Rich and powerful want to control court; SC on CJI matter

The Supreme Court on Thursday said some rich and powerful people want to control its functioning, as it heard for the third time the matter related to allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

The court said these “fixers” must go.

A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said “people with money power are trying to run the registry of the top court…this is a really serious matter…people can be killed or maligned if truth is brought forth…”

Justice Mishra said after learning about the alleged network that is trying to manipulate the Supreme Court, “we are in anguish”.

He also added that the bench has come to know these fixers are usually represented by senior advocates in the Supreme Court.

“We want to tell the rich and powerful of this country that they cannot run the Supreme Court,” said an agitated Justice Mishra.

Advocate Utsav Bains, who has alleged a conspiracy against the Chief Justice after a former Supreme Court staffer alleged sexual harassment, submitted a fresh affidavit in the court.

The observations from the bench came after going through this affidavit.

Meanwhile, senior advocate Indira Jaising protested that the bench is heavily consumed in probing the defence of the Chief Justice who is facing allegations of sexual harassment.

She contended that such influence on the investigation would prejudice the complaint by the former top court staffer against the Chief Justice.

The bench assured her that both investigation are independent, and complainant in the sexual harassment case would be prejudiced.

Jaisingh also asked the court to probe the credentials of Utsav Bains, saying people who come to court, must come with clean hands.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta intervened by recommending the formation of SIT, but Jaisingh protested and requested the court to conduct a judicial inquiry.

As per the Solicitor General’s suggestion regarding the formation of SIT into the matter, the bench said we can look into this aspect of investigation. The court also clarified that this probe would not prejudice the complaint made by the woman against the Chief Justice.

The bench told Mehta that this is a very serious matter, and “we want to get to the root of this bench fixing issue, and the issue is so serious that we cannot divulge the details.”

The bench observed that some fixer who claims to be a relative of the woman, who leveled sexual harassment charges against the Chief Justice, approached Utsav Bains for removal of the Chief Justice.

“We don’t know the identity of this person….we need to find out the truth,” said the bench.



Jairam Ramesh skips court in Doval defamation case

A Delhi court on Thursday asked Congress leader Jairam Ramesh to appear before it on May 9 after he skipped the hearing on Thursday in connection with a defamation case filed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s son Vivek Doval.

Jairam’s counsel moved an application seeking exemption from personal appearance on Thursday before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal, who allowed his plea.

Jairam’s counsel told the court that he had to attend some rituals at his residence after his wife passed away some months ago.

The court directed him to appear on May 9.

Meanwhile, the court granted bail to The Caravan magazine Editor-in-Chief Paresh Nath and reporter Kaushal Shroff after they appeared before it in pursuance of summons issued against them.

In March, the court has summoned Ramesh and others in a defamation case, filed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s son Vivek Doval.

Observing that allegations made against Vivek Doval were “prima facie defamatory”, the court said there exists sufficient grounds to proceed against all the accused.

The court was hearing a defamation case filed against Ramesh and others by Vivek in connection with an article titled “The D-Companies”, published on January 16.



Court stays NBW against Kejriwal, Sisodia, Yogendra

A Delhi Court on Wednesday stayed non-bailable warrants (NBWs) issued against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav in a criminal defamation complaint filed by advocate Surender Kumar Sharma.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal stayed the NBWs against the leaders and listed the matter for further hearing on April 29.

The warrants were issued on Tuesday observing that they have failed to appear before the court. Later in the day, Kejriwal’s counsel moved an application seeking the stay.

Sharma alleged that in 2013, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) approached him to contest the Delhi Assembly elections on a party ticket, saying that Kejriwal was pleased with his social services. However, he was later denied the ticket.

Sharma claimed that on October 14, 2013 articles in leading newspapers carried “defamatory, unlawful and derogatory words used by the accused persons” which lowered his reputation in the Bar and the society.

Yogendra Yadav was a member of the National Executive of the AAP till 2015, when he quit the party to launch Swaraj India.



Supreme Court issues contempt notice to Rahul Gandhi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice of criminal contempt to Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

The court turned down a plea to close the matter. The court will also hear a Rafale review on April 30 along with this.

BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi moved the apex court seeking action against Gandhi over his ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ rant.

She sought time to file a reply to Gandhi’s affidavit against her contempt plea.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Lekhi, said that the Congress President had exhibited a reckless attitude in making such statements.



