Madras HC to decide fate of Edappadi Palaniswami-led govt

CHENNAI: The decision on Edappadi Palaniswami will be made in Madras High Court on Thursday when it pronounces its verdict on the disqualification of 18 AIADMK MLAs.

The judgement, which was reserved by the High Court on January 24, comes nine months after the 18 MLAs were disqualified.
The 18 AIADMK MLAs were disqualified by Speaker P Dhanapal on September 18 and a gazette notification was issued declaring that vacancies to their seats have arisen due to the Anti-Defection Act.

The MLAs, who were supporting ousted AIADMK Deputy General Secretary, now AMMK leader and RK Nagar MLA TTV Dhinakaran, were disqualified on the grounds that they had “voluntarily given up their party membership”. They had in August filed individual petitions with then Governor Vidyasagar Rao expressing a lack of confidence in Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy and withdrew support to him.
Following this, AIADMK Chief Whip S Rajendran filed a complaint with the Speaker claiming that the MLAs were indulging in anti-party activities.

Calling the Speaker’s decision illegal and unauthorised, the MLAs moved the High Court seeking that the Speaker’s decision be quashed and their constitutional right be restored.

While hearing the case, the Madras High Court had on September 20 ordered a stay on the notifying bye-polls to the 18 seats but refused to stay the disqualification.

The court will decide whether the Speaker’s decision to disqualify the 18 MLAs despite no whip being issued holds ground and also whether he had the authority to disqualify the legislators for actions beyond the purview of the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

Talks okay, but dignity & verdict of court be respected: SC

Talks okay, but dignity & verdict of court be respected: SC
Talks okay, but dignity & verdict of court be respected: SC

The Supreme Court today said it was not averse to talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana to resolve Satluj-Yamuna Link canal issue but dignity of the court and the verdict should be “considered and respected”.

The apex court’s remark came after a bench of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy was informed by Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar that the Prime Minister has met Punjab Chief Minister Amrinder Singh and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar on the issue on April 20 and there were points and counter-points from both the parties.

Maintaining that another round of meeting was also held on the contentious issue between Modi and the two Chief Ministers on the sidelines of a recent Niti Aayog meet with the Council of Chief Ministers, the SG said if some time was given, then a solution could be explored.

“We have no issues if the matter is settled but there is a decree of this court and it should be taken into account during the talks,” the bench said.

It said the “dignity of this court and dignity of decree needs to be respected. We don’t wish to say anything further on the talks”.

Justice Ghose, who is to superannuate on May 27, when the apex court will be on summer vacation, expressed regret for not being able to deliver the judgement due to paucity of time.

“When we started to hear the matter we were eager to deliver the verdict and settle the issue but due to deferment and adjournment, it could not be done,” Justice Ghose, who headed the bench, said.

Senior advocate R S Suri, appearing for Punjab, said the Prime Minister met the two chief ministers and certain facts have come up which need to be ascertained.

Terming it as an emotive issue for both the parties, he said some time needs to be given as talks on it were yet to be considered as over.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan appearing for Haryana said that no fruitful result has come out of the meeting and the possibility of any amicable settlement also looks very remote.

“The matter has been pending before the bench since November last. There are already two decrees of the court and we are anxiously waiting for these to be executed by the plaintiff (Punjab),” he said, adding that the matter must be heard and decided.

To this, the bench said, “since holidays are coming and during this period if the matter is settled through talks then it is okay or we will proceed considering nothing fruitful has come out”.

It said there were two issues before the court — what is the effect of reference on the ground and what will be the impact if the decree of this court is not executed.

The apex court told the counsel for Haryana that it understood the anxiety of the state but he should also understand the situation at the ground-level on other side.

Divan said they have confidence in the court and that is why they are before it.

The apex court then posted the matter for further hearing on July 11.

It had on April 12 said the court does not want to “shut the door” to an amicable settlement of SYL canal dispute as the Centre has expressed keenness to find a solution, saying it had convened a high-level meeting of Punjab and Haryana.

The Centre had told the apex court that a meeting has been called at the highest level and it was very keen to find a solution.

While giving the Centre a chance to explore possibilities of an out-of-court settlement to the water dispute between the two neighbouring states, the top court made it clear that it would proceed with the hearing, if the bid failed.

Earlier, the Centre had made it clear that it was not taking any sides in the dispute between the northern riparian states which also included Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Union territory of Delhi.

In a stern message to Punjab, the apex court had on March 2 said its verdict allowing construction of the SYL canal in Haryana and Punjab has to be implemented.

A five-judge bench, while answering the Presidential Reference on November 11, 2016, had held that the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004 was unconstitutional as it negated the effect of apex court judgements of 2002 and 2004.

