SC dismisses PIL challenging special status to J-K

supreme courtThe Supreme Court today dismissed a PIL challenging special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution.

A bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha refused to entertain the PIL which alleged that Article 370 was a temporary provision which was valid only till constituent Assembly ratified the accession of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Declare that Article 370 of the Constitution, a temporary provision, lapsed with the dissolution of J & K Constituent Assembly, which was dissolved on 26th January 1957,” advocate Anil Jha, appearing for the petitioner submitted.

“The Constitution of J & K dated 17th Nov 1956/26th Jan 1957, void, in-operative, illegal and ultra vires of the Constitution of India and such provisions of J&K Constitution like Article 144, 6, 7, 8 etc., of the same, which are inconsistent with/in derogation of Indian constitution void, in operative, illegal and ultra vires of the Constitution of India,” the petition said.

(Source: PTI)



SC asks CVC to examine dispute over closure reports in 20 cases

supreme courtThe Supreme Court Friday asked the CVC to examine 20 cases where there is a dispute within the CBI between investigating officers and the senior officer whether closure report should be filed in them or not.

A bench of Justice R.M.Lodha, Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph asked the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to examine 20 cases after senior counsel Amarendra Saran told the court that there were differences between investigating officers and their seniors on the fate of 20 preliminary inquiries.

Saran appeared for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The court said that if in the course of the examination, the CVC requires more documents then the investigating agency would provide the same within three days.

The court also directed the CBI and the Directorate of Enforcement to submit latest status report on their investigation into coal scam till April 30 as it fixef May 7 as the next date of hearing.

The court also allowed the Income Tax department to examine certain documents relating to their investigation that are in the possession of the CBI.

Earlier in the course of the arguments on the scope of the power of CVC over the investigation by CBI, Saran favoured the continuation of existing arrangement as any other situation would throw open a whole lot of issues.

As Saran suggested that CBI would give the details of these cases to both the CVC and the court, Justice Lodha said: “We don’t want to cross the limit where we enter the arena of supervision. This is a very dicey issue in view of the legal and constitutional provisions.”

Appearing for NGO Common Cause, counsel Prashant Bhushan said that court must step in as there are a large number of cases were difference of opinion between the investigating officers and the senior officers of the CBI.

He said that court can ask CVC to examine contentious cases and report to the court and court in turn can pass appropriate orders.

(Source: IANS)

Prior sanction needed for action against officials? SC reserves verdict

supreme courtThe Supreme Court Thursday reserved verdict on the validity of a legal provision that mandates the CBI to seek the government’s prior sanction before proceeding against an officer of the rank of joint secretary or above on charges of corruption.
However, the six-bench constitution bench said that if it had to invalidate section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act merely on the grounds of its being arbitrary, then the measure would be referred to a still larger constitution bench of seven judges as there were conflicting judgments on this count.
The constitution bench of Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice A.K. Patnaik, Justice Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya, Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla was hearing a 2005 reference by a three judge bench on the validity of section 6A.
Making the reference to the constitution bench, the court in 2005 had said: “In short, the moot question is whether arbitrariness and unreasonableness or manifest arbitrariness and unreasonableness, being facets of article 14 of the Constitution of India are available or not as grounds to invalidate a legislation”.
Reference to the larger bench was made on a petition by politician Subramanian Swamy. The government has resisted the plea seeking to invalidate the section, contending that it needed to protect its senior ranking officers who were involved in crucial decision-making process and they could not be exposed to undue harassment and exercise of police powers by the CBI.
Holding that section 6A, far from frustrating the rule of law in fact furthers the rule of law, the central government has contended that the legislative provision can’t be negated by the courts on the grounds of arbitrariness or unreasonableness unless it violated any of the fundamental rights.
Seeking to demolish the government’s position, counsel Prashant Bhushan asked the court how could the government decide whether the sanction could be given or not when it is itself or its subordinate officers are under cloud.
He wondered why a private citizen could not lodge a complaint against a government officer under the Prevention of Corruption Act as it violated the citizen’s rights and principles under article 21. “Whether approval by the Lokpal and CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) would be sufficient in this matter,” the court inquired as Bhushan said why the government should decide and not the CVC or the Lokpal.

