SC Slams Assam Government On Deportation Of Illegal Immigrants

The Supreme Court today slammed the Assam government saying that it was not treating the issue of deportation of illegal migrants seriously enough.

“This has gone too far. This has become a joke,” the court said.

During the course of the hearing, the court questioned the solicitor general Tushar Mehta regarding the whereabouts of the foreigners, whether the foreigners tribunal was functioning and whether the state’s law and order machinery was functioning to implement the tribunal’s order. The court gave the Assam government time till May 27 to submit a detailed report on the functioning of the foreigners tribunal in the state.

“How seriously Assam is considering this matter is quite evident from the absence of any officer to brief you in the matter. An officer sitting here (resident commissioner) files affidavit on detention centres in Assam,” says the bench led by CJI

Recalling a 2005 order on the issue, the Supreme Court said, “You must have gone through the order passed by this court in 2005 where this court has said Assam is facing the threat of external aggression… We would like to know what Government of India and Assam has done about it to meet this threat of external aggression.”

Saying that the court did not think that the problem was being tackled, the bench said, “Assam will have to inform the court about the number of persons declared foreigners by the tribunals, number of persons detained at the detention centres and number of persons sent back to the country of origin. Assam also had to inform the number of foreign tribunals in the state are considered to be adequate and precise number of additional tribunals required immediately and near future.”

The Assam government informed the Supreme Court that more than 50,000 migrants had been declared as foreigners in the past 10 years.

The Assam government also informed the court that around 900 migrants who had been declared foreigners were being kept in six detention centres in the state.

The Assam government’s submission came on a January order by the court directing the central and Assam governments to provide it with details of the number of people who had been declared as foreigners in the north-eastern state in the last 10 years by the Foreigners Tribunal and the number deported.

The court had also asked the state to file an affidavit on the total number of detention centres in the state and how many inmates they had.

Blazing Pulwama Attacks Aftermath: SC To Hear A Petition Seeking Kashmiri Students’ Protection

The Supreme Court will hear a petition on Friday seeking a direction to various authorities in order to protect Kashmiri students being attacked across the country. The situation is due to the aftermath of the Pulwama attacks that took place in Jammu & Kashmir last week. 

A bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L N Rao and Sanjiv Khanna, on Thursday took note of senior advocate Colin Gonsalves’ submission that the plea needed to be heard urgently as it relates to the safety and security of students.

The bench, which refused to list the plea for hearing on Thursday, however, assured Gonsalves that it will be listed for consideration on Friday.

The plea alleged that students from Kashmir Valley are being attacked at different educational institutions across the country after the Pulwama terror attack and authorities concerned should be directed to take actions to stop such assaults. 

Forty 40 CRPF personnel were killed in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14, in a terror attack allegedly carried out by banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed.

SC Dismisses Two Court Masters For Dissolving Summons To Anil Ambani

The Supreme Court has dismissed two court masters for fearlessly meddling with its order and dissolving the summons to Reliance ADAG chairman Anil Ambani and some other officials over a contempt case filed against Reliance Communication by Ericsson. 

On the plea of advocate Dushyant Dave on January 7, a bench of Justices R F Nariman and Vineet Saran had taken note of the alleged breach of undertaking given by Ambani and other officials of the group and asked them to be present in court. Requ-est by Ambani’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi and Kapil Sibal to exempt them from personal appearance was rejected.

However, the order uploaded on the SC website curiously conveyed that though notice had been issued to Ambani and others in the contempt petition filed by Ericsson, the alleged contemnors could mark their presence through their counsel. Dave had drawn Justice Nariman’s attention to this discrepancy between the order dictated in open court and the one uploaded on the SC website. 

Noticing the glaring discrepancy, a furious Justice Nariman promised action. He sent a complaint to Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who initiated an inquiry. SC sources said the complaint was followed by an internal inquiry and it was found that the two court masters had indeed tampered with the court order to dilute its rigour in summoning Ambani, Reliance Telecom chairman Satish Seth and Reliance Infratech chairperson Chhaya Virani.

Ambani and others later appeared before the court and remained present for two days till the bench headed by Justice Nariman completed hearing on the contempt petition filed by Ericsson. 

Ericsson had accused Ambani and others of going back on the undertaking given to the court that they would pay Rs 550 crore to the Swedish telecom company. The SC had in its August 3, 2018, order recorded the undertaking and asked RCom to pay the amount to Ericsson. The court is yet to deliver its verdict in the contempt case .

SC to Begin With New Tradition of Automatic Listing of urgent Matters

CJI is the master of the roster. Cases filed in the Supreme Court generally take up to seven days before being listed for hearing. Lawyers or litigants seeking urgent hearing or relief, mention their petitions before the CJI for urgent listing.

