Attack on couples by khap panchayat illegal: SC

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said an adult man and woman are free to marry each other and no “khap panchayat” or any individual or group can raise any question and impose a restriction on their choice.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud called as “absolutely illegal” any attempt by a “khap panchayat” or other associations to prevent a man and woman opting for an inter-caste marriage.

Hearing a 2010 PIL filed by NGO Shakti Vahini, the court indicated to pass directions in this regard.

“Khap panchayats as a collective body cannot summon an adult boy and girl for marriage on their choice of marriage. Whenever there is a collective attack, it is absolutely illegal,” the bench said.

Amicus curiae senior advocate Raju Ramachandran submitted that the 242nd Law Commission’s report deals with provisions of a proposed legislation to prevent interference into matrimonial alliance in the name of honour.

He submitted the latest suggestions prepared to take steps for dealing with such cases.

Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand said that an anti-honour killing law was pending. The Centre has sought opinions from the states on the subject.

Source : PTI

SC to hear plea against ‘Kambala’ after 4 weeks

The Supreme Court today said it would hear after four weeks a plea of an animal rights’ body challenging a bill to legalise traditional buffalo race ‘Kambala’ and bullock cart races in Karnataka.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said the fresh plea filed by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) would be heard along with the plea of animals rights body PETA.

“List after four weeks,” the bench said.

FIAPO has filed the plea opposing the state government’s bill to legalise traditional buffalo race “Kambala” and bullock cart races in Karnataka on the ground of cruelty being meted out to the animals.

Bullock cart races are held in parts of north Karnataka and in the coastal districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada.

To pave the way for the sports, the state cabinet had on January 28 last year decided to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, (Central Act 59 of 1960), enacted to prevent infliction of unnecessary cruelty and suffering on animals.

Kambala race, held between November and March, involves a pair of buffaloes tied to a plough and anchored by one person.

They are made to run in parallel muddy tracks in a competition in which the fastest team wins.

It is believed to be held to propitiate the gods for a good harvest, besides being a recreational sport for farmers.

PETA has also opposed Kambala on grounds of cruelty to animals and said the agitators have taken a leaf out of pro- jallikattu protesters’ book and called for banning the sport.

SC to hear tomorrow pleas for probe in judge B H Loya’s death

The Supreme Court today agreed to hear tomorrow two separate pleas seeking independent probe into the death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, in the forenoon, took note of the submission seeking urgent hearing on the plea filed by Maharashtra-based journalist B R Lone for a probe into Loya’s death on December 1, 2014.

Later in the day, another plea filed by Congress leader Tehseen Poonawala on the same issue was mentioned by lawyer Varinder Kumar Sharma for urgent hearing before the bench, which agreed to hear it along with the earlier one.

Loya had died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on December 1, 2014, when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter.

The issue came under the spotlight in November last year after media reports quoting his sister fuelled suspicion about the circumstances surrounding his death and its link to the Sohrabuddin case.

Poonawala, in his plea, said the circumstances revolving around the death of the judge were “questionable, mysterious and contradicting”.

“It is the submission of the petitioner that the judges are bestowed with the duty to protect the Constitution and uphold the majesty of rule of law. The judiciary, if not protected, may be unable to fulfil its duty towards public at large. In cases where prima facie material is available to investigate, it is absolutely necessary to order an inquiry,” the Congress leader said.

The other plea filed by the journalist submitted that a fair probe was needed into the mysterious death of Loya, who was hearing the sensitive Sohrabuddin encounter case in which various police officers and BJP president Amit Shah were named as parties.

A PIL seeking probe into the judge’s death has also been filed before the Bombay High Court on January 8 by the Bombay Lawyers’ Association.

In the encounter case, the BJP President along with Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria, Rajasthan-based businessman Vimal Patni, former Gujarat police chief P C Pande, Additional Director General of Police Geeta Johri and Gujarat police officers Abhay Chudasama and N K Amin have already been discharged.

A total of 23 accused, including police personnel, are currently facing trial for their involvement in the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi and their associate Tulsidas Prajapati in Gujarat in November 2005.

The case was later transferred to CBI and the trial shifted to Mumbai.

National Anthem no longer mandatory : SC

Reversing its order, the Supreme Court today held that playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of films is no longer mandatory and left it to a government panel to frame guidelines on this sensitive matter.

