LEGAL NEWS 12.00.2009

Seize properties of corrupt govt officials, says CJI


 Posted: Saturday , Sep 12, 2009 at 1328 hrs New Delhi:

Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan favoured statutory provision for seizure of illegal properties and assets of government officials convicted in corruption cases. He also wanted specialised teams of lawyers to ensure that they will progressively develop expertise in prosecuting corruption-related cases.

If a public official amasses wealth at the cost of public, then the state is justified in seizing such assets,” Balakrishnan said at a national seminar on ‘Fighting Crimes related to Corruption’.

“One prominent suggestion is the inclusion of a statutory remedy that will enable confiscation of properties belonging to persons who are convicted of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA)”, the Chief Justice said.

The CJI said procedural delays like granting sanction and difficulty in marshalling large number of witnesses were the major hurdles in achieving meaningful convictions when the anti-corruption agencies was already finding it difficult to grapple with 9,000 pending cases due to shortage of designated courts.

“It is necessary (that) there should be a speedy manner of granting sanction. The prosecution becomes ineffective if the sanction is granted after 6-7 years,” he said.

Balakrishnan expressed concern that CBI relies on large number of witnesses in the corruption cases instead of coming out with solid witnesses which unnecessary prolongs the trial of the case for 3 to 4 years. “Instead of having 8 to 10 witnesses, emphasis should be on having one solid witness to prove the case,” he said.







Court lauds The Hindu for fair reporting

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court, which took suo motu action against the Mayawati government, lauded The Hindu for publishing a fair and balanced report on Friday on the construction activities for memorials in Lucknow.

During a hearing, a Bench consisting of Justices B.N. Agrawal and Aftab Alam read the report and said: “The Hindu has given a detailed account about the construction activities going on at various sites. A photograph has also been published. The Hindu has been fair enough to give the State government’s denial also. We can’t completely ignore the report.”

In its order, the Bench said: “We may note that there is a denial on behalf of the State government that any construction is in progress and The Hindu has been fair enough to publish the denial by the spokesperson of the Uttar Pradesh Rajkiya Nirman Nigam. In the news report, it is further stated that the spokesperson, on behalf of the State government, admitted that only maintenance work was being carried out.”

The order said, “But the news report in The Hindu also carries a photograph and unless it is of an earlier date, the photograph tells a different story and makes it clear that the construction activities are very much going on at the Kanshi Ram Sanskritic Sthal and other places in Lucknow as mentioned in the report, which are covered by the undertaking given to this court.”

CRPF deployment

Justice Agrawal asked Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, assisting the court as amicus curiae, whether the Centre could deploy CRPF at the construction sites. Senior counsel for the petitioners Abhishek Singhvi said that Monument Protection Force of the CRPF should be deployed as the State government could not be expected to be impartial.

Harish Salve, appearing for the State, objected to this saying the petitioners in the U.P. memorials case were trying to play politics. “This is not a matter for playing politics. We will put a proper affidavit.”







No reason to stay the Ishrat probe

Nitya Ramakrishnan

The Code of Criminal Procedure allows for a magisterial inquiry and police investigation to be conducted side by side.

The Gujarat High Court has stayed Metropolitan Magistrate S.K. Tamang’s report on the killing of Ishrat Jehan and three others. Also, it has directed a probe into his conduct on the premise that in submitting his report even as an SIT investigation ordered by the High Court was under way, he had overstepped his limits. The fact of the SIT investigation — a police investigation albeit one ordered by itself — seems to have persuaded the High Court to subject a subordinate judicial officer to this unusual course of action.

Ishrat Jahan and three others were shot dead on June 15, 2004 by the Gujarat police which claims to have killed them in an ‘encounter’ to foil an assassination bid on Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The NHRC took suo motu notice of the incident within three days and directed the State government to comply with the NHRC 2003 Guidelines on Encounter Deaths. The guidelines require a magisterial probe as well as a police investigation into all encounters.

Independently, a petition was filed by Isharat’s mother in the Gujarat High Court. By an affidavit sworn in September 2004 the State informed the High Court that “the fact and genuineness of the police action on June 15 in which Ishrat and 3 others were killed, is being enquired into by the Addl. DGP CID (Int) Gujarat State and also separate Magisterial inquiry is being conducted in this regard by the SDM, Ahmedabad. ….(sic)”

Ishrat’s mother was, in fact, asking for a transfer of the police investigation to the CBI. It was in response to this prayer that the High Court, four years later, on August 13, 2009, entrusted the police investigation in ‘FIR No. C.R. No. I-8 of 2004 registered with DCB Police Station, Ahmedabad City’ to the newly constituted SIT of three senior police officers. Though clearly aware of the magisterial probe, the State government does not seem to have ever asked for any order, much less a stay on that probe. The High Court, confined itself to transferring the FIR to a newly constituted police investigation, that is, the SIT. Though informed of the magisterial probe, the High Court, while dealing with the petition, seems to have said not a word on it.

Distinct but simultaneous

Investigation by the police and an inquiry by a Magistrate are distinct but simultaneous procedures and this fact does not rest on the NHRC Guidelines alone. In general, every unnatural death entails an inquest under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The inquest is to ascertain the apparent cause of death. In the presence of witnesses, there is a detailed examination of the marks of injury, wounds, spot of occurrence and all else that could indicate the cause of death. An honest inquest would record the mode and cause of death, whether it was by bullet or other injuries, whether fire was close range or distant, whether the fatal wound was accompanied or preceded by any other violence and so on.

‘Apparent’ does not mean cursory. It means such circumstances of the death as can reasonably be assessed at that stage. Gujarat’s claim that the only purpose of an inquest is to assess whether the death was natural or unnatural is absurd. An inquest occurs only when there is reason to believe that the death is unnatural. Any ‘encounter death’ is an admission that the police have killed and can only be an unnatural death.

Inquests under the CrPC are normally conducted by an Executive Magistrate who is often part of the police. In its 152nd report, the Law Commission noted that such inquests had proved unsatisfactory in cases of custodial deaths. The CrPC was amended in 2005 keeping in mind the concerns expressed by the Law Commission. Section 176(1A) was added to the Code, prescribing that every death, disappearance or rape while in the custody of the police must, of necessity, be subjected to an inquiry by a Judicial Magistrate or a Metropolitan Magistrate. Furthermore, such an inquiry is in addition to an inquiry or investigation held by the police. The inquiry into the death of Ishrat and the others referred to in the state’s affidavit as being held by the SDM, an Executive Magistrate, was later completed by a Judicial Magistrate, presumably in compliance with the CrPC Amendment.

All deaths in custody, and not merely those in admitted or legal custody, have to be inquired into. If the police version of an encounter is false, it is evident that the deceased must have been in police custody sometime prior to her or his death. In which case, it is death in custody. Only an inquiry will establish whether it was, in fact, a genuine encounter or a death in custody as Magistrate Tamang’s inquiry has found the case of Ishrat and the others to be. Therefore, Gujarat’s argument that an encounter death is ruled out of the operation of Section 176(1)(A) of the Code really begs the question. It is like an accused saying that he must not be put on trial because he is innocent, when only the trial will prove him guilty or innocent. If encounter killings are ruled out of the pale of such inquiry, all that needs to be done (and has often been done) to avoid scrutiny is to kill someone in custody and fake it off as an encounter.

Surely homicide

Aside from such a judicial inquiry, the Code provides for police investigation into all cases of homicide. Encounter killings are surely homicide. Whether culpable or justified as self-defence is a matter for the judge. The law gives the police no higher privilege to use lethal force than what it gives to a common citizen by way of the right of private defence.

The law provides for three things. First, an inquest to record the circumstances of any unnatural death. Second, a judicial inquiry into deaths in custody. And third, quite apart from inquests and inquiries, that all cases of homicide be registered as offences, investigated and submitted in the form of a report to the court for further action. Even when the police report suggests that case is of justified self defence, the court may send the case for trial. A Judicial Magistrate scrutinising an investigation report performs a different office than one inquiring into a death in custody.

The NHRC Guidelines collate the law as it stands into a workable checklist of the steps that must follow a supposed encounter death. This was necessitated by the spate of encounters going unchecked. The Supreme Court is yet to rule on whether every encounter death must indeed be registered as an FIR,. One thing is clear though: The Judicial Magistrate’s inquiry, when held under Section 176 (1) (A), is independent of and in addition to, any police investigation under other provisions of the Code.

Inquiries and trials based on police investigations have been known to proceed side by side. The Code distinguishes between ‘inquiry’ and ‘investigation’. The former is done by a court but is not a trial. The latter is done by the police and may lead to a trial.

There is nothing in the concept of sub judice or in any proposition on contempt of court that requires any suo motu restraint by judicial authorities on their functions. Unless it is brought explicitly to their notice that there is a valid stay or that the same nature of relief has been invoked elsewhere. S.K Tamang had not, on the date of his report, been injuncted by any superior authority nor was he substituting himself for the police investigation. It is unknown for magistrates to petition higher courts for permission to do tasks entrusted to them by the law. All that the High Court had done on August 13 was to change the investigating officers of an existing FIR. One that was under investigation even when the magisterial probe began The state government did not once seek to halt the magisterial process. What is it beefing about now?

Though it cannot sit in appeal over his findings, the High Court is certainly within its writ powers to correct any jurisdictional error in Magistrate Tamang’s proceedings. As yet, however, it is unclear, where any misdemeanour on his part lies.

(The author is a Supreme Court advocate.)







Kaminey:PIL filed

Express News Service

First Published : 11 Sep 2009 04:07:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 11 Sep 2009 09:42:52 AM IST


CUTTACK:  The controversy over the portrayal of Lord Jagannath in the Vishal Bhardwaj flick `Kaminey’ has taken a new turn with a PIL filed in the Orissa High Court seeking deletion of the contentious scene or imposition of a ban on the film in Orissa.

City-based organisation Nilachakra represented by Dillip Das has alleged the film had hurt the sentiments of the people of the State by its insulting portrayal of the most revered deity of Orissa. The film has a scene where a toilet door has inscription of “apna haath Jagannath”. The writing has vulgar connotations and thus should be removed from the film, the petition stated.







HC hears PIL against Himanta

Law Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Sept 10 – A Division bench of the Gauhati High Court comprising acting Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Amitabh Roy today heard the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by AGP legislator Padma Hazarika against Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and fixed Thursday next as the next date for hearing. The Court directed the registry of the High Court to collect relevant records including the case diaries of the cases of Panbazar and Chandmari police stations against Sarma, final reports of the cases with acceptance reports, etc.







Plea against Jet maintainable: HC
Express News Service

First Published : 11 Sep 2009 03:40:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 11 Sep 2009 06:41:21 AM IST


CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thursday held maintainable a writ petition from Mumbai-based National Aviators Guild (NAG) praying for a direction to the authorities concerned to cancel the permission granted to the management of Jet Airways (India) Limited in Mumbai to engage foreign pilots.

A Division Bench comprising justices D Murugesan and M Jaichandran also held maintainable another writ petition from the NAG praying for a direction to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to ensure monitoring of the operations of the Jet Airways on a day-to-day basis and flight-wise to ensure the safety of passengers.

Originally, the first petition prayed for “a direction to the DGCA to take appropriate action for cancelling the permission issued to the Jet Airways for engagement of foreign pilots, while keeping the experienced and senior Indian pilots out of job by issuing orders of termination and that too as a measure of unfair labour practice on account of the formation of the NAG’’. The Bench observed that “in the event of the petitioner not pressing the relief insofar as the issue raised in the first writ petition relating to the termination of some of the staff of the Jet Airways on the ground that it was an unfair labour practice’’, the petition would become maintainable.

The second petition seeking safety to the passengers was naturally maintainable, as the relief sought was in the interest of the general public, the Bench added. The Bench stipulated the restriction on the petitioner following the submission of the High Court Registry that the petitioner had no locus standi to file the first petition as a public interest litigation (PIL) when the subject matter related to service matter.

Posting the matters for further hearing on September 16, the Bench made it clear that the pendency of the writ petitions should not be construed as an impediment for the ongoing conciliation proceedings, which was pending with regard to some of the issues covered in these writ petitions.

 Earlier, Advocate-General P S Raman, appearing for Jet Airways, told the Bench that conciliation proceedings were going on at New Delhi with regard to some of the issues covering these writ petitions and in the event this court entertaining these petitions as PILs, that should not stand in the way of the conciliation proceedings. He would also oppose the writ petitions on the ground of territorial jurisdiction, Raman added.







HC warns corpn on hoarding ban violation

TNN 12 September 2009, 06:26am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras high court has warned the Chennai Corporation that it would take a very serious note of violation of court orders banning hoardings and banners in the city. It also accepted an unconditional apology tendered by the corporation commissioner on Friday, in response to a contempt of court petition filed by social activist Traffic K R Ramaswamy.

“Accepting this unconditional apology tendered by the corporation commissioner, we close this contempt petition. We make it clear that any such violation of the order dated April 28, 2008 will be taken very serious note of, if the violation is brought to the notice of this court,” observed a division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi.

In his petition, Ramaswamy said the first bench of the court had on April 28, 2008 banned all digital hoardings, banners and unauthorised billboards erected all over the city. Though many hoardings were removed immediately after the order, authorities have started turning a blind eye to blatant violation of late. In this regard, he also pointed out that roads were dug and holes were made on public walls by many prominent people, including Chennai mayor M Subramanian, during party and family functions.

Ramaswamy had cited the Chennai district collector, corporation commissioner, commissioner of police and the mayor as respondents in the present contempt proceedings.

Tendering unconditional apology to court, corporation commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni filed a counter-affidavit on Friday, stating that civic authorities were taking due care in maintaining roads and pavements, and that no banners and road-digging was permitted.

Noting that the state government has taken a policy decision to remove unauthorised hoardings not covered by the court orders, the commissioner said police and corporation authorities were assisting revenue officials involved in the campaign against hoardings.







RPMT fraud: HC asks govt to submit report by Sept 16

Abhinav Sharma, TNN 12 September 2009, 05:56am IST

JAIPUR: Taking strong view of the alleged irregularities in the Rajsasthan Pre-medical Test (RPMT), 2009, the Rajasthan High Court on Friday directed the state government to form a three-member committee to investigate the matter and submit a preliminary report by September 16.

Justice R S Rathore passed this order on a writ petition filed by one candidate Jahabarmal who alleged that a large number of students succeeded in taking admission in 15 medical colleges of the state by planting impersonators during the exams. As many as 750 students got selected in these medical colleges after results were declared on June 4 this year.

“We have prima facie evidence that the thumb impressions of three candidates impressed on the OMR sheets and the those taken in the examination hall did not match. It appears that there is certainly something fishy about it. We have been pursing the entire record to find out the motive, however, further investigation will now be conducted in the manner suggested by the high court,” said government counsel Vibhuti Bhushan Sharma.

“There is a complete racket of senior doctors of the state, including senior most officials of the Health University that are involved in this big corruption and private doctors or some other professional have been engaged by them to appear in the examination so as to get their wards through and see that they secure admissions in the medical colleges of the state,” said Rajendra Soni, advocate for the petitioner.

It was alleged by the petitioner that over 100 students have been admitted by adopting improper means of engaging professional writers for the exam. It was further brought to the notice of the court that there is provision of putting thumb impression on the OMR sheets at the time of filling up of the application for the entrance test as well as in the examination hall. It was told to the bench that where in other states there is provision to tally the two thumb impression before declaring the results there is no such provision in Rajasthan resulting in this misuse.

Looking to the fact that the session has just started and that such illegal admission requires strict consideration the court directed that the there member high level inquiry committee must have a senior Police official having thorough knowledge of such investigations, one person having vast experience to conduct university examinations and one independent person. The court directed that the preliminary investigations should be complete by the committee to file the preliminary report on September 16.








HC directs CB-CID to investigate MLA’sconduct against JE

TNN 12 September 2009, 06:36am IST

LUCKNOW: Taking serious note of an MLA’s conduct to put pressure on the chief minister and commit criminal assault in the office of a junior engineer in Ballia, demanding illegal money, the High Court has directed the CB-CID to investigate into the matter and submit a report to the court within two months. The court stayed transfer of junior engineer, Udai Shanker Singh from Ballia to Sonbhadra.

Passing the order Justice D P Singh further directed the SP Ballia to provide adequate security to the engineer so that Auraiyya incident may not be repeated in which BSP MLA Shekhar Tiwari had killed executive engineer Manoj Gupta on being denied his illegal demand.

Udai challenged his transfer order passed on August 17. He showed the CD to the court in which the MLA was demanding illegal money. His men ransacked his office and assaulted and abused him and his colleagues. He said that the MLA Shiv Shanker Singh Chauhan wrote a letter to the CM and her office, in turn, issued instructions for his transfer at the behest of the MLA. He argued that the transfer order was illegal as it was passed under political pressure.

The court found that the conversation recorded in the CD revealed criminal offence and therefore ordered director CB-CID to depute an IPS officer to probe into the matter.








