The Supreme Court today refused permission to a woman to abort her 27-week-old foetus showing signs of severe physical abnormalities.
A bench of Justices S A Bobdey and L Nageshwara Rao referred to the report of the medical board, which has examined the woman, and said that as per the opinion of the doctors the baby may be “born alive” if the mother is allowed to abort at this stage.
The apex court also observed that as per the doctors’ opinion the physical condition of the woman is normal and there is no risk to her health.
“As regard to the foetus, the report states that, if the pregnancy is terminated in the 27th week, there is a possibility that the baby may be born alive,” the bench observed.
“We don’t consider it appropriate to direct the petitioner (woman) to terminate the foetus,” the apex court said.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the bench that as per the report of the medical board of the Mumbai-based K E M Hospital, the foetus has severe physical abnormalities but the doctors have not advised termination as she is in her 27th week of pregnancy.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act prohibits termination of pregnancy after 20 weeks even if there is a fatal risk to the mother and the foetus.
In a big development that affects over six lakh medical aspirants, the Supreme Court on Monday set aside the 2015 All India Pre-Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT) over irregularities in the conduct of the exam.
The apex court directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which conducts the exam, to re-conduct the test within four weeks.
The order was passed by the vacation bench of Justices RK Agrawal and Amitava Roy which ruled on a batch of petitions seeking re-conduct of the AIPMT following the leak of the question paper and circulation of answer keys through electronic devices at different examination centres across 10 states.
The apex court bench had last week reserved its verdict on the matter.
The CBSE, which had conducted the exam on May 3, had opposed the plea for re-conduct of the test, saying that it would involve a mammoth exercise spread over a long period.
The court had earlier restrained the CBSE from declaring the 2015 exam result that was originally scheduled to be announced June 5.
Appearing for CBSE, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar had said that for the examination conducted this year on May 3, the preparations were started in October last year, noting this shows the magnitude of efforts that goes into the conduct of the examination and which will have to be re-done if court orders a re-conduct.
Contending that only 44 students have been identified to be alleged beneficiaries of the paper leak, he had said that it should not come in the way of the declaration of the results affecting 6.30 lakh students who had taken the entrance test at 1,050 examination centre across the country.
The court had, however, asked: “What message it will send to the hard working students whom burn midnight oil to prepare for the examination if they lose it to merit to such candidates.”
Telling the CBSE that it was in the know of such things going on for some time but it failed to take precautionary steps, Justice Roy had said: “You should have taken precautionary steps from 2012. Whatever precautions you have taken have failed. All these precautionary steps taken by you are outdated. You were outwitted and out-manoeuvred.”
“We are not holding the CBSE guilty for the leak,” the court had said, observing that “ultimately it was CBSE’s responsibility to have taken steps to meet the challenges posed by the information technology which has over-taken our lives”.
Asking the CBSE that it could not have been “complacent”, the court had stated that it should have taken the steps to “minimise the possibilities” of papers getting leaked and the board being outsmarted by those playing foul.
Appearing for one of the petitioners, senior counsel Jaideep Gupta had mocked the CBSE for its resistance to the fresh conduct of the examination. “Government can’t defend it. It is not proper for it to defend it. Once such facts come to light, the sanctity of exam goes. It is becoming an industry. Vijay Yadav who succeeded in the exam last year (by adopting such means), is a master solver this year.”
Interestingly the position taken by the petitioner had found backing by the Haryana Police which told the court that it was not only the 44 identified beneficiaries but the number could be much more and time frame could not be cited by the CBSE to oppose the re-conduct of the exam whose integrity stands compromised.
The court was hearing a PIL by Tanvi Sarwal, Jahnvi Shanker and others seeking the re-conduct of the AIPMT in the wake of the leakage of the question paper and subsequent answer key being circulated through electronic devices.
Parking woes of lawyers practising in the Supreme Court will soon be a thing of the past as the India Trade Promotion Organisation’s (ITPO) has provided them parking space across the road to accommodate almost 300 vehicles.
A bench headed by Justice V Gopala Gowda took note of the submission that the ITPO has provided parking space outside Pragati Maidan and decided to dispose of a 2000 raising various issues including parking woes of lawyers.
The bench had also directed the Delhi government to take necessary steps to ensure that parking space was provided to the lawyers at the earliest.
