Nirbhaya case : SC dismisses curative petitions filed by two of four death row convicts

The Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed the curative petitions filed by two of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.

A 5-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana rejected the curative petitions filed by Vinay Sharma (26) and Mukesh Kumar (32).

The proceedings were conducted in-chamber. A curative petition is the last and final legal remedy available to a person.

The five judges were unanimous that there was no merit in the curative petitions filed by the two condemned petitioners.

“The applications for stay of execution of death sentence are also rejected. We have gone through the Curative Petitions and the relevant documents. In our opinion, no case is made out within the parameters indicated in the decision of this Court in Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra & Another, reported in 2002 (4) SCC 388. Hence, the Curative Petitions are dismissed,” the bench said.

The other members of the bench were Justices Arun Mishra, R F Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan.

Vinay and Mukesh had filed curative petitions on January 9.

A Delhi court had on January 7 issued death warrants against the four convicts and said they would be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail.

Two other death-row convicts, Akshay Kumar Singh (31) and Pawan Gupta (25), had not filed curative petitions.

A 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012, in a moving bus in south Delhi by six people before being thrown out on the road. She died on December 29 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

The Supreme Court had in 2017 upheld the capital punishment awarded to them by the Delhi High Court and a trial court.

One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail.

A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.

On July 9, 2018, the apex court had dismissed the review pleas filed by three of the convicts in the case, saying no grounds had been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.

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.

Review Petition Filed In Supreme Court Against Order Directing Demolition Of Kochi Flats For Alleged CRZ Violation

A day before the deadline set by the Supreme Court for demolition of three apartments in Maradu, Kochi for violation of CRZ norms, one of the builders has filed an application for review of the May 8 judgment. The review petition states that the demolition order was passed by the Court on an erroneous understanding that Maradu area was included in CRZ-III area. The bench did not notice that the area was categorized as CRZ-II as per the Coastal Zone Management Plan prepared for the area as per CRZ 2011 notification, which was approved by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on February 28, the petition states.

Therefore, at present, a construction of the like nature is legal and permissible in the area, contends the review petition filed by Holy Faith Builders and Developers, the builder of the apartment named “H2O”.

The bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha had passed the order based on the report of a three-member committee appointed by the Court which stated that when the constructions were made, the area was designated as CRZ-III, where such constructions are prohibited. The Court had also noted that Panchayat had granted the building permits without the concurrence of the Coastal Zone Management Authority, which was mandatory. According to the bench, the relevant issue was whether the constructions were legal when they were made, and not whether they are permissible now. o The bench also took judicial notice of the floods faced by the state last year and observed that it had taken place “due to such unbridled construction activities resulting into collossal loss of human life and property”. The authorities were directed to implement the order within a month. The review petition alleges that the three-member committee consisting of the Secretary to the Local Self Government Department, the Chief Municipal officer of the concerned Municipality and the Collector of the District had not heard all affected parties before submitting the report. The demolition order against three apartments will affect nearly 400 families, the petition points out. Maradu area, though a Panchayat at the time of construction, is a suburb of Kochi city, and was upgraded to a Municipality in 2010. The builder argues that Maradu is a fully developed urban area, and is not adjacent to coastal area. The 1991 CRZ notification does not bring canals within its ambit, submits the review petitioner. The review petition filed through Advocate A Karthik has referred to the SC order in the case of DLF apartments in Kochi, where the Court had held that the builder cannot be held liable for the failure of authorities to take timely action. There the Court had found that the KCZMA had flip-flopped on whether there was any violation. Meanwhile the construction was completed on the basis of a deemed environmental clearance which accrued to the builder due to the authority’s inaction, and the authority thought of acting against the alleged violation only after the completion of the construction. This approach was deprecated by the SC, which observed that a developer cannot be left in the lurch due to the indecisiveness of the authorities. In the instant case, the KCZMA did not act promptly against the alleged violations, and did not question the building permits issued to the builders, argues the builder in the review petition. On May 26, the SC had dismissed an application filed by a resident seeking extension of time.

