Homosexuality is an offence: SC

ddThe Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside the decision of the Delhi high court, which had in 2009 decriminalised sexual relation between persons belonging to same sex.

The apex court upheld the constitutional validity of Section 377 of Indian Penal Code that makes anal sex a punishable offence.

LGBT activists, whose sexual relationships had been legalised by the Delhi HC, broke down inside the court room.

Parliament is authorised to remove Section 377, but as long as this provision is there, the court can not legalise this kind of sexual relationship, the SC bench observed.

“It is for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of the IPC,” the apex court said.

A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya had reserved judgment on March 27 last year on a bunch of petitions, many arguing in support and some against the HC verdict, after hearing arguments on a day-to-day basis for over a month.

The judgment, coming after nearly a year and nine months of remaining reserved, is the last one to be pronounced by Justice Singhvi, who retires on Wednesday (11-12-13).

While pleading for decriminalisation of gay sex, the Centre had subsequently told the court that the anti-gay law in the country had resulted from British colonialism and the Indian society was much more tolerant towards homosexuality.

The Delhi high court had on July 2, in 2009 decriminalised gay sex as provided in Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and had ruled that sex between two consenting adults in private would not be an offence.

Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC makes gay sex a criminal offence entailing punishment up to life term.

Those in favour of the Delhi HC verdict and those opposed to it are divided on religious considerations. While liberal organizations, including NGOs advocating LGBT rights, are supporting the HC decision, those opposed to it are mainly from religious groups belonging to Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities.

Those who challenged the Delhi HC verdict, which came on a petition filed by NGO ‘Naz Foundation’, included BJP leader B P Singhal, All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance.

The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhagam, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal and yoga guru Ramdev have also opposed the verdict.

(Source: IANS)

Huge spike in crime against women in Delhi : SC

New Delhi, Oct 30: In 288 days, till Oct 15 this year, the national capital witnessed an alarming rise in crime against women. On average, five women were raped, and 10 molested, kidnapped or abducted, and nine subjected to cruelty each day.

This rate of crime is nearly double that for the corresponding period of 2012.

This emerged as the Delhi government Wednesday furnished details to the Supreme Court of crimes against women in the national capital. In 2013, till Oct 15, there were 1,330 cases of rape, 2,844 cases of molestation and 2,906 cases of kidnapping and abduction of women, the government said.

As the court remarked about the increase in crimes against women in Delhi, Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra told the apex court bench comprising Justices G.S. Singhvi, Shiva Kirti Singh and C. Nagappan that “there was a marked increase in crime against women in 2013 as there is rapenow a direction for the mandatory registration of FIR (First Information Report) of offences against women”.

At least 2,487 women complained of cruelty by the husband and his family; there were 123 cases of dowry deaths, and 14 complaints under the Dowry Prohibition Act.

Apart from the more serious offences, there were also 793 cases of “eve-teasing”.

In 2012, there were 590 cases of rape, 526 cases of molestation, 154 cases of “eve-teasing”, 1,750 cases of kidnapping and abduction, 1,605 cases of cruelty by husband and his family, 119 cases of dowry deaths and 14 cases under the Dowry Prohibition Act.

On Tuesday, the apex court asked the Delhi government to submit details of the number of offences committed against women every month in the national capital.

 

The court order came while hearing a petition by the Aam Admi Party seeking an independent probe by a Special Investigating Team on the baton-charge by police while party activists were protesting at a police station in Gokulpuri in northeast Delhi against the non-registration of FIR in an alleged case of rape.

 

Reserving the order on the plea of the AAP party workers, Justice Singhvi asked senior counsel Shanti Bhushan and Additional Solicitor General Luthra to suggest names that could be considered for constituting an SIT, in case a decision is taken in favour of the plea by the AAP activists.

 

The court also paused to consider why there was such a spurt in crimes recorded against women. Justice Singhvi said that even though more cases are being recorded, there are still women who suffer in silence. He added that “it was for the state to protect them.”

 

Justice Singhvi noted: “There are untoward incidents in every office, because people feel that their rights are not being protected and they are not getting their due.”

 

As Bhushan made a forceful plea for a probe by an SIT, Luthra told the court that there was no case for interference by the court: “But for an aberration on the part of an officer, there is no case that there will not be fair investigation,” he said.

 

Prior to the hearing, the court saw the video of the action that had taken place at Gokulpuri police station. The court noted that the baton-charge by the police was missing in the video.

 

Defending the police action, Luthra said: “In a melee, where it is a free for all, are we going to blame one party alone?”

 

Luthra asked: “Can we allow the people who have assembled, in exercise of their right of freedom of expression, to take control of government establishment and law and order?”

