President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed chief justices to eight high courts, including Allahabad and Madhya Pradesh, besides approving the transfer of five chief justices in other high courts.
According to a notification issued by the Department of Justice, Rajesh Bindal, acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, would now be the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court. Justice Prakash Shrivastava of Madhya Pradesh High Court will now be the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court.
Similarly, the acting Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court, Satish Chandra Sharma, will now be the Chief Justice of Telangana High Court, while Justice Ranjit V. More of the Meghalaya High Court will take charge as the Chief Justice of the same court. Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi of Allahabad High Court would now be the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court.
Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra of Chhattisgarh High Court will be the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court.
Justice Aravind Kumar of the Karnataka High Court will now be the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court, while R.V. Malimath, who is the acting Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, will now be the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court.
In a major decision on September 17, the Supreme Court collegium had recommended the elevation of eight judges as chief justices of various high courts. The Centre has now acted on this recommendation by the collegium.
Besides the appointment of eight new chief justices to various high courts, the Centre also notified the transfer of justice Akil A Kureshi, currently Chief Justice of Tripura High Court, to the Rajasthan High Court.
The Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court, Indrajit Mahanty, has been transferred to the Tripura High Court; Mohammad Rafiq, Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court, has been transferred to Himachal Pradesh Hogh Court; Biswanath Somadder, Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court, has been transferred to Sikkim High Court; and A.K. Goswami, Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, has been transferred to Chattisgarh High Court.
The Supreme Court on Friday said it is "not satisfied with the steps taken by the state" in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case, and expected a responsible government, system and police. The top court also observed that handing over the case to the CBI was not the solution.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli said: "We are not satisfied with the action taken by the state".
On the non-arrest of Ashish Mishra, son of Union Minister Ajay Mishra, the bench queried Salve, "Is this the way you treat the accused in other cases as well?...Sending notice".
The bench told Salve, "When there is a serious allegations of murder and gunshot injury, how the accused in other parts of the country are treated. Please tell us."
The bench further queried senior advocate Harish Salve, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, that has the state government made a request to give the case to the CBI?
Salve replied that it is entirely in their hands. However, the bench told Salve: "CBI is also not a solution and you know the reason why...You find out better mode".
Salve said the case is extremely serious. The bench replied: "If it is an extremely serious case that's not how things are taking place. It is only in words and not in action".
Salve admitted before the top court that what has been done by the state is not satisfactory and remedial action will be taken soon, and urged the bench to put the matter for hearing immediately after the Dussehra vacation.
The top court also took a strong objection to SIT formed in the matter, which comprises local officers.
The bench said it may not be required to keep the SIT anymore, and emphasized that they should not destroy evidence or do anything negative. Salve submitted that given the evidence in hand, allegations under Section 302, maybe possibly true.
The top court told Salve that it will take up the matter after Dussehra vacation, 'but that does not mean the state holds its hands', and insisted that the state must take immediate steps.
Justice Kant said: "You have to inspire confidence". Salve said, "What they have done isn't satisfactory".
The bench said: "Because of the sensitivity of the issue, state should understand, we aren't saying anything more".
The apex court has listed the matter for further hearing on October 20.
On Thursday, the top court had directed the Uttar Pradesh government to submit a status report indicating who are the accused named in the FIR filed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case and whether they have been arrested or not.
On October 3, nine persons, including four farmers, were killed in the violence that had erupted during a farmers' protest in Lakhimpur Kheri.
The Supreme Court Thursday asked the Uttar Pradesh government to explain who are the accused against whom FIR has been registered in connection with the October 3 Lakhimpur Kheri violence, in which eight people were killed, and whether they have been arrested.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana told the counsel appearing for Uttar Pradesh to explain this in the status report.
The counsel told the bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, that a judicial commission has been constituted to inquire into the incident and the state would file a status report in the matter.
The apex court has posted the matter for hearing on Friday.
Eight people were killed in the violence on October 3 during a farmers' protest at Lakhimpur Kheri.
The incident has triggered a major political storm with opposition parties accusing the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh of shielding the culprits.
Earlier in the day, the top court had said it would like to hear the two lawyers who had written a letter seeking a high-level judicial inquiry, also involving the CBI, into the Lakhimpur Kheri incident in which eight people were killed in violence during a farmers' protest.
The bench said that the letter was to be registered as a PIL and due to some “miscommunication” it was listed as the suo motu (on its own) case.
Four farmers were mowed down by an SUV in Lakhinpur Kheri when a group agitating against the Centre's three new farm laws was holding a demonstration against the visit of UP Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya on October 3.
