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HL Dattu

17 November 2014

Chief justice of India HL Dattu has withdrawn the practice of his predecessor RM Lodha, who had asked high courts to consult non-collegium judges before sending their judge-recommendations to the Supreme Court, reported the Economic Times.

The high court collegium, which consists of the chief justice of a given high court along with his two senior most colleagues send their nominations for judgeships to the Supreme Court collegium. Former CJI Lodha had asked the high court collegiums to also consult two judges outside the collegium, before forwarding the final list of names for elevation to the SC.

CJI Dattu has withdrawn this request, after the high court cited “difficulties” in following the practice.

03 November 2014

"The judges are serious about rendering speedy justice to litigants. In most cases, the law has already been succinctly laid down and does not require further arguments to delay a verdict. Those cases need to be decided fast with crisp judgments focusing only on facts in the backdrop of the already laid down law,” a Supreme Court source told the Times of India.

The paper reported that SC judges have been “informally circulating” the message to keep judgments short and sweet under the new Chief Justice of India (CJI) HL Dattu, who is also (as pretty much every other CJI before him) trying to find ways of tackling the pendency problem.

17 October 2014

The central government today told the Supreme Court that it could not disclose the names, received from foreign governments, of people who have allegedly stashed away their ill-gotten money to tax havens, as it was bound by the confidentiality clause under the double taxation avoidance agreement.

Its stand was made in an application seeking modification of an earlier court order asking it to disclose the names all such people it had received from German government to the petitioner Ram Jethmalani.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the application for an urgent hearing before a bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu, Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice AK Sikri.

The government has said that the names of such account holders against whom the prosecution has been launched could be disclosed as they are in public domain but in case of others, it was bound by the confidentiality clause.

The government has said that such disclosures would be counter productive for get information on black money stashed away in tax havens as foreign governments would not share such information in future.

The court had Aug 20 directed the central government to give Jethmalani details of the account holders in banks of Liechtenstein that were submitted to the court on May 1. The court’s order came as senior counsel Anil Divan told the court that government had given him the names of 18 people against whom prosecution has been launched but held back the names of eight people.

However, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, the petitioner in the plea seeking steps to bring back black money stashed away in tax havens, assailed the government position saying that it could as well be the position of people involved in taking ill-gotten money to tax havens and not that of the government.

Jethmalani Friday told the court that he had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.

The apex court by its July 4, 2011 order had set up the SIT which was mandated to undertake the investigations into the unaccounted money stashed away outside the country in tax havens and foreign banks and take steps to bring it back.

The SIT comprises the revenue secretary, the deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, the director of the Intelligence Bureau, the director, enforcement directorate, the director, of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the director general of the Narcotics Control Bureau, director general, Revenue Intelligence, director, Financial Intelligence Unit, and Joint Secretary, (FT & TR-I) in the CBDT The court had said that SIT would also include director, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

However, the SIT could not get operational till May 1 as the government dragged its feet on the issuing the notification. On May 1, the apex court held that there was no ambiguity in July 4, 2011 order and directed the central government to issue the necessary notification.

Initially by July 4, 2011, SIT was headed by former apex court judge Justice BP Jeevan Reddy with another former judge Justice MB Shah as second in commandA

However, Justice Jeevan Reddy withdrew from the SIT citing personal reasons. The court by its May 1 order made Justice MB Shah the chairman with another former apex court judge Justice Arijit Pasayat as vice chairman.

17 October 2014

The Supreme Court Friday granted bail to former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa, convicted of possessing assests disproportionate to her known sources of income.

Alongwith Jayalalithaa, her aide Sasikala Natarajan and two others have also been granted bail.

PTI tweeted: “Jaya volunteered before SC to be kept in confinement in house for 2-3 months while pressing for bail.”

Update: However, the final order by the court, which has now been published, does not specify house arrest as a condition. 

An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu said that all four will be released on bail subject to the satisfaction of the condition by the trial court.

The court made it clear that Jayalalithaa and three others will complete their appeal with all relevant documents before the high court in a matter of two months and thereafter, it will ask the high court to expedite and complete the hearing on the appeal within three months.

The court told senior counsel Fali Nariman, who appeared for Jayalalithaa after Ram Jethmalani had represented her in the Karnataka high court bail plea, that it will not grant a day more to his client if they don’t complete the paperwork of their appeal before the high court with all the documents within a span of two months.

Jayalalithaa is presently in a Bangalore jail after her conviction in the disproportionate assets case. The former chief minister was awarded four-year prison term and a fine of Rs.100 crore.

She had moved to the Supreme Court Oct 9 seeking the bail.

Jayalalithaa, along with her aide Sasikala Natrajan, VK Sudhakaran and J Ilavarasi, Oct 7 were refused bail by the Karnataka high court which held that there were no grounds for granting bail.

Besides her health grounds, Jayalalithaa has invoked section 389 of the Code of Criminal Procedure seeking the suspension of her sentence and grant of bail till the pendency of her appeal against the trial court order.

The high court Oct 7, while declining bail to Jayalalithaa and three others, had relied on apex court orders as it ruled that putting the sentence on hold after an appeal is filed against the trial court order was not automatic. It had said that plea for bail after the conviction was different from the plea for bail while the trial was on.

It had also cited the apex court ruling that “corruption amounts to violation of human rights and leads to economic imbalances”.

In the 18 year old disproportionate assets case, the trial court in Bangalore Sep 27, convicted Jayalalithaa for possessing assets disproportionate to her known sources of income and sentenced her to four jail term and Rs. 100 crore fine.

The case against Jayalalithaa and three others related to period from 1991 to 1996 involving Rs. 66.65 crores when she became chief minister for the first time.

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