NGT concerned over rampant air pollution in Uttarakhand
Press Trust of India | New Delhi
July 20, 2014 Last Updated at 09:55 IST
Concerned over rampant air pollution caused by industrial units in Uttarakhand, the National Green Tribunal has constituted an expert committee to look into violation of prescribed standards for emission by iron industries in the state.
A bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar pulled up the Uttarakhand State Pollution Control Board (UPCB) for failing to monitor the industries causing air pollution which already have consent to operate.
“We are afraid that if this be the state of environmental check and control of pollution by the Pollution Control Board then less say the better,” the bench said.
The tribunal had on February 18 directed the UPCB to close all industrial units in Jasodharpur Industrial Area (JIA) that are functioning without the consent of the board.
The green bench constituted a special inspection team consisting of the Environmental Engineer from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), senior environmental engineer from the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) and officer from UPCB.
“This team shall conduct a surprise inspection of all eighteen industries carrying on the business of iron/foundry industries in that area and are allegedly found seriously polluting and it will be ensured that every industry which is inspected is operating at its optimum capacity,” the bench said.
The tribunal also held that the inspection report shall clearly indicate the functioning of these units along with the stack and ambient air quality samples and the analysis be included in the report.
“It shall also be stated as to whether the slag used by these industries is being stored and how it is managed,” the bench said.
According to UPCB, out of 18 industries, 10 have been granted consents to operate till 2014-2015, while the other eight have not been granted consent and their applications are pending before the board.
The tribunal’s order came while hearing a petition by Shiv Prasad Dabral who had alleged that several industries are operating illegally, without consent from the state pollution control board or an environmental clearance in JIA near Kotdwar.
The petition had said that these industries are also major source of air pollution in the area and are a public health hazard.
The plea had alleged that the units have also been flouting industrial pollutant discharge norms by dumping the foundry slag on the banks of the Sigaddi Srot river.
Delhi youth suffers disability, gets 34 lakh compensation
Last Updated: Sunday, July 20, 2014, 08:47
New Delhi: A youth, who was hit by a rashly driven truck in 2012 and suffered 85 per cent permanent disability due to amputation of his right leg, has been awarded a compensation of over Rs 34 lakh by a motor accident claims tribunal (MACT) here.
MACT Presiding Officer Ajay Kumar Jain asked Bharti Axa General Insurance Company Ltd, with which the offending truck was insured, to pay compensation of Rs 34,08,612 to 20-year- old Ram Kumar who had suffered grievous injuries after being hit by the truck here.
According to the petition, on June 6, 2012, Kumar and his brother reached Okhla where a truck driven in a rash and negligent manner hit them. Kumar suffered injuries and was taken to AIIMS trauma center.
The tribunal, in its order, relied on a March 1 report issued by the medical board of a hospital which was of the opinion that Kumar had suffered 85 per cent permanent disability due to amputation of his right lower limb above knee.
During the adjudication of the plea, the insurance firm contended before the tribunal that truck’s owner breached the terms and condition of the insurance policy and the driver was not holding any licence at the time of accident so it was not liable to pay any compensation.
The counsel, appearing for the insurance company, also said that Kumar was walking in the middle of road and the accident was caused due to his own negligence.
The tribunal, however, dismissed the contentions of the insurance firm saying, “Insurance company (was) unable to prove this fact through positive evidence. Furthermore, driver was not examined to substantiate the fact that accident (was) caused due to the negligence of the petitioner (Kumar).”
“In view of the above discussion (in the order), further as no contrary evidence came against the petitioner (Kumar), it stands proved that the petitioner had suffered injuries due to rash and negligent driving of respondent number 1 (truck driver),” the MACT said, adding, “it cannot be inferred that accident (was) caused due to self negligence of petitioner.”
First Published: Sunday, July 20, 2014, 08:47
Tribal commission for probe in maid’s suicide
Ambika Pandit, TNN | Jul 20, 2014, 12.03AM IST
NEW DELHI: Taking note of the alleged suicide by a 20-year-old tribal woman working as domestic help in west Delhi’s Kirti Nagar, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has asked LG Najeeb Jung to institute an enquiry.
In its letter, NCST cited a TOI report dated July 15 about the alleged suicide of a girl named Dhuntia Munda. Going by the police report, the woman from Dhubri district in Assam was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her room. The employer informed police and the body was sent to DDU Hospital for postmortem. A suicide note was also recovered where Munda had asked her employer to pay her dues to her brother.
NCST chairperson Dr Rameshwar Oraon reasoned the commission’s intervention in his letter by saying that that Mundas aren’t listed as STs in Assam, but in the rest of the country they are.
Oraon said that some NGOs engaged in protection and welfare of tribals had approached him and raised their doubts that the case may not be investigated properly as she was a poor girl. “I therefore request you (LG) to ask Delhi Police to investigate the matter,” Oraon wrote.
NCST has listed some its key concerns that it thinks needs to be investigated. These include her background, her coming to Delhi, who got her a job, how long she worked here, how was her age determined, and if her employers had verified her with the local police station.
The commission also wants to know if Munda was placed by an agency and if she was exploited. The details of paid monthly wages have also been sought to establish if she was being paid minimum wages or not.
Munda’s parents passed away in 2010 and her younger brother was working in Bangalore. Police said on the day of the incident that there was no evidence to suggest that she was being ill-treated by her employers.
NCW for action against CCIT for harassment
Dalip Singh, New Delhi, July 19, 2014, DHNS
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has suggested that the Union Finance Ministry take action against a former chief commissioner income tax (CCIT) for allegedly sexually harassing and harming the career of a woman IRS officer who refused to comply with his “advances” and administrative highhandedness.
On July 2, NCW deputy secretary Raj Singh wrote to the Revenue Secretary requesting “appropriate action” against former IRS officer Satyaprakash.
NCW member Shamina Shafiq, who authored the report that has also been sent to the ministry, also slammed the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), which governs the Income Tax (I-T) Department, for refusing to initiate action against the former CCIT despite repeated complaints by the victim since 2008.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi is understood to have been perturbed by the case.
Agreeing with the complainant, the NCW in its report said Satyaprakash began harassing her after she refused to do his bidding during her posting in Siliguri.
Satyaprakash had vehemently contested the charges before the commission, saying the complaints lacked merit and were lodged long after the alleged incidents, as the complainant did not get the desired ruling from the CAT or any other court.
He counter-alleged that the officer was “highly indisciplined at work”, and was prone to “making wild allegations when things did not go her way”.
Satyaprakash, who retired in 2012, was posted as CCIT in Jalpaiguri in January 2008. Her alleged ordeal began when she, along with other revenue officers, received him at an airport when he arrived to take charge as CCIT in Jalpaiguri.
During the introductory conversation, Satyaprakash allegedly became personal. Discovering that she was staying alone in Siliguri, he proposed to come to visit her. The complainant told the commission that she politely declined.
The CCIT also allegedly demanded that she ensure a certain amount reached him every month, which too she declined. Thereafter, she reportedly started getting memos from Satyaprakash, who subsequently recommended her transfer. To humiliate her, he allegedly started communicating directly with her subordinates.
She was finally transferred in October 2008 when she was on leave. The relieving order was posted to her address, which she claimed she never received. She obtained a stay on the transfer from the CAT, but she was not allowed to rejoin duty.
Meanwhile, a report by the CCIT allegedly stalled the promotion of the officer and her subordinates. A court intervention got her posted to Kolkata, despite the department siding with the CCIT. She approached the CAT again, even as the department started an enquiry against her on a six-year-old complaint by Satyaprakash.
He personally approached the high court to get tribunal verdict stayed, allegedly saying that he did it on the directions of the CBDT chairman, but there was nothing on record to substantiate his claim.
Also, after she joined duty backed by the CAT order, he got a police case registered against her. Slamming the CBDT for its insensitivity towards offences against women, the NCW said it was left with no option but to conclude that the complainant had been harassed.
NHRC seeks report from Odisha on Baleswar infant deaths
Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, July 19:
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Odisha Health Secretary and Superintendent of Police, Baleswar to submit details including post mortem reports of the two infants, who allegedly died after taking oral polio drops provided by the local Anganwadi and Asha workers onJanuary 20 last year.
Acting on a complaint filed by human rights activist Subash Mohapatra, the Commission asked the Health secretary and SP to furnish the report within six weeks so that it can hear the matter during its sitting to be held at Bhubaneswar during the second or third week of August.
“Let the Principal Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of Odisha be asked to submit within six weeks a copy each of the post mortem report, viscera & histopathological examination report and final cause of death of both the deceased children. The Principal Secretary also be asked to send a copy of the report to the Commission if samples of the polio vaccine were sent for chemical analysis in order to rule out any contamination,” said the commission.
It has also asked the government to furnish the reason, if no chemical analysis was made.
The commission has directed the Baleswar SP to apprise it of the status of the investigation of the cases registered in different police stations of the district and similar death cases, if any, in the district during that period.
It is to be noted that two infants – Satyajit Biswal and Manasi Mallick – died barely hours after oral polio drops were administered to them in the district on 20 January last year.
However, the post mortem examination report of Satya stated that death was suspected due to pesticide. The viscera was preserved for chemical examination.
In the other case, the report stated that Satyajit Biswal, who was chronically ill with diarrhoea and was grossly malnourished, have semi solid food particles in his respiratory passage along with collection of fluid in the pleural cavity.
As per the post mortem report, the cause of death was possibly due to aspiration of food particles leading to asphyxia. The viscera and body parts were preserved for chemical analysis and histological examination.
Compromise can lead to setting aside convictions, says High Court
MOHAMED IMRANULLAH S.
Family members convicted by trial courts and sentenced to imprisonment in cases related to harassment of married women can approach the High Court and get their conviction set aside by entering into a compromise with the complainants even though the offence is legally non-compoundable, the Madras High Court Bench here has ruled.
Justice G.M. Akbar Ali passed the ruling while allowing a petition filed by two individuals to quash the conviction and two year rigorous imprisonment imposed on them by a judicial magistrate court at Nilakottai in Dindigul district in 2010. The Magistrate’s decision was taken on appeal, but got confirmed by an Additional Sessions Court on November 21, 2013.
After the pronouncement of the judgment by the Sessions Court, the convicts filed an application before the same court urging it to either discharge or acquit them on the basis of a compromise reached with the complainant, who was the wife of the first convict. The woman too told the court that she could not lead a peaceful life unless the convicts were acquitted.
