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SC seeks Centre’s response on NJAC Act provisions

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Judge 

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked for the central government’s response to contentions that certain provisions of NJAC Act of 2014 dealing with selection of high court judges violated the federal structure and were substantive than procedural in nature.

Asking Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to address this issue, an apex court constitution bench comprising justices Jagdish Singh Khehar, J. Chelameswar, Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel observed: “This will destroy the federal structure.”

The provisions related to the appointment of a high court chief justice and that the National Judicial appointment Commission could forward to high court chief justice for his views the names for appointment of judges to that high court.

The court asked the Solicitor General to address the issues after senior counsel Arvind Dattar appearing for the Madras High Court-based Service Bar Association assailed Section 6(1) and Section 6(3) of the NJAC Act coupled with their requirement of “ability, merit and any other criteria of suitability”.

Dattar said that the NJAC Act was enacted for putting in place a procedure for the appointment of judges to the apex court and high courts, including their chief justices.

But there were provisions under Section 6 and Section 12 which were substantive for laying down the qualifications of those who could be considered for appointment as judges.

He said that the worst part was that all these rules and regulations were subject to review or amendment by parliament which, he said, offended the independence of judiciary, one of the basic structures of the Indian Constitution.

The constitution bench is hearing a batch of petitions, including one by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) along with the Bar Association of India, NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation and others challenging the constitutional validity of the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014 and NJAC Act, 2014.

Pointing to the provision on “ability, merit and any other criteria of suitability”, Dattar said that “suitability becomes synonymous with ability when it becomes norm for the selection of judges”.

Dattar said that he had no qualms in examining the “ability, merit and any other criteria of suitability” of a person being considered for appointment as a judge but the same should find place in the constitutional provision instead of being put in a law which can be amended by parliament by simple majority.

Justice Khehar said that the power to frame rules and regulation is delegated in the NJAC by the NJAC Act, 2014, passed by parliament.

Parliament could have spelt out these rules and regulations on its own and put them in the NJAC Act without delegating it the NJAC, said Justice Khehar.

“So far as procedure (to be followed by NJAC for the appointment of judges) is concerned, the source of power (parliament) which has delegated the power to NJAC (to frame rules and regulation) says I will oversee it and put it under light,” Justice Khehar said while asking what was wrong in it.

“It is abhorrent to say that rules and regulation framed by the NJAC will be subject to parliamentary review or changes,” Dattar said contending that the “eligibility criteria can’t be laid down by a parliamentary law and can only be done in the exercise of the constituent powers by parliament” as any such fixing of qualifications by a statute impinges on the independence of judiciary.

“We are not denying the powers of parliament to (spell out) criteria for the appointment of judges but let it do through the exercise of its constituent powers and not simple lawmaking powers,” Dattar told the court, clarifying that he was not juxtaposing parliament and judiciary.

(IANS)

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Love Jihad Case : Kerala’s State Women Commission Directs SP to submit report on Hadiya’s Condition

24 year old Akhila had converted to Islam and taken the name Hadiya to marry Shafin Jahan.  However, their marriage was declared null and void by the High Court of Kerala

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Office of Kerala Women Comission
Office of Kerala Women Comission. Official Website KWC

Kerala, October 28, 2017 : A day after a video of Hadiya pleading to be ‘saved’ from her father’s brutalities was released, Kerala’s State Women Commission has directed Kottayam Superintendent of Police to inquire and submit a report on Hadiya’s present conditions.

In the video release at a press conference in Kochi by social activist Rahul Eashwar, Hadiya can be heard saying, “You have to get me out. I am sure I will be killed tomorrow or the day after.” Hadiya claims that her father is physically assaulting her and pleads to be saved in the video before her voice trails away.

The direction came following reports that Hadiya is being sedated and physically abused at her parents’ house.

The State Women Commission has told the SP that an officer not less than the rank of a DSP should conduct the inquiry and submit a report on the condition of the 24-year old woman in love jihad case.

24 year old Akhila had converted to Islam and taken the name Hadiya to marry Shafin Jahan.  Their marriage was declared null and void by the High Court of Kerala after Hadiya’s father Ashokan has approached the court, claiming that his daughter had been forcefully converted and her alleged husband was involved in plans to take her out of the country for questionable reasons.

Consequently, Hadiya’s husband Shafin Jahan had approached the Supreme Court and challenged the order by the High Court of Kerala, which is still hearing the case.

