As strikes end, Supreme Court defers hearing on security of doctors, keeps open ‘larger issue’ of their safety

The Supreme Court Tuesday deferred the hearing on a plea seeking protection of doctors in government hospitals, saying since doctors have called off their strike in West Bengal and other states, there is no urgency to hear the matter.

A bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant said it will not issue notice (to the Centre) but is keeping the larger issue of protection of doctors open.

“We agreed to hear the plea today as there was a strike by doctors and medical fraternity in West Bengal and other states. The strike has been called off and there appears no urgency to hear the petition. List (the matter) before an appropriate bench,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association also filed an impleadment application seeking the court’s intervention into the plea already filed, saying protection needs to be provided to doctors across the country.

The bench said it needs to take a holistic view in providing security to doctors.

“We understand it is a serious issue but we can’t provide security to doctors at the cost of other citizens. We have to take a holistic view. We have to look at the larger picture. We are not against protection to doctors,” the bench said.

Doctors in Bengal had been on strike since two of their colleagues were assaulted allegedly by relatives of a patient after he died last week. They called off their protest Monday night after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in a meeting assured them of steps by her government to scale up security at state-run hospitals in the state.

The breakthrough came on a day health services especially Outpatient Departments (OPDs) were crippled across the country as doctors held protests and boycotted work to show solidarity with their colleagues in Bengal.

The plea in the top court was filed on Friday and had sought directions to Union ministries of home affairs and health and West Bengal to depute government-appointed security personnel at all state-run hospitals to ensure safety and security of doctors.

It had also sought directions to Bengal government to take the strictest legal and penal action against those who assaulted the two junior doctors at a hospital in Kolkata.

The plea had cited an IMA data to say that more than 75 percent doctors across the country have faced some form of violence.

It said the study concluded that 50 percent violent incidents have taken place in the Intensive Care Unit of hospitals and in 70 percent cases, relatives of patients were actively involved.

“The doctors are our saviours and particularly the doctor working in government hospitals are doing great national service, particularly to the poor and downtrodden of this country, in extremely adverse circumstances,” it had said.

Supreme Court refuses to entertain plea alleging cash-for-vote in LS polls in Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court Monday refused to entertain a plea which alleged that people were being bribed on a massive scale for the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it was not inclined to hear the matter since the elections in the state were already over.

“As elections in the state of Tamil Nadu are over, we are not inclined to entertain this petition,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.

The apex court had earlier sought Election Commission’s response on the plea in which the petitioner had sought creating awareness through TV, newspapers and radio that it was a punishable offence to give or take cash for votes.

The petition had said that so far Rs 78.12 crore in cash has been seized in the state.

The plea said the poll panel has already designated all 40 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, along with 70 other seats across the country, as “expenditure sensitive”.

“That Case of the petitioner is that there are reports in all the leading newspapers and T.V. Channels regarding cash-for-vote in bye elections and Lok Sabha, elections and state assembly elections. A survey report also speak about the increasing cash for vote practice in Tamil Nadu,” it said.

The petition further said that if one political party has an overwhelming superiority in money, the newspapers support and give patronage to it, and it will be almost impossible for it ever to be defeated.

“This would result in some voters being denied an equal voice and some candidates, denied equal chance,” it said.

The plea also alleged that all political parties openly paid cash-for-vote to the voters in Madurai, Thirumangalam bye-election held on 2009.

“A main major political party paid Rs 5,000 each to the voters to cast their vote, to their favoured candidates. The Election Commission’s hands were tied and its officials were seen as silent spectators in Madurai, Thirumangalam Bye Election constituency,” the plea claimed.

The petition sought increase in the number of flying squads appointed by EC to control cash-for-vote and effective monitoring.

It also sought that if election is postponed or cancelled for the reason of distribution of cash for vote or for deviating any election rules, the huge money spent for election by government should be recovered from the candidate/ head of political party.

The petitioner had referred to the media and intelligence reports to say that Rs 10,000 crore case was arriving in Tamil Nadu and the recent seizure of Rs 11.5 crore from a cement godown in Vellore district by the I-T investigation wing substantiates the allegations that huge cash was being used for votes.

Why No Mechanism To Monitor Assets Of MPs And MLAs : Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to explain in two weeks why it has not set up a permanent mechanism to monitor the undue accretion of assets by elected representatives as directed by it last year. On Feb 16 last year, the apex court had said the undue accretion of assets by lawmakers was a “sure indicator” of the beginning of a failing democracy, which if left unattended, would lead to the destruction of democracy and pave way for “rule of mafia”.

It had then asked for a permanent mechanism to monitor the undue accretion of wealth by lawmakers. On Tuesday, hearing a contempt plea filed by NGO ‘Lok Prahari’, it said it was not issuing any notice but seeking a reply from the secretary of legislative department of the Union of India why the court’s directions were not complied with.

The NGO has claimed that certain directions issued by the court on Feb 16 last year have not been complied with. The court also asked the secretary to explain what his department has done with respect to non-disclosure or part disclosure of assets which would amount to “undue influence” under the Representation of People’s (RP) Act. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna asked the secretary to explain why Form 26, which every candidate is required to fill during his nomination, does not contain a declaration on whether he or she has suffered any kind of disqualification under the RP Act. At the outset, S N Shukla, secretary of the NGO, appearing in person, told the court that the Election Commission has complied with two of its directions, including one on the disclosure of assets and source of income of candidates, their spouse or dependents.

