Week Ahead: Supreme Court, May 6-10, 2019

This week, the Court heard reviews on its decisions on the Rafale deal and the VVPAT. It also conducted hearings on Assam's NRC.

This is the last week the Supreme Court is in session before the Summer vacation begins. It is hearing reviews in two major cases. Significantly, it is also scheduled to hear the NRC case.

Rafale Fighter Jet Deal: A 3 Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and Justice K M Joseph,  on December 14th, 2018  declined to initiate a court monitored probe into the Rafale Deal. Subsequently, the petitioners filed review petitions before the Court and the Bench agreed to hear the same in open court. When the review petitions first came up for hearing, a preliminary objection was raised by the Union of India to these petitions alleging that the documents relied on by the review petitioners had been obtained in an unauthorized manner and the information could not be part of the public domain. The Bench reserved its order on the issue of preliminary objections before hearing the arguments seeking review and on April 10th, rejected the preliminary objections raised by the Union. The case was scheduled for hearing on April 30th. However on the said date, the Attorney General sought time to file the reply affidavit on behalf of  the Union of India and was granted time until Saturday May 4th to do. The Bench decided it will take up the matter for consideration on Monday, May 6th.

VVPAT: On April 8th, a 3 Judge Bench ordered the Election Commission (EC) to increase the number of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips that are physically verified, from 1 booth to 5 per Assembly Segment.  The Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna passed the aforesaid order in response to petitions filed by 21 Opposition leaders including Mr. Chandrababu Naidu of TDP, Sharad Pawar of NCP, Derek O Brien of TMC, MK Stalin of DMK, Arvind Kerjiwal of AAP, among others who approached the Court requesting a direction to the Election Commission to verify at least 50% of EVMs using VVPAT slips instead of 1%. The Petitioners have now approached the Court seeking a review of its order of 8th April. The case was mentioned before the CJI On May 3rd and the Bench has agreed to take up the matter for hearing on Tuesday, May 7th.

Assam’s NRC:  The Supreme Court is currently monitoring the inclusion and exclusion of individuals in the updated National Register for Citizens of Assam so as to ensure that the NRC as mandated by the Assam Accord of 15th August 1985 may be published. On the  previous date of hearing, the case was listed owing to an application being filed which sought the Court to issue directions to ensure that affected families excluded from the 1st draft of the NRC are heard in their area of residence. Mr. Prateek Hajela, the State Coordinator for the NRC, informed the Court of the procedure for checking claims of objections filed by people excluded in the first NRC draft. The Bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justice R F Nariman had directed Mr. Hajela to  take all steps to ease the difficulties faced by the residents in the NRC verification process and file a report before the next hearing  which will be on Wednesday May 8th.

NOTE: This is the last week before the Supreme Court closes for the summer vacation starting May 13th. The Court will reopen after a period od 7 weeks on July 1st, 2019.