Supreme Court on Ayodhya case: Temple at disputed site and to allot alternative land for mosque.

The Supreme Court in a unanimous verdict on Saturday cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, and directed the Centre to allot a 5-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for building a mosque.

In one of the most important and most anticipated judgements in India’s history, a 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi put an end to the more than a century old dispute that has torn the social fabric of the nation.

The apex court said the mosque should be constructed at a “prominent site” and a trust should be formed within three months for the construction of the temple at the site many Hindus believe Lord Ram was born.

The site was occupied by the 16th century Babri mosque which was destroyed by Hindu kar sevaks on December 6, 1992.

The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, said possession of the disputed 2.77 acre land rights will be handed over to the deity Ram Lalla, who is one of the three litigants in the case. The possession however will remain with a central government receiver.

The Supreme Court said the Hindus have established their case that they were in possession of outer courtyard and the UP Sunni Central Waqf Board has failed to establish its case in the Ayodhya dispute.

Delivering its verdict in the politically-sensitive case of Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya, the apex court directed allotment of alternative land to Muslims to build a new mosque.

The apex court said the extensive nature of Hindus worshipping at outer courtyard at the disputed site has been there, and the evidence suggests the Muslims offered Friday prayers at mosque which indicates that they had not lost possession of the site.

It said that despite obstruction caused in offering prayers at Mosque, the evidences suggest that there was no abandonment in offering prayers.

The apex court further said that the underlying structure below the disputed site at Ayodhya was not an Islamic structure, but the ASI has not established whether a temple was demolished to build a mosque.

It said that terming the archeological evidence as merely an opinion would be a great disservice to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

The court also said that the Hindus consider the disputed site as the birthplace of Lord Ram and even Muslims say this about that place.

The faith of the Hindus that Lord Ram was born at the demolished structure is undisputed, the apex court said.

The bench said the existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih are the testimony of the religious fact of the place.

The apex court said however that the title cannot be established on the ground of faith and belief and they are only indicators for deciding the dispute.

Supreme Court notice to Centre and J&K on plea for producing Farooq Abdullah

 The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea seeking to produce before court former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, who is allegedly under detention following the scrapping of the state’s special status.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer issued notice to the Centre and the state, and fixed Rajya Sabha MP and MDMK leader Vaiko’s plea for hearing on September 30.

Vaiko, who said he is a close friend of Abdullah for the past four decades, has contended that constitutional rights conferred on the National Conference leader had been deprived of on account of “illegal detention without any authority of law”.

Supreme Court to hear Ayodhya land dispute case Friday

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Friday the issues relating to the Ayodhya’s Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case.

A notice in this regard was put up on the apex court website which said that the matter will be heard by a five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.

The matter will come for the first time on Friday since March 8 order by which the top court had referred the decades-old politically sensitive case for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge F M I Kalifulla for exploring the possibility of an amicable settlement.

Spiritual guru and founder of Art of Living foundation Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, a renowned mediator, are the other two members of the panel of mediators.

The panel was asked by the apex court to hold an in-camera proceedings and complete it within eight weeks.

1984 anti-Sikh riots case : SC asks CBI to apprise it of status of ongoing trial of Sajjan Kumar

The Supreme Court Monday asked the CBI to apprise it of the status of the ongoing trial in a case involving former Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in connection with a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case and listed his bail plea for hearing on April 15.

The CBI told a bench of Justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer that Kumar, who was a sitting MP in 1984, was the “kingpin” of the massacre of Sikhs in the national capital in 1984.

“This is a gruesome offence of massacre of Sikhs. He (Kumar) was the leader and he was the kingpin of this,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI, told the bench.

Mehta also told the bench it would be a “travesty of justice” if Kumar is enlarged on bail as he is facing trial in another 1984 anti-Sikh riots case at Patiala House district court here.

The bench said that it would hear on April 15 bail plea of Kumar, who was convicted and sentenced to life term by the Delhi High Court in connection with a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

The case in which Kumar was convicted and sentenced relates to the killing of five Sikhs in Delhi Cantonment’s Raj Nagar Part-I area of southwest Delhi on November 1 and 2, 1984, and burning down of a Gurudwara in Raj Nagar Part-II.

Anti-Sikh riots had broken out after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984 by her two Sikh bodyguards.

Supreme Court to hear DMK plea on TN Assembly by-elections on March 28

The Supreme Court Monday said it would hear on March 28 a plea filed by DMK seeking direction to the Election Commission (EC) for holding by-elections in three vacant assembly seats in Tamil Nadu.

The matter was mentioned for early hearing before a bench of Justices S A Bobde and Sanjiv Khanna.

The bench was told by the counsel appearing for DMK that the matter has been listed for hearing on April 8 but since the by-polls for other vacant 18 assembly seats was scheduled to be held on April 18, it should be heard as early as possible.