The apex court said that playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of movies would now be optional and in that case the audience will have to stand as a show of respect.

The direction came a day after the Centre made a plea to the apex court to modify its November 30, 2016 order that made it mandatory for cinema halls to play the national anthem before screening of a film during which the audience was also required to stand. The order had sparked a nationwide debate.

The court, while emphasising that citizens were bound to show respect to the national anthem, said that a 12-member inter-ministerial committee, set up by the Centre, would take a final call on various aspects including playing of national anthem in cinema halls.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the committee should “comprehensively” look into all the aspects related to playing of national anthem in its entirety.

“The interim order passed on November 30, 2016 is modified that playing of national anthem prior to screening of film in a cinema hall is not mandatory as directed,” the bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

The top court, while disposing of the petitions pending before it, made it clear that the exemption granted earlier to disabled persons from standing in cinema halls when national anthem was being played, shall remain in force till the committee takes a decision.

The bench accepted the Centre’s affidavit which said the 12-member panel has been set up to suggest changes in the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that the committee, which was set up through a notification on December 5 last year, will submit its report within six months.

The Centre in its affidavit yesterday said that an inter-ministerial committee has been set up as extensive consultations were needed for framing of guidelines describing the circumstances and occasions on which the national anthem is to be played or sung and observance of proper decorum on such occassions.

The government had said that the top court may “consider the restoration of status quo ante until then, that is restoration of the position as it stood before the order passed by this court on November 30, 2016” as it mandated the playing of the anthem in cinemas before a feature film starts.

During the hearing, the bench accepted the submissions of the Attorney General that petitioners before the court could make representations before the committee.

“When we say suggestion, the suggestion should only relate to national anthem,” the bench said.

Regarding the playing of national anthem in cinema halls before screening of movies, Venugopal said that it should not be made mandatory untill a final decision was taken by the committee and thereafter by the Central government.

The counsel appearing for petitioner Shyam Narayan Chouksey,

referred to various instances when due respect was allegedly not shown to national anthem and said that scope of provision related to it should be expanded.

“National anthem cannot be equated with any caste or religion. It is a tool for integration of the entire country.

Guidelines are existing but they cannot resolve the issue,” the lawyer said and referred to an instance where some persons were manhandled inside a cinema hall in Mumbai after they had not stood up during playing of national anthem.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General told the bench that the committee was required to suggest changes in the 1971 Act and the panel comprises of representatives of various ministries.

Regarding disrespect shown to national anthem, Venugopal said such matters could be decided on a case to case basis.

Meanwhile, some petitioners raised the issue of Article 51 A (a) of the Constitution which say that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag and the national anthem.

Senior counsel Sajan Poovayya, representing another petitioner advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhaya, said that national anthem, national flag and national song were secular symbol representing nationhood and were required to be respected.

The bench, while referring to the provisions of the 1971 Act, said it was clear that no one can intentionally prevent playing of national anthem.

The court said that national anthem has to be accorded respect as a respect to salutation of motherland and a proper decorum has to be maintained when it is played.

It, however, said that list of occassions where national anthem should or should not be played cannot be stated.

The top court had in October last year observed that the people “cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves” and it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is “less patriotic”.

The apex court had on October 23 last year observed that people do not need to stand up in cinema halls to prove their patriotism and had asked the Centre to consider amending the rules for regulating playing of national anthem in theatres.

Source : PTI

SC asks JAL to submit details of its ongoing housing projects

The Supreme Court today directed realtor Jaiprakash Associate Limited (JAL) to give details of its ongoing housing projects in the entire country while reiterating its direction that its directors shall not alienate their personal properties.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also directed amicus curie Pawan Shree Agrawal to set up a portal to take note of the grievances of the home buyers of JAL.

The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said it would decide at a later stage the application of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) seeking its nod to file insolvency proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) against the promoter company JAL.

The bench also considered the submission of senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, representing independent directors of JAL, that they be exempted from personal appearance before it on every date of hearing on account of their old age.

The bench, which exempted the independent directors from personal appearance, however reiterated its earlier direction that neither would they leave the country without its prior nod, nor would they alienate or create third party interests in their personal properties.

It said the interest of homebuyers was important and the JAL will have to deposit the money in pursuance of its earlier order.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi and lawyer Anupam Lal Das, appearing for JAL, said they have sold several properties and where in the midst of loan restructuring.

