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10 January 2014

Madras HC 12-judge-names appeal: The Madras HC through its registrar general will move the SC against its own division bench decision that had stayed the appointment of the 12 recommended Madras HC advocates as judges whose recommendations has courted controversy at the HC [TOI]

Madras HC advocates against opacity, subjectivity in judge selection: Madras High Court Advocates Association President RC Paul Kanagaraj says that in the absence of transparency in the collegium process the judges panel recommending names for judgeships is easily prone to favouritism. Kanagaraj is opposed by a faction of lawyers of the HC who feel that consulting bar associations is a process prone to subjectivity and not entirely fair [New Indian Express]

Delhi needs 100 more judges: Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti has advised the Delhi HC to recruit 100 judges for various courts in the capital [Business Standard]. Last year Legally India reported how the Delhi district judges recruitment machinery falls remarkably short of the need faced in the capital.

Delhi gets 47 new courts: Delhi HC chief justice NV Ramana today ordered setting up of 47 new courts in the capital. The new courts, which will come up in six district court complexes from January 15, will deal with heinous crimes, civil cases, and motor accident claims [PTI]

MMB Legal first partner: Wipro senior corporate counsel Sonal Basu joined former MMB Legal partner Talha Salaria’s Bangalore-based start-up L.A.W as a partner. Basu, who has had stints at JSA Bangalore and at Nokia, will focus on L.A.W’s Information Technology/ITeS and telecom practices [Bar & Bench]

3 new Kerala HC judges: Kerala high court additional judges, justices Babu Mathew P Joseph, Ambazhavelil Velayudhan Pillai Ramakrishna Pillai and Pannipuzhayil Divakaran Rajan have become permanent judges in that HC [Net Indian]

Karnataka Lokayukta on anti-corruption cell: Karnataka’s Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao has written to Karnataka HC Chief Justice D H Waghela seeking intervention in helping the general public file complaints before the state’s anti-corruption cell with support from the Karnataka Legal Services Authority and legal volunteers under it in rural areas [TOI]

Slow special child abuse case disposal law: “More than a year after Parliament passed a special law to ensure the speedy disposal of cases of child abuse, just 38 of over a thousand cases filed in Maharashtra have been disposed of with only nine convictions,” reports [DNA India]

Useful ordinance? 1/615: Out of 615 ordinances promulgated in India between 1958 and 2006, the only one justifiable ordinance is the one introduced by former Prime Minister Morarji Desai in 1978—where currency notes in denominations ofRs.1,000/5,000/10,000 were demonetized—because they thought it was one way of dealing with corruption and inflation, according to a study conducted by  NUJS Kolkata graduate and Singapore Managment University assistant professor Shubhankar Dam [Mint]

02 September 2013

Elusive SC appointment: Calcutta high court chief justice Arun Mishra has missed a Supreme Court seat for the second time since June last year despite hailing from Madhya Pradesh, which has been left unrepresented at the SC since Justice Deepak Verma’s retirement [Telegraph India]

BCI fails 28: 28 Indian law schools received notices from the BCI for failing to meet its prescribed norms. Twelve are located in Maharashtra, four in Gujarat and three each in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. [B&B / List of colleges]

NLSIU senior: The oldest person to post-graduate from NLSIU Bangalore is 66-year-old former Karnataka Administrative Services officer SG Birader from the Mastes in Business Laws Program of the law school this year [Deccan Herald]

Caravan collegium: Advocate Suhrith Parthasarthy writes about how there is no easy alternative to the collegium system of judges’ appointments, yet the extra-constitutional method of giving primacy to the CJI’s opinion is as flawed as letting the executive appoint judges [The Caravan]

21 August 2013

Bar unrest: Madras high court bar experiences heartburn and resentment at the selection of two out of eight newly appointed judges from neighbouring state Kerala, while western UP lawyers are gearing up to Gherao the Taj Mahal to mark their discontent over government inaction for a permanent western UP bench of the Allahabad HC [NIE/Zee News]

Press test: Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari has proposed a common examination for journalists to qualify them for a reporter’s license. It is not clear yet what the exam would entail. In the Press Freedoms Index 2013 prepared by Reporters Without Borders India ranked at 140 – the lowest since 2002 “because of increasing impunity for violence against journalists and because internet censorship continues to grow” [WSJ]

Kohli rejects Nike nurture: Karnataka HC Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh rules that Virat Kohli’s endorsement (and “nurturing”) contract with Nike would continue, despite the sports apparel maker complaining of Kohli’s commercial infidelity [Hindu] “Shades of Percept D'Mark vs Zaheer Khan?” tweeted @prjaipuriar