Rahul regrets Rafale remarks, accepts ‘court never said’ it

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday expressed regret to the Supreme Court over his remarks on the apex court’s Rafale order, and accepted that the “court never said these words” as he had earlier attributed his “Chowkidar Chor Hai” remarks to the top court.

Gandhi was responding to BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi’s petition against him. He said his political rhetoric against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale deal was made in the heat of the moment at a poll campaign.

He, however, contends that he and his party’s stand is “Chowkidar Chor hai”.



Decide on TikTok by Wednesday, or ban ends; Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Monday gave an ultimatum to the Madras High Court saying the interim ban on TikTok video streaming app will end if the high court did not decide on it by April 24

The top court’s direction came after counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the order could not be passed without hearing him and the experts.

The apex court said if the high court does not pass the order in the next two days then the interim stay will be vacated.



Protestors gather outside Supreme Court on CJI issue

Protesters on Monday gathered outside the Supreme Court complex demanding an independent probe into the sexual harassment allegation raised against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

None of the apex court judges have initiated hearings in their respective courtrooms, which is unusual as the top court is in session by 10.30 a.m. usually.



AgustaWestland; Delhi Court rejects Sushen Gupta’s bail

A Delhi court on Saturday rejected the bail plea of Sushen Mohan Gupta, an alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal case.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar dismissed the bail plea.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has opposed Sushen’s bail plea. He was arrested on March 26, a day after the court allowed Rajiv Saxena, a Dubai-based businessman and another alleged middleman in the deal, to turn approver.

According to the ED, Saxena, in connivance with lawyer Gautam Khaitan, developed the global corporate structure that laundered money for payment to politicians, bureaucrats and Indian Air Force (IAF) officials to influence the contract for supplying 12 VVIP choppers in favour of AgustaWestland, the Rome-based helicopter design and manufacturing company.



Sex on pretext of marriage is rape, rules Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has ruled that sex on the pretext of marriage is rape and a blow to the honour of a woman.

A bench of Justices L. Nageshwara Rao and M.R. Shah in their recent judgement observed that rape offends a woman’s dignity and esteem, and if for the fact the victim and her rapist have already settled in their lives and taking care of their families, could not be considered a ground to have the crime be null and void.

The court observed that such incidents were on the rise in modern society.

“It tantamounts to a serious blow to the supreme honour of a woman and offends both her esteem and dignity.”

The judgement came on a case registered by a woman accusing a Chhattisgarh-based doctor of raping her in 2013. The woman, a resident of Koni, Bilaspur, was familiar with the accused since 2009 and had a love affair.

The accused had promised to marry her and their families were in the know of this.

The accused was, however, engaged to another woman while he had the affair with the victim. He later broke his promise to the victim and married the other woman with whom he was engaged. An FIR was lodged against the accused and he was convicted of rape.

The High Court upheld his conviction and sentenced him to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. The accused moved the apex court challenging this decision.

The court in its judgement said: “Rape is the most morally and physically reprehensible crime in a society, an assault on the body, mind and privacy of the victim. While a murderer destroys the physical frame of the victim, a rapist degrades and defiles the soul of a helpless female. Rape reduces a woman to an animal, as it shakes the very core of her life.”

The court observed that the evidence presented during the trial establishes that the accused never intended to marry the victim and established sexual relation on the pretext of marriage with the woman.

This was rape, said the court. It noted that the rapist must face the consequences of the crime.

The court noted that it was a clear case of cheating and deception and had the accused told the victim that he never intended to marry her, then she would not have committed to any physical relationship.

However, the court reduced the accused’s sentence to seven years of imprisonment.



Dynasts not allowed to rewrite court orders; Jaitley

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s observations, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday slammed Congress President Rahul Gandhi, saying that he had hit a “new low” as he “manufactured” a court order for his political propaganda.

He said that Indian democracy does not permit the “dynasts” to “rewrite” court orders.

Jaitley reacted in a series of tweets hours after the SC observed that Gandhi’s comment that it has said “chowkidar chor hai” is wrongly attributed to it and demanded an explanation from him by April 22.

“To manufacture a court order for a political propaganda is a new low for Rahul Gandhi. The lower he sinks, the higher we rise,” Jaitley said.

The senior BJP leader said “dynasts” are also subject to the Supreme Court and Indian democracy does not permit them to rewrite Court orders.