They said JAL would be depositing Rs 125 crore more by January 25 as directed by the apex court on December 15 last year to safeguard the interests of hassled homebuyers.

JAL has deposited Rs 425 crore with the apex court registry so far.

Earlier, the top court had restrained 13 directors — five promoters and eight independent directors — from alienating their personal properties as well as that of their immediate family members.

The apex court’s direction that the directors shall not alienate their or their family members’ personal properties in any manner implies freezing of their assets.

The apex court, on November 13 last year, had also restrained the managing director and the directors of Jaypee Infratech Ltd from travelling abroad without prior permission.

The court had asked Jaypee Infratech to hand over the records to the interim resolution professional (IRP) to draft a resolution plan indicating protection of interests of over 32,000 hassled home buyers and creditors.

Homebuyers including one Chitra Sharma, through lawyer Ashwarya Sinha, had moved the apex court saying around 32,000 people had booked their flats and were now paying instalments.

The top court had on September 4, 2017, the stayed insolvency proceedings against the real estate firm before the NCLT.

Flat buyers, under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of 2016, do not fall in the category of secured creditors like banks and hence can get back their money only if something is left after repaying the secured and operational creditors, Sharma, in her plea, said.

Hundreds of home buyers have been left in the lurch after the NCLT, on August 10, 2017, admitted the IDBI Bank’s plea to initiate insolvency proceedings against the debt-ridden realty company for defaulting on a Rs 526 crore loan, the plea said. SJK ABA RRT ARC

Bilkis gangrape: SC for Gujarat’s reply on compensation

 A plea demanding exemplary compensation for Bilkis Bano, who was gangraped during the 2002 riots in Gujarat, today led the Supreme Court to seek the response of the state government.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud issued notice to the Gujarat government seeking its reply by March 12 on the fresh plea filed by the victim.

Considering the extreme violation of fundamental rights of the victim in the case, the court should revisit its law on assessment of the quantum of compensation to be given to Bano, the plea, filed through advocate Shobha, said.

Bano, who was gangraped in March 2002 when she was pregnant, had lost seven family members in the riots that followed the Godhra carnage.

“The horrendous facts of the present case and extremes of the egregious violation of fundamental rights and human rights of the petitioner would though beseech rather demand the court to raise the bar much higher,” the application said.

It also urged the top court to “evolve pathbreaking guidelines by revisiting its own law on assessing quantum of compensation to be granted under public law jurisdiction” and set new parameters to arrive at a figure to compensate such violations.

The apex court had in November last year granted time to the Gujarat government to apprise it on whether any disciplinary action has been initiated against policemen convicted in the 2002 Bilkis Bano gangrape case.

In her application for exemplary compensation, the victim alleged that the state had not only failed to protect her, but rather used all its machinery to protect the perpetrators of the heinous crime against the petitioner, thereby violating her supreme constitutional rights.

“With this backdrop of legal and factual status, the petitioner would submit to this court that (it) may please consider her case for awarding exemplary compensation to be paid by the State of Gujarat in having failed completely in protecting the fundamental rights of the petitioner,” it said.

The apex court had on November 24 last year made it clear that the plea seeking enhancement of compensation to be awarded to Bano would be considered at a later stage.

The Bombay High Court on May 4, 2017 had upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of 12 people in the gangrape case, while setting aside the acquittal of seven people including policemen and doctors.

The bench had convicted seven persons, including five policemen and two doctors, for not performing their duties (sections 218) and tampering of evidence (section 201) under the Indian Penal Code.

The convicted policemen and doctors are Narpat Singh, Idris Abdul Saiyed, Bikabhai Patel, Ramsingh Bhabhor, Sombhai Gori, Arun Kumar Prasad (doctor) and Sangeeta Kumar Prasad (doctor).

A special court had on January 21, 2008, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment 11 men in the case. They had approached the Bombay High Court challenging their conviction and seeking quashing of the trial court’s order.

The CBI had filed an appeal in the high court seeking harsher punishment of death for three of the convicted on the ground that they were the main perpetrators of the crime.

According to the prosecution, on March 3, 2002, Bano’s family was attacked by a mob at Randhikpur village near Ahmedabad during the riots and seven members of her family were killed.

The trial in the case began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bano expressed apprehensions that witnesses could be harmed and the CBI evidence tampered with, the Supreme Court had transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.

