Army promotion policy: SC asks govt to file rejoinder

The Supreme Court will hear on April 22 the appeal filed by the government against the decision of the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) quashing the Army promotion policy for the rank of Colonel and above from January 2009.

A Bench comprising Justices T S Thakur and R Bhanumathi on Wednesday asked the Defence Ministry to file within a week its rejoinder to the response of the officers on whose plea the AFT had passed the order.

The apex court on March 25 had stayed the March 2 decision of the AFT to quash the Army’s promotion policy.

Advocate Meenakshi Lekhi, appearing for several officers, submitted that all ranks of personnel from Colonel and above would be affected by the biased promotion policy.

She was appearing for the main petitioners including armyon whose plea the AFT had said that the 2009 Army promotion policy had resulted in preferential promotions to officers of select branches of the Army and hence should be scrapped.

Several other officers have intervened in the matter and senior advocates Harish Salve and Neela Gokhale are appearing for them.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh said the Ministry would file its rejoinder and sought adjournment as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who was to appear in the matter, was busy in some other court.

Some of the officers, who were present in the court, said personnel of all combative division except infabtry and artillery, have joined the fight against the 2009 promotion policy.

The tribunal had found the policy to be violative of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution.

The army officers had claimed that the policy, also known as ‘command exit promotion policy’, had adversely affected them and contended that it was “arbitrary” and highly skewed in favour of Infantry and Artillery, as compared to other branches of the Army.

 

SC refuses to monitor CBI probe in Odisha chit-fund scam cases

chit fund scam in odishaThe Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking a court-monitored CBI probe into multi-crore rupee chit-fund scam matters cases in Odisha and gave time to agency to come out with suggestions to ensure effective investigation of huge number of such cases in West Bengal.

“We see no reason to allow the application (seeking court’s monitoring of CBI probe),” a bench of justices T S Thakur and C Nagappan, which had earlier rejected similar plea of West Bengal’s ruling party Trinamool Congress, said.

CBI has recently moved the court seeking modification of the May 9, 2014 order asking it to take over the entire probe into chit fund scams in West Bengal, Odisha and Assam in which companies, including Saradha, allegedly duped investors of around Rs 10,000 crore.

Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar and Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for CBI, listed out problems faced by the agency, like lack of skilled manpower in probing all matters relating to chit fund scam cases, especially in West Bengal.

The SG said CBI has taken over probe against the firms which has “paid up capital of Rs 50 lakh and there are minimum five FIRs against them” in connection with the offence as it is “not possible” to investigate all kind of complaints of private investors against all the companies.

The bench said, “this distinction only shows that you (CBI) are investigating bigger company and not the small companies”.

“Number of under-investigation (UI) cases which have not been taken over by CBI in West Bengal is 393 and they relate to complaints of private investors for refund of deposited monies to the tune of Rs one to five lakh. State CID may be allowed to continue with the investigation,” the SG said.

To this, the bench said “you (CBI) are investigating the cases with larger conspiracy angle where large number of people, who were supposed to regulate or police, came together and allowed duping of gullible depositors…

“If that is so then what happens if you leave some of them to go state police… Where upon trial, they (cases) lead to acquittal.”

It said such inconsistencies may create “100 holes” in CBI’s cases in other related cases.

Asaram doesn’t need any surgery

Self-styled ‘godman’ Asaram, who is in jail since his arrest in August, 2013 in a rape case, does not need any surgery and his aliments can be managed through medicines, a report submitted by a panel of AIIMS doctors to the Supreme Court said today.

A bench of justices T S Thakur and Adarsh Kumar Goel, referring to the findings of the panel, said, “The opinion of half-a-dozen doctors of AIIMS is that at present, any surgical intervention is not required. He can be treated in OPD. Now what remains?”

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Asaram, however, sought some time to go through the report.

The bench then fixed the matter on January 20 for hearing and asked its Registry to supply the copies of the report to the parties, including the accused.

It also asked the counsel for Asaram to ensure that the expenses incurred by the Rajasthan police in getting him examined at AIIMS here are paid.

