Supreme Court asks Centre to apprise it on setting up CMB

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to apprise it on May 8 about steps taken for setting up of the Cauvery Management Board (CBM) for implementation of its judgement on distribution of river water among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.

The Centre, which was asked by the top court to frame and file a draft Cauvery management scheme by May 3, today asked it to hear the matter a day after the Karnataka polls on the ground that the draft scheme has to be put before the Union Cabinet for approval.

Attorney General KK Venugopal told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues are busy campaigning in Karnataka and hence the draft could not be placed before the Union Cabinet.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, took strong exception at the submission saying, “This is the end of co-operative federalism and the rule of law in the country. This is the partisan attitude of the union of India to favour Karnataka.”

He referred to the ongoing summer and the water crisis being faced by citizens of Tamil Nadu.

The bench also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud initially asked the Karnataka government to release four TMC of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu by May 8, but later directed the state to apprise it “as to how much water can be released”.

Earlier the apex court had asked the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments to ensure that peace prevails till it finalises the Cauvery management scheme for implementation of its judgment on water distribution.

It said once the Centre places the draft scheme, which would also include Cauvery Water Management Board and Monitoring Authority, it would consider the grievances of all the stakeholder states.

The apex court, in its verdict, had asked the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance of its 465-page judgement on the decades-old Cauvery dispute. It had modified the CWDT award of 2007 and made it clear that it will not be extending time for this on any ground.

The top court had on February 16 raised the 270 tmcft share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share, while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin, saying the issue of drinking water has to be placed on a “higher pedestal”.

With the apex court’s verdict, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry would be annually entitled to 404.25 tmcft, 284.75 tmcft, 30 tmcft and 7 tmcft of Cauvery water respectively out of the total of 740 tmcft.

Failure of states to respond to Centre’s communication on elephant corridors irks Supreme Court

The Supreme Court today said it was “extremely unfortunate” that several states have not responded to two communications sent by the Centre on the issue of elephant corridors to curb human-animal conflict and reduce animal fatalities.

The apex court pulled up these states and noted that only three — Kerala, West Bengal and Meghalaya — have so far responded to the letters sent by the Centre in August and November last year.

“It is extremely unfortunate,” a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

It asked the state, including Assam, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Odisha and Tripura, to submit their responses to the Centre within two weeks.

The apex court also expressed its displeasure that counsel representing several states were not present in the courtroom during the hearing.

When the counsel appearing for Tamil Nadu said that they would respond to the Centre’s letter, the bench said, “Why have you not responded? Do you want another Veerappan (notorious forest brigand)? Tamil Nadu is the hotbed of all this and you have not bothered to respond.”

Similarly, the bench also pulled up the counsel representing Assam on why they have not given their response to the Centre on the issue.

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that a committee has already been formed to consider the suggestions, including making corridors across India for safe passage of elephants and other endangered animals.

He said that in an another related matter, which is pending in the apex court, they had sent communications to several states to know about the action taken by them in this regard but only three of them have responded so far.

During the hearing, the bench also expressed its concern that three elephants had died last week in the country.

The apex court had earlier stressed on the need to have elephant corridors across the country to reduce animal fatalities due to accidents and other reasons and had asked the Centre to come out with some “workable solution” in this regard.

The court was hearing a batch of pleas which have raised the issue of having elephant corridors across India.

On January 19, the Centre had informed another bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that a standing committee of the wildlife board would consider suggestions, including making 27 corridors across India for safe passage of elephants and other endangered animals.

The petitioners in the case pending before the CJI-led bench had given suggestions, including a mechanism to curb human-animal conflict, measures to reduce animal deaths on the roads, highways and by electrocution and plan to protect critically-endangered Great Indian Bustard.

The petitioners had also referred to unnatural deaths of elephants on highways and railway tracks and said that areas earmarked for these animals were not sufficient.

Kerala IS recruitment case: Woman operative sentenced to 7 yrs rigorous imprisonment.

An NIA special court today sentenced a 30-year-old woman operative to seven years rigorous imprisonment in connection with Kerala IS recruitment case.

Special Judge S Santhosh Kumar awarded the sentence after convicting Yasmeen Mohammed Zahid under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The woman was also found guilty under Indian Penal Code sections 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy) and 125 (Waging war against any Asiatic Power in alliance with the Government of India).

The special court in Ernakulam also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on her.

