Indian judiciary strongest, most robust institution in world: CJI Dipak Misra

NEW DELHI: As Justice Dipak Misra’s term comes to an end the outgoing Chief Justice on Monday said that Indian judiciary is the “most robust institution”  in the world.

Our judiciary has been strongest judiciary in the world having capability to handle mind boggling number of cases,” Justice Misra, who will retire as the CJI Tuesday, said while speaking at the farewell function organised at the premises of the Supreme Court.

In his farewell address, outgoing CJI Misra said, “I do not judge people by history, I judge people by their activities and their perspectives.” Misra retires as the Chief Justice of India on Tuesday; today, however, was effectively his last day in office since Tuesday, October 2, is a public holiday.

Justice Ranjan Gogoi, the Chief Justice of India-designate, said Justice Misra was a remarkable judge.

CJI-designate Ranjan Gogoi, says he has a plan to tackle pendency of cases in courts

NEW DELHI: India’s top judge-designate Ranjan Gogoi expressed concern over the pendency of cases in courts, vowing to tackle issues that’re rendering the legal system and it has the potential of making the system irrelevant”. Justices Gogoi said he will reveal a plan to tackle pending cases and asked lawyers to participate in the process.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Youth Bar Association, Justice Gogoi said, “Two things are troubling me–pendency of case, which brings in a lot of disrepute to courts, and providing justice to poverty-stricken population,” I would request each of you to kindly give a thought to this [problem] and see how you can overcome this difficulty,” Gogoi said. “I have a plan and will unfold it and you are welcome to take part in that.”

The world’s second-most populous nation grapples with millions of pending lawsuits and a complex court system stymies most Indians. There were more than 54,000 pending cases at the Supreme Court as of May 4, according to its website, all the pending cases, 60% are more than two years old, while 40% are more than five year old.

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 adjourns hearing on Rafale fighter jet deal

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing seeking probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault. A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K M Joseph put the plea for consideration on October 10.

Petitioner M L Sharma told the apex court bench that he wants to file some additional documents in the case and therefore the matter should be adjourned. “Now you are talking about filing an additional affidavit but the letter you circulated seeking adjournment is saying you are unwell,” said Justice Gogoi. “You have missed the bus.”

In his petition, Sharma has alleged discrepancies in the fighter jet deal with France and sought a stay on it. Initially, the court fixed October 22 as the next date of hearing but as Sharma urged for an early date,the court later advanced it to October 10.

He sought quashing of the inter-government agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets must be quashed as it was an “outcome of corruption” and not ratified by Parliament under Article 253. India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in 2016 to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of Rs 58,000 crore.

Malegaon blasts case: Supreme Court rejects Lt Col Purohit’s Plea For SIT Probe

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to admit a plea by Lt Col Prasad Shrikant Purohit seeking a court-monitored investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into his alleged kidnapping illegal detention and brutal torture in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

The bench, comprising Justices Naveen Sinha ,Justices Ranjan Gogoi, and K M Joseph, said admission of the plea may interfere with the ongoing trial in the case. Why should we interfere at this stage? It may impact the trial,” the bench said. The apex court, however, has allowed Purohit  to raise his contentions before the trial court and said it is not expressing any opinion on his petition.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Lt Col Purohit, told the bench that the issue raised by Lt Col Purohit in his plea has to be looked into.

On September 29, 2008, six people were killed and 101 injured after an improvised explosive device (IED), strapped on a motorcycle, went off in Malegaon in north Maharashtra’s Nashik district.

Goa Land Act: SC dismisses pleas challenging validity of amendments

Supreme Court
Supreme Court

New Delhi, The dismissed petitions challenging the validity of amendments made in the 114-year-old Land Acquisition Act to save a portion of a five-star resort in Goa which was earlier ordered to be demolished.

“We find no merit in the petitions. We uphold the validity of the amendments made to the Land Acquisition Act,” a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Prafulla C Pant said.

In 2009, Goa government promulgated an ordinance to amend the law in order to save a portion of five-star resort of Cidade de Goa, owned by Fomento Resorts and Hotels, which had been ordered to be demolished by the Supreme Court.

The apex court, on January 21, 2009 had ordered the demolition of the portion which houses 54 hotel rooms besides a health club, conference and business rooms and other facilities.

