Koregaon Bhima case: SC extends protection from arrest to Gautam Navlakha by 4 weeks

 The Supreme Court Tuesday extended by four weeks the interim protection from arrest granted to civil rights activist Gautma Navlakha in the Koregaon Bhima violence case.

However, a bench of justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta asked Navlakha to approach the concerned court to seek pre-arrest bail in the case.

When the counsel, appearing for Maharashtra government, objected to the grant of further interim protection to Navlakha, the bench questioned the state as to why they had not interrogated him for over a year.

Supreme Court says Centre should frame guidelines to deal with social media misuse

The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that technology has taken a “dangerous turn” and asked the Centre to apprise it within three weeks about the time-frame needed to come up with guidelines to curb misuse of social media in the country.

A bench of justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose expressed serious concern over some social media platforms not being able to trace the originator of a message or an online content and said the government must step in now.

The bench said neither the apex court nor the high court is competent to decide this scientific issue and it is for the government to come up with appropriate guideline to deal with these issues.

Anguished with way judiciary being treated: SC on lawyer’s claim of conspiracy against CJI


The Supreme Court Thursday expressed anguish over the “systematic attack” on the judiciary and said time has come to tell the rich and powerful of this country that they are “playing with fire” and this must stop.

The apex court was hearing claims made by an advocate that there was a larger conspiracy to frame Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogi on allegations of sexual harassment.

The court said it will pass an order at 2 pm.

A special bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said that it was anguished with the way the judiciary has been treated for the past 3-4 years.

“The way this institution is treated in last few years we must say that we will not survive if this will happen,” a bench also comprising Justices R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta said.

“There is a systematic attack, systematic game to malign this institution”, the bench said.

Enron-Dabhol power project: Supreme Court closes case of alleged corruption

The Supreme Court Thursday closed the case of alleged corruption involving politicians, bureaucrats and corporates in the Enron-Dabhol power project, taking note of the inordinate delay in the case that was filed in 1997.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna allowed the plea of Maharashtra government to close the case.

The USD 3 billion mega power project was set up in Maharashtra by US-based Enron and its associates Dabhol Power Corporation in 1996 after signing of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) in 1993.

The apex Court had in 1997 admitted the petition of the Centre for Indian Trade Union (CITU) challenging a Bombay High Court order upholding the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) and issued notice to MSEB on the role of government and its officials in the signing of the PPA.

Nobody for opaqueness, but judiciary can’t be destroyed in name of transparency: SC

Nobody wants a “system of opaqueness” but in the name of transparency the judiciary cannot be destroyed, the Supreme Court said Thursday, while hearing the appeals of its registry against the Delhi High Court order that the CJI’s office falls under the ambit of RTI Act.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi reserved its verdict on three appeals filed in 2010 by Secretary General of the Supreme Court and the Central Public Information officer of the apex court against the High Court and the CIC’s orders after lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Attorney General K K Venugopal concluded submissions.

“Nobody is for a system of opaqueness. Nobody wants to remain in the state of darkness or keep anybody in the state of darkness. The question is drawing a line. In the name of transparency, you can’t destroy the institution,” said the bench which also comprised Justices N V Ramana, D Y Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.

At the outset, Bhushan, appearing for RTI activist S C Agrawal, said though the apex court should not have been judging its own cause, it is hearing the appeals due to “doctrine of necessity”.

The lawyer termed as “unfortunate” and “disturbing” the reluctance of judiciary in parting information under the Right To Information Act and asked, “Do judges inhabit different universe?”

He said the apex court has always stood for transparency in functioning of other organs of State but it develops cold feet when its own issues require attention.

Referring to RTI provisions, he said they also deal with exemptions and information which cannot be given to applicants, but the public interest should always “outweigh” personal interests if the person concerned is holding or about to hold a public office.

Dealing with “judicial independence”, he said the National Judicial Accountability commission Act was struck down for protecting judiciary against interference from the executive, but this did not mean that judiciary is free from “public scrutiny”.

“This is not the independence from accountability. Independence of judiciary means it has to be independent from the executive and not independent from common public. People are entitled to know as to what public authorities are doing,” he said.

The deliberations of Collegium in appointing and overlooking judges or lawyers should be made public and information can be parted with under RTI on case-to-case basis keeping in mind the larger public interest, he said.

