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Supreme Court to hear Dayanidhi Maran tomorrow

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear former Union Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran’s challenge against a Madras High Court order cancelling his anticipatory bail and asking him to surrender in three days to face charges of having an illegal telephone exchange in his house during his years in office between 2004 and 2007.

With hardly 48 hours before his surrender, Mr. Maran approached a three-judge Bench led by Justice T.S. Thakur for immediate relief and stay of the High Court order.

In a short mentioning, Justice Thakur told senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, for Mr. Maran, that the case would come up before an appropriate bench on August 12, 2015.

Mr. Maran has argued that the High Court did not consider the legal circumstances before cancellation of bail and the order was an error in law. He has argued that bail is cancelled only when there is danger of the person fleeing the country or influencing the witnesses in the case.

In this case, he contends, neither apprehension is considered or sounded out in the High Court order. He contended that the CBI had sought the cancellation of his bail only to humiliate him.

In the order on Monday, Justice S. Vaidyanathan observed that Mr. Maran was involved in “serious offences” like corruption, cheating and causing wrongful loss to the extent of crores to the public exchequer.

The court had found “considerable force” in the government's version that Mr. Maran did not deserve special concession when a number of undertrials were languishing in jails.

According to the prosecution, as Minister, Mr. Maran entered into a criminal conspiracy with officials of the BSNL and by abusing their official positions, caused a huge financial loss and wrongful loss to the exchequer to the tune of Rs. 1.78 crore.

The prosecution alleged that the former Minister installed over 300 telephone connections in his residence in the name of the accused government servants to show these connections illegally under “service category”, thereby making no payments for the installation and rentals.

Mr. Maran was granted anticipatory bail for six weeks on the condition that he would cooperate with the agency in the investigation.

Former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran arriving at the CBI Headquarters for questioning in New Delhi on July 02, 2015.
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Aadhar card not mandatory, says Supreme Court

New Delhi: In an order with wide ramifications, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Aadhar card is not mandatory for the citizens.

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court further instructed the Centre to publicise the decision widely.

“The Centre shall ensure wide publicity through print and electronic media that Aadhar card is not mandatory,” the bench said.

The Constitution Bench was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Centre's ambitious scheme to provide Aadhar card to all citizens and decide whether right to privacy is a fundamental right.

Earlier in the day, an apex court bench had referred the matter to a constitution bench as it wanted an authoritative pronouncement on whether right to privacy is a fundamental right.

The Constitution Bench ruled that Aadhar card will remain optional for availing various

welfare schemes of the government except for PDS and LPG distribution system.

The court directed that “no personal information of Aadhar card holders shall be shared by the authorities concerned”.

The court, however, allowed the use of details of Aadhar card holders for any criminal investigation.
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SC turns down plea on wearing hijab during AIPMT exam

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday made it clear that faith in one’s own religion would not disappear if one appeared in an examination without a scarf for a few hours.

It held that Muslim girls cannot insist on wearing the hijab (scarf) to examination halls for appearing in the All India Pre Medical Test scheduled for Saturday. A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justices Arun Misra and Amitav Roy declined to entertain a Special Leave Petition against an order of the Kerala High Court permitting two petitioners to wear scarves on condition that they come to the examination hall 30 minutes before the test and if necessary, subject themselves to frisking by female invigilators.

The Students Islamic Organisation of India and two aggrieved Muslim girl candidates from Kerala had filed the SPL. Following the cancellation of the AIPMT, the CBSE had notified a dress code for the revised AIPMT and banned the use of hairpins, headbands, scarfs and full sleeve clothes or burqa to ensure that no malpractice was committed by candidates. The petitioners wanted quashing of the dress code rules.

Justice Dattu told senior counsel Mr Sanjay Hegde, appearing for the petitioners, that faith was different from insisting on wearing a particular type of cloth to an examination hall. The CJI reminded counsel that certain strict rules had been sought to be implemented by the CBSE in the wake of the cancellation of the earlier test by the apex court.

Describing the plea as “nothing but ego”, the CJI said candidates could wear headscarves after the examination was over.

When Mr Hegde insisted that the CBSE had erred in enforcing such a rule, Justice Dattu observed, “Examiners cannot conduct inquiry into everyone’s faith. They have to do it (AIPMT) appropriately this time.” The Bench proceeded to dismiss the petition but the counsel sought permission to withdraw the same.
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Society has accepted live-in relationship: SC

New Delhi: In a major psychological boost to couples in live-in relationships, the Supreme Court for the first time on Thursday removed the stigma from such liaisons, saying it has now become an accepted norm in society.

“In modern times, live-in relationship has become an acceptable norm. It is not a crime,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant observed.

Though the apex court has twice earlier ruled that live-in relationships are not a crime, this is the first time that it has acknowledged that with the passing of time, the society has accepted the concept and the relationship does not attract any penal action.
The judges made the remark during a discussion in the court on whether exposing a public figure’s live-in relationship would amount to defamation.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi replied that public should not look into the personal life of a public figure, as is being increasingly witnessed, and it serves no public interest.

But the most interesting aspect is that the significant observation came during the hearing of petitions filed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who wants the Supreme Court to decriminalise the offence of defamation.

Opposing the petition seeking the quashing of criminal defamation law, Rohatgi submitted that doing away with the law would bring anarchy into the society. He also stated that the reach of the social media made it all the more important that there should be criminal punishment for defamation.

