LEGAL NEWS 24.03.2010

No stay on Nityananda case probe
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/No-stay-on-Nityananda-case-probe/articleshow/5717280.cms
TNN, Mar 24, 2010, 12.23am IST
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday ordered notice to Bidadi police upon a criminal petition filed by Swami Nityananda challenging the registration of the First Information Report (FIR) against him. Justice Arali Nagaraj who heard the two petitions filed by the swami directed the government advocate to place before the court by Thursday the police papers regarding the case available with the Investigating Officer. “There will be no stay on investigation. Let me go through those papers,” the judge observed when the counsel for the petitioner pleaded for interim order of stay on the proceedings apprehending arrest following the filing of the FIR. “If that is the case, you can move anticipatory application,” the judge said before adjourning the hearing. Swami Nityananda, whose original name is Thiru Rajashekaran, has alleged that the complaint is based on hearsay statements filed with an ulterior and oblique motive to tarnish his and also the Ashram’s image. “With modern technology aid of graphics anything can be manipulated and concoted as was done in the alleged video clippings. There was no complaint by any victim or aggrieved person. The complaint itself is without any essential ingredients. No identity of alleged aggrieved person is there. This unfortunate incident was glorified by the media assassinating the petitioner’s character,” the counsel for petitioner told the court. As per the complaint lodged by Swami Nityadharma alias Lenin who was Swami Nityananda’s driver on March 4, the Chennai police had lodged cases under 295A (hurting religious beliefs), 506 (criminal intimidation), 420 (Cheating) and also 376 (rape) and 377 ( unnatural offence) IPC and 120-B (conspiracy). The complaint was later transferred to Bidadi police station. The FIR is likely to come before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ramanagaram. Notice against loudspeakers A division Bench has ordered notices to state government, BBMP and the city police upon a PIL seeking a direction to the authorities to restrain use of loudspeakers during the BBMP election campaign. “It is too late to give any direction with only three days remaining for campaigning. But in future guidelines can be issued,” the Bench observed while adjourning the hearing of the PIL filed by city advocate M K Vijayakumar. The petitioner has complained that due to the constant use of loudspeakers by candidates in the ongoing BBMP poll campaign, students who are taking examinations are affected badly which will have a negative bearing on their performance.

Centre’s decision to confer award to hotelier Chatwal challenged in Delhi HC
http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_centre-s-decision-to-confer-award-to-hotelier-chatwal-challenged-in-delhi-hc_1362537
PTI
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 22:02 IST
New Delhi: A PIL was filed in the Delhi high court challenging the Centre’s decision to confer ‘Padma Bhushan’ to US-based NRI hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, saying he was involved in various economic fraud cases.
The petition, which may come up for hearing this week, has sought a direction to the Centre to rescind the decision to confer the award to Chatwal on various grounds including his alleged involvement in various cases.
Besides Chatwal, the Centre and CBI have also been made parties in the PIL, which was filed by the petitioner S K Shah.
“The decision of the Centre to confer the award to Chatwal is not only in the violation of the Fundamental rights of every citizens, but is also against the policies to award the Padma awards,” it said.
The petition has sought direction that Chatwal and his firms and others related to him be not given any loan or money by the banks here.

HC asks state govt to negotiate reconstruction of religious structures outside court
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/hc-asks-state-govt-to-negotiate-reconstruction-of-religious-structures-outside-court/594857/0
Express News Service
Posted: Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010 at 0122 hrs Ahmedabad:
Petitioner organisation had based its case on NHRC report, which said government had failed to provide security to 294 structures
The Gujarat High Court has asked the state government to negotiate the issue of reconstructing the religious structures, which were affected during the 2002 riots, with the concerned party for an amicable resolution of the matter.
A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhyaya passed an oral order to this effect on Tuesday, while hearing a PIL.
The PIL has been filed by an organisation, the Islamic Relief Committee Gujarat (IRCG), praying inter-alia directions to the government to compensate the repair work of the structures damaged in the riots.
One of the grounds on which the petitioner organisation has based its case is the report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). It had said that the state machinery failed to provide security to 294 structures that were damaged. Therefore, it was under an obligation to pay compensation towards their reconstruction. The petitioner has also contended that the state government has agreed before the NHRC in principle to get these structures repaired.
The state government has been disputing this saying that it is under no obligation to compensate for the damage to the structures.
The government is also disputing the number of such structures. On Tuesday, the Advocate General said only 37 such structures were left to be repaired. During the hearing, the Chief Justice observed that the government should resolve the issue amicably and that the court should be the last resort in such issues.
The Advocate General agreed to the Chief Justice’s direction to negotiate the issue with the petitioner, saying he will ask the state government on the same.
The Chief Justice asked the Advocate General to file an affidavit if the state government thinks it cannot compensate or reconstruct the structures.
In such a case, the court will pass an order on the petition, which will hurt the government, he said.

WORKERS EXPLOITATION AT COMMONWEALTH GAMES SITES
http://www.constructionweekonline.in/article-6149-workers_exploitation_at_commonwealth_games_sites/
by Syed Ameen Kader on Mar 24, 2010
It’s a well know fact that construction workers in India work in extremely poor conditions. They are badly paid, work without any safety gears, not been offered proper living facilities and remain deprive of welfare schemes. Though some of the big infrastructure companies have taken initiative to implement various safety measures for their construction workers, the remaining vast section is still to follow those. The Delhi High Court-appointed committee which was set up to investigate alleged exploitation of construction workers attached to Commonwealth Games-related projects reveals no new surprise. The NGO who filed the PIL in High Court claimed in its report that workers continue to work without being paid minimum wages and they are being made to work overtime. There are no clean and hygiene place for them to live, the report alleged. The committed said that the charges made in the PIL are ‘well founded’ and recommended exemplary fine for errant authorities. This is very sad to know that projects of such magnitude which involves major infrastructure companies and draws lots of global attentions are levelled with charges of exploitation. Many blame the contractors who hire these migrant workers on contract basis, depriving them from welfare schemes. The government needs to become stringent on this issue and make sure those workers are given their dues. Otherwise, the issue of workers’ exploitation which is probably confined to India only, will very soon become a known thing for whole world.

Quake relief: HC asks whether MLA wants to repay money
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/quake-relief-hc-asks-whether-mla-wants-to-repay-money/594872/0

Express News Service
Posted: Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010 at 0137 hrs Ahmedabad:
The Gujarat High Court has acted on a petition regarding the misuse of the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund by BJP legislator Shankar Chaudhary to re-construct an earthquake-affected school building. It has asked Chaudhary’s lawyer to take instructions if the MLA wants to repay the sum of Rs 20.78 lakh together with interest.
According to the details, one Farsubhai Goklani from Mehsana district had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the HC in 2007 alleging that Chaudhary had fraudulently obtained Rs 20.78 lakhs from the relief fund to construct a building.
Chaudhary ran the school — Nalanda Kanya Vidhyalay —through a trust from a rented building, which suffered damage during the 2001 earthquake. According to Goklani, Chaudhary obtained the money to construct a building elsewhere. Calling this a fraud, Goklani filed a PIL seeking the HC’s intervention in the matter.
Recently, the HC asked the state government and Chaudhary to file an affidavit to ascertain the ownership of the damaged building for which the grant was given.
Goklani’s lawyer said the state government and Chaudhary have confessed that the latter did not own the building. The state government also pleaded ignorance on how the grant was sanctioned to Chaudhary.
On Friday, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi asked Chaudhary’s lawyer to take instructions whether Chaudhary wants to repay the amount to the Centre along with the interest.
The court said: “The Counsel appearing on behalf of the fifth respondent (Chaudhary) is allowed two weeks’ time to obtain instruction whether he is agreeable to pay back the amount invested from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for construction of the school building in question ,along with interest.”
Further hearing has been kept for April 7.
Court rejects demand for gag on mediaAfter the court passed the order, Chaudhary’s lawyer demanded a direction to the effect that the news related to the matter does not get published or broadcast in media. Rejecting the demand, the Chief Justice observed that the court is not concerned with the media

US must provide direct access to Headley: Moily
http://news.oneindia.in/2010/03/24/us-must-provide-direct-access-to-headley-moily.html
Wednesday, March 24, 2010,15:47 [IST] Mumbai, Mar 24: A day after United States said that it has not yet decided on India’s access to Headley, Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said that US has to relent to India’s wishes and give direct access to American LeT operative.
“….one day or the other, (the) US will have to agree and expedite the issue that Headley will have to undergo interrogation by our agencies”, Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said.
On whether US denial to give India a direct access to Headley was ‘unfair’ and ‘unjustified’ on the grounds that Indian government had allowed the FBI to interrogate gunman Ajmal Kasab in Mumbai, Moily said it would be unfair to pass judgement on their legal systems.”We don’t want to pass a value judgement on their policy and matter,” he said.However, Moily said that India will continue to press hard until United States agrees to its demand.”But this is a matter we need to hard press our argument and you know we have a strong bargaining and tell them (the US) what’s necessary…we have to make a strong case which we have already made out. Here (Mumbai attacks) he (Headley) is involved, he is really involved”. Earlier on Tuesday, Mar 23, US Ambassador Timothy J Roemer said that US is yet to arrive on any decision on India’s direct access to David Headley, just four days after he publicly said in Delhi that Indian investigators would have an access to Headley.OneIndia News

‘Govt employee has fundamental right to be considered for promotion’
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/govt-employee-has-fundamental-right-to-be-considered-for-promotion/595146/0
Agencies
Posted: Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010 at 1551 hrs New Delhi:
The Supreme Court has ruled that a Government employee has a fundamental right to be considered for promotion and it is mandatory for the Centre and States to carry out cadre review of eligible officers for promotion to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
“The right of eligible employees to be considered for promotion is virtually a part of their fundamental right guaranteed under Article 16(Equality of opportunity in matter of public employment) of the Constitution,” a bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and A K Ganguly held in a recent judgement.
The apex court passed the judgement while directing the Centre and the UP Government to consider the promotion of two State cadre officers-Hemraj Singh Chauhan and Ramnawal Singh to the IAS.
“We hold that the statutory duty which is cast on the State Government and the Central Government to undertake the cadre review exercise every five years is ordinarily mandatory subject to exceptions which may be justified in the facts of a given case,” the bench said.
Both the Centre and the UP government had challenged the direction of the Delhi High Court to consider the two officials’ promotion due to them in 2003 since the cadre review exercise was undertaken by the State government only in 2005. This was done despite repeated reminders from the Centre.
The guarantee of a fair consideration in matters of promotion under Article 16 virtually flows from guarantee of equality under Article 14(Equality before Law) of the Constitution,” the apex court said while upholding the high court’s judgement.
The apex court ruled that state governments are under obligation to recommend names of its administrative officers every five years to the Centre for their promotion to the IAS and pulled up the UP government for failing to do so despite several reminders from the Union Government.
The court said that a government cannot deny an eligible state officer from being promoted due to the delay on its part in conducting such exercise and pulled it up for “lethargic” approach resulting in two state officers being denied promotion.
“It is clear that legitimate expectations of the state officers of being considered for promotion has been defeated by the acts of the government and if not of the Central Government, certainly the unreasonable inaction on the part of the state government stood in the way of the officers’ chances of promotion,” the court said.
“The Court is satisfied that in this case for the delayed exercise of statutory function the Government has not offered any plausible explanation. The state officers cannot be made in any way responsible for the delay,” the court added.

HC strikes discordant note for Adnan Sami

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/HC-strikes-discordant-note-for-Adnan-Sami/articleshow/5717784.cms

Swati Deshpande, TNN, Mar 24, 2010, 04.22am IST
MUMBAI: Over a year after their bitter battle began and almost six months after the family court threw her divorce petition out, it is Sabah Galadari who will be humming a happy tune. The Bombay high court on Tuesday held that Sabah’s remarriage to Pakistani crooner Adnan Sami was valid and directed the family court to hear as well as decide her plea for divorce from her singer husband on merit and within 12 weeks. Significantly, the HC held that Sabah was not required under the Muslim personal law to have married, consumated that marriage and divorced another man under the provisions of Halala before remarrying Sami whom she had first divorced in April 2004. The HC order is a victory of sorts not just for Sabah but for any Muslim women who might face a similar situation. The HC accepted the contention of advocates Mahesh Jethmalani, Mrinalini Deshmukh and Edith Dey who argued for Sabah that her first divorce was a Talaq Ahsan (a single pronouncement of talaq with abstinence form sex over a limited duration of time) and not a khula ( divorce initiated by wife and treated as talaq-i-bain or irrevocable) as claimed by Adnan through his lawyer Vibhav Krishna. The divorce drama began over a year ago in Mumbai where the couple had remarried each other in May 2007 under the Muslim law. They first fought over their five-in-one spacious Andheri flats and their labrador. She said he had gifted her the flats, he denied it later. She also said she had lent him lot of money and wanted it back. The problem escalated when she said he had a girl friend in his bedroom and both sides traded allegations and produced CDs in court. But when Sabah finally filed for divorce and for protection from being dishoused under the Domestic Violence Act in the family court, Adnan said theirs wasn’t even a valid legal marriage as she had failed to comply with the halala and had hid the fact from him. Outraged at his belated and “absurd’’ plea, she denied that halala was required. But the family court last year agreed with Adnan and held Sabah’s divorce plea as untenable. Sabah then moved the high court in appeal. The HC decided only the question of law whether their divorce was a talaq ahsan, if halala was required and if family court was right. Sami will appeal the HC order in the apex cort, his lawyer said.

HC asks Mansa Devi Shrine Board to decide in four weeks
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/HC-asks-Mansa-Devi-Shrine-Board-to-decide-in-four-weeks/594946

Express News Service
Posted: Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010 at 0303 hrs Chandigarh:
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board and its officers to decide a representation demanding free parsad by a local resident within four weeks.
A public interest litigation (PIL) demanding directions to the shrine board and its officers was filed today in the High Court by one Ravinder Kumar Garg. The petitioner had sought directions to the authorities to offer parsad free of cost and stop charging for it.
“No parsad is being given to devotees free of cost. Buying parsad leads to discrimination amongst devotees as only a devotee who has the financial capacity to buy parsad can have it. Those who want to have parsad are supposed to buy sweets, fruits or similar items and bring the same as offerings,” the petition reads.
The court did not issue notices to the authorities, but asked the petitioner to file a representation before them, which shall be decided by the authorities within four weeks.
5 lakh devotees visit Mansa DeviOver five lakh devotees visited Mansa Devi temple on the eighth day of Navratra on Tuesday. The eighth day, which is also known as “ashtami”, saw devotees worshipping young girls in the temple. Meanwhile, the Mansa Devi Shrine Board has received over Rs 83 lakhs as part of donation from devotees. Some devotees also donated foreign currency, according to temple management. The shrine has received over 120 American dollars, 75 Australian dollars and 65 Euros. Gold and silver ornaments also formed part of the donation.

HC dismisses petition of Matuk Nath
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/HC-dismisses-petition-of-Matuk-Nath/articleshow/5717158.cms
TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 11.44pm IST
PATNA: The Patna High Court on Tuesday dismissed the petition of a former teacher of the local B N College, Matuk Nath Chaudhary, seeking quashing of the order of a lower court taking cognizance of complaint petition of his wife alleging cruelty. A single bench presided by Justice K K Mandal dismissed the quashing petition of Chaudhary who was charged by his wife, Abha Chaudhary, in her complaint case that he had resorted to matrimonial cruelty against her after having an affair with a young unmarried woman. HC seeks govt reply: A division bench of Patna High Court (HC), comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Mihir Kumar Jha, directed the state government to reply to the allegation made in an affidavit of National Council of Technical Education (NCTE) that some government teachers’ training colleges and teachers’ training colleges in some universities were being run with some deficiency. The court asked government pleader Arvind Kumar to file counter affidavit on behalf of the government to NCTE’s affidavit filed by its lawyer S N Pathak. The order was passed during hearing of a writ petition of Vijay Kumar who submitted that B R Ambdekar College of Education, Gaya, was being run without infrastructure so its recognition by the NCTE should be withdrawn. Earlier, the NCTE had informed the HC through an affidavit that B R Ambedkar College of Education had been issued notice as to why its recognition cannot be cancelled. Later, the NCTE formed a three-man committee after the HC directed it to submit status report of other teachers’ training colleges in the state.

Bombay HC orders Indage to wind up
http://www.livemint.com/2010/03/23223851/Bombay-HC-orders-Indage-to-win.html
Indage had come under financial pressure after it raised multiple loans from banks and other institutions to finance two strategic overseas acquisitions in 2008
C.H. Unnikrishnan and Baiju Kalesh
Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Monday ordered the liquidation of troubled wine maker Indage Vintners Ltd following a series of winding-up petitions filed by aggrieved lenders and unpaid employees, the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.
Indage said it had been granted a stay of 15 days following a submission by the company that it had plans to meet all its obligations.
Indage, which was until recently India’s largest wine maker by sales, owes around Rs750 crore to lenders such as ICICI Bank Ltd, State Bank of India, Barclays Bank Plc and Axis Bank Ltd, among others, said two people familiar with the development.
Managing director Ranjit Chougule did not respond to phone calls on Tuesday. An Indage official in charge of media communications also did not respond to queries. In a July letter to the employees, Chougule had admitted to defaults of payments to lenders and employees.
Indage had come under financial pressure after it raised multiple loans from banks and other institutions to finance two strategic overseas acquisitions in 2008. The promoters of the company, the Mumbai-based Chougule family, had also ventured into unrelated businesses, including hospitality and liquor distilleries.
ch.unni@livemint.com

HC nullifies govt’s order for zero session of BEd courses
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/hc-nullifies-govts-order-for-zero-session-of-bed-courses/594962/
Express News Service
Posted: Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010 at 0313 hrs Lucknow:
The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday set aside the state government’s order declaring 2009-10 as zero session for BEd courses in state-run colleges and universities.
Quashing the October 15, 2009, government order, the Bench comprising Justices Pradeep Kant and Rituraj Awasthi imposed a fine of Rs 2 lakh on the government, said Prashant Chandra, main counsel of the petitioners.
“The court ruled that the state government on the pretext on regularising the academic session cannot declare the session zero and cause inconvenience to thousands of students and colleges,” said Manish Kumar, another petitioner’s counsel.
After the state government amended the UP State Universities (Regulation of Admission to Course of Instruction for degree in Education in Affiliated, Associated and Constituent Colleges), Order, 1987, in October last year to declare the 2009-10 session as zero citing that 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic sessions were running late, over two dozen people and institutions had moved the High Court.
The High Court had reserved the order on February 11, 2010.
While stating that it would not be possible for the colleges to admit students for the current session since they would not be able to impart “minimum days” of studies, the court directed the government to streamline the session from the next academic session.
“The colleges have been asked to initiate the admission process for 2010-2011 academic session on June 1 and complete it by June 30. The court also directed the government to conduct classes from July 1,” said M M Asthana, petitioner’s counsel.

Is use of `India’ in a company logo valid, asks HC
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/Is-use-of-India-in-a-company-logo-valid-asks-HC/articleshow/5717525.cms
TNN, Mar 24, 2010, 01.45am IST
LUCKNOW: Is use of the word `India’ on the pitch with the name of sponsoring DLF company in IPL gala against the national honour as the same is walked over and again by the cricketers when the game is on? Has the DLF company got the right to use the word `India’ in its official logo? The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday directed the additional solicitor general to obtain instructions on the matter from the Central government. The matter would come up for hearing on March 26. A PIL raised the issue saying that neither can DLF be permitted to use India in its official logo nor can it depict `India’ on the cricket pitch for the purpose of advertisement. Citing the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 and the Prevention of Insults To National Honour Act, 1971, it has been urged that the use of `India’ is improper. During the last IPL also, dishonour was shown to the name of the country in the same way. The petitioner, a society styled as `We the people’ said that after last IPL it had lodged a complaint on website against this act but the same has been repeated with view to economic game only and no heed was paid to the objection to the use of word `India’ in such manner. It is the duty of every citizen of the country, leave alone any company, to have respect for the name of our country. The law restricts the improper use of the name, emblem or official seal of the government of India or of any state. In such circumstances, the players, match officials and grounds men cannot be permitted to walk over the place or land where the name of our country `India’ is engraved or depicted, stressed the PIL. After hearing, a division bench of acting chief Justice, Amitava Lala and Justice Anil Kumar required the Central government to present its stand and as such the court directed the additional solicitor general of India, Dr Ashok Nigam to get instructions from the government, by the next hearing.

HC refers 8 colleges back to fee panel
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/HC-refers-8-colleges-back-to-fee-panel/articleshow/5713515.cms
TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 12.21am IST

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat High Court, on Tuesday, sent cases of eight self-financed colleges back to Justice RJ Shah committee for reconsideration of fee structure after the SFIs complained that fees fixed by the committee was not enough to match the rising salary scale of faculty and cost of education. Acting on petitions of eight colleges, including AD Patel Institute of Engineering, GH Patel Institute of Engineering and Birla Vishvakarma Mahavidyalaya, a division bench of Chief Justice SJ Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi quashed the Fee Regulatory Committee’s decision fixing the fee structure for the current academic year. The high court has asked the committee to decide the fee structure afresh as expeditiously as possible, keeping in mind all the relevant facts and more particularly the aspect of pay revision. The bench also observed that the colleges concerned shall have to undertake that they will implement the pay revision as per the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations. Appearing for the SFIs, advocate Dhaval Dave argued that without according any opportunity of hearing to the colleges, Justice RJ Shah Fee Regulatory Committee prescribed the fee structure which was not commensurating with the cost of imparting education and reasonable provision for future development. Hence it was not possible for the colleges to sustain themselves. The counsel also pointed out that though there was pay revision due to acceptance of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission by state government, because of which the component of the cost of imparting education referable to the salary of the teaching and non-teaching staff increased substantially, the committee did not consider the issue while prescribing the fee structure.

Raj Agarwal murder: HC grants bail to Shaikh
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/raj-agarwal-murder-hc-grants-bail-to-shaikh/594785/0
Express News Service
Posted: Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010 at 0023 hrs Mumbai:
The prime accused in the Raj Agarwal murder case, Nadim Shaikh, has been granted bail by the Bombay High Court on grounds of parity. The court had granted bail to other accused earlier.
The court has released Nadim Shaikh on a bail bond of Rs 25,000 and a surety of the same amount, and directed him to be present at the R A K Marg police station every alternate Monday for a period of one year and the first Monday of every month thereafter.
Although the court had heard at length on the admissibility of DNA test evidence, the order did not mention anything on the same other than the arguments regarding the tests that were contested in court.
During the hearing, the court wanted to know admissibility of DNA test as evidence wherein it was observed that the test can be conclusive evidence.
Shaikh’s lawyer Hasanali Mooman had pointed out that as per the doctor’s deposition the bone sample of the victim does not match with the blood samples of mother Aarti Agarwal. He had also contented that the body was not the biological offspring of Aarti and the fact that both the mother and father Kunjbihari did not identify the remains of the body.
Additional public prosecutor Usha Kejriwal vehemently opposed the bail saying that the body was found at the instance of the accused and also that the sample of skeleton matched the paternal genealogy of the father which was established through Y-STR test.
Today, the division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Mridula Bhatkar in their order observed that a different bench of the court had already granted bail to the other accused in the case.
The court said it was inclined to grant bail on grounds of parity and suspended the substantive sentence.
Shaikh and six others were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnapping 14-year-old Raj Agarwal in November 2003 for ransom and later murdering him.

`Stop mud-slinging the judiciary’
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Stop-mud-slinging-the-judiciary-/articleshow/5717286.cms
TNN, Mar 24, 2010, 03.46am IST
BANGALORE: Justice V. Gopalagowda, the new Chief Justice of Orissa High court, said mud-slinging about the judiciary must be stopped, keeping in view the people’s high esteem and faith in it. At a felicitation given by the Advocates Association of Bangalore on Tuesday, he said: “They speak of luxury cars and other benefits. Do they know how much a judge has to sacrifice? Have we come from heaven? The Bar and the Bench are part of the system, both forming the base of the Indian judiciary. Both are two wheels of the chariot. This mud-slinging job should stop.” Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde, who was the chief guest, felt there is nothing called as pro-judges. “Everyone should decide according to the law and based on facts of the case.” At his farewell function earlier, Justice Gopalagowda said recent developments in the judiciary are posing a threat; vested interests, both within and outside the system, are responsible. “It needs the guidance of responsible and foresighted leaders in the Bar. But these senior members are maintaining silence.”

Shilpa Shetty writes to CJI for checking harassment of actors
http://entertainment.oneindia.in/bollywood/gupshup/shilpa-shetty-280706.html
Tuesday, March 23, 2010, 10:39 [IST]
Mumbai (UNI): Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty has written to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Y K Sabharwal, requesting to initiate appropriate orders which could set a guiding precedent in maligning cases by lawyers against film artistes.
Shilpa’s letter comes in wake of the High Court order staying the arrest warrant issued by a magisterial court in Madurai against her in an obscenity case.
Earlier, she had sought help from National Commission of Women (NCW) Chairperson Girija Vyas by submitting a written complaint.
In her letter addressed to the CJI, Shilpa has said such people, in order to gain cheap publicity for themselves, not only cause damage to the reputation of artistes, but end up wasting the courts’ precious time also. She has also thanked the NCW and Dr Vyas for standing up for her rights and supporting her at the time of crisis.
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Chief justice of India refuses information on cash-at-judge’s-door scam
http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_information-on-cash-at-judge-s-door-case-confidential-supreme-court_1362371
Rakesh Bhatnagar / DNA
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 14:48 IST
Last updated: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 0:27 IST
New Delhi: Chief justice of India (CJI) KG Balakrishnan, who had rubbished the CBI claim that he didn’t allow it to prosecute Punjab and Haryana high court (P&H HC) judge Nirmal Yadav, accused of involvement in the cash-at-judge’s-door scam, now says the matter is confidential.
The central public information officer (CPIO) of the Supreme Court (SC) told the Central Information Commission on Tuesday that it could not reply to an applicant’s query whether CBI approached SC in connection with the scam as the matter was “confidential and exempted from disclosure under section 8 (1) (e) and (j) of RTI Act”.
“You have no right to access the said information,” CPIO told applicant Abhishek Shukla.
Clarifying the position of the highest judicial institution under RTI, an issue that’s been pending before SC for final adjudication, CPIO Raj Pal Arora said, “Further as the information is not held by or under the control of CPIO, Supreme Court, India, your request cannot be acceded to….”
But SC’s secretary general MP Bhadran had earlier said that CBI did not approach CJI.
Justice Yadav’s name had figured in the scam after the recovery of a mysterious bag containing Rs15 lakh at the door of another P&H HC judge Nirmaljit Kaur. The bag was said to have been delivered to her door due to confusion over names.
CBI probed the matter on the orders of the administrator of Chandigarh after Kaur lodged a police complaint, but filed the case closure report after, a CBI court observed, it “failed to get sanction from CJI to prosecute Yadav”.
However, dealing with another sensational case involving around 30 judicial officers and high court judges, who allegedly benefited from the ill-gotten money that the late Ashutosh Asthana, former officer of the government treasury in Ghaziabad, fraudulently withdrew from the accounts of court employees, SC examined his viscera reports to ascertain whether he was poisoned or died due to cardiac arrest inside Dasna Jail.
Ashthana had given a statement before the judicial magistrate two years ago, listing the names of judges who received cash or gifts from him and explaining the modus operandi of his operation which couldn’t have been possible without the active help of some subordinate court judges.
A bench of justices DK Jain, VS Sirpurkar and GS Singhvi noted on Tuesday that the viscera samples did “not indicate poisoning”, as alleged.

Living together a part of right to life, not an offence: SC
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/living-together-a-part-of-right-to-life-not-an-offence-sc/594925/0
Krishnadas Rajagopal
Posted: Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010 at 0243 hrs New Delhi:
The Supreme Court threw its weight behind live-in relationships on Tuesday, observing that for a man and a woman in love, to live together is part of the right to life, and not a “criminal offence”.
“If two people, man and woman, want to live together, who can oppose them? What is the offence they commit here? This happens because of the cultural exchange between people,” a special three-judge bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan observed.
The court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by actress Khusboo to quash 22 FIRs filed against her by Tamil activist groups and forums for her alleged comments on pre-marital sex in interviews five years ago.
“If living together is an offence, then the first complaint should be filed against the Supreme Court, because we have permitted living together,” the court said. It was referring to a 2006 judgment in which the Supreme Court directed the administration and police across the country to protect runaway couples from harassment, and to initiate action against those resorting to violence.
“It is part of right to life to go away with someone you love,” the bench said. The Supreme Court had earlier stayed a Madras High Court order of April 2008, which allowed criminal proceedings against the actress.
Khusboo was alleged to have said there was nothing wrong in “sex before marriage”, provided girls were careful about pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases. Her detractors argued that the implied advice to the educated male to not expect virginity from modern girls was “offensive” and a source of “public nuisance”.
To an argument that Khusboo’s comments on pre-marital sex would mislead gullible youths and minors, the court said: “The scenario is highly unlikely in this age of the Internet where we do not know what our children are doing or where they are going or what pornography site they are watching.”
To this, the lawyer appearing for one of the complainants, Miniammal, a lawyer in Tamil Nadu, responded that “there should be some morality in the comments made by people of prominence like Khusboo, who has a temple in Tamil Nadu where she is worshipped as a goddess”.
“And this is how you revere your goddess, by dragging her to court?” retorted Justice Verma.
The bench made it clear that Khusboo’s comments could at best be termed as “personal opinions”, and did not amount to a cognizable offence.
But the lawyer persisted that Khusboo’s comments on pre-marital sex would lead to the “spoiling of the entire institution of marriage. Statements like this can result in chaos in the society.”
Even as the CJI at this moment responded that people were better off listening to themselves than to others, Justice Verma asked the counsel to point out how many marriages were “spoilt” or how many instances of chaos happened in the past five years because of her comments on pre-marital sex.
The court said it cannot stop anyone from expressing their opinions before reserving the petitions for final verdict.
Besides, the court said, Khusboo (who was present during the day-long hearing) had said “nothing new” about the concept of living together.
Justice Chauhan pointed out that even the “ceiling limit” for the construction of temples for twin deities like Radha and Krishna or Ram and Sita were calculated under the consideration that they were “husband and wife”.

Couples must wait six months after marriage to get divorce: Supreme Court
http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_couples-must-wait-six-months-after-marriage-to-get-divorce-supreme-court_1362597
Rakesh Bhatnagar / DNA
Wednesday, March 24, 2010 0:38 IST
New Delhi: Cracking the whip on the quick marriage and quicker divorce culture, the Supreme Court (SC) has said that a couple separated within two days of tying the knot doesn’t have any fundamental right to divorce unless they stay away from each other for six months.
The separation period is mandatory under the Hindu Marriage Act.In a rare case, a newly wedded couple in a hurry to get divorce, had invoked Article 32 of the Constitution. Under the provision, the apex court can be moved to direct the state or its functionaries to enforce the fundamental rights (FR) or restore it.
A woman, Poonam, had filed a writ petition in SC, challenging a family court order that had refused her an immediate divorce. Invoking Article 32 of the Constitution, Poonam had said in her plea that the family court order violated her FR. She had made her husband, Sumit, a respondent in the case.
Rejecting her plea, the SC said merely signing the consent for divorce without raising fingers at each other wouldn’t be acceptable to law.
Poonam and her husband Sumit will have to fulfill the six month test and approach the family court again for divorce, the SC said.Poonam’s lawyers could not enlighten the apex court as to how the family court’s order violated their FR. The SC also couldn’t fathom how the family court could have directed the husband, an individual, to restore her FR.
Initially, Poonam’s lawyer, who is registered with the apex court, didn’t appear. At last, one lawyer appeared in the case and expressed ignorance as to how such a writ petition was filed.
An anguished bench of justices Aftab Alam and BS Chauhan on Tuesday termed the conduct of the lawyers and the couple ‘reprehensible’ and dismissed the petition.
“The petition has been filed without any sense of responsibility by the parties or their counsel. This is tantamount to not only disservice to the institution but it also adversely affects the administration of justice,” said the bench, adding “conduct of all of them has been reprehensible”.

Nityananda Swami files writ in High Court

http://www.news.chauthiduniya.com/nityananda-swami-files-writ-in-high-court
BANGALORE: Self-styled godman Nityananda Swami, facing allegations of involvement in sleazy activities, has filed a writ petition before the Karnataka High Court seeking quashing of cases filed against him by the Ramanagar district police.
Nityananda, who is at large ever since the video clippings of his alleged sleaze activities involving an actress were telecast by private channels on March two, contended in his petition yesterday that he was innocent.
32-year-old Nityananda, alias Rajasekharan, charged that one of his former discipline and driver Kurup Lenin had conspired to defame him and his Ashram by levelling such allegations.
The whereabouts of Nityananda are a mystery. However, the followers of Nityananda at his Ashram at Bidadi on the city’s outskirts claim that he is in Haridwar attending the Kumbh Mela.
The writ is yet to come up for the High Court registry, according to sources in the High Court.
Tamil Nadu police, which had registered cases under various sections, including rape, against Nityananda, transferred them to the police in Ramanagar, as the Ashram falls under it.
Ramanagar police had re-registered the cases against Nityananda.

NHRC asks Guj to submit report on harassment of tribals
http://www.zeenews.com/news612568.html
Updated on Friday, March 19, 2010, 17:42 IST
New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission today directed the Gujarat government to submit a report on the “migration” of over 1000 nomadic herdsmen from a village in the state allegedly due to harassment by an upper caste community. The rights body took cognisance of the matter following a complaint filed by lawyer and right activists Radhakanta Tripathy who alleged that the state had remained a “mute spectator” to the harassment of tribals. The NHRC directed the state secretary to submit a detailed report within six weeks from the date of the receipt its notice.
According to the complaint, over 1000 Maldharis, who are nomadic herdsmen in Gujarat, were “forced to leave their village in Surindernagar district by people from upper caste and are waiting in makeshift tents for justice”, the rights body noted. The complainant referred to media reports which claimed that Maldhari women were harassed by the upper castes. “Hundreds of lower caste villagers (Maldharis) of Gujarat’s Surindernagar district request this Commission to protect human rights….women face eve teasing and sexual harassment from upper caste men and government remains mute spectator of all the ordeals faced by the victims,” the complainant charged.Tripathy urged the Commission to intervene into the matter and take necessary step “to stop caste based atrocities and protect the human rights of hundreds of these tormented and tortured villagers”. PTI

NCW petition to be heard in open court
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/NCW-petition-to-be-heard-in-open-court/articleshow/5717779.cms
Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN, Mar 24, 2010, 04.14am IST
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to review its own 2009 verdict in the case between Bhaskar Lal Sharma and his daughter-in-law Monica after the NCW, through counsel Aparna Bhat, moved a curative petition requesting reconsideration. Curative petitions normally have a 99% failure rate in the apex court. A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices S H Kapadia, Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph entertained NCW’s curative petition and issued notice to both parties — Sharma and Monica. This means the curative petition will now be heard in open court for the parties to point out the anamoly in the July 27 ruling and suggest corrective measures. NCW had reflected the views of CPM leader Brinda Karat who had said the apex court’s decision — that a mother-in-law who kicks her daughter-in-law or repeatedly threatens her with divorce attracts no punishment for cruelty under Section 498A of the IPC — would only “further deepen the miseries of women and undo the effect of various legislations passed for the emancipation of women”. “Such a judicial understanding of cruelty will be a licence for domestic violence. It may also encourage wife-beaters. It will undo the positive steps taken by government to provide a just legal framework to address domestic violence,” Karat had written.

NCW seeks report on UP rape verdict
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/89492/India/NCW+seeks+report+on+UP+rape+verdict.html
Headlines Today Bureau
New Delhi/Rampur, March 23, 2010
The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Tuesday sought a report on action taken against a panchayat in Rampur area of Uttar Pradesh that had let off a rape accused with a mere fine of Rs 30,000. The NCW sought the report from the district administration after the story was aired on Headlines Today. The panchayat not only settled the matter by ordering a fine, gram pradhan Yaqub Ali also threatened the victim’s family not to approach the police. The victim’s family alleges that the accused barged into their house when the girl was alone and raped her. They were allegedly not allowed to lodge a police complaint and forced to approach the panchayat for justice. But instead of listening to their plea, the panchayat brazenly sided with the accused. “We wanted to go to the police but everyone put pressure that the matter be settled in the panchayat. The panchayat ordered the accused to pay a fine of Rs 30,000,” said Shahid, the victim’s uncle. When Headlines Today questioned the pradhan, he denied the incident. “There was no case of rape and therefore no hearing in the panchayat,” claimed Ali. Even the police denied the incident. “We questioned the villagers and found that no such incident had happened,” said Harvir Singh, a police official.

LEGAL NEWS 23.03.2010

Title :       Fight Against Cartels-unlocking Of Issues By The Competition Commission Of India (cci)

http://articles.manupatra.com/PopOpenArticle.aspx?ID=2bc2689b-b597-407a-9e99-7e5360c65601&txtsearch=Mr.%20G.r.%20Bhatia

Author : Mr. G.r. Bhatia

G.R. Bhatia

It has been increasingly recognised that fair competition in markets is benign for the consumer, business and economy. Therefore, the competition laws worldwide including the Indian Competition Act, 2002 (the “Act”) inter alia, seeks to promote and sustain competition in markets. In “cartel arrangement or agreements,” the rivals agree not to compete on price, production/supply, and customers or in bids etc. These being palpably anti competitive and malevolent, are condemned globally and frowned upon by the competition agencies.

India has recently put in place a modernised competition regime and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has commenced its enforcement inter alia, to combat cartels. Undoubtedly, the CCI is better equipped than the erstwhile MRTP Commission to detect and punish cartels as the Act :

• defines “cartel” and thus, ambiguity as to its scope does not subsist anymore;

• does not entitle the charged party to claim and avail of the benefit of all or any of escape valves enshrined in the repealed law;

• provides for a leniency programme for a member of a cartel to defect and make true and full disclosure (corresponds to concept of approver to bust conspiracy in criminal law),

• empowers to impose penalty on each delinquent enterprise linked with its profits/turnover (whichever is higher),

• revamps power of search and seizure by the investigation arm, i.e. the Director General,

• confers explicit jurisdiction to nab overseas acts having Appreciable Adverse Effect on Competition (AAEC) in India,

• incorporates mirror image advisory mechanism between CCI and sector specific regulators,

• mandates advocacy to create awareness and build strong competition culture and

• encourages public to submit information fearlessly by ensuring confidentiality.

All these make it imperative for a business to be on the right side of the law and refrain from certain types of horizontal agreements narrated supra but at the same time they need not be fearful of entering into Pro-competitive Cooperative Agreements such as pooling of resources for research and development or cooperative standard setting beneficial for consumers or bids in consortium if terms and conditions of tender so permit or efficiency enhancing joint ventures or joint advertisements etc. It needs to noted that the list of horizontal agreements in respect of which there shall be presumption of Appreciable Adverse Effect on Competition (AAEC) in markets in India, is exhaustive and any other kind of horizontal agreement shall not be subject to presumption but shall be examined on the touch stone of “rule of reason”. Further, the presumption is rebuttable. The prosecutor duty is discharged by bringing on record convincing evidence to prove its existence. The determination of harm caused; however, will not only create the right perception but also act as savior of an Order appealed before the Appellate Tribunal/Supreme Court and further facilitate in assessing compensation payable to victims. The elements of “product differentiation,” “brand reputation,” “emotional connect of buyer with a product” will be areas which the prosecutor has to keep in view before concluding that the products are same/similar and substitutable.

The three pre-requisites for successful implementation of a leniency programme are-high risk of detection, credible threat of sanctions and the transparency/certainty in the operation of programme. All these create fear and deterrence amongst colluders and build confidence in those who crave to avail of refuge under leniency. It is believed that as few as one in six or seven cartels are detected and prosecuted in developed jurisdictions and detection ratio has been much lower in the developing world.1 The Regulations governing the leniency programme notified by the CCI, after extensive consultative process, focuses on unearthing of many more such cases besides ensuring transparency and certainty to a member seeking refuge.2 However, an effective and credible leniency programme has to ensure that a member blowing whistle is neither threatened nor victimised.

Price parallelism is invariably inferred as the case of collusion and the likelihood of such pricing is heightened in the ever increasing competitive scenario. Institution of enquiry in cases of uniform price simpliciter will be inappropriate unless parallel conduct is coupled with other facilitating factors such as sharing of competitively sensitive information or price remaining identical despite changes in demand and supply, or a small player taking the lead in jacking the price etc.

The trade and its Associations (especially when its members are rivals in market) need to take note of the “Do’s and Don’ts” and the CCI before embarking on an enquiry should undertake comprehensive analysis of market, its structure, characteristics and uses of the product, its cost, price and attendant issues so that its resources which are already scarce are deployed in right earnest and the charged one is not unnecessarily burdened of defending itself which costs both money and time.

Copyright Ó G. R. Bhatia

________________________________

* Partner & Head of Competition Law Practice, Luthra & Luthra Law Offices and Former Additional Director General, CCI/MRTPC 

1. Market Study Report on ‘Cartel Case Laws in Select Jurisdictions- Learning’s for Competition Commission of India’ by CUTS International & National Law University, Jodhpur. 

2. The Competition Commission of India (Lesser Penalty) Regulations, 2009 notified in the Gazette of India on 13th August, 2009.

Bangalore: PIL Questioning Gokarna Temple Transfer Admitted by HC http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=74361&n_tit=Bangalore%3A+PIL+Questioning+Gokarna+Temple+Transfer+Admitted+by+HC

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:55:16 PM (IST)  

Daijiworld Media Network – Bangalore (SP)

Bangalore, Mar 23: The controversy over the government’s decision to hand over Gokarna Lord Mahabaleshwara Temple to Ramachandrapur Mutt after divesting a local trust of the responsibility of managing it, is far from over. The state High Court on Monday March 22, admitted a public interest litigation filed by some priests and devotees of the temple, for hearing.

The petition questions the decision of the government to hand over the temple in Gokarna to Ramachandrapur Mutt. But, both Ramachandrapur Mutt and the state government had raised objections to the PIL, saying that it is backed by selfish interests and hence the petition can not be treated as a public interest petition.

However, the division bench presided by Justice Gopal Gowda admitted the petition, observing that the objection raised by the government was backed by selfish interests.

State govt may appeal against ban on jugaads

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/State-govt-may-appeal-against-ban-on-jugaads/articleshow/5713994.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 03.02am IST

JAIPUR: The state government might go in for an appeal against the recent high court ban on plying of jugaad. “The chief minister called a meeting of the home and transport departments the day the high court had banned the plying of jugaads in the state. On March 18, it was decided plying of jugaads will be halted on listed highways in the state but that they can ply on kuccha roads in rural areas,” home minister Shanti Dhariwal said and indicated if needed, the government can go for an appeal.

Dhariwal’s intervention came after a question was raised on the banning of jugaads by Congress MLA Raghu Sharma during the zero hour in the assembly on Monday.

On March 5, the high court had directed the state to ban jugaads in the state, in response to a PIL. The court had asked the government to frame a policy on the banning of jugaads and table it within a month and to ensure that jugaads do not ply in the state within three months.

However, after the accident on the Morel bridge near Sawai Madhopur, where 26 students were killed, after a bus collided with a jugaad, the high court taking suo motu cognisance of the matter banned jugaads with immediate effect on March 18 and has asked for a compliance report from the government by April 2.

In reply, transport minister Braj Kishore Sharma said, “The government has taken the matter seriously. A survey would soon be conducted with help from collectors, patwaris, gram sabhas etc so as to estimate how many jugaads are there in the state. Thereafter we would give a reply to the high court as asked by it by April 2.”

“Jugaads form the main source of ‘sustenance’ in rural Rajasthan. They are used not only to transport people but also cattle fodder. Banning them would not only throw a large number of people out of employment but would also lead to a shortage of cattle fodder specially at a time when the state is facing drought-like situations in many areas,” Sharma said.

The house was united on not banning jugaads. Deputy leader of Opposition Ghanshyam Tiwari said there are about 1 lakh jugaads in the state and banning them would mean depriving employment to that many people. He demanded the government take suitable action to safeguard the interest of these people and inquired if the state would go for an appeal against the high court orders.

HC wants riot panel to clarify whether it will call Modi

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/-HC-wants-riot-panel-to-clarify-whether-it-will-call-Modi/articleshow/5709618.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 12.17am IST

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court, on Monday, asked the Godhra probe panel to clarify about whether it would summon chief minister Narendra Modi for deposition, on a petition filed by rights group Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM).

The high court’s query came a day after the chief minister skipped a date with the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). Modi failed to turn up for questioning at the SIT office in response to the summons the investigating agency served on him in connection with the complaint filed by former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri’s widow, Zakia.

Acting on an appeal by JSM urging the high court to direct the Nanavati-Mehta commission to summon Modi and six others for cross-examination in connection with 2002 riots, a division bench headed by Chief Justice SJ Mukhopadhaya asked advocate general Kamal Trivedi to get a clarification from the commission by April 1.

The commission’s terms of reference were expanded to include examination of the role of Modi and his council of ministers, in the riots.

However, in its first report issued two years ago, the panel gave Modi a clean chit.

