CBI to investigate death of Sushant Singh Rajput.

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Jurisdiction of Bihar Police:

Having regard to the law enunciated by this Court as noted above,it must be held that the Patna police committed no illegality in registering the Complaint. Looking at the nature of the allegations in the Complaint which also relate to misappropriation and breach of trust, the exercise of jurisdiction by the Bihar Police appears to be in order. At the stage of investigation,they were not required to transfer the FIR to Mumbai police.For the same reason, the Bihar government was competent to give consent for entrustment of investigation to the CBI and as such the ongoing investigation by the CBI is held to be lawful.

CBI investigation of murder:

While the steps taken by the Mumbai police in the limited inquiry under Section 174 CrPC may not be faulted on the material available before this Court,considering the apprehension voiced by the stakeholders of unfair investigation, this Court must strive to ensure that search for the truth is undertaken by an independent agency, not controlled by either of the two state governments. Most importantly, the credibility of the investigation and the investigating authority, must be protected.

The ongoing investigation by the CBI is held to be lawful.In the event a new case is registered at Mumbai on the same issue, in the fitness of things, it would be appropriate if the latter case too gets investigated by the same agency, on the strength of this Court’s order. Such enabling order will make it possible for the CBI to investigate the new case,avoiding the rigors of Section 6 of the DSPE Act,requiring consent from the State of Maharashtra.

Directions for murder:

Because both states are making acrimonious allegations of political interference against each other, the legitimacy of the investigation has come under a cloud. Accusing fingers are being pointed and people have taken the liberty to put out their own conjectures and theories. Such comments,responsible or otherwise, have led to speculative public discourse which have hogged media limelight. These developments unfortunately have the propensity to delay and misdirect the investigation. In such situation,there is reasonable apprehension of truth being a casualty and justice becoming a victim.

The actor Sushant Singh Rajput was a talented actor in the Mumbai film world and died well before his full potential could be realised. His family, friends and admirers are keenly waiting the outcome of the investigation so that all the speculations floating around can be put to rest. Therefore a fair, competent and impartial investigation is the need of the hour. The expected outcome then would be, a measure of justice for the Complainant, who lost his only son. For the petitioner too, it will be the desired justice as she herself called for a CBI investigation. The dissemination of the real facts through unbiased investigation would certainly result in justice for the innocents, who might be the target of vilification campaign. Equally importantly, when integrity and credibility of the investigation is discernible, the trust, faith and confidence of the common man in the judicial process will resonate. When truth meets sunshine, justice will not prevail on the living alone but after Life’s fitful fever, now the departed will also sleep well.

Satyameva Jayate.

In such backdrop, to ensure public confidence in the investigation and to do complete justice in the matter, this Court considers it appropriate to invoke the powers conferred by Article 142 of the Constitution. As a Court exercising lawful jurisdiction for the assigned roster, no impediment is seen for exercise of plenary power in the present matter. Therefore while according approval for the ongoing CBI investigation, if any other case is registered on the death of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the surrounding circumstances of his unnatural death, the CBI is directed to investigate the new case as well. It is ordered accordingly.

Transfer petition of Rhea Chakrovarti dismissed.

Read full judgment here:

PM Cares Fund is legal

What is PM Cares Fund?

(Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund)

PM CARES Fund (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund)  has been constituted as a public charitable trust. After outbreak of pandemic COVID-19, need of having a dedicated national fund with objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a fund was created by constituting a trust with Prime Minister as an ex-officio Chairman of PM CARES Fund, with other ex-officio and nominated Trustees of the Fund. The PM CARES Fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals/organisations and does not get any Budgetary support. No Government money is credited in the PM CARES Fund.

After outbreak of pandemic COVID-19, need of having a dedicated national fund with objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a fund was created by constituting a trust with Prime Minister as an ex-officio Chairman of PM CARES Fund, with other ex-officio and nominated Trustees of the Fund. The PMCARES Fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals/organisations and does not get any Budgetary support. No Government money is credited in the PM CARES Fund.

This PM Cares Fund has no connection with PMNRF Fund. PMNRF Fund was not subject to any consideration in this case, as popularity reported in the media. The plea was to transfer the fund to NDRF maintained under DM Act 2005. To know about PMNRF read here.

Conclusion by Supreme Court:

The PM CARES Fund has been constituted in the year 2020 after outbreak of pandemic COVID-19whereas the new guidelines came into force with effect from 2015-16, on which date the PM CARES Fund was not in existence, hence, the submission that new guidelines were amended to benefit the PM CARES Fund is wholly misconceived.