“In the 1950s, a maligning word could be carried to only five people in a group; now it reaches lakhs (of people) within minutes through social media like Facebook and Twitter. Therefore, it is necessary to keep criminal punishment intact for defamation,” Rohatgi said.
Gandhi has been booked in a criminal defamation case in a Bhiwandi court in the Thane district of Maharashtra for allegedly blaming the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

He made the comments while campaigning during the general elections last year.

Kejriwal is facing prosecution after being summoned as an accused under Sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) on a complaint lodged by Union minister of road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari.

Gadkari has alleged that he was defamed by Kejriwal when his name was included in the party’s list of “India's most corrupt”.

The trial is pending and the Union minister has partly recorded his statement in the case. The other defamation case, in which the trial was stayed on Thursday, had been lodged against Kejriwal at Karkardooma trial court by Sheila Dikshit’s former political secretary Pawan Khera in 2013 for his alleged remarks against the former chief minister during protests over power tariff hike in October 2012.

Swamy is facing four defamation cases filed by his bête noire, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, for a host of “offensive” comments he allegedly made against her.

The trial against Gandhi, Kejriwal and Swamy has already been stayed by the apex court. In its judgment of November 28, 2013, the Supreme Court had asked Parliament to frame a law for the protection of women in live-in relationships and children born out of it.

On April 13, 2015, the court had ruled that if an unmarried couple are living together as husband and wife, they would be presumed to be legally married and the woman would be eligible to inherit property after the death of her partner.
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Vyapam scam: Supreme court orders CBI probe

New Delhi: The Supreme Court transferred the investigation into Madhya Pradesh's examination and recruitment scam and the mystery deaths related to the case to the CBI on Thursday.

An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu handed over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the court he had instructions by the Madhya Pradesh government on handing over the probe to the central agency. The CBI will start its probe from Monday.

The court also issued a notice on a plea challenging the quashing of an FIR against state governor Ram Naresh Yadav for his alleged involvement in the scam on the grounds that he enjoyed immunity of his constitutional office.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan urged the SC on Wednesday to order a CBI probe into the Vyapam scam even as the high court refused to pass any order for an inquiry by the investigating agency.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court heard a batch of petitions calling for a court-monitored CBI probe into the exam-rigging scandal involving imposters and forged answer sheets to dupe MP professional examination board authorities. The court sought a response of the CBI in the case by July 24.

"I am now confident that justice will be done in the case," Ashish Chaturvedi, a whistleblower in the case said after the SC ruling. 

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Dawood Ibrahim's surrender claims: SC dismisses plea seeking SIT probe

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea seeking a SIT probe into the claims that underworld don Dawood Ibrahim wanted to return to India and face the law but previous governments did not respond to the offer.

Petitioner Kishore Samrite had sought a retired Supreme Court judge to head the SIT.

Samrite in his petition told the court that Dawood Ibrahim had two to three times approached people, expressing his desire to come back and face the law, but the government did not act on his offer.

An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu while declining the plea said that it was not for the judiciary to look into it and the issue did not require judicial interference.

Seeking a probe into government's cold shouldering of Dawood Ibrahim's offer, the petitioner pointed out to the claims by the former Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar and veteran jurist and Rajya Sabha member Ram Jethmalani.

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Vyapam scam: MP medical college dean found dead in hotel

New Delhi: In what is set to add more murkiness to the notorious Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, Dean of Jabalpur's NS medical college, Arun Sharma was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a hotel in Delhi.

Doctor Arun Sharma, who reportedly had links to some accused in the Vyapam scam, was found dead in Uppal Hotel, near the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport.

He was to board a flight to Agartala for the inspection of a medical college there, reports say.

The Dean was reportedly helping to probe the fake medical entrance examinees in Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board scam, known as Vyapam scam.

According to Indian Medical Association (IMA) President Doctor Sudhir Tiwari, Dean Arun Sharma had handed over 200 Vyapam documents to the Special Task Force which was probing the scam, tweeted Congress leader Digvijay Singh.

The body of Dr Arun Sharma, Dean of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Medical College in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, was found in his room at the hotel, police said.
Police said when the door was not opened after repeated knocks, the staff entered the room using a duplicate key and found his body.

A bottle of alcohol almost empty was found in the room. Sharma had also vomited and there were signs of heavy drinking, said a senior police officer, adding forensic evidences were collected and the body sent for post mortem.

Asked about reported links of Sharma with Vyapam scam, Joint Commissioner of Police (South West) Dipender Pathak said police is "covering all the angles" in its investigation.

Dipendra Pathak (Joint CP) said that Arun Sharma's body has been sent for post-mortem and so far "nothing foul" has been found, the ANI reported.

"I have very cryptic info of his health; his son is yet to come. He was a patient of diabetes and hyper tension", the ANI quoted him as saying.

Congress leader Digvijay Singh has hinted at his possible link to Vyapam scam as incidentally, exactly one year ago in July 2014, another Dean of Jabalpur's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Medical College named Dr DK Sakalle who was also a member of Vyapam Scam investigation committee, was found dead under mysterious circumstances at his home.

He had died of burn injuries as according to police, the Dean had used kerosene oil to burn himself.
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No compromise in rape case over wedlock: SC

New Delhi: Supreme Court on Wednesday held that there can be no compromise in a rape case in the name of promising wedlock.
An apex court bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said that any compromise promising wedlock between a rape accused and the victim compromises the dignity of the woman.

The court said that such a compromise lacks sensitivity on the part of those promoting a settlement.
Holding that courts cannot take a soft approach on the issue, the bench described as a spectacular error and lack of sensitivity on the part of a lower court which had allowed a rapist to go scot free by accepting an agreement on wedlock.
The order came while accepting the Madhya Pradesh government's plea challenging a lower court's acquitting a man accused of rape.
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