The Indian Express | 2 months ago | 12-01-2023 | 03:40 am
After two days of protests outside the courtroom of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha at Calcutta High Court over some of the orders passed by him, the protesting group of lawyers on Wednesday ended their agitation and withdrew their call for a boycott of the judge.The protest had sparked criticisms from judges and intervention by West Bengal Governor CV Anand Bose who directed the TMC government to “protect judiciary”.Justice Mantha had initiated contempt proceedings against the lawyers for disrupting work at his court and filed a suo motu petition against them which the Division Bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj heard on Tuesday.On Wednesday, secretary of the Calcutta High Court Bar Association, Biswabrata Basu Mullick, appeared before Justice Mantha and assured him that such an incident would not be repeated in his court in future. Mullick requested Justice Mantha not to pass any ex-parte order in case of non-appearance of lawyers while assuring him that efforts are on to ensure normalcy in the court.Mullick also wrote a letter to Chief Justice Shrivastava claiming that a few advocates were trying to mislead the court on various issues for personal and political gain. He alleged that these few advocates were trying to spoil the healthy relationship between the Bar and the Bench. “His Lordship should not give importance to the misleading deliberation of the said learned advocates, doing this in order to achieve their personal as well as political gain,” PTI quoted him as writing to the Chief Justice.Earlier, members of the Bar Association of the High Court accused Justice Mantha of being biased and urged Chief Justice Shrivastava to relieve him from some of the cases.In a letter to the Chief Justice, the Bar Association members wrote: “A judge’s position of power not only demands discipline and ferocious insight but also becomes as extraneous as an appendage to the chair he sits upon, orphaned of this, which the arrangement of justice delivery considers to be essential. It is with great regret we must proceed to deliberate upon the actions of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha, who has perhaps fallen short of his usual standards in recent times… Let this representation record our humble request for your lordship to relieve Justice Rajshekhar Mantha from his current determination and liberate him from his current responsibilities.”The lawyers were agitating over some of the orders passed by Justice Mantha, including one passed in last December that gave protection to the Leader of Opposition in Assembly and BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari directing the state police not to register any more FIRs against him without the High Court’s permission.Justice Mantha had also stayed all the FIRs referred to in a petition by Adhikari, wherein he claimed that 26 FIRs had been registered against him in different police stations of the state to prevent him from performing his function as a people’s representative at the instance of the ruling dispensation in the state.Earlier, Justice Mantha had removed protection granted to Maneka Gambhir, the sister-in-law of TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee in a money laundering case.Meanwhile, Governor Bose reportedly sent a strong message to the state government asking it to “protect the judiciary”, and said that terrorising the judiciary will not be tolerated at any cost. It was learnt that the Governor had summoned the state chief secretary HK Dwivedi, state home secretary BP Gopalika and Kolkata Police Commissioner Vineet Kumar Goyal late Tuesday evening and instructed them to ensure necessary protection for the judges.At the meeting, the state government officials assured the Governor that they would ensure the security and safety of the judiciary at any cost. – With PTI
The first session of the newly elected Meghalaya Assembly is set to conclude on Tuesday without a consensus among the non-treasury benches on who will assume the role of the Leader of Opposition.This deadlock is a result of the Congress and the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the two largest Opposition parties, insisting on the position. Both parties, with five legislators each, have written to Speaker Thomas A Sangma to put forward their claims.The recently concluded Assembly elections threw up a fractured mandate but the National People’s Party (NPP) led by Conrad Sangma emerged as the single-largest party with 26 seats in the 60-member House.After a few days of uncertainty, the NPP formed the government by stitching up a coalition with the BJP and several other regional parties, including the United Democratic Party (UDP), which was the second-largest party with 11 seats.Andrew Simons, the commissioner and secretary of the Meghalaya Assembly, said the final decision rests with the Speaker. “Since both sides have claimed, it will be taken up soon,” he said. Simons said that since the two parties had the same numbers, factors such as seniority would be considered by the Speaker before making a final call.The other alternative is for the parties to come to an understanding with each other and make an arrangement. However, both the TMC and the Congress are, for now, refusing to relent.Congress Legislature Party leader Ronnie Lyngdoh said, “At the national level we are not together with them. If they reach out to us, we can approach the high command, but they haven’t.”Meghalaya TMC vice-president James Lyngdoh also put the ball in the court of his party’s high command. “Our president has already written to the Speaker. We will discuss with the party leaders.”The other Opposition party is the newly formed Voice of the People’s Party that has four seats. The regional outfit has said it will not align with either the Congress or the TMC as it wants to be “independent”.
