New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reserved its order on a plea seeking a direction that the funds received by the PM CARES Fund be credited to the National Disaster Response Fund for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and MR Shah took note of the plea by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, headed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, seeking drawing up of a national Covid plan and raising the issue of existence of PMCARES Fund while a NDRF was already in existence under the Disaster Management Act.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing the petitioner, argued PMCARES Fund lacks transparency. He questioned why there is no national plan during the time of Covid.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing an NGO, argued before the bench on the issues originating in the absence of a national plan to tackle Covid-19 pandemic. Sibal cited the Constitution's ection 21 regarding a district plan, where minimum requirements regarding water, shelter etc. need to be provided. "Where are these standards?" he asked.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, argued the National Disaster Management Plan, from 2019, included biological disaster, as during that time, no one knew about Covid-19. He said Sibal's argument was "factually wrong".
The Centre had informed the apex court there are funds which are either established earlier or now for carrying out various relief works, and PM CARES is one such with voluntary donations.
SC urged to withdraw contempt case against Prashant Bhushan
In a signature drive led by former Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur and former Delhi High Court Chief Justice AP Shah on Monday strongly urged the Supreme Court to quash the suo-motu contempt proceedings against activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan for his two tweets and withdraw them at the earliest in the interest of justice and fairness and to maintain the dignity of the judiciary. “Bhushan has been a relentless crusader for the rights of the weakest sections of our society and has spent his career in pro bono legal service to those who do not have ready access to justice. He has fought cases in the apex court on issues ranging from environmental protection, human rights, civil liberties, corruption in high places and has been an outspoken champion for judicial accountability and reforms, especially in the higher judiciary,” said 103 signatories from all sections of society.
Among the signatories are: former Naval chief Admiral Ramdas, former Delhi LG Najeeb Jung, Rajmohan Gandhi, senior advocates Indira Jaising, Sanjay Hegde, Aand Grower, Gopal Sankarnarayan, Pradeep Nandrajog, and Amit Singh Chadha, former JNU professor Amit Bhaduri, economist Ajit Ranade, social activists Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander, Jean Dreze, Medha Patkar, Nikhil Dey and Anjali Bahrdwaj, author Arundhati Roy, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat, CPI general secretary D Raja, and others.
SC notice to UGC on final year exam
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the University Grants Commission, seeking its reply by Wednesday on pleas seeking to cancel its circular for conduct of the final year exams by September 30 despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was hearing four petitions seeking not to hold any exams, one of the petitioners being Maharashtra Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray.
Appearing for a student petitioner,senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi asserted that the UGC guidelines are harsh and unreal.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on the other hand, said that the UGC had given options like an online exam, an offline exam or a merger of both, to the students.
"There are Ministry of Human Resource and Development and Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines which state that there should not be more than 10 students in one room with social distancing," he argued.
The case will now come up for hearing on Friday.
Early trial of 9 Tablighis
The Supreme Court on Monday ordered an expeditious trial of nine foreign nationals, who attended the Markaz Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin in Delhi in March, after it was told 23 of the 34 petitioners before it have been let off with fines after they owned up mild charges under the plea bargaining process.
The Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, fixed further hearing on Friday, after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured to speak to the investigation officers to figure out how the trials of nine in various courts can be expedited.
Senior advocate CU Singh, appearing for several petitioners, requested the Bench to facilitate the return of the 23 petitioners to their countries at the earliest.
Delhi riots: No bail to 3 accused in murder case
A Delhi court on Monday dismissed the bail application of three accused in the death of 20-year-old Dilbar Negi, whose charred body was found during the violence in the city's North-East area in February. The Delhi Police had found Negi's decapitated body from a sweet shop at Chaman Park near Main Brijpuri Road on February 26. He had come from Uttarakhand to the capital city six months prior to his death. The FIR in the case was registered on the statement of an assistant sub-inspector of police, who stated that communal riots, arson, looting and vandalism took place in the area and rioters from "a particular community" set Anil Sweet Shop on fire due to which Negi died.