“In Rahul Gandhi’s politics, the Right to Free Speech includes the Right to Falsehood. Truth holds together. Falsehood falls apart. Rahul Gandhi needs to learn this preliminary lesson of public discourse,” he said.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna directed the hearing of the matter on April 23.

Seeking a response from the Congress President on his controversial statement, Chief Justice Gogoi clarified that they had only dealt with the admissibility of certain documents related to the Rafale case.

The court order came on a contempt plea by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Meenakshi Lekhi seeking contempt action against Gandhi.




Supreme Court to pass order on electoral bonds on Friday

The Supreme Court will pass an order on the legality of the electoral bonds scheme on Friday. The court has heard the arguments from the Centre and the petitioners.

The petitioners have moved the court seeking either a stay on the scheme or some other transparent alternative for funding of political parties.



Get green cracker formula ready; Supreme Court to Centre

The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Centre to approve chemical composition of green crackers by May 15.

It noted that the manufacturing of green crackers in the country must begin as soon as possible.

The apex court directed the Petroleum And Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), a statutory body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industries to approve the green cracker formulation and submit its report to the Centre to grant approval by May 15



Supreme Court closes Enron-Dabhol kickback case

The Supreme Court on Thursday accepted a plea by the Maharashtra government to end the Enron-Dabhol power project case.

Allegations had been made that kickbacks were received by politicians and bureaucrats to clinch the deal.

The case involved the alleged criminality in power purchase agreement between the Maharashtra State Electricity Board and the Dabhol Power Co on November 8, 1993.

Closing the case, the court observed that the case was long delayed.



Opposition slams Modi over Supreme Court Rafale judgment

The opposition on Wednesday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Rafale fighter jets deal after the Supreme Court rejected the Centre’s preliminary objections on the use of three documents and allowed review petitions to be heard on merit.

Soon after the apex court’s judgement allowing documents filed by former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, journalist-turned-politician Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan to be examined, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the “skeletons” in the Rafale deal were tumbling out one by one.

“Modiji, you can run as much as you want, but sooner or later the truth comes out. The skeletons in #RafaleScam are tumbling out one by one. And now there is ‘no official secrets act’ to hide behind,” Surjewala tweeted.

“Supreme Court has upheld a time honoured legal principle. A rattled Modiji had threatened to invoke Official Secrets Act against independent journalists for exposing his corruption on #Rafale. Don’t worry Modiji, an investigation is going to take place now, whether you like it or not,” he added.

Meanwhile, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury accused the Modi government of “compromising” national security for “corruption and cronyism” in an important defence deal.

“They tried to evade accountability, denied a JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee), hid price from CAG (Comptroller of Auditor General), tried to first mislead, then stall any hearing in the Supreme Court. Important that culprits are booked.

“Modi and his minions have falsely claimed that they have a “clean chit” in the Rafale scam. But the proofs have come tumbling out one after another. It has been the most corrupt and most compromised government in India’s history. Now is the time to throw it out,” he tweeted.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Supreme Court’s judgement has proved that Modi was involved in Rafale corruption.

“Modiji was speaking everywhere that he has got cleanchit in Rafale. Today’s Supreme Court judgement has proved that he had done theft in Rafale, cheated the Army, and misled the apex court to hide his crime,” Kejriwal tweeted.

BSP chief Mayawati attacked Modi saying his efforts to “hide corruption” in the Rafale deal has “failed”. She said Modi should “apologise for lying” in Parliament and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman must resign.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav attacked the BJP saying that the party has been destroying institutions that safeguards the Constitution.

“The BJP has made the institutions that protect the Constitution ‘hollow’. On one hand, the spinal cord of the Election Commission has been broken, on the other hand, police watches crime being committed as a mute spectator.”

The Supreme Court in an unanimous judgment on Wednesday rejected the preliminary objections raised by the central government, as a result the Rafale review petitions will now be heard on merits. The court will look into the documents published.

The court rejected the Centre’s claim of privilege over the three documents that were annexed by the former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, journalist Arun Shourie and lawyer Prashant Bhushan in their plea.

The plea sought the recall and review of 2018 judgment giving clean chit to the government for acquiring 36 ready to fly Rafale fighter jets.




Court reserves order on Gautam Khaitan’s bail on Tuesday

A court here on Tuesday reserved order on lawyer Gautam Khaitan’s bail plea in a money laundering and black money case.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar said he will deliver the order on April 12.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has opposed Khaitan’s bail plea.