“List on March 28,” the bench said.

On March 15, the apex court had asked the EC to respond to DMK’s plea.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is seeking by-polls for Tiruparankundram, Ottapidaram and Aravakurichi assembly constituencies.

The DMK counsel earlier told the court that there are 21 vacant assembly seats in the Tamil Nadu but the poll panel has notified by-polls for only 18 seats.

The lawyer had said that by-polls on 18 seats are scheduled to be held on April 18 along with the Lok Sabha polls in the state.

The ECI’s counsel had said that as per his instructions, by-polls for three seats were not announced as some election petitions were pending in the Madras High Court.

DMK has also made a representation to the poll panel for holding by-polls to the three vacant seats.

Tamil Nadu’s Chief Electoral Officer had earlier said that by-polls are not scheduled for the Tiruparankundram, Ottapidaram and Aravakurichi constituencies as election petitions are pending in the Madras High Court.

The Ottapidaram constituency is represented by disqualified AIADMK MLA Sundararaj, while Aravakurichi is represented by Senthil Balaji, an AIADMK legislator who is now with the DMK.

Thiruparankundram legislator A K Bose died last year.

Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute : SC says aware of outcome of mediation on body politic of country

The Supreme Court Wednesday said it was conscious of the gravity of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute and the outcome of mediation on the body politic of the country.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the case was not only about property but also about sentiment and faith.

“It is not only about property. It is about mind, heart and healing, if possible,” the bench also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer said.

“We are not concerned about what Mughal ruler Babur had done and what happened after. We can go into what exists in the present moment,” the bench said.

The apex court is considering whether the dispute can be settled through mediation.

The top court had asked the contesting parties to explore the possibility of amicably settling the decades-old dispute through mediation, saying it may help in “healing relations”.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

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.

Re-probe into Mahatma assassination dismissed by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking a re-investigation into the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

A bench of Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao, which heard the matter, dismissed the petition filed by Mumbai-based Pankaj Phadnis from Abhinav Bharat.

The apex court, which reserved its verdict on March 6, had made it clear that it would not go by “sentiments” but rely on legal submissions to decide on the petition.

The apex court had said the plea seeking retrial of the case was based on academic research but that could not form the basis to reopen the matter which happened years ago.

The petitioner had questioned the ‘three bullet theory’ relied upon by various courts to hold the conviction of Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte, who were hanged. He had contended that there was need to examine whether there was a fourth bullet, which was fired by someone other than Godse.

Phadnis, a trustee of charitable trust Abhinav Bharat, had also sought the expunction of “adverse, unfounded” remarks made by the Kapur Commission in 1969 report against Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the setting up of a commission to probe the conspiracy behind the incident.

Phadnis alleged that the Maratha community was “maligned” due to these adverse remarks, which should hence be removed. He said there should be a retrial of the case, which led to the conviction and execution of Godse and Apte on November 15, 1949.

The court, however, said it did not share his sentiments that Marathas have been maligned and observed,”Maratha people have survived in spite of all this. You are talking about two persons who happened to be from Maharashtra. They do not represent the state. Observation about two persons does not malign whole Marathis.”

Phadnis claimed in his affidavit that the alleged conspirators were hanged even before the murder trial had attained legal finality from the top court.

Gandhi was shot dead at point blank range in New Delhi on January 30, 1948 by Godse, a right-wing advocate of Hindu nationalism. The assassination case had led to the conviction and execution of Godse and Apte on November 15, 1949. Savarkar was given benefit of doubt due to lack of evidence.

Phadnis had challenged the decision of the Bombay High Court which on June 6, 2016 had dismissed his plea on two grounds — first, that the findings of fact have been recorded by the competent court and confirmed right up to the apex court; second, that the Kapur Commission had submitted its report and made observations in 1969, while the present petition was filed 46 years later.

Rape case: SC relief to film maker, acquittal upheld

 ‘Peepli Live’ co-director Mahmood Farooqui today got a major relief from the Supreme Court which dismissed an American woman’s plea challenging a Delhi High Court verdict acquitting him in a rape case.

The top court said they were “good friends” and she had even expressed her “love” to him after the alleged incident.

It also said the woman appeared to have responded in a “positive manner” when they had met on the day of alleged incident and it was a case of “relationship” in which they have known each other.

The apex court referred to the e-mail communications between the 30-year-old woman and Farooqui and asked her counsel how could the woman say “I love you” in her mail to the accused after the alleged 2015 incident, which she later termed as rape.

A bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao observed that the high court’s verdict of September 25 last year acquitting Farooqui was a “well written judgement” warranting no interference.

“We are not satisfied (with her arguments). We will not interfere with the high court verdict. It is a well-written judgement,” the bench told advocate Vrinda Grover, who was representing the woman.