The high court has inquired whether the inquiry commission’s order of September 18 last year, rejecting JSM’s plea to summon Modi, was final. The bench sought an exact reply after the commission did not clarify to the court query last time in its letter, while stating that it might come out with a report soon.

During a hearing on Monday, the high court sought to know at what stage the commission would summon Modi if at all the probe panel wished to, because in the last eight years the commission had not taken any decision on this issue.
The JSM had been requesting the commission to call Modi, the then state home minister Gordhan Zadaphia and others for deposition, but the application was turned down last year on grounds that there was not enough material on record for summoning Modi for questioning. JSM later filed a petition in the high court, which was rejected by a single judge bench. An appeal against this order is being heard by a division bench.

Nithyananda pleads K’taka HC to squash charges

http://news.oneindia.in/2010/03/23/swaminithyananda-sex-scandal-karnataka-hc-petition.html

Tuesday, March 23, 2010,12:10 [IST]

 Bangalore, Mar 23: The scandal-tainted spiritual guru, Swami Nithyananda has filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking quashing of cases filed against him by the Ramanagar police contending that he is innocent and the sex scandal is a tailored controversy to defame him and his ashram.

The Ramanagar police has filed cases against him under several charges including rape and outraging religious sentiments after he invoked the wrath of his followers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for indulging in sexual activity.

The scandal came to light when a sex tape showing Nithyananda in compromising position with Tamil actress Ranjitha emerged in the media on Mar 2.

In his writ petition, the Swami claims that his driver Kurup Lenin was behind the whole controversy as he conspired against him and his ashram to sully their public image.

Sources in the high court told a news agency that writ is yet to come up for the High Court registry.

In the latest development, there are reports of emergence of a sex tape showing the godman with another Tamil actress Yuvarani.

The Karnataka police, who received information on the case from Tamil Nadu police earlier this week, is hunting for the absconding godman.

HC: Domestic Violence Act can be used with retrospective effect

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/HC-Domestic-Violence-Act-can-be-used-with-retrospective-effect/articleshow/5713590.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 05.41am IST

NEW DELHI: In an important ruling, the Delhi high court has clarified that the Domestic Violence Act has a retrospective effect. This means it can be invoked even by women who were subjected to domestic violence before the Act came into force in October 2006.

Justice V K Jain, while dealing with a complaint filed under the Domestic Violence Act, said the Act was maintainable ‘‘even if the domestic violence has been committed prior to coming into force of the Act.’’’

Setting aside the order by a lower court, justice Jain further observed, ‘‘The court needs to eschew from taking an interpretation which would not only be violative of constitutional rights but would also result in denying the benefit of the beneficial provisions of the Act to the women who have been subjected to domestic violence and are compelled to live separately on account of a man’s acts of omission or commission. Such an interpretation would at least partially defeat the legislative intent behind enactment of this Act, which was to protect women against domestic violence, to give them compensation and other suitable reliefs.’’

HC was hearing a petition filed by a woman appealing against the order of a lower court. The petitioner alleged she was forced to leave the matrimonial home because of her husband’s behaviour. While the magistrate allowed her plea and granted maintenance of Rs 6,000 per month to her, the husband appealed against it. A court held that the victim was not entitled to any relief under the DV Act because she had left the matrimonial home in 2005 while the Act came into force a year later.

SC takes up AP appeal against HC ruling quashing 4% Muslim quota

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/SC-takes-up-AP-appeal-against-HC-ruling-quashing-4-Muslim-quota/articleshow/5712871.cms

 TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 02.41am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday entertained Andhra Pradesh government’s appeal challenging the High Court verdict quashing a state law giving 4% reservation to Muslims in jobs and admissions to educational institutions.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Deepak Verma was reluctant to hear attorney general G E Vahanvati who was eager to press for a stay on the HC order given the stinging criticism of the Rosaiah government, accused by Muslim bodies of not doing enough to sustain its legislation in the HC.

The reluctance to hear the appeal on merit and on the issue of interim order was because the HC judgment was given by a 7-judge Bench by 5:2 majority. The CJI said that it would be appropriate if the matter was heard by a three judge Bench of the apex court and fixed March 25 as the next date.

Though the AP government had hurriedly filed the special leave petition against the February 8 judgment of the HC, mainly to quell frayed tempers among political parties, curing the defects in the petition resulted in its delayed listing.

While striking down the `Andhra Pradesh Reservation in Favour of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes of Muslims Act 2007′, the HC had remarked that such a legislation could promote conversion.

The AP government said Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Manipur had more or less similar legislation providing reservation to Muslims. It said the apprehension about promoting conversion was unwarranted as reservation was being given to socially and educationally backward in the community, virtually at par with those similarly placed in the Hindu community.

This is the third time that the Andhra government found its decision for providing reservation to Muslims being scrapped by the HC. Prior to 2007 legislation, it had first decided to extend quota to Muslims in 2004 through an administrative decision. After the government orders were quashed, the state had appointed BC Commission and on its recommendations enacted a law in 2005 to similar effect. This also met the same fate as the 2004 decision.

Muslims constitute 9.2% of the 77 million population of the state and the reservation was extended to 15 groups within the community who were identified after a survey by the AP Backward Classes Commission, said the Rosaiah government.

Seize cars of people caught driving drunk: Bombay HC

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_seize-cars-of-people-caught-driving-drunk-bombay-hc_1362274

Hetal Vyas / DNA

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 1:31 IST

Mumbai: A person caught driving under the influence of alcohol may not be allowed to drive his car back home after the police have completed the formalities of registering a case against him. The Bombay high court said on Monday that the police commissioner should issue a circular, asking the cops to seize vehicles of people caught for drunken driving immediately after they have been booked.

 Justice BR Gavai refused to grant interim relief to businessman Nikhil Kisnani, who had his original driving licence seized following a drunken driving offence in 2008. It means that proceedings against Kisnani will go ahead in a magistrate’s court, and the accused will have to wait for some more time before he gets his license back. “Taking into consideration the menace in the society, interim relief cannot be granted,” the court said.

The Worli traffic police impounded Kisnani’s licence in December 2008. He was granted a temporary licence, which has to be renewed from time to time.

Kisnani had moved the high court, challenging the traffic police’s method of dealing with drunken driving cases. He had petitioned the court to stay the proceedings against him in the trial court. His grouse was that drunken driving cases were being heard by judicial clerks acting as magistrates in morning courts.

Representing Kisnani, senior counsel Shirish Gupte and advocate HK Prem said, “Only the high court has the power to appoint magistrates, and not the state government. Judicial clerks, some of whom are not even law graduates, have been appointed special magistrates in the morning courts.”

Gupte pointed out to the judge that the police had actually allowed his client to drive back home in his vehicle after he had been booked. “They arrested him for drunken driving, and then allowed him to drive back home,” Gupte said.

“That is the only mistake they (cops) did,” Gavai said. He then suggested that the vehicles of the offenders should be seized immediately.

Public Prosecutor PA Pol and additional public prosecutor Alpa Javeri defended the procedure adopted by the state. “An accused in a drunken driving case is not arrested. He is immediately let off on bail,” Javeri said. “Fine is collected from him as a bail bond to safeguard the case.”

Girl’s wish paramount for marriage, says HC

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/girls-wish-paramount-for-marriage-says-hc/594407/0

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Mar 23, 2010 at 0256 hrs Mumbai:

The Bombay High Court on Monday held that the wish of a girl is paramount and just because she has attained puberty does not mean she can be married off.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Zakia Begum, a resident of Aurangabad, seeking custody of her 14-year-old daughter.

The court will decide whether a Muslim girl child can be married before attaining the legal age limit by seeing which of the two- Muslim Personal Law or Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA)- are applicable in such cases.

Division bench of Justice D B Bhosale and Justice A R Joshi will be interviewing the girl on Monday. At present she is at a child welfare home in Bandra.

“We would like to ascertain the wish of the girl,” Justice Bhosale said adding that due care should be taken to see that her parents do not meet her before the interview.

“Girl’s wish is paramount. Just because she has attained puberty does not mean she can be married off,” Justice Bhosale said.

Senior Counsel Yusuf Muchhala, appearing for the Muslim Personal Law Board, submitted that it is shocking that the Child Welfare Committee has detained the child and is not giving a hearing to the parents. He submitted that a decision on the girl needs to be taken soon since she is a school-going student and her exams are near.

The larger issue regarding the applicability of law will take a long time, Muchhala said. The court said very rarely such issues come up before the court to decide for the larger interest of the society.

The court has also issued a notice to the union government for appearing in the case. Zakia’s daughter was to marry last December but her uncle filed a complaint with police stating that Child Marriage Restriction Act (now replaced by PCMA) is being violated. The police then took the girl in custody and produced her before the Child Welfare Committee. She is now in a remand home.

Zakia moved the court arguing that police action was illegal because Muslim law allows girl to marry after onset of puberty.

HC orders Indage to wind up
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/hc-orders-indage-to-wind-up/389426/
BS Reporter / Mumbai March 23, 2010, 0:56 IST

The high court here has ruled that troubled wine-maker Indage Vintners (formerly Champagne Indage) should wind up operations.

 The order, of March 19, following separate petitions filed by lenders of Indage, including IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and the Government of Maharashtra-owned SICOM, a financial institution.

The stock price of Indage reacted sharply today, falling 6.9 per cent to close at Rs 47.80.

The company, in a filing to the stock exchanges, said it would appeal against the HC verdict.

An email sent to the company chairman S G Chowgule remain unanswered, while managing director Ranjit Chowgule could not be reached.

It may be recalled that Indage was pursuing a corporate debt restructuring (CDR) package to the tune of Rs 400 crore. This was being led by ICICI Bank, with allied lenders being IndusInd Bank, Allahabad Bank, UCO Bank, IDBI Bank and Bank of Rajasthan.

The CDR proposal, which came up in December 2009, was yet to be finalised. Indage said during the March 19 hearing in the HC that the company was looking to place the proposal with the support of CDR lenders, both secured and unsecured, in the next meeting. It also said it was ready and willing for a scheme of arrangement under sections 391 to 394 of the Companies Act, to restucture its outstanding liabilities.

Despite these contentions, the HC gave a wind-up order. “The company has taken steps to procure a certified copy of the said order,” it said today.

The company had been seeing a steady decline both in terms of stock price as well as goodwill and profile since its troubles came to the fore in the wake of the worldwide recession in 2008, which deeply affected the global wine industry.

HC asks Turf Club to vacate
http://bangalorebuzz.blogspot.com/2010/03/hc-asks-turf-club-to-vacate.html

Bangalore, Mar 22, DHNS:

The City’s Green Brigade has won a major victory. The Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) will have to move the Race Course out of its current location by September 22, 2010, and make way for a mini forest.

Setting this six-month deadline, the Karnataka High Court bench comprising Justice V Gopala Gowda and B S Patil dismissed three petitions challenging the State Government’s ultimatum to the BTC to vacate the place once the lease term ends. After the lease term, the club will have to pay a monthly rental of Rs 5 lakh to the State till the land is handed over to the government, the court said.

Hearing a petition by the club, the BTC staff and People for Animals, the Division Bench also upheld the State’s contention not to provide the BTC an alternative land for racing activities.

The government was directed to retain it as a mini forest to compensate for the indiscriminate felling of trees during road widening works in the vicinity of the Race Course.

The Court observed: “We are hardly able to find any trees in the place which earlier appeared like a real garden city. The State, in its instrumentalities to compensate this inevitable interference with nature, can balance it at least to a small extent by planting different types of flowering trees and preserving this as a lung space. It will beautify this place and provide at least a certain extent the much needed protection of environment of the City.”

The High Court wanted the State to take this as an opportunity to create a green paradise in the City, on a par with what was done in the past, in the form of establishing Lalbagh and Cubbon Park.

Such a contribution by the State will be remembered by generations to come as a gift to residents, the court observed. The court did not want the State to put up any construction here, thus putting an end to speculations of a possible multi-storeyed building coming up here.

Directing the club to pay Rs 5 lakh per month as rent from the date of expiry of the lease till the date of delivery to the government, the bench said that the Turf Club be utilised only for the permitted activities during the next six months.

Upholding Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli’s submission regarding the alternative land, the court said: “The petitioners cannot, as a matter of right, seek alternative land for racing and allied activities.”

The court directed the State to take all measures to preserve and protect Doddajala — which had been earlier seen as an alternative site for the race course — by removing all obstructions and ensuring smooth flow of water to the tank.

The bench observed: “It is clear that the State has not applied its mind to the importance of the water body in the instant case. It is painful to observe, that such a decision to meddle with the water body has been taken without giving any serious thought to the fundamental obligation of the State and instrumentalities to preserve and protect water bodies.”

It is expected that the BTC will appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court. After the judgment, the Turf Club had an executive meeting.The BTC could ask for more time to vacate the current premises, and also request the State Government to allot new land for conducting their racing activities.

posted by The Bangalorean @ 3/23/2010 08:15:00 AM

Top Maoist’s mother seeks CJI intervention to find her son
http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?e8d408bf-f1ed-4ea7-b9c0-b857fd43cb6a

3/22/2010
The mother of a top Maoist leader has approached the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan seeking his intervention in tracing out her son who, according to her, is in the illegal custody of Andhara Pradesh police.

Karuna in her letter, submitted to the CJI, has alleged that her son Cherukuri Rajkumar Azad is in illegal custody of the AP police since March 12 and his whereabouts not known to anybody.

She has requested the CJI to treat her letter as Habeas Corpus petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and direct the State police to produce her son before the court.

UNI

Ex-CJI Critical of Media Trial, Sibal Disagrees

http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?677513

New Delhi | Mar 22, 2010

Concern over the growing practice of ‘paid news’ in media was today voiced by former Chief Justice of India A S Anand but his criticism of trial by media did not find support from HRD Minister Kapil Sibal.

They were speaking at a function to give away IPI-India award for excellence in journalism jointly to journalist Bidisha Ghosal of The Week and The Indian Express for 2009 under the aegis of India Chapter of International Press Institute.

Presiding over the function, Anand decried the tendency of paid news in media.

“Paid news is unethical, immoral and illegal. The Election Commission and Parliament need to look at it,” he said.

“Certain political parties pay newspapers for favourable coverage which at times misleads the public. The public cannot differentiate sensitive editorial pieces and paid news,” he said.

Ghosal was awarded for her story on the sexual exploitation of widows of farmers who allegedly committed suicide in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. The Indian Express was picked for the award for its series of stories exposing the role of Hindu extremists in the Malegaon blast.

Philip Mathew, Managing Editor of The Week and Fellow of IPI, said the IPI is meant to safeguard the freedom of press. The award was started in 2003 and it has grown in its popularity and reputation. T N Ninan, who was one of the jury members for the award, also spoke.

Sibal said media trial serves the public interest in certain cases when the course of justice is thwarted or blocked.

“What is media trial? Those who are obliged by law to speak, but choose not to speak, those who are obliged by law to investigate, but choose not to investigate, those who are to take action, choose not to do so, in those circumstances when the course of justice is thwarted or blocked, the public have right to know the facts. When media does that it is perceived as media trial,” he said.

Maintaining that such trials could at times do injustice to an individual concerned, Sibal said each newspaper needs to decide what public interest it needs to serve.

Anand, in his speech, said the media trial often prejudged the course of justice which was not a healthy practice.

“When the media conducts trial, it denies the basic right of individual to fair trial,” he said, adding that media has no right to prejudge an issue.

Sibal said freedom of speech is at the heart of constitutional democracy. “But there are millions of people who do not speak and the media speaks for them”.

He said both media and judiciary enjoyed full freedom. Often both the institutions were crossing the ‘Laxman rekha’. On such occasions, public start to doubt the trustworthiness of these organisations.

On ‘paid news’ syndrome, Indian Express Editor-In-Chief Shekhar Gupta said disclosure by journalists of their contents was more important because any journalist worth his salt will not indulge in such a practice. He said 60 to 70 per cent of the content in television media was either sponsored or paid for.

Filed At: Mar 22, 2010 19:54 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 22, 2010 19:54 IST

FILED IN: MediaJourno

For tracking Malegaon blast plot, Express gets IPI Excellence award

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/for-tracking-malegaon-blast-plot-express-gets-ipi-excellence-award/594406/0

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Mar 23, 2010 at 0255 hrs New Delhi:

Stressing that the media is accountable to the reader and the nation, former Chief Justice of India and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission A S Anand today asked journalists to stay within the “lakshman rekha of ethical practice”.

Justice Anand was speaking at an event held here to present the 2009 International Press Institute India Award for Excellence in Journalism.

The award was given to The Indian Express and Bidisha Ghosal of The Week. The Indian Express won for its sustained investigation into the Malegaon and Modasa blasts of 2008 and the alleged role of Hindu extremists and organisations. Ghosal was awarded for her reports on the exploitation of widows of debt-burdened farmers in Maharashtra.

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal, who presented the awards to the winners, pointed out that freedom of expression is at its most powerful when those without a voice can express themselves through the media. Both stories that were rewarded today fulfilled that role.

On October 22, 2008, The Indian Express’s Mumbai-based reporter Smita Nair broke the story that police investigations had found that Hindu militant groups were behind the blasts in Modasa and Malegaon. In the following months, a team of Express reporters — Nair, Chandan Haygunde, Kamal Saiyed, Manu Pubby, Milind Ghatwai, Vikram Rautela and Sagnik Chowdhury — stayed resolutely on the story, joining the dots of the terror plot.

Receiving the award on behalf of the Express team, Nair said, “While building the facts of the conspiracy and the profiles of the accused, as a team we tried our best to steer away from any biases and challenge the stereotype to raise the larger question that terrorism is not the subject of any particular religion or group anymore. This story in many ways has also changed the way in which terror reporting is done in the mainstream media.”

Ghosal of The Week said, “The widows of Vidarbha were conspicuous by their absence. My story, Silent Sufferers, sought to give a voice to these women.”

This year’s IPI Award was the third for The Indian Express. It won first in 2003, the year the Award was instituted, for its “fearless and comprehensive” reporting of the Gujarat riots and their aftermath. In 2006, it was honoured for its expose of the Bihar flood relief scandal where crores meant for flood victims were siphoned off by politicians, contractors and bureaucrats, and for its series on the vanishing tigers of India.

Said Shekhar Gupta, The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief, “These are not file-snatching jobs or stings. Journalism is not about sticking a camera into someone’s bedroom. These are investigative stories where facts were collected and checked and where the other side’s version was sought.”

Justice Anand took the media debate further by saying that while the media has an important role in safeguarding human rights, the trend of paid content in news needs to be checked. “It is a reprehensible system where during elections, political parties and candidates are offered packages by media houses… It is a matter of concern that ‘paid news’ is not confined to election time alone…”

The entries for the 2009 Award were judged by a distinguished jury of editors and publishers headed by Justice Anand. Other members of the jury included N Ravi, Chairman, IPI-India and Editor, The Hindu; Philip Mathew, Fellow, International Press Institute, Vienna, and Managing Editor, Malayala Manorama; M K Razdan, Editor-in-Chief, Press Trust of India, and T N Ninan, Editorial Director, Business Standard Ltd.

The Award carries a trophy, a citation and Rs 1 lakh. The Indian Chapter of the IPI is an active forum of editors, publishers and senior executives of newspapers, magazines and news agencies, all of whom are members of the International Press Institute that was founded 60 years ago in New York.

CJI opposes move to make internal matters public

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/56843/cji-opposes-move-make-internal.html

 New Delhi, Mar 8, DHNS:

Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan on Sunday told a news channel that he would continue to oppose any move to make public the correspondence between the CJI and other members of higher judiciary.

“The discussions in the collegium cannot be made public. The candidates are sitting chief justices. It is not a departmental promotion, where we grade the abilities of the judge. It is not a DPC(departmental Promotion Committee) meeting. Supreme Court judges are appointed from among the judges of the high court, mainly chief justices.

“In the discussion, sometimes comments are made against judges, but we do not record the minutes. This is because it could adversely affect the image and integrity of the judge. The judge in question will continue as chief justice, we only consider if he is to be elevated or not.

CJI fast-tracked Pinarayi’s plea’

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/cji-fasttracked-pinarayis-plea/589749/0

Krishnadas Rajagopal

Posted: Friday , Mar 12, 2010 at 2316 hrs New Delhi:

A Right to Information reply from the Supreme Court reveals that a petition filed by CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan against the gubernatorial go-ahead to prosecute him in the SNC Lavalin case was scheduled for “urgent” hearing by the Registrar after “obtaining orders/directions from the Chief Justice of India”.

Vijayan, Kerala CPM secretary and Politburo member, had challenged Kerala Governor R S Gavai’s sanction to the CBI in June 2009 to prosecute him. He is accused of wrongfully awarding a contract to Canadian company SNC-Lavalin for renovation of two power plants when he was power minister in 1997.

The RTI response, dated February 20, 2010, by Supreme Court Public Information Officer (PIO) Raj Pal Arora is on an application by Delhi-based advocate Zulfiker Ali. Arora is silent on whether Vijayan had even applied to the Supreme Court for an early hearing.

Though the Supreme Court had only admitted Vijayan’s petition on August 31, 2009 and issued show cause (rule nisi) notice, the case was included in the list of cases scheduled for final hearing, starting from January 19, 2010. Corruption cases are placed fourth in the list of regular cases accorded priority.

The advocate asked “whether there is any order or direction (judicial/administrative) from the court to list this matter for hearing on urgent basis. Whether any application for early hearing was filed in this matter? If not, on what basis this particular matter is listed for hearing within this short period?”

In his reply, PIO Arora says: “As per amendments introduced to Order VI of the Supreme Court Rules, 1966, the Court of Registrar is conferred with the power of the court in so far as matters mentioned under Order VI Rule (1). The said matter was added in the weekly list for the week commencing from 19.1.2010 on the basis of order dated 25.11.2009 of the Registrar Court and after obtaining orders/directions from Honourable Chief Justice of India”.

Ali wanted the information officer to disclose the criteria being followed in the Supreme Court in taking up admitted matters; whether there is any fixed procedure in this regard; criminal and civil cases admitted in which year are presently listed for final hearing and whether a pending matter could be taken up for consideration out of turn, even without an order for early hearing from the Court on an application by the parties in this regard.

To this, Arora replies that “unless otherwise directed by the Honourable Court or by the Honourable Chief Justice of India, the regular hearing matters are being listed as per approved guidelines”.

A new writ filed against entry of foreign law firms in Madras HC

http://www.legallyindia.com/20100322609/Law-firms/a-new-writ-filed-against-entry-of-foreign-law-firms-in-madras-hc

Monday, 22 March 2010 by Kian Ganz

A Tamil Nadu advocate has reportedly filed a writ petition against 30 foreign law firms and legal process outsourcing (LPO) company Integreon for “illegally practising” law in violation of the Advocates Act 1961, according to unconfirmed media reports, although no notices have been served on the respondents yet.

The Madras High Court petition of A.K. Balaji “prayed for a direction to prohibit the firms or foreign lawyers from having any legal practice either on the litigation side or non-litigation and commercial transactions in any manner in the country”, wrote Indian daily The Hindu today.

The Hindu added that the petition argued that a “wholesome reading of the Advocates Act would make it abundantly clear that to be entitled to practise law in India, a person should be a citizen of India and possess a law degree obtained from a university in the country”.

It is understood that 30 non-Indian law firms have been named in the petition, including the Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and most other corporate firms with India practices, US firms, French firms, Singaporean firms and Australian firms and LPO provider Integreon, although this could not be authoritatively verified.

Legally India has contacted several of the firms but it is understood that none had been served with notices at the time of going to press.

All firms were unavailable for comment, as some are understood to be evaluating whether the claim is vexatious or a genuine one.

The Hindu wrote: “Allowing entry of foreign law firms with no reciprocal arrangements with respect to Indian lawyers should not be entertained. In response, Indian lawyers have to be allowed to work in the respective countries. Otherwise, foreign law firms should not be allowed to exploit the Indian legal market.”

“The petitioner said while the law on the subject was clear, various international law firms having roots outside India had opened offices in the country or neighbouring countries and taking up legal practice within the country such as mergers, takeovers, acquisitions, amalgamations, and so on, and were into various commercial transactions and arbitrations,” said the paper.

The case is listed on the causelist of Friday 18 March 2010 as M/S.R.Ethilarasan (PIL) Karthikeyan for injunction 5614 / 2010, although no documents have been uploaded to the court’s website yet and it is not confirmed whether the petition has been accepted on merits.

News site Express Buzz reported today that “the First Bench comprising Chief Justice HL Gokhale and Justice V Dhanapalan, before which the public interest writ petition from AK Balaji of Harur came up for hearing on Friday, ordered issuance of notice to the authorities concerned returnable by April 8″.

On 16 December 2009 the Bombay High Court had ruled in the Lawyers Collective case that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should not have granted Ashurst, Chadbourne & Parke and White & Case licences to open up liaison offices in India and that the firms had been “practising law” contrary to the Advocates Act.

We will report further details on the story as soon as the facts have been authoritatively confirmed.

Let the writ of law prevail in corruption cases against politicians: Bir Devinder Singh

http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/24362/38/

Punjab Newsline Network   

Monday, 22 March 2010

CHANDIGARH: The framers of the Constitution in their prudent far-sighted vision did visualize the degeneration of principles of governance with the passage of time at the hands of the vested interests.

Probably, that is why, to safeguard the pillars of parliamentary democracy, they did not leave any ambiguity while defining the role and jurisdiction of Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, said Former Deputy Speaker Punjab, Bir Devinder Singh 

He said, the news regarding a proposal before the House over a letter written by the Deputy Speaker, Sat Pal Gosain, to withdraw cases against the politicians is fraught with latent dangers primarily losing the faith of the people whom they elected as their representatives.

Nobody will relish the idea of shattering the mechanism of checking corruption by the people holding high positions in Government, He added.

He further said, “such a move, if succeeds, would further paint the politicians as untrustworthy. It will not only mean attempt of blatant  transgression into the domain of judiciary but also strike at the basic  fabric of law i.e. equality before law. It will create a new class of  privileged corrupts enjoying immunity from being tried for all kinds crimes  including corruption.”

While the ordinary corrupts (non-politicians) would  face the Courts of law for similar crimes, the politicians could well be put off the hook of law as a result of this sinister move. This would also be a direct infringement of the basic postulates of the Indian Constitution as enshrined in its Preamble i.e. Equality before Law. It is all the more objectionable when the cases of corruption, at one stage or the other, have stood scrutiny of charges up to the Apex Court of India.

Since the cases classified as political vendetta are pending consideration for the last 5-6 years in the case of Akali leaders and 3 years approximately in the case of Congress leaders before different Courts of law and have traveled long enough, the proposal to withdraw the same, under the guise of political vendetta, will tantamount to interference in the administration of justice, for the reason that the alibi of political vendetta by the accused has failed to put a cog in the wheels of justice. In my considered view, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha must not tread into the territory of the judiciary merely on the advice of the Advocate General but also must seek the opinion of the constitutional experts and eminent jurists of the country to avoid confrontation with judiciary.

He said, “the reaction of Captain Amarinder Singh expressing his views against any such move is laudable and worth emulating by the other leaders.”

He said, “the House certainly has the power to review its decision on expulsion of Captain Amarinder Singh for the remaining period of the present Vidhan Sabha if the House in its collective wisdom feels about the quantum of punishment being excessive in his particular case. “

He said, we should wait and respect the decisions of the Courts in all such cases which pertain to the politicians and hesitate from giving any inkling of lack of faith in the system of jurisprudence of the country. It is all the more a matter of grave pondering for the Members of this august House not to earn the stigma of brazen abuse of power in assuming the role  of accused, prosecutor and a judge in utter disregard of the law of the land.

Aluva Munsiff Court jubilee fete held

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Aluva+Munsiff+Court+jubilee+fete+held&artid=KIZvGWfxJhk=&SectionID=1ZkF/jmWuSA=&MainSectionID=fyV9T2jIa4A=&SectionName=X7s7i%7CxOZ5Y=&SEO=

Express News Service

First Published : 23 Mar 2010 03:41:00 AM IST

Last Updated :

ALUVA: The valedictory meet of the silver jubilee celebrations of the Aluva Munsiff Court was inaugurated by senior Judge of the Kerala High Court Justice C N Ramachandran Nair here on Sunday evening.

Aluva has a great tradition in the field of judicial courts as the Zilla Court functioned at Kacheri Kunnu (UC College) here over a century ago. The Zilla Court was later shifted to Paravoor.

Aluva had to be satisfied with a Munisiff Court and two magistrate courts later.

The silver jubilee is being celebrated at a time when there is a hue and cry from the public to set up a Sub Court, MACT Court, Additional Family Court, and Special Court to handle cyber cases, without delay.

Justice Ramachandran Nair said the High Court follows specific norms to establish new courts. The government has to provide funds, staff and infrastructure to set up a new court.

He suggested that adalaths could be conducted in Aluva to expedite the settlement of disputes. He said the first adalat would be held at Aluva, when the KELSA (Kerala Legal Service Association) gets a mobile unit. Justice Nair advised the advocates not to charge exorbitant fees from clients. If the clients feel that litigation is expensive and that it is not worth to approach the courts for justice, they would seek the help of goons and mafia for redress of their grievances.

Transport Minister Jose Thettayil delivered the keynote address. Aluva Bar Association president Jose Manavalan presided over the function. Ernakulam District and Sessions Judge D Pappachan presented mementos to 30 advocates who completed 25 years of professional practice in Aluva.

‘Adverse reports’ knocked ex-CJI out of race for NHRC top job

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/newdelhi/Adverse-reports-knocked-ex-CJI-out-of-race-for-NHRC-top-job/Article1-520274.aspx

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times

Email Author

New Delhi, March 17, 2010

First Published: 23:22 IST(17/3/2010)

Last Updated: 23:23 IST(17/3/2010)

Former Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal was not  offered the post of National Human Rights Commission chief because of “adverse media and other reports” against him, the Centre revealed on Wednesday.

In response to a Right to Information query by a Delhi resident, Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the home ministry said that Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justice Sabharwal, both former CJIs, were the only two eligible for the post, but Justice Lahoti declined the offer.

The post has been lying vacant since the past 10 months.
“Because of the adverse media and other reports with regard to Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, it was felt that the highly sensitive post of chairperson NHRC may not be offered to him,” the ministry stated in its reply.

Justice Sabharwal faced serious allegations of corruption in passing orders for sealing commercial establishments running in residential areas in Delhi when he was a Supreme Court judge in 2006.

“In the case of Justice Lahoti, the then home secretary had spoken to the learned judge enquiring about his availability to the post. It appears that Justice Lahoti indicated that he was otherwise very busy and would not be in a position to accept the offer,” the ministry said.

“Accordingly, it was recorded on our files that Mr Justice RC Lahoti and and Mr Justice YK Sabharwal are not inclined/ not available for different reasons,” the reply stated.

The ministry said the offer to Justice Lahoti was made “orally” and there was no correspondence recorded between the government and the judge.
 
The post of the NHRC chief fell vacant on June 1, 2009. The country’s human rights watchdog has been without a regular boss since then.

According to the provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, only a retired Chief Justice of India below the age of 70 can be appointed NHRC chairperson.

The RTI response has highlighted the government’s helplessness in appointing the NHRC chief despite being pulled up by the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court on the matter. The Centre told the courts it was open to amending the law to tide over the problem.

Title :       Fight Against Cartels-unlocking Of Issues By The Competition Commission Of India (cci)

http://articles.manupatra.com/PopOpenArticle.aspx?ID=2bc2689b-b597-407a-9e99-7e5360c65601&txtsearch=Mr.%20G.r.%20Bhatia

Author : Mr. G.r. Bhatia

G.R. Bhatia

It has been increasingly recognised that fair competition in markets is benign for the consumer, business and economy. Therefore, the competition laws worldwide including the Indian Competition Act, 2002 (the “Act”) inter alia, seeks to promote and sustain competition in markets. In “cartel arrangement or agreements,” the rivals agree not to compete on price, production/supply, and customers or in bids etc. These being palpably anti competitive and malevolent, are condemned globally and frowned upon by the competition agencies.

India has recently put in place a modernised competition regime and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has commenced its enforcement inter alia, to combat cartels. Undoubtedly, the CCI is better equipped than the erstwhile MRTP Commission to detect and punish cartels as the Act :

• defines “cartel” and thus, ambiguity as to its scope does not subsist anymore;

• does not entitle the charged party to claim and avail of the benefit of all or any of escape valves enshrined in the repealed law;

• provides for a leniency programme for a member of a cartel to defect and make true and full disclosure (corresponds to concept of approver to bust conspiracy in criminal law),

• empowers to impose penalty on each delinquent enterprise linked with its profits/turnover (whichever is higher),

• revamps power of search and seizure by the investigation arm, i.e. the Director General,

• confers explicit jurisdiction to nab overseas acts having Appreciable Adverse Effect on Competition (AAEC) in India,

• incorporates mirror image advisory mechanism between CCI and sector specific regulators,

• mandates advocacy to create awareness and build strong competition culture and

• encourages public to submit information fearlessly by ensuring confidentiality.

All these make it imperative for a business to be on the right side of the law and refrain from certain types of horizontal agreements narrated supra but at the same time they need not be fearful of entering into Pro-competitive Cooperative Agreements such as pooling of resources for research and development or cooperative standard setting beneficial for consumers or bids in consortium if terms and conditions of tender so permit or efficiency enhancing joint ventures or joint advertisements etc. It needs to noted that the list of horizontal agreements in respect of which there shall be presumption of Appreciable Adverse Effect on Competition (AAEC) in markets in India, is exhaustive and any other kind of horizontal agreement shall not be subject to presumption but shall be examined on the touch stone of “rule of reason”. Further, the presumption is rebuttable. The prosecutor duty is discharged by bringing on record convincing evidence to prove its existence. The determination of harm caused; however, will not only create the right perception but also act as savior of an Order appealed before the Appellate Tribunal/Supreme Court and further facilitate in assessing compensation payable to victims. The elements of “product differentiation,” “brand reputation,” “emotional connect of buyer with a product” will be areas which the prosecutor has to keep in view before concluding that the products are same/similar and substitutable.

The three pre-requisites for successful implementation of a leniency programme are-high risk of detection, credible threat of sanctions and the transparency/certainty in the operation of programme. All these create fear and deterrence amongst colluders and build confidence in those who crave to avail of refuge under leniency. It is believed that as few as one in six or seven cartels are detected and prosecuted in developed jurisdictions and detection ratio has been much lower in the developing world.1 The Regulations governing the leniency programme notified by the CCI, after extensive consultative process, focuses on unearthing of many more such cases besides ensuring transparency and certainty to a member seeking refuge.2 However, an effective and credible leniency programme has to ensure that a member blowing whistle is neither threatened nor victimised.

Price parallelism is invariably inferred as the case of collusion and the likelihood of such pricing is heightened in the ever increasing competitive scenario. Institution of enquiry in cases of uniform price simpliciter will be inappropriate unless parallel conduct is coupled with other facilitating factors such as sharing of competitively sensitive information or price remaining identical despite changes in demand and supply, or a small player taking the lead in jacking the price etc.

The trade and its Associations (especially when its members are rivals in market) need to take note of the “Do’s and Don’ts” and the CCI before embarking on an enquiry should undertake comprehensive analysis of market, its structure, characteristics and uses of the product, its cost, price and attendant issues so that its resources which are already scarce are deployed in right earnest and the charged one is not unnecessarily burdened of defending itself which costs both money and time.

Copyright Ó G. R. Bhatia

________________________________

* Partner & Head of Competition Law Practice, Luthra & Luthra Law Offices and Former Additional Director General, CCI/MRTPC 

1. Market Study Report on ‘Cartel Case Laws in Select Jurisdictions- Learning’s for Competition Commission of India’ by CUTS International & National Law University, Jodhpur. 

2. The Competition Commission of India (Lesser Penalty) Regulations, 2009 notified in the Gazette of India on 13th August, 2009.

Bangalore: PIL Questioning Gokarna Temple Transfer Admitted by HC http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=74361&n_tit=Bangalore%3A+PIL+Questioning+Gokarna+Temple+Transfer+Admitted+by+HC

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:55:16 PM (IST)  

Daijiworld Media Network – Bangalore (SP)

Bangalore, Mar 23: The controversy over the government’s decision to hand over Gokarna Lord Mahabaleshwara Temple to Ramachandrapur Mutt after divesting a local trust of the responsibility of managing it, is far from over. The state High Court on Monday March 22, admitted a public interest litigation filed by some priests and devotees of the temple, for hearing.

The petition questions the decision of the government to hand over the temple in Gokarna to Ramachandrapur Mutt. But, both Ramachandrapur Mutt and the state government had raised objections to the PIL, saying that it is backed by selfish interests and hence the petition can not be treated as a public interest petition.

However, the division bench presided by Justice Gopal Gowda admitted the petition, observing that the objection raised by the government was backed by selfish interests.

State govt may appeal against ban on jugaads

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/State-govt-may-appeal-against-ban-on-jugaads/articleshow/5713994.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 03.02am IST

JAIPUR: The state government might go in for an appeal against the recent high court ban on plying of jugaad. “The chief minister called a meeting of the home and transport departments the day the high court had banned the plying of jugaads in the state. On March 18, it was decided plying of jugaads will be halted on listed highways in the state but that they can ply on kuccha roads in rural areas,” home minister Shanti Dhariwal said and indicated if needed, the government can go for an appeal.

Dhariwal’s intervention came after a question was raised on the banning of jugaads by Congress MLA Raghu Sharma during the zero hour in the assembly on Monday.

On March 5, the high court had directed the state to ban jugaads in the state, in response to a PIL. The court had asked the government to frame a policy on the banning of jugaads and table it within a month and to ensure that jugaads do not ply in the state within three months.

However, after the accident on the Morel bridge near Sawai Madhopur, where 26 students were killed, after a bus collided with a jugaad, the high court taking suo motu cognisance of the matter banned jugaads with immediate effect on March 18 and has asked for a compliance report from the government by April 2.

In reply, transport minister Braj Kishore Sharma said, “The government has taken the matter seriously. A survey would soon be conducted with help from collectors, patwaris, gram sabhas etc so as to estimate how many jugaads are there in the state. Thereafter we would give a reply to the high court as asked by it by April 2.”

“Jugaads form the main source of ‘sustenance’ in rural Rajasthan. They are used not only to transport people but also cattle fodder. Banning them would not only throw a large number of people out of employment but would also lead to a shortage of cattle fodder specially at a time when the state is facing drought-like situations in many areas,” Sharma said.

The house was united on not banning jugaads. Deputy leader of Opposition Ghanshyam Tiwari said there are about 1 lakh jugaads in the state and banning them would mean depriving employment to that many people. He demanded the government take suitable action to safeguard the interest of these people and inquired if the state would go for an appeal against the high court orders.

HC wants riot panel to clarify whether it will call Modi

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/-HC-wants-riot-panel-to-clarify-whether-it-will-call-Modi/articleshow/5709618.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 12.17am IST

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court, on Monday, asked the Godhra probe panel to clarify about whether it would summon chief minister Narendra Modi for deposition, on a petition filed by rights group Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM).

The high court’s query came a day after the chief minister skipped a date with the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). Modi failed to turn up for questioning at the SIT office in response to the summons the investigating agency served on him in connection with the complaint filed by former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri’s widow, Zakia.

Acting on an appeal by JSM urging the high court to direct the Nanavati-Mehta commission to summon Modi and six others for cross-examination in connection with 2002 riots, a division bench headed by Chief Justice SJ Mukhopadhaya asked advocate general Kamal Trivedi to get a clarification from the commission by April 1.

The commission’s terms of reference were expanded to include examination of the role of Modi and his council of ministers, in the riots.

However, in its first report issued two years ago, the panel gave Modi a clean chit.

The high court has inquired whether the inquiry commission’s order of September 18 last year, rejecting JSM’s plea to summon Modi, was final. The bench sought an exact reply after the commission did not clarify to the court query last time in its letter, while stating that it might come out with a report soon.

During a hearing on Monday, the high court sought to know at what stage the commission would summon Modi if at all the probe panel wished to, because in the last eight years the commission had not taken any decision on this issue.
The JSM had been requesting the commission to call Modi, the then state home minister Gordhan Zadaphia and others for deposition, but the application was turned down last year on grounds that there was not enough material on record for summoning Modi for questioning. JSM later filed a petition in the high court, which was rejected by a single judge bench. An appeal against this order is being heard by a division bench.

Nithyananda pleads K’taka HC to squash charges

http://news.oneindia.in/2010/03/23/swaminithyananda-sex-scandal-karnataka-hc-petition.html

Tuesday, March 23, 2010,12:10 [IST]

 Bangalore, Mar 23: The scandal-tainted spiritual guru, Swami Nithyananda has filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking quashing of cases filed against him by the Ramanagar police contending that he is innocent and the sex scandal is a tailored controversy to defame him and his ashram.

The Ramanagar police has filed cases against him under several charges including rape and outraging religious sentiments after he invoked the wrath of his followers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for indulging in sexual activity.

The scandal came to light when a sex tape showing Nithyananda in compromising position with Tamil actress Ranjitha emerged in the media on Mar 2.

In his writ petition, the Swami claims that his driver Kurup Lenin was behind the whole controversy as he conspired against him and his ashram to sully their public image.

Sources in the high court told a news agency that writ is yet to come up for the High Court registry.

In the latest development, there are reports of emergence of a sex tape showing the godman with another Tamil actress Yuvarani.

The Karnataka police, who received information on the case from Tamil Nadu police earlier this week, is hunting for the absconding godman.

HC: Domestic Violence Act can be used with retrospective effect

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/HC-Domestic-Violence-Act-can-be-used-with-retrospective-effect/articleshow/5713590.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 05.41am IST

NEW DELHI: In an important ruling, the Delhi high court has clarified that the Domestic Violence Act has a retrospective effect. This means it can be invoked even by women who were subjected to domestic violence before the Act came into force in October 2006.

Justice V K Jain, while dealing with a complaint filed under the Domestic Violence Act, said the Act was maintainable ‘‘even if the domestic violence has been committed prior to coming into force of the Act.’’’

Setting aside the order by a lower court, justice Jain further observed, ‘‘The court needs to eschew from taking an interpretation which would not only be violative of constitutional rights but would also result in denying the benefit of the beneficial provisions of the Act to the women who have been subjected to domestic violence and are compelled to live separately on account of a man’s acts of omission or commission. Such an interpretation would at least partially defeat the legislative intent behind enactment of this Act, which was to protect women against domestic violence, to give them compensation and other suitable reliefs.’’

HC was hearing a petition filed by a woman appealing against the order of a lower court. The petitioner alleged she was forced to leave the matrimonial home because of her husband’s behaviour. While the magistrate allowed her plea and granted maintenance of Rs 6,000 per month to her, the husband appealed against it. A court held that the victim was not entitled to any relief under the DV Act because she had left the matrimonial home in 2005 while the Act came into force a year later.

SC takes up AP appeal against HC ruling quashing 4% Muslim quota

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/SC-takes-up-AP-appeal-against-HC-ruling-quashing-4-Muslim-quota/articleshow/5712871.cms

 TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 02.41am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday entertained Andhra Pradesh government’s appeal challenging the High Court verdict quashing a state law giving 4% reservation to Muslims in jobs and admissions to educational institutions.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Deepak Verma was reluctant to hear attorney general G E Vahanvati who was eager to press for a stay on the HC order given the stinging criticism of the Rosaiah government, accused by Muslim bodies of not doing enough to sustain its legislation in the HC.

The reluctance to hear the appeal on merit and on the issue of interim order was because the HC judgment was given by a 7-judge Bench by 5:2 majority. The CJI said that it would be appropriate if the matter was heard by a three judge Bench of the apex court and fixed March 25 as the next date.

Though the AP government had hurriedly filed the special leave petition against the February 8 judgment of the HC, mainly to quell frayed tempers among political parties, curing the defects in the petition resulted in its delayed listing.

While striking down the `Andhra Pradesh Reservation in Favour of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes of Muslims Act 2007′, the HC had remarked that such a legislation could promote conversion.

The AP government said Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Manipur had more or less similar legislation providing reservation to Muslims. It said the apprehension about promoting conversion was unwarranted as reservation was being given to socially and educationally backward in the community, virtually at par with those similarly placed in the Hindu community.

This is the third time that the Andhra government found its decision for providing reservation to Muslims being scrapped by the HC. Prior to 2007 legislation, it had first decided to extend quota to Muslims in 2004 through an administrative decision. After the government orders were quashed, the state had appointed BC Commission and on its recommendations enacted a law in 2005 to similar effect. This also met the same fate as the 2004 decision.

Muslims constitute 9.2% of the 77 million population of the state and the reservation was extended to 15 groups within the community who were identified after a survey by the AP Backward Classes Commission, said the Rosaiah government.

Seize cars of people caught driving drunk: Bombay HC

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_seize-cars-of-people-caught-driving-drunk-bombay-hc_1362274

Hetal Vyas / DNA

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 1:31 IST

Mumbai: A person caught driving under the influence of alcohol may not be allowed to drive his car back home after the police have completed the formalities of registering a case against him. The Bombay high court said on Monday that the police commissioner should issue a circular, asking the cops to seize vehicles of people caught for drunken driving immediately after they have been booked.

