Bombay HC seeks NIA, state response to Sudha Bharadwaj default bail plea

On Tuesday, the Bombay High Court ordered the National Investigation Agency to present an affidavit in response to activist Sudha Bharadwaj’s bail petition in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist connections case by July 3.

Bharadwaj was apprehended on August 28, 2018, and has been incarcerated since then. Under the terms of the severe Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, a complaint was filed against her and a few other activists.

Bharadwaj had requested default bail, claiming that the trial judge was not authorised to take cognizance of the charge sheet submitted against her in 2019, since the judge had not been appointed as a special court under the NIA Act to hear UAPA cases at the time.

On Tuesday, a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar ordered NIA’s lawyer, Sandesh Patil, to file an affidavit in answer to the plea and adjourned the case till July 3.

Bharadwaj used papers obtained from the high court under the Right to Information Act to show that the Pune court of Additional Sessions Judge Kishor Vadane was not authorised to consider the 1,800-page additional charge sheet submitted by the Pune police in February 2019.

Because this judge was not a special NIA judge at the time, he or she could not have taken cognizance of the charge sheet. Bharadwaj’s lawyer, Yug Chaudhry, also claimed that an earlier decision issued by the same judge in November 2018 allowing the police time to file the charge sheet should be overturned.

The case stems from alleged provocative statements made during the ”Elgar Parishad” conference in Shaniwarwada, Pune, on December 31, 2017, which allegedly sparked unrest the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war monument on the city’s outskirts, according to the police.

The conference was allegedly backed by Maoists, according to Pune police. The matter was eventually handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).



PIL seeking direction to state government to take action on SIT report quashed by Allahabad HC: Vikas Dubey encounter case

On Monday, the Allahabad High Court quashed a PIL demanding the state government to act on the SIT report on the Kanpur ambush, in which eight police officers were killed.

The petitioner was also fined Rs 25,000 by the high court’s Lucknow bench for filing a baseless plea and wasting the court’s time.

When eight police officers, including DSP Devendra Mishra, were on their way to capture criminal Vikas Dubey in Bikru village in Kanpur’s Chaubeypur district, they were attacked and killed by gunshots fired from roofs soon after midnight on July 3.

Dubey was murdered in an encounter on Friday, according to police, after attempting to flee the scene near Bhauti where his vehicle was involved in an accident while transporting him from Ujjain to Kanpur.

After hearing the PIL filed by Kanpur attorney Saurabh Bhadauria through video conference, a bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav and Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi issued the decision.

Nutan Thakur, the petitioner’s lawyer, said that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) report revealed a link between the murdered gangster and several police officers and other government employees.

Sanjay Bhoosreddy, a senior IAS official, led the three-member SIT, which also included assistant director general of police Hari Ram Sharma and deputy inspector general of police J Ravinder Goud. The SIT was created by the state government on July 11, 2020, to investigate the case, and it delivered its findings to the government on November 4, 2020.


Patna HC issues bail to student who shared objectionable Facebook post on Hindu God, Goddess

On Wednesday, the Patna High Court issued bail to a 20-year-old boy convicted of posting offensive photographs of Hindu Gods and Goddesses on Facebook.

Sections 153(A), 294 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and Sections 67 and 67(A) of the Information Technology Act have been used to prosecute the Boy.

The counsel representing the petitioner argued that the petitioner had not performed any wrongdoing in the way stated, and that the petitioner had no purpose of hurting other groups’ religious sensibilities.

According to the Lawyer, a review of the First Information Report reveals that the appellant shared the post of one Reehan Khan, and that the picture in question did not occur from the appellant’s Facebook account.

It was further argued that the petitioner is a 20-year-old student who has been in prison since 9.8.2020 and has no criminal history, and that a charge sheet has already been filed in the case.

Given that the petitioner is a student and a charge sheet has already been filed in the case, as well as the notion that he has been in detention since 9.8.2020 and has no criminal background, Justice Anil Kumar Sinha of the Patna High Court provided regular bail to the appellant, subject to the filing of a bail bond of Rs 10,000.


Social Activist Medha Patkar challenges SC seeking uniform procedure for release of prisoners to above 70 years to decongest prisons

Medha Patkar, a social activist, has petitioned the Supreme Court for orders to the Centre and all states and union territories to take bold solutions, including the parole of convicts above the age of 70 on interim bail or immediate parole to protect their interests.

Patkar claims she has challenged the Supreme Court for guidelines to the Centre, states and union territories, and high-powered committees (HPCs) to devise a uniform procedure to clear out jails across India by releasing convicts above the age of 70.

Her petition cited the National Crimes Record Bureau‘s Prison Statistics, which said that 19.1% of all offenders in Indian jails are above the age of 50.

Similarly, 10.7% of the detainees awaiting trial are above the age of 50. There are 63,336 inmates above the age of 50. (13.2 percent of the total prisoners).

