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Ram Jethmalani

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.

23 September 2014

RamJet plays badmintonLawyer-cum-filmmaker Siddharth Acharya has made a mini-documentary about the inimitable Ram Jethmalani.

09 June 2014

The appointment of Mukul Rohatgi, who was considered a shoo-in to become the next Attorney General of India, appears to have been put on hold following a critical letter by senior counsel and former BJP member Ram Jethmalani to the BJP leadership.

Jethmalani told the Indian Express: “Yes, I have written to the Prime Minister, asking him to not appoint Rohatgi to the post. I have asked Modi to not appoint anybody who is opposed to the move to bring back black money from foreign accounts to any post. It will send a wrong signal since one of the major reasons for the electoral victory of the BJP was the reluctance of the previous government to take effective steps to bring back black money.”

Jethmalani had filed a petition in the Supreme Court on the issue of black money held overseas.

26 March 2014

The Supreme Court rejected the government's plea to undo its judgment asking for a special investigation team to probe black money stashed abroad in a PIL that was first filed and won by senior counsel Ram Jethmalani. Anil Divan represented Jethmalani, while Mohan Parasaran argued for the government [Business Standard]

13 March 2014

A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice KS Radhakrishnan today rejected the appeal for the bail of jailed Sahara boss Subrata Roy, pending the next hearing on 25 March 2014.

05 March 2014

Election Commission wants paid news to be crime: Election Commission said it has proposed to the law ministry to make “paid news” a criminal offence, estimating that Rs 500 crore was currently being spent on paid news [NDTV]

RamJet accuses Kejriwal of demonic pact with Congress: Senior counsel and sometime BJP politician Ram Jethmalani tore into Arvind Kejriwal in a newspaper column after he had “expressed nothing but goodwill and support” for the activist-turned-ex-chief-minister, but had now realised that a rather complex “Faustian bargain” was made between Kejriwal and the Congress to capture potential Modi voters [New Indian Express]

Reliance Infra files defamation vs AAP: Reliance Infrastructure filed a Rs 100 crore defamation suit against the Aam Aadmi Party in late February in the Bombay high court for accusing the company of overcharging customers on purpose [The Hindu]

Delhi HC stays semi-biopic after seeing trailer: Holds that the Gulaab Gang movie, allegedly based on the life of Sampat Pal who formed a vigilante group of women in pink saris in Uttar Pradesh, would cause a “loss of reputation can not be compensated by monetary terms” and stayed release that was scheduled for Friday [IANS]

SC upholds Uphaar cinema fire convictions, passes on quantum: The Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of the cinema owner brothers but has passed onto a three-judge bench the question of how long the Gopal and Sushil Ansar should be jailed for their role in causing the death of 59 in a cinema fire in 1997 [PTI]

26 February 2014

The Supreme Court has today issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Sahara chief Subrata Roy for not turning up in court, rejecting senior counsel Ram Jethamalani's arguments that Roy was aiding his ill mother.

24 February 2014

First female judge elevated from Goa: North Goa Principal and District and Sessions Judge Anuja Prabhudessai is set to become the first Goan judge who is a woman to be elevated to the Bombay high court. Once in her two-decade-long judicial career she was suspended for using her discretion in awarding compensation in a motor vehicle accident claim petition, but was later cleared of all her charges and reinstated [Hindu]

Gurgaon’s hi fi tower of justice: Gurgaon is set to get a nine-storey building costing Rs 225 crore with 55 planned courtrooms and provision for 15 more, a single window care centre for all legal issues, a centralised complaint filing system, a library and a bar room with a seating capacity of 1,500, a separate bar room for women, 20 mediation centres and a separate block for facilities such as the post office and bank [TOI]

SC says Guj & Orissa HC can hear PIL against its judge residences: The Supreme Court returned a writ petition challenging illegal allotment of residential plots to high court judges of Gujarat and Orissa, holding that the even though the petition is against sitting judges of those high courts, that is no reason not to file it before those high courts [Telegraph India]

RamJet fell but not injured: 90 year old criminal law veteran Ram Jethmalani suffered a fall in Chennai on Friday but was discharged from the hospital in a few hours [TOI]

Karnataka lawyers hunger strike for KAT bench: Karnataka high court’s Dharwad bench advocates association yesterday launched a hunger strike for a permanent bench of the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal in North Karnataka [DNA India]

