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For years now, the Delhi High Court has been convening at 10:30 am daily, but on Wednesday one of its divisions convened at 10 am to hear an urgent matter pertaining to the construction of a road in Kishtwar region of Jammu and Kashmir.
A bench of Justice GS Sistani and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal convened at 10 am on Wednesday to hear an urgent petition filed by Abdul Rashid Butt.
Butt had filed petition against National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, which had rejected his bid for construction of road only because he could not submit soft copies of certain documents during bid submission even as the hard copies were made available.
Advocate Robin David, Febin Mathew and Dhiraj Philip from Dua Associates represented Butt.
The petition was filed as urgent as the financial bids were to be opened at 11 am on Wednesday (today).
The bench then directed that Butt’s bid be also considered today at 11 am, subject to the outcome of his petition.
During the hearing on the petition, Butt’s counsel told the bench that the case revolves around the construction of a road in Kishtwar viz National Highway 244.
The technical bid of the petitioner was rejected on the mere ground that soft copy of certain documents were not uploaded at the time of bid submission even though the physical copies were provided. The said documents were later sent to the respondent via e-mail in response to a request from the corporation.
The matter is now fixed for February 2.
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The Supreme Court today directed the Madras High Court to decide within two months petitions pertaining to validity of look out circulars (LOC) against Karti Chidambaram, son of former union minister P Chidambaram, and others in a corruption case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had stayed the High Court’s order of August 10 last year keeping at abeyance the LOCs issued on June 16 and July 28 last year against Karti and others in the case
The bench made it clear that its interim order shall continue till the matter is finally disposed of.
“The High Court is requested to dispose of these writ petitions within two months”, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.
“We are also making it clear that we are not expressing any opinion on the merits of the case and the High Court shall deal with them independently”, the bench said.
Agreeing with the request of Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who represents the CBI, the court also specified that the argument of the probe agency with regard to the fact that the Madras High Court has no territorial jurisdiction to deal with the LOC cases, shall be kept open for adjudication.
The bench also said the high court will deal with the application, if any, of the accused seeking permission to go abroad on merits.
The case against Karti and others relates to grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007 when Karti’s father was the Union Finance Minister.
Later, the apex court considered the appeal of CBI and stayed the operation of the High Court order staying the LOC.
The Supreme Court, however, has kept to itself another batch of petitions pertaining to registration of FIR in the corruption case.
The top court was hearing pleas including the CBI’s appeal challenging the Madras High Court order staying LOC against Karti Chidambaram.
The CBI had on September 1 last year said there were good, cogent reasons for issuing the LOC.
The apex court had also said that Karti would not be allowed to leave India without subjecting himself to probe in the case.
The court had then stayed the high court order putting on hold the LOC against Karti.
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Kerala HC Dismisses Senior Advocate’s Plea Challenging Exclusion From Bar Council Electoral Roll [Read Judgment]
The Kerala High Court has dismissed plea of a senior advocate challenging his exclusion from the final electoral roll of Bar Council of Kerala.
A division bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Antony Dominic and Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu dismissed a writ appeal preferred by senior advocate VK Beeran Sahib against the dismissal of his writ petition by the single bench.
The sole contention in the writ petition appears to be that the apex court order that permitted all those 6,44,768 ‘advocates’ who have submitted their application forms along with the law degrees for verification be enrolled and be shown in the electoral list does not include senior advocates.
In November, the Supreme Court had permitted advocates who have submitted their application for verification in Form ‘A’ of the Bar Council Place and Certificate of Practice (Verification) Rules of 2015, together with their law degrees to the respective State Bar Councils, to get their names incorporated in the electoral rolls for the purpose of contesting as well as voting in the state bar council elections.
Perusing the said order, the bench said: “A reading of the above order shows that taking note of the fact that, according to the Bar Council of India, only 6,44,768 advocates had submitted their forms for verification, the Apex Court had modified its earlier order dated 23.8.2017 and directed that all those 6,44,768 advocates who have submitted their application forms along with the Law Degrees for verification be enrolled and be shown in the electoral list.”
