Attorney General Venugopal believes Supreme Court crisis will take 2-3 days to settle

On Tuesday, the Attorney General K K Venugopal said that the crisis in the top court seems to be unresolved and hoped it will be “fully settled” in a couple of days, comments that come a day following he stated that everything was settled in the higher judiciary. A crisis surged on January 12 following four senior judges – Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph – candidly condemned the working of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

Venugopal told PTI that “Yes, I think it has not been settled. Let’s hope things will be fully settled within 2-3 days”. When asked reports about the impasse enduring, Venugopal said he has to agree with the view. Asked whether he had a meeting or spoke with any of the four judges or the CJI, Venugopal said, “Nothing of that sort has happened.” Venugopal, however, hoped that things will be solved in the next couple of days. The four top Supreme Court judges had resumed work on Monday, contradicting the festering tensions erupted by their accusations against the Chief Justice, while the Attorney General had depicted the first-time crisis as “a storm in a tea cup”.

The four judges had highlighted certain issues, including the assigning of cases in the top court, and said there were certain problems affecting the nation’s highest court. On Sunday, the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had met a seven-member delegation of the Bar Council of India and Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh and had assured them that the crisis would be resolved soon and amiability would conquer.

Probing the Prayers: SC

A bench of justices Navin Sinha and RF Nariman sent notices to the Kendriya Vidyalayas for their ritual of prayer in the morning assembly, which were Hindu prayers, and were obligatory for all the students to offer prayers, irrespective of their faith.

The petition is moved by a lawyer based in MP, who learnt from his children that they were subjected to the same ritual. The petitioner states that that instead of building scientific temper in the tender minds, the country’s largest school, is promoting fantasies and  a culture of relying on something that they don’t know over themselves.

The petitioner has also asserted that the prayers in Hindi and Sanskrit are imposed on students from the minority communities as well, who might not find it to be in consonance with their religious beliefs, and it maybe impermissible under the Constitution.

The SC, in response to the said petition, shot off a notice to the government and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, and also ordered them to end the practice, pending further orders.

Justice Nariman branded it as a serious issue pertaining to a violation of one’s religious rights in one go. The move will have very far and wide ranging repercussions in the society.

The matter ha not been viewed from a perspective which forms the basic feature of the Indian society, while the petitioner stated that he had no personal interest, but it was for the minorities that he feels, he will be doing a service. While this issue has come to the fore, the petitioner has not taken the notice of the fact the missionary schools, and other minority schools, have a trend to promote their methods of prayers, while at the same time promoting their religion.

This fact also need to be inspected from the roots of the societal values where the majority people irrespective of their caste, and religion, give  a prominent place to the concept of a Supreme Person, in-charge of their lives.

This fact, has its echo in the very schools of our system that cater to the same masses, the name of the lord is invoked to bring down positivity and inculcate values in the students, as has been argued over by prominent educationists over the years.

The fact that prayers in Hindi or Sanskrit are violative of religious beliefs of people, will have to be adjudged from the perspective of the contents of the prayers itself. In the worst case scenarios where the prayer refers to God as a Supreme Person, in any term which excludes idolatry, or cult, shall not be brought in question.

The society has fluctuating morals, while religion provides a constant set of basic human values, is another argument, which will stand good today’s times, while the State must promote a cult of cultural sensitization, while at the same time inculcating morals, the Court will have to take a task which shall not be very fruitful in its outcome.

The Court will have to define morality and supplant strong arguments against theology. Also the Court will have to take on the minority institutions for preaching in their own ways too.

Finding the Truth Behind the Anti-Sikh Riots of 1984

The horrid pictures of the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots remain afresh in the minds of those who saw the riots, and whenever the fact that a community that defended the Vedic Brahmanists from the Muslim tyrants, for years, was persecuted due to a political assassination is worth giving a thought to a vast field of aspects the Indian society.

The Supreme Court while hearing a plea pertaining to the investigation and inquiry into the 241 cases pending against the alleged perpetrators found out that the investigations were not held properly.

The petition is filed filed by S Gurlad Singh Kahlon, a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, aims to fast-track the process of delivering justice to those who suffered at the hands of the perpetrators.

We recall the name of Indira Gandhi loyalist Mr Jagdish Tytler, who was the main accused in the case, but was granted a clean chit in the case due to lack of conclusive evidence. This happened after a long 20 years after institution of the case against him and others.