However, the Sessions Court rejected the application on the ground that Section 498 A (husband or relative of a husband subjecting a woman to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code was a non-compoundable offence and hence the present petition.
Mr. Justice Ali agreed with the petitioners’ counsel, G. Thalaimutharasu, that though the conclusion of the Sessions Court was “technically right,” the High Court could always exercise its power under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and quash even cases booked under non-compoundable offences if they were related to matrimonial disputes.
He also said that the proper course to be adopted by convicts in such cases was to approach the High Court, with a plea to set aside the conviction and sentence on the basis of a joint compromise memo, and not the trial courts or the Sessions Court because they become functus officio (becoming devoid of power) after the pronouncement of the judgment.
High court to hear appeal by brother of former President in Jalgaon murder case
Swati Deshpande, TNN | Jul 20, 2014, 12.13AM IST
MUMBAI: In a reprieve to former p0resident Pratibha Patil’s brother G N Patil, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court recently said it would hear his appeal against an order of the Jalgaon sessions court that had summoned him to face trial as a murder accused in a 2005 case.
The sessions court order had added Patil as a new accused along with Ulhas Patil for the murder of a rival Congress politician Vishram Patil.
The high court this week issued notices to Vishram Patil’s widow, Rajani, the CBI and others in the matter. It will hear the appeal soon.
The Jalgaon sessions court had held that there was “prima facie evidence on record” to indicate the involvement of the Patils in the murder conspiracy.
G N Patil refuted the allegations and contended the order was incorrect and the judge had erred. He questioned the power to issue him summons under section 319 of the Code of Criminal Procedure when the CBI had already ruled out his involvement in the case.
Sessions court refuses stay on deportation
Jul 19, 2014 |
• Age Correspondent
• A sessions court on Friday refused to grant a stay on the deportation order issued against Siraj Murad Khan Pathan, a resident of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) who is staying in India since age 10.
Additional sessions judge H.S. Mahajan on Friday observed, “On going through the provisions of Citizenship Act as well as aforesaid Act (Foreigners Act) it reveals that so far as respect of nationality or citizenship is concerned, this court does not have jurisdiction at all to enter into said area as jurisdiction of the same is vested exclusively with the authorities of Central government.” In these circumstances, citing inability to pass any order with respect to deportation, the judge did not grant interim stay on the expatriation order.
Pathan’s lawyer Tanvir Nizam told this newspaper that now they are planning to approach the high court in this regard. He also said that the court has admitted his client’s appeal against his conviction.
On January 4 this year, the Bhoiwada court had convicted Pathan for staying illegally in India for many years without valid papers or a visa. He has undergone the six-month imprisonment awarded by the local court and filed an appeal only now. The court accepted his explanation that he was not aware of the legal process and did not have enough money to hire a lawyer, which is why he filed an appeal after six months.
Pathan was 10 years old when he ran away from his home in district Manshera in PoK. He boarded the wrong train and landed in Amritsar instead of Karachi, where his uncle lived. He later settled down in Mumbai and married an Indian girl. The couple has three children. Now, 19 years later, he faces the prospect of being sent back to his PoK without his family after being convicted under the Foreigners Act 1946 and Passport (Entry into India) Rules.
Section 498A: Has Supreme Court taken a retrograde step by diluting an anti-harassment law?
Samanwaya Rautray, ET Bureau Jul 20, 2014, 04.00AM IST
A Supreme Court pronouncement last week has shocked women’s rights activists. The apex court claimed that disgruntled women were using Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code as a “weapon” to harass their husbands and in-laws. Section 498A protects women from harassment by husbands and his family.
Justices CK Prasad and PC Ghose asked policemen not to automatically arrest anyone under this section but only if it was necessary — meaning if there were chances of the accused fleeing, not cooperating in the investigation or tampering with evidence. Punishment under the section carries a jail term of up to three years.
Section 498A has been under fire from certain sections of society. Introduced in 1983, it is non-bailable, cognizable (ie police can arrest without a warrant) and non-compoundable (cannot be settled between complainant and the accused).
Justices Prasad and Ghose quoted liberally from “Crime in India 2012 Statistics” published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), to buttress their claim that “mothers and sisters of husbands were liberally included in [the] arrest net”.
“On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with the court ruling,” says Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research (CSR). “However, the court should not have made the sweeping remarks against women — implying they are vindictive and vicious. It is wrong to call suffering wives, disgruntled wives,” she says.
Different Set of Numbers
However, if one were to look at the absolute numbers cited in the NCRB data, only 47,951 of the 197,762 persons arrested in 2012 were women. Contrast this to the fact that 5 crore married women were victims of violence and abuse in their matrimonial homes. A study by NGO Ekta, conducted in Tamil Nadu, showed a 20% increase in dowry deaths from 2002 to 2008, whereas there was a 65% jump in incidents of cruelty under 498A. Another 2005 study by CSR shows only 0.1% of cruelty cases are reported.
A CSR study confined to four regions — Delhi, Karnataka (Bangalore and Mysore), Rajasthan ( Jaipur and Ajmer) and West Bengal (Kolkata and South 24 Parganas) — showed that on an average a woman faced constant harassment for three years before complaining. Only 6.5% of the complaints turned out to be false after investigation.
An Oxfam India study in Odisha, conducted over a period of 10 years, showed that 90% of dowry cases were quashed at the outset. Those which resulted in acquittals were not challenged. Only those which resulted in convictions went to the appellate courts which routinely reduced the punishments. Activists are stumped when the top court falls back on NCRB data showing a 9.4% increase in the number of arrests in 2012 over 2011 to claim misuse of the law. Many believe that the higher numbers can also represent a spike in the reported cases of harassment in a matrimonial home.
While charge sheets were filed in 93.6% of the cases, the conviction rate was only 15%, the lowest across all heads, the NCRB data shows. Of the 372,706 pending cases, 317,000 may result in acquittals, the court said, using the figures to claim that false cases were being filed. CSR’s Kumari says the high acquittals imply women don’t get justice in such cases. “The courts are biased, the investigation is poor and the women uneducated,” she says.
Santosh Paul, a Supreme Court advocate, says the lower classes did not benefit from 498A. On the other hand, the middle and upper classes misused it to get settlements or maintenance, the arrests prompting the in-laws to settle rather than fight. “This ruling is a reaction to the misuse,” he says. Contrary to claims by policemen and pro-men groups that “independent, educated women” misused the law, it is their semi-literate, dependent counterparts who approach the nearest police station to file an FIR under 498A, the Ekta study revealed. Educated, independent women directly approached the courts for relief.
The study also busted another myth that the law was used to indiscriminately drag in every member of the in-laws’ family: the arrest of children under 18 years was negligible; percentage of senior citizens arrested was 3.9%; one woman was arrested for every three men and parents-in-law were not roped in all the cases. Some observers blame the top court of doing exactly what the NGO accused lawmakers and law implementers of doing — failing to help victims in their over-arching concern to save a marriage.
Supreme Court’s ruling that there would be no immediate arrests in cases of matrimonial harassment, in a single stroke also placed a host of other offences such as cheating and theft in the nebulous zone of police discretion. What’s worse for women is the fact that the court unwittingly knocked the teeth out of a slew of other anti-women offences, created post-Nirbhaya, such as stalking, voyeurism, sexual harassment and attempt to throw acid.
“If a person is stalking a woman and cannot be arrested immediately what is the point of having such a law?” asks Paul. The apex court’s eagerness to uphold the sanctity of marriage and family is indeed laudatory. But by defanging Section 498A has it unwittingly taken a retrograde step?
National Green Tribunal asserts independence, is Environment Minister listening?
by Pallavi Polanki Jul 19, 2014 14:41 IST
In a significant judgement, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asserted its powers to enforce environmental rights, clarifying that it has “the complete trappings of a civil court” and that its power of judicial review is “implicit and essential for expeditious and effective disposal of the cases”.
In a strong message to those with doubts about its independence, the NGT in a judgment passed on Thursday said, the “Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) is merely an administrative Ministry for the National Green Tribunal to provide for means and finances. Once budget is provided, the Ministry cannot have any interference in the functioning of the National Green Tribunal.”
Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar better take notice.
These observations by the NGT were made in response to objections raised by respondents in the Vizhinjam International Seaport Project case that the NGT did not have powers of judicial review and that for it to examine the constitutional validity of a legislation (in this case a 2011 notification on coastal zone regulation) “would tantamount to enlarging its own jurisdiction by the Tribunal.”
In its 142-page judgment that drew heavily from Supreme Court judgments on judicial powers of tribunals and on the NGT Act itself, the NGT said, “It will be travesty of justice if it was to be held that the Tribunal does not have the power to examine the correctness or otherwise or constitutional validity of a Notification issued under one of the Scheduled Acts to the NGT Act. In the absence of such power, there cannot be an effective and complete decision on the substantial environmental issues that may be raised before the Tribunal, in exercise of the jurisdiction vested in the Tribunal under the provisions of the Act.”
Leaving no room for doubt about its statutory powers, it added, “The scheme of the NGT Act clearly gives the Tribunal complete independence to discharge its judicial functions, have security of tenure and conditions of service and is possessed of complete capacity associated with Courts.”
This explicit clarification by the NGT that its functions and powers on matters concerning the environment are on par with that of a civil court has been welcomed by environmental lawyers for the message it sends out and also the clarity it has brought on NGT’s powers to review the constitutional validity of a legislation.
“The judgment is progressive in the sense it makes it clear that one can challenge Acts and notifications as well. The NGT is made up of experts and judicial officers and when you are raising issues with respect to environmental legislation, such matters are best served by the NGT,” said Rahul Chaudhary, an environmental lawyer.
Asked whether this would in any way create tension between the NGT and the Ministry of Environment, he said, “I don’t think the government will have any problem. If aggrieved by an order, a party will exercise his right. He will go the NGT or to the High Court. Either way, it will be challenged. The benefit for the aggrieved person in as far as the NGT is concerned is that the redressal will be simpler and also faster. In NGT, you can get a judgment in two years, maximum. In some cases, judgements even come within three months.”
The judgment is also significant, say lawyers, for the message it sends out.
“For a lot of people, the general idea is that if you are going before a tribunal, you are going before a weaker forum. Whereas the law technically makes no distinction… In a way, it gives confidence that NGT is an independent institution not bound by orders of the Environment Ministry, that its members are independently appointed and therefore it is a forum where you get orders uninfluenced by the government.
