiary in a fraudulent manner, the Supreme Court has ruled.

It held as wrong the Andhra Pradesh Government order exercising its ‘revision power’ after nearly five decades to issue show cause notice to villagers as to why their entries in land records should not be cancelled and corrected as the transactions there were fraudulent.

The apex court held “if actions or transactions were to remain forever open to challenge, it will mean avoidable and endless uncertainty in human affairs, which is not the policy of law.”

A bench comprising Justices TS Thakur and C Nagappan dismissed the appeal filed by the Joint Collector of Ranga Reddy district against the order of the High Court saying that the revisional powers vested under the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Land Revenue Act cannot be exercised 50 years after the making of the alleged fraudulent entries.

“The suo motu revision exercise undertaken after a long lapse of time, even in the absence of any period of limitation is arbitrary and opposed to the concept of rule of law,” it said.

Justice Nagappan, who wrote the judgement for the Bench, noted that if the impugned notice of December 31, 2004, invoking the suo motu revision power is allowed after five decades, “it would lead to anomalous position leading to uncertainty and complications seriously affecting the rights of the parties over immovable properties.” Observing that the rule of law “must run closely with the rule of life”, the bench said “absence of a stipulated period of limitation makes little or no difference in so far as the exercise of the power is concerned which ought to be allowed only when the power is invoked within a reasonable period.” Concurring with Justice Nagappan’s findings,

Justice Thakur separately added few lines in the judgement, saying “delayed exercise of revisional jurisdiction is frowned upon because if actions or transactions were to remain forever open to challenge, it will mean avoidable and endless uncertainty in human affairs, which is not the policy of law.”

Ishrat Jahan case: SC reserves order on Amin’s bail plea

The Supreme Tuesday reserved its order on the bail plea of cadre IPS office Kumar Amin who is in jail for his alleged involvement in Ishrat Jahan and other staged shootout cases.

A bench of Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice C. Nagappan reserved order on plea of Amin contending that he was entitled to “default bail” as the charge sheet in his case was not filed within 90 days as mandated under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Senior counsel Ram Jathamalani who appeared for Amin contended that Amin was arrested on April 4, 2013 but was produced before the court on April 5 and the charge sheet was filed on July 3 – which was one day beyond the 90 days limit for filing charge sheet which entitled him for the grant of “default bail”.

The failure of the prosecuting agency to file the charge sheet in murder cases within 90 days entitles an accused for a default bail – which Jethamalani described as an indivisible right of the accused.

He told the court that the charge sheet filed by the CBI on July 3 was not a complete charge sheet as under the CrPC a complete charge sheet must be accompanied with the supporting documents that had been relied upon by the investigating agency for filing it.

The CBI which had filed the charge sheet July 3 had completed the filing of supporting documents by July 8.

Appearing for the CBI, Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand, without disputing the dates, argued whether technicality of charge sheet not being accompanied with the documents would be sufficient for the grant of bail to the accused.

Senior counsel Huzefa Ahmedi who appeared for the victim Ishrat Jahan too opposed Amin plea for bail merely on the technicality that CBI had not filed the supporting documents along with the charge sheet.

Amin’s plea for bail was rejected by the additional chief judicial magistrate (ACJM) on July 9, 2013 and the appeal against the order of the ACJM was dismissed by the Gujarat High Court Aug 16.

Mumbai college girl Ishrat Jahan and her three alleged associates Pranesh Gopinath Pilai, Amjad Ali and Jishan Johar were killed by Gujarat Police in a staged shootout June 15, 2004.

Gujarat Police had described them as Pakistani ‘Fidayeen’ who came from Jammu and Kashmir to assassinate the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

IAF time scale group captain on ground duty to retire at 57: SC

The Supreme Court Wednesday said the time scale group captains in the Indian Air Force (IAF) will retire at the age of 57 years if engaged in ground duty and 54 for those serving in the flying branch.

A bench of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice C. Nagappan said this while rejecting the government’s appeal against the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) order holding that the time scale group captain would retire at the age of 57 while serving ground duties and 54 if serving the flying branch.

Pronouncing the order, Justice Thakur said: “We are also of the view that concerns arising from a parity in the retirement age of time scale and select officers too are more perceptional than real. At any rate, such concerns remain to be substantiated on the basis of any empirical data.”

The court further said that the “classification made by the government of India for purposes of different retirement age for time scale officers and select officers does not stand scrutiny on the touchstone of articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution as rightly held by the tribunal”.

The court said this while addressing the question whether the group captains (time scale) in the IAF were entitled to continue in service up to 54 and 57 years depending upon whether they were serving in the flying or ground duty branch of the force.

The AFT order was challenged by the Centre before the Supreme Court.

The AFT had held that group captains (time scale) were entitled to continue in service up to the age of 57 years in the ground duty branch and 54 years in the flying branch.

Under the existing rule, the time scale group captain retires at the age of 54 and the group captain in select category retires at the age of 57.

“On the material placed before us, and having regard to the rival assertions made by the parties in their respective affidavits the difference in employability of group captains (time scale) is not borne out to justify the classification made by the government,” the court said.

The court further said it was evident from the particulars given by the group captains (time scale) that several group captains (time scale) have held appointments which are also held by group captains (select).

“If that be so, the difference in the employability of time scale officers vis-a-vis select officers appears to be more illusory than real,” the court said.