Public interest, not procedural lapse, is paramount: HC

TNN 12 September 2009, 02:28am IST

BANGALORE: Despite procedural lapses, implementation of projects shouldn’t be delayed. The law should take a backseat to give way to larger public interest.

Making this observation, the high court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by Delhi-based Logwell Forge Limited, challenging a tender notification for supply of fastening systems for the Bangalore Metro project.

The company had challenged the February 16, 2009, notification on procurement of safety equipment used on tracks. “Commercial interest of manufacturers should yield to greater public interest. Law should take a backseat to give way to larger public interest. The project should be implemented keeping in mind the safety of public at large… Time is fixed for the project to be completed. In spite of procedural lapses, implementation of the project should not be scuttled and delayed, and intervention from this court is uncalled for,” Justice Mohanashantana Goudar observed.

The petitioner had claimed that by specifying the use of VOSSLOH 336 fastening system, the BMRC had turned the entire process into a one-sided affair and wasn’t following norms under the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement (KTPP) Act, 1999.

The BMRC refuted the claims saying VOSSLOH 336 is approved by the railway board and being used in DMRC and Vhennai, and that they cannot take any chance when it comes to safety equipment. It also stated that the KTPP Act is not applicable to it and the petitioners are ineligible to be considered for procurement.








No depreciation on bourse membership card value, rules HC

12 Sep 2009, 0141 hrs IST, Almas Meherally, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: In A judgement that could have a bearing on the tax outgo of many stock brokers, the Bombay High Court on Friday ruled that depreciation cannot be claimed on stock exchange

 membership cards, while calculating tax liabilities.

The I-T Department’s contention was that a membership card is not capable of diminishing in value due to its use, wear and tear and obsolescence.

Counsel Vimal Gupta, assisted by advocate Suresh Kumar, who argued for the department, submitted that the card was a personal privilege, and not a licence or a commercial right. The stock broking firms, they said, were not owners of the membership cards and thus could not categorise the same as capital assets.

Counsel for the brokers pointed out to the court that like a licence, which is depreciable, a membership card entitles brokers to trade on the exchange. The rights conferred by the ownership of the stock exchange card constituted business or commercial rights and would therefore be entitled to depreciation, they said. According to Section 32 of the Income-Tax Act, depreciation can be claimed either in respect of tangible assets or certain intangible assets such as patents, copyrights, trademarks, or similar intangible assets.

The division bench of Justice VC Daga and Justice JP Devadhar was hearing over a hundred applications filed by the I-T Department against brokers, including Techno Shares and Stocks, Credit Suisse, ICICI Brokerage Services, JM Morgan Stanley Fixed Income Services, Tata TD Warehousing Securities, Kotak Securities and Net Worth Stock Broking.

They observed in the judgement that the membership card cannot be construed as a licence or a commercial right. The court held that Section 32 allowed depreciation on the listed categories of assets only and were related to acquisition or user of intellectual property rights, while disallowing depreciation on the cards.









HC seeks case diary of former minister

TNN 11 September 2009, 10:00pm IST

RANCHI: The Jharkhand High Court on Friday sought the case diary of former minister Hari Narayan Rai, currently lodged in judicial custody, in connection with the disproportionate assets case.

A single Bench of Justice N N Tiwari was hearing the bail petition of the former minister. The court said any arguments concerning the case could be heard only after the case diary is reviewed.

Rai has moved high court, seeking relief after his bail plea was rejected by the vigilance court. He and another former minister, Enos Ekka, had surrendered in the vigilance court on August 17. Since then, both have been remanded in judicial custody.

Both Rai and Ekka are accused in the disproportionate assets case. Meanwhile, the judicial custody of both has been extended till September 23 by the vigilance court. The 14-day judicial remand was to expire on Friday.

Ekka is undergoing treatment at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) at present, while Rai is lodged at the Birsa Munda Hotwar jail. On the other hand, the vigilance bureau is giving final touches to the chargesheet against the duo. This is likely to be filed early next week before the court goes on vacation.









Dawood’s brother moves HC to get ‘clean passport’


Posted: Saturday , Sep 12, 2009 at 1148 hrs Mumbai:

Fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim’s brother Iqbal Kaskar and his family members have moved the Bombay High Court seeking to remove an ‘observation’ on their passports that restricts their travel abroad.

Ministry of External Affairs had made the observation recently that their passports are “valid to travel between UAE and India only”.

As a result, the family, currently settled in Dubai (UAE), cannot visit other countries.

The petition was filed last week by Iqbal (45), his wife Rizwana, daughters Hafsa and Kaniz Fatima, sons- Mohammed Rizwan, Aiman Iqbal Hasan and Mohammed Aaban.

As per the petition, when the Kaskars sought the removal of the restriction, the MEA told them that they should seek order to that effect from the court.

Iqbal, who was deported from Dubai in 2003, was later acquitted in a murder case and discharged in Sara-Sahara illegal construction case.

The petition mentions that currently no case is pending against him. The court early this week asked the MEA to reply in two weeks.








Anuradha murder: Witness says Noor told her she and Talla will get married

Aneesha Sareen

Posted: Saturday , Sep 12, 2009 at 0329 hrs Chandigarh:

Police term Talla’s extra-marital affair with model Noor Kataria as the reason behind the murder; in court, Noor has deniedany relationship with Talla

Adding weight to claims of the prosecution in the Anuradha murder case, a witness told the court on Friday that Anuradha’s husband Baljinder Singh ‘Talla’ — the alleged mastermind behind the murder — was introduced to her by model Noor Kataria as her boyfriend during her birthday party last year.

Talla allegedly had an extra-marital affair with Noor, which, according to the police, was the chief reason behind a dispute between the couple and led to the murder.

“I met Baljinder Singh Talla at Noor’s birthday party year at the Bains farmhouse in Mullanpur (a village near Chandigarh). Noor introduced Talla to me and told me that they would get married soon and settle in the US,” Saru Mahajan, who terms Noor a professional acquaintance, told the court.

During cross-examination by the defence counsel, the 26-year-old model denied that she was under the influence of the police and said she had never told anyone else before Friday that Noor told her she and Talla were getting married.

Saru’s statement assumes significance as Noor, a witness in the case, has denied having any affair with Talla.

She told the court in November last year that Talla was “just a friend” and he never proposed to marry her.

She was declared hostile by the court as her statement was in direct contrast to what she had told the police earlier.

Talla and Anuradha’s 11-year-old daughter, Osean Sandhu, has also turned hostile. She retracted from her earlier statement to the police that her parents had strained relations. She had told the police that Talla had tried to shoot Anuradha three years ago after a scuffle.

The girl had added that her mother wanted to accompany her father to a discotheque he was going to on the night of the murder. In court, however, Osean denied she ever made the statements.

The murder of Anuradha, a resident of Sector 38 West, took place on May 18 last year. Her husband Talla said he found her murdered after he returned from a discotheque.

The police accused the couple’s servant Nikku and his accomplice Ashok of murdering Anuradha, and arrested Talla for being the alleged mastermind.








Bizarre justice

PTI | Allahabad

Businessman Moninder Singh Pandher, whose house in Noida was the scene of horrific rape and killings of several young girls and women nearly three years ago, was on Friday acquitted in one of the 19 cases by the Allahabad High Court which, however, upheld the death sentence for his domestic help Surinder Koli.

The verdict was given by a division bench comprising Justices Imtiyaz Murtaza and Kashi Nath Pandey, on an appeal by 52-year-old Pandher and 38-year-old Koli, who had challenged the death sentence awarded to them on February 13 this year by the trial court in Ghaziabad.

The judges, while allowing the appeal of Pandher and dismissing that of Koli, made it clear that the findings recorded by them were only confined to the murder of 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar, one of the 19 victims.

While the acquittal was welcomed by Pandher’s son Karandeep, it was met with anger by Rimpa’s parents and other locals in Noida who targeted the media.

The High Court acquitted Pandher but upheld the death sentence of co-accused and his servant Surinder Koli in the rape and murder of 14-year-old Rimpa Halder, one of the victims of the infamous serial killings in Nithari in 2007.

The bench made it clear that this judgement will not affect decisions in other Nithari cases before the trial court.

The court, while upholding the death sentence of Koli, who had admitted to have killed the girl, observed that the crime committed by him was “gruesome, heinous and cold-blooded”.

“We would not forebear from expressing that the accused Surender Koli is a menace to the society,” it said.

“The depraved and brutish acts of Koli call for only one sentence and that is death sentence. We agree with the reasoning of the

Sessions judge awarding death sentence and affirm the same awarded to Koli,” the bench observed.

The cases came to light in December 2006 when the police raided Pandher’s house following complaints by villagers that several of their children had disappeared.

The duo were arrested for the murder of a girl, Payal, and later a total of 19 cases were registered by the police after human skulls, bones and clothes belonging to young girls were recovered from the house.

The court, however, disagreed with the trial court’s decision to award death sentence to Pandher, who was not charge-sheeted by the CBI and whom the Sessions judge had summoned invoking Section 319 of CrPC.

Pandher’s son Karandeep Singh, who was present in the High Court, said he was now looking forward to “justice in the remaining cases against his father”.

The High Court, he said, had sustained CBI’s charge-sheet and “we are quite happy about that”.

Pandher’s lawyer Manisha Bhandari said that she will try for bail for her client in view of the verdict.

None of the family members of Koli or Haldar was present in the court. The High Court bench declined to remand the case against Pandher for retrial under Section 319, as requested by the complainant’s counsel, saying, “We converge to the irresistible view that there is no evidence on record against him”.

The judges noted that the trial court had summoned Pandher mainly on the ground that a number of killings had taken place at his Noida residence from where an axe was also recovered at his instance.

The court pointed out that Koli had, in his confessional statement, said that he had killed Haldar with a knife, not an axe, at a time when Pandher was abroad and no one else was present in the house.









SC preaches Gandhigiri to Centre, rescues NGO

Abraham Thomas | New Delhi

The UPA Government may have got offended to Gandhi being called a ‘natakbaaz’, but it had no qualms in dragging to the court an institution named after the Father of the Nation and accusing it of anti-Government activities. But the Supreme Court came to the rescue of the organisation, calling it ‘sacred’ and dismissing the Centre’s petition.

The Centre took the Gandhi Peace Foundation to court, charging it with ‘anti-Government’ activities and seeking their removal from the premises provided by the Centre to the organisation in the national Capital. But the court stayed the proceedings initiated by the Government to evict the NGO.

Coming to the rescue of the NGO, having its office at Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg, the Bench of Justices BN Agrawal and GS Singhvi were critical of the notification of the Ministry of Urban Development asking the non-Government organisation, founded with the purpose to espouse the virtues professed by Gandhi, to vacate the building.

The Centre had accused the foundation of carrying out ‘anti-Government activities’ by constructing staff quarters and servant quarters and further sub-letting the premises to other NGOs and organisations. As per the lease deed, this was not permitted, said AK Srivastava, the counsel appearing for the Centre.

The apex court Bench was curious to know why the Centre should have proceeded with the eviction proceeding by levelling the charge of ‘anti-Government activities’. The Bench noted, “There is no dearth of people in this country who will call Gandhi anti-national.”

Anguished by the hurry at which the Centre proceeded in the case against the foundation, it said, “These are sacred institutions…You cannot permit these institutions to be shut.”

Srivastava, who pitched in for the absence of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Indira Jaising, tried hard to save the day for the Centre by referring to the July 14, 2009 letter issued by the Ministry to the office-bearers of the institution. In the reply given by the foundation, Srivastava said the body had admitted to having sub-let the premises to other institutions and organisations. Even construction of staff quarters and servant quarters was not denied, he added.

Rather piqued by the Centre’s haste to proceed against the foundation without giving them further opportunity, the Bench found a striking parallel in the Government’s inability to rein in unauthorised occupants in Government bungalows. “Eminent Government servants are qualified to be under unauthorised occupation for staying beyond the permissible period.” In a lighter vein the Bench added, “If such a notification (to evict all unauthorised occupants) is issued, 50 per cent Government quarters will fall foul.”

On further enquiry, the court learnt that the constructions were undertaken at the premises in the 1960s. “Before passing an order, you (Centre) are required to consider their cause…unless you are able to establish that the cause shown by them is of no use,” the Bench said, before dismissing the petition.






HC directs police not to arrest Dhali

PNS | Bhubaneswar

The Orissa High Court on Thursday directed the State Police not to arrest BJD MLA Arbinda Dhali. However, the court asked the State police to go ahead with the investigation.

After self-proclaimed daughter Sanjita Dhali moved the High Court against Arbinda, there was fear that the police might arrest him. Apprehending the arrest, Dhali moved the High Court and filed the bail petition.

Earlier on September 1, the State Government had ordered a Crime Branch probe into the dispute between Biju Janata Dal MLA and former Minister Arbinda Dhali and Sanjita.

Sanjita had also filed a case in the Mahila police station here alleging that Dhali had tortured her mentally and physically.







State releases 45 life convicts from jails

Bhubaneswar: As many as 45 life convicts have been released from different jails in the State as per the orders of Governor Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare, an official Press note said on Friday. The Governor passed the orders for the release of the life convicts on the basis of the recommendations of the State Sentence Review Board. According to the Government, all the 45 lifers had undergone the minimum of 14 years’ imprisonment. The recommendation for the release of the life convicts was made in view of their good conduct during their prison terms.






HC reiterates earlier order on improving power situation

Ratnaker Bhengra | Ranchi

The Jharkhand High Court taking cognizance of the dismal power situation in Ranchi on Friday reiterated an earlier order wherein it had directed various State respondents to take steps for improving the power situation in the capital.

A case regarding the power situation in Ranchi was filed in 2001 in the High Court. Later on it was taken up as a PIL and advocate Madhu Sudan Mittal was appointed to assist the court in the matter. The case had been pending for some time but has been taken up by the High Court more regularly in the recent months.

On Friday when the matter was heard, Mittal, referring to another previous order of the court, informed that he has made a list of the possible things that can be done to improve the power situation. He also informed the court that by an earlier order various State respondents had been directed to take steps to improve the power situation in Ranchi.

The order on May 1, 2008 had directed for ensuring electricity supply in the city of Ranchi, and towards that end old power plants should be repaired and new power plants commissioned.

When the court was reminded of this order, VP Singh, advocate for JSEB, submitted that the order applied to many State respondents. Thereafter, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Justice DK Sinha directed that all respondents take steps to comply with this order and then proceeded to fix the next date of hearing as October 14.

Meanwhile, in the bail application hearing of Hari Narayan Roy in the court of Justice NN Tiwari at the Jharkhand High Court, the court directed that the case diary in the matter may be brought to court on the next date. It will be recollected that the former Minister has been in jail, after he was compelled to surrender due to the lodging of cases pertaining to excess income and for possessing assets disproportionate to his income.







Justice Kandpal takes over as Chief Justice

Anupma Khanna | Dehradun

Justice Bipin Chandra Kandpal, senior most Judge of the Uttarakhand High Court, has been appointed its Chief Justice. Bipin Chandra Kandpal’s appointment comes consequent to Justice Vinod Kumar Gupta’s retirement.

Born on August 17, 1948, Justice Bipin Chandra Kandpal pursued his early education in Dehradun. Thereafter, he graduated in law from Agra University and joined the Allahabad High Court bar association in 1976. Six years later, he became Assistant Government Advocate at the Allahabad High Court.

In 1986 began Justice Kandpal’s career in higher judicial service that took him to several places including Mirzapur, Varanasi, Rampur and Kanpur.

After the bifurcation of UP, he was posted as District Judge, Dehradun in September 2001 before being elevated as Additional Judge of the High Court in 2004 and Permanent Judge in 2006. He has served as the Acting Chief Justice twice this year.

It may be noted that in August a Supreme Court collegium had cleared the name of Justice JS. Khehar for elevation as the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court.

However, as informed by credible sources, Justice JS. Khehar had expressed unwillingness to assume office at Uttarakhand High Court, prompting the appointment of Justice Kandpal.







HC to consider damages claim


Cuttack, Sept. 11: Orissa High Court has decided to consider the legitimacy of a compensation claim, worth Rs 10 lakh, made by the widowed mother of Bhaskar Behera, giving fresh impetus to the 13-month-old controversy over the youth’s death, allegedly due to police brutality.

Bilasini Behera, 39, has demanded compensation for the death of her only child and family bread-earner. The mother’s plea is that police caused her son’s death on the night of June 14, 2007. “When her son opened the door to a police party led by ASI Narendra Kumar Das, he was forcibly dragged outside and the personnel slapped, kicked and assaulted him till he bled from the mouth.”

A two-judge bench of Acting Chief Justice I.M. Quddusi and Justice Sanju Panda yesterday issued a showcause to chief secretary, home secretary and Cuttack superintendent of police (rural). The respondents are to file responses before the case is taken up for hearing on October 19.

In February 2008, the high court had asked the State Human Rights Commission to inquire into the circumstances that led to the death of Bhaskar Behera of Rajnagar under Athagarh police station. The commission, while concluding the probe indicted the police and recommended the payment of Rs 1 lakh by the government as compensation.

