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Ayodhya more important than polygamy, Supreme Court told

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New Delhi: Amidst ruckus created by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan on whether the “Ayodhya dispute” is less important than “polygamy”, the Supreme Court agreed to examine whether the entire Ayodhya title dispute can be sent to the Constitution Bench.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, also made it clear to Dhavan that it will decide whether to send the matter to the larger bench only after hearing all parties to the litigation.
“We will not restrict the scope of arguments only to reconsideration of 1994 verdict. You (Dhavan) can argue for referring the entire title suit to a constitution bench,” the bench told Dhavan. Justices Ashok Bhushan and Abdul Nazeer are the other judges in the bench.
At the outset, Dhavan, appearing for main petitioner M. Siddiq, referred to a recent order passed for referring “polygamy” issue to a Constitution Bench of five judges and asked the court whether Ayodhya dispute is less important than polygamy for not referring to five judges.
“People of India want to know whether polygamy is more important than Ayodhya dispute. This court must answer now. Ayodhya case is not being dealt with the importance it deserves,” Dhavan told the court. He repeatedly said and urged the CJI to refer this matter to a constitution bench now itself.
Senior counsels K. Parasaran and C.S. Vaidyanathan strongly opposed the words used by Dhavan, insinuating senior lawyers present in the court and Soli Sorabjee, who is not present.
Objecting to Dhavan’s submissions, Parasran told the court, “What sort of argument is this? Nation wants to know and Supreme Court must answer. You ( Dhavan) are not alone who is representing the nation. We (petitioners representing Hindus) are also representing the nation. When one is asking for a reconsideration of the 1994 verdict it has to be examined. As far as we are concerned, the verdict did not require reconsideration. Further no review can be permitted after 25 years.”
Parasaran added that it was not proper to compare “polygamy” case with Ayodhya dispute. Last year when triple talaq was decided by the Constitution bench, this issue was left open and for this reason only polygamy was referred to five judges. But here we are dealing with a case, which is already decided, and he is seeking reconsideration.
Additional solicitors general Maninder Singh and Tushar Mehta also objected to Dhavan using unparliamentary and disparaging remarks against senior lawyers and urged the court not to allow the counsel to do so.
When Dhavan said he cannot argue the same issue now and repeat the same before the Constitution Bench later, Justice Ashok Bhushan reminded the counsel that there is some procedure in this court which must be followed. He asked the counsel “how can you say that I will not argue before you and I will argue only before the Constitution bench before we decide whether reference is required or not.”
CJI told Dhavan “whether to refer to a larger bench or not we have to hear all parties and decide. We will hear on all aspects, first, we will put this controversy (on 1994 verdict) to rest. We may take a decision to refer the entire 1994 judgment to a larger bench as well as the title dispute itself.”
Dhavan asked the CJI “If the court has one criteria, viz importance of an issue to be referred to the constitution, why not same criteria for this (Ayodhya) issue. This (Ayodhya) is the most important issue facing the Indian secularism, than polygamy. I am asking this with serious anguish. Tell whether polygamy or secularism is important. Let this court openly say that this matter is not sufficiently important than polygamy.
Dhavan’s objection was that during the last hearing the apex court had said that before deciding the Ayodhya title dispute, it will examine as a preliminary issue’ whether the 1994 ruling, viz “a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and Namaz. (Prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open” requires to be revisited by a five judge Constitution bench.
The CJI had then made it clear to . Dhavan “if we agree with your propositions, we will refer the legal principles to be considered afresh by a five judge bench. If we don’t agree with your argument and come to the conclusion that the 1994 observations were made in the context of acquisition of land in Ayodhya, we may not refer it.”
Dhavan pointed out that the 1994 verdict ordering
status quo’ on installation of Ram Idol in the disputed site, recognised Hindus right to worship at that place but completely ignored the rights of Muslims to offer namaz in the Babri Masjid. The observation that a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and Namaz. (Prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open, required to be revisited as the Allahabad High Court while deciding the title suit in 2010 had apportioned one third of the land to Hindus, one third to Muslims and one third to Ram Lulla relying on the status quo order of 1994. He will continue his arguments on April 27.


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SC issues notice to Centre on MHA’s ‘snooping’ order, seeks reply within six weeks

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New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Centre and sought a response, within six weeks, on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against the Ministry of Home Affairs’ notification authorising 10 central agencies to intercept, monitor and decrypt any computer system. The top court had earlier denied an early hearing in the case.