When the Centre is providing financial assistance to the State to take measures to contain COVID-19, as we have noticed above that by order dated 03.04.2020 first instalment of Rs.11,092/- crores which is the Central Share to the SDRMF has been given and there is nothing on record that any State has exceeded the expenditure in excess of the balance in the State’s SDRMF, there is no occasion of asking more fund by the State from NDRF.When the Central Government is providing financial assistance to the States to contain COVID-19 it is not for any PIL petitioner to say that Centre should give amount from this fund or that fund. The financial planning is in the domain of the Central Government, which financial planning is made after due deliberation and consideration. We, thus, do not find any substance in the submission of the petitioner that there is any statutory restriction/prohibition in utilization of NDRF forCOVID-19. More so when sub-section (2) of Section 46 specifically provides that NDRF shall be made available to the National Executive Committee to be applied towards meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Central Government, the NDRF can be used for containment of COVID-19

It is for the Central Government to take the decision as from which fund what financial measures are to be taken and it is neither for PIL petitioner to claim that any financial assistance be made from particular fund nor this Court to sit in judgment over the financial decisions of the Central Government.

The PM CARES Fund is a public charitable trust and is not a Government fund. The charitable trusts are public trusts. The mere fact that administration of the Trust is vested in trustees, i.e., a group of people, will not itself take away the public character of the Trust.

The contributions made by individuals and institutions in the PM CARES Fund are to be released for public purpose to fulfill the objective of the trust. The PM CARES Fund is a charitable trust registered under the Registration Act, 1908 at New Delhi on 27.03.2020. The trust does not receive any Budgetary support or any Government money. It is not open for the petitioner to question the wisdom of trustees to create PM CARES fund which was constituted with an objective to extend assistance in the wake of public health emergency that is pandemic COVID-19.

We have noticed above that guidelines which were issued for constitution and administration ofNDRF and State’s SDRMF, the guidelines provided utilization of fund for limited calamities, which didnot include any biological and public healthemergency. We have already noticed Clause 3.1 of guidelines for administration of NDRF, which did not provide for the calamities which cover the biological and public health emergency. Thus, under the guidelines which were in existence with effect from financial year 2015-16 neither NDRF nor SDRF covered the biological and public health emergencies. It was only by notification dated 14.03.2020 that COVID-19was treated as notified disaster for the purpose of providing assistance under SDRF. Obviously prior to this notification dated 14.03.2020 no contribution by any person or institution in the NDRF could have been made with respect to specified disaster, namely, biological and public health emergency like COVID-19, Outbreak of COVID-19 in India as well as other countries of the World required immediate enhancement in the infrastructure of medical health and creation of fund to contain COVID-19. At this need of the hour no exception can be taken to the constitution of a public charitable trust, namely, PM CARES Fund to have necessary financial resources to meet the emergent situation.

 Prayers (a) to (c) made in the writ petition:
“a.Issue a writ, order or direction to the Union of India to prepare, notify and implement a National Plan under Section 11 read with Section 10 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;

b.Issue a writ, order or direction to the Union of India to lay down minimum standards of relief, under Section 12of the Disaster Management Act, 2005,to be provided to persons affected bythe COVID-19 virus, as well as by the resultant national lockdown;

c.Issue a writ, order or direction to the Union of India to utilize NDRF for the purpose of providing assistance in the fight against GOVID-19 pandemic in compliance with Section 46 of the DMAct, all the contributions/grants from individuals and institutions shall be credited to the NDRF in terms of Section 46(1)(b) rather than to PM CARES Fund and all the fund collected in the PM CARES Fund till date may be directed to be transferred to the NDRF;”

Rejection of prayers by Supreme Court:

In view of the foregoing discussions, the prayer ‘a’ and ‘b’ made in the writ petition are refused.With respect to prayer ‘c’, we make it clear (i) that there is no statutory prohibition for the Union of India utilizing the NDRF for providing assistance in the fight of COVID-19 in accordance with the guidelines issued for administration of NDRF; (ii)there is no statutory prohibition in making any contribution by any person or institution in the NDRF as per Section 46(1)(b)of the Act, 2005.

Full Judgement

Prashant Bhushan Convicted for Contempt of Court.

Supreme Court convicts Prashant Bhushan:

Offensive tweets of Prashant Bhushan:

Supreme Court today convicted Prashant Bhushan, the perpetual Public interest litigator for contempt of Court. As per the orders of Supreme Court Prashant Bhushan had tweeted as under:

“CJI rides a 50 Lakh motorcycle belonging to a BJP leader at Raj Bhavan Nagpur, without a mask or helmet, at a time when he keeps the SC in Lockdown mode denying citizens their fundamental right to access justice!”

(29th June 2020 at 11.37AM)

Another tweet was published in the Times of India which was made by Shri Prashant Bhushan on June 27, 2020, when he tweeted,

“When historians in future look back at the last 6 years to see how 3democracy has been destroyed in India even without a formal Emergency, they will particularly mark the role of the Supreme Court in this destruction, & more particularly the role of the last 4 CJIs.”

Damage Caused by Tweet:

Indian judiciary is not only one of pillars on which the Indian democracy stands but is the central pillar.The Indian Constitutional democracy stands on the bedrock of rule of law. The trust, faith and confidence of 102the citizens of the country in the judicial system is sine qua non for existence of rule of law. An attempt to shake the very foundation of constitutional democracy has to be dealt with an iron hand. The tweet has the effect of destabilising the very foundation of this important pillar of the Indian democracy. The tweet clearly tends to give an impression,that the Supreme Court, which is a highest constitutional court in the country, has in the last six years played a vital role in destruction of the Indian democracy. There is no manner of doubt,that the tweet tends to shake the public confidence in the institution of judiciary. We do not want to go into the truthfulness or otherwise of the first part of the tweet,inasmuch as we do not want to convert this proceeding into a platform for political debate. We are only concerned with the damage that is sought to be done to the institution of administration of justice. In our considered view, the said tweet undermines the dignity and authority of the institution of the Supreme Court of India and the CJI and directly affronts the majesty of law.

Continue reading “Prashant Bhushan Convicted for Contempt of Court.”

The Public interest litigator Prashant Bhushan in Contempt cross heir

Scandalizing the Court is contempt:

Prashant Bhushan, the Supreme Court lawyer who is famous for filing public interest litigation in Supreme Court on almost every matter and who has difficulty in hiding his political distaste for present regime has been issued notice of show cause over his two scandalous tweets.

Offending tweets of Prashant Bhushan:

Twitter has withheld the tweets of Prashant Bhushan but Prashant’s friend Yogendra Yadav has retweeted following screenshots of the offending tweets. This is the screen shot:

Read the full order:

Full Order:

Click to access 14323_2020_33_16_23062_Order_22-Jul-2020.pdf

Right of Government to ensure better education in minority institutions of education.

Whether the provisions, namely, Sections 8, 10, 11 and 12 of the Commission Act are ultra vires and whether these provisions transgress the right of minority institutions guaranteed under the Constitution of India?

“It is difficult to comprehend that the framers of the Constitution would have given such an absolute right to the religious or linguistic minorities, which would enable them to establish and administer educational institutions in a manner so as to be in conflict with the other Parts of the Constitution. ……..The right under Article 30(1) has, therefore, not been held to be absolute or above other provisions of the law, and we reiterate the same. By the same analogy, there is no reason why regulations or conditions concerning, generally, the welfare of students and teachers should not be made applicable in order to provide a proper academic atmosphere, as such provisions do not in any way interfere with the right of administration or management under Article 30(1).” Continue reading “Right of Government to ensure better education in minority institutions of education.”

Can court consider the Report of Parliamentary Committee:

Judicial Review of Report of Parliamentary Committee:

The Division Bench expressed thus:-

“72. The controversy has to be seen from the perspective of judicial review. The basic principle of judicial review is to ascertain the propriety of the decision making process on the parameters of reasonableness and propriety of the executive decisions. We are not discussing about the parameters pertaining to the challenge of amendments to the Constitution or the constitutionality of a statute. When a writ of mandamus is sought on the foundation of a factual score, the Court is required to address the facts asserted and the averments made and what has been stated in oppugnation. Once the Court is asked to look at the report, the same can be challenged by the other side, for it cannot be accepted without affording an opportunity of being heard to the Respondents. The invitation to contest a Parliamentary Standing Committee report is likely to disturb the delicate balance that the Constitution provides between the constitutional institutions. If the Court allows contest and adjudicates on the report, it may run counter to the spirit of privilege of Parliament which the Constitution protects.

73. As advised at present, we are prima facie of the view that the Parliamentary Standing Committee  report may not be tendered as a document to augment the stance on the factual score that a particular activity is unacceptable or erroneous. However, regard being had to the substantial question of law relating to interpretation of the Constitution involved, we think it appropriate that the issue be referred to the Constitution Bench under Article 145(3) of the Constitution.‖

5. Thereafter, the two-Judge Bench framed the following questions for the purpose of reference to the Constitution Bench:-

“73.1. (i) Whether in a litigation filed before this Court either under Article 32 or Article 136 of the Constitution of India, the Court can refer to and place reliance upon the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee?

73.2. (ii) Whether such a Report can be looked at for the purpose of reference and, if so, can there be restrictions for the purpose of reference regard being had to the concept of parliamentary privilege and the delicate balance between the constitutional institutions that Articles 105, 121 and 122 of the Constitution conceive?”

Supremacy of Constitution of India:

Continue reading “Can court consider the Report of Parliamentary Committee:”

Conundrum of article 35-A and article 370 of the Constitution of India scrapped for Good

One Nation One Constitution

Constitution of India came into effect on 26th January 1950 and it became applicable on entire territory of India except state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K for short). In respect of J&K a special provision was crafted in the Constitution called 370 and it was named a temporary provision. According to this provision, the President of India will be entitled to apply the Constitution of India to the State of J&K in such manner as it may please which means in pieces. This provision is as under:

“370. Temporary provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir:
(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution,

Continue reading “Conundrum of article 35-A and article 370 of the Constitution of India scrapped for Good”

Personal Liberty and Judicial Review of Preventive Detention.

In the case in hand, the procedural safeguards are complied with. Insofar as the contention that the courts should lean in favour of upholding the personal liberty, we are conscious that the Constitution and the Supreme Court are very zealous of upholding the personal liberty of an individual. But the liberty of an individual has to be subordinated within reasonable bounds to the good of the people. Order of detention is clearly a preventive measure and devised to afford protection to the society.

When the preventive detention is aimed to protect the safety and security of the nation, balance has to be struck between liberty of an individual and the needs of the society.

Observing that the object of preventive detention is not to punish a man for having done something but to intercept and to prevent him from doing so, in Naresh Kumar Goyal v. Union of India and others (2005) 8 SCC 276, it was held as under:- Continue reading “Personal Liberty and Judicial Review of Preventive Detention.”

Karnataka Assembly Speaker prevented from ordering disqualification

The question before Supreme Court:

The issue arising in the case is whether resignations submitted by Members of the Legislative Assembly at a point of time earlier than petitions for their disqualification under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution should have priority in the decision making process or whether both sets of proceedings should be taken up simultaneously or the disqualification proceedings should  have precedence over the request(s) for resignation.

The order of Supreme Court:

The imperative necessity,at this stage, is to maintain the constitutional balance and the conflicting and competing rights that have been canvassed before us. Such an interim exercise has become prudent in view of certain time frame exercise(s) that is in the offing in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly, particularly, the no-trust motion against the present Government, which we are told is due for being taken up on 18th July, 2019.

In these circumstances, the competing claims have to be balanced by an appropriate interim order, which according to us, should be to permit the Hon’ble Speaker of the House to decide on the request for resignations by the 15 Members of the House within such time frame as the Hon’ble Speaker may consider appropriate.

We also take the view that in the present case the discretion of the Hon’ble Speaker while deciding the above issue should not be fettered by any direction or observation of this Court and the Hon’ble Speaker should be left free to decide the issue in accordance with Article 190 read with Rule 202 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Karnataka Legislative Assembly framed in exercise of the powers under Article 208 of the Constitution. The order of the Hon’ble Speaker on the resignation issue, as and when passed, be placed before the Court.

We also make it clear that until further orders the 15 Members of the Assembly, ought not to be compelled to participate in the proceedings of the ongoing session of the House and an option should be given to them that they can take part in the said proceedings or to opt to remain out of the same. Continue reading “Karnataka Assembly Speaker prevented from ordering disqualification”

Challenge to Order Framing Charge in High Court

Effect of bar of Revision

Order framing charge is not purely an interlocutory order nor a final order. Jurisdiction of the High Court is not barred irrespective of the label of a petition, be it under Sections 397 or 482 Cr.P.C. or Article 227 of the Constitution. However, the said jurisdiction is to be exercised consistent with the legislative policy to ensure expeditious disposal of a trial without the same being in any manner hampered. Thus considered, the challenge to an order of charge should be entertained in a rarest of rare case only to correct a patent error of jurisdiction and not to re-appreciate the matter. Even where such challenge is entertained and stay is granted, the matter must be decided on day-to-day basis so that stay does not operate for an unduly long period. Though no mandatory time limit may be fixed, the decision may not exceed two-three months normally. If it remains pending longer, duration of stay should not exceed six months, unless extension is granted by a specific speaking order, as already indicated.

Mandate of speedy justice applies to the PC Act cases as well as other cases where at trial stage proceedings are stayed by the higher court i.e. the High Court or a court below the High Court, as the case may be. In all pending matters before the High Courts or other courts relating to PC Act or all other civil or criminal cases, where stay of proceedings in a pending trial is operating, stay will automatically lapse after six months from today unless extended by a speaking order on above parameters. Same course may also be adopted by civil and criminal appellate/revisional courts under the jurisdiction of the High Courts. The trial courts may, on expiry of above period, resume the proceedings without waiting for any other intimation unless express order extending stay is produced.

The High Courts may also issue instructions to this effect and monitor the same so that civil or criminal proceedings do not remain pending for unduly period at the trial stage.

[Source: Asian Resurfacing Of Road Agency vs Central Bureau Of Investigation decided by SC on 28 March, 2018]