Subramanium among first choice of CJI

Senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium,Senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium, whose name was left out by the Centre for elevation as Supreme Court judge, today emerged as the first choice of Chief Justice of India R M Lodha to try the high and mighty in the coal blocks scam cases.

“If I failed in something you (lawyers appearing in the matter) persuade him,” the CJI, who was heading the three-judge bench said when Subramanium’s name was suggested among others to be considered as the Special Public Prosecutor for prosecution of cases arising out of the Coalgate.

“We want a person of impeccable integrity and fine legal mind,” Justice Lodha said.

The remarks come in the background of Subramanium writing to the CJI withdrawing his consent for elevation as the Supreme Court judge.

Justice Lodha had expressed his displeasure that Subramanium preferred to make his decision public when he was on an overseas assignment.

While deliberations on the issue of SPP were underway, newly-appointed Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar was in agreement with the CJI over Subramanium as SPP in the coal blocks allocation scam cases, saying that he has been special counsel in several other cases including Parliament attack case.

The CJI said “consent” of the person would be necessary for considering him as SPP and it should not be restricted to the lawyers practicing only in Delhi. (More) PTI AAC RKS PKS
The Supreme Court collegium headed by the CJI had recommended names of four eminent persons as judges of the apex court but the government cleared the names of Chief Justices of Calcutta and Orissa High Courts, Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goyal respectively, and senior lawyer Rohinton Nariman, leaving out the former Solicitor General.

Subramanium had on June 25 withdrawn from being considered for appointment as Supreme Court judge and had accused the Modi government of “brazenly” ordering CBI to “scrounge” for “dirt” against him to scuttle his elevation.

Subramanium, who had assisted the Supreme Court in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case in which Amit Shah, a close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now an accused, had said that he was being “targeted” because of his independence and integrity.

Subramanium had sent a nine-page letter to the CJI withdrawing his consent to be appointed as a judge saying that he did not want his elevation to be “the subject matter of any politicization”.

(Source: PTI)

Moot court competition won by Jodhpur National Law University

lawMoot competition which was organised by in the DU’s Campus Law Center has been won by The National Law University (NLU), Jodhpur today.

The three-day-long competition saw participation from as many as 54 different universities and institutions of India as well as of the UK, the US, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

The NLU, Jodhpur bagged the first award and the North Umbria University of England was declared the runners up, it said, adding that the prizes were given by Supreme Court judge Justice S S Nijjar.

The final round of the competition on the topic ‘Narcotics trial by media and defence entrapment’ was judged by three sitting judges of the Delhi High Court, justices Reva Khetrapal, Manmohan and Indermeet Kaur.
The prize for the best speaker was bagged by a student of National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata.

The competition is held every year since 2005 in memory of K K Luthra, a renowned Delhi-based criminal lawyer.

Earlier, Supreme Court judge Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai had inaugurated the competition.

Sovereignty is not given but asserted : Supreme Court judge

Sovereignty is not “given” but it is asserted, According to the Supreme Court of India while holding that the Italian marines allegedly involved in the killing of two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala can be prosecuted under municipal laws.

The apex court did not agree with the contention of the marines that the sovereignty of India does not extend beyond its territorial waters and therefore, the extension of the Indian Penal Code beyond the Indian territorial waters is impermissible.

Justice J Chelameswar told Parliament always asserted its authority to make laws which are applicable to “persons, who are not corporeally present within the territory of India (whether or not they are citizens) when such persons commit acts which affect the legitimate interests of this country.”

“I am of the opinion that Parliament, undoubtedly, has the power to make and apply the law to persons, who are not citizens of India, committing acts which constitute offences prescribed by the law of this country irrespective of the fact whether such acts are committed within the territory of India or irrespective of the fact that the offender is corporeally present or not within the Indian territory at the time of the commission of the offence,” Justice Chelameswar said while writing a separate but concurring judgement with the Chief Justice of India.

Further, According to him “I am of the opinion that sovereignty is not ‘given’ but it is only asserted. No doubt, under the Maritime Zones Act, Parliament expressly asserted sovereignty of this country over the territorial waters but simultaneously, asserted its authority to determine/alter the limit of the territorial waters.”

Govt should avoid unnecessary litigation: Ex-Supreme Court judge

“The government should refrain from resorting to unnecessary litigations in cases as it burdens judicial system.” According to the Former Supreme Court judge Dalveer Bhandari, who is at present a judge at the International court of Justice at Hague.

Justice Bhandari also told, “The state and the Central government are the biggest litigants in courts. The government must ensure that litigation be initiated only in genuine and bonafide cases.”

He said there is an urgent need to bring “extensive” reforms in the judicial system to provide effective and speedy justice to people.

He also said, “We have carried out some reforms but they are far from adequate and we need to carry out extensive judicial reforms. It is absolutely imperative in our country to ensure that in future cases are decided promptly.”

Speaking in a seminar on judicial reforms, he said there are many inadequacy in the judicial system which need to be cured.

There is inadequate number of judicial officers, inadequate infrastructure, lack of use of modern technology such as computerisation and frequent adjournment by lawyers are causing delay in justice delivery system.” he said.