The bench said people, of late, are opting out and do not want to become judges because of the fear of negative publicity.

“Of late, we are experiencing good people, who have opted to become judges, withdrawing their consent. On interaction, the reason appears to be the possibility of the negative observations, whether rightly or wrongly, being brought into the public domain,” it said.

In such a case, besides losing judgeship, reputation, professional life and family life of the person are all adversely affected, it said.

It said it has brought about changes in the functioning of the collegium system and said now collegium members have started interacting with prospective candidates.

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It then referred to a case of a Madras District Judge who was not elevated as the High Court judge and moreover, he was allowed to retire at the age of 58 years.

“All his colleagues who were not even in the zone of consideration for the High Court got the extension, but not only did he not become a High Court judge, he retired at 58”, the CJI said, adding that all the decisions of collegium cannot be “painted” with the same brush.

“Let us not assume any judge has an animus against anybody, let alone the Chief Justice. Otherwise, the institution will dissolve…,” the bench said.

Bhushan then referred to the case of a HC lawyer whose name was recommended and reiterated by the High Court Collegium twice and still the government did not accept and said that people are entitled to know the reasons.

Dealing with the aspect of personal information which can be shared, Bhushan gave an illustration and said suppose a homosexual lawyer’s elevation as a judge is objected to by the government on this ground alone, then this personal information can be disclosed in public interest as people have the right to know.

Justice Chandrachud said certain things may vary from case to case.

He said suppose a judge wanted transfer because of certain kind of illness of his spouse then the nature of disease cannot be disclosed as this is a “personal information”.

The bench said that there cannot be a “blanket” ban on disclosure and it has to be examined on a case-to-case basis.

Justice Gupta said a person himself does not want a disclosure as to his sexuality, then a line would have to be drawn, otherwise it would be “very dangerous”.

The best test would be to ask the person himself if he wanted the reasons for non-elevation or non-appointment to be placed in public domain, the bench said.

Detention of foreigners: Supreme Court directs Assam chief secretary to appear before it on Apr 8

The Supreme Court Monday voiced unhappiness over the inaction in a case relating to detention of foreigners in Assam and directed the state Chief Secretary to appear before it on April 8

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi termed the affidavit filed by the Assam government as an “exercise in futility” and wanted to know as to how many persons, who have been declared foreigners by the tribunal, have amalgamated with the local population.

“What is the number of declared foreigners who have amalgamated with the local population. This is why we wanted your Chief Secretary to remain present,” the bench also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna said while expressing displeasure over the non-appearance of officials.

The apex court then directed the chief secretary to appear before it and posted the PIL filed by activist Harsh Mander on the issue for April 8.

The bench was hearing a plea on the condition of detention centres in Assam and the prolonged detention of foreigners there.

Earlier the apex court had asked the central government to apprise it on several issues including as to how many functional detention centres are there in the state.

Will Judicial Declaration Of A Person As A Foreigner Stand Superseded If His Name Is Included In NRC? SC Commences Hearing.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday was faced with the question whether judicial determination of a person being a foreigner would stand superseded if the name of the same person is included in the draft/final NRC. The question was being considered by a Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna. During the hearing, the State of Assam and the Centre submitted that the judicial verdict would prevail, notwithstanding the executive exercise of the preparation of the NRC list. They relied on the provisions of paragraph 3(2) of the Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

However, Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, asserted that if the name of a person included in the NRC is deleted on the ground that he was a foreigner or an illegal migrant, he would have a right of appeal or right to approach the appropriate forum, as the case may be, against the exclusion/dropping of his name from the NRC.

Mr. Sibal added that though the statute may not have provided a remedy of appeal against such exclusion, the remedy may be carved out by the Supreme Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India. The arguments on the issue will continue at 3 pm on March 28. Notably, another matter relating to NRC has been listed for March 28. The question posed before the Apex Court in that petition concerns the fate of people whose names appear in the electoral roll but are not included in the final NRC.

https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/declaration-of-a-person-as-a-foreigner-nrc-143848

 

Pressure cooker symbol : Supreme Court refuses to acknowledge TTV Dhinakaran outfit’s claim

The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to acknowledge the claim of the TTV Dhinakaran-led outfit over ‘pressure cooker’ as common election symbol.

