SC says No stopping sealing, demolition of unauthorised constructions in Delhi

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said there would be “no stopping of sealing or demolition” of unauthorised constructions in Delhi.

The apex court’s direction came after the Centre told a bench comprising Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta that it had not given any instructions to authorities in Delhi to stop their sealing drive against illegal constructions.

The bench also directed that construction activity be stopped with immediate effect wherever any unauthorised construction is noticed or booked by authorities.
The apex court said adequate police protection should be given to officials when they are carrying out a sealing drive against unauthorised constructions.
Besides, the bench asked the Centre to contemplate blacklisting of builders, contractors and architects found responsible for unauthorised constructions.
Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench that the Delhi Development Authority had launched a mobile application on July 9 where citizens can complain about illegal constructions and encroachments in the city.
So far, 431 complaints have been received in the mobile application and action taken on 138 such complaints, he said.
The bench directed that adequate publicity be given to the mobile application so citizens of Delhi are aware of it.
The top court is dealing with the issue of validity of the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 and subsequent legislations which protect unauthorised constructions from being sealed.

SC: LG or CM? Who is responsible for clearing mountains of garbage in Delhi

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre and the Delhi government to clarify by tomorrow who could be held responsible for clearing the “mountain loads of garbage” in the national capital — those reporting to LG Anil Baijal or to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The top court’s direction came days after its verdict on the power tussle between the Lieutenant Governor and the Aam Aadmi Party government in which it held that the LG has no independent power to take decisions and is bound by the elected government’s aid and advice.

“Now, we have the advantage of the verdict. There is mountain load of garbage in Delhi, particularly in Bhalswa, Okhla and Ghazipur. We would like to know who is responsible for clearing the garbage those answerable to the Lt Governor or those answerable to the Chief Minister,” a bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

At the outset, the bench asked Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, and the counsel for Delhi government, under whose jurisdiction fell waste management.

“Under whose jurisdiction does waste management falls. Where is an affidavit on waste management policy? Who is responsible for clearing mountains and mountains of garbage in Delhi? Tell us by tomorrow,” the bench said.

Anand said she will file an affidavit by tomorrow on the issue.
“The affidavit in this regard should be filed by the concerned officer of both the functionaries by tomorrow. For this purpose, list the matter on July 12,” the bench said.
During the hearing, the court observed that Delhi is getting buried under mounds of garbage and Mumbai is sinking under water, but the government is doing nothing. It also slapped fines on 10 states and two union territories for not filing their affidavits on their policies for solid waste management strategy.

“You see, Delhi is getting buried under mountain loads of garbage and Mumbai is sinking. But yet, the government does not do anything. When the courts intervene, we are attacked for judicial activism. We are given lectures on separation of powers and encroachment of jurisdiction,” it said.
On March 27, the top court had said that days are not far when garbage mounds at the Ghazipur landfill site in Delhi will match the height of iconic 73-metre high Qutub Minar and red beacon lights will have to be used to ward off aircraft flying over it.

The Supreme Court seeks reply of 10 states on rights violation of death row convicts

The Supreme Court has sought response from Director General of Police (Prisons) of ten states on the issue of alleged violation of human rights of prisoners awarded death sentence.

The DGPs (Prisons) have been also asked to reply on the issue of solitary confinement, legal representation, visitation rights of prisoners’ families and psychiatric consultation of death row convicts.

A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked DGP (prisons) of ten states to reply to the letter of Amicus Curiae advocate Gaurav Agarwal, who has raised the issue of alleged violation of prison manual and human rights of death row prisoners.

“We would require the Director General (Prisons) to respond to the communication sent by amicus curiae since it concerns human rights of prisoners who are in custody and who have been awarded death sentence,” the bench said.

The ten states include Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab, Delhi, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Bihar.

The bench sought the replies of DGP (Prisons) by May 8.

Agarwal has written a letter to officials of ten states after Dr. Anup Surendranath, an assistant professor at National Law University at Delhi moved the apex court with an interlocutory application seeking intervention on the alleged violation of rights of prisoners.