It was important to send that message. For a large section of the public, a court in the traditional sense has a greater chance of justice, whereas a tribunal is seen as a subordinate body under the control of the ministry. I think this judgment makes it very clear that the ministry only provides the budget. That does not make it subordinate to ministry,” said environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta.
Legal luminaries say Centre has little power to intervene
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 19
Many legal experts insist that the Centre has little power to intervene after it asked the Haryana Governor to withdraw his assent to a Bill paving the way for a separate SGPC.
A day after the Centre shot off a letter claiming that the state Assembly did not have the legal authority to enact such a law, a majority of legal eagles The Tribune talked to said the Union Home Ministry’s directive to have the Bill withdrawn lacked jurisdiction.
The opinions have given rise to a legal debate not just on the contentious legislation, but also on the Centre’s powers to intervene and issue directives to the state governments on enactment of laws by the state Assemblies. The dispute is being seen as first signs of a long-drawn battle that is threatening to shift from political turf to legal grounds.
Manjit Singh Khaira, senior advocate-cum-expert on Sikh issues, says the Centre has “no such powers”. Going back in time to explain the existing standoff between Punjab and the Centre on one side, and Haryana on the other, Khaira says the Union Government has little to do with the issue.
“The Sikh Gurdwaras Act was passed by the Punjab Council in 1925. At that time, the area which is now under Pakistan was also included. Later, Patiala and East Punjab States Union was also added. Between 1925 and 1961, 30 amendments were carried out in the Act by the Punjab Assembly. In 1966 came the Punjab Reorganisation Act. The Act makes it clear that the SGPC was to remain common till the state came out with its own Act. The Centre now cannot come out with such directives, particularly when the Gurdwara Act was not even a Central Act,” Khaira said.
Advocate NS Bhinder says the Centre has traversed its powers while giving directions for the withdrawal of the Bill. He makes it clear that Haryana Assembly has powers and jurisdiction to pass the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara (Management) Bill, 2014, by virtue of entry 32 of the Concurrent and entry 28 of the State List of the seventh schedule of the Constitution, coupled with the provisions of Section 72 (3) of the Reorganisation Act.
“Once the State has passed separate SGPC Act, the Centre has no powers to issue directions under Section 72 (1 & 2) of the Act, as those powers are exercisable qua the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, till Haryana passes its own Bill. After the passing of the Bill, the Centre is divested of the powers under the Reorganisation Act as the state Assembly has passed an independent Act for Haryana. No directions are required to be issued by the Centre after passing of the Act,” he said.
Punjab’s ex-Advocate-General Harbhagwan Singh says the Centre’s directions hold little meaning as the Governor can’t withdraw his assent. He says once the Governor has appended his signatures, it becomes a law and even he loses right to withdraw it.
Their point of view
The Centre’s directions hold little meaning as the Governor cannot withdraw his assent.
Harbhagwan Singh, Punjab’s Ex-A-G
Once the state has passed separate SGPC Act, Centre has no power to intervene under Sec 72 of the Act, as those powers are exercisable qua Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, till Haryana passes its Bill.
NS Bhinder, Advocate
The Centre cannot come out with such directives, particularly when the Gurdwara Act is not even a Central Act, which was originally passed by the Punjab Council.
Manjit Singh Khaira, Senior Advocate
The law is already in place since 1925 and there is no justification for Haryana to have passed a law on the same subject matter.
Mukul Rohtagi, Attorney General
Legal literacy on passive euthanasia is a powerful tool in an individual’s arsenal: Pinki Virani
Interview with human-rights activist and author
July 19, 2014 Last Updated at 20:25 IST
In response to a petition by NGO Common Cause, theSupreme Court recently sought the responses from all states and union territories on the need to legalise ‘living wills’. The court’s action triggered a debate over passive euthanasia, which was legalised by the apex court in 2011 but with strict guidelines to prevent abuse. The 2011 verdict itself had been in response to the plea of activist-author Pinki Virani in December 2009 to grant euthanasia to her friend Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who had been lying in a permanently vegetative state for 40 years at KEM Hospital in Mumbai.Avantika Bhuyan speaks to Virani about the latest development
Your initial reaction to this development? How has this taken the apex court’s 2011 judgement forward?
I am delighted that we Indians get a chance, again, at understanding what ‘passive euthanasia’ actually means. I thank the Supreme Court for widening the discourse. The last time – when Justice Markandey Katju heard my public-interest litigation as “next friend” for both Aruna and other patients in similar irreversible conditions and gave the judgement-law on passive euthanasia – it was the very first time since 1947 that most people had even heard of the difference between passive and active euthanasia. Generally, it was assumed that the “right to die” was some sort of quick-fix, and therefore a brutal process, because it was confused with active euthanasia. This time, the debate is going to the next step, to that of the living will. It is good becauselegal literacy on passive euthanasia is a powerful tool in an individual’s arsenal.
Could you explain the concept of ‘living wills’?
‘Living wills’ are exactly like regular ‘wills’. They can be changed as often as you like while you are of sound mind and body. The safeguards to be taken are equally similar: witnesses, copies of the living will and a legal mind kept in the loop. The difference would be that in a living will, additionally, one would need to verbally inform whoever one trusts of its contents. Obviously, the contents would need to conform to the law of the land. The conditions under which passive euthanasia is permitted are when one is brain dead and when one is in a persistent vegetative state. A living will, created when a person is of sound mind and body, can lay down instructions for, say, when the ventilator should be turned off or feeding stopped. Plus, one can stipulate the period after which the passive euthanasia process is to be initiated – for instance, ventilation should be stopped after 10 days or feed tapered off after six months. These are random time-frames, but the point is the choices are completely those of the person writing the living will.
The Law Commission of India, while reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision of 2011, had said: “…for incompetent patients who have not taken ‘informed decision’, a doctor can take a decision to withhold or withdraw medical treatment if that is in the best interests of the patient…” How are the ‘best interests’ determined?
The best interests of any patient in any irreversible condition are determined through a living will by the patient before he or she goes into that condition. However, if there is no living will, then the best interests are determined by the closest family members or loved ones or “next friend” in conjunction with the patient’s doctors. And both, the patient’s near and dear ones and doctors, would do best if they simply put themselves in the patient’s place. Ergo, do unto that vulnerable body on the bed what you would want compassionately done to you.
How are the guidelines for passive euthanasia in India different from those in Western Europe or parts of the United States where it is legalised?
Instead of getting into loads of legalese, let me give you an example of the landmark Terri Schiavo case from the US. While Schiavo lay in permanent vegetative state in a hospital for over a decade from 1990, her husband wanted to terminate life support to her while her parents opposed such a move. They went to court against each other. The court ruled in Schiavo’s best interests and allowed her feed to be tapered off. An internationally prescribed method was followed and in doing so, Schiavo did not suffer starvation and dehydration and her death was not painful or sudden. Feeding was lessened systematically, painkillers and palliatives were added gradually and she, after horrific years of being both un-alive and unhealthy, legally died in 2005 in the comfort possible under such circumstances. Suffice to say that since we are still understanding passive euthanasia, we have not reached the point that Western Europe or parts of the US have. They view an irreversibly ill patient being forced to linger on as a human rights violation.
HC issues NBW against ‘dead’ murder accused
Last Updated: Saturday, July 19, 2014, 00:20
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday issued fresh non-bailable warrant (NBW) against a murder accused who had jumped bail and allegedly connived with his family members to show an unidentified body as his own to get him declared dead by the Uttar Pradesh police.
However, during investigation the police had found out that the accused’s finger prints, which were on record, did not match with that of the body which was identified as that of the accused by his family members.
Shocked by what the probed had revealed, the high court had directed the police to conduct a thorough investigation into the whole matter including the role played by the family members as well as the police officers who had handed over the unidentified body to the accused’s relatives.
The court had on May 23 also issued NBW against the accused, which was returnable for July 18, as well as directed police to file a status report.
Thereafter, police had filed its report saying that since the identity is in doubt, the ashes have been sent for a DNA test, result of which is awaited to ascertain the claims of the kin of the accused. The report also said they were putting in efforts to trace the accused.
Police had said investigation showed three constables of Ghaziabad police were involved in the conspiracy and it has proved the “finger prints taken were not of the unclaimed body but of some other body”.
After perusing the report, a bench of justices Kailash Gambhir and Sunita Gupta today asked the police to file a fresh status report along with the DNA analysis result of the body that was shown to be that of the accused.
It asked the police to expeditiously complete the probe into the disappearance of the accused, Rajbir Singh.
The court fixed October 10 for further hearing in the matter.
First Published: Saturday, July 19, 2014, 00:20
HC for giving wide publicity to govt approved price lists
http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2014/Jul/20/hc-for-giving-wide-publicity-to-govt-approved-price-lists-35.aspCAPD told to take decision on opening fair price shops in Srinagar, Jammu in first instance
D A RASHID
Srinagar, Jul 19: In what could help contain the scourge of overcharging and hoarding, Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Department (CAPD) to take decision on opening of fair price shops in the first instance in the twin cities of Srinagar and Jammu to be followed by expanding the facility to other tehsil headquarters.
A division bench comprising chief justice M M Kumar and justice Hasnain Massodi passed the direction after a suggestion was made to the bench in this regard.
“The suggestion is worth serious consideration and the decision be taken in this regard before the next date of hearing,” the bench said.
It was pleaded before the bench that there are 32 wards in SMC and a 2-member team in the Enforcement department is sufficient to check the overcharging, hoardings and profiteering in two wards.
The director CAPD in his status report submitted that digital boards installed at the main gate of directorate and in the office complex of Deputy Commissioner here are displaying the rates of the essential commodities.
Meanwhile, the bench was told that the Enforcement Wing CAPD is checking the market on regular intervals and has requested SSP Srinagar to depute at least five security personnel with the CAPD team on rotational basis for security purpose.
The counsel representing SMC Firdous Ahmad Mir informed the court that as a social obligation the corporation would not charge for hoardings displaying price information.
On the suggestion of the AG that hoardings be erected at grand mosques, shrines and several other places also, the court directed SMC to identify 20 places in consultation with some other departments in the city for erecting such hoardings.
The AG also submitted that a communication has been sent to Railways for setting up hoardings who have recommended the case to higher authorities in Delhi for sanction.