The long line of judicial commissions that have been constituted one after the other have been ineffective at administering justice. The common political rhetoric has never gathered around the anti-Sikh riots, thus it saw the rise of the Akalis in Punjab.

Captain Amarinder Singh has ruled, only because of his personal charisma as the one who belongs to the royal family. The Congress, and many national political parties shun the anti-Sikh riots only on the ground, as being a moral retort for the masses, who cherished Indira ji as their supreme leader.

The major national parties, or anybody for that matter would never want the Prime Minister or a Chief Minister assassinated in public. Though, the riots were not a moral retort.

The last commission, or the Special Investigation Team that was constituted closed 186 cases without investigations. The petitioner prayed for justice to the people, and the Court ordered a constitution of a new SIT headed by retired Justices J M Panchal and K S P Radhakrishnan of the Supreme Court to head the new SIT, and look into the closure of 241 cases.

The post apartheid truth type of mode of undoing the acts of barbarianism in the Anti-Sikh riots is one feature that is a feature of the Anti-Sikh riots fact finding path. The State tried to take an active role in the investigation by appointing 10 commissions in the past 27 years, which bore no fruits.

The victims have not been heard, and the way in which the Congress governments gave monetary grants to Punjab in the aftermath of operation blue star, is the only way the State possibly tried to do justice.

Yet the victims voices remain unheard, and the secular fabric needs devoted effort at bringing the perpetrators to justice before it becomes too late.

The newly appointed SIT, must take the cases seriously unless the proverb, justice delayed is justice denied assumes another example.



SC issues notice to Centre on a plea against prayers in Kendriya Vidyalayas

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court agreed to find out whether a Hindi prayer sung in the morning assembly in more than 1,100 Kendriya Vidyalaya schools all over India promotes a particular religion and disturbs the Constitution. While issuing a notice to the government, a bench headed by Justice RF Nariman said that “It is a very important constitutional issue”.

An advocate Veenayak Shah whose children graduated from a Kendriya Vidyalaya filed the petition. He is a resident of Madhya Pradesh, who believes that the practice of prayer generated barriers in developing scientific temperament among students as the whole idea of God and religious faith is given huge priority and inspired as a thought-process among the students. The plea said, “Students as a result learn to develop an inclination towards seeking refuge from the almighty instead of developing a practical outcome towards the obstacles and hurdles faced in everyday life, and the spirit of enquiry and reform seems to be lost somewhere”. “All the students irrespective of their faith and belief, have to compulsorily attend the morning assembly and recite the prayer,” he added in the petition.

He said that if any student failing to do fold hands, closing eyes and reciting the prayer, then they were punished and humiliated in front of the entire school. Shah added that as per the meaning of Article 28 of the Constitution, the common prayer is a “religious instruction” and thus must be prohibited. The Article 28(1) clears that no religious instruction shall be given in any educational institution just maintained out of state funds. The petition said that “The above prayer is being enforced throughout the country in all Kendra Vidyalayas. As a result, parents and children of the minority communities as well as atheists and others who do not agree with this system of prayer such as agnostics, scepticists, rationalists, and others would find the imposition of this prayer constitutionally impermissible”.

Changing Societal Morality: SC to Revisit Naz Foundation Judgment

In December, 2013, the Supreme Court of India gave its landmark judgment wherein it upheld the Constitutional validity of section 377 of the IPC.

The section has remained as it was laid down by Lord Macaulay, in the original draft of the Indian Penal Code. The Delhi High Court, in the same case had struck down the section stating that it was violative of the privacy of the individuals, who establish homosexual relations out of consent.

The judgement was appealed in the SC in the case of Suresh Kumar Koushal & Another vs Naz Foundation and Others. The Supreme Court also dismissed the review petition against the order, and now the curative petitions lie before the judges to take notice of.

A bench of Justices AM Kahnwilkar, DY Chandrachud and CJI Dipak Misra suggested that the judgment above needs to be reconsidered by taking all the aspects in a cumulative manner.

There has been a very deep social debate not only in India but across the globe over legalising the association between people of the same sex. The religious scriptures that command authority over men have announced that the sexual energies are to be used only for the procreation of children, while the society has of late began to recognize the prevalence of homosexuality.

