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‘T’ drags AP govt to SC over Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme

The water sharing dispute between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh has now entered into a serious legal battle with the KCR government moving the Supreme Court.

The Telangana government has filed a petition in the apex court with an appeal to directe the Jagan government to stop work on the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme as it violates provisions of the AP Reorganisation Act (APRA) 2014.

The Telangana government has filed an online petition before the Supreme Court that AP has begun the tender process for the irrigation project in violation APRA and the instructions of the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB).

Andhra Pradesh government proposed for construction of Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme, expansion of Pothireddypadu project and also increasing the capacity of the Srisailam Right Bank Canal under GO 203 issued in May this year. Tenders for the works had already been called for.

On its part, the Telangana government objected to the GO 203 stating that it is violative of the AP Reorganisation Act and sought stay orders against the GO.
KRMB had also sent a letter to Andhra Pradesh special chief secretary for water resources development stating that even calling for tenders for work on the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme would violate the APRA.

The Andhra Pradesh had submitted a detailed explanation to the KRMB on its move to draw 6 thousand million cubic feet (tmc) to 8 tmc of water from Krishna river by constructing the Rayalaseema lift irrigation scheme and expanding the Pothireddypadu head on the foreshore of the inter-state Srisailam reservoir.

Further, the Andhra Pradesh had dashed off a letter to the Ministry of Jal Shakti and KRMB with an appeal to direct the Telangana government to stop new projects on the Krishna and Godavari rivers. The Telangana government has executed the projects at a sill level of 800 feet of Srisailam reservoir, while AP could not get its due share from the allocated water due to evacuation of water by Telangana from Srisailam to Nagarjuna Sagar Project.

The Supreme Court is likely to take up the hearing by next week.

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Reinstate Ramesh Kumar by July 31: SC to AP govt

For the fourth time in less than a month, the Supreme Court on Friday yet again refused to give a stay on the Andhra Pradesh High Court order over reinstatement of Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner.

In a big victory to Ramesh Kumar and a huge embarassment to the Jagan government, the apex court passed the orders to reinstate Ramesh Kumar as SEC by next July 31 as per the High Court orders.

Hearing a petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh government seeking a stay on the contempt filed by Ramesh Kumar in the High Court, the Supreme Court on Friday had questioned the government why it had failed to reinstate Ramesh Kumar as State Election Commissioner depiste the directions from Governor Bishwabhushan Harichandan as per High Court orders.

Senior advocate Harish Salve presented the arguments in the Supreme Court on behalf of Nimmagadda Ramesh. Harish Salve brought to the notice of the apex court that his client Ramesh Kumar had filed a contempt petition in the High Court stating that the Andhra Pradesh government was not implementing the court’s order in restoring him as the SEC.

Harish Salve also informed the apex court that the Andhra Pradesh High Court had asked Ramesh Kumar to meet the Governor seeking his restoration as the SEC. Accordingly, Ramesh Kumar had met the Governor and submitted a memorandum requesting the latter to reinstate him as the SEC. Despite this, the Andhra Pradesh government had failed to implement the orders of the Governor as per the High Court orders, Harish Salve argued.

Hearing Harish Salve’s arguements, the Supreme Court had questioned the government counsel as to why such a situation arise in the first place.

“Why did the situation arise for the Governor to direct the government to reinstate Ramesh Kumar as SEC. We are in complete knowledge of the case. It is a matter of serious concern that the government has not reinstated Ramesh Kumar despite the Governor writing a letter,” the Supreme Court observed. With the Supreme Court’s latest observations, Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar’s reinstatement as SEC is a shut and close case.

This is the fourth time that the apex court had pulled up the Andhra Pradesh governmment. Earlier, hearing a Special Leave Petition filed by the AP government seeking the Supreme Court to give a stay on HC verdict to reinstate Ramesh Kumar, a three-judge SC bench, comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, had warned the government not to play with the constitutional functionaries.

Further, Harish Salve also informed the Supreme Court that several YSRCP leaders were lowering the dignity of the judiciary by making direct attack on the judges and the courts. Hearing this, the apex court had sought news clippings and videos of all those YSRCP leaders who made scandalous remarks against the judges and the judiciary.

It may be recalled that YSRCP Lok Sabha member Nandigam Suresh, party chief whip Srikanth Reddy and party leader and former MLA Amanchi Krishna Mohan made scandalous comments against the Andhra Pradesh High Court judges over the reinstatement of Ramesh Kumar as SEC. The Andhra Pradesh government chief whip attributed motives to the court stating that former chief minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu had been managing the High Court.

“Who is paying crores of rupees by the hour to the judges? Is it not Chandrababu Naidu. Is it not true that the TDP had been funding Ramesh Kumar with crores of rupees to pay off judges,” he asked.

This is not the first that the YSRCP leaders made comments that tend to undermine people’s confidence in administration of justice, bring or tend to bring the court and judges into disrepute and disrespect.

On May 20, the High Court had initiated contempt proceedings against 49 individuals, including YSR Congress Lok Sabha member Nandigam Suresh and party leader Amanchi Krishna Mohan for attributing motives to judges and lowering the dignity of the High Court. Both the YSRCP leaders made serious allegations against sitting judges of the High Court which amounts to interference with administration of justice.