If a case can’t wait for four days, lawyers can mention their petitions for urgent listing before the Supreme Court’s registrar.

Oral mentioning for listing of urgent matters in the Supreme Court will soon become a thing of the past. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday said the top court was in the process of devising a mechanism to ensure automatic listing of a fresh case for hearing within four days of filing.

“We are working on a system in which a matter after filing automatically comes up for hearing within four days. If the matter can’t wait for four days then you (lawyers) all can mention your case before the registrar for urgent listing. Then we will look into the petition. We are working on that system,” the CJI told a lawyer after he mentioned a case for urgent listing.

On his first day in office as CJI, Justice Gogoi had on October 3 last made it clear that fresh parameters would be worked out for mentioning the matters for hearing of cases which require hearing on priority and urgent mentioning.

CJI Gogoi had then said “no urgent mentioning of cases will be allowed” till certain parameters are fixed for it. “We will work out the parameters, and then we will see as to how mentioning will be done. If somebody is going to be hanged tomorrow, then we can understand the (urgency).”

SC Decrees 25 Years As Minimum Age for NEET 2019

Supreme court on Thursday pronounced its judgement on the forthcoming NEET undergraduate exam 2019 for MBBS and BDS, imposing an minimum age limit of 25 years to appear for the exam.

The top court said the final admission would be subject to the final outcome of the case on validity of CBSE decision to fix upper age limit.

The top court has extended the last date for submitting filled NEET forms by a week to enable aspirants who did not qualify under the earlier age criteria to apply.

The last date for submitting forms was tomorrow.

The Central Board of Secondary Education, or CBSE, had notified the upper age limit of 25 and 30 years for general and reserved categories respectively to apply for National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET)-UG, a pre-qualification for pursuing MBBS course.

The Supreme Court’s decision comes in the matter of Medical Council of India’s (MCI) decision to keep an upper age limit for NEET for admission to medical colleges.

The court had earlier agreed to examine the validity of an amendment to the MCI Regulations on Graduate Medical Education of 1997. The amendment that was notified on January 22, stipulated an upper age limit of 25 years for general category candidates and of 30 years for those belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (OBC) as well as those is the physically handicapped categories.

The Delhi High Court had on May 11 upheld the regulation. It had held that a 17- or 18-year-old candidate will find it difficult to compete with older and more experienced candidates.

Senior advocate Amarendra Sharan, arguing for the petitioners, told the court the regulation is artificial and serves no real objective. “The Regulation is bad as per the (MCI Oversight) Committee as well as the central government that has recommended deletion of the upper age limit as the country needs more doctors,” the lawyer said.

But the bench noted that the regulations are in exercise of legislative power to which Sharan replied: “When candidates secure higher marks, it increases competition, resulting in better doctors.”


New Name in CBI vs CBI Case; Union Law Secretary Shri Suresh Chandra Hauled In

Vitriolic revelation before Supreme Court in CBI vs CBI case has hauled in a new name. CBI DIG Manish Kumar Sinha’s petition professed many unbelievable truths before court and the latest one of which is the alleged involvement of Union Law Secretary and Cabinet Secretary Shri Suresh Chandra in the case who according to Sinha has invaded in investigations before Ex-CBI Chief Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana laid bribery accusations at each other’s door.

Sinha’s note accentuates Chandra’s voracious invasion in the probe conducted by central vigilance commissioner K.V. Chowdary.

Sinha’s source for the role supposedly played by Chandra is the Hyderabad businessman Sana Satish Babu, whose allegations of extortion led to an FIR being filed against Asthana in the first place.

Chandra, by contrast, was forthcoming in his denial of all the allegations made by Sinha when The Wire read out the relevant portions to him.

“Yes, it is true that I am the law secretary and P.K. Sinha is the cabinet secretary but I do not know these people at all – Sana Satish or Rekha Rani”. He also denied being in London in November, though he said he did visit England earlier this year.

Chandra added that he had not been following the Alok Verma-Rakesh Asthana matter in the Supreme Court. The reason, he cited, was the reaction of the Supreme Court to news reports that the Union law minister in the Manmohan Singh government, Ashwani Kumar, had reviewed a coal scam case file prepared by the CBI.

Sinha himself wants the Supreme Court to entrust the matter to a special investigation team:

The circumstances and the manner in which [I] was overnight removed from supervision of this case and transferred to a distant place thousand of kilometres away and the fact that the case involved [the] interest of some of the most powerful persons of the establishment, the present investigating officer of the said FIR may not be able to conduct a fair and impartial investigation, neither can one rule out the potent probability of the present or any subsequent IO being influenced or pressurised by the high and mighty who have been named in this application and in this case, thereby necessitating a court monitored SIT investigation to bring out the truth.

