SC appoints ex-judge A.K. Patnaik to probe against CJI

SC appoints ex-judge A.K. Patnaik to probe ‘larger conspiracy’ against CJI

The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday appointed its former judge, Justice A.K. Patnaik to probe whether a conspiracy is afoot against the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi.Justice A.K. Patnaik.

Justice Patnaik has been tasked to unearth whether the CJI is the target of a larger intrigue hatched by a powerful lobby of fixers, disgruntled apex court employees and corporate figures to compromise the highest judiciary itself.

The enquiry would primarily focus on material and affidavits provided by lawyer Utsav Singh Bains that claimed some former staffers of the court, influential peddlers and corporate entities have ganged up against Chief Justice Gogoi to frame him in a false case. Justice Patnaik would test Mr. Bains’ claim that he was approached by a person called ‘Ajay’ in early April. He was offered up to Rs. 1.5 crore to file a false case against the CJI. This man, the lawyer said, claimed to be a relative of the former apex court staffer who has levelled sexual harassment allegation against the CJI.

IB, CBI, Delhi Police chiefs to assist

A Special Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra ordered the chiefs of the CBI, the Intelligence Bureau and the Delhi Police to assist Justice Patnaik, who has to complete his investigation and file a report in a sealed cover before the Bench.

Incidentally, Justice Patnaik was in the news after a Bench led by Chief Justice Gogoi appointed him on October 26, 2018 to supervise the 14-day CVC inquiry into allegations of graft and misconduct against former CBI Director Alok Verma.

In a passionate outburst of indignation, Justice Mishra said there were rich and powerful people who thought they could bludgeon and blackmail the court into submission, but little did they know that they were playing with fire.

Justice Mishra’s words came at the end of an hour-long hearing into Mr. Bains’ affidavit that said he has proof of a powerful lobby of fixers, some disgruntled employees and corporate figures at work to frame the CJI. “This country must know the truth. The Supreme Court cannot be run by money power or political power. When somebody tries to clean up the system, he is killed or maligned. This will stop,” Justice Mishra said.

SG asked not to interfere

The court asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta not to interfere when he sought a special investigation team probe into Mr. Bains’ allegations. “Leave it to us… We want to tell the rich and the powerful of this country that you cannot play with fire… That you are playing with fire when you play with this court… What do the powerful of this country think? That they can run this court?” Justice Mishra’s voice boomed across the thickly-packed but silent courtroom.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising voiced her apprehensions about leaving the probe into Mr. Bains’ allegations to the government. “Don’t provoke us anymore… This is your institution, not ours. We, judges, come and ago. This is the court made by the likes of Fali Nariman, Nani Palkhiwala and K. Parasaran… But every other day we hear of bench-fixing, every day wrong practices are made in the court… Whenever we start hearing a big case, letters are written… Whenever big cases or big persons are involved, this happens in this court… People are trying to this court, its registry with money power… So many things are going on,” Justice Mishra retorted.

Indira Jaising’s plea

Ms. Jaising said as a stakeholder in and officer of the court she urged the Bench to “probe the credentials of this person [Utsav Bains]”. “My Lords have to see if he has come to the court with clean hands,” she said.

Ms. Jaising also voiced her concern about whether the probe into the ‘larger conspiracy’ would consume the allegations raised by the woman against the CJI. Her allegations were being examined separately by a committee of three apex court judges. “Your Lordships cannot investigate her defence,” she submitted.

Justice Mishra responded, “This Bench will not enquire into her allegations. Our job is to find out if somebody approached Utsav Bains to file a false case; whether they are two former Supreme Court employees or others; whether there are fixers involved; whether a conspiracy was hatched after bench-fixing attempt failed.”

Justice Mishra, however, added that if the allegations against the woman were proved, then she would seem to have no defence. “”Mr. Bains does not know this Ajay… He may not be a brother of the woman complainant… We do not know what will come out of all this, but we will find out the truth,” he said. The case would now be listed after Justice Patnaik files his report in the court.


Alok Verma case: Full text of Supreme Court judgment

Alok Verma case: Full text of Supreme Court judgment 

A three-judge Supreme Court Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday set aside the “overnight” divestment of Alok Verma as CBI Director on the intervening night of October 23-24, saying statute empowers neither the State nor the Central Vigilance Commission to hamper with the tenure of the CBI chief.

