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A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Arun Mishra will hear three cases from October 23 onwards. The Bench also comprises Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, MR Shah and Ravindra Bhat.
Interestingly, it is the same Bench which had been hearing another five other cases including the case relating to Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. When the Bench sat to hear those cases, a farmers’ association had sought the recusal of Justice Arun Mishra, alleging conflict of interest. The Court then heard the application for recusal and reserved its order in the same. The order on recusal is expected to be pronounced on October 23.
It is unclear whether the Bench will now hear those five cases, since three new cases have now been slated for hearing before that Bench from October 23.
The three new cases listed before the Bench are as follows:
1. Kaushal Kishor v. State of Uttar Pradesh [Writ Petition (Crl) 113/2016]
This was a case filed by a relative of the Bulandshahr rape accused. The petitioner had sought action against then Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan for his remarks on the incident.
The Court had framed the following questions for consideration by Constitution Bench.
(i) When a victim files an F.I.R. alleging rape, gang rape or murder or such other heinous offences against another person or group of persons, whether any individual holding a public office or a person in authority or in-charge of governance, should be allowed to comment on the crime stating that “it is an outcome of political controversy”, more so, when as an individual, he has nothing to do with the offences in question?
(b) Should the “State”, the protector of citizens and responsible for law and order situation, allow these comments as they have the effect potentiality to create a distrust in the mind of the victim as regards the fair investigation and, in a way, the entire system?
(c) Whether the statements do come within the ambit and sweep of freedom of speech and expression or exceed the boundary that is not permissible?
(d) Whether such comments (which are not meant for self-protection) defeat the concept of constitutional compassion and also conception of constitutional sensitivity?
2. CBI v. RR Kishore [Criminal Appeal 377/2007]
This case pertains to Section 6A(1) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
The Section deals with obtaining prior approval of the Central government for conducting any inquiry into an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (PC Act) where the allegations have been made against officers of the level of Joint Secretary and above.
In 2014, the Supreme Court had struck down the said section as unconstitutional. The question that is now being considered is whether the operation of that said judgment is retrospective or not.
The order passed on March 10, 2016 reads:
“The provisions of Section 6A(1) do indicate that for officers of the level of Joint Secretary and above a kind of immunity has been provided for. Whether there can be a deprivation of such immunity by a retrospective operation of a judgment of the Court, in the context of Article 20 of the Constitution of India, is the moot question that arises for determination in the present case.”
3. Aziz Qureshi v. Union of India [Writ Petition (Civil) 763/2014]
This case relates to the interpretation of Article 156 of the Constitution, which lays down the term of office of the Governor.
The petition itself was filed by former Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi in 2014. He had alleged that there was a move by the Narendra Modi government to ease him out of office.
Article 156(1) states that a Governor shall hold office at the pleasure of the President. The order passed by the Supreme Court on August 20, 2014 states that as the case involves interpretation of Article 156 of the Constitution, the matter needs to be heard by a Bench of five judges.
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