It is the second bail plea moved by Khaitan. On March 12, the court had rejected his first plea for bail.

Currently in judicial custody, Khaitan was arrested on January 25, a week after the Income Tax Department searched his offices and other properties in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

On March 25, the ED filed a chargesheet in the money laundering case.

The agency said Khaitan was “controlling” the modus operandi and was responsible for routing money, misusing his connections and clients, including the ones inherited from his father, to launder money through a variety of accounts in Dubai, Mauritius, Singapore, Tunisia, Switzerland, the UK and India.

The ED officials said that the accounts included those belonging to his undisclosed shell companies outside India.

The ED had filed a money laundering case against Khaitan and others based on a case lodged by the I-T Department under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act.

Khaitan was earlier arrested in September 2014 for his alleged involvement in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

He got bail in January 2015 but was again arrested along with Sanjeev Tyagi, another accused in the case, on December 9, 2016, by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He later secured bail.

The CBI chargesheet had described Khaitan as the brain behind the AgustaWestland deal.



UK High Court rejects Mallya’s plea against extradition

In another setback for fugitive Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, the United Kingdom High Court has rejected his appeal against his extradition.

Mallya, who is facing charges of defaulting on bank loans to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore, fraud and money-laundering, had moved the High Court after the Westminster Magistrates Court, on December 10, 2018, gave the go-ahead for his extradition.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court Chief Magistrate Judge Emma Arbuthnot had then sent Mallya’s case to Home Secretary Sajid Javed, who had also cleared the extradition.

Mallya, 63, left India on March 2, 2016 after defaulting on loans amounting to Rs 9,000 crore he had taken for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines but he has repeatedly denied fleeing the country, saying he is ready to pay back the money he owed to the Indian banks.

India had in late 2017 filed extradition proceedings against Mallya which he contested. He is currently out on bail in London.

A consortium of 13 banks, led by the State Bank of India (SBI), has been preparing to initiate loan recovery proceedings against him.

The proceedings are on before a special court in Mumbai under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.

The Enforcement Directorate had also moved the Special Prevention of Money-Laundering Act Court last year to declare Mallya a “fugitive economic offender” and confiscate all his properties, estimated at more than Rs 12,000 crore, making it the first such case of its kind under the new law.


India Science & Technology

Supreme Court agrees to look into video mobile application TikTok row

The Supreme Court said it will look into the order passed by the Madras High Court directing an interim ban on the video mobile application ‘TikTok’.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi sought urgent listing of the case. He said that the application had been downloaded on a major scale, has numerous users and an ex-parte interim order was passed against the start-up.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said he will look into the matter.

Last week, a bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and S.S. Sundar passed an interim order issuing directions to the government to prohibit downloading the mobile application. It also directed the media not to broadcast the videos made using it.

The Madras High Court posed a query to the government. It asked whether the government will enact a statue, like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act enacted by the US government, in order to prevent children becoming online victims.



We will send you to jail; Supreme Court to Ranbaxy brothers

The Supreme Court on Friday threatened to jail Malvinder Mohan Singh and his brother Shivinder Mohan Singh, former promoters of pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy, for not complying with an order to pay dues to Japanese firm Daiichi Sankyo.

“We will go into the issue – why you violated our orders. We will send you to jail,” the apex court said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Daiichi Sankyo, which is seeking to recover Rs 3,500 crore awarded to it in an arbitration by a Singapore tribunal against the Ranbaxy brothers.

Rubbishing the claims of the former Ranbaxy promoters, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi told the defence counsel: “You may be owning half of the world but there is no concrete plan as to how the arbitral amount would be realised.

“You said that somebody owed you Rs 6,000 crore. But this is neither here nor there.”

Comprising also of Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, the bench fixed the next date of hearing as April 11.

One of the Ranbaxy counsels said they have assets and their values have been submitted to the court. Moreover, they also have immovables. They have two operating businesses and an IT company.

Shivinder Singh, who was present in the court, said the total value of their assets after liquidation was nearly Rs 900 crore and if an opportunity was given by the court he could certainly work to grow these assets up to Rs 2,000 crore.

“The group’s situation has changed in the last couple of years,” he pleaded before the court, seeking more time to comply with the foreign arbitration.

Daiichi had bought Ranbaxy — founded by the Singh brothers — in 2008. Later, the Japanese company moved the Singapore arbitration tribunal alleging that the brothers had misled the company and concealed information that the company was facing a probe by the US Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Justice.



