The Supreme Court agrees to hear PIL seeking consecutive jail terms in cases of corruption and terrorism

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear after four weeks the PIL seeking various jail terms awarded to a convict under special laws on corruption and terrorism to run consecutively, as in countries like the US, and not concurrently.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde considered the submissions by lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay that the plea needed an urgent hearing as the apex court had issued the notice to the Centre way back in March this year.

He said that the pleadings such as filing of responses by the Centre to the petition has already been completed and it be now listed for hearing.

“Let the matter be listed after four weeks,” said the bench, which also comprised justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant.

The plea had said that the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provision, which provides that a convict can serve varying jail terms simultaneously for several offences, should not be made applicable to the convicts in heinous cases.

Section 31 of the CrPC should not apply to special laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), the Black Money and Imposition of Tax Act, and Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, the PIL said.

 The Supreme Court asks J&K HC Juvenile Justice Committee to examine fresh allegations of detention of minors

The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the four member juvenile justice committee of Jammu and Kashmir High Court to examine afresh allegations of detention of minors by security forces in the state after abrogation of provisions of Article 370.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana asked the committee to place its report as expeditiously as possible and posted the hearing for December 3.

The bench said there was a need for examining the allegations afresh as the earlier reports of the committee was not in accordance with the apex court order due to time constraints.

The top court was hearing a petition which has raised the issue of alleged illegal detention of minors in Kashmir.

Coastal road work: Supreme Court dismisses contempt plea against Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation

The Supreme Court (SC) recently dismissed a contempt petition which alleged that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had carried out new construction work for the coastal road project in violation of its previous order.

On May 6, the Apex court had modified a status quo order of the Bombay high court (HC), allowing work to continue on the project across the existing locations only.

The SC had, however, denied construction work in any new areas.

The 29.2-km coastal road aims to reduce travel time between south Mumbai & the western suburbs by 70%.

On Monday, the SC bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta, & Justice Aniruddha Bose was hearing a contempt petition filed by Shweta Wagh from the Society for Improvement, Greenery & Nature (SIGN) alleging that additional construction activity was undertaken by BMC in new areas for the project.

In its order, published on the SC website on Wednesday, the bench dismissed the petition, claiming that solicitor general Tushar Mehta had stated that “it was incorrect that construction in any new area or additional works had been undertaken in violation of the Apex court’s order [May 6, 2019]”.

Mehta also submitted that the Bombay HC had heard the issue & final judgment was awaited in the matter, the SC bench noted.

“In this view of the matter, we do not consider it appropriate to entertain this petition. The contempt petition is dismissed,” the order read.

Wagh was not available for a comment.

However, executive trustee of the Conservation Action Trust, Debi Goenka, who has also filed a petition against the project, alleging adverse effect on marine life, said: “Unfortunately, the HC did not go into the matter at all because it was an order by the SC. In this case, the SC has said they will not intervene in the HC’s final judgment,” said Goenka.

SC notice to Centre on plea seeking ban on 85 pesticides

The Supreme Court Monday agreed to examine a plea seeking ban on nearly 85 pesticides that are being used in India on the grounds that they pose health hazard.

A bench of Justices Arun Misra and Vineet Saran issued notices to the Centre and other authorities concerned on the plea which also sought empowering state governments to take decisions at their level for prohibition and restriction related to pesticides.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners, said that these pesticides have been banned in other countries but in India they are being allowed to be used which could pose serious health hazards to farmers.

“The continued use of deadly pesticides is a major threat to the Right to Life of farm workers and farmers. Just in terms of acute poisoning, without even getting into chronic health impacts, the situation is alarming and needs urgent action to remove deadly poisons from the scene,” the plea said.

The petition filed by Kavita Kuruganti said that deadly pesticides are still used at a time when there is much evidence of the success of ecological agriculture practices like organic farming in terms of profitability for farmers as well as productivity of the crops.

“Lack of authority with state governments is against the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, wherein Item 14 under List II makes agriculture and plant protection, the subject of state governments,” the plea said.

The petition said that the reports of pesticide poisoning deaths and hospitalisations are likely to increase as two more months of spraying of pesticides will continue on crops like cotton.

It also pointed out that 84 cases of hospitalisation in Yavatmal in Vidarbha and 40 cases including a death in the government hospital in Akola of Maharashtra stand testimony to this danger.

“Pass orders that empower state governments to take state level prohibition and restriction decisions related to pesticides based on due processes adopted by them regarding the socio-economic, health and environmental impacts of pesticides,” the plea said.

