West Bengal: Post-poll gang-rape victims move Supreme Court
West Bengal: Post-poll gang-rape victims move Supreme Court

New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Friday forced the Delhi’s AAP Government to withdraw its Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the Union Environment Ministry notification on power plants in neighbouring state causing air pollution, saying, “we find it amusing that a state has come up with a PIL against the Centre.”

PILs are usually filed by individuals or organisations when fundamental rights of a person are violated and secure some public interest and ensuring justice to otherwise disadvantaged people, but the court is yet to find a government moving a PIL for some public cause, said a Bench of Justices Navin Sinha and R Subhash Reddy, dismissing the PIL as withdrawn. “If the Centre has said something or done something contrary, then you (Delhi Govt) can go and inform the court about what the Centre has done. You can file a case,” the court said, referring to the Delhi’s PIL aga­inst an April 1, 2021, notification from the Union ministry.

The notification said rules were amended to allow thermal power plants within 10 km of the national capital region (NCR) — and in cities with over 10 lakh population — to comply with new emission norms only by 2022-end.

Eleven coal-fired NCR power plants contributed 7% to Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution on average between October 2020 and January 2021, as per a study by Delhi-based not-for-profit Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

Quoting the study, the Delhi government had said in its petition some 10 thermal power plants in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh were causing pollution since they had not installed the flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) technology, and they are allowed to do so only by 2022-end, making Delhiites suffer for two more years.

Colin Gonsalves, the senior advocate appearing for Delhi, argued before the Supreme Court the plants contribute up to 80% of sulphates and other “killer gases”, which contribute to pollution in Delhi. He argued the Centre was not interested in controlling pollution and had failed to honour its commitment to the top court. He wanted the PIL to be tagged with other pending case.

The court, however, refused to entertain the PIL. “If the Centre did not honour the commitment, then you move in the same case where the Centre gave the undertaking,” the court said, and gave option to Gonsalves to withdraw the PIL, which he did, saying the Delhi government will move an application in the pending case.

Delhi HC bats for Uniform Civil Code

While dealing with application of the Hindu Marriage Act on a couple from the Meena community, Delhi High Court has backed the need for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) as envisaged in the Constitution and asked the Centre to take the necessary steps in this matter.

A single-judge Bench of Justice Pratibha M Singh stated in its judgment on Wednesday the modern Indian society is gradually becoming “homogeneous” dissipating the traditional barriers of religion, community and caste and so UCC is needed in these changing paradigms.

While going over the case, Justice Singh observed courts have been repeatedly confronted with the conflicts that arise in personal laws. Persons belonging to various communities, castes, and religions, who forge marital bonds, struggle with such conflicts, she observed.

“The youth of India belonging to various communities, tribes, castes, or religions who solemnise their marriages ought not to be forced to struggle with issues arising due to conflicts in various personal laws, especially in relation to marriage and divorce,” Justice Singh said.

The judge said a Uniform Civil Code in India, as envisioned under Article 44 of the Constitution, has been “reiterated from time to time” by the Supreme Court. Such a civil code would be “common to all”, the court said, and would enable uniform principles to be applied in matters of marriage, divorce, and succession. This will reduce conflicts and contradictions within a society that arise from various personal laws, the court observed.

Police raj in Bihar, asks SC

The Supreme Court on Friday wondered if police raj prevails in Bihar while rejecting a plea by the state government against the award of Rs5 lakh compensation to a driver by the Patna High Court for keeping him in police custody without the registration of any FIR, mandatory in every case of arrest.

The top court mocked at the submission of the state government that driver Sumit Kumar did not leave the police station on his own accord.

Dismissing the Bihar government’s challenge to the HC awarding the relief to the driver for his illegal detention, a bench comprising Justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Mukesh Kumar R Shah found it difficult to accept its lawyer’s submission.

Police had detained the driver in an accident allegedly involving him and had lodged the FIR after a couple of days.

Reminding the lawyer appearing for Bihar government liberty is as much sacrosanct to a person from humble social milieu as it is for those from affluent sections, the SC said if a rich person is illegally deprived of his liberty, he is expected to be entitled to higher compensation but why not the poor. It said the the driver was deta­ined “without any rhyme or reason.”

“Loss of liberty of a person from a humble background (driver in this case) should be placed on the same footing as in the case of a rich man,” said Justice Chandrachud, making it clear the compensation for illegal loss of liberty will not vary on the basis of the financial stature of the affected person.

Business of professional public interest litigants must stop: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday directed one of the petiti­oners, who had challenged the elevation of Justice Dipak Misra as the Chief Justice in 2017, to deposit costs of Rs5 lakh despite the death of co-petitioner, self-styled godman Swami Om. A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said some people have beco­me professional public interest litigants, and this business must stop.

The court made the observation, hearing a plea by Mukesh Jain, the co-petitioner with Swami Om. The bench told the petitioner’s counsel to tell his client to pay up, otherwise the court will not entertain any PILs from him. Jain’s counsel, advocate AP Singh, told the bench his client was in Balasore jail for a year and recen­tly, he got out on bail. “A lot of time he has appeared before the apex court in person. Swami Om has died. I would request for an adjournment for 2 weeks,” he said. Swami Om had died in February 2021.

The bench emphasised the petitioners are “professional public interest litigants” and warned the petitioner if costs are not paid, the court will pass an order barring him from filing any public interest litigation petition in the top court.

Don’t act on notices to CAA protesters for recovering damages: SC to UP govt

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the UP government not to take action on earlier notices sent to the alleged protestors by district administration for recovering losses caused by damage to public property during the anti-CAA agitations in the state.

The court stated however the state can take action as per the law and in accordance with new rules.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said, “Don’t take action as per the earlier notices. All action should be taken in accordance with new rules.”

Senior additional advocate general Garima Prashad, appearing for UP, said the state has proceeded since the last date of hearing and has constituted tribunals and framed all the requisite rules.

HC junks Chirag’s plea challenging LS Speaker’s call to recognise Paras as LoP

The Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a plea by leader of one of the factions of Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) Chirag Pawan challenging the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s decision to recognise his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras as the leader of the party in the House, saying it was without merits.

“It is well settled that the right to regulate internal disputes of the House is the prero­gative of the Speaker,” the high court said. “I find absolutely no merit in the petition. The petition is dismissed,” Justice Rekha Palli said.

The high court, which was inclined to impose cost on Chirag, did not do so after a request was made by his counsel. The petition sought setting aside speaker’s June 14 circular showing the name of Paras as leader of Jan Lokshakti Party in the Lok Sabha.

Paras, who was administered the oath of office as Union cabinet minister on July 7, has spent the larger part of his career under the shadow of his late brother Ram Vilas Paswan.

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