Bhaskar’s body was brought dead at a local government hospital around 10pm on the night of June 14, 2007. The death had triggered a public outcry and a delay in the last rites by a day.

Commission chairman Justice R.K. Patra had recommended criminal proceedings against the personnel involved in the case.







Court directive not to transfer YPS property

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
In compliance with the Punjab and Haryana High Court directions, secretary-cum-school principal of Patiala-based Yadavindra Public School Association Stanley Vinod Kumar today undertook not to transfer the school property.

The association, certain that the Patiala municipal corporation would proceed with the auction of the main campus, had moved the court.

It had sought directions to the state of Punjab, the municipal corporation and the divisional commissioner against “coercive steps” to recover the alleged house tax. Acting on the petition, the court had stayed the operation of house tax sub-committee’s order, while asking the school to file an undertaking.

In the undertaking placed before Justice Permod Kohli this morning, it was stated that the school “shall not transfer property number 8160/511 of Yadavindra Public School, Patiala, in any manner whatsoever to any other party or third party during the pendency of the writ petition”.

It was further added: “The school shall not create any further lien, charge or alienate the property in any manner during the pendency”. The case will now come up for further hearing on September 23.

In its petition, the school had sought directions to the municipal corporation not to recover Rs 16,48,095 as “house tax” for the staff houses property adjoining the main campus during the pendency of the matter.







HC strictures against Haryana functionaries

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Haryana apparently wants “dead persons” to come alive and sign documents for retrial benefits. Taking exception to the “unreasonable” approach adopted by the Haryana Government, Justice Ranjit Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court virtually passed strictures against the state functionaries, while dismissing its petition with Rs 20,000 as costs.

The scathing observations against the state and its functionaries came in connection with a petition filed by Veer Bhan. Justice Ranjit Singh exclaimed: “How unreasonable the government functionary can be, may be noticed from this case. Veer Bhan’s wife Pushpa Lata died after prolonged illness. She was paralysed. In 2004, prior to her death, she sought voluntarily retirement on attaining the age of 54 years. Since she was suffering from paralysis, she could not visit the office to sign papers.”

Elaborating, Justice Ranjit Singh asserted: “What an attitude by a welfare state. Instead of realising their responsibility to pay the retiral benefits to the legal heir (her husband), the respondents would choose to contest the writ petition as well… instead of helping a person, who has lost his wife after illness, they created one problem or the other for him. It cannot be denied that petitioner, being a legal heir, is entitled to receive the pensionary benefits due to his late wife.”

Justice Ranjit Singh further asserted: “Even after two years, he is still seeking release of pensionary benefits. He is forced to approach the court as well. After the death of the wife, the person who is eligible to claim the benefit, would be entitled to seek and sign the necessary documents. Surely, a dead person cannot come alive to sign documents.”

Paving way for the grant of benefits by allowing the writ petition, Justice Ranjit Singh concluded since the petitioner has been unnecessarily made to file this petition, which will have been a cause of mental harassment and agony to him after the death of his wife, he is held entitled to exemplary costs, Rs 20,000.






Constable gets life term

Our Correspondent

Sonepat, September 11
Constable Ashok of the Sonepat police has been sentenced to life imprisonment by District and Sessions Judge Virender Singh for burning his wife to death. The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on him.

Ashok, a resident of Narnaul, was posted at the City police station, Sonepat, and was staying with his wife Geeta in the police residential quarters. On October 10, 2007, his wife Geeta was burnt to death and on a complaint of Geeta’s mother Sona Devi, a case of murder was registered against Ashok.






Contempt of Court
State’s plea against single judge order accepted

DS Chauhan

Jammu, September 11
A Division Bench comprising Justice Hakim Imtitaz Hussain and Justice JP Singh of the High Court while setting aside the order of a single-judge Bench held that it was not permissible for the court to travel beyond the original order or give any additional directions, as that would amount to exercising a review jurisdiction while dealing with an application for the initiation of contempt proceedings.

While disposing of a writ petition filed by Mukar Lal Rathore and others, the single-judge Bench had directed the state School Education Department to consider their claims for appointment against Class IV posts within two months from the date a copy of the judgement was made available by the petitioners.

However, the failure on the part of the government to implement the directions contained in the judgement resulted in the initiation of contempt proceedings. The single judge on September 28, 2002, observed that the government was supposed to issue letters of appointment in favour of the petitioners. Those having committed contempt were given an opportunity to comply with the judgement and on its failure were directed to remain present in person before the court in October 2002. Feeling aggrieved, the state filed an appeal maintaining that the impugned directions were not in conformity with the original order as the writ court had never issued any directions for the issuance of letters of appointment.

“The court had only directed the consideration of the claims of respondent writ petitioners for appointment alone. The impugned direction is not in accordance with the direction issued on the main petition,” observed the Division Bench.

It, while allowing the appeal and setting aside the order impugned, requested the single judge to consider the contempt matter afresh and pass appropriate orders as may be required on the facts and circumstances of the case.






Sex Scandal
Stokes for judicial probe

Tribune News Service

Shimla, September 11
Building up further pressure on the government on the “call girl” episode, Leader of the Opposition Vidya Stokes today demanded a judicial probe into the matter by a retired judge of the high court and immediate arrest of those involved.

Addressing a press conference here today she said the sordid incident had not only exposed the unholy nexus of officers and politician which had transformed “environment clearance” into a handy tool for achieving their corrupt motives.

This kind of moral turpitude was unknown in the state and if stern action was not taken in the matter, it would embolden such corrupt elements and bring in alien culture prevalent in the neighbouring states, she added.

She said while politicians were held accountable and often made to quit the position they were holding, officers virtually went scot-free.

Even in the present case, the officer had been merely shifted whereas he should have been suspended and chargesheeted.

She said Prime Minster Manmohan Singh had, during a recent meeting, expressed his concern over the rampant corruption in environment clearance and the scandal had blown the lid out of the murky happening in the environment department. Reports linking the episode to some hydropower project deal had also appeared and it was a very serious matter. Promoters of the projects were virtually hand to ransom by officers of agencies which was handed responsibility of granting clearance.

Stokes disapproved of the lavish style of the government functionaries who were spending huge funds on organising parties in the garb of various officials events. The Prime Minister had, repeatedly, underlined the need for politicians and bureaucrats for adopting an austere lifestyle.

She urged the government to set up a committee to look into various issues, particularly anomalies in the revised pay scales, being raised by employees.







Nalini moves court for premature release

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: S.Nalini, a life convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, has moved the Madras High Court again seeking premature release.

In her petition, filed by S.Doraisamy and V.Elangovan, she said that as on date she had completed 18 years, two months and 26 days in prison. Nalini (43) said she filed a writ petition earlier against the Tamil Nadu government’s order of October 2007 rejecting her request for premature release and seeking a direction to the government to release her. In its order, the court quashed the proceedings of the Advisory Board and directed the government to reconsider her request for premature release by a validly constituted board and to submit a report to the government. On receipt of the report, the government should pass appropriate orders. Nearly one year had lapsed after the order was passed, but the government had not reconstituted the board. The only reason for not considering her for premature release was that she was involved in the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. She had been made a scapegoat for “political reasons.” Even the victim’s daughter, Priyanka Gandhi, who came from New Delhi and met her in Vellore Prison had told her that she had forgiven her, she said.

Under such circumstances, there could not be any specific reason to keep her inside the prison. She made several requests to the government requesting them to constitute a committee as per the High Court’s order. She prayed the court to constitute a validly convened advisory board and to submit a report to the government and take a decision on her premature release within the prescribed time specified by court. The interim prayer was a direction to the government to release her prematurely either under Article 161 of the Constitution or under Section 433 and 433 A of Cr.P.C, pending disposal of the writ petition.






Land acquisition at Gottigere stayed

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Friday stayed the acquisition of 13.07 acres at Gottigere for the formation of an interchange under the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project.

Justice B.S. Patil passed the order on petitions by Sujatha Vijay, Sujay Reddy and Vijayaraghavan, all residents of Bangalore. They had challenged a notification of September 7, 2009 issued under Section 28 (6) of the Karnataka Industries Area Development (KIAD) Act to acquire land at Gottigere.

The petitioners contended that the court had on September 3 ordered the Nandi Economic Corridor Enterprise (NECE) to maintain status quo on the acquisition of land. However, on September 7 NECE, which is implementing the Bangalore-Mysore Expressway project, had sought to acquire the lands.

They said the property sought to be acquired did not fall under the original alignment which was approved by the Public Works Department. They said even the alignment of the peripheral road had been illegally shifted.

Mr. Justice Patil, in an interim order, stayed the acquisition of land and posted the case for September 14 for further hearing.






RTI kiosk

Bangalore: The State Government has opened a RTI Kiosk at the Government multi-storeyed buildings to cover the offices in Vidhana Soudha, Vikasa Soudha and MS Building. The new kiosk is located at Ground Floor (next to BangaloreOne), V Stage, MS Building, Dr. Ambedkar Veedhi, Banaglaore -560001. For guiding Citizens on RTI, a help line is also functioning at 65734444. — Special Correspondent







Corporation directed to comply with RTI Act

Staff Correspondent

HUBLI: Taking exception to the delay and the alleged negligence of the Hubli Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC) in providing adequate information to an applicant under the Right to Information Act, Information Commissioner H.N. Krishna has directed the corporation to comply with the guidelines and provide adequate information to the applicant within 30 days.

Physician M.C. Sindhur of Vidyanagar, Hubli, had, on April 3, 2009, sought through an application under the Act a copy of a catalogue and list of files maintained as per section 4(1)(a) of the Act, 2005 in electronic format.

However, the corporation failed to provide information to the applicant under the specified 30 days. It was only on June 22, 2009 (after 48 days) that the corporation sent a compact disc (of 1.65 MB) containing 23 files, which, however, did not have complete information. After going through the information provided to Karnataka Information Commission, Mr. Krishna observed, during a hearing on August 13, that, although the corporation had 12 zones in the twin cities, the compact disc provided to the applicant did not have any information on them.

Taking it seriously, he directed the Public Information Officer of the corporation to act according to the guidelines of the Act. The Information Commissioner also directed the corporation Commissioner P.S. Vastrad to direct the Assistant Commissioner (Administration) of the corporation to complete the process within 30 days and provide a compact disc with appropriate information to the applicant within the specified time.

He directed B.S. Sangareshkoppa (Assistant Commissioner-Administration) to be present on the next date of hearing at 11 a.m. on November 12.






High Court quashes appointment of lecturers

University told to conduct selection from among candidates who have applied

Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has quashed the selection and appointment of four candidates to the post of lecturer in philosophy in the Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit.

The Bench of Justice K. Balakrishnan Nair and Justice P.S. Gopinathan quashed the selection while allowing an appeal filed by Bindhu and another candidate against a single judge verdict rejecting their writ against the selection process. The court ordered the university to conduct the selection from among the candidates who have applied in accordance with the law and complete the selection process within six months. The court directed that till the regular selection and appointment was completed, the four candidates should be allowed to continue as temporary hands.

The petitioners said while participating in the interview held on May 3, 2006, they found that the selection committee was not constituted in accordance with the statutes. They alleged that the two experts included on the selection committee could not be treated as outside experts. Besides, guest lecturers working in the university were granted age relaxation by treating them as persons under the teaching service of the university. In fact, the selection was conducted to regularise the appointment of the four: P.I. Devarajan, P. Unnikrishnan, M.N. Babu, and C.P. Vilasini, all guest lecturers.

The single judge had dismissed the writ petition filed against the selection, saying that the selection process was proper.

The court said that the statutory provision for including two outside experts on the selection committee had clearly been violated. The provision for including two outside experts was a mandatory provision.

As for the age relaxation given to the guest lecturers, the court said that a person could be treated as a member of the service of the university only if he/she was appointed substantively to a vacancy in a cadre post in the service. Normally, it should be preceded by a regular selection. Some persons were able to function as guest lecturers in the university. The same could never be treated as a ground for extending special favour to them. Going by the statute, the relaxation was meant for those working on a regular basis in the university as teachers.







SHRC to seek explanation from govt

TNN 12 September 2009, 02:25am IST

BANGALORE: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) will issue a notice to the government, seeking an explanation as to why it’s unable to pre-empt attacks on churches in the state.

An SHRC team visited the church in Hebbugodi on Hosur Road on Friday. Justice R H Raddi, part of the team, said they spoke to priests, locals and the jurisdictional police. “The SHRC condemns the attack. It is a violation of the Christian community’s rights and an attempt to stoke communal discord. The government shouldn’t tolerate such elements and must bring them to book at the earliest to show it can act swiftly,” he said.

Justice Raddi said they will issue a notice to the government. “We want them to explain why such attacks continue. The home ministry must ensure communal amity. The ministry should act against individuals or organizations responsible for the attack. The government has a constitutional obligation to ensure the rights of all are protected. It should discharge its duty and create confidence in the people that social harmony will be maintained.”

The panel has already made a series of recommendations to the government on last year’s church attacks in Mangalore, Kolar and Davanagere. “Measures to preserve law and order have been outlined. One major initiative could be the involvement of locals.”

Priests told the team that the attack happened early morning when they were asleep in quarters behind the church. They said people in the locality have been living in peace and harmony for years and there was no history of tension in the area.







Nano land dispute: File civil suit, SC advises Sanand farmers

TNN 12 September 2009, 03:42am IST

AHMEDABAD: The land dispute in connection with the plot allotted to Tata Motors for Nano car project near Chharodi village in Sanand might take a new turn with Supreme Court on Friday holding that the only remedy available to this controversy is a civil suit.

After hearing a special leave petition against Gujarat High Court’s order dismissing farmers’ claims on land compensation, a division Bench of Justices RV Raveendran and Justice B Sudershan Reddy refused to interfere with the high court order. But, the judges told petitioners – residents of Khoda village – Jeetsinh Waghela and others that the case is highly disputed and the title of the disputed land has to be established first. The court also noticed that the issue of notification is also a contested one and the entire case is a matter of evidence.

Refusing to interfere in the high court’s order, the division bench, however, orally observed that if the petitioners file a civil suit, high court’s order will not be pressed into service. And, the trial court could decide the issue, said petitioners’ counsel Yatin Oza. The controversy regarding compensation reached the high court immediately after 1,100-acre land from Northcotepura farm was handed over to the company for the car project. Government maintained that the plot was acquired way back in 1911 through a notification issued in 1909 by the revenue department of Bombay Province. But, villagers of Khoda and Bol laid claims on land and sought compensation. A division Bench in high court dismissed the farmers’ petitions earlier this year.







Media trials should be curtailed: CJ

TNN 12 September 2009, 03:51am IST

AHMEDABAD: Media trials have created a far-reaching effect on the judicial system in the country, this was stated by Gujarat High Court Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan while inaugurating the three-day media training programme at Gujarat National Law University (GNLU) on Friday.

The chief justice said that media trial not only affected the people but also affected lawyers

involved in the case as well as the judiciary. He called upon imposing restrictions on the media. He said that media coverage which affect the judicial system should be restricted by self-imposed code of conduct or by legislature.

He further said that media generated a strong public opinion thus forcing the judiciary to get carried away. Such coverage has a far reaching impact. Citing example of the recent controversy of the declaring assets by the judges, he said that the Supreme Court succumbed to public opinion over the issue which was created by the media and issued direction to the judges to declare their assets. He said that these directions came prior to the verdict of the Delhi High Court which was hearing the petition.

He further said that media trial not only affects judiciary but also the victim, the witness as well as accused associated with the case. Such media trail also puts undue pressure on judges, said the chief justice. Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, who was also present at the inaugural added that restriction on media especially the electronic and internet media will prove ineffective. He said internet and electronic media were beyond censorship. “The age of censorship is gone and regulation upon media are all most got over,” said Jaitley.









Babla case shifted

TNN 12 September 2009, 03:33am IST

CHANDIGARH: District and sessions Judge RK Garg, on Friday, shifted the case of municipal councillor Davinder Singh Babla to the court of additional district and session judge RK Sondhi. Complainant Suraj Parkash Ahuja, a resident of Panchkula, had questioned the bona fides of the proceedings under which Babla had been granted bail.

In his petition submitted to the high court, the complainant stated that Babla’s bail application was filed on August 26 but no notices were issued to the public prosecutor and he was subsequently granted bail the same day.

The court gave the petitioner liberty to approach the lower court, following which, the complainant filed his application. The police had booked Devinder Singh Babla, MC councillor and former chairman of the market committee, and Rakesh Saini, president of the Arhtiya Association of the Grain Market on August 19, for allegedly allotting platforms in the market to 10 ineligible persons. Suraj Parkash Ahuja, a shop owner, had later lodged a complaint in this regard.






After complaint, PU to give info on 48 items excluded from RTI

TNN 12 September 2009, 03:30am IST

CHANDIGARH: After a complaint by Nitin Goyal of Chandigarh to the Central Information Commission (CIC), New Delhi, regarding non-disclosure of information on 48 items in the handbook of Panjab University under RTI, the university authorities have decided to remove its impugned list.

