Chief Justice of India S A Bobde's remarks come at a time when convicts in the December 16, 2012 gangrape-and-murder case have been filing petitions one after another to delay their execution ordered by a Delhi court.
“I don’t think anything is irreversible,” CJI Bobde said as senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for a petitioner, sought interim directions, saying states had already started the process under the impugned legislation and rules, and that the process would be irreversible.
Asking the Speaker to take a decision within four weeks, the Supreme Court said: “In case no decision is forthcoming even after a period of four weeks, it will be open to any party to the proceedings to apply to this Court for further directions/ reliefs.”
The Chhattisgarh petition, filed through Senior Advocate Vivek K Tankha and Advocate Sumeer Sodhi, said the NIA Act, in its present form, not only takes away the state’s power of conducting investigation through police but also confers unfettered discretionary and arbitrary powers on the Centre.
The bench said “expression through the internet has gained contemporary relevance and is one of the major means of information diffusion. Therefore, the freedom of speech and expression through the medium of internet is an integral part of Article 19 (1) (a) and accordingly, any restriction on the same must be in accordance with Article 19(2) of the Constitution.”
One of the petitions was filed by Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, who contended that the cumulative effect of the restrictions, such as imposition of Section 144 and restrictions on Internet and communication, has had a chilling effect on free speech and the freedom of press in the Valley.
The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, expressed surprise at the prayer to declare the Act as Constitutional, saying there was already a presumption of Constitutionality to a law passed by Parliament.
Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told a bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant that there was a possibility that High Courts may give different orders which will create confusion.
The committee, in its first report submitted to the court in October, had said that 144 juveniles between the ages 9 and 17 in conflict with the law were held, mostly in preventive detention, in J&K since August 5.
Justice Chandrachud said “India’s excellent democratic record shows that in our seventy plus years of independence, regular general elections and the peaceful handover of power have been the overriding norm.
It is made clear that even if the State has compelling reasons, the State will have to see that its reservation provision does not lead to excessiveness so as to breach the ceiling-limit of 50% or obliterate the creamy layer
Attorney General K K Venugopal told a bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant that the question decided by a five-judge bench in the Jarnail Singh case last year must be sent to a seven-judge bench.
It stated that “there can be no lasting peace without justice and accountability” and that the “Court erred in rewarding the crimes committed in 1934, 1949 and 1992, by giving title to the Hindu parties, when it had already ruled that the said acts were illegal”.