Supreme Court adjourns hearing on fresh plea against Article 35A

New Delhi:-The Supreme Court today adjourned its hearing on a fresh plea challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir assembly to define “permanent residents” for bestowing special rights and privileges to them.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud did not take up the matter as the petitioner had circulated a letter in the apex court registry seeking adjournment of hearing on the plea.

Lawyer and Delhi BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, in a fresh plea, has sought a direction to the central and state governments to declare Article 35A of the Constitution as “arbitrary” on the ground that it was contrary to fundamental rights like the right to equality, dignity of women, freedom of speech and expression and the right to life and personal liberty.

Article 35-A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state.

It also denies property rights to a woman who marries a person from outside the state. The provision, which leads to such women from the state forfeiting their right over property, also applies to their heirs.

Earlier, the apex court had adjourned the hearing on a batch of petitions including the one filed by NGO ‘We the Citizens’, through lawyer Barun Kumar Sinha, till the week commencing today.

 The Supreme Court closes proceedings against Tej Pratap in murder case.

 The Supreme Court today closed proceedings against former Bihar minister Tej Pratap, son of jailed RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav, in the murder case of a Siwan-based journalist.

The Supreme Court had asked the CBI to investigate allegations relating to media reports featuring photographs and videos that showed Pratap, former Bihar health minister, along with two absconding accused, Mohd Kaif and Javed, who are presently in judicial custody in the Rajdeo Ranjan murder case.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered the submission of Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi that CBI has not found any incriminating material against the RJD leader.

The bench ordered closure of proceedings against Tej Pratap and gave the slain journalist’s widow the liberty to get her plea revised if some incriminating material surfaces in the future.

Police chief can appoint officer to probe outside jurisdiction

The Kerala CourtThe Supreme Court has held that a DGP has the power to appoint a superior police officer to investigate a criminal case registered outside his territorial jurisdiction.

A bench comprising justices Ranjana Gogoi and Prafulla C Pant set aside a Kerala High Court order which held that state police chief cannot appoint any officer beyond the territorial jurisdiction to probe a criminal case on account constraints in section 36 (powers of superior officers of police) of CrPC.

“We do not see how Section 36 in CrPC in any way, can debar the exercise of powers by the state police chief to appoint any superior officer who, in his opinion, would be competent and fit to investigate a particular case keeping in view the circumstances thereof.

“Section 36 of CrPC does not fetter the jurisdiction of the state police chief to pass such an order based on his satisfaction,” the bench said.

It said the said power will be subject to the condition that such superior officer would be competent to exercise powers within the territorial/local limits of his jurisdiction.

The bench, however, clarified the power of the state police chief will be amenable to the judicial process on grounds of mala fide or as being without justification and reasonable cause.

The court’s order came while deciding the appeals moved by Kerala and complainant P B Sourabhan against high court order.

Two criminal cases arising out of matrimonial disputes were lodged in Kerala and in one of the case the Sourabhan was a complainant while in other he was accused.

Sourabhan made a representation to the state police chief requesting appointment of a superior officer for probing both the case and a senior police officer was appointed to probe the cases which was later challenged.

Govt to seeks jurists’ views on bill to scrap collegium system

fffffDisplaying earnest, government will seek the views of jurists and former judges on the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission bill it plans to bring in Parliament to replace the present collegium system where judges appoint judges. Sources said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will listen to top jurists and former judges on Monday to elicit their views on the bill.

The government has already written to leaders of major political parties seeking their support for the bill. The leaders have also been asked to give their views on the issue. The move comes in the wake of claims that the previous UPA regime had nudged the Supreme Court collegium to recommend an extension for a Madras High Court judge who was under corruption cloud. The decision to fast track the bill also comes in the backdrop of a controversy generated by the Centre’s decision to return the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium for appointment of senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium as an apex court judge. The Law Minister had on July 21 said the government is seeking the views of various political parties and eminent jurists for setting up a Judicial Appointments Commission which would scrap the present system of judges appointing judges.

The sources said the NDA government is not averse to the previous UPA government’s plan to put the composition and functions of the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission Bill in Constitution.
By giving the composition and functions of the proposed commission Constitutional status, UPA had sought to ally fears of the judiciary that the composition and functions can be tweaked by any future government.

