NCMEI has wide powers, rules SC

On April 18, the Supreme Court ruled that the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) has original jurisdiction to ascertain which institution should be endowed with the minority status. It also ruled that all applications for the establishment of a minority educational institution after the Amendment Act of 2006 must go only to the competent authority set up under the statute. This prestige given to an independent forum like the NCMEI to assert an institution as a minority educational institution expedited the fundamental right assured under Article 30. Justice Nariman, who authored the judgment, said the NCMEI Act empowered the Commission “to decide all questions relating to the status of an institution as a minority educational institution and to declare its status as such.” “Section 11(f) would include the declaration of the status of an institution as a minority educational institution at all stages,” the judgment agreed with the submissions made by Senior Advocates Sanjay Hegde, C.U. Singh and Advocate Romy Chacko. The 2006 amendments indeed gave powers of offer against orders of the competent command to the NCMEI. A control of cancellation was moreover vested within the NCMEI to cancel a certificate allowed either by an authority or the NCMEI.…
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Sahara can auction parts of Aamby Valley: SC

On April 19, the Supreme Court allowed the Sahara Group to choose any parcel of its properties in the Aamby Valley city project in Maharashtra and sell them by May 15 and deposit Rs. 750 crore with SEBI-Sahara refund account. If it does this, it may not need to proceed with the auction of the 6,700-acre township near Pune. However, later the bench said it would not specify the amount in its order. It said if the Sahara Group failed to sell its property by May 15, 2018, the Bombay High Court’s official liquidator will proceed with the proposed auctioning process to sell them. A special bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra considered the submission of senior advocate Vikas Singh, representing Subrata Roy and the Sahara group, that they be allowed to sell the properties on their own as auctioning would not fetch the desired price. It said the group will have to establish its bonafide by depositing some more money and fixed the matter for hearing on May 16, 2018.…
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PIL against pension, benefits to former MPs dismissed: SC

The Supreme Court dismissed a petition challenging payment of pension and other facilities to former Members of Parliament (MPs) and their dependents, saying it will not interfere with the issue. On March 7, the Centre had told the Apex Court that the entitlement of former Members of Parliament (MPs) to get pension and other benefits was “justified” as their dignity has to be maintained even after they complete their tenure as parliamentarians. The Centre informed the bench about the Finance Bill 2018 which comprises provisions regarding salary and pension of MPs and also about revision of their allowances after every five years starting from April 1, 2023, on the basis of cost inflation index. “We are of the view that these questions are in the orbit of the wisdom of Parliament in choosing/changing the legislative policy whether the various benefits created under the impugned provisions are rational having regard to the affluent financial status of some of the MPs or the poverty of the millions of the population, etc. These are not justiciable issues,” a bench of Justices J Chelameswar and S K Kaul said while rejecting a plea by the NGO Lok Prahari. The court was ruling on a plea by an NGO, Lok Prahari, which argued that providing pension/family pension to ex-MPs as well as continuation of facilities regarding unutilised quota of telephone calls, electricity and water units are illegal and must be scrapped.…
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SC quashes NGT order on ‘silence zone’ at Amarnath

On April 16, the Supreme Court set aside an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that declared a “silence zone” in front of the ice stalagmite resembling the “Shivalinga” at the Amarnath cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir. The NGT order of December 13, 2017 was stayed by a bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta while hearing a plea filed by the Amarnath Shrine Board against the order on the ground that a decision in a case could not be based on grounds outside the pleading of the parties. The Amarnath cave shrine is considered one of the most holy spots of pilgrimage by Hindus. While, for most part of the year, the entire cave itself is covered with snow, it is opened for pilgrims for a short period of time in summer. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi told the bench that the NGT had taken up the Amarnath issue on its own while dealing with a plea relating to stopping the use of horses and ponies in Vaishno Devi shrine premises in Jammu. Challenging the order, Amarnath Shrine Board approached the SC raising question on how could NGT interfere in the age-old tradition followed by devotees visiting the holy shrine.…
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#INXMedia case: ED’s plea against Karti Chidambaram to be heard: SC

