New Delhi:The Congress today described the public stand taken by four senior most Supreme Court judges on the functioning of the apex court as “unprecedented and extremely disturbing” and sought “careful redressal” of these concerns by the “full apex court”.
The party aligned itself with SC judges by demanding a probe into death of CBI judge BH Loya who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case in which BJP President Amit Shah among others is a party.
“SC judges have raised the issue of death of Judge Loya. This has to be addressed at the highest levels in the Supreme Court. SC judges at the top must investigate Judge Loya’s death,” Congress President Rahul Gandhi said this evening in his first official press conference after assuming party presidency on December 16, 2017.
Gandhi’s said the development was “unprecedented and one that never happened before”.
“What has happened is unprecedented. SC judges have raised significant questions. This is a sensitive matter. Judges have flagged threat to democracy. These issues need to be looked at carefully. Judges have also spoken of judge Loya’s death and this has to be probed at the highest level in the SC. People have faith in the legal system and this faith must be kept,” Gandhi said treading cautiously on the matter and declining to take questions.
A decision to align with rebel SC judges was taken after a meeting at Gandhi’s residence today. The meeting was attended by veteran Ahmed Patel and former ministers and legal luminaries P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Manish Tewari. All these seniors sat with audiences at AICC headquarters as Gandhi took the dais today.
The Congress demanded that the PIL concerning judge Loya’s death be entrusted to the senior most judges of the Supreme Court and probe into the death be held under supervision by an independent special investigation team.
Noting today’s developments as “extremely disturbing and those with far-reaching consequences for India’s democracy and judicial independence”, Congress media head Randeep Surjewala articulated a “guarded” party position and stopped short of accusing the judiciary of favouring the BJP government and its leaders.
Congress argued that concerns raised by the judges today should be resolved internally by the judiciary.
“We earnestly appeal that the full court of the SC should take up issues raised…and find solutions consistent with judicial traditions,” a party statement said.
On assignment of cases, though, the Congress decided to advice the SC.
“In the matter of assignment of cases the established convebtions and traditions of the courts must be followed and the selective assignment of cases must be stopped forthwith. Cases with far reaching implications to society and governance must be heard, in accordance with well established conventions, by the senior most judges of the SC,” Surjewala said.
The party flagged delays in finalization of memorandum of procedure by the Government and selective assignment of cases as mentioned by four SC judges as “deeply perturbing” but decided to keep its first response to the issue restrained.
Insiders however said “the situation is evolving” and party’s strategy to the issue would evolve accordingly. Politically, Gandhi set the tone today by demanding a fair probe into Judge Loya’s death – a judge who was hearing a matter against BJP chief Amit Shah.
Ayodhya on high alert following intelligence inputs
Ayodhya: Amid VIP movements, Ayodhya has been put on high alert soon after intelligence inputs indicated a possible terror attack in the city.
“We have put more force into action. The force has been alerted. Also, intelligence officials in the civil dress have come here. They are checking all hotels, restaurants and railway stations. The police force is vigilant and keeping a track of all the movements,” Anil Kumar Sisodia, Superintendent of Police City, told ANI.
This comes ahead of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday along with his party MPs.
According to reports, the security has also been heightened keeping in mind the hearing on 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack on June 18.
Seven died while cleaning hotel sewer in Vadodara
Vadodara: Seven persons, including four sanitation workers, died due to asphyxiation on Saturday while cleaning sewer of a hotel in Gujarat’s Vadodara district, officials said.
The incident happened at a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi tehsil, about 30 km from Vadodara city. Three employees of the hotel were also among those killed.
“When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation,” district collector Kiran Zaveri told PTI.
Manmohan retires from Rajya Sabha
New Delhi: For the first time in 28 years, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its Web site, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament.
With the Congress lacking the numbers in the Assam legislature to ensure his re-election, 86-year-old Dr Singh retired from the Rajya Sabha.
Dr Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. He was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.
Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko.
However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.
The Congress could also hope to send Dr Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together.
The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Smriti Zubin Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha. Shah has debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar while Irani is the Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.
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