Monday, July 20, 2009

Judgment of Supreme Court of India

Witness protection a must to make justice a reality: SC

The Supreme Court has sounded the alarm on the growing trend of witnesses turning hostile in criminal cases involving the rich and influential, stressing that justice would remain a far cry unless a witness protection mechanism was put in place.

"In cases involving influential people, the common experience is that witnesses do not come forward because of fear and pressure... (it) depicts a tremendous need for witness protection in our country if criminal justice administration has to be a reality," the apex court said.

The blunt acknowledgement of reality came in a recent judgment relating to an 11-year-old incident in Government Girls College at Ambikapur, Chhattisgarh, where an influential politician's son crushed a girl under the wheels of his jeep for daring to confront him over his rowdy behavior.

The arrogant youth's ego was hurt when the girl demanded an explanation for his unruly behavior and refused to give way. Angered by this, the accused drove the jeep over her and crushed her skull right inside the college. Many friends of the victim witnessed the brutal killing. Not just that. Some of them even tried to catch hold of the assailant and his flunkies.

All of them, however, turned hostile when it came to telling the truth before the trial court.

Upholding the conviction of Samarvijay Singh, who was behind the wheels of the jeep on December 3, 1998, when the incident occurred, a bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat (since retired) and A K Ganguly termed this case a "classic case of deficiency in the criminal justice system to protect witnesses from being threatened by accused".

The bench said it appeared from the record that friends of the victim, her fellow classmates, were eyewitnesses to the incident yet they turned hostile before the trial court, backing out from the statements they had made before the police at the time of investigation.

"The statement made before the police during investigation is no evidence. Unfortunately, in cases involving influential people, the common experience is that witnesses do not come forward because of fear and pressure," the bench said.

Convinced that this case involved exertion of a lot of pressure on witnesses, the bench noticed that one of the victim's friend broke down during cross-examination and blurted out partial facts and requested the trial court not to call her again.

"The plight of the girls who were under pressure depicts the tremendous need for witness protection in our country, if criminal justice administration has to be a reality," the bench said.

Source: The Times of India

Girls above 18 entitled to live with or marry anyone: SC
What it had observed two days ago, the Supreme Court on Thursday put it in writing — Girls above 18 years of age can live or marry with anyone of their choice. Unhappy parents could at best severe their ties with her and dare not harass or torture her taking law into their hands, it warned.

This order was passed by a vacation Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Deepak Verma while protecting one Fiaz Ahmed Ahanger of Jammu and Kashmir from harassment at the hands of the police on the basis of a complaint lodged by the parents of his wife, a Hindu girl.

The girl, with an infant in her lap, stood before the Bench, braved questions and was unflappable in her resolve to live with her husband. But, there was a urgent plea from her to save her husband from harassment at the hands of the police and threats from her parents and brothers who did not agree to the inter-religious marriage.

Convinced that she had attained majority, the Bench put it down in writing: "India is a free country where girls after attaining the age of 18 years have the freedom to live with or marry anyone they like. Parents, if not happy, could at the worst severe their ties with her but cannot threaten, coerce or torture her."

The girl converted to Islam and acquired a Muslim name Mehvesh Anjum to marry Fiaz, a teacher in Ramban district in J&K in December 2007. On coming to know about their daughter's marriage, her parents forcibly brought her back and got her married off to a Hindu. But she escaped and got reunited with Fiaz.

Seething with anger, the parents and the second husband lodged a case of kidnapping against Fiaz. The police harassed the couple, who moved the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to seek stay of the police investigation. The HC passed an order in May 2008 refusing to stay the police probe following which the couple appealed to the Supreme Court.

The SC offered police protection to the couple and stayed their arrest. "We direct nobody will threaten, harass or commit any violence or unlawful act against the petitioner (Fiaz), the girl or the petitioners' family members," the Bench said, though it refused to stay the police probe into the case.

Source: The Times of India

Injuries not necessary for confirmation of rape: SC
An accused can be convicted for rape even if there are no injuries on the private parts of the victim as the same does not amount to consensual sex, the Supreme Court has ruled.

"Corroborative evidence is not an imperative component of judicial credence in every case of rape nor the absence of injuries on the private parts of the victim can be construed as evidence of consent," a bench of Justices V S Sirpurkar and R M Lodha said.