 Justice BR Gavai refused to grant interim relief to businessman Nikhil Kisnani, who had his original driving licence seized following a drunken driving offence in 2008. It means that proceedings against Kisnani will go ahead in a magistrate’s court, and the accused will have to wait for some more time before he gets his license back. “Taking into consideration the menace in the society, interim relief cannot be granted,” the court said.

The Worli traffic police impounded Kisnani’s licence in December 2008. He was granted a temporary licence, which has to be renewed from time to time.

Kisnani had moved the high court, challenging the traffic police’s method of dealing with drunken driving cases. He had petitioned the court to stay the proceedings against him in the trial court. His grouse was that drunken driving cases were being heard by judicial clerks acting as magistrates in morning courts.

Representing Kisnani, senior counsel Shirish Gupte and advocate HK Prem said, “Only the high court has the power to appoint magistrates, and not the state government. Judicial clerks, some of whom are not even law graduates, have been appointed special magistrates in the morning courts.”

Gupte pointed out to the judge that the police had actually allowed his client to drive back home in his vehicle after he had been booked. “They arrested him for drunken driving, and then allowed him to drive back home,” Gupte said.

“That is the only mistake they (cops) did,” Gavai said. He then suggested that the vehicles of the offenders should be seized immediately.

Public Prosecutor PA Pol and additional public prosecutor Alpa Javeri defended the procedure adopted by the state. “An accused in a drunken driving case is not arrested. He is immediately let off on bail,” Javeri said. “Fine is collected from him as a bail bond to safeguard the case.”

Girl’s wish paramount for marriage, says HC

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/girls-wish-paramount-for-marriage-says-hc/594407/0

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Mar 23, 2010 at 0256 hrs Mumbai:

The Bombay High Court on Monday held that the wish of a girl is paramount and just because she has attained puberty does not mean she can be married off.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Zakia Begum, a resident of Aurangabad, seeking custody of her 14-year-old daughter.

The court will decide whether a Muslim girl child can be married before attaining the legal age limit by seeing which of the two- Muslim Personal Law or Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA)- are applicable in such cases.

Division bench of Justice D B Bhosale and Justice A R Joshi will be interviewing the girl on Monday. At present she is at a child welfare home in Bandra.

“We would like to ascertain the wish of the girl,” Justice Bhosale said adding that due care should be taken to see that her parents do not meet her before the interview.

“Girl’s wish is paramount. Just because she has attained puberty does not mean she can be married off,” Justice Bhosale said.

Senior Counsel Yusuf Muchhala, appearing for the Muslim Personal Law Board, submitted that it is shocking that the Child Welfare Committee has detained the child and is not giving a hearing to the parents. He submitted that a decision on the girl needs to be taken soon since she is a school-going student and her exams are near.

The larger issue regarding the applicability of law will take a long time, Muchhala said. The court said very rarely such issues come up before the court to decide for the larger interest of the society.

The court has also issued a notice to the union government for appearing in the case. Zakia’s daughter was to marry last December but her uncle filed a complaint with police stating that Child Marriage Restriction Act (now replaced by PCMA) is being violated. The police then took the girl in custody and produced her before the Child Welfare Committee. She is now in a remand home.

Zakia moved the court arguing that police action was illegal because Muslim law allows girl to marry after onset of puberty.

HC orders Indage to wind up
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/hc-orders-indage-to-wind-up/389426/
BS Reporter / Mumbai March 23, 2010, 0:56 IST

The high court here has ruled that troubled wine-maker Indage Vintners (formerly Champagne Indage) should wind up operations.

 The order, of March 19, following separate petitions filed by lenders of Indage, including IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and the Government of Maharashtra-owned SICOM, a financial institution.

The stock price of Indage reacted sharply today, falling 6.9 per cent to close at Rs 47.80.

The company, in a filing to the stock exchanges, said it would appeal against the HC verdict.

An email sent to the company chairman S G Chowgule remain unanswered, while managing director Ranjit Chowgule could not be reached.

It may be recalled that Indage was pursuing a corporate debt restructuring (CDR) package to the tune of Rs 400 crore. This was being led by ICICI Bank, with allied lenders being IndusInd Bank, Allahabad Bank, UCO Bank, IDBI Bank and Bank of Rajasthan.

The CDR proposal, which came up in December 2009, was yet to be finalised. Indage said during the March 19 hearing in the HC that the company was looking to place the proposal with the support of CDR lenders, both secured and unsecured, in the next meeting. It also said it was ready and willing for a scheme of arrangement under sections 391 to 394 of the Companies Act, to restucture its outstanding liabilities.

Despite these contentions, the HC gave a wind-up order. “The company has taken steps to procure a certified copy of the said order,” it said today.

The company had been seeing a steady decline both in terms of stock price as well as goodwill and profile since its troubles came to the fore in the wake of the worldwide recession in 2008, which deeply affected the global wine industry.

HC asks Turf Club to vacate
http://bangalorebuzz.blogspot.com/2010/03/hc-asks-turf-club-to-vacate.html 

Bangalore, Mar 22, DHNS:

The City’s Green Brigade has won a major victory. The Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) will have to move the Race Course out of its current location by September 22, 2010, and make way for a mini forest.

Setting this six-month deadline, the Karnataka High Court bench comprising Justice V Gopala Gowda and B S Patil dismissed three petitions challenging the State Government’s ultimatum to the BTC to vacate the place once the lease term ends. After the lease term, the club will have to pay a monthly rental of Rs 5 lakh to the State till the land is handed over to the government, the court said.

Hearing a petition by the club, the BTC staff and People for Animals, the Division Bench also upheld the State’s contention not to provide the BTC an alternative land for racing activities.

The government was directed to retain it as a mini forest to compensate for the indiscriminate felling of trees during road widening works in the vicinity of the Race Course.

The Court observed: “We are hardly able to find any trees in the place which earlier appeared like a real garden city. The State, in its instrumentalities to compensate this inevitable interference with nature, can balance it at least to a small extent by planting different types of flowering trees and preserving this as a lung space. It will beautify this place and provide at least a certain extent the much needed protection of environment of the City.”

The High Court wanted the State to take this as an opportunity to create a green paradise in the City, on a par with what was done in the past, in the form of establishing Lalbagh and Cubbon Park.

Such a contribution by the State will be remembered by generations to come as a gift to residents, the court observed. The court did not want the State to put up any construction here, thus putting an end to speculations of a possible multi-storeyed building coming up here.

Directing the club to pay Rs 5 lakh per month as rent from the date of expiry of the lease till the date of delivery to the government, the bench said that the Turf Club be utilised only for the permitted activities during the next six months.

Upholding Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli’s submission regarding the alternative land, the court said: “The petitioners cannot, as a matter of right, seek alternative land for racing and allied activities.”

The court directed the State to take all measures to preserve and protect Doddajala — which had been earlier seen as an alternative site for the race course — by removing all obstructions and ensuring smooth flow of water to the tank.

The bench observed: “It is clear that the State has not applied its mind to the importance of the water body in the instant case. It is painful to observe, that such a decision to meddle with the water body has been taken without giving any serious thought to the fundamental obligation of the State and instrumentalities to preserve and protect water bodies.”

It is expected that the BTC will appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court. After the judgment, the Turf Club had an executive meeting.The BTC could ask for more time to vacate the current premises, and also request the State Government to allot new land for conducting their racing activities. 

posted by The Bangalorean @ 3/23/2010 08:15:00 AM 

Top Maoist’s mother seeks CJI intervention to find her son
http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?e8d408bf-f1ed-4ea7-b9c0-b857fd43cb6a 

3/22/2010 
The mother of a top Maoist leader has approached the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan seeking his intervention in tracing out her son who, according to her, is in the illegal custody of Andhara Pradesh police.

Karuna in her letter, submitted to the CJI, has alleged that her son Cherukuri Rajkumar Azad is in illegal custody of the AP police since March 12 and his whereabouts not known to anybody.

She has requested the CJI to treat her letter as Habeas Corpus petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and direct the State police to produce her son before the court.

UNI 

Ex-CJI Critical of Media Trial, Sibal Disagrees 

http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?677513 

New Delhi | Mar 22, 2010 

Concern over the growing practice of ‘paid news’ in media was today voiced by former Chief Justice of India A S Anand but his criticism of trial by media did not find support from HRD Minister Kapil Sibal.

They were speaking at a function to give away IPI-India award for excellence in journalism jointly to journalist Bidisha Ghosal of The Week and The Indian Express for 2009 under the aegis of India Chapter of International Press Institute.

Presiding over the function, Anand decried the tendency of paid news in media.

“Paid news is unethical, immoral and illegal. The Election Commission and Parliament need to look at it,” he said.

“Certain political parties pay newspapers for favourable coverage which at times misleads the public. The public cannot differentiate sensitive editorial pieces and paid news,” he said.

Ghosal was awarded for her story on the sexual exploitation of widows of farmers who allegedly committed suicide in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. The Indian Express was picked for the award for its series of stories exposing the role of Hindu extremists in the Malegaon blast.

Philip Mathew, Managing Editor of The Week and Fellow of IPI, said the IPI is meant to safeguard the freedom of press. The award was started in 2003 and it has grown in its popularity and reputation. T N Ninan, who was one of the jury members for the award, also spoke.

Sibal said media trial serves the public interest in certain cases when the course of justice is thwarted or blocked.

“What is media trial? Those who are obliged by law to speak, but choose not to speak, those who are obliged by law to investigate, but choose not to investigate, those who are to take action, choose not to do so, in those circumstances when the course of justice is thwarted or blocked, the public have right to know the facts. When media does that it is perceived as media trial,” he said.

Maintaining that such trials could at times do injustice to an individual concerned, Sibal said each newspaper needs to decide what public interest it needs to serve.

Anand, in his speech, said the media trial often prejudged the course of justice which was not a healthy practice.

“When the media conducts trial, it denies the basic right of individual to fair trial,” he said, adding that media has no right to prejudge an issue.

Sibal said freedom of speech is at the heart of constitutional democracy. “But there are millions of people who do not speak and the media speaks for them”.

He said both media and judiciary enjoyed full freedom. Often both the institutions were crossing the ‘Laxman rekha’. On such occasions, public start to doubt the trustworthiness of these organisations.

On ‘paid news’ syndrome, Indian Express Editor-In-Chief Shekhar Gupta said disclosure by journalists of their contents was more important because any journalist worth his salt will not indulge in such a practice. He said 60 to 70 per cent of the content in television media was either sponsored or paid for. 

Filed At: Mar 22, 2010 19:54 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 22, 2010 19:54 IST 

FILED IN: MediaJourno 

For tracking Malegaon blast plot, Express gets IPI Excellence award

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/for-tracking-malegaon-blast-plot-express-gets-ipi-excellence-award/594406/0 

Express News Service  

Posted: Tuesday , Mar 23, 2010 at 0255 hrs New Delhi:  

Stressing that the media is accountable to the reader and the nation, former Chief Justice of India and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission A S Anand today asked journalists to stay within the “lakshman rekha of ethical practice”. 

Justice Anand was speaking at an event held here to present the 2009 International Press Institute India Award for Excellence in Journalism. 

The award was given to The Indian Express and Bidisha Ghosal of The Week. The Indian Express won for its sustained investigation into the Malegaon and Modasa blasts of 2008 and the alleged role of Hindu extremists and organisations. Ghosal was awarded for her reports on the exploitation of widows of debt-burdened farmers in Maharashtra. 

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal, who presented the awards to the winners, pointed out that freedom of expression is at its most powerful when those without a voice can express themselves through the media. Both stories that were rewarded today fulfilled that role. 

On October 22, 2008, The Indian Express’s Mumbai-based reporter Smita Nair broke the story that police investigations had found that Hindu militant groups were behind the blasts in Modasa and Malegaon. In the following months, a team of Express reporters — Nair, Chandan Haygunde, Kamal Saiyed, Manu Pubby, Milind Ghatwai, Vikram Rautela and Sagnik Chowdhury — stayed resolutely on the story, joining the dots of the terror plot. 

Receiving the award on behalf of the Express team, Nair said, “While building the facts of the conspiracy and the profiles of the accused, as a team we tried our best to steer away from any biases and challenge the stereotype to raise the larger question that terrorism is not the subject of any particular religion or group anymore. This story in many ways has also changed the way in which terror reporting is done in the mainstream media.” 

Ghosal of The Week said, “The widows of Vidarbha were conspicuous by their absence. My story, Silent Sufferers, sought to give a voice to these women.” 

This year’s IPI Award was the third for The Indian Express. It won first in 2003, the year the Award was instituted, for its “fearless and comprehensive” reporting of the Gujarat riots and their aftermath. In 2006, it was honoured for its expose of the Bihar flood relief scandal where crores meant for flood victims were siphoned off by politicians, contractors and bureaucrats, and for its series on the vanishing tigers of India. 

Said Shekhar Gupta, The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief, “These are not file-snatching jobs or stings. Journalism is not about sticking a camera into someone’s bedroom. These are investigative stories where facts were collected and checked and where the other side’s version was sought.” 

Justice Anand took the media debate further by saying that while the media has an important role in safeguarding human rights, the trend of paid content in news needs to be checked. “It is a reprehensible system where during elections, political parties and candidates are offered packages by media houses… It is a matter of concern that ‘paid news’ is not confined to election time alone…” 

The entries for the 2009 Award were judged by a distinguished jury of editors and publishers headed by Justice Anand. Other members of the jury included N Ravi, Chairman, IPI-India and Editor, The Hindu; Philip Mathew, Fellow, International Press Institute, Vienna, and Managing Editor, Malayala Manorama; M K Razdan, Editor-in-Chief, Press Trust of India, and T N Ninan, Editorial Director, Business Standard Ltd. 

The Award carries a trophy, a citation and Rs 1 lakh. The Indian Chapter of the IPI is an active forum of editors, publishers and senior executives of newspapers, magazines and news agencies, all of whom are members of the International Press Institute that was founded 60 years ago in New York. 

CJI opposes move to make internal matters public 

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/56843/cji-opposes-move-make-internal.html 

 New Delhi, Mar 8, DHNS: 

Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan on Sunday told a news channel that he would continue to oppose any move to make public the correspondence between the CJI and other members of higher judiciary. 

“The discussions in the collegium cannot be made public. The candidates are sitting chief justices. It is not a departmental promotion, where we grade the abilities of the judge. It is not a DPC(departmental Promotion Committee) meeting. Supreme Court judges are appointed from among the judges of the high court, mainly chief justices.

“In the discussion, sometimes comments are made against judges, but we do not record the minutes. This is because it could adversely affect the image and integrity of the judge. The judge in question will continue as chief justice, we only consider if he is to be elevated or not. 

CJI fast-tracked Pinarayi’s plea’

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/cji-fasttracked-pinarayis-plea/589749/0 

Krishnadas Rajagopal  

Posted: Friday , Mar 12, 2010 at 2316 hrs New Delhi:  

A Right to Information reply from the Supreme Court reveals that a petition filed by CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan against the gubernatorial go-ahead to prosecute him in the SNC Lavalin case was scheduled for “urgent” hearing by the Registrar after “obtaining orders/directions from the Chief Justice of India”. 

Vijayan, Kerala CPM secretary and Politburo member, had challenged Kerala Governor R S Gavai’s sanction to the CBI in June 2009 to prosecute him. He is accused of wrongfully awarding a contract to Canadian company SNC-Lavalin for renovation of two power plants when he was power minister in 1997. 

The RTI response, dated February 20, 2010, by Supreme Court Public Information Officer (PIO) Raj Pal Arora is on an application by Delhi-based advocate Zulfiker Ali. Arora is silent on whether Vijayan had even applied to the Supreme Court for an early hearing. 

Though the Supreme Court had only admitted Vijayan’s petition on August 31, 2009 and issued show cause (rule nisi) notice, the case was included in the list of cases scheduled for final hearing, starting from January 19, 2010. Corruption cases are placed fourth in the list of regular cases accorded priority. 

The advocate asked “whether there is any order or direction (judicial/administrative) from the court to list this matter for hearing on urgent basis. Whether any application for early hearing was filed in this matter? If not, on what basis this particular matter is listed for hearing within this short period?” 

In his reply, PIO Arora says: “As per amendments introduced to Order VI of the Supreme Court Rules, 1966, the Court of Registrar is conferred with the power of the court in so far as matters mentioned under Order VI Rule (1). The said matter was added in the weekly list for the week commencing from 19.1.2010 on the basis of order dated 25.11.2009 of the Registrar Court and after obtaining orders/directions from Honourable Chief Justice of India”. 

Ali wanted the information officer to disclose the criteria being followed in the Supreme Court in taking up admitted matters; whether there is any fixed procedure in this regard; criminal and civil cases admitted in which year are presently listed for final hearing and whether a pending matter could be taken up for consideration out of turn, even without an order for early hearing from the Court on an application by the parties in this regard. 

To this, Arora replies that “unless otherwise directed by the Honourable Court or by the Honourable Chief Justice of India, the regular hearing matters are being listed as per approved guidelines”. 

A new writ filed against entry of foreign law firms in Madras HC

http://www.legallyindia.com/20100322609/Law-firms/a-new-writ-filed-against-entry-of-foreign-law-firms-in-madras-hc 

Monday, 22 March 2010 by Kian Ganz 

A Tamil Nadu advocate has reportedly filed a writ petition against 30 foreign law firms and legal process outsourcing (LPO) company Integreon for “illegally practising” law in violation of the Advocates Act 1961, according to unconfirmed media reports, although no notices have been served on the respondents yet.

The Madras High Court petition of A.K. Balaji “prayed for a direction to prohibit the firms or foreign lawyers from having any legal practice either on the litigation side or non-litigation and commercial transactions in any manner in the country”, wrote Indian daily The Hindu today.

The Hindu added that the petition argued that a “wholesome reading of the Advocates Act would make it abundantly clear that to be entitled to practise law in India, a person should be a citizen of India and possess a law degree obtained from a university in the country”.

It is understood that 30 non-Indian law firms have been named in the petition, including the Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and most other corporate firms with India practices, US firms, French firms, Singaporean firms and Australian firms and LPO provider Integreon, although this could not be authoritatively verified.

Legally India has contacted several of the firms but it is understood that none had been served with notices at the time of going to press.

All firms were unavailable for comment, as some are understood to be evaluating whether the claim is vexatious or a genuine one.

The Hindu wrote: “Allowing entry of foreign law firms with no reciprocal arrangements with respect to Indian lawyers should not be entertained. In response, Indian lawyers have to be allowed to work in the respective countries. Otherwise, foreign law firms should not be allowed to exploit the Indian legal market.”

“The petitioner said while the law on the subject was clear, various international law firms having roots outside India had opened offices in the country or neighbouring countries and taking up legal practice within the country such as mergers, takeovers, acquisitions, amalgamations, and so on, and were into various commercial transactions and arbitrations,” said the paper.

The case is listed on the causelist of Friday 18 March 2010 as M/S.R.Ethilarasan (PIL) Karthikeyan for injunction 5614 / 2010, although no documents have been uploaded to the court’s website yet and it is not confirmed whether the petition has been accepted on merits.

News site Express Buzz reported today that “the First Bench comprising Chief Justice HL Gokhale and Justice V Dhanapalan, before which the public interest writ petition from AK Balaji of Harur came up for hearing on Friday, ordered issuance of notice to the authorities concerned returnable by April 8″.

On 16 December 2009 the Bombay High Court had ruled in the Lawyers Collective case that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should not have granted Ashurst, Chadbourne & Parke and White & Case licences to open up liaison offices in India and that the firms had been “practising law” contrary to the Advocates Act.

We will report further details on the story as soon as the facts have been authoritatively confirmed. 

Let the writ of law prevail in corruption cases against politicians: Bir Devinder Singh 

http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/24362/38/ 

Punjab Newsline Network    

Monday, 22 March 2010 

CHANDIGARH: The framers of the Constitution in their prudent far-sighted vision did visualize the degeneration of principles of governance with the passage of time at the hands of the vested interests. 

Probably, that is why, to safeguard the pillars of parliamentary democracy, they did not leave any ambiguity while defining the role and jurisdiction of Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, said Former Deputy Speaker Punjab, Bir Devinder Singh  

He said, the news regarding a proposal before the House over a letter written by the Deputy Speaker, Sat Pal Gosain, to withdraw cases against the politicians is fraught with latent dangers primarily losing the faith of the people whom they elected as their representatives. 

Nobody will relish the idea of shattering the mechanism of checking corruption by the people holding high positions in Government, He added. 

He further said, “such a move, if succeeds, would further paint the politicians as untrustworthy. It will not only mean attempt of blatant  transgression into the domain of judiciary but also strike at the basic  fabric of law i.e. equality before law. It will create a new class of  privileged corrupts enjoying immunity from being tried for all kinds crimes  including corruption.” 

While the ordinary corrupts (non-politicians) would  face the Courts of law for similar crimes, the politicians could well be put off the hook of law as a result of this sinister move. This would also be a direct infringement of the basic postulates of the Indian Constitution as enshrined in its Preamble i.e. Equality before Law. It is all the more objectionable when the cases of corruption, at one stage or the other, have stood scrutiny of charges up to the Apex Court of India. 

Since the cases classified as political vendetta are pending consideration for the last 5-6 years in the case of Akali leaders and 3 years approximately in the case of Congress leaders before different Courts of law and have traveled long enough, the proposal to withdraw the same, under the guise of political vendetta, will tantamount to interference in the administration of justice, for the reason that the alibi of political vendetta by the accused has failed to put a cog in the wheels of justice. In my considered view, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha must not tread into the territory of the judiciary merely on the advice of the Advocate General but also must seek the opinion of the constitutional experts and eminent jurists of the country to avoid confrontation with judiciary. 

He said, “the reaction of Captain Amarinder Singh expressing his views against any such move is laudable and worth emulating by the other leaders.” 

He said, “the House certainly has the power to review its decision on expulsion of Captain Amarinder Singh for the remaining period of the present Vidhan Sabha if the House in its collective wisdom feels about the quantum of punishment being excessive in his particular case. ” 

He said, we should wait and respect the decisions of the Courts in all such cases which pertain to the politicians and hesitate from giving any inkling of lack of faith in the system of jurisprudence of the country. It is all the more a matter of grave pondering for the Members of this august House not to earn the stigma of brazen abuse of power in assuming the role  of accused, prosecutor and a judge in utter disregard of the law of the land. 

Aluva Munsiff Court jubilee fete held  

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Aluva+Munsiff+Court+jubilee+fete+held&artid=KIZvGWfxJhk=&SectionID=1ZkF/jmWuSA=&MainSectionID=fyV9T2jIa4A=&SectionName=X7s7i%7CxOZ5Y=&SEO= 

Express News Service 

First Published : 23 Mar 2010 03:41:00 AM IST 

Last Updated :  

ALUVA: The valedictory meet of the silver jubilee celebrations of the Aluva Munsiff Court was inaugurated by senior Judge of the Kerala High Court Justice C N Ramachandran Nair here on Sunday evening. 

Aluva has a great tradition in the field of judicial courts as the Zilla Court functioned at Kacheri Kunnu (UC College) here over a century ago. The Zilla Court was later shifted to Paravoor. 

Aluva had to be satisfied with a Munisiff Court and two magistrate courts later. 

The silver jubilee is being celebrated at a time when there is a hue and cry from the public to set up a Sub Court, MACT Court, Additional Family Court, and Special Court to handle cyber cases, without delay. 

Justice Ramachandran Nair said the High Court follows specific norms to establish new courts. The government has to provide funds, staff and infrastructure to set up a new court. 

He suggested that adalaths could be conducted in Aluva to expedite the settlement of disputes. He said the first adalat would be held at Aluva, when the KELSA (Kerala Legal Service Association) gets a mobile unit. Justice Nair advised the advocates not to charge exorbitant fees from clients. If the clients feel that litigation is expensive and that it is not worth to approach the courts for justice, they would seek the help of goons and mafia for redress of their grievances. 

Transport Minister Jose Thettayil delivered the keynote address. Aluva Bar Association president Jose Manavalan presided over the function. Ernakulam District and Sessions Judge D Pappachan presented mementos to 30 advocates who completed 25 years of professional practice in Aluva. 

‘Adverse reports’ knocked ex-CJI out of race for NHRC top job

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/newdelhi/Adverse-reports-knocked-ex-CJI-out-of-race-for-NHRC-top-job/Article1-520274.aspx 

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times 

Email Author 

New Delhi, March 17, 2010 

First Published: 23:22 IST(17/3/2010) 

Last Updated: 23:23 IST(17/3/2010) 

Former Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal was not  offered the post of National Human Rights Commission chief because of “adverse media and other reports” against him, the Centre revealed on Wednesday. 

In response to a Right to Information query by a Delhi resident, Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the home ministry said that Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justice Sabharwal, both former CJIs, were the only two eligible for the post, but Justice Lahoti declined the offer. 

The post has been lying vacant since the past 10 months.
“Because of the adverse media and other reports with regard to Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, it was felt that the highly sensitive post of chairperson NHRC may not be offered to him,” the ministry stated in its reply. 

Justice Sabharwal faced serious allegations of corruption in passing orders for sealing commercial establishments running in residential areas in Delhi when he was a Supreme Court judge in 2006. 

“In the case of Justice Lahoti, the then home secretary had spoken to the learned judge enquiring about his availability to the post. It appears that Justice Lahoti indicated that he was otherwise very busy and would not be in a position to accept the offer,” the ministry said. 

“Accordingly, it was recorded on our files that Mr Justice RC Lahoti and and Mr Justice YK Sabharwal are not inclined/ not available for different reasons,” the reply stated. 

The ministry said the offer to Justice Lahoti was made “orally” and there was no correspondence recorded between the government and the judge.
 
The post of the NHRC chief fell vacant on June 1, 2009. The country’s human rights watchdog has been without a regular boss since then. 

According to the provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, only a retired Chief Justice of India below the age of 70 can be appointed NHRC chairperson. 

The RTI response has highlighted the government’s helplessness in appointing the NHRC chief despite being pulled up by the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court on the matter. The Centre told the courts it was open to amending the law to tide over the problem.

LEGAL NEWS 22.03.2010

PIL on Mayawati’s cash garland dismissed

http://sify.com/news/pil-on-mayawati-s-cash-garland-dismissed-news-national-kdwodPbdifj.html

2010-03-22 14:03:51
Last Updated: 2010-03-22 16:30:23

Lucknow: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking CBI enquiry into Mayawati’s cash garland episode was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court on Monday.

The Lucknow bench of the High Court rejected the PIL, which had also sought probe into the alleged expense of about Rs 200 crore in the rally, in which the Uttar Pradesh chief minister was presented the cash garland on March 15.

Three lawyers had filed the PIL on March 18.

The Nation was misled, the media was used as a tool:Jaitley
http://deshgujarat.com/2010/03/22/the-nation-misled-the-media-was-used-as-a-tooljaitley/

By our correspondent
Gandhinagar, DeshGujarat, 22 March, 2010

Leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha and Gujarat MP Arun Jaitley on Monday said the media persons in Gandhinagar that the nation was misled on the issue of SIT’s summons to Narendra Modi.

“The media of this country was used as a tool to spread lie that Modi was called by Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team on 21 March. For last two days the media was catering false news,” Jaitley said.

Jaitley said the PIL petitioners, and the media have responsibility to see that the process of justice should not be interfered. But in this case, they created a wrong picture that Modi was called on 21st and he didn’t go.

“They don’t ask SIT of any agency to verify the fact. Now the media should try to correct it, so that the people could know the truth,” Jaitley added.

SC must crack the whip, says Ex-UP DGP

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=SC+must+crack+the+whip,+says+Ex-UP+DGP&artid=%7C2uBY5G9oJc=&SectionID=vBlkz7JCFvA=&MainSectionID=fyV9T2jIa4A=&SectionName=EL7znOtxBM3qzgMyXZKtxw==&SEO=

R Guhambika

First Published : 22 Mar 2010 06:37:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 22 Mar 2010 07:55:47 AM IST

POLICE reforms as a hot topic for discussion, unfortunately, has a short life span in India. “The subject is dry and not sexy,” rued 74-year-old Prakash Singh, a former UP DGP, who created a national stir in 1996, when he filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court claiming that the police were being “misused and abused” in the country. “I filed the plea after my unfortunate experience of 35 years as a police officer,” he told Express over the phone from New Delhi.

The crux of the issue was the growing political interference in police functioning. “Neither the bureaucracy nor the governments were interested in reforms. There were verbal assurances, but nothing happened,” Prakash Singh reminisced. “Deeply entrenched vested interests wanted the status quo to continue.” In the PIL, he argued that the “subordination of the police to politicians and bureaucrats threatened the very foundations of democratic functioning” and cited the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 and the Gujarat riots of 2002 as examples.

In 2006, the SC issued a set of six directives on police reforms to the Centre and States for “immediate compliance”.

They had two main objectives: functional autonomy for the police and enhanced accountability.

Nawaz Kotwal of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, a Delhi-based NGO spearheading the campaign for police reforms, is baffled by the phenomenon of IPS officers buckling under political pressure. “They are most intelligent, having passed stringent examinations and undergone training… Yet, they are unable to handle the pressure,” she said.

The executive-police nexus is hard to break for the simple reason that it works to mutual advantage. The police have a closet full of skeletons, while governments need the khakis to do all the dirty jobs.

According to Prakash Singh, “It is like a woman who has become a prostitute.

Everybody abuses her bad character.

But why did she become a prostitute in the first place” is something nobody addresses. Caught in a vicious circle, the police become victims of the prevailing culture, he said.

Singh agreed that idealism has disappeared in the police force. Today, the officers think it is better to fall in line to further their career.

On the compliance level by states, Singh and Nawaz were all praise for Kerala. In contrast, Tamil Nadu was one of the worst offenders along with Maharashtra and UP. This despite a monitoring committee, headed former SC judge P T Thomas, set up by the apex court.

“The Supreme Court must crack the whip, otherwise there will be no sanctity to its orders,” the former DGP said.

Nawaz also pointed to an indifferent public. “Unless, they have a confrontation with the police, people are untouched by the issue,” she said.

Will this PIL make us safe?

http://www.punemirror.in/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=2&contentid=20100322201003220006545857b99b365&sectxslt=

Post 13/02, there have been many reports on how our police force is short on men and the ones we have are deployed to protect politicians and other VIPs. An NGO has filed a Public Interest Litigation, hoping the HC will direct the government to stop this

By Chaitraly Deshmukh

Posted On Monday, March 22, 2010 at 12:06:54 AM

Close on the heels of the German Bakery bombing, Pune based NGO Association for Aiding Justice, has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court in hopes that the Central Government, State Government and Maharashtra’s Director General of Police (DGP) will be spurred to take immediate and effective measures and to deploy adequate security to control any further terrorist attacks.

The PIL, that was moved through NGO member Ram Keswani through his lawyer Ritesh Mehta, alleges that the terrorists have been taking advantage of internal disturbances caused by parties like Maharashtra Navinirman Sena(MNS) and the Shiv Sena and the deployment of large number of policemen to protect VVIPs even though the force is short staffed.

The petition has sought the court’s directives to the government and the police force to deal with issues pertaining to providing security to VVIPs, drafting policies regarding dealing with internal rivalry and also a priority list of purposes warranting deployment of policemen. It has also requested the court to order the DGP to form strategy to overcome manpower shortage faced by the force.

The PIL also requested the court to direct the government and the po-lice to review security provided to VIPs and VVIPs, to release policemen wherever possible from VIP protection duty and use them for public security.

The litigation pointed out that the 26/11 terror attack took place at a time when Mumbai was disturbed due to the MNS’ anti-North Indian agitation and German Bakery blast came at a time when there was tension in Pune over Shiv Sena’s stance on the film My Name is Khan and participation of Australian players in Indian Premier League (IPL) matches.

It stated that political parties  think of themselves as creators and forefathers of their  states and are in a position to hold the state to ransom.

Quoting news reports that politicians topped the list of people enjoying police protection, the petition asked for reduction of the force being deployed to provide security to VIPs and VVIPs.

It pointed out that the Mumbai police has been providing security cover to 1,600 people. It pleaded that, along the lines of the US and the UK, protection be provided only to constitutional heads like the President, Vice President, Prime Minister and Supreme Court Chief Justice.

‘Explain deforestation on MIDC land’

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Explain-deforestation-on-MIDC-land/articleshow/5710153.cms

Anil Singh, TNN, Mar 22, 2010, 05.23am IST

NAVI MUMBAI: The disappearance of a forest in the Thane-Belapur industrial area by tree-felling and dumping of debris has attracted the attention of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) constituted by the Supreme Court to advise it on forest and wildlife-related issues.

CEC member M K Jiwrajka, an officer of the Indian Forest Service, wrote to Maharashtra’s principal secretary (forests) on March 12 this year asking for the state government’s explanation for the destruction of the forest.

The CEC had been petitioned by the Small Scale Entrepreneur’s Association (SSEA), which represents more than 3,500 units in the Trans Thane Creek (TTC) industrial area, the MIDC’s largest industrial estate extending from Thane to Belapur.

Anyone can move the CEC by filing an application to seek suitable relief against any action taken by the central/state government or any other authority regarding deforestation, encroachment, working of wood-based industries, etc and implementation of laws relating to forest and wildlife.

Environmentalist Bittu Sahgal attaches importance to the CEC’s letter to the state as “the CEC is the only thing that stands between anarchy and governance where forests are concerned’’. According to him, the disappearance of the forest tract could prove to be a major embarrassment for the authorities.

TOI had documented on February 1 this year how trees and ponds in a stretch of 6 km on the slopes of the Parsik Hill range that runs from Thane to Belapur have been replaced by a dusty plateau created by illegal but systematic dumping over the last five years.

Himanshu Agaskar, who has been running an engineering firm at Rabale in the TTC industrial area since 1983, remembers that villagers hunted wild boar in the jungle. “I have heard that in the ‘70s, the forest was so dense that one could hop from tree to tree and reach Mumbra on the other side without setting foot on the ground,’’ he said.

The ponds, which were formed in a natural trough along the hills, were used by villagers to breed fish. Vilin Patil, a resident of Kopri village, bred silver carp weighing up to 15 kg in a four-acre pond opposite Hindustan Platinum at Pawane, till two years ago. “My family earned Rs 4 lakh per year by selling fish, but chemical drums were dumped in the pond killing 12 tonnes of fish overnight,’’ he said.

K S Churi, SSEA president, wrote to the CEC that the local authorities had repeatedly ignored its complaints that more than 1,000 truckloads of rock/soil and construction debris were being dumped daily in the reserved forest and private forest in village Borivli and other areas of the TTC industrial area. It is an open secret that powerful politicians are behind the dumping which is a transparent land-grab operation.

Apart from deforestation and the complete obliteration of ponds, SSEA said the dumping had resulted in the creation of a man-made plateau which was tantamount to an earthen dam blocking run-off rain water from the hills.

The SSEA has also filed a PIL in connection with the deforestation and has asked the high court to order the removal of all the debris and restoration of the area to its original status after recovering the cost from the culprits.

anil.ksingh@timesgroup.com

Gujarat High Court asks Nanavati Commission to clarify on summoning Modi

http://news.oneindia.in/2010/03/22/gujarathigh-court-asks-nanavati-commission-toclarify.html

Monday, March 22, 2010,11:13 [IST]

Gandhinagar, Mar 22 (ANI): The Gujarat High Court on Monday asked Justice Nanavati Commission which is probing the 2002 post-Godhra riot cases, whether it would summon State Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The High Court issued the notice to Nanavati Commission through the state’s Advocate General to reply to the court in this regard by April 1.

The Court gave instructions while hearing a petition filed by the Jan Sangharsh Manch, which represents the victims of the 2002 riots.

In April 2007, the JSM had moved an application before the Nanavati Commission demanding that Modi be summoned for questioning, but the commission has not called Modi for questioning.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) summoned Modi for questioning in connection with the Gulburg Society carnage, but Modi failed to show up before the commission. (ANI)

High court says no CBI probe into Mayawati money garland

http://sify.com/news/high-court-says-no-cbi-probe-into-mayawati-money-garland-news-national-kdwqubihcdi.html

2010-03-22 16:20:00

Bringing huge relief to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, the Allahabad High Court Monday rejected a plea for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the money garland gifted to her at a rally here last week.

A division bench of Chief Justice Amitabh Lala and Justice Anil Kumar dismissed the public interest litigation (PIL) on grounds of the petitioners failing to furnish any supportive evidence on the demand for a CBI investigation.

The PIL was moved jointly by three lawyers practicing in the high court here.

The garland, estimated to have been made with 50,000 notes of Rs.1,000 denomination each making it worth Rs.5 crore in cash, was given to her at a massive rally to mark 25 years of the Bahujan Samaj Party on March 15.

The court also declined to look into the charge of ‘misuse of government machinery and funds’ for the rally, which appeared to have drawn a huge crowd of about 500,000 people. The petition alleged that the rally had cost the state exchequer nearly Rs.200 crore.

The money garland gifted by the Karnataka unit of the BSP put Mayawati in the national spotlight with political parties joining hands to condemn the extravagance.

In what is being seen as damage control, another money garland, worth about Rs.18 lakh, was given to Mayawati the next day itself on March 16. This is learnt to have been organised by her close aide and minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui as an attempt to deflect attention from the first garland that was dismantled, sources said.

Why no sanction sought, court asks CBI in Chautalas case

http://sify.com/news/why-no-sanction-sought-court-asks-cbi-in-chautalas-case-news-national-kdwrkdfffec.html

2010-03-22 17:10:00

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was Monday issued notice by the Delhi High Court asking why it had not sought government sanction before filing charges against Indian National Lok Dal MLAs Ajay and Abhay Chautala in an alleged disproportionate assets case.

Justice Sunil Gaur issued notice to the CBI seeking their reply on why it had not sought sanction before filing a chargesheet against the two sons of former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing on behalf of the Chautala brothers, said the trial court has failed to take note that on the day the court took up the case, the two INLD leaders were MLAs of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha.

He told the court that the alleged offence took place when the Chautalas were MLAs and even at the time of the CBI filing the chargesheet they are still lawmakers.

‘A sanction should have been taken,’ Rohatgi said.

The court directed the trial court not to pronounce the order on the charges till the next date of hearing, May 31.

The Chautala brothers had challenged the order of the trial court that had taken cognisance of the CBI chargesheet.

‘The CBI special judge has not taken the appropriate sanction if the offence is committed by a public servant,’ Rohatgi said.

‘The chargesheet in the case has been filed for causing unnecessary harassment and humiliation to the petitioner. Judicial process ought not to be permitted as an instrument of oppression and needless harassment,’ the petition states.

A city court had Feb 2 issued summons to Ajay Chautala and his brother Abhay Chautala for appearance in a disproportionate assets case registered by CBI. The CBI had filed a chargesheet against them Dec 24.

According to the chargesheet against Ajay, the CBI claimed he was in possession of assets to the tune of Rs.27.74 crore — more than his income Rs.8.17 crore during the period 1993 to 2006.

The second chargesheet was filed against Abhay alleging his assets were 522 percent more than his income of Rs.22.89 crore as per Income Tax records during the check period of 2000 to 2005. The agency claimed to have found Rs.119.69 crore worth of assets.

The CBI registered a case in a designated court here in April 2006. It searched 24 premises of the Chautalas in Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chandigarh during which it seized Rs.13 lakh in cash and froze five bank accounts containing Rs.1.34 crore belonging to the Chautalas.

The investigating agency’s FIR listed the moveable and immoveable properties belonging to either Chautala or his family members that had been acquired between July 1999 and March 2005 when they were public servants.

The FIR alleged that the Chautalas had plots at prime locations in Gurgaon in Haryana, Karol Bagh in Delhi, Manali in Himachal Pradesh, Nainital in Uttarakhand and in Chandigarh besides a hotel and a restaurant in Delhi’s Karol Bagh, a shopping mall, six plots of agricultural land, six farm houses and cash and jewellery worth Rs.50 crore.

The CBI had conducted a market survey and claimed in its FIR that the total value of all the properties was Rs.1,467 crore.

CBI claimed the assets were disproportionate to the Chautalas’ known sources of income and were ‘phenomenal’ and would require an extensive and in-depth investigation.

Canadian moves HC for quashing of cheque bouncing case

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Canadian-moves-HC-for-quashing-of-cheque-bouncing-case/articleshow/5709341.cms

Dhananjay Mahapatra & Abhinav Garg, TNN, Mar 22, 2010, 03.43am IST

NEW DELHI: If you are not careful with your cheque book, and more so if you have the habit of keeping some leafs signed, then you can take a lesson from this handicapped Canadian citizen, for whom good faith has turned into a virtual nightmare.

Canadian citizen of Indian origin Bankim Patel wanted to help out an Indian Rajiv Gupta when he landed in Winnipeg with his family in May 2008 and had no place to stay. Patel offered Gupta’s family to stay in his house till they found a place of their own.

This was the mistake for which he is paying now. For, he did not know that Gupta’s name figured in the wanted list published by CBI. Gupta soon came to know that Patel had a habit of keeping cheque leafs signed and stole the cheque book, which had a signed leaf, and vanished from Canada with his family.

Finding the cheque leaf missing, Patel lodged a complaint on March 11, 2009, with the Bureau of Police Record, Winnipeg and stopped payment on the negotiable instrument.

Gupta’s sinister design soon came to light. Patel received a notice from Rajiv Khullar of Keco Auto Industries, New Delhi, on April 9 last year regarding dishonour of a cheque dated February 23, 2009, for an amount of $18,00,000.

Though Patel replied to the notice stating that he had never done any business with Khullar or his company or had ever met him and that the cheque was stolen by Gupta, the auto company initiated cheque bouncing proceedings under section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act before Karkardooma courts in Delhi and summons were issued to him.

Upset at the prospect of having to undergo a long drawn court case in India for no fault of his, a distressed Patel wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on February 25 this year.

Patel, who runs a coffee shop to support his family, said in his letter, “I have never done any type of business with Rajiv Khullar nor have I ever met him. I am not involved in any type of business — auto business or auto parts — in Canada. Nor do I have an export/import licence in Canada. I earnestly request you to investigate this matter. It will reveal how non-resident Indians are harassed and cheated.”

When nothing moved, Patel moved the Delhi High Court through advocate Haresh A Raichura seeking quashing of the case pending before the metropolitan magistrate, Karkardooma courts.

The first legal question raised by Raichura in the petition was whether any proceeding could be initiated in India when the cheque bounced in Canada. “If that is so, then cheques issued anywhere in the world could absurdly be a subject matter of proceedings before Indian courts,” he said.

dhananjay.mahapatra@timesgroup.com, abhinav.garg@timesgroup.com

HC reprimands jail officials over parole for convict

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/HC-reprimands-jail-officials-over-parole-for-convict/articleshow/5710127.cms

Shibu Thomas, TNN, Mar 22, 2010, 04.57am IST

MUMBAI: Bumbling jail officials, who first granted parole to a convict and subsequently revoked it after a few days, invited the wrath of the Bombay high court.

“The order (revoking parole) discloses total non-application of mind and ignorance of provisions of rules by the competent authority,’’ observed a Nagpur HC bench. “It appears that even without reading the provisions of the rules, the Amravati Divisional Commissioner passed the order.’’

According to rules, a prisoner can avail of temporary leave from jail on parole or furlough. Parole leave for 30 days, which can be extended for another 60 days, is available in case of emergencies at the discretion of authorities.

In the present case, Dilip Dalvi (49) applied for parole leave on the grounds that his wife was seriously ill. The divisional commissioner granted Dalvi parole on December 4, 2009. Ten days later on December 14, the officer revoked the parole, on the grounds that he had already availed of leave earlier that year.

The HC directed the authorities to pass a fresh order in accordance with rules.

Delhi HC paves way for 3G auction
http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?be59fa0a-3877-42d1-bd34-932aaa05ce2b

3/20/2010
The Delhi High Court dismissed a petition seeking extension of last date for submitting bid for auction of 3G Spectrum (radio frequency).

Umesh Joshi submitted before the court that the DoT had given only 20 days to submit the bid for auction of the 3G spectrum in its notice on February 25.

The petitioner pleaded for staying DoT’s notice, arguing that it would suit only big players to the detriment of small operators.

A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice M B Lokur and Justice Mukta Gupta ordered the petition to be dismissed. The order said the government had followed all norms and maintained transparency while inviting bid for 3G spectrum.

The Judges observed, ‘Transparency is there. The government has already put all the information regarding the auction on its website in October.’ They also imposed a fine of Rs 15,000 on the petitioner.

The auction of 3G would be held on April 9.

UNI

Patna HC orders CBI inquiry into death during police firing
http://www.indlawnews.com/newsdisplay.aspx?c830fb7d-138f-4a6a-a839-8e6a4c76c5e3

3/21/2010
Patna High Court ordered CBI inquiry into death of a person allegedly due to injuries caused by police bullets in Sitamarhi district on December 15, 2008.

Treating letter written to the Patna High Court by father of the victim as Public Interest Litigation(PIL), a division bench comprising Chief Justice Deepak Mishra and Justice Mihir Kumar Jha ordered CBI probe into the case and directed the investigating agency to submit the report within six months.

In his letter, Arjun Mishra had alleged that his son Sarvajit Mishra was killed in police firing when he was on the way to his house after purchasing vegetables and other essentials near Town police station in Sitamarhi district on December 15, 2008.

