Supreme Court Upholds Order to Demolish Illegal Shiva Temple on Yamuna Floodplains

The Supreme Court has approved the demolition of an illegal Shiva Temple situated on the Yamuna floodplains. This decision upholds the May 29 ruling by the Delhi High Court, which had ordered the temple’s demolition. The High Court had argued that the Yamuna riverbed and floodplain should be free from encroachments and illegal constructions, suggesting that Lord Shiva would be happier with a cleaner environment.

A vacation bench of Justices PV Sanjay Kumar and Augustine George Masih addressed the case, confirming that the High Court’s decision was sound and questioning the legitimacy of the petition filed by the Akhada Samiti. Justice Kumar pointed out that having an akhada (a traditional place of wrestling) on floodplains is inappropriate and noted that akhadas are typically associated with Lord Hanuman, not Lord Shiva. The Delhi High Court had emphasized that Lord Shiva does not need the court’s protection, but rather, it is people who seek his protection and blessings. The court dismissed the petitioner’s attempt to involve Lord Shiva directly in the legal matter, labeling it as a tactic to shift the focus of the dispute. The court stated that the real concern is the encroachment on the Yamuna floodplains, and clearing these areas would be more respectful to Lord Shiva. Justice Dharmesh Sharma of the Delhi High Court further noted that just because daily prayers and special events are held at the temple, this does not make it a place of public significance. There was no evidence to prove that the temple was a public entity rather than a private one managed by the petitioner society. Based on these findings, the High Court had granted the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) the right to demolish the unauthorized structure. The petitioner society and its members were instructed not to interfere with the demolition process. Unhappy with the High Court’s ruling, the Akhada Samiti appealed to the Supreme Court, but their appeal was dismissed. The Supreme Court’s decision reinforces the High Court’s stance that removing illegal structures from the Yamuna floodplains is necessary for environmental and legal reasons. In summary, the Supreme Court’s ruling supports the idea that religious sentiments cannot justify illegal constructions, particularly in sensitive environmental areas like the Yamuna floodplains. The focus remains on upholding the law and protecting natural resources, ensuring that encroachments do not harm the environment.

NEET UG 2024: Supreme Court Allows Retest for Affected Candidates

The Central government informed the Supreme Court that candidates who received less time during the NEET UG 2024 exam would be allowed to retake the test. If they opt not to retake the exam, their original scores will be kept, but any grace marks given for the time loss will be removed.

This decision comes amid concerns over the “arbitrary” awarding of grace marks, which reportedly led to a surprising increase in top scores. Allegations of malpractices, cheating, and other irregularities during the exam have also surfaced.

The Supreme Court was told that 1,563 candidates were affected because they received less than the allotted time for the NEET 2024 exam. These candidates will have the option to retake the exam. If they choose to do so, their previous scores will be canceled, and only the new scores from the retest will count. If they decide not to retake the test, their original scores will stand, but without the previously awarded grace marks.

A bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta was informed that this solution was proposed after a committee meeting held on June 12. The Court recorded this decision in its order. The Court noted, “As per the recommendations, it has been suggested that the scorecard of affected 1,563 candidates will be canceled and withdrawn, and actual scores will be informed without grace marks. A re-exam will be conducted for them. The result of those who do not take the retest will be their actual scores without grace marks.”

The National Testing Agency (NTA) announced that the retest would be held on June 23, with results expected by June 30. Medical college counseling will begin on July 6.

The Supreme Court is handling petitions regarding the conduct of the NEET UG exam. Some petitions challenge the award of grace marks, while others call for the cancellation of the NEET results announced on June 4. Advocate Kanu Agrawal, representing the Central government, explained that the decision to hold a retest for those who received grace marks due to time loss was made by an NTA committee on June 12. This was done to address the concerns of students.

The Court was informed that the retest would cover 1,563 students from six exam centers who were affected by the time issue. Advocate J Sai Deepak, representing a petitioner (Alakh Pandey, founder of test prep startup PhysicsWallah), raised concerns that while this decision provides a second chance for some candidates, there are others with concerns who have not approached the Court.

The Bench stated that it could not expand the scope of the case to include those who had not yet approached the Court. However, the Court ordered the NTA to respond to allegations of unfair practices in the NEET exam by July 8, when the case will be heard next. Advocate Naresh Kaushik represented the NTA.

In summary, affected NEET UG 2024 candidates can choose to retake the exam or keep their original scores without grace marks. This decision aims to ensure fairness amid controversies regarding the exam’s conduct and the awarding of grace marks.