The court then observed that the order does not make any distinction between senior advocates and other advocates. “It is the case of the appellant that the order does not include Senior advocates and that therefore, restriction in the number of advocates imposed by the Apex Court cannot be relied on to exclude him from the final electoral list. According to us, the contention urged by the appellant calls for interpretation of the order passed by the Apex Court. Such an exercise can be undertaken only by the Apex Court and not by the High Court,” said the bench holding that it cannot interfere with the matter on the ground of lack of jurisdiction.
Read the Judgment Here
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Banishment Of Villagers For Following Different Religion Unconstitutional: Manipur HC [Read Judgment]
Inexorable and inescapable conclusion is that the said provision of the village constitution which lays down that there shall not be any denominational activity dividing the existing Religion (i.e., Baptist Christianity) is void in law and cannot be enforced being violative of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India, it said.
The Manipur High Court has held provision of the village constitution which forbids any denominational activity dividing the existing religion, i.e., Baptist Christianity, as illegal and unconstitutional.
Four persons claiming to be permanent residents of Sharkaphung/Leingangching village In Manipur had approached the high court alleging that they had been forcibly expelled from their village by the village authority after they, who were initially Baptist Christians, adopted Roman Catholic faith in the year 2009.
The relief sought by these persons was a declaration that the village constitution, which requires that there should not be any denominational activity dividing the existing religion (i.e., Baptist Christianity), to be unconstitutional, and directing for allowing the petitioners to resettle peacefully and to profess the religion of their choice and for payment of compensation for the loss suffered by the petitioners.
Acting Chief Justice N Kotiswar Singh observed that the village authority is not endowed with any such power to order banishment/expulsion of any villager. Referring to provisions of the village constitution which disallows any other denominational activity, including practice of Catholic faith in the village, except Baptist Christianity, the bench observed: “What the aforesaid provision in the village constitution mandates is that other than Baptist Christianity, no other denominational activity will be allowed to be practised in the village. Thus, if a person seeks to profess and practice Catholic faith in the village, and since it is not part of the Baptist Christianity, he cannot do so in the village because of the aforesaid provision of the village constitution. In such event, what would Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution mean to him? Absolutely, redundant for him. Articles 25 and 26 will have no meaning for him. Will this injunction then, be permissible in the face of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution? The obvious answer will be in the negative.”
The court also said that if any citizen of this Country is banished from his village by a village authority and that too on the ground that he has adopted a different religious faith, it is violative of not only Article 19(1)(d) and (e) and Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution without following any validly enacted law or by following the procedures of law, it would also amount to violation of the overarching Article 21 of the Constitution which guarantees that no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty, except according to the procedure laid down by law.
“The villagers of Leingangching have every right to follow the Baptist Christianity and accordingly, also manage their affairs in tune with the Baptist principles and practices. However, it cannot come in the way of the petitioners professing a different religious denomination of Catholic faith as they have also similar fundamental right to profess and practice Catholic Christianity as guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of India. On adopting such Catholic faith, they also would have a right to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes and, manage their own affairs including owning, acquiring movable and immovable properties and administer such property in accordance with law as guaranteed under Article 26 of the Constitution, which would include setting up a church in the village provided they have their own land and other means to do so,” the court said holding that the petitioners have fundamental right to reside and settle in Leingangching village in their respective residences/homes.
Read the Judgment Here
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In Major Relief To Chhattisgarh’s Ex-CM Ajit Jogi, HC Orders Reconstitution Of Committee To Examine His Tribal Status
In a big relief to former Chief Minister Ajit Kumar Jogi, the Chhattisgarh High Court has upheld his petition challenging the decision of a high-powered certification scrutiny committee which had held that he had obtained certificate of Tribal status “Kanwar” to which he was not entitled.