On April 2, the Supreme Court will hear the plea filed by Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Karti Chidambaram, in the INX media money laundering case. In a March 26 hearing, the Apex Court extended the interim protection of Karti from March 26 to April 2. Earlier, the Apex Court granted interim protection to Karti from arrest by the ED in connection with the case. On February 28, Karti was arrested at the Chennai airport on his return from the UK for his alleged role in facilitating Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance for INX Media Ltd and its directors, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea. Karti allegedly took service charges for getting the clearance to INX Media for receiving funds from abroad worth Rs 3.05 billion in 2007 when his father P Chidambaram was the Union Finance Minister in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. (Credits: Business Standard)…
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Courts can’t stay graft, criminal case trials for more than 6 months: SC

On March 28, the Supreme Court ruled that the proceedings in any pending trial relating to graft or criminal cases should not be stayed from now on by an appellate court for more than six months, without a speaking order. “We … direct that in all pending cases where stay against proceedings of a civil or criminal trial is operating, the same will come to an end on expiry of six months from today unless in an exceptional case by a speaking order, such stay is extended”, said the bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Navin Sinha in their judgment. In the midst of whether a high court has the jurisdiction to entertain an appeal against an order framing charge by the trial court, the ruling came. Answering the question in the affirmative, the special bench of the Apex Court said, “We have thus no hesitation in concluding that the High Court has jurisdiction in appropriate case to consider the challenge against an order framing charge and also to grant stay.” It, however, said the power to entertain a challenge to an order of charge “should be exercised in a rarest of rare case only to correct a patent error of jurisdiction and not to re-appreciate the matter”.…
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Former Karnataka HC judge Justice Jawad Rahim as Acting Chairperson of NGT: SC

View PDF Three judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Dipak Mishra, Justice AM Khanwilkar & Justice DY Chandrachud appointed former Karnataka HC Judge Justice Jawad Rahim as Acting Chairperson of the National Green Tribunal on a plea by the NGT Bar Association. Consequent upon the term of the Chairperson of the National Green Tribunal having ended, it has become necessary for the Central Government to notify a Member of the Tribunal who will act as the Chairperson until a new appointment is made. Section 11 of the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 contemplates that the Central Government shall in such an eventuality notify a judicial member to act as Chairperson until a regular appointment is made. “The learned Attorney General for India has placed on the record a comparative chart setting out relevant details in regard to two of the senior most judicial members of the Tribunal : Justice Jawad Rahim and Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore. From the chart, the learned Attorney General has drawn the attention of the Court to the fact that Justice Jawad Rahim and Justice R S Rathore were appointed to the NGT on 12 January 2016. Justice Jawad Rahim joined the NGT later than Justice Rathore, after he was relieved from his assignment.…
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Courts Can Refer Parties To Arbitration only On written Consent Given By Counsel: SC

The Supreme Court recently stated that in the absence of arbitration agreement, the court can refer parties to arbitration only with written consent of parties either by way of a joint memo or joint application and not on oral consent given by their counsel. A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R Banumathi was considering an appeal preferred by KSEB in the n KSEB v Kurien E Kalathil case against high court order wherein one of the questions raised was whether the high court was right in referring the parties to arbitration on the oral consent given by the counsel without written instruction from the party. In this case, in a writ petition filed by contractor Kurien E Kalathil, the high court, with the consent of the counsel for the parties, referred the matter to sole arbitrator Justice K A Nayar to resolve dispute relating to items which they could not amicably resolve, even though there was no such arbitration agreement between the parties. The order of the high court that directed KSEB to pay Rs.12,92,29,378 with simple interest at the rate of 9% per annum in the dispute arising out of a contract between the board and the contractor, was challenged before the Apex Court.…
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Insulting any CM or the PM is an irresponsible act: SC