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Finally, Telangana HC allows Secretariat demolition

After putting brakes on the demolition of the Old Secretariat building in Saifabad for more than a week, the Telangana High Court on Friday once again gave a green signal to the KCR government to continue with the demolition process.

Hearing a petition filed by retired professor P L Visheshwar Rao, the High Court had halted the demolition of the old Secretariat building on July 10. The High Court again directed the Telangana government to stop the demolition works till July 15. Further, the court had extended the stay on demolition of the building till July 16. The court had earlier directed the central government to submit a reply on its stand on the environmental issues with regard to the demolition of the Secretariat complex.

The petitioner, through his counsel, had argued that the KCR government went ahead with the demolition of the Secretariat complex in violation of the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules 2016, against the Provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 and against the provisions of the Environment Protection Act 1986, among other laws. The petitioner contended that the Environment Protection Act was being violated as the demolition did not have prior environment clearance by the central ministry concerned. On its part, Advocate-General B S Prasad argued that environmental clearances were not required for demolition of buildings.

Further, the AG had put forth arguments that the Telangana government got necessary permission from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation for demolition of the Old Secretariat building. The High Court agreed with the contention of the state government and quashed the petition filed by P L Visheswar Rao. However, the court directed the state government to follow all Covid-19 regulations while undertaking the demolition activity.

On June 28, the Telangana High Court gave its nod to demolish the old Secretariat building complex. Following this, the Telangana government began the demolition activity. At least 60 per cent of the old Secretariat, spread over 25.5 acres with 10 blocks, was razed to the ground. In the meanwhile, P L Visheshwar Rao filed a petition seeking the High Court directions to halt the demolition works.

The petitioner had earlier argued that the building was being demolished in violation of Covid-19 regulations. The petitioner also contended that the demolition has led to air pollution at a time the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad are seeing an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases. Such demolition has led to severe breathing problems for the residents in Saifabad area.

On Thursday, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had issued notices to the Telangana government and the Union government over the demolition of Old Secretariat. The notices were given on a petition filed by Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) working president and Parliament member from Malkajgiri constituency A Revanth Reddy, who alleged that the demolition of Old Secretariat was carried out without necessary environmental clearances. He asked the KCR government as to how his administration allowed demolition of the state secretariat without taking requisite environmental clearances. In the petition to NGT, Revanth Reddy said the TRS government ignored the norms prescribed by the green tribunal.

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Ramesh Kumar case: SC blow to Jagan sarkar


For the second time in less than 10 days, the Supreme Court on Thursday again refused to grant a stay on the Andhra Pradesh High Court judgement reinstating Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar as the State Election Commissioner.

A three-judge SC bench, comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, heard the case on Thursday.

The Andhra Pradesh government had promulgated an ordinance to reduce the tenure of SEC to three years from five years and subsequently removed Ramesh Kumar as the election commissioner. In what was regarded as an act of political vendetta, the Jagan government had removed Ramesh Kumar after he put off elections to the civic bodies citing the threat of coronavirus pandemic.

After removing Ramesh Kumar, the Jagan sarkar had appointed 76-year-old retired Tamil Nadu judge Kangaraju as SEC. Ramesh Kumar had filed a petition in the High Court challenging the government’s decision to remove Ramesh Kumar as SEC. On May 29, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had struck down the state government’s Ordinance reducing the tenure of the SEC from five years to three years. The Andhra Pradesh government had filed a Special Leave Petition in the SC seeking a stay on the High Court order.

On June 9, the SC observed that it was not right on part of the Andhra Pradesh government to play with the constitutional functionaries and that the removal of SEC was not done in a bonafide manner.

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SC relief to ‘T’ on Covid tests to dead


In a big reprieve to the Telangana government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday has issued an interim order staying the Telangana High Court’s order to test all the patients who died of Covid-19. The apex court said that the order by the Telangana HC was ‘premature.’

The Telangana government had stopped testing the dead bodies for COVID-19 from May 20. A petition was filed against the Telangana government in this regard. Hearing the petition, the High Court on May 26 had ordered the KCR government to conduct corona tests on the dead before discharging them from the hospitals in the state, but the Telangana government contended that it would be difficult to implement the HC order to conduct COVID-19 tests on the all those who succumbed to the virus. Later, the Telangana government had challenged the HC order in the Supreme Court.

Hearing the case on Wednesday, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice J Ashok Bhushan observed that the HC order was premature and directions for testing of all dead bodies as given by Telangana HC was stayed.

Earlier, the HC took serious note of the Telangana government not heeding to its directive. The HC also warned that it will be forced to initiate contempt proceedings for the Telangana government’s failure to follow previous orders on the supply of protective equipment to health workers and Covid-19 tests.

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Now, Jagan sarkar removes Advocate On Record for losing cases in Supreme Court


The Andhra Pradesh government seems to blame everyone else but itself for its failures. In the latest move, the Jagan sarkar had axed the Advocate On Record for losing crucial cases in the Supreme Court.