He had raised various concerns about violation of certain provisions of State prison manuals and human rights of prisoners especially, those have been awarded death penalty.

As a follow up to Dr. Surendranath’s application, Agarwal wrote to DGP (Prisons) of ten states on March 13, seeking their responses on issues concerned.

The apex court had voiced concern on the issue of overcrowding of prisons across the country, saying prisoners have human rights and they can’t be kept like animals.

It had termed the situation as “extremely unfortunate” and said it is was “complete lack of commitment” on part of state government and union territories towards human rights of prisoners.

The top court is hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country.

The apex court had on February 21 asked the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) to look into the issue of overcrowding of prisons and furnish figures before it regarding the population in jails where occupancy was over 150 per cent as on December 31 last year.

It had earlier expressed shock at the large number of people languishing in jails in “complete violation” of their rights despite recommendations for their release by the legal services authority and had termed the situation as unacceptable.

Judges row: SC to soon make public work allocation system

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has examined suggestions from stakeholders to bring transparency in allocation of sensitive PILs to judges and is likely to bring in the public domain soon the system he is going to adopt for it, sources close to him said today.

They said that the listing of two petitions demanding an independent probe into the death of CBI special judge B H Loya before a bench headed by the CJI manifests that all issues, including allocation of cases, raised by the four seniormost judges in their controversial January 12 press conference, are being considered.

The Loya case petitions will come up for hearing tomorrow.

The sources said that Justice Misra has held deliberations with fellow judges and also taken into account the suggestions put forth by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and a clear-cut roster system is likely to be followed in the apex court for allocation of cases.

“The apex court registry is very likely to upload on its website the decision of the CJI on allocation of matters. The system will be brought in the public domain as to who will hear what categories of cases,” a highly placed source told PTI.

When contacted, SCBA President Vikas Singh said there was a demand from the bar to follow the roster system of allocation of work prevalent in the Delhi High Court.

“We are quite hopeful that the CJI in all likelihood is going to accept our suggestions and all misunderstanding that has come out in the open after the press conference of the four judges can be resolved,” Singh said.

He said that a system for allocation of cases identical to that in the Delhi High Court is followed in the Bombay High Court.

During the press conference, the four judges — justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — had raised various issues, including the allocation of important and sensitive PILs, and questioned the manner in which the CJI was allocating them to a particular bench.

The PILs in the Loya case was one of them which was being heard by a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra who later recused himself from it.

The list of the top court’s business for January 22 had on January 19 shown that it has been referred to an appropriate bench and late in the evening the website showed that it will be heard by a bench headed by the CJI.

Sources said that some of the judges who are the future CJIs — justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, U U Lalit and D Y Chandrachud — have been holding parleys with the CJI to resolve the crisis that hit the judiciary after the January 12 presser.

They also said that the judges who have been having talks with the CJI for bringing the house in order were also not happy that the four seniormost judges went public with their grievances.

After January 18, there was no meeting between the CJI and the four judges as Justice Chelameswar was out of the national capital on a scheduled visit to Chennai and Bengaluru.

There is a likelihood that the CJI and the four judges would meet on Monday before the court commences hearings, the sources said.

BCI panel discusses SC crisis with Justice Arun Mishra

A Bar Council of India panel today met Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra and discussed the crisis in the apex judiciary.

Justice Mishra was assigned by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra a PIL relating to the death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.

Four senior Supreme Court judges — J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — had on Friday mounted a virtual revolt against the CJI at a press meet here, raising questions on “selective” case allocation and certain judicial orders, sending shockwaves across the judiciary and polity.

The panel led by BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra arrived at Justice Mishra’s residence at around 2 p.m. and discussed the crisis during a short meeting.

The BCI delegation had earlier met justices Chelameswar, R K Agrawal, A M Khanwilkar and other top court judges and is likely to meet Chief Justice Misra.

Two top court judges — justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao — also met Justice Chelameswar, who had led the four judges in the unprecedented press conference on Friday at his official residence here, sources said.

The meeting of these judges took place soon after the seven-member delegation of the BCI, the regulatory body of lawyers, met Justice Chelameswar at his residence to discuss the crisis that has hit the judiciary.

