CEC To Be Selected By A Team Of PM, LoP & CJI, Orders SC

CEC To Be Selected By A Team Of PM, LoP & CJI, Orders SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday while ordering to set up a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, LOP, CJI for selecting Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners said that it is concerned with leaving the appointments in the sole hands of the Executive.

“We are concerned with the devastating effect of continuing to leave appointments in the sole hands of the Executive on fundamental values, as also the Fundamental Rights, we are of the considered view that the time is ripe for the Court to lay down norms,” the SC said.

A vacuum exists on the basis that, unlike other appointments, it was intended all throughout that appointment exclusively by the Executive was to be a mere transient or stop-gap arrangement and it was to be replaced by a law made by the Parliament taking away the exclusive power of the Executive. This conclusion is clear and inevitable and the absence of law even after seven decades points to the vacuum, said the Supreme Court Constitution Bench.

Court further said that the electoral scene in the country is not what it was in the years immediately following the country becoming a Republic. The criminalisation of politics, with all its attendant evils, has become a nightmarish reality. The faith of the electorate in the very process, which underlies democracy itself, stands shaken.

The impact of ‘big money’ and its power to influence elections, the influence of certain sections of media, makes it also absolutely imperative that the appointment of the Election Commission, which has been declared by this Court to be the guardian of the citizenry and its Fundamental Rights, becomes a matter, which cannot be postponed further, added the court.

Political parties undoubtedly would appear to betray a special interest in not being forthcoming with the law. The reasons are not far to seek. There is a crucially vital link between the independence of the Election Commission and the pursuit of power, its consolidation and perpetuation, said the Court.

The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India for the selection of Commissioners in the Election Commission of India.

“Appointment of an election commissioner shall be on the recommendation of a committee comprising the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha,” said the constitution bench headed by Justice KM Joseph, and also comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar.

The Election Commission has to be independent and it is duty-bound to act in a fair and legal manner and abide by the provisions of the Constitution and the directions of the Court said Justice Joseph during the pronouncement of the order.

Justice Joseph also added that the hallmark of a substantial and liberal democracy must be borne in mind, democracy is inextricably linked to the power of the people. The power of the ballot is supreme, capable of unseating the most powerful parties.

Supreme Court on Thursday delivered two verdicts, however, both were unanimous verdicts.

Justice Ajay Rastogi in its separate judgement added that the process of removal of Election Commissioners shall be as same as that of Chief Election Commissioner– Impeachment

The Supreme Court Constitution Bench on Thursday pronounced its order on various petitions seeking reform in the process for the appointment of members of the Election Commission of India.

On November 24 2022, the apex court reserved its judgement on a batch of pleas seeking a collegium-like system for the appointment of Election Commissioners (ECs) and the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).

The apex court was hearing pleas challenging the constitutionality of the present appointment process of CEC and ECs and contended that appointments were being done as per the whims and fancies of the executive.

The petitions sought the creation of an independent collegium or selection committee for future appointments of CEC and two other ECs.

The petitions stated that, unlike the appointments of the CBI director or Lokpal, where the leader of the Opposition and judiciary have a say, the Centre unilaterally appoints the members of the Election Commission.

On October 23, 2018, the apex court referred PILs to the Constitution bench.

While reserving its order, the court has questioned the Centre on the appointment of former IAS officer Arun Goel as the new Election Commissioner at “lightning speed” saying the process was completed within 24 hours. The court had perused the original files brought by the Centre on Goel’s appointment as Election Commissioner. (ANI)

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SC To Consider Whether To Refer To Constitution Bench Pleas Against Electoral Bond scheme

SC Directs To Grant Interim Bail To Pawan Khera

Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Dwarka Court to grant interim bail to Congress leader Pawan Khera and issued notice to Assam Police and UP Police on Congress leader Pawan Khera’s plea seeking clubbing of FIRs.

Supreme Court said, “Till the next date of hearing, the petitioner will be released on interim bail by Dwarka court.”
SC directed the Dwarka court to grant interim relief to Pawan Khera.

Congress leader Pawan Khera on Thursday said that he is “ready to fight the long battle” soon after Assam Police arrested him in the national capital.

“We will see (in which case they are taking me). It’s a long battle and I’m ready to fight,” said Khera as Delhi Police took him after he was deboarded from an aircraft at Delhi airport.

Delhi Police said that a request was received from Assam Police for assistance in the arrest of accused Pawan Khera in case FIR No. 19/2023, PS Dima Hasao, District Haflong, Assam.