On Monday, the Andhra Pradesh government removed Advocate on Record G Nageshwar Reddy replacing him with Moazzam Naqvi. Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy was mighty displeased with Advocate on Record G Nageshwar Reddy for losing important cases relating to removal of party colours and postponement of civic body elections by SEC. Jagan was of the view that Advocate on Record G Nageshwar Reddy had failed to present the arguments of the government effectively in the Supreme Court thereby leading to a loss of face for the government in the Supreme Court. Advocate on Record is an advocate who is entitled under the Order IV of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 (previously Order IV of the Supreme Court of India Rules, 1966), framed under Article 145 of the Constitution, to act as well as to plead for a party in the Supreme Court of India.

Recently, the Supreme Court had dismissed the Andhra Pradesh government’s plea challenging Andhra Pradesh High Court order to remove the ruling party’s colours from government buildings and panchayat offices. The Jagan government, represented by lawyer G N Reddy, claimed that the colours were in no way related to the YSRCP flag. However, the Supreme Court had observed, “There is no ambiguity in the direction issued by the High Court that any colour which is similar to the flag of any political party should not be used for painting gram panchayat buildings.”

Prior to this case, the AP government lost its case in the Supreme Court over postponement of civic elections by the then SEC Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar.
The Opposition parties decried Jagan sarkar for its attempts to disobey court orders saying it amounted to subversion of the rule of law and that public confidence in the judiciary would be eroded if its orders were not obeyed. However, Jagan instead of viewing it as subversion of the law had sacked Advocate On General.

In the past two months or so, the Jagan government seems to be in a sacking spree mode. Earlier, the government had suspended Dr Sudhakar Rao who served as civil surgeon at the Narsipatnam government hospital and Nagari municipal commissioner K Venkatrami Reddy for “adverse comments” on the government with regard to the coronavirus crisis. Both Dr Sudhakar Rao and Venkatrami Reddy in their respective videos raised voices of dissent over shortage of medical equipment as masks, gloves and necessary gear to fight Covid-19. A week ago, Madhavi, assistant general manager of Guntur District Cooperative Central Bank Ltd, was suspended for posting the widely circulated Jagan’s comments that popping Paracetamol and spraying bleaching powder can cure coronavirus. The CID immediately swung into action and checked the bank employee’s Facebook account and her Whatsapp. After conducting a thorough analysis, the CID submitted a report to the Jagan government. Subsequently, the Andhra Pradesh government suspended the bank employee. However, it is learnt that the bank employee received Jagan’s ‘Paracetamol’, bleaching powder comments in her Whatsapp group. Her children apparently had forwarded the message and also posted the same on Madhavi’s facebook account.

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Supreme Court orders Jagan Govt to remove YCP colours

The Jaganmohan Reddy Government in Andhra Pradesh got a big blow from the Supreme Court. In a clear judgement, the Apex Court has ordered the AP Government to remove the YCP party colours from the panchayat buildings. The court also took serious objection to the AP Government order pertaining to the fourth colour that was applied to these buildings.

The Supreme Court gave a deadline of four weeks for removal of the colours. If the Government failed to do so, that would be seen as a contempt of court and necessary proceedings would be launched against that.

The latest order of the Supreme Court came as a big relief for the AP High Court against which the ruling YSRCP leaders have been making comments in the wake of recent orders in Dr. Sudhakar case and so on. The Supreme Court did not agree with the AP Government’s contention that addition of fourth colour would make the colours not look like YCP flag colours. The High Court also held a similar opinion, saying that it was not enough to add a fourth colour.

Jagan Government argued, saying that white colour stood for dairy revolution, blue for aqua revolution and green for agricultural revolution. Fourth colour terracotta was added in view of allegations of YCP colours. But the courts dismissed claims of AP Government outright.

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Supreme Court dismisses LG Polymers plea on Rs. 50 Cr deposit

The Supreme Court of India has declined to issue stay orders on the National Green Tribunal order which instructed LG Polymers to deposit Rs 50 Cr in the court in the gas leak case. The Apex Court ordered the company to first attend hearings in NGT and come for appeal only after a final order was given there. Similar direction was given with regard to the AP High Court taking up the gas tragedy case. The Apex Court didn’t take into account LG management plea that NGT had no authority to file suo motu cases. The company argued that the deposit order was issued without listening to the management stand.

The NGT has asked for the deposit towards binding the company to its commitments on compensation to the gas leak victims. As per the international compensation laws, the company would have to pay very high amounts to hundreds and thousands of victims. The opposition parties are demanding compensation to all the residents living in 10 kilometres radius of the factory.

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Consider home delivery of liquor – SC to states


The Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments may soon allow online liquor sales with the Supreme Court on Friday giving a green signal to states to consider indirect sale/home delivery of liquor. Hearing a petition filed that sought to ban liquor sales saying overcrowding at liquor shops risk large-scale transmission of coronavirus, the Supreme Court suggested online sale or home delivery of liquor to address the problem of overcrowding.