Congress and other Opposition MPs wore black in protest against the “illegal disqualification” of Rahul Gandhi from the House. The unruly scenes made speaker Om Birla adjourn the proceedings in a few seconds.As soon as the House met Congress MPs – TN Pratapan Hibi Eden, Jothimani S and Ramya Haridas rushed to the well of the house, tore the papers in their hands and hurled them at the Speaker. Some of the MPs were waving black stoles also at the speaker. Birla adjourned the proceedings in a few seconds.The Congress MPs, however, continued the protests inside the house in the well of the house, tore papers and hurled it at the speaker’s chair while one banner was thrown on the chair of the speaker after he left the house.Along with Congress members, MPs belonging to DMK, NCP, Left and BRS were also wearing black today. TMC MPs had their mouth covered by a black band.The MPs were holding placards like Jago ED, ED Modani Bhai Bhai” etcAfter the house proceedings were adjourned the opposition held a brief protest in front of Gandhi statue in which Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge were present.The opposition then marched with shouting slogans to Vijay Chowk.
The Congress is furious at Mamata Banerjee’s concerted effort to ensure that Rahul Gandhi is not declared “the big boss’’ in the still-in-the works opposition alliance. Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury insinuated that Banerjee was playing the BJP’s game out of fear of investigative agencies. TMC supporters deny the insinuation, pointing out that central investigative agencies are still harassing her nephew Abhishek and his associates. Banerjee’s anti-Rahul stance is ascribed to her poor opinion of his capabilities, even though she has great respect for Sonia Gandhi. If Rahul is made the main challenger to Modi, she fears he would handicap the entire opposition and has informed her party that this is the reason the BJP keeps promoting Rahul’s name.The Congress’s recent win in the Muslim-dominated Sagardighi Assembly bypoll, a TMC stronghold, with the help of the CPM, has further antagonised Banerjee. Akhilesh Yadav has been persuaded to stay equidistant from both the Congress and the BJP. Banerjee also hopes to win Naveen Patnaik over to her side. Telangana’s K Chandrasekhar Rao, who has prime ministerial ambitions himself, needs no convincing. The NCP skipped the Opposition march to the ED office to protest lack of action against industrialist Adani. Pawar is an old friend of Adani and has stayed with him in Ahmedabad. Ironically, the AAP, which earlier saw the Congress as a direct threat, has now indicated willingness to cooperate in some states.External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s angst in a recent interview to ANI recalling that his father, Dr K Subrahmanyam, unquestionably an outstanding officer, was superseded in 1980 during Rajiv Gandhi’s regime is understandable. But raking up the word “supersession’’ is ironical considering Jaishankar too inhabits a glass house. He was appointed Foreign Secretary in January 2015, just days before retirement. To make his appointment possible, then Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh was asked to put in her papers, though she still had some months of service left.In the early years of independence, there were clear guidelines on selections to the top posts in the bureaucracy to ensure that the administration could be insulated from political pulls and pressures. Appointments were made on the basis of seniority of batches and the tenure was generally fixed for two years. But in recent times, seniority and fixed tenures have become an exception rather than the rule. The practice began long before Modi’s regime. For instance, when Shyam Saran was appointed foreign secretary in 2004, the 1970 batch officer jumped over three senior batches and some 15 potential IFS aspirants. In 2006, Shiv Shankar Menon leapfrogged over two senior batches and at least 16 senior colleagues. Since K M Chandrashekhar’s appointment as cabinet secretary in 2007, all cabinet secretaries, Ajit Kumar Seth, Pradip Kumar Sinha and incumbent Rajiv Gauba have had four-year tenures, dashing the hopes of many qualified secretaries to obtain the top job. While a government has the right to pick an officer of its choice for important posts, the dangers of following no clear cut norms is that pliable officers out to please political masters usually hold an edge. Another unfortunate trend is that the cabinet secretary is no longer the most powerful bureaucrat in the country; the senior secretaries in the PMO often carry more weight than the cabinet secretary. Last year, the government