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SC rejects plea for SIT probe, says image of top court damaged

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New Delhi, Nov 14: The Supreme Court on Tuesday junked a petition, terming it as “scandalous”, for seeking an SIT probe into the allegations of graft involving a retired Orissa High Court judge and observed that the whole controversy has damaged the image of the top judiciary and created doubts about its integrity.

“Unnecessary doubts about the integrity of the institution have been created,” the bench of R.K. Agrawal, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar observed, as it deprecated the petition by lawyer Kamini Jaiswal.

Observing that nobody, including the judges of the top court, were above law, Justice Mishra pronouncing the judgment also said ‘No’ to contempt against the lawyers – Prashant Bhushan and Jaiswal – with a hope that “all will unitedly work for the welfare of the institution (top court)”.

Saying that “none of us” in the higher echelons was above law, the court said, “It is the duty of both the Bar and the Bench, to protect the dignity of the entire judicial system”.

“We find that filing of such petitions and the zest with which it is pursued, has brought the entire system in the last few days to unrest. An effort was made to create ripples in this court; serious and unwanted shadow of doubt has been created for no good reason whatsoever by way of filing the petition which was wholly scandalous and ought not to have been filed in such a method and manner. It is against the settled proposition of law,” said Justice Mishra speaking for the bench.

In case “majesty of our judicial system” has to survive, the court said that such kind of petitions should not have been preferred that too against the settled proposition of law laid down by this court.

Regretting that “unnecessary” aspersions were cast without proper verification of the facts, the court took a dim view of the plea for recusal of Justice Khanwilkar from the bench on the grounds that he along with Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had heard the matter relating to a Lucknow-based private medical college linked to the admission scam.

Saying that it was “far fetched and too tenuous” that any judge of this court, much less Justice Khanwilkar, has any interest in the subject matter before them, the court said: “There is no room for reasonable suspicion even in remote, and the argument is simply too derogatory to be made, probably that has been made anyhow, for somehow to protect the case and to bring disrepute to this court.”

“We cannot fall prey to such unscrupulous devices adopted by the litigants, so as to choose the benches, as that is a real threat to the very existence of the system itself and it would be denigrated in case we succumb to such pressure tactics,” the judgment said.

Pointing to the scenarios created by two petitions as “disturbing”, which has “unnecessarily brought into disrepute” the entire judiciary for “no good cause whatsoever”, the court said: “It passes comprehension, how it was that the petitioner presumed, that there is an FIR lodged against any public functionary.”

Referring to averment that FIR was against the highest judicial functionaries, the court said, “We do not find reflection of any name of the Judge of this Court in the FIR.”

Recalling its earlier judgment, the court said, “There is no question of registering any FIR against any sitting Judge of the High Court or of this Court as it is not permissible as per the law laid down by a Constitution Bench.”

IANS

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J&K: Ceasefire violation by Pakistan in RS Pura & Akhnoor sectors

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Pakistan again on Saturday violated  Ceasefire in RS Pura & Akhnoor sectors of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan is continuously violating the cease-fire since last few days.  Almost four civilians and two Jawans lost their lives in the ceasefire violation by Pakistan in last two days. More Details Awaited.

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Reopening of Loya case inconvenient for BJP 

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 The case relating to the death of B.H. Loya, the judge who was investigating an alleged extra-judicial killing in Gujarat in which Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah was implicated, is the second legal hurdle which the party is facing.

It crossed the first one with relative ease, but it remains to be seen whether the party will be able to do so this time. The first hurdle was posed by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) inquiry into the incidents of mob violence during the Gujarat riots of 2002.

The SIT, headed by a former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director, R.K. Raghavan, and acting under the Supreme Court’s supervision, exonerated Narendra Modi, who was the state’s Chief Minister at the time of the outbreak.

However, a Vadodara resident, Prof. J.S. Bandukwala, a Muslim human rights activist, who was nearly killed in the riots, expressed doubts about the fairness of the acquittal while the court’s amicus curiae, Raju Ramachandran, said that several “offences” could have been made out against Modi. Raghavan has recently been appointed High Commissioner to Cyprus.

