SC collegium recommends elevation of Bombay HC Chief Justice Dipankar Datta to apex court

The Indian Express | 2 months ago | 27-09-2022 | 05:45 pm

SC collegium recommends elevation of Bombay HC Chief Justice Dipankar Datta to apex court

The Supreme Court collegium led by Chief Justice of India U U Lalit, in its meeting held on September 26, recommended the elevation of Justice Dipankar Datta, Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, as a Supreme Court judge.Justice Datta, who was a senior judge at the Calcutta High Court, was appointed as the Bombay High Court Chief Justice on April 28, 2020. He will be elevated to the apex court after the central government clears his appointment and issues a notification in this regard.The son of the late Justice Salil Kumar Datta, a former judge of the Calcutta High Court, Justice Datta was born on February 9, 1965. He obtained his LLB degree from the University of Calcutta in 1989. He enrolled as an advocate the same year and practiced in the Supreme Court and in high courts, dealing with constitutional and civil cases.Justice Datta has served as the junior standing counsel for West Bengal between May 2002 and January 2004, and as a counsel for the Union government since 1998. He was elevated as a permanent judge of the Calcutta High Court on June 22, 2006.He took over as the Chief Justice of Bombay HC after Justice Bhushan P Dharmadhikari during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and ensured the functioning of the court through virtual and hybrid modes. Justice Datta also passed several directions to authorities to provide medical assistance to citizens besides redressing the grievances of migrant workers during the lockdown. He also changed the working hours of the high court from 11 am-5 pm to 10.30 am-4.30 pm. Before him, the last Bombay HC Chief Justice to have been elevated to the Supreme Court was Justice Anil Dave, who became an apex court judge in April 2010.In July 2020, a bench led by Chief Justice Datta passed directions to the state government to reduce overcrowding in jails during the pandemic and pulled up the prison department on the “sorry state of affairs”On December 16, 2020, in a setback to the then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led state government, a division bench including Justice Datta, while hearing the central government’s plea through its salt commissioner laying claim to the 102-acre Kanjurmarg salt pan land, stayed the order of the collector that transferred the said land to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for the Metro car shed project.In a judgment on PILs filed by former police officers of Maharashtra seeking restraining orders against “media trial” in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case passed in January 2021, a bench led by Justice Datta had held that a “media trial” pending the investigation of any case violates the Programme Code under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act and does have an impact on the probe by “interference with administration of criminal justice.”Moreover, on April 5 last year, a bench led by Chief Justice Datta directed the CBI to carry out a preliminary inquiry into the corruption allegations made by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh against the then state home minister Anil Deshmukh, while terming the case as “unprecedented”. In the same month, Justice Datta pulled up the state government over fire incidents in hospitals across Maharashtra and observed that the safety of patients was of paramount importance.In July 2021, a division bench led by Justice Datta had directed the civic authorities to ensure that elderly and disabled persons have the benefit of Covid-19 vaccination at their residence as per the policy formulated by the state government, despite the Centre not being willing to adopt a policy for the same.The following month, Justice Datta held it “desirable” for Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to take a decision at the earliest regarding the recommendation by the state council of ministers under then CM Uddhav Thackeray on the nominations of 12 members to the Legislative Council – pending for eight months at that point – and said the seats “cannot be kept vacant indefinitely”. Those 12 names were recently scrapped by the current dispensation under Eknath Shinde.On February 26 this year, a bench of Chief Justice Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni passed a judgment in a suo motu PIL raising concerns over the collapse of unauthorised buildings and issued a slew of directions to the civic bodies and planning authorities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).The same day, Justice Datta refused to interfere in a PIL against special permission granted in 2002 to Lake City Corporation for purchasing lands for a private hill station Lavasa in Pune district and said that the “judicial hands-off” approach is best suited in the case due to “gross delay” in the filing of PIL. The court, though, observed “personal interest” and “exertion of influence and clout” by NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule in the impugned project and that NCP leader Ajit Pawar, who was the irrigation minister and ex-officio chairman of Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC) “failed to disclose the direct or indirect interest and was found to be remiss in his duty only to that extent.”CJ Datta, on July 29 this year, directed the Mumbai suburban collector to take steps to remove 48 structures, including unauthorised portions of buildings near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), which flouted height norms and were in the way of the approach surfaces of the runaways. On Monday, he dismissed as withdrawn a PIL filed by Jain Charitable Trusts seeking a restriction or ban on the advertisement of non-vegetarian food in print and electronic media. The high court asked the petitioners why they were seeking to encroach on others’ rights.