Supreme Court Urges Senior Lawyers to Let Juniors Argue During Vacations

The Supreme Court recently encouraged senior lawyers to let their junior colleagues argue cases during court vacations. This suggestion came from Justices PS Narasimha and Sanjay Karol during a courtroom exchange with Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta.

Justice Karol emphasized that vacations are intended to give younger lawyers opportunities to grow. He urged senior lawyers to support this initiative by allowing juniors to take on more responsibilities during this time.

Dr. Singhvi supported the idea but stressed the need for uniform rules across all Supreme Court benches. He mentioned that consistent guidelines would make it easier for senior lawyers to follow the practice. Singhvi also noted that he has been advocating for such uniform rules for five years and urged the Justices to discuss and implement them collectively.

SG Mehta added that some vacation benches already do not permit Senior Advocates to argue, highlighting that some steps are being taken in this direction.

The Supreme Court’s call aims to foster the growth and development of younger lawyers by giving them more opportunities to argue cases, especially during court vacations.

Supreme Court Bar Association Result: Kapil Sibal Elected SCBA President

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal was elected President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA)

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal has been elected the new President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). In the election held on Thursday, Sibal secured 1,066 votes, defeating his closest rival, Senior Counsel Pradeep Rai, who received 689 votes.

This marks Sibal’s return to the role, having previously served as SCBA President in 2001-02 and twice before that, in 1995-96 and 1997-98. While the vote count for other candidates is still ongoing, Sibal has clearly taken the lead.

The results for the other candidates—Adish Aggarwala, Priya Hingorani, Neeraj Srivastava, and Tripurari Ray—are yet to be updated. Additionally, Advocate Rachana Srivastava was elected Vice President, securing 816 votes and narrowly defeating Sukumar Pattjoshi, who received 784 votes.

Six lawyers in race for President’s post: SCBA Elections

In the upcoming elections for the c (SCBA), six lawyers are vying for the prestigious post of President, along with other key positions like Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. The polls are scheduled for May 16.

The contenders for the President’s position are:

  • Adish C Aggarwala (currently serving as President)
  • Kapil Sibal
  • Priya Hingorani
  • Pradeep Kumar Rai
  • Neeraj Srivastava
  • Tripurari Ray

Kapil Sibal, a Senior Advocate, is making a comeback to the race after over two decades, having previously held the position in 2001-02, and twice before that in 1995-1996 and 1997-1998.

Priya Hingorani, also a Senior Advocate, has a history of breaking barriers, having been the youngest Vice President and the first female Secretary of the SCBA.

The incumbent President, Adish C Aggarwala, secured victory last year over Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave. Additionally, Pradeep Kumar Rai and Neeraj Srivastava have contested in previous elections.

The Supreme Court, in a recent order, mandated that at least one-third of the Executive Committee positions in the SCBA should be reserved for women. Thus, for this year’s elections, three executive member positions, two senior executive member positions, and the treasurer post will be filled by women.

The current Vice President is Sukumar Pattjoshi, and Yugandhara Pawar Jha holds the position of Treasurer.

The election promises to be a significant event in the legal community, shaping the leadership of the SCBA for the coming term.

[See list of SCBA candidates]

Supreme Court Grants Interim Bail to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal till 1 June

The Supreme Court swiftly granted interim bail to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal until June 1, 2024. This decision follows Kejriwal’s arrest on March 21, 2024, by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Delhi Liquor Policy case. However, he is expected to return to judicial custody on June 2, just before the announcement of the 2024 Lok Sabha Election results.

Here’s a summary of the legal proceedings leading up to this decision:

Upon his arrest, Kejriwal contested the legality of his detention under Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002. His legal counsel, Senior Advocate A.M. Singhvi, argued that the arrest was unjustified due to inconsistencies in witness statements and raised concerns about the timing of Kejriwal’s arrest, suggesting it was politically motivated.

Last week, the Supreme Court hinted at the possibility of granting interim bail, considering the imminent Delhi Lok Sabha Elections scheduled to commence on May 25, 2024.

During this week’s hearing, the Enforcement Directorate, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, argued against granting bail. They cited new evidence uncovered during the investigation and Kejriwal’s alleged non-cooperation, including his failure to respond to nine summonses over six months.

The court expressed apprehensions about the potential impact of granting bail on Kejriwal’s ability to fulfill his duties as Chief Minister.

Following today’s decision, Mehta expressed dissatisfaction, highlighting Kejriwal’s purported lack of cooperation with the investigation. However, Justice Sanjiv Khanna downplayed the significance of a few additional days of freedom, considering Kejriwal’s prolonged custody since March.

