The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought responses from the Centre and the Election Commission on a PIL seeking a direction to seize the election symbol or de-register a political party that promises or distributes “irrational freebies” from public funds before elections.
A bench comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli sought the response in four weeks on the PIL filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay.
The plea said there should be a total ban on such populist measures to gain undue political favour from voters as they violate the Constitution and the ECI should take suitable deterrent measures.
The Delhi High Court on Monday listed for April 30 a public interest litigation (PIL) concerning the safety and security of the Prime Minister, considering the pendency of overlapping issues before the Supreme Court.
A bench headed by Chief Justice D N Patel initially said that it would ask the Centre to consider as representation the PIL which seeks a declaration that all authorities, civil or military, shall act under the supervision of the Special Protection Group (SPG) in matters of security of the Prime Minister and his immediate family members.
Lawyer V Govinda Ramanan, representing the petitioner Ashish Kumar, said that the plea was on a “limited point of law” that the SPG should have the power of superintendence in respect of the PM's safety and that he has already made a representation to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The petitioner has claimed that he filed the PIL in view of media reports on a security breach during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Punjab.
Central government counsel Amit Mahajan informed the court that the Supreme Court is already seized of overlapping issues.
The bench, also comprising Justice Jyoti Singh, adjourned the hearing on the PIL and noted that the apex court has passed directions and is awaiting the report of the committee already appointed by it.
On January 5, the prime minister's convoy was stranded on a flyover due to a blockade by protesters in Ferozepur after which he returned from poll-bound Punjab without attending any event, including a rally.
On January 12, the Supreme Court had, on a petition seeking a thorough investigation into the matter, appointed a five-member committee headed by former apex court judge Justice Indu Malhotra to probe the security breach.
In the PIL before the high court, the petitioner has argued that the security of the Prime Minister “cannot be left to the discretion” of the states and the absolute superintendence in matters of his safety should be exercised by the SPG.
He has submitted that the SPG was created with the sole purpose of ensuring the safety and security of the prime minister and all authorities are therefore duty-bound to aid their functions.
The petitioner has alleged that recently, “the Govt. Of Punjab, including the Police officials of the state instead of coming to the aid of" SPG in terms of Section 14 of the SPG Act, 1988 was "creating obstacles to the proximate security of the Hon'ble Prime Minister”.
“It came to the knowledge of the petitioner via media reports that there has been a breach in the security of the Hon'ble Prime Minister during his recent visit to the border state of Punjab on 05.01.2022, which, inter-alia, is further evidence from the fact that his convoy was stuck and was made to wait on a flyover for more than 20 minutes, thereby, exposing and putting his life at risk to a terrorist attack,” the petition said.
In a country that has witnessed the assassination of two PMs, such security lapses pose a great threat to national security and also put the life of the common citizens at risk, the petitioner has argued.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court has dismissed a petition challenging the government's decision to rename Habibganj railway station after Gond queen Rani Kamlapati and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the petitioner.
A division bench of Justices Sheel Nagu and Sunita Yadav dismissed the petition, terming it as 'frivolous' and 'vexatious' piece of litigation which has consumed precious time of the court.
The court dismissed the plea observing that it does not perceive any public cause involved in the petition, which appears to have been filed to gain cheap publicity.
"This court fails to comprehend as to how the name of a particular Railway Station would lead to furtherance of public cause," it said.
The court further noted that a cause of public is served by quality and quantity of amenities and facilities available at a railway station and in facilitating ease of travelling by train. This act of facilitation has nothing to do with the name of a particular Railway Station.
"The present petition stands dismissed with cost of Rs 10,000 which shall be paid by the petitioner in the Registry to be utilised for purchasing necessary articles and equipment for dealing with the crisis arising out of the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic," the court said.
The petition was filed by a Seoni-based lawyer, A.S. Qureshi on the ground that in 1973 one Guru Habeeb Miyan had donated his land to the Railways on which the station was constructed. Therefore, the station's old name (Habibganj) should be restored.
The Habibganj railway station which has been renovated and facilitated with world class amenities for the passengers has been renamed after Gond queen Rani Kamalapati during a visit of Prime Narendra Modi's visit in Bhopal on November 15, 2021.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal on Friday granted consent to initiate contempt of court proceedings against controversial priest Yati Narsinghanand, over his recent derogatory remarks against the Supreme Court.
