The Supreme Court asks J&K HC Juvenile Justice Committee to examine fresh allegations of detention of minors

The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the four member juvenile justice committee of Jammu and Kashmir High Court to examine afresh allegations of detention of minors by security forces in the state after abrogation of provisions of Article 370.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana asked the committee to place its report as expeditiously as possible and posted the hearing for December 3.

The bench said there was a need for examining the allegations afresh as the earlier reports of the committee was not in accordance with the apex court order due to time constraints.

The top court was hearing a petition which has raised the issue of alleged illegal detention of minors in Kashmir.

Supreme Court asks J-K administration to place before it orders imposing restrictions

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to place before it the administrative orders imposing communication and other restrictions in the state following the abrogation of provisions of Article 370.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana questioned Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the administration, as to why the administrative orders have not been filed yet in the court.

“You had passed some orders. Why you have not filed it?”, the bench, also comprising justices R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai, asked Mehta. “Is it purposefully done?”

Mehta told the bench that they had filed a reply earlier in the matter but now, there is a change in circumstances as far as restrictions are concerned.

“After filing of the affidavit, there is change in circumstance on the ground. Some restrictions have been removed,” he said.

He said he would place before the top court the administrative orders relating to restrictions for the perusal of the bench only.

“We will place them before the Supreme Court. Nobody can sit in appeal of administrative decisions taken in national interest. Only the court can look into it and certainly not the petitioners,” he told the bench.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for petitioner and Executive Editor of Kashmir Times Anuradha Bhasin, told the bench that they have filed a rejoinder and said that the Centre and J&K administration have not yet placed those orders and notifications before the court.

Mehta told the bench that original prayer in Bhasin’s petition was regarding restrictions and media freedom but now they were expanding the scope of their prayer.

Grover said in their petition, they have also made a prayer regarding placing of orders imposing restrictions in the state.

During the arguments, the bench took exception that some of the advocates appearing in the matter have raised their voice and said, “It is not proper for lawyers to shout in the court. It is not proper.”

When an advocate appearing for one of the intervenors said that J&K has not complied with the earlier directions of the court to place the restriction orders before it, the bench told Mehta, “Mr Solicitor General, please keep all those orders ready”.

When a lawyer appearing for one of the petitioners told the court that J&K must justify why they are not sharing the restriction orders with them, the bench said, “He (Mehta) has assured us that he will produce those orders”.

The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on October 25.

When the bench referred to media reports that mobile services have been restored in the valley, the counsel for one of the petitioners said only BSNL postpaid mobiles were operational but the SMS service was stopped by authorities on Tuesday.

The apex court was hearing the petitions which have raised the issue of physical restrictions and communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir following abrogation of provisions of Article 370.

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.

Justices Dinesh Maheshwari, Sanjiv Khanna sworn-in as SC judges

Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna were sworn-in as Supreme Court judges on Friday.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi administered the oath of office to justices Maheshwari and Khanna during the swearing-in ceremony held in court number 1 of the apex court.

The sanctioned strength of judges in the Supreme Court is 31. With the swearing-in of justices Maheshwari and Khanna, the strength has now gone up to 28.

While Justice Maheshwari was the chief justice of the Karnataka High Court, Justice Khanna was a judge in the Delhi High Court.

The government had on Wednesday notified the appointment of justices Maheshwari and Khanna as judges of the apex court.

The five-member Supreme Court Collegium, comprising CJI Gogoi and justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde, N V Ramana and Arun Mishra, had on January 10 recommended the names of justices Maheshwari and Khanna for elevation as apex court judges.

The names of the chief justices of the Rajasthan and Delhi high courts, justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon respectively, were considered by the collegium on December 12, 2018 for elevation, but the deliberation remained inconclusive and one of the members of the collegium, Justice M B Lokur, retired on December 30, 2018.

His place in the collegium was taken by Justice Arun Mishra.

The new collegium had, on January 10, ignored the prospect of elevation of justices Nandrajog and Menon as apex court judges.

The Bar Council of India (BCI) had, on Wednesday, protested the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendation to elevate Justice Khanna by superseding several other judges and termed the decision as “whimsical and arbitrary”.

Before the BCI made a statement protesting the collegium’s decision, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Supreme Court also wrote a note to the CJI and other members of the collegium for ignoring the seniority of justices Nandrajog and Menon.

Sources said Justice Kaul was of the view that a wrong signal would go out if the two chief justices, who were above Justice Khanna in the seniority list, were not elevated as apex court judges.

SC to examine CCI jurisdiction on DLF flat owners’ plea

The Supreme Court Wednesday said it will examine whether the Competition Commission of India had the jurisdiction to entertain the plea by flat owners in three DLF residential complexes in Gurgaon who alleged that the real estate giant was exploiting its dominant position on conditions for providing services.

