SC to hear contempt matter against Prashant Bhushan on Mar 25

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today said it will consider on March 25 the plea for taking suo motu cognizance of contempt action against noted advocate Prashant Bhushan who was issued with a notice for allegedly casting aspersions on a senior apex court judge and previous chief justices of India.However, before a three-judge Bench headed by justice Altamas Kabir fixed the date, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Bhushan, said there was a danger in proceeding with contempt proceedings.

“Upholding the dignity of the court should be the first priority of the court. This proceeding will damage the dignity of the court and institution rather than restoring it,” he told the Bench also comprising justices Cyriac Joseph and HL Dattu. Senior advocate Harish Salve, who had moved the application for the Court to initiate suo motu contempt against Bhushan, wanted the Bench to relieve him of the duty of amicus curaie on the ground that several allegations have been made against him by the alleged contemnor.

Salve said that in the counter-affidavit, Bhushan has made personal allegations against him and as such he had not responded to them and was seeking the court’s permission to relieve him from the duty of amicus curaie in the matter. However, the Bench persuaded him to continue saying the personal allegations against him should not come in the way when the matter relates the dignity of an institution. “We need your assistance as it is an issue about the dignity of the institution,” the Bench said.

Change age limit for MP and MLA election to 21, says PIL


NEW DELHI: Why not change the age limit for contesting the Lok Sabha and assembly elections to 21 years from the stipulated 25 years, when the age for voting has been reduced from 21 years to 18 years?

On Monday, this question from a PIL by one Kumar Gaurav left a Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and Deepak Verma thinking for a while. But, it countered the petitioner by asking: “What is the hurry? Why not have some experience of politics before entering the fray?”

Well the counsel for the petitioner was not to be deterred and said it was the people’s fundamental right to choose a profession and politics has become one. He said most of the countries around the world have reduced the age limit for people’s representatives to 18 years and India should follow suit.

The Bench said: “But this would require amendments to several Articles of the Constitution which prescribe the age limit. Can the Supreme Court do it? We do not have powers to reduce the minimum age stipulated for persons to contest Lok Sabha or assembly elections.”

When the petitioner insisted that the Supreme Court could do so by forcing the government to think about it, the Bench, in a lighter vein, said: “If we had the powers to force an amendment to the Constitution, then the first thing we probably would have done is to amend the retirement age of judges from 65 to 80 years.”

Though it dismissed the PIL, the factual position in various countries supported its stand, except probably in US where one has to be 25 years to be a Representative and 30 to be a Senator.  In UK, anyone over the age of 18 years can stand for election to Parliament. The age was reduced from 21 years by the Electoral Administration Act of 2006. The position is identical in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark and Germany. However, in Canada one has to be 30 years to be a Senator.

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Apex court dismisses plea for banning I-pill


NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court Monday dismissed a lawsuit seeking ban on over-the-counter sale of birth control drug I-pill without prescription of a doctor.  A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice Deepak Verma dismissed the lawsuit disagreeing with petitioner Krupa Prolifers’ contention that I-pill leads to abortion in violation of the relevant laws on pregnancy.

The petitioner approached the apex court challenging a recent verdict of the Kerala High Court, which turned down the petitioner’s similar plea for the ban on over-the-counter sale of I-Pill. The petitioner contended that a child is conceived in the womb soon after sexual intercourse and I-pill leads to destruction of the foetus within the first 72 hours after fertlisation. The petitioner also contended that the medicine has various side effects like nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness, breast tenderness etc., and its regular intake reduces the chances of pregnancy again. But the bench did not appear convinced of these arguments and dismissed the lawsuit.


Farmers’ suicides: Can seek remedial measure, says SC


The Supreme Court on Monday said it was not in its power to stop debt-ridden farmers from committing suicide but that it was willing to issue some general instructions to ensure better conditions for them. “We cannot stop suicides, but we can issue general instructions for remedial measures to prevent farmers from committing suicides in large numbers,” a Bench led by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan observed. The Court was hearing a 2006 PIL filed by advocate Sanjeev Bhatnagar questioning the country’s agricultural policy in view of a spate of farmer suicides.

Bhatnagar, who is also an agricultural economist, quoting government reports on Monday said that 87,567 farmers had killed themselves between 2002-08.

The Bench said the government has to work on some “special package” like the one presented by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006. It said, “We have to find out the reasons which are driving the farmers to suicide. The problem is confined to some states.” The government counsel has assured the court of putting the Bench’s views before the Agriculture Secretary.–suicides–Can-seek-remedial-measure–says-SC/569033