Dance bars, taxis and Rajiv assassination: SC has a packed day

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 13, 2016 13:38 IST
The Supreme Court dismissed a batch of petitions filed by political leaders to challenge the validity of criminal defamation laws. (Pic for representational purposes only)

The Supreme Court addressed various national issues, including anti-defamation laws and the drought situation, on Friday.

Around noon, a two-member bench comprising justice Dipak Misra and justice Prafulla C Pant dismissed a batch of petitions filed by political leaders to challenge the validity of the criminal defamation laws. The petitioners – including BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal – said Sections 499 and 500 of the India Penal Code were outdated and inconsistent with a citizen’s right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Constitution.

The following is a list of other significant cases that will be taken up by the court in the course of the day.

Permits for Mumbai dance bars

The Maharashtra government is required to submit a compliance report before the Supreme Court on providing permits to eight dance bars in the state.

A bench on Tuesday hauled up the government for not granting licences to commercial establishments despite an apex court order. However, it went on to say that the grants should be provided only after bar owners submitted an undertaking that they will not employ anybody with a criminal background.

The bar owners complained that the government provided licences only to three bars – and that too after saddling them with “unrealistic rules designed to effect the cancellation of the permits”. The government has threatened to cancel the licences unless the conditions were fulfilled within 60 days, the dance bar owners said, adding that they will lodge a protest in the apex court.

Taxi operators v/s green court

Also on the Supreme Court’s agenda is a petition by taxi operators in Himachal Pradesh against a National Green Tribunal order to restrict diesel and petrol vehicles from entering Rohtang Pass and Manali – two tourist hotspots in the state. Under the green tribunal’s order, only 1,000 vehicles – 400 diesel and 600 petrol – can drive up to Rohtang Pass.

The petitioners said the restriction has hit their means of livelihood, and the state government was yet to formulate a rehabilitation plan for them.

The green tribunal modified its order on May 9, increasing the number of petrol vehicles to 800. It also allowed tourism activities in the area, sparingly permitting leisure activities such as paragliding and snow scootering.

The fate of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court will determine at 2 pm whether the Tamil Nadu government’s February 19, 2015 order to remit the sentences of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case was justified. A bench headed by justice Ranjan Gogoi will hear the issue.

In December last year, a constitution bench had held that the state government has no authority to remit the sentences of people convicted under a central law, and cases investigated by a central agency such as the CBI. It said the Centre will have “primacy” in deciding such cases.

The bench, however, had not pronounced its verdict on the validity of the Tamil Nadu government’s order. After laying down the law, it referred the matter to a three-judge bench.

The Tamil Nadu government had recently sought the home ministry’s opinion on the matter. However, the Centre responded by saying that the matter was pending before the apex court.

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