“It should be known to public through television and radio that the fair price lists are available and can be downloaded and even cell phones could be used for checking the price. Such a course would enable members of general public to have access to the information so that the profiteering and overcharging is given burial,” the court directed.
“A direction is issued to the television as well authorities (Doordarshan Srinagar) to permit CAPD to publish and announce the price commodities,” the court said.
After the court was informed that announcement on radio is made only in respect of few commodities and no comprehensive publicity is being given, the AG assured the court that CAPD Department will take effective steps in this regard.
HC no to priests’ plea for sole rights to puja at Satara temple
Shibu Thomas, TNN | Jul 20, 2014, 12.13AM IST
MUMBAI: No custom is valid if it’s against public policy and the law of the land, the Bombay high court ruled in an order while dismissing a plea by the Badave community to declare that it has exclusive rights to conduct puja and collect the ‘dakshina’ offered to the deities of the Shikhar Shingnapur temple near Satara.
Justice Ravi Deshpande was settling a 30-year-old dispute between the Badave family, which said it had exclusive rights since time immemorial to conduct pujas in the temple and the Jangam community which disputed that.
“A custom is a long drawn, practice which has been followed by the members of community or religion interested in it,” said Justice Deshpande, adding, “But no custom is valid if it is illegal, immoral, unreasonable or opposed to the public policy.”
The high court also referred to Supreme Court rulings in such matters.
The Badaves are a Brahminical sect that conducts pujas in many temples in Maharashtra, including the Pandharpur temple, while the Jangam community belongs to the Lingayat sect.
In 1985, the Badaves had moved the civil court seeking a declaration that only they could perform puja, archa, dahibhat, abhishek and other pujas before the deity Shri Shambu Mahadeo, Amruteshwar and the other deities of Shikhar Shingnapur Devsthan as priest and to take dakshinas offered. They also sought a restraining order against the Jangam and other communities from objecting to the Badaves’ rights.
Udayan Raje Bhosale, the land owner and descendent of Chhatrapati Shivaji, had supported the Badaves’ claims.
The high court said, “It is not the case that according to the tenets of religion, only the Badaves are well-versed and qualified to perform the religious rites and rituals in a manner conducive and appropriate to worship of the deities and are the only persons authorized to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temples.”
HC quashes rape case as girl says she married accused
Press Trust of India | Mumbai
July 19, 2014 Last Updated at 16:29 IST
The Bombay High Court has quashed a rape case after the victim took a stand that she had married the accused and was now happily staying with him.
The ruling was delivered by a bench headed by Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode which last week set aside a rape complaint filed against a city resident by his girl friend.
The boy had filed a petition in the High Court seeking quashing of FIR dated February 18, 2014, at Khar police station for offences of alleged rape and cheating.
Counsel for the petitioner Mahesh Vaswani submitted that the girl and the boy had a love affair and the complaint was filed by the former due to some misunderstanding. Now, both are happily married and were staying together, he argued.
The girl, who was also present in the court, said she had no objection to the quashing of the complaint filed by her as she had married the petitioner and was staying with him. Her lawyers Latika Nevrekar and Dharni Nagda also filed an affidavit making the same submission.
The judges noted, “We are otherwise satisfied that the offence punishable under Sections 376 (rape) and 420 (cheating) of Indian Penal Code is not made out, even if the allegations made in the complaint are accepted at its face value.”
“Respondent No 2 (the victim) was 22 years old when she had an affair with the petitioner and she had given consent for having physical relations with the petitioner. Under these circumstances the petition is allowed and the complaint filed by her is quashed and set aside,” said the judges.
Madras HC mercy for CISF constable with TB
A Subramani, TNN | Jul 19, 2014, 03.42PM IST
CHENNAI: The removal of a ‘constable dhobi’ working with the Central Industrial Security Force on the ground of indiscipline has been quashed by the Madras high court, after it was brought to the court’s notice that P C Damodaran was a chronic tuberculosis patient, and that his wife had cancer, while his son was a disabled person.
A division bench of Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice K Ravichandrabaabu, converting the removal of Damodaran from service into a case of compulsory retirement, as it would entitle him to full pension benefits, said on Monday: “Inspite of narrating the status of his family, the appellate authority and the revisional authority (of the CISF) have not chosen any sympathy. Considering peculiar facts in this case, as well as 31 years of service rendered by Damodaran, who is now aged 55 years, and also the nature of charges levelled against him, namely over-staying after medical rest, which is not willful, we are of the view that this is a fit case to interfere with the proportionality of punishment, as the punishment imposed is excessive.”
Damodaran joined the CISF as constable dobhi in February 1978 and he had completed 31 years of service, when he chose to avail himself of medical leave for 310 days from October 2009 to August 2010 for his TB treatment. Noting that he had received several reward certificates from top officers of the CISF, he said he could not attend the duties due to ill-health. However, his long leave was viewed seriously by the authorities who issued him a charge memo in March 2010. He was later removed from service, and the punishment was confirmed in two appeal proceedings in the department.
In his present petition, his counsel said Damodaran had TB, his wife was battling bone cancer, their one son was a disabled person, his father was deaf and blind person and his mother too had some heart ailments. His whole family, including his other children were dependent on his income. Though Damodaran submitted all medical records to prove his ailment and treatment, authorities removed him from service. If the punishment is mofidied into one of compulsory retirement, he would be eligible for terminal benefits, he said.
The CISF counsel, on his part, said Damodaran had been punished earlier for indiscipline and that he had been imposed punishment at least 10 times.
The judges said Damodaran had furnished enough evidence for his sufferings and that all he wanted was compulsory retirement, which was reasonable. They directed the authorities to pay him his terminal benefits within four weeks.
Transformers on footpaths: HC pulls up BESCOM
Saturday, 19 July 2014 – 6:02am IST | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA
• DNA Correspondent
Questioning the act of BESCOM officials in a matter pertaining to the installation of transformers, the Karnataka High Court lashed out at them asking if they are installing them properly. Justice Rammohan Reddy was hearing a petition filed by Ashwini Manoj Patil who lost her husband by electrocution in Church Street area in 2013. She had approached the court asking for a compensation of Rs 29 crore.
When the matter came up for hearing on Friday, the court asked the BESCOM officials as to what was the purpose of installing transformers on footpath. He also asked who is the political leader behind this. He observed that if the member (of legislative assembly) doesn’t know the law, he will make him understand that. He said that transformers have to be installed on BESCOM properly, and it should be removed from the pedestrian path. BESCOM officials said that the transformers are not placed on footpaths. Following this, the judge said that they have to prove it by the next hearing. The matter has been posted to July 23.
The matter in question is a transformer situated allegedly on footpath in Church Street near a restaurant cllaed Kaati zone. Last year, a person called Manoj Kumar Patil had died after alleged electrocution from the transformer. Later Ashwini patil approached the court questioning the negligence from BESCOM officials and asking for compensation.
During the previous hearings the court had also asked BBMP and BESCOM officials to do a spot inspection and submit a report. The court had also expressed anxiety on the safety of pedestrians.
Decide Gurgaon farmhouse owners representation: HC asks police
Press Trust of India | New Delhi
July 18, 2014 Last Updated at 17:29 IST
The Delhi High Court today asked the city traffic police to decide within six weeks a representation by 170 farmhouse owners in Gurgaon who have alleged their society roads are being used as a thoroughfare by heavy vehicles going towards Rajokri village here.
A bench of Justice Suresh Kait passed the order on a plea by Westend Green Farms Society, representing the farmhouses, alleging no action has been taken on their representations sent to the traffic police and various other authorities.
It had alleged that heavy motor vehicles are using their society roads to reach Rajokri village despite there being an alternate route to reach the area, located near National Highway-8.
The society has contended that the movement of the heavy vehicles has resulted in an increase in air and noise pollution in the area and had sought directions to the traffic police to put a stop to it.
After perusing the plea of the society, the high court directed the traffic police to decide on the representation within six weeks and disposed of the petition.
SC declines to interfere with HC order on Guru
The Supreme Court on Friday declined to interfere with a Madras High Court order quashing the preventive detention of ‘Kaduvetti’ Guru, PMK leader, for his hate speech made in April 2013.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman dismissed a special leave petition filed by Tamil Nadu against the order dated December 4, 2013.
Appearing for the State, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar assailed the order. However, the CJI told the SG “even if there is slightest non application of mind on passing the detention order, the benefit must go to the detenu.”
In its SLP, the State said due to the hate speech of Mr. Guru on April 25, 2013, there were widespread violence and riots by the followers of PMK who damaged the public property and set fire to the transport buses. Therefore the sponsoring authority forwarded all the relevant documents to the detaining authority seeking an order of detention.
The High Court erroneously allowed the Habeas Corpus Petitions and set aside the detention order passed against Guru and directed him to be set at liberty.
The High Court was erroneous in setting aside the detention order passed by the detaining authority on the ground that the same was passed on surmises and no materials were available to show that the violence was due to the hate speech of the detenu.
Refuting this finding, the State said the provocation led to the destruction of 40 buses and other vehicles, and prayed for quashing the High Court order.
Quake threat to Puri echoes in HC
- High-rise buildings along shoreline show signs of tilt
Cuttack, July 19: Orissa High Court has initiated a public interest litigation (PIL) on the earthquake threat to Puri where the sea level has risen and high-rise buildings along the shoreline show signs of tilting possibly due to tectonic movements.
Taking suo motto cognisance of a report in The Telegraph on the issue, the division bench of Justice Pradip Mohanty and Justice Biswajit Mohanty issued notices to the revenue and disaster management secretary, home secretary and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The report “ASI team visit inspects Jagannath Temple — Visit follows earthquake” was published on May 23, a day after an earthquake hit the state.
Official records indicate that the high court’s concern was triggered as the report alleged that the state government officials played down the impact of the earthquake on May 21 though eminent geophysicist and former deputy director-general of the Geological Survey of India P.N. Nayak had said Puri was sitting on a time bomb.
“The rise in water level of the sea in Puri on May 15 is the precursors of a disaster and now the earthquake hit the state, affecting the coastal belt,” Nayak had said.
The PIL committee consisting of Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice B.R. Sarangi said: “The matter relates to threat of earthquake and consequent rise of the sea level. In view of constant upcoming of high-rises by the seashore in Puri, a holy and tourist place, the matter needs consideration regarding safety measures and precaution to avoid any unfortunate incident or death toll. Thus, the matter involves important question to the safety of the Puri inhabitants, therefore, the same may be treated as a PIL.”