The court had given the order as the hotel management violated certain guidelines in the agreement reached between the government and the resort.

The state had decided to promulgate an ordinance amending the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 so that the government is empowered to modify any agreement with the hotel management to meet any exigencies.

The Dona Paula-based resort was given land by the government under certain conditions, including public access to the beach.

DD can share feed of WC matches with pvt cable: SC

In good news for lakhs of cricket lovers dependent on cable TV, the Supreme Court today gave a go-ahead to public broadcaster Doordarshan to continue sharing live feed of World Cup cricket matches with private cable operators.

The apex court continued its stay on the Delhi High Court verdict that had allowed the plea of Star India Ltd, which holds the exclusive telecast rights of the Cricket World Cup, and had asked Prasar Bharati not to share the live feed of the matches with private cable operators.

The top court said the High Court order will remain suspended until further orders and posted the matter for final hearing in the month of July, much after the World Cup comes to an end.

“We are of the view that the interim order passed earlier to the effect that the impugned order dated February 4, 2015 of the High Court shall remain suspended should continue until further orders. We order accordingly,” a bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and Prafulla C Pant said.

The court, in its interim order, fixed the appeal of Prasar Bharti against the High Court order for final hearing in the month of July.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre and Prasar Bharati, had told the court that it was mandatory for a private channel under the Sports Act and the Cable TV Network Act to share the feeds of matches of “national importance” with Prasar Bharati for providing it on DD’s free-to-air terrestrial channels.

Prasar Bharati had moved the Supreme Court challenging the February 4 Delhi High Court judgement which was passed on the plea of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), ESPN and Star. They had contended that cable operators were getting live feed free through DD channels, resulting in loss of revenue for them.

Centre opposes in SC guidelines to regulate its advertisements

Government on Tuesday opposed in Supreme Court the framing of guidelines on regulating its advertisements, saying this did not fall under the ambit of judicial purview as an elected dispensation was answerable to Parliament.

The government also asked as to how would the court decide which of the advertisement has been issued to gain political mileage.

A bench comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and Pinaki Chandra, which reserved its verdict on various pleas on the issue, said it would consider submissions of all parties concerned including the central government.

Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, said, “these are matters which should be left to the government and are outside the purview of the courts. The government communicates to the public at large through these advertisements on policy and other matters.”

He was opposing to the submission of Prashant Bhushan, who was representing an NGO, that there should be an ombudsman to regulate misuse of public money by the government of the day by giving advertisements to gain political mileage.

“The government expenditure is subject to whole lot of parliamentary procedures and each penny is accounted for and is subject to the audit of the CAG. This is not a case akin to the Visakha case where the courts can step in,” the AG said.

Giving several instances, he said it would amount to “pre-censorship” as it is difficult to judge which of the advertisement is being given to gain political mileage.

“Today, we have the swine flu campaign going on across the country. Do we suggest that these advertisements should not contain the pictures of the health minister or health secretary etc. It cannot be said this (advertisement) is given with malafide intention,” he said, adding that every government department was entitled by Parliament to spend a particular amount under a particular head.

“On what basis, you will decide that it is malafide and is being given to gain political mileage. Ultimately, the government is answerable to Parliament,” he said.

At the outset, Bhushan endorsed as “salutary” the recommendations of the court-appointed committee and said that they should be issued by the court to ensure that their non-adherence invite consequences.

Quota for persons with disabilities : SC seeks DoPT’s response

The Supreme Court has sought the Centre’s response on an NGO’s plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings for not complying with an earlier order of three per cent quota in jobs to persons with disabilities.

The bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and RF Nariman issued show cause notice to the Secretary of the Department of Personal and Training (DoPT). It, however, exempted the officer from personal appearance before the court.

The bench was hearing the plea filed by NGO National Federation for Blind through senior advocate SK Rungta.

The NGO has said that DoPT has issued an office memorandum for providing 3 per cent reservation to persons with disabilities and said the posts have to be computed against the total number of vacancies in the cadre strength to be filled up through direct recruitment in group A and B posts.

“This amendment in the office memorandum was not in accordance with the direction of the court,” the plea said.

The NGO alleged that other clauses, which were also to be amended to comply with the court’s directions, have not been changed “intentionally and deliberately”.

Most of the clauses relate to quantum of reservation and maintenance of roster etc, it said.