Yesterday, the Enforcement Directorate filed an affidavit opposing interim bail for Kejriwal, arguing against granting preferential treatment to a political leader during election campaigning. Kejriwal responded with a counter-affidavit, criticizing the timing of the Enforcement Directorate’s filing.

The Supreme Court is yet to specify any conditions for the interim bail, with a detailed order anticipated later today.

In essence, while Kejriwal has been granted interim bail until June 1, 2024, his return to judicial custody is expected before the announcement of the Lok Sabha Election results.

Supreme Court: ‘We Need Mature People Coming Into the Profession’ – Rejects Proposal for Three-Year LL.B. After High School

The Supreme Court recently declined to consider a plea asking for students to be allowed to pursue a three-year law degree right after finishing high school. This means that students would go directly from school to studying law without needing to complete another degree first. The court, led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, disagreed with the idea that three years of legal education after high school was sufficient. They believe that five years of studying law is better because it produces more mature and capable professionals.

In the current system, students can choose to pursue a five-year law program after high school, which combines a Bachelor’s degree in subjects like Arts, Commerce, or Business Administration with a law degree. Alternatively, they can opt for a three-year law program after completing a Bachelor’s degree in another field.

The petition to allow three-year law programs right after high school was brought forward by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay. He argued that the five-year program is influenced by expensive colleges and that allowing three-year programs could benefit students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, especially girls. He also suggested that civil servants can begin their careers immediately after completing their undergraduate studies, so why not law students?

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, representing Upadhyay, highlighted how a shorter law program could encourage more girls and economically disadvantaged students to join the legal profession. However, the Chief Justice pointed out that there are already a significant number of women in the judiciary, indicating that the legal profession is not inaccessible to them.

Ultimately, the court decided not to entertain the plea and allowed Upadhyay to withdraw it. Instead, they suggested making a representation to the Bar Council of India, which regulates legal education in the country. This means that Upadhyay can still bring his concerns to the attention of the appropriate authority but through a different avenue.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court believes that a five-year law program is beneficial for producing skilled and mature legal professionals. While there are concerns about accessibility for economically disadvantaged students and girls, the court feels that these issues can be addressed through other means, such as making representations to the Bar Council of India.

Justice BR Gavai: I am a Supreme Court Judge only because of Dr. BR Ambedkar

Supreme Court Judge, Justice BR Gavai, poised to become the 52nd Chief Justice of India, paid tribute to the pivotal role played by Dr. BR Ambedkar in empowering marginalized communities. Speaking alongside Justice AS Oka at the Ambedkar Memorial Lecture, Justice Gavai shared his personal journey, highlighting how Dr. Ambedkar’s vision enabled individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to rise to prominent positions in society.

“Dr. Ambedkar’s contributions to the country meant that even a person studying in schools in slum areas could rise to become a judge of the Supreme Court,” Justice Gavai remarked, emphasizing the transformative impact of Dr. Ambedkar’s advocacy for social justice.

In his address, Justice Gavai reflected on the profound influence of Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, describing it as a powerful tool for transformative justice. “Article 32 has been used as a tool for transformative justice,” he remarked, echoing Dr. Ambedkar’s view that the Constitution embodies not just legal principles, but a way of life.

Justice AS Oka echoed Justice Gavai’s sentiments, calling for a critical examination of the judiciary’s role in upholding fundamental rights. He raised concerns about the increasing backlog of cases in the Supreme Court, urging for a balanced approach to addressing the mounting caseload while ensuring equitable access to justice.

“Some may argue that the Supreme Court should entertain all Article 32 pleas without sending them to the High Courts. But we are not living in an ideal world,” Justice Oka remarked, acknowledging the practical challenges faced by the judiciary.

Highlighting the indiscriminate use of Article 32 by affluent individuals and businesses, Justice Oka proposed initiating a discourse on establishing criteria for invoking Article 32. He emphasized the need to strike a balance between addressing the grievances of common citizens and preventing the misuse of judicial resources.

The event, organized by The Leaflet in collaboration with the Society for Constitution and Social Democracy, provided a platform for engaging discussions on vital constitutional issues. Senior Advocate Indira Jaising underscored the importance of interpreting Article 15 definitively, reaffirming the Constitution as a protective framework for all citizens.

In conclusion, the legacy of Dr. BR Ambedkar continues to inspire a commitment to justice and equality in India’s legal system. As the judiciary grapples with complex challenges, fostering open dialogue and critical reflection remains crucial in advancing the principles of democracy and human rights.