According to the National Prisons Information Portal, the overall number of convicts above the age of 70 as of May 16 was 5,163, with the exception of Maharashtra, Manipur, and Lakshadweep, where figures are not available.

According to the plea, the court stated on April 13, 2020, that it had not instructed states/union territories to mandatorily release prisoners from detention centers, and that the intent of the initial direction was to guarantee that states/union territories could evaluate the situation in prisons in light of the current pandemic in the nation, start releasing specific prisoners and examine the segment of detainees to be released.

The HPCs have not taken into account the classification of inmates based on their vulnerability to infection and their need to be freed on an urgent basis, according to the appeal, because much of the categorization of convicts is based on socioeconomic conditions and administrative convenience.

According to statistics accessible on the National Prison Information Portal, the overall number of old prisoners in central prisons is 9679, with 612 inmates aged 50-60, 309 inmates aged 60-70, and 84 inmates aged above 70.

According to the petition, jails in Gujarat and Rajasthan do not meet the required standards and are also overcrowded in comparison to their official capacity.

According to the plea, the release of elderly inmates, regardless of the severity of the offenses, is essential and reasonable for practical reasons, and should not raise any law and order issues.

In the alternative, the appellant requested that the Centre, states, and union territories guarantee that elderly inmate who refuses to accept the temporary release be sent to the least congested prisons feasible, preferably open prisons with suitable medical facilities.


SC stays 5 out of 6 FIRs lodged against Munmun Dutta for using casteist remark

The Supreme Court delayed five of six First Information Reports (FIRs) lodged against actor Munmun Dutta, who stars in the TV show “Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah,” for allegedly using a casteist remark against Scheduled Caste groups in a clip (Mun Mun Dutta v. State of Haryana).

For using the term ‘Bhangi’ in a video shared on Instagram, Dutta was convicted in six states under Section 3(1)(u) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Dutta’s lawyer, senior attorney Puneet Bali, contended that in a video released on a social media site last month, Dutta did not use the word ‘Bhangi’ on purpose, and that the term was used in West Bengal to describe intoxicants users.

The bench answered that was not true. “You may not be aware. Everyone understands the implications. Same term is used in Bangla. She was in Kolkata when she mentioned this,” observed the top court.

Bali said his client made a mistake and removed the video from her Twitter account two hours after it was posted. Bali claimed that the Supreme Court had grouped FIRs originating from the same occurrence in numerous cases, and that all cases should be sent to Mumbai.

After hearing Dutta’s lawyer, the Supreme Court sent a notice to state governments and complainants, requesting that the FIRs filed in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Haryana be combined.

With a YouTube video, the actor sparked uproar, prompting the filing of FIRs under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Dutta later apologised and removed the offending portion of the video. She explained that she used the term due to a linguistic problem.

Bali argued before the panel that the petitioner was a lady who was the subject of five FIRs. Eventually, the Supreme Court consented to hear her case and halted the FIR proceedings.

The top court also issued a statement to a Dalit rights activist and lawyer who filed the initial FIR against the actor on May 13 in Haryana’s Hisar. For allegedly insulting the group, the FIR was lodged under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.


Petition filed by Mamta Banarjee in Calcutta HC challenging election results from Nandigram

Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, filed a petition in the Calcutta high court on Thursday, contesting the Nandigram seat assembly election results. The petition will be examined by the court on Friday.

Suvendu Adhikari, a former close aide of Banerjee who defected to the BJP three months before the poll, defeated her by 1,956 votes in Nandigram.

Banerjee claimed in her petition that Adhikari’s election should be declared void under Section 100 of the Representations of People Act, 1951, due to the commission of corrupt practises, discrepancies in the returning officer’s (RO) counting methodology, and inaccuracies and non-compliance in Form 17 C.

The election of Adhikari to the Nandigram seat was marred by controversy and confusion, with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) alleging fraud in the counting process. The party filed an official recount request, which was denied by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

Banerjee disclosed a mobile phone message the day after the results were announced, alleging that the returning officer of Nandigram did not order recounting because he feared for his life. The West Bengal government provided protection to the RO of Nandigram, as directed by the ECI.



Bail plea by Christian Michel dismissed by Delhi HC: AgustaWestland case

Christian Michel James, who was detained in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal scandal, had his bail pleas disallowed by a Delhi Special Court on Saturday.

Both bail applications have been denied, according to Special Judge Arvind Kumar.

Michel had asserted in his bail applications filed in both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) cases that he had been in captivity since December 4, 2018, in the CBI case and December 22, 2018, in the ED case, and that the interrogation had to be executed by February 03 in accordance with Section 167 (2).

Furthermore, the two investigative agencies looking into Michel’s participation in the VVIP helicopter transaction warned a special court on Tuesday that if he is granted bail, the accused might escape India since he has deep ties and influence with powerful people.