BJP, then in Opposition, had also raised the issue of constitutional status for the proposed body. While a constitutional amendment bill requires two-third majority for passage in a House, a normal legislation needs just a simple majority. But the NDA government is learnt to be planning to rejig the composition of the proposed panel, the sources said. They said the NDA government has found “certain infirmities” in the UPA version.

The UPA bill had proposed that the Commission be headed by the Chief Justice of India with two senior judges of the Supreme Court, two eminent persons and the Law Minister as its members.
The Secretary (Justice) in the Law Ministry was to be the convener. UPA had proposed that the two eminent persons on the Commission be selected by a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, the CJI and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. A Constitutional Amendment Bill to set up the proposed commission has lapsed following the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha and an accompanying bill is pending in Rajya Sabha.

An earlier effort by the NDA-I government in 2003 to replace the collegium system met with no success. The then NDA government had introduced a Constitution amendment bill but Lok Sabha was dissolved when the bill was before a Standing Committee. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was the Law Minister then. After any Constitutional amendment bill gets Parliamentary nod, it is sent to all the states and 50 per cent of the state legislatures have to ratify it. The process could take up to eight months. After ratification, the government sends it to the President for his approval. The practice of judges appointing judges started after 1993, replacing the system of government picking judges for higher judiciary comprising the Supreme Court and high courts. The move to set aside the 1993 Supreme Court judgement, which led to the collegium system, requires a Constitutional amendment.

(Source: PTI

Ashram deaths: Asaram Bapu, son summoned

As The Supreme Court refused to order a CBI probe into death of two children at Asaram Bapu’s ashram here, a commission probing the 2008 case ordered the religious guru and his son to appear before it.

The Justice (retired) D K Trivedi Commission asked Asaram Bapu to remain present before it on December 1, while his son Narayan Sai, has been asked to appear on November 11.

Both of them have to depose before the commission as witnesses.

Expressing unhappiness over the father-son duo not appearing on different grounds in the past, the commission asked them to file individual undertakings to remain present without fail in the form of affidavits.

“These affidavits shall reach the commission on November 10 and be handed over to the secretary of the commission,” Justice D K Trivedi said in his order.

The commission also said that at one point, it had desired to exercise its power to secure their presence as witnesses by issuing warrant.

Meanwhile, on behalf of Asaram and son, a disciple of the ashram Uday Sanghani submitted two separate applications stating that Narayan Sai expressed his willingness to appear on November 11 and Asaram was ready to appear on November 19.

Two young boys– Deepesh and Abhishek had gone missing from the ashram on July 3, 2008.

Two days later on July 5, they were found dead outside the ashram. Both of them were resident students at the ashram.

Following controversy over the matter, the Gujarat government had announced to set up a commission to probe the case.



Supreme Court asks Manipur take on alleged extra-judicial killings

The Manipur government rapped by The Supreme Court for not filing a report on alleged extra-judicial killings in the state, saying “people are dying out there”.

A bench headed by justice Aftab Alam directed the government to file its response within two weeks and also asked the attorney general to assist the court in deciding the case.

When the counsel appearing for the state sought six weeks’ time to file the response, The bench said, “Do it quickly. People are dying out there. File your report by November 19,”

The apex court had on October 1 expressed concern over the spate of alleged extra-judicial killings in the state and issued notices to the Centre and the state government on a plea for an independent probe into around 1,500 such cases.

The court’s order came on a public interest litigation (PIL) initiated by an association of the families of the alleged victims, pleading with the apex court to set up a special investigation team and direct inquiry into all such cases.

The association said over 2,000 extra-judicial killings have taken place in the state, but no one has been held guilty till date.

The petitioner said innocent people with no criminal record had been killed by the security forces and no proper investigation had been carried out in such cases.

“Not only were there no criminal investigations and prosecutions of the guilty, even departmental inquiries were not conducted and no policemen or personnel of the security forces punished departmentally for their actions.

According to the petition, “The magisterial inquiries that took place sometimes were conducted by executive magistrates under cover of secrecy and most often without intimation to the eyewitnesses and members of the families. They were conducted as an eyewash”

The Supreme Court had on July 4 agreed to hear a similar plea for a probe into alleged extra-judicial killings by the Border Security force in the West Bengal border area.

In that case, petitioner Bangla Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha, a Kolkata-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), had alleged that there were more than 200 cases in which BSF personnel had indulged in extra-judicial killings and torture in the border area and the cases were never probed by the state police.

The NGO had alleged that instead of registering FIRs (first information reports) against BSF personnel, they were registered against the dead and the cases closed.