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Death of Justice Loya needs to be probed at the highest level of the Supreme Court: Rahul

The judges, who are most-senior at the top court after the Chief Justice – said that “things are not in order” with what they described as “the administration of the Supreme Court”.

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Rahul Gandhi

The Congress on Friday described the comments made by four Supreme Court judges as “extremely disturbing” and appealed to the Full Court of the Supreme Court to find solutions to preserve the independence of the judiciary even as party President Rahul Gandhi demanded that its senior-most judges should supervise an SIT probe into the mysterious death of Special CBI Judge B.H. Loya.

The Congress issued a statement after Gandhi met senior party leaders, including P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal who are also leading lawyers, and discussed the situation arising out of the press conference by four senior-most judges — Justices J. Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan B. Lokur — who were critical of Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

The Congress and Gandhi demanded that the PIL concerning the death of Judge B.H. Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin fake shootout case, should be entrusted to the senior-most judges of the Supreme Court who should ensure a thorough and impartial investigation of the case by an independent SIT.

Gandhi, who made a brief statement to the media, said it was “a sensitive and important matter” and that “the points raised by the judges are extremely important”.

“The points that have been raised by the four judges are extremely important. They have mentioned that there is a threat to democracy. I think it needs to be looked into carefully.

“They have also made a point about Judge Loya’s case. I think that is also something that needs to be investigated properly. It needs to be looked at from the highest levels of the Supreme Court.”

He said the press conference by judges “never happened before”.

“It’s unprecedented. I think all citizens who love the idea of justice, who believe in the Supreme Court are looking at this issue.”

Calling it an “unprecedented development”, the Congress the observations made by the four judges and the issues raised by them in the press conference and in the letter to the Chief Justice were “extremely disturbing and have far reaching consequences for the values that we hold sacred: safeguarding democracy and preserving the independence of the judiciary”.

It said the judges have specifically highlighted two issues. “The long silence of the government of India to the Memorandum of Procedure that was finalised by the Supreme Court and the assignment of cases in the Supreme Court to what is described as ‘selectively to the benches of their preference without any rational basis for such assignment’.

“In answer to a question from the media, the judges referred to the PIL concerning the death of Judge Loya, which the family of Judge Loya believes was under suspicious circumstances.”

The statement said the judges in their letter have also hinted at other instances which they will raise later.

“The press conference and the letter followed a meeting of the four judges with the Chief Justice of India this morning which, apparently, failed to resolve the issues and obliged the four judges to address a press conference.

“The Congress party is deeply perturbed by these developments. The country holds the judiciary in the highest esteem and millions of people knock on the doors of the courts seeking justice. The non-finalisation of the Memorandum of Procedure has left nearly 40 per cent of the sanctioned posts of the judges vacant, leading to delay in justice delivery.”

The statement earnestly appealed that the Full Court of the Supreme Court should take up the issues raised by the four judges and find solutions that are consistent with the traditions and conventions of the judiciary pointed out by them and that will preserve the independence of the judiciary.

“In the PIL concerning the death of Judge Loya, we believe that the matter must be entrusted to the senior most judges of the Supreme Court who should ensure that under their supervision there is a thorough and impartial investigation of the case by an independent SIT.

“In the matter of assignment of cases, the established conventions and traditions of the courts must be followed and the selective assignment of cases must be stopped forthwith. Cases that have far reaching implications to society and governance must be heard, in accordance with well established conventions, by the senior most judges of the Supreme Court.”

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Suprem Court moved challenging triple talaq ordinance

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New Delhi, Sep 26 : The Samastha Kerala Jamiathul Ulema on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2018 on the grounds that it invokes penal provisions against a class of people based on their religious identity.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2018 — commonly referred to as triple talaq ordinance — abolishes the practice of triple talaq and makes its punishable.

Founded in 1925, the Samastha Kerala Jamiathul Ulema ia a religious organisation of the Sunni Muslim scholars and clerics in Kerala.

Contending that the triple talaq ordinance is violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution, the petitioner organisation has said that it has national ramification as it has introduced penal provision punishing a class of persons based on religious identity.

The Jamiathul Ulema has contended that the ordinance is “causative of grave public mischief, which, if unchecked, may lead to polarisation and disharmony in society”.

The petitioner organisation has taken exception to the word “unabated” in the ordinance, which says that despite the Supreme Court holding the practice of triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) as unconstitutional, it is continuing “unabated”.

Describing the use of word “unabated” as “entirely whimsical”, the petitioner organisation termed it “misleading, inept and improper”.

It said that it is doubtful that anybody, including the Central government, has any idea of all-India statics on the occurrence of triple talaq across te country prior to the Supreme Court judgment.

It has contended the fact that the matter is pending before the Rajya Sabha is “reason to await the outcome of the matter, not basis to accelerate its coming into force by an emergency ordinance”.

The petitioner organisation have contended that the real thrust of the ordinance is not abolition of triple talaq but punishment of Muslim husbands.

Section 4 of the ordinance imposes a maximum sentence of three-year imprisonment when a Muslim husband pronounces triple talaq. The offence is also cognizable and non-bailable as per Section 7.