Read the judgment in PDF

-JANUARY 08, 2019 /Supreme Court /New Delhi

Adultery no longer a criminal offence: SC

Adultery no longer a criminal offence: SC 

Allowed sexual autonomy of wife and husband within marriage

A five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Thursday scrapped the pre-Independence provision of adultery in the Indian Penal Code, which treats a married woman as a commodity owned by her husband.

Section 497 (adultery) gives a husband the exclusive right to prosecute his wife’s lover. If found guilty, the adulterer faces five years behind bars.

A similar right is not conferred on a wife to prosecute the woman with whom her husband has committed adultery. Secondly, the provision does not confer any right on the wife to prosecute her husband for adultery.Further, Section 497 the law does not take into account cases where the husband has sexual relations with an unmarried woman.

Chief Justice Misra, in an opinion for himself and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, held that criminalising adultery is “absolutely, manifestly arbitrary and unconstitutional”.

Adultery may not be the cause of an unhappy marriage, but a result after all. It will be tantamount to punishing people who live in an unhappy marriage, Chief Justice Misra observed.

“Attaching criminality to adultery is going too far… a retrogade step,” the CJI wrote. Of course, adultery can be a ground for a civil remedy – dissolution of marriage, the Chief Justice wrote.

Justice Rohinton F. Nariman said Section 497  is based on a chauvnistic notion. This is clear from the fact that the cuckolded husband’s connivance removes the element of criminality in an adulterous relationship.

The archaic provision — over 150-years old —  is a relic of the past, brought in much before the Constitution introduced the fundamental rights of equality, liberty and dignity. Women are treated as “chattel” of the husband. A law founded on the “ancient” notiom of man as seducer and woman as his victim needs to be thrown out, Justice Nariman said in no uncertain terms, concurring with the main opinion of the Chief Justice.

Justice Chandrachud bats for sexual autonomy of women within marriage

In his separate opinion, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud championed the sexual autonomy of women within marriage.

Partners in marriage should have respect for each other’s sexual autonomy. This respect blooms from the respect for each other, Justice Chandrachud observed.

A woman has sexual autonomy within marriage. Marriage does not mean ceding  autonomy of one to the other. Ability to make sexual choices is essential to human liberty. Even within private zones, an individual should be allowed her choice.

Society imposes impossible virtues on a woman. Raises her to a pedestal. Confines her to spaces. Treats her as objects capable of being punished and says she should be pure, but has no qualms to rape her, assault her, commit female foeticide, discriminate against her within a home, Justice Chandrachud admonished.

His concurring opinion transcended from a mere quashing of Section 497 to a judicial document on the discursive struggle of women against patriarchy. One of the headings is ‘The Good Wife’ who has no reason to complain even if her husband has a relationship with another woman.

“Husband is not the master,” Chief Justice Misra observed.

Doctrine of Coverture not recognised by the Constitution: Justice Indu Malhotra

Justice Indu Malhotra, reading her opinion the last on the Bench, held that Section 497 based on the Doctrine of Coverture, which holds that a woman loses her identity and legal right with marriage, is violative of her fundamental rights. This doctrine is not recognised by the Constitution

Any law which affects individual dignity, equity of women in a civilised society invites the wrath of the Constitution… a woman’s individual dignity cannot be treated as an annexe to the main building.

“Dignity of woman is an ancient concept,” Chief Justice Misra observed. The Centre wants adultery to continue in the Indian Penal Code as it ensures the sanctity of the marriage and is for public good.

The judgment comes on a petition filed by a Kerala based man, Joseph Shine, represented by advocates Kaleeswaram Raj and M.S. Suvidutt, seeking a declaration of Section 497 as unconstitutional.


Supreme Court; Allocation of cases is CJI’s prerogative

 Supreme Court: Allocation of cases is CJI’s prerogative

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) is a high constitutional office entrusted with the duty to constitute Benches and allocate cases for the smooth dispensation of justice by the Supreme Court, the court held in a judgment on Wednesday while dismissing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by Asok Pande for a transparent and codified procedure for constitution of Benches and allocation of cases in the court.
Supreme CourtThe office of the CJI is an institution in itself, the judgment by a Bench,  also comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and A.M. Khanwilkar, observed.

Pronouncing the judgment on behalf of the Bench, Justice Chandrachud said, “There cannot be a presumption of distrust against the Chief Justice of India in his exclusive prerogative, granted by the Constitution, to set up Benches and allocate cases to judges.”

