Judgment on Rafale and Sabrimala are to look out for
CJI Ranjan Gogoi retirement: CJI Ranjan Gogoi is to give a verdict in some major matters after the historic judgment of Ayodhya on Saturday before he retires. CJI has three remaining working days of Supreme Court to take calls as he is scheduled to retire on November 17.
The Supreme Court opens on Wednesday, 13th November and will have 14th and 15th November to announce judgment.
Rafale Review Petition
The PILs have been filed against the PMO in the Rafale case of ‘interference’ in the defence procurement mechanism and had raised concerns of influence and corruption during the defence deal. The PILs had raised the concerns about the manner in which the contract had been signed and the pricing of the combat aircraft. Questions on the role of Anil Ambani led Reliance group in the deal was also raised in the PILs.
After the original judgment said that the judiciary could not interfere without clear evidence of wrongdoing. A review petition was filed on the basis of leaked documents from the Ministry of Defence, which seemed to indicate that the Prime Minister’s Office had something to do with negotiations during the defence deal, without the involvement of the Ministry of Defence.
Sabarimala Review Plea
The five-judge bench headed by then CJI Dipak Mishra announced judgment on Sabrimala case, created storm by allowing women to enter the Ayyappa Shrine at Sabrimala and also participate in the 40-day ritual pilgrimage. The bench included justices AM Khanwilkar, RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, Indu Malhotra and DY Chandrachud. The judgment had declared the tradition as a disadvantage and upheld the right of women to worship on equal footing as men.
48 review petitions were filed against the verdict with the Supreme Court under the current CJI. The five-judge bench now of CJI Gogoi, Justices Chandrachud, Malhotra, Khanwilkar and Nariman is all set to deliver its judgment before 17th November.
Contempt Case against Rahul Gandhi
Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi had courted controversy on the day when Supreme Court agreed to hear the Rafale review plea by saying in the press that “the court has accepted ki chowkidar chor hai”.
BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi filed the contempt case immediately and claimed that Rahul Gandhi was “attributing political statements to the Supreme Court”.
CJI Gogoi gave a clarification from the bench a day after Rahul Gandhi’s statement and said that the Supreme Court had “never made any such political statement and it was not for the court to make such a statement”.
The three-judge bench of CJI Gogoi, Justice KM Joseph and SK Kaul had reserved judgment on the content case after Rahul Gandhi filed an affidavit providing an apology.
Office of CJI under RTI
While transparency is encouraged in all spheres by the Supreme Court’s judgments, there have been instances when the court itself has faced allegation of working in a non-transparent manner. The Delhi High Court had passed a verdict saying that the SC and CJI office was a “public authority” which would come under the ambit of the RTI Act.
The Secretary-General of the Supreme Court then challenged the verdict of the High Court and said that this would create problems in functioning of judiciary.
Finance Act 2017 & The Government take-over of tribunals
18 petitions were filed alleging that the government had violated legal principles and was taking charge to decide the terms and condition of the members of various tribunals, which would lead to dilution of judicial power of the tribunals. The five-judge Constitution bench headed by CJI then reserved its judgment in April.
17 tribunals including the Central Administrative Tribunal, Green Tribunal, Central Administrative Tribunal and others had been functioning as an independent bodies till 2017 with tenure and conditions, appointment similar to the high court judges. But bringing the terms of service under the government, PILs alleged that the government was trying to take control of the independent bodies who keeps a check on the executive power.
The government justified the Finance Act 2017 as a “money bill” arguing that it consisted of provisions that dealt with allowances and salaries to be paid to members of tribunals from the consolidated funds of India.
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