The bench passed the ruling while rejecting the argument of convict Rajender alias Raju who claimed that absence of any injuries on the victims' private parts indicated that she consented to the sex and that the charge of rape was not corroborated by any other evidence except the testimony of the victim.

The apex court said that in rape cases the sole testimony of the witness without any corroboration can be relied on as rarely would a self-respecting Indian woman accuse a man of raping her.

"In the context of Indian culture, a woman victim of sexual aggression would rather suffer silently than to falsely implicate somebody. Any statement of rape is an extremely humiliating experience for a woman and until she is a victim of sex crime, she would not blame anyone but the real culprit.

Source: The Times of India

Do not lie to the court, SC tells lawyers
"Do not lie to the court" — this advice from the Supreme Court to a junior advocate invited suppressed smirks from a small crowd of lawyers and litigants present before a vacation Bench on Wednesday. For, everyone is aware of the public perception about the legal profession.

What followed from a Bench comprising Justice B Sudershan Reddy and Aftab Alam made a lot of sense as it was an expression of deep anguish over the manner in which lawyers resort to falsehood and suppression of facts causing immense harm to the trust judges once reposed in them.

To deliver speedy justice, much in need given spiraling litigation and huge pendency of cases, judges have to rely on statements made by lawyers about their cases, the Bench said, adding that if judges had to read each and every word in case files, then disposal would take years.

"What will happen if the judges become wary of lawyers' statements made across the Bar.? In the apex court, we trust the advocates for they and the judges are equal partners in administration of justice. How can we carry on with the job if we start distrusting the lawyers," the Bench said.

It made no attempt to hide its deep hurt to find a writ petition filed by a young advocate suppressing the fact that his client's earlier special leave petition against eviction was dismissed by a three-judge Bench of the apex court and his petition seeking review of the dismissal order was pending.

Admonishing the advocate for wasting the court's time, as the judges had to spend considerable time in discovering the hidden facts, Justice Reddy said this type of cases block genuine cases, which get delayed.

Admonition complete, the judges displayed their concern towards the young advocate and invited him to their chamber to guide him on how to conduct himself as a lawyer.

Source: The Times of India

SC refers UPSC quota row to Constitution bench
New Delhi, May 14: The Supreme Court on Thursday referred to a Constitution Bench the question whether candidates belonging to reserved categories selected for union civil services on merit should be appointed for reserved posts or under the general quota.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal said it was referring the matter to a Constitution Bench as certain complicated questions of Constitutional law were involved.

The apex court made the reference while disposing off a batch of petitions filed by the union government and several candidates challenging rule 16(2) of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Under the existing rule, reserved candidates, if selected on their merit, are to be allocated posts in the general category. But this rule is applicable only in appointments made in the posts held under the state governments as there is no such legislation for central government posts.

Under the rule, UPSC had allotted 64 reserved candidates belonging to OBC and SC candidate, who were selected on their merit without reservation benefits, posts under the reserved category for appointments to "preferential posts."

The move was challenged by certain aggrieved candidates belonging to reserved categories who contended that allotment of posts to the meritorious reserved candidates within the reserved category was violative of the reservation policy.

The Madras High Court struck down the rule as illegal and unconstitutional following which the Centre and several aggrieved candidates filed the special leave petition in the apex court.

The UPSC has made it clear that the results declared by it were provisional and would be subject to the outcome of the appeal pending before the apex court.

The High Court had held as 'null and void' Rule 16 (2) of the Examination Rules of the Government of India for Civil Services Examination saying that it ran counter to the benefit of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBC candidates and was not affirmative, progressive and pragmatic in achieving social justice.

In all, 457 candidates were selected for the final list for the years 2006 and 2007. Of this, 31 OBC and one SC candidate made it through the merit list (unreserved) but at the same time availed their postings under the reserved category.

This action by the UPSC, based on Rule 16 (2), deprived equal number of candidates from the said communities of availing the postings, the High Court had held.

"It amounts to reducing the number of posts reserved for the SC/ST/OBC and adding the same number of posts to the unreserved category, thus making a mockery of the entire rule of reservation," the High Court had said.

Instead of helping achieving social justice, the rule was acting against the SC/ST/OBC candidates, the High Court had observed.

Source: Zee News

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