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Only CJI is ‘Master of Rolls’, says SC bench, annuls order by Justice Chelameswar bench

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New Delhi, Nov 10 : In an unusual order, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Friday annulled an order by the Justice J. Chelameswar-led bench for the setting up of a five-judge constitution bench to hear an alleged bribery case involving a retired Orissa High Court judge, saying the CJI is the “Master of Rolls” who can assign cases and direct composition of benches.

Issuing the order, a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra cited a 1998 order of the apex court that held that the Chief Justice of a High Court will be the Master of Rolls and assign cases to different benches.

The Justice Misra-headed bench said any order contrary to the 1998 judgement would be inactive in law and shall not be binding.

Extending the same principle, the bench said Chief Justice of India is the “Master of Rolls” in the top court and any order passed by any bench assigning any matter to itself or directing the composition of benches won’t be binding.

The order came a day after the two-judge bench led by Justice Chelameswar, the senior-most judge after the Chief Justice of India, ordered the setting up of a five-judge bench to hear on Monday a corruption case involving former Orissa High Court judge, I.M. Quddusi.

Quddusi, an Orissa High Court judge between 2004 and 2010, is alleged to have helped a private medical college to admit students to MBBS courses despite the Supreme Court barring the institutes from doing so.

The judge was arrested in September and is lodged in Tihar Jail here after CBI accused him of guiding the private medical college and assuring its management of favourable settlement of their cases in the Supreme Court.

A petition filed by Supreme Court advocate Kamini Jaiswal on Thursday sought an investigation into the case by a court-monitored Special Investigation Team. The petition was taken up for hearing by the bench headed by Justice Chelameswar.

Jaiswal’s petition was filed even as a plea by the NGO Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms seeking a similar probe in the case was already listed before the bench headed by Justice A.K. Sikri.

The court said the two petitions will be heard by an appropriate bench after two weeks and there will be no more hearing in the case till then.

Earlier, the Court took exception to the manner in which a second petition was filed, and was heard by another bench.

Taking exception to the manner the second petition was filed and entertained by the bench headed by Justice J. Chelameswar, the bench of Justice Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan asked advocate Prashant Bhushan as to what was the urgency.

Making it clear that they were not underestimating the seriousness of the matter, the court in its order said that let the appropriate order be passed to tag the petition by the NGO Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms with the one by advocate Kamini Jaiswal, which was referred to a five-judges constitution bench on Thursday by the bench of Justice Chelameswar and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer.

Pleading ignorance about the second petition that was filed by Kamini Jaiswal, Bhushan said that since the allegations were in respect of the matter heard by the bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, he should not have exercised his administrative and judicial authority.

Referring to the FIR filed by the CBI in the matter, Bhushan said, “Whole conspiracy was to bribe the bench hearing the (medical college) matter”. At this, Justice Sikri said that whether the Chief Justice should have dealt with the matter or stayed away should have been left to him.

“The request that the Chief Justice should not deal with the matter should have been made to him. He should have decided,” said Justice Sikri.

Expressing its displeasure, the court on Friday allowed the Supreme Court Bar Association to implead itself in the matter before the five-judges bench.

The matter relates to the CBI investigation into a Orissa High Court judge assuring a Lucknow-based medical college set up by a trust to get round the court order not to admit students for two academic years – 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.

IANS

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Suprem Court moved challenging triple talaq ordinance

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triple talaq-and-modi

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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