SC upholds cancellation of bail to Karim Morani in rape case

The Supreme Court today upheld the Hyderabad High Court’s decision to cancel the anticipatory bail granted to Bollywood producer Karim Morani, accused of raping an aspiring actress.

The Hyderabad High Court of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, on September 5, had held as valid the lower court’s order to cancel Morani’s anticipatory bail on grounds of concealment of the fact that he has been facing criminal trial in the 2G scam case and was in jail for several months.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it would not interfere with the order of the High Court.

The bench did not grant 2-3 days time sought by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, the counsel for Morani, for surrender, and asked him to surrender at the Telangana jail. The High Court had asked him to surrender today.

Rohatgi raised the issue of belated filing of the FIR, and that too at Rangareddy District in Telangana, and said it was not the case of grant of bail but rather one of unjust cancellation of the anticipatory bail.

The bench, while dismissing the appeal, however, said the courts below would remain uninfluenced of the observations and orders passed by the High Court and the Supreme Court while dealing with subsequent regular bail plea of Morani.

It was alleged that Morani had sedated the woman and raped her several times, took her nude photos between July 2015 and January 2016.

The sessions court at Telangana had initially granted anticipatory bail to Morani on January 30 this year and later, cancelled it after being told that the producer had concealed in his bail plea his involvement in the 2G case and the fact that he was in jail in connection with the corruption matter.

SC declines to entertain plea on reducing pollution

A plea, seeking an order for fixing the exhausts of all vehicles on the top rather than in the bottom claiming that this would lessen pollution, has been rejected by the Supreme Court.

“You tell us what is the basis of your prayer. Is there any scientific research on it which would indicate that if the exhaust will be at the highest level of the vehicle, it will reduce pollution,” a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar asked the petitioner.

Petitioner Sabu Steephen, a Kerala resident, claimed that the exhaust in farming vehicles like tractor was fixed at the higher level and it reduced pollution.

The argument did not impress the bench which dismissed the petition saying it was devoid of any scientific research or material.

“It is not possible for us to appreciate the inference drawn by the petitioner. In any case, the inference drawn by the petitioner is not supported by any scientific data. In view of the above, we find no justification to entertain this petition,” the bench, which also comprised Justices D Y Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, said.

Source: PTI

Set up statutory body to deal with complaints on TV shows, radio programmes: SC asks Centre

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to set up a statutory mechanism to deal with citizens’ complaints against TV and radio programmes.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to use the power under section 22 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act and set up a body to deal with complaints against television and radio channels.

The court considered the submission of the Centre that there has been mechanism to deal with such cases.

“The Union of India said that there is a mechanism. We, however, feel that it needs adequate publicity so as to enable common public to seek redressal of grievance,” the court said.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, said “this business of self-regulation business doesn’t work”.

Appoint panel to scrutinise government hospitals : SC to JK HC

jammu-and-kashmir-high-courtThe Supreme Court has asked the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to appoint a panel of experts to scrutinise the conditions in government hospitals in the state.

A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the High Court would be at liberty to constitute a committee of medical experts and administrators, which would submit its report on various aspects including infrastructure, staffs, hygiene and availability of medicines at the hospitals.

“We would commend to the High Court the need for constituting a committee of experts to scrutinise the conditions in public-government hospitals in the state. The High Court would be at liberty to constitute a committee of medical experts and administrators.

“The Committee shall submit a report on the state of public-government hospitals in the state…”, the bench said.

The court directed the High Court to scrutinise this report and after hearing relevant stakeholders including the state government, it could issue appropriate directions and ensure compliance of the orders.

“The hospitals which are conducted by the state and by public agencies cater to medical needs of the poorest strata of society. The need for ensuring proper medical care of a requisite standard has to be duly addressed,” the apex court said.

The apex court verdict came on an appeal filed by the state government against the High Court order which prohibited the government doctors from private practice or engaging in self-employment.

Jammu and Kashmir government contended before the apex court that the High Court had passed the “blanket direction” erroneously on the basis that a government circular with regard to restraining teachers from giving tuition classes without prior permission also covered the services of medical practitioners.

The High Court had set aside the circular of August 11, 2005, which was aimed at regulating teachers from private tuition.

The bench, agreed with the contention of state government and said the matter of doctors was not before the High Court and the medical practitioners were governed by separate rules with regard to private practice or self-employment.