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7 cases showing why SC's social justice bench has failed to close a single case of social justice

Why is social justice proving to be so elusive?
Why is social justice proving to be so elusive?

The Supreme Court’s social justice bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and UU Lalit heard seven cases between 2 and 4.15 p.m on Friday, August 28.

All the seven are part-heard matters, and monitored by the bench over a period of time.

With the bench likely to complete one year in December since it was set up by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Justice HL Dattu to exclusively deal with social justices cases every Friday, there is some concern about the bench’s inability to dispose of a single petition to date, with the Governments - both Centre and the states - tendency to seek adjournments on flimsy grounds.

Here is the gist of seven cases heard by the bench on August 28:

1. All India Kashmiri Samaj vs UOI

August 28 was the third time the bench heard this matter. Adjourned to October 30. This is about the rehabilitation scheme for the J&K Pandits, who have migrated from the state, so as to facilitate their return.

2. Re: exploitation of children in the orphanages of Tamil Nadu vs UOI

Justice Lokur wanted to know why nothing is happening on the ground, although the schemes appear wonderful.

The previous order in the case can be read here. Aparna Bhat is the amicus curiae in the case.

The bench heard this case for sixth time yesterday. It was adjourned again to 30 October. The bench asked about the implementation of its 17th April 2015 order and expressed its dissatisfaction.

The ASG, Tushar Mehta described the Centre’s role in this case as a night watchman, with states exercising most of the responsibility.

3. Nisha Bagchi vs UOI

This case is about the amendment to the rules made under the Juvenile Justice Act and fixing of the maximum age of juveniles.

Rajeev Dhavan, counsel for the petitioner brought to the attention of the bench the latest affidavit submitted by the Central Government, which exposed its complete lack of application of mind.

The ASG, Pinky Anand, appeared and submitted her regrets for the affidavit. The bench too chided the official concerned, who was present in the court.

Dhavan cited an earlier ruling Ashwini Kumar Saxena vs State of MP to suggest that the admission record of the school is reliable evidence to determine the age of the juvenile, and only if the record is not available, medical opinion can be cited.

Intervenor, senior advocate, Anup Bhambhani, submitted a paper book in this regard. Dhavan opposed his submissions, saying this case was not a free for all, and if his intervention was allowed, this case would go out of hand.

The previous orders in the case may be read here and here.

4. Sanjeeb Panigrahi vs UOI

The bench expressed its surprise that the Central Government did not give priority to updating a 1999 Act relating to maintenance of parents and senior citizens.

The petition, which was heard for second time on August 28, seeks the establishment of one old age home in every district across the country with minimum palliative health care facilities.

A previous story on the case can be read here and a story on yesterday’s hearing (August 28) can be read here here.

5. In Re: Indian Express Newspaper Report dated 10.4.2013

The report titled ‘Women cops put minor rape victim in lock-up’ is a case which was heard for the fifth time on August 28. The bench expressed its complete disappointment with the lack of progress in the case.

Justice Lokur told the counsel for Uttar Pradesh Government, Gaurav Bhatia that the state’s criminal trial was a joke.

The bench asked Bhatia why no witnesses had been examined yet, although chargesheet has been filed. Justice Lokur asked whether the witnesses were being threatened and intimidated, because of which no one was coming forward to testify. Saying it is not a complicated case, Justice Lokur asked how the officials who were suspended, had rejoined.

Bhatia surprised the court by his statement that the minor girl, who was 11 years old, when raped, wanted to rest with her mother, and that was why the lock up was used. This provoked Justice Lokur to ask Bhatia not to justify it, as the officials have been found prima facie guilty, as shown by the filing of the charge-sheet. Bhatia assured the court that he would ensure that recording of evidence in the case would begin, before the next hearing.

Justice Lokur directed the state to give wide publicity to the case, by issuing circulars to all the police stations, so that such incidents are not repeated.

This case was last heard on September 5, 2013.

6. In Re: Prajwala letter dated 18.2.15

The case was heard for the fourth time on August 28. The order passed on July 24 can be read here. The Telegraph story on the latest hearing can be read here.

The Prajwala founder Sunita Krishnan told the court that thousands of sex videos are in circulation on social media and sought interim orders to ensure mandatory reporting of such cases by the authorities.

When she cited section 67A of the Information Technology Act, the bench made ministry of Information Technology a a respondent in the case.

7. The devadasis case

The SL Foundation Through its President, vs UOI was heard for the third time by the bench. It was brought to the attention of the bench by the petitioner’s advocate VK Biju that the money meant for rehabilitation of devadasis was being misused, and that the malaise was prevalent in four States, not just Karnataka.

He asked for pleading Goa as a party. The bench asked him to file an affidavit.

Photo by sixteen05design

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