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Amid protests and tight security, Maharashtra Governor Koshyari attends literary event in Pune
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

Amid protests from the NCP and the Swarayja Sanghatana, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari arrived in the city to attend the Pune International Literary Festival on Friday. The event at YASHADA went off peacefully with police making unprecedented security arrangements.The 10th edition of the PILF was open only to those who were invited. Except for five newspapers, media outlets were kept away. Inside the auditorium, video recording was barred. Guests were frisked several times as police took no chance to ensure full-protection to the governor. Even inside the hall, police made their presence felt. They were also deployed on all roads leading to the venue.“Yes, no video recording or audio recording was allowed inside the hall,” said Sonia Prabhu, one of the organisers.As the governor’s cavalcade neared the venue, members of the Swarajya Sanghatana shouted slogans and waved black flags to protest against the controversial remarks he had made about Chhatrapati Shivaji at an Aurangabad function.“We protested against the governor who had insulted Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. As the governor’s convoy was approaching the YASHADA gates, we raised loud slogans and waved black flags to register our protest,” said Chhatrapati Sambhajiraj, who is a descendant of Shivaji and heads the Sanghatana.Dhananjay Jadhav, the Pune unit head of the Sanghatana, said. “Even Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati has complimented us through social media. We were released around 3.30pm,” he said.Jadhav said the Sanghatana would not allow the governor to hold any event in the state. “We will protest wherever he goes and try to stop him from attending events,” he said.Koshyari and Sudha Murthy, president of the Infosys Foundation, inaugurated the event. Author Manjiri Prabhu, the main organiser, thanked the chief guests and all those who had supported PILF over the years and made it a grand success.Koshyari, whose one-liners have been triggering protests of late, looked at ease with himself as he elicited laughter from the audience with his anecdotes.The governor did not let the opportunity to allude to the controversies slip. “I often read that there are literary events taking place in different cities in the country…But there are always some controversies at these events…Isn’t it?” he asked.The governor said when Prabhu had met him and requested him to be the chief guest at the event, he had told her that he was not the right person to inaugurate the event. “I am a student of literature, but please invite someone who deserves to be the chief guest. But when I saw Sudha Murthy here, I thought I got an opportunity to interact with a litterateur,…” he said.The governor confessed that he did not get time to read books. “I meet scores of writers and authors daily. They present me with books. I have collected thousands of books over the years. But I have to meet people, attend events and festivals….I don’t get time to read books,” he said.He said the spirit of such literary events should be kept alive as they gave even unknown writers a chance to showcase their skills. “Such events give people with different ideologies an opportunity to come on a platform and express themselves. It is a good idea to have such events regularly,” he said.Explaining the difference between journalism and literature, the governor said, “A journalist is unread while literature is not read…” This again drew laughter from the audience.Police commissioner Amitabh Gupta said nothing untoward happened at the literary festival. “The event went off peacefully. We had made tight security arrangements,” he said.Journalists such as Vinita Deshmukh, Abhay Vaidya and Alifiya Khan were felicitated by the chief guests.