UNI

Muslim law board opposes communal violence bill

http://sify.com/news/muslim-law-board-opposes-communal-violence-bill-news-national-kdvvucajgib.html

2010-03-21 21:20:00
Last Updated: 2010-03-21 21:28:15

Lucknow : The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has expressed strong opposition to the communal violence bill as well as the growing ‘bonhomie between India and Israel.’

Declaring this at the conclusion of its three-day annual convention at the Nadwatul Darul Uloom Islamic University here, AIMPLB spokesman Maulana Abdul Rahim Quraishi told a press conference on Sunday evening: ‘The board takes exception to India’s increasing proximity with Israel from where we have even entered into arms-purchase agreement.’

He said: ‘We would like to advise the government to maintain the same distance with Israel as was professed and practiced by Gandhi and Nehru.’

Referring to international terrorism, the board expressed displeasure over handling of the issue. ‘While we are vehemently opposed to terrorism, we do not approve of the way innocent Muslim boys were picked up as terror suspects and then subjected to third-degree.’

Sparks and fire at LS as Babri debate begins

Board legal adviser Zafaryab Jilani joined Quraishi to add that the board also resolved to oppose the drafting of the communal violence bill.

‘We have serious objections to certain provisions of the communal violence bill in its existing form,’ Jilani said.

‘The bill needs to be amended, otherwise in its present form it tends to only give more blanket powers to the police, that was already in the habit of targeting innocent youth,’ Jilani said.

‘If the bill were to be taken up in its present form, it would fail to serve any purpose; it would seem that the government’s objective was to further make lives of innocent citizens more difficult rather than providing any respite to them,’ he said.

The board proposes to mobilise Muslim MPs of various political parties to jointly raise the issue.

‘We will shortly approach all Muslim MPs as well secular minded MPs belonging to different political parties to seek suitable amendments in the communal violence bill,’ Jilani added.

Parliament to discuss Liberhan report next week: Bansal

On the Babri Masjid issue, the board proposes to seek ‘day-to-day hearing’ in the case pending before the Allahabad High Court.

‘We would also demand indictment of certain accused persons who have been let off by the Liberhan Commission,’ he said.

The board did not, however, take up certain vital issues concerning personal laws of Muslims. Asked if the board had any discussion on the women’s reservation bill, he said, ‘well, that is not in our domain.’

Likewise, when a scribe sought to know if the issue of triple ‘talaq’ came up for discussion at the annual conclave, he shot back, ‘that was not on our agenda.’

Gujarat riots: Modi misses date with SIT

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Gujarat-riots-Modi-misses-date-with-SIT/articleshow/5710084.cms

TNN, Mar 22, 2010, 04.06am IST

GANDHINAGAR: Chief minister Narendra Modi failed to turn up for questioning at the office of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Sunday, against a petition accusing him and 62 others of failing to protect the citizens in the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

The petition was filed by Zakia Jafri, whose husband Ahsan Jafri, ex-Congress MP was slain in the Gulbarg Society massacre with 68 others on February 28, 2002.

Sources told TOI that Modi had been summoned on Sunday so that the assembly sessions would not become an excuse for his absence.

However, since March 11, when the SIT chief R K Raghavan announced that Modi had been summoned on Sunday, there have been several interpretations to these summons, the latest being that Modi’s time to appear before SIT was valid up to a week beginning Sunday. On Saturday, Raghavan was saying he had not heard from Modi yet.

Trial of wealth case against Jayalalithaa resumes today

http://beta.thehindu.com/news/article261302.ece

B. S. Ramesh

After a five-year hiatus, regular trial of the disproportionate assets case relating to acquisition of wealth by AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa when she was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu between 1991 and 1996, will resume here from Monday.

A Special Court was hearing the case after it was transferred from Chennai. However, the trial had been stayed by the Supreme Court in 2005 when Ms. Jayalalithaa and others went in appeal against a ruling.

With the Supreme Court on Friday ordering resumption, the hearing in the wealth case in which the former Chief Minister is accused of having amassed Rs. 66 crore, will once again commence with the examination of 42 witnesses.

The Special Court last week ordered issue of summons to the witnesses. They will be examined in batches of five starting Monday over nine days. Once this is completed, the prosecution is expected to issue summons to Ms. Jayalalithaa.

Apart from her, several others including her companion Sasikala Natarajan, Illavarasi, V. Sudhagaran and T.T.V. Dinakaran were accused in the two cases filed against them by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, Chennai

Service tax on renting immovable property too
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/service-taxrenting-immovable-property-too/389272/
S Madhavan / New Delhi March 22, 2010, 0:52 IST
 

Budget 2010 has significant service tax related proposals in store for the real estate sector. In the previous article, the service tax proposals on property construction activities were discussed. The article addresses the amendments concerning the renting of immovable property. Before that it is imperative to set out first the background relating to the issue.

 The service in respect of renting of immovable property has been defined under Section 65(105) (zzzz) of the Finance Act, 1994 (‘The Act’) and was introduced w.e.f. June 1, 2007. The relevant portion of the definition reads as follows:

“Taxable service” means any service provided, or to be provided to any person, by any other person in relation to renting of immovable property for use in the course or furtherance of business or commerce and the term “service provider” shall be construed accordingly.

At the outset, it must be noted that tax applies only on the renting of commercial property and not on residential property.

Following the introduction of this taxable service, several writ petitions challenging the levy were filed in various courts. In April 2009, the Delhi High Court, in the case of Home Solution Retail India Ltd & Others vs. UOI & Others (2009 (237) ELT-209), held that the taxable service in respect of renting of immovable property, as defined under the relevant sections of the Finance Act 1994, was with regard to any service in relation to renting of property and was not on the renting of immovable property as such.

Consequently, the High Court held that the levy of service tax on the renting of immovable property itself, in terms of the relevant notification issued consequent to the introduction of the taxable service, was ultra vires the provisions of the Act. In arriving at its decision, the court relied on the wordings of the definition to hold that since the activity of renting of immovable property was itself not a service, the expression ‘service in relation to renting of immovable property’, could only extend to services which are provided in relation to the renting of immovable property.

With regards to the nature of the service tax itself, the High Court had held that it is a value added tax and the tax is a tax on value addition done by the service provider and it must have a connection with the service. Consequently, since the mere renting of immovable property did not entail any value addition, it could not be regard ed as a service for that reason as well.

While upholding the arguments contained in the writ petitions in regard to the above points, the High Court did not examine the alternate argument that the relevant definition, should it be construed as applicable to the activity of renting of immovable property as well, would be violative of the Constitution of India in that the Central Government could not, in terms thereof, impose a tax on land, as it was a State subject.

Coming back to Budget 2010, the proposal is to amend the definition of renting of immovable property services, to provide that the activity of “renting” is itself a taxable service. This amendment is proposed to be made with retrospective effect from June 1, 2007. The amendment also now extends the service tax to rent of vacant land where there is an agreement or a contract between the lessor and lessee for undertaking the construction of a building or structures thereon for the purpose of business or commerce. These amendments will come into force from a date to be notified after the enactment of the Finance Bill 2010. Once that happens, the tax will become payable for the period from 1st June 2007 and beyond.

Now, there could be constitutional challenges to the above amendment on the following possible grounds:

# the retrospectivity of the amendment itself;

# whether, in the absence of specific enabling provisions, the Government could simply deem something to be a service: and.

# whether the Central Government can at all tax property related transactions, as they form part of the State List of the Constitution.

Assuming that the retrospective amendment is constitutionally valid, the point is that the tax becomes payable on and from 1st June 2007. Some key questions need to be answered in this regard. One such question is whether such a tax is chargeable and payable prior to the retrospective amendment coming into force. The legal position is that the tax is not chargeable or payable before this date. This would mean that landlords need to enter into a dialogue with their tenants as to how such back taxes are to be charged for the taxable periods in question and how they would be reimbursed by the tenants, as per contractual terms.

Another question is regarding interest on such back taxes. Now, Clause 76 of the Finance Bill 2010 saves actions taken between June 2007 until the date of the retrospective amendments coming into effect on any proceedings for recovery of service tax, interest, penalty, fine or charges related to the renting of immovable property. This could be interpreted to mean that should there be demands from the department to this effect, such demands will continue to have force.

However, should there not be a proceeding at all, and therefore no demand or an order related to the service tax on renting is or was in force, no interest can apply in the matter. In other words, the interpretation is that the savings provisions do not authorise the computation of interest, where no order for interest had earlier been passed. An entirely similar argument could be made with regard to penalty as well.

Independent of the above position in law, and to avoid prolonged and vexatious litigation on the point, the Government should seriously consider issuing a clarification that no interest or penalty will be required to be paid, if the service tax were to be paid immediately upon the date of coming into force of the amended provisions. Indeed, this is the only reasonable course to adopt, given that the service tax on renting per se was held not payable by the Delhi High Court and taxpayers had legitimately followed this decision and it is only now that the Government is seeking to undo the decision through the retrospective amendment in question. In such a situation, imposition of interest and/or penalty will be highly inappropriate.

In conclusion, the retrospective imposition of service tax on property rentals will have significant implications, especially where no offset of such taxes is possible, such as in retail sector. The Government needs to be sensitive to this point. It is the expectation in the forthcoming GST, such inability to offset input taxes will be addressed. Until such time however, this matter will continue to pose significant challenges.

The author is Leader, Indirect Tax Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Email: pwctls.nd@in.pwc.com  

Supported by Rahul Renavikar

Plea to restrain foreign law firms in India

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Plea+to+restrain+foreign+law+firms+in+India&artid=l3F%7CpZZLyLw=&SectionID=lifojHIWDUU=&MainSectionID=wIcBMLGbUJI=&SectionName=rSY%7C6QYp3kQ=&SEO=

Express News Service

First Published : 21 Mar 2010 02:48:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 21 Mar 2010 07:47:37 AM IST

CHENNAI: A writ plea has been filed in the Madras High Court to restrain foreign law firms and advocates from operating in India.

The First Bench comprising Chief Justice HL Gokhale and Justice V Dhanapalan, before which the public interest writ petition from AK Balaji of Harur came up for hearing on Friday, ordered issuance of notice to the authorities concerned returnable by April 8.

Petitioner contended that a reading of the Advocates Act would abundantly make it clear that to be entitled to practise the profession of law in India, a person should be a citizen of India and should possess a law degree obtained from a university within the territory of India.

The Act, however, provided for reciprocal arrangements.

But the law graduates from India were not allowed to practise the profession of law in the United Kingdom, USA and Australia and various other countries.

Writ filed against dental council president

http://beta.thehindu.com/news/cities/Chennai/article243912.ece

Special Correspondent

A writ of Quo Warranto has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking a direction to show cause under what authority Anil Kohli is holding the office of the president, Dental Council of India (DCI).

In his petition, George Paul of Fairlands, Salem, submitted that he was a registered medical practitioner. Dr. Kohli ought not to have been nominated a member of the DCI as he had become a member of the council by way of a nomination by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi in June 2009.

The Dentists Act enabled each State to nominate one member, who was a medical practitioner in that State. But, no Union Territory could nominate any member.

Dr. Kohli, though not validly nominated, contested and was elected in July 2009. As his election as a member was void, his election as president would also be void.

The court ordered notice returnable in two weeks.

GSIC dismisses RTI request for being ‘vast’

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/GSIC-dismisses-RTI-request-for-being-vast/articleshow/5709575.cms

Mar 22, 2010, 12.48am IST

PANAJI: The Goa state information commission (GSIC) has dismissed a GBA member’s request for details of the total number of construction permissions issued by the town and country planning department in Goa from July 2008 till date. V A Kamat, a core committee member of the GBA, is set to file a writ petition in the high court challenging the GSIC judgement.

Goa state information commissioner Afonso Araujo dismissed the application on the grounds that, “the information sought by the appellant is too vast and spread across the entire state of Goa, and would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority”.

St Inez-based Kamat had in February 2009 sought the above information and also the details of each NOC-name of the applicant, date of application, taluka, village/town/city, survey number, type of construction, built up area, FAR consumed and the date of approval.

In March 2009, the public information officer (PIO) from the TCP department’s Panaji office had provided the information pertaining to the office of the Panaji chief town planner. The PIO had also transferred Kamat’s application to the TCP’s Mapusa and Margao offices to obtain information pertaining to their jurisdictions.

However, the Mapusa and Margao TCP offices rejected the application on the grounds that they are short-staffed and that compiling the information will “disproportionately divert the resources envisaged under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act”.

Consequently, Kamat made his first appeal to the chief town planner who is the first appellate authority. The chief town planner upheld the reasoning of the Mapusa and Margao TCP offices and dismissed Kamat’s appeal. When Kamat made his second appeal before the GSIC, the commission noted that the only point of determination is whether the Mapusa and Margao TCP offices “were justified in denying the information sought on the ground that it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority”.

The GSIC noted that it is a mandate under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act that information sought shall ordinarily be provided in the form it has been sought “unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question”.

The GSIC noted that the two offices are short-staffed, that the public authority would be put under undue pressure to provide such vast information spread across the entire state and will disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority. The GSIC therefore dismissed the appeal.

Migrant murder damages

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100322/jsp/nation/story_12246388.jsp

ANANYA SENGUPTA

New Delhi, March 21: The National Human Rights Commission has recommended that the Maharashtra government pay Rs 5 lakh each to the families of two persons who died in anti-migrant clashes in 2008 and chided it for “lack of political will” to rein in “divisive forces”.

“The Maharashtra government failed to take timely action for the protection of citizens in the wake of a hate campaign launched against migrants by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activists in the state. The commission recommends that the state government pay Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of Vinod Singh and Amba Das who lost their lives in mob violence in Mumbai and adjoining areas in Maharashtra,” the NHRC said.

The commission’s recommendation came in these two specific incidents of violence unleashed by MNS activists in February 2008.

Singh, a security guard, was killed when the workers’ colony in Nashik, where he stayed, was attacked by MNS activists.

Das died after a fatal injury caused during stone-pelting by a mob. The activists targeted the bus carrying Das and his colleagues of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited on the Mumbai-Nashik highway.

Both incidents happened on February 13, 2008.

The recommendation to the state government, which has paid Rs 1 lakh to the two families, is not binding. However, state governments generally pay so that the aggrieved parties do not drag the matter to court.

The commission took up the matter on its own after seeing media coverage on February 14 and 15 and issued a notice to the chief secretary of the Maharashtra government on February 18 seeking a factual report on the incidents of violence.

NHRC to Bengal: Don’t discriminate between Nandigram, firing victims

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/nhrc-to-bengal-dont-discriminate-between-nandigram-firing-victims/593921/0

Swaraj Thapa

 Posted: Monday , Mar 22, 2010 at 0342 hrs New Delhi:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has decided to issue fresh directives to the West Bengal government, asking it to award the same compensation to victims of political clashes in Nandigram in November 2007 that was given to those killed in police firing earlier that year in March.

Rejecting the West Bengal government’s decision to award lesser compensation, official sources said the NHRC last week decided that the next of kin of those killed in political clashes in Nandigram should have the same rights as those who were killed in police firing and should be compensated equally.

Fourteen persons were killed in police firing in Nandigram on March 14, 2007, and 300 people including 52 policemen were injured in the wake of widespread protests against a proposed land acquisition programme by the state government for setting up a special economic zone and a chemical hub in the region. The protests were led by the Bhoomi Ucched Pratirodh Committee (BUPD) — a Trinamool Congress-backed organisation, which also succeeded in driving away CPM supporters from the region.

Following directives from the Calcutta High Court, the state government has paid compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the dead, Rs 1 lakh each to the injured and Rs 2 lakh each to rape victims.

However, it has refused to award similar compensation to those killed in political clashes between CPM cadres and BUPC as well as Trinamool Congress supporters in November 2007. The clash happened after CPM cadres regrouped in the following months and attempted to retrieve their base in Nandigram. The official tally in the November incident was seven persons killed and 32 injured. An NHRC team, which visited the area subsequently, also found that thousands of villagers, believed to be supporters of BUPC, were driven out and their houses damaged. A subsequent report of the state government admitted that 560 houses were damaged in the clashes. The Trinamool Congress, however, had alleged that the number of those killed was higher and that there were also several instances of women being raped.

The West Bengal government has maintained that it will award compensation of only Rs 1 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the November 2007 clashes and minor damages to those injured.

The NHRC, however, insists that there should not be any discrimination in the compensation packages and victims of the November 2007 incident should be awarded the same damages as those killed in the police firing earlier. The NHRC has also said that Rs 20,000 should be awarded for fully damaged houses instead of Rs 10,000 fixed by the state government.

Shame on National Human Rights Commission

http://gundaity.blogspot.com/2010/03/shame-on-national-human-rights.html

New Delhi: The post-mortem reports of Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid, the Azamgarh youths killed in the September 2008 Batla House encounter, has exposed the impartiality of the National Human Rights Commission and the Delhi Police, said Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association in a thorough analysis of the post-mortem reports and demanded immediate institution of judicial probe into the encounter.

Post-mortem reports expose NHRC enquiry

The NHRC has released the documents which formed the basis of its conclusion that the Batla House ‘encounter’ was genuine. The post mortem reports of the slain young men, Atif Ameen and Md. Sajid, as well as Inspector Sharma have been made public for the first time. Thus far, the Delhi Police and AIIMS (which conducted the post mortem) have declined to provide information citing 8 (1) b and 8 (1) h of the RTI Act. Section 8(1) b of the Right To Information Act–2005 states that information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court cannot be provided to a RTI petitioner. Section 8(1) h states that information cannot be provided about matters which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of the offenders. It should be noted that when the RTI was filed the first time by RTI activist and Jamia student Afroze Alam Sahil, a few days after the ‘encounter’, there was no direction from the court that such information be withheld. Indeed, frustrated by the Police’s refusal to part with the post mortem report, the Central Information Commission directed the Delhi Police to submit all documents pertaining to the Batla House Encounter before it by March 5, 2009 for inspection by the bench” so that it could examine whether the information could be made public. The Delhi Police instead rushed to the High Court, challenging this directive, feigning that such information would be detrimental to investigations. The High Court stayed the CIC directive on 1st April 2009.

Meanwhile, the NHRC in its ‘enquiry’, extensively cited the postmortem report of Inspector Sharma to prove that he had been fired upon by alleged terrorists. While wounds suffered by the slain police officer were provided with great detail such as the places in the body where bullet injuries were found, their impact, ‘entry and exit points’ etc. Even the injury suffered in the arm by injured Constable Balwant Singh carried all this information but the same treatment is curiously absent in the case of Atif and Sajid, the slain ‘terrorists’. This is surely intriguing because the post mortem report mentions quite clearly that:

Analysis of post-mortem reports

1) Atif Ameen sustained injuries on right knee cap (injury number 7); grazing effects in the interscapular region or back region in layperson’s terms (injury number 11), multiple abrasions on right buttock (injury number 21). See attached photo of Atif’s back and leg which clearly illustrate these injuries.

It is further explicitly stated that injury number 7 was “produced by blunt force impact by object or surface.”

The gun shot injuries received by Atif are as follows:

Gunshot wounds (Entry) on the body of Atif Ameen

Gunshot Wound No. Size Area

14 1 cm diameter, cavity deep Left side back

9 2X1 cm, cavity deep having 1 cm abrasion collar Left side back of chest

13 3×1 cm cavity deep with abrasion collar of 9.2 cm Over midline at back, 30 cm below the nape of neck

8 1.5 x1 cm x cavity deep Right scapular region, 10 cm from midline and 7 cm below tip of right shoulder

15 0.5 cm diameter Xcavity deep Lower back midline, 44 cm below nape of neck

6 1.5 X1 cm oval in shape Inner aspect of left thigh (track going upward), communicating with gsw injury no. 20 at left buttock region from where a metallic object is recovered. The GSW 20 is cited as of unusually large size of 5×2.2 cm

10 1×0.5 cm5 cm below right shoulder tip & 14cm below midline

11 1×0.5 cm Inter scapular region, 4cm right to midline

12 2×1.5 cm Right side back, 15 cm from midline, 29 cm below tip of the right shoulder

16 1 cm diameter Outer and back aspect of right forearm

· Almost (8 out of 10) all the entry wounds on the body of Atif Ameen are on the back side, in the region below the shoulders and at the back of the chest, which point to the fact that he was repeatedly shot from behind.

· Another one (no.6 on the table) is on the inner side of the left thigh but suspiciously, the trajectory of the shot is in the upward direction, thus suggesting that in this case the shot was fired from below. What caused the unusually large wound of 5 x 2.2 cm? Why were metallic objects present in the left thigh?

Gunshot wounds on the body of Mohd Sajid

2) 17-year-old Md Sajid also displayed at least two injuries (numbers 13 and 14, interscapular region and right leg), which had been caused by blunt force impact by object or surface.” The gunshot injuries received by Sajid are as follows:

Gunshot Wound no. 1 Right frontal region of the scalp (forehead)

Gunshot Wound no. 2Right forehead

Gunshot Wound no. 5 Tip of right shoulder (going vertically downwards)

Gunshot Wound no. 8Back of left side chest (12 cm from root of neck)

Gunshot Wound no. 10Left side of occiput (in layperson’s term, back portion of the head)

The entry points of each of these gunshot wounds—and the fact that all but one bullet is travelling in a downward direction—strongly suggests that he was held down by force (which also explain the injuries on the back and leg region), while bullets were pumped down his forehead, back and head. (See also photo attached.)

In which genuine cross fire do people receive injuries only in the back and head region??

The all-important question is at why the NHRC deliberately ignored this incriminating and suggestive evidence? In its refusal to pursue any contrary line of investigation, it has proved itself to be in collusion with the Delhi Police, discarding even the minimum pretence of impartiality.

However, post mortem report is only one of the documents that been released by the NHRC to the appellant Afroze Alam. It includes, in addition, statements by senior police officers and a “Note on Investigation of the Serial Blasts at Delhi” (which became the basis for NHRC’s report and also the LG’s decision that no magisterial probe was required into the encounter’).

The Note on Investigation is high on allegations but cipher on any hard evidence. Some of the important point it makes to buttress its claims about Indian Mujaheddin and Atif Amin’s terror links are as follows:

1) The cell phone number 9811004309 is shown to be at the heart of the investigations. According to the police, this number was in touch with three cell numbers from Gujarat, which were under surveillance by Gujarat Police following the Ahmedabad blasts (which took place on 26th July 2008). Further, this number was found to be present near Nizamuddin station on 21st July 2008, from where according to the police, ‘terrorists’ booked train tickets for Ahmedabad.

According to the police, the cell number belonged Md. Atif Amin and the police even lists how this cell number was switched off on 23rd September 2007 (UP court blasts).

However, by the police’s own admission in the Note, this number came to be acquired by Atif Amin on 11th August 2008 (much after UP court blasts and after Ahmedabad blasts and the supposed booking of train tickets at Nizamuddin station). Atif got this number as a post paid connection on 11th Aug and all the address details furnished by him were found to be true (that is how the police arrived at L-18 on 19th September 2008 in the first place).

So the only piece of evidence that the police had to nail down Atif Amin was his cell number, which he did not even possess at the time the Gujarat Police was tracking it. None of the material and evidence supposedly seized by the police has any procedural validity (The Note even fails to mention where most of the material has been seized from).

2) The Note also mentions that immediately following the shootout, photographs of the “deceased Atif and Sajid were sent through Intelligence Agency (sic) to Afzal Usmani, who confirmed that they were indeed involved in the blasts. Recall that the ‘encounter’ took place on 19th September 2008, and the Annexure ‘A’ submitted by the police to the NHRC states that Usmani was arrested on 23rd September 2008, full four days after the ‘encounter’. So when was Usmani arrested? When were the supposed confirmations made?

In light of these revelations and in the persistent refusal of the NHRC to take into account evidence which vitiates the Delhi Police claims that the ‘encounter’ was genuine, JTSA reiterates the demand for a judicial probe into the Batla House ‘encounter’. All those arguing that judicial probes are protracted and futile exercises are simple asking us to forget that two young men were killed under highly mysterious circumstances, and given that a separate FIR has not even been filed in the case of their killings, nor a magisterial probe conducted, as required under NHRC guidelines, a time bound judicial probe is the only solution.

प्रस्तुतकर्ता Shafiqur Rahman khan yusufzai

लेबल: तमाशा मेरे आगे

NHRC takes serious view of corporal punishment

http://www.thehindu.com/2010/03/22/stories/2010032259250400.htm

Staff Reporter

ELURU: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took serious view of the reported corporal punishment meted out to an LKG student Pemmaraju Sree Manaswini, resulting in a serious injury to her left eye, by a teacher of Akshara Public School in Tanuku.

Responding to a petition submitted by the victim’s mother Jayalakshmi, the NHRC sought a detailed report from the Chief Secretary and West Godavari district Collector on the incident within six weeks. It sought to know as to why no action was initiated on the school management yet.

Meanwhile, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) directed the district Collector to pay Rs. 1 lakh as ex-gratia to the victim’s family members. The SHRC Chairperson also instructed the Superintendent of Police to take steps for production of the school correspondent before the Commission on April 31 in wake of allegations that he had subjected the petitioner to criminal intimidation for petitioning the Commission about the corporal punishment.

Kerala panel holds Coca Cola guilty

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/kerala-panel-holds-coca-cola-guilty/111863-3.html

Press Trust Of India

Published on Mon, Mar 22, 2010 at 16:21 in India section

Thiruvananthapuram: A committee set up by the Kerala government on Monday suggested that the state take legal steps to collect Rs 216.26 crore from Coca Cola as compensation for the “multi-sectoral” loss allegedly caused by the company’s plant at Plachimada in Palakkad district.

The 14-member committee, which was set up in April 2009 and is led by Additional Chief Secretary K Jayakumar, recommended that a tribunal be set up to help people affected by the plant as they wouldn’t be able to fight the company in the courts individually.

The panel’s report alleged that the Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Ltd plant exceeded the limit to withdraw groundwater and harmed the farming and environment in the area by dumping solid waste.

It quantified the damage suffered by various sectors due to the plant from 1999 to 2004 as agricultural loss (Rs 84. 16 crore), pollution of water resources (Rs 62 crore), cost of providing water (Rs 20 crore), health damage (Rs 30 crore), wage loss and opportunity cost (Rs 20 crore).

State Water Resources Minister N K Premachandran said the report would be placed before the state cabinet.

Jayakumar said the “dedicated” legal mechanism to fight for compensation could be created by the state government itself either by setting up a tribunal or asking the Centre to create such a mechanism under the Environment Act.

“Once the government decides on a suitable mechanism and it comes into being, individual claims will have to be assessed and actual compensation decreed and the polluter company made to pay it,” the report said.

It reported the precedent of Tamil Nadu setting up a tribunal to address the pollution caused by tanneries.

Jayakumar alleged that Coca Cola declined to co-operate with the study by writing that the government had no power to do such an exercise. “We just ignored the contention of the company and went ahead with our task,” he said.

The report said the company was culpable under several laws. By passing sludge as manure, the company had not only misguided farmers, but has become responsible for soil degradation, water contamination and consequential loss of agriculture.

Besides a steady decline in agriculture in the area dominated by weaker sections and tribals, production of milk, meat and eggs had also suffered, it said.

The general health of the people had been affected with skin ailments, breathing problems and other debilities.

The report said drinking water had become scarce through over extraction by the plant and women had to go long distances to fetch water. A total of 900 households had been directly affected by the problems caused by the company.

Children had to leave schools on account of the social, health and economic factors caused by the pollution and this “opportunity cost” should be realised, it said.

Daily extraction of over five lakh litres of water by the plant had upset the natural balance and adversely affected availability of water. Toxic chemicals in the wastewater contaminated groundwater and made it unsuitable for irrigation, the report said.

The plant, now dysfunctional, had been the focus of a struggle with local people, environmentalists and anti-MNC activists agitating for its closure.

At one point the Left Democratic Front Government in the state had even imposed a ban on sale of Cola brands of various companies, which was later quashed by the Kerala High Court.

The committee comprised legal experts, including a retired district judge, agricultural scientists, environmentalists and health and ground water experts.

03221456

Coca Cola’s response

Coca Cola rejected the report, saying the panel was set up based on the “unproven assumption” that the company had caused damage in the area.

“It is our view that any government committee or panel reviewing claims should first determine through a process of law whether any damage was caused to residents of Palakkad, and if such damage was caused, who was responsible,” it said in a statement.

“It is unfortunate that the committee in Kerala was appointed on the unproven assumption that damage was caused and that it was caused by Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages,” it said.

Debt tribunal shadow on Vishal restructuring
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/debt-tribunal-shadowvishal-restructuring/389330/
Ruchika Chitravanshi / New Delhi March 22, 2010, 0:40 IST
 

A group of lenders to Vishal Retail, who are not part of the ongoing corporate debt restructuring (CDR) exercise, are taking other routes to recover their money. One such bank, DBS, had approached the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT), a senior official in the bank confirmed.

The DRT hearing is scheduled on Monday. Vishal Retail owes Rs 40 crore to DBS.

The bank is also believed to have sent a “winding up” notice to the debt-ridden company. “We were not happy with the things we were getting. For the non-CDR lenders, it was a raw deal. We are basically doing whatever we can to recover our money,” the senior official said.

The non-CDR lenders include Barclays, DBS, Deutsch Bank (MF) and Life Insurance Corporation. Some of the other non-CDR banks, too, are considering an approach to DRT to get a better deal and negotiate the terms of repayment.

Vishal Retail had opted for CDR last November, with six banks joining the process. The company has total debt of Rs 730 crore, with non-CDR lenders accounting for Rs 260 crore.

On being asked, Vishal Retail Chairman Ram Chandra Agarwal said: “While the CDR is going on, no other litigation will be valid. Most banks are on board with us. If one or two aren’t, then they eventually will be.”

According to financial analysts, however, the DRT procedure can impact the CDR exercise. “The CDR might reconsider the payment made to the non-CDR banks to find an amicable solution,” said Bhavesh Parekh, head–restructuring services, KPMG.

DRT may also request the company to look into a compromise package through arbitration. In case of “winding up”, the matter would be in the hands of the High Court. “In most cases, it has been seen that the High Court keeps the larger interest in mind. If the existing business can generate employment, increase value to creditors, then it may ask all lenders to do structuring in a way that 75 per cent of banks have to agree,” said Parekh.

LEGAL NEWS 21.03.2010

PIL helps villagers ‘breathe easy’ 

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/article/2/2010032120100321021000918fff042fb/PIL-helps-villagers-‘breathe-easy’.html 

A Ville Parle couple’s initiative checked a drugs manufacturing factory’s practice of releasing harmful effluents into Choronde village’s atmosphere 

By Virat A Singh  

Posted On Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 02:10:00 AM 

This one is a dramatic, real-life rerun of the Julia Roberts-starrer Erin Brockovich. A Ville Parle couple took up the cause of harried villagers of three hamlets in Alibaug who were severely affected by air and water pollution caused by a chemical factory in the vicinity.

Thanks to a PIL filed by Sanjay and Roshan Sane in the Bombay High Court, Pradeep Shetye Private Limited has been halted in its deathly march of spewing harmful, untreated chemicals into the water bodies of Choronde village where it is situated. Residents of two other affected villages located nearby, Sogaon and Munavali, can also breathe easy.

Following a High Court order in January this year, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPBC) had formed a panel to inspect the factory, which manufactures drugs. In its report, the three-member committee had said Shetye Pvt. Ltd. should only be allowed to operate in a Chemical Zone. If not, the factory may cause even more harm to the surrounding environment and its inhabitants.

Giving its verdict on March 17, the High Court ruled: “Taking into consideration the report submitted by the committee, the MPCB cannot grant permission to the factory to restart operations.”

Villagers woes

Samad Koor, a villager from Chorande says, “Shetye Pvt. Ltd was set up around 30 years ago. We were told then that it will manufacture soap. But gradually, when the factory started belching out nauseous smoke, we realised something was wrong.”

Koor said the factory owner’s lie surfaced when farmers discovered the water they were using in their fields was harming their crops. 
Even drinking water drawn from wells was contaminated by the effluents, pointing out to the callous manner in which waste from the factory was being dumped. Matters came to a head when some buffaloes died after they drank the contaminated water.

Yashwant More, who worked as plant operator in the factory, alleged, “We were instructed by factory officials to collect waste effluents and release them into the nullahs only during the night. Besides, workers weren’t even provided with masks and gloves while handling harmful drugs.”

Sanes to the rescue

“When we came to Choronde to build our farmhouse, we realised the air was thick with fumes. Upon digging a little deeper, we found the villagers had remained quite for so long because of the compensation they received from the factory owner,” said Roshan Sane. She added that though the many letters she wrote to MPCB resulted in 14 closure notices between 2005 to 2008, the factory would restart every time.

Sanjay Sane said, “Shetye Pvt. Ltd has a licence to manufacture only two drugs: Mebendazol, a drug used for treating intestinal worms, and Vitamin B2. But we have information that it was also producing other drugs, which is a gross violation of FDA rules.”

Factory owner Pradeep Shetye claimed, “We will rectify the faults found by MPCB. Anyway, the HC has not mentioned that we must permanently halt production.” 

Another multi-disabled child found abandoned in city

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/Another-multi-disabled-child-found-abandoned-in-city/articleshow/5707155.cms 

Ashish Tripathi, TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 02.03am IST 

LUCKNOW: Yet another multi-disabled boy, aged around 10 years, was found in the city on Saturday. The boy was in bad state when he was found abandoned by some locals in Chhitwapur locality on Station Road. The people took him to city magistrate RS Prem’s office from where he was handed over to Nirvan, a non-government-organisation running a shelter home for mentally disabled destitute.

There is no shelter home for multi-disabled destitute, be it children or adult, in UP. The state government has not paid any attention to the problem despite widespread public criticism and awareness campaigns by social organisations. The boy found on Saturday is deaf, dumb and mentally retarded. He was not able to give any hints about his whereabouts. Nirvan has appealed to people to inform anything they know about the boy on the mobile number 9411107536. “We will try to rehabilitate the boy with the help of district welfare officer Akhilesh Bajpai,” said SS Dhapola, director, Nirvan. Medically examination showed that the boy was also suffering from malnutrition, he added.

In past two months, over 30 disabled destitute, including newborns, have been found abandoned in the city. On March 15, a four-day-old blind girl was found abandoned in the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. A five-year old multi-disabled boy (deaf, dumb and mentally retarded), Rinku, was recovered from Charbagh last year. No government shelter home was ready to keep him as such babies require 24-hour attention. He was later adopted by Drishti Samajik Sansthan. As per rough estimates, there are 36,000 multi-disabled children in the state, of which 10% are said to be destitute, left to die on the streets without any care.

The awareness campaigns have been able to sensitise people about destitute but have made no impact on the state government. All this, when two public interest litigations (PIL) are pending in the high court seeking directions for the state government to make arrangements for the disabled destitute. A PIL has also been filed in the Supreme Court, which has asked state governments to inform the court about the arrangements made for destitute children. The State Human Rights Commission has also take cognizance of the fact. But so far, the state government has not taken any concrete step. Significantly, being a welfare state, it is the Constitutional duty of the government to provide a dignified life to destitute. 

Court upholds man’s life term for killing wife 

http://sify.com/news/court-upholds-man-s-life-term-for-killing-wife-news-national-kdvpudffedj.html 

2010-03-21 15:20:00 

Upholding the life imprisonment of a man who killed his wife with a wooden rolling pin used for making rotis, the Delhi High Court said the accused was aware the attack would prove fatal. 

A division bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Suresh Kait said: ‘He who repeatedly hits his wife on the head with a ‘belan’ would certainly be (having) knowledge that his acts would result in the death of the victim.’ 

On Sep 7, 2005, Rajesh hit Kavita after a row. He was convicted for murder and dowry death and sentenced to life imprisonment. 

Dismissing Rajesh’s plea for leniency, the judges said: ‘The testimonies of three witnesses prove Rajesh killed his wife mercilessly.’ 

According to the prosecution, when witnesses went to Kavita’s house, they saw Rajesh hitting Kavita and striking her against the floor. She was crying and bleeding. 

Kavita was declared dead at the hospital. After that, Rajesh fled. 

‘The deceased was assaulted to teach her a lesson. There was no robbery. Nothing was stolen from the house,’ the court said, holding Rajesh guilty of killing his wife. 

Ranjit Bajaj moves bail plea in high court

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Ranjit-Bajaj-moves-bail-plea-in-high-court/articleshow/5707135.cms 

Rajinder Nagarkoti, TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 03.18am IST 

PANCHKULA: Not getting relief from Panchkula sessions court, Ranjit Bajaj moved a bail application in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Saturday, when Panchkula police prepared a chargesheet against him in an attempt to murder case.

Tightening the noose around an IAS couple’s only son, police have added Arms Act to the chargesheet, that will reportedly be filed in court this coming week.

With regard to Ranjit’s regular bail application, his advocate Rajan Malhotra told TOI that they had filed a petition in HC and it was expected to come up for hearing on Monday. Sources said the petitionchallenged Panchkula district and sessions court order of March 17, when Ranjit’s bail plea was dismissed on account of his criminal record and possibility of tampering with evidence.

Preparing the chargesheet against Ranjit, police sources said, “Cops will file it before additional chief judicial magistrate of Panchkula court on Monday or Tuesday.”

Confirming the development, Jangsher Singh, SHO of Chandimandir police station, said, “We have almost finalized the chargesheet against all accused, including Ranjit and his guards Malkhan Singh and Mohinder Singh.”

The SHO added that apart from sections in the FIR, they would include Arms Act in the chargesheet against Ranjit. Earlier, Panchkula police had registered a case against all accused under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation), 307 (attempt to murder), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of IPC. 

Sack Raja, Jaya tells PM  

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Sack+Raja,+Jaya+tells+PM&artid=lhvinIHHdUo=&SectionID=lifojHIWDUU=&MainSectionID=wIcBMLGbUJI=&SectionName=rSY%7C6QYp3kQ=&SEO

Express News Service 

First Published : 21 Mar 2010 02:55:00 AM IST 

Last Updated : 21 Mar 2010 08:45:30 AM IST 

CHENNAI: AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa on Saturday renewed her demand for sacking Union Telecom Minister A Raja with regard to the 2G-spectrum allocation in the light of the Supreme Court’s refusal to interfere in the findings of the Delhi High Court against him. 

“The interests of justice will be served only if Raja is removed from his post as Union minister. 

“Now that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has the SC’s order to back him, he should not hesitate further to sack Raja,” Jayalalithaa said in a statement here. 

The AIADMK leader further said: “Only this will give credence to Singh’s claim that he is a prime minister with zero intolerance for corrupt practices.’’ Giving a detailed account of the events that led to the case filed by telecom firm STel, the AIADMK general secretary said the company moved the court challenging the decision of the Department of Telecom in arbitrarily advancing the cut-off dates for 2G allocation. 

But STel had to withdraw their complaint against the Telecom Minister after his department suddenly ordered the `closure of services due to security concerns’, in order to protect their business, Jayalalithaa said in her statement. 

A compromise draft was prepared and signed and the same was presented on behalf of DoT before the SC. 

But the court refused to provide any relief, the AIADMK chief said. 

Jayalalithaa further said, the Supeme Court, on March 12, had declined to interfere with the adverse findings of the Delhi High Court against DoT and Raja in the issue saying, “We make it clear that the findings reached by the High Court is not interfered with in this particular case.’’ 

Court accepts NDTV plea against child rights panel

http://www.realbollywood.com/news/2010/03/court-accepts-ndtv-plea-child-rights-panel.html 

March 21st, 2010
New Delhi, March 21 – The Delhi High Court has said that the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has no power to stay the telecast of a TV reality show without completing an inquiry. 

Justice S. Muralidhar in an order passed last week said: ‘NCPCR cannot on its own pass any directions without first completing the inquiry. Thereafter it can make recommendations to the government for initiation of proceedings against the concerned person.’ 

The court was disposing a case filed by NDTV Imagine challenging the powers of NCPCR that stayed the telecast of its reality show ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’. The stay was later lifted by the court. 

The show went on air Sep 28 last year. The channel immediately faced the ire of NCPCR, an autonomous body that alleged that the show exploited children. 

Modelled on international reality show ‘Baby Borrowers’, ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’ is about parenting – from living the life of an eight-month pregnant woman to taking care of an infant, a toddler and a teenager for four days each. 

IANS 

India: Protective Laws Fall Short for Women Charged with Witchcraft

http://womennewsnetwork.net/2010/03/21/witchcraft-india-89/

Women News Network

Correspondent, Shuriah Niazi – Women News Network – WNN 

March 21, 2010…6:05 am

The tribal Warli have a long tradition of belief in witchcraft. This folk art depicts rural life in Maharashtra region, India 

Chhattisgarh, India: Mita Bai, 34, will never forget the morning of May 6, 2005. It was 8 a.m. in the morning when a group of three men and six women came to her house with their allegations, branding her as, “a witch.” As an attack against her broke out, she cried out for help, but no one heard or heeded her pleas. Instead, she was dragged from her home, stripped of all her clothing, and nearly hung from a tree. 

What was her crime? She was accused of bringing misfortune to others in the village as a practitioner of “Dayan Pratha,” known in rural India as the practice of witchcraft. 

Kerva village in Chhattisgarh is near a vast, deep forest. The road to the village is so remote and difficult to reach that there are no buses; only a slow four-wheel drive vehicle can negotiate the terrain. With the nearest police station 40 kilometers away, police rarely venture into to the village. 

After this incident, police visits have increased dramatically, with arrest warrants for the six women and three men. Four of the wanted individuals are still in hiding. 

In India today witchcraft allegation, persecution and violence is not diminishing. 

“Over the last fifteen years, an estimated 2,500 Indian women have been killed because they were ‘witches’,” said Rebecca Vernon, third-year law student at Cornell University and editor for the Cornell International Law Journal. 

“Witch hunts are most common among poor rural communities with little access to education and health services, and longstanding beliefs in witchcraft,” Vernon continued. “When an individual gets sick or harm befalls the community, the blame falls not upon a virus or crop disease, but upon an alleged witch.” 

A Heartbreaking Case 

Mita Bai made her way to the police station on the day she was accused of witchcraft, begging for protection. She told the police how the group came to her house demanding she leave the village and how they physically dragged her out of her home. “They beat me up with sticks and rods and tried to hang me. When I overpowered them, they hounded me out of the village,” Mita recalled. She has now taken refuge in a nearby village, weeping continually in a way that is truly heartbreaking for anyone who witnesses it. 

While Mita suffers in exile, the turmoil has also caused villagers to express their own anger.  According to them, they were only punishing Mita Bai for acts of witchcraft she had performed. “She is here to kill us,” said Manju, a 24 year old member of the community. 

Witchcraft in India is still part of the rural culture of India. Violence against women who are accused of being witches is generally present and pervasive. This violence can be so severe and dangerous, it can result in the death of women who are accused. 

“Greed for property is one motivation behind witch-killings. The struggle for gender equality is also a factor in the persecutions, as are poverty and economic inequalities,” said Dinesh Mishra, who heads Andra Shraddha Nirmulan Samiti, a non-governmental organization based in Raipur in Chhattisgarh state, which fights against the harassment of women in the region. 

Society, Religion and Witchcraft in India  

Oppression of women as “witches” can be traced back to the first social communities in India. Local women, who fulfilled the role of healer and counselor, were feared when they became too powerful for the male leadership to control. As women gained power in their community, excuses were found to “bring them down to their place.” 

“The practice (of persecution) is mostly prevalent in tribal belts,” Dinesh Mishra explained further. “The villagers blame anything they don’t understand on (the most ancient Hindu customs of) tantra .” 

The Hindu religion of India – called Sanathana Dharma (The Universal Religion) – has many beliefs and rituals. Numerous ancient practices have rituals that can be interpreted and viewed as witchcraft or paganism. Practices include the worship of nature in its various forms, as the qualities of nature are embodied as numerous gods and goddesses. 

Those who follow the most ancient of the customs can be misunderstood and summarily accused. This can cause a conflict for the very pious, as the devotion of women to ancient traditions can be mistaken for “witchcraft.” 

Today ostracism and severe violence against women accused of witchcraft is occurring at an alarming rate in the village regions of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, along with numerous other rural regions in India. 

“Women who are widowed, infertile, possess ‘ugly’ features or are old, unprotected, poor or socially ostracized are easy targets,” said professor Kanchan Mathur, from the Institute of Development Studies – India, in a recent 2009 report. 

Accused women are often blamed for any misfortune that befalls their village. Some of the misfortunes that lead to accusations may also include natural disasters, such as droughts, floods, crop loss, illness or, dramatically, the death of a village child. 

With such unjust public charges made against her, how could Mita Bai ever return to her own village to lead a normal life? 

Once a woman has been accused of witchcraft inside her own society, it is difficult for her to ever escape the stigma. She can suffer severely the rest of her life. On guard at all times, she can be hurt at any time by ongoing public humiliations that range from public beatings, forced hair shavings, and forced acts of physical torture; such as being forced to go naked in public or to perform public acts of humiliation. 

Violence against women in this case can escalate into serious actions that can lead to a woman’s death. 

People gather as five women are accused of witchcraft in a small village located in rural Northeast, India. Image: Shib Shankar Chatterjee 

Witch Hunting 

Witch hunting in India is not an ancient practice that has been left to history. It is currently still widespread in Madhya Pradesh. But it is most prevalent in the tribal-dominated areas of the state. In the districts of Rajgarh, Khargone, Badwani and Jhabua, where accusations of witchcraft are unfortunately common, many older women who are accused cannot defend themselves in any way. 