Zahid, who hailed from Bihar, is the second accused in the case investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

NIA prosecutor Arjun Amabalapatta submitted that the issues related to IS is not just confined to Kerala or India.

“The issue has to be eliminated from the society for which maximum punishment should be granted,” he said.

Last year, the NIA had filed the charge sheet against two ISIS operatives Abdul Rashid Abdulla as the main accused, who motivated a number of youths from Kasaragod to leave India along with their families to join the Islamic State, and Zahid.

Zahid was intercepted at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi on July 30, 2016 when she was trying to leave India for Kabul along with her minor child to join her co-conspirator Abdul Rashid Abdulla in the territory under the control of IS in Afghanistan.

There is overwhelming evidence to prove the association of Abdul Rashid Abdulla and Yasmeen Mohammed Zahid, the Court noted.

The Court said the evidence showed that the first and second accused had an inclination to join ISIS and in fact Abdul Rashid Abdulla along with his colleagues physically joined ISIS by reaching Afghanistan.

It has been established that she attended secret classes taken by Rashid with respect to ‘Hijra,’ violent jihad on several occasions, the Court said in its order.

There are 15 accused in the case.

The NIA had chargesheeted only two as the 13 others including first accused, Abdulla, were in Afghanistan and one in Syria.

Three are believed to be killed in air strikes in Afghanistan.

The Court said the audio tapes sent by Abdul Rashid Abdulla from Afghanistan to his relatives here, openly propagates the ideology of ISIS and soliciting others to join it.

According to him, it is the duty of every Muslim to do Hijra towards the Caliphate which is formed under leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Court said.

The agency had said the case relates to the criminal conspiracy hatched within and outside India by certain youths, originally hailing from Kerala’s Kasaragod district, with the intention of furthering the objectives of ISIS and their pursuant exit from India along with their families for joining and supporting the terror organisation.

The case was re-registered at the NIA police station, Kochi, on August 24, 2016.

A probe by the NIA has established that Abdul Rashid Abdulla was the main conspirator, who motivated a number of youths from Kasaragod to leave India along with their families to join the Islamic State.

He conducted classes in Kasaragod and other places in support of the terrorist organisation and “its ideology of violent jihad”, the agency had said.

Abdulla motivated one more set of 14 co-conspirators, including Zahid, to join the proscribed organisation and plan for “Hijrah to the Caliphate” announced by the ISIS, it had said.

The NIA said the probe revealed that the conspiracy had been in operation since July, 2015.

The probe has established that Abdulla had raised funds for the IS and transferred the money to Yasmeen, who utilised it for her activities with the intention of supporting the terrorist organisation.

Vigilance Court orders quick verification against Thomas Chandy

Vigilance Court orders quick verification against Thomas Chandy
Vigilance Court orders quick verification against Thomas Chandy

A court today directed the State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau to verify whether Kerala Transport Minister Thomas Chandy had violated rules to construct a road through paddy fields to a lake resort owned by him in Alappuzha district.

Acting on a plea filed by a lawyer, Kottayam Special Vigilance Court judge V Dileep directed the bureau to file its report in a month.

The judge also dismissed the contention made by the state government that Chandy did not carry out illegal land filling in the paddy fields.

In his petition, Subhash, a lawyer, alleged that Chandy illegally carried out land filling on one km stretch through the middle of a paddy field to construct a road to the lake palace resort owned by Water World Company which is headed by him.

He also submitted in the court a report prepared by Alappuzha District Collector T V Anupama which stated that the lake resort owned by Chandy had violated rules.

Chandy has been facing allegations for allegedly filling paddy fields for the construction of a parking space and encroaching Marthandam backwaters.

Chandy, a nominee of the NCP in the CPI(M)-led LDF government, has been under attack from the Congress-led UDF opposition and the BJP ever since the allegations surfaced some time back.

Stepping up its demand for Chandy’s resignation, opposition alleged there was “mystery” behind Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan protecting the transport minister even after the revenue minister had accepted the district collector’s report that “found serious violation of rules”.

A businessman-turned-politician, Chandy joined the ministry in April following the resignation of A K Saseendran over allegations of sexual misconduct.