Judges suggest speedy trial ways, lawyers boycott

Amid lawyers refusing to represent the accused in the gang rape-cum-murder case of 23-year-old paramedic, two women judges have come out with suggestions for effective fast-tracking of the trial.

While Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, a sitting Supreme Court judge, suggested amendments to the Evidence Act to avoid recording of evidence at multiple stages to “cut-short” the whole process of trial, former Delhi High Court judge, Justice Usha Mehra opined that the trial judge should ensure service of lawyers to accused from the very outset of the trial.

According to Justice Misra, “I feel in such cases of heinous crimes against women, it should be one-to-one between accused and victim as cases of these natures ultimately hinge on evidence collected by police.”

She also added, “Evidence recorded by the police from the accused and the victim’s side should be recorded before a judicial officer. Why should the statement of prosecution and defence witnesses be recorded at multiple stages? Let us bring changes to the Indian Evidence Act.”

“If the evidence led by the accused and the victim is recorded in front of a judicial officer, why should there be need for a lawyer to record evidence the second time in the court, as it is done today.

Justice Misra added, “The thing left for courts would be only cross-examination and arguments and that is how fast track courts are also going to be fast. Recording of evidence a second time in the court gives rise to manipulations, witnesses turning hostile and in many cases killing of star witnesses”

Justice Mehra, the head of government-appointed one member commission to probe the gangrape case, however, said earlier also, in many cases, the lawyers had refused to represent the accused and they cannot be forced to appear on their behalf but the trial judge has the discretion to provide lawyers to accused either from the legal aid or appoint amicus curiae to defend them.

supreme court judge withdraws from Jayalalithaa case

The Supreme Court Thursday put off for a day the hearing on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s petition, challenging a Bangalore court’s order that directed her to appear before it again Nov 8 in disproportionate assets case, after a judge withdrew from the bench.

The supreme court bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari, Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Dipak Misra adjourned the hearing and directed its listing Friday after senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi objected to the presence of Justice Thakur on the bench.

Justice Thakur withdrew soon after the point was raised by Rohtagi.

Counsel pointed out to the bench that Justice Thakur’s father had appeared in a court as lawyer for Jayalalithaa. Justice Thakur immediately recused himself.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister in her petition contended that she was asked by the apex court to appear before the trial court hearing the disproportionate assets against her Oct 20-21, which she has complied with.

Now she had been asked to reappear before the trial court Nov 8, she said.

Jayalalithaa said she was supposed to appear before the trial court only once and now could not be summoned to appear again.

She referred to the apex court judges’ order, which said that “we request the presiding officer of the special court to take up this matter on Oct 20 and conclude the statement of the petitioner preferably the same day. In case, for any reason, the statement is not concluded the same day, it may be taken up the next day”.

The petition said that the Bangalore court trying the case against her formulated 1,339 questions and she answered 567 of them. Given the large number of questions, the trial court proposed to continue her examination for many more days and “it has now postponed further examination to Nov 8”.

The petition said Jayalalithaa was occupying a constitutional office, which required her to be on duty at short notice at all conceivable times.

She said that her two-day appearance before the special court Oct 20-21 caused a lot of inconvenience to people in Bangalore as it resulted in disruption of traffic and imposition of prohibitory orders.

She is facing trial in a disproportionate assets case that relates to the period when she was Tamil Nadu chief minister in 1991 to 1996.

The trial in the case was shifted outside Chennai by the apex court in 2003 to ensure free and fair trial.


Comprehensive law needed for judges: Parliamentary panel

A parliamentary panel on Tuesday stressed the need for a “comprehensive law on judges’ appointmenst”, noting the present draft of the bill only addresses the issue “partially”. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel submitted its report on the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010 in both Houses of Parliament. The bill was tabled in Lok Sabha in 2010.

According to the committee, “the current bill deals with the problem partially” and does not address the “systematic lacunae”.

About a National Judicial Commission as an alternative to replace the collegium system, panel chairman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said he had a neutral position in the matter.

The committee thinks the government has to move beyond “an incremental approach” and “give urgent and due thought to a holistic legislation” encompassing the appointment process to ensure judicial accountability, he said.

The committee further recommended a clause in the bill should be expanded “by specifically mentioning that judges should restrain themselves from making unwarranted comments” in open court.

“While judges were free to make observations as part of their judgements, the recommendation suggests they should avoid making comments which are non-judgemental,” Singhvi said.

The panel also suggested inclusion of two MPs – one each from the two houses of parliament – to become part of the proposed National Judicial Oversight Committee that will be authorised to initiate probes into corruption allegations against senior judges.

The committee said that the scrutiny committee will be in place in the Supreme Court and in each of the 21 high courts and would submit reports within three months to the Oversight Committee.

Other recommendations of the committee include in camera initial investigations by a scrutiny panel on a complaint against a Supreme Court or high court judge.

The report said that such an arrangement was necessary to ensure that the judge in question does not face unwarranted defamation in the initial stage of investigation.

The committee also suggested accountability of media in relation to divulging the information while complaints are under investigation. Singhvi clarified that this was not intended to be a gag order on the press.