In the tribal villages, the village ‘ojhas’ (known as ‘sorcerers’) boast of their powers to detect a witch – but they will only do so “for a price.” For the ojha to declare a woman a witch, villagers simply need to cough up a goat, a bottle of liquor, or any other poultry animal to pay the ojha. 

“The people here are really innocent and uneducated… This is the way (ojhas) sorcerers take advantage of the situation,” says Indian human rights activist, Vijay Pathak. 

When women reject the sexual advances of their male neighbors, it is another cause on the list leading to allegations of witchcraft. Made to pay a heavy price because they have spurned a man, a woman can be declared a witch by an overly greedy ojha, who works closely with the accusing neighbor, causing the accused woman to be harassed, shunned from her village and worse. 

Widows who refuse to relinquish claim over their husband’s property can similarly be threatened and charged with being a witch; an act that often succeeds to compel them to let go of their claim on their husband’s land. 

Even though these are reoccurring, well-known and recognized situations in villages, most village members fail to acknowledge when a woman is falsely accused. To publically say they, “smell a rat,” is next to impossible. 

While the ojha casts their “spell” over the village, creating a sense of fear and insecurity with tales of black magic, witchcraft, and horrific acts, the “real” reasons why women are branded witches – for economic gain or sexual vengeance – are completely forgotten. 

Take another case of Bhuri Bai of Baman village in the Jhabua district.  Almost three years ago, she was brutally beaten by her neighbors of many years, before being humiliatingly paraded through the village. Bhuri’s misery began when an ojha declared her responsible for the death of a child in the village. 

Public Punishments as Violence Against Women 

On the day of the boy’s funeral rites, a small piece of his flesh was said to have been found near his funeral pyre. The discovery caused swift gossip. The village ojha lost no time with the story. A case was built to cast suspicion upon Bhuri Bai as the “witch” who caused the death of the boy. These and other charges helped instigate the villagers to attack Bhuri. 

As violence escalated, in efforts to protect Bhuri Bai, her husband Keshav barely managed to save her from the deadly blows of the villagers that followed. 

Bhuri Bai is fortunate though, compared to many others who have been accused, there are countless others who have not escaped with their lives. According to the latest Jhabua district police records, over the last five years, 31 women were branded witches in the rural villages and beaten to death. 

These are not the complete numbers. Every year, many more similar cases, involving various degrees of violence against women (VAW), occur in the Jhabua district. 

What is most troubling is that such events find only a quiet mention in government records, if at all. 

The attitude of the police towards these cases is, at best, disappointing – and at worst, negligent. According to villagers, police simply encourage the parties involved to settle matters privately, without any formal legal action. 

The critical point is that women, who are accused of witchcraft in India, will often not seek any legal or police assistance. Shame, isolation and poverty feeds the wheel of no protection, no rights and no dignity for women who are usually on the bottom layer of Indian society and already without any proper legal recourse. 

The severity of deaths, due to witchcraft allegations, are caused by extreme and gruesome forms of torture, including acts of beheading, stoning, hanging, stabbing, poisoning or by being buried alive. 

Can Rural Society in India Change? 

“Witchcraft is common to the Jhabua, Dhar and Khargone districts, and women are usually treated as animals,” says India’s veteran  journalist, Rahul Kumar. “Victims are afraid to lodge a police complaint, fearing retaliation. After all, they have to live in the same village, amidst their tormentors,” he explains. 

In most cases, women are so humiliated that they cannot continue to live in their home village. In fact, the family of a mobbed woman also often ends up living like outcasts themselves. In violent episodes, and humiliating action, many relatives and extended families of women who have been accused of witchcraft are also forced to flee their homes and village regions. 

According to the most recent data, approx 137 women accused of being a “witch” have been killed in violent acts connected to accusations against them in the region (2004 – 2009). These deaths are not easy and often include great suffering through public torture and humiliation. 

It is suspected nationwide in India today that the actual number of deaths due to witchcraft allegations may be much higher than reports indicate. 

Even with reported cases coming in lower than expected, “Less than 1% of reported cases actually lead to conviction,” says the Free Legal Aid Committee, a legal consultation advocacy group that works to help women in the eastern regions of Jharkand and Bihar in India. 

45 year old Bihari Dalit woman, Lalpari Devi, is publically humiliated as she is tied to a tree and her hair is shaved. 

Are Legal Protections Available? 

While a woman accused of being a witch has a future that may not be certain, the Chhattisgarh government is trying to create laws that will stand for some type of legal protective action. 

“Nobody will dare to attack her again,“ declared one of the Chhatisgarh police officers involved in Mita Bai’s case. 

Legislation in Chhatisgarh is now making the charges of witchcraft a non-bailable offence, but it comes with an unbalanced and unfair treatment of the women who are suffering the most. It includes a “protective” prison term for the alleged “witch” of up to five years. 

This clearly flawed attempt at a solution, while trying to offer physical safety for women, could add more harm than good to women accused of witchcraft. The new law comes as legislators try to provide a buffer of safety for a women accused of being a witch as she is separated from her attackers. It also attempts to give accusers, “an alternate recourse against women besides the violence,” say local legislators. 

But the law does not recognize the need to severely punish, first, those who are attacking the accused women. Instead it outlines a program of punishment aimed at the woman and refuses to provide dignity and respect for women who have faced unjust allegations. 

Some laws in India do punish those who commit violence against women in cases of witchcraft allegations. Those who are integral in causing the problem, though, like the village ojha, who is the one who publically “names a woman a witch,” are rarely sentenced to over six months. 

Those who are accused of committing the violent act itself against a “witch” are usually sentenced to no more than one year. Those accused of murder often get reduced judgments or overturned sentences, as India’s current court system cannot adequately handle fair jurisprudence in cases involving superstition and witchcraft. 

The ineffectiveness of courtroom justice concerning cases of women who have been severely injured, damaged or killed by allegations of witchcraft does more than involve issues of superstition. It involves international human rights law. 

“The state of Jharkhand is deviating from International law obligations requiring India to address and prevent the problem of witch-hunting, which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of women,” said Cornell (Law School) International Human Rights Clinic in a January 2010 brief supporting a petition to the High Court of Judicature, at Ranchi in Jarkhand State, India. 

“The continued perpetuation of witchcraft related violence violates many international human rights that women are possessed of,” states the petition, “including their right to equality and non-discrimination, the right to life, the right to be free from cruel and inhuman treatment, the right to security, the right to adequate housing, the rights to access national tribunals, and the obligation to provide effective measures for relief.” 

“International courts mandate that this Court (High Court of Judicature, Jarkhand State, India) must take action to provide effective judicial remedies for violations of these integral human rights,” the appeal continues. 

Four states in India have approved protective anti-witchcraft laws, but they are still ineffective to protect most women accused of witchcraft. Police protections, courtroom decisions and legal representations need much more improvement. Education on the issues surrounding violence of women, superstitions and belief, along with greater understanding of equal human rights for women are essential to marking improvements. 

Bihar, was first to pass the Prevention of Witch (Dayan) Practices Act of 1999. This was followed by Jharkhand’s Anti-Witchcraft Act in 2001 along with the 2005/2006 Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan laws. 

Very recently, on March 12, 2010, the Indian Supreme Court in New Delhi refused to hear a petition called “The Witchcraft Act,” that asked for local regional cases involved with witchcraft allegations, to be allowed to enter the highest courtrooms within their regions. Witchcraft cases, if they can make it to court, are currently kept only in the lower court system without option for any higher court appeal. 

HC denies Toyota exclusivity over ‘PRIUS’ trademark

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blnus/28211206.htm

NEW DELHI: In an apparent setback to Japanese auto giant Toyota, the Delhi High Court (HC) has dismissed its petition seeking exclusivity over the ‘PRIUS’ trademark of its hybrid cars after observing that it is not monopoly of the company in India.

Dismissing the plea seeking an order to restrain Prius Auto Industries from using the similar trademark, Justice Ms Indermeet Kaur held that Toyota failed to produce evidence against the Delhi-based firm.

The court also raised question on Toyota for approaching it six years after Prius Auto Industries got its trademark registered and started its sales.

“Why Toyota slept over the matter and idled over it for a long period,” the court said, observing Prius Auto Industries has grown into a big company having bulk supply order from auto leaders such as General Motors, Hyundai and Mahindra and Mahindra.

The court also disagreed with Toyota’s plea stating that the buyer of its spare parts would get confused with the products of the Prius Auto Industries and would be deceived into believing that what so ever it was purchasing, are from the Japanese compan y.

The court said a Toyota car purchaser is of high income group and is able to understand what he is going to purchase. – PTI

Mere bickering among couples not cruelty:HC

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Mere-bickering-among-couples-not-crueltyHC/articleshow/5706937.cms

A Subramani , TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 03.51am IST

CHENNAI: What constitutes cruelty, which is grave enough to be a ground for divorce? And, can a person who has obtained divorce remarry even before the expiry of the appeal period?

Settling the two crucial questions of law, the Madras High Court has ruled that mere bickerings between the spouses and isolated incidents would not amount to cruelty, and that second marriage of a person even before the end of the appeal period of 30 days was illegal and unauthorised.

A judgment to this effect was delivered by a division bench comprising justices R Banumathi and M M Sundresh, on a civil miscellaneous appeal filed by a woman whose husband had succeeded in a divorce proceeding and then entered into a second marriage even though the first wife’s appeal period was still alive.

The marriage of Laxmi and Raman (both names changed) was solemnised in August 1999. Three months earlier, Laxmi’s brother and Raman’s sister had got married. Owing to marital discord in his sister’s life, Raman filed for divorce, just a month after Laxmi’s father died and seven months after she had delivered a baby boy.

Among other things, he alleged that she had deserted him and left the marital home on her own, which amounted to mental cruelty. She also threatened to commit suicide, he said, adding that it too amounted to cruelty.

The additional family court had granted divorce on the ground of cruelty on July 23, 2004. A copy of the order was made ready on August 19, 2004. While Laxmi preferred to appeal, her husband married another woman on October 31, 2004.

Flaying the remarriage and describing it as a malafide act aimed at denying Laxmi her statutory right of appeal, the division bench said: “It is clear that the appeal was filed within the period of 30 days as provided under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act 1984. When the alleged (second) marriage was conducted on October 31, the appeal was already presented…We are of the view that the second marriage is per se illegal and unauthorised.”

Citing a Supreme Court ruling in a similar case and the imposition of Rs 5 lakh fine of a person who had remarried before the expiry of the appeal period, the bench said: “The conduct of Raman is clearly unacceptable and it was an attempt to prevent Laxmi from getting the decree of the trial court reversed, by depriving her statutory right of an appeal.” The judges then set aside the family court order, and also directed the husband to pay Rs 1 lakh to Laxmi.

As for the cruelty aspect of the family court order, the bench said the trial court had commited a grave error, as divorce could not be granted on the ground of desertion. Noting that the term cruelty had not been defined in the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 and that it could not be put in a straight-jacket formula, the judges said courts have to be prudent and practical while adjudicating such cases.

“Mere trivial irritations, quarrels, normal wear and tear of the married life would not amount to mental cruelty…(Cruelty is) the conduct of a party be so dangerous that a spouse is unable to live with the other,” they said.

Fresh hope for OCI sportspersons after HC judgment

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/fresh-hope-for-oci-sportspersons-after-hc-judgment/593464/0

Aman Sood

Posted: Sunday , Mar 21, 2010 at 0049 hrs Patiala:

In a decision that could have a big impact on Indian sport, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has passed a judgment that makes it possible for an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) to represent the country in the sporting arena. From now on, according to the ruling, OCI sportsmen can be a part of the Indian national team in international competitions, including at the Olympics.

Earlier, the sports ministry had sought a ban on these players representing the country.

The fresh judgment comes in response to an application filed in the court by Sohrab Gill, a national shooter who had been banned in 2008 along with various others. Gill, in his application, had stated: “In the year 2007, I was granted an Overseas Citizenship of India by the Government of India. After the grant of the OCI, I have represented India at four international events in skeet shooting, where I am the first Indian to win an international medal in this category. Besides this, I have also won a gold medal at the national level.”

Gill had represented India in junior world events and won medals at the Asian championship in Kuwait in 2007. By the new judgment, Gill can now represent the country in the Asian Clay Championhip, starting March 27.

The counsel for the petitioner, Pavit Mattewal, had quoted a government notification issued in April 2005 that OCI card-holders should get the same chances as NRIs in economic, financial and educational sectors. “We had stated that as sport was a part of education, the same set of rules should apply there,” Mattewal told The Sunday Express.

The government started leaving out OCI players in 2008, putting on hold the international careers of many players, including Karm Kumar (British passport holder), a squash player who represented India in 2006. Tennis players Prakash Amritraj, Sunitha Rao and Neha and Shikha Uberoi are also under the ban.

The sports ministry had stated these players were barred because they were taking advantage of superior training in the country and then living abroad to play for other countries. Ministry sources said they were yet to receive the court’s orders and would wait before deciding to approach the Supreme Court.

Pharma trademark battle reaches HC

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Pharma-trademark-battle-reaches-HC-/articleshow/5707001.cms

TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 03.34am IST

AHMEDABAD: The trademark row among pharmaceutical giants Pfizer Pharmaceutical (India) Pvt Ltd, Ranbaxy Fine Chemicals Ltd (RFCL), Parth Parental Pvt Ltd and Pearl Drugs Pvt Ltd has reached the Gujarat High Court.

Multinational like Pfizer and Ranbaxy had to approach the high court after two local companies, Parth and Pearl, lodged a criminal complaint with CID (crime) for alleged illegal use of their trademark Capsola. Office bearers of Pfizer and Ranbaxy have been booked under various provisions of IPC besides trademark laws. The local companies have been claiming that RFCL has stolen the trademark and handed it over to Pfizer for usage as part of the deal in which it sold its strategic business centre Vetnex to the German company.

On two separate petitions to quash the FIR, Justice AS Dave has ordered a stay on the probe against big pharma companies. Meanwhile, two civil suits are pending one in Delhi High Court and the other in Gandhinagar civil court.

Parth Parental has claimed that Capsola was a registered brand name under class 34 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act that refers to animal feed and supplement, while RFCL has got similar trademark on its name under class 5 of the Act, which is for plasters and bandages. But after Vetnex was sold to Pfizer, the trademark was used by them for the product of animal feel and supplement. CID (crime) lodged a complaint under sections 406, 471 and 120B of IPC, as well as, other trademark laws.

In its plea before the high court, RFCL has claimed that it was using the trademark as per the agreement that had taken place with Parth Parental, and it was rightful proprietor of the brand. It also cited a pending suit in the Delhi High Court, wherein the court had granted interim injunction in favour of RFCL.

On the other hand, Pfizer also filed a quashing petition claiming that the company has been unnecessarily roped in the issue. Further hearing in these cases have been kept on Tuesday.

HC pulls up cop, judge over blind woman’s arrest

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/HC-pulls-up-cop-judge-over-blind-womans-arrest/articleshow/5706935.cms

A Subramani , TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 03.53am IST

CHENNAI: On a day when chief minister M Karunanidhi took over the supervision and control of the welfare of the disabled people, the Madras High Court was expressing shock and disbelief at the sufferings of a blind woman, who was jailed and denied bail illegally.

Justice S Nagamuthu, describing the case of Selvamani, who is totally blind, as unfortunate, has summoned an inspector of police to the court to offer an explanation on March 29, and has directed the Namakkal principal sessions judge also to furnish a report. He also ordered the release of the blind woman on bail, on her own bond.

Selvamani was cited as second-accused in a case, and the charge against her was that she “intended to cause injury” and that she “created nuisance.” After registering the case in 2008, the Nallipalayam police in Namakkal district filed the chargesheet in November 2008. During the investigation Selvamani was never arrested, and the police had cited her as “absconding accused.”

For some strange reason, well after the chargesheet itself has been filed, the judicial magistrate-I, Namakkal, issued a non-bailable warrant against Selvamani, and the police arrested her. Though she was totally blind, the magistrate remanded her in judicial custody and she was sent to the Salem prison.

But the worst was yet to come. In spite of the fact that she faced only minor charges and that she was entitled to bail as a matter of right under Section 436 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the principal sessions judge dismissed it saying the investigation was still on. This, when the case diary submitted to judge clearly showed that the investigation had been completed and chargesheet filed in November 2008.

Justice Nagamuthu, passing severe strictures against the district judge, said: “It is an unfortunate case where a blind woman has been denied bail in a mechanical fashion by the principal sessions judge, Namakkal. She is facing prosecution only for offences under Section 211 read with 109 IPC, which is a bailable offence. The sessions judge has no option at all to deny bail to her. It is the right of the accused to come out on bail. This court, with pains, makes a remark that the order of the sessions judge has been made in a mechanical fashion, which reflects the total non-application of mind.”

Justice Nagamuthu, concurring with the submissions of advocate PN Prakash and listing out the illegalities such as the bailable nature of the offence and the right of the accused to be granted bail in such cases, said: “It is the right of the accused to come out on bail. Denial of bail to her is illegal. It is crystal clear that the case diary was available in the hands of the sessions judge when the order was passed.”

Bombay HC directs police to let off writer Murzban Shroff

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_bombay-hc-directs-police-to-let-off-writer-murzban-shroff_1361491

Hetal Vyas / DNA

Sunday, March 21, 2010 0:45 IST

Mumbai: Murzban Shroff, the author of ‘Breathless in Bombay’, was given a breather by the Bombay high court on Friday. Justice BR Gavai directed the Social Service (SS) branch of Mumbai police to not take any coercive action against the author, who has been dragged in to a controversy for using the word ‘ghati’ in his debut novel

In a hard hitting comment whose implication was clear, justice Gavai also asked the police to find those who were making statements much stronger than those made by Shroff in his book.
Activist Vijay Murdas had filed an FIR against Shroff in February 2009, objecting to certain dialogues in the book. The book includes 14 short stories and in one of them, ‘House of Mine’, the word ‘ghati’ was used. The story revolves around the occupants of a society facing an eviction notice from the housing board.
Justice Gavai, while granting three weeks’ time to the prosecution to file a reply, also observed that prima facie, the magistrate had failed to apply his mind while directing further investigation in the case.

The court was informed by Shroff’s counsel, Mihir Desai, that although the NM Joshi Marg police station had closed the case against his client by filing a ‘C’ summary report, the magistrate directed further investigation in the case last month. (The NM Marg police station had on January 20 informed the Bombay high court that “they did not find any reason to prosecute the author and there is nothing offensive in the said book.”)

Additional public prosecutor Pradeep Hingorani told the court that the case, which was earlier being investigated by the NM Joshi Marg police station, is now in the hands of the Social Service branch.

Shroff moved the HC once again after a Magistrate’s court directed further investigation in a private complaint registered against him by a social activist. While disposing the petition, the HC had observed: “He is an author and not a trouble maker.”

Shroff told DNA that the police had pointed out that the book carried a “unifying message” and contained no objectionable material. “I am confused with this development,” he said.

HC awards lifer to man for beating wife to death

http://www.ptinews.com/news/574682_HC-awards-lifer-to-man-for-beating-wife-to-death

STAFF WRITER 10:2 HRS IST

New Delhi, Mar 21 (PTI) Can a ‘belan’, a wooden roller used for making chapatis, be an instrument of death? The Delhi High Court says “yes” while rejecting a man’s plea who had attacked his wife with it leading to her death.

The court sentenced the husband to life in prison after turning down his plea that he had no intention of killing her as a ‘belan’ cannot normally be an instrument for killing.

“He who repeatedly hits his wife on the head with a ‘belan’ would certainly be attributed with the knowledge of knowing that his acts would result in the death of the victim and death being a near probability, and not death being the likelihood of his acts,” a bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog observed. 

OBA urges CJI to fill up judges’ vacancies

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/OBA-urges-CJI-to-fill-up-judges-vacancies/articleshow/5707209.cms

TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 01.54am IST

LUCKNOW: Large vacancies of judges in Allahabad High Court and its Lucknow bench seem to be one of the reasons for burgeoning pendency of cases. In this view, the Oudh Bar Association (OBA) of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court has urged the chief justice of India for appointment of new judges at the earliest.

OBA president Shivakant Tiwari said that the sanctioned strength of the judges at both the benches is 160 whereas at present, there were only 78 judges. Out of them few judges are going to be retired in next few months. Therefore, it is necessary for imparting speedy justice to the people that the vacancies should be filled on a priority basis, he has written.

In a meeting of the OBA, it was also resolved to make a request to the CJI to appoint the acting chief justice Amitava Lala as the permanent chief justice of the Allahabad high court.

In another important resolution, the OBA decided to make it necessary to affix Rs 50 additional ticket on each `wakalatnama’ in order to generate more funds for lawyers’ welfare.

The OBA further decided to provide insurance cover to its lawyer by LIC. Addressing to the serious problems of potable water on the court campus raised by senior vice-president MP Singh Rana, the OBA engaged a private company to make necessary arrangements for water on the campus.

Development welcome, but not at the cost of environment: CJI

http://www.zeenews.com/news612923.html

Updated on Sunday, March 21, 2010, 00:16 IST

Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh): Chief Justice of India Justice K G Balakrishnan on Saturday said that judiciary is not opposed to development without affecting environment.

Addressing a seminar on “Role of judiciary in preserving environment” here, he said the development at the cost of environment is not acceptable.

Citing benchmark decisions in the way of preserving environment, Balakrishnan said the decision of use of CNG as fuel in public transportation made mandatory in 1998, had drawn legal criticism but today everyone was aware of the benefits of the decision.

He said judiciary was very sensitive to make sure that each citizen leads a healthy life and has access to employment opportunities.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh later welcomed the Chief Justice on behalf of state.

PTI

Article 136 only a discretionary remedy, says Supreme Court

http://beta.thehindu.com/news/article260717.ece

J. Venkatesan

It is permitted to be invoked in very exceptional circumstances: Bench

The Supreme Court, while deciding to examine the scope of Article 136 of the Constitution, said it was like Article 226 (writ jurisdiction of High Courts) was a discretionary remedy and the Supreme Court was not bound to interfere even if there was an error of law or fact in the order under challenge.

A Bench consisting of Justices Markandey Katju and R.M. Lodha, quoting various judgments, pointed out that Article 136 was never meant to be an ordinary forum of appeal at all. “It has become a practice of filing SLPs against all kinds of orders of the High Court or other authorities without realising the scope of Article 136.”

Exceptional circumstances

The Bench said: “The very conferment of the discretionary power defies any attempt at exhaustive definition of such power. The power is permitted to be invoked not in a routine fashion but in very exceptional circumstances as [and] when a question of law of general public importance arises or a decision sought to be impugned before the Supreme Court shocks the conscience. The Supreme Court would not under Article 136 constitute itself into a tribunal or court just settling disputes and reduce itself to a mere court of error.”

Limited time

The judges said: “After all, the Supreme Court has limited time at its disposal and it cannot be expected to hear every kind of dispute. The apex court lays down the law for the whole country and it should have more time to deliberate upon the cases it hears before rendering judgment as Mr. Justice Frankfurter observed. However, sadly the position today is that it is under such pressure because of the immense volume of cases in the court that judges do not get sufficient time to deliberate over the cases, which they deserve, and this is bound to affect the quality of our judgments.” Let notice be issued to the respondents, they said.

Alarming situation

The Bench noted the concern expressed by senior advocate K.K. Venugopal in a lecture pointing out that an alarming state of affairs “has developed in this court because this court has gradually converted itself into a mere Court of Appeal which has sought to correct every error which it finds in the judgments of the High Courts of the country as well as the vast number of tribunals. Mr. Venugopal has further observed that this court has strayed from its original character as a Constitutional Court and the apex court of the country. According to him, this is a self-inflicted injury, which is the cause of the malaise which has gradually eroded the confidence of the litigants in the apex court of the country, mainly because of its failure to hear and dispose of cases within a reasonable period of time.”

Mr. Venugopal, the Bench said, “has pointed out that in the year 1997 there were only 19,000 pending cases in this court, but now, there are over 55,000 pending cases and in a few years’ time the pendency will cross one lakh cases. In 2009, almost 70,000 cases were filed in this court, of which an overwhelming number were SLPs under Article 136. At present, all these cases have to be heard orally, whereas the U.S. Supreme Court hears only about 100 to 120 cases every year and the Canadian Supreme Court hears only 60 cases per year.”

The Bench, therefore, wanted the issue to be settled by a Constitution Bench. It issued notice to the Supreme Court Bar Association, the Bar Council of India and the Supreme Court-Advocates-on-Record Association. The Constitution Bench may also consider appointing some senior advocates of this court as amicus curiae to assist in the matter so that it can be settled after considering the views of all the parties concerned.

HC extends stay on BBMP tender

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=HC+extends+stay+on+BBMP+tender&artid=AsQn7S7zh2Q=&SectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&MainSectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&SEO=&SectionName=UOaHCPTTmuP3XGzZRCAUTQ==

Express News Service

First Published : 20 Mar 2010 06:43:22 AM IST

Last Updated :

BANGALORE: The High Court on Friday restrained the state government and BBMP from awarding tender for civil works and collection and transportation of solid waste in the city.

While hearing a public interest litigation, a division bench headed by justice V Gopala Gowda directed the government and BBMP not to proceed with the awarding of tender worth Rs 13,000 crore for civil works and collection of garbage in the city.

The court adjourned the hearing to April 6, 2010 for final hearing of the petitions.

Till that date the authorities should not precipitate the matter, the court said.

The government has submitted that the new tender regarding collection of garbage will be given approval only after the new BBMP council is formed after the elections.

The petitioner contended that the administrator had no power to sign the tender and it should get approval from the BBMP council members.

Petition against land acquisition for NICE dismissed

The High Court has dismissed the petition challenging the acquisition of land at Gottigere village for implementation for the NICE project.

Justice Abdul Nazir dismissed the petition filed by Pattabhiraman and others.

According to a NICE release, the dismissal of the writ petition allows them to build the crucial connection between Bannerghatta Road and Hosur Road.

Further, NICE has said that “the dismissal of the writ petition puts an end to the litigation that went on for years regarding the crucial link on the peripheral road”.

The petitioner had challenged the acquisition of land on survey number 64/1 of Gottigere village for implementation of the NICE project

LET THE WRIT OF LAW PREVAIL IN THE CASES OF CORRUPTION AGAINST POLITICIANS AND REFRAIN CREATING A NEW CLASS OF PRIVILEGED CORRUPTS : BIR DEVINDER SINGH, FORMER DEPUTY SPEAKER, PUNJAB

http://www.himalyanpost.com/2010/03/21/let-the-writ-of-law-prevail-in-the-cases-of-corruption-against-politicians-and-refrain-creating-a-new-class-of-privileged-corrupts-bir-devinder-singh-former-deputy-speaker-punjab/

Chandigarh, March 20:

The framers of the Constitution in their prudent far-sighted vision did visualize the degeneration of principles of governance with the passage of time at the hands of the vested interests. Probably, that is why, to safeguard the pillars of parliamentary democracy, they did not leave any ambiguity while defining the role and jurisdiction of Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. The main concern of them was to see that there is no possibility of transgression by one wing of governance into the other by the persons guided by personal motives  Hence, they made the above division sacrosanct.

The news regarding a proposal before the House over a letter written by the Deputy Speaker, Shri Sat Pal Gosain, to withdraw cases against the politicians is fraught with latent dangers primarily losing the faith of the people whom they elected as their representatives. Nobody will relish the idea of shattering the mechanism of checking corruption by the people holding high positions in Government. Such a move, if succeeds, would further paint the politicians as untrustworthy. It will not only mean attempt of blatant transgression into the domain of judiciary but also strike at the basic fabric of law i.e. equality before law. It will create a new class of privileged corrupts enjoying immunity from being tried for all kinds crimes including corruption. While the ordinary corrupts (non-politicians) would face the Courts of law for similar crimes, the politicians could well be put off the hook of law as a result of this sinister move. This would also be a direct infringement of the basic postulates of the Indian Constitution as enshrined in its Preamble i.e. Equality before Law. It is all the more objectionable when the cases of corruption, at one stage or the other, have stood scrutiny of charges up to the Apex Court of India.

The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, under Rule 39 governing the admissibility of a Question before the House clearly sheds a light as to which matter should be discussed in the House as under:

(8)              it shall not ask for an expression of a legal opinion nor the solution of an abstract legal question of a hypothetical proposition;

(10)     it shall not ask for information on any mater which is under adjudication by a court of law having jurisdiction in any part of India;

The guidelines laid in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, for admissibility of a question before the House clearly mandate that the House should be cautious in even entertaining discussion over a matter which is pending consideration before any court of law.

Since the cases classified as political vendetta are pending consideration for the last 5-6 years in the case of Akali leaders and 3 years approximately in the case of Congress leaders before different Courts of law and have traveled long enough, the proposal to withdraw the same, under the guise of political vendetta, will tantamount to interference in the administration of justice, for the reason that the alibi of political vendetta by the accused has failed to put a cog in the wheels of justice. In my considered view, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha must not tread into the territory of the judiciary merely on the advice of the Advocate General but also must seek the opinion of the constitutional experts and eminent jurists of the country to avoid confrontation with judiciary.

The reaction of Captain Amarinder Singh expressing his views against any such move is laudable and worth emulating by the other leaders. In my personal opinion, the House certainly has the power to review its decision on expulsion of Captain Amarinder Singh for the remaining period of the present Vidhan Sabha if the House in its collective wisdom feels about the quantum of punishment being excessive in his particular case. In this process, the decision of the House can be revoked and his Membership can be restored. However, even this particular move has its own repercussions because the issue is pending before the Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. So, it is also fraught with the possibility of earning displeasure of the Supreme Court because the matter is being deliberated upon and pending adjudication before the Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

My personal opinion based on a political career of over three decades, including two terms as Member of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, especially having been adjudged as the Best Parliamentarian of the 12th Vidhan Sabha as also the Deputy Speaker of the House, is that we should wait and respect the decisions of the Courts in all such cases which pertain to the politicians and hesitate from giving any inkling of lack of faith in the system of jurisprudence of the country. It is all the more a matter of grave pondering for the Members of this august House not to earn the stigma of brazen abuse of power in assuming the role  of accused, prosecutor and a judge in utter disregard of the law of the land.

BIR DEVINDER SINGH

Former Deputy Speaker Punjab

PIL over Karnataka’s PDS policy

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=PIL+over+Karnataka%E2%80%99s+PDS+policy&artid=RBE7VA1hV20=&SectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&MainSectionID=wIcBMLGbUJI=&SectionName=UOaHCPTTmuP3XGzZRCAUTQ==&SEO=

Express News Service

First Published : 20 Mar 2010 07:04:45 AM IST

Last Updated : 20 Mar 2010 10:26:22 AM IST

BANGALORE: Roopa Naik, a resident of Davanagere, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the state government’s action of distributing 25 kg of food grains to BPL families, 10 kg lesser than the quantity set by the Supreme Court.

In a hearing before the Karnataka High Court on the PIL, the state government on Friday defended its adopted policy on the public distribution system (PDS) to below-poverty- line (BPL) families.

Representing the state, Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli, submitted that the state had implemented the ‘Annapoorna Anthyodaya’ scheme for 12 lakh BPL families, identified as poorest of the poor, and had also supplied food grains through PDS to 20 lakh BPL families.

The AG argued that states set different yardsticks for the same.

“We have extended more subsidies for food grains than that fixed by the central government,” the AG argued.

Harnahalli said a system had been evolved by the state that avoided the sale of grains in the open market, in it’s distribution, where the possibility of ploughing grains into the black market was linked with the quantity of grains distributed to BPL card holders.

Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary of food and civil supplies, was present.

Hearing has been adjourned to next week.

Karnataka high court removes all hurdles to metro

http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report_karnataka-high-court-removes-all-hurdles-to-metro_1361143

Odeal D’Souza / DNA

Saturday, March 20, 2010 8:37 IST

Bangalore: The Karnataka high court on Friday dismissed a clutch of public interest litigation (PIL) petitions challenging acquisition of land by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) for Namma Metro, clearing all the hurdles in the way of the implementation of the project.

A division bench comprising justices V Gopala Gowda and N Ananda dismissed the writ petitions filed by the CMH Shops and Establishments and Residents’ Association, Indira Nagar, and by the owners of Plaza theatre on MG Road, citing various reasons.
The CMH Shops and Establishments and Residents’ Association, Indira Nagar, had filed the petition challenging the acquisition of land for the execution of the project on CMH Road.

The petitioners had challenged the alignment of the metro in the area and argued that many of them would lose their shops and residences if the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) went ahead with the project according to the present plan, and sought a stay on the work.

The petitioners also sought an alternative alignment along Old Madras Road and prayed for the appointment of an expert committee to consider the economic, social and environmental aspect of the impugned alignment.

However, the court said that the PIL was vested in private interests, rather than a public one and dismissed it. The bench observed that as a policy-maker, the state must have examined all pros and cons of shifting the project, and its correctness could not be examined under judicial power.

The owners of Plaza theatre building on MG Road had also filed a PIL praying for a realignment of the metro rail, as a metro station was scheduled to come up in place of the building.

However, the court said that the authorities had examined the decision to shift the location of the metro station on MG Road from the Parade Grounds to the Plaza theatre building based on expert opinion. The court said that the station would not be relocated from the spot decided upon and dismissed thepetition.

The court observed that the state government was under obligation to provide better, speedy and economical transport to citizens. It held that acquisition of land was not vitiated by legal mala fidesand dismissed the petitions.

The bench further said that Bangalore was witnessing rapid growth with several industries were setting shop here, and hence the requirement for various infrastructure facilities was on the rise. Transportation was a major issue affecting citizens, and the state was making all efforts to provide affordable and quick transportation facilities to all sections of the society.

The court observed that as a matter of policy the government had decided on the metro rail system as an effective mass transportation mode, and the project could not be hindered or altered on the basis of objections from a few individuals.

It said that the project involved huge sums of public money and was already 40% complete. If the ruling was granted in favour of the petitioners, it would not only mean a loss of time and investment, and would require new plans to be drawn and fresh land acquisition procedures.

With regard to some alignment changes made earlier, the court said that the changes were made only where certain practical problems were encountered, and where realignment was unavoidable.

Is santhara against the law?

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Is-santhara-against-the-law/articleshow/5704783.cms

Hemali Chhapia and Mansi Choksi, TOI Crest, Mar 20, 2010, 09.54am IST

The century-old practice of santhara has been in the eye of a storm since 2006 when the case of 93-year-old Keila Devi Hirawat from Jaipur had the world’s media debating whether there was any place for santhara in the modern world. Human rights activist and lawyer Nikhil Soni and his lawyer Madhav Mishra filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Rajasthan high court, claiming that santhara was a social evil and should be considered suicide under Indian law. One of the concerns raised in the petition was that it is old people who usually resort to santhara – and allowing an elderly person to suffer without medical assistance, food and water is inhuman. Jains, however, argue that it is a voluntary act of rational thinking and marks the beginning of a journey of understanding the inherently painful and flawed nature of earthly existence. For millions of Jains in India, the PIL was a direct violation of the Indian Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom.

While opponents of santhara equate the practice with suicide and argue that it’s a fundamental breach of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to life but not death, supporters say that the right to life includes a corresponding right not to live. Pana Chand Jain, former Rajasthan high court judge, wrote in The Times of India, “Sallekhana is a system of belief which Jains regard as conducive to their spiritual well-being . The preamble to the Constitution states that the Constitution secures to all its citizens liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship . Article 25 guarantees that every person in India shall have freedom of conscience and a right to profess, practice and propagate religion. Article 29 goes further and declares that any section of citizens having a distinct culture shall have a right to conserve the same. If any law comes in conflict with constitutional rights, it will have to yield.”

Jains believe that santhara cannot be considered suicide – they say it is something that one does with full knowledge and intent, unlike suicide which is viewed as emotional and hasty. Vimal Sagarji maharajsaheb, a Jain monk, offers a different view when he says that there is a thin line between santhara and suicide. “In most cases, Jains have successfully elevated themselves after embracing santhara , he says. “But in certain instances, people have faced immense mental and physical test while observing santhara and have not easily felt peace with themselves. So, whether santhara is suicide or a holy practice to attain moksha, I feel, is for the person embracing santhara to answer for himself.”

Another bone of contention is the prolonged nature of santhara, with supporters arguing that the individual is given enough time to reflect on his or her life. They say that the individual has the freedom to change his or her mind through the fast. However, this claim is shouted out by opponents who argue that undoing the santhara may incur social ostracism within the community.

Legal experts too are divided on this issue. Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani says that if deprivation of food and water eventually leads to death, it is considered suicide. “Even Sati is ordained by the Hindu scriptures, but it is banned because it clashed with criminal law. There is a constitutional right which guarantees the freedom to practice the religion of your choice. But that cannot hold before criminal law. That’s the law of the land.”

On the other hand, advocate Sanjay Jain says that santhara is merely a practice of giving up food. “No one can force you to eat,” he says. Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution protect all religious practices , unless otherwise prohibited by law. “The Indian government passed an act banning Sati. That has not been done for santhara,” Jain argues to counter Jethmalani’s views.

Classical status to Telugu: CM thanks PM

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Classical+status+to+Telugu:+CM+thanks+PM&artid=kOH31vpW2SI=&SectionID=e7uPP4%7CpSiw=&MainSectionID=e7uPP4%7CpSiw=&SEO=Rosaiah&SectionName=EH8HilNJ2uYAot5nzqumeA==

Express News Service

First Published : 20 Mar 2010 08:15:58 AM IST

Last Updated : 20 Mar 2010 11:41:06 AM IST

HYDERABAD: Chief Minister K Rosaiah today expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Central ministers for according the classical language status to Telugu.

Making a statement in the State Assembly, the chief minister said that the Central Government, in response to the request of the State Government and MPs, directed the Director of Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore and the Chairman of the University Grants Commission to take immediate suitable steps for according the status to Telugu. “With this the long-cherished dream of the Telugu people has come true. The Telugu Talli is endowed with a ‘classical’ garland,’’ he remarked and thanked all members of the Assembly, MPs from the State and Telugu language experts for their cooperation in the endeavour.

Former chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy had introduced a proposal in the Assembly on February 22, 2006 requesting the Centre to accord Classical Language status to Telugu, and a resolution was passed unanimously.

In response, the Centre had issued a notification on October 31, 2008 according the Classical Language status to Telugu but it was subject to disposal of the PIL (public interest litigation) pending before the Madras High Court.

Recently, Minister for Culture J Geeta Reddy held a high-level meeting with Telugu language experts to discuss the matter and appealed to the MPs from the State to write letters to the prime minister and the Union law minister for an resolution of the matter, Rosaiah recalled and assured that his government was ready to provide all means and assistance for the purpose.

Expensive PIL for Mayawati

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/expensive-pil-for-mayawati/592994/0

Agencies

Posted: Friday , Mar 19, 2010 at 1042 hrs Allahabad:

A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court asking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the expenses by the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on March 15 to mark the 25th anniversary of the party.

The PIL has been filed by three lawyers, who alleged that about Rs 175 crore was spent in the rally and around Rs 25 crore on the garland that was presented to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP supreme Mayawati.

The PIL is expected to come up for hearing on Monday.

Bahujan Samaj Party rival Samajwadi Party (SP) meanwhile, has demanded registration of an FIR against Mayawati for publicly accepting the garland made of currency notes.

Mujahid Kidwai, the secretary of Samajwadi Party has said the currency garland has made a mockery of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)”s mandatory guidelines on the country”s currency.

Despite being criticised over the currency garland controversy, Mayawati had on Wednesday defied the authorities by appearing again with a second currency garland.

She was severely criticized both inside and outside Parliament as the currency garland controversy sparked demands for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the source of money used to make the garland reportedly worth Rs 5 crore.

Income tax officials have reportedly been ordered to investigate the source from which the cash garland that was presented to Mayawati on Monday materialized.

The probe was ordered after proceedings in Parliament were suspended on Tuesday over the issue.

The Samajwadi Party and the Congress both have demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the matter, questioning the source from where the money had come.

Congress leader Digvijay Singh has accused Mayawati of misusing public money, and said that she is not the daughter of a Dalit, but the daughter of wealth.

Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev has also criticized her of doing business through politics.

The multi-crore garland was just a small part of the extravagant Rs 200 crore celebrations that marked the BSP”s 25th anniversary, and its founder Kanshi Ram”s birthday, with a massive rally in Lucknow.

Official vehicles cannot display designations: HC

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Official-vehicles-cannot-display-designations-HC/articleshow/5703683.cms

TNN, Mar 20, 2010, 05.48am IST

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday said official vehicles in Chandigarh would not carry designations of officials. It added that these would not be parked along roadsides but stationed in office compounds.

At the same time, ‘no parking’ signs will be installed outside malls where tow trucks of the police are to be stationed.

The orders issued by Justice Rajive Bhalla on the contempt of court petition filed by advocate Ajit Singh are apparently aimed at ensuring smooth flow of traffic and removing bottlenecks encountered earlier.

Justice Bhalla also asked UT police to apprize the court regarding use of close circuit television cameras (CCTV) installed on traffic rotaries, besides details of challans being issued on the basis of this footage.

He further directed that parking needs to be regulated in the Industrial Area, particularly in front of the Centra Mall.

The petitioner also alleged that Chandigarh police had collected Rs 6 crore by way of fine money from traffic challans, but the same had not been used towards improving traffic and allied safety measures.

In this context, it was stated that CCTV cameras were not functioning properly nor the city had suitable signboards.

The directions were issued in context of traffic in cities of Chandigarh, Amritsar and Gurgaon.

In Amritsar, the court ordered against plying of handcarts in congested areas of the city. Justice Bhalla also asked Punjab government to provide details of liquor vends in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s palace at Amritsar, besides ordering that no vehicles be parked on roads in Gurgaon and that these be parked inside buildings of the municipal corporation, Gurgaon, HUDA etc.

HC orders Paramount to ground half its fleet

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/HC-orders-Paramount-to-ground-half-its-fleet/593264

ENS Economic Bureau

Posted: Saturday , Mar 20, 2010 at 0142 hrs New Delhi:

Paramount Airways has been asked to ground half of its fleet strength of six aircraft by the Delhi High Court on Friday. In a major setback for the Chennai-based airline, the court declined its plea to maintain a status quo on the three Embraer planes till the next hearing schedueld for Monday. The airline had said immediate grounding of the aircraft will create problems for their passengers.

When contacted, an official spokesperson of Paramount Airways said, “We will reroute all the passengers who have booked for the next two to three days to Kingfisher and Jet Airways and we will also combine the routes to a maximum level with our remaining fleets. We don’t see any major impact on our operations as the Delhi HC will announce its final verdict on Monday. We will run the remaining two fleet at an optimum level to ensure smooth run.” The case is about an order of civil aviation regulator DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) which grounded three aircraft of Paramount out of its total fleet strength of five, owing to a leasing dispute with UK based GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS).

Paramount had approached the high court challenging the DGCA’s earlier decision. The Paramount spokesperson said the airline “is flying as usual and as per schedule.” He claimed Paramount had no dues to GECAS or any other party. He also said Paramount has not been ordered by any court to ground its aircraft. Paramount is involved in a dispute with the UK-based GE Capital Aviation Services for the last 10 months. The dispute had arisen as Paramount asked for a reimbursement of the maintenance reserves created on various checks carried out. The lack of response from GECAS led to the dispute. GECAS in its capacity of a leasing company was looking to deregister the aircraft due to the dispute and DGCA in turn ordered grounding of three of Paramount’s fleets.

HC rejects plea for extension of 3G bid time

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/telecom/HC-rejects-plea-for-extension-of-3G-bid-time/articleshow/5703881.cms

20 Mar 2010, 0238 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: Giving a go ahead to the government for auction of the 3G spectrum (radio frequency) starting on April 9, the Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking extension of time for submitting bids. A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice M B Lokur and Justice Mukta Gupta held that the Department of Telecom (DoT) has followed norms and maintained transparency while inviting bids for 3G spectrum.

March 19 is the last date for submission of the forms to participate in the 3G auction. The bench did not agree that 25 days’ time given for submitting the bids in the Notice for Inviting the Application of February 25 was very less and small operators would be deprived.

“Transparency is there. The government has already put all the information regarding the auction on its website in October last year,” the bench said. It also added that the auction was in nature of commercial transaction and all the norms are followed.

The court also observed that the petitioner Umesh Joshi was not even an interested party as he was not going to bid for the 3G spectrum. After that it imposed a cost of Rs 15,000 on Joshi and said that if he failed to submit it then action would be taken against him.

Wild allegations against spouse is cruelty: HC

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Wild-allegations-against-spouse-is-cruelty-HC/articleshow/5704370.cms

Shibu Thomas , TNN, Mar 20, 2010, 04.20am IST

MUMBAI: Making wild and baseless allegations in court against your spouse and in-laws amount to cruelty, Bombay high court has ruled while upholding a trial court’s order dissolving the marriage of a Mumbai couple in their 30s.

Following an application for divorce filed by Mazgaon resident Jitesh Agarwal, his wife Geeta had alleged that there was a bizarre custom in her in-laws’ family where they shared each other’s wives. Geeta claimed that she was persistently told to have illicit relations with her husband’s brother and brother-in-law and there was even an attempt to outrage her modesty.