As per the central government’s directive, those visiting the liquor shops will have to maintain social distance of at least six feet, but this norm was violated in both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana even as the police remained mute spectators. After being closed for nearly two months of lockdown, a surge of tipplers raided the shelves at liquor stores and wine shops across the green and orange zones in Andhra Pradesh after it allowed standalone shops to sell liquor between 12 noon till 7 pm. The AP government even hiked liquor prices by 75 percent claiming that such a hike would ‘discourage’ people from alcohol consumption. This was criticized by the opposition. Allowing liquor sale during the ongoing nationwide lockdown has caused unmanageable over-crowding at liquor stores, making social distancing impossible and defeating the very purpose of a lockdown, TDP president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu had pointed out. Such was the over-crowding that the AP government had employed teachers to regulate the massive crowds outside the liquor stores, a move fiercely condemned by Naidu and Pawan Kalyan.

The Telangana government too allowed sale of liquor in all green and orange zones, excluding containment zones, in order to deal with major drop in revenues. Tipplers queued up in large numbers as liquor shops opened in Telangana after a gap of nearly two months. The government’s decision to hike the liquor prices by 16 per cent failed to dampen the spirit of the Bacchus lovers, who started queuing up two-three hours before the shops re-opened.

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Jagan gets one more jolt in Supreme Court over power staff bifurcation !


The YSRCP government headed by Chief Miniser YS Jaganmohan Reddy suffered yet another jolt in the Supreme Court on Friday.

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the plea of AP power utilities to keep Justice DM Dharmadhikari Committee orders on distribution of staff to TS and AP power utilities ‘under abeyance’.

It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had appointed a one-man committee headed by Justice Dharmadhikari to resolve the dispute between TS and AP power utilities over bifurcation of staff and make final allocation of staff to both the states.

The committee made final allocation of staff to TS and AP utilities on December 26, 2019.

However, the AP power utilities challenged the committee orders in the Supreme Court saying that they were “one-sided” in favour of TS.

The AP power utilities refused to give postings to 645 employees allotted to the state saying that there were no vacancies in AP to accommodate them and also it would impose heavy financial burden.

TS utilities argued that they were suffering huge financial burden to pay salaries for these 645 staff allocated to AP for the past six years since bifurcation of state and urged the apex court to issue directions to AP to give postings to these staff immediately.

As per the final allocations made by the committee, 613 employees were allotted to AP and 502 to Telangana. Another 42, who did not choose any of the options given by the committee, were allotted to AP based on their place of birth. And 242 employees belonging to Telangana, but working in AP, were allotted to Telangana.

The AP power utilities disputed with the allocations alleging that out of 6,162 State allocable employees, allotments were made unilaterally to 1,157 employees only.

They argued that the Telangana power utilities arbitrarily removed 1,157 employees in violation of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, and was insisting that AP ‘absorb them’.

The Supreme Court which heard the case on Friday refused to put the committee orders in abeyance as sought by AP.

It asked AP to file its objections, if any, with the Dharmadhikari committee, within two weeks and asked the committee to look into these issues and resolve them at the earliest.

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SC declines to stay CAA-NPR


The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to pass any order to restrain the operation of Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) or National Population Register (NPR).

The top court gave four weeks time to the Centre to file counter affidavit and the hearing will take place in the fifth week.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde also indicated the probability of constituting a Constitution Bench to take up the matter on the next date of hearing.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) challenging the new law, urged the court to postpone the process for a few months.

However, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal opposed it saying it was equivalent to a stay.

“It means as good as granting stay on the operation of the law,” said the AG. Then the Chief Justice said: “We aren’t going to pass any such order today.”

The apex court said that the anti-CAA petitions from Assam and Tripura will be heard separately. The top court observed that Assam’s problem with CAA is different from rest of country in the backdrop of earlier cut off date for citizenship was March 24, 1971, which is under the newly amended citizenship law is Dec 31, 2014. Therefore, it is essential to segregate the Assam anti-CAA petitions for separate hearing from other pleas challenging CAA.

On a transfer petition filed by the Centre, the top court also restrained all High Courts from passing any rider on the CAA.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi cited that the UPA government had identified 40,000 to grant citizenship under the new law, and if the citizenship is granted then revoking it will be an irrevocable process.

The Chief Justice said there is a possibility to issue them some temporary permits for the time being. The AG contested it stating that the law itself talks about taking back the citizenship in certain situation.

“There are provisions to withdraw citizenship,” said the AG. The AG also told the bench that the government has received copies of nearly 60 pleas out of 143 petitions. Therefore, it will be appropriate to grant some time period to reply to pleas which have not been served.

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Verdict on Ayodhya unanimous, says CJI


In a historic judgement in the sensitive Ayodhya land dispute case, the Supreme Court on Saturday directed the Centre to form within three months a trust which will build a temple at the disputed site.

The Sunni Waqf Board, which was a party to the 7-decade-old title suit, should be given an alternate five-acre land at some other suitable place for construction of a mosque, a 5-member bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said in a unanimous judgement.

The Centre shall make suitable provisions by handing over the land to the trust, said the bench, which also comprised Chief Justice-designate Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Justice Ashok Bhushan, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.