The court held that the reconstitution of the scrutiny committee itself was not proper and smacked of institutional arbritrariness.
A bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice Sharad Kumar Gupta also ordered reconstitution of the committee.
The committee gave its decisions as per the Chhattisgarh Scheduled Caste Scheduled Tribe And Other Backward Classes (Regulation Of Social Status Certification) Act, 2013, which came into effect in June, 2013.
Jogi’s counsel senior advocate Brian da Silva criticised the procedure adopted in issuing the decision, the manner in which the scrutiny committee acted upon Vigilance report and its failure to accord opportunity to impeach that report which is said to have violated the requirements of rules and Acts in collecting data.
Institutional malice was also attributed as he said the committee was tailor-made to ensure that decision-making power was exclusively in the hands of one person.
Jogi had also alleged that he was not granted an opportunity to extend his case and the reconstitution of the scrutiny committee was also not notified.
The court before hearing the parties considered the material relied upon by the scrutiny committee.
It noted that in 2001, the National Commission for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe had called upon the state government to verify the genuineness of the certificate obtained by Ajit Jogi and take necessary action for its cancellation which led to the supreme court ordering verification in case titled Collector, Bilaspur vs Ajith Kumar Jogi in October, 2011.
The high court noted that the order by which the scrutiny committee was reconstituted was not a statutory notification and wasn’t even published in the gazette.
The Advocate General, however, argued that non-publication in official gazette does not invalidate an administrative order when power to issue that order is referable.
The bench was, however, of the view that the committee that is constituted under the Act could not have been dissolved by a non statutory executive order.
It said that “when the constitution of a committee has to be made through a notification which is to be published in gazette, the said legislative command would carry with it the necessary corollary that such committee cannot be undone or superseded otherwise unless the statute sanctions such plain and simple executive exercise De hors the statute”.
On Jogi’s argument, the bench noted that the Act does not specify number of officers on the scrutiny committee but Section 7 does speak of the district-level certificate verification committee to have six officers, including chairman and member secretary.
It said, “the committee is understood as a group of people. It cannot be understood to be a bunch of offices which are manned by a single person.
“We say this in the context of the fact that a particular individual held office of special secretary to Tribal and Scheduled Tribes department, commissioner and also director of Tribal Research and Training institute. Keeping aside the plea of petitioner that the three persons who were holding those offices were transferred out and a single person was brought to be in charge of all three offices with extraneous and oblique motive of denying fairness to petitioner, we may say that the constitution of persons who are shown to have issued the impugned orders as a committee, that too in place of a statutory committee does not behove the tenents of real and true justice. It smacks of institutional arbitrariness which could be brimming on the different allegations raised in the petition,” the bench went on to observe.
The court however refused to sit in judgement over contents of vigilance report and the material which was with the Vigilance committee saying it would be acting as statutory body in so doing.
Saying that the jurisdiction of high court under article 226 in such cases will be to see whether the committee has considered all relevant material placed before it or has not applied its mind, the bench added that once it has held that the scrutiny committee was not duly constituted, the order issued by it is quashed.
It directed that the proceedings shall be carried from the stage at which it had reached before nomination of officers of the committee as per order dated March 17, 2017.
It expressly stated that the 2017 order does not supersede the order published in gazette in year 2013.
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Ranbaxy has taken on senior advocate Harish Salve who is also the first non-Queen’s Counsel (QC) foreign lawyer, and the first from the Indian Bar, to be allowed to argue a case in the Singapore High Court, the Straits Times reported today.
Daiichi has assigned on an equal stature advocate Gopal Subramanium for its team.
The case involved some 20 Ranbaxy shareholders, including five young people, who had sold a controlling stake in the multi-national pharmaceutical company to Daiichi Sankyo Company in 2008.
But in 2012, the Japanese pharmaceutical firm started arbitration proceedings in Singapore against the Indian firm, claiming it had been misled during negotiations for the sale agreement.