The petition, filed by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, seeks quashing of the government’s December 20 order which empowers the agencies to intercept any computer under the Information Technology (IT) Act. According to the notification, the subscriber or service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource will be bound to extend all facilities and technical assistance to the agencies and failing to do will invite seven-year imprisonment and fine.

The 10 agencies notified under the new order are the Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (for Income Tax Department), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, Directorate of Signal Intelligence (in service areas of J-K, North East and Assam) and Delhi Police commissioner.

 

The government had come under fire for its order with the Opposition accusing the Centre of running a “police state”. The government, however, later clarified that “no new powers” had been conferred to the agencies and that the same rules were brought in by the UPA government in 2009.

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26/11 plotter Tahawwur Rana, in US jail, may be extradited: report

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Washington/New Delhi: There is a “strong possibility” of Tahawwur Hussain Rana – currently serving a 14-year jail term in the US for plotting the 2008 Mumbai terror attack – being extradited to India, an informed source said.

The Indian government, with “full cooperation” from the Trump administration, is currently working on completing the necessary paperwork to ensure the extradition of the Pakistani-Canadian national before his current jail term ends in December 2021. Rana was arrested in 2009 on the charges of plotting the 26/11 terror attack.

Some 166 people, including US nationals, were killed in the attack carried out by 10 Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was captured and hanged after handed down death sentence by an Indian court.

 

In 2013, Rana was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment. According to the US officials, he is set to be released in December 2021. “There is a strong possibility of extradition of Rana to India on completion of his jail term here. We (US and India) are working on this,” a source told PTI.

But the “challenge” is to complete the necessary paperwork during this period and overcome the cumbersome bureaucracy of the two countries and the independent judiciary, the source said.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Law and Justice and the US’ State Department and the Department of Justice, each of them has their own extradition procedure in place. And they are unwilling to cutdown or speed up their own process when it comes to extradition, it added.

Following a recent visit to the US by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) team, officials from both sides have agreed to cut down on the bureaucratic procedures so that all the necessary paperwork is ready before the current jail term of Rana ends in December 2021.

From now on, the NIA is expected to have direct communication with their US counterparts to cut short the timeframe and bureaucratic formalities.

In case, the US government in co-operation with the Indian government is unable to complete the necessary paperwork before that, officials in Washington said it would become very tough to ensure a smooth extradition of Rana once he is released from the jail in Chicago, where he is currently serving his sentence.

As per the existing US law, Rana, a Pakistan-born Canadian national, would most probably be deported to Canada if India and the US are unable to complete the cumbersome extradition process before his release.

However, people familiar with the matter told PTI, that there is a “desire” so there is an assurance from the highest level in the Trump administration that all necessary steps would be taken in a timely fashion to ensure extradition of Rana before his release.

According to the US officials, the extradition of Rana would help in cementing the relationship between the two countries, boost up the counter-terrorism cooperation and enhance America’s image among Indians.

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Talks of CPI(M)-Cong alliance for LS polls to be ‘initiated at state level’: Yechury

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Kolkata: Any talks of a CPI(M)-Congress adjustment for the parliamentary election have to be “initiated at the state level” as the political situation is different in various states, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has said, virtually ruling out a nationwide tie-up between the two parties.

Yechury’s remarks came at a time a section of the state CPI(M) leadership was keen on an electoral understanding with the Congress to defeat the Trinamool Congress and the BJP in West Bengal.

“We had said the political situation is different in various states. So any sort of talks with the Congress have to be initiated at the state level,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a condolence meeting for former West Bengal industry minister and politburo member Nirupam Sen here on Sunday night.

 

He was replying to question on why the CPI(M) was not initiating talks with the Congress at the national level to put up an anti-BJP front.

Yechury said the alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh was a “positive” development and that a “lot more is yet to happen”. The CPI(M) leader said he is looking forward to an anti-BJP secular and democratic front at the Centre in 2019 in a “post-poll scenario”. Majority of the state Congress leaders are in favour of an informal seat-sharing arrangements with the CPI(M) in West Bengal for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, senior state Congress leaders said.

Some of the top state Congress leaders have already begun “informal talks” with some CPI(M) leaders over the issue of seat adjustment.

However, the state Congress unit maintained that the final call on the decision of state-specific adjustments with the CPI(M) will be taken by party president Rahul Gandhi.

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