( Source – PTI )

SC refers ban on women’s entry at Sabarimala to consti bench

SC refers ban on women's entry at Sabarimala to consti bench
SC refers ban on women’s entry at Sabarimala to consti bench

The Supreme Court today referred to its constitution bench the matter pertaining to a ban on the entry of women at Kerala’s historic Sabarimala temple.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief justice Dipak Misra framed several questions to be dealt with by the constitution bench, including whether the temple can restrict women’s entry.

The apex court also framed a question whether restricting the entry of women at the temple was violative of their rights under the Constitution.

It said the constitution bench will also deal with the question whether this practice amounted to discrimination against the women.

The court had on February 20 reserved its order on whether to refer the matter to a constitution bench.

The management of the Sabarimala temple, located on a hilltop in the Western Ghats of Pathanamthitta district, had earlier told the apex court that the ban on entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years was because they cannot maintain “purity” on account of menstruation.

The court is hearing a plea challenging the practice of banning entry of such women in the temple.

On November 7 last year, the Kerala government had informed the apex court that it favoured the entry of women of all age groups in the historic Sabarimala temple.

Initially, the LDF government had taken a progressive stand in 2007 by favouring women’s entry into the temple, which was over-turned by the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) dispensation later.

The UDF government had taken a view that it was against the entry of women of the age group of 10-to-50 years as such a practice was being followed since time immemorial.

( Source – PTI )

Kerala not allowing maintenance of Mullaperiyar Dam: TN to SC

Kerala not allowing maintenance of Mullaperiyar Dam: TN to SC
Kerala not allowing maintenance of Mullaperiyar Dam: TN to SC

The Supreme Court today sought response from Kerala on a plea of Tamil Nadu alleging that the neighbouring state is not allowing it to maintain the historic Mullaperiyar Dam.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul issued notice to Kerala and fixed the plea of Tamil Nadu for hearing in the second week of July.

Tamil Nadu, in its plea, has sought execution of the apex court judgement in the case, saying it has been held that Tamil Nadu will have a right to maintain the dam while its security would be taken care of by Kerala.

Tamil Nadu has alleged that its officials are not allowed to perform the maintenance work of the dam.

Earlier, the apex court had rapped Tamil Nadu government for seeking deployment of CISF for ensuring safety and security of the Mullaperiyar Dam, saying there cannot be a “perennial ‘amrit dhara’ kind of litigation”, forcing the state to withdraw it.

In its May 7, 2014 verdict, the Supreme Court had held that the 120-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam is safe and allowed the Tamil Nadu government to raise the water level to 142 feet and ultimately to 152 feet after completion of strengthening measures on the dam.

Kerala had later moved the apex court for clarification on its verdict and contended that the water storage should not be increased to 142 feet until all the 13 spillover gates of the dam were operational.

The apex court had earlier too dismissed Kerala’s plea to review its 2014 verdict, saying there was no reason to interfere with the judgement of the Constitution Bench.

Mullaperiyar Dam is a masonry dam and was constructed pursuant to the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement of October 29, 1886 across the Periyar river. The construction continued for about eight years and was completed in 1895.

The dam is situated in Idukki district in Kerala and is owned and operated by Tamil Nadu government. The length of the main dam is 1200 feet and top of the dam is 155 feet.

( Source – PTI )

Petition against Ker Finance minister dismissed

Petition against Ker Finance minister dismissed
Petition against Ker Finance minister dismissed

Kerala High Court today dismissed a petition against continuance of T M Thomas Isaac as Finance Minister following the alleged leak of some budget documents in media before it was presented in the assembly.

State BJP president Kummanam Rajasekharan had filed a quo warranto (a writ or legal action requiring a person to show by what warrant an office or franchise is held, claimed, or exercised) petition against Isaac, alleging that leak of documents and their publication in media prior to presentation amounted to violation of provisions of official secrets act.

Disallowing the plea, a division bench headed by Chief Justice Navanithi Prasad Singh observed that it is the prerogative of the government to decide which documents are secret.

( Source – PTI )

Kerala HC declines to stay vigilance case against ex-Ker Min

Kerala HC declines to stay vigilance case against ex-Ker Min
Kerala HC declines to stay vigilance case against ex-Ker Min

In a setback to Kerala Congress (M) leader and former state finance minister K M Mani ahead of Assembly polls, the Kerala High Court today refused to stay the proceedings against him in the bar bribery case pending in the Vigilance Court in Thiruvananthapuram.