(Source: IANS)

SC satisfied with police handling of Kejriwal’s protest

ccDays after ticking off Delhi Police for allowing protest by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal near Parliament, the Supreme Court on Friday expressed satisfaction over the way the agitation was handled, saying it had acted “swiftly” and did what was required.

After going through the affidavit filed by Delhi Police giving details of how it handled the agitation last week, a bench headed by Justice R M Lodha refused to pass any direction against the force, noting that no further action is required to be taken.

“They have acted swiftly and quickly registered the FIR for violation of Section 144 (prohibitory orders). They placed additional barricades at the site of dharna. We cannot go into the details and court cannot substitute its opinion on it,” the bench said.

“Decisions were taken fast and they were not dormant and idle,” the bench said, adding, “They have done what was required to be done”.

On the last hearing on January 24, the bench had slammed the law enforcing agencies for allowing unlawful assembly of supporters of the chief minister in the heart of the national capital and had sought response from police.

Police in its reply said it had exercised maximum restraint and dealt with protesters with patience despite sustained provocation.

AAP party workers led by Kejriwal went on agitation on January 20 demanding action against policemen who refused to carry out a raid on an alleged drug and prostitution ring on the directive of Delhi minister Somnath Bharti. The agitation was called off the next day.

The apex court was hearing a PIL filed by a Supreme Court lawyer seeking action against police for allowing Kejriwal and his supporters to hold the agitation outside Rail Bhavan.

(Source: IANS)

Land acquisition invalid if compensation not paid to owner, says SC

supreme courtIn a significant judgment, the Supreme Court has held that if compensation for land acquired under the 1894 act has not been paid to the land owner or deposited with a competent court and retained in the treasury, then the acquisition would be deemed to have lapsed and would be covered under the 2013 law entitling the landowners to higher compensation.

However, the only rider is that such an award of compensation should be five years or more prior to the enactment of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, which was notified on Jan 1, 2014.

“The deposit of compensation amount in the government treasury is of no avail and cannot be held to be equivalent to compensation paid to the landowners/persons interested,” said a bench of Justice R.M.Lodha, Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph in their recent judgment.

“Under section 24(2) (of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013), land acquisition proceedings initiated under the 1894 (Land Acquisition) Act by legal fiction, are deemed to have lapsed where award has been made five years or more prior to the commencement of 2013 act and possession of the land is not taken or compensation has not been paid,” the court said.

The court’s ruling came while addressing the question what is the “true meaning” of the expression: “compensation has not been paid” occurring in Section 24(2) of the 2013 act.

The court said that the 1894 Land Acquisition Act being “an expropriatory legislation has to be strictly followed. The procedure, mode and manner for payment of compensation are prescribed in Part V (sections 31-34) of the 1894 Act. The collector, with regard to the payment of compensation, can only act in the manner so provided”.

“It is settled proposition of law that where a power is given to do a certain thing in a certain way, the thing must be done in that way or not at all. Other methods of performance are necessarily forbidden,” the court said while dismissing the plea by Pune Municipal Corporation challenging the Bombay High Court verdict by which it has quashed the acquisition of 43.94 acres for development of a Forest Garden.

The award for the compensation for acquiring these lands was made Jan 31, 2008, and notices were issued to the landowners to receive the compensation but since they did not receive the compensation, the amount (Rs.27 crore) was deposited in the government treasury.

“Can it be said that deposit of the amount of compensation in the government treasury is equivalent to the amount of compensation paid to the landowners/persons interested? We do not think so,” the court said answering its own poser.

(Source: IANS)

Prashant Bhushan apologises to Supreme Court

Prashant BhushanThe Supreme Court took exception to counsel Prashant Bhushan’s comment that it was hesitant in taking action against Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati, but later Wednesday accepted his apology that he did not intend to lower the esteem of the court or hurt judges.