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala

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Gorkhaland: SC allows withdrawl of Central Forces from Darjeeling

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The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 27: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Centre to withdraw seven companies of central paramilitary forces from trouble-torn Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal where the agitation for Gorkhaland, a separate state for Gorkhas took a violent turn.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud directed the Centre to withdraw the seven companies of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPF) for being used for election duties in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

The bench also sought a response from the West Bengal government on the Centre’s appeal against the High Court’s order putting on hold its decision to withdraw 10 of the 15 companies of the central paramilitary forces deployed in the hill district.

The apex court also stayed the pending proceedings before the High Court and said that it will deal with the case in a holistic manner and posted the appeal of the Centre for further hearing on November 27.

In an interim order, the High Court had stayed the withdrawal of CAPF from the Darjeeling hills till October 27 after the state government approached it against the Centre’s decision.(IANS)

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Supreme Court Bans Pet Coke and Furnace Oil to bring down Air Pollution in NCR

India tops the list of biggest consumers of pet coke globally, which emits 11 per cent more greenhouse gases than coal. Consequently, India also records the highest number of deaths with pollution as its main cause

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Supreme Court
Industries employing pet coke and furnace oil emit large amounts of sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide that can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 25, 2017 : Environmental issues have been on the Supreme Court’s radar lately. After the crackers-ban on Diwali, the Supreme Court on Tuesday banned the use of two cheap but extremely polluting industrial fuels in and around New Delhi in an attempt to clean the air in the national capital region (NCR).

The Supreme Court banned the use of petroleum coke which is a dirtier alternative to coal, and furnace oil and has directed three states namely Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to notify the ban on immediate basis. The decision came after the Court was informed about the soaring pollution levels in NCR following Diwali due to toxic gas emissions by industries that rely heavily on petroleum coke (commonly called pet coke) and furnace oil.

However, this was not the first time that the two pollutants were banned.

Previously, the hazardous fuels had been banned in Delhi in 1996. However, despite court restrictions, their use continued in the NCR in brick kilns, cement factories, ceramics manufacturers and paper mills.

The new order comes after a government-appointed body, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) found high sulphur levels and recommended banning the two fuels to the court in April.

ALSO READ Was the Ban on Sale of Firecrackers in Delhi Successful? Data on Pollution Levels in Delhi Say Otherwise

On Tuesday, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice MB Lokur ordered for the ban to come into effect naturally from November 1 in case the government failed to notify the prohibit.

Why Did The Supreme Court Ban Pet Coke and Furnace Oil?

India tops the list of biggest consumers of pet coke globally, which emits 11 per cent more greenhouse gases than coal. Consequently, India also records the highest number of deaths with pollution as its main cause with 2.5 million Indians facing earth deaths in 2015, as per data by The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health

For an easier comparison, petrol and diesel comprise of 50 PPM (parts per million) of the extremely dangerous sulphur.

On the other hand, pet coke has 69,000-74,000 PPM and furnace oil has 15,000- 23,000 ppm sulphur in its composition.

Industries employing these two fuels emit large amounts of sulphur oxide and nitrogen oxide that can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems like asthma, and bronchitis.

Burning of pet coke also releases sulphur dioxide which is a known cause of several lung diseases and acid rain.

How Will The Ban Affect Industries?

The ban on pet coke and furnace oil is believed to imply heavy losses to the industries using these fuels; the worst hit will be numerous small and medium sized industries that employ thousands of workers.

“Furnace oil is used in estimated
50-60% industries. As an alternate,
we can use CNG but it will cost us
nearly 2-3 times more”
– Dinesh Mittal,
                                     President of Sahibabad Industrial Area, Site-IV, (as told to Hindustan Times)

Pet coke is known to deliver more per-unit energy in comparison to coal, and is also readily and cheaply available which is why small-sized industries depend heavily on them. The low costs make it an attractive offer for the buyers. Banning the fuels may further restrict their ability to expand operations and hire more staff.

The Central Pollution Control Board had submitted a draft on stipulated norms in June which only received attention and was uploaded on the ministry website in October.  The furious Supreme Court also pulled up on the Centre for being insensitive and for “sitting and doing nothing” about the growing pollution levels in the NCR.

The Supreme Court has now ordered for the governments of  Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to notify the ban and complete the exercise by December 31.