“Based upon the same, requisite local assistance was provided and upon the requisition of Assam Police, accused Shri Pawan Khera was detained from Terminal 1 of IGI Airport and has been subsequently arrested by the IO concerned of Assam Police,” a Delhi Police official told ANI.

“Necessary legal action shall follow,” they added. (ANI)

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Judges Shouldn’t Get Post-Retirement Benefits: Justice Deepak Gupta

Judges Shouldn’t Get Post-Retirement Benefits: Justice Deepak Gupta

Former Supreme Court judge Justice Deepak Gupta on Saturday said that judges should not be given any post-retirement benefits because there would not be an independent judiciary if it continues.

“There should not be any post-retirement benefits. We cannot have an independent judiciary with such benefits,” Justice Gupta said while addressing a seminar on judicial appointments and reforms.

Speaking about the need for independent judges, he said that these judges would have the spine to stand up for themselves and be true to the Constitution.

Recently, the appointment of former Supreme Court judge Justice S Abdul Nazeer as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, within 40 days of his retirement from the top court courted a political row.

Justice Nazeer was part of the five-judge bench that decided the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi case in November 2019 handing over the Ayodhya land to the Hindu party. Justice Nazeer was the lone Muslim face on the Ayodhya bench presided over by then Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi.

Justice Gupta also expressed his strong view that there should be a common retirement age for the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court.

Justice Gupta also mentioned overheard things, however, he clarified that he had not verified the facts that it takes normally 100 days for the government to approve the recommendation made by Collegium but the government took a long time to clear the names of recommended Judges, belonging to minority communities.

Terming these facts as a dangerous trend he presumed that if it will follow then they [Judges] will never become Senior Judges, Chief Justices and never reach the Supreme Court.

Former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah, however, suggested a judicial commission-like system for the selection of judges and mentioned that there are many existing problems with the collegium system.

He pointed out that the Collegium system creates a democratic deficit and the idea of judges appointing judges does not behove a democratic setup.

Justice Shah shared his experience and said that the collegium distracts judges from their principal work of adjudication and they don’t have proper time to investigate selected candidates.

Justice Shah mentioned the appointment of Victoria Gowri as Madras HC judge as an example of the situation when the process collapses citing her alleged controversial speech.

Justice Shah called for the collegium to operate without bias, which reinforces other characteristics like nepotism and favouritism.

He highlighted that many judges are related to former judges and many are from the upper caste and the middle class.

However, he also expressed his disagreement with the government’s suggestion that the Law Minister can be a part of the collegium discussion and said that it will be dangerous.

Justice Shah said that the government suggesting the names are not only about favouring someone but someone close to their ideology.

He suggested making the system transparent and said the most important part is of publication of names and recording of minutes of meetings of the collegium among others. (ANI)

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Retd CJI UU Lalit Backs Collegium System, Calls It ‘Near Perfect’

Retd CJI UU Lalit Backs Collegium System, Calls It ‘Near Perfect’

At a time when it is under attack, former Chief Justice of India UU Lalit on Saturday backed the Collegium system, remarking that nothing is better than this system and also said that reiteration of name by the Supreme Court Collegium is unanimous.

Addressing a seminar on judicial appointments and reforms, the former CJI Lalit shared his experience as part of the Collegium system for two years.

The seminar on judicial appointments and reforms was organised by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms.

“Initial recommendation made by Supreme Court collegium for appointment of judges to the top court and high courts need not be unanimous and could be by majority vote.

But reiteration of name by the Supreme Court Collegium has to be unanimous,” former CJI Lalit said.

Backing up the Collegium, CJI Lalit said, “we don’t have a system better than the Collegium system. If we don’t have anything qualitatively better than the collegium system, naturally, we must work towards making it possible that this collegium system survives.” He also stressed that there is no need for interference in the system.

Calling it a near-perfect model, former CJI Lalit said that they can be infirmities as some recommendations get dropped.

Elaborating on the Collegium system, Justice Lalit shared his experience as part of the system and said that almost 255 names recommended by Collegium during his tenure as a member, were accepted by the government and about 30 odd recommendations were not cleared by govt till he demitted office.

He also pointed out that many judges in this country normally get appointed at the level of the High Court and very few get directly appointed to Supreme Court. (ANI)

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SC Sets Up 6-Member Committee On Hindenburg Report

Adani-Hindenburg Row: SC Refuses To Accept Centre’s Suggestion On Committee

The Supreme Court on Friday said that it will not accept the sealed cover suggestion by the Centre on the appointment of the committee related to regulatory mechanisms to protect the investors in the backdrop of the Adani-Hindenburg case and said that it wants to maintain full transparency.