Telangana judicial vacancies postponed: “The Telangana High Court Advocates’ Committee on Thursday requested the President, prime minister and chief justice of India to direct the authorities concerned not to fill up the vacancies of judges in the Andhra Pradesh High Court till bifurcation of the state”, reported the [New Indian Express]

31 January 2014

AK Ganguly SC report private info: Rejecting a Right to Information (RTI) request for the Supreme Court’s report on its recent sexual harassment complaint proceedings against its former justice AK Ganguly, the SC said: “The disclosure of information and reports emanating out of a self-evolved mechanism which is in the nature of an In-House Procedure by the judiciary is expressly prohibited.” [PTI]

Verma J’s family declines Padma Bhushan: Refusing to accept the Padma Bhushan national honour on behalf of late justice JS Verma, his wife Pushpa Verma has written to the president stating that her husband “never hankered or lobbied for any acclaim, reward or favour” and that he “will be satisfied with being remembered as one of India’s most pre-eminent jurists […]”. Verma’s family was upset that they were not informed or “consulted” about the award through official communication but only came to know about it through media reports, and that they feel that the issue has been dealt with in a “bureaucratic manner” reported [IBN Live] Former Delhi high court chief justice Rajinder Sachar said that the ex-CJI at least deserved the higher honour of a Padma Vibhushan [Express]

RamJet set for BJP expulsion damages: The Delhi high court has fixed 2 May as the date for hearing veteran criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani’s plea against expulsion from political party BJP on charges of “breach of discipline”. Jethmalani has asked the court for Rs 50 lakh in damages from the party’s parliamentary board members and a direction to the board to declare the order of his expulsion as "null and void" [IBN Live]

FDI U-turn vs national security: The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has revised its policy for 100 per cent foreign direct investment in Indian railways, after security concerns over Chinese firms prospectively setting up projects near the international border [Mint]

Suicide a crime or not?: The Mental Health Bill, approved yesterday by the cabinet, stands at odds with the Indian Penal Code which makes suicide a criminal offence. The bill decriminalises suicide [Scroll]

24 January 2014

Lawyers boycott supporting boycott to force judicial transfer: The Allahabad High Court Bar Association boycotted work today in support of the boycott of work by the Awadh Bar Association of Lucknow. In fact Allahabad outdid Awadh and added an extra half-day of boycott after lunch yesterday. The boycotts attempt to force the transfer of Allahabad high court judge Satish Chandra to the “remotest HC of the country” [TOI]

Chhatisgarh HC gets 2 judges: The Chhatisgarh high court today got two new additional judges in Inder Singh Uboweja and Chandra Bhushan Bajpai, taking its total strength to 13 [PTI]

1,400 criminal cases pending v TN lawyers: 1,200 lawyers in Tamil Nadu have criminal backgrounds and 1,424 cases are pending against them, the director general of police told the Madras high court in a petition filed in the HC. The DG seeks to prohibit advocates who qualify in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka from practicing in Tamil Nadu [New Indian Express]

MM moves HC against DU study leave: A Delhi metropolitan magistrate has moved the Delhi high court against the Delhi University’s condition to obtain a two-year study leave from her employer – the Delhi high court – in order to obtain her PhD from the university, calling the condition (arbitrary and unreasonable) [PTI]

SC/ST advocates entitled to held-up grants: Advocates belonging to scheduled communities are eligible for upto Rs 1 lakh of municipal grants annually in Karnataka, for the purpose of buying books. 450 advocates have alleged before the Karnataka high court that the grants have not been released since 1977 [New Indian Express]

Salve challenges CAG audit order: Senior advocate Harish Salve called the Delhi government order, which wanted a CAG audit on power companies, a “Sheikh Chilli” order that gave the CAG the power to audit every private citizen because all taxes go to the consolidated fund of India. He was representing the power companies appealing against the HC’s decision but the HC declined them a stay on its earlier order [Indian Express]

RamJet liplock “controversy”: A photograph has surfaced showing veteran Bollywood actor Dharmendra apparently in a “lip-lock” with politician and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani at the venerable advocate's recent birthday bash. The photo has “caused a stir in social media” as a sight that was both “shocking and unbelievable”, gasped the Times of India