“The allegations levelled by Geeta against the husband and other members of the family at various places and at every stage are absolutely baseless, irresponsible, wanton and scandalous and they were made for the reasons best known to her,” said a division bench of Justice D B Bhosale and Justice R Y Ganoo.

“The expression — treating the other party with cruelty (in the Hindu Marriage Act) — is wide enough to cover cruel treatment (even after the filing of the petition) by making wild and serious allegations which, according to the accused spouse, are false and scandalous. A (divorce) decree could be passed based on such allegations.”

Geeta’s lawyers claimed that as Jitesh had not amended his petition to include her allegations as cruel, a divorce could not be granted on that ground. The HC judges, however, did not agree. “If these allegations were true, neither the appellant nor her father would have kept quiet for such a long time,” said the division bench even as it said the family court was right in granting divorce on the ground of cruelty.

The court added that Geeta’s behaviour even before she lodged criminal complaints against her husband would amount to cruelty. “(Geeta’s conduct) shows that she had made Jitesh and his family’s lives miserable. The manner in which she used to lodge criminal complaints one after another against Jitesh undoubtedly would constitute mental cruelty,” said the HC.

(Names of the couple have been changed to protect their identities)

HC upholds takeover of Gottigere land for BMIC

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/HC-upholds-takeover-of-Gottigere-land-for-BMIC-/articleshow/5704501.cms

TNN, Mar 20, 2010, 06.33am IST

BANGALORE: Clearing the path for NICE to build the connecting road between Bannerghatta Road and Hosur Road, Karnataka High Court has upheld the acquisition of land in the contentious Gottigere village, Bangalore South, for the implementation of Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project (BMIC).

Justice S Abdul Nazir on Friday dismissed the petition filed by one Pattabhiraman and others in this regard challenging acquisition of about 3 acres land in the village.

The petitioner contended that the authorities had not considered his objections and alignment of the peripheral road was not made available to him. However, the authorities claimed that Outward Development Plan (ODP) which spelt out the alignment was a public document and was available in the public domain.

With this verdict, the path is clear for NICE company to build the connecting route between Bannerghatta Road and Hosur Road. It also allows commuters to travel from Electronic City, Hosur Road (NH7) towards Tumkur Road (NH4). The decision also allows thousands of inter-state trucks plying on these National Highways to avoid entering into the Bangalore City and they can directly travel passing Bannerghatta Road, Kanakapura Road, Mysore Road and Magadi Road without troubling the city traffic.

Overseas Indian citizens can play for country: Punjab HC

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_overseas-indian-citizens-can-play-for-country-punjab-hc_1361101

Eklavya Atray / DNA

Saturday, March 20, 2010 0:25 IST

New Delhi: The Punjab high court (HC) has given relief to OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) players banned from playing for the country because they do not have Indian passports. The court said an OCI can represent India at international sport events.

The judgment came in response to a plea by Sohrab Gill, a national shooter who was banned in 2008 with others.
Punjab advocate general HS Mattewal quoted a government notification issued on April 11, 2005, that OCI cardholders should get the same chances as NRIs in economic, financial and educational sectors and an OCI can play for the country.
Gill, who is an OCI since 2007, has represented India in junior world events and won medals at the Asian Championship in Kuwait in 2007. “I am happy to represent my country again,” he said.

The government started throwing out OCI players from federations in 2008, which ended many promising careers.A perfect example was Karm Kumar (British passport), a squash player who represented India at the Asian juniors in 2006. In 2007, SRFI (Squash Racket Federation of India) barred him from competing in international events.

In 2008, Kumar filed a case against the federation. He did this after SRFI sent notices that players should have Indian passports if they want to play for their country. “We’ve got this [HC judgment] after two years. The sad part is that Karm and other players have lost their form,” Rahul, Karm’s father, said.

“If my son has an OCI card, but is not allowed to play for his country because he does not have an Indian passport, what does
the word ‘citizen’ in OCI mean?”

The sports ministry said it barred foreign players because they were taking advantage of superior training methods here and leaving India to play for other countries. Kumar countered: “More than 150 Indian squash players have left to play for other countries. But what about those who wanted to play for India but were not allowed?”

HC adjourns case of mom killing son

Rebecca Samervel, TNN, Mar 20, 2010, 06.31am IST

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/HC-adjourns-case-of-mom-killing-son-/articleshow/5704498.cms

MUMBAI: The high court on Friday was informed that the narco-analysis test conducted on a woman, accused of killing her own minor son after he caught her in a compromising position with her alleged lover, was inconclusive.

The HC was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Pawankumar, father of the boy. Earlier, the court had directed the Kalina forensic lab to conduct a narco-analysis test on Janakdulari Prajapati and her alleged lover Nanhe alias Satyanarayan Harijan.

Pawankumar Prajapati and his wife Janakdulari had lodged a complaint in June 2008 alleging that their son Ajaykumar was missing. Cops later arrested Harijan and Janakdulari in the case. Later, in lie-detector and brainmapping tests, Harijan confessed to having the killed the boy with Janakdularis help. The case has been adjourned.

21 girls missing from Midnapore rehab home, HC seeks report

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/21-girls-missing-from-Midnapore-rehab-home–HC-seeks-report/593387

Express News Service

Posted: Saturday , Mar 20, 2010 at 0347 hrs Kolkata:

With as many as 21 girls reported missing from the state-run Vidyasagar Girls Home in West Midnapore, the Calcutta High Court has asked the state government and the rehab home to file a report on the matter.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mohit S Shah and Justice Pianki Chandra Ghosh passed the orders in response to a PIL. The Division Bench also wanted to know the number of girls currently lodged in the home.

N S Nigam, district magistrate of West Midnapore, said that the Vidayasagar Girls Home is run by the social welfare department of the state government for juveniles.

According to the district administration of West Midnapore, 21 girls were taken to Vidayasagar Girls Home for shelter after court orders.

These girls, allegedly victims of illegal trafficking, had been rescued from hotels in Haldia a week ago and transferred to the home on court orders, said Nigam.

He added that even as the home is meant for juveniles, the 21 girls including adults were accommodated there in compliance with court orders.

Sixteen of the girls were reported missing from the home a week ago and five others were reported missing later.

Manoj Verma, SP West Midnapore has started investigation in the matter, Nigam said, adding that 14 other girls are currently lodged in the Vidyasagar Girls Home.

Nigam, meanwhile, met officials of the social welfare department on Friday.

HC’S green signal to metro on CMH road

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=HC%E2%80%99S+green+signal+to+metro+on+CMH+road&artid=/8ErSNCcs/A=&SectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&MainSectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&SEO=&SectionName=UOaHCPTTmuP3XGzZRCAUTQ==

 

Express News Service

First Published : 20 Mar 2010 06:47:38 AM IST

Last Updated : 20 Mar 2010 10:24:07 AM IST

BANGALORE: BMRCL can heave a sigh of relief as the Karnataka High Court on Friday upheld the alignment of Namma Metro on CMH Road and also the public importance of the project by dismissing a batch of petitions challenging the project.

A division bench comprising Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice N Anand dismissed the batch of petitions challenging the very purpose of the project.

During the project, certain practical problems were seen. Therefore some changes in the project, including in the alignment, were necessary, the bench observed.

People had to suffer on account of the poor transport system. Since the Metro project involves the public interest, it cannot be hindered at this stage. The project costs Rs 6,000 crore. Rs 1,100 crore had been spent and 40 per cent of the work had already been completed, HC said.

In its 127-page judgment, the bench upheld the legal procedures of BMRCL under the Mysore Tramways Act, 1906 and observed that the contention of the petitioners — CMH Shop and Establishments and Residents Association, KV Ramakrishna, NS Ram Mohan and several others — is not maintainable.

On charges of BMRCL deviating from the original alignment, the bench said courts cannot go into the correctness of such issues.

The petitioners argued that KIADB had no power to acquire land for Metro, the purpose of the KIADB Act being restricted to industrial purpose. The court said the Metro project impacts industrial areas. So, there was nothing wrong in lands acquired for the Metro under KIADB Act, the court said.

There was no fraud in the change of alignment in the project on MG Road by shifting the MG Road station near Plaza theatre, the court stated.

LEGAL NEWS 11.03.2010

PIL against subsidy for foodgrain-based distilleries dismissed

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pil-against-subsidy-for-foodgrainbased-distilleries-dismissed/589343/

Express News Service

Posted: Thursday , Mar 11, 2010 at 0012 hrs Mumbai:

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging government subsidy to distilleries that manufacture foodgrain-based alcohol.

Hearing the PIL filed by social activist Chetan Kamble, the division bench of Justices F I Rebello and J H Bhatia also lifted an earlier stay on disbursal of subsidy to distilleries.

The court observed that it cannot interfere in a policy decision of the government.

Kamble had challenged the government’s scheme giving subsidy to distilleries using food grains for production of liquor (ethyl alcohol).

The government had earlier stated that there was no threat to food security by using jowar as raw material for production of alcohol.

An affidavit filed by Prakash Gaud, joint secretary, home department, had said Jowar is not a primary cereal consumed in the state, and therefore its use for liquor production will not affect “food security”.

Gaud stated that in the recent years, “there was a surge of 80 per cent in the demand of industrial alcohol over the average consumption of 20-22 crore litres per annum.”

“During the last two years, the requirement of alcohol both for potable as well as industrial sector had gone up substantially,” his affidavit states.

The government’s scheme to incentivise production of liquor from foodgrains had drawn a lot of criticism from opposition parties in the state. Advocate Uday Warunjikar, appearing for petitioner, had argued that diversion of foodgrains for alcohol production would create scarcity and worsen inflation.

Nithyananda scandal: PIL to direct TV channels

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Nithyananda+scandal:+PIL+to+direct+TV+channels&artid=FkEx3PXbazE=&SectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&MainSectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&SectionName=UOaHCPTTmuP3XGzZRCAUTQ==&SEO=Swami%20Nithyananda

Express News Service

First Published : 10 Mar 2010 04:54:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 10 Mar 2010 06:35:20 AM IST

BANGALORE: A public interest litigation was filed in the High Court on Tuesday seeking directions to private television channels not to air the obscene images of Swami Nithyananda in a compromising position with an actress.

KN Subbareddy, former MLA, filed the PIL seeking direction to the regulatory authority of cable news channels and the censor board for taking suitable action against channels for violation of censorship norms.

The petitioner argued that on March 3, a few private television channels aired the clippings of Swami Nithyananda who was allegedly caught on camera in a compromising position with a Tamil actress. The clippings were telecast by two Kannada television channels day in and day out. This episode shocked the people who had great faith in ‘sanyasa dharma’, the petitioner pointed out.

It is unfortunate that the channels telecast the clippings which would affect children and youth, he said.

“Many children and youth who watched the clippings are getting entrapped into believing wrong things,” the petitioner contended.

Citing Board exams, PIL seeks postponement of Maya’s rally

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Citing-Board-exams–PIL-seeks-postponement-of-Maya-s-rally/589481/

Express News Service

Posted: Thursday , Mar 11, 2010 at 0306 hrs Lucknow:

A day after a local lawyer filed a petition seeking a ban on the proposed BSP rally on March 15, another PIL seeking a change in the date of the rally was filed at the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday.

The PIL stated that March 15 being a Monday is a working day and hundreds of students will appear for various Board examinations. Petitioner Sangam Lal Pandey has sought the court’s intervention in asking the BSP to hold the rally on a non-working day. The CBSE, ICSE and UP Board examinations are currently underway in the state. “We have no objection to the BSP holding a rally, but being the party in power they should ensure that inconvenience should not be caused to people in general and students in particular,” he said. Traffic diversions and other security measures will sure affect the students and hence, the BSP should be asked to change the date, he added.

The BSP is gearing up to hold a massive rally, expected to be attended by over 25 lakh people, on the birthday of its founder Kanshiram.

SC to hear PIL on parties building brands with public money

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/SC-to-hear-PIL-on-parties-building-brands-with-public-money/articleshow/5668745.cms

TNN, Mar 11, 2010, 02.21am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday fixed March 22 for hearing a PIL against all major political parties accusing them of misusing public money and government machinery for issuing advertisements praising its leaders.

Almost a sequel to an earlier PIL challenging the statue fetish of UP government, the petition filed by advocate Manoj Agnihotri was severe on the Congress party for adopting a flag almost similar to the national flag and launching programmes at the state and central level in the name of Nehru and Gandhi family members, purportedly to establish the Congress “brand”.

When the petition was mentioned for early hearing by senior advocate Anil Divan before a Bench comprising Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and Justices R M Lodha and B S Chauhan, it refused to expedite hearing and posted it for preliminary scrutiny on March 22.

The PIL listed as many as 100 educational institutions, six major ports and airports, 66 awards, 45 sports tournaments, 39 hospitals, 74 roads and buildings named after leaders of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

It alleged that all national parties — Congress, SP, BSP, BJP, CPI and CPM — had violated Election Commission guidelines and misused government funds for propagating the ideology of their parties.

The PIL sought immediate stop of this wastage of public money and freezing of symbols of these political parties and expeditious hearing by EC of its complaints.

Traffic Ramaswamy files PIL against use of new Tamil Nadu Assembly complex

http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2010/03/11/traffic-ramaswamy-files-pil-against-use-new-tamil-nadu-assembly-complex

 

Thu, 2010-03-11 13:01 — editor

From Gopal Ethiraj, Chennai

Chennai, 11 March (Asiantribune.com):

Social activist ‘Traffic’ Ramasamy has filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Madras High Court saying that the new Assembly complex under construction and waiting to be inaugurated on March 13, should not be used without getting a completion certificate as per law.

The petition is expected to come up before the first bench comprising Chief Justice H L Gokhale and Justice V Dhanapalan today.

The upcoming complex at the Omandurar Estate cannot claim exemption under any law and that without obtaining the completion certificate it should not be occupied.

If any such certificate has already been issued, the authorities concerned must be asked to furnish the full details of the certificate, along with other documents including any notice to shift the budget session from the Fort St George to the new complex Ramaswamy contended.

Ramasamy claims that before occupying the new building, statutory clearance under the provisions of the Multistoreyed Buildings Act 1984, should be obtained. He said the life and limbs of citizens, staff members, MLAs and ministers would be at risk if mandatory requirements are not complied with.

The petitioner also said that it will not be fair to encourage the government to occupy the unfinished assembly complex without following the guidelines as per the Town and Country Planning Act 1979 and the Master Plan 2 of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA). He referred to an accident at the construction site recently in which about 12 construction workers were injured.

He also said that no traffic impact study in and around the complex has been conducted, and the hasty manner of inauguration of the complex would impede vehicular flow on the road.

While about 3,000 hawkers are awaiting alternative accommodation in multi-storied hawking zones in the city, the government need not have spent about Rs 500 crore on the Assembly project, Ramasamy said.

- Asian Tribune -

Act against betting sites within three months: High court

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_act-against-betting-sites-within-three-months-high-court_1357831

Mayura Janwalkar

Thursday, March 11, 2010 0:13 IST

Mumbai: Running betting websites may not be a safe bet anymore.
The Bombay high court on Wednesday directed the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to take necessary action against such sites within three months.

The court’s direction came in the light of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Abbas Shaikh who had taken exception to a website — http://www.betfair.com — that allegedly conducted betting activities related to the Indian Premier League. This year, the IPL begins on March 12.

Shaikh’s lawyer pointed out to the court that the joint secretary of the Maharashtra home department had written a letter to the director of CERT to block the website immediately in June 2009. However, the website was still not blocked.

The court asked Advait Sethna, counsel for the union government, as to why no action had been taken against the website. Sethna explained that the petitioner had not lodged any complaint with the CERT against the website.

Shaikh also sought a ban on several other betting websites and stated that since the IPL is around the corner, betting activities will be rampant. His lawyer also said that large-scale hawala transactions will take place if the sites are not blocked before the IPL starts.

The court however remarked that the IPL will take place every year and those who want to bet will do it. The judges have however asked the director of CERT to take action within three months and also directed Shaikh to file a complaint directly with CERT in order to block any website.

Insurance cover likely for railway accident victims [Hindustan Times, New Delhi]

http://insurancenewsnet.com/article.aspx?id=170683&type=newswires

March 10, 2010

Mar. 11–MUMBAI — The railways may soon draft an insurance policy covering the hospitalisation costs of railway accident victims.

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked a private reinsurance firm to come up with guidelines for the insurance scheme and asked the railways authorities to consider it.

Along with those who meet with accidents on railway premises, the policy also proposes to cover those who meet with accidents while crossing tracks and travelling on the roof the train.

These guidelines are likely to be adapted by the railways and then put up for bidding by the insurance firms. “We cannot comment on the issue as it is subjudice and matter lies with the court,” said Western Railway PRO, Nitin David.

After a proposal from an amicus curie (friend of court), the private reinsurance firm was asked to draft a detailed scheme for covering medical treatment in hospitals for railway accident victims. The firm has to submit the draft scheme in 15 days.

So far, the railways only had an insurance policy that compensated families of victims who died in railway accidents. The scheme proposes to cover accident victims up to Rs 1 lakh for providing medical treatment in hospital.

This move comes six years after Samir Zaveri (39), who lost both his legs in a railway accident in 2004, filed a public interest litigation seeking insurance cover for railway accident victims. The step is a significant one considering that the high court had asked the railways to ensure passenger safety after the PIL. As the railways had not implemented all the HC directives on the PIL, Zaveri had filed a contempt petition in November 2009, which the court was hearing on Wednesday. The petition seeks jail term for chief commissioner of railway, general manager of western railway and the officers of the railway board for not implementing court’s order.

Advocate Jamshed Mistry, who is the amicus curie, informed the court on Wednesday that a private firm was willing to formulate the draft scheme free of cost.

Copyright (c) 2010, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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Houses for rehabilation being sold, government tells high court

http://mumbaibrunch.blogspot.com/2010/03/houses-for-rehabilation-being-sold.html

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mumbai: Confirming the allegations made in a public interest litigation (PIL), the director of Sanjay Gandhi National Park on Wednesday told the Bombay high court that over 800 flats allotted to those evicted from the park, have been illegally sold or leased out.

Janhit Manch, a local NGO, had initiated a PIL based on newspaper reports alleging that the rehabilitated slum dwellers were selling off their new houses in Chandivali.

Dr Pandurang Munde, director of the park, in an affidavit before the court said that out of the 8,711 tenements that have been allotted so far, forest officers inspected a little over 3,000 of which only 2,227 were occupied by genuine allottees.

The affidavit said that 329 flats had been leased out, 34 were sold, 531 were locked while 48 tenements had been put for commercial use.

Posted by Alok at 1:37 AM

 Temporary breather for Lalu as SC reserves judgement
newshttp://www.domain-b.com/economy/Govt/20100311_lalu_prasad_yadav.html
11 March 2010  
The Supreme Court has reserved its judgment in a petition filed before it by fodder scam accused Lalu Prasad Yadav, his wife and co-accused, Rabri Devi, and the Central Bureau of Investigation asking it to overturn a decision of the Patna High Court to admit an appeal by the Government of Bihar against the acquittal of Lalu and wife Rabri Devi by a CBI court in a disproportionate assets case related to the Rs1,000 crore fodder scam.

Lately, Lalu Prasad has been engaged in substantial histrionics over the Women’s Reservation Bill and even threatened to bring a no-confidence motion against the ruling UPA coalition, of which he too is a part. This led to some apprehension in the mind of his counsel, Ram Jethmalani, about the government’s stand in this case. He was reassured, however, when CBI counsel A Mariarputham, reiterated his argument that the Centre alone had the authority to decide whether CBI should file an appeal or not.

Bihar government counsel L Nageshwar Rao pleaded that a proper construction of the provision would make it clear that both Centre and state governments had authority to file an appeal. He also pointed out that in this case it was the state which was the victim having been defrauded of over Rs1,000 crore in the fodder scam and it would be difficult to argue that a victim was not entitled to file an appeal in the absence of any challenge to the acquittal of the accused.

The Patna High Court ruled on 20 September 2007 that the Bihar government’s appeal against trial court’s acquittal was maintainable. Upon this both, Lalu Prasad, then railway minister in the first UPA formation and CBI, as the prosecuting agency, had appealed to the SC asking it to overturn the order as in all CBI investigated cases it was only the Centre which had the authority to decide if an appeal would be filed or not.

Lalu’s argument was that the Bihar government’s appeal was barred under Section 378(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. The CBI supported Lalu’s argument.

The current appeal is being heard by a SC bench comprising of chief justice KG Balakrishnan and justices RM Lodha and BS Chauhan.

 

 

HC directs CBI to probe mining lease allotments

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/hc-directs-cbi-to-probe-mining-lease-allotments/589476/0

Express News Service

Posted: Thursday , Mar 11, 2010 at 0259 hrs Lucknow:

The Allahabad High Court has ordered a CBI inquiry into the allotment of mining leases to private contractors by the state government.

Finding prima facie irregularities in granting of mining leases and illegal mining of minor minerals in Uttar Pradesh, the High Court on Tuesday asked the superintendent of police, CBI,

Lucknow, to submit a preliminary report in the matter by April 4, a day before the next hearing.

The order was passed in response to a petition filed by Sameer Dwividi, a resident of Banda, who alleged that his application for a mining lease had been unfairly rejected.

A Division Bench comprising Justices P C Verma and Bala Krishna Narayana said it was not satisfied by the explanation given by the chief secretary in his affidavit.

“We, therefore, direct the SP, CBI, Lucknow, to hold an inquiry so that facts are brought before us regarding grant of licence by the state government,” said the Bench.

The chief secretary’s affidavit had denied any illegality in the grant of lease and had said that all allotments were made according to the rules.

Akhilesh Kalra, counsel for the petitioner, had alleged that the state government, the minister concerned and his men were involved in granting mining leases for minor minerals on a “pick and choose” basis.

The government and the minister were also promoting illegal mining of minor minerals like sand, boulders, morang and silica, the complainant had alleged.

“Rs 1,200 per truckload is taken illegally from miners by goons of the minister representing the department on behalf of the state government,” said Kalra, adding that he had mentioned these facts in the petition.

The writ petition alleged irregularities in granting of mining leases and illegal mining in Banda, Fatehpur, Hameerpur, Allahabad, Chandauli and other parts of the state.

Law minister wants more woman judges in HC

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata-/Law-minister-wants-more-woman-judges-in-HC/articleshow/5669810.cms

Debashis Konar, TNN, Mar 11, 2010, 04.07am IST

KOLKATA: Having successfully piloted the women’s bill in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Union law minister Veerappa Moili now wants more woman judges. The minister has requested Calcutta high court’s Chief Justice, Mohit S Shah, to recommend names of more women to fill the 23 vacancies on the Bench.

As of now, Calcutta high court has only two woman judges — Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Nadira Pathyria. The minister has also requested the chief justice to recommend names of more Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and minorities.

Though the Constitutionally-sanctioned strength of Calcutta high court’s bench is 58, the court has only 35 judges at present after the transfer of Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice Amitabha Lala to other high courts.
Unhappy over the large number of pending cases in high courts, Moily wrote to Chief Justice Shah a fortnight ago seeking to fill up vacancies immediately.

Moily wrote, “According to norms, the approved ratio for selection of judges between the bar and the judicial service is 2:1. For every two judges selected from the bar, a member of the state judicial service has to be elevated to the high court.” Thus, Calcutta HC should have 39 judges elevated from the bar and 19 promoted from the state judicial service.

The Union law minister even called for filling judicial vacancies through ad hoc appointments to ensure speedy justice. “There should be appointment of judges in all levels of judiciary on a temporary basis from retired judges and bar members,” he wrote.

Moily, said an official, wants retired high court judges appointed to tribunals, many of which have a large number of pending cases. In his letter, Moily recalled discussions at last August’s conference of chief justices and chief ministers in Delhi. That meet was followed by another in October, when the Chief Justice of India called for a 25% notional increase of judges.

Moily has suggested that the selection process to fill a judicial vacancy start well before a sitting judge is scheduled to retire. Pointing out that three judges of Calcutta HC are scheduled to retire over the next six months, the minister requested the Chief Justice to act in advance to fill impending vacancies. Moily wrote, “Both the Centre and the Chief Justice of India are aiming to reduce mounting court cases. It is not desirable to keep posts of judges vacant for a long time. Unless the existing vacancies of judges are filled up, a case for increasing the strength of judges would not hold.”

IGI’s runway can be used at night: HC

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/igis-runway-can-be-used-at-night-hc/589376/0

Utkarsh Anand

Posted: Thursday , Mar 11, 2010 at 0032 hrs New Delhi:

Nine months after restraining the authorities from operating Runway 29 of IGI Airport at night, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday gave them temporary relief. The court permitted use of the runway till the repair of Runway 28 is completed. The restraint order had come after residents of areas near the airport filed petitions that night operations on Runway 29 created constant noise.

But, on Wednesday, a Division Bench of acting Chief Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Mukta Gupta held that the authorities could best judge the situation and permitted them to modify the circular by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in May 2009.

After three PILs filed by residents of Vasant Kunj and Bijwasan village and a private hospital alleged severe noise pollution due to night operations on Runway 29, DGCA had submitted an affidavit in court saying Runway 29 would not be used from 10 pm to 6 am. The submission had come after the court issued a strict directive to stop flight operations at night due to inconvenience caused to the residents staying nearby.

The authorities had recently moved a plea to allow them to use Runway 29, as Runway 28 required excessive repairs — “rehabilitation”, in technical terms — and needed to be closed down during the process. According to the counsel, the repairs would take almost five months.

On Wednesday, the counsel for Vasant Kunj residents countered the plea and said Runway 29 should not be allowed to operate during night and that DGCA, airport operators DIAL and other authorities could manage air traffic by carrying out repairs on Runway 28 in parts.

The counsel also said the authorities were seeking five months’ time unreasonably.

But appearing for the airport authorities, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi opposed the contention and said the work required excessive repairs and could not be done in parts. “Moreover, we would not like to prolong the repairs and keep one of our runways suspended for long because that is bound to create problems for us,” Singhvi contended.

Justice Lokur said neither the court nor the residents’ counsel could challenge experts’ opinion on the kind of work required on the runway, and the time within which it could be completed. “Leave it to the judgment of experts — in our view, this is a matter best left to their expertise,” the court said. “Wherever necessary, the respondents can use Runway 29 during night.” The Bench, however, asked the authorities to take noise-mitigating measures “seriously”.

Interim bail to Adani MD: HC lawyer seeks to quash order

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/interim-bail-to-adani-md-hc-lawyer-seeks-to-quash-order/589514/

Posted: Thursday , Mar 11, 2010 at 0430 hrs

A public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeking to quash and set aside the interim bail granted to Adani group MD Rajesh Adani, was filed in the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday.

Justice R M Doshit had recently granted interim bail to Adani in connection with a four-year-old case of custom duty evasion. The CBI had arrested him.

The PIL was filed by High Court advocate Girish Das. He has prayed for an inquiry by an appropriate authority against Justice Doshit for her conduct “as the Habeas Corpus petitions are the business of division bench and not a single judge.” He has also urged that registrar G K Upadhyay should be dismissed as he had forwarded Adani’s petition to Justice Doshit, who was not in charge of judicial business, without the permission of the Chief Justice.

Adani was arrested in Goa on February 27. The same day, one of his relatives moved a writ of Habeas Corpus before the High Court, and Justice Doshit granted him interim bail till March 2 under urgent circumstances.

When the petition came before Justice A S Dave, he reprimanded the Registrar and ordered that no petition would be placed before any court without the permission of the Chief Justice.

Refusing to hear the petition, he said he would hear it only if it came through the proper procedure.

The PIL requests for an inquiry by the Joint Director CBI (western region) against Rajesh Adani “for examining correctness, legality and validity of an agreement with the Dubai Port World of the UAE, and possibility of endangering internal security of Gujarat and the country”.

Got a call seeking to influence me, says HC judge

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/got-a-call-seeking-to-influence-me-says-hc-judge/589304/

Express News Service

Posted: Thursday , Mar 11, 2010 at 2347 hrs Mumbai:

A judge announced in the Bombay High Court today that he had received a call from a former client seeking to influence the case he was hearing.

Justice P B Majmudar, part of a division bench with Justice RV More, was hearing a dispute between the Ruia Group and Goyal Gas Limited (GGL) over the control of Bombay Oxygen Company Ltd. The call, seeking an order in favour of GGL, had come from Ahmedabad, he said.

He said he is still thinking whether or not he will pass an order and will inform those concerned on Thursday.

“Such things disturb us. Nobody understands the plight of a judge,” Justice Majmudar said. “Somebody must have told them that the order is likely to be passed today. Their machinery is more powerful than the CBI,” Justice Majmudar said.

The advocates for the two parties however urged the bench to go ahead and pass an order to send the right message.

 “My conscience does not permit me to,” Justice Majmudar said.

He said “this tendency to treat court proceedings like any other revenue matter” should be curbed.

“Judges are kept away from mainstream society. We suffer because of that but we are happy to be suffering than being pressurised in this manner,” Justice Majmudar said.

Advocate Kamlesh Kharade, who represents GGL, said, “Nobody knows who has done it. But both parties will submit applications saying they have full faith in the court.”

Karnataka HC Judge asks CJ Dinakaran not to discharge administrative functions
http://www.indlawnews.com/newsdisplay.aspx?65df9661-1823-4da7-9417-84a2d099aa3e

3/11/2010
Justice D V Sylendra Kumar, who has been a bitter critic of Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran for his alleged involvement in a land scam, has said Justice Dinakaran should not discharge administrative functions.

In a letter dated March 8 to the Chief Justice, which was posted on his website, Justice Kumar said as impeachment proceedings against him (Justice Dinakaran) over allegations of land grabbing were pending, he should not take up administrative matters.

The Chief Justice, who is accused of grabbing government land in his native Kaverirajapuram village in Tamil Nadu, had not been sitting on the bench since December 17, following the surfacing of the allegation against him.

He had, however, denied involvement in any land scam.

‘Justice Dinakaran should definitely desist from exercising even administrative function as Chief Justice. His action of attending to administrative work is a very disturbing development,’ he said.

Justice Kumar also urged Justice Dinakaran in the open letter that if the latter honoured issues of etiquette, propriety and morality, he should also do not draw full salary and enjoy facilities extended to a regular Chief Justice.

UNI

Nariman Pt-Cuffe Parade buildings get HC relief

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Nariman-Pt-Cuffe-Parade-buildings-get-HC-relief/articleshow/5669460.cms

Nauzer K Bharucha, TNN, Mar 11, 2010, 01.18am IST

MUMBAI: Building societies in the Nariman Point-Cuffe Parade area contesting the BMC’s steep new property tax rates have got a breather from the Bombay high court. In an interim order, a division bench of the court said that the notices slapped by the BMC could not be termed as “notice of demand” but were to be treated only as show-cause notices.

A notice of demand has an element of finality which cannot be challenged (except in court) while a show-cause notice gives a chance to the society to contest it before the BMC. The BMC’s counsel said that the aggrieved parties would have ample opportunity to put up their case before the BMC finalised and quantified the tax to be assessed.

“We make it clear that the corporation will not take any coercive step in the matter of recovery of tax pursuant to the impugned notices till they take a decision in the matter without further orders from the court. The petitioners are directed to appear before the authority (BMC) on March 15, 2010, in response to the impugned notices,” said the court’s interim order.

Two prominent building societies—Mafatlal Centre at Nariman Point and Maker Tower A&B at Cuffe Parade—approached the court in late 2009 after the BMC increased their property tax manifold from April 2008 onwards. Both the caseswere clubbed together.

In the case of Mafatlal Centre, the BMC sought to increase its demand for property tax by eight times. While in 2007-08, its property tax was Rs 2.21 crore, the BMC’s assessor and collector proposed to hike it to Rs 15.58 crore for the following years.

The Mafatlal Centre society challenged this in the court on the grounds that the notice was served without giving the society a hearing.

Since last year, the BMC has slapped notices on building societies here by increasing their taxes by as much as five to 10 times. The BMC’s assessment and collection department hiked what is commonly known as the rateable value in buildings where offices have been given out on leave and licence. The rateable value is fixed on the basis of the rent a particular office space is expected to fetch the owner.

Mumbai still follows the rateable value-based system introduced in 1888 by the BMC Act in which the property tax is calculated on the basis of the rent a property is likely to earn. Going by the book, commercial properties are charged at an absurd 112.5% of the rent they are likely to earn. But the BMC has discretionary powers to reduce this by as much as 50% to 70%.

Lawyers strike against corruption in judiciary

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Lawyers-strike-against-corruption-in-judiciary/articleshow/5669441.cms

TNN, Mar 11, 2010, 01.09am IST

NEW DELHI: Lawyers of all district courts have decided to strike work on Thursday to protest against rising corruption in the judiciary.

The co-ordination committee of all the bar associations is also protesting against the “overlooking of public interest by the high court in divesting the district courts of India from original jurisdiction in the garb of opening commercial divisions in the Delhi High Court”.

Secretary of New Delhi Bar Association, Neeraj, said, “All lawyers of five district courts will abstain from work on Thursday. It’s a token strike and we will decide the next course of action after that.”

At a meeting of the bar associations, it was decided that lawyers will approach the government to bring appropriate legislation in respect of corruption and transfer of jurisdiction for providing fair and speedy justice. “We will meet the law minister on Thursday in this regard,” said Sanjeev Nasiar, secretary general, co-ordination committee. Lawyers will submit a memorandum to the law minister, the CM and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Judges accountability Bill before Cabinet today

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Judges-accountability-Bill-before-Cabinet-today/589406

Express news service

 Posted: Thursday , Mar 11, 2010 at 0105 hrs New Delhi:

The Union Cabinet on Thursday will take up for approval the draft Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, aimed at addressing complaints of corruption, irregularities or misbehaviour against sitting judges of high courts and Surpreme Court, including the Chief Justice of India.

The Bill proposes to set up a National Judicial Oversight Committee, likely to be headed by Vice-President Hamid Ansari with distinguished jurists as members that will receive the complaints against the sitting judges. Law Minister Veerappa Moily has earlier stated that he is keen to bring the Bill in the ongoing Budget session.

The government proposes to have two scrutiny committees — one for the Supreme Court and the other for high courts. In the case of the CJI, the Oversight Committee will examine the complaint and take the final call on whether it should be referred to the proposed investigation committee under the proposed law.

To make the working of the Oversight Committee transparent and effective, the proposed law aims to bestow upon it all the powers as are enjoyed by a civil court. These would empower the committee to summon witnesses or any other person and examine them on oath, record evidence, accept affidavits, etc.

The draft Bill also provides for punishment, including a prison term and/or a fine, if somebody files a complaint against a member of the higher judiciary for ulterior motives.

Judge Blog dares SC collegium: ‘Your insensitivity shameful’

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/judge-blog-dares-sc-collegium-your-insensitivity-shameful/589430/0

Maneesh Chhibber

 Posted: Thursday , Mar 11, 2010 at 0122 hrs New Delhi:

Continuing his battle against the judiciary’s shroud of secrecy, Karnataka High Court Judge D V Shylendra Kumar has slammed the collegium.

It’s a matter of concern and “even shame for the members of the judiciary that the collegium of the Supreme Court is blissfully remaining insensitive to public opinion/reaction, but, is only playing GOD by not responding” to the flak it’s drawn from the public, he writes in his blog.

Earlier, when Kumar took on Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan on declaration of assets, holding that the CJI didn’t have the authority to speak for the entire judiciary, the CJI said: “He wants publicity and such a thing is not good for a judge. Judges should not be publicity-crazy.”

In his latest posting, the judge, who has also criticised Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran, says: “Laymen on the street, or elite and enlightened in their palaces, have all been critical of the manner of functioning of the collegiums in general and the collegium of the Supreme Court in particular! The collegium of the Supreme Court refusing to divulge information has not been taken kindly by the members of the public and this conduct and attitude is looked down with suspicion and as a possible cover up resorted to on the part of the members of the collegium.”

Kumar has also made public his “open letter” to Dinakaran on March 8 in which he asked the controversial CJ to refrain from discharging administrative functions given the impeachment proceedings against him over allegations of landgrab.

Kumar also raised the issues of etiquette, propriety and morality, and demanded that Dinakaran should not draw full salary and enjoy facilities extended to a regular Chief Justice.

“It is acceptable if he is a normal Chief Justice performing judicial function. But in your case you are not only not performing on the judicial side, but also facing an impeachment move,” he has told the CJ.

He has said that people have rejected the CJI’s argument that the collegium’s decisions can’t be made public as this would affect the efficacy of the judicial system.

“While it may be true that to protect the image and the reputation of the institution, the cause of a few judges can be sacrificed, it is the other way now as practised by the collegium… it appears that the information is not being divulged or revealed, only to protect the concerned judges and even possibly to protect themselves, but at the cost of the image and reputation of the institution, as in the eyes of the public by not revealing the information, it is the image and reputation of the institution that is suffering and definitely not the image and reputation of the concerned judges,” he writes. “It is high time that the collegium…starts acting in the interest of the institution and not in the interest of individual judges nor to protect their image and reputation and try to hide or cover up the bad image or the bad reputation of errant judges!”

Justice Kumar started blogging since August, mostly disagreeing with Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan. He took to active blogging only after Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge K Kannan, who was the first sitting HC Judge to blog, decided to stop blogging.

Woman can marry her rapist if she wishes: Chief justice of India

http://music4india.in/showthread.php?t=3530

A woman should be allowed to have a baby out of rape and/or marry the man and drop the rape charge if she so wishes, Chief Justice of India (CJI) KG Balakrishnan has said.

He also urged judges, lawyers and social activists to ensure that they don’t adopt an “overtly paternalistic” approach in taking decisions for the welfare of rape victims. The CJI was speaking at a seminar on Sunday.

Balakrishnan’s words are significant, considering the fact that in 2008, more than 20,000 rapes (estimates say only one in 69 cases are reported in the country) were registered and in a staggering 92% of those cases, the perpetrators were known to the victim.

An uncontested report says India is one of the worst places for a woman to live in because of poor personal safety and security. A total of 57 rape cases are recorded here every day and this number is 800% more than the seven cases a day recorded in 1971.

Currently, one of four crimes in India is rape. Every hour, there are 20 crimes committed against women and of all the rapes, only 20% actually see conviction for the offenders. Delhi has the disrepute of being the country’s rape capital, as one-third of rapes are reported here.

The chief justice spoke of the need to give the victims shelter, counselling, medical and legal aid since convicting rapists won’t alone help them. He mooted creation of a fund to rehabilitate and provide succour to rape victims through district legal service authorities. “The Union and state governments should create the fund for compensation to rape victims,” he said. This could be disbursed through district legal service authorities.

Without mentioning the Ruchika Girhotra molestation-suicide case, Balakrishnan expressed concern at “some recent cases’’ that exposed the investigative machinery and its manipulation by men in power to protect influential persons.

The chief justice also spoke out against insensitivity towards the victim, especially during court proceedings. “Judges need to be proactive to restrain the aggressive cross-examination of rape victims,’’ Balakrishnan said. He highlighted changes in law that ignores the past sexual history of victims. The amended Indian Evidence Act says that a victim’s past sexual history cannot be given weightage in a rape trial.

“Judges and lawyers should internalise the principle that facts relating to the sexual history of a victim should not be brought up since the trial’s purpose is to decide whether the offence took place.”

SC appeals to itself on RTI verdict

http://www.lawyersclubindia.com/news/SC-appeals-to-itself-on-RTI-verdict-/10625/

By : MOHAMMED SHAKEEL on 09 March 2010

The Supreme Court today turned to itself once again by filing an appeal against a January 12 Delhi High Court verdict that had clarified that the Right to Information (RTI) Act covered the office of the Chief Justice of India.

Citing as many as 39 reasons for its contention that the RTI law did not cover the office of the CJI, the appeal filed by the apex court’s secretary-general said that the high court had failed to deal with its submission that only information that was in ‘public domain’ could be sought under the 2005 law.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) had directed the Supreme Court on January 6, 2009 to provide information to an RTI applicant who wanted to know whether judges of the higher judiciary were disclosing their assets to the CJI or the respective HC CJs. The SC challenged the CIC order in the Delhi HC, but lost both the appeals and the review plea. Earlier, the SC had filed a petition before itself challenging another CIC order for disclosure of details relating to bypassing of seniority while elevating Judges to the apex court. On February 8 this year, a Bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and SS Nijjar issued notice to all the HCs seeking their response to the SC plea that matters pertaining to appointment of judges could not be disclosed. In the present appeal, the apex court contended that the 1997 SC Resolution and the 1999 Judicial Conference Resolution on judicial values had only talked about “voluntary declaration” of assets by Judges and as such these were not in public domain. According to the appeal, the HC “has failed to appreciate the context in which the submission about the non-binding nature of the resolution needs to be noted.”

While interpreting the right to information under the act with reference to the judiciary, the HC ought to have appreciated the right under Section 2(j) in a manner “which is in furtherance of the basic structure of the Constitution, namely independence of judiciary.”

Source : R Sedhuraman/Legal Correspondent, http://www.tribuneindia.com

 

Govt yet to take decision on registration of FIRs

http://www.lawyersclubindia.com/news/Govt-yet-to-take-decision-on-registration-of-FIRs-/10626/

By : ajitabh acharya on 09 March 2010
NEW DELHI, 24 FEB: The government has not taken any final decision on mandatory registration of FIRs and is awaiting the Supreme Court verdict in a case relating to the issue.

 “From time to time, views have been expressed regarding mandatory registration of complaints received by police as FIRs. No final view has been taken by the Central government. It awaits the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of Lalita Kumari versus the State of UP and others,” the minister of state for home, Mr Ajay Maken, told the Rajya Sabha today.

In December last year, the Union home ministry had stated that it is contemplating making registration of FIRs mandatory, particularly after the Ruchika case, in which a 14 year old student committed suicide allegedly due to harassment by the former Haryana DGP SPS Rathore. Her family had approached the Haryana Police seeking registration of an abetment

to commit suicide case against Mr Rathore but it was turned down.

O the setting up of the second states reorganisation commission, Mr Maken said “as

per records available, no political party or its leaders have requested for setting up of the second States Reorganisation Commission”.

He, however, admitted that representations have been received from various individuals and organisations demanding setting up of the commission. “As of now, no decision has been taken in this respect,” the minister stated. “As regards border disputes between some states, the approach of the Central government has consistently been that inter-state boundary disputes can be resolved only with willing cooperation of the state governments concerned and that the Central government works only as a facilitator for amicable settlement of the dispute in a spirit of mutual accommodation and understanding,” Mr Makan said

LEGAL NEWS 06.03.2010

HC refuses to take up poll plea

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/HC-refuses-to-take-up-poll-plea/articleshow/5648933.cms

TNN, Mar 6, 2010, 05.04am IST

BANGALORE: In the hearing on the BBMP elections on Friday, the division Bench refused to take up the petition challenging the wardwise reservation list published a couple of days ago.

“We have already given an order twice in this matter. We don’t intend to take up this matter today. Let it come in the normal course,” the Bench observed when the counsel mentioned the case.

Shyam Sundar and Ramaiah in their petitions challenged the reservation with respect to Vijinapura and Basavanapura wards.

HC asks AAI for HAL airport details

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/HC-asks-AAI-for-HAL-airport-details/articleshow/5648935.cms

TNN, Mar 6, 2010, 04.46am IST

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High court on Thursday asked the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to give details with regards to the capacity of HAL Airport and details of number of flights it handled (both domestic and international) and its infrastructure when it was closed in May 2008.

The division Bench headed by Justice N Kumar also directed AAI to clarify with regard to the averments in the petition vis-a-vis the concessional agreement of July 5, 2004 for setting up a greenfield international airport at Devanahalli by BIAL. The petitioners contended that the agreement is not approved by the Parliament and there is no scope for closing an airport under the AAI Act.

“Under a private contract, we can’t sell the Vidhana Soudha,” the Bench observed before adjourning the hearing to Monday.

`Everything in govt is rotten’

Observing that everything in the state government is “rotten”, Justice D V Shylendra Kumar on Friday directed the state government to file a status report regarding allotment of land to ex-servicemen and weaker sections of society in Kotthanooru.

“They make tall claims. But when it comes to action, they drag their feet. These ex-servicemen, who have shed their blood for the nation, and Dalits should have been given houses built by the government. But here, the land has been taken away on one pretext or the other. The reply from the government is evasive and callous,” he observed. The court also observed that the affidavit filed by revenue secretary G S Narayana Swamy containing wrong statement of facts is nothing but perjury.

Hindu Marriage Act not applicable to NRIs: HC

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Hindu-Marriage-Act-not-applicable-to-NRIs-HC/articleshow/5649268.cms

Shibu Thomas, TNN, Mar 6, 2010, 03.10am IST

MUMBAI: A desire to get married the traditional way attracts young non-resident Indian couples to tie the knot in India, but the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) may not be applicable to them if they are domicile of a foreign country. The Bombay high court has said that the HMA cannot apply to an estranged couple who were domiciled in the US.

Justice Roshan Dalvi quashed an order of the Pune family court which had said Indian courts would have jurisdiction to hear a divorce case even if the couple had resided for a single day in the city when they came to India for a holiday.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Michigan-based Smita Muley who had got a divorce from a US court. Her husband Suhas Muley came back to India and filed another divorce petition in a Pune court.