Homosexuality has been studied in psychology where there are proofs of the fact that it is a psychological disorder, while the transgenders and bisexuals are left unexplained, in the lurch of perversion.

Thoughts, are the implants of desire that bears result in time. The emotional aspect of lives is one that nobody but a man himself may control. The choice of individuals to live the way they want describes a lot of aspects about their lives.

The people now a days have developed certain acceptance towards those who don’t do things in the dark. They do it openly and with consent. At least they remain better placed than those who rape women or force males into homosexual activities.

The legal sphere accords granting of liberties to men and women to live as they want, while the society uses its weight to avoid any frictions between the accepted norms.

Indian society is known to have been conservative. While the Court is faced with a narrow view of the society which represents the LGBT community, the majority of people who live straight lives, need to come out strong to use their weight to transgress upon individual freedom.

There has been a wide scale of support to people who have come out openly as LGBT, and the recent facebook demonstrations for support have assumed significance.

Thus the overall picture will be very thorny, as the SC treads along the road less taken to find the majority at one end and a minority at the other.

As the law is used as a means to social end, there will have to be a lot of ground work and opinion moulding before an abrupt order is enforced. The possibility of rioteering and ruckus, honour killings and suicides may be followed as has been seen in the case of Special Marriages.

The law will have to move cautiously.


National Anthem not compulsory in cinema halls, says Supreme Court

In an unexpected move on Friday, the Supreme Court reformed its order, saying that it is not compulsory to play the national anthem before a movie screening. The top court accepted the Centre’s suggestion that an inter-ministerial committee must decide if the National Anthem should be played at all. As per the Bar and Bench, the Supreme Court mentioned the submission about the Committee by the Centre, which was to be founded to resolve on all aspects related to the National Anthem and then prepare the petition.

The bench was headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who was hearing the matter. The Centre had formed an inter-ministerial committee on Friday to set new guidelines on the issue. Later, the court agreed to let the practice of playing National Anthem in cinema halls endure until the Centre came up with recommendations. The affidavit submitted by Centre said that “Upon consideration of the recommendations made by the Committee, the government may bring out the requisite notification or circular or rules in this regard if required”. The apex court, however, in November 2016, had made it compulsory for all cinema halls to play the National Anthem before the screening.

The 2016 order mandated that people would have to stand up in cinema halls in respect for the National Anthem when it was played. The order said that this practice would “instill a feeling within one sense of committed patriotism and nationalism”. In October 2017, the Kodungallor Film Society from Kerala had argued for the 2016 order to be withdrawn. Criticizing the last mandate, Justice DY Chandrachud asked why people should have to “wear patriotism on their sleeves”. Later, the top court also clarified that people with physical and intellectual disabilities were exempt from standing up for the National Anthem in cinema halls.

Supreme Court to review its 2013 verdict on Section 377 which criminalizes gay sex

As the right to privacy being considered a fundamental right, the Supreme Court today decided to review it’s 2013 decision, which criminalizes gay sexual relations and said it will review Section 377 of Indian Penal Code that creates such relations a crime. The apex court also issued a notice today to the Centre seeking its response to a writ petition filed by five members of the lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, who said they live in anxiety of police because of their natural sexual orientation and preferences.

The Supreme Court also mentioned to a Constitutional bench the petition seeking to decriminalize consensual sex between LGBTQ adults. The top court set away from the Delhi High Court’s 2009 verdict decriminalizing homosexuality in December 2013. Commenting on the SC’s December 2013 judgment, a three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it upholds the validity of Section 377, which clears sexual intercourse between consenting adults of the same gender is a crime that considers hurting the sexual preferences of individuals. The three-judge bench took their knowledge views expressed in another judgment in August, which gave the right to privacy the status of a fundamental right. It was also on the side of respecting the freedom of individuals to their sexual orientation.

The activist Gautam Bhan said SC’s reading of the right to privacy as an aspect of respect and equality, especially in the case of LGBTQ rights, was welcome. “We could have gone to court on privacy grounds. But we didn’t because that is not acceptance. It is just tolerance that favours the elites who can afford to conduct their lives behind closed doors. The judgment is much more than that. It has spoken of privacy with dignity and equality. It reaffirms the Delhi High Court judgment in speaking of sexuality within the framework of constitutionality,” Bhan said.