The court said the title of the land can be decided only on legal advice.

The top court ruled that the Allahabad High Court verdict of 2010, giving land to the Sunni Waqf Board and Nirmohi Akhara, was wrong.

It rejected the claim of Nirmohi Akhara of being a ‘shebait’ (a devotee who serves the deity).

The Supreme Court, however, said that in the board of trustees, appropriate representation should be accorded to Nirmohi Akhara, even though its suit was dismissed.

The bench upheld the report of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which concluded that a temple existed at the disputed site.

There is clear evidence the Hindus believed Ram was born at the disputed site, it said.

There is evidence that ‘Ram Chabutra’ and ‘Sita Rasoi’ were worshipped by Hindus before the British came, the judgement said.

The court said travelogue and gazetteers cannot be the basis of adjudication of the title and that the nature of worship offered by Hindus over the years proves that they had always believed that Lord Ram was at the site.

Documents of 1856-57 show that Hindus were not obstructed from worshipping there, it said. Outer courtyard has been under exclusive possession of Hindus over the years, the court said.

The bench said Hindus consider the disputed site as the birthplace of Lord Ram and this belief is beyond judicial scrutiny.

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SC gives Chidambaram interim protection in INX case


The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim protection from arrest, till August 26, to former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the INX Media money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

“We are inclined to continue his interim protection in the Enforcement Directorate. He had interim protection from arrest before as well,” a bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi said.

The court also observed that his son Karti Chidambaram, who is co-accused in the case and others were out on bail.

However, the senior Chidambaram will remain in CBI custody till August 26 as the top court did not interfere in that matter.

However, Chidambaram also challenged the trial court order awarding four-day CBI custody during the hearing of the anticipatory bail plea moved by him in two cases connected to INX media.

Both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED case will be listed on Monday before the Supreme Court bench to examine the legality of handing his custody to the agencies concerned.

During the arguments, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the agencies have recovered digital evidence establishing e-mail exchanges in connection with money laundering and stashing away of illegitimate money.

“Prime facie it is established that shell companies were created abroad by the people having close association with Chidambaram…these persons also executed a will in the name of the grand-daughter of Chidambaram. We need to investigate and confront him with the piece of information,” he said.

Mehta also pointed to the high probability of the will having been destroyed.

Pressing for custodial interrogation in the money laundering case, he also told the court that investigations have revealed that 10 immovable and 17 bank accounts in foreign countries have direct links with Chidambaram. He also said that Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval was given under the signature of Chidambaram.

Arguing in favour of custodial interrogation of Chidambaram, Mehta submitted that there are certain individuals who will “never divulge the truth if they are under the protective umbrella of anticipatory bail”.

He added that the gravity of the offence has been acknowledged by the Delhi High Court.

At the end of the hearing, Mehta attempted to hand over a sealed envelope, which he claimed, contains crucial evidence to establish Chidambaram’s culpability in the case.

The court, however, refused to accept it and listed both matters for hearing on Monday.

The Delhi High Court had, on August 20, dismissed the former Finance Minister’s anticipatory bail pleas in both the CBI and the ED cases pertaining to the INX Media money laundering matter.

Chidambaram’s counsel and senior advocate Kapil Sibal told the court that former minister was granted interim protection by the High Court on July 25, 2018 and the same had been extended subsequently and continued upto August 20. he also told the court that his client was has all along cooperated with the authority in the investigation.

Countering his argument, Mehta raised strong objection for granting any interim protection to the former minister and submitted that the ED has collected innumerable documents and evidence to show that the money has been transferred from one company to another shell company.

He also claimed that Chidambaram has various properties and various other countries in the name of shell companies and that bank accounts in the banks abroad in the name of shell companies and therefore, his custodial interrogation is necessary for unravelling the truth.

Defending the former minister, Sibal raised the issue of his fundamental right to liberty. He said that the High Court gave the order, after reserving it for seven months, on August 20 and said that he can move an application asking for time, which was also rejected later.

Chidambaram moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday, seeking urgent hearing on his plea challenging the Delhi High Court order, which was not accepted by the apex court.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who also appeared for Chidambram, submitted that his client has been denied the opportunity of being heard as against the order refusing anticipatory bail.

Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI later on Wednesday night.

The ED and the CBI are probing how Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram managed to get FIPB clearance in 2007 when his father was the Finance Minister. Karti Chidambaram was arrested on February 28, 2018, by the CBI for allegedly accepting money to facilitate the FIPB clearance to INX Media. He was later granted bail.

His chartered accountant, S. Bhaskararaman, was also arrested and released on bail later.

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Supreme Court notice to AP over mob attacks


Gangs violence, mob attacks and targetted killings are some of the issues against which the Supreme Court has issued orders to the governments to take preventive steps. In the absence of strong steps in this direction, the apex court issued notices to the Centre, the Human Rights Commission, Andhra Pradesh and several other states.
Interestingly, AP is included in such a national level list for the first time in its recent political history.

Several intellectuals have petitioned the court alleging that some governments are not following its orders for preventing targetted killings and street violence by mobs. In the past, the apex court has ordered that a separate law should be enacted to prevent mob attacks and fast track courts should be formed to handle such cases.