The court had favoured the construction of SYL canal.

Punjab had contended that the apex court order was not binding as it was given under its advisory jurisdiction and the Punjab law still stands.

It had said that the verdict, holding Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004 as unconstitutional, did not render the law invalid, as the apex court had only given an opinion on the Presidential Reference.

The apex court had on November 30 last year directed status quo on SYL canal and appointed Union Home Secretary, Chief Secretary of Punjab and Punjab DGP as court receivers of the lands, works, property and portions of the canal.

The court had also thwarted Punjab’s attempt to wriggle out of SYL water sharing pact, saying it cannot “unilaterally” terminate it or legislate to “nullify” the verdict of the highest court.

The controversial 1981 water-sharing agreement came into being after Haryana was carved out of Punjab in 1966. For effective allocation of water, the SYL canal link was conceptualised and both the states were required to construct their portions within their territories.

Haryana constructed the portion of SYL canal in its territory. However, Punjab, after the initial phase, stopped the work, leading to spate of litigations.

In 2004, the Congress government in the state came out with the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act with an intention to terminate the 1981 agreement and all other pacts relating to sharing of waters of rivers Ravi and Beas.

The apex court had first decreed the suit of Haryana in 2002 asking Punjab to honour its commitments with regard to water sharing in the case.

Punjab had challenged the verdict by filing an original suit that was rejected in 2004 by the Supreme Court which asked the Centre to take over the remaining infrastructural work of the SYL canal project.

( Source – PTI )

Verdict in Ajmer blast case deferred to March 8

Verdict in Ajmer blast case deferred to March 8
Verdict in Ajmer blast case deferred to March 8

A special court today deferred till March 8 the judgement in the 2007 Ajmer dargah bomb blast case.

Magistrate Dinesh Gupta adjourned the hearing as the court needed more time to study all documents submitted by the prosecution and the defence.

The blast on October 11, 2007 in the dargah of Khawaja Moinuddin Chisti at the time of roza iftaar, had left three pilgrims dead and 15 injured.

The case was handed over to ATS Rajasthan and was later transferred to NIA which re-registered the case with the NIA police station New Delhi on April 6, 2011.

There were as many as 149 witnesses in the case and 451 documents were examined and the NIA filed three supplementary chargesheets in the case.

Eight accused —Swami Aseemanand, Bhavesh Patel, Harshad Solanki, Lokesh Sharma, Devendra Kumar, Mehul Kumar, Mukesh Vasani and Bharat Bhai – are in judicial custody while one accused Chandrashekar is on bail.

The accused were produced in court today.

According to the NIA, three accused Sandeep Dange, Ramchandra and Suresh Nair- are absconding. One of the accused Sunil Joshi was murdered in December 2007.

( Source – PTI )

Coal scam:SC verdict tomorrow on report indicting ex-CBI chief

Coal scam:SC verdict tomorrow on report indicting ex-CBI chief
Coal scam:SC verdict tomorrow on report indicting ex-CBI chief

The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its order tomorrow on the action to be taken on a report of its panel which has held that prima facie there was an attempt to influence investigation in the coal block allocation scam cases by former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha.

A special bench headed by Justice M B Lokur is slated to pronounce the verdict.

The apex court had on July 12 last year had reserved the order on the issue after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that the panel headed by former CBI special director M L Sharma has held that Sinha’s meetings with some high- profile accused in the scam, prima facie indicated that there was an attempt to influence the investigation.

Rohtagi, who had only received an initial report of the panel for perusal on condition of confidentiality, had said he had gone through the report which has found that the visitors’ diary at Sinha’s residence was genuine.

However, he had said the correctness of entries in that diary can only be ascertained in the court through evidence.

The apex court-appointed panel was probing the alleged scuttling of probe into coal block allocation scam cases by Sinha, whose meetings with the accused persons were held as “completely inappropriate”.

Earlier, the court had given the initial report of the Sharma committee to the Attorney General for his perusal, as the bench wanted his assistance after the panel had sought a direction for supply of documents relating to preliminary enquiry into some of the matters in which the probe was closed.

On December 7, 2015, the court had ordered handing over the original visitors’ diary of the official residence of the former CBI director to the Sharma-led panel.

( Source – PTI )

SC not to pass Jallikattu verdict for a week

SC not to pass Jallikattu verdict for a week
SC not to pass Jallikattu verdict for a week

The Supreme Court today agreed not to pass judgement for a week on the Jallikattu issue while taking into account the Centre’s submission that they were in talks with Tamil Nadu to find a way out in the matter.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the matter before a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumati that people of Tamil Nadu are “passionate” about Jallikattu and the Central government and the state are trying to resolve the issue.