Two BJP workers and a driver were beaten to death allegedly by the angry protesters, while a local journalist was also killed in the violence.
An FIR under section 302 of IPC (murder) has been registered against the Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra and others in the incident in Tikonia police station but no arrest has been made so far.
Farmer leaders have claimed that Ashish was in one of the cars that allegedly knocked down the protesters but the minister has denied the allegations.
Several farmer organisations are protesting against the passage of three laws -- The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 since last November.
The apex court had stayed the implementation of these laws in January.
Initially, the protests started from Punjab in November last year and later spread to Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has power to take suo motu cognisance - on the basis of letters, representations, and media reports -- and can initiate proceedings on its own on issues pertaining to the environment.
A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar delivered the judgment on a batch of petitions which raised the issue whether the NGT has suo motu jurisdiction.
Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh had argued that the NGT has been conferred powers to pass orders for the restitution of environment, hence it can exercise suo motu powers. However, a battery of senior advocates opposed his arguments, stating that only constitutional courts can exercise suo motu powers and a statutory tribunal like the NGT has to act within the confines of its parent law.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, held that the NGT does not have the power to take cognisance of a matter on its own. But she also contended that the tribunal's powers cannot be bound by procedural constraints.
"This is a peculiar tribunal dealing with environmental matters. Often, environment ends up being nobody's baby," she said.
The bench had queried her that if the tribunal were to receive an information in connection with environment, will it not be duty bound to initiate process? The ASG responded that once a letter or communication is received by the tribunal, it is within its power to take cognisance of it.
On September 8, the bench had reserved verdict on the issue. Senior advocate Arvind Grover, amicus curiae in the case, had opined that the NGT cannot exercise suo motu powers on the basis of letters, representations, or media reports.
The Chief Justice of India (CJI), N.V. Ramana, said on Saturday that the top court collegium, which is headed by him, is targeting to fill the vacancies in various high courts at the earliest, and it does not want to cut down the pace of the process, rather it seeks Centre's support to enable access to justice and to strengthen the democracy.
Addressing an event organised by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), in which Law Minister Kiren Rijiju was also present, Ramana said: "Since May onwards, my team so far has recommended appointments of 106 judges and 9 chief justices to various high courts. The government has cleared 7 names out of the 106 judges and 1 out of the 9 chief justices so far."
He added that the Law Minister has informed that the rest of the names will be cleared within one or two days.
In total, there are 465 vacancies against a sanctioned strength of 1,098 judges in various high courts across the country.
The CJI said that these appointments will take care of the pendency of cases to some extent.
"I seek the cooperation and support of the government to enable access to justice and to strengthen democracy," said Ramana, while speaking at the launch of the six-week 'Pan India Legal Awareness and Outreach Campaign' of NALSA.
He emphasised that the quality of democracy rests on the quality of justice, and for a healthy democracy, a vibrant judiciary is essential.
Ramana added that loss of daily wage, the prospect of eviction, lack of healthcare and uncertainty about the next meal -- all these flow from the absence of justice.
"The social costs of this are unimaginable. Socio-economic justice would be impossible to achieve without providing equal access to justice. Only when the vulnerable classes are aware about their rights can they shape their own future," he said.
Ramana added, "We need people to feel that law and the institutions are for everyone. In a democratic country, it is the faith and trust of the people that sustain institutions."
Citing that every person comes across legal issues in their lifetime, he said suppression of unmet legal needs results in the suppression of the full potential of an individual.
He emphasised that inclusive and sustainable growth would be impossible to attain without providing inclusive access to justice.
"Equality and 'access to justice' complement each other. In countries with major socio-economic gaps, unequal access to justice leads to widening of these divides," he added.
Reiterating that the Law Minister is dynamic, the CJI said: "I was told that he (Rijiju) set Twitter on fire with his high energy dance. His connect with the common people defines his commitment to society."
On his part, Rijiju said: "I would like to remind us all that speedy and affordable delivery of justice is the legitimate expectation of the people and is the collective responsibility of the different organs of the state."
He added that it is important that all the stakeholders work together to "deliver this mandate".
The Supreme Court on Friday pulled the farmers' organisation, Kisan Mahapanchayat, for seeking permission to stage a Satyagraha at Jantar Mantar against the farm laws. The top court said after blocking highways and strangulating the city, the demonstrators now want to come inside to protest.
A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said: "You cannot come to the court and at the same time continue with protest."