The court was hearing various petitions related to Hindenburg Research Report.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud reserved the order on the issue and the other issue of the appointment of the committee to oversee regulatory mechanisms related to the market.

One of the petitions filed by advocate Vishal Tiwari sought to Constitute a Committee under the Monitoring of the retired Supreme Court Judge to enquire and Investigate the Hindenburg Research Report.

During the hearing, CJI DY Chandrachud indicated by saying that they will not accept the sealed cover suggestion by the Centre because they want to maintain full transparency.

The court said, “If they accept suggestions in sealed cover it is like they have not kept it away from other side as people will think it is a government-appointed committee.”

CJI also indicated by saying that they will appoint the committee and its members on their own.

SG Mehta Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, submitted a sealed cover note and said, “Two intentions should be kept in mind, one is that truth comes out and a holistic view is presented and other one is there is an unintended impact on the markets.”

Petitioner and lawyer Advocate Vishal Tiwari demanded that the entire thing should be probed and a high-powered committee be constituted to look into it.

Appearing for another petitioner lawyer Prashant Bhushan said he wants to give suggestions on the names of some retired judges as members of the committee. But Supreme Court refuses to accept one of the petitioner lawyer Prashant Bhushan’s suggestion of names of some retired judges as members of the Committee.

Petitioner Jaya Thakur’s lawyer, advocate Varun Thakur demanded a fair probe.

Another petitioner, advocate ML Sharma, has sought a probe against the US-based firm, whose report has led to shares of Adani group plunging on the bourses.

One of the petitions was filed by Congress leader Jaya Thakur. (ANI)

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SC To Consider Whether To Refer To Constitution Bench Pleas Against Electoral Bond scheme

M’rashtra Political Crisis: SC To Decide Later On Referring Pleas To 7-Judge Bench

The Supreme Court’s Constitution bench on Friday said it will decide later on referring the cases related to the Maharashtra political crisis to a larger seven-judge bench for reconsideration of a 2016 Nabam Rebia judgment on powers of Assembly Speakers to deal with disqualification pleas.

A five-judge bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices MR Shah, Justice Krishna Murari, Justice Hima Kohli and PS Narasimha said the issue of reconsideration of Nabam Rebia case to the larger bench will be decided during the hearing of the case on merit.
The apex court said whether Nabam Rebia’s judgment be referred to a larger seven-judge bench or not can only be decided along with a hearing on the merits of the Maharashtra politics case.

It posted the next hearing of Maharashtra political crisis cases to February 21.

The top court said, “Issue of reference cannot be decided in isolation without facts of the case. Issue of reference will be decided only with merits of the case.”

On Thursday, the top court reserved the order after hearing arguments from rival Shiv Sena groups.

Uddhav Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena sought that the five-judge Nabam Rebia case is referred to a seven-judge bench for reconsideration.

In the 2016 Nabam Rebia case, the five-judge Constitution bench had held that Speaker cannot initiate disqualification proceedings when a resolution seeking his removal is pending.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Uddhav Thackeray camp of the Sena, submitted that there is an imperative need to reconsider the law laid down in the Nabam Rebia case.

“It’s time for us to relook at Nabam Rebia and the 10th Schedule because it has created havoc,” Sibal said.

The 10th Schedule of the Constitution provides for the prevention of defection of the elected and nominated members from their political party and contains stringent provisions against defections.

In 2016, a five-judge Constitution bench, while deciding the Nabam Rebia case of Arunachal Pradesh, had held that the Assembly Speaker cannot proceed with a plea for disqualification of MLAs if a prior notice seeking removal of the Speaker is pending decision in the House.

The Nabam Rebia judgment had come to the rescue of the rebel MLAs led by Eknath Shinde, now the chief minister of Maharashtra. The Thackeray faction had sought their disqualification even while a notice of the Shinde group for the removal of Maharashtra assembly deputy speaker Narhari Sitaram Zirwal, a Thackeray loyalist, was pending before the House.

During the course of the hearing, the apex court asked the arguing advocates to address whether the ‘tightening’ of the 2016 judgment can be undertaken by the five-judge bench currently hearing a batch of petitions arising from the 2022 Shiv Sena-rooted Maharashtra political crisis or be referred to a larger seven-judge bench.

2016 Nabam Rebia’s judgment was passed by a five-judge bench and a bench of the same strength cannot interfere with the judgment by a bench of the same strength.