Second declaration

This is the second time the court has declared the CJI as the master of roster. On both occasions, Chief Justice Misra headed the Benches.  This time, the court said the question should be put to rest finally with Wednesday’s judgment.

Mr. Pande’s petition came up for hearing almost immediately after the Supreme Court’s number two judge, Justice Jasti Chelameswar, attacked the Chief Justice of India’s discretionary powers to constitute Benches and allocate cases.

A Bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud dismissed a PIL plea seeking framing of guidelines for allocation of cases

“Unfettered power is being exercised by the Chief Justices in the matter of formation of Benches, and so, the same is liable to be regulated through specific Rules,” the petition contended.

It said specific provisions should be incorporated in the Supreme Court Rules of 2013 that the three-judge Bench in the Chief Justice of India’s court should consist only of the Chief Justice of India and the court’s two senior-most judges. That is, in the present scenario, Chief Justice Misra and Justices Chelameswar and Ranjan Gogoi.

The petition demanded that the Constitution Bench of the court should consist of the five senior most judges — the CJI, Justices Chelameswar, Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph — or a combination of the three senior-most and two junior-most judges. That would be the CJI, Justices Chelameswar and Gogoi followed by Justices Navin Sinha and Deepak Gupta.

Justices Chelameswar and Gogoi – who is the next in line as CJI under the seniority norm, Lokur and Kurian, at a press conference held on January 12, accused the recent trend of CJIs selectively allocating cases to preferred Benches.

“Subject-wise roster” of cases

Subsequently, Chief Justice Misra published a “subject-wise roster” of cases to be handled by the Supreme Court judges. However, the roster did not ease criticism. As proof, Justice Chelameswar, responding to a question why all the important cases continue to be heard by Chief Justice Misra, responded rather drily: “He is the master of roster… If he [CJI Misra] has the energy to do the entire work, let him do it”.

Mr. Pande’s petition follows an earlier petition filed by former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan for a declaration that the authority of the CJI as ‘master of roster’ should not be reduced to an absolute, singular and arbitrary power.

Mr. Bhushan had specifically asked the Supreme Court Registry not to place his petition before a Bench of which Chief Justice Misra is a part of.


Unaccounted flow of funds to NGOs a ‘major problem’: SC

Unaccounted flow of funds to NGOs a ‘major problem’: SC

Noting that a lack of law to regulate the “mind-boggling” funds NGOs get annually is a “major problem”, the Supreme Court on Wednesday stepped in to consider directing the Law Commission of India to recommend the Centre to frame an effective law to control and watch the flow of money to a total 29.99 lakh NGOs functioning in the country.


“This is a major problem. They are getting money from all over the world. Mind-boggling…” Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur observed.

The Bench, also comprising Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, appointed senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi as amicus curiae to assist it in finding a way to deal with the issue and, if necessary, refer to the Law Commission.

“This is a major problem. They are getting money from all over the world. Mind-boggling…” Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur observed.

Advocate M.L. Sharma, who filed the petition, submitted that 80 per cent of the NGOs get foreign funds. He claimed that “retired government employees and politicians run these NGOs drawing on their influence.”

“We can refer to the Law Commission to bring a law to control the NGOs… at least for the future, we want to know whether we can do some exercise to regulate these organisations,” Chief Justice Thakur observed, posting the case for urgent hearing on Monday next.

Advocate M.L. Sharma, who filed the petition, submitted that 80 per cent of the NGOs get foreign funds. He claimed that “retired government employees and politicians run these NGOs drawing on their influence.”

To this, the CJI reacted: “What is an NGO? Anyone can register a society and it becomes an NGO… There is no legal brainwork done at the Central level to control them. Unless some mechanism is put in place centrally, nothing can be done”.

NEW DELHI, September 14, 2016

No evaluation applications for appointment of judges

Chief Justice of India’s no to panel to evaluate applications for appointment of judges

The Chief Justice of India has rejected the government’s move to put in place a committee of retired judges to evaluate the applications of candidates for appointment of judges before forwarding them to the collegium to decide whether to recommend their names for elevation or appointment as judges.

CJI T S Thakur expressed his reservations over the clause in the revised draft memorandum of procedure (MoP) when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who headed the Group of Ministers which drafted the MoP, and Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda met him at his residence on Wednesday evening.

appointment of Judges

Parliament had enacted the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act to do away with the over two-decade old collegium system where judges appoint judges. The law was struck down by the apex court on October 16 last year.