Relief for Congress, Supreme Court stays Talala bypolls

In a major relief to the Congress in Gujarat, the Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Talala bye-elections giving the party an option to file nominations.
Congress MLA Bhagwanbhai Barad had moved the apex court after his plea to stay the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to hold the bypolls on the same date alongside Lok Sabha elections was rejected by the Gujarat High Court.
On March 27, the High Court had rejected Barad’s plea seeking the stay as well as his disqualification by the Gujarat Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi.
Barad had maintained that his disqualification was not in accordance with the law and was done in haste by the Speaker and was politically influenced.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Monday while ordering the stay also issued a notice to the EC.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear Barad’s plea on Monday after he filed an urgent plea.
The Talala bypolls were scheduled on the April 23, the same date when all the 26 Lok Sabha constituencies from Gujarat will vote.
The apex court’s decision brings a huge relief to the Congress as it was preparing to file nominations for the bypolls.
“We welcome the decision by the apex court to put a stay on the hastily declared Talala bypolls. This also obviously shows how the BJP is using the state machinery and pressurising the constitutional institutions to follow their way.
“Barad did not bend down to the pressure by the saffron party — to either join them or suffer.
“We urge and hope, that the EC will not show a biased attitude and hold the coming elections in a free and fair manner,” Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) spokesperson Manish Doshi said.

PNB Scam; Nirav Modi to remain in jail as UK court rejects bail plea  

The Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday rejected the bail plea of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi suspecting he could “flee” Britain and “interfere with witnesses”, said sources.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot has granted the Metropolitan Police custody of the 48-year-old businessman till the next hearing on April 26.

Arbuthnot is the same judge who ordered the extradition of former Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya last December.

The court order came after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), appearing on behalf of the Indian authorities, argued against Nirav Modi’s bail. “There is a real risk that he could flee, interfere with witnesses, interfere with evidence,” the prosecution said.

Defence barrister Clare Montgomery said, “I (Nirav Modi) have been in the UK even before the case was registered in India. How can my bail be opposed saying I might flee the UK?”

Montgomery, who had earlier represented Vijay Mallya, countered to say that his client is not a “flight risk” as he has rented a flat in London in his own name and was trying to open a bank account when he was arrested.

Before the hearing began, the CPS had submitted a new file with additional evidence against Nirav Modi in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Nirav Modi was arrested on behalf of the Indian authorities from Holborn in London on March 19 in connection with the Rs 13,500-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case.

He was sent to police custody and the next day, was produced before a judge at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, who denied him bail and deferred the hearing for Friday.

Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi are being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation after the PNB alleged that they cheated it of Rs 13,500 crore with the involvement of a few bank employees.

Both fled India before the details of the fraud emerged in January 2018. The ED on February 26, 2018 attached property worth Rs 147 crore of Nirav Modi and his associate companies in connection with the case.

On May 24 and 26, 2018, it filed charge sheets and sought non-bailable warrants against the duo.

The Interpol also issued a Red Corner Notice against Nirav Modi in July 2018 at the request of the ED and the CBI.

An extradition request against him had been pending before the UK authorities since September last year.

However, the businessman’s whereabouts remained a mystery as he was spotted in New York, Hong Kong and other cities at different times.

His arrest came days after The Telegraph newspaper in Britain published a report earlier this month about Nirav Modi being spotted in London.

The daily reported that he was living in a three-bedroom flat, occupying half the floor of the landmark Centre Point tower block.

The paper said that Nirav Modi was involved in a new diamond business, run from an office in Soho, just a few hundred yards from his apartment. The new business was incorporated in May 2018, it added.



Delhi court asks DCP to appear in JNU sedition case

A Delhi court on Friday asked a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) to appear before it on Saturday in connection to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) sedition case.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Sherawat’s direction came after the Delhi Police failed to explain the cause of delay in getting sanction to proceed with the case.

At its last hearing, the court questioned the police why it filed a chargesheet in haste without getting sanction from the Delhi government to initiate proceedings against the accused former student leaders.

The court had also told the Delhi government not to sit on the police file seeking sanction to proceed in the case.

The case involves a February 2016 event organised in the JNU campus against the hanging of Parliament attack mastermind Afzal Guru.

The chargesheet was filed on January 14. It named former student leaders Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and seven Kashmiri students as accused.