The AG, in response to a letter by Mumbai-based activist Shachi Nelli seeking contempt proceeding against Narsinghanand, said: "I have gone through your letter and watched the video of the statements made by Yati Narsinghanand, which have been explained to me. I find that the statement made by Yati Narsinghanand, that 'those who believed in this system, in these politicians, in the Supreme Court, and in the army will all die the death of a dog', is a direct attempt to lower the authority of the Supreme Court in the minds of the general public".
He added that this would certainly amount to contempt of the Supreme Court. "I accordingly grant consent to initiate proceedings for criminal contempt of the Supreme Court of India in terms of section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 read with rule 3A of the Rules 3 (a) of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court of India, 1975", said the AG.
Citing an interview given by Narsinghanand which went viral on Twitter, Nelli, in a letter to the AG, said the comments made by him are trying to undermine the majesty of the institution and the authority vested in the Supreme Court. "It is a vile and clear attempt at interfering in the course of justice by means of abusive rhetoric and baseless attacks on the integrity of the Constitution and the courts, Nelli said in the letter.
Narsinghanand made these statements in response to questions in connection with the court proceedings in the Haridwar hate speech cases.
The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it has not issued any Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for persons with disabilities to carry Covid-19 vaccination certificates for any purpose.
The Centre, in an affidavit, said: "Vaccination for Covid-19 is of larger public interest in view of the ongoing pandemic situation... However, no person can be forced to be vaccinated against their wishes."
It further added that the government has not issued any SOPs, which require persons with disabilities to carry vaccination certificates mandatory for any purpose.
The Centre's response came on a plea by an NGO Evara Foundation seeking door-to-door, priority Covid-19 vaccination for persons with disabilities. The Centre emphasised that the directions and guidelines by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, do not envisage any forcible vaccination without obtaining consent of the concerned individual.
The government reiterated its stand on the use of face masks or face covers, and added the Har Ghar Dastak Abhiyan policy, door-to-door vaccination of eligible beneficiaries, which includes persons with disabilities, will increase its reach further.
The plea had contended that persons with disabilities are at a greater risk of contracting Covid-19 due to difficulties faced by them.
On the accessibility of the Co-WIN app and portal, the Centre said: "The government of India is already implementing features on the Co-WIN portal to make it more accessible to persons with disabilities."
The Centre added that persons with disabilities not having ID cards are also eligible for vaccination since the Co-WIN website provides the facility for creation of special vaccination sessions for this purpose.
The top court will hear the petition later in the day. The Centre also informed the top court that 23,678 doses have been administered to the disabled persons.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has informed the Supreme Court that a total of 1,47,492 children since April 1, 2020, have lost either their mother or father or both parents due to COVID-19 and other reasons.
Giving the details in a suo motu matter on children in need of care and protection due to loss of parents during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCPCR said its figures are based on data uploaded by states and Union Territories on its 'Baal Swaraj Portal-COVID care' up to January 11.
“That it is most humbly reiterated that the data of children uploaded on the 'Baal Swaraj Portal-COVID care' by the States/UTs comprises of both categories of children, wherein the child has lost both or either of the parent to COVID-19 disease or otherwise from April 2020 onwards”, the affidavit filed through advocate Swarupama Chaturvedi said.
The Commission said the data uploaded up to January 11 showed the status of children in need of care and protection included orphans (10,094), lost either parent (1,36,910) and abandoned (488) taking the total to 1,47,492.
In the gender-wise break-up, the commission said, out of the 1,47,492 children, there are 76,508 boys, 70,980 girls and four transgender.
It said that the maximum number of children are between the age group of eight to 13 years (59,010), followed by children in the age group of 14 to 15 years (22,763) and age group of 16 to 18 years (22,626) and four to seven years (26,080).
The Commission also gave the current status of shelter of children and said that maximum of the children are with their single parent -1,25,205, while 11,272 children are with family members, followed by 8,450 with guardians.
It said that 1,529 kids are in children's homes, 19 in open shelter homes, two in observation homes, 188 in orphanages, 66 in special adoption agencies and 39 in hostels.
Giving the state-wise details of children who lost either their mother or father or both parents to COVID and other reasons since April 2020, the Commission said that the maximum number of such children are from Odisha (24,405), followed by Maharashtra (19,623), Gujarat (14,770), Tamil Nadu (11,014), Uttar Pradesh (9,247), Andhra Pradesh (8,760), Madhya Pradesh (7,340), West Bengal (6,835) Delhi (6,629) and Rajasthan (6,827).