The bench queried the counsel representing the organisation if they were also protesting against the judicial system.
The bench also comprising Justice C.T. Ravikumar was hearing a plea by the Kisan Mahapanchayat seeking permission to stage the Satyagraha as a mark of protest against the three farm laws.
The plea sought directions to allow the staging of the Satyagraha as it was permitted to the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha farmers.
The Kisan Mahapanchayat's counsel submitted before the bench that his client had been asking permission from the Delhi Police.
The bench told him that after approaching the courts challenging the laws, what is the point of continuing the protests?
"If you have faith in courts, pursue that for urgent hearing instead of protesting," it added.
The bench also told the counsel that the demonstrators have right to protest, but cannot destroy property, adding that this business should stop.
The counsel for the farmers' organisation said the highways have been blocked by the police and "we have been detained", adding that his client was not part of the protest blocking the highways.
The bench emphasized that there was no purpose of protest once the organization approaches the court.
"There is no purpose to approach the court when you want to protest," it added.
The court asked the counsel to come on record stating his client is not part of the protest, to which the latter agreed.
The bench ordered to serve the copy of the petition to the office of AG and listed the matter for further hearing on October 4.
The Supreme Court on Thursday emphasised that roads cannot remain blocked perpetually and asked the Centre what steps has it taken to remove the road blockade by farmers, protesting against three agriculture laws at Delhi borders.
A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul told the Centre's counsel: "We have already laid down the law and you have to implement it. If we encroach, then you may say that we have trespassed on your domain."
The bench further added, "How to implement the law is your business. The court has no means to implement it".
The top court said there are grievances, which need to be addressed and queried, "How can highways be blocked perpetually? Where does it end". The bench emphasised the problem could be solved through either judicial forum or parliamentary debates, but highways can't be blocked perpetually.
The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj: What was the government doing in the matter?
Mehta, on his part, submitted that a high-level committee was formed where farmers were invited, but they refused to join. He added that certain farmers' representatives have to be made parties in the matter, so that they are informed about the government plans. However, the bench said the Centre will have to implead them as parties, as the petitioner may not know about the leaders representing the farmers.
The top court was hearing a plea filed by Monicca Agarwaal seeking directions to remove road blockades, which impedes free movement of traffic between Delhi and Noida.
The bench told the Centre's counsel to move an application, pointing out steps taken and how impleadment of some parties will help in resolution of dispute.
The top court has posted the matter for further hearing on October 4.
The top court on August 23 had asked the Centre to find a solution to the blockade of roads by farmers groups protesting against the three agriculture laws. Earlier, the top court had observed that protesters have a right to protest at a designated space, but can't block public roads.
The petitioner had alleged that instead of the normal 20 minutes, she ended up spending two hours for her travel from Noida to Delhi.
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday dismissed a bail plea filed by Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor's wife Bindu, and their daughters Roshini Kapoor and Radha Kapoor-Khanna, and former bank senior executive Rajiv Anand, in the financial irregularities pertaining to the Dewan Housing Financials Ltd (DHFL) cases.
In her detailed order rejecting their bail pleas, Justice Bharati Dangre observed that the petitioners are accused of committing serious offenses which have "resulted in the serious dent to the financial health of the state" and defrauding the public at large.
The court further said that such "heinous" offences seem to be on "occurring in plenty", leading to "stultifying overall growth of the nation and caused tremendous impairment to the economy of the nation".
Moreover, the Central Bureau of Investigation had opposed the bail plea on grounds that the accused are influential and affluent persons, and the probable witnesses are employees who may be influenced, and evidence may be tampered with if they (the accused) are enlarged on bail.
The petitioners applied for bail before a special CBI court which declined the plea and the accused continue to be in judicial custody till October 1, after which they challenged the lower court order in the Bombay HC.
Senior advocates Mahesh Jethmalani, Amit Desi, and Aabad Ponda represented the applicants while the CBI was represented by its counsel Hiten S. Venegaonkar.
The CBI has contended that between April-June 2018, the Yes Bank had invested Rs 3,700 crore in short-term debentures of DHFL and in return, the latter paid alleged kickbacks of Rs 900 crore to Kapoor in the form of loans to a company, DoIT Urban Ventures Ltd, owned and controlled by his wife and their daughters.
Kapoor was nabbed in March 2020 by the CBI and later also by the Enforcement Directorate and remains in custody for the past 18 months.
