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.

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.

Odd-Even’ for two-wheelers in Delhi, SC stays NGT order

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today stayed NGT order directing that odd-even vehicle rotation scheme be implemented for two-wheelers too in Delhi. Earlier National Green Tribunal’s 2017 order had directed that odd-even vehicle rotation scheme be made applicable to two-wheelers also in Delhi.

A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Dipak Gupta was told by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A N S Nadkarni, appearing for Delhi government that it would be impossible to accommodate people in public transport if odd-even scheme is made applicable for two-wheelers also. 

The NGT had in December last year dismissed the Delhi government’s review plea seeking exemption for two-wheelers in odd-even scheme, saying such a relaxation would defeat the purpose of improving Delhi’s ambient air quality. Under the scheme, odd and even numbered vehicles ply on alternate days. 

Nadkarni said there were around 68 lakh two-wheelers in Delhi and they were seeking exemption for two-wheelers. The Delhi government had proposed rule in 2015 to run vehicles with odd and even numbers on alternate days to reduce air pollution and  improving Delhi’s ambient air quality.

SC refuses to extend deadline for third-party insurance for vehicles

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to extend cars and two-wheelers  third-party insurance cover from September 1. A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and S Abdul Nazeer dismissed a petition filed by the General Insurance Council, which had sought an extension of the deadline. The current insurance cover period is one year.

The apex court had on July 20 this year said that third-party insurance cover for new cars should mandatorily be for a period of three years and for two wheelers, it should be for five years. Currently, the insurance cover period is one year.

Most of the general insurers dealing in motor insurance had filed long MTP cover with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) for approval. Sources said most of the companies would have such policies to offer from September 1.

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance sources said the company would be rolling out both comprehensive and bundled motor insurance policies from September 1.

Industry sources said less than 45 percent of bikes and scooters are insured while only about 70 percent cars are insured. According to the Motor Vehicles Act, all vehicles running on Indian roads are mandatorily required to buy third-party motor insurance.

SC shows displeasure as states not appointments the board of visitors for jails by states

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has expressed its disappointment that several states have not yet appointed the board of visitors who regularly inspect prisons to ensure that they are being run in accordance with rules.

While terming the appointment of board of visitors “an absolute necessity”, a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta wondered as to why states were not following the model prison manual which was prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The bench was informed by advocate Gaurav Agrawal, who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the prison reforms matter, that several states have not yet appointed board of visitors and even in Delhi’s Tihar jail, the appointment of the board has not been notified.

“The appointment of board of visitors that regularly visits jails is an absolute necessity and it is also provided for in the model prison manual prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India,” the bench said.
“We do not see why an acceptable document prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs should not be followed by the prison departments,” the court said.
The bench was also informed that Ministry of Home Affairs has issued advisories about the appointment of board of visitors but several states have not followed it.

The apex court, which is hearing a matter relating to inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country, has listed the matter for hearing on August 8.
The bench said that it would also deal with the issue of ‘open prisons’ on the next date of hearing.

Semi-open prisons or open prisons allow convicts to work outside the jail premises and earn a livelihood and return in the evening.
The concept was brought in to assimilate the convicts with the society and reduce their psychological pressure as they faced lack of confidence in leading normal lives outside.
The court had earlier taken strong exception to overcrowded jails across the country and had said that prisoners also have human rights and they cannot be kept in jail like “animals”.

It had earlier passed a slew of directions over unnatural deaths in jails and on prison reforms across India.

Supreme Court asks Rajasthan to file affidavit in a matter pertaining pollution from buses.

The Supreme Court today asked the Rajasthan government to file an affidavit within three weeks in a matter pertaining to pollution from buses operating to the state from Bikaner House near the India Gate here.

The apex court ordered that if the state does not file an affidavit in three weeks, all the buses originating from or terminating at Bikaner House here would be restrained from operating with effect from April 1 this year.

A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta observed that notice was issued to the state earlier, but no advocate has appeared on behalf of Rajasthan for the hearing.

