Jammu and Kashmir: SC refuses to hear fresh petition challenging Article 370

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Monday refused to entertain a fresh petition on Article 370, that gives special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Ajay Rastogi asked the petitioner to file an application for impleadment in the pending matters.

Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said they will hear the matter in the first week of April 2019 after Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, sought adjournment on the grounds that the current situation is very sensitive. “We have heard the petitioner. The issues raised in the petition are part of the petitions pending,” said the bench.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi and advocate Shoeb Alam, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir said that a letter has been circulated seeking adjournment due to the ongoing nine-phase Panchayat polls in the state.

Nine properties including Noida, Greater Noida sealed: Amrapali tells SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court ordered the sealing of nine properties of the Amrapali group after its three directors, who are in police custody, said that the documents related to the group’s 46 firms were stored there.

A bench of Justices U U Lalit and D Y Chandrachud directed that after the sealing of these properties, its keys be handed over to the registrar of the apex court. The court’s order came a day after three directors of the group — Anil Kumar Sharma, Shiv Priya and Ajay Kumar — were ordered to be taken into police custody.

The court said that the company was playing “hide and seek” with the court and not complying with its orders of handing over all the documents. These directors told the bench that documents related to Amrapali’s 46 group companies were kept in seven locations at Noida and Greater Noida and two premises — Rajgir and Buxar districts in Bihar.

The three directors had moved an application before the court stating that they were willing to hand over all documents but the police was unaware about which one needed to be seized.

Kathua rape case: Supreme Court dismisses plea by accused seeking CBI probe

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today dismissed  a plea by an accused in the Kathua gang rape case  seeking fresh investigation in the matter. A bench of Justices UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud also dismissed a separate plea filed by two other accused in the case seeking transfer of investigation in the matter to an independent agency.

The victim, an eight-year-old girl from a minority Muslim nomadic community, had disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in the Jammu region on 10 January this year. Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The bench, while rejecting both the pleas, said the accused could raise the issue before the lower court in the ongoing trial. It was also reported that the accused in their confession had revealed that the crime was committed to scare the nomadic community away from the area.

The state police’s Crime Branch, which probed the case, filed the main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district last week, revealing chilling details about how the minor girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.

Explore use of advanced technology to give RTI replies to differently-able’ says SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court directed the Centre as well as the stste to explore the use of advanced technology in providing information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act  to differently-abled persons. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said such people should have a functional-facility to receive the information as permissible under the Act.

Observing that information makes an individual “empowered”, the top court said the right to acquire and disseminate information has been regarded as an intrinsic component of freedom of speech and expression. “They should not be deprived of the benefit of such a utility,” the court said.

On a writ petition filed by Aseer Jamal, the bench said, We think it appropriate to ask the authorities to explore any kind of advanced technology that has developed in the meantime so that other methods can be introduced,” the bench said.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, however, said that according to the provision, it was obligatory on the part of the central public information as it prepares a reply in the printed format and forwards it to the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped where it is converted to Braille.  He said that Audio files were also being prepared.

In view of the submission, the top court said that if any representation was made of further difficulties the same shall be dealt not only with sympathy but also with concern and empathy.

Bhima-Koregaon Case: Supreme Court extends house arrest of five activists, rules out SIT probe

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday extended the house arrest of five rights activists who were taken into custody by the Pune Police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case. The plea for an SIT was not entertained, with the accused given the liberty to pursue other appropriate remedies and the top court declined to appoint a SIT for probe into their arrest.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India, Dipak Mishra and comprising Justices A M Khaniwlkar and D Y Chandrachud, on Friday gave a 2:1 judgement on the plea seeking the immediate release of the activists.

“Arrests were not because of dissent of activists, there is prima facie material to show their link with banned CPI (Maoist),” CJI Dipak Misra said.  Chandrachud says the petition was genuine and lashes out at Maha police for press meet, distribution of letters to media.

“Accused can’t choose which probe agency should examine case,” Justice AM Khanwilkar said while reading out the verdict.

The five activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha, were in jail since 29th August. The police claimed to have proof of the arrested activists’ involvement in an event called Elgaar Parishad that later triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon in Maharashtra.