“The Centre and the state are in talks to find a way out in the matter and our request is that the court should not deliver the judgement for at least a week,” Rohatgi told the bench.

Hearing the AG’s brief submission, the bench said “Okay”.

( Source – PTI )

SC reserves verdict on appeals in DA case against Jayalalithaa

SC reserves verdict on appeals in DA case against Jayalalithaa
SC reserves verdict on appeals in DA case against Jayalalithaa

The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on a batch of appeals filed by Karnataka government and others against the High Court order acquitting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and others in a disproportionate assets case.

A vacation bench comprising justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy, which has been hearing the appeals of the state government and DMK leader K Anbazhagan against the acquittal, concluded hearing arguments.

Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Karnataka government, dealt with the alleged roles of six firms and the evidence regarding assets and funds held by each of them.

The firms, which found mention in the trial court records, are Lex Property Development, Meadow Agro Farms Ltd, Riverway Agro Products Pvt Ltd, Ramraj Agro Mills Ltd, Signora Business Enterprises Pvt Ltd and Indo Doha Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd.

“The issue of the matter is that these companies were purchased (takeover of shareholding) by introduction of the accused persons (other than A-1 Jayalalithaa) as directors and removal of existing directors. The control of these companies were taken by the accused persons, after which bank accounts were opened and as large amount of cash was deposited into these accounts,” the written note submitted by Luthra said.

The note also gave a chart showing cash flow and purchase of property.

Dealing with the role of the firms, Luthra claimed that “in essence these companies were used as receptacles of ill- gotten cash for which no explanation was given during investigation nor during the trial. Such cash becomes the basis for large scale properties being purchased where all negotiations were done at the house of A1 (irrespective of where the property situated in Tamil Nadu).”

The senior lawyer also submitted an amended chart to give details of transaction of funds including the details of cash deposits.

Senior advocate Harin P Raval, appearing for the companies, opposed the submissions made by Karnataka government.

Gulberg Society massacre: Verdict likely tomorrow

Gulberg Society massacre: Verdict likely tomorrow
Gulberg Society massacre: Verdict likely tomorrow

A special SIT court is likely to pronounce its verdict tomorrow in connection with a 2002 post-Godhra riots case of Gulberg Society in which 69 persons including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri were killed.

Special Court Judge P B Desai will deliver the judgement over eight months after the trial concluded on September 22, 2015.

The Supreme Court, which is monitoring the case, had directed the SIT court to give its verdict by May 31.

There are 66 accused named by the SIT in the case, of which nine are behind bars since 14 years, while others are out on bail.

One of the accused, Bipin Patel is a sitting BJP corporator from Asarva seat. He was also the corporator in 2002 when the massacre happened and won the election for fourth consecutive term last year.

Last week, the court had turned down pleas moved by two accused–Narayan Tank and Babu Rathod–to conduct narco analysis and brain mapping tests on them to prove their innocence. The court maintained that it was not required when the verdict was imminent.

During the trial, riots victim’s lawyer had argued that the massacre was a pre-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused to kill minority community members of the Gulberg Society.

The defence had refuted the conspiracy theory of prosecution and claimed that the mob resorted to violence only after slain Congress MP Eshan Jafri fired several rounds on them.

The Gulberg Society case is one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court appointed SIT.

The incident had taken place a day after S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt near Godhra train station, where in 58 ‘karsevaks’ were killed.

( Source – PTI )

Verdict in Danish woman gangrape case on June 6

Verdict in Danish woman gangrape case on June 6
Verdict in Danish woman gangrape case on June 6

A Delhi court today reserved for June 6 its judgement in a case in which a 52-year-old Danish woman was gangraped allegedly by nine persons, including three juveniles, two-years back in the national capital..

Additional Sessions Judge Ramesh Kumar heard the final arguments of Delhi Police and defence counsel and fixed the case for pronouncement of verdict.

During the proceedings, Special Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava argued that testimonies of the woman and an eye witness, medical and forensic evidence, including DNA test reports, clearly nails the five accused in the case.

He said the woman had clearly identified three of the six adult accused in the court while she was not completely sure about others.

Advocate Dinesh Sharma, legal aid counsel for the accused, claimed that his clients were falsely implicated in the case and eye witness Shivji Singh was a planted witness.

He also argued that as it was a sensational case so under the pressure of top police officials and media, the cops implicated his clients who were innocent.

