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Rafale, Sabarimala, Ayodhya & More : Major Events To Look Forward To After SC Reopens

Live Law News Network
30 Jun 2019 3:04 AM GMT
Rafale, Sabarimala, Ayodhya  & More : Major Events To Look Forward To After SC Reopens
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The Supreme Court will be dealing with a lot of crucial matters as it reopens on July 1 after a seven week recess.

Some of the major events to look forward to are :

Conspiracy plot against CJI in sexual harassment case

The biggest event which shook the Court shortly before summer recess was the sexual harassment allegation made against the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi by a former Court staff.

After drawing criticism for the initial procedure adopted by the Court in reacting to the allegations, the apex court later constituted an internal committee to probe the allegations, comprising Justices Bobde, Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra.  Though the complainant chose to withdraw from the proceedings, citing lack of confidence in its impartiality, the panel continued the proceedings to give a clean chit to the CJI.

It remains to be seen what course of action will be taken by the complainant against the procedure. In a related development,  the Delhi police has reinstated the husband and brother-in-law of the complainant, who were suspended from service. The complainant had alleged that the disciplinary action against them was part of the vindictive measure adopted by the CJI against her for protesting the alleged sexual advances.

Also, the outcome of the probe led by former SC judge Justice A K Patnaik into the conspiracy plot behind the allegations against the CJI will be an important event to look forward to. A special bench of Justice Arun Mishra, R F Nariman and Deepak Gupta had appointed Justice Patnaik to conduct the probe on the basis of claim made by Advocate Utsav Bains that he was approached by fixers, corporate lobbyists and disgruntled employees to frame allegations against the CJI. In the first week of June, Justice Patnaik said that more time was needed to complete the probe.

Rafale review verdict

On May 10, the last day before summer vacations, the Supreme Court had reserved orders on the review petitions filed against the December 14 verdict which had declined to order probe into the corruption allegations in the Rafale deal.

The review petitions filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan and former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie placed reliance on certain documents leaked by media in order to argue that the Government had suppressed material information from the Court regarding the deal to procure 36 fighter jets from French company Dassault. The Court also heard an application for initiating perjury proceedings against officials who had allegedly misled the Court.

On April 10, the bench of CJI Gogoi, Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph had rejected Centre's preliminary objections against examining the documents leaked by newspapers such as 'The Hindu'. The Attorney General K K Venugopal had argue that the documents were obtained without authorization and hence violated Official Secrets Act. But the bench rejected the preliminary objection, on the reasoning that illegality in obtaining evidence did not affect its admissibility in court proceedings, if they are otherwise relevant.

The bench also reserved orders in a contempt petition filed BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi against Congress president Rahul Gandhi for attributing 'chwokidar chor hain' remarks to Supreme Court in connection with its April 10 verdict. The Congress chief expressed apology for attributing the comment, and said that the remark was made in the heat of political campaigning.

Sabarimala review verdict

The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court reserved orders on review petitions in Sabarimala case after giving a full day hearing to the petitioners on February 6.

The Constitution Bench of CJI Gogoi, and Justices Khanwilkar, Nariman, Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra heard the arguments in a bunch of petition filed by the Travancore Devaswom Board, Pandalam Royal Family, and groups of devotees against the September 28 judgment, which declared right of women of all age groups to enter the temple.

They essentially argued that the practice at temple was based on the celibate character of the deity.

The petitioners also submitted that constitutional morality was a subjective test, which should not be applied in matters of faith. Religious beliefs cannot be tested on basis of rationality. The right to worship has to be exercised in consonance with the nature of deity and essential practice of the temple.They also submitted that the judgment erroneously imported the concept of "untouchability" under Article 17 to the situation of Sabarimala temple, without understanding its historical context.

Ayodhya mediation

On the closing day, the SC had extended the time for completing Ayodhya mediation till August 15.

This was on the basis of the interim report submitted by the mediation panel headed by former SC judge Justice F M Khalifulla seeking more time.

In March, the Court had referred the matter for mediation to a court appointed panel of former SC judge Justice F M Khalifullah, Sri Sri Ravi Sankar and Senior Advocate Sriram Panchu. The proceedings were directed to be held at Faizabad in UP, where the disputed site is located.

Legality of electoral bonds

Two days after the first day of poll in the recently concluded general elections, the CJI-led bench had directed political parties to submit details regarding donations received through electoral bonds in a sealed cover by May 30.

The order came in petitions filed in 2017 by political party Communist Party of India(Marxist), and NGOs Common Cause and Association for Democratic Reforms(ADR),which termed electoral bonds "an obscure funding system which is unchecked by any authority". The petitioners voiced the apprehension that the amendments to Companies Act 2013 will lead to "private corporate interests taking precedence over the needs and rights of the people of the State in policy considerations".

The Election Commission of India has filed counter-affidavit stating that the scheme was a "retrograde step as far as transparency in political funding is concerned". The ECI said that it had expressed concerns way back in May 2017 itself, immediately after the passage of the Finance Act 2017, which had brought in the crucial legislative amendments for laying the foundation for the scheme.

Application of RTI to CJI's office

The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on April 4 had reserved orders on the issue whether the office of the CJI will come under the Right to Information Act.

A five-judge Constitution bench presided by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was hearing a plea filed by the Supreme Court Secretary General against the January 2010 judgment of the Delhi High Court that declared the CJI's office a "public authority" within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005.

Few weeks before the SC notified the Constitution Bench for hearing the appeal, Live Law had highlighted that the appeal was pending in the apex court for past nine years.

Validity of Articles 370, 35A

The top court would also dealing with the PIL challenging the constitutional validity of Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and limits Parliament's power to make laws for the state. The top court would also be dealing a host of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A, which provides special rights and privileges to natives of Jammu and Kashmir.


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