In the latest case, too, Loya’s successor as a CBI judge exonerated Amit Shah. But the case hasn’t been closed like the earlier one because of the doubts that have been expressed about the factors that may have been responsible for the judge’s death of a heart attack. One of the factors is said to be the considerable stress which the judge was experiencing while handling the high-profile lawsuit.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Judge Loya’s death was one of the reasons behind the decision of four senior Supreme Court judges to go public with their various complaints against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, including one about the allocation of this particular litigation to a “junior” judge.

Dismayed over the imputation, the judge in question has now requested the Chief Justice to let another judge handle the case. But whoever hears it from now on, it will not only be a long-drawn process but also carried out in the full glare of publicity because of the huge public and media interest that has been aroused about it.

Judge Loya’s death had remained mostly in the background till a reference was made to it by one of the four dissenting judges and a report in a magazine a few days ago quoted one of the late judge’s relatives to suggest foul play in his sudden death at the relatively early age of 48. There was also talk about an offer of Rs 100 crore to him.

None of this is likely to be relished by the BJP. The reason is that, for one, the focus will continue to be relentlessly on its president, reputedly the second-most powerful man in the country, and, for another, at least two deaths will be closely scrutinised, especially by the prosecuting lawyers — those of Judge Loya in 2014 and of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, who died in the fake shootout nine years earlier. His wife and a companion also died unnatural deaths.

In the case about the latter’s death, Amit Shah was also an accused but was given a clean chit by then Supreme Court Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, who is now the Governor of Kerala.

Clearly, it is a messy situation which will be grist to the mills of both the media and of the BJP’s political opponents if only because, suddenly, out of the blue, the conditions in Gujarat in the aftermath of the riots will once again come into the limelight along with questions about the kind of pressure which Justice Loya may have faced since the staged shootouts, though not uncommon in India, are not a natural event.

For the BJP, the reopening of the case hasn’t come at a convenient time. The party is facing a series of elections during the year, including in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where the anti-incumbency factor is likely to undermine its prospects. Having narrowly escaped defeat in Gujarat, the party will be nervous about the possibility of suffering further setbacks in the three states.

As is known, the party is heavily dependent on the Prime Minister to draw the crowds and on the party President to keep the organisational machine well oiled. If the latter’s reputation comes under a cloud, his clout is bound to be diminished.

That the Congress saw the opportunity to use the situation to gain political mileage was evident from Rahul Gandhi’s call for a high-level probe into Judge Loya’s death within hours of the press conference by the four judges.

While the BJP’s awareness of the damaging potential for the party of the developing situation has made it generally moderate its responses, the party’s myriad trolls have shown no such restraint, describing the dissenting judges as the “Gang of Four” and demanding their impeachment.

Surprisingly, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary has echoed the Hindutva netizens by describing what the judges did as a political conspiracy while the BJP’s uneasy ally, the Shiv Sena, has taken the opposite view by saying that the ruling party at the Centre wants the judiciary to be deaf and dumb. The scene could not be murkier.

By Amulya Ganguli (IANS) 

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Sohrabuddin Case: Lawyers moved to Court against CBI’s decision to not challenge discharge of Amit Shah

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Sohrabuddin with his wife (File Photo)

A Mumbai based lawyers’ association on Friday moved to Bombay High Court to file a plea against the CBI’s decision to not challenge a lower court order discharging BJP president Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh fake encounter case.

According to news agency PTI, the lawyers’ association termed CBI’s decision to not challenge the December 30, 2014, order passed by a court here discharging Shah as ‘illegal, arbitrary and malafide’. The plea also requested Bombay High Court to direct CBI to file a revision application challenging the sessions court’s order discharging Shah.

The petitioner’s lawyer Ahmad Abidi said the plea would be mentioned before a division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharti Dangre on January 22.

In a related development, another judge of the high court today issued notices to the CBI and the accused in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh case on two petitions filed by journalists against the trial court’s ban on the reporting the proceedings.

Justice Revati Mohite-Dere will hear the petitions on January 23.

The CBI today told the high court that its stand on the issue was “neutral”.

Gangster Sohrabuddin Shaikh, who the Gujarat police claimed was also a terrorist, was killed in an alleged fake encounter by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police in 2005. His wife Kausar Bi disappeared and was alleged to have been eliminated by police. Shaikh’s associate Tulsi Prajapati was also later killed in an alleged fake encounter.

With Inputs From PTI 

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