Karnataka benched perm: Karnataka high court’s circuit benches at Dharwad and Gulbarg will both be upgraded to permanent ones within the next 10 days. Under the president’s order the chief justice of the HC will nominate judges from his HC to sit at Dharwad for cases arising in Bagalkot, Bellary, Belgaum, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, Uttara Kannada-Karwar and Koppal districts. Judges sitting at the Gulbarga bench will look after cases arising in Bidar, Bijapur, Gulbarga and Raichur districts of the state. [BS]

Guj Pendency: The Gujarat high court is dealing with close to one lakh cases pending with eleven judges below the sanctioned strength of 42, reports the [DNA]

Groklaw post-snoop shut: Technology law website Groklaw shuts down because can’t guarantee sources’ anonymity after NSA internet monitoring revelations [BBC]

Durga Shakti Nagpal plea: The Supreme Court will on August 26 hear a contempt plea against the Uttar Pradesh government and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for suspending IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal who had implemented a government order for removal of unauthorised structures on public land [PTI]

No sleep banker dies: 21-year-old London Bank of America Merrill Lynch intern dies after working at least 3 all-nighters [The Independent]

19 August 2013

The Madras high court will get eight new judges as the SC collegium cleared eight out of 15 names recommended to it by the high court, reported The Hindu.

Six advocates including two women (R Mahadevan, K Kalyanasundaram, PS Jayakumar, S Vaidyanathan, VM Velumani and Pushpa Sathyanarayanan) and two district judges (VS Ravi and G Chockalingam) will be elevated.

The Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA) and an open letter by 46 lawyers and well-known civil society activists had strongly criticised the selection process of the shortlist of 15, requesting the collegium to withdraw the nominees.

05 August 2013

The Bar Council of India (BCI), which is currently pushing for representation in Supreme Court and high court judges’ appointments, on Saturday staged a demonstration at Rajghat, Delhi demanding immediate withdrawal of the National Judicial Appointment Commission Bill terming it as an “affront on independence of judiciary”, reported the Hindustan Times.

The bill, which is up for introduction in the monsoon session of the parliament according to Deccan Chronicle, proposes to set up a six member Judicial Appointments Commission headed by the Chief Justice of India and including the law minister, a Rajya Sabha nominee, the leader of the opposition and two Supreme Court justices.

"We are totally against this National Judicial Appointment Commission Bill because of the fact that in the process of appointment of judges, we do not want any interference from any outsider, including the executive," BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra told Zee News.

30 July 2013

Letter: 'Disturbing'The Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA) claimed that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) gave a negative report on three judicial candidates.

23 July 2013

The former Chief Justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir, who retired last week, has lashed out at the Times of India and the Indian Express for their critical reports of Kabir, purporting to explain in a six-page press release what actually went on behind the scenes.

19 July 2013

Altamas Kabir blasts collegium ‘gang’: Justice Altamas Kabir, who retired as the chief justice of India (CJI) yesterday, on 2 July requisitioned a meeting of the SC collegium – himself and justices P Sathasivam, GS Singhvi, RM Lodha and HL Dattu – to propose that they recommend the elevation of an unnamed high court chief justice to the Supreme Court. The collegium rejected Kabir’s proposal because it is not customary for exiting CJIs to be making appointments and since Sathasivam had already been formally named as the next CJI. Kabir accused the others of “ganging up” on him, reported the TOI

SC snakes & ladders: After the Supreme Court seven years ago took up adjudication of municipal matters in Delhi, which are normally under the jurisdiction of the high court, various district courts and municipal bodies, the apex court released an order passing those matters back to their respective jurisdiction. The Times of India reported on the game of snakes and ladders which spawned up 715 intervention applications

IT raids HNLU: HNLU Raipur owes taxes worth Rs 1.25 lakhs to the income tax department due to non payment of tax deducted at source, on advance payments given to a contractor. HNLU vice chancellor Prof SP Singh said that the law school had cooperated with the IT department and had defaulted by mistake [TOI]

Costly frivolous PILs: The Karnataka high court on Wednesday imposed costs of Rs 1.4 lakh on 14 peitioners for filing public interest litigations for “frivolous and personal reasons”. Dasapura villagers had asked the court for directions to the state government to clear encroachments on their land [NIE]

Food and/or nutrition: India’s first food security law – the Chhattisgarh’s Food Security Act 2012 – was amended to include “nutrition” in its short title to ensure “access to adequate quantity of food and other requirements of good nutrition to the people of the state, at affordable prices, at all times to live a life of dignity” [BS]

12 July 2013

Gujarat high court chief justice (CJ) Bhaskar Bhattacharya, whose elevation to the Supreme Court was rejected unanimously by the SC collegium, has accused chief justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir of bias spurred by Bhattacharya’s opposition of the CJI’s sister’s elevation to the bench, reported the Express.