The Opposition Telugu Desam Party has been repeatedly expressing concerns over the rising political violence in AP in the past two months. TDP boss Chandrababu Naidu has accused rival YCP groups of killing several TDP activists and also injuring hundreds of their workers across the state. Naidu deplored how YCP workers disrobed and beat up a TDP woman activist in Prakasam district which led to her death eventually.

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Home buyers’ money diverted to MS Dhoni, Sakshi Dhoni’s company: SC


The Supreme Court has observed that Amrapali home buyers’ money has been diverted illegally and wrongly to former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his wife Sakshi Dhoni’s company Rhiti Sports Management Pvt Ltd.

The observation by justices Arun Mishra and U.U. Lalit came on Tuesday while cancelling the real estate company Amrapali Group’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority’s licence and appointed state-run National Buildings Construction Corp Ltd (NBCC) to complete all pending projects.

The bench has noted that the Amrapali Group of Companies paid Rs 42.22 crore to Rhiti Sports Management Pvt Ltd between 2009 and 2015. Of this, Rs 6.52 crore was paid by Amrapali Sapphire Developers Pvt Ltd.

The sum was paid on account of agreements executed by Anil Kumar Sharma, CMD of Amrapali Group of Companies, with Rhiti Sports Management Pvt Ltd.

However, the court noted that there was no resolution on record authorizing Sharma to enter into an agreement on behalf of all of Amrapali group of Companies.

The court pointed out other various agreements endorsed between the companies on November 22, 2009, according to which Dhoni will make himself available to the Chairmen for three days along with one representative of Rhiti Sports.

According to the Agreement for sponsorship dated March 20, 2015, Amrapali Group of Companies got the right to advertise as Logo Space at various places in the IPL 2015 for Chennai Super Kings.

“It is observed that this agreement is on plain paper and executed only between Amrapali and Rhiti Sports Management Pvt Ltd and there are no signatories on behalf of Chennai Super Kings to this agreement,” the court noted.

No resolution in favour of Arun Pandey, Signatory of Rhiti Sports, is attached with the agreement.

“This clearly shows that these agreements have just been made for payment of amounts to Rhiti Sports Management Pvt Ltd Co are sham agreements and made just for making payments to Rhiti Sports Management Pvt Ltd,” the court said.

“We feel that home buyers money has been diverted illegally and wrongly to Rhiti Sports Management Pvt Ltd and should be recovered from them as the said agreement in our opinion does not stand the test of law.”

Dhoni was a brand ambassador for Amrapali Group until three years ago.

Dhoni’s wife Sakshi Singh was then a Director of Amrapali Mahi Developers Pvt Ltd, a company incorporated for developing a project in Ranchi. An MoU was also entered between the parties though the court was not provided with a copy of that.

The court said in its order that in Amrapali Sapphire Developers Pvt Ltd, a flat had been booked in the name of Rhiti Sports by passing an adjustment entry.

However, Sanjay Pandey of Rhiti Sports denied booking any such flat. Pandey also confirmed that neither the company nor any individual had any flat in Amrapali Group.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

‘No corruption’ in Rafale, says Centre; SC reserves verdict


The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that there is “no corruption” in the Rafale deal and it is bound to maintain secrecy on pricing as per the Inter-Government Agreement (IGA) signed with France, while stressing defence deals are not examined in a court of law.

Terming the Rafale deal a question of national security, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi: “We have signed an IGA… which we are obliged to follow… Rafale is not for ornamentation. It is essential for protection of each and everyone of us…. nowhere in the world do such matters go before the court.”

He also said that in accordance with the IGA’s Article 10, the pricing cannot be disclosed. “… the secrecy clause of the inter-governmental agreement between India and France pertains to defence deals and not to the award of contract for construction of flyover or dams….,” he said insisting on the dismissal of review petitions.

Former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who have filed the review petitions, however, contended before the top court that it should set aside December 14, 2018 verdict, which dismissed their plea for criminal investigation into the Rafale deal.

The court then reserved verdict on the batch of petitions seeking review of its December 14 judgment.

Bhushan alleged suppression of material facts from the court, and an FIR should be registered and a criminal investigation initiated. He also argued that the three-member Indian Negotiation Team had objected to parallel negotiations by the PMO, which allegedly led to the deal become more expensive.

Objecting to the review petition, the Attorney General said the basic grounds for seeking review of the December verdict were similar to the main petition. He also rubbished the allegations that the Centre has played a fraud on the court regarding the information on the deal.

“The petitioners are seeking review on the basis of stolen documents… they committed theft by accessing incomplete file notings of government departments,” he said.

Bhushan argued that eight critical clauses, including on anti-corruption, were dropped on the deal, and the objection of three experts on pricing of the aircraft deal ignored.

“The Centre should place the entire file of the negotiations team before the court… for the deal to go through, the Centre also breached the ceiling price. The French government issued a letter of comfort, which was not off any comfort,” he said.

Shourie, who briefly argued, told the court that it has been “misled”, and although, the government has given all the documents regarding the deal to CAG, “why can’t they share then with the court”.