SC orders for attachment of Amrapali’s assets

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, ordered attachment of some properties of the beleaguered Amrapali group, like  multi-speciality hospital in Greater Noida, three residential towers situated in Sector 62, bank accounts, and a ‘benami’ villa in Goa for not obeying its orders.

The bench of Justices Arun Mishra and UU Lalit said that these properties are being attached as the group has not made investment from its own pocket but diverted money into these properties it received from home buyers. The court made evident its displeasure when told that the group continued to violate orders asking it to provide complete details of investments to the forensic auditors.

The court also asked the Chief Financial Officer Chander Wadhwa to deposit Rs 11.69 crore with its registry within three weeks and asked a statutory auditor Anil Mittal to pay Rs 47 lakh. Justice Lalit told the group’s lawyers, “It (funds) should come back since the money belongs to the buyer. Therefore, all this (properties) have to be sold.” Earlier The court sought the presence of CMD Anil Sharma and two directors Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar on 19 November.

SC sends 3 directors of Amrapali group to police custody

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court sent in police custody three Directors of the Amrapali Group,  directing them to hand over all the documents of the 46 group companies to forensic auditors.

A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit said the directors — Anil Kumar Sharma, Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar — who were present in the court, would remain in police custody till they hand over all the documents of the group’s 46 firms.

The top court directed the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police to seize all necessary documents and at the same time asked the real estate group to furnish the documents to auditors within 24 hours. On September 12, the apex court had appointed NBCC to develop stalled projects of the realty firm and directed the Debts Recovery Tribunal to sell the unencumbered commercial properties of the group.

The court also said that none of the statutory auditors and Directors shall leave the country.

Attempt made to influence me: Justices Indira Banerjee

NEW DELHI: Supreme Court judge Justice Indira Banerjee surprised everyone by saying that an attempt made  her to pressure and influence the hotel Royal Plaza case. This incident took place when a bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Banerjee was hearing a matter on August 30 in court number 8 when the revelation was made.

Justice Mishra has said that the attempt to impress the judge is equal to the contempt of the court. Senior lawyer Shyam Divan requested Justice Banerjee  not to recuse herself from the hearing as it might be used by others as well to ensure recusal of judges from hearing cases.

Justice Banerjee said that any attempt to influence the court will be taken very seriously. She further added that someone had telephoned to influence them too.  However, there was no clarity on whether there was a telephone call or who made it. The bench then heard the matter and reserved its verdict.

Govt’s report in sealed cover available on Twitter: Swamy to SC

New Delhi: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy today took a dig at the Centre and told the Supreme Court that a document placed by it in a sealed cover, in a case relating to senior ED officer Rajeshwar Singh, was available on micro-blogging site Twitter.

After a vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjay Kishan Kaul pronounced its order in the matter and said the government was free to look into the “serious” charges against Singh, Swamy told the apex court that the document has been “put on Twitter”.

“It (document) should not have been put on Twitter,” the bench said, adding, “It should not have been put in public domain”.

Justice Kaul observed, “everything is on Twitter nowadays”.

After the pronouncement of the order, Swamy told the bench that he was “happy” with it.

Later in the day, Swamy held a press conference at his official residence here and made public the document, which he claimed was placed in a sealed cover before the top court by the Centre.

He alleged that there was no basis for the Ministry of Finance to file a report of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) in the court as it was of year 2016, which was already available on Twitter.

Swamy claimed in the press conference that “some powerful people” were after Singh as he was investigating the Aircel-Maxis deal case in which a second charge sheet would be filed in a trial court shortly.

He said that even after the 2016 report of R&AW, Singh was promoted to the post of Joint Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and at that time, there was no problem.

However, now in 2018, Singh’s promotion as Additional Director of the agency has been held up based on the same report, he said.

The BJP leader even targetted the law officer, who appeared for the Centre before the apex court in the matter today, and asked on whose instructions had he opposed him and Singh in the court.

“As per my information, the PMO, the National Security Advisor and the Cabinet Secretariat was not informed that the Additional Solicitor General will be opposing my petition. He should be removed,” he said at the press conference.