Amid protests and tight security, Maharashtra Governor Koshyari attends literary event in Pune
Eknath Shinde aide Ajay Ashar appointed vice-president of Maharashtra planning body
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

A ‘controversial’ real estate developer, Ajay Ashar, known to be one of the closest aides of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and works for him behind the curtains, was appointed as the vice-president of the state planning body MITRA (Maharashtra Institution for Transformation).Ashar has been working with Shinde for more than a decade now. Known in the inner circles of Maharashtra’s power corridors for working alongside Shinde, Ashar was never in the public eye until his appointment in a government body.In October 2022, the Maharashtra state cabinet cleared the decision to form MITRA on the lines of NITI Aayog with the aim to achieve rapid and comprehensive development of the state through the participation of private sector and non-governmental organisations.During the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, Ashar was reportedly on the radar of the central probe agencies but he was neither named in any scam nor was he called for any probe by any agencies. BJP leader Kirit Somaiya in 2020 had even tweeted Ashar’s name terming him as a partner of then CM Uddhav Thackeray. Somaiya did not answer the phone call when contacted for a comment.The state government also appointed former Shiv Sena MLA from Kolhapur Rajesh Kshirsagar, who has switched sides to join hands with Shinde after the split in the party, as the second vice-president of MITRA.Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant questioned the appointment of Ashar reminding how the BJP, when in Opposition, had targeted certain builders, including Ashar. “When in Opposition, MVA was accused of waiving off premium on certain real estate projects for benefitting a few builders. Now, those builders are being given responsibilities of planning for Maharashtra. Moreover, how fair it is to hand over planning of the state into the hands of a builder?” he said.Meanwhile, Ashar was unavailable for a comment.

Eknath Shinde aide Ajay Ashar appointed vice-president of Maharashtra planning body
Closure reports filed on FIRs against BJP MLA Ganesh Naik, Bombay HC told
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 02-12-2022 | 05:45 pm

The Bombay High Court was informed on Friday that closure reports had been filed on two FIRs lodged against Maharashtra BJP MLA Ganesh Naik for allegedly threatening and raping a woman, who claimed that he was her son’s biological father. The court then directed the magistrate to dispose of the proceedings within three months.The prosecution submitted that it could not find substance in the allegations against the Airoli MLA. Additional public prosecutor Prajakta P Shinde told the court that in both the matters, A-summary reports were filed by the Navi Mumbai police in July and September, after the Shinde Sena-BJP government replaced the MVA government in the state.An A-summary report on a case is submitted to a magistrate when there is no clue about culprits, or when the accused is known but there is no evidence to justify his being sent to the magistrate for trial.A bench of Justices Revati Mohite-Dere and R N Laddha was hearing Naik’s plea seeking the quashing of the FIRs registered against him at the CBD Belapur police station. He was booked in April after the woman lodged a complaint that she was in a live-in relationship with Naik and that in 2021, he had threatened her with a firearm if she disclosed their relationship to anyone.The woman said she became pregnant with Naik’s child in 2006 and went to New Jersey in the US to give birth. However, despite assuring her that he would accept the child and stay with them, Naik did not do so, she alleged.According to the woman, Naik called her to his office for lunch. When she asked if he would give his name to the child, Naik allegedly pulled out his revolver and told her not to “harass” him or else, he would kill them and end his life. She said she did not file a police complaint back then as Naik was a minister and an influential politician.Senior advocate Ashok Mundargi, appearing for Naik, submitted that the “two cases have a political angle to them and there is a general tendency that cases connected to political personalities are deliberately kept pending”.In such cases, Mundargi argued, despite A-summary reports being filed before the magistrate and the complainant being issued a notice, nothing further happens. He therefore urged the court to direct the magistrate to expeditiously dispose of the matters.A single- judge bench of Justice Anuja Prabhudessai, which granted anticipatory bail to Naik on May 4, had noted that the woman’s statement had indicated that she and Naik were in a relationship from 1995 to 2017. She said that as her family did not approve of their relationship, she got married to someone else. According to her, she divorced him in 2001 and continued the relationship with Naik.Justice Prabhudessai observed that the relationship between Naik and the woman was consensual and that prima facie essential ingredients of rape were not made out and therefore his custodial interrogation was not required.