Goyal had earlier served a legal notice upon vice-chancellor and registrar calling upon them to withdraw the 48-item list.

At that time, the university had tried to justify its list, but now, the university has informed the CIC and the complainant that after the complaint the matter was referred to the standing committee, which met on August 31 and recommended that no such list should be exhibited in the University Handbook of Information.

PU has also accepted Goyal’s demand of providing information to all those whose RTI applications were earlier denied or delayed by the university on the basis of this impugned list. An endorsement to this effect has been sent to all the Public Information Officers of the university.

Goyal said the matter is still pending before the CIC, however the university has scrapped the items earlier excluded by university under RTI. He further said he would not withdraw his complaint until the university provides complete information to all applicants whose RTI applications were denied in the past.









Court convicts one for rash driving

TNN 12 September 2009, 06:00am IST

PANAJI: The judicial magistrate first class, Panaji, recently convicted and sentenced one Laximan Pawar to undergo simple imprisonment for one year for driving a van in a rash and negligent manner and causing the death of a motorcycle rider at Ribandar in 2005.

Assistant public prosecutor S Mandrekar argued that the accused had driven the four-wheeler in “fast speed” and knocked down rider G Pereira on August 16, four years ago. She pointed out that the negligence of the accused caused Pereira’s death. The defence contended there was no intention to cause the death and pleaded leniency in the matter.

“The road where the accident took place is a national highway. It was the duty of the accused to take necessary care and caution. The evidence brings out that the accused was driving the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner,” judge Edgar Fernandes noted.

The court also held that a witness brought to light that Pawar was driving the van “fast and in a zigzag manner and dashed against the motorcycle”. It was further revealed that the van landed in the compound of a property situated six metres from the road, the judge said and termed it as a high degree of rash and negligence.

The court thus held Pawar guilty under section 304 A of IPC (causing death by rash or negligent manner) and sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for one year. Under section 279 of IPC (rash driving) he has to serve a sentence of imprisonment for six months. On both counts he has to pay a fine of Rs 5,000.










Court stays chargesheet against Aires

TNN 12 September 2009, 06:01am IST

PANAJI: Additional sessions judge, Mapusa, Bimba Thaly, on Friday stayed the proceedings of a chargesheet, allegedly filed for the second time, against Aires Rodrigues in a case of criminal intimidation dating back to 2004. Rodrigues claimed he was acquitted in the matter by a JMFC court in April this year and under section 300 of the code of criminal procedure, could not be tried for the same offence again.

The initial chargesheet, Rodrigues said, was filed because he led an agitation demanding action against the then parish priest of Ribandar for an alleged molestation. He prayed that the second chargesheet, recently filed by police in the court of the chief judicial magistrate, be stayed.

While public prosecutor Shiral Monteiro opposed the staying of the proceedings, the court granted the same. The matter will come up for hearing on September 30.










Jaipur schools ignore SC norms

TNN 12 September 2009, 05:56am IST

JAIPUR: The tragic incident which claimed the life of five girl students in Delhi due to breach of Supreme Court norms on School Building Code (SBC) has frightened parents in Jaipur whose children are studying in similar schools.

The education department estimates that more than 500 government and private schools in the city failed to comply with the apex court directives for fire safety measures in schools. As per the SC directives on National Building Code of India every school should have emergency exits along with fire extinguishers.

The education officer confirmed almost a third of government schools in the district do not have a fire extinguisher which is compulsory for them. “We have informed the government and private schools of the SC code on building. Now they are accountable for any mishaps,” claimed B S Rawat, district education officer (DEO).

The education department expressed their inability to carry to out any action against the defaulting schools due to busy schedule. “More of less every department officer is engaged with additional work related with promotions and rationalisation of teachers and students,” a senior officer claimed.

There are reports that more than a hundred schools in the city face the problem of flooding in the rainy season, especially schools running in the slum areas. “The rain water is often not pumped out from many schools. The students were forced to wade through water to reach their classes,” added Rawat.

The officials claimed they inspect all government schools before the beginning of a new session to identify schools that need alteration. “Those schools which are identified as unfit for students remain closed till the alteration is completed,” said B S Rawat.

Private schools accuse the education department of not apprising them on the apex court guidelines. The SC says that every school should have a school safety advisory committee to draft emergency response plans according to the structure of the building. However, barring a few schools most aren’t aware of the guidelines.








Court orders fresh probe into national flag insult allegation against Modi

Abhinav Sharma, TNN 12 September 2009, 05:49am IST

JAIPUR: A city court on Friday directed the police to reinvestigate the alleged dishonour shown to the national flag by Indian Premier League (IPL) chief Lalit Modi and his VIP guests by using it as a table cover during a match.

The court took notice of the fact that the police filed a final report stating that no case is made out, merely on the basis of a reply sent by Modi to the local police. The matter relates to the India-Pakistan match of IPL season one held at SMS Stadium on November 18, 2007, when Modi’s guests were allegedly served wine in the VIP lounge and the Indian tricolour was used as cover on the table on which wine was served to them.

The matter took a violent turn at that time when a local organisation, Nagik Morch, staged strong protest against Modi. Its president Kamlesh Sharma filed a complaint with the magistrate alleging that Modi along with Subhash Joshi, Vimal Soni and other guests in the VIP lobby of the stadium took alcoholic drinks on the national flag which was a sheer disregard to the national honour.

The court then sent the complaint for investigation to the Jyoti Nagar police station and an FIR was lodged on November 28, 2007. Counsel for the complainant Ajay Kumar Jain alleged, “Instead of investigating into the case thoroughly, the police wrote a letter to Modi seeking to know whether such an incident ever took place. Then, simply on the basis of written denial of Modi, police filed a final report on November 26, 2008, stating that no case is made out.”

After going through the report of the police, city additonal chief judicial magistrate no 4 Jagmohan Aggarwal found the allegations to be true and held that the investigaiton was not proper and fair. “The court then directed the police to change the investigation officer and assign the matter for reinvestigation to a senior police official,” said Jain.









One convicted for forcing a girl to suicide

TNN 11 September 2009, 09:35pm IST

KANPUR: The fast track court number II of Kanpur Nagar on Friday convicted one Susheel Sharma for forcing a girl to commit suicide and sentenced him to seven years of rigorous imprisonment, along with a fine of Rs 500.

According to prosecution case, Susheel Sharma, a resident of Gandhi Nagar, Seesamau, used to tease his neighbour’s teenaged daughter. Later, he also tried to force her into an illicit relationship. The girl, instead to complaining to her parents, committed suicide. However, she left a suicide note, on the basis of which the case was fought.








High court hears Modi bail pleas

12 September 2009, 05:33am IST

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court on Friday concluded hearing on three bail petitions by Vedic Realty MD Rajkishore Modi. He was arrested on August 29. Modi moved the high court after his bail pleas were turned down by the chief judicial magistrate of Barasat on August 30 and September 1.

Tara Sankar Nath had lodged a complaint with Rajarhat police alleging that Modi had grabbed a plot owned by him. In another case, Modi was slapped charges under Sections 447/304 and 74 on a complaint by Angurbala Naskar. In another case, Manirul Sardar complained that his brother had died in Gaffar Mollah and his associates’ firing.








Seven awarded life term in separate cases

TNN 12 September 2009, 07:02am IST

SAMASTIPUR: Fast-track courts here have awarded life imprisonment to seven persons in two separate cases.

On Thursday, the Fast-Track Court-IV sentenced two persons Shankar Mahto and Mukesh Mahto of Dalsingsarai to life imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 25000 on each of them under Sections 302/34 of the IPC for murder and concealment of body of one Ajay Kumar of Pagra village under the same police station of the district.

In another case, the Fast-Track Court-II on Wednesday awarded life imprisonment to five persons in a murder case committed in Bachholi village under the Khanpur police station of the district on March 3, 1999.

According to the prosecution, the accused persons Sitaram Mahto, Yadu Mahto, Umesh Mahto, Suresh Mahto and Kusheshwar Mahto shot dead Ram Parvesh Mahto of the same village while he was sitting with others in front of his house. Old enmity was stated to be the reason behind the murder.

During the trial, one of the accused persons, Ramprit Mahto, died while two others, Upendra Mahto and Ashok Mahto, were released by the court for want of evidence.











2 get life for murder

Chandra Bhushan Pandey, TNN 12 September 2009, 06:59am IST

MOTIHARI: Two persons were sentenced to life on Thursday for the murder of Sonu Kumar almost five years ago. Shyam Kishor Sah, additional district judge of the third fast track court here, also slapped a fine of Rs 10,00 each on Shatrughan Thakur and Sujit Kumar and ordered the amount to be paid to Sonu’s mother.

The prosecution said 30-year-old Sonu of Sisawa Ajagari village under Banjaria police station in East Champaran district was abducted and brought to Motihari by Thakur and Kumar on October 27, 2004.

When his son did not return, Sonu’s father lodged a missing persons’s diary with Banjaria PS. Then, Thakur, who later confessed to his crime, was arrested. Based on his statement, Kumar was also arrested. Sonu’s body was later recovered from the bank of Dhekaha near Motihari. He had been killed and buried there by the two.

10 yrs’ RI in dowry death case: One person was sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment in a case of dowry death on Thursday.

Second fast track court judge Kapildeo Singh sentenced Anil Prasad of Shyampur village under Adapur police station in East Champaran district for the murder of his daughter-in-law Rimjhim Devi over dowry.

She was murdered on November 4, 2006, at her home. Bed Prakash, her father, lodged a case against Anil Prasad, who had demanded Rs 50,000 as dowry from him. Prasad even threatened him with dire consequences if the demand was not met.









High court summons Patna DM

TNN 12 September 2009, 07:10am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court on Friday directed the Patna DM to appear before it and explain the action taken to check noise pollution in the city. A division bench comprising Chief Justice P K Misra and Justice Anjana Prakash issued the directive while hearing the PIL of a senior citizen, Balram Sharma, who submitted that the government was doing nothing to check noise pollution in accordance with the relevant Act and Rules.

The court fixed September 15 as the next date of hearing of this PIL.

The petitioner submitted that there had been no effective implementation of the provisions of Loudspeaker Act and the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000. He also sought penal action against the authorities concerned for not enforcing the provisions of the Act and Rules in this regard.

The Bihar State Pollution Control Board submitted that it had taken steps to check noise pollution, which, currently, was in accordance with the acceptable norms.

Directive to ICSE: A division bench comprising Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice Jyoti Saran on Friday directed the Indian Council of Secondary Education (ICSE) to file a counter-affidavit to a PIL, stating therein whether its audit reports suggest profits earned in conducting ICSE examinations.

The order was passed on the PIL of Sudhir Kumar Ojha, who submitted that the ICSE schools, of late, had started charging examination fees and other fees related to examinations in an exorbitant manner on the plea that the ICSE board had enhanced the fees manifold. The petitioner’s counsel, V K Singh, submitted that by enhancing the examination fees, the ICSE board had started earning profit, which is not allowed.

Government pleader Manu Shankar Mishra submitted that the state government gives certificate to ICSE schools on its established principle that schools were opened to impart education and not for earning profit. The ICSE counsel, Amaresh Kumar, and the central government’s counsel, Vinay Kumar Pandey, accepted notice on the court directive.
Debt recovery tribunal: The Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) Advocates’ Association on Friday welcomed its new presiding officer U C Mohanti at a get-together organised ahead of the Durga Puja. Those present on the occasion included the DRT recovery officer, Naresh Kumar, registrar Prabhu Singh and lawyers K K Sinha, Mukundji, Gopal Krishna Agrawal and S D Sanjay.








SC grants bail to Mankar

TNN 12 September 2009, 04:30am IST

The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to PMC corporator Deepak Mankar in an alleged dacoity case. The order was passed by a division bench of justice Markandey Katju and justice Asok Kumar Ganguly.

The suspended vice-president of the city unit of the Congress party, Mankar had moved the SC as the Bombay High Court had rejected his bail application on August 28.

The SC order said: “The petitioner shall be enlarged on bail in connection with crime no. 150/2009 of the Khadak police station, Pune, to the satisfaction of the trial court”.

The SC has issued a notice to the Pune police, directing them to file their written statement on Mankar’s bail application on the next date of hearing.

With the SC order, Mankar will now be released from the Yerawada central jail as he had already obtained bail in all other cases.

LEGAL NEWS 10-11.09.2009

Remove manpower, machinery from construction sites: Supreme Court

September 11th, 2009 SindhToday

New Delhi, Sep 11 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday firmly told the Mayawati – led Government to vacate all the manpower and machinery from seven construction sites within six hours of its fresh order.

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice B.N. Agarwal and Justice Aftab Alam, ordered the Uttar Pradesh Government to stop all construction of all the memorials, parks and statues in the state.

“ No further construction would be done at the site until the matter was decided by the court,” the State Government replied in its undertaking.

The court warned the state administration of taking severe action if it failed to follow its orders.

“You are playing a hide and seek game. Your are playing with fire,” the bench said in its order.

The court also said “Nobody except the security guard should enter the construction sites”

The court also issued a show cause notice to Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary for failing to obey its order.

On Thursday, a section of the media had reported that the Mayawati Government continues to disobey the Supreme Court’s directive, vis-à-vis construction activity at Ambedkar Park, one of Mayawati’s dream projects in Lucknow.

The apex court has also asked media organizations, to furnish all material in support of their claims.

In its supplementary Budget presented before in the state assembly the Uttar Pradesh Government had allotted a sum of Rs 550 crore for statues and memorials of Kanshi Ram, B.R. Ambedkar, and Mayawati. (ANI)









HC acquits Pandher in Nithari killings case

PTI 11 September 2009, 10:54am IST

ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court on Friday acquitted businessman Moninder Singh Pandher in one of the Nithari serial killing case, setting aside the death sentence awarded to him by a lower court, but upheld the capital punishment handed down to his domestic help Surinder Koli.

The order was passed by a Division Bench comprising Justice Imtiyaz Murtaza and Justice K N Pandey which observed that “no evidence has been placed on record to show that Pandher was guilty”.

Pandher and Koli were awarded death sentence by a special court in Ghaziabad on February 13 this year for the murder of 14-year-old girl Rimpa Halder at his house in Noida.

Significantly, CBI, which was investigating the Nithari episode, had given a “clean chit” to Pandher, a Noida-based businessman, in its chargesheet.

Pandher’s son Karandeep Singh, who was present in the High Court, expressed delight over the acquittal of his father and said he was now looking forward to “justice in the remaining cases related to this matter”.

“There is God, and there is justice in the country,” Karandeep said.

The High Court, he said, had sustained CBI’s chargesheet and “we are quite happy about that”.

Pandher’s lawyer Monisha Bhandari said that she will try for bail for her client in view of the verdict.

G S Chaturvedi, senior counsel and amicus curiae in the case, hoped that Koli would file an appeal against the high court verdict in the Supreme Court.

Regarding Pandher, he said the trial court had adopted a procedure which was not scientific and “had thrown legality and caution to the winds”.

“Secondly, there was no evidence against the man (Pandher),” he said noting that the businessman was in Australia when the girl was murdered.

He also said that this verdict may have a bearing in some other pending Nithari cases as the evidence was similar.

None of the family members of Koli, whose death sentence has been upheld, or that of the victim Rimpa, was present on the occasion.

The trial court had awarded death sentence to Pandher and Koli for the murder of Haldar, who had gone missing from her house on April 27, 2006.

The CBI had given a clean chit to Pandher on the basis of the fact that he was out of station while the alleged incident had taken place.








Gujarat HC gets India-Tech Excellence Award

Express News Service Posted: Friday , Sep 11, 2009 at 0119 hrs Ahmedabad:

The Gujarat High Court has bagged the eighth India-Tech Excellence Award 2009 for the application of Information Technology in administration as part of the e-governance initiative.

“The High Court has received the India-Tech Excellence Award, instituted by the India Tech Foundation (ITF), for its information and communication initiative in the state judiciary system,” said P P Bhatt, Registrar, Gujarat HC.

He added that ITF had invited nominations for the most progressive state government in three categories — IT in administration, power sector reforms and initiatives in development of urban and rural infrastructure.

The High Court has been awarded for measures such as computerisation of records at state level as well as in district courts, setting up of e-courts, introduction of district court websites that give status of a case, SMS for getting status of a particular case and other initiatives, including training of officials for use of new software and IT system.

The award will be presented during a ceremony to be held in November.








HC admits two PILs filed by Jet pilots’ union

TNN 11 September 2009, 04:11am IST

CHENNAI: Brushing aside preliminary objections from Jet Airways, Madras High Court on Thursday decided to entertain two public interest writ petitions filed by the airline’s pilot union, National Aviators Guild (NAG), and issue notice to the Jet management.

One of the petitions sought to cancel permission given by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to Jet to engage foreign pilots while keeping experienced and senior Indian pilots out of jobs. The other plea was to direct the DGCA to monitor Jet’s operations on a “day-to-day and flight-wise basis” to ensure safety of passengers. The NAG also sought to do away with the discrimination between foreign and Indian pilots on the parameters of experience and health check-ups. Indian pilots are required to undergo medical tests once in six months, no such requirement had been stipulated for foreign hands, the union said.