It said the DoPT also did not take steps for filling up vacancies, to be calculated against the reservation for persons with disabilities, adopting the manner of computation in terms of court’s directions within a period of three months.

The NGO has also sought direction to the DoPT to ensure “strict and timely compliance” of court’s earlier order to revive a committee for undertaking a centralised special recruitment drive for clearing up the backlog reserved vacancies for such persons.

The court, in an order passed on October 8, 2013, had provided separate one per cent reservation for each of the three categories of persons with disabilities namely persons suffering from blindness and low vision, persons suffering from hearing disability and persons suffering from locomotor disability or cerebral palsy respectively.

 

Rajiv Gandhi assassination case: SC commutes killers’ death sentence to life term

rajiv gndhi assasinsIn a major relief to three condemned prisoners in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Supreme Court on Tuesday commuted their death sentence to life imprisonment, holding that the 11-year long delay in deciding their mercy petition had a dehumanising effect on them.

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam said that the delay was not only inordinate but also unreasonable and unexplained.

The court said that life imprisonment would mean life in jail till end.

The bench, also comprising justices Ranjan Gogoi and SK Singh, rejected the contentions advanced by Attorney General GE Vahanvati on behalf of the central government.

The court said that though there is no time limit given in deciding the mercy petition by the President, but it was incumbent upon the government to decide the same at the earliest.

It rejected the Centre’s submission that there was no unreasonable delay in deciding their mercy plea and the condemned prisoners did not go through agonising experience as they were enjoying life behind the bars.

The bench said they are unable to accept the Centre’s view and commuted the death sentence of convicts – V Sriharan alias Murugan, AG Perarivlan alias Arivu and T Suthendraraja alias Santhan – to imprisonment for life subject to remission by the government.

It asked the Centre to give timely advice to the President so that mercy petitions can be decided without unreasonable delay.

“We implore the government to render advice in reasonable time to the President,” the bench said, adding that “the executive should exercise its power one way or other in reasonable time”.

It said the government should handle the cases of mercy petitions in a more systematised manner. “We are confident that mercy plea can be decided at much faster speed than what is being done now,” the bench said.

While rejecting the government’s contention that it was incumbent upon the death row convicts to prove that they have suffered torture and dehumanisation during the pendency of the mercy petition, the court said there is nothing in Indian law and international law that puts the burden of proving torture and dehumanising condition on the death row convicts.

Gandhi was killed in 1991. His assassins were convicted by a TADA court in January 1998 and were awarded death sentence, which was confirmed by the apex court on May 11, 1999.

The three assassins sought the commutation of their death sentence to life imprisonment on account of the inordinate delay of nearly 11 years in deciding their mercy petitions.

The bench had reserved its verdict on February 4.

Their plea was strongly opposed by the Centre which had said that it was not a fit case for the apex court to commute death sentence on the ground of delay in deciding mercy plea.

Admitting that there has been delay in deciding the mercy petitions, the government, however, had contended that the delay was not unreasonable, unexplainable and unconscionable to commute death penalty.

The convicts’ counsel had contested the Centre’s arguments, saying they have suffered due to the delay and the apex court should intervene and commute their death sentence to life term.

The convicts had submitted that mercy plea of other condemned prisoners, which were filed after them, were decided but their petitions were kept pending by the government.

The apex court had in May 2012 decided to adjudicate the petitions of Rajiv Gandhi killers against their death penalty and had directed that their plea, pending with the Madras High Court, be sent to it.

The court had passed the order on a petition by one LK Venkat, seeking transfer of their plea out of Tamil Nadu on the ground that free and fair hearing would not be possible in the state due to the surcharged atmosphere in favour of the convicts.

The Madras High Court had earlier stayed their hanging slated for September 9, 2011 and issued notice to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government.

Their main contention was that the delay of 11 years and four months in disposal of the mercy petitions made the execution of the death sentence “unduly harsh and excessive”, amounting to violation of their right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The apex court had on January 21 ruled that delay by the government in deciding mercy plea of death row convicts can be a ground for commuting their sentence and had granted life imprisonment to 15 condemned prisoners, including four aides of forest brigand Veerappan.

The court had held that prolonging execution of capital sentence has a “dehumanising effect” on condemned prisoners who have to face the “agony” of waiting for years under the shadow of death during the pendency of their mercy plea.