The seashore buildings of Puri town were observed to be tilted towards northeast by Nayak, retired deputy director-general (geophysics).
The Telegraph had also carried a news report on the issue on February 22, 2012. A team of professors and research scholars of IIT, Kharagpur, had visited Puri to study the tilted structures.
Nayak attributed it to the impact of the 2004 tsunami or the rise of the earth’s mantle material through the oceanic ridges between Brahmagiri and Sakhigopal near Puri. The ridge extends to over 1,600km connecting Sri Lanka.
“The tilted buildings are either caused by pressure transferred from the oceanic crust after 2004 Sumatra quake or the up welling (an oceanographic phenomenon that entails rising of cold, usually nutrient-rich waters from the ocean depths to the warmer, sunlit zone at the surface) of mantle material through the ridge that may result in further tilting of the buildings and disastrous crustal movements,” Nayak had said.
The road running parallel to the shore in Puri had been breached by a massive surge of the sea in 2007, a phenomenon generally attributed to global warming but which, it now appears, could also have been connected to the oceanic crust movements in the wake of the Sumatra tragedy. The road has developed not only cracks, but also elevations and depressions of more than 1 metre at certain points.
While the already-visible tilt in the buildings make them disaster-prone, Nayak felt that in the event of an earthquake, the destruction could be minimised if a prediction programme was implemented.
The tilt in the buildings is hardly noticeable if viewed from the beach road, extending from Banki Muhan in the east to Baliapanda on the western side. One has to trudge through the golden sands and look at the buildings from the south-western side, or drive up to the Baliapanda side at least to the point where the road bends for the tilt to be visible.
Anurag demands state to send proposal for setting up HC bench at Dharamsala
HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times Shimla, July 18, 2014
First Published: 20:03 IST(18/7/2014) | Last Updated: 20:04 IST(18/7/2014)
Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) president and Hamirpur Lok Sabha member Anurag Thakur wrote a letter to chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Friday asking him to immediately send a proposal to the union government for setting up the Himachal Pradesh High Court bench at Dharamsala.
Thakur said he had written to law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and had raised the matter in the Lok Sabha under Rule 377.
“In response to my letter, the law minister said that according to the recommendations made by Jaswant Singh Commission and the decision of the Supreme Court in 2000, the Centre can establish a high court bench only after the state government sends a complete proposal and chief justice of the concerned high court also gives his assent to the proposal,” said Thakur.
“The law minister also said his ministry hasn’t received any proposal from the Himachal Pradesh government till date to establish a high court bench at Dharamsala,” he said.
In his letter to Virbhadra Singh, Thakur said this was a matter of utmost public importance and therefore the state government should immediately take a step forward and send the proposal to the Centre so that he can further pursue the matter at his own level.
Thakur said the people of Kangra and members of the district bar association had been raising the demand for long. He said the people from Chamba district have to travel all the way to Shimla for legal matters which not only consumes time but also puts financial burden on them.
After 16 years, man to get relief for son’s death after HC intervention
TNN | Jul 19, 2014, 04.38AM IST
MADURAI: Sixteen years after the death of his son, his father S Arockiasamy from Trichy is going to get Rs 2.25 lakh compensation with an interest of 12% annum soon with the help of the Trichy district collector, thanks to the intervention of the Madras high court Madurai bench.
Arockiasamy’s son Napolean was a construction worker. He died on January 2, 1998 when he was engaged in some construction activity in a building belonging to one P Selvaraj.
Claiming compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, the father approached the tribunal for workmen’s compensation in Trichy in 1999. After due inquiry, the deputy commissioner of labour passed an award on November 9, 2001, directing the building owner to pay Rs 2,25,220 with interest at the rate of 12% per annum.
But, the owner did not comply with the said order.
Thereafter, the deputy commissioner sent a letter to then district collector on August 20, 2003 requesting him to recover the amount from the building owner under the Revenue Recovery Act.
As no steps were taken by the collector, the deputy commissioner sent several reminders. But, the efforts went into vain. Thereafter, the father issued a legal notice on March 31, 2005, which the collector received on April 5. But, his attempt proved futile.
Hence, he knocked on the doors of justice by way of filing a writ petition.
The matter came up before Justice R Mahadevan after several adjournments. After hearing the concerned sides, the judge has now passed orders directing the district collector to recover the said sum of Rs 2.25 lakh with interest at the rate of 12% per annum from the date of death till the date of deposit, by invoking revenue recovery proceedings and pay the same to the petitioner, within a period of three weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.
The court further specifically directed the collector not to cause any delay in this issue.
Bringing Kids to Care Homes not ‘Trafficking’: State to HC
By Express News Service
Published: 19th July 2014 08:04 AM
Last Updated: 19th July 2014 08:05 AM
KOCHI: Stating that bringing children from outside the State cannot be termed as ‘trafficking’, the State Government on Friday submitted before the Kerala High Court that so far there were no specific cases of orphanages exploiting children.
In a counter affidavit, L A Gregorious, deputy secretary to the government, Social Justice Department, stated that transferring of children by parents for care, protection and education cannot be treated as an offence. The State made the submission when petitions seeking a CBI probe into the trafficking of 578 children from Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal to orphanages in Kerala came up for consideration.
The police had registered a first information report (FIR) under Section-370(5) of the IPC, which states that recruiting, transporting, harbouring or receiving a person, using threat or force for the purpose of exploitation is an offence.
‘Exploitation’ shall include any act of physical exploitation, any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude, or forced removal of organs. The affidavit stated that so far no exploitation by the institutions was reported. It further noted that of the 578 children, 271 were former inmates and students of orphanages in Mukkam and Malappuram.
Hence, at present, it cannot be considered as ‘trafficking’. However, the Special Wing of the State Police will promptly probe whether any incident of exploitation was unearthed during the initial investigation, it said.
All four convicted under IT Act in India are from AP: says top cop
Need more punitive action against cyber security violators, say experts
K Rajani Kanth | Hyderabad
July 18, 2014 Last Updated at 15:26 IST
While 4,356 (including 635 in the combined state of Andhra Pradesh) cyber crimes were registered nationally since the IT Act came into force, 2,098 persons (296 in AP) were arrested.
Of these, only four were convicted under the IT Act, and all the four were from AP, according to T Krishna Prasad, additional director-general (crime investigation), Telangana government.
Delivering his special address at a conference on ‘Cyber security: Counter measures to face the threats’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here on Friday, he said more punitive action was required to deal with cyber security violators.
This issue has not been addressed by the National Cyber Security Policy of 2013. All the state governments, including Telangana, should take this up with the Centre, he added.
“No single investigating agency can handle this cyber security threat especially in the current scenario where we have 134 ISPs (Internet service providers), 100 million Internet users and 1,000 million mobile users. We need to have coordinated efforts between the industry and investigation agencies. Also, the industry should share the tools that they develop to counter cyber security threats with the police, free of cost,” Prasad said.
Stating that the crime investigation department (CID) already had a cyber crime cell and a lab in Hyderabad, he said the CID was currently training officers at the district level in tackling cyber crime and that the department was contemplating setting up cyber labs in every district of Telangana.
Earlier, addressing the gathering, KT Rama Rao, IT and panchayat raj minister, Telangana, said the industry should collaborate with the government in tackling cyber crime. “We need to collaborate with private players in the area of cyber security,” he said.
According to R Srinivasa Rao, Hyderabad centre head, Wipro Limited, and convenor, CII Andhra Pradesh ICT panel, cyber fraudsters were increasingly targeting small and medium enterprises. “To mitigate risks, companies should focus more on newer technologies,” he said.
Finally, SC-ST students get post-matric scholarship back
TNN | Jul 19, 2014, 01.07AM IST
CHANDIGARH: A few days after recipients of the post-matric scholarship scheme were asked to pay up for study at Panjab University’s various departments, the university on Friday withdrew its decision to charge fee from such students.
PU’s special committee for SC-ST and the dean student welfare ( DSW) communicated to the Ambedkar Students’ Association (ASA) the decision to not charge fees from SC-ST students with a family income less than Rs 2.5 lakh per annum and withdrew the notice regarding the same.
The decision will also be in effect for PU’s regional centres.
On July 1, PU’s SC-ST cell issued a notice to charge fee from SC students of Punjab and, according to ASA, ‘violated the norms of the state government’. On July 11, ASA members and SC-ST students met vice chancellor Arun K Grover, who assured that he will look into the matter of implementation of the Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme. Under the scheme, SC-ST students from Punjab are exempted from fees and are required to pay only the security deposit.
“After going through all documents and decision of the Punjab & Haryana high court, the decision to implement the scheme was taken. This is a big achievement for ASA since all eligible students will now get the benefits of this scheme,” said vice chairperson Prabhjot.
High court dismisses Gujarat judge who tried her own husband
Saeed Khan, TNN | Jul 20, 2014, 06.06AM IST
AHMEDABAD: Terming the act as “outright misconduct”, Gujarat high court on Friday upheld the dismissal of a chief metropolitan magistrate who had tried her husband’s case in her own court. Judge SV Shah, who was dismissed from service in 2009, had filed a petition in the high court.
The HC upheld the punishment given to her by Gujarat HC’s administrative division and the state government. The high court observed: “The act of conducting the cases in which her husband was an accused is mischief on part of the judicial officer. Such an act cannot be said to be a negligent act, but it is outright misconduct.”
Shah was made Ahmedabad’s chief metropolitan magistrate in August 2000 and remained till January 2002. She was suspended over charges of conducting the trial of cases in which her husband Vijay Shah, the-then managing director of Comfort Knit Wears Ltd, was an accused.
Shah faced an inquiry because instead of transferring her husband’s case to another judge, she took up the cases for hearing two weeks before they were scheduled to be heard in 2000. She ordered implication of another director in the case, undertook the process illegally, and separated her husband’s trial, according to the HC chargesheet. She imposed only a fine on her husband, while the others were punished with jail terms by another judge. She fined her husband with 50 paise for each day’s default.
The HC’s administrative side said, “She acted in the most illegal favourable manner and blatantly misused her powers.”
In 2001, the Rs 800 crore Madhavpura Mercantile Cooperative Bank (MMCB) scam surfaced. She granted default bail to two office bearers. Before the deadline for filing the chargesheet ended, she entertained the application and illegally released the two.
Besides, Shah released Ketan Parekh on bail on the simple condition of depositing a sum of over Rs 16 lakh.