Jet’s senior counsel PS Raman argued before a division bench comprising justice D Murugesan and justice M Jaichandren that the PILs could not be maintained as they pertained to a “service matter.” Senior advocate V Prakash, representing the pilots, told the court that he was not pressing for an order restraining the management from terminating the services of pilots on its rolls. Listening to the arguments, the bench said the petitions were maintainable and fit for hearing if the pilots did not insist on the termination issue. “We hold that the writ petitions are maintainable, as they do not relate to service matter.”

Ordering notices to the Jet management and DGCA, the judges posted the matter to September 16 for further hearing. They also permitted NAG to serve notice on the additional solicitor-general M Ravindran, who would be representing the centre.

In his petition, the NAG’s authorised member captain JS Krishna said the Jet management was issued Foreign Aircrew Temporary Authorisation (FATA) by the DGCA and permitted to hire foreign pilots “to make up for the shortage of experienced pilots in India.” But he said it would amount to unfair labour practice if the management terminated the services of experienced senior pilots and invoked the provisions of FATA.

Such termination would have an adverse impact on safety standards, he said. Representation from the NAG against the FATA had not evoked any response from authorities, he added. He sought a direction to DGCA to take appropriate action to cancel the permission issued to Jet management to engage the services of foreign pilots.

In the other petition, Krishna alleged that a Jet Airways flight — 9W226 — from Chennai to Brussels was operated on September 8 with only two foreign pilots though the rules require three pilots. He pointed out the instance in reference to the alleged discrimination between foreign pilots and Indian pilots.

“Therefore, the discrimination between foreign and Indian pilots in the matter of medical tests/health checkups and experience requirements is ultra vires Article 14 (Fundamental Right to Equality) of the Constitution,” he submitted.








HC stern on violation of PP ban by MU doc

TNN 11 September 2009, 04:05am IST

LUCKNOW: Taking serious note of violation of ban on private practice (PP) by the teachers of the Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University (CSMMU), the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court (HC) comprising Justices Pradeep Kant and Rituraj Awasthi on Thursday asked Dr AK Sachan why he should not be tried for perjury for submitting a false affidavit that he is not into PP.

Dr Sachan is a faculty in the pharmacology department of CSMMU and also runs a private hospital in the city and is associated with a private medical college as well. The court has asked Sachan to submit his reply on October 1. The bench has also directed the CSMMU authorities to submit all details of the 11 teachers who have been found prima facie guilty of violating PP ban.

Dr Sachan is said to be running a private hospital whose ultrasound machine was sealed by the health officials last year in a raid after finding certain anomalies. He filed a petition in the court for relief. However, the HC bench took cognizance of the fact that Sachan is a faculty member in CSMMU and at the same time he is running a private hospital, which violates the ban on PP.

As per the directions of the court in the previous hearing, Dr Sachan came in person on Thursday along with a senior advocate SP Gupta to put forward his defence. Sachan admitted before the court that he teaches in the pharmacology department, CSMMU. He said that he opened the hospital in 1991, whereas he joined CSMMU in 2002 and since then he was not taking any money from the hospital.

Dr Sachan also admitted before the court that he had submitted an affidavit earlier declaring that he is not into PP. He also pleaded that he is only managing administrative work of the hospital which is actually being run by his wife. He also admitted that the appointment letter he got from CSMMU specifically states that association with a private hospital and PP is banned.

At this, the HC bench asked Dr Sachan why should he not be tried for the perjury for submitting a false affidavit. The court also directed CSMMU DK Upadhayaya to submit details of the 11 teachers who have been found prima facie guilty of violating ban on PP. The CSMMU has been asked to produce affidavits filed by these teachers declaring that they are not indulging in PP.

The CSMMU authorities said that they will act as per the court direction in cases related to PP. The ban on PP was imposed in 80s following complaints that teachers neglect their official work for PP. But teachers continued PP. A PIL was filed in 2007 seeking strict implementation of ban following which the HC directed CSMMU and government to take action against teachers violating ban.









Blame game on between two senior cops over HC violence

A Subramani, TNN 11 September 2009, 03:45am IST

CHENNAI: As a side-show for the unprecedented violence on the Madras High Court campus on February 19, a serious blame game has erupted between two senior IPS officers who were at that time occupying two top positions in the city.

Earlier this week, then additional commissioner of police A K Viswanathan had filed his counter-affidavit before the court, stating that he and other senior officers suggested to then commissioner K Radhakrishnan that it would be prudent to withdraw the entire police force from the court premises. He also said Radhakrishnan insisted that the entire force remain on the campus as necessary clearance had been obtained from the then acting chief justice SJ Mukhopadhaya.

Denying the statement, Radhakrishnan filed an additional affidavit on Thursday saying he never talked about “any clearance” from the then acting chief justice to arrest the advocates, and that no official, including Viswanathan, told him that it would be “prudent” to withdraw the force from the high court.

Describing the allegation as incorrect’, Radhakrishnan said, “withdrawal of a force from a serious law and order situation is a tactical decision which can be taken only by an officer present in the spot and handling the situation, and no officer, however great he may be, sitting at a different place can give orders through remote control.”

Noting that Viswanathan, in his capacity as additional commissioner of police, was the chief operating officer of the law and order machinery, Radhakrishnan said Viswanathan must have the moral courage to own up the responsibility.

“Viswanathan being the seniormost police officer present at the spot at 4 pm by his own admission, during the first lathicharge, should have the courage to own up the responsibility for ordering the lathicharge, which in my estimate is justifiable. “As a senior officer he was authorised and was under duty to deal with the situation. The situation was so grave, the ordering of lathicharge against the unruly mob of advocates initiated by Viswanathan was imminent, necessary and justifiable. As commissioner of police, I would have also done the same thing or, for that matter, any responsible police officer would have resorted to the same action,” Radhakrishnan said.

Accusing Viswanathan of being factually incorrect, Radhakrishnan said the allegation that the commissioner commanded the entire operation’ is “totally baseless and incorrect” because he was not in immediate on-the-spot command of the operation before he arrived. He also said Viswanathan was wrong in alleging that the commissioner had arrived with more than 100 personnel at 4.45 pm and ordered tear gas to be fired, followed by lathicharge.

“I sincerely hope that his (Viswanathan’s) version was not for the purpose of avoiding individual and collective responsibility for the decisions taken,” Radhakrishnan said.








HC takes state to task over `rescued’ child labourers

Swati Deshpande and Shreya Bhandary, TNN 11 September 2009, 01:34am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday got tough with the state government and directed it to produce within 24 hours the list of 670 child labourers it claimed to have rescued. A bench, headed by Justice Bilal Nazki, said the treatment being meted out to children after they were rescued was “a terrible thing” and told the state: “We are not sure you have rescued them.”

The HC was hearing a suo motu PIL on the plight of rampant child labour. After asking the government lawyer whether the rescued children were being educated and on being told that they were getting vocational and informal education, Justice Nazki said: “Are you giving them proper education? Every child has the right to education.”

The court, exhibiting tenderness in its approach, said: “If you are teaching them candle-making or other vocations after rescuing them, then they are perhaps better off outside.” Justice Nazki was at his critical best when he told the struggling government lawyer that “the child worker at an auto garage might go on to become a wonderful mechanic but, at the state remand homes, it would be worse for him than it was outside”.

The state lawyer kept repeating that the state had sent the rescued children back to their parents or homes. But she could not give the names of 10 children who were rescued and sent back to their parents in Mumbai despite seeking urgent instructions from the officials present in court. “We shall take Mumbai as a test,” the judges said.

The state lawyer kept asking for more time to get the information and present it in court. But the court said: “Will you manufacture the list or do you have it?”

Justice Nazki lamented that “no service is done for the children under the various state schemes (meant for them)”.

According to the court, children could be seen employed everywhere. Data submitted by the state earlier showed that children were employed as domestic workers in upscale Colaba and Lokhandwala and were more likely to be toiling in gold jewellery units in Bhuleshwar; and, in Dharavi, they could be found straining their eyes over intricate hand-embroidery in zari factories. The PIL, the court was hearing, was based on a letter written by former high court judge G S Patankar.








HC overturns ruling to keep drug dealer under house arrest

Friday, September 11th, 2009

High Court yesterday overturned the Criminal Court’s ruling to release Hussain Mohamed Manik of H. Rehi from jail to house arrest, following appeal from Prosecutor General on Thursday.

The High Court verdict gives clearance to home ministry to keep Hussain Mohamed imprisoned for a period of 15 days in a place determined by the ministry.

Prosecutor General’s office appealed to High Court to overturn the Criminal Court’s ruling to release Hussain Mohamed, considered by the state as one of the six top drug dealers in the country.

At the trial held on Thursday, Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem said since the arrest of Hussain Mohamed in April this year, Criminal Court issued 9 orders to keep him imprisoned , expressing the dangers to the society if he were to be released.

Shameem said one of the court order issued by Criminal Court expressed that if Hassan Mohamed were to be released there was a danger of losing evidence and another order states that there was enough evidence to keep the accused imprisoned.

Shameem argued that while none of these circumstances have changed Criminal Court’s order to release to Hussain Mohamed to house arrest was against all judicial and legal principles.

Shameem further referring to Article 49 of the constitution said the article clear justification to keep Hussain Mohamed imprisoned. Article 49 of the constitution states that no person shall be detained in custody prior to sentencing, unless the danger of the accused absconding or not appearing at trial, the protection of the public, or potential interference with witnesses or evidence dictate otherwise. The release may be subject to conditions of bail or other assurances to appear as required by the court.

Shameem further informed the court that a court order issued on 4th July gave the authority to home ministry to keep Hussain Mohamed locked up in a place determined by the ministry until the trial is concluded. He asserted that Criminal Court cannot go back on its own order without first appealing the order. He therefore asked High Court to revoke the lower court’s order to release the accused Hussain Mohamed to house arrest.

The accused lawyer Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim said the Criminal Court’s order to release Hussain Mohamed to house arrest should not be a matter of surprise as three people arrested on charges of smuggling drugs was acquitted within 3 months. He also said the normal practice of criminal court was to release a person arrested on accusation of an offense after three months.

Whaeed accused PG office and Police of trying to alter the facts and conceal the truth. He noted that the appeal form submitted by PG office stated that the accused was released but the truth was that accused was still under house arrest.

Lawyer Waheed alleged that the whole case was politically motivated and ever since the President made a reference to a six top dealers, police and PG office had worked relentlessly in include his client Hassan Mohamed in the list.

Responding to deputy PG’s claims that Hussain Mohamed, if released, may try to abscond or interfere with evidence, Waheed said so far the accused has never made any such attempt.

Hussain Mohamed Maniku of Henveiru Rehi, first drug dealer to be apprehended from the six major drug dealers in the country has been released for house arrest, after a ruling by the Criminal Court. The court ruling also said that the investigation should be completed within a week.

The man who trafficked more than 1kg of drugs through an old couple, who went for a medical treatment to Trivandrum, was red-handed during the investigation of the case on 9 April this year. The man is now under house arrest as per the court ruling.

Police said that Hussain Mohamed Manik’s investigation is being conducted as a very serious one, in close collaboration with several foreign governments, international agencies AG Office and PG Office.

Police had already arrested 2 of the six major drug dealers in the country and they are 33 years old Hussain Mohamed Manik and a man who had been hiding drugs in a farm in Addoo Atoll. Later, 39 year old Adam Naseer Aboobakuru of Henveiru Reendhooge was apprehended in a police special operation. Police also recovered MRF 5,390,000 and USD 43,400 from his residence.








Work underway on draft legislation to restrict judges privileges – AG

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Work is underway on drafting legislation to restrict the privileges and powers granted to the judges to extend detention periods of people detained on suspicion of various offenses, Attorney General (AG) Husnu Suood has said.

AG Husnu Suood made the statement speaking at the inaugural ceremony of Justice Association of Maldives held on Tuesday night at Social Center.

Speaking at the ceremony, Husnu Suood said that the privileges of Judges to extend the detention period of various people accused of various crimes is not excised in the best possible manner.

He said unless the privileges of the judges are restricted, justice may not be upheld. Noting that judges rule differently on similar types of cases on different occasions, he said if the judges are unaware how best to utilize their privileges to uphold justice, then a law needs to be in place to regulate the process.

Referring to Criminal Court’s ruling to release Hassan Mohamed of H. Rehi, one of the top six drug dealers in the country, from jail to house arrest, AG said the constitution is very clear and that it stipulates that a person accused of an offense shall be kept in detention or in custody, prior to sentencing, if there is a danger of the accused absconding or not appearing at trial, or if the protection of the public is in danger, or is likely to interference with witnesses or evidence.

He said judges must issue verdicts after careful consideration to individual rights as well as the rights of the society and that if judges were to issue verdicts with any order offenders will get encouraged.
He said draft legislation on judges and courts have been completed sent to judicial institutions including the courts for comments and opinion. He said, so far, only Civil Court has provided any response and urged all concerned to provide comments soonest. He further said draft legislation on evidence has also been sent but has yet to receive any comment.

He said that it is regrettable that no comments, expect from Civil Court, has been received. It shows the level of interest of officials appointed to uphold justice to strengthen and improve the country’s judiciary.

AG also said three bills are now ready for submission to People’s Majlis.







Issues of judicial independence

T.R. Andhyarujina

There are two sides to the issue of the right under the RTI to information from the Supreme Court.

There has been an odd twist of events in the matter of public disclosure of assets of judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. On August 26, 2009, the Chief Justice of India (CJI), in consultation with his colleagues of the court, announced that the declaration of assets made by individual judges of the Supreme Court in accordance with the court’s resolution of May 5, 1997 would now be made public on the website of the court. This put an end to an acute contr oversy on disclosure of assets of judges in which the Supreme Court put itself on the wrong side of public opinion by appearing to be indifferent to transparency and unaccountability by refusing to accede to the demand to make public the declaration of assets of judges.

Scarcely seven days later, the High Court of Delhi, in a judgment by Justice Ravindra Bhat, while holding that the CJI was a “public authority” under the Right to Information Act, 2005, held that the CJI was still not obliged to disclose the assets of the judges in public, unless a case of clear public interest was made out to disclose the assets of an individual judge.

This crucial finding of the High Court has gone unnoticed in the lengthy 73-page judgment, and has been overshadowed by the important holding of the High Court that the CJI was a public authority under the RTI Act contrary to the CJI’s contention that he was not, and further that the declaration of assets was not given to him by the judges in a fiduciary capacity. In the high traditions of an independent and fearless judiciary, Mr. Justice Bhat did not hesitate to set the law right even though in the process he had to differ with the CJI. It reminds one of Thomas Fuller’s statement centuries ago: “Be you never so high, the law is above you.”

It is important to note that the case considered by the High Court did not pertain to any demand by the applicant for the public disclosure of the assets of the judges of the Supreme Court. The applicant had made a very simple demand of asking the CJI as a public authority to disclose whether the judges of the Supreme Court had in fact implemented their own resolution of May 7, 1997 to declare their assets to the CJI. This was, inexplicably, denied to the applicant. The entire public controversy could have been avoided by the Supreme Court by providing this innocuous piece of information. Apparently the CJI believed that this demand would trigger a demand for public disclosure of the assets of judges and for other confidential information with the CJI. The High Court, therefore, rightly concluded that this very limited information sought by the applicant was information that he was entitled to get from the Chief Justice of India as a pubic authority under the Act, and ordered its disclosure.

This by itself would have disposed of the case before the High Court, but the court went on to consider the more controversial aspect of whether there was a right to obtain public disclosure of the actual assets declared by the Supreme Court judges to the Chief Justice of India in compliance with 1997 resolution of the court. It is here that the High Court held that under the provisions of Section 8(i)(j) of Right to Information Act, 2005, there was no obligation to give information which the judges had given of their assets as that was “personal information” which if disclosed would cause an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual judge. The applicant was not entitled to such information unless he satisfied the Central Public Information Officer of the court (CPIO) that a larger public interest justified the disclosure of assets given by the individual judge.

Mr. Justice Bhat observed: “Rhetoric and polemic apart there is no reason to undermine the protection provided by the law merely because some of the public believe that judges ought to permit unimpeded disclosure of personal assets to the public. The obligation to give access or deny access to the information is today controlled by the provision of Right to Information Act as it presently exists. Nowhere does it oblige disclosure of assets of spouses, dependents and children of judges.”

It thus turns out from Mr. Justice Bhat’s judgment that on this part relating to a general duty to make public the declaration of assets of judges, the CJI was not wrong in law in resisting their general disclosure. However, on August 26, under great public pressure and high publicity given to the action of two judges of two High Courts to voluntarily disclose their declaration of assets, the CJI and his colleagues decided to end the unseemly controversy by disclosing the declaration of assets of judges of the Supreme Court to the public on the court’s website. Had the High Court given its decision earlier, the CJI may have derived some support for his stand.