Therefore, it is extremely imperative that the investigation of instant FIR be handed over to a Special Investigation Team monitored by this Hon’ble Court.

Sinha’s petition is listed for hearing on Tuesday, November 20.

Collision Between RAW and Fugitives? Centre to Initiate an Enquiry

Disgruntled over his transfer to Port Blair, AK Bassi on Monday moved to court where he insinuated at the collusion between RAW’s head of the Research and Analysis Wing’s West Asia operations, Samant Goel and the two absconding two Dubai-based brothers named as suspects in an ongoing bribery investigation.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Deputy Superintendent of Police Ajay Kumar Bassi apprised the Apex court, that the agency had intercepted a conversation between RAW’s Goel and banker Somesh Prasad, warning the Dubai-based fugitive not to return to India ‘at any cost’.

In addition, Bassi’s pleadings say that the arrest of Prasad’s brother, Manoj Prasad, on 18 October, sparked off a series of phone conversations between him, Goel, and Rakesh Asthana — the CBI second-in-command at the heart of the still-unfolding crisis in the agency.

Bassi was among two officers involved in investigating Asthana when the government sent both the CBI second-in-command and his boss, Alok Verma, on leave. His Supreme Court plea — which claims he is being persecuted by the agency for investigating Asthana — does not allege Goel received payoffs.

However, Bassi’s plea suggests Goel maintained an inappropriate relationship the Prasad brothers, despite knowing they were the subjects of a criminal investigation.

RAW chief Anil Dhasmana had been pushing for Goel’s elevation to the top job, bypassing two more-senior officials. K Illango, the second-in-command at RAW, has extensive experience in both Kashmir and Sri Lanka, and R Kumar is an offensive-operations expert considered among the most able professionals to have ever worked in the organisation.

However, one RAW official said, “Once it became clear that the Prasad brothers were sought in criminal proceedings, it was simply unacceptable for Goel to have maintained the relationship. RAW cannot and ought not to offer deals to Indian nationals sought by Indian authorities for crimes against the Indian state.”

Disclose the Pricing Details of Rafale, SC Injuncted Centre

The Supreme Court on October 31 decreed the Centre for pricing details of the 36 Rafale fighter jets India is buying from France but agreed that “strategic and confidential” information need not be disclosed.

The Centre should give the details in a sealed cover within 10 days, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.

In its order, the bench gave some more leeway to the government which has been arguing that pricing details are so sensitive that they have not even been shared with Parliament.

The apex court said the Centre must bring details of the decision making process of the deal in the public domain, except those that are confidential and have strategic importance.

The information must be shared by the government within 10 days and the petitioners could respond to it in the next seven days, the bench said and posted the matter for November 14.

“If pricing is something exclusive and you are not sharing it with us, please file an affidavit and say so,” the bench told Attorney General K K Venugopal in its oral observations.

The top court was hearing four petitions, including one by advocate Prashant  Bhushan and former union ministers Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha who are seeking a court monitored CBI investigation in the procurement of the fighter jets.

“That you will have to wait,” the CJI said, adding, “Let CBI put its house in order first.”

The attorney general had expressed reservations about disclosing the details of pricing of the jets and said its cost was not even disclosed in Parliament.

He also said the documents placed by the Centre before the court are covered by the Official Secrets Act.

The bench, also comprising Justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph, said the “core of information” that can be brought in the public domain should be shared with the “petitioner and petitioners in person”.

In its order, the bench observed that none of the petitioners has questioned the suitability of the Rafale jets, their equipment and their utility to the Indian Air Force.

“What has been questioned is the bonafide of the decision making process and the price/cost at which the same is to be procured,” the bench said.

Supreme Court Revised Its Judgement on Crackers

The Supreme Court on Tuesday revisited its October 23 verdict restraining the time for bursting crackers on Deepavali and other religious festivals to two hours, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Instead, it allowed Tamil Nadu and adjacent southern States to decide when people can burst crackers on festival days, provided the total time does not cross the two-hour mark. This means the authorities can stagger the time-slots and even make it an hour in the morning and another in the night.

Further, the court said its direction that only green crackers can be manufactured and sold is only applicable to Delhi and the National Capital Region areas.

On October 23, the court had held that only green or improved crackers would be used in religious festivals and other occasions, including weddings.

The court had fixed a uniform slot for bursting crackers across the country. During Deepavali and other religious festivals, the slot is between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.