Another judicial officer, DT Soni, inquired into the allegations and held her guilty in both cases—Shah’s husband’s trial and MMCB.
The HC’s administrative side heard her and recommended her dismissal. Accordingly, she was removed from judicial service in 2009, after which she had filed the petition in the HC.
High Court quashes case booked for pasting posters
The Madras High Court Bench here has quashed a police case registered against a village youth for having pasted posters announcing a one-day hunger strike demanding action against those responsible for the suspicious death of a government higher secondary school student during school hours at Pannaipuram in Theni district in December 2010.
Allowing a petition filed by the accused, M. Vijayakumar, Justice G.M. Akbar Ali held that the prosecution launched against him was an abuse of the process of law.
The judge quashed the criminal proceedings though it was represented that Kombai police in Theni district had already laid a charge sheet in the case before a Judicial Magistrate court in Bodinayakannur.
The police had booked the petitioner under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1959, based on a complaint lodged by a Village Administrative Officer.
They contended that the petitioner had not obtained prior permission for pasting the posters in the village and that he had condemned the State government in those posters. It was also the case of the prosecution that the posters did not contain the name and address of the press where they were printed and that the petitioner had not obtained the consent of the owners of the properties concerned before pasting the posters on their walls.
These acts amounted to commission of offences under various provisions of the 1959 Act, they claimed.
However, Mr. Justice Ali said a person could be prosecuted under Section 3 of the Act only if he had displayed ‘objectionable advertisement,’ a term which had been defined in the legislation itself to mean advertisements likely to incite violence, those intended to outrage religious feelings, grossly indecent or obscene or those which obstructed traffic.
The Act also categorically stated that an advertisement should not be deemed to be objectionable merely because it criticised a law or policy or administrative action of the government with a view to getting it altered or redressed through lawful means, the judge said. He also pointed out that every citizen enjoyed freedom of speech and expression subject to reasonable restrictions.
Bombay high court cracks down on corruption in lower judiciary; 2 clerks face suspension
Sunday, 20 July 2014 – 6:30am IST | Agency: DNA
For the first time in the history of the state judiciary, two judicial clerks of Borivali and Kurla magistrate courts are facing suspension for demanding money from officers of the high court who posed as litigants and approached them for favours during an anti-corruption check.
The clerks are Sudham Mhaske of the Kurla metropolitan court and Nandkumar Sankhe of the Borivali metropolitan court. The suspension orders were given to them on Tuesday by the chief metropolitan magistrate and a departmental inquiry will soon be conducted against them. If the charges are proved, the officers can be dismissed from service.
Senior officers of the high court had gotten in touch with the two accused earlier in this month. Posing as litigants (those involved in a lawsuit), the officers had asked them for favours like moving the dates of their cases, providing them with original copies of court order, getting their documents processed faster etc., which the judicial clerks can perform at their levels. These duties don’t need permissions or a go ahead from the sitting magistrates. The judicial clerks are entrusted with administrative work before and after the passing of orders by the magistrate and other day to day functioning of courts.
The two decoy officers kept in regular touch with the accused, who sought money in return for the favours, and then reported the matter to the high court, which in turn directed the suspension of the clerks. A high court officer, on condition on anonymity, said, “This exercise will continue in other courts across the state.”
“This is the first time that the high court has acted proactively. We want to send a message to the judicial staff that corruption and misconduct won’t be tolerated. This is the first step to ensure a hassle-free procedure for litigants at the lower judiciary level,” said a senior high court official. Normally, the court acts after a litigant lodges a complaint with the registry, and then a Special Investigating Team puts the officer on notice and acts against him/her by issuing a chargesheet.
20 years on, high court clears way for colonel’s court martial
Ajay Sura, TNN | Jul 19, 2014, 06.10AM IST
CHANDIGARH: Twenty years after a general court martial held Colonel RBS Bisht guilty of committing irregularities in local purchases during his posting as commandant of the ammunition deport near Chandigarh, the Punjab and Haryana high court finally paved the way for the Army chief to take a decision on his dismissal from service.
A division bench comprising justices Hemant Gupta and Fateh Deep Singh held that the HC cannot examine the maintainability of the court martial till the verdict is confirmed by the Chief of Army Staff. “The petitioner has the right to file a petition post confirmation and also the statutory rights of appeal before the Armed Forces Tribunal. Since the petitioner has effective alternative remedy, we do not wish to examine arguments raised at this stage,” held the bench, disposing of the petition in a July 10 order.
In his petition, Col (retd) Bisht challenged the court martial against him on the grounds that he cannot be made subject to the Army Act, 1950 in 1994, since he retired and was re-employed from January 15, 1993. The retired Colonel, who lives in Uttarakhand at present, has been accused of purchasing substandard stores at exorbitant rates and against requisite instructions during his posting as commandant of the ammunition depot at Dappar near Chandigarh in 1992.
Recommending the court martial, Army’s court of inquiry in its September 11, 1992 report held that Bisht made the local purchases not because it was needed but because it could facilitate personal benefits.
Bisht challenged findings of the inquiry before the high court, which, on January 16, 1995, restrained Army authorities from taking action against him. The matter was pending for a long time before the high court till it was shifted to the Chandigarh bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal in 2010.
Recently, AFT allowed court-martial proceedings against Bisht, which ordered to dismiss him from service. Bisht challenged his dismissal before the AFT on the grounds that he could not be court-martialled after his retirement.
On April 28, AFT dismissed his petition and held that even after retirement, Bisht could be subject to court martial for the illegalities he committed during his tenure. Thereafter he moved the HC. If the Army chief confirms his dismissal, Bisht will lose all retirement benefits.
Frame Digha Acquired Land Settlement Act in 2 months: Patna high court
Anisha Anand, TNN | Jul 19, 2014, 12.34AM IST
PATNA: With the Patna high court’s final verdict directing the state government on Friday to frame rules for the four-year-old Digha Acquired Land Settlement Act, 2010, in two months, the long-pending dispute over the settlement of 1024.52 acres in Digha area seems nearing an end.
Petitioners Dwivedy Surendra and Council for Protection of Public Rights and Welfare in their PIL had demanded enforcement and implementation of the Act, published in the gazette on April 26, 2010.
In an earlier hearing, counsel for Bihar State Housing Board submitted the rules and necessary schemes for enforcement of the Act had been prepared and sent to the state government for approval. On Thursday, one of the petitioner’s counsel, Brajesh Kumar informed the court that rules still did not exist and the state counsel had no answer to the court’s query when the rules would be notified. The bench of Justice V N Sinha and Justice Prabhat Kumar Jha on Thursday had given a day’s time to the state urban development department secretary to file his reply.
On Friday, the state counsel informed the court that at least two months’ time was required to finish all the formalities related to notification of rules and schemes. The bench disposed of the case giving the state two months’ time to frame rules, schemes and the executing authority. It also warned the state of contempt proceedings in case of failure to comply with the court’s order.
The Act was passed in the assembly in 2010, but was notified on November 27, 2013, only after a contempt case in the Patna high court. It aims at categorization of land and through it, unauthorized occupants are to be regularized by way of final settlement of plots after payment of penalty amount by them.
The rules and schemes are to broadly prescribe provisions for regularizing houses on 600 acres of the encroached land on the eastern side of Ashiana-Digha road by taking a penalty on the basis of one’s annual income and the area on which construction has been done. These will also prescribe for reacquisition of around 300 acres on the western side of the road by paying compensation and ex gratia amount to landowners and repayment to allottees.
It is learnt the government had acquired plots in this area from farmers in 1974 at the rate of around Rs 2,200 per kattha. The Bihar State Housing Board had also deposited Rs 17.42 crore with the Patna district collector towards acquisition of the land. Of the 1,024.52 acres which were to be developed by the board, around 600 acres were sold by the erstwhile owners or farmers to other parties, making it quite impossible for the board to execute the project.
UT declined premature release of Beant assassins, high court told
TNN | Jul 19, 2014, 06.09AM IST
CHANDIGARH: The Chandigarh administration has stated before the Punjab and Haryana high court that it had declined premature release of Shamsher Singh and Gurmeet Singh, both convicted for assassinating former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.
A communication regarding the refusal to release Shamsher and Gurmeet, lodged in Chandigarh’s Burail jail, was submitted before the court by Chandigarh administration on Friday. The two convicts had approached the high court seeking premature release on grounds that they had spent more than 14 years behind bars and were entitled to be freed.
In response to their petition, the UT administration told the court that it had taken the decision, considering the nature of “heinous crime” committed by the two.
However, the Union government informed the court that in such matters, opinion of the presiding judge of the trial court, which had convicted the accused, was required before taking any decision. Hearing this, the high court asked the Central government to specify on what issue the government wanted the advice of presiding judge. The case has been fixed for August 6 for further hearing.
Gurmeet and Shamsher, along with co-convict Lakhwinder Singh, were released on parole in December 2013 after former militant Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa sat on a fast-unto-death for their release. They were sentenced by a special CBI court in the high security Burail jail on August 1, 2007 for their role in the assassination of former Punjab CM Beant Singh in August 1995. Two others, Balwant Singh Rajoana and Jagtar Singh Hawara, were also convicted in the case and are lodged in central jail, Patiala and Tihar jail, Delhi respectively.
CIC upholds PMO decision on not releasing secret Netaji files
Press Trust of India | Kolkata
July 19, 2014 Last Updated at 16:29 IST
The Central Information Commission has upheld the Prime Minister’s Office contention that releasing secret files about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s wife and daughter may upset foreign countries.
Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur has disposed the appeal by researcher Chandrachur Ghose which challenged the PMO’s decision of not giving access to the letters written by Netaji’s wife and daughter to the government.
“In view of the above, and CPIO’s submission that due diligence has been exercised, we uphold the decision of the CPIO/AA in denying the information,” the CIC said in its decision.
In 2013, the PMO had said that these files are exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a) read with section 8(2) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
“The three files in question are classified and disclosure of the documents contained in them would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries,” the PMO said in its reply.
Ghose, who is writing a biography on the nationalist leader, said, “Keeping these files secret would also fuel conspiracy theories, in view of controversy regarding Netaji’s marriage in certain quarters”.
When under house arrest by the Britishers, Netaji had escaped from India in 1941 to seek international support for India’s freedom struggle. After organising the Indian National Army with Japanese help he went missing in 1945, fuelling one of the most debated and puzzling mysteries.