passed an ordinance extending the directorships of CBI and ED by an additional three years following a two-year tenure. The ordinance seems to have been specifically tailored to benefit Sanjay Mishra, an IRS officer who heads the ED and is on his third extension. Mishra will complete five years in his post.Members of all parties are learning the hard way that their respective high commands do not like them to carve out too high-profile a role for themselves. Mohua Moitra the TMC’s articulate, firebrand leader, who regularly takes on the BJP, including PM Modi, has reportedly been told to tone down her rhetoric on the Adani case. Recently, Moitra had questioned the veracity of the electoral affidavits of BJP MP Nishikant Dubey about his age and educational qualifications. Dubey, in retaliation, used the social media to try and score points with low grade innuendos. The BJP has asked both Dubey and the BJP’s Tamil Nadu president K Annamalai not to make statements unilaterally. Annamalai threatened to quit as state party chief if the alliance with the AIADMK remained intact and announced that two central ministers from Tamil Nadu would contest the Lok Sabha elections from the state on a BJP ticket. The party has no intention of fielding Nirmala Sitharaman and S Jaishankar from Tamil Nadu, a state where the BJP has still to strike deep roots. Annamalai is likely to lose his post as state president after the Karnataka polls.
Fourteen political parties, led by the Congress, moved the Supreme Court Friday against the “arbitrary” use of central probe agencies including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) against opposition leaders, news agency PTI reported.A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud took note of the submissions of senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for the opposition parties such as the DMK, RJD, Bharat Rashtra Samiti and the Trinamool Congress, and said the plea would be taken up for hearing on April 5“Ninety five per cent cases are against opposition leaders. We are asking for pre-arrest guidelines and post-arrest guidelines,” Singhvi said, news agency PTI reported. The parties are seeking pre- and post-arrest guidelines to be followed by the central probe agencies such as the CBI and ED.
The Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday held hearings for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) to decide whether they should be allowed to retain their national party status, according to two EC sources on Wednesday.The EC had issued show-cause notices to the three parties in July 2019 asking why their national party status should not be revoked after their performance in the Lok Sabha elections that year. Resuming the proceedings, the EC asked the three parties to appear before it on Tuesday.Under Para 6B of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, a party is eligible to be considered a national party if it is a recognised state party in four or more states; if its candidates polled at least 6 per cent of the valid votes in four or more states in the last Lok Sabha or Assembly election and it has at least four MPs elected in the last election; or if it wins at least 2 per cent of the total Lok Sabha seats in at least three states.According to the sources, the review of the national party status was held under Para 6C of the order, which states that the continuation of the recognition as a national party will depend on the fulfilment of the conditions under Para 6B.The EC had also issued notices to six state parties over their continued recognition as state parties. The six parties – the People’s Democratic Alliance, Bharat Rashtra Samithi, Mizoram People’s Conference, Pattali Makkal Katchi, Revolutionary Socialist Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal – were asked to appear for hearings on Monday, an EC source said. While the People’s Democratic Alliance asked for another date and the Mizoram People’s Conference did not attend the hearing, the other four parties attended their hearings, the source said.To be recognised as a state party, as per Para 6A of the order, a party has to fulfil one of the following conditions – have at least 6 per cent vote share in the last Assembly election and a minimum of two MLAs; or have 6 per cent vote share in the last Lok Sabha elections from that state and one MP from the state; or at least 3 per cent of the total seats or three seats, whichever is more, in the last Assembly elections; or one MP for every 25 members of any fraction allotted to the state in the Lok Sabha; or at least 8 per cent of the total valid votes in the last Assembly or Lok Sabha election from the state.