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CJI Gogoi sacks two SC officials for changing order on contempt case against Anil Ambani

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CJI Gogoi sacks two SC officials for changing order on contempt case against Anil Ambani

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday (Feb 13) summarily dismissed two court officials for tampering with a judicial order to erroneously convey that industrialist Anil Ambani had been exempted from personal appearance in a contempt case.

According to the story first reported by The Telegraph, the two court officials, court masters Manav Sharma and Tapan Kumar Chakraborty who held the rank of assistant registrars, were responsible for taking down all orders dictated in the open court or in the judges’ chambers and getting them uploaded on the website.

The CJI, acting on a complaint by Justice Rohinton F Nariman, who has been hearing the contempt case, used his powers under Article 311 of the Constitution and Section 11(13) of the Supreme Court which empower the CJI to dismiss any employee under “extraordinary” circumstances without resorting to normal disciplinary proceedings.

In Justice Nariman’s order in January, a show-cause notice of contempt was issued to Anil Ambani over alleged failure to clear outstanding dues to Ericsson India despite categorical undertakings to the top court. The telecom firm has moved court for dues of Rs 550 crore from Ambani’s Reliance Communications (RCom).

The order that was uploaded on the Supreme Court website on January 7 said the “personal appearance of the alleged contemnor(s) is dispensed with”, meaning Ambani’s presence was not required.

However, a few hours earlier, a bench of Justices RF Nariman and Vineet Saran had directed the personal presence of Ambani in the contempt proceedings. Under the Contempt of Court Act, a person against whom proceedings have been initiated has to appear in person unless the court in its discretion chooses to dispense with the requirement.

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The order changed to favour Ambani was uploaded on the website even though Justice Nariman had hours before made it clear that Ambani’s personal appearance was not dispensed with.

The discrepancy led senior advocate Dushyant Dave and other Ericsson representatives move Justice Nariman’s court again, pointing this out.

Justice Nariman, expressing shock, got the correct order uploaded on the website on January 10. “Personal appearance of the alleged contemnor(s) is not dispensed with,” the revised order said.

Justice Nariman also preferred an inquiry against the court officials, which suggested deliberate tampering after a scrutiny by the CJI.

Subsequently, court masters, Manav Sharma and Tapan Kumar Chakraborty, who held the rank of assistant registrars, were sacked on Wednesday evening.

Following the revised order, Ambani was present in the court on February 12 and on February 13 in connection with the contempt proceedings. He spent over two hours in the court on Tuesday and almost the whole day on Wednesday when the judgment was reserved by Justice Nariman’s bench.

Inquiry was being held “to get to the root of the entire issue” and identify all those responsible for the alleged tampering of the judicial order. Some lawyers are also under the scanner, said the report in The Telegraph, citing sources.

Media reports said towards the end of the proceeding, Justice Nariman told senior lawyers Mukul Rohatgi and Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Ambani and RCom: “Consequences will follow of what you have done.”

As for the contempt case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgement after the hearing on the case concluded.

During the hearing, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Ericsson India, argued that the court had ordered RCom to pay Rs 550 crore by Sept. 30 and their failure to pay despite the extensions constitutes contempt of the top court’s order.

Dave said they had accepted the offer made by RCom in good faith and had agreed for lifting the moratorium. “It’s so unfortunate that people who think they are extraordinary citizens of the country think they can take the court for a ride.”

Defending Anil Ambani, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi said the undertaking to pay dues was subject to the spectrum sale deal between RCom and elder brother Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio working out. Despite making all attempts, the deal could not go through due to a failure to secure a no-objection certificate from the Department of Telecommunications, said Rohatgi.

The court had on 23 October last year asked RCom to clear dues by 15 December 2018, saying delayed payment would attract an interest of 12% per annum.

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Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma says only 8 people applied for citizenship under CAA

Addressing a press conference at the Lok Sewa Bhawan in Guwahati, Sarma said that out of these applicants, only two have attended interviews with relevant authorities.

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Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said that only eight people have applied for citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) from the state so far.

Addressing a press conference at the Lok Sewa Bhawan in Guwahati, Sarma said that out of these applicants, only two have attended interviews with relevant authorities.

The Assam CM further said that the State conducted outreach programmes in the Barak valley and approached many Hindu Bengali families and asked them to apply for citizenship under CAA. However, they refused to do so saying that they would prefer fighting their cases at the Foreigners Tribunal (FT), Sarma added.

Foreign Tribunals (FT), quasi-judicial bodies exclusive to Assam, are authorised to decide the nationality issue of doubtful citizens, he asserted. Sarma also claimed that most of the Hindu-Bengali families, who were not included in the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), told him that they possessed the necessary documents to prove their Indian citizenship and preferred the FT route rather than applying for through the CAA.

When asked whether the Assam government is dropping cases in Foreigners Tribunals (FT) against Hindu-Bengalis, Sarma termed it misleading. He said the State cannot drop any case. The government is simply advising that before initiating a case, individuals should apply through the CAA portal. Even if a case is filed, there won’t be any outcome because these people are eligible for citizenship, Assam CM emphasised.