Supreme Court lifts ban on entry of women to Sabarimala Temple

NEW DELHI: A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra on Friday pronounced its verdict on entry of women into the Sabarimala temple of Kerala. While reading out the verdict, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, “The practice of barring women in age group of 10-50 to go inside the temple is violative of constitutional principles.”

Verdict is disappointing but since the highest court of the country ruled we are duty-bound to accept it, says Sabarimala head priest Tantri Rajeevaru Kandarar. Women said to be of menstrual age are restricted from entering the temple as its presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa, is considered to be a celibate.

In 2006, Indian Young Lawyers Association filed a petition in the Supreme Court opposing this practice and sought the lifting of the ban. Justice Indu Malhotra–the lone woman judge on the five-judge Constituion Bench–delivered a dissenting verdict. The other judges on the bench are Justices R.F. Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud.

Bhima-Koregaon case: Supreme Court To Deliver Verdict on the arrest of five activists today

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will be going to pronounce its verdict on the arrest of five rights activists in Bhima-Koregaon violence case on a plea by historian Romila Thapar and others seeking the immediate release of five activists.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had reserved the judgment on September 20 after counsel for both parties, including senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harish Salve and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, concluded their submissions. The bench, that also comprised Justices A M Khaniwlkar and D Y Chandrachud.

The five activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha, were in jail since 29th August. The police claimed to have proof of the arrested activists’ involvement in an event called Elgaar Parishad that later triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon in Maharashtra.

The apex court had on September 19 said it would look into the case with a “hawk’s eye” as “liberty cannot be sacrificed at the altar of conjectures”. The five accused are under house arrest at their respective homes since August 29.

Adultery law verdict: SC Strikes Down Section 497

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously declared that Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code which deals with adultery. A bench of CJI Dipak Misra, Justices Rohinton Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra. SC strikes down Section 497.

The five-judge Supreme Court bench is unanimous in ruling that Section 497 of the IPC that makes adultery a criminal offence is unconstitutional. Calling the law archaic and saying that it violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution the justices said that: “Adultery can be ground for civil issues including dissolution of marriage but it cannot be a criminal offence.”

Adultery will remain a ground for divorce, the bench added. The top court said society has two standards for judging sexual behaviour. “Make them as objects able to being possessed depriving dignity and privacy to women. Respect for sexual autonomy is founded on equality between partners,” the court said.

According to the adultery law, a man can be punished for having a sexual relationship with a married woman without the consent of her husband. The Centre wants adultery to continue in the Indian Penal Code as it ensures the sanctity of the marriage and is for the public good.

On August 8, the court asked the Centre “what public good” the law on adultery serves as adultery is not an offence if a woman’s husband approves of such a relationship.

Supreme Court rejects plea challenging appointment of Justice Gogoi as next CJI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by advocate RP Luthra seeking to quash the appointment  of Justice Ranjan Gogoi as the next Chief Justice of India. The petitioner advocates, R P Luthra and Satyaveer Sharma had relied on the contents of a press conference called by the top four judges including Justice Gogoi earlier this year.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said that the petition was “devoid of merits”. “We are of the view that it is not the stage to interfere (with the appointment),” the SC bench said.

The plea had said the petitioners were also relying on an undated letter addressed to the Chief Justice of India and circulated by the four apex court judges. This act of the four senior-most judges of the court was not less than a sabotage to the judicial system of the country the plea had alleged.

On September 13, President Ram Nath Kovind had appointed Justice Ranjan Gogoi as the next Chief Justice of India and Justice Gogoi is scheduled to assume office on October 3.

SC refuses to ban politicians facing criminal charges, leaves it to Parliament

NEW DELHI: In a crucial judgement the Supreme Court left the matter of disqualification of politicians carrying criminal charges against them and said it was not within its powers to disqualify politicians facing criminal cases from contesting elections  and left it to Parliament to frame an appropriate law.

The court also directed the Parliament to make a law to ensure that candidates with criminal records don’t enter public life and take part in lawmaking. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said malignancy of criminalisation of politics was “not incurable”, but the issue was required to be dealt with soon before it becomes “fatal” to the democracy.

Referring to the report of the NN Vohra Committee, set up to study the problem of criminalisation of politics,SC asks legislature to consider framing law to ensure decriminalisation of politics.

Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said “in a multi-party democracy, where members are elected on party lines and are subject to party discipline, we recommend to the Parliament to bring out a strong law. The bench, also comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra