Delhi Court Dismisses Bail Plea Of Journalist Upendra Rai


Journalist Upendra Rai was arrested in a money laundering case. (Representational)

New Delhi: 

A Delhi court today dismissed the bail plea of journalist Upendra Rai, arrested in a money laundering case related to alleged extortion and dubious financial transactions.

Additional Sessions Judge Rakesh Syal denied the relief to Mr Rai, saying the allegations against him were serious.

The court took note of the submissions made by ED’s special public prosecutors NK Matta and Nitesh Rana that the accused might influence the witnesses and hamper the probe if released on bail.

The journalist was arrested on June 8 by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act at Tihar Jail, moments after he secured a bail in a Central Bureau of Investigation case related to alleged extortion and dubious financial transactions.





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Supreme Court To Hear Zakia Jafri Plea Against PM Narendra Modi In 2002 Gujarat Riots On Monday


The High Court last year upheld an SIT’s clean chit to Narendra Modi and others. (File)

New Delhi: 

2002 Gujarat riots victim Zakia Jafri’s petition challenging the clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be heard by the Supreme Court on Monday. The Gujarat High Court had last year rejected the petition that alleges a “larger conspiracy” in the riots, and had upheld an SIT or Special Investigation Team’s clean chit to top politicians including Mr Modi, who was then chief minister of Gujarat.

The report of the Supreme Court monitored SIT in 2012 had concluded that Chief Minister Modi took all possible steps to control the riots that swept through Gujarat in the aftermath of the killing of 59 people when coaches of the Sabarmati Express train were set on fire at Godhra station.

The petition filed by Zakia Jafri and the NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace, run by Teesta Setalvad, had sought a criminal trial, alleging that the Chief Minister had turned a blind eye to the violence.

Zakia Jafri, 80, is the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was among the 69 people massacred at Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad on 28 February 2002. Ehsaan Jafri, a former Congress parliamentarian, was dragged out, hacked and burnt by the rioters. The Congress leader’s frantic phone calls to police officers and senior politicians for help went unanswered, Zakia Jafri had alleged.

She approached the high court in March 2014 against the SIT’s report, which had also questioned the motive behind her complaint four years after the riots.

The massacre at Gulbarg Society – a cluster of 29 bungalows and 10 apartment buildings housing mostly Muslims – was among the 10 major Gujarat riot cases re-investigated by the special team appointed by the Supreme Court.

The trial court had ruled that Mr Jafri opening fire in self-defence had “acted as a catalyst and infuriated the mob”.





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Supreme Court To Consider Plea For Recall Of Sabarimala Verdict


Four other petitions relating to Sabarimala temple are listed for hearing by a bench of three judges.

New Delhi: 

The Supreme Court will consider on Tuesday a batch of petitions seeking the recall of the constitution bench verdict allowing women in the age group of 10 to 50 years at Lord Ayappaa’s Sabarimala temple.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra would consider the review petitions in their chambers at 3pm.

Besides this, four more petitions relating to Sabarimala temple are listed for hearing by a bench of three judges on Tuesday.

National Association of Aayappa Devotees, Nair Service Society, and 17 other organisation have moved the review petition seeking recall of September 28 verdict.

The five-judge Constitution Bench headed by then Chief Justice Misra had junked the age-old tradition of the Lord Ayyappa temple by a majority verdict of 4:1.

It said that the ban on women in menstruating age group, whose presence at the Sabarimala temple was considered “impure”, violated their fundamental rights and constitutional guarantee of equality.

The review plea by the Nair Service Society, one of the petitioners, said “without holding that the questions raised related to matters of religion which are not within judicially manageable standards, the majority decision in substance has the effect of holding that the character of the deity can be altered based on individual faith and belief, in violation of the tenets of a particular religion and or religious sect”.

The petitioners have also argued that besides “patent legal errors” in the verdict, the assumption that the temple practice is based on notions of menstrual impurity is “factually erroneous”.

Pointing to massive protests against the verdict by women worshipers, the petitioners have contended that “the subsequent events that transpired after the judgment clearly demonstrate that overwhelmingly large section of women worshipers are supporting the custom of prohibiting entry of women.





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Supreme Court Dismisses Plea For Recusal Of 2 Judges


The Supreme Court was hearing petitions filed by Manipur police in alleged fake encounters

New Delhi: 

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea filed by the Manipur police personnel, seeking the recusal of two judges of the bench, in the alleged fake encounter case. A CBI Special Investigation Team (SIT) is probing the case. 

“The observations are not intended to compromise the independence of SIT probing the fake encounters in Manipur,” said the bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and UU Lalit. The bench also stressed that the institutional integrity of the judiciary and the CBI must be maintained. 

In the petition, personnel of the Manipur police objected to the judges calling the accused who, were chargesheeted by the SIT in the encounter cases, as “murderers”. The Manipur police said that the remarks passed by the bench during a hearing were prejudicial to the probe involving them.

The Centre had supported the plea of the forces saying that they had to face difficult situations in areas like Manipur and are forced to adopt various methods to deal with the situation at hand.

The court was hearing the main case, a petition, seeking a probe into as many as 1,528 cases of extra-judicial killings in the state.

On July 14, 2017, the top court had set up an SIT comprising CBI officers and ordered the registration of First Information Reports or FIRs and investigations into the alleged extra-judicial killings. The court had ordered FIRs in 81 cases, including 32 probed by a commission of inquiry, 32 investigated by judicial authorities, 11 in which compensation was given and six probed by a commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge Santosh Hegde.





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Madras High Court Dismisses Plea Of Kalanidhi Maran, Dayanidhi Maran In Telephone Exchange Case


Madras High Court dismissed the petitions of former union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran (File Photo)

Chennai: 

The Madras High Court Friday dismissed the petitions of former union telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, his brother Kalanidhi Maran and other accused in the ‘illegal’ telephone exchange case, seeking quashing of charges framed by a CBI court against them.

The High Court also directed the CBI court to frame fresh charges.

Justice AD Jagadish Chandira directed the trial court to look into all materials carefully and frame proper and necessary charges in respect of all the seven accused, as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code.

Justice Chandira said the prosecution could assist the trial court by filing draft charges, if necessary.

Earlier, the petitioners’ lawyers including senior counsel P Wilson contended that the trial court had framed the charges solely on the basis of the investigating officer’s opinion and not on materials available on record.

The CBI was wrong in alleging that the former union minister held telephone connections more than what was legally permitted, the counsels submitted.

The restriction to have only three connections would apply only to Members of Parliament or MPs as per the Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament Act and not to a cabinet minister, they said.

There was no statutory bar for a minister to have more than three telephone service connections, they argued.

Additional Solicitor General G Rajagopalan contended that the charges had been framed in accordance with the procedure.

The charges date back to the time when Dayanidhi Maran, grandnephew of late DMK chief M Karunanidhi, was union minister for telecommunications and information technology in the UPA-1 government.

The CBI has alleged that he misused his official position and got private telephone exchanges installed at his residences in Chennai which were used for business transactions of the Sun Network.

The High Court had on July 25 held that there were ‘heaps’ of material evidence against the accused and had directed the special court to frame charges and conclude the trial within a year.

The bench had given its order on a CBI plea, challenging the discharge of the accused by Special Judge S Natarajan on March 14 this year.





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Poll Panel Rejects Mizoram BJP Plea To Extend Date Of Filing Nominations


BJP wanted to extend the date for filing nominations citing the law and order situation in Mizoram

New Delhi: 

The Election Commission on Thursday rejected a plea of the BJP to extend the last date of filing nominations for the November 28 assembly polls in Mizoram.

The party had moved the plea citing the law and order situation in the northeastern state.

In a letter to state BJP chief JV Hluna, the poll panel said his plea has “not been acceded to on account of peace and normalcy in the state today.”

Friday is the last date of filing nominations.

There have been protests demanding the ouster of Mizoram Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) S B Shashank by the NGO Coordination Committee.

But the protests were called off Wednesday after the officer left for Delhi.

The NGO Coordination Committee, the top body of civil societies and students’ organisations in the north-eastern state, has been demanding that Mr Shashank be replaced and transferred outside the state.

It also demanded that 11,232 Bru voters lodged in six Tripura relief camps be allowed to exercise their franchise at their respective polling stations in Mizoram and not in Tripura as committed by the poll panel in 2014.





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Court Rejects Bail Plea Of BrahMos Engineer Accused Of Spying


Nishant Agarwal had been in touch with suspected Pakistani intelligence operatives.

Lucknow: 

A district judge on Friday rejected the bail plea of Nishant Agrawal, a senior system engineer of BrahMos Aerospace in Nagpur, arrested for allegedly providing technical information to Pakistani intelligence agency ISI.

Turning down his plea, the court said that it is a serious matter relating to the safety and security of the country and since investigation in the case is still going on, he is not entitled to bail as of now.

It was pleaded on behalf of the accused that he was innocent and he was being falsely implicated due to a conspiracy.

Opposing the bail plea, public prosecutor Manoj Tripathi argued that important evidence has been collected from his laptop with regard to the charges.

The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad had arrested him on October 8 from Nagpur.





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CBI Opposes Middleman Manoj Prasad’s Bail Plea In Bribery Case Against Rakesh Asthana


The CBI opposed the bail application of Manoj Prasad arrested in connection with bribery allegations.

New Delhi: 

The CBI today opposed the bail application of Manoj Prasad, an alleged middleman arrested in connection with bribery allegations involving the agency’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

The agency told the special CBI judge Santosh Snehi Mann that the accused was an influential person and if granted the relief, he may tamper with the ongoing probe and flee from justice.

The court put up the application for argument on Saturday after the counsel for Manoj Prasad said he needed time to go through the CBI’s reply and advance his arguments.

Manoj Prasad is currently in judicial custody.

The court had on October 31 granted bail to co-accused and CBI’s DSP Devender Kumar after the agency did not oppose his bail petition.

In his bail application, Manoj Prasad said he was not required for the custodial interrogation and no purpose will be served by keeping him in further custody.

The CBI had registered an FIR against Rakesh Asthana and others on a written complaint of businessman Sathish Sana on October 15.

Besides Rakesh Asthana, Manoj Prasad and Devender Kumar, another middleman Somesh Prasad has also been named as an accused in the case.

The FIR had alleged that Devender Kumar, being the IO in the case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was repeatedly calling the complainant to the CBI office to harass him and compel him to pay a bribe of Rs five crore for getting a clean chit in the case.

The complaint had also said that a part of the bribe was paid by Sathish Sana.





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Plea Against Amit Shah’s Discharge By CBI Dismissed


Sohrabuddin Sheikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005

Mumbai: 

The Bombay High Court today dismissed a public interest litigation against the CBI’s decision to not challenge a 2014 trial court order discharging BJP chief Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh ‘fake encounter’ case.

A division bench of justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre said it was not inclined to grant reliefs sought in the petition.

The petition was filed by a group, Bombay Lawyers Association, questioning the CBI’s decision not to challenge the discharge granted to Amit Shah in the case.

“We are dismissing the petition. We are not inclined to grant any relief…especially when the petitioner is a body which has no locus in the case,” the court said in its judgement.

A special CBI court had in 2014 discharged Amit Shah in the case.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were killed in an alleged fake encounter by the Gujarat Police in 2005.

Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s partner Tulsi Prajapati was killed in another encounter in 2006 by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police.

Of the 38 people charged by the CBI in the case, 16, including Amit Shah and all senior officers of Gujarat and Rajasthan police, were discharged by the trial court and the Bombay High Court.

The association’s counsel Dushyant Dave had argued that the CBI had changed its stand on Amit Shah after the change of government at the Centre in 2014.

The petition raised questions over the agency’s decision to file revision applications against the discharge of two other accused in the case, but not challenging Amit Shah’s discharge from the case.

The CBI had opposed the petition and said its decision was a “conscious and reasonable” move. Terming the petition as “politically motivated” and a “publicity stunt”, the agency had sought dismissal of the petition.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the CBI, had told the court that the investigating agency had studied the trial court’s order granting discharge to Amit Shah as well as various subsequent orders of appellate courts upholding the same.

“After going through these orders (of the trial court and of appellate courts), we decided that the order of discharge did not require any judicial review and hence, we took a conscious decision to not file any applications challenging Shah’s discharge from the case,” Mr Singh had said.

Mr Dave had argued that the CBI was roped in by the Supreme Court to probe the killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi, and Tulsi Prajapati as the top court had reposed its trust in the “independent” agency.

“Hence, the CBI should have been impartial and treated all accused persons in the same manner. Why did it then challenge the discharge granted to police officers NK Amin and Dalpat Singh Rathod, but went quiet in (Amit) Shah’s case,” Mr Dave had questioned.

He had said the CBI had opposed the discharge plea filed by Amit Shah before a special court in the city in April 2014, but changed its stand after Amit Shah was discharged in December 2014.

“They had called him (Amit Shah) one of the main conspirators in the case at that time. However, in December 2014, Shah was granted discharge in the case and the CBI changed its stand on his role.

“That is because the general elections took place and the government at the Centre changed. But, isn’t the CBI supposed to be impartial irrespective of who is in power at the Centre,” Mr Dave had asked.

Countering Mr Dave, Mr Singh had said there was no law that makes it must for the CBI to file appeals or revision applications in case of every discharge.
 





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Supreme Court To Hear Plea For Life-Time Ban On Convicted Lawmakers


The Supreme Court bench was hearing the plea filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay (File Photo)

New Delhi: 

The Supreme Court Thursday said it cannot lose sight of the fact that a plea was seeking inflicting a life time ban on politicians convicted in criminal case, besides setting up of special courts to expeditiously try criminal cases involving elected representatives.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph said that it may take up the aspect of imposing life ban of convicted elected representatives on December 4.

“We should not lose sight of the fact that the main prayer in the PIL is to impose the life time ban on convicted elected representative,” the bench said, adding that the government servants and judicial officers cannot come back after their convictions.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the centre, said that the government has no objection in setting up of special courts for exclusively trying the criminal cases involving elected representatives.

The bench, which was hearing the plea filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, also considered the submission of senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, appointed as amicus curiae in the case, that earmarking a particular Court in each district both at sessions and magisterial level and directing them to treat the cases on a priority basis could be a viable option to ensure timely completion of proceedings.

“Amicus Curiae has drawn the attention of the Court to a form prepared by him…to the written submissions filed by him dated 23rd October, 2018. He has submitted that the requisite information be called for from all the High Courts in the country as per the said form.

“We have looked into the information furnished by the Gauhati High Court in the aforesaid form. At this stage, when information from the other HCs have been called for and are awaited we will reserve our orders in the matter and consider the suggestions of the Amicus Curiae on a subsequent date after the details of pending cases against elected representatives as per the form suggested by the amicus curiae is made available,” the bench said.

The top court directed its Registry to forward a copy of the said form to the Registrars General of all the High Courts in the country to furnish the necessary information which will be so done on or before November 27.

“The information/copies of the report that will be conveyed by the High Courts to the Registry of this Court shall also be endorsed to the amicus curiae.

“The office of the Amicus Curiae would be at liberty to exchange correspondence(s) with the Registries of different High Courts seeking such information as would be necessary to give effect to the present order/directions,” the bench, also comprising Justices UU Lalit and KM Joseph, said.

The top court is dealing with a petition filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay seeking inflicting of life time ban on convicted politicians.

The top court was earlier informed that 12 special courts set up to try lawmakers exclusively have not been constituted on a uniform pattern, and their number needs to be raised to 19 for trying cases at the sessions level.

It was also suggested to the top court that another 51 such courts are required for magisterial trial cases.

The amicus further said that special courts were constituted to exclusively deal with all cases including complaint cases against MPs, MLAs including the former ones, irrespective of the fact as to whether the same was committed when the concerned lawmaker was holding the said office.





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