RTI query: Has the SPG become a Hindu outfit?
TNN | Jul 20, 2014, 04.47AM IST
NEW DELHI: Has the SPG — tasked with protecting the Prime Minister and his family — recruited people from only a specific community or religion after the assassination of former PM Indira Gandhi?
This was an RTI query filed by Gurgaon resident Aseem Takyar. The controversial application was rejected by the Central Information Commission (CIC) on the grounds that the Special Protection Group (SPG) was an exempted organization and the information sought was neither related to a human rights violation nor allegations of corruption under section 24(1).
Takyar also sought to know whether it was a human rights violation to recruit personnel only from one community and demanded a list of police personnel recruited in the SPG from each religion and community.
According to the RTI Act section 24(1) the SPG is an exempted organization “provided that the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded”. The section also says that if it is a case of allegations of human rights violation the information shall only be provided after the approval of the CIC and within 45 days from the date of receiving the application.
Takyar filed an appeal with the appellate authority, which was also rejected. He then filed a second appeal with the CIC. Hearing the issue, chief information commissioner Rajiv Mathur directed: “The commission sees no merit in the submissions made by the appellant. The SPG is an exempted organization under section 24 of the RTI act and hence we find no reason to interfere with the orders of the CPIO/appellate authority.”
Former PM Indira Gandhi was shot down by two of her bodyguards in October 1984 in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star, where the Indian army stormed the Golden Temple — the holiest Sikh shrine — to take out terrorists holed up inside.
26/11: Two police versions for Cama hospital firing put Maria in CIC line of fire
Written by Zeeshan Shaikh | Mumbai | July 20, 2014 1:16 am
There is a difference of five minutes in the timings recorded for the firing behind Cama hospital during the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which claimed the lives of three senior police officers. The timing of the firing given by the police to the wife of slain IPS officer Ashok Kamte after her Right to Information (RTI) query is 23.53 hours, while the time mentioned in the chargesheet filed by the Mumbai police in the 26/11 terror attack case is 23:48 hours.
Maharashtra State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) Ratnakar Gaikwad has highlighted the discrepancies in timings and failure of the Mumbai Police to preserve the hard disk of the voice logger, which recorded the conversation between police officers on the night of the 26/11 attack.
In an order passed on July 9, Gaikwad raised doubts on whether Mumbai police Commissioner Rakesh Maria was trying to hide information about the 26/11 attacks by withholding and providing misleading information about the call logs of wireless conversations between the police control room and Kamte’s van on the day of his death. He had also asked the state government to institute a commission to inquire why misleading information was provided.
Documents accessed by The Indian Express show that in reply to an RTI query filed by Kamte’s wife Vinita, the Mumbai police provided her with details of call logs in November 2009. These logs listed the first report of firing at St Xavier’s College, where Kamte and the three officers were killed, at 23:53 hours. Yet another RTI reply to Kamte in February 2010 makes no reference to any incident at 23:53 hours. However, the Mumbai police’s chargesheet filed in the 26/11 case lists the timing at 23:48 hours, five minutes earlier than what Kamte had been told.
There is a difference even in the time mentioned in two RTI replies to the query on when the first Quick Response Team was sent to provide help to the three martyred officers. In the first RTI reply given to Vinita, the time is stated to be 23:53 hours. The second RTI reply states the time at 23:52 hours, while the police chargesheet states the time as 23:48 hours.
The state blamed the discrepancy in the timings given to Kamte through RTI on constables who were drafting the transcripts.
However, the state has failed to explain to Vinita why there was such a glaring time difference in the first RTI reply and the Mumbai Police’s chargesheet.
“They are yet to explain how there was a difference in the time given to me and the time listed in the chargesheet,” Vinita said.
Vinita’s lawyer Dhairyasheel Patil, representing her before the State Information Commission, pointed out that there were serious discrepancies in the time given by the police, which was suspicious.
“There is a huge disparity of up to six minutes in the timings of the incidents that took place on 26/11. The original hard disk of the voice logger has not been retained. There seems to be large-scale manipulations in the call records for some unknown reason,” Patil has been referred to have said according to the proceedings listed by the SCIC.
Gaikwad took cognisance of all the questions raised by Vinita and her counsel. He said there were serious doubts about manipulation being done.
“It would be improper to say that the questions raised by Vinita about the information provided to her are incorrect. It is questionable why in such a serious incident the voice logger with the hard disk was not preserved. Also, how can it be said that there was no manipulation when a CD was created from the original video logger,” Gaikwad said in his order.
Gaikwad also said the government had stated that information on the hard drive was only saved for a specific period of time and after that it was automatically destroyed. Vinita has raised an issue on how the hard disk documenting an incident of such grave magnanimity could be overwritten.
“It was said that the memory was stored for a limited period and that an expert opinion of a manufacturer would be presented before the Commission. However, it has been almost two weeks now and no such opinion has been presented before us,” Gaikwad said.
Maria refused to comment, saying the police would file a reply with the state CIC.
Councils clear reworked FYUP curriculum
TNN | Jul 20, 2014, 12.01AM IST
NEW DELHI: With the academic and executive councils clearing the restructured curriculum for the four-year undergraduate programme, DU colleges are good to go. Teachers now know for sure what they will be teaching once colleges reopen on Monday.
“We pointed out that courses haven’t been passed by the faculties and that the DU administration couldn’t have sent the structure to the committees of courses without getting them cleared by the academic council,” says Amitava Chakraborty, elected member of the academic council.
Names of the courses run by Cluster Innovation Centre have also changed. “BTech in humanities”, the CIC’s much-touted “flagship” four-year programme, is now a three-year one?BA (honours) in humanities and social sciences. The concept of meta college and meta university remains. Five postgraduate courses have been approved for CIC and two business programmes run by the commerce department are now “MBA” courses. However, the CIC courses were not tabled.
Meanwhile, a group of 12 members had attempted to move a resolution regarding appointment of ad hoc teachers but as Chakraborty puts it, “discussion of the resolution was not permitted”. The restructuring of the course happened days after the rollback was announced and the meetings of the councils were also left to the last minute. The delay in the process led to a chaos on the ad hoc recruitment front.
DU administration has given just two days July 19 and 21 for appointments. There are roughly 4,500 ad hoc teachers in the university and Delhi University Teachers’ Association members argue that it will be impossible for all of them to appear for interviews over these two days.
“If ad hocs work on the last working day before summer break and the day the college reopens, they get a summer salary,” explains DUTA’s Vijaya Venkataraman. If they can’t join on the first day, they’ll lose the salary even if they have worked through the summer months.
“We demanded that ad hocs already appointed be allowed to remain and be replaced later or that the academic council condones the gap considering the situation.” The resolution, however, wasn’t accepted.
DU Clears Three Year Format for UG Courses
NEW DELHI | JUL 19, 2014
Delhi University’s Academic and Executive Councils today approved the courses restructured from the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme to fit the old three-year format.
Emergent meetings of the two statutory bodies of DU were today held to clear the resolution on approval of the courses in order to facilitate the commencement of the academic session on July 21.
“The restructured courses were passed at the meeting today. However, no Cluster Innovation Courses (CIC) were placed before the EC. Also, there will be no change in the examination/internal assessment,” Executive Council member Abha Dev Habib said in a text message.
However, DU Teachers’ Association slammed the varsity’s administration for delaying the process of restructuring and also hit out at the Vice Chancellor.
“The AC, the authority for designing courses, was not consulted on the model of restructuring: the Committees of Courses (comprising subject experts), were deprived of their right to decide on the best possible papers by making it mandatory to select papers only from the erstwhile FYUP,” DUTA President Nandita Narain alleged in a statement.
Slamming the varsity’s administration for not presenting the CIC courses before EC, Nandita said, “This is also evident from the fact that five new courses under the Cluster Innovation Centre -– also established through grave statutory violations –- were placed and approved in the meeting while the necessary amendments in the Statute, required for establishing new centres etc., is due for years now.”
FILED ON: JUL 19, 2014 22:36 IST
FILED IN: EDUCATION |DELHI
Family court asks wife to pay alimony to ex-cricketer husband
Press Trust of India | Gandhinagar
July 19, 2014 Last Updated at 16:36 IST
In a rare judgement on a divorce petition, a Gujarat courttoday ordered a woman to pay alimony to her physically challenged husband, a former cricketer, who accused her of causing physical and mental torture.
Gandhinagar family court magistrate D T Soni directed Rajvinder Kaur to pay her husband Dalbir Singh, who played with Sachin Tendulkar at Under-17 level and the cost of whose surgery in 2010 was borne by the cricket icon, Rs 10,000 per month as alimony.
Dalbir’s promising career was cut short in 2002 when he metwith a road accident.
In his petition, the ex-cricketer had alleged that his wife, whom he had married in 2006, used to confine him in their sector 22 house and harassed him physically and mentally. He also said Rajvinder would not allow him even to walk inside the house with the help of crutches.
While pronouncing his judgement, the magistrate relied on the accounts given by the couple’s neighbour and a police officer.
The couple’s neighbour Kamlesh Trivedi has told the court that Rajvinder used to tie Dalbir up with ropes, while a police officer said the former cricketer, locked up in a room, was taken out after neighbours complained about ill-treatment by his wife.
Court dismisses husband’s petition for restitution of conjugal rights under Mohammedan Law
Monday, 21 July 2014 – 6:05am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
• Urvi Mahajani
The family court has dismissed the petition filed by a husband seeking decree of restitution of conjugal rights under section 281 of Mohammedan Law observing that the relationship had broken beyond repair and hence it would be awkward to allow the petition.
Principal Judge Laxmi Rao dismissed the petition by the husband saying: “It is an awkward situation as to why the petitioner is seeking a decree of restitution of conjugal rights. On his own saying, relationship between the parties has broken beyond repair. Under such circumstances, I am not inclined to allow this petition for restitution of conjugal rights.”
The couple married on May 29, 2010 at Ikhar, a village in Gujarat and Nikahnama was executed. They do not have any children.
According to the petition filed by husband through advocate Firoz Shaikh, the wife behaved normally. However, later on, at the insistence of her family members, the wife made his, his mother’s and sister’s lives “miserable”, alleged the petition. He further alleged that she would pick quarrels with him without any just reason.
Despite his requests, she did not mend her ways, stated his petition. He further alleged that she would often leave her matrimonial house without any just reason and used to stay at her parental place.