Bhattacharya was the third senior-most high court (HC) CJ at the time of his rejection. His nomination, alongside that of Bombay HC CJ Mohit Shah and Uttarakhand HC CJ Barin Ghosh, was rejected as proving “counter-productive and not conducive to the administration of justice”.

According to the Express, Bhattacharya wrote in his letter to the CJI:

“As a human being, I have a reasonable basis to apprehend that the fact that as a member of the collegium while I was a judge of the Calcutta HC, I raised serious objections against the elevation of Smt Shukla Kabir Sinha, your (CJI Altamas Kabir's) younger sister, is the real reason for making such observations against me.”

“In my view as an advocate who at the age of 58 years is just capable of earning a net amount of Rs 88,000 from practice should in no case be recommended for judgeship. We cannot lose sight of the fact that a High Court chaprasi gets more than Rs 13,000 per month as salary which is equivalent to Rs 1,56,000 per annum which is almost double the income of Mrs Shukla Kabir Sinha from her practice as a lawyer.”

“When time came for selection of Smt Shukla Kabir Sinha as a Judge of the HC, I was pressured to agree to such a proposal as a member of the collegium, but I thought it would amount to committing rape of the Calcutta HC, which was like my mother and if I didn't raise any objections that would amount to closing my eyes while my mother was being raped.”

02 July 2013

IB nixes terrific collegium: A collegium of judges in a state affected by militancy had six months ago recommended an advocate, who was linked to a terrorist outfit, for elevation to the high court. The Prime Minister’s Office ordered an Intelligence Bureau (IB) scrutiny of all the persons recommended; when the IB rang alarm bells the recommendation was pulled out of the list [ET]

Lest CBI be judged: The union cabinet has decided to supervise the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) through an external panel of three judges. “It will be like making us report to two sets of judges and having to share with them our investigations,” a CBI officer said [TOI]

CJI for judicial reservations: Chief Justice of India-designate Justice P Sathasivam has favoured reservations for higher court and apex court judges [Telegraph]

Demonstrating for good judges:The lawyers in the Madras high court are agitating for ‘good and competent’ judges by holding a lunch-hour dharna on Monday inside the court premises “to highlight the need for transparency in the appointment of judges” [Deccan Chronicle]

27 June 2013

MHAA recalls judge choices: Madras HC Advocates Association (MHAA) petitions the CJI to reject the list of 15 proposed judges sent by the Madras HC collegiums to him, on the ground of it being below “constitutional standards”. “It appears that the names have been proposed on extraneous criteria such as caste, religion, office affiliations and political considerations. We at the Bar are deeply distressed, concerned and even alarmed at the partisan manner in which the selection is made,” said the MHAA in its representation to the CJI [Hindu]

HC Nagpur bench boost: Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court ups pre-vacation all time state-wide low bench strength (48 against sanctioned 75) by elevating tow lawyers Atul Chandurkar and Zaka Haq. The elevations were made after a gap of four years and there are now 12 judges at the Nagpur bench which still experiences a shortfall of 16 [TOI]

US SC for gay marriage: The US Supreme Court has struck down the US federal law that effectively banned gay marriage in the country and also dismissed an appeal against same sex marriage laws in California, restoring the right to gay marriage in the largest US state and nearly doubling the number of Americans living in states where gay marriage would be legal [Guardian]

Ramlu young training: RMLNLU Lucknow will hold a training session next month for young advocates under a new state-sponsored scheme – the Rajiv Gandhi Adhivakta Prashikshan Yojna’ (Rajiv Gandhi Advocate’s Training Scheme) to upgrade professional knowledge and skills of young advocates [HT]

20 June 2013

Obscene justice? A 61-year old doctor threatened a Supreme Court bench today that she would commit suicide if her case of malicious prosecution was sent back to the Delhi HC. She alleged that a Delhi HC judge had been sending her obscene messages and had colluded with BSES Rajdhani to falsely implicate her in a case of drawing electricity illegally after she had rejected his sexual advances. [Telegraph]

Judicially endorsed? A Kerala High Court Judge today refuted media reports stating that he had endorsed the products of a solar-panel company accused of a scam: “As we were conducting various programmes on environmental protection, pollution, global warming etc, I gave a message congratulating the proposal as it would save electrical energy and not cause any pollution. Apart from any such message I have never given any letter either to Team Solar or any other person for promoting their products.” [Outlook]

Political prosecutors: Following the Bombay HC’s direction, the Maharashtra state government has appointed a six-member committee headed by the law secretary to weed out political interference in the appointments of public prosecutors in lower and district courts. The HC had directed that politicians, ministers or bureaucrats should not be part of the decision-making process [TOI]

Enlightened humans on judges: Supreme Court justice Krishna Iyer on judges’ appointments - “We require a public discussion of a well-thought-out draft proposal where the Bar will get to express its views and the higher judiciary too will give its views. But it shall be the product of national debates, symposia, parliamentary discussions and expression of views by academics, intellectuals and other enlightened sections of humanity.” [Hindu]

11 June 2013

The Bar Council of India’s (BCI) chairman Manan Kumar Mishra and vice chairman Zafar A Khan will prepare a report on the manner in which the BCI and the state bar councils could participate in the appointment process of Supreme Court judges and the chief justices of all high courts. The report is planned to be submitted to the central and state governments.