Shinde group cited Nabam Rebia’s judgment stating that the deputy Speaker does not have the authority to decide disqualification when a notice for his removal is pending.

While Uddhav Thackeray camp of Shiv Sena argued in favour of revisiting the 2016 verdict saying that a Speaker faced with a notice seeking his removal cannot exercise powers under the 10th Schedule, the faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said the 2016 Nabam Rebia judgment was not relevant to the issues arising from Maharashtra political crisis.

The Shinde camp has defended the 2016 judgment as correct, which required no relook.

During the hearing of the case, the apex court on Wednesday said that issues arising from the Maharashtra political crisis rooted in the Shiv Sena feud are “tough Constitutional issues” to decide and observed that it may have “tightened” a 2016 judgement.

The apex court was hearing arguments on whether the matter should be heard by a seven-judge bench or a five-judge bench.

A five-judge Constitution bench was hearing a batch of petitions filed by rival factions Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in relation to the Maharashtra political crisis. (ANI)

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SC To Consider Whether To Refer To Constitution Bench Pleas Against Electoral Bond scheme

SC Declines Relief To Rapido Against Ban In Maharashtra

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined relief to the Rapido bike, taxi and auto aggregator, which challenged the Bombay High Court order directing the company to stop operation in Maharashtra immediately as it does not have a license to operate bike, taxi or rickshaw services.

A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala said that amendments made to the Motor Vehicles Act in 2019 made it clear that aggregators cannot operate without a valid licence.
The apex court granted the company liberty to move to the Bombay High Court to challenge January 19 notification issued by the State of Maharashtra.

It also asked the High Court to consider such challenge un-influenced.

In December 2022, the Pune RTO had rejected Rapido’s plea for licence.

Earlier, the Bombay High Court had directed Roppen Transportation Services Private Limited, which operates bike taxi aggregator Rapido, to shut operations till January 20 as the startup is yet to receive a licence from the Maharashtra government to operate.

The Bombay High Court had pulled up Pune-based bike taxi aggregator for operating without procuring a licence from the Maharashtra government and directed it to suspend the services immediately.

Roppen Transportation had moved the High Court against a communication issued to it by the Maharashtra government refusing to grant them a bike taxi aggregator licence.

The government cited the reason that there was no state policy on licensing of bike taxis and there was no fare structure policy.

The State government had told the High Court that a committee has been set up to explore the formulation of guidelines for bike taxis in the state. (ANI)

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SC Assures Bilkis Bano Of Early Hearing

SC Assures Bilkis Bano Of Early Hearing

The Supreme Court on Tuesday assured Bilkis Bano, who challenged the pre-mature release of 11 convicts for gang-raping her and murdering her family members during the 2002 Godhra riots, that her plea against the remission granted to 11 convicts will be heard soon.

A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala will constitute a bench soon for Bano’s plea.
Advocate Shobha Gupta, appearing for Bano, mentioned the matter for urgent hearing and said that a new bench needs to be constituted by the CJI as Justice Bela M Trivedi recused from hearing the plea.

“I will do so at the earliest. The matter will be listed soon,” said the CJI.

Earlier, a bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi ordered that matter be listed before the bench which Justice Trivedi is not a part of as she had recused herself from hearing the case.

Besides filing a petition against the per-mature release of convicts, Bano had also filed a review petition seeking a review of its earlier order by which it had asked the Gujarat government to consider the plea for the remission of one of the convicts.

The review petition was dismissed.

Some PILs were filed seeking directions to revoke the remission granted to 11 convicts.

The pleas were filed by the National Federation of Indian Women, whose General Secretary is Annie Raja, Member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Subhashini Ali, journalist Revati Laul, social activist and professor Roop Rekha Verma and TMC MP Mahua Moitra.

Gujarat government in its affidavit had defended remission granted to convicts saying they completed 14 years of sentence in prison and their “behaviour was found to be good”.

The State government said it has considered the cases of all 11 convicts as per the policy of 1992 and remission was granted on August 10, 2022, and the Central government also approved the ore-mature release of convicts.

It is pertinent to note that the remission was not granted under the circular governing grant of remission to prisoners as part of the celebration of “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, it has said.

The affidavit stated, “State government considered all the opinions and decided to release 11 prisoners since they have completed 14 years and above in prisons and their behaviour was found to be good.”

The government had also questioned the locus standi of petitioners who filed the PIL challenging the decision saying they are outsiders to the case.

The pleas said they have challenged the order of competent authority of the government of Gujarat by way of which 11 persons accused in a set of heinous offenses committed in Gujarat were allowed to walk free on August 15, 2022, pursuant to remission being extended to them.