Supreme Court’s Criticize Uttarakhand Government Over Inaction on Misleading Patanjali Advertisements

In a recent court hearing, the Supreme Court expressed strong disapproval of the Uttarakhand government’s failure to address misleading advertisements by Patanjali Ayurved. The Court criticized the State Licensing Authority for its inaction and apparent collusion with errant licensing officers. Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah highlighted the slow response of the authority and its failure to act promptly.

The Court lambasted the officers for merely shuffling paperwork and delaying action, emphasizing the need for accountability. It demanded explanations from officials who had neglected their duties while misleading advertisements continued to spread. The Court was particularly angered by Divya Pharmacy’s dismissive responses to warnings from regulatory authorities.

During the proceedings, the Court scrutinized a letter from the State, pointing out deficiencies in its response to the misleading ads. It condemned the complacency of authorities and criticized their leniency towards Patanjali’s violations of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954. The Court questioned Patanjali’s presumption that they were pioneers in Ayurveda, emphasizing the Act’s provisions against such misleading claims.

Despite admissions of mistakes and assurances of corrective measures, the Court remained skeptical. It expressed concern for consumers who might have been misled into using Patanjali products for ailments beyond their efficacy. The Court observed a lack of sincerity in Patanjali’s apologies, noting their preference for media attention over compliance with legal obligations.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Ramdev and Balkrishna, defended their actions but faced resistance from the Court. The Court questioned the authenticity of their apologies and refused to accept them as genuine expressions of remorse. It viewed their behavior as a deliberate attempt to evade accountability, despite clear instructions from the Court.

The Court emphasized the broader societal implications of Patanjali’s misconduct, stressing the importance of upholding the law and protecting consumers. It highlighted the need for accountability and transparency in advertising practices, especially in the healthcare sector. The Court warned against repeating such violations and stressed the significance of adhering to legal obligations.

The hearing stemmed from a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) against Patanjali’s alleged smear campaign targeting the COVID-19 vaccination drive and modern medicine. Despite earlier warnings and directives from the Court, Patanjali persisted in making false claims in its advertisements, prompting the Court to impose a temporary ban and issue contempt notices.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s rebuke of the Uttarakhand government and Patanjali underscores the importance of responsible advertising and regulatory oversight. The Court’s insistence on accountability and adherence to the law demonstrates its commitment to protecting consumer rights and upholding ethical standards in the healthcare industry.

Supreme Court Reverses Decision on Wine Shop Closure Near School

The Supreme Court has reversed its earlier decision to close a wine shop located 150 meters from a school in Puducherry. The court reconsidered its order, noting that restrictions on liquor shops near highways, as outlined in a 2016 judgment, had been relaxed in subsequent rulings in 2017 and 2018.

In March 2023, the Supreme Court had directed the closure of the Puducherry wine shop, relying on its earlier decision in State of Tamil Nadu v. K Balu (2016). However, the court acknowledged that it might not have been aware of the modifications made in 2017 and 2018 when it issued the closure order.

The recent decision came in response to review petitions filed by the Puducherry government and the affected liquor licensee. The government contested the accuracy of the March 2023 judgment, which had prohibited wine shops within 500 meters of educational institutes, temples, or mosques.

The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, along with Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, concluded that the Puducherry case needed a fresh examination in light of the updated legal position. The matter has been sent back to the Madras High Court for a new decision.

The original 2016 judgment, known as the K Balu case, imposed restrictions on the placement of liquor outlets in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. In March 2017, the Supreme Court modified its order concerning the ban on liquor shops along State and National Highways. Notable changes included reducing the distance from 500 to 220 meters for towns with a population under 20,000 and exempting Sikkim and Meghalaya due to their natural geography.

The March 2023 closure order for the Puducherry wine shop, issued by a different bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar, was based on the belief that it violated the earlier K Balu judgment. The Puducherry government, however, argued that subsequent Supreme Court orders clarified that distance limits in municipal areas would be determined by the State government. The Puducherry government had set the limit at 50 meters and granted permission to the wine shop.

Considering these arguments, the Supreme Court recalled its March 2023 order, setting aside the High Court’s decision and returning the case to the Madras High Court for a fresh decision.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s recent decision emphasizes the importance of considering updated legal positions and modifications in earlier judgments. The case highlights the need for a nuanced approach in applying restrictions on liquor outlets, taking into account specific circumstances and subsequent clarifications by the court.