 

(Source: IANS)

 

SC slams Centre for no uniformity among tribunals

The Supreme Court slammed the Centre for not bringing uniformity in dealing with appointment, tenure and facilities for judges heading judicial or quasi-judicial tribunals and said it would pass order if the government failed to do so in four weeks.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya expressed its anguish that despite giving assurance to it, the government has failed to bring uniformity in the prevailing statutes governing the functioning of tribunals. It asked the Attorney General to appear before it on the next date of hearing.

Despite court’s warning on the last date of hearing on December 4 that it will stay all appointments till a uniform policy comes into existence, the Centre failed to bring changes in the statutes.

There were over 60 tribunals functioning in the country to be headed by persons who are either sitting or retired judges or chief justices of apex court or high courts.

The bench expressed anguish over the manner in which judges appointed to the posts are denied accommodation or facilities to which they are entitled under the respective statutes.

Earlier, the bench had observed that there had been instances when a retired judge of a tribunal was forced to take refuge in a ‘dharamsala’ and the perks and facilities offered to one judge were different from another who was later offered the post of chairman.

Answers to Prez Ref will not undo 2G verdict: SC

The Supreme Court today said the opinion of its Constitution Bench on the Presidential Reference arising out of its 2G Spectrum judgement will not have “undoing” impact on the verdict by which the allocation of 122 licences were cancelled.

“All of us so far know that answers given to the Presidential Reference has no meaning to the case as it is not undoing the judgement. That will not make difference to the judgement,” a bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan said.

“The fact of the matter is that they (Centre) have not complied with the judgement,” it further said, adding that “they have not held auction of the spectrum as per the judgement.” The apex court in its February 2 judgement this year had cancelled the 122 licences for 2G spectrum and had also advocated that all natural resources in all sectors should be allocated for commercial purpose through the auction route.

The remarks were made by the bench during the hearing of the Centre’s plea seeking extention of deadline for completing the auction of 2G spectrum after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for an NGO, said the government was delaying the process by filing the Presidential Reference after the its review petition was admitted.

While Bhushan was making submission, the bench also expressed displeasure over EGoM’s decision to defer taking any step on spectrum pricining in view of the pending Presidential Reference. “EGoM’s decision was not appropriate at all. Why to wait till the matter is decided,” the bench said.

2G:SC to consider extending deadline if Govt gives undertaking

The Supreme Court today said it will consider extending its August 31 deadline given to complete the process of fresh auctioning of 2G spectrum cancelled licences only if the Telecom Secretary gives an undertaking that its judgement would be implemented.

A bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan said it will not accept the undertaking from officers below the rank of secretary.

The bench, which fixed the matter for hearing on Monday, said that it expects the government to stick to the deadline given in the application.

In an application filed by the Telecom Ministry, the government said it needed time till November 12 to start the auction and another 40 days to complete the procedure and allocate licences and spectrum.

The decision to approach the apex court for extension of the time was taken at a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers on telecom on August 7.

The application said that the entire exercise would be completed in three months and 23 days.

The court had earlier extended its original June 2 deadline to August 31, 2012, refusing to grant 400 days to the government to complete the process of fresh auctioning.

It had also said the existing licences for the 2G spectrum will continue to be operational till September 7, 2012.

The apex court on February 2 had cancelled 122 licences for the 2G spectrum and had directed their fresh auctioning by June 2

Unable to find who leaked Radia tapes: Government tells SC

The Government on Thursday filed a report in the Supreme Court saying it has been unable to find the source which leaked the tapes containing conversation between corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and others including Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata.

“In a nutshell, the report says it is difficult to find by which source it was leaked,” a bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya said, after perusing the report filed in a sealed envelope.

The bench further said, “Regarding the source which leaked the tapes, they have been unable to find it.”

The second report by the government on its probe into the leakage of the recorded conversation was filed during the hearing of the petition filed by Ratan Tata seeking inquiry into the incident which he alleged was in violation of his fundamental right to privacy.

Impeachment proceedings against Dinakaran to continue: Supreme Court

In a major setback for Sikkim High Court Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the impeachment proceedings against him would continue. However, the court asked the chairman of the Judges Inquiry Committee (JIC) to replace senior counsel P.P. Rao after Dinakaran alleged that Rao was biased against him.An apex court bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and C.K. Prasad termed as “motivated” Dinakaran’s plea for quashing the charges framed against him by the JIC.

At the same time, the bench directed that Rao be dropped and said that the JIC would proceed with its inquiry on the basis of the charges already framed by it.Dinakaran had contended that the JIC, constituted last January by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, had exceeded its brief.