Justice P D Rajan rejected the prayer of 82-year-old Mani seeking to stay the proceedings against him till the state Crime Branch filed an inquiry report in a case against a Vigilance Superintendent of Police accused of conducting a false probe in the bar bribery case involving the KC-M leader.

Mani argued that SP R Sukeshan, the Investigating Officer in the case, is accused of instigating Kerala Bar Hotel Association Working President Biju Ramesh to level allegations against four state ministers in the bar bribery scam related to renewal of licences of the liquor bars.

The vigilance case was filed based on the allegation by Ramesh that Mani had accepted Rs one crore for renewing licences of more than 400 bar hotels.

Refusing to stay the proceedings against Mani, who resigned as minister after the vigilance case was registered last year, the judge came down heavily on police for the manner of investigation being conducted in both the bar bribery scandal and the conspiracy case against Sukeshan.

Directing the police to file a detailed counter affidavit in the petition filed by Mani, he said there was no urgency in this matter and deferred to May 19 for further consideration.

The court also refused repeated prayer by Mani’s counsel to post the case for consideration during the vacation.

When Mani’s counsel contended that the case against the former minister was false, Justice Rajan orally asked, “How can your own police register a false case against a powerful minister?”

The Vigilance Court, Thiruvananthapuram will consider the case against Mani on April 16, exactly a month before the state goes to Assembly polls.

The high court observed that no efforts have been taken by the probe agency to ascertain the authenticity of electronic data collected during investigation in the case against the Vigilance SP with regard to the allegations against his investigation in the bar bribery scandal.

While Mani’s petition came up for hearing yesterday, Justice Rajan had directed the Crime Branch to submit the progress of investigation conducted against Sukeshan.

Though some attempts were made by the petitioner to show scientific records to prove his charge against Sukeshan, the court observed that it was not admissible as Forensic Science Laboratory in Thiruvananthapuram was not equipped to carry out such a scientific probe.

The court also observed that no material has been collected so far in the conspiracy case against Sukeshan.

Mani is set to seek election from his home constituency Pala in Kottayam in the May 16 Assembly polls.

( Source – PTI )

Kerala HC summons Kerala Minister in contempt matter

Kerala HC summons Kerala Minister in contempt matter
Kerala HC summons Kerala Minister in contempt matter

The Kerala High Court today ordered the personal appearance of state Culture Minister K C Joseph on February 16 to answer criminal contempt charges filed against him for alleged derogatory remarks made against a judge of the court.

A division bench, comprising of Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice Sunil Thomas, passed the order on a petition by V Sivankutty, MLA, who alleged that the Minister had committed criminal contempt by making derogatory remarks against Justice Alexander Thomas who had criticised the style of functioning of the Advocate General’s office.

Earlier, Sivankutty had sought sanction from the Advocate General to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against the Minister. However, the AG did not take any action on the petition.

The Minister had made the remarks in a Facebook post in July last year while reacting to the Judge’s observations.

When the matter came up today, the bench held that going by the facts of the case, cognizance can be taken in the petition and ordered notice directing the personal appearance of the Minister.

It also observed that the role of the AG (in granting sanction for initiating contempt proceedings) was to prevent frivoulous matters being brought to the court on allegations of criminal contempt.

( Source – PTI )

Mullaperiyar dam: Supreme Court notice to Kerala for CISF deployment

Mullaperiyar dam: Supreme Court notice to Kerala for CISF deployment
Mullaperiyar dam: Supreme Court notice to Kerala for CISF deployment

The Supreme Court today sought response from the Kerala government on Tamil Nadu’s plea that security of Mullaperiyar dam be handed over to CISF.

A bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu issue notice on the plea which also sought that the Kerala government be not allowed to seek environmental clearance from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for constructing a new dam.

Tamil Nadu, in its one of the applications, has sought a direction from the court that Kerala be restrained from conducting the environment impact assessment for its new proposed dam at the site.

The counsel for the Tamil Nadu government told the bench, also comprising justices Amitava Roy and Arun Mishra, that as per the previous judgement in the case, any new dam can only be constructed at the site with consent of both of the states.

The Tamil Nadu government had on February 20 moved the apex court seeking deployment of CISF for protection of Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala.

The security of the dam is presently with the Kerala government.

The Kerala government had also moved an application seeking clarification of the May 5, 2014 judgement by which the apex court had allowed the raising the water storage level of the dam to 142 feet.

However, the application was withdrawn by the state later saying it would go before three-member Mullaperiyar committee.