A Supreme Court bench, while deciding on ways to make the collegium system more transparent, had asked the Centre to redraft the MoP in consultation with the states.

The MoP is a document which guides the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the 24 high courts. At present, there are two MoPs — one for the apex court and the other for the high courts.

The government had sent the MoP to the SC collegium in March. The CJI had returned the document in May raising objections to the various clauses.

Wednesday’s meeting was aimed at narrowing down the differences between the executive and the judiciary on MoP.

At the meeting, Justice Thakur said the committee of retired judges to evaluate the applications by candidates for appointment was unacceptable, highly placed source said.

The government wanted the proposed committee to evaluate the experience of aspirants in detail before making recommendations to the collegium for taking a final call.

One committee was proposed at the Supreme Court level and 24 others for each of the high courts.

While the government and the collegium were on the same page on having secretariats in high courts to process judicial appointments, the judiciary had earlier opposed defining the role of the proposed secretariat. At the meeting, however, there was an agreement on defining the role and functions of the secretariat.

– 03 July 2016 | PTI | New Delhi

Think of harsher punishment for child rape accused: SC

Think of harsher punishment for child rape accused: SC

The Supreme Court on Monday said parliament may think of formulating laws providing for harsher punishment for those accused of rape and abuse of minor children.
An apex court bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said this while hearing a petition filed by Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association seeking castration of child rape convicts.
The bench told the petitioner’s lawyer Mahalakshmi Pavani that emotions and sentiments could not be a basis for framing of laws for providing stringent punishment for convicts.
The court noted Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s submission that law-making power was within the domain of parliament and the same could not be exercised by courts.
-11 January 2016 | IANS | New Delhi

December 16 Delhi rape case; SC rejects plea against release of juvenile

December 16 Delhi rape case; SC rejects plea against release of juvenile

The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea of DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal against the release of the juvenile offender in the December 16 gang rape case, saying “there has to be a clear legislative sanction” in this regard.
“If anything has to be done, it has to be done according to the law. We have to enforce the law,” a vacation bench comprising justices A K Goel and U U Lalit said while refusing to entertain the plea of Maliwal filed in her official capacity as Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chief.
The bench did not agree with the submission that the juvenile offender can be subjected to the reformation process for a further period of two years under the juvenile law.
“Will we not taking away somebody’s right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. There is nothing in the law to provide that,” the bench said when the counsel for DCW cited provisions to drive home the point that the delinquent juvenile can be allowed to go through the further reformation process.
At the outset, the counsel for DCW assailed the order of the Delhi High Court order saying that it did not consider the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
He said that the juvenile, who is in conflict with the law, has to undergo the reformation process and there is an Intelligence Bureau report which indicates to the contrary and that the juvenile has been rather radicalised further.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Centre, supported the DCW’s submissions saying that the juvenile can be kept under observation till such time the reformation process is on.
“You are supporting them without making the law,” the bench said, adding, “There must be some legislative sanction behind it. In no case it can get extended.”
“We share your concern, but cannot do anything without legislative sanction,” the bench further said, adding that the period cannot be extended beyond three years.
In an order on the intervening night of December 19-20, the Supreme Court had refused the move of DCW to stay the juvenile’s release by giving an urgent hearing. In its order pronounced at 2 AM, the apex court vacation bench had posted the matter for hearing for today.
The juvenile, who is now 20-years-old and was known to be the most brutal of the attackers, was released yesterday and sent to an NGO.
The Special Leave Petition filed by DCW against the order of the Delhi High Court, which refused to restrain the release of the convict, was referred by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur before the vacation bench of the apex court.
Lawyers opposing the release of the juvenile offender, including senior advocate Guru Krishna Kumar and Devdutt Kamath, had rushed to Justice Goel’s residence at around 1.30 AM after Maliwal was told by the court’s Registrar that the matter has been assigned to the vacation bench.
The grounds taken in the appeal against the high court order say that no mental assessment of the state of mind of the juvenile convict had been taken into account while taking the decision to release him.
Six persons, including the juvenile, had brutally assaulted and raped a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012. The victim had died in a Singapore hospital on December 29, 2012.
Mukesh, Vinay, Pawan and Akshay were awarded death penalty by the trial court in the gang rape and murder case which was later confirmed by the Delhi High Court. Their appeals are pending before the Supreme Court.
Accused Ram Singh had allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail on March 11, 2013, and proceedings against him were abated following his death.
-21 December 2015 | PTI | New Delhi

SC invokes Constitutional powers to appoint Justice Virendra Singh as UP Lokayukta

SC invokes Constitutional powers to appoint Justice Virendra Singh as UP Lokayukta
“The failure of Constitutional functionaries to comply with the orders of the highest court of the land is deeply regretted and astonishing,” a Supreme Court bench said on Tuesday before appointing former High Court judge Justice Virendra Singh as the Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh.