CM also assured that he is going to request the Advocate General to flag the issue of CAA so that FTs can give time to people whose cases are going on to apply for citizenship under the newly implemented law.

He added that the government cannot give a direction to the court to pause while deciding the citizenship cases. The FT judges themselves have to decide and they know the latest situation, Sarma said.

He also explained why there was a low number of applications in CAA, saying the Opposition myth that 15-20 lakh Bangladeshis will get citizenship in Assam has been busted completely.

The Chief Minister said that during the anti-CAA movement, five Assamese youths lost their lives. So they made the sacrifice to prevent only these eight people, he asked. This abysmally low number of eight applications, of which only two turned up for interview, is a bit surprising for us also, he said.

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AAP claims Arvind Kejriwal lost 8.5 kg, Tihar jail rebuts

Not 8.5 Kgs but Kejriwal lost around 3.5 Kgs during his incarceration period in prison.

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The authorities in Tihar jail on Monday addressed the accusations of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that the Delhi Chief Minister has lost 8.5 kg weight through his term of imprisonment, saying not 8.5 Kgs but Kejriwal lost around 3.5 Kgs during his incarceration period in prison.

This was only after one of the confessed BJP’s was planning to destroy Kejriwal’s life by ignoring his medical needs as a diabetic. In contradiction, Tihar prison representatives, according to reports, disclosed that the chief minister has only lost 2 kg of weight from March 30 till now, and he is under the scrutiny of a medical board comprised of doctors from AIIMS.

It all started when AAP leader and Delhi Minister Atishi on Sunday claimed that Kejriwal had a drop in his weight of 8.5 kg after his arrest and his blood sugar continued to be below normal levels several times while in care.

AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh painted a picture of doom by stating that Tihar doctors had verified Kejriwal’s weight loss, mentioning the consequences of excessive health complications due to hypoglycemia. However, the Tihar prison administration denied the claims of AAP, which were sent to the home department of Delhi by saying they were misleading and detrimental to the prison, and were crafted to weaken trust in the prison system.

The authority alleged that they see a report each time the measurements are done; it makes them do their work better, as Kejriwal’s doctor uses it to monitor his condition. Prison staff stated that all necessary health care is provided to him, and he is always fed three times a day with home-cooked meals.

They were vociferous in condemning a plot, saying that the aim was to damage the image of the prison with wrong tales. As stated by Tihar-based medical documents, Kejriwal’s weight was 65 kg on April 1, as he got into the prison, and 66 kg from April 8 to 29. After getting back to jail on June 2, following a 21-day intermediary bail, his weight went down to 63.5 kg.

On July 14, his weight reduced further to 61.5 kg. Thus, a total of 2 kg was lost during his detention. The health condition of Kejriwal is still monitored by the AIIMS medical board, and updates on his health are being regularly given to his wife, Sunita Kejriwal.

However, there is the AAP that is adamant about their affirmative claims, stating that the act of reporting the documents without his go-ahead is illegal and also gives the impression that there are activities going on with the ultimate goal of getting rid of him.

This was followed a few months later by his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation on June 26 in a corruption case that revolved around the same case. Although he was granted anticipatory bail by possibly the apex court filed in the case of money laundering, he is still detained due to the ongoing corruption case.

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Hemant Soren meets PM Modi in Delhi, first meeting after release from jail

He secured bail and became chief minister again on July 4.

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Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday in Delhi. This was his first meeting with the Prime Minister after he was released from jail where he spent around five months.

Taking to X, Jharkhand Chief Minister said that the meeting was a courtesy call. Notably, he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on January 31 this year in connection with a money laundering case related to an alleged land scam.

The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) executive president had spent around five months in prison, he secured bail and became chief minister again on July 4.

On July 3, JMM leader and former Jharkhand Chief Minister Soren stepped out of the Birsa Munda Jail in Ranchi Friday following the grant of bail by the Jharkhand High Court.

A single-judge bench of Justice Rongon Mukhopadhyay, while granting bail, noted that the Court’s findings satisfy the condition that there exist reasons to believe that Soren is not guilty of the PMLA offence he has been accused of.

Following Soren’s bail on July 3, the outgoing Chief Minister Champai Soren had said that the party alliance decided to elect Hemant Babu (Hemant Soren) as leader, after which he resigned from his post. Champai Soren tendered his resignation to Governor C P Radhakrishnan and soon after Hemant Soren staked a claim to form the government. Soren along with alliance party leaders met the Governor after he reached Ranchi on July 3 evening from outside. Hemant Soren took oath as the 13th Chief Minister of the State on July 4 again.

Meanwhile, earlier today, BJP leader Deepak Prakash claimed that Hemant Soren’s government of 4.5 years has been one that wreaks havoc on the public, one that takes away employment from the youth. Hemant Soren’s government is a synonym for corruption. The government has been involved in a mining scam, a tender scam and one that has brought jungle raj in the state, he added.  

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