“There does not appear to be any hard and fast rule on the question of deployment or employability of group captains (time scale) or group captains (select) for that matter,” it said.

“The Air HQ can,” the court said, “depending upon its perception, order deployment and post any officer found suitable for the job.

“Deployment remains an administrative matter and unless the same involves any reduction in pay, allowances or other benefits or reduction in rank or status of an officer legally impermissible, such deployment remains an administrative prerogative of the competent authority.”

The court said: “Suffice it to say that the basis for classification in question for purposes of age of superannuation which the appellant (Centre) has projected is much too tenuous to be accepted as a valid basis for giving to the time scale officers a treatment different from the one given to the select officers.”

SC perturbed over exploitation of migrant labourers

supreme courtPerturbed over the horrific incident of chopping off hands of migrant labourers from Odisha by contractors in Andhra Pradesh, the Supreme Court today called for having a policy to prevent atrocities and exploitation of such people across the country.

The apex court, which in January this year had taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the December 2013 incident, said there was a need for effective steps to prevent such incidents, including exploitation of women, and “law enforcing agencies cannot be turning blind eyes”.

The court, which for the time being restricted its proceedings to the two states, said, “we should have in place a policy to deal with migrant labourers. They should not fall in the hands of unauthorised contractors”.

However, before passing a slew of directions to the two states, a bench headed by Justice T S Thakur expressed outrage over the chopping of palms of the two labourers, saying such type of things did not even happen in the most primitive times.

“What kind of a country we are living in. This has not happened in the most of the primitive time and world,” the bench, also comprising justices C Nagappan and Adarsh Kumar Goel, observed.

After going through the affidavit of Odisha Government, which acknowledged the happening of the incident and subsequent steps taken by it to rehabilitate the victims, the bench said “the point is the law is a dead letter in Odisha”.

“It should not be a lip service. You have to tell us how many cases you have filed under the statutory law (dealing with migrant labourers),” the bench said while directing Odisha and Andhra Pradesh Governments to elaborately come out with the ground reality of the issue and spell out effective steps taken by them to prevent recurrence of such incidents.

The bench was told that people from poverty ridden six West Odisha districts of Koraput, Bolangir, Kalahandi, Baragarh, Nuaparda and Malkangiri are the victims of such exploitation, many of whom are working in the brick klins in neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and now in some districts like Ranga Reddy in Telangana.

(Source: PTI)

SC allows Supertech to remove materials from towers

supreme courtThe Supreme Court today allowed real estate major Supertech Ltd to remove construction materials from its sealed 40-storey twin towers in NOIDA to ensure safety of the residents and others. A bench of justices J S Khehar and C Nagappan allowed the plea of Supertech Ltd that keeping the safety aspects in mind, the construction materials and equipments at the site need to be removed.

The Allahabad High Court had earlier ordered demolition of the 40-storey residential twin towers. The apex court had on May 5 agreed to examine the appeal of the firm, ordered “status quo” and sealing of the towers which were allegedly illegally constructed. The towers, Apex and Ceyane, have 857 apartments in total. Of these, about 600 flats have already been sold.

The court also today issued notice to Emerald Court Owner Resident Welfare Association and NOIDA (New Okhla Industrial Development Authority) on the plea and asked them to nominate two representatives each to supervise removal of construction materials from the site. “The application for removal of construction material from the site is being allowed and the exercise for removal of materials from the premises would commence on June 6 from 9 AM to 5 PM,” the bench said.

“The entire exercise of removal of construction material will take place under the supervision of a Local Commissioner (a NOIDA-based lawyer) appointed by the court,” it said. It said the Local Commissioner will prepare an inventory of materials and equipments removed from the site premises.

“The process of removal of materials shall continue for three days starting from June 6 and in case the work is not finished, one day extension could be granted,” the bench said. The officials should de-seal the site for the purpose of removing of materials and re-seal it after the work is finished, it said.

Earlier, the apex court had said that Supertech Ltd was putting lives of thousands of people at stake. On April 11, the Allahabad High Court had ordered demolition of the two towers and directed the company to refund money to the home buyers.

The HC order came on a petition of the Emerald Court Owner Resident Welfare Association, which had alleged that the approval and construction of the two towers was “in complete violation of the Uttar Pradesh Apartment (Promotion of Construction, Ownership and Maintenance) Act”.

(Source: PTI)

Nursery admission: SC seeks response of Delhi govt

supreme courtThe Supreme Court today sought a response from the Delhi government on a plea of a man whose kid could not get admission in nursery class in a school here under the inter-state transfer category, saying there cannot be “discrimination” in admission.

A bench of justices J S Kehar and C Nagappan took note of the submission of the Delhi government that another bench of the apex court had said that its verdict will benefit only those kids whose parents have approached it.

“We can also pass the same order. We want to know to as to how you can discriminate among children. It is against Article 14 and 15 (equality before law) of the Constitution,” it said.

It also asked the counsel for Dinesh Kumar, who has moved the court for admission of his ward, to consider the offer of the Directorate of Education (DoE) that it can ensure admission in a good government school.

“Everybody wants admission in a reputed private school,” the counsel for DoE said.

Earlier, the court had issued a notice on a separate plea of four parents that their children be also granted admission in nursery class under the inter-state transfer category in pursuance of an earlier order.

(Source: PTI)