Nevertheless, in such a situation the law must take a back seat to public perception, and the CJI did well to correct an image of judges of superior courts resisting transparency and accountability. Mr. Justice Bhat notes the CJI’s voluntary decision in his judgment, but says that his own findings would place everything in their legal and contextual perspective.

The High Court’s finding that the CJI is a public authority who is bound to give information relating to the work, documents and records of the Supreme Court will have far-reaching implications for the Supreme Court and the High Courts. Does it follow that there is a right to obtain notings made by the CJI and the collegium of judges in the selection and rejection of judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts which they are obliged to make in accordance with the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Second Judges Appointment case? If such notings are made public, will the collegium of judges candidly express their views on the merits of individual judges in their notings? Is there a right to obtain the notes of judges, drafts of judgments and minutes of discussion before a judgment is pronounced? Is there a right to the communications between the CJI and Chief Justices of High Courts or with the Prime Minister or the President? These are troublesome problems and there are no exceptions to these demands for information under the RTI Act. It seems that the framers of the Act did not advert to the consequences of such public disclosure.

The CJI rightly spoke of his apprehensions if he is to be a public authority under the RTI Act. In the public clamour for transparency and accountability of judges, there is a real danger of undermining the independence and efficient functioning of the higher judiciary.

(T.R. Andhyarujina is a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court and a former Solicitor-General of India .)







In a higher court

J. S. Verma

Posted: Friday , Sep 11, 2009 at 0420 hrs

Let me begin by commending Justice S. Ravindra Bhat of the Delhi high court for his excellent judgment of September 2, 2009 in the judges’ assets case, the quality of which would do credit to anyone at the highest level in the judicial hierarchy. It is remarkable also for the reason that it was prepared (evident from the postscript) when the Supreme Court judges (led by the CJI) were still dithering on the issue, before finally reiterating the full court’s earlier resolution of May 7, 1997 to this effect. Once again the high courts have shown the right path when the Supreme Court dithered, as it did during the infamous Emergency in the Habeas Corpus case. In that case, the later amendment of Article 359 of the Constitution to protect the non-derogable rights in Articles 20 and 21 even during an emergency corrected the aberration of the Supreme Court judgment, approving that of the nine high courts. In the present case, the strong public opinion, including eloquent support from within the judicial fraternity, shows Justice Bhat to be right. I wish the judicial verdict is accepted by the Supreme Court (led by the CJI) in good grace without any reservations.

The basic premise of the judgment in paras 46 and 47 is worth mention. It says: “It would be highly anomalous to say that in exercise of the legitimate jurisdiction to impact people’s lives, property, liberties and individual freedoms, as well as (to) interpret duties and limitations placed upon State and non-State agencies, barring the institutional accountability standards in the Constitution, judges have no obligation to disclose their personal assets, to someone or authority… All power — judicial power being no exception — is held accountable in a modern Constitution. Holders of power too are expected to live by the standards they set, interpret, or enforce, at least to the extent their office demands. Conventions and practices long followed, are known to be legitimate sources, and as binding upon those concerned, as the express provisions themselves.”

These principles are unexceptional. It would be a pity if the judgment is not accepted in good grace and it is challenged in appeal by the Supreme Court, ultimately before itself! Any such course will further damage the judiciary’s image. This is not a matter in which the “doctrine of necessity” can apply.

Media reports quote Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati saying that the judgment would be challenged in appeal. As counsel appearing for the Supreme Court, his statement is assumed to be on instructions from the CJI. If true, it is unfortunate. I wish the Attorney General had drawn inspiration from his illustrious predecessors (names exclude the living) like M.C. Setalvad, C.K. Daftary, S.V. Gupte and Lal Narayan Sinha (who refused to argue for the Union government in the Habeas Corpus case during the Emergency) to candidly advise the CJI against any further reservations or challenge to the above judgment. That remains to be seen.

In my view, the only surviving issue now relates to the modalities and the procedure for declaration of assets by these judges, the custody of the declarations, and furnishing the information sought under the RTI Act. The judgment of Justice Bhat deals with this aspect also. The form of declaration and its custody are simple matters to be worked out by the concerned authorities. Section 8 of the act provides the manner of dealing with the request for information. If need be, that can be elaborated for clarity without destroying the object of the enactment — maximum disclosure, minimum confidentiality. These details need not detain us.

The one area of concern voiced by many judges who are in favour of disclosure needs mention. They want a safeguard against harassment by unscrupulous persons and disgruntled litigants who are known to make false and scurrilous allegations even against some honest judges for ulterior motives. Even though the apprehension is genuine, it has to be accepted as an occupational hazard, which is common to all public functionaries. Moreover, the additional contempt power is available to the judges as a deterrent. In any case, this aspect can be taken care of, and can not be a justification for not declaring the assets subject to public scrutiny for legitimate reasons. In the current environment of waning credibility of the higher judiciary, with specific allegations of corruption based on prima facie authentic materials even against a few of the highest, it is in the judiciary’s own interest to be fully transparent and above suspicion.

In addition, I have a suggestion for consideration. To decide any dispute about the age, Article 217(3) provides the machinery in respect of a high court judge, and Article 124(2A) is the corresponding provision for a Supreme Court judge. A similar provision can be enacted to decide finally any controversy relating to the assets of a high court or Supreme Court judge by the President of India after consultation with a body constituted for the purpose. The composition of that body can be decided after a wide debate to obtain the distillate of public opinion, keeping in view the significance of the independence of the judiciary. My view is that the body should comprise only of judges, because adjudication of disputes is primarily a judicial function. If considered necessary, the vice president could chair that body, since that office is not identified with either the executive or the judiciary. The myth that judges cannot be trusted to decide against their own fraternity has been exploded in the removal proceedings against Justice V. Ramaswami, wherein the judge’s committee found him guilty but Parliament let him off, and now by Justice Ravindra Bhat in the present issue, uninfluenced by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan’s contrary view voiced consistently through the media.

It is also necessary for the proposed legislation to provide that the final determination made in this manner in every case considered fit for inquiry by the President of India, as also in the cases rejected as not fit for inquiry, should be published to end the controversy. This procedure will protect the honest judges from vilification, while identifying the wrong ones, if any, for the logical follow-up action. This, in my view, is the way to ensure judicial accountability, with protection of the honest, which constitute the large majority.

The writer is a former Chief Justice of India






SC directs CBI to file fresh status report in GPF case


The Supreme Court directed the CBI to file a fresh status report regarding the progress of investigation in Ghaziabad District Court GPF case involving fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 7 crore from the court treasury.

A bench comprising Justices DK Jain, VS Sirpurkar and GS Singhvi adjourned the hearing of the case till the first week of November.

Thirty-four judges, including a sitting Supreme Court judge, and 12 Allahabad and Uttarakhand High Court judges including the retired and district judges are facing allegations of being beneficiaries of the scam.

It is for the first time that CBI has been permitted the investigation against the sitting judges.

The permission to carry investigation into the scam was granted by the apex court when Ghaziabad police expressed its inability to investigate the case because of the alleged involvement of the judges.

Earlier, the suggestion of the Chief Justice of India for judicial inquiry was strongly opposed by the petitioner who contended that judges should also be subjected to police interrogation like other public servants if they are facing allegation for corruption.

A bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat agreed for a CBI investigation after CJI KG Balakrishnan withdrew from the case.

FIR was lodged against 85 people by the Special Judge Rama Jain on the basis of the statement made by the main accused Ashutosh Asthana under section 164 CRPC.










Contempt notice to irrigation deptt superintending engineer

TNN 10 September 2009, 11:07pm IST

ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court has issued contempt of court notice to superintending engineer of the irrigation department Manvendra Singh, who is working at the 18th circle, Allahabad. This order was passed by Justice Sabhajeet Yadav on a contempt petition filed by the employees of the irrigation department.

The court has further directed the superintending engineer to comply with the order passed by the court in the writ petition and file a compliance report. The court said that in case of non-compliance of the HC order, superintending engineer will be present in person in the court to show cause, why the charge may not be framed for punishing him under the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act.

Arvind Tripathi, counsel for the petitioner had submitted in the court that earlier 27 employees of the irrigation department claimed their regularisation with retrospective effect but the same was not considered for which they had filed a writ petition before the High Court. The HC had disposed of the writ petition of the employees of irrigation department with a direction to the superintending engineer to decide the representation of the petitioners for their regularisation in accordance with law within a period of six weeks.

Arguing the contempt case, filed by Ram Nihal, the counsel said that despite HC order, superintending engineer failed to comply with the direction of the court. The court has fixed to hear the case on October 23 next.










Woman moves SC for probe into ‘custodial death’

TNN 10 September 2009, 02:50am IST

AHMEDABAD: The city police are in a spot after a writ petition accusing them of custodial death was filed in Supreme Court. The petitioner has sought thorough probe into the case and constitution of a judicial commission to investigate all such custodial deaths, including fake encounters.

The petitioner, Mariam Kasim Jaffer Hussain, has claimed that the city police carried out a raid on a Hotel Royal on April 13, 2006 and detained 18 persons, including her husband Kasim who had a tiff with police officer JM Bharwad.

After being taken to Shahibaug, Kasim was brutally beaten up and taken away from the detention centre. “Other people who were with my husband were conveyed that Kasim had escaped from police custody. On April 17, his body was found in Shahibaug area. A note was issued that an unknown person has been killed in an accident and persons who know him should approach police for identification,” Mariam said.

She claimed that when they found the body, a bullet wound was found in Kasim’s head. She has alleged that her husband was killed during police custody.

Mariam said she along with an NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace filed a writ petition in the SC and urged the court to join them as party in an application pending by Javed Akhtar demanding probe in all Gujarat encounter killings.








Madras HC dismisses the plea to restrain Indian cricket team tour to Lanka


The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court (HC) dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition seeking to stay the participation of Indian Cricket Team in the Tri-nation cricket series to be held in Srilanka for the genocide of innocent Tamil people in the Island nation under the guise of eliminating terrorists.

A division bench comprising Justices P Murugesan and C S Karnan dismissed the PIL stating that the Court cannot interfere into the Military affairs, internal security and External policies of the government.

The counsel K Karuppan for the petitioner Jel Paul Antony, a practising advocate of the High Court, pleaded that ‘thousands of innocent Tamil speaking people in Lanka were killed for the past five decades, especially for the past five months under the guise of eradicating militancy. The international community had condemned the same. At this juncture if Indian cricket team is sent to Lanka, the world community will not accept the Indian stand.










PIL against prayer song in album

Express News Service

First Published : 10 Sep 2009 04:21:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 10 Sep 2009 07:44:03 AM IST


CUTTACK: Indecent portrayal of the one of the most popular prayers in Oriya,`Ahe dayamaya biswabihari’ that is integral part of every Government school in the State, in a music album has come under judicial scanner with a PIL moved in the Orissa High Court today.

Filed by city-based Utkal Bidyarthi Abhijaan through its secretary advocate Nishikant Mishra, the petition has sought directions for regulation on use of devotional songs and prayers in the music albums and taking action against those involved in distorting them to the extent of vulgarity.

Petitioner Mishra stated before the court that the prayer has been written by poet Ramakrushna Nanda and published by Sahitya Sopan during 1933-34. The devotional song was inspired by Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das and Mahatma Gandhi.

After Independence, the song was adopted as the prayer in Government schools in the State and generations after generations have grown up with this prayer in their hearts. It is also sung as the only Oriya prayer in Sabarmati Ashram today.

He alleged that recently a cassette company has portrayed the prayer, held in deep reverence by the multitude of the population, in an extremely inappropriate manner. This has hurt the sentiments of the people.

Making the Culture and PR Department along with Doordarshan as parties in the case, the petitioner alleged that despite protests the Government has not taken any action against the producers.

He has pleaded the Court to direct immediate action against the production company and prohibit telecast of the song in any TV channel and ban sales of the VCDs of the album.

The Government should also be directed to formulate laws to regulate use of religious and devotional songs and prayers in commercial albums.









Election time heralds a glut in poll-related PILs

Kartikeya , TNN 10 September 2009, 01:30am IST

MUMBAI: Election time is usually also Public Interest Litigation (PIL) time. Be it the Lok Sabha polls or voting for the Maharashtra assembly, the Bombay High Court (HC) sees a number of PILs filed on the eve of every election.

Petitioners rush to the court to argue that some or the other aspect of the polling process is flawed and needs judicial intervention.

On Monday, the Bombay High Court dismissed one such petition where a social worker from Pune demanded that the recently announced schedule of assembly elections be postponed on the grounds that the swine flu scare would keep voters at home.

The petitioner, Moreshwar Ghaisas, claimed he was worried that the fear of contracting the H1N1 virus was playing on the minds of people. He argued that the common voter was unlikely to participate in the election process leaving it to become a “mere formality”. Justices A M Khanvilkar and R G Ketkar, who heard the plea, observed that election dates had already been announced and the model Code of Conduct was in force for polling on October 13. The judges also said that matters concerning conduct of assembly elections were best left to the Election Commission (EC).

Ghaisas argued that the polling percentage in Maharashtra was likely to drop by as much as ten per cent on account of the H1N1 pandemic. The judges, however, pointed out that people had come out of their homes in huge numbers during the Ganpati celebrations and Ramzan, and dismissed the plea.

Case dismissed

Courts usually refuse to entertain PILs against elections citing a Constitutional bar on intervention in the election process until it has been completed. The HC has often pointed out that the EC is the correct body to conduct elections and exercise superintendence over the entire process. Yet PILs continue to be filed almost every time elections are announced. A few PILs that have been dismissed:

-Earlier this year, a PIL demanded that elections to the 15th Lok Sabha and Maharashtra assembly elections be held together and not on two different dates

-In March 2009, a PIL asked the court to prevent actor Sanjay Dutt from contesting national elections

-In July 2009, a PIL sought the inclusion of neo-Buddhists among Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and accordingly increase the number of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly seats reserved for backward classes









High court takes state govt to task on mob vandalism

Shibu Thomas , TNN 10 September 2009, 12:49am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday questioned the state government’s contention that the damage to public property, including buses, in more than 140 incidents of mob violence since January 2008 amounted to only Rs 66.33 lakh.

The court was hearing a suo motu PIL on the basis of a letter written by former Mumbai police commissioner Julio Ribeiro on the government’s failure to act against vandals who destroy public property during protests.

A division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar has now appointed senior advocate Janak Dwarakadas as amicus curiae (friend of the court) to vet the procedures framed by the state to recover the damages from the perpetrators.

P K Jain, principal secretary (home), said in an affidavit that there were about 140 such attacks across the state. Over 1,192 persons were arrested and close to 114 chargesheets were filed. While probe was pending in about 26 matters, the court had disposed of the remaining nine cases. The state had quantified the total damages at Rs 66.33 lakh.

The court, however, questioned whether the amount could be this low. The judges pointed out that in many mob attacks one of the very first targets were public transport, and a bus would cost at least Rs 20 lakh each.

Assistant government pleader Niranjan Pandit told the court that despite an amendment introduced in the law (Bombay Police Act) to make vandals pay for the damage they cause, the problem was the lack of any procedure laid down for recovering the damages. Following Supreme Court guidelines, the state in July 2009 had drawn up the procedure to be adopted in cases of mob attacks.

In the event that violence occurs during a pre-announced agitation, the political party who called the protest would be liable to pay the damages. If the vandalism was a spontaneous event, the district magistrate-who is the designated authority to recover the loss caused to public property-would calculate the damages after viewing video recordings and press photos.









’1.85L seats vacant in jr colleges’

Swati Deshpande, TNN 10 September 2009, 12:25am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday was told that there were 1.85 lakh vacant seats available for first-year junior colleges across the state. Advocate-general Ravi Kadam said these seats were enough to accommodate all students who might have been allowed to keep term after their Std X board exams this year.

The HC will now hear the matter next Monday, when the state will give an update on the seats available and filled in. The state had last week informed the HC that it had taken a policy decision on allowing Std X students to keep term and join first-year junior college.

The formal decision would, however, be taken by April 2010.

The HC was hearing a PIL filed by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad challenging the ATKT scheme for students joining junior college after appearing for board exams.









HC dismisses PIL filed by farmers welfare association


Wednesday, September 9, 2009 21:42 IST

Madurai: Madurai bench of Madras High Court today dismissed a PIL filed by the Madurai Mavatta Vivasayigal ala Sangam (Farmers’ Welfare Association) against acquisition of lands for the Special Economic

The bench said that the statistics provided by the district Collector showed the lands were rain-fed and the acquisition did not affect any person as projected by the petitioner.

Justice Chitra Venkatraman and Justice M Duraiswamy rejected the contention of the petitioner that acquisition would throw ‘marginal’ farmers out of employment by accepting the Collector’s statement that the interests of the farmers were taken care of by the state.

The economic policy of the state government to provide ITP in Southern districts, which were lagging behind in industrialisation was something in which court had no Jurisdiction. ITP opened socio-economic benefits. “In the face of comprehensive study and statistics provided by the district
administration, we cannot accept the petitioner’s contention that comprehensive evaluation has not been done on the benefits of the project.” The petitioner himself had not denied the fact that water bodies get water only during rainy season.