The bench of Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya and Justice N.V. Ramana, while making distinction between the “rendering of services” and “imposing the conditions of services”, said they would examine the issue in the light of section 4(2)(a)(1) of the Competition Act, 2002.

The court said if the matter was “rendering of services”, then it would go before the consumer forum.

“Satisfaction with the services provided can be a matter of consumer court,” it said.

Rendering services may not come under the Competition Act, “but imposing the conditions of services may be so whether they are arbitrary, unfair or discriminatory”, the court said, as it directed the hearing of the matter for Feb 18.

Section 4 of the Competition Act prohibits the abuse of dominant position and section 4(2)(a)(1) says there shall be an abuse of dominant position if an enterprise or a group directly or indirectly, imposes unfair or discriminatory condition in purchase or sale of goods or service.

The court said this while hearing a petition by DLF challenging imposition of Rs.630 crore penalty by the CCI for allegedly exploiting its dominant position to the disadvantage of its customers in three projects in Gurgaon.

DLF has assailed the CCI order of Aug 12, 2011, which was sustained by the COMPAT in 2013, saying that the commission could not have imposed penalty based on the three year average of the entire turnover of DLF’s real estate operations in the country.

The real estate giant contended that the penalty should have been restricted to Rs.1,100 crore – the sale price of three housing complexes.

DLF has also challenged the jurisdiction of CCI in entertaining the pleas by the aggrieved flat owners.

The CCI has taken a position that DLF used its dominant position to the disadvantage of the flat allotees.

“It is an exploitation of disadvantaged customers who were trapped,” CCI had told the court.

The association of flat owners and individual flat owners too have moved the apex court

Rape, murder charges can’t be quashed despite settlement: SC

supreme courtCriminal proceedings in grave offences like rape and murder cannot be quashed despite the victim and the accused reaching a compromise and coming to an amicable settlement, the Supreme court has ruled saying it will have harmful effect on society.

A bench of justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and N V Ramana, however, said that proceedings in other offences, which are not related to public peace or tranquillity and confined to two individuals or groups, can be quashed after the parties reach a compromise.

“…the High Court can exercise its discretion to quash the proceedings will depend on facts and circumstances of each case. Offences which involve moral turpitude, grave offences like rape, murder etc. cannot be effaced by quashing the proceedings because that will have harmful effect on the society,” the bench said.

The apex court said that grave offences cannot be said to be restricted to two individuals or two groups and quashing of such offences may send “wrong signal” to the society.

“However, when the High Court is convinced that the offences are entirely personal in nature and, therefore, do not affect public peace or tranquillity and where it feels that quashing of such proceedings on account of compromise would bring about peace and would secure ends of justice, it should not hesitate to quash them,” the bench said.

It said in such cases(where parties compromise), the prosecution becomes a lame prosecution and pursuing it would be waste of time and energy.

“That will also unsettle the compromise and obstruct restoration of peace,” the bench said.

The apex court passed the verdict on a bunch of petitions filed by various convicts seeking quashing of proceedings against them on the ground that they have reached amicable settlement with the victims.

(Source: PTI)

CBI probe in rural job scheme in UP to go on, says SC

supreme courtThe CBI probe into the allegations of corruption in implementation of rural job scheme in Uttar Pradesh will continue as Supreme Court Friday rejected the state government’s plea against high court order directing preliminary enquiry in 65 districts.

As the Uttar Pradesh government assailed high court order saying it was tantamount to roving inquiry, the apex court bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice N.V. Ramana said: “If everything is in order, then why are you afraid of CBI probe?”

The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court Jan 27 had asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to file regular cases into the allegation of corruption in respect of seven districts and hold preliminary inquiry in remaining 65 districts of the state.” Uttar Pradesh has 75 districts.

The seven districts in respect of which regular cases would be filed include Mirzapur, Balrampur, Sonbhadra, Gonda, Kushinagar, Sant Kabir Nagar and Mahoba.

Appearing for Uttar Pradesh government, senior counsel U.U. Lalit assailed the high court pointing to the “intensity and enormity” of the investigation under taken by the state police.

Lalit told the apex court that following investigations in the acts of wrongdoings in seven districts, police registered 475 FIRs resulting in action against 460 state government officials and 208 sent to jail.

“When so much of material has come from seven districts then why not (look into the implementation of MNREGA) in other districts,” observed Chief Justice Sathasivam.

“Seven districts are on one footing and other 68 on the other footing,” Lalit said adding that a roving inquiry could not be ordered mere on the basis of a letter by a minister.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi described the cases as “politically” foisted and said that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Guarantee Act provides that the central government could order a CBI probe if there are allegations of irregularities in the implementation of the scheme.

Rohtagi sought to know why the central government empowered to order a CBI probe was not extending its powers and the high court acting on a latter by a minister.

Dismissing the plea by Uttar Pradesh government, Chief Justice Sathasivam said: “I come from rural background. This is a good scheme. If you have nothing to hide then why you are resisting the high court order.”

(Source: IANS)