Closure reports filed on FIRs against BJP MLA Ganesh Naik, Bombay HC told
In latest Shivaji row, a BJP minister among the richest in Maharashtra Cabinet
The Indian Express | 4 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 02:45 pm
The Indian Express
4 hours ago | 02-12-2022 | 02:45 pm

Mangal Prabhat Lodha is a quiet man. At the BJP headquarters here, his colleagues say that the Cabinet minister operates silently — not flaunting his power and always speaking to a select group of people. The image of quiet efficiency is quite different to the public persona of a firebrand Hindutva votary and this combination helped the former Mumbai BJP chief become a member of the Eknath Shinde-led government. At present, he holds the portfolios of tourism, and women and child development.On Wednesday, Lodha lit a political firestorm by comparing 17th-century warrior Shivaji’s historic escape from the Mughal court in Agra with Shinde’s defection from the Shiv Sena that led to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in June. The comments came at a time the BJP was looking to move past the row Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had triggered two weeks ago by calling Shivaji an icon of olden times. Koshyari’s remarks put the BJP on the defensive and it spent the subsequent days parrying the Opposition’s attacks, but the optics surrounding the Lodha episode is worse as the comments came at an event that the CM attended.Shinde, along with his Cabinet ministers, were in Satara on Wednesday to celebrate 363rd Pratapgad Din, the state government’s annual celebration of Shivaji’s assassination of Afzal Khan, a commander of the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur, at the foothills of Pratapgad Fort. “Shivaji Maharaj who was held hostage escaped from Agra by dodging Mughal emperor Aurangzeb … Shivaji escaped from Agra for swarajya (independence) Similarly, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde was also confined by somebody. But Shinde also came out from confinement in the larger interest of Maharashtra …”Amid backlash from the Opposition, the BJP left Lodha to deal with the fallout and none of its top leaders defended him publicly. Party insiders said the leadership had categorically told everyone to exercise caution while speaking on historical events or people. The BJP has now chosen once again to distance itself from the row and allow it to fizzle out. A senior BJP general secretary said on the condition of anonymity, “Sometimes, it is better to remain silent when some reaction boomerangs against our party and leaders.”Shinde, however, appeared to back his minister even as he underlined that nobody could be compared to Shivaji. Trying to defuse the tension, the CM said, “Lodha has allocated Rs 25 crore for Pratapgad Fort. Shivaji Maharaj is deeply revered and worshipped by one and all. Shivaji cannot be compared to anybody.”Aware that he had slipped up, Lodha attempted damage control by explaining he had never meant to insult Shivaji. Late Wednesday evening, the minister said, “I have not done anything wrong and did not insult Shivaji. I deeply respect Shivaji Maharaj. I was just citing some examples which have been wrongly interpreted. We often give Shivaji’s examples to children. It does not mean we are comparing them or insulting Shivaji.”Son of former Guwahati HC CJILodha, who is one of the richest state ministers with declared assets worth Rs 441.65 crore, is from Rajasthan. He arrived in Mumbai in the 1980s after completing his BCom and LLB degrees from the University of Jodhpur. His father Guman Lal Lodha was the chief justice of the Guwahati High Court. After initially practising law, Lodha ventured into real estate and founded Macrotech Developers (Lodha Group).Since his student days, Lodha was associated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ organisation affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He made his debut in electoral politics in 1995, when he contested the Assembly elections for the first time. At present, he is a six-term MLA from the high-profile Malabar Hills constituency in Mumbai.The minister has often used the public forum at his disposal to speak about issues such as cattle slaughter and undocumented immigrants. He has spoken about the alleged threat Hindus face in the Muslim-dominated Malvani area of Mumbai.During a state Assembly debate last year, Lodha said, “There is a pattern to this Hindu exodus. They are being threatened and intimidated to leave their houses. A concerted attempt is being made to evict them. Just like Kashmir, Kairana witnessed the exodus of Hindus. Malvani in Mumbai is also witnessing the same.”On cow slaughter, he has said in the past, “There should be capital punishment for killers of cows and cattle. Cow slaughter should be punishable by death and beef export should be banned.”During campaigning for the 2019 Assembly polls, the Election Commission served Lodha with a show-cause notice for making a communal statement. While campaigning in Mumbadevi, the BJP leader said, “The explosives used in the 1992 Mumbai riots were made in bylanes five km from here.” The Mumbadevi neighbourhood has a sizable Muslim population.

In latest Shivaji row, a BJP minister among the richest in Maharashtra Cabinet