He said one more direction given by the court for making provision in Form 26 for disclosure by candidates about securing of contracts of high-monetary value either from the central or the state government has been complied. He, however, said three other directions has not been complied with till now. Shukla said no permanent machinery has been created to monitor the undue accretion of assets of members of Parliament, members of Legislative Assembly and Councils. He said the provision for non-disclosure of assets or part disclosure of assets which would amount to “undue influence” has not been given effect.

The third, he said, no provision has been made in Form 26 to enable a candidate to mandatorily disclose whether he or she suffers any disqualification of any kind under the RP Act. In a landmark verdict on electoral reforms on Feb 16 last year, the apex court had said disproportionate assets of elected representatives was a matter which should alarm citizens and voters of any democratic society. It had said that undue accumulation of wealth in the hands of any individual would not be conducive to the general welfare of the society.

Besides, income of lawmakers without any known or by questionable sources, would pave the way for the rule of mafia over the rule of law. The court had referred to Articles 38 and 39 of the Constitution, which declare that the state shall direct its policy towards securing that ownership and control of material resources of the community were distributed so as to best subserve the common good and guaranteeing that the economic system does not result in concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment. Lok Prahari, the NGO, had sought creation of a permanent mechanism to investigate candidates whose assets have grown disproportionately during their tenure as MLAs or MPs and also a direction to the candidates contesting polls to disclose their sources of income.


Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking immediate execution of death row convicts in December 16 gangrape case

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition seeking directions for the immediate execution of the four men convicted in December 16 gangrape. 

A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked the petitioner, “What kind of prayer are you making?” It further said, “You are making the court a joke.” The PIL filed by lawer Alakh Alok Srivasatava sought direction from the central government to execute all the four death row convicts within two weeks. 

Six men had raped and brutally assaulted a 23-year-old student in a moving bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012. The woman succumbed to her injuries two weeks later at a hospital in Singapore. On July 9, the apex court dismissed the pleas of three convicts, Mukesh (31), Pawan Gupta (24) and Vinay Sharma (25), seeking review of the apex court verdict which upheld the judgements of the Delhi High Court and the lower court in the case.

The crime had triggered country-wide protests and demands for better safety of women.

Identity of rape victim can’t be disclosed says SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court issued important directives to protect privacy and reputation of victims of rape crimes including those who have died, cannot be disclosed “even in a remote manner. 

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said this while refusing to agree with an argument that in certain matters, the victim’s name should be allowed to be disclosed as her name and face could become a “rallying point” to prevent other such sexual offences. 

Court made it clear that they do not want to in any manner curtail the right of the defence to cross-examine the prosecutrix, but the same should be done with a certain level of decency and respect at large. 

If it is necessary to part with documents, the names of victims should be removed, the court said. Justice Deepak Gupta authored the Judgment for the bench, disposing of the Public Interest Litigation filed by Nipun Saxena.

SC Slams Nitish Government calls sexual abuse in state-run shelter homes shameless and inhuman

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed the Bihar government accusing it of being lackadaisical in its response to rampant sexual abuse in state-run shelter homes where children were allegedly sexually abused.

“The attitude of the state is extremely unfortunate, tragic and shameless to say the least… are these children lesser citizens of the country?” a three-judge bench said.  The top court added that it was “tragic” to go over the file of the case each time. There are 17 shelter homes where allegations of sexual abuse were cited in the TISS report. Why should each case not be investigated? Are these children lesser citizens of the country?” the court asked.

A bench consisting of Justices Madan Lokur, Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta said directing the state chief secretary to personally present in court tomorrow  when the matter would be taken up again for hearing.

Funds for Durga Puja committees: SC refuses to stay WB decision to grant Rs 28 crore

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Friday refused to stay the decision of the West Bengal government to grant 28 crore rupees Durga puja committees across the state. The court, however, refused to interfere with the decision, saying the amount must be distributed only through the state police.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, however, issued notice to the state government and sought its reply within six weeks. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the state government, said the money has not been directly paid to puja committees and has been given through the state police.

The top court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Sourav Dutta, challenging the Mamata Banerjee government’s decision that Rs 10,000 would be given to each of the 28,000 puja committees across the state –3,000 in the city and 25,000 in the districts, which would cost the government Rs 28 crore.

Muzaffarpur shelter home case: SC lifts ban on reporting

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court with an instruction for the media to exercise restraint and not to misreport or sensationalise such news, lifts the ban on reporting in the Muzaffarpur shelter home sexual abuse case.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta vacated the August 23 order of the Patna High Court. The Patna High court had banned reporting on Muzaffarpur shelter abuse cases on August 23.

A journalist, who had challenged the blanket ban in the top court  seeking a stay on the high court order restraining the media from reporting the investigation. However, Justice Madan B Lokur said that when a case is going on, media can’t deliver its judgement.

Over 30 girls were allegedly raped at the shelter home run by one Brajesh Thakur, the chief of a state-funded NGO. An FIR was filed and 10 people, including Brajesh Thakur, were arrested.