According to the prosecution, the nine accused, all vagabonds, had allegedly robbed and gangraped the Danish tourist at knife-point on the night of January 14, 2014, after leading her to a secluded spot close to the Divisional Railway Officers’ Club near New Delhi Railway Station.

All nine accused were arrested. The five adult accused – Mahendra alias Ganja (27), Mohd Raja (23), Raju (24), Arjun (22), Raju Chakka (23) – are in judicial custody and facing trial. 56-year-old accused Shyam Lal, who was in judicial custody, died in February.

Three other accused were juveniles against whom inquiry before the Juvenile Justice Board is in progress.

The prosecution has examined 27 witnesses in support of its case while the accused had opted not to lead any evidence in their support.

During the trial, the accused claimed innocence and denied the charges of raping the woman.

They claimed that a day prior to the alleged incident on January 14, 2014, they had hired a prostitute and had physical relations with her and had not done anything with the Danish woman.

( Source – PTI )

Gulberg Housing Society riot case verdict on June 2

Gulberg Housing Society riot case verdict on June 2
Gulberg Housing Society riot case verdict on June 2

A special court here is likely to pronounce on June 2 its order in Gulberg Housing Society riot case in which former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri and 68 others were killed in 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat.

Special judge P B Desai today issued notices to lawyers concerned in the case asking them to remain present on June 2 when the judgement is likely to be pronounced.

“The judge ordered the clerk to issue notice to all advocates concerned to remain present in the court on June 2 when the judgement will be pronounced,” said lawyer S M Vora who appeared for the riots victims.

The court was earlier directed by the apex court to pronounce the judgement by May 31 after the trial concluded on September 22 last year.

The riots victims’ lawyer had argued during the trial that the massacre was a pre-planned criminal conspiracy hatched by the accused to kill minority community members of the Gulberg Society.

The defence had refuted the ‘conspiracy theory’ of the prosecution and claimed that the mob resorted to violence only after Eshan Jafri fired several rounds at them.

Defence lawyer Abhay Bhardwaj said a mob of around 1,500 had gathered on their own and not as a pre-planned conspiracy.

338 witnesses testified during the trial of the case, which ran for over six years.

The Gulberg Society case is one of the nine cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).

There are 66 accused named by SIT in the Gulberg Society case of which nine are behind the bars for 14 years while others are out on bail.

69 persons lost their lives in Gulberg Society violence here on February 28, 2002 during the post-Godhra riots.

The incident had taken place a day after S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express train was burnt near Godhra train station in which 58 ‘karsevaks’ from Ayodhya were killed.

( Source – PTI )

Kanimozhi’s bail plea verdict on May 20

In temporary relief for the politically battered first family of Tamil Nadu, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court Saturday deferred till May 20 its verdict on the bail plea of DMK MP Kanimozhi and Kalaignar TV chief Sharad Kumar in connection with their alleged involved in the spectrum case.

CBI Special Judge O.P. Saini, after seeing the crowd in the jampacked court room, said: “The court will pronounce its verdict on the bail plea of the duo on May 20.”

The court had reserved the order on their bail application May 6.

Kanimozhi was accompanied by her mother Rajathi Ammal and her husband Aravindan to mark her presence before the Judge Saini. DMK parliamentarian T.R. Balu was also present.

The CBI had named Kanimozhi, daughter of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi who suffered a rout in the assembly elections, and Sharad Kumar as co-conspirators in its April 25 supplementary chargesheet after it traced an illegal money trail of Rs.214 crore.

Asif Balwa and Rajiv B. Agarwal of Kusegaon Realty, also named as co-conspirator in the case, were also present in the court room.

The fifth co-conspirator, Cineyug Film’s Karim Morani was not present as he got exemption from personal appearance due to his ill health. However, he will have to appear before the court May 18.

The money trail allegedly moved from Dynamix to Kusegaon and then on to Cineyug — all part of the DB Group that promoted Swan Telecom – ending with the Karunanidhi family-run Kalaignar TV. The channel had earlier stated that the Rs.214 crore was a loan and paid back with interest.

DMK MP A. Raja has been accused of allowing the sale of spectrum licenses to telecom companies at low prices in 2008 when he was communications minister, allegedly causing huge losses to the exchequer. He is in jail.

Raja, his aide R.K. Chandolia, former telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura and Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa were present in the court room. They are charged with conspiring to sell 2G spectrum waves to select companies at rock bottom prices.

Vinod Goenka of Swan Telecom, Sanjay Chandra of Unitech and two officials of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group – Gautam Doshi and Hari Nair and – who were also named in the chargesheet were present in the court room.

Surendra Pipara of Reliance, who is in judicial custody, was not produced in the court room as he is undergoing treatment for a heart problem.