The remission in this heinous case would be entirely against public interest and would shock the collective public conscience, as also be entirely against the interests of the victim (whose family has publicly made statements worrying for her safety), pleas stated.

The Gujarat government released the 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment on August 15. All the 11 life-term convicts in the case were released as per the remission policy prevalent in Gujarat at the time of their conviction in 2008.

In March 2002 during the post-Godhra riots, Bano was allegedly gang-raped and left to die with 14 members of her family, including her three-year-old daughter. She was five months pregnant when rioters attacked her family in Vadodara. (ANI)

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SC To Hear Plea Seeking Enquiry On Hindenburg Research Report On Friday

No Scope For Religion Hate Crimes In A Secular Country: SC

The Supreme Court on Monday asserted that there is no scope for hate crime on basis of religion in a secular country such as India and stressed that it has to be rooted out.

A bench of justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna said that there is a growing consensus around hate speech.
“There cannot be any compromise on hate speech at all,” said the bench, adding that it is only if the State acknowledges the problem of hate speech that a solution can be found.

It is the primary duty of the State to protect its citizens from any such hate crimes, the bench stressed while hearing a plea against hate crimes.

“When action is not taken against hate crimes then an atmosphere is fostered which is very dangerous and it has to be rooted out from our lives. There cannot be any compromise on hate speech at all,” it observed.

The observation of the apex court came while hearing a plea of a Muslim man who has alleged that he was assaulted and abused in the name of religion on July 4, 2021, by a “screwdriver gang” of criminals as he had boarded a car to go to Aligarh from Noida.

The petitioner Kazeem Ahmad Sherwani alleged that the police has not bothered to register any complaint of hate crime.

“If a person comes to the police and says that I was wearing a cap and my beard was pulled and abused in the name of religion and still no complaint is registered, then it is a problem,” the bench proclaimed.

Justice Joseph said that be in a minority or majority, certain rights are inherent in human beings.

“You are born into a family and raised in one. We have no choice in our religion, but we stand out as a nation. That’s the beauty, the greatness of our nation. We have to understand this,” said Justice Joseph.

The apex court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to file a detailed affidavit and posted the matter for further hearing on March 3. (ANI)

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Sisodia's Judicial Custody Till April 3

AAP To Move SC After Ruckus Stalls Delhi Mayoral Polls Again

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Monday announced that the AAP will move the Supreme Court against the BJP’s alleged bid to stall the mayoral polls in the national capital.

The deputy CM claimed that the BJP councillors deliberately created a ruckus in the MCD to ensure the mayoral elections don’t take place.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital, Sisodia said, “The BJP is not letting a peaceful mayoral election to take place. The BJP garnered 104 seats in the MCD elections while the AAP won 134 seats. The people of Delhi gave a clear mandate against the BJP and in favour of the AAP.”

The Delhi municipality was adjourned for the third time on Monday amid a ruckus.

The AAP councillors objected to presiding officer Satya Sharma’s decision to declare that the alderman would vote at the municipality meeting for the mayoral polls, said Sisodia.

Targeting Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, Sisodia said, “The presiding officer was nominated illegally by the L-G but still we went ahead with his decision and insisted on a fair voting.”

“She (presiding officer) came to the meeting saying that the alderman will vote. The Article 243R of the Indian Constitution says that in any legislature of a state, the alderman shall not have the right to vote in the meeting of the municipality. The same is written in the MCD Act,” the Deputy CM said.

He said, “The presiding officer also declared that all three elections for Mayor, Deputy Mayor and the Standing Committee members will be held together. This is unconstitutional.”

“According to the constitution, the three elections cannot be held simultaneously and are to be held in sequence after the mayoral election,” Sisodia added.

On the ruckus in the MCD, the deputy CM said, “Today, all our councillors were sitting silently and only the BJP MLAs were shouting, yelling and trying to provoke our members.”

“The presiding officer declared that two AAP members cannot cast their vote (in the mayoral polls) as they have corruption charges against them. There is no such rule which bars them from voting. And if any such rule does exist, we would insist that some BJP members, should refrain from voting as there are corruption charges against them,” the AAP leader added.

Sanjay Singh, AAP’s national spokesperson, said, “The presiding officer is taking her orders from the BJP. In the last 15 years, they have looted the Delhi Municipal Corporation and wants to continue doing that.”

“That is why we are taking this issue to the Supreme Court in the interest of a legal, constitutional and peaceful mayoral election in Delhi,” Singh said. (ANI)

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