A BCI source said that the BCI delegation’s meetings with the judges will be on till late in the evening as some of the judges are away from Delhi.

SC crisis: BCI delegation meeting SC judges

A Bar Council of India delegation led by its chairman Manan Kumar Mishra is meeting Supreme Court judges today to discuss the unprecedented crisis that has hit the judiciary.

According to sources, the seven-member delegation has already met some of the judges of the top court and are scheduled to meet remaining judges including Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra during the course of the day.

The BCI had yesterday formed a seven member delegation to meet and discuss with the apex court judges issues arising out of the press conference by the four senior-most judges of the top court.

On January 12, four senior-most judges of the Supreme court — justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — had mounted a virtual revolt against the CJI at a press meet in Delhi on Friday raising litany of problems including assignment of cases.

Four senior judges say situation in SC “not in order”

 In an unprecedented move, four senior most judges of the Supreme Court today called a press conference and said the situation in the top court was “not in order” and many “less than desirable” things have taken place.

Unless this institution is preserved, “democracy will not survive in this country,” the four judges said.

Justice J Chelameswar, the second senior judge after the Chief Justice of India, said “sometimes administration of the Supreme Court is not in order and many things which are less than desirable have happened in the last few months”.

Chelameswar, who was accompanied by Justices Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph at the press conference, said they had met CJI Dipak Misra this morning and “raised issues affecting the institution”.

Soon after the press conference by the four senior-most judges, the CJI called Attorney General K K Venugopal for a meeting, court sources said.

At the presser held at his house, Justice J Chelameswar said “unless this institution is preserved, democracy will not survive in this country” and added it was “extremely painful” to hold press conference in such a manner.

He said the four judges had written a letter to CJI Dipak Misra some time back, raising important issues.

But all of them “failed to persuade CJI that certain things are not in order and therefore you should take remedial measures. Unfortunately our efforts failed.

“And all four of us are convinced that democracy is at stake and many things have happened in recent past,” he said.

Asked what these issues were, he said they included the “allocation of cases by CJI”. The remarks assume significance as the Supreme Court today took up for consideration the issue of alleged mysterious death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.

Justice Chelameswar said “we owe a responsibility to the institution and the nation. Our efforts have failed in convincing CJI to take steps to protect the institution.”

“This is an extraordinary event in the history of any nation, more particularly this nation and an extraordinary event in the institution of judiciary … It is with no pleasure that we are compelled to call this press conference.

“But sometimes administration of the Supreme Court is not in order and many things which are less than desirable have happened in the last few months.”

All the judges rubbished questions on whether they have broken ranks, with Justice Gogoi saying “nobody is breaking the rank and it is a discharge of debt to the nation, which we have done.” Justice Gogoi would be succeeding the incumbent CJI in October this year.

Asked whether they wanted the Chief Justice to be impeached, Justice Chelameswar said “don’t try to put words in our mouth”.

The four judges, in their seven-page letter to the CJI, said “It is too well settled in the jurisprudence of this country that the chief justice is only first amongst the equals — nothing more or nothing less.”

The letter reads, “It is with great anguish and concern that we have thought it proper to address this letter to you so as to highlight certain judicial orders passed by this court which has adversely affected the overall functioning of the justice delivering system and the independence of the high courts besides impacting the administrative functioning of the office of the Chief Justice of India.”

“There have been instances where cases having far reaching consequences for the nation and the institution have been assigned by the chief justices of this court selectively to the benches ‘of their preference’ without any rationale basis for such assignment. This must be guarded against at all costs,” it said.

Source : PTI

SC collegium finalises MoP for higher judiciary appointments

The Supreme Court collegium has finalised the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges in the higher judiciary resolving a year-long impasse with the executive by agreeing to include the contentious clause of national security in selection of judges.

Sources said the collegium, comprising five seniormost judges of the apex court, had met recently and agreed to the national security clause which the Centre had insisted as one of the necessary criteria for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

The collegium consisting of Chief Justice J S Khehar and four seniormost judges — Justices Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi and M B Lokur — has agreed with the Centre on the national security clause provided the specific reasons for use of the clause are well documented or recorded.

