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CJI under RTI: CJI being on bench is no issue, say experts

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New Delhi, Nov 12 Legal experts say the Chief Justice pronouncing the judgement on bringing the office of Chief Justice under the RTI Act is not an issue, and that it is, instead, a process connected with adjudication.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi said, “The Chief Justice can certainly be on the bench pronouncing the judgement on the petitions challenging the Delhi High Court verdict bringing the office of the Chief Justice of India within the ambit of RTI. The verdict is connected to the office and not to an individual.”

When queried on any issue of conflict of interest, Dwivedi said there is absolutely no conflict of interest.

The apex court had observed that the judiciary cannot be destroyed for the sake of transparency, though insisting that nobody wants a system of opaqueness.

The apext court bench had said, “Nobody wants to remain in the state of darkness or keep anybody in the same…but, the question which is before us is that in the name of transparency, you can’t destroy the institution.”

Dwivedi cited an example, if somebody finds issue with the apex court Collegium and then challenges it before the top court. “It would have to be heard by the judges”, added Dwivedi.

Recently, Justice Arun Mishra, a senior judge of the apex court, had refused to recuse from hearing a batch of petitions connected with the Land Acquisition Act. According to the judgment, Justice Mishra decided not to recuse in the “interest of the judiciary and the system”.

Justice Mishra was part of the verdict in February last year, which held that acquisition of the land by a government agency cannot be overturned, if there was a delay by land owners who fail to accept compensation within five years citing pending court cases.

In 2014, another verdict had ruled the land acquisition can be overturned if there is a delay in accepting the compensation awarded against the acquisition.

In March 2018, the top court had said a larger bench would look into the verdicts. On a query, comparing the two scenarios, Dwivedi said Justice Mishra was part of the judgement whereas the RTI judgement pertains to the office of Chief Justice.

Senior advocate Narendra Hooda said there is no conflict of interest in Chief Justice being part of the bench, which is scheduled to pronounce the judgement tomorrow.

“The Chief Justice being part of the bench is the process of legal adjudication of the matter”, said Hooda. He cited an example, if a district judge is removed by a full High Court bench, then to seek relief, the judge would have to go before the same High Court.

“Therefore, the current case is related to the office of Chief Justice of India and not to an individual”, said Hooda.

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Kerala health guidelines to tackle coronavirus

From Saudi Arabia, reports have come that a Kerala nurse who was kept in isolation for coronavirus has been cleared as it is not the variant that was first reported in Wuhan province in China.

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Coronavirus

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 24 : In the wake of the coronavirus taking a toll across the world, Kerala on Friday has come out with health guidelines as a precautionary step, said state Health Minister K.K. Shailaja.

“The guidelines that we have come out with are based on the WHO protocols. Necessary precautions have been taken and this would be at all the state-run Medical College hospitals and the district hospitals. Isolation wards will be kept ready, in case need arises,” said Shailaja.

The authorities have also posted health officers at the airports and seaports and all incoming passengers are being screened, if they have visited China.

Meanwhile a man who arrived from China was admitted to a state-run hospital near Kochi after he developed fever. He has been kept in the isolation ward.

From Saudi Arabia, reports have come that a Kerala nurse who was kept in isolation for coronavirus has been cleared as it is not the variant that was first reported in Wuhan province in China.

According to reports, the nurse is set to be discharged on Saturday.

Reports also have surfaced that there are about 25 Indians including Keralite students in Wuhan province waiting to travel to India, but are unable to do so, after the airport there was closed.

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JNU hostel fee hike: Delhi HC issues notice to varsity, MHRD, UGC on JNUSU plea

The JNUSU, earlier this week on Tuesday, had moved the high court and challenged the Inter-Hall Administration’s (IHA) decision to amend the hostel manual which, it claimed, was passed “illegally” in October without prior discussion with the union.

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JNU VC Prof M Jagadesh Kumar

New Delhi: The Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) on Friday told the Delhi High Court that “the students who paid the hiked fee, paid it out of fear.”

“A bunch of students paid in fear, as the varsity said that if they don’t pay, their services would be withdrawn,” advocate Akhil Sibal appearing for the Students Union in the Court said.

He further said in the court that the “draft manual be stayed and those who have paid, either be refunded or the amount be adjusted”.

The arguments took place while a single Judge bench of the High Court presided by Justice Rajiv Shakdar was hearing a plea filed by JNUSU President Aishe Ghose and others seeking the direction of the court to restrain the JNU administration from imposing late fees on students for registrations in the Winter Semester-2020.

The plea also sought directions to the university restraining them from taking any action which would give effect to the draft hostel manual.

On January 20, three days after the deadline for registration for the winter semester in the University, the administration claimed that 82 per cent of the total 8,500 enrolled students have cleared their hostel dues.

The administration added that it was hoping for the number to go up further as the registration was still open but with a late fee.

“Out of 8,500 students at JNU, 82 per cent of the students have cleared their hostel dues for winter registration as of Monday,” a statement by the JNU administration had said.

On January 16, the JNU had extended the last date of the registrations for the winter semester to January 17. The extension was announced for the third time since the original deadline of January 5.

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BEST bus stoned during anti-CAA, NRC Maha shutdown call

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Mumbai: At least one BEST bus was stoned in Mumbai and its driver injured as the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) sponsored Maharashtra shutdown started, eliciting mixed response, here on Friday.

The bus was pelted with stones in Chembur and the driver Vilas B. Dabhade, 53, was injured, though commuters escaped unhurt. He has been admitted to the Shatabdi Hospital in Govandi, said officials.

VBA President Prakash Ambedkar urged his supporters to ensure “a peaceful and violence-free bandh” to oppose the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA), National Register for Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).

Despite the shutdown call by over 35 social and trade organisations, including the VBA, normal life remained unaffected in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nagpur and other cities.

However, shops and establishments remained shut in parts of Mumbai, Nashik, Aurangabad, Akola, though in Thane some activists attempted to block a main road, but were cleared by the police.

In Mumbai suburban trains and the BEST buses — the city’s lifelines — functioned normally, and most educational institutions, shops, malls, multiplexes, commercial plazas were open as police maintained tight police security.

Later in the day, several other anti-CAA/NRC/NPR related events and discussions are planned in Mumbai and other areas as part of the state shutdown.

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