The Commission said that it is taking steps to ensure that children should not be or are less adversely affected in the pandemic.
“In this context, NCPCR has been conducting virtual meetings with state commissions for protection of child rights of each States/UTs to know the updated status of preparedness in the event of a third wave of COVID pandemic, if at all such a wave comes”, it said.
The Commission informed the top court that it has been conducting zone-wise meetings with SCPCRs of each state/UT and a virtual meeting with North-East states is scheduled to be held on January 19.
“The discussions with the SCPCRs are being done to take an updated status of health care facilities, institutions for Children-schools/residential educational institutions, child care institutions, children in street situations and status of implementation of court's order”, it said.
A Delhi Court has observed that the provisions of Section 45 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) will only apply if a person has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate.
The court made the observation recently while granting bail to the accused in a case titled "Directorate of Enforcement Vs. Zenic Cars India Pvt. Ltd. & Ors", concerning the commission of offences under section(s) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The order was passed by the Court of Naveen Kumar Kashyap, Special Judge, Tis Hazari, while deciding the regular bail applications filed by the accused persons under section 439 Cr.P.C.
The applications were filed by the accused persons pursuant to the issuance of summons by the Special Court, on a complaint filed by the Directorate of Enforcement, alleging commission of offenses under section 3 read with 70 of the Act. Suffice to state that the accused persons were never arrested by the ED during the investigation. The accused persons were the authorised dealers of Audi and Porsche cars.
They were represented by Senior Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey and instructed by a team from Karanjawala & Co., Advocates led by Samarjit Pattnaik-Partner and Puneet Relan and Irfan Muzamil- Senior Associates, Mohd. Faraz, Special PP, Aappeared for the Directorate of Enforcement.
Senior Advocate Pramod Kumar Dubey, appearing for the accused persons, argued that the twin test laid down under section 45 (1) (ii) Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, would be attracted while adjudicating upon a bail plea of an accused who has been arrested by the ED under section 19 of the Act and the amendment in 2018 in section 45 of PMLA does not revive the twin conditions already struck down by the Supreme Court in the matter of Nikesh Tarachand.
On the other hand, it was argued by the Spl. PP for ED that the twin condition for grant of bail under section 45 (1) is required to be complied with, as the validity of the provision was restored by 2018.
Counsel for the ED also stated that section 45 (1) has neither stayed nor has its operation been rendered as a nullity by any order of the Supreme Court.
Additional Sessions Judge, District Court Tis Hazari, Naveen Kumar Kashyap while granting bail observed that section 45(1) PMLA as it stands today contains the phrase "shall be released on bail". As such, for section 45 PMLA to come into operation, a person has to be arrested first.
The Court also observed that Article 21 of the constitution mandates that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. Article 21 in view of its expansive meaning not only protects life and liberty but also envisages a fair procedure.
The Supreme Court said a court deciding a bail application cannot completely divorce its decision from material aspects of the case, as it set aside a Rajasthan High Court order granting bail to a man who allegedly strangled a disabled man.
A bench of Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna said: "The High Court has lost sight of the aforesaid material aspects of the case and has, by a very cryptic and casual order, de hors coherent reasoning, granted bail to the accused. We find that the High Court was not right in allowing the application for bail filed by the respondent-accused."
It said the present case is not fit for granting bail to the accused, against the backdrop of serious allegations against him. "Strangely, the State of Rajasthan has not filed any appeal against the impugned order," it added.
The top court judgment came on a plea filed by Manoj Kumar Khokhar against the Rajasthan High Court, which granted bail to an accused who allegedly sat on the chest of his disabled father, Ram Swaroop Khokhar, and forcefully strangled him, causing his death at a bus stand.
The FIR was registered on December 8, 2019 and the accused was arrested on December 10.
The petitioner claimed that the accused is a person exercising significant political influence in the Bhopawaspachar village and the possibility of him threatening or otherwise influencing the witnesses if on bail, cannot be ruled out. The high court granted bail to the accused in May 2020. The petitioner moved the apex court challenging the high court order.
The top court noted that it is not necessary for a court to give elaborate reasons while granting bail, particularly when the case is at the initial stage and the allegations of the offenses by the accused would not have been crystallised as such.