“Creation of an offence may be the prerogative of the legislature. The government is duty-bound to act reasonably and sensibly, not merely in administrative matters but also in sovereign matters,” says the petition, contending that to its knowledge, “there is no informed assessment or study that forms basis for the Central government to have created this offence”.

“Some isolated instances of the practice that have occurred after the top court judgment does not imply that a penal provision is required to be immediately enacted to prevent the practice,” the petition has contended.

Having said this, the petitioner Samastha Kerala Jamiathul Ulema has contended that the ordinance under challenge is “patently unconstitutional and has immediate propensity to deprive Muslim men and women of their fundamental rights enshrined under Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution”.

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Modi govt dedicated only 7 airports in 4 years: Congress

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Surjewala

New Delhi, Sep 25 : A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed his government dedicated 35 airports in last four years, the Congress on Tuesday described it as “new rhetoric of fake credit seeking” and said that the government had inagurated only seven airports in the last four years.

“Modiji’s ‘new jumla’ (new rhethoric) of ‘fake credit seeking’ – 35 Airports built in last four years. Total airports inaugurated in four years – seven, new airports – zero,” said Randeep Surjewala.

“Sikkim Airport was approved by Congress in October 2008, 83 per cent work completed by May 2014. Took Modiji four-and-a-half years to complete 17 per cent,” Surjewala said in a tweet.

Modi after dedicating Pakyong Airport in Sikkim on Monday attacked the previous Congress governments of neglecting the northeast and said that in the last four years his government has opened 35 new airports.

“Today, it is not only a historic day for Sikkim but also for the country. After the inauguration of the Pakyong airport, the country has got its 100th airport,” Modi had said after dedicating Pakyong Airport to the nation in Sikkim.

“After independence till 2014, we had only 65 airports. That means in 67 years they (Congress) developed only 65 airports, less than one airport in a year. But in last four years we dedicated over 35 airports. That means about nine airports every year,” Modi said.

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‘Hindutva a way of life judgement’ made political discourse lopsided: Manmohan

Singh was delivering the 2nd memorial lecture of the late Communist leader A.B. Bardhan on “Defence of Secularism and Constitution”.

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Manmohan singh

New Delhi, Sep 25 : Faulting the “famous but controversial” ‘Hindutva is a way of life’ judgement of late Justice J.S. Verma of the Supreme Court in the 1990s, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said the judiciary as an institution should never lose sight of its primary duty to protect the secular spirit of the Constitution.

This task, he said, has become much more demanding than before because the political disputes and electoral battles were increasingly getting overlaced with religious overtones, symbols, myths and prejudices.

Singh was delivering the 2nd memorial lecture of the late Communist leader A.B. Bardhan on “Defence of Secularism and Constitution”.

The former Prime Minister criticised Verma’s judgment suggesting it virtually disturbed “a kind of constitutional sanity” that was restored in the country’s political discourse through the Bommai judgment in which a nine-judge bench of Supreme Court found an opportunity to reaffirm that secularism was a basic structure of the Constitution.

He said Justice Verma’s verdict had a “decisive impact” on the ongoing debate among political parties about the principles and practices of secularism in the Republic.

“The judgment ended up making our political discourse somewhat lopsided; and, many believe that ‘there can be no doubt that the decision requires to be overruled’,” Singh said.

He said no constitutional arrangement can be protected and preserved only by the judiciary, however, vigilant or enlightened the judges may be.

“Ultimately, it comes down to the political leadership, civil society, religious leaders and intelligentsia to defend the Constitution and its secular commitments. It is necessary to remind ourselves that the framers of the Constitution in their wisdom had conceived this secular order as part of a larger, greater egalitarian polity.”

Describing the demolition of the Babri Masjid as a traumatic event bringing into disrepute India’s secular commitments, Singh said the entire political leadership too came in for criticism for failing to protect a place of worship.

“In particular, concerned citizens were deeply disappointed at the judiciary’s stance in the events leading upto the demolition,” he said.

The former Prime Minister said the country should unambiguously clear that any attempt to weaken the secular fabric of the Republic would be an attempt to dismantle the larger egalitarian project — a secular, progressive democratic polity.

The judiciary needs to arrive at its own enlightened view of its custodianship of the Constitution irrespective of the irresponsible and selfish politicians who have no qualms in injecting communal virus in the body politic, he said.

The same expectation must also be voiced in regard to the armed forces which are a splendid embodiment of the secular project.

“Our armed forces have a glorious record of keeping away from the politicians’ manipulations and intrigues. It is vitally important that the armed forces remain uncontaminated from any sectarian appeal.”

Stressing on the role of Election Commission in preserving the secular fabric, Singh said it was incumbent upon the poll panel to see that the religion and religious sentiments and prejudices do not get overworked into the election discourse.

He said the media as a democratic institution was an equal partner in upholding secularism both in letter and spirit.

CPI General Secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy said the very idea of a secular and pluralist India tolerant of all sex and religion was under severe threat under the Modi government.

He said there has been serious attacks targeted at turning the secular India into a Hindu Rashtra, tearing off the statutes of the Constitution that oppose the moves or changing the Constitution itself.

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