On the argument that the area did not get environmental clearance, the Judges said even as per government order the question of Environmental Clearance would come only after the acqusition was over.







HC stay on ‘deemed’ university tag

TNN 10 September 2009, 04:40am IST

CHENNAI: A University Grants Commission (UGC) communication to private universities

asking them not to use the word university’ and instead revert to the earlier term of deemed to be university’, has been stayed by the Madras High Court.

An interim order to this effect was passed by justice P Jyothimani, on a writ petition filed by the Shanmuga Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy (SASTRA) registrar SN Srivastava on Tuesday.

Similar writ petitions were filed by some other private universities such as Vellore Institute of Technology, SRM and Sathyabama. Justice Jyothimani granted similar relief to those institutions also, on Wednesday.

In his petition, Srivastava submitted that the institution was started in 1984 and it became a deemed university in 2001. On September 13, 2006 the UGC permitted all deemed universities in the country to use the term university’ instead of deemed university.’

However, last month the UGC told the Delhi High Court that it had decided to withdraw the permission for deemed universities to call themselves universities. On August 19, a UGC communication to the SASTRA said that the earlier notification of the UGC permitting the use of the term university’ had been withdrawn. “You are advised not to use the word university”, it said.

Assailing the decision, the SASTRA said that having permitted the deemed Universities to use the word University’ after due deliberation it is not open to the UGC to alter their position, particularly after the deemed universities have started using the word university’ and known throughout the world by the said name.

Srivastava wanted the court to stay the operation of the UGC communication dated August 19, and forbear the authorities from preventing SASTRA from using the word university’.








Midnight closure: HC seeks records from police

TNN 10 September 2009, 03:36am IST

BANGALORE: The high court on Wednesday directed Bangalore police to place the records with regards to the May 19 notification, stipulating midnight deadline for restaurants.

Earlier, the government advocate told the court that as per section 31(6) of the Police Act, previous publication is dispensed with and the police commissioner can issue such notifications.

The division bench headed by the Chief Justice adjourned the hearing to October 10, asking the police to file objections to the writ appeal filed by the management of Empire Hotels.

Empire Hotels challenged the July 3 single Bench order upholding the commissioner’s directive on midnight closure.

On August 27, the court was told that the police commissioner had rejected the application filed by the management of Empire Hotels, seeking permission to operate their six establishments from midnight to 3 am.

Police had cited law and order as the reasons for refusing permission. However, they permitted operation of the hotels between 3 am and 6 am in view of Ramadan.








HC quashes BMC action against firms for installing coffee machines

Express News Service Posted: Thursday , Sep 10, 2009 at 0200 hrs Mumbai:

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday set aside Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) action against two companies for “installing coffee vending machines without licence”. It also rubbished the corporation’s claim that the companies should get licence before installing a coffee/tea vending machine at their offices as it is business.

The issue in the present case was whether an organisation can have a vending machine, though only for the benefit of its staff, without a licence to sell coffee or tea.

Northern Marine Managament Private Limited and Basell Polyolefines India Private limited, two Powai-based companies moved the court after the municipal corporation had issued notices to them for “illegally selling coffee” at their offices, though they had only coffee vending machines.

Citing the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, the civic body claimed that a licence is required for running a tea or a coffee shop.

The BMC also filed a complaint with the magistrate, who issued summons to the two companies. However, Advocate S G Gokhale, appearing for the petitioners, argued that machines were meant for the supply of coffee/tea to staff and guests and not for sale.

A division bench of justices Bilal Nazki and A R Joshi observed that even the notice issued by BMC did not mention that coffee was being sold on the premises.

The court observed that the notice did not mention what the offence was. The court also hauled up the Metropolitan Magistrate for not applying his mind while issuing summons.

“Surprisingly, the magistrate has not applied his mind,” the court observed. “It’s not unreasonable for offices to have coffee machines for its employees and guests,” the court said.

Therefore, the court quashed the civic body’s notices and complaints.









Lawyers’ assn seeks notice to judge on HC violence

A Subramani, TNN 10 September 2009, 04:26am IST

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Advocates Association (TNAA) on Wednesday wanted the Madras high court to issue notice to Justice SJ Mukhopadhaya, who was the acting chief justice during the February 19 violence on the court campus, to ascertain whether he gave any permission for the police to enter the premises.

When a batch of petitions relating to the violence came up for hearing before a division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi, TNAA president S Prabakaran said that though a full bench headed by Justice Mukhopadhaya said the police had no permission to enter the premises, the top officials in their individual affidavits said they had permission to enter and arrest some advocates.

In view of this discrepancy in claims, it is necessary for the bench to issue notice to the then acting chief justice, he said. Referring to certain “contradictions” in the submissions of the then commissioner, additional commissioner and the joint commissioner of police, Prabakaran said he was entitled to put them in the box and examine.

Likening the February 19 violence to Operation Blue Star at Amritsar Golden Temple in Punjab, Prabakaran said similar preplanning preceded the campus violence, which was code-named Operation Black Coat’. Denying the allegation, however, Rajiv Dhavan, senior advocate for the police officials, said the averment was not present in the pleadings and that the officials should get an opportunity to file a counter for the allegation.

Prabakaran further said that an invisible hand’ inspired the operation and directed the officials and their subordinates during the violence, and added, “the same invisible hand is now protecting all the personnel involved in the violence from criminal prosecution.” In this regard, he said that though grave injuries were inflicted upon many advocates, about 200 cars and two-wheelers were damaged and court halls were ransacked by the rampaging police force, not a single case has been registered against even a constable. “The invisible hand is protecting them. It is for this court to expose the nexus,” he said.

As for the police claim that they were forced to take action against an “unlawful assembly” of advocates, Prabakaran said it was natural for advocates to assemble in the court. “If that was unlawful assembly, then what made the police to chase down advocates and ransack their offices on NSC Bose Road, Thambu Chetty Street and Lingi Chetty Street?” he asked.

The then joint commissioner (Central) Sandeep Rai Rathore filed a counter, saying he was not involved in any of the decision-making process since he was not the jurisdictional officer. “No instruction was given to me to lathicharge the advocates, nor I gave any instructions in respect of the chasing or lathicharge of advocates,” he said.

Arguments will continue on Thursday.








HC orders ‘gurdwara owner’ to stop solemnising marriages


Posted: Thursday , Sep 10, 2009 at 0135 hrs Chandigarh:

To ensure that commercialisation of weddings is brought to an end in the city, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday ordered the owner of a “so-called” gurdwara to stop solemnising illegal marriages.

The owner, Gurmeet Singh, has been directed to give an undertaking to the court that in future he will not solemnise any marriage from his living room, which he had converted into a gurdwara. Singh has been given two weeks’ time to give the undertaking.

Justice L N Mittal was shocked to learn that Singh had installed Guru Granth Sahib in his living room, which he was using to exploit runaway couples and issue them marriage certificates.

Justice Mittal pointed out that such things are taking place with the help of advocates. Supporting the observation, senior standing counsel for UT Administration, advocate Anupam Gupta said: “It is a professional network. There is a racket for solemnising marriages in Chandigarh. Lawyers are exploiting runaway couples and charging commission from them.”

Expressing surprise over the modus operandi used by Singh, Justice Mittal said: “Can he run a gurdwara from his house and issue marriage certificates?”

Gupta, meanwhile, said Guru Granth Sahib can be installed for worship but not for solemnising marriages.

Singh not only used to get quick marriage certificates but also wedding clothes for the couples. The charges varied from Rs 4,000 to Rs 10,000, as per the demands of the runaway couples from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

The clientele of Singh, who originally belongs to Haryana, increased so rapidly that on an average, three to four petitions filed in the High Court by runaway couples carried marriage certificates issued by him.

The marriage certificates had come under the scanner of the High Court in November last year when it issued notices to the Chandigarh Administration directing it to find out whether this place is actually a gurdwara or a commercial shop turned into gurdwara.

Babla case: Complainant seeks transfer of Bail Plea hearing

Raising apprehensions of not getting a fair, impartial and speedy trial, Suraj Parkash Ahuja has filed an application in the UT district courts seeking transfer of the hearing on the anticipatory bail plea filed by Municipal Councillor Davinder Singh Babla.

At present, the case is pending at the court of UT District and Sessions Judge K K Garg.

Ahuja is the complainant in a case of alleged forgery against Babla. A resident of Panchkula, he has also questioned the bonafides of the proceedings under which Babla was granted interim bail by the sessions court.

“In this case, the due process for entertaining bail applications and hearing them have not been followed,” alleges the transfer application filed by Ahuja on Wednesday.

Ahuja said that Babla’s case had not appeared in the cause list of the cases listed on August 26 (when Babla was granted interim bail) and only later an entry by hand was made in the list. “Babla is accused of fraud and fabrication and misuse of authority as chairman of the market committee. It is a fit case, wherein it is expedient in the interest of justice that the case be transferred to some other court,” reads the application filed by Ahuja.

Ahuja also alleged that for the last two date of hearings, his application challenging the interim bail granted to Babla is not being heard as the judge concerned is on leave.

On August 19, the police had booked Babla and Rakesh Saini, president of the Arhtiya Association of the Sector-26 grain market, for allegedly allotting platforms in the market to 10 non-eligible persons.

According to the police, Ahuja, owner of shops 9-10 in the grain market had lodged a complaint alleging irregularities were committed during the auctioning and allotting of platforms on July 24.








HC registrar asks Surat lawyers to call off strike

Express News Service

Posted: Thursday , Sep 10, 2009 at 0059 hrs Surat:

Lawyers in Surat continued with their strike on Wednesday, with all the senior and junior advocates remaining outside the court building to press for their demand to transfer district judge RP Dholaria.

Senior and junior advocates remained present at the entry and exit gates of the court to ensure that not a single advocate enters the building. Only litigants and police personnel were allowed to enter the court premises.

Legal proceedings have come to a standstill with not even a single bail application hearing taking place since the last few weeks.

Gujarat High Court Registrar General P P Bhatt had sent a letter to the Surat court on Tuesday evening, requesting the Surat District Bar Association (SDBA) to call off the strike and clarifying the allegations made against Dholaria.

SDBA members have alleged that Dholaria had not invited SDBA president and secretary during the family court proceedings.

The advocates also claim that the district judge has a soft corner for Saurashtra advocates, a fact which has been proven by the bail applications.

They have also accused Dholaria of referring bail applications to other sessions judges in the court.

Surat District Bar Association In-charge President, Babu Rayka, said: “We have gone through the clarification given by the Gujarat High Court Registrar General, who, it seems, favours the district judge unduly instead of acting as a mediator.”

He added: “We are preparing a counter reply to these clarifications. We have not stopped any litigants or police officers from entering the court. Only advocates are not allowed to enter the court premises.”










BBMP violates HC orders

BBMP violates HC orders
Bangalore: Sep 9, DHNS:

Violating the High Court orders, the BBMP authorities are replacing the concrete structures removed from a park at Sanjayanagar here, following a direction way back in June 2009.

Following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by the residents of Sanjaynagar, the division bench comprising Chief Justice P D Dinakaran had on June 8, 2009 directed to remove the concrete structures below the 66 KV lines at Sanjaynagar opposite RMV Hospital.
The orders directing to remove concrete structures and play equipment for children, shifting of a gym and opening of a library were adhered to immediately.

However, now the order seems to be forgotten as the residents here are complaining that work has begun to remove the lawns and to replace it with concrete slabs. “We found that they had removed the lawns. It is a clear violation of the High Court order. We have learnt that they are planning to conconcretise this portion for a club. It is dangerous considering the electrical lines,” said a resident from the area.

Vijay Kumar, a local resident, said “Earlier, when we had asked the BBMP to remove the concrete structures as it was wrong as per rules to let people congregate under high tension wires, the BBMP officials had turned a blind eye inspite of requests from three local associations and more than 150 local residents. We had no other option but to go to the court to bring the order to get it cleared. But now following pressure from a local leader, BBMP officials are digging up a beautiful garden and destroying the serene view of the park,” he said.

posted by The Bangalorean @ 9/10/2009 03:46:00 AM









Govt to amend NHRC law to allow SC judge & CJ of HC to head it

Published: September 9,2009

New Delhi, Sep 9 The Centre today told the Delhi High Court that it is considering amending the law to allow a retired Judge of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice of High Court to head National Human Rihghts Commission which now can be chaired only by a retired Chief Justice of India.

Appearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice A P Shah, Additional Solicitor General A S Chandiok informed the court that the Centre was contemplating to bring an amendment in the Human Rights Act in view of difficulty in getting a retired CJI to head the Commission.

The government&aposs submission came on a PIL seeking a direction to it to appoint Chairperson of the Commission, a post which had lying vacant since since June after former Chief Justice of India S Rajendra Babu demitted the office after reaching superannuation.

The petition filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation claimed there are two retired Chief Justices of India eligible for the post but the government is reluctant to appoint them.

Source: PTI









Shopian Case: J and K High court grants bail to four cops

September 11th, 2009 SindhToday

Srinagar, Sep.11 (ANI): The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday granted bail to four policemen who were accused of having a role in the controversial Shopian murder case.

The policemen — Former Superintendent of Police of Shopian Javed Iqbal Mattoo, Deputy Superintendent of Police Rohit Baskota, Station House Officer Shopian Shafiq Ahmed and Sub-inspector Gazi Abdul Rehman — were released on payment of a bond of Rs.50, 000 each. The four had been accused of destroying evidence related to the case.

Last month, the Jammu and Kashmir Government had decided to hand over the controversial rape and murder case involving two women to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The State Cabinet unanimously took the decision hours after opposition parties created an uproar in the State Assembly alleging tampering of DNA test reports in the case.

Friday’s granting of bail came almost a month after the same court rejected an earlier bail plea.

The court had then rejected their plea under the Section 497 of CRPC (discretionary powers of the judge to grant bail or not).

The four had also moved a petition in the Supreme Court against the ruling of J and K High Court, to arrest these officers and also to collect blood samples to prepare the DNA mapping of these officers.

An apex court bench headed by the Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan had asked the Shopian sessions court to expeditiously consider the bail pleas.

During the hearing, the bench had said the High Court should have left it to the superior police officers to investigate the case and should have entitled the police officers to move for bail before the appropriate court.

The bench had also expressed surprise that only because of agitation the investigation was handed over to the Special Investigation Team (SIT).

The J and K High Court, hearing a Public Interest Litigation Petition (PIL) filed by J and K High Court Bar Association in connection with alleged rape and murder of Neelofar and Aasiya Jan in Shopian ordered for the arrest of four police officers who were suspended in the same the case. The court also ordered to constitute SIT and DNA mapping of these officers. (ANI)









NHRC seeks report from Haryana police in honour killing case


The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a report from the Haryana police in connection with an alleged case of honour killing of a young couple recently in Hisar district of the state.

The NHRC issued the notice to the state police chief and gave four weeks’ time to respond to it.

Sandeep (22) and Monica (16) were killed by unidentified persons and left hanging from a tree outside Subana village in Hisar district after they had eloped.

The commission took cognizance of the case on the basis of a complaint filed by a lawyer and social activist Parbir Kumar Das, who had sought its intervention to ensure that justice is done.

Media reports alleged that the parents of the young couple were against the duo’s relationship which was socially unacceptable because the couple belonged to the same village and were neighbours.

Five days before the couple was found dead, Monica’s family had lodged a complaint with the police claiming that Sandeep had abducted their minor daughter.








NHRC directs IGP to order probe against Gangireddy

Posted on Sep 11th, 2009 and filed under General.

BANGALORE: The State Human Rights Commission, which has responded positively to the request made by The Canara Times and Karavali Ale Chief BV Seetaram to investigate into the case of atrocities on a Dalit woman by the Belthangady Circle Inspector Gangireddy, has directed the Western Range IGP to order for a thorough probe into the case.
Consequent upon the publishing of a report in Karavali Ale dated August 15, under the heading “Charges of atrocities on Dalits and caste abuse against Belthangady inspector : Dalit assn complains to IGP,” BV Seetaram had in a letter addressed to the SHRC Chairman Justice SR Nayak, had drawn his attention towards the case.
It was earlier reported that the Belthangady Circle Inspector Gangireddy had not only abused a Dalit woman of Belthangady who had come to the station along with her son, to lodge a complaint against the land lord, but had even spoken in favour of the accused.
The SHRC Chairman has now voluntarily directed the IGP to order for a probe into this case.
The Commission has also directed the IGP to submit his report within the next two months.







Tehsildar case: Bains, 6 others denied bail

Rajneesh Lakhanpal,

Ludhiana, September 10
Additional Sessions Judge Munish Singal today refused bail to Akali youth wing president and councillor Simarjit Singh Bains, prime accused in stripping and assault on tehsildar GS Benipal.

Six co-accused Gurpreet Singh, Sarabjit Singh, Jaspreet Singh, alias Sahil, 
Roopinder Singh, alias Honey, Satnam Singh and Jasbir Singh, alias Jassa, were also denied bail.