"However, the court deciding a bail application cannot completely divorce its decision from material aspects of the case such as the allegations made against the accused, severity of the punishment if the allegations are proved beyond reasonable doubt and would result in a conviction..".
The bench emphasised the court should exercise its discretion in a judicious manner and in accordance with the settled principles of law. "Thus, while elaborate reasons may not be assigned for the grant of bail or an extensive discussion of the merits of the case may not be undertaken by the court considering a bail application, an order de hors reasoning or bereft of the relevant reasons cannot result in grant of bail," it added.
"The respondent accused is on bail. His bail bond stands canceled and he is directed to surrender before the concerned jail authorities within a period of two weeks from today."
The Delhi High Court on Thursday deferred the hearing of former Union Minister M.J. Akbar's appeal against the acquittal of journalist Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation case which he filed against her.
The matter came up for hearing on arguments for leave to appeal, before the court of Justice Mukta Gupta. The Court was pleased to allow the application for leave to appeal. The matter will come up in due course.
M.J, Akbar was represented by Senior Advocates Rajeev Nayar and Geeta Luthra, briefed by a team from Karanjawala & Co., led by Sandeep Kapur, Senior Partner and comprising Vir Sandhu, Vivek Suri, Niharika Karanjawala and Apoorva Pandey, advocates. Priya Ramani was represented by Bhavook Chauhan, the advocate.
On February 17 last year, a Delhi court had acquitted Ramani in the case, with Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey holding: "The woman has right to put her grievance at any platform of her choice and even after decades."
The court had further said that the right of reputation cannot be protected at the cost of the right to dignity. "Women cannot be punished for raising voice against the sexual abuse on the pretext of complaint of defamation."
In the wake of #MeToo movement in 2018, Ramani had made allegations of sexual harassment against Akbar. Pursuant to this, he filed the criminal defamation case against her and resigned as the Union Minister. The trial began in 2019 and went on for almost two years.
In 2017, Ramani wrote an article for the Vogue where she described her ordeal of being sexually harassed by a former boss during her job interview for his publication. One year later, she revealed that the person alluded to as a harasser in the article was Akbar.
Akbar told the court that Ramani's allegations were fictitious and cost him his stellar reputation. Ramani, on the other hand, contested these claims, pleaded truth as her defence and said that she made allegations in good faith, public interest, and for the public good.
The judgement in the case was important as it sets a precedent for similar cases which arose from the discourse-changing #MeToo movement.
The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the Centre, Delhi Police and Uttarakhand Police to respond to a plea seeking direction to ensure investigation and action against those who allegedly made hate speeches during two events held recently in Haridwar and the national capital.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana, which agreed to hear the plea and issued notice on it, permitted the petitioners to make representation to the concerned local authorities against holding of future ‘Dharam Sansad' events there.
The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, posted the matter for hearing after 10 days.
The apex court was hearing a petition filed by journalist Qurban Ali and former Patna High Court judge and senior advocate Anjana Prakash, who have also sought a direction for an "independent, credible and impartial investigation" by an SIT into the incidents of hate speeches against the Muslim community.
After the bench said it was issuing notice on the plea and listed it for hearing after 10 days, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the petitioners, said the only problem is that in the meantime a ‘Dharam Sansad' is going to be held on January 23 in Aligarh and they don't want it to happen.
Sibal requested the bench to list the matter for hearing on January 17 and said they would serve all the respondents by then.
“We will permit you to make a representation to the concerned authorities. Let them act upon it,” the bench said.
The apex court permitted them to bring it to the notice of local authorities about such event, which are going to take place, and which according to the petitioners, are contrary to the penal law.
The plea, which specifically referred to the "hate speeches" delivered between the "17th and 19th of December 2021 at Haridwar and Delhi", has also sought compliance of apex court's guidelines to deal with such speeches.
One event was organised in Haridwar by Yati Narsinghanand and the other in Delhi by 'Hindu Yuva Vahini' allegedly "calling for genocide of members" of a community, it said.
At the outset, Sibal referred to a one-page transcript of what was said in the ‘Dharam Sansad' and said he doesn't want to sensationalise this issue by reading the content.
The bench observed that it would issue notice to the states and let them come before it.