“Notice was issued to the state of Rajasthan and the standing counsel but despite service, no one has entered appearance. In any case, no one is present today,” the bench noted in its order.

“In view of the pollution in Delhi, we direct that in case the state of Rajasthan does not appear and file a counter affidavit within three weeks, all buses originating from or terminating at Bikaner House near India Gate, New Delhi are restrained from operating with effect from April 1, 2018,” the bench said in its order.

The apex court was hearing an application for restraining Rajasthan from running passenger buses from the Bikaner House here.

The bench, which fixed the case for hearing on March 26, directed that copy of its order be sent to standing counsel for the state for compliance.

The court is dealing a PIL filed in 1985 by environmentalist M C Mehta who had raised the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-national capital region (NCR).

Iron ore mining leases of 88 companies in Goa cancels : Supreme Court

The Supreme Court today quashed the second renewal of iron ore mining leases given to 88 companies in Goa in 2015.

The Supreme court directed the Centre and the Goa government to grant fresh environmental clearances to them.

It said the state government was obliged to grant fresh mining leases in accordance with law, in view of its previous judgement, and not second renewals to mining lease holders.

The apex court had said in previous judgements that only fresh leases were to be granted by the Goa government, not second renewals.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said mining lease holders, who have been granted a second renewal in violation of its previous decision and directions, are granted time to manage their affairs and may continue mining operations till March 15 this year.

“However, they are directed to stop all mining operations with effect from March 16, 2018 until fresh mining leases (not fresh renewals or other renewals) are granted and fresh environmental clearances are granted,” the bench said.

“The second renewal of the mining leases granted by the State of Goa was unduly hasty, without taking all relevant material into consideration and ignoring available relevant material and therefore not in the interests of mineral development,” it added.

The decision, the bench said, was taken only to augment the revenues of the state, which is outside the purview of Section 8(3) of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act.

“The second renewal of the mining leases granted by the State of Goa is liable to be set aside and is quashed,” the bench held.

The apex court also directed the setting up of an SIT and a team of chartered accountants to recover the amount from mining companies, which were allowed to extract ore in violation of the law.

The judgement came on a petition filed by an NGO, Goa Foundation, which had earlier also raised the issue of companies carrying out mining in violation of various statutes.

Justice Khehar to head the Constitution bench

Justice J S KheharSetting at rest issues, the Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the decks for commencing the hearing on the validity of the new law on appointment of judges with a Constitution Bench rejecting demands for recusal of judges.

“Justice J S Khehar will not recuse himself from hearing,” Justice J Chelameswar said on behalf of the five-judge bench which overruled the objection on Justice Khehar heading the bench. Justice Chelameswar said the reasons for the non-recusal of Justice Khehar will be delivered later.

The bench, also comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel, besides Justices Khehar and Chelameswar, said it will commence the hearing on April 27 to examine the validity of the new law–National Judicial Appointments Commission Act–which has been notified. It replaces the two-decade-old collegium system of appointment of judges to the higher judiciary. The court issued notices to the Centre, all state governments and union territories asking them to be ready with the matter which “purely involves the questions of law”.

The bench also asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to take instruction from competent authority about the judges, particularly about additional judges in high courts whose tenure is coming to an end in the immediate future when the matter will be pending before the court. It said it will hear the matter tomorrow and after knowing the stand of the Centre. It will pass an interim order as this is a matter of concern and their fate cannot be kept in limbo.

Justice Khehar made it clear that the bench headed by him would like to complete the hearing and dispose of the matter in a particular time frame. 14 working days, starting from Monday onwards, would be sufficient to conclude the arguments and if required a day or two will be used during the summer vacation, he said.

A consensus was evolved that the petition filed by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA), in which senior advocate Fali S Nariman is appearing, will be the lead case among the batch of petitions challenging the validity of Constitution (99th amendment) Act 2014 and the NJAC Act, 2014, which pushes out the two-decade old collegium system of appointment of judges by the judges.