Supreme Court asks Centre for report on conditions in Rohingya camps

The Supreme Court today directed the Centre to file a “comprehensive status report” giving details of conditions in Rohingya refugee camps in various states.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered the submission of senior advocate Colin Gonsalves that conditions at the camps are unhygienic and “filthiest to say the least”.

The senior lawyer, appearing for the petitioner Zaffar Ullah, said the Centre and states like Haryana, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir should be asked to provide better hygienic facilities at these camps.

The plea alleged that poor and unhygienic conditions at these camps have led to several deaths recently.

The Rohingyas, who fled to India after violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state, are settled in Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR and Rajasthan.

Supreme Court reserves verdict on pleas for probe into judge Loya’s death

The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas seeking an independent probe into the alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge B H Loya.

Loya, who was hearing the high-profile Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, had allegedly died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on December 1, 2014 when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud reserved the verdict after an elaborate hearing.

The petitions seeking a probe into Loya’s death was opposed by the Maharashtra government.

Supreme Court to hear pleas against Karnataka High Court order on warnings on tobacco products

 The Supreme Court today said it would hear all 45 petitions together including the one filed by the Centre against a Karnataka High Court order quashing the 2014 government regulation that packets of tobacco products must carry pictorial warning covering 85 per cent of the packaging space.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud allowed various interim applications, seeking to be made as parties to the main petitions and posted the matters for final hearing on May 8.

“Let all the matters be listed for hearing on May 8,” the bench said.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the apex court that the Centre has also filed an appeal against the high court order.

The top court court had on January 8 stayed the Karnataka High Court order quashing the 2014 government regulation that packets of tobacco products must carry pictorial warning covering 85 per cent of the packaging space, saying that “health of a citizen has primacy”.

The apex court bench was “unimpressed” with the submissions of the Tobacco Institute of India (TII) that the interim stay would harm the fundamental right to do business of tobacco manufacturers.

The Centre had argued that the high court judgement needed to be stayed and 85 per cent pictorial warning on packaging space of tobacco products be allowed to remain as a large section of the population is not educated.

The high court, on December 15, last year had struck down the 2014 amendment rules that mandated pictorial health warnings to cover 85 per cent of packaging space of tobacco products, holding that they were unconstitutional as they violated fundamental rights like the right to equality and the right to trade.

The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labelling) Amendment Rules, 2014 (COTPA) had come into effect from April 1, 2016. It came into being based on the recommendations of experts committee, the NGO had said.

The bench was hearing appeals including those filed by NGO ‘Health for Millions Trust’ and Umesh Narain, a senior advocate, against the high court verdict.

The high court had, however, made it clear that the 40 per cent pictorial health warning rule, which existed prior to the amendment rules, would remain in force.

In May last year, the Supreme Court had transferred all petitions against the 85 per cent rule filed in various high courts to the Karnataka High Court and asked it to hear and dispose them of.

Supreme Court seeks details of unencumbered assets of Unitech Ltd

The Supreme Court today sought details of all unencumbered assets of embattled real estate major Unitech Limited and said that they would be auctioned to refund money to home buyers.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also imposed a cost of Rs 25 lakh on J M Financial Asset Reconstruction Company, which had taken over some loans advanced by HDFC Bank to Unitech Limited.

The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said that the asset reconstruction company had given the impression that it would pay the money for refund to home buyers and now the entire proceeding had been diverted.

“We treat it as an unnecessary diversion form the main case,” the bench said while imposing the cost.

The bench asked the real estate company to file the details of its unencumbered assets and made it clear that they would be auctioned to settle the deals of hassled home buyers.

The details of assets have to be filed within 15 days from today.

The firm had on March 5 told the apex court that Mumbai-based firm J M Financial Ltd was interested in financing their under-construction projects.

The apex court had on October 30 last year said that Unitech Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, currently in jail, would be granted bail only after the real estate group deposited money with its registry by December-end.

The top court had earlier directed the jail authorities to facilitate Chandra’s meeting with his company officials and lawyers so that he could arrange money to refund the home-buyers as well as for completing the ongoing housing projects.

Chandra is seeking interim bail from the apex court after the Delhi High Court on August 11 had rejected the plea in a criminal case lodged in 2015 by 158 home-buyers of Unitech projects’ — ‘Wild Flower Country’ and ‘Anthea Project’ — situated in Gurugram.

The Jammu and Kashmir government says Major Aditya not named as accused in Shopian case

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday told the Supreme Court that Major Aditya Kumar was not named as an accused in the FIR of the January 27 Shopian firing incident in which three civilians were killed.

Taking on record the statement of the state government, the apex court said there should be no investigation till April 24 in the case.