Sibal said notice be issued to the Centre also because as per the apex court's earlier judgement, they have to appoint nodal officers to prevent these kinds of thing.
“Mr Sibal, you take notice to all the respondents,” the bench observed.
Senior advocate Indira Jaising mentioned an intervention application on behalf of Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
Jaising said it was on Tushar Gandhi's petition that the apex court had rendered a decision in 2019 saying all states must appoint nodal officer to ensure that mob lynching does not take place.
“My simple application is, that judgement of the court is not being implemented. Kindly allow the intervention, that's all I am asking for,” she said.
The bench observed that for the time being, it is issuing notice to the respondents on the plea listed before it.
Sibal said the events are “overtaking us” and ‘Dharam Sansad' are being announced on daily basis.
“Let the returnable date be as soon as possible because they have announced another ‘Dharam Sansad'. The next one is on January 23 in Aligarh, in the midst of what is happening in Uttar Pradesh today,” he said.
During the hearing, the bench asked whether another bench of the apex court is already seized of petition raising similar issue.
Sibal said no similar matter is pending before any other bench of the apex court.
The CJI observed that this is a matter which has to be heard but the point is whether any other bench is already hearing similar plea.
One of the advocates appearing in the matter said there are some matters generally on hate speech which are pending but it is not related to ‘Dharam Sansad'.
“You hear this separately. What is being done. No quick steps are being taken. ‘Dharam Sansad' (events) are being held in Kurukshetra, Dasna, Aligarh and in states where process of elections is going on. This attracts several provisions,” Sibal said.
“What will happen is that atmosphere of entire country will be vitiated. This is all contrary to what this Republic stands for. It is contrary to the ethos and the values which we cherish,” he said.
Sibal said the 2019 judgement has not been implemented by the authorities.
“If that judgement would have been implemented in letter and spirit, these ‘Dharam Sansad' would not have taken place,” Jaising said, adding the 2019 verdict was on the issue of mob lynching on the allegations of cattle smuggling.
Sibal also argued that there is no law with respect to this kind of hate speech.
“We are issuing notice. You take notice. List after 10 days. We will see if it is connected to other matter, we will list, otherwise we will hear,” the bench said.
The Uttarakhand Police had filed an FIR on December 23 last year under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code against some persons including Sant Dharamdas Maharaj, Sadhvi Annapoorna alias Pooja Shakun Pandey, Yati Narsinghanand and Sagar Sindhu Maharaj.
A similar complaint was filed with the Delhi Police for the second event organised in the national capital.
The plea said that no effective steps have been taken by Uttarakhand and Delhi police.
Till date no FIR has been lodged by Delhi Police despite calls for ethnic cleansing at the event organised here, it said.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is likely to move it's Mumbai zonal office to the two floors (third and fourth floor) of Worli-based Ceejay House, which belongs to the late drug dealer Iqbal Mirchi.
Ceejay House is a prime building in Mumbai and a number of politicians are running their offices from there. Millennium Developer Private Ltd, the company of former Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, had constructed this building. The top floor of the building is the residence of Patel.
The ED had lodged a case of Prevention of Money Laundering Act against Iqbal Mirchi, his family members and others which includes DHFL and it's promoters. The probe agency had detected a few suspicious transactions related to real estate dealings following which the case was lodged.
The ED had recently moved before the concerned Mumbai court seeking its permission to confiscate Iqbal Mirchi's properties worth Rs 100 crore. The two floors of Ceejay House are part of the total properties that had to be confiscated.
In February 2021, the concerned PMLA court had declared Mirchi's wife Hajra and his two sons, Asif and Junaid, as fugitive economic offenders. The order was passed by the court to seize their property.
Now ED wants to shift its zonal office to the third and fourth floor of Ceejay House, which belongs to Mirchi and his family.
Sources have claimed that the ED officials have been visiting the Ceejay Building to make necessary arrangements so that their zonal office could be shifted. As of now ED is running it's office from the Ballard Estate situated in the Kaiser-e-Hind Building.
Patel's company, Millennium Developer Private Ltd, bought the rights of Mirchi's Discotheque and Fishermen Wharf Pub in 2004. A deal was struck between the family members of Mirchi and the company in 2004. Following this deal the third and fourth floor of the Ceejay Buildings were given to Mirchi's family.
There are 15 properties of Mirchi seized by the ED. As of now ED has not decided to auction his real estate.