On March 6, the Supreme Court adjourned BJP MLA Om Prakash Sharma and Municipal Councillor Gunjan Gupta, for insulting Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Earlier, show cause notices for contempt for allegedly obstructing authorities from carrying out the sealing drive in the Shahdara area were issued to them too. The court-mandated monitoring committee had submitted a CD to a bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta wherein they found two offensive things in video footage of the anti-sealing protest, waiving of flags of a particular political party and carrying banners which were derogatory to the Chief Minister of Delhi. Justice Madan B Lokur, sternly said, “Today, such derogatory language is used for a CM, tomorrow it could be used for Prime Minister. You cannot insult PM and CMs just because they are not from your political party. People must show respect for them. Even otherwise what has the CM got to do with it. This is irresponsible. Tell your supporters not to do that.” “Apart from the fact that the Chief Minister of Delhi has nothing to do with the matter, it is extremely unfortunate that the head of government of the union territory of Delhi (or any head of government for that matter) should be referred to in a derogatory manner through placards being carried by the supporters of elected representatives of the people.…
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MP’s Fixing salaries themselves is a moral, ethical issue: SC

While hearing a petition that raised many questions like how MPs could themselves determine their salaries and perks and also solicited junking of pension to them, stated that parliamentarians ascertaining their salary and perks themselves was a “moral” and “ethical issue” and desired for information on the amount that was spent on pension and other facilities provided to former lawmakers. “Is there any proposal to set up an independent body to decide salary, allowances and pension of members of Parliament,” asked Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, who along with Justice J. Chelameswar is hearing a plea challenging the grant of pension to former MPs. A bench containing Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul were informed by AG KK Venugopal that the Finance Bill 2018 had provisions regarding salary and pension of MPs and also about revision of their allowances after every five years starting from 1 April 2023 based on cost inflation index. The court’s query pertaining to the setting up of an independent mechanism for determination of salaries and allowances of the MPs, the Attorney General claimed that an elaborate procedure was already being followed for fixing the salary. Also, while addressing the issue of “burden on the exchequer” due to payment of pension and entitlement of many other facilities to former MPs, the bench inquired, “Do you have any data of how much amount has been spent on it?” S.N.…
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Karti Chidambaram plea to be heard on March 6: SC

On March 6, The Supreme Court will be hearing the plea by Karti Chidambaram, son of former Union Minister P Chidambaram, challenging the proceedings initiated by the ED in connection to the INX Media graft case. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has decided to seek an extension of the custody of Karti Chidambaram, for further questioning in connection with their probe into the money laundering case, even as Karti moved the Apex Court seeking to quash the summons issued against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). On March 5, the plea was mentioned by his counsel before a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, which agreed to hear it along with related pending matters scheduled for hearing on March 6. In May 2017, the ED had registered a case against him and others. An Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the ED’s complaint as corresponding as a police FIR, was filed against the impeached named in a CBI complaint. These included Karti Chidambaram, INX Media and its directors, Peter and Indrani Mukerjea. The Apex Court was hearing pleas, including the CBI’s appeal, challenging the Madras High Court order staying a Lookout Circular (LOC) issued against Karti.…
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Call for expeditious and time-bound Appointment of HC Judges made: SC

On February 23, the Supreme Court called for time-bound appointment of the High Court Judges, stressing expeditious process at the hands of all who have to discharge the constitutional obligations entrusted by the Constitution. It laid stress on definite timelines drawn for each stage of the process, saying it will keep hope and aspiration of litigants alive and fulfil the commitment of providing speedy justice. A Bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan made this observation while dismissing a petition of Rajasthan’s Advocate Sunil Samdaria, who had challenged appointment of two retired district Judges as the Additional Judges of the Rajasthan High Court in May 2017. Holding that the Acting Chief Justice of the High Court had recommended names of the two Judges in February 2016, ahead of their retirement as district judges, the Bench said the process of appointments takes so much time that it defeats the purpose of Article 224(1). Advocate Samdaria, who contended the case himself, pointed out that both the appointees are to retire in less than two years in July and September 2018 violating Article 224 and moreover, they were no longer holding the judicial office to be eligible for appointment. Discussing the undue delay in the process of recommendation to appointment, the Bench said the ideal situation would be to fill up the post immediately on vacancy to ensure no time is lost by initiating the process at least one month prior to the anticipated vacancy.…
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