The Supreme Court has ruled that senior company officials -- chairman, managing director, executive director, deputy general manager, planner and executor -- automatically cannot be held liable under criminal law for offences committed by the company in the absence of specific allegations against them.
In a judgment, a bench comprising M.R. Shah and A.S. Bopanna said: "Magistrate has to record his satisfaction about a prima facie case against the accused who are Managing Director, the Company Secretary and the Directors of the Company and the role played by them in their respective capacities which is sine qua non for initiating criminal proceedings against them".
The bench noted that there are no specific allegations with respect to the role played by senior officials in their capacity as chairman, managing director, executive director, deputy general manager and planner and executor.
"Merely because they are Chairman, Managing Director/Executive Director and/or Deputy General Manager and/or Planner/Supervisor of A1 & A6, without any specific role attributed and the role played by them in their capacity, they cannot be arrayed as an accused", said the top court, adding that they cannot be held vicariously liable for the offenses committed by the company.
The complainant had filed a private complaint alleging the accused had conspired with common intention to lay a water pipeline beneath the scheduled properties belonging to the complainant without any lawful authority and right.
It was also alleged they had trespassed over the scheduled properties and demolished the compound wall and destroyed 100 valuable trees and laid pipelines beneath the schedule properties. According to the complaint, accused 1 and 6 were companies, while the accused numbers 2 to 5 and 7 to 13 were top officers or employees of the company.
The bench noted merely because respondent number 2 to 5 and 7 and 8 are the chairman, managing director, executive director, deputy general manager, planner and executor, automatically they cannot be held vicariously liable, unless, there are specific allegations and averments against them with respect to their individual role.
The bench noted that the chairman and executive director, at the time of demolition of the wall and cutting of trees, were stationed at Hyderabad and not present at the site.
The top court upheld the Karnataka High Court judgment and the sessions court, which had set aside the magistrate order, issuing summons against the accused.
The bench noted that there were no specific allegations regarding the role attributed to them, except a bald statement by the complainant that they have connived with each other. The top court dismissed the appeal filed against Mangalore Special Economic Zone Ltd and others.
The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a plea by a Class 12 student from Delhi seeking directions to Centre and States to take a time-bound decision in connection with the physical re-opening of schools and conduct of offline teaching.
A bench headed by justice D.Y. Chandrachud said it cannot direct states to reopen schools for physical teaching. The bench noted, "We just got out of the second wave (Covid). We don't know where the spike is?".
Justice Chandrachud emphasized that children need to go back to school but, it has to be decided by the states.
The bench noted it does not have scientific data nor complete information on Covid spike in the country and added that governments are wary of exposing children to possible infection. The bench also comprising justice B.V. Nagarathna said that court cannot take over governance and decide these issues. "Let governments take decision", added the bench.
Advocate representing the petitioner contended that malls and restaurants have been opened, and emphasized on the mental and psychological fallout of the closure of schools on the students.
The bench noted that children should not be involved in these matters and emphasized that these issues are fraught with grave complexity. "We don't think, we should enter here by judicial mandates", noted the bench, asking the advocate to withdraw the petition.
Petitioner Amar Prem Prakash said he is echoing the sentiments and feelings of a large body of the student community and fraternity of the country, particularly underprivileged and voiceless children. The petitioner said he is aggrieved by the indecision and vacillation on the part of the Centre and states/union territories (UTs), in the matter of re-opening of schools and resumption of physical classes with adequate safeguards.
"Raising this very vital issue regarding the deprivation and ill-effects, both psychological and actual, of school children being kept away from attending their schools physically", said the plea filed through advocate Ravi Prakash Mehrotra.
The Supreme Court on Monday sought Centre's response on a PIL seeking door-to-door vaccination of persons with disability.
A bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud issued notice to the Union of India while hearing a plea by Evara Foundation, a disability rights organisation, seeking priority Covid-19 vaccination for the disabled, as they face a higher risk of being impacted by the virus.
"Since the plea raises substantial questions dealing with rights of the disabled. We issue notice to the Union of India," said the bench.
The top court also asked the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist it with regarding the steps taken and the steps which are likely to be taken to assuage concerns of the petitioners.
The bench has scheduled the matter for further hearing after two weeks.
Advocate Pankaj Sinha, representing the petitioner, also sought notice to be issued to the state governments in the matter. However, the bench pointed out that Centre formulates the health policy and it would like to see its policy on the issues raised in the plea.
The bench noted that the plea under Article 32 seeks to bring focus upon the steps, which are required to ensure ease of access to vaccination to persons with disabilities.