“The man cannot confer jurisdiction on the court of Pune where the couple never stayed together for any length of time in their own matrimonial home (India), they having had their matrimonial home in the US,’’ said the judge. “The HMA itself does not apply to the couple conse-qu-ent upon their domicile in the US and also because the rights between the parties have been settled by a judgment conclusive between them.’’

The Pune court had said it had jurisdiction to hear the case based on Suhas’s claim that they had spent a night in his parents’ house in Aundh, Pune, in January 2008.

“The order of the family court, Pune, concluding that the parties last resided together in Pune and even though their residence is for a single day, it would give the court jurisdiction, suffers from material irregularity and is required to be interfered with.’’
In the HC, Suhas produced documents as proof that he was domiciled in India: copy of his ration card issued in 2001, his driving licence obtained in 1999, a 1995 voter identity card and passport with validity up to 2019.

But the court was not satisfied. “None of these documents shows his intention to reside in India permanently; his Green Card shows he intends to stay in the US,’’ said the judge, adding, “It is easy to see that both the parties have had the intention of making the US their permanent home even prior to their marriage. Since their parents reside in India, they came to India to be married as per Hindu rites.’’

The court said Suhas could challenge the US court’s divorce order of January 2009 in that country.

(Names of the couple changed)

Tide turns: HC stays Rin ad

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/services/advertising/Tide-turns-HC-stays-Rin-ad/articleshow/5648941.cms

6 Mar 2010, 0015 hrs IST, ET Bureau

KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Friday restrained Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) from beaming a controversial detergent ad with immediate effect.
Justice Nadira Patherya passed an order on Friday restraining HUL from telecasting its detergent advertisement that was seemingly mocking Procter & Gamble’s detergent Tide Naturals.

Justice Patherya directed that telecast of the HUL advertisement be stopped on and from March 8. P&G senior advocate SK Kapur had contended that ad was ‘a clear case of disparagement’ and that it mocked the P&G product while showing its own. The judge agreed that no manufacturer is permitted to promote its product by labelling its competitor’s as bad.

Prior thereto, HUL had moved Chennai High Court and obtained an ex-parte order directing P&G to specify a disclaimer in its packet of Tide Naturals which was vacated after P&G made an application for the same. Taking cue from the same, HUL contended in the Calcutta High Court that by filing a vacating application, P&G had submitted to the jurisdiction of Chennai High Court and the suit in Calcutta High Court cannot be proceeded with.

In its affidavit, HUL had contended that it had obtained laboratory reports which proved the superior whiteness of Rin.

     

 

Ensure water supply to Ajmer, says HC

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/Ensure-water-supply-to-Ajmer-says-HC/articleshow/5648956.cms

TNN, Mar 6, 2010, 06.30am IST

JAIPUR: A Rajasthan High Court division bench has asked the state government to implement the directions of the permanent lok adalt to ensure regular water supply to Ajmer.

The bench clarified it intends to make the lok adalat suggestions applicable in the entire state. Accordingly, it directed the government to see that during supply of potable water in the morning and evening there is no electricity supply in that area to reduce the use of boosters, a cell should be created under an assistant engineer to check water wastage from leakage, to have a comupterised cell to register complaints about leaks, supply of dirty water, complaints received against non-redressal of grievances, etc.

It has also directed in case of a major fault or shutdown of supply it should be ensured that potable water supply does not get adversely affected. The Ajmer district administration will prepare an additional water storage plan for this.

Not all demands dowry-linked: HC

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Not-all-demands-dowry-linked-HC-/articleshow/5649397.cms

TNN, Mar 6, 2010, 04.43am IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has held that a solitary demand not followed by any harassment of the wife doesn’t constitute a dowry demand and is not punishable under section 304 B of Indian Penal Code. Justice V K Jain gave the ruling while acquitting three members of a man’s family who had appealed against their conviction for dowry death.

The main allegation against the accused was that they had asked for Rs 50,000 from the victim’s family and sent her to her parental house to get it. After it failed to come across any persistence in the demand for the amount, HC clarified that just because a demand was made once after the wedding, it doesn’t automatically attract penal provisions related to dowry as it was not ‘‘referable to the marriage.’’

‘‘Demand for something which has not been agreed to be given at any time before or at the time of marriage and which isn’t in the contemplation of the boy or his family members and which is neither expected by them to be given in the marriage can’t be said to be connected with marriage,’’ justice Jain noted, emphasizing that a demand should be in connection to marriage for it to be covered under section 304 B.

Explaining ‘‘in connection with the marriage of the said parties’’ provided under Section 304-B of the IPC, the court said that it clearly excludes the demands that were not in connection with the marriage of the parties.

The judge further clarified that even if the victim was harassed with respect to one demand, if it wasn’t connected to marriage it would not attract 304 B. ‘‘It is difficult to accept that the demands which are not at all referable to the marriage would also constitute dowry demand, in case woman is subjected to cruelty or harassment in connection to such a demand,’’ he said.

However, the judge noted there are demands other than those covered under the definition of dowry which are made after the marriage and such demands do result in subjecting the girl to cruelty and harassment. He suggested the legislature change the law if these have to be dealt with under the IPC.

Earlier, the father and brother of the victim, Lovely, had alleged she committed suicide after being harassed for not bringing Rs 50,000. The trial court had in March 2005 sentenced the victim’s husband, Naresh Kumar Sharma, besides his father, mother and elder brother to seven years of imprisonment.

toireporter@timesgroup.com

Raj HC strikes down 50% quota for women

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Raj-HC-strikes-down-50-quota-for-women/articleshow/5649344.cms

Abhinav Sharma, TNN, Mar 6, 2010, 03.42am IST

JAIPUR: Even as the UPA government at the Centre gets ready to bring the women’s reservation Bill in Parliament on International Women’s Day, the Rajasthan HC on Friday struck down 50% quota provided to women in civic and and local bodies by the state government. The court’s Jaipur bench also struck down the government’s proposal to provide quota to youth in local bodies.

During the recent local bodies, 50% of the seats were reserved for women, which resulted in election of 15 of the 33 women zilla pramukhs. The court, however, clarified that those already elected would not be affected. But in future no 50% quota would be provided to women, it clarified.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice Jagdish Bhalla and Justice M N Bhandari observed that 50% reservation for women and earmarking certain seats for candidates in the age group of 21-35 were “unconstitutional”.

“The Constitution provides for a maximum of 33% quota for women. So there is an embargo in providing more than what is mentioned in the Constitution,” said Chief Justice Bhalla while delivering the judgment. The court observed the state government has failed to justify its action in enhancing the reservation.

Bombay HC quashes order of Jail Sup imposing punishment on prisoner

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_bombay-hc-quashes-order-of-jail-sup-imposing-punishment-on-prisoner_1355845

PTI

Saturday, March 6, 2010 10:18 IST

Mumbai: Observing that due procedure had not been followed, the Bombay high court has quashed an order passed by superintendent of Amravati Central prison imposing punishment on a prisoner for not surrendering after the expiry of his furlough leave. Furlough is temporary leave granted by jail authorities to a convict.

The judgement was delivered by justice AP Lavande and justice PD Kode recently on a petition filed by SK Najir, 42, who is serving a life sentence in Amravati jail on murder charge.

The petitioner, convicted in 1993, had challenged punishment imposed on him for not surrendering after the expiry of his furlough leave granted to him for two weeks on April 25, 1996. Police arrested him as he did not surrender for 585 days.

In view of late surrender the superintendent of Amravati prison issued show cause notice to the petitioner on December 27, 1997. He replied to the notice some days later.

However, on February 4, 1998, the Superintendent proposed punishment of forfeiture of remissions in the ratio of 1 : 5.

Petitioner’s counsel Jaiswal submitted that if the punishment of forfeiture of remission exceeding 60 days is proposed by the Superintendent, in terms of Rule 23 of the Maharashtra Prisons (Remission System) Rules, 1962, he has to take prior approval of DIG Prisons for imposing punishment.

Jaiswal also submitted that it is also a settled law that appraisal of the District Judge has to be obtained only after the DIG Prisons approves the punishment. In the present case, this procedure has not been followed. On the contrary, the district judge, Amravati has first approved the punishment and thereafter the DIG Prisons has approved the punishment.

He, therefore, submitted that the punishment imposed on the petitioner be set aside and the matter be remanded to the authorities for fresh decision.

Prosecutor Mirza conceded that the proposed punishment imposed on the petitioner cannot be sustained.

The judges observed, “in a number of matters we have held that when the Superintendent of Central Prison proposes punishment of forfeiture of remissions exceeding 60 days, he has to first obtain prior approval of DIG Prisons and then the punishment order has to be sent for appraisal to the concerned district judge”.

“Admittedly this procedure was not followed in the present case. On this count alone, the punishment imposed on the petitioner deserves to be quashed and set aside” the judges held and remanded the matter to the authorities for a fresh decision by April 24.

DTC staff turned blind eye to eve-teasing, HC fumes

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/DTC-staff-turned-blind-eye-to-eve-teasing-HC-fumes-/articleshow/5649394.cms

TNN, Mar 6, 2010, 04.40am IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court upheld on Friday the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC)’s order terminating the service of a driver and conductor in a 1993 eve-teasing case. Broadening the scope of a writ petition that alleged eve-teasing at the hands of the conductor, the court demanded to know if the Delhi government and DTC had any mechanism to check such incidents.

Justice Kailash Gambhir sought an affidavit on the matter from the government, saying “an overwhelming majority of women in Delhi don’t feel safe”. The HC was hearing an appeal by a conductor, who was suspended for being “hand-in-glove” with some boys who teased female passengers in a DTC bus.

Citing how harassment of women go unreported, the court said: “The immeasurable damage that eve-teasing does to a woman’s self-esteem could hardly take us on the way to achieving gender equality. Even today one cannot ignore the reality that an overwhelming majority of women in Delhi do not feel safe. One does not need hard-hitting statistics to prove this, but a daily scan of newspapers will give a reality check as to how women face violence in the city on roads, buses and market places.”
The DTC has challenged a labour court’s order that cancelled the termination of the driver and conductor of the bus. Jai Pal Singh did not prevent teasing of a girl in 1993 and instead acted “hand-in- glove” the court found and directed that he be dismissed from service and asked DTC to file a compliance report by April 7.

‘‘It is common knowledge that most women rely on public transport, especially buses, for day-to-day travel. It is often seen that women feel threatened not only by anti-social elements travelling on the bus but equally by persons manning the bus. The drivers and conductors who are supposed to act as saviours often indulge in acts of indecency if they find a lone female passengers in the bus,’’ HC noted as it upheld the DTC order, terminating the services of the conductor and driver following a case of eve-teasing on a bus in 1993.

Criticising the driver and conductor, the court said, “The case exemplifies the irresponsible and pathetic behaviour of the employees of the public transport department. Had the driver immediately applied the brakes and halted the bus, the gruesome incident could have been avoided. Both the conductor and the driver not only failed in their duty, but were hand-in-glove with the accused,” the court said. “The only remedy is to have informed and sensitive citizens. The drivers and conductors should be sensitized towards issues relating to gender violence.”

Pay for damage during party protest: HC to ex-Sena MLA

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pay-for-damage-during-party-protest-hc-to-exsena-mla/587459/0

Express News Service

Posted: Saturday , Mar 06, 2010 at 0131 hrs Mumbai:

Saying a tough signal needed to be sent against vandalism, the Bombay High Court today ordered a former Shiv Sena MLA to pay Rs 5.88 lakh to compensate for the damage caused to a five-star hotel in the city last year by protesting party workers.

Sitaram Dalvi, the former MLA, had been directed by the Mumbai Collector to pay Rs 7.88 lakh for the damages at Hotel Intercontinental caused by more than 500 Sainiks during a protest over labour issues in January last year. Dalvi was held responsible as he was the area leader of the party and one of those behind the protest.

Dalvi had deposited Rs 2 lakh and then petitioned the High Court for a stay on the Collector’s order. On Thursday, the court had asked him to consult his party leaders and find out if they would pay for the damages. Dalvi got back today, saying he could not get in touch with his party chief or other leaders due to lack of time.

The division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Mridula Bhatkar then directed Dalvi to deposit the money by March 8. “This is not a question of money but is a question of what signal should go to the people. This breaking of property, burning buses and trains must be banned,” Justice Desai observed.

The High Court said that while protesting is a Constitutional right, destruction of public and private property could not be allowed. The court also cited the Supreme Court’s 2009 judgment where it laid down guidelines for recovering damages from organizers of political agitations.

The court also refused a request by Dalvi’s lawyer Shriram Kulkarni for some time to pay the Rs 5.88 lakh. “Are you suggesting it is difficult? What is so great about it?” asked Justice Desai. Kulkarni had earlier argued that Section 51 of the Bombay Police Act, under which the Collector issued the notice to Dalvi seeking damages, was unconstitutional as it does not contemplate a proper inquiry before liability to pay compensation is fixed.

He had also argued that there was no reason why Dalvi alone should be made to pay, when other members of the party too were involved in the protest. However, the court said that these issues can be looked at when the case comes up for final hearing.

Reacting to the order, Dalvi told The Indian Express, “Why should I involve the party now? It will bring about a lot of paperwork all over again with the Collector and court for the party.

Instead I have taken the decision to pay the entire amount myself. I had initially paid the dues in my name amounting to Rs 2 lakh. When they started asking me to pay the rest of the amount as a vibhag pramukh, I challenged it. But now I have decided to keep the party out of the matter.”

In our judiciary, anybody can be bought, says Gujarat CJ

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/In-our-judiciary-anybody-can-be-bought-says-Gujarat-CJ/articleshow/5649335.cms

TNN, Mar 6, 2010, 03.36am IST

AHMEDABAD: Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhyay expressed concern over the future of Gujarat judiciary when hearing the case of termination of ad hoc fast-track court judges. The high court and the state government discontinued services of 56 judges last November.

Discussing charges of corruption in cases of some of judicial officers on Friday, Justice Mukhopadhaya said: “We are concerned about the future of Gujarat judiciary, where money has become the main source and where you can buy anybody with the power of money.”

Justice Mukhopadhyay insisted on maintaining transparency in judiciary in order to uphold its credibility among people. He asked the lawyers representing the FCT judges how else the high court could have reacted to allegations of corruption levelled against the judicial officers.

The FCT judges were relieved from service last year with a remark in their termination letter that they were found ‘unsuitable’.

The judge was of the opinion that issuance of a show-cause notice to the judges concerned would have served no purpose. He also made it clear that he was discussing the issue in the context of the judiciary across the nation, and not strictly pertaining to Gujarat.

Move afoot to exempt CJI from RTI Act

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Move-afoot-to-exempt-CJI-from-RTI-Act/articleshow/5649187.cms

6 Mar 2010, 0208 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The Manmohan Singh government seems to be disinclined to get into a tussle with the higher judiciary. A proposal to exempt the office of the Chief Justice of India from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act is under the government’s consideration.

With the prime minister stepping in to back amendments to the Act, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and law ministry are likely to be on their toes to explore the possibilities of making the changes.

However, with BJP and Left parties strongly opposed to any dilution of the Act, the government may run short of numbers for passage of the amendments in the Rajya Sabha. “Why should the Chief Justice of India be excluded? What is the justification in it?” asked CPI MP D Raja on Friday.

Mr Manmohan Singh has reportedly backed changes in the RTI Act “to address the concerns of the judiciary.” He said that keeping the CJI office out of its purview will secure confidential information related to the appointment of judges and higher administrative decisions from public scanner.

CJI K G Balakrishnan had written to the prime minister seeking exemption from the RTI Act in certain matters. However, Congress president Sonia Gandhi is understood to be averse to changes in the Act, which was one of the UPA’s key legislation.

The Delhi high court in January had upheld its single bench order that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes within the purview of the RTI Act and details of judges assets should be revealed under that. The Supreme Court now has around a week to challenge the HC judgement. The Delhi high court had given petitioners a 60-day deadline to challenge the ruling.

Besides the proposal to keep CJI out of the Act’s purview, the amendments proposed are disallowing discussions on policy decisions to be made public and permitting frivolous queries.

     

 

‘Politicians Meddle In Criminal Trials’

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main44.asp?filename=Ne130310politicians_meddle.asp

Saturday, 6 March From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 10, Dated March 13, 2010

What reforms does the system of judicial appointments need?
The current system is carried out in secret and there is a lack of transparency. We must select an independent Judicial Appointments Commission, with a representation of the judiciary, executive, academia, and eminent people, which functions openly.

How should nominations be made to the Supreme Court and high courts?
There is no defined procedure. When I headed the collegium in the Delhi and the Madras high courts, I used to have a wide consultation with judges and Bar members outside the collegium. Even though the candidate gives an exhaustive bio-data, there is no transparency. Also, there is no investigating agency or machinery with the judiciary to enquire into allegations against a candidate. We do receive complaints, but the Intelligence Bureau does the investigation. There are times when reports are doctored depending on the government in power.

The SC collegium bypassed you for elevation. What was the procedure?
I don’t know. There is no formal communication between the judge and the collegium.

Did you try to find out what happened? You have said you were hurt.
I never made any grievance till the question was put to me. I have never made any enquiry. For me it’s a closed chapter. To keep the controversy going on will not be good for the institution. Once I took up the job, I marched like a soldier.

What is behind judicial corruption?
It is not peculiar to India. I’m proud that corruption in the superior judiciary, by and large, is minimal. If you bring in transparency in appointments it will reduce the possibility of misuse of office. Corruption can take many forms — bribes, favours to lawyers, nepotism, tendency of politicians to interfere or sometimes even allowing them to interfere, are some.

Why shouldn’t judges openly declare their assets?
There are two aspects to this. One is whether it could mean information under the RTI Act. In that case, the Central Information Commissioner can directly disclose the information. The second aspect is to put it on the website. In European countries there is no declaration of assets. According to the law, the judges must declare their assets to the CJI or CJ of the HC, which is exempt from disclosure under Section (8) J of the RTI Act unless a larger public interest is established. There is a lot of resistance to put the entire information on the Internet for security reasons.

Why is the judiciary in a general state of decline?
I don’t agree with that. It is vibrant. We are giving too much importance to a few headlines.

Why does the question of the integrity of judges come up then?
A few recent incidents have caught the attention and therefore the judiciary is not seen in good light. Two cases of impeachment in such a short span of time have sent wrong signals. The courts are constantly under media glare, which is a good thing.

Why is there such a large backlog?
There are more than two crore cases pending in our courts. The number of judges is low compared to other countries. In the Chief Justice’s conference, we decided that a judge should not look at more than 500 cases and for a magistrate it should not exceed 1,000 cases. But today a judge’s file has more than 10,000 cases. Delhi has nine lakh pending cases, out of that 6.3 lakh pertain to bounced cheques. Our methods of case management are also archaic. How does one decide priority?

Why has the judiciary failed to end corruption in public life?
The role of the court is not to put an end to corruption. But what should happen when corrupt public servants are brought before the court — is an expeditious trial and punishment. What is happening in most corruption cases is that because trials get prolonged, those involved engage a fleet of lawyers to fight and take advantage of the loopholes. Another disturbing feature is the tendency to interfere with criminal trials by filing petitions for the stay of the trial, which ultimately ends in the acquittal. To that extent, one may criticise the judiciary’s ability to deal with corruption. But lawyers and investigating agencies are also responsible. Sometimes witnesses are not brought before the court, the officials involved are transferred and so on. What the government should do is to take out the petty cases — fines and penalties — from the criminal justice system. We must think of innovative measures of improving the criminal justice system. Thousands of undertrials are languishing in jails. In a few cases the accused does not even know why he is in jail. It is disheartening that some of them cannot hire lawyers or even furnish money for bonds.

What are the three fundamental issues of crisis before the judiciary?
Judicial delays and cost of that, is one. Lack of modernisation would be the second. The third is credibility. People should have faith in the system. Without that, the courts will not survive. There is a sense of frustration among the litigating public because matters are not disposed off in time, the procedure is cumbersome and hiring lawyers is expensive. Giving speeches here and there is not the vision of the judiciary. All government departments prepare a vision statement. Where is the vision statement of the judiciary?

What else corrupts the judiciary?
Post-retirement appointments. In all democratic countries, the age of retirement for a judge is 70 years. In India not only is the age of retirement on the lower side but there is also a difference between the retirement age of high court judges and those in the Supreme Court. When HC judges come for consideration for apex court, they are preoccupied with thoughts of further elevation and extension.

Manmohan Singh not in tune with Sonia Gandhi over RTI

http://politiclone.blogspot.com/2010/03/manmohan-singh-not-in-tune-with-sonia.html

NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has reportedly disagreed with Congress President Sonia Gandhi over the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
As per news channels, Dr Singh is in favour of excluding the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) from falling under the ambit of the RTI Act, whereas Sonia Gandhi has opposed any amendments in the Act.
The changes proposed by the Prime Minister in the RTI Act will keep the office of the Chief Justice of India out of the purview of the Act.
There are reports that Dr Singh has written a letter to Congress President saying that some changes are needed in the RTI Act to address the concerns of the judiciary.
A leading news channel on Thursday night reported that Sonia Gandhi wrote to Dr Singh two months ago that she was determined that there should be no amendments to the Act and the existing RTI Act should be put into operation appropriately.
The channel further reported that Dr Singh in his reply said there was a need for RTI amendments, but all stakeholders would be consulted prior to making any alteration.
There are reports that the Chief Justice of India (CJI), K G Balakrishnan, wrote a letter to Dr Singh in November 2009 expressing concern over the possible consequences of bringing his office into the purview of the RTI Act.

at 10:49 AM

CJI on Individual Rights in India: The Supreme Court’s Perspective

http://www.theminorityview.com/2010/03/cji-on-individual-rights-in-india.html

Posted by Tahir Ashraf Siddiqui

In a presentation titled “Individual Rights in India: A perspective from the Supreme Court” ( April 3-6, 2009) at the International Roundtable Conference’ University of Georgia, Mr. K.G. Balakrishnan, the Chief Justice of India , provides an elaborate view of the protection provided to individual rights by the Constitution of India and how they have come to be interpreted by the Supreme Court of India over the last sixty years. He concedes that it is not possible to present a complete understanding of individual rights in all spheres of public law.

He mainly focuses on the evolution of ‘religious freedom’, the interplay between individual rights, groups and governmental interests and the need to balance them. He dwells upon the ‘seemingly existential question’ of whether the guarantees provided by Articles 25-30 of the Constitution are veered towards ‘No Concern Secularism’ or ‘Equal Respect Secularism’ and the conflicting notions of secularism that were propounded and debates upon by the members of the Constituent Assembly . He also mentions how the Indianised version of secularism i.e. ‘Equal Respect Secularism’ recorded a significant victory, though certain concerns of ‘No Concern Secularism’ were also accommodated. The allowing of religious instructions in private and partially aided educational institutions is the result of the compromise between the competing strands.

He also discusses in detail the nexus between the protection of minority rights and the exercise of ‘religious liberty’ which have been further complicated by debates on interference with personal laws of the religious minorities and the feasibility of Uniform Civil Code for them. He points out that ‘personal laws’ were not included in definition of law under Article 13 of the Constitution and hence cannot be scrutinized on the basis of constitutional principles. The clash between the ‘group rights of religious minorities’ and ‘the individual rights of the members of the minority groups’ is clearly reflected in the difficulty posed in reconciling the competing interests of ‘non-interference with customary practices’ as they are regarded as an essential condition for protecting the group rights of religious minorities and the duty of the State to bring an end to those customs that have the effect of continuing gender-discriminatory practices.

Among other issues, the presentation also deals with the ideal of ‘state neutrality’ and how its practice by the Indian state has been repeatedly questioned in the recent past. The CJI suggests that the codification of a Uniform Civil Code presents a ‘litmus test for legislative interference and codification as a strategy of social reform.’ He takes a stand that the religious freedom impedes the pursuit of constitutional objectives of strengthening democracy, minority rights and rule of law. To quote him, “It has also been argued that these western notions of secularism are unsuitable for the Indian cultural setting, but unfortunately those who have argued for an indigenous notion of privileging religious autonomy have also tended to support religious extremism. In this respect the onus has been on the Supreme Court to show the way.”

The shaping up of secularism and minority rights in Constitutional Assembly Debates has been also dwelt upon by Rochana Bajpai (Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) in an article published in May 27, 2000 issue of Economic and Political Weekly.

CHAIRMAN, MAGADH GRAMIN BANK & ANR. Versus MADHYA BIHAR GRAMIN BANK & ORS.

http://importantjudgement.blogspot.com/2010/03/chairman-magadh-gramin-bank-anr-versus.html

Regional Rural Banks Act — for granting computer increment to the employees of the RRBs — the appellant-bank issued a circular giving to its employees the benefit of “computer increment” as per 6th and 7th Bipartite Settlements and Officers Wage Revision — said circular was later recalled and the benefit granted to the employees of the appellant-bank withdrawn — the employees-association challenged the validity of the withdrawal order on several grounds — learned Single Judge allowed the writ petition by the association and directed the appellant-Bank to pay to the employees the benefits admissible to them in accordance with law as per the decision of the Government of India — appeal — legality of the Government’s decision not questioned before the High Court — documents placed on record showed that the Government of India declined the grant of computer increment to the employees/officers of the RRB as not favoured by the banks — impugned orders of the High Court set aside — this Court left the respondent-association at liberty to challenge the validity of the Government’s decision at appropriate proceedings — appeals partly allowed.

Supreme Court of India

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4194 of 2003

Judge(s): MARKANDEY KATJU,T.S. THAKUR

Date of Judgment: Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CHAIRMAN, MAGADH GRAMIN BANK & ANR. Versus MADHYA BIHAR GRAMIN BANK & ORS.

JUDGMENT

T.S. THAKUR, J.

1. These appeals by special leave arise out of an order passed by the High Court of Judicature at Patna whereby LPA No.84 of 2003 filed by the appellant-bank has been dismissed in limine and the order passed by a Single Bench of that Court allowing Writ Petitions No.7367 of 2001 and 5924 of 2002 affirmed. The controversy in the appeals lies in a narrow compass but before we come to the precise issue that falls for our consideration, we may briefly set out the facts giving rise to the proceedings before the High Court and the present appeals before us.

2. In South Malabar Gramin Bank Vs. Coordination Committee of South Malabar Gramin Bank Employees Union (2001 (1) SCC 101) this Court, inter alia, held that the Central Government was vested with the power to determine the pay structure of the employees working in the Regional Rural Banks in accordance with second proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 17 of RRB Act, and that it should try to maintain parity between the pay structure of the employees of the RRBs and those working in the nationalized commercial banks. As a sequel to the said direction the Government of India, Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs (Banking Division) issued notification dated 11th April, 2001, inter alia, determining the pay scales of the employees of RRBs and granting to them the benefit of 6th and 7th Bipartite Settlements and Officers Wage Revision w.e.f. 1st November, 1992 and 1st November, 1997 respectively. The notification attempted to bring at par the pay scales of the RRB employees and those of their counterparts in other nationalized banks. It was then followed by a letter dated 25th April, 2001, defining the expressions “Basic Pay and Dearness Allowance” used in the notification. The clarification was to the effect that “Basic Pay and the Dearness Allowance” would mean “Basic Pay, Dearness Pay, Dearness Allowances, ad hoc or additional D.A.; interim relief or any other allowance which form part of pay or D.A.”

3. Pursuant to the above, the appellant-bank issued a circular dated 16th May, 2001, giving to its employees the benefit of what is known as “computer increment” as per 6th and 7th Bipartite Settlements and Officers Wage Revision. The circular envisaged that each staff member shall file an undertaking that he/she shall refund in lump the excess amount drawn by them in case a contrary decision is received from the Government of India/NABARD sponsor bank. This circular was some time later recalled by an order dated 5th June, 2001 and the benefit of computer increment and automatic switch over from scale II to scale III granted to the employees of the appellant-bank withdrawn. The order further directed that the amount already paid shall be recovered from the employees concerned.

4. Aggrieved by the order aforementioned, the employees- association filed Writ Petition No.7367 of 2001 challenging the validity of the withdrawal order on several grounds. While the said writ petition was still pending, this Court passed an order dated 7th March, 2002 in All India Regional Rural Bank Officers Federation and Ors. Vs. Govt. of India and Ors. 2002 (3) SCC 554 whereby paragraphs 2 and 3 of the notification dated 11th April, 2001 were quashed and the Government directed to issue a fresh notification for proper implementation of the judgment of this Court. The Government of India accordingly appears to have examined the matter and issued a fresh notification dated 17th April, 2002, para 5 whereof provides as under:

“All other allowances should be immediately revised, if not already revised pursuant to order dated 11.4.2001 by respective sponsor banks after negotiations with RRB employees.”

5. In the writ petition filed by the association before the High Court, the Bank filed an affidavit in reply, inter alia, stating that the matter relating to the grant of “computer increment”, “computer allowance” and “automatic switchover from scale II to scale III” was pending consideration of the Government of India which is the authority competent under Section 17 of the RRB Act. A learned Single Judge of the High Court of Judicature at Patna, however, allowed the Writ Petition Nos.7367 and 5924 of 2002 by a common order dated 17th December, 2002 and directed the appellant-bank to act upon the decision dated 17th April, 2002, taken by the Government of India, Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs (Banking Division) in its letter and spirit and to pay to the employees the benefits admissible to them in accordance with law. The said direction proceeded on the premise that the decision of the Government of India dated 17th April, 2002, particularly, clause (5) of the notification issued by the Government envisaged grant of all allowances admissible to the employees of the nationalised banks to those serving in the RRBs. A Letters Patent Appeal preferred against the said order, having been dismissed summarily, the appellant-bank has filed appeal to this Court by special leave as already noticed above.

6. Appearing for the appellant-bank, Mr. Dhruv Mehta, learned counsel, submitted that so far as grant of automatic switch over from scale II to scale III was concerned, the issue stood finally resolved by the Government and NABARD who have now taken a decision to extend the facility of automatic switch over to the employees working in the RRB w.e.f. 16th December, 2002. In support of his submissions, Mr. Mehta drew our attention to a letter dated 11th April, 2002 addressed by NABARD to the Government of India suggesting certain modalities and conditions for the grant of automatic switch over facility to the officers of RRBs and order dated 6th January, 2003 issued by the said bank pursuant to the decision taken by the Government of India on the subject. A careful reading of the said order would show that the Government of India and NABARD have agreed to the grant of automatic switch over from scale II to scale III to the officers of RRBs w.e.f. 16th December, 2002 subject to the conditions stipulated in the said order. Mr. Mehta argued, and in our opinion rightly so, that the facility of automatic switch over from scale II to scale III shall stand granted to the officers w.e.f. 16th December, 2002 subject to the conditions stipulated in the said order and that the directions issued by the High Court can subject to that modification be affirmed.

7. Mr. Rakesh Dwivedi, learned senior counsel, appearing for the respondents-writ petitioners were agreeable to the disposal of these appeals subject to the condition that the payment already made to the employees shall not be recovered from them for the period earlier to 16th December, 2002. We order accordingly.

8. The only other question that had fallen for consideration before the High Court and that need be noticed by us relates to the grant of computer increment to the employees of the RRBs. Mr. Tripathi, Additional Solicitor General, appearing for the Government of India, has placed before us a compilation of documents comprising a letter dated 6th January, 2003 from the Government of India to NABARD approving the consensus of the bank as set out in NABARD’s letter dated 23 rd July, 2002. A perusal of the said letter would show that the grant of computer increment to the employees/officers of RBBs was not favoured by the banks and the NABARD which consensus was agreed to by the Government of India thereby effectively declining the grant of computer increment to the employees/officers of the RRB. It was contended by Mr. Tripathi and Mr. Mehta that the Government of India had taken a conscious decision on the subject leaving no manner of doubt relating to the admissibility of computer increment to the employees/officers of RRBs.

9. The material placed on record was not disputed by Mr. Dwivedi. Mr. Dwivedi fairly conceded that the Government’s decision, as is evident from the documents placed on record, does indeed deny the said benefit to the employees of RRBs. It was, however, argued by the learned counsel that the decision of the Government of India was arbitrary and ought to be set aside by permitting the respondents to amend the writ petitions suitably or by remanding the matter back to the High Court. We are not impressed by that submission. We say so because the legality of the decision taken by the Government was not in question before the High Court in the writ petitions filed by the respondents. We, therefore, see no reason why we should allow the employees to challenge the said decision in the present proceedings when the High Court did not have an occasion to examine the matter in the writ petitions heard and disposed of by it. Since the Government’s decision denies the benefit of computer increments the direction issued by the learned Single Judge and upheld by the Division Bench in appeal to the extent requiring the respondent-bank to grant the said benefit cannot be sustained. We, however, make it clear that this order shall not prevent the respondent- association or any member thereof from challenging in appropriate proceedings the validity of the decision taken by the Government of India on all such grounds as may be open to them but subject to all just exceptions including delay and laches. These appeals are accordingly allowed in part and the orders passed by the High Court to the extent indicated above set aside. The parties are left to bear their own costs.

WOMEN’S RESERVATION BILL

Govt open to amendments in women’s quota bill

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/govt-open-to-amendments-in-womens-quota-bill/111096-37-single.html

CNN-IBN

Published on Fri, Mar 05, 2010 at 17:35, Updated on Fri, Mar 05, 2010 at 18:10 in Politics section

New Delhi: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government is open to amendments in the Women’s Reservation Bill.

Sources have told CNN-IBN that the Government has conveyed its desire to amend the Bill to all political parties and is trying for a consensus on the issue.

Both Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have issued whip to their party MPs to support Bill in Parliament with the Government trying for a vote on the Women’s Reservation Bill on Monday.

The Women’s Reservation Bill will grant women 33 per cent reservation in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

The UPA, bolstered with numbers in its favour, is confident of a smooth passage of the Bill in Parliament.

Apart from the BJP, the Left Front has also pledged its support for the Bill.

However parties like the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have vowed to oppose the Bill in its present form.

They are demanding a quota within the quota for women from backward classes. Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met RJD chief Lalu Prasad on Thursday.

Other key Congress strategists are working on getting all parties on board.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi met all the women MPs to work out a strategy. Congress has the numbers in the Lok Sabha but the Bill which is likely to be presented in the Rajya Sabha first, will face opposition.

“We are looking for a consensus and we hope the parties will support,” said Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily.

On quota within the quota he said: “Another legislation needs to be passed to ensure what parties like SP and others are demanding, one must understand this legislation has to be in its current form.”

Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan is confident that the Bill will be passed in Rajya Sabha on Monday, just in time for International Women’s Day.

“The Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the entire Congress party is totally committed to this very important promise made to the women of India which has been pending for more than decade now, nearly 17 years,” she said.

“We hope that we will be able to pass it in the upper House on Monday which represents a 100 years of Women’s Day on March 8. So, it’s a historic day and we hope that this historic legislation will be passed on that day. If the main Opposition parties stand to their promise and to what they’ve said in the past, to stand with the Bill, then I don’t think there will be any problem.”

The Samajwadi Party, one of the main opponents of the Bill, continues to demand a quota within the quota for OBC women and Muslims.

“We want the party to be reserved. Women should get reservation but don’t snatch men’s right. There is not even a single Muslim male representative from several districts, then how will Muslim women get representation from there?” Mulayam Singh, Samajwadi Party chief, said.

“We will not support this Bill. How do you think Muslim women are going to find representation, there should be separate reservation for Muslim and OBC women,” he added.

The Majlis-e-Ittehad-al-Muslimin is also set to oppose the Bill. Its leader Asauddin Owaisi says a quota for women will affect the number of Muslims in the House.

“I will oppose the Bill. It will affect the Muslim constitution of the House. It’s the crass reality of our democracy, the numbers of Muslim MPs this tenure is only 29. Last time it was 34, so our numbers are going down. The candidates win election mainly because of party backing and finance and most of these national parties don’t file Muslim candidates. I will vote against the Bill because it is against the Muslim community,” said Owaisi.

But Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh has changed sides in favour of the Women’s Reservation Bill.

“Overall, I am in favour of the Bill. I think this time it will go through,” he said.

Parties’ strength:

In Rajya Sabha, the government needs at least 155 votes out of 233. While the Congress party has 71 members, Left parties have 22 and the BJP has 45 with 26 members belonging to other parties.

In Lok Sabha out of 544 votes, the Bill requires 363 in its favour. However, the UPA government enjoys support of 410 members.

PIL seeks ban on meat export

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/PIL-seeks-ban-on-meat-export/586962/

Press Trust of India

Posted: Friday , Mar 05, 2010 at 2358 hrs Mumbai:

A public interest litigation (PIL) has urged the Bombay High Court to restrain Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Maharashtra Government from allowing slaughter of animals at Deonar slaughter house for export of meat. The PIL also opposed the proposed expansion plan of Rs 125 crore for abattoir’s modernisation.

Chief Justice Anil Dave and Justice S C Dharmadhikari have asked the state and BMC to file affidavits within two weeks.

The petitioner, Viniyog Parivar Trust, submitted that until 1962 there were two slaughter houses in Mumbai — one at Bandra and the other at Kurla. In 1973 another slaughter house came up at Deonar where animals were slaughtered for local consumption as well as exports.

Concerned with decline in animal population, the BMC passed a resolution in 1983 to stop slaughter for exports at Deonar abattoir. However, in 1985, BMC administrator passed orders not to implement this decision. Till date, animals are slaughtered at Deonar for local consumption and exports.

Petitioner’s counsel Prafulla Shah argued that the Deonar abattoir sustained losses to the tune of Rs 117 crore in the last ten years and it had been observed that whenever exports increased the losses also rose.

Excise Scam: HC dismisses PIL

http://bihartimes.com/Newsbihar/2010/March/Newsbihar04March5.html

Patna, (BiharTimes): A division bench of the Patna high court comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Mihir Kumar Jha, on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking direction for the Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the alleged multi-crore scam, which involves the chief minister’s secretariat and the excise department of Bihar.

The court said that the allegations in the case is related to award of tender, the aggrieved persons had not approached the court and there was no lis (subject of dispute) to be adjudicated by the court

The bench dismissed the petition filed by Arvind Kumar Sharma, an advocate. The petition was withdrawn after the counsel, Deenu Kumar, could not satisfy the court on the count of locus standi, lis and the public interest involved in the case.

The petitioner had made the chief minister, Nitish Kumar, the deputy chief minister, Sushil Kumar Modi, the chief secretary, Anup Mukherjee, principal secretary of the chief minister, R C P Singh 16 others as respondents.

The petitioner had claimed that the excise scam was worth Rs 500 crore and had caused a huge loss to the state government.

Why not punish Telangana leaders for destruction of public property?

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Why-not-punish-Telangana-leaders-for-destruction-of-public-property/articleshow/5641976.cms

TNN, Mar 5, 2010, 01.23am IST

NEW DELHI: Questioning the soft approach of Andhra Pradesh government towards pro- and anti-Telangana activists indulging in violence and destruction of public property, a PIL in the Supreme Court has sought arrest of leaders of the agitation and recovery of cost of the destroyed property from them.

An advocate from Guntur district moved the PIL saying the apex court had taken serious view of the damage to railway tracks and destruction of public property during the agitation by Gujjars under Kirori Singh Bainsla demanding SC status for the community.

The petitioner Sateesh Galla said the apex court had last year laid down guidelines for authorities to initiate action under the Prevention of Destruction of Public Properties Act in such situations for recovery of cost of the destroyed property.

Galla said the state government was a mute spectator to the provocative speeches made by political leaders, including K Chandrasekhar Rao, Prof K Rama Reddy of Osmania University, Damodar Reddy, Jeevan Reddy, K Kavitha, Bandaru Dattatreya, Madhu Yakshi and T Harish Rao, leading to largescale violence and arson.

“The state government and police had taken no preventive action and unfortunately it does not prima facie appear that any action has been taken against the offenders who were responsible for destruction of public property,” he said.

Seeking a direction to the Rosaiah government for appointment of claims commissioner to assess the worth of the public property destroyed so far in the Telangana agitation, the petitioner said it was time the court issued directions for appropriate amendments to the law to make it a deterrent for those indulging in vandalism during agitation and damaging public property.

Accused should get copy of FIR on demand: HC to cops

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/accused-should-get-copy-of-fir-on-demand-hc-to-cops/586945/0

Express News Service

Posted: Friday , Mar 05, 2010 at 2351 hrs Mumbai:

An accused facing a criminal charge can get a copy of the first information report on demand at the time of arrest, the Bombay High Court ruled recently.

The court was hearing an anticipatory bail application filed by Mohammed Khalid Shaikh, 25, from Pune who faces forgery and cheating charges. An FIR was filed against Shaikh by one Manoj Dixit after two cheques, worth Rs 95,000 and Rs 98,400 respectively, handed over to Dixit by Shaikh and another accused were found to be forged. Shaikh had contended that the police had wrongfully denied him a copy of the FIR filed on December 30, 2009.

“A police officer is also required, in law, to give a certified copy of an FIR to the accused on demand,” Justice D G Karnik said in the order.

Under provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code only a magistrate gives a copy of the FIR to the accused on demand.

Shaikh’s argument was that a magistrate has the power to give a copy of the FIR to the accused under the CrPC and it is an established fact that an FIR is a public document. Shaikh argued that under section 76 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, a public officer in custody of a public document can give a certified copy of the document to a person who wishes to inspect it. He pointed out that since the concerned police officer is the custodian of the FIR he too has the power to grant a copy of the FIR to the accused.

 “An accused defending himself against the charge has the right to a fair trial. He would naturally require a copy to know the allegations against him and the contents in the FIR,” Shaikh argued.

Additional public prosecutor K V Saste had opposed the grant of FIR to the accused by the police as the accused could also seek copies of witness statements prior to conclusion of investigations as they too are public documents.

The court, however, pointed that only the person with the “right” to examine a public document is allowed access. The evidence act will not cover witness statements since the accused, at the stage of bail, is not allowed to examine witness statements, the court said.

PIL says cannot have mosque in Hindu area, HC says intolerance has to go

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pil-says-cannot-have-mosque-in-hindu-area-hc-says-intolerance-has-to-go/586641/0

Express news service

Posted: Thursday , Mar 04, 2010 at 0323 hrs Mumbai:

A resident of a Hindu-dominated locality in Navi Mumbai has challenged the construction of a mosque; the Bombay High Court has told her such intolerance has to go.

The petition, filed by Sumitra Kadu of Sector 50E, Nerul, alleges that CIDCO given a Muslim trust a 1042.27-sq-metre, reserved plot. Her advocate, G N Salunke, told the court Wednesday that not one Muslim family lives in a radius of 1 km from the site and only 331 Muslim families live beyond that radius.

“If the mosque is allowed there is every possibility of encroachment on the public open premises in the locality by Muslim encroachers which may badly affect the development of the city,” says the petition, heard by a division bench of Justice F I Rebello and Justice J H Bhatia.

“So minorities cannot have their own place of worship? This intolerance has to go. Either we should live together or pack our bags and go,” the bench said.

Kadu contends she is a project-affected person and 12.5 per cent of the area was reserved for their rehabilitation which has not been completed yet. Her lawyer said the police commissioner has repeatedly stated there is likely to be a law-and-order problem if construction of the mosque is allowed, yet CIDCO has handed over the plot to the trustees of the mosque. “Public in the locality is very much annoyed and aggressive and there is every possibility to riot and in law-and-order point of view the allotment is required to be cancelled,” the PIL states.

It says the trustees are neither project-affected persons nor residents of Sector 50E. The construction of the mosque, it says, will affect the construction of a college the land was reserved for. The plot is also a mangroves bed but permission has not been sought to hack it, the PIL adds.

The court directed CIDCO to file an affidavit and submit a map of the area in two weeks. The court also told Salunke and the CIDCO counsel to come up with a workable solution.

HC restraint on dwelling units in Chimbel, Colva panchayats

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/HC-restraint-on-dwelling-units-in-Chimbel-Colva-panchayats/articleshow/5645108.cms

TNN, Mar 5, 2010, 07.34am IST

PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa on Thursday directed the Chimbel village panchayat not to consider any fresh applications for construction of structures with more than ten dwelling units without seeking permission of the court.

A division bench comprising Justice N H Patil and Justice N A Britto passed the order during the hearing of a petition filed by the Ribandar Chimbel Rakhon Samiti Manch (RCRSM) complaining that the panchayat had been granting licences to major projects in Chimbel village. The petitioner had pointed out that the village did not have adequate infrastructure facilities such as water supply, garbage disposal facilities to support such projects.

The petitioner’s advocate, Nilesh Shirodkar, told the court that three such large projects had been granted permissions by the village panchayat, which could lead to overburdening the existing infrastructure. The lawyer prayed for a direction that no further licences should be granted till the infrastructure is upgraded sufficiently.

The petitioners have objected a project of The Army Welfare Housing Organisation having 122 flats, Real Estate Goa Pvt Ltd’s project consisting of 35 villas and 25 swiming pools and about 93 flats being constructed by T R Constructions.

Senior Counsel Atmaram Nadkarni appearing for Goa Real Estate Pvt Ltd and T R Construction told the court that for the construction they have made arrangements on its own by using water tankers and are not dependent on existing water supply network. Nadkarni also alleged that the petitioner had only singled out the three projects and had not made a case against many other such projects coming up in the area. However, the court was not convinced as the Chimbel panchayat had admitted at the last hearing to have granted permissions to 350 such projects in the area.