The BCI is acting on the Madhya Pradesh state bar council’s and high court’s letter written to it, highlighting the concerns of former assistant solicitor general of India Radhe Lal Gupta. Gupta had shot a letter in March to all SC judges and chief justices of all HCs, questioning why some name recommendations to the SC collegium for judicial appointments were not considered positively.

Taking this into account the BCI has resolved to lobby for representation of lawyers’ bodies in the appointment process and has decided to raise this issue at a conference of judges and lawyers expected to be held after the court vacations. [Express]

The collegium system of judicial appointments has been a recent bone of contention between the executive and judiciary.

14 May 2013

Writ extorts 500 Rupee JEE key: The CBSE has today notified that it will provide the JEE-mains answer key to interested candidates for Rs 500. Legally India had yesterday reported the listing of a writ in the Delhi HC against the CBSE, by a JEE candidate, to force the CBSE to disclose the answer key [CBSE Notification]

Sex and the Judiciary: Convicting a factory worker for the murder of a woman, a Kancheepuram district judge wrote in his order: “A man and woman, if left alone, will always go for sexual intercourse”. The Madras HC acquitted the accused and observed: “Mere suspicion based on surmises and conjunctures will not take the place of proof.” [TOI]

SC cuts NE(E)T of suffering: The Supreme Court yesterday lifted its 13 December embargo on government and private medical colleges, allowing them to declare the results of the entrance exams conducted by them independently for the 2013-14 batch of MBBS, BDS and PG candidates. The SC’s interim order came in a stand-off between the colleges and the Medical Council of India, over the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) [Express]

Sibal on the collegium: Telecom minister Kapil Sibal, who was on Saturday given the additional charge of the law ministry, told journalists: “The collegium system of appointment is opaque and non-transparent. But changes cannot be made overnight. There are both short-term and long-term…. Under the short-term process, we will have proper consultation with the judges on how to go about the changes.” [Telegraph India]

Chicken came first or parrot?: Taking a dig at the Supreme Court for its “caged parrot” remark about the CBI and its independence, Congress reader Digvijay Singh told reporters: “I will request you to try and get access to all those who are calling our institutions chicken or parrot. You should take reaction from them also.” [PTI]

Dutt jail-holiday ends: The Supreme Court today refused to hear the plea of two film producers seeking an extension in Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s date of surrendering to jail authorities to complete his three-and-a-half year jail term under the Arms Act. 1993-blasts accused Dutt has to surrender on Thursday, after the SC earlier already granted him a four-week extension [PTI]

Not your business, TRAI: News organizations have opposed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) attempt to frame guidelines for the print and electronic media. They have suggested that the TRAI should instead work toward “orderly growth in the sector” together with the CCI, the SEBI and the MRTP Commission [BS]

15 April 2013

The Delhi High Court is slated to welcome Delhi Tis Hazari district judge Sunita Gupta and Delhi HC registrar general VP Vaish as additional judges after at least four senior advocates and one advocate are due to take seat at the bench.

29 March 2013

Madhya Pradesh High Court chief justice SA Bobde to be elevated to the Supreme Court. He will become the Chief Justice of India in 2019, after justice Ranjan Gogoi, and will preside for 18 months [Hindu] After the recent decision to elevate Justice AK Sikri, this would take the total bench strength to 30 out of 31 sanctioned places.

Politician LK Advani wants the executive’s say in Supreme Court judges appointment and transfer for “bringing in checks and balances”. He cited a 2008 report of the Law Commission in support [Rediff]

21 March 2013

The Supreme Court (SC) collegium has approved the nomination of chief justice (CJ) of Punjab and Haryana High Court (HC) and former Delhi HC judge Arjan Kumar Sikri for elevation to the SC.

Sikri was sworn in as the HC’s 31st CJ on 22 September 2012, after serving as the Delhi HC’s judge for 13 years. He was designated as a senior advocate by the Delhi HC in September 1997.

Sikri graduated from the Campus Law Centre, Delhi University in 1977 and had served as the vice president of the Delhi High Court Bar Association during 1994-1995. [Punjab Newsline]

In February the collegium elevated Andhra Pradesh HC CJ Pinaki Ghose and Himachal Pradesh HC CJ Kurian Joseph, while superseding the nominations of Bombay, Uttarakhand, and Gujarat HC CJs Mohit Shah, Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Barin Ghosh respectively.