The CBI and ED had claimed that Michel, who is convicted of being a middleman in the chopper deal, had no ties to India and that his previous actions demonstrate that there is a reasonable suspicion that he is attempting to circumvent the legal system.

According to the agency, the accused is also intimately related to some powerful persons, and there is a legitimate suspicion that the applicant would tamper with the evidence in the current case.

Michel was brought before the CBI Court on December 5, 2018, after being extradited to India from Dubai. He’s now being held in judicial detention until February 26.

Michel’s previous bail plea in the CBI case was denied by the court on December 22 of last year, citing the fact that the investigation was at a “crucial stage,” making it ineligible for bail.

The agency also stated that because the applicant’s behavior has been evasive to this point and he has been freed on bond, he may influence prospective witnesses to be interviewed and destroy key papers that have yet to be gathered. The accused is in close contact with and has influence over powerful people.

Michel engaged in as many as 12 contracts with AgustaWestland, according to the CBI, to justify the illegal commissions/kickbacks of Euro 42.27 million paid on the Government of India’s acquisition of VVIP helicopters.


Delhi HC directive in Delhi Riots case not to be treated as precedent, three accused to remain out on bail: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court announced on Friday that Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, as well as Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, will remain on bail and out of prison. The police have charged them in the Delhi riots case.

After the Delhi High Court granted bail to Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, as well as Asif Iqbal Tanha, the Delhi Police filed an application with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court declined to stay the ruling of the Delhi High Court.

The Supreme Court stated that the interpretation of anti-terror laws is a crucial matter that might have pan-India implications, and it requested replies from three campaigners. While hearing the Delhi Police’s appeal against the bail, the Supreme Court stated that the high court decision “would not be considered as precedent by any court” in granting similar reliefs.

The bail granted to these activists would not be altered for the time being, according to a vacation bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian.

“The whole anti-terror statute, UAPA [Unlawful Activities Prevention Act], has been turned upside down by Delhi HC in awarding bail to three student activists,” Solicitor General for the Delhi Police said the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court, in response to the Solicitor General’s submission, stated that it was disturbing that 100 pages of the verdict were issued while granting bail, and that the judgement examined the whole legislation.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday granted bail to Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal, and Jamia student Asif Iqbal Tanha, who were detained in connection with the Delhi riots under the strict Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, both Pinjra Tod activists, were detained in the Delhi riots case a year ago. Last week, activists and members of numerous civil society organisations gathered to commemorate a year since the arrest of members of the Pinjra Tod women’s collective.

In May 2020, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita were arrested for allegedly being part of a planned plot behind communal violence that erupted in northeast Delhi during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in February 2020. (CAA).


Siddharth Pithani, former roommate of Sushant Singh Rajput receives interim bail from Mumbai Court

Siddharth Pithani, a former roommate of late actor Sushant Singh Rajput and a suspect in a drug case, was issued interim bail for his marriage on June 26 by a special NDPS court in Mumbai on Thursday.

The NCB detained Siddharth Pithani from Hyderabad on May 28 in the drug case associated with Rajput’s death last year. He is reportedly in judicial custody.

The defendant told the court last week that he is tying the knot on June 26th, among other reasons for requesting release. Pithani later dropped his release application and requested for an interim bail to permit him to attend his wedding.

V V Vidwans, a special judge, issued him an interim plea till July 2. According to NCB, Pithani was apprehended on accusations of acquiring and assisting Rajput in accessing drugs chemicals in violation of section 27-A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, which concerns with funding illegal trade and harbouring criminals. 

On June 14 of last year, Sushant Singh Rajput was discovered dead at his Bandra home.

The NCB launched an investigation into alleged drug usage in the film business following the actor’s death, based on certain WhatsApp messages. The NCB arrested several persons in the case under the NDPS Act, and the majority of them are presently free on bond.


Delhi Court adjourns verdict pronouncement to 2nd July on framing of charges against Shashi Tharoor (Sunanda Pushkar Death Case)

On Wednesday, a Delhi court said it would rule on whether or not accusations should be brought against Congress member Shashi Tharoor in the criminal case involving the murder of his wife, Sunanda Pushkar, on July 2. (Shashi Tharoor vs. State)

On April 12, the Rouse Avenue Court had reserved judgement in the case. Special Judge Geetanjali Goel had previously stated that if the order was not issued by June 16 (today), a short deadline would be set.

The prosecution had charged the defendants with aiding suicide and cruelty under sections 306 and 498A of the Indian Penal Code, as well as murder under section 302.

The action came after Special Judge Geetanjali Goel reserved the orders on April 12 following a detailed hearing with Senior Advocate Vikas Pahwa representing Tharoor and Additional Public Prosecutor Atul Shrivastava representing the State.

In January 2014, Pushkar was discovered dead in a New Delhi hotel. An FIR was lodged in this incident in 2015. Under Sections 306 and 498A of the Indian Penal Code, Dr. Tharoor was prosecuted in May 2018 with abetment to suicide and marital cruelty.