The apex court bench headed by Justice R.M. Lodha, hearing the matter of irregularities in coal allocation, capped the controversy as it recorded Bhushan’s statement: “I have highest regard for the court and if the statement of mine has hurt the court, I apologise.”

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Lodha said that when the extracts of the interview by Prashant Bhushan to a news magazine were brought to their notice, they were deeply hurt.

More so, because such a statement came from an arguing counsel and that too Prashant Bhushan.


Law graduate appears before inquiry committee in sexual harassment case

rape-victimA law graduate of the Kolkata-based National University of Judicial Sciences (NUJS), who had alleged sexual harassment by a now retired apex court judge while she was interning with him in December last year, Monday deposed before the three-judge inquiry committee looking into the allegation.

The law graduate appeared before the committee of Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai that was set up by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam Nov 12 and mandated to look into the correctness of her allegations published by a newspaper.

The sitting of the inquiry committee began at 4.30 p.m. and lasted for more than two hours.

The movements of the young lawyer right from the point of reaching the apex court and leaving it after deposing before the committee were wrapped in secrecy.

The only indication that Monday’s session of the inquiry committee was over was when the three judges left the court premises.

There was no official word on what transpired in Monday’s proceedings of the inquiry committee.

The young lawyer who is at present working with the Natural Justice: Lawyers for Communities and Environment organisation, had first alleged sexual harassment Nov 6, 2013, in a blog for the Journal of Indian Law and Society.

Subsequently, she repeated the allegation in an interview to Legally India website.

She has said that besides herself she has heard that three other girls too were sexually harassed by the same judge.

She claimed to have knowledge of another four girls who were allegedly harassed by other judges in their chambers.


SC dismisses plea seeking PM affidavit on coal

manmohan-singh1The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed an application seeking direction to the prime minister to file an affidavit explaining allocation of coal blocks to various companies during the period he held charge of the coal ministry.

“Dismissed,” said the apex court bench headed by Justice R.M. Lodha as he brushed aside PIL petitioner advocate M.L. Sharma’s plea seeking directions to the prime minister to file the affidavit.

Dismissing the plea, the court said: “We are hearing the matter and you are reaching the conclusion.”


Not averse to criticism: SC

The Supreme Court Wednesday said it was not averse to criticism but would not accept motive being attributed to its proceedings and decisions.

supreme court“We welcome the criticism of the court. (But) We cannot accept the motives being attributed. It is something very serious that cannot be accepted,” said the apex court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice H.L. Gokhale.

The court said this while giving former army chief General (retd) V.K. Singh time till Nov 15 to respond to its suo moto contempt of court notice initiated by it taking cognisance of his interview to a news channel where he had alleged pressure on judges in his date of birth matter.

“We cannot allow the court to be scandalised like this,” said Justice Lodha.


SC takes cognizance of contempt by army chief

The Supreme Court Monday took suo motu cognizance of the former Indian Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh finding fault with its verdict on his age row last year.

A special bench of Justice R.M.Lodha and Justice H.L.Gokhale will Tuesday take up for hearing a suo motu contempt petition by the court’s own motion taking note of a newspaper report wherein the former chief of the army staff has been quoted criticising the apex court decision on his age row.

The matter will come up for hearing before the special bench at 2 p.m.

A bench of Justice Lodha and Justice Gokhale on Feb 10, 2012, while dismissing Gen. Singh’s petition as withdrawn, had noted in its order the statement by Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati that “the union of India had not questioned the integrity and bonafides of the Gen. V.K. Singh”.

 Gen. Singh had contended that his date of birth was May 10, 1951 and not May 10, 1950 as mentioned in his service record.

The apex court had said that as far as his service record was concerned, his date of birth would continue to be May 10, 1950 and not reconciled as May 10, 1951 as mentioned in his matriculation certificate.
“As a matter of fact, the question before us is not about determination of actual date of birth but it concerns recognition of a particular date of birth by the government of India in official service records.”

(Source: IANS)