Disallowing their bail pleas, the judge said : “The investigation is in progress and many of the accused are yet to be arrested and if the accused persons are released on bail they may hamper the investigation and influence the witnesses”.

Perusal of earlier complaints of the tehsildar makes it clear he (tehsildar) was many times forced by these councillors (Bains and Karwal) to do illegal registries and on refusal they had threatened to kill him. In those complaints, the complainant had even sought police protection, says the court.

“It is matter of record Bains is facing trial in four criminal cases. The allegations , the two councillors instigated the public in furtherance of their illegal acts with the intention to kill the complainant are very serious in nature. The councillors are custodians of law and the public look up to them for protection of their rights and development of the city,” remarked the court.



Bittu’s remand extended
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, September 10
Chief Judicial Magistrate Lachmman Singh today extended police remand of Daljit Singh Bittu, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani) for a day. The court also extended police remand of co-accused Jaspal Singh Manjpur, spokesman for the party, Palwinder Singh Shatrana and Gurdeep Singh Raju for a day.

Additional Public Prosecutor Sukhchain Singh had sought extension of their police remand pleading they wanted to know the identity of persons funding the accused for reviving militancy.

Meanwhile, supporters of the accused persons blocked the Ferozepur road for an hour. They lift the dharna only after SDM Prem Chand received a memorandum from them.



Murder of DGP’s Father
2-day police remand for NRI
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 10
Indian-born Canadian citizen Jagdev Singh, who faces charges of murdering former MLA Nachattar Singh Gill, the father of Paramdip Singh Gill, DGP, was sent to two-day police remand by a local court in a case of corruption registered against him a few days ago.

He had surrendered before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Karunesh Kumar Kakkar on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday.

The police demanded a seven-day remand of the NRI for further investigations.

Assistant Public Prosecutor Lakhvir Singh argued the NRI’s custodial interrogation was necessary so as to find out modus operandi of the corrupt practice adopted by him to procure police clearance certificate for getting Canadian citizenship.

Defence counsel Ramesh Grover pleaded before the court that the contents of the FIR registered under Sections 7, 13 (2) and 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act-1988 against his client were almost the same as in the previous FIR registered against him on August 4 under Sections 419, 420, 465, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC.

“He has already remained in police custody for 12 days in the previous FIR and there seems to be no need of police custody in the fresh FIR as the police has nothing to recover from him accept for verifying the documental evidences,” 
he added.

However, the court passed directions to the police to take the NRI to the bhog of his mother on Friday from 12 noon to 4 pm for four hours.



SHO, 2 others get life term 
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 10
After 12 years of trial, the district and sessions court of Faridkot today sentenced SHO of Kotkapura and two other persons to life imprisonment for burning a woman dancer to death.

SHO Hardip Singh, who was then ASI, along with his colleague ASI Gurcharan Singh (retd) and a local businessman Subash Chander murdered 18-year-old dancer Jaswinder Kaur by burning her to death on June 14, 1997. 

Gopal Singh, the father of the dancer, had alleged DSP Gurmail Singh, Hardip, Gurcharan and Subash came to his house with the intension of developing physical relations with his daughter, but she refused. They poured kerosene on her and burnt her. She died at a government hospital. 

Gopal’s younger daughter recorded her testimony before the court against the accused. DSP Gurmail Singh was acquitted of the charges in the absence of any solid evidence against him.









HC comes to 4 minor sisters’ rescue

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
A “murdered” mother, a “murderer” father and sold-off land! Things could have been worse for four minor girls, but for the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which has come out with an ingenious order.

Deploying the law as a leverage to bring about collective justice for the hapless girls, Justice Surya Kant of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Kurukshetra Deputy Commissioner “to evolve some mechanism to ensure crops are timely sown (on the land), looked after and harvested, as the crops alone are the source of maintenance for the minor girls”.

“If the petitioners (land purchasers) show any reluctance against the sowing, the land can be auctioned on a yearly contract basis and the auction proceedings be deposited in the trial court for disbursement to the girls”.

From the perusal of the petition and the previous orders, it transpires FIR number 173 for the murder of their mother was registered under Sections 302 and 120-B of the IPC on December 29, 2003, at the Ismailabad police station; and the father is confined to jail.

The minors moved an application for maintenance, and for the attachment of land owned by their father. Directions were also sought to restrain the father from alienating the land. The civil court, on February 8, 2005, permitted father Joginder Singh to alienate the suit property, subject to the condition that the maintenance of his daughters “will be the first charge on the suit property”. The civil court also passed orders granting Rs 3,000 per month to the four minor daughters out of their father’s property income. But not even a single penny was paid.

Joginder Singh sold the suit property to Manjit Singh from whom the petitioners claimed they purchased the land. The petitioners, Vijay Kumari and two others of Pehowa, then moved the court for setting aside the orders dated March 3, for attaching the property.

Before parting with the order, Justice Surya Kant also directed “the sale proceeds of the crop harvested may be disbursed to the minor girls by the civil court”.








Lawyer fined for filing ‘baseless’ suits

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
The Punjab & Haryana High Court has, perhaps for the first time, held a lawyer accountable for filing “frivolous” litigations. Imposing a cost of Rs 20,000 on the lawyer, Justice Mahesh Grover said: “Counsels are expected to play a more responsible role and cannot be permitted to file baseless petitions, which are not in consonance with the provisions of law and procedure. They are supposed to be trained persons with adequate legal acumen, which should be reflected in the pleadings and the remedy availed, and not show ignorance and stubborn indifference to the procedure”.

Taking up a petition filed by city resident Kewal Krishan Sharma, Grover observed: “Two similar petitions filed by the same person and through the same counsel with the same prayer had come up earlier, both of which were dismissed as withdrawn. This court on an earlier occasion had also specifically put a question to the petitioner as to how the petition, filed under provisions of section 482 of the CrPC, was maintainable for quashing a notification (on section 506 of the IPC, relating to criminal intimidation being a cognizable offence)”.

“Now the petitioner has once again filed a criminal writ petition with a similar prayer seeking quashing of an FIR and of a notification. The case has been called twice but no one was present on behalf of the petitioner. Obviously, the petition is frivolous and has resulted in sheer wastage of the court’s time…The petition is dismissed with costs of Rs 20,000, which shall be recovered from the counsel who filed it”.

He added the costs recovered shall be deposited with the state legal services authority and the UT chief judicial magistrate shall ensure compliance.

In his petition Sharma had sought the quashing of FIR filed on February 5 last year under sections 504 & 506 of the IPC at Thanesar police station in Kurukshetra. Directions were further sought for quashing the Haryana government gazette notification dated September 23, 1986 wherein section 506 of the IPC was made a cognizable offence in the state.









BA in law on anvil, says Sibal

R Sedhuraman
Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 10
Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal today said his ministry was considering proposals for introducing new law courses such as BA in law, besides offering it along with medicine and engineering courses.

The HRD ministry had set up a committee to consider these proposals and its report was expected soon, Sibal told reporters at the Supreme Court complex.

While the BA law course would be like any other three-year graduation degree, the inter-disciplinary law course would be made part of the syllabi for the four-year engineering or five-year medical degrees, he said.

The proposals would be part of the ongoing educational reforms. Acknowledging that vested interests were trying to prevent legal reforms, he said since such courses were not intended for those who wanted to practise law he did not anticipate any resistance.









Contempt notice


New Delhi, Sept. 10: The Supreme Court has issued contempt notice to an 87-year-old for accusing several sitting and retired judges of corruption in a case of financial dispute stretching back decades.

“Punish me if I am lying. But please inquire into what I am saying,” Nirmaljit Singh Hoon, owner of Singapore-based Hungerford, an investment trust, yesterday told a three-judge bench headed by Justice B.N. Aggarwal.

Hoon has been battling court cases since 1945 for the ownership of Turner Morrison Conglomerate Limited.

He claims he won the case right up till the Supreme Court but was defrauded with the “active connivance” of several judges, including a sitting Supreme Court judge.









HC push for pandal rules


The high court on Thursday junked the fire department’s permission to a Kasba puja and asked the government to frame a fresh guideline for road-hog pandals by September 15.

The new guideline, Justice Sanjib Banerjee pointed out, should factor in inputs from all “agencies concerned”, such as the fire department, police, civic authorities and CESC.

The judge, after cancelling the permission to Kasba RK Chatterjee Road Adhibasi Brinda Durgotsab Committee, asked the director-general of the fire services to “inspect the pandal thoroughly” and decide afresh whether the puja could be allowed.

The court glare and a sustained campaign by Metro against road-hog pandals jolted cops out of their slumber, with officers from Maniktala police station forcing 14 Palli Sadharan Durgotsab in Maniktala to leave 4 feet free.

The pandal, as reported in Metro on September 9, blocked an arm of Maniktala Main Road next to the Bagmari flyover. “We inspected the pandal on the basis of the report and asked the organisers to leave 6 feet open,” said an officer of the police station. “We are carrying out the order,” Ajoy Ghosh, a puja committee member, said on Thursday night.

Justice Banerjee’s order followed a report by special officer Rishav Medora that the Kasba organisers had not left 4 feet of the road free, as mandated by the fire department (the original requirement of 6 feet was modified).

Medora told the court on Wednesday that the gap between the pandal and the nearest house on one side of the road — that of petitioner Ishita Chakraborty, who had dragged the puja organisers to court for alleged violation of rules — was about 3 feet. The gap with the nearest house on the other side was just 6 inches.

A day before Medora’s submission, the fire department had informed the judge that the Kasba puja had abided by its norm of leaving 4 feet space.

Fire services director-general Gopal Bhattacharya, present in the court along with advocate-general Balai Ray, was silent when the judge asked what had prompted his department to give the go-ahead to the Kasba puja though it was violating its norms.

Earlier, Bhattacharya’s lawyer said: “My client was asked by the court to inquire whether 4 feet had been spared beside the petitioner’s house. The fire service did not consider the other side of the pandal as there was no complaint from the other residents.”

The judge shot back: “That does not mean the government will not look into the matter….”

The judge then said: “Durga puja is a national festival and should be performed smoothly. We have to consider the public sentiment… but at the same time the government will have to ensure safety, security and right to free movement of the common people…. Permission should be granted only after ensuring that the organisers are abiding by all norms.”

The need for a fresh guideline has been highlighted by the case of the Kasba puja, with loopholes in norms and permissions.

Thursday’s court ruling was followed by a meeting of all deputy commissioners of police to discuss ways to ensure that pandals do not flout the road rules.

“We have made it clear to all organisers that they cannot erect pandals in violation of the court order. We will keep a close eye on all pandals,” said joint commissioner (headquarters) Jawed Shamim.






Batla and Ishrat

The Indian Express

Posted: Friday , Sep 11, 2009 at 0408 hrs

The Union law ministry’s reported decision to initiate action against a law officer who filed the Centre’s affidavit in the Ishrat Jahan case reeks of the kind of politics that is irresponsible and has the potential to communalise the UPA government’s policy on tackling terrorism. In the Gujarat high court, the Centre had filed an affidavit agreeing with the state police that Ishrat and her three accomplices had links to the Lashkar-e-Toiba. But the case has since acquired political overtones, with Law Minister Moily more or less agreeing with a magistrate’s report — which has since been stayed by the high court — claiming that the encounter was staged. Now, even though the home ministry stands by the affidavit, Moily’s law ministry has begun action against Assistant Solicitor General P.S. Chamapaneri for failure to apprise the ministry of the contents of the affidavit submitted by the home ministry.

This amounts to political opportunism by the Centre, a craven disregard for the sanctity of intelligence inputs. As the Union home secretary has pointed out, the affidavit only stated that the Intelligence Bureau believed that those killed were terror suspects; it had no view on the genuineness of the encounter. But the law ministry has other ideas. By trying to discredit the Centre’s own affidavit, it risks choosing politics over national security. The practice of killings-for-awards violates the due process that our legal system affords everybody, even those accused of terrorism. If found guilty, the sternest action must be taken against the state police officials involved. But by making this is a Modi versus UPA brawl, sending out conflicting signals, and trying to discredit a neutral input given to the Gujarat state police, the Centre is putting at risk the kind of intelligence sharing that counter-terrorism so badly requires.

The flip flops by assorted Congressmen over the Batla House encounter in Delhi in September 2008 had created political confusion, which was only quelled by the Centre’s more coherent post-26/11 strategy. Now, to have the spectacle of two key ministries in disagreement, with one of them clearly showing that its focus is more political than procedural, against raises disturbing questions.







Wearing belt below waist: HC asks school to lift suspension of student


Posted: Friday , Sep 11, 2009 at 1926 hrs New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court on Friday asked a school to allow a minor child, who was suspended by the school authority for allegedly wearing uniform belt below the waist, to return to the class from Monday.

A Division Bench of Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Reva Khetrapal said this type of issue should not come to the court and directed the Mount Carmel school to accept the apology tendered by the father of the 13 year-old boy for violating the school dress code.

The Court said the boy’s father in the apology assured that his son would not repeat the mistake and the school should allow the boy to continue his class from Monday.

The Bench was hearing a petition filed by the boy seeking quashing of the suspension order saying such an action by school is violative of the fundamental right of the boy.

On July 27, the school management suspended the boy for a month and later extended the suspension indefinitely.

Appearing for the school, its counsel Ashok Aggarwal admitted the Delhi Education Act did not give power to the school to take such an action.






SC questions prohibition on Muslim students sporting beard

Agencies Posted: Friday , Sep 11, 2009 at 1858 hrs New Delhi:

Questioning the logic that prohibited Muslim students from sporting beards, the Supreme Court on Friday directed Nirmala Convent High School in Madhya Pradesh to reinstate Mohd Salim, a 10th Class student, sacked after he refused to shave insisting it was part of his religious belief.

“Merely because you have a beard, they removed you? So if you are a Sikh, you will not be able to sport a beard.

Tommorrow they will say you are not fair complexioned.

“Nowadays, it has become a fashion for some people to pierce their ears for putting the ring. So such persons will not be allowed to study?”, a bench of Justices B N Aggrawal and G S Singhvi said, issuing notice to the missionary school authorities on Salim’s fresh petition.

The direction and remarks by the bench assume significance as this is the third time the issue has cropped up before the apex court and an earlier bench had dismissed the student’s plea with the controversial observation by Justice Markandeya Katju that the country cannot be “Talibanised.”

Salim had subsequently filed a review petition objecting to the observations and expressed apprehension over Justice Katju’s impartiaility, forcing the bench headed by Justice R V Raveendran to recuse (withdraw) and request the Chief Justice of India to refer the matter to another bench.

Salim’s fresh Special Leave Petition (SLP) was taken up formally today by the bench of Justice Aggrawal and Justice Singhvi.

Puri said almost USD six billion private equity fund was also likely to come in the six to eight months time to the domestic real estate market.

“Private equity funds which have raised the money from the Indian market and the management are Indian and also those which might have raised fund outside are now investing in the Indian market,” Puri said.

However, he said private equity funds raised overseas and managed by non-Indians are still not coming into the Indian real estate market.

Puri, meanwhile, cautioned that the price of the residential properties should not go up drastically as the industry was still on the thin ice.

“A minor 5-10 per cent hike is fine, but anything beyond that will take away the confidence from the consumers,” Puri said.

The court had also said if the student was not interested in following the rules, then he has the option of joining some other institution.

“You can join some other institution if you do not want to observe the rules. But you can’t ask the school to change the rules for you,” Justice Katju had said.

Appearing for the student, senior advocate B A Khan had, during the arguments, said Article 25 of the Constitution guaranteed protection to Salim to pursue his religious practice of keeping beard and the regulation providing for shaving it was violative of this provision.

He said the act of the principal to force the student to leave the school for keeping beard was against “his religious conscience, belief and custom of his family”.

Pointing out that Sikh community members were allowed to keep a beard and sport a turban, Salim alleged there was a clear discrimination by the school to force him to be clean shaven and this rule was violative of his fundamental right.







HC orders expunction of adverse remarks by trial court

Agencies Posted: Friday , Sep 11, 2009 at 1630 hrs Allahabad:

The Allahabad High Court, which acquitted Moninder Singh Pandher for want of evidence in a Nithari killings case on Friday, also ordered expunction of adverse remarks made by the trial court against the counsel for the CBI and two of the prime witnesses whereby “impartiality” of the probe agency was “impeached”.

“The Sessions Judge, before reckoning with the incriminating circumstances against Pandher, had made certain observations which in fact have the complexion of adverse remarks against the Investigating Officer, the Magistrate (who recorded the confessions), and the counsel for the CBI,” a Division Bench comprising Justice Imtiyaz Murtaza and Justice Kashi Nath Pandey noted.

“We may sum up that the Sessions Judge was harsh in criticizing the conduct of the witnesses and the counsel for the CBI. In our view, the comment and criticism was neither called for nor justified as there is nothing on record to show that the witnesses were helping Pandher and therefore it will be too much to impute motive to the witnesses,” the court said.

The observations came in the wake of certain remarks in the judgement of Addl Sessions Judge/Special Judge (Anti Corruption) UP, Ghaziabad, on February 12, 2009.






Land laws are