Senior advocate and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Dushyant Dave expressed “gratitude” towards the bench and said the plea be disposed with a direction to authorities that they will comply with earlier court orders.
The PIL had also sought construction of an automatic multi-level parking for Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) members.
Earlier on December 5 last, the apex court had asked the Centre to consider allowing them to park their vehicles on its vacant plots around the court premises.
The court had then asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to put up a proposal to the UPIL filed by Indian Council of Legal Aid and Advicerban Development Ministry (UD) for allowing parking of lawyers’ vehicles in the area, presently managed by ITPO.
Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda today said the Centre is planning to amend Arbitration and Conciliation Act in next parliament session to make the country an International hub for Arbitration.
He said that in order to achieve the objective to make the country hub for arbitration certain basic system has to put in place like reducing the time taken in deciding the disputes and certain modification of the process adopted and legal sanctity to such process.
“One of the very important objective of our government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to make India an International hub for arbitration. It can happen only when certain basic system is put in place,” he said in his address at a felicitation function at Bar Council of India.
“We are thinking of bringing certain amendments to the arbitration act as early as possible, most likely by next session, we will be bringing amendments to the Arbitration Act.
“The benefit of becoming international hub for arbitration is that it can bring several opportunities to lawyers of the country either by becoming the panel lawyers or by becoming part of arbitration process and the potential financial benefits are much higher than in domestic cases,” he said.
The Law Minister said government was making “concentrated efforts” to increase numbers of courts and bringing amendments to various Acts to reduce the time consumed in deciding petty cases by the judiciary.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatagi asked the Bar Council of India office bearers to start an initiative called Lawyers Collective Fund from metropolitan cities where advocates could voluntarily contribute and fund could be utilised for the welfare of young lawyers.
“Like lawyers fund which was started by union minister Arun Jaitley during his tenure as law minister for the welfare of lawyers, this ‘Lawyers Collective’ fund should be started from metropolitan cities and then to tier-II cities with reduced voluntary contribution,” he said.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar who was also present on the occasion also supported the initiative and suggested group insurance scheme for the lawyers should also be started by the council.
A Supreme Court-appointed high-powered committee has recommended that names and pictures of political parties and their office bearers like presidents be not mentioned in government advertisements. Holding that there had been “misuse and abuse” of public money on such advertisements, the three-member committee headed by eminent academician Professor N R Madhava Menon has framed guidelines to regulate expenditure and contents of such advertisements paid out of tax payers’ money.
The report, submitted to the apex court, has emphasised that only pictures and names of the President, the Prime Minister, Governor and Chief Ministers be published to “keep politics away from such ads”. Sources said the Committee has also endorsed the suggestions of the Election Commission that there must be “severe” restrictions on such advertisements six months prior to elections. It recommended that a deadline should be fixed for prohibiting their publication and the poll panel should be authorised for the purpose.
The committee, also comprising T K Viswanathan, former Secretary General of Lok Sabha and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, recommended that there should only be a single advertisement, preferably by Information and Broadcasting Ministry, in respect of commemorative advertisements, which are given on birth and death anniversary of an important personality. The Committee said that an amount or budget for the public advertisements should be declared by each ministry and public sector undertaking and it should be audited by CAG.
The Committee, which also suggested that there should be an implementation committee headed by either Ombudsman, or Cabinet Secretary or Secretary I&B Ministry, said government advertisements should not be allowed to the advantage of the ruling party and for assailing the opposition. Further, sources said that the committee in its guidelines suggested that there should be a clear-cut differentiation between legitimate message of government from that of political message which can be done by enacting legislation.
The committee prepared its guidelines by consulting provision of various countries and having meeting with all state governments and political parties. The apex court had on April 24 decided to frame guidelines to prevent misuse of public funds by the government and its authorities in giving advertisements in newspapers and television for political mileage and set up the committee.
It had said there is a need to distinguish between the advertisements that are part of government messaging and daily business and advertisements that are politically motivated. “In these circumstances, conceding that the existing DAVP policy/guidelines do not govern the issues raised in these writ petitions and do not lay down any criteria for the advertisements to qualify for public purpose as opposed to partisan ends and political mileage, there is a need for substantive guidelines to be issued by this court until the legislature enacts a law in this regard,” it said.