The national security clause, which gave veto power to the government to reject a name recommended by the collegium, and the issue of setting up of secretariats in the apex court and all the high courts, were among the two key clauses in the MoP on which the Centre and the judiciary had differences for more than a year.

The sources said that after deliberations, the collegium has also agreed on setting up secretariats in the apex court and the high courts to collate data about judges and assist in the selection procedure for their appointment to the higher judiciary.

In October 2015, a Constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar had struck down the NJAC Act passed by Parliament and had directed the Centre to frame a new MoP in consultation with the chief justice of India.

After holding the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 and the NJAC Act, 2014, as unconstitutional and void, the apex court in its separate order had decided to consider the incorporation of additional appropriate measures, if any, for an improved working of the collegium system.

Striking a dissent note, Justice J Chelameswar who was part of the five-judge Constitution bench which heard the NJAC case, had said that the collegium system for the appointment of judges is “opaque” and needs “transparency”.

He had said that “primacy of the judiciary” in the appointment of judges is a basic feature of the Constitution and “is empirically flawed.”

Last month, Chief Justice J S Khehar had indicated that the Supreme court may come out with the MoP for the appointment of judges for the higher judiciary by the end of the month.

“We will finalise the MoP may be within this month,” he had said while dismissing a plea seeking transparency in the appointment of judges for higher courts.

Source:PTI

SC asks Bagrodia to appear before special court in coal block case

The Supreme Court on Monday asked former union minister Santosh Bagrodia to appear before a special CBI court here on September 8 in coal block allocation case.

A bench of Justice M.B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A.K. Sikri said it will examine Bagrodia’s plea soon while declining him relief.

Bagrodia, a minister of state for coal in the Manmohan Singh ministry and summoned as accused by the special court in a case concerning allocation of Maharashtra’s Bander coal block to AMR Iron and Steel Pvt Ltd, had sought staying of the summons in the case on parity with the relief granted to Manmohan Singh in April this year.

bagrodiaThe bench’s order came after hearing arguments of senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for Bagrodia, claiming that he was innocent and sought parity with the relief granted to Manmohan Singh in another coal block case.

The apex court on April 2 had stayed the trial court order summoning the former prime minister as accused in a case pertaining to grant of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha in 2005 to Aditya Birla group company Hindalco.

Meanwhile, the apex court brushed aside the Central Bureau of Investigation’s claim that unaccounted cash worth Rs.25 crore seized from Hindalco’s corporate office had no connection with the coal block allocation case.

It asked the CBI to inform it about the status of the probe into the incriminating documents and a diary which was also seized from the company’s Delhi office in October 15, 2013.

The CBI and Enforcement Directorate to inform the court by September 21 the status of the investigations in the Birla diary case.

PILs on issue of rape: SC seeks assistance of former ASG

Supreme Court today sought the assistance of former Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising in a batch of petitions on effective implementation of women’s safety norms which came about in the aftermath of the December 16, 2012 gangrape incident.

A special social justice bench, comprising justices M B Lokur and U U Lalit, sought the assistance of Jaising, who is the first woman law officer of the country appointed by the erstwhile UPA regime to assist the court as amicus curiae.

The senior advocate, who was appearing in one of the petitions, raised the issue of non-utilisation of Rs 2,000 crore created by the government for the welfare of the victims of sexual violence.

The corpus created for two years under the “Nirbhaya Fund” scheme have remained unutilised and there was a need for a nodal agency to ensure its effective utilisation, she saod.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh said it was not an adversarial litigation and whatever was intended would be done.

Soon after the December 16 gangrape, several PILs were filed raising issues like setting up of fast track courts for speedy trial in rape cases and effective implementation of existing laws for safety of women.

Directions were sought for appointment of additional judges to adjudicate the matters of crimes against women and for providing compulsory compensation to the victims of rape.

The PIL filed through advocate Ravi Prakash Gupta also sought an order to restrain print and electronic media from publishing and telecasting obscene pictures of women.

The pleas also sought suspension of MPs and MLAs who have been charge-sheeted for crime against women.