Ayodhya, Rafale on agenda when Supreme Court reopens

Besides these, Supreme Court will have to deal a PIL seeking a probe & lodging of FIR against activist lawyers Indira Jaising & Anand Grover

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Supreme Court on Ayodhya

New Delhi: Upon reopening on July after a six-week long summer vacation, the Supreme Court will deal with rather sensitive issues, including the Ayodhya land dispute, review pleas in the Rafale case and the contempt case against Congress president Rahul Gandhi for wrongly attributing to the court his “chowkidar chor hai” slogan.

The top court, which would function with its full judicial strength of 31 judges under the stewardship of Chief Justice (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, is likely to deliver its verdict in the review pleas in Rafale case.

The petitions, including the one filed by ex-Union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, seek review of the Supreme Court’s  14 December 2018 judgment dismissing all pleas challenging procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

Also, a three-judge bench headed by the CJI would decide the fate of BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi’s contempt plea against Gandhi for wrongly attributing to the top court his “chowkidar chor hai” jibe against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Gandhi, however, has already tendered an unconditional apology for it and sought closure of the case.

The outcome of the in-camera mediation proceedings, undertaken by a three-member panel headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice FMI Kallifulla, to find an amicable solution to the politically-sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute, would be watched with bated breath.

The mediation committee, which also comprises spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu, is “optimistic” about finding an amicable solution to the vexatious dispute. It has been granted time till 15 August by a five-judge bench headed by the CJI.

Fourteen appeals have been filed in the Supreme Court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment. The high court verdict, delivered in four civil suits, held that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be divided equally among the three parties to the dispute — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.

The legal issue with the high court verdict on Ayodhya was that a court is not supposed to deliver a judgment that no party to the dispute had asked for.

Besides these, the Supreme Court will have to deal with a PIL seeking a probe and lodging of an FIR against activist lawyers Indira Jaising, Anand Grover and their NGO ‘Lawyers Collective’ for allegedly violating rules relating to receipt and utilisation of foreign funds.

The PIL has been filed by ‘Lawyers’ Voice’, a voluntary organisation of advocates.

The top court would deal also with the PIL of lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay challenging the constitutional validity of Article 370, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and limits Parliament’s power to make laws for the State.

The top court would also be dealing with a host of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A, which provides special rights and privileges to natives of Jammu and Kashmir.

On 11 February, the Jammu and Kashmir government had sought permission from the Supreme Court to circulate a letter to parties for adjourning the hearing on pleas saying that there was no “elected government” in the State.