The bench thereafter admitted the petition and directed the panchayat not to consider any fresh applications without the court’s permission.

In another petition, the high court has also issued directions to Colva panchayat not not to issue NOCs to structures having more than five dwelling units until the garbage problem is settled. The court passed the order in a suo motto petition regarding garbage problem in coastal village panchayats. The Colva Civic and Consumer Forum had also filed an application complaining that the Colva panchayat was not collecting the garbage.

Stuntmaster moves HC against actor Ajith

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Stuntmaster+moves+HC+against+actor+Ajith&artid=McJEsgIqv7k=&SectionID=lifojHIWDUU=&MainSectionID=lifojHIWDUU=&SEO=&SectionName=rSY%7C6QYp3kQ=

Express News Service

First Published : 05 Mar 2010 04:30:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 05 Mar 2010 06:49:45 AM IST

CHENNAI: Stuntmaster CP Jaguvar Thangam (48) has moved the Madras High Court for a direction to the City Police Commissioner and the MGR Nagar police to launch a probe into his complaints against actor Ajith, his manager and others.

Justice R Regupathy, before whom the petition came up for hearing, ordered notice to the CoP and the MGR Nagar police, returnable in two weeks.

According to Thangam, the film artistes organised a function to felicitate Chief Minister M Karunanidhi on February 6 last. At the function, Ajith had expressed his displeasure over attending the function and stated that the artistes association should not compel the artistes and the film celebrities to attend such functions.

Condemning the statement, the petitioner gave an interview to the media on February 13. And at the instigation of Ajith, a group of over 15 men came to the petitioner’s house, when he was away at Madurai, on February 18. They abused his family members in filthy language and damaged his Scorpio car and his house. The petitioner lodged a complaint with the MGR Nagar police on February 18. Though the police registered an FIR for offences under various sections of the IPC including Section 506(ii) (non-bailable) and the TN Prevention of Destruction to Public Properties Act, they did not include the name of Ajith as an accused.

Another group came to his house on February 19 and attacked him and his wife. Thangam then lodged another complaint with the MGR Nagar police. But no further action was taken.

Alleging that the police had not taken any action as Ajith was an influential person with political clout, Thangam prayed for a direction to the police to investigate his complaint. His interim prayer sought police protection to him and his family members.

Restraint on free transfer of shares is illegal: HC

5 Mar 2010, 0053 hrs IST, Deeptha Rajkumar & Lijee Philip, ET Bureau

LEGAL NEWS 23.02.2010

SC to hear PILs on Telangana issue

http://www.mathrubhumi.org/news.php?id=30579&cat=1&sub=15&subit=N

New Delhi:The Supreme Court today decided to hear a petition seeking laying down of guidelines for exercising powers by the government to go into the contentious issue of carving out separate state of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh.

The apex court allowed the plea for deleting the prayer in the petition challenging the validity of the government  action appointing the Justice B N Srikrishna Commission to look into the creation of new Telangana state.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and Justice B S Chauhan posted the PIL for hearing after four weeks in which it has been contended that no constitutional power can be exercised arbitrarily and at will without there being any guidelines or basis.

Mont Blanc Apologises for Gandhi Pen

http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?675135

Kochi | Feb 23, 2010

Swiss luxury giant Mont Blanc today tendered an unconditional apology in the Kerala High Court on the issue of sale of its high-end Mahatma Gandhi edition pens, saying it did not intend to hurt the sentiments of any citizen.

Mont Blanc Simplo GmBH also gave an undertaking before a division bench that the limited edition pens, each of which cost Rs 14 lakh, would not be sold until further orders.

The Bench comprising acting Chief Justice P R Raman and Justice C N Ramachandran Nair was hearing a PIL filed by Dijo Kappan complaining that sale of pen in the name of Gandhi violates the provisions of Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950.

The company said they were tendering an “unconditional” apology if the sentiments of any of the citizen had been hurt.

The bench directed the company to file a further affidavit incorporating the assurance given to the court.

In the counter affidavit filed by Marc Frisanco, authorised signatory of the company, it claimed that they have a long history of supporting charitable causes as well as the heritage and importance of iconic historical figures from art and culture to world leaders in different platforms.

It was further stated that they would be donating USD nine lakh to charitable institutions in India especially those recommended by Gandhi’s great grandson Tushar Gandhi.

The company submitted it had no intention of violating the provisions of the Act.

Mont Blanc said they were under the erroneous impression that permission from the central government was not required for bringing out the limited edition pens.

They had no intention of using Gandhi’s name or picture as part of the trade, it said.

The company sought a direction to the central government to regularise use of Gandhi’s name and picture on the pen.

Earlier, Mont Blanc’s request was rejected by the central government on December 20 last year.

Filed At: Feb 23, 2010 19:03 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 23, 2010 19:03 IST

The Krishna Iyer effect on the Supreme Court

http://www.hindu.com/br/2010/02/23/stories/2010022350051400.htm

GEETA RAMASESHAN
DYNAMIC LAWYERING: Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer; Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., C-FF-IA, Dilkhush Industrial Estate, G. T. Karnal Road, Delhi-110033. Rs. 350.

This is a compilation of 31 essays and lectures of Justice Krishna Iyer on a range of issues, not all of them on law. Some are on contemporary concerns such as global warming, secularism, tribal rights, the rights of pensioners, PIL, animal rights, and India-Pakistan relations. Also included are opinion pieces, reflecting his inimitable style, on individuals such as E.M.S. Namboodiripad, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Mahesh Yogi, besides a few correspondences and addresses from the bar.

It is hard to select the best from the bunch, since his essays philosophise, inspire, nudge, provoke, and shake you to work towards ethical standards in life. Therefore, I have opted to cite a few select quotes from the writings which are illustrative of the sharp and incisive nature of his opinions.

Code of conduct

The book starts with his speech on the theme ‘Dynamic lawyering, juristic engineering and ethical standards’, where he exhorts lawyers to spiritualise the practice of law. In a scathing remark, he describes the practice of the Supreme Court turning down petitions under Article 32, with a direction that the petitioners approach the High Court, as shirking of duty and observes that the seeming short cut “has sterilized Article 32,” apart from needlessly multiplying work at a time when courts at both levels are choked with arrears. He advocates a constitutional amendment to provide for a Judicial Performance Commission and an Advocate Performance Commission.

In another article, Justice Iyer seeks public regulation, a Selection Commission, and a code of conduct for judges. On the critical question of appointment of judges to the higher judiciary, he observes that to be a judge one need not be a “versatile genius.” “It violates all noesis and commonsense to empower a lay collegium which has no constitutional foundation except a self-serving ruling. The court is under the Constitution and not over it.”

In the Shankar Guha Niyogi memorial lecture, he minces no words in speaking up for tribal rights. He says, the Indian Constitution is “deaf and dumb in these tribal regions. The locomotive of people’s liberation is the spirit of autonomy, more human right, less centralism, less illusions about peace through police action.”

Talking of secularism, in his Hakeem Abdul Hameed memorial lecture, he observes: “Indian secularism, without borrowing from Western nationalism or Marxian materialism, must go to its roots of comity of religions, camaraderie of faiths, [and a] beautiful blend of divine light and cross fertilization of divergent teachings which made for a vibrant fellowship of church, mosque, temple and other shrines.”

Vignettes

The book also has vignettes from legal history including his order granting conditional stay of the verdict of the Allahabad High Court that held Indira Gandhi’s election as void, as also his last judgment that addressed the discrimination of historically disadvantaged groups in matters of employment in the railways. ( Akhil Bharatiya Soshit Karamchari Sangh vs Union of India)

Justice Krishna Iyer introduced the concept of public interest litigation in Ratlam Municipality vs Vardichan. His landmark verdicts on criminal jurisprudence, giving a new dimension to human rights and the rule of law in the 1980s, continue to have great relevance today. As Harish Salve says, the Supreme Court of India was ‘Krishnaiyerised’ to become the ‘Supreme Court for Indians.’

These essays need to be read by all those who are concerned with not just the judiciary but with probity in public life. A flaw in the book is that the dates of the speeches and articles are not indicated.

Uproar in Bihar assembly over multi-crore excise scam

http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/politics/uproar-in-bihar-assembly-over-multi-crore-excise-scam_100324907.html

February 23rd, 2010 – 5:08 pm ICT by IANS

Patna, Feb 23 (IANS) The opposition created an uproar in the Bihar assembly Tuesday over the demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the multi-crore excise scam.
The opposition, on the second day of the month-long budget session of the Bihar assembly, raised slogans for a CBI probe into the scam that forced assembly speaker Udai Narayan Choudhry to adjourn the state assembly till noon.

Some opposition members neared the speker’s podium and raised slogans against the state government led by Nitish Kumar.

Opposition members announced they would march to the governor’s house to submit a memorandum demanding a CBI probe into the scam.

Last week Bihar Excise Minister Jamshed Ashraf was sacked after he alleged there was a “multi-crore scam” in his department that involved people in the chief minister’s secretariat.

Ashraf created a storm nearly two weeks ago when he spoke of a Rs.500 crore fraud in the excise department, with alleged connivance of senior bureaucrats.

He also questioned Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s “silence” on the issue, claiming he had shot off letters to him and Chief Secretary Anup Mukherjee asking for a probe into the graft. He also threatened to reveal more on a public platform in the coming days.

Last week Nitish Kumar rejected the opposition demand for a CBI probe into the scam.

Nitish Kumar brushed aside the charges by Ashraf stating that nobody could influence or purchase him.

A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Patna High Court seeking a probe by the CBI into the alleged excise scam.

SC asks EC to see if elephant statues violate poll code

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/SC-asks-EC-to-see-if-elephant-statues-violate-poll-code/articleshow/5605453.cms

23 Feb 2010, 0423 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Election Commission to decide within three months whether installation of statues of elephants by Uttar Pradesh chief minster Mayawati under her pet statue project at huge cost of public money is violative of the poll code.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B S Chauhan asked the poll panel to decide the issue by May. The state government, however, has taken the stand that the statues of elephants should not be construed as a mere election symbol of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), but it is a welcome symbol.

“We have given reply to the Election Commission that the elephants installed in parks are not the election symbol of the party as alleged, but a welcome symbol.” “Even in North Block and South Block (which has offices of key ministries) here, You have elephant statues,” said senior advocate and Mayawati’s close aide S C Mishra appearing for the state government.

The court was hearing a PIL which said that 60 statues of elephants were being installed by Uttar Pradesh government at a cost of Rs 52.20 crore at public places by utilising state funds.

     

SC to hear PILs on statehood

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/SC-to-hear-PILs-on-statehood/articleshow/5605250.cms

TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 02.08am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court decided on Monday to hear a petition seeking laying down of guidelines for exercising powers by the government to go into the contentious issue of carving out a separate state of Telangana from Andhra.

The SC allowed the plea for deleting the prayer in the petition challenging the validity of the government action appointing the Justice B N Srikrishna Commission to look into the creation of a new Telangana state.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan posted the PIL for hearing after four weeks. The PIL contends that no constitutional power can be exercised arbitrarily and at will.

Choudhary to continue probe in Koda scam case

http://www.ptinews.com/news/532038_Choudhary-to-continue-probe-in-Koda-scam-case

STAFF WRITER 15:32 HRS IST

Ranchi, Feb 23 (PTI) Ordering status quo, the Jharkhand High Court today directed the Income Tax department that its transferred senior official Ujjwal Choudhary will remain in his previous post and continue to probe the Madhu Koda case.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra and Justice R R Prasad, while hearing a PIL observed that Choudhary, Director (Income Tax-Investigation), should remain in Ranchi Circle in the same post.

Shortly after the court order, Choudhary told PTI, “I will continue to work to the best of my ability.”

The PIL filed by social activist Durga Oraon sought status quo in the case of Choudhary who was transfered on February 19 when he was in Chaibasa during countrywide raids at 70 places in connection with the RS 2000 crore money laundering charges against the former Jharkhand chief minister and some others.

SC moved against holding of IPL matches at night

http://www.ptinews.com/news/532827_SC-moved-against-holding-of-IPL-matches-at-night

STAFF WRITER 19:12 HRS IST

New Delhi, Feb 23 (PTI) A PIL was today filed in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on holding of IPL cricket matches at night citing reasons ranging from security threat to waste of energy in illuminating the stadium.

“The probability of extremists’ attack is more during night hours… Power cut is very common in all parts of the country. We should, therefore, be rational in using power. In order to cater to the requirements of the cricket matches, there will be accelerated power cut in more and more areas,” the PIL filed jointly by a Kolkata-based forum and others said.

The Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samity which filed the PIL along with Howrah residents — Subhash Datta and Subhash Chandra Basu — said public money cannot be used for the commercial venture of private organisations or individuals.

High Court quashes proceeding against Manoje Nath

http://bihartimes.com/Newsbihar/2010/Feb/Newsbihar23Feb2.html

(BiharTimes) In an important judgement Patna High Court quashed the proceeding against senior police officer and Director General of Sports Authority, Manoje Nath on Monday.

The proceedings were initiated against him after his refusal to conduct an inquiry into the incident of seizure of liquor and arms from the RJD candidate from Jamui constituency , Vijay Prakash Yadav  during 2005 assembly elections.

The judgement delivered by a bench headed by justice S K Katriar paved the way for his elevation for the post of DGP as he would be the senior most IPS officer after the retirement of current DGP Anand Shankar on 28th February this year.

Gujarat HC sanctions scheme of arrangement between Aditya Birla Nuvo and its wholly-owned subsidiaries

http://www.cafestocks.com/marketupdate/company-news/gujarat-hc-sanctions-scheme-of-arrangement-between-aditya-birla-nuvo-and-its-wholly-owned-subsidiaries

Diversified conglomerate Aditya Birla Nuvo has informed that the scheme of arrangement between the holding company Aditya Birla Nuvo (ABNL) and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, viz. Madura Garments Exports, Peter England Fashions and retail and MG Lifestyle Clothing Company and their respective shareholders and creditors has been sanctioned by the Gujarat High Court (HC).

Further, the company has informed that March 9, 2010 has been fixed as the record date for ascertaining the preference shareholders of Peter England Fashions, who will be entitled for preference shares of the company as per the said scheme of arrangement.

Aditya Birla Nuvo has a balanced portfolio of traditional and new age businesses under its fold, ranging from textiles to life insurance.

HC reserves order on Sajjan’s bail plea; no interim relief

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/HC-reserves-order-on-Sajjan-s-bail-plea–no-interim-relief/583014/

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Feb 23, 2010 at 0048 hrs New Delhi:

Facing the prospect of arrest in the wake of a non-bailable warrant (NBW) issued against him, Congress leader Sajjan Kumar will have to wait for some time before the Delhi High Court decides whether or not he deserves protection from the coercive order. The court on Monday reserved its verdict on Kumar’s bail plea after the CBI said putting him behind bars would dispel the fear of witnesses, while he expressed readiness to undergo scientific tests to prove his innocence in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases.

Justice A K Pathak, however, refused to grant any immediate relief to the politician whose NBW is returnable by Tuesday before the magistrate at the lower court. “I will not do any job which is to be done by the magistrate,” Justice Pathak said, when Kumar’s advocate pleaded for interim relief by exempting him from personal appearance on Tuesday before the trial court.

The court, however, said it will try its best to pass its order on his bail plea at the earliest.

Divorced woman cannot use ex-husband’s name: HC

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/divorced-woman-cannot-use-exhusbands-name-hc/581955/

Agencies

Posted: Friday , Feb 19, 2010 at 1729 hrs Mumbai:

Bombay High Court has held that a divorced woman cannot use her former husband’s name.

In an order passed early this week, High Court directed a woman to refrain from using husband’s name and surname.

Earlier, Principal judge of the family court in Mumbai had restrained the woman, Asha, from using her ex-husband Ramesh’s name and surname as their marriage had ended four years ago.

Court granted divorce to Asha and Ramesh (both names changed) in 2006. But when Asha filed application for maintenance, Ramesh took a stand that she was still using his name and surname, and urged the family court to restrain her from doing so.

He alleged that she was misusing his name, was posing as his wife, and putting him in embarrassing situations.

Asha, on the other hand, argued that since she had challenged divorce in the Supreme Court, where her appeal was still pending, she was still his wife.

The family court held that the marriage had come to an end and she could not use husband’s name any longer.

Asha then filed appeal in the High Court.

However, the High Court refused to interfere with family court’s order, saying that she has to abide by family court’s order, and would not use husband’s name anywhere, including her bank accounts.

Briefly Mumbai

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Briefly-Mumbai/582992/

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Feb 23, 2010 at 2352 hrs Mumbai:

HC seeks police reply on illegal detention
The HC has sought a reply from two officers with Matunga police station for detaining a person illegally for over 20 hours in August 2009. According to Abhaychandra Yadav (28), the petitioner, he was illegally detained by senior police inspector Deshmukh and police sub-inspector Arjun Sawant. Justices Ranjana Desai and Mridula Bhatkar directed Deshmukh and Sawant to file their reply in a week.

Man who kidnapped stepfather gets bail
The Bombay High Court on Monday granted bail to Mikhail Zaveri who had kidnapped his stepfather for ransom last year. The court granted bail for an amount of Rs 20,000. The court told Zaveri he should not keep any contact with his mother or stepfather while on bail.

Move to hike retirement age of SC, HC judges flounders

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Move-to-hike-retirement-age-of-SC-HC-judges-flounders/articleshow/5605011.cms

TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 12.50am IST

NEW DELHI: A strong push to increase the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 65 to 68 years and high court judges from 62 to 65 years seems to be floundering, with those behind the move finding it difficult to mobilize support from within the government and political parties.

Though the sentiment among the political class seems to be in favour of the move, it has not gelled into solid political backing for the constitutional amendment that would be required for the age hike.

Law minister Veerappa Moily said there was no such move. However, sources in the ruling coalition as well as in Opposition parties confirmed that efforts were on to mop up support.

Under the Constitution, raising the age limit will require amending Article 124(2) by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Government managers, it is learnt, have sounded out the Opposition, but the non-Congress parties have not warmed up to the idea till now. There are misgivings within Congress as well — one reason why its support to the move has appeared tentative to many.

The issue of timing is crucial, for Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan is due to retire in April.
While the idea may not come to fruition immediately, it is not seen without merit. For instance, it is pointed out that increase in retirement age of HC judges would solve the problem of more than 250 vacancies in high courts as sitting judges would get three more years.

Wife or husband’s attorney cannot appear in family courts : Bombay HC

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_wife-or-husband-s-attorney-cannot-appear-in-family-courts-bombay-hc_1351414

PTI

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 9:24 IST

Mumbai: In a significant order, the Bombay high court has held that persons holding power of attorney cannot appear or argue for wife or husband in a matrimonial dispute in family court.

“If constituted attorneys of the parties are allowed to appear, the court would be overrun by any number of unqualified, unenrolled persons”, justice Roshan Dalvi ruled.

The order was passed last week on a petition filed by Neelam Shewale challenging a family court ruling which refused her plea to be represented by a constituted attorney.

The petitioner pleaded that she may be allowed to be represented by her constituted attorney as she is ill, does not know English, has been mentally tortured at the hands of husband and would not be able to stand the court proceeding.

The family court had also rejected an application filed by her attorney seeking permission to represent the wife as she cannot financially afford a lawyer. It was argued that in family courts, lawyers are normally not permitted and that she would be entitled to help of a person she has faith in.

Under Section 13 of Family Courts Act, no party is entitled as a matter of right to be represented by a legal practitioner. However, the Court may appoint legal expert as amicus curie to assist her/him. A party has right to appear before the Family Court. No one can object to such appearance.

In this case, the wife did not desire to have an advocate. She had even refused legal aid offered to her and said she had faith only in her attorney.

The court observed that the object of Section 13 of Family Courts Act is to allow a party to represent her/his case and consequently right of lawyer to plead and appear in Court is limited but the right given to the party to appear is not extended to that party’s constituted attorney.

Hence, the general law of procedure under Order 3 Rule 1 as also the special laws contained in the Bar Councils Act and the Bombay Pleaders Act would apply even in a Family Court, justice Dalvi ruled.

The object of that provision is that only qualified persons are entitled to appear in courts and represent the case of their parties. The qualification is of the knowledge of the law and the enrollment under the Act, the judge noted.

“If constituted attorneys of all the parties are allowed to appear, the Court would be overrun by any number of unqualified, unenrolled persons. Since Civil Procedure Code would generally apply to a Family Court under Section 10 of the Act, the restraint upon appearance under Order 3 of the Code must hold good,” justice Dalvi observed.

“Consequently both the orders of the Family Court disallowing constituted attorney to appear for the wife are correct and cannot be interfered with,” the judge noted and dismissed the petition filed by the wife challenging the impugned orders.

BBMP polls: SC to HC, the ping-pong goes on

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=BBMP+polls:+SC+to+HC,+the+ping-pong+goes+on&artid=7TnXxPVkkp8=&SectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&MainSectionID=wIcBMLGbUJI=&SectionName=UOaHCPTTmuP3XGzZRCAUTQ==&SEO=

Express News Service

First Published : 23 Feb 2010 04:36:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 23 Feb 2010 08:02:03 AM IST

BANGALORE: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the state government’s special leave petition against the Karnataka High Court order which said that BBMP polls be held before March 30. The day also saw the State Election Commission (SEC) tell the SC that it was pegging the poll date for March 14 — four days before the start of the PUC exams.

The development was yet another setback to the government which has been persistent in its bid to defer the long overdue elections. The state government’s only relief was in the SC’s observation that the government can approach the HC if it has any problems in issuing the list on reservation of wards.

The SC bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice Deepak Varma and Justice B S Chauhan at one point also suggested that the exams be deferred awhile, if it will facilitate the BBMP elections which has been pending for nearly four years now.

As per the standing order of the Karnataka High Court, the government should have sent the list on reservation of wards to the SEC by Monday. With the notification on reservation of wards itself yet to be, no list reached the SEC.

Pending the SC verdict on its SLP, the state government had on last Friday filed an application before the HC seeking relaxation of two days to notify and issue the wards list.

Interestingly, appearing for the government, senior counsel PP Rao on Monday told the SC that Friday’s application was “a mistake” and insisted on three months time — till June — to hold the polls.

EXAMS LOOP

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the SEC, noted that the March 14 slot would be ideal for polls in the wake of the PUC exams beginning on March 18 and the census and GP polls down the line.

The state government snubbed it pointing out that the CBSE exams will be starting in the first week of March and the state government has no control over the central board exams. The SC bench wondered if the Karnataka government realises that it will be in contempt of the HC if polls are not held by March 30.

HC quashes proceedings against cop

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/HC-quashes-proceedings-against-cop/articleshow/5605432.cms

Ravi Dayal, TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 04.06am IST

PATNA: In a development described as important by many in state police circles, the Patna High Court on Monday quashed the departmental proceedings initiated against Sports Authority DG Manoje Nath.

The proceedings were initiated for his refusal to investigate an incident involving seizure of liquor, cash and ammunitions from RJD’s Jamui candidate Vijay Prakash Yadav during assembly elections in 2005.

The HC ruling should be music to the ears of Nath, more so because it clears decks for his elevation to the post of DGP after current incumbent Anand Shankar retires on February 28 this year. Nath, a 1973-batch officer, happens to be the seniormost officer among the remaining three DGs after Shankar retires with J K Khanna belonging to the ’74 batch and Neelmani to the ’75 batch.

If the state government goes by the seniority, chances of Khanna and Neelmani getting to the top cop’s post would be bleak with both of them retiring in 2011 while Nath is to retire in 2012.

Allowing Nath’s petition that sought quashing of proceedings against him, a single bench presided by Justice S K Katriar also quashed the charge that he made indecent remarks in his representation to state officials following
his refusal to probe the Jamui incident.

Nath’s counsel Shrawan Kumar, Rajiv Nayan Singh and A K Dubey submitted before the court their client stayed away from the investigation into the case as desired by the then DGP, Ashish Ranjan Sinha, simply because the local police had already lodged an FIR and were investigating the case. A fresh probe by Nath would have amounted to a parallel police investigation, the counsel said and wondered why the then DGP Sinha did not appreciate the legal position taken by Nath.

The counsel further submitted that Nath had duly communicated his decision and explanation thereof to the Election Commission of India. Satisfied with his explanation, the ECI entrusted the probe to the Munger division commissioner, the counsel said and added the state government was not even competent to initiate the proceedings as any such incident happening during elections falls under the control of the ECI.

The counsel also submitted that Nath’s representation to the principal secretary to the governor regarding the “demoralising effect on police due to the utterances of the then DGP against him (Nath)” had wrongly been construed by the government to be indecent. The same was the case with Nath’s letter to the then DGP Sinha, the counsel added.

Government advocate Prabhakar Tekriwal opposed Nath’s petition, submitting the state government rightly initiated the proceedings against him.

HC reprieve for Modi in flag dishonour case

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/HC-reprieve-for-Modi-in-flag-dishonour-case/articleshow/5605425.cms

Abhinav Sharma, TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 04.01am IST

JAIPUR: Rajasthan High Court on Monday stayed the investigation into the alleged dishonour of the national flag during the India -Pakistan match of IPL-1 held at SMS stadium on November 18, 2007, allegedly by some Pakistani guests of IPL chief Lalit Modi.

The order was passed by Justice Karni Singh Rathore while modifying an interim order passed earlier which directed the police not to take any coercive steps against Modi. The direction came on a criminal miscellaneous petition filed by Modi challenging the order of a city court directing registration of FIR and investigation into the case.
According to complainant Kamlesh Sharma, liquor was served in the VIP lounge of the SMS stadium and the national flag was used as a ta-ble cover on those tables where wine was served to the Pakistani visi-tors at the behest of Lalit Modi.

Earlier, the trial court had asked the circle officer of Ashok Nagar to file the final report of the investigations within one month. However, instead of filing any conclusive report, the police informed the court that a notice has been issued to Modi but he did not respond. A photograph has been taken to Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, but the persons could not been identified so far.

HC notice to collector of Dausa in hostage case

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/HC-notice-to-collector-of-Dausa-in-hostage-case/articleshow/5605411.cms

TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 03.52am IST

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan High Court on Monday issued show cause notices to Dausa collector Lal Chand Aswal, Rajasthan DGP, principal secretary DOP, principal secretary home and station house officer of Dausa police station in a case of beating and keeping hostage a class IV employee.

A class IV government employee, on February 15, filed a petition in Rajasthan High Court stating that Dausa collector Lal Chand Aswal kept him hostage and beat him up when the petitioner refused to do domestic work at his Jaipur residence. The high court has asked investigation officer of the case in Dausa district to present the case diary in the court on February 22.

The complainant’s counsellor A K Jain said Gopal Lal Meharawal who was appointed as class IV employee at Sikrai tehsil in Dausa district and was deputed at the residence of district collector, Dausa for household work. He was asked by Dausa collector Lal Chand Aswal to do household work at his Jaipur residence.

When Meharawal refused to do so, Aswal allegedly took him to Jaipur forcefully and kept him hostage there.

Aswal also allegedly beat him up. Meharawal said that he managed to flee from the house and tried to lodge an FIR with Dausa police, but they refused to do so. On this, he approached a local court in Dausa which directed the police to lodge the first information report. Despite that, no investigation was conducted in the matter.

The complainant’s counsellor, Jain, told TOI that show cause notices have been issued in the matter. “The high court, commenting on the fact that investigation in the matter was finished by the Dausa police station on the same day when it was reported, has issued the notices. The highcourt observed that the matter was not properly investigated by the police,” said Jain.

CJI: Separate HC can be in UT
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100223/haryana.htm#1

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 22
Haryana’s demand for a separate high court in the existing building at Chandigarh has received a fillip with Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan categorically stating that it could be “anywhere” and that every state had the constitutional right to have its own high court.

The Chief Justice made it clear he was not averse to the idea of Haryana having its own high court and “the building does not matter, it can be anywhere.”

He was talking to the media at a party organised by Additional Solicitor-General Mohan Jain in honour of Attorney-General Goolam E Vahanvati. Haryana’s Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was present at the function too.

The assertion is significant as Haryana has been demanding a separate high court and that too at Chandigarh in the existing Punjab and Haryana High Court building. The CJI, for the first time, has commented on the location of the high court.

Hooda reiterated his stand by saying: “It is our legitimate right to have a separate high court for Haryana.”

The Chief Minister said he wanted the high court to be located at Chandigarh as the city was Haryana’s capital too. “Once the decision to carve out a separate high court is taken, funds will be released immediately for the upgradation of infrastructure,” he said. “The only question is of jurisdiction, but we are confident very soon all issues will be settled and Haryana will have its separate high court.”

Hooda has all along been saying Chandigarh is the capital of both Punjab and Haryana and same laws hold good for both states. Only recently, Hooda had asserted they had “full right” over the union territory. If Punjab was ready to pull out of Chandigarh, they would have no problem in establishing their high court at some other place in Haryana, he had argued.

Hooda believes Haryana needs adequate representation in the apex court as so far not a single judge from the state has been elevated to the same ever since the state was established in 1966.

As of now, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has 46 judges. If Haryana has its way, judges from the state could be shifted from the existing High Court to the newly carved out one. The move is expected to increase the state’s representation in the judiciary. It will also bring down the pendency of cases, particularly in Haryana, as approximately 70 per cent of the litigation is from Punjab.

Additional Solicitor-General Mohan Jain does not see any problem in the co-existence of two high courts at the same place. Hosting the function to honour the Attorney-General, Jain remarked: “If two Chief Ministers, two Speakers and two Governors can stay side by side in the same city, I see no harm in having two high courts at the same place”.

Haryana’s former Advocate-General, Jain said a substantial number of advocates from Haryana had been crusading for a separate high court in Chandigarh.

Top court sceptical on demands on Telangana

http://www.asianage.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3519:top-court-sceptical-on-demands-on-telangana&catid=35:india&Itemid=60

Tuesday, 23 February 2010 02:22

New Delhi, Feb. 22: The Supreme Court on Monday showed skepticism over the various kinds of relief sought in different petitions on the Telangana issue being filed on regular intervals and directed three petitioners to strike down all frivolous prayers from their joint petition before it could be considered for hearing.

K. Srinivas Reddy, Vasireddy Venkata Krishna Rao and Mrs K. Pushpalatha filed the joint petition. They raised several issues on the Telangana controversy, including those related to various aspects of Justice B.N. Srikrishna Commission set up by the Centre.

While directing them to amend their petition and confine it to legal and constitutional questions, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan also raised doubts about the kind of relief sought by advocate Bondada Purushottam Yadav in a separate petition. He had sought to restrain the Union government from taking any further action on the pronouncements of home minister P. Chidambaram made on December 9 and 23, 2009 respectively relating to initiation of the process for creation of separate state.

“How can such a relief be given?,” the CJI told Mr Yadav during a brief hearing when he prayed for restraining the Centre from acting on the pronouncements of Mr Chidambaram.

S.S. NEGI

Review scribe’s threat perception’

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Review-scribes-threat-perception/articleshow/5605117.cms

Nandita Sengupta, TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 01.19am IST

NEW DELHI: He was allegedly kidnapped by the police, forced to write a suicide note and survived only because he told them he had already met the state DGP and written to the Chief Minister anticipating such an event. Earlier this month, the National Human Rights Commission directed UP government to pay Amar Ujala’s Lakhimpur Kheri-based journalist Samiuddin a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for illegal detention by police in 2005.
 
And on Monday, the Press Council recommended a six-monthly review for five years of threat-perception to Samiuddin. It also recommended barring the allegedly complicit superintendent of police (SP) from postings where she can interfere with press freedom.
 
“It’s a rare case that called for serious attention. Samiuddin’s a journalist from a small town. Our committee found that he was indeed badly persecuted. We took particular notice especially because a senior police officer, the SP herself, was taking interest in his harassment,” said Justice G N Ray, chairman, Press Council of India.
 
NHRC directed that UP government reply on status of the journalist’s complaint within six weeks. It also directed state chief secretary to send compliance report within six weeks. “This case is a stark example of not only total apathy but outright antagonism towards a person whose right to life was seriously endangered by the acts of the concerned police authorities,” said the Commission.
 
Police allegedly targeted Neelu and six others for focusing on police high-handedness, political nexus and corruption. On February 9, 2005, Samiuddin, better known as Neelu, says he was kidnapped and taken to the town’s outskirts. He was allegedly made to write a suicide note. They took off his belt and strapped it around his neck, he says.
 
Keeping his nerve, Neelu told them that in anticipation of just such an event, he had already written to the state DGP, the chief minister, Press Council of India and NHRC. The police, says Neelu, got onto their phones, after which they took him to their lock-up where he was forced to sign several papers, blank and written-out sheets.
 
On her part, N. Padmaja, then SP at Lakhimpur Kheri now posted in PAC, Sitapur, says she read about the compensation in the papers, “I have nothing to say. I saw the order in the newspaper. I don’t want to respond,” she told TOI over phone.
 
Neelu had met the state DGP on February 5, saying that the SP in Lakhimpur Kheri was threatening him. “It’s not as if we were doing any out-of-the-way reporting. There was no campaign or anything,” says Neelu. The reports were on foodgrain scam, showing poor people as dead for land-grabbing purposes and an arms licence scam, he says. In the last, authorities assured fee-waiver for arms license if applicants adopted the ‘parivar yojna’ programme. Rich applicants forced poor farmers into sterilisation. The last straw was the report of police who stormed a college and beat up students and teachers in the college in August 2004 at the behest of local politicians, claims Neelu.
 
Since his complaints, the CID has cleared him on cases framed against him for possessing animal skin and body parts. But the police officers involved were let off lightly, says Neelu — only their annual increments stopped. The SP was simply transferred.
 
For Neelu, the vindications are the first step. He waits to know why local police are not heeding his application to file an FIR against Lakhimpur Kheri’s then SP for kidnapping and attempt to murder. “It took 20 years for a case to be filed against Rathore in the Ruchika Girhotra case. I’m waiting,” says Neelu.

Probing questions

http://www.frontline.in/stories/20100312270503800.htm

VENKITESH RAMAKRISHNAN & ANUPAMA KATAKAM
Volume 27 – Issue 05 :: Feb. 27-Mar. 12, 2010
INDIA’S NATIONAL MAGAZINE

The Supreme Court directive to the Special Investigation Team adds a qualitative dimension to the Gujarat riots cases.

On February 10, the Supreme Court directed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating the 2002 communal riots cases in Gujarat to respond to allegations that it had withheld vital evidence regarding the involvement of senior politicians and top bureaucrats in the riots. The SIT has to file its response before the next hearing in the case, scheduled for March 15.

The development highlights once again the tortuous course of the probe into one of the worst communal carnages in independent India. In fact, the intervention of the Supreme Court led to the setting up of the SIT under R.K. Raghavan, a former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

But even that happened in March 2008, nearly six years after the bloodbath in the State. This was followed by the May 2009 order stipulating trials under the supervision of the SIT. Barely a year later, a new chapter has been added to the investigations.

The February 10 directive of the Supreme Court has come in the wake of petitions filed by a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and social activists such as Devendra Bhai Pathak and Teesta Setalvad of Citizens for Justice and Peace. They expressed serious concern about the manner in which the trials were proceeding and alleged serious lapses in the progress of the SIT investigation itself. The petitioners alleged that the SIT refused to look into key aspects of further investigation, especially those dealing with mala fide intentions and complicity of state actors. The petitions stated that police witnesses, working directly with the SIT, had turned hostile, much to the shock of the trial court, and that the SIT did not ensure adequate safety for the witnesses. The petitions also pointed out that several people, including Chief Minister Narendra Modi, had not been questioned by the SIT.

Affidavits, which run into 3,000 pages and include those of several riot victims, filed along with the applications of the NGOs and separately, give crucial and detailed information on the handling of the communally charged situation after the Godhra train burning incident. They relate essentially to nine cases being probed by the SIT and cover a variety of facts such as the phone records of policemen and the key perpetrators, locations of officers and statements of witnesses.

The documents emphasise the tacit involvement of top police officers in the carnage and the fact that most of them hold prominent positions in the Gujarat government now. The petitions and the affidavits also assert that the build-up of arsenal, men and arms for the post-Godhra riots has not been investigated sufficiently.

The build-up, according to the petitioners, was exposed in Tehelka’s Operation Kalank and the affidavits of police officers R.B. Sreekumar and Rahul Sharma. The petitions also alleged that the SIT failed to investigate thoroughly the documentary evidence, including phone call records, mobile van records, control room registers, station diary entries and fire brigade registers. A scrutiny of these would have indicated the extent of “pre-planning” that went into the post-Godhra violence, the petitions stated.

Highlighting SIT’s lapse

They pointed to the failure to take adequate steps to prevent threats to witnesses and also highlighted the SIT’s lapse in not seeking the cancellation of bail of influential accused persons, who remain free during the trials.

Thematically, the affidavits relate to eight cases concerning incidents and personalities. According to Devendra Bhai Pathak, in the cases relating to the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam incidents, in which more than 110 persons were brutally murdered and many women and girls were raped, the SIT has not recorded the statements of 129 witnesses.

Additionally, witnesses referred to the active involvement of Inspector K.K. Mysorewala (now a Superintendent of Police) in ordering police firing on Muslims after discussions with former Minister Mayaben Kodnani, but he has not been arraigned. Incidentally, Maya Kodnani was arrested following investigations by the SIT in the early phases. According to witnesses, Mysorewala is said to have told those seeking protection that there were “instructions/orders from higher authorities not to protect you. There is no order to save Muslims… you have to die today.”

An analysis of calls from Mysorewala’s phone, as reflected in Pathak’s petition and the affidavits, shows that he received a call from Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Jaydeep Patel, who is accused in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam cases. The timing of the call, as recorded, was when the massacre was at its worst, says the petition. Witnesses also recount Special Reserve Police (SRP) officer K.P. Parekh as telling the hapless victims that no one would save them as they had orders from higher authorities to kill them. Parekh has not yet been arraigned.

The infamous case of Babu Bajrangi has also been brought up in the petitions. Pathak’s petition says 15 witnesses named Bajrangi as the leader of a mob that slaughtered 95 people and cut open the abdomen of Kauserbanu and killed her foetus. The SIT has not sought the cancellation of his bail, and he has been allowed to travel abroad. According to the petitioners, 53 witnesses named Suresh Langda Richard Chara as the person who led a mob to kill, rape and burn Muslims. Chara roams free and the SIT has not arraigned him either.

In spite of cries for help, as is evident from the hours and hours of recorded phone records, no help came to the Gulberg Society, where 70 Muslims were burned or hacked to death over a period of 11 hours. Congress Member of Parliament Ahsan Jaffri was one of them. The petitioners said the SIT had failed totally to “inquire/investigate into the circumstances in which repeated calls for police assistance went unheeded”. In this case the SIT has arraigned 25 persons, including Inspector K.G. Erda of the Meghaninagar Police Station, who was in the area at the time of the carnage. The petitions state that Erda’s phone records show that during the hours of the carnage on February 27 and 28, 2002, he made several calls to the police control room, Police Commissioner P.C. Pandey, Joint Commissioner M.K. Tandon and Deputy Commissioner of Police P.B. Gondia.

While the SIT has interrogated Tandon, it has taken little action, say the petitioners. In fact, Tandon admitted to the Nanavati Commission that he was informed that Ahsan Jaffri was in danger. Pandey, the records show, had even visited Jaffri and told him that police protection would be provided. Phone records prove that both Tandon and Pandey were in touch with the police officers in the riot-hit areas. Yet, Jaffri was killed. The petitions point out that there were records to show that Jaffri made nearly 200 calls for assistance. Some of these were to the police control room. At the time, Cabinet Ministers Ashok Bhatt and I.K. Jadeja were in the control room, but no one helped Jaffri.

The case of Shivanand Jha, Assistance Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, is even stranger. He was in charge of the control room at that time and the needle of suspicion should point to him. But he is a key member of the SIT.

There has been no further investigation by the SIT in the Godhra trial too. The petitioners say the SIT has accepted the investigation carried out by a clearly biased Gujarat Police. The affidavits delve largely into the actions of senior policemen. Many pages are dedicated to location details and phone calls made by the victims. Ahmedabad Police Commissioner Pandey was given a clean chit by the SIT in April last year as he claimed that he was in charge of the bodies of those who died in the Godhra train fire and was unaware of the actual situation in the city. Phone call records indicate that he was very much in touch with police personnel in all the riot-hit areas during the worst hours of the massacre.

Activists such as Teesta Setalvad have said there should be a re-investigation into his partisan role. They wonder why the Police Commissioner was handling dead bodies when the city was burning. Similarly, Tandon’s actions on that day have not been questioned. He visited Naroda Patiya after speaking to Pandey. Once there, he found the crowd restive and so was compelled to order a curfew, at 12.29 p.m. Yet he left the area at 12.33 p.m. without ensuring that it was implemented. Naroda went up in flames soon after.

The petitioners believe that the singular lack of investigation has to be viewed in the context of the fact that the main investigation officers of the SIT – Geeta Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia – are all Gujarat-cadre officers who were subordinate and answerable to Pandey until recently.

They are also in the service and under the control of the Gujarat government, which for obvious reasons has resisted any form of investigation into the riots. Johri’s role in the Sohrabuddin encounter case was criticised recently by the Supreme Court itself. In the context of all this, Teesta Setalvad and many other activists have demanded the reconstitution of the SIT.

On the overall treatment of the victims, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had filed a petition against the Gujarat government, pointing out that the government was hostile towards them. The manner in which evidence was being recorded and the questionable trial court procedures were also in focus. For instance, the NHRC says that in the Gulberg Society trial it has been noticed that there is a significant change in the manner in which the court is treating the witnesses after four or five crucial witnesses deposed.

In the case of Saeed Khan Pathan, while he was attempting to explain how he was being threatened by the accused, the court refused to record his explanation. Even after his lawyer made a detailed application saying his explanation should be recorded in its entirety, the judge refused to oblige. Three Muslims visiting from the United Kingdom in 2002 were hacked to death by a group of people near Pratij in Gujarat. Two eyewitnesses have turned hostile in this case, too. The petitioners have sought better security measures after a car with shaded windows drove dangerously close to one of them within the court premises.

It remains to be seen how the SIT will respond to the Supreme Court directive. Speaking to Frontline on the phone, its Chairman, R.K. Raghavan, said that the response would be filed before the March 15 hearing. He added that the SIT had responded to many of the issues raised by the petitioners in the note it had given to the amicus curiae.

“Now, the court wants to take a look at our responses directly. It will be placed before the court in a sealed cover. It is up to the court to decide whether to make it public or not,” Raghavan said. Hemantika Wahi, counsel for the Gujarat government, told Frontline that the State government would have no role in preparing the response and it was wholly up to the SIT to draft the response.

Clearly, the court directive has added a qualitative dimension to the Gujarat carnage cases. Whether this will ultimately result in justice for the victims depends on several factors, including the SIT response.

Tribunal quashes court of inquiry against Lt-Gen

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/-Tribunal-quashes-court-of-inquiry-against-Lt-Gen/articleshow/5604573.cms

TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 02.12am IST

NEW DELHI: In an interim relief for Lt-Gen Avadhesh Prakash, the seniormost of the four indicted generals in the alleged Sukna land scam, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on Monday ordered the re-opening of the court of inquiry (CoI) into the case to allow the recently-retired officer to cross-examine six of the witnesses.

AFT principal Bench, comprising Justice A K Mathur (retd) and Lt-Gen S S Dhillon (retd), said Lt-Gen Prakash should first be given the depositions of the six witnesses and then be allowed to cross-examine them ‘‘in order to meet the principles of natural justice’’.

Lt-Gen Prakash had not got the opportunity to cross-examine the six — Lt-Gen P K Rath, Lt-Gen Ramesh Halgali, Major-Gen P C Sen (the other three generals indicted in the case), Col N K Dabas, Lt-Col Jiji Varghese and Naib Subedar Surjit Singh — since they had deposed before him during the CoI.

It was only after Lt-Gen Prakash deposed as the 19th witness that the CoI take ‘‘cognizance against him’’ and then indicted him. Rule 180 under the Army Act lays down that an accused has the right to be present when some other personnel depose against him during a CoI.

NCW writes to Health Ministry on emergency contraceptive pills

http://beta.thehindu.com/health/policy-and-issues/article111552.ece

PTI

Taking up the issue of emergency contraceptive pills, the National Commission for Women has written to the Health Ministry and the Medical Council of India seeking their opinion on the matter.

The NCW said in a statement on Monday that it has been brought to the notice of the Commission that wide-scale advertisement campaign in favour of the oral pills known as an emergency contraceptive pill, is being carried out by pharmaceutical companies.

“These pills are gaining popularity among young girls, despite repeated warning from doctors against its use,” it said.

With concern, it is seen that the drug is being projected as an after saviour of unsafe sex. The advertisements of these wonder pills are quite misleading and its side effects as well as efficacy are not at all being disclosed. It is being projected as an alternative to the safe sex method and thus may lead to an everlasting impact on the younger generation and in turn lead to government and the society losing its battle as far as AIDS and STDs are concerned besides putting the women through grave emotional and physical trauma and everlasting effect of hormonal imbalance, the statement said.

The commission said that the pills have been designed for women over 25 and accordingly it is felt that it may have dangerous side effects on teenagers and on women using it too regularly.

The commission has written to the MCI and the Health Ministry seeking their views in the matter.

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