“Let the matter be listed for final disposal on April 24. In the meantime, there shall be no investigation on the basis of FIR till then,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

The apex court had on February 12 restrained the Jammu and Kashmir police from taking any “coercive steps” against Army officers, including Major Aditya Kumar, who was earlier reportedly named as accused in the case.

Three civilians were killed when Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village of Shopian on January 27 this year, prompting the chief minister to order an inquiry into the incident.

The FIR was registered against personnel of 10 Garhwal Rifles under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code (the penal code applicable in Jammu and Kashmir).

The apex court was hearing the plea of Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh, the father of Major Aditya Kumar, seeking to quash the FIR against his son.

Singh had said in his petition that his son, a major in 10 Garhwal Rifles, was “wrongly and arbitrarily” named in the FIR as the incident relates to an Army convoy that was on bona fide military duty in an area under AFSPA and was isolated by an “unruly and deranged” mob pelting stones, causing damage to military vehicles.

During the hearing today, the counsel representing Jammu and Kashmir told the bench that Major Aditya was not named as accused anywhere in the FIR.

PNB fraud: Centre opposes plea for SIT probe

The Centre today opposed in the Supreme Court a PIL seeking an independent probe and deportation of billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi in the over Rs 11,000 crore PNB fraud case, saying an FIR has been lodged and a probe was on.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it would not say anything on the matter now and listed the PIL filed by lawyer Vineet Dhanda for further hearing on March 16.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said he was opposing the PIL on various grounds, including that an inquiry has started after the FIR was registered.

The PIL has made Punjab National Bank, Reserve Bank of India and the ministries of finance and law and justice as parties. It has sought a direction for initiation of deportation proceedings against Nirav Modi and others allegedly involved in the banking fraud, preferably within two months.

The plea has asked for a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the banking fraud, allegedly involving billionaire jewellers Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi. It has also sought a probe into the role of the top management of the Punjab National Bank (PNB).

The CBI has already registered two FIRs — one on January 31 and another a few days ago — against Nirav Modi, his relative Mehul Choksi of Gitanjali Gems and others for allegedly defrauding the PNB of about Rs 11,400 crore.

The plea has sought a direction to the finance ministry to frame guidelines on the grant and disbursal of loans involving big amounts.

“Issue an appropriate writ, order or direction directing the Finance Ministry and the RBI to frame guidelines in granting of the loan of the 10 Crores and above to ensure safety and recovery of such loans,” the PIL has said.

It has also sought the setting up of an experts’ body to deal with cases of bad banking debts in the country. Besides, the petition seeks framing of rules for the recovery of loans from the defaulters within a stipulated period, even by attaching their properties and auctioning them in the open market.

In his PIL, Dhanda has asked for a direction to fasten liabilities on the employees of a bank for sanctioning loans on the basis of deficient documents and said loans should also be recovered by attaching the properties of such bank officials even after their retirement.

Another plea filed by Sharma on a similar issue has not come up for hearing yet.

Sharma, in his plea, has said the SIT should consist of retired judges of the apex court and said that the banking fraud has caused serious injury to the general public and the state’s treasury. It should be investigated not by an agency “being controlled by the political leaders/authorities”, he has said.

The plea has alleged that loans were issued in the case without following RBI’s financial rules and regular systems.

Source : PTI

Supreme Court asks Centre to apprise it about the total allocation of Haj quota seats and the vacancies

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to apprise it by tomorrow about the total allocation of Haj quota seats and the vacancies if any on a plea of the Kerala Haj Committee alleging that the policy to grant state-wise quota for Haj pilgrims was discriminatory.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Pinky Anand, representing the Centre, to file an affidavit by tomorrow giving details of the total Haj quota seats and the figure of such seats which are yet to be allocated.

During the hearing, the ASG said the Union of India had been allowed by the Saudi Arabian government to send 1.75 lakh Haj pilgrims every year and the Centre and the Central Haj Committee, in consultation with the state Haj panels, have devised a mechanism to distribute the quota on the basis of the Muslim population in each state.

Out of 1.75 lakh Haj seats, 1.25 lakh seats are distributed by the state Haj committees while the remaining seats are given to private tour operators as per the policy decision, the law officer said.

Earlier, the apex court, in an interim direction, had asked the Centre to file a statement with regard to the fifth time applicants who have crossed the age of 65 years and were below 70 years and have never been able to go for the Haj.

The apex court, on January 5, had issued the notice sought to the Centre on the Kerala Haj Committee’s plea alleging that the policy to grant state-wise quota for Haj pilgrims was discriminatory.

The Kerala Haj committee, in its plea, had referred to the example of Bihar and said it gets 12,000 Haj seats as against the total number of applicants of 6,900.