The Supreme Court, however, directed the Election Commission (EC) to consider granting common free election symbol to the candidates of the Dhinakaran-led outfit for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls and assembly by-elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also made it clear that its order asking the EC to consider granting common election symbol would not amount to granting recognition to his outfit as a political group and its candidates would be treated as Independents for all practical purposes.

The bench, which also comprised Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, said that it was the duty and the rights of the Election Commission only to consider granting registration to Dhinakaran’s outfit as a political party and it will be done in due course by the poll panel.

The bench said that its directions to EC to consider granting common free symbol to the list of 59 candidates furnished before it by the outfit was passed to ensure level-playing field and free and fair elections.

As per the list given by the Dhinakaran group, they have named 40 candidates for parliamentary elections in Tamil Nadu (39) and Puducherry (one).

The Dhinakaran outfit has also given a list of 19 candidates for the Assembly by-elections on 19 seats in Tamil Nadu (18) and Puducherry (one).

During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the EC told the court that a common symbol of pressure cooker cannot be given to the Dhinakaran-led group since they were not a registered political party.

The EC had on Monday told the apex court that it can allot a common symbol of “pressure cooker” to an individual but not to an unregistered group.

Dhinakaran had told the top court that the EC’s stand would force the candidates of his Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections on different symbols.

The bench had asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Dhinakaran, as to when is the last date of filing nominations for Lok Sabha polls.

Sibal had replied that the last date of filing of nomination was Tuesday and if the party was not allotted the symbol, its candidates would have to contest on different symbols.

He had said that candidates of rival parties will win by default if a common symbol of ‘pressure cooker’ was not given to them.

The bench then asked the EC official to apprise it as to why a common symbol was not given to the AMMK.

The EC official had apprised the court that as per the rules a common symbol cannot be given to the AMMK, which was not a registered political party.

He had said the election process has already started and it would be difficult to allot a common symbol.

The bench, which asked for a detailed reply, was told by the official that the poll panel was not asked to file a response.

The bench, which was visibly unsatisfied with the reply of poll panel official, perused its March 15 order and said that court has issued notice to the EC.

On March 15, the apex court had agreed to hear a plea of Dhinakaran and V K Sasikala challenging a Delhi High Court order granting the ‘two leaves’ symbol to the AIADMK faction led by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami.

The court had issued notice to the EC on the limited plea of Dhinakaran that they be allowed to use ‘pressure cooker’ as a common symbol.

The Dhinakaran group had claimed that EC was not giving them a common symbol despite a direction from the apex court to allot “pressure cooker’ as a common symbol to the party.

On February 28, the high court had dismissed the pleas of Dhinakaran and Sasikala challenging the EC order granting the ‘AIADMK’ name and the ‘two leaves’ symbol to the faction led by the Tamil Nadu chief minister, saying the figures showed the Palaniswami-led group “enjoyed a clear majority”.

It had upheld the EC decision of November 23, 2017, saying none of the grounds of challenge raised by the Dhinakaran-Sasikala group were made out and there was “no infirmity” in the poll panel’s order allotting the party name and symbol to the group led by Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam.

After the high court order was pronounced, Dhinakaran and Sasikala had urged the court to direct the EC not to allot the ‘pressure cooker’ symbol to anyone during the next 15 days so that they have time to move the apex court and seek an appropriate relief from there.

The EC, thereafter, had agreed not to allot the ‘pressure cooker’ symbol to anyone for next 15 days in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Dhinakaran had floated Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam after he and Sasikala were expelled from the Palaniswami-led AIADMK.

Supreme Court asks Tamil Nadu government to ensure political parties do not disfigure public places

The Supreme Court Monday directed the Tamil Nadu government to ensure that public places, including hilly areas, are not defaced by slogans and advertisements by political parties.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta expressed dissatisfaction over the reply filed by the state government in the matter and said it has not acted in a “responsible manner”.

“As the state has failed to act…we direct the state government to ensure that there is no disfigurement of public places,” the bench said.

It directed authorities to ensure that political parties do not disfigure such public places by pasting photographs of leaders and by writing slogans.