Earlier, the jailed ‘godman’ was brought to Delhi by the Rajasthan police to undergo various tests at AIIMS to ascertain veracity of his claim that he was unwell and be granted bail on medical ground.

During the previous hearing, the bench had said that there was no medical urgency to grant bail to him and he cannot be given special treatment.

It had refused to pass any order on how 72-year-old Asaram is to be brought from Jodhpur jail to the national capital, saying that it is for the state government to decide on it.

The apex court had on October 15 directed AIIMS Director to set up a medical board to review medical reports and if required clinically examine Asaram to ascertain whether interim bail should be granted to him in the Jodhpur rape case.

Charges have been framed against Asaram for rape, criminal conspiracy and other offences by a Jodhpur court in connection with alleged sexual exploitation of a minor girl in his ashram in Jodhpur.

The District and Sessions Court had retained all the charges slapped by the police, except Section 26 of Juvenile Justice Act related to child labour against Asaram and his aides and co-accused Sanchita Gupta alias Shilpi and Sharad Chandra.

Charges have been framed under sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 354A (sexual harassment), 370(4) (trafficking), 376(2)f (rape on a woman when she is under twelve years of age), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509/34 and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of IPC

Conflict of interest comes to haunt Srinivasan in SC

The Supreme Court on Monday told N. Srinivasan that before seeking reinstatement as BCCI president, he should address the question of conflict of interest that arose if he headed the cricket board while owning an IPL team, whose official has been found to be involved in betting, .

A Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Ibrahim Kalifulla told Kapil Sibal, counsel of Mr. Srinivasan, “You are the owner of a team [Chennai Super Kings] in IPL. Would it not be a conflict of interest? You first address this issue before we allow you to continue as president.”

Mr. Sibal said that in March, Mr. Srinivasan volunteered to step down till he was cleared of the charges and the Mudgal panel had cleared him of the charges of betting and match-fixing. As there was no interference in the investigation, he should be reinstated as president. He told the Bench that the conflict-of-interest issue was not before the court and owning a team was permitted.

When Mr. Sibal asked the court, “What will happen to my [Mr. Srinivasan’s] elections?,” Justice Thakur orally observed, “You are only assuming that you have been given a clean chit. Don’t go by the Mudgal panel conclusions alone. The question is whether you should at all be serving the BCCI. The conflict of interest is a serious issue. IPL is a mutually beneficial society between IPL and BCCI. The benefit of doubt should go in favour of the game rather than any individual.”

“The ownership of the team raises conflict of interest. The president of BCCI has to run the show, but you have a team which raises questions and it can’t be wished away. You can’t make a distinction between BCCI and IPL. IPL is a by-product of BCCI. One of the employees [Gurunath Meiyappan] of your team was involved in betting. You have to reply because it will affect the dignity and position of BCCI president.”

The court made it clear to the BCCI that it must uphold the glory of the game as it was a religion to millions of people in this country. The Bench told Aryama Sundaram, BCCI counsel, “Cricket must be played in its true spirit and should remain a gentleman’s game. If you allow these things to happen, then you are killing the game of cricket.”

Justice Thakur orally observed, “You [BCCI] want to sit over the liquidation of the game? If people know that a game is fixed, who will visit the stadium? In India, cricket is like a religion. Recognition comes when one lakh people in Eden Gardens applaud. The BCCI is killing it.”

Earlier, Mr. Sundaram assured the court that the BCCI would take whatever action that was required against those found guilty by the Mudgal panel in accordance with the rules and regulations. He requested the court not to reveal the identities of the players till the probe was completed. Mr. Sundaram said there was no conflict of interest as under the IPL rules, an administrator was allowed to own a team.

Justice Thakur told counsel, “You have no option but to act against the guilty. You are not doing a favour. Can BCCI president own a team? How far is this fair?”

Mr. Sundaram explained that under the IPL governing council rules, whenever a decision pertaining to a team was taken, its owner was kept out of the decision-making process. Justice Thakur asked counsel, “Who forms the governing council of the IPL? And when BCCI takes any decision, will the President remain a mute spectator? Will there not be a clash of interest if BCCI president owns a team in IPL?”

Arguments will continue on Tuesday.