Govt free to probe charges against ED officer probing Aircel-Maxis case: SC

New Delhi: No officer should be under a “cloud” and blanket clean chit cannot be given to anybody, the Supreme Court observed today, as it told the government that it was free to look into the “serious” allegations against ED officer Rajeshwar Singh, who is probing the “highly sensitive” 2G spectrum case and the Aircel-Maxis deal.

A vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, which was of the view that the sensitive matter involved national security, said the allegations against Singh were required to be looked into and the government should take a call whether he would have any role to play in the further probe.

Modifying its interim order granting Singh protection against an inquiry, the court referred to the Centre’s affidavit which stated that it did not intend to protect anybody, including the high or the mighty, and observed that it was nobody’s case that government was “seeking to thwart the investigation”.

The bench said it was “troubled” with the Centre’s response as documents placed before it in a sealed cover contained “startling” facts.

“We direct that the government is free to look into the materials against respondent number 3 (Rajeshwar Singh) and the same can be looked into,” the bench ordered.

“… It will be the call of the government whether Singh will have any role to play in the matter,” it said, referring that a charge sheet has already been filed in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

During the arguments, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for the Centre, said the government was willing to probe the charges that Singh had amassed disproportionate assets, as he handed over a communication in a sealed cover to the bench.

“Of course, the Supreme Court’s order (granting protection to Singh against inquiry) comes in our way,” the ASG said.

After perusing the document, the bench observed, “As a matter of fact, when there is an allegation, whether right or wrong, against you (Singh), it has to be looked into”.

“The other issue is that you should not be victimised. The third point is whether it would be appropriate for you to investigate when you are under a cloud and under investigation,” the bench said, adding “the things which have come before us are startling”.

“You are simply an officer. You can’t be given a blanket clean chit. Everybody is accountable. You must be accountable for any action. We need to ensure that you are accountable. We don’t want to damage you or comment against you. There are very serious allegations against you,” it told the officer. It also made it clear that it has not commented against anybody.

The bench noted that the government had assured that the probe in these cases would be done as per the time schedule fixed by the top court which, on March 12, had given a deadline of six months to the CBI and ED to complete the probe.

Senior advocate R S Suri, appearing for Singh, told the bench that there was a serious issue of maintainability of the plea filed by Rajneesh Kapur, who claims to be an investigative journalist who is seeking a probe against Singh for allegedly amassing assets which are disproportionate to his known source of income.

To this, the bench said, “We had given six months time (to CBI and ED to complete the ongoing investigation) and protection was granted (to Singh). This matter is highly sensitive from the country’s point of view. We cannot just divulge the content of this (communication in sealed cover) to anybody. It may prejudice your client (Singh) also. It is not advisable that it goes into public domain.”

“It is highly sensitive. Issues of nation’s security are involved. These are serious issues. We cannot shut our eyes to it,” the bench observed.

“The sensitive issue is the government’s response which has troubled us. Something very serious is there. We cannot say that ‘leave the matter’ or tie the hands of the government,” it said.

“Let there be a fair investigation and person, who is investigating, according to my opinion, should not have a cloud over him,” Justice Mishra observed.

At the outset, Kapur’s counsel claimed that after filing the plea, Kapur has been “gravely threatened” and sought protection for him. He also claimed that Singh has the “clout” and the top court’s earlier order says no action can be taken against this officer.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who had filed a plea seeking to be impleaded as a party in Kapur’s plea, said Singh was promoted to the post of Joint Director in ED and full evaluation was done for it around two years ago.

To this, the bench said the issue of promotion of an officer was a personal thing.

Swamy, however, alleged that a top officer was “inimical” to Singh due to what had happened in the Nirav Modi’s case and he was willing to put it on an affidavit.

When the bench ordered that no personal insinuations should be made, Swamy said, “I am withdrawing it”.

He said that allegations were levelled against Singh but the probe agencies had given him a clean chit. “You could always call for a report from CBI, ED or any other agency and then come to a conclusion whether it is motivated or has some substance,” Swamy said.

The court disposed of the petitions filed by Kapur, Swamy and Singh, who had filed a separate plea seeking contempt action against Kapur.