Farooqui was earlier convicted and sentenced to 7-year jail term by a trial court here in August 2016. However, the high court had acquitted him in the case last year.

The Delhi Police had on June 19, 2015, lodged an FIR against Farooqui on the woman’s complaint.

The police had filed a charge sheet against him alleging he had raped the research scholar from Columbia University at his Sukhdev Vihar house in South Delhi on March 28, 2015.

Farooqui had denied all the allegations.

During the hearing, the top court asked her counsel, “How many rape cases you have gone through where the prosecutrix (woman) has said ‘I love you’ to the alleged accused much after the alleged incident.”

However, Grover told the bench that the matter related to “forced oral sex” and the woman had not given her consent.

She said that the argument of alleged consensual relation was advanced by Farooqui’s lawyer before the high court for the first time and claimed that this issue was not raised before the lower court during the trial.

But the bench observed that it was not a case where strangers came, met and did something as both Farooqui and the woman were known to each other.

“It is a case of relationship. They were known to each other,” the bench said, adding, “This is a very hard case. We would like to say that it has been decided extremely well (by the high court). It is not a case which can be decided easily”.

When the counsel said both the woman and Farooqui were known to each other, the bench asked, “according to her evidence, they had drinks together. The point is they knew each other, had drinks together and did many other things together”.

Referring to the high court’s verdict, Grover said the judgement said she was a “sterling witness” and the issue was of consent. She also argued that the woman had said ‘no’ to Farooqui’s advance towards her.

“But initially ‘yes’. There appeared to be a positive response by her which according to her was faked. People give false smiles. How would the other person know it is a false response. This is very difficult to understand,” the bench said, adding that the high court had also observed that it was not reflected that she was saying ‘no’.

However, her counsel claimed in the court that during the alleged incident, the woman was afraid that “something bad” would happen with her as he had become forcefull.

The bench then referred to the e-mail exchanged between the woman and Farooqui and said the records showed they were very good friends.

The court also asked the counsel as to how many times the woman had visited Farooqui’s house and had drinks together.

It, however, clarified that the top court was not at all saying that if somebody visits the house of another regularly, then such act amounts to waiver of right to be protected against offence like rape.

The court also referred to a document in which the woman had said that she and Farooqui had exchanged kiss. “This does not happen between friends,” the bench said.

The lawyer said it was prior to the alleged incident and added, “consent must be appreciated in terms of the incident in question and not prior intimacy”.

She also argued that “refusal was clear in this case”.

The bench, while dismissing the plea, said it was not satisfied and would not interfere with the high court’s judgement and no question of law was involved in the matter.

The high court had acquitted Farooqui saying it remained doubtful whether any such incident took place. It had asked Tihar jail authorities to release Farooqui who was in custody following the trial court’s order.

The high court had said in the order that “the testimony of the victim is not reliable and there are discrepancies.”

The high court had, however, brushed aside her contention and noted that “what the appellant has been communicated is, even though wrongly and mistakenly, that the prosecutrix is okay with it and has participated in the act.”

The trial court, which on July 30, 2016 had held Farooqui guilty of raping the woman in 2015 in a drunken state, had also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on him.

SC asks petitioner locus for seeking re-probe into Mahatma’s assassination

 The Supreme Court today posed searching questions to a petitioner, who is seeking re- investigation in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, and asked him to satisfy it on aspects of delay and his locus to raise this issue.

The apex court made it clear that it would go only by law and not the stature of the person involved in the case.

A bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao told the petitioner not to get carried away by the greatness of the person involved as the issue was whether there was any evidence available in the matter.

“You (petitioner) have to answer a couple of very important points. One of them is delay. The other is locus.

the third is the fact that because of the delay, every piece of evidence pertaining to the incident is lost,” the bench said adding that almost all witnesses related to the case have passed away.

The court was hearing a plea filed by Mumbai-based Dr Pankaj Phadnis

, a researcher and a trustee of Abhinav Bharat, who has sought reopening of investigation on several grounds, claiming it was one of the biggest cover-ups in the history.

Meanwhile, Phadnis requested for time to respond to the report filed by senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, who has been appointed as an amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter.

Sharan, in his report filed in the court, has said that there was no need to re-investigate Mahatma’s assassination case as the conspiracy behind the murder and identity of assailant Nathuram Vinayak Godse who had fired the bullets have already been duly established.

The bench granted four weeks time to the petitioner to file his response to the report of the amicus.

During the hearing the bench told the petitioner that the issue was whether any admissible evidence was available at present.

“Don’t get carried away with the greatness of the person involved. This is about whether there is any evidence available or not,” the bench observed adding, “court will act according to the law and rule and not as per stature of person involved.

Source : PTI