Institutional integrity of Supreme Court

Amritananda Chakravorty Mihir Samson

i. SC Dismisses Plea Which Questioned Delay In MOP And Appointments Of Judges Before It’s Finalisation – The Supreme Court dismissed a petition, which sought an explanation from the Centre for the delay in finalizing the memorandum of procedure (MOP) for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courtsand which also questioned continuing appointments even when the MOP had not been finalised.The petition was earlier listed before the bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, who though dismissed the prayer challenging the judicial appointments, had asked the Attorney General to appear and explain the delay in finalising the MOP. In an unusual instance, the matter was listed before CJI who noted that this was a matter to be dealt with administratively, andthat there was no merit in challenge to the appointment of judges of this Court and the High Courts. The Supreme Court then dismissed the petition.[R.P. Luthra v Union of India, Ministry of Law and Justice, Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) Nos.28662-28663/2017, date of order: 08.11.2017

ii. Notice issued in case challenging Jallikattu statute – The Supreme Court has again issued notice in a petition filed by PETA India challenging the bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu – Jallikattu. Earlier, the Court had banned the sport as being violative of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, since it involved taming of bulls by inflicting cruelty on them. The State then introduced the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017 and certain state amendments to the central act to allow the continuation of the sport, which are being challenged in the current petition. The petitioner has placed photographic evidence of the ill-treatment to the bulls in the sport and claimed that the continuation of the sport violates the rights of animals to be treated with dignity and without cruelty. [PETA v Tamil Nadu, Writ Petition (Civil) 1011/2017, date of order: 06.11.2017]

iii. Order in the Jindal Law School rape case stayed - The Supreme Court has allowed an appeal and alsostayed the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court suspending the sentence awarded to the three students from Jindal Global Law School. They were convicted for blackmailing and gang raping a student of the same University for two years. In the impugned order, the High Court had suspended the sentence, while casting aspersions on the victim’s testimony, which apparently made the entire incident appear like a casual relationship gone awry and does not show any “gut wrenching violence” which accompanies such incidents. [Ms. X v Haryana, Special Leave Petition (Criminal) D32720/2017, date of order: 06.11.2017]

iv. Siddharth Luthra and R. Basant appointed as amicus curiae to frame uniform guidelines in criminal trials –The Supreme Court appointed Sidharth Luthra and R.Basant, Senior Advocates as amicus curiae in a matter taking cognizance on the issue of ‘inadequacies and deficiencies in criminal trial’. While arguing a batch of criminal appeals relating to a political murder from Kerala, R. Basant had pointed out certain common inadequacies and deficiencies in the course of trial.He had suggested that in the interests of better administration of criminal justice and to usher in a certain amount of uniformity, the Apex Court could formulate certain guidelines. Accordingly, the Court appointed the two lawyers as amicus to assist the Court. [In Re: To Issue Certain Guidelines Regarding Inadequacies And Deficiencies In Criminal Trials v State of Andhra Pradesh, Sou Moto Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 1/2017, date of order: 07.11.2017]

v. Petitioner asked to approach Minority Commission for minority status for Hindus -The Supreme Court has asked the petitioner in a PIL seeking minority status for Hindus in eight states to approach the National Commission for Minorities. The bench expressed its inability to pass such orders and explained that the decision could only be taken by the Commission. The petitioner had argued that the minority commission takes decisions which have nation-wide impact, a decision effecting just eight states could be taken by the Supreme Court, which was rejected. The Petition was thereafter  withdrawn. [Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) 1064/2017, date of order: 10.11.2017]

vi. SC perused “confidential reports” in Karti Case in open court – The Supreme Court examined the documents submitted in a sealed cover by the CBI in the open court to allay any apprehension of Karti Chidambaramand others facing probe regarding irregularities in FIPB clearance given to INX Media Ltd. The ASG had been asked to present the documents by 9 November, who had claimed that it would be travesty of justice if the court did not see the papers and form an opinion. After perusing the documents, the court decided that the documents wouldbe returned to the ASG. [Central Bureau of Investigation v Karti P Chidambaram, Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No(s).20699-20700/2017, dated 06.11.2017 and 09.11.2017]

vii. Jaypee asked to submit “substantial amount” to prove bona fide - The Supreme Court has refused the request by Jaypee Industries to deposit Rs 400 cr with its registry as against Rs 2000 cr, as directed by the Court earlier. The Company claimed that no company possesses such a large amount of liquid capital to which the Supreme Court responded by stating that a substantial amount would have to be submitted. The Company has been advised to deposit Rs.1000 cr by November 13. Jaypee is facing insolvency proceedings and has been asked to deposit the sum and has asked an IRP to take over the company.

viii. High Court condemns marital rape ¬– The Gujarat High Court questioned the legality of marital rape, while hearing a case filed by a woman against her husband on allegations of having been forced into performing oral sex under Section 377, IPC. The question before the Court is whether a wife can initiate action against her husband for the statutory offence of unnatural sex, though marital rape is exempt under Section 375, IPC. While issuing notice in the matter, the Judge remarked that the prevalence of marital rape is disgraceful and has scarred the trust in the institution of marriage [Nimeshbhai Bharatbhai Desai v State of Gujarat, Criminal Miscellaneous Application No. 26957 of 2017, date of order: 06.11.2017] (IPA/Concluded)

Sunday, 19 November, 2017