The JIC, headed by Supreme Court judge Aftab Alam and which includes Karnataka High Court Chief Justice J.S. Khehar, is inquiring into charges of corruption, land grabbing, possessing disproportionate assets and misbehaviour against Dinakaran.

 

Contempt notice to Rajnigandha maker for using plastic pouches

The Supreme Court Wednesday issued a contempt notice to the Dharampal Satyapal Group of Companies — manufacturers of chewing tobaco Rajnigandha and Tulsi — for marketing their product in plastic pouches in violation of court orders of December 2010.

An apex court bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly issued notice to the company’s managing director, Rajiv Kumar, on an application filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation , drawing the court’s attention to the violation of its order.

The court said plastic pouches should not be used in any form and restrained the company from marketing its already manufactured produce, which was dated April 2011.

The ban on marketing of chewing tobacco in plastic pouches came into effect on March 31, 2011.

Apex court to hear plea seeking CBI probe into Batcha’s death

The Supreme Court will Thursday hear an application seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the death of Sadiq Batcha , who had been questioned by the investigating agency in the 2G spectrum scam.

An apex court bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly said it would hear the matter after lunch. This was after senior counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that he was ready with the application seeking a CBI probe into Batcha’s suicide.

However, Bhushan said he would wait as Tamil Nadu government has indicated its willingness to ask the CBI to probe Batcha’s suicide.

Bhushan said this in the beginning of the hearing of a petition by Subramanian Swamy seeking cancellation of 2G licences to a telecom operator. Swamy has alleged that these licenses were given in violation of then prevailing rules and the failure of telecom operators in meeting their roll out obligations.

Batcha, a close associate of former union communications minister A. Raja, was found hanging in his home Wednesday. He was the founder of Green Home Promoters, a real estate company.

The Green House Promoters, started with an equity base of Rs.1 lakh in 2004, grew to over a Rs.600 crore revenue company within a short time – an aspect under the CBI scanner.

The CBI questioned him four times between Jan 29 and Feb 24 to know where the huge amounts of money generated in the spectrum saga went.

Deadline for ban on gutka in plastic sachet stays

In a setback for chewing tobacco manufacturers, the Supreme Court Thursday declined to extend the March 1 deadline banning the marketing of tobacco products in plastic sachets.An apex court bench of Justices G.S Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly, however, said the central government’s rules prohibiting the plastic packaging, which was to come into force with immediate effect, will now be kept on hold till March 1.

The central rules prohibiting plastic sachets in the tobacco industry were notified on Feb 4 and were to come into force with immediate effect.

While extending the date for enforcing the rules, the apex court issued notice to the central government on the petition by the manufacturers challenging the measure.

The central government and NGOs involved in the matter have been given three weeks to file their responses. Another three weeks will be given to the tobacco manufacturers to file their replies to central government response. Thereafter, ten days time will be given for further filing of responses and replies. The matter will come up for hearing on April 13.

Earlier, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told the court that the central government has complied with its Dec 7, 2010 directions.

He told the court that in pursuance of its Dec 7 order, the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) had conducted a comprehensive study which indicates that 86 percent of oral cancer cases in the world occur in India and of these, chewing tobacco was found to be the cause in 90 percent of the cases.

In yet another disturbing revelation, the court was told that NIPH study has found that 24 percent of school-going children are addicted to chewing gutka and pan masala.

Subramanium said that worst-affected people are from the lower social strata and they have to sell their belongings in the course of their treatment, which is expensive. This prompted the court to say that “any cancer treatment is expensive”.

The tobacco manufacturers, in their petitions, contended that the rules prohibiting the use of plastic sachets for packaging their products was arbiterary and discriminatory.

It said that when the draft of the rules were released to public for inviting suggestions or objections, there was no clause providing for banning the plastic sachets and it was included subsequently.

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the tobacco manufacturers, said plastic sachets worth Rs.200 crores were lying with the manufacturers and were a drain on them.

When Jethmalani said that the ban has come all of sudden, Justice Singhvi said: “It is not sudden. On December 7, 2010 there is an order. The matter was heard for a sufficiently long time before the time was fixed for the ban.”

The petition contended that clause 5(d) imposing complete ban on the use of plastic sachets was inserted in the final rules and not in the draft rules (issued on Sep 17, 2009) against which objections were invited from the public.

It argued that the manner in which the environment ministry inserted the clause in the final rules was in “gross violation of the rules of natural justice”.

The petition said that if littering of plastic bags, packs and sachets were adding to pollution, then there is “no nexus or justification in distinguishing manufacturers/sellers/distributors of pan masala, gutka and tobacco from other manufacturers/sellers/distributors who use plastic for packaging”.