Senior advocate V Giri, appearing for the state government, submitted that PIL petitioner, a charitable trust ‘In Defence of Environment and Animals’, can approach a committee formed by the Madras High Court and put forth its grievances to it.

Earlier also, the apex court had told the Tamil Nadu government that defacement of public places cannot be allowed by political parties with advertisements and slogans.

It had asked the state government to inform about the steps taken regarding prevention of defacement of natural resources like hills, mountains, rocks and public places.

The apex court had on January 11 issued notice to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government on the plea seeking to restrain political parties from erecting digital banners on roadside across the state.

The court had asked as to why the plea should not be kept open, enabling the Madras High Court to monitor the developments in the case.

The plea sought preventing encroachments via religious symbols and political graffiti, advertisements by private parties on natural resources like mountains, hills, hillocks, avenue trees and on national and state highways.

The Madras High Court had on December 19 last year issued an interim order restraining political parties from putting up digital banners on roadside unless the state government and local bodies came out with a clear undertaking that the rules and various orders passed by the court would be strictly implemented and no violation would take place.

The court while passing the orders had said such banners distracted the road users, especially two-wheeler riders, and obstructed pedestrians.

The high court had expressed displeasure over the unjustified reasons given by authorities in the past five years for failing to implement court orders regarding unauthorised banners.

Plea Challenging Restitution Of Conjugal Rights says Women Treated As Chattel.

The provisions dealing with restitution of conjugal rights in effect treat women as ‘chattel’, the petitioners argue. The Supreme Court on Friday sought the response of centre to a plea challenging the power conferred by the Hindu Marriage Act on courts to direct the restitution of conjugal rights of an estranged couple. The petitioners also challenged the identical provision in section 22 of the Special Marriage Act and Rules 32 and 33 of Order XXI of the CPC on the execution of the decree for restitution of conjugal rights.

The petition contends that the court-mandated restitution of conjugal rights amounted to a “coercive act” on the part of the state which violates one’s sexual and decisional autonomy, right to privacy and dignity, all of which come within the purview of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21. A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna issued notice to the Centre on the petition which said that these laws treat women as “chattel” and are violative of fundamental rights including the right to privacy.The legal framework is “facially neutral” and places a “disproportionate burden on women”, the plea said, adding that it is “based on feudal English law which regarded a woman as ‘chattel’ of his husband”.

“The provisions for restitution of conjugal rights are facially neutral in as much as they allow both the husband and the wife to move court. However, in effect, they are deeply discriminatory towards women. The direct and inevitable effect of the provision has to be seen in light of the deeply unequal familial power structures that prevail within Indian society,” said the petition.

The petitions have been filed by Ojaswa Pathak and Mayank Gupta, students of Gujarat National Law University at Gandhinagar. “Courts in India have understood ‘Conjugal rights’ to have two key ingredients: cohabitation and sexual intercourse.Under the legal scheme in India, a spouse is entitled to a decree directing his other spouse to cohabit and take part in sexual intercourse. He or she is also entitled to coercive measures in the form of attachment of property in case the spouses wilfully disobeys the decree of restitution,” the plea said. On March 5, a two judges bench had referred the petition to a three judges’ bench.

The petition said: “The remedy of restitution of conjugal rights was not recognized by any of the personal law systems of India. The same has its origins in feudal English Law, which at that time considered a wife to be the chattel of the husband. The United Kingdom itself has abolished the remedy of restitution of conjugal rights in 1970.” It is steeped in a patriarchal gender stereotype and is violative of Article 15(1) (prohibition of discrimination on the ground of gender etc) of the Constitution, the plea said.The provisions were also violative of the rights to privacy, individual autonomy and dignity of individuals guaranteed under Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution, it said.

Asserting that the right to cohabit was an intimate personal choice, the plea said that the provision requiring a person to cohabit with another against their will are violative of the Right to Privacy of an individual. The plea said that the validity of a law has to be tested according to the changing times. It had also sought reconsideration of the 1984 apex court verdict in Saroj Rani v Sudarshan Kumar Chadha AIR 1984 SC 1562 by which it had set aside the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s decision quashing section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act. “In India conjugal rights i.e. right of the husband or the wife to the society of the other spouse is not merely creature of the statute. Such a right is inherent in the very institution of marriage itself”, the SC had held in Saroj Rani .