New Delhi :Reprimanding Assam coordinator for National Register of Citizens Prateek Hajela and Registrar General and Census Commissioner Sailesh for giving statements to the press on the NRC process, the Supreme Court Tuesday warned them that they could face contempt action and time in jail.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman said it was sparing them further action, keeping in mind that they still have a lot of work to do to bring out the final NRC. The bench said the statements by the two officials were “highly improper” and told them to be “cautious in future”.
The court, which heard the matter last on July 31, had fixed August 16 as the next hearing date. Tuesday’s hearing was especially convened by the court which took “suo motu” note of news reports. The bench said it was “disturbed” by the reports.
“You are officers of the court. What is all this?… What you say also reflects on the court,” the bench told the two officials who had appeared in court.
Referring to the news reports, Justice Gogoi asked Hajela: “Can you tell us what is this?… You are a court-appointed officer.” Justice Nariman joined him: “Are you in any manner concerned with the claims and objections?… What have you said and how are you concerned? All things you have said. Who are you to say? Your job is to complete the draft,” he said.
Hajela tendered an apology, but Justice Nariman continued: “What apology? We find this very strange… Speaking for myself, I am appalled.”
Justice Gogoi referred to the reports and statements made by Hajela on the documents to be submitted for claims and objections. “On the one hand, we are asking the government to submit the Standard Operating Procedure… On the other, you are saying any document may be included,” he said.
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Turning to the Registrar General, he said: “Who are you to say all this? We should be holding both of you guilty of contempt. I am sending both of you to jail.”
Justice Gogoi said the court had clarified on July 31 that the draft NRC cannot be the basis for any action as it was only a draft. Referring to a report carried by The Indian Express, he then asked “where is the scope, where is the necessity… to say all this?”.
Justice Nariman asked Hajela: “What impelled you to go to the press like that?”
Hajela replied that he had discussed with the Registrar General and was told that if there are any apprehensions among people, they should be allayed. He told the bench that he will not speak to the press on the subject again.
Justice Nariman said “please don’t do that”. He said the court could have taken sterner action against them but for the fact that they have a lot of work to do.
The bench said: “Your job is to prepare an NRC. That’s the job given to you by the court. Your job is not to hold a brief for anybody.” Before making any statements on the subject in the future, the officials must get back to the court and follow its directions, the bench said.
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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