In stark contrast, Kerala gets 6,000 seats against 95,000 applicants desirous to go for the pilgrimage, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the committee, had said.

“As a result, every applicant in Bihar gets the opportunity to go for Haj. However, in Kerala, the situation is unpleasant,” he had said, adding that there should be an all-India draw of lots to decide who will go on Haj.

The Kerala Haj Committee alleged that the present quota system was discriminatory.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, had justified the present quota policy saying it had been devised by the Central Haj Committee after considering the suggestions of 31 different state Haj committees.

BCCI response on Sreesanth’s plea : SC

The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from BCCI on controversial cricketer S Sreesanth’s plea challenging the life ban imposed on him by the apex cricket body.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India and two office bearers of its Committee of Administrators (CoA) to file their responses within four weeks.

The court, however, refused to grant any interim relief sought by senior advocate Salman Khurshid, representing the cricketer, that he may be allowed to play.

Sreesanth, who had been absolved in the IPL spot-fixing case, was successful when he filed a plea before the single judge bench of the Kerala High Court challenging the life ban imposed on him by BCCI.

However, the division bench of the high court had set aside the single judge bench and upheld the ban.

The cricketer has now challenged the high court verdict in the apex court.

SC refuses to modify order allowing release of ‘Padmaavat’

 The Supreme Court today refused to modify its earlier order which had cleared the decks for the nationwide release of ‘Padmaavat’, saying people must understand that orders of the top court have to be “abided with”.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said this while rejecting pleas filed by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh seeking modification in its January 18 order.

The Supreme Court had paved the way for the nationwide release of ‘Padmaavat’ on January 25 by staying the ban on the screening in states of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

“People must understand that the Supreme Court has passed an order. They must abide by it. It is the obligation of the states to maintain law and order,” the bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

“We are not inclined to modify our order,” the bench said while dismissing the plea.

It asked the states to follow its order and gave them the liberty to approach it again “if the situation arises”.

The bench also dismissed the applications filed by Shree Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena, which has been staging protest in several states against the release of the movie, and Akhil Bharatiya Kshatriya Mahasabha, seeking to stall the exhibition of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie.

The apex court had earlier restrained other states from issuing any ban orders on the Deepika Padukone-starrer movie.

Maintaining that states were under constitutional obligation to maintain law and order, the top court had said this duty also included providing police protection to persons involved in the film, its exhibition and the audience.

The film, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in lead roles, is based on the saga of a historic 13th century battle between Maharaja Ratan Singh and his army of Mewar and Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi.

Adequate efforts not made to examine witness of ’84 riots: SC

Adequate efforts were not made to examine key prosecution witnesses in the five 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases in which the Delhi High Court issued show cause notices to those acquitted asking them why re-trial should not be ordered, the Supreme Court said today.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra perused the records and said summon was issued to the main prosecution witness only once during the trial and upon non-appearance, the recording of evidence was closed.

The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, was hearing the appeal of former Delhi MLA Mahender Singh Yadav against the High Court order of March 29 last year by which show cause notices were issued to him and other acquitted persons in five anti-Sikh riots cases.

Besides Yadav, show cause notices were issued to 10 other acquitted persons including former councillor Balwan Khokhar on the complaints filed regarding rioting incidents on November 1 and 2, 1984 in Delhi Cantonment area.

The High Court had sought their responses as to why the cases, in which the accused were acquitted, be not re-opened and re-tried.

“Let this matter be listed for final disposal on March 21. The counsel for the petitioner shall intimate the High Court about the order passed by us today,” the top court said.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for Delhi Police, said the CBI was pursuing the cases and the agency was needed to be made a party in the appeal.

The bench said that let the probe agency file the plea seeking impleadment as a party in the case.

Senior advocate H S Phoolka, representing riots victims said that in all the five cases, accused were acquitted as adequate efforts were not made to ensure that key prosecution witnesses appear and depose.

“The complaints disclose horrifying crimes against humanity. These point out that male members of one community were singled out for elimination. These suggest that these were no ordinary crimes, or simple murders (if ever a murder could be termed as simple). Treated as individual cases, while the culprits got away scot free, everybody else, the police, the prosecutors, even the courts, appear to have failed the victims, and, most importantly society.

“Perhaps, had these terrible offences in 1984 been punished and the offenders brought to book, the history of crime in this country may have been different. We are of the view that if we fail to take action even now, we would be miserably failing in our constitutional duty as well as in discharging judicial function,” the High Court had said.

It had issued suo motu directions to “secure ends of justice” after perusing the trial court records regarding the acquittal of accused in five different cases in 1986 relating to killing of Sikhs during the riots which broke out a day after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984

Source : PTI