He also shared a document published on the Ministry of Home Affairs website, which mandates the government has to share information on defence deals.

The Attorney General, however, argued that the document is old, and in accordance with the IGA, the government has to oblige its terms, regarding secrecy.

He also said that the Rafale deal has come to fruition stage after many years, and if any delay is caused, developing a new Request for Proposal (RFP) and then floating it will take another five years. “This delay will affect the security and safety of the country….. the court should not be going into how the jets were purchased….if we had seen prima facie in the case, we would have not produced the documents (regarding the deal) before the court,” he said.

At this, Bhushan said: “We are not in favour of the cancellation of the contract, but criminal investigation should be made by the CBI into the deal…..as the material information has been suppressed, we cannot reach to the root of the matter… Ultimately, the deal went ahead without any guarantee, no bank guarantee or sovereign guarantee”.

Firing a volley of queries at the Attorney General regarding the deal, the court first asked him on the registration of the FIR and he said that there “should be a prima facie cognizable offence”.

The court then asked about transfer of technology, which was an integral component of the deal under negotiation during the UPA time, and its benefits. At this, Venugopal retorted: “Who is to decide that? Will this court decide?”

As the court asked about the sovereign guarantee, the Attorney General cited precedents with Russia and US, where bank guarantees were waived for defence deals.

Finally, the court asked Venugopal’s opinion on the dissent of three domain experts, but he said they had eventually consented.

“They examined the whole aspect. The concerns raised by the three members were referred to Defence Acquisition Committee…. Eventually, they agreed,” he said, adding that he can produce the documents related to their consent.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

SC rejects plea on Rahul Gandhi citizenship


The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a plea on Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship.

A Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna rejected the petition.

“Some company in some form has mentioned Rahul Gandhi as a British citizen, so does he become a British citizen? Dismissed,” CJI Gogoi said.

The court was hearing the petition moved by two activists seeking direction to the Home Ministry to decide on the matter and it also sought the disqualification of Gandhi from contesting the Lok Sabha polls.

The Home Ministry issued a notice to Gandhi on April 29 to clarify his nationality within a fortnight after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Subramanian Swamy alleged that he was a British national.

Swamy in his representation to the Home Ministry alleged that Gandhi served as one of the Directors and Secretary of the British firm Backops Ltd, which is registered in the UK since 2003, with address 51 Southgate Street, Winchester, Hampshire.

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Congress moves SC as EC ‘fails to act’ against Modi, Shah

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear on Tuesday a Congress petition that claimed that the Election Commission had refused to act on a complaint against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for making “hate speeches” and “using” armed forces for “political propaganda” during the Lok Sabha polls.

The Congress alleged that EC’s “silence” was an indirect endorsement of the violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, agreed to hear the petition on Tuesday after it was mentioned as “urgent” by senior advocate A.M. Singhvi and advocate Sunil Fernandes.

Singhvi, while making oral mentioning of the petition before the bench, did not take names of the PM and Amit Shah. The bench said: “Why don’t you clearly take the names? We will hear you last. You should stop this game of hide and seek.”

The bench took note of the petition by Singhvi and asked him why he is hesitating to take names of the BJP leaders. The bench then asked the counsel to say “whatever he wanted to”.

The 146-page petition was filed by Sushmita Dev, Congress candidate from Assam’s Silchar Lok Sabha constituency. In the petition, the Congress alleged that the rules and regulations inscribed in the Model Code of Conduct were not meant for the Prime Minister and his party President but applicable only on other candidates.

“It is in public domain that they have indulged in hate speeches, repeatedly used the armed forces for political propaganda, despite a clear prohibition on the same by the EC,” said the petition.

The petition said the delay of more than 3 weeks in decision-making or the absence of a decision were, in fact, decisions in themselves.

The Congress said 40 representations on violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) were brought to the notice of the EC so far, but it did not lead to any action.

“It would not be overstating that inaction by the respondents is a tacit endorsement of the statements and a clean chit to the individuals whose statements and actions are, on the face of it, in violation of the provisions of the Representation of the People Act and the election rules 1961,” contended the Congress.

The petition alleged that since March 10, after the notification for the elections was issued, Modi and Shah had “violated” the provisions of the Representation of the People Act and the election rules.

The petition cited the recent temporary ban on campaigning imposed on BSP leader Mayawati for violating the MCC and equated “lack of action” against Modi and Shah. “It demonstrates abdication and indecision and a complete absence of justice in ensuring a level playing field,” the petitioner argued.

The petition cited the Prime Minister’s rally held on April 23, the day of polling in Gujarat. “…despite being the Constitutional watchdog for ensuring free and fair elections, (the EC) has become a tool in the hands of the dispensation to facilitate violation of the provisions of the Constitution, the provisions of the Act and the rules,” the petition alleged.

The petition also cited the PM’s comment on Rahul Gandhi’s choice of Wayanad as “a seat where the minority is majority”.

It also alleged that Modi was “seeking votes” in the names of the CRPF soldiers killed in the terror attack in Pulwama in Kashmir.