On April 15, 2012, she left her matrimonial house along with her father and brother and went to stay at her paternal place with all her ornaments and belongings, the husband has claimed in his petition.
In June 2012, the husband alleged, that his father-in-law, assaulted him and he had lodged an FIR to the effect.
Despite all this, the husband expressed sincere desire to lead a married life with his wife. As she did not return from her paternal house, he filed the petition before the family court seeking restitution of conjugal rights. Following the court’s notice, the wife appeared once for counseling.
Judge Rao observed: “The contents of the petition and affidavit of evidence show that the respondent has not lived peacefully with the petitioner and his family members from the date of their marriage i.e. 29.5.2010 till the date of the separation i.e. 15.4.2012. Plenty of allegations have been made against her and her family members by the petitioner.”
Dismissing the petition, judge said: “Under such circumstances, I am not inclined to allow this petition for restitution of conjugal rights as filed by the petitioner even though it is proceeded without written statement of the respondent-wife. As there are only allegations against the wife, this petition is not maintainable.”
PIL challenges sops for Backward Classes
DC CORRESPONDENT | July 20, 2014, 04.07 am IST
Hyderabad: A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in the Hyderabad High Court challenging GO Ms No 9 issued on May 17, 2011, by the united Andhra Pradesh government, providing extension of reservations for a period of 10 years from June 1, 2011 to May 31, 2020 to Backward Classes in education and employment.
C. Sai Vishnuvardhan, a resident of the city, moved the plea stating that the government had failed to conduct periodic revisions of the BCs list in accordance with Section 11 of the Andhra Pradesh Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993, prior to the issuance of the government order.
He contended that giving extension of reservations twice was a violation of the Act. He said that providing reservation without excluding the creamy layer and identification of Backward Classes violated the Constitution.
He urged the court to stay operation of the GO and to direct the governments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to conduct periodic revision of the BCs list.
He requested the court to direct both the states to establish a separate geographical zone, and to declare it as “reservation free zone.”
Guwahati Municipal Corporation trains lens on marriage halls
Pranjal Baruah, TNN | Jul 19, 2014, 10.28AM IST
GUWAHATI: The Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) has sent sealing notice to 20 wedding halls for failing to furnish essential permissions.
The GMC had sought the documents from the marriage halls, following an order by the Guwahati high court. The high court, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) against one of the wedding-cum-function halls, issued a notice to GMC, Pollution Control Board (PCB) and Guwahati traffic police and directed them to take strong action against the violating halls.
On Friday, GMC joint commissioner Syed Isfaqur Rahman said, “There are 89 marriage halls in GMC area. About 62 halls have been asked to furnish the ?no objection certificate’ obtained from GMC and traffic police, as well as their trade license.”
Counsel of the petitioner, advocate B D Konwar said the marriage halls have not made any arrangements for the disposal of garbage which is a health hazard in the area. “About 42 wedding halls have submitted their documents. But 20 failed to do so. GMC plans to send sealing notices to the defaulters,” said Konwar.
In the petition, locals sought the high court’s intervention and complained that these wedding halls are constantly violating laws by using loudspeakers and firecrackers late into the night.
National Green Tribunal pulls up authorities over unauthorised borewells in Delhi
Taking a serious note of “water scarcity” in Delhi, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday pulled up the authorities for failing to perform their statutory administrative obligation in ensuring adequate water supply.
Irked over unauthorised and illegal borewells operating here, a bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar directed Delhi Jal Board, Central Ground Water Authority, government of NCT of Delhi and corporations concerned to set up committees which shall visit and seal industrial areas extracting water illegally.
“Water scarcity in Delhi is a fact of which tribunal can take judicial notice, and equally it cannot be denied that these authorities i.e. corporations, DJB and government of NCT of Delhi have statutory and even a public administrative obligation to ensure that adequate water supply is made to various parts of Delhi and there is no illegal extraction of ground water in any manner whatsoever,” the bench said.
It also ordered that such committees shall prepare a complete and comprehensive report as to how many bore-wells were operating in industrial pockets, including at Bawana and Narela, and whether they have the permission from competent authority or were registered with the Delhi administration.
“We direct the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and DJB to submit a complete and comprehensive report as to why they have not fixed any meters for calculating cess,” the green bench said.
“We make it clear that all the senior officers shall be responsible for ensuring that the order of the Tribunal is implemented without demur and delay,” it said and fixed the matter for hearing on August 22.
The tribunal on September 3 last year had set up a panel to collect data of all illegal and permissible borewells in NCT of Delhi as well as to ensure that the cases of illegal extraction of ground water were prosecuted and water meters were installed for measuring consumption of underground water.
Thereafter, on November 12 and December 19 last year respectively, the tribunal had expressed dissatisfaction over the report submitted by the panel and had termed it as “poor and vague”.
The tribunal was hearing petitions filed by the NGT Bar Association and Raj Hans Bansal opposing the illegal use of groundwater in Delhi.
Kaliasot builders spurn National Green Tribunal
TNN | Jul 19, 2014, 12.00PM IST
BHOPAL: Mindless construction on embankment of Kaliasot river in Kolar area is posing a big risk to its existence. It came to light on Friday after an official of Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) on directions of National Green Tribunal (NGT) went to inspect the river in Mandakini Colony, Kolar Road.
Environmentalist Subhash Pandey who is an applicant, submitted on Friday that despite the order directing to maintain status quo, construction work is in progress on banks of Kaliasot river in Kolar area, which is a violation. Justifying his claims, Pandey presented latest video and photographs.
Kolar municipality chief municipal officer S S Dhakre, who was present in the court, was shown photographs and videos filed by the applicant. He, however, stated that it was an old photograph and does not reflect the present stage. On this, Pandey insisted that the work is under progress and also submitted that the residents of locality are present in court to assert the same.
In view of submissions made by applicant and denial by the municipality, NGT directed MPPCB assistant engineer Brijesh Sharma to inspect disputed premises on Friday. NGT also directed Sharma to find out whether any construction activity is going on and submit a report before the tribunal on July 22. NGT added that Sharma need not to serve any notice to parties.
Acting on NGT directions, Sharma and a team, accompanied by a team of media persons, went to the spot. Though Sharma did not make any statement to media regarding inspection by him, rampant construction on both sides of river was clearly visible.
Pandey claimed that builders in Kolar area have encroached upon the river bank. Now the width of river is reduced to 100 feet from 250 ft at several spots. “Kaliasot river stretched up to 250 ft and rule said there should not be any kind of construction up to 100ft on either side of bank. Anyone can see builders are doing construction without any fear,” Pandey said.
Sources said MPPCB assistant engineer Sharma was highly disappointed after seeing construction. “He has written in his report that Kaliasot river has been encroached by builders on both banks,” sources said.
Bailable warrants issued against officials of Town and Country Planning, Kolar municipality and disaster management institute for not following the May 27 order in which they were asked to demarcate the green-belt, present an inspection report about construction around Kaliasot river. Warrant was issued on July 11 and it was executed. All officials released on Rs 10,000 bond each.
Power ordinance in Parliament a litmus test for Sebi
Jul 19, 2014, 11.27AM IST
By Vaneesa Abhishek
These are exciting times for the Indian capital market. ASupreme Court Judge recuses himself from the Sebi Sahara matter, CBI sparks a debate on regulatory autonomy, reforms are under way to revive IPOs, and the regulator is attaching properties and bank accounts of violators. Market participants as well as the regulator are being made accountable. Amid all this, a slew of legislative changes in securities laws, through three ordinances, will become permanent law. Though the ordinance is well intentioned, it’s imperative that some of its provisions be debated to provide more clarity.
It is rare that an ordinance – an emergency law making power with the President – is promulgated thrice providing a regulatory authority powers retrospectively. But extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and cases like Sahara and Saradha may justify the use of this extraordinary power.
The ordinances validate the regulator’s power to consent and settle matters, disgorge unfair gains or averted losses, enter into MoUs with foreign regulators, all retrospectively. It also provides Sebi with enhanced power to call for information from any person regarding investigations, clamp down on collective investment schemes, attach assets, and set up special courts to try offences.
A Bill to replace the ordinance is likely to be tabled soon. One of the issues that Parliament should debate is the widely worded section 11AA(2A) that allows Sebi to specify conditions for any scheme or arrangement to be considered as a collective investment scheme, without providing any guidance on the criteria Sebi may use. In its current form, this may be considered to be excessive delegation if it comes up for review before courts.
On the other hand, there is much hoopla that the ordinance empowers Sebi chairman to authorise search and seizure operations on a suspect’s premises. This is a power enjoyed by any investigating officer under Criminal Procedure Code and something that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has been seeking since 2012. It should be noted that in the case of CCI, maintaining status quo was recommended by the Standing Committee of Finance for the reason that CCI is still at the stage of infancy and no instance could be cited before the committee where exercise of such powers by CCI through a judicial magistrate resulted in delay or leakage of confidential information.
This may not be the case with Sebi, a mature regulator, which recently celebrated its silver jubilee. Moreover, the Securities Laws Ordinance provides safeguards whereby Sebi chairman has to be satisfied that search and seizure is necessary and records reasons thereof. Such a safeguard was missing in the Competition Bill.
In the wake of changing market dynamics and myriad ways to evade regulatory fiat, these powers are not only essential, but a life-saving injection for Sebi to be an effective regulator.
Parliament should also deliberate on whether other provisions such as refinement of penalty provisions in securities laws, and enhancement of powers of the Securities Appellate Tribunal are required in the Bill.
Ideally, it should be clarified that all the powers bestowed on Sebi through the ordinance are also appealable before the tribunal, including orders of search and seizure, or attachment and recovery.
In a recent case, the tribunal expressed inability to entertain an appeal from an order of Sebi in view of a provision of the ordinance, which provides that no appeal can be made from an order passed by Sebi in settlement proceedings. Earlier, there was a bar only in those cases where the order was passed with the consent of parties.
These ordinances are a step in the direction the Supreme Court wished in the matter of `N Narayanan vs Sebi (2013)’ stating that Sebi has to deal sternly with companies and their directors indulging in manipulative and deceptive devices, insider trading etc.
or else they will be failing in their duty to promote orderly and healthy growth of the securities market. Sebi has already used powers derived from the ordinance. One can only hope that the ordinance is passed after examining some of these issues.
Author is Former legal officer, Sebi, & a practising lawyer. Views expressed are personal.
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