The Court exercises its right under Article 142 of the Constitution to make the appointment while regretting that its several orders have not been “heeded” by the Constitutional functionaries — the Chief Minister, the leader of opposition and the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court.

In an unusual order, the Supreme Court on Wednesday exercised its Constitutional authority and appointed former High Court judge, Justice Virendra Singh, as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh after the State government failed to comply with its directives.

In an embarrassment for the Samjwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh, the bench examined a list of nominees and ordered the appointment.

“The failure of Constitutional functionaries to comply with the orders of the highest court of the land is deeply regretted and astonishing,” a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, adding, “We, therefore, proceed to exercise our right under Article 142 of the Constitution to remedy the situation by passing an appropriate order.”

The Court said that it appoints Justice Singh as Lokayukta and asked the State government to file a report by December 20, 2015 indicating compliance of its order.

The bench regretted that its several orders have not been “heeded” by the Constitutional functionaries — the Chief Minister, the leader of opposition and the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court.

In the forenoon, the bench took strong note of the submission of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the State government, that though it had shortlisted five names but no consensus has been arrived at on a specific person.

The bench then asked Mr. Sibal to provide the names by 12.30 p.m. on Wednesday itself and said, “We know how to get our orders complied with”.

The law provides that a high-powered committee of the Chief Minister, the leader of the opposition and the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court together appoints the chief of the State ombudsman.

Earlier on December 14, the apex court had rapped the U.P. government for not appointing the Lokayukta in the State despite its directions, saying it seemed that appointing authorities have their “own agenda”.

The bench was hearing the pleas filed by Mahendra Kumar Jain and lawyer Radhakant Tripathi seeking a direction to the State to appoint the Lokayukta at the earliest in pursuance of the Supreme Court orders.

-PTI, NEW DELHI, December 16, 2015

Appoint priests as per ‘Agama Sastra’: Supreme Court

Appoint priests as per ‘Agama Sastra’: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that restrictions in ‘Agama sastras’ does not violate right to equality enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution.

A bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said appointment of archakas in temples following ‘Agama Sastra’ — rituals of individual temples concerned — will continue.

In 1971, the then DMK government under Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi amended the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious Endowments Act to abolish the concept of hereditary appointments for priests (archakas) in temples in the State. The amendment was challenged in the Supreme Court, which took the side of the government.

In its judgment in the Seshammal case, a Constitution bench of the apex court held that appointment ofArchakas was a “secular function” and abolished “next-in-line succession” appointments. However, the court also made it clear that appointments so made, even if they are non-hereditary, should conform to the “usage” prevalent in the said temple. If the “usage” was that Archakas were appointed from a given “denomination, sect or group”, this had to be followed.

Critics said this translated into priest appointments again getting restricted to the community of Brahmins for several subsequent decades. A committee formed by the State government, in fact, said the Seshammal case had been misunderstood.

In May 2006, the DMK government took up the issue of priests appointments yet again. Relying on a 2002 judgement in the Adhithayan case, where the apex court held that there was no justification for insisting that persons of a particular caste alone could conduct temple rituals, the State issued a GO making any person with “requisite qualification and training” eligible for appointment.

The GO and the ordinance that followed were challenged by the Adi Saiva Sivacharyargal Nala Sangam.

The story so far
1971 The DMK government amends TN HR & CE Act to abolish hereditary appointment of priests and allow all, irrespective of caste, to become priests.
2002 The Supreme Court delivers judgement in the Adhithayan Case. Says no justification in implementing caste.
2006 DMK government issues fresh GO making all persons with “requisite qualification” eligible for appointment as priests. Order challenged again in Supreme Court.
May 2015 Supreme Court reserves judgement
Dec 2015 Supreme Court strikes down 2006 order, says priests can be appointed only as per the Agama Sastras

NEW DELHI, December 16, 2015