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Supreme Court sensational order on CBI


After hearing several petitions, Supreme Court gave a sensational order and instructed temporary CBI director Mannem Nageswara Rao not to make any decisions till further orders. Rao is ordered to only preside over the routine administrative matters of the CBI now.

The court heard a petition made by CBI former director Alok Verma challenging the Central government’s midnight order removing him from CBI director’s post. Verma had challenged his removal since Centre cannot arbitrarily do so because of the framework of 2-year fixed term of CBI director without any interference from the Centre.

The apex court has restrained CBI temporary director from making any major decisions in the wake of controversial mass transfer of 13 CBI officials after Alok Verma and his differences with CBI former special director Rakesh Asthana came to the surface.

The court’s order came as another blow to the BJP government at the Centre. Meanwhile, Congress party leaders including Rahul Gandhi took part in protest programmes at all CBI offices in the country resenting the interference by Modi government in CBI affairs.

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Professor Nageshwar – SC Verdict on Sabarimala Temple: Can courts adjudicate issues of faith


The Supreme court Judgement allowing women of all ages entry into the ancient Sabarimala temple raises fundamental question on how far India’s secular constitution permits State to regulate age old religious faiths and beliefs. The conservative opinion is that disallowing women between ages 10 and 50 is integral to the faith of the temple and therefore beyond state intervention. What does India’s jurisprudence tell us on the delicate relationship between State, religion and the individual.

The apex court clarified the limits of religious freedom in a secular constitution. The Supreme Court of India in a significant judgement in Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sangam & ors. Versus The Government of Tamil Nadu & Anr said, “…while the right to freedom of religion and to manage the religious affairs of any denomination is undoubtedly a fundamental right, the same is subject to public order, morality and health and further that the inclusion of such rights in the Constitution will not prevent the State from acting in an appropriate manner, in the larger public interest…”

The often quoted argument is that courts have no role in religious matters as Article 26 of the Indian Constitution provides for religious freedom.

But, the ecclesiastical jurisprudence rejects this argument. The Supreme Court repeatedly held the view that a religious institution has freedom to manage its own affairs in matters of religion. But this right guaranteed under Article 26 of the Constitution of India cannot be either absolute or arbitrary. Such freedom is confined to essential elements of a religious practice as stated by the apex court judgments in cases like Sri Venkataramana Devaru and Others Vs. State of Mysore and Others and Durgah Committee, Ajmer and another Vs. Syed Hussain Ali and others.

Justice Gajendragadkar was of the view, “……. that in order that the practices in question should be treated as a part of religion they must be regarded by the said religion as its essential and integral part; otherwise even purely secular practices which are not an essential or an integral part of religion are apt to be clothed with a religious form and may make a claim for being treated as religious practices within the meaning of Article 26. Unless such practices are found to constitute an essential and integral part of a religion, the claim for the protection under Article 26 may have to be carefully scrutinised; in other words, the protection must be confined to such religious practices as are an essential and an integral part of it and no other. ” The SC explicitly reiterated the Court’s power to decide on what constitutes an essential religious practice.

Therefore, the religious institutions, organisations or their believers cannot claim supremacy or immunity from the tenets of secular constitution of India in the name of faith and the constitutionally sanctioned freedom to pursue, propagate it. But, this is not to argue that secular institutions like courts or government can always interfere in religious affairs. The observations made in the minority view in the Supreme Court judgement in Commissioner of Police and Others Vs. Acharya Jagadishwarananda Avadhuta and Another are worth mentioning here.

The para 57 of the said view reads as follows: “The exercise of the freedom to act and practise in pursuance of religious beliefs is as much important as the freedom of believing in a religion…. there are some forms of practicing the religion by outward actions which are as much part of religion as the faith itself.

The freedom to act and practise can be subject to regulations in our Constitution, subject to public order, health and morality and to other provisions in Part III of the Constitution. However, in every case the power of regulation must be so exercised with the consciousness that the subject of regulation is the fundamental right of religion, and as not to unduly infringe the protection given by the Constitution.

Further, in the exercise of the power to regulate, the authorities cannot sit in judgement over the professed views of the adherents of the religion and to determine whether the practice is warranted by the religion or not. That is not their function.” The freedom of religion under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution is not only confined to beliefs but extends to religious practices and hardly requires reiteration. However, Right of belief and practice guaranteed by Article 25 is subject to public order, morality and health and other provisions of Part III of the Constitution.

Public order will be in jeopardy if in a diverse religious society, various religious bodies give unlimited interpretation of the religious freedom enshrined in the Constitution of India. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta points out in ‘Passion and Constraint: Courts and the Regulation of Religious Meaning’ in Rajeev Bhargava’s (ed) ‘Politics and Ethics of the Indian Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2008), in most constitutional settings , courts “have to determine whether or not a policy places a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion. ”

Public interest versus religious freedom

The wording of Articles 25 and 26 (the provisions related to religious freedom), said Marc Galanter (Law and Society in Modern India, Oxford, 1997), establishes primacy of public interest over religious claims and provides a wide scope for governmentally sponsored reforms.

( Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India )

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