The sellers of Ranbaxy, who were in two groups, then applied to the High Court to set aside the award on several grounds when Daiichi sought to enforce the order here.
By a two-to-one majority, the arbitration panel in 2016 found in favour of Daiichi and awarded the company more than 500 million Singapore dollars.
Under the law, a foreign counsel can be admitted to argue cases in court in Singapore on an ad hoc basis if he is a QC or holds a rank of equal distinction from any other country, and has special qualifications or experience for the purpose of the case, according to the Singapore daily.
The Court of Appeal, in judgment grounds released last week, explained Salve’s ad hoc admission, saying it “was satisfied that the need for the assistance of qualified Indian counsel had been amply demonstrated” in the circumstances of a case that had involved arbitration proceedings in Singapore.
“Given our findings on the complexity of the Indian law issues, the court hearing the Singapore proceedings would definitely be more assisted by Indian counsel than by local counsel,” the Straits Times quoted the judgement grounds.
The Indian firm also sought to have Salve admitted so that “he might address difficult and novel Indian law issues inherent in the Singapore proceedings”.
The High Court turned down the application last year and Salve, represented by a leading Singapore law firms Rajah & Tann and WongPartnership for the two groups of sellers from Ranbaxy, then appealed to the apex court.
They succeeded in the Court of Appeal last year before Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judges of Appeal Judith Prakash and Tay Yong Kwang.
Daiichi was defended by a team of lawyers led by Suresh Divyanathan, while Jeyendran Jeyapal served as lead counsel for the Attorney-General. Christopher Daniel was lead counsel for the Law Society of Singapore.
In written grounds last week explaining its decision, the Court of Appeal said it found it relevant for Salve to represent the parties in their challenge.
Noting that one group of sellers in the case were minors, it said their issue involved Indian public policy and accepted that Salve, having been Solicitor-General of India for three years, would have considerable experience in Indian public policy and broad experience in Indian law.
It added that the Singapore case arose out of an international arbitration matter where the governing law was foreign law but the seat was Singapore.
Stressing that not every such case governed by foreign law will see foreign counsel admitted, the top court clarified that “it is all a question of what the court needs to assist it in achieving a correct and just result in the case before it”.
“Given our findings on the complexity of the Indian law issues, the court hearing the Singapore proceedings would definitely be more assisted by Indian counsel than by local counsel,” The Straits Times had Judge Prakash writing on the court’s behalf.
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The Bombay High Court today said the IPL has made people familiar with phrases like “betting and fixing” and in view of the alleged violations of foreign exchange rules it was time to see if the tournament was in interest of the game of cricket.
The scathing remarks were made by a division bench of justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharati Dangre while passing its order on a petition filed by former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi challenging a July 2015 order of the adjudicating authority of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) refusing him the permission to cross-examine witnesses in a FEMA case.
The ED has alleged violations of foreign exchange rules during the 2009 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) held in South Africa.
The court allowed Modi’s petition and permitted his legal counsels to cross-examine the witnesses but made strong observations on the tournament.
“If IPL has led to serious violations then it is high time the organisers realise whether what has been achieved by conducting the tournament since the past ten years can be termed as a sport or game…for it is full of illegalities and breaches of law,” the court said.
“IPL has made us familiar with phrases like betting and fixing of matches. It is for the central government, RBI and organisers to now consider if conducting IPL is in interest of the game/sport,” the court said in its order.
The bench while allowing Modi’s petition said the impugned order grossly violates the principles of natural justice as the adjudicating authority was going to rely on the statements of the witnesses against Modi.
The court also noted that the proceedings have been dragged for too long now.
“We direct the adjudicating authority to issue summons to the witnesses to appear before it on March 2. The cross- examination shall be concluded positively by March 13. The proceedings shall be completed by May 31,” the court directed.
In 2013, the ED initiated adjudication proceedings against Modi under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) regarding a bank account opened by the BCCI and IPL authorities in South Africa ahead of the 2009 edition of the IPL.
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