SC seeks Rajasthan govt’s response on plea for probe into death of over 100 infants at Kota hospital.

The Supreme Court on Monday sought response from the Rajasthan government on a plea seeking probe into the death of over 100 infants at a hospital in Kota recently.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant issued a notice to the state government on a plea filed by noted doctor K K Aggarwal and social worker B Mishra seeking probe into the death of new-born babies due to lack of equipment at a government hospital in Kota.

Over 100 infants had died in the Kota hospital recently.

SC seeks response of Centre, EC in 2 weeks on plea seeking stay on electoral bond scheme.

The Supreme Court on Monday sought response of the Centre and the Election Commission on a plea seeking stay on the electoral bond scheme meant for funding political parties.

The top court, however, refused to grant an interim stay on the electoral bond scheme.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant asked the Centre and the Election Commission to file their responses within two weeks to the interim application filed by NGO ‘Association for Democratic Reforms’ for staying the scheme.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, alleged that the scheme is a means for channelising unaccounted black money in favour of the ruing party.

Bhushan also referred to a document of the RBI while seeking stay of the scheme.

“We will see that. We are listing it after two weeks, the bench said.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the EC, said all these arguments have already been advanced earlier and sought four weeks time to reply to the plea of the NGO against the scheme.

Nusli Wadia withdraws defamation cases including 3,000 cr damage suit against Ratan Tata and others.

Bombay Dyeing Chairman Nusli Wadia on Monday withdrew all defamation cases including the Rs 3,000 crore suit for damages against Tata group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata and others.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde allowed Wadia to withdraw the petition in the apex court after the court recorded that Tata and others had no intention to defame him (Wadia).

“In view of the statement made by Tata that there was no intention to defame Wadia, which is in accordance with the finding of the high court, the petitioner is hereby allowed to withdraw the present petition as well as the pending suit for damages,” the bench said.

The top court told senior advocate C A Sundaram, appearing for Wadia, that court appreciates his client for the response.

The top court had on January 6 asked Wadia and Tata to sit together and resolve their differences in the defamation case.

Wadia had filed a criminal defamation case against Ratan Tata and other directors of Tata Sons in 2016 after he was voted out of the boards of some Tata Group companies.

The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, which was initially inclined to dispose of the matter while upholding the finding of Bombay High Court that there was no intention of defamation, adjourned the matter for January 13, after counsel for Wadia said that he would like to seek instruction from his client on the separate suit filed in the matter.

Wadia had moved the apex court challenging the Bombay High Court order of last year, quashing proceedings initiated by a Mumbai local court against Tata, Tata Sons’ current chief N Chandrasekaran and eight directors in a criminal defamation case filed by him.

On December 15, 2018, a magistrate court in Mumbai had issued notices to Tata and the others in the case.

Wadia filed the defamation case in 2016 after he was voted out of the boards of some Tata Group companies, and claimed that Tata and others made defamatory statements against him after they removed Cyrus Mistry on October 24, 2016 as the chairman of Tata Sons.

Tata and others had then approached the high court seeking to quash and set aside the proceedings initiated against them.

Internet access a fundamental right : Supreme Court

Access to the Internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court said in a significant ruling on Friday and asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review within a week all orders imposing curbs in the Union Territory.

A 3-judge bench, headed by Justice N V Ramana, also said that Section 144 CrPC (prohibitory orders) cannot be used indefinitely to suppress freedom of speech and expression and difference of opinion.

The bench, which also comprised justices B R Gavai and R Subhash Reddy, asked the J-K administration to restore Internet services in institutions providing essential services like hospitals and educational places.

The bench further said that freedom of press is a valuable and sacred right.

On the prohibitory orders, it said that magistrates, while passing them, should apply their mind and follow doctrine of proportionality.

The verdict came on a batch of pleas which challenged the curbs imposed in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre’s abrogation of provisions of Article 370 on August 5 last year.

These pleas were different from another set of petitions which have challenged the constitutional validity of abrogation of Article 370, being heard by a sperate 5-judge Constitution bench which will resume its hearing on January 21.

The 3-judge bench had reserved the judgement on removal of curbs on November 27 last year.

On November 21, the Centre had justified restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and said that due to the preventive steps taken, neither a single life was lost nor a single bullet fired.

Besides Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, the apex court had heard the petitions filed by Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, and few intervenors questioning the restrictions in the Kashmir Valley.

The Centre had referred to terror violence in the Valley and said that for the past so many years terrorists were being pushed through from across the border, local militants and separatist organisation had held the civilians captive in the region and it would have been “foolish” if the government would not have taken preventive steps to secure the lives of citizens.

Provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, were abrogated by the Centre on August 5 last year.

SC to hear after four weeks PIL seeking greater autonomy for ECI

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear after four weeks a PIL seeking that the chief election commissioner and election commissioners be appointed by a three-member collegium.

The collegium will comprise the prime minister, the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and the chief justice of India.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant took note of submissions that the plea needed an urgent hearing.

“We will list it for hearing after four weeks,” the bench said.

BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay has filed the PIL seeking to ensure more autonomy for the chief election commissioner’s (CEC) office and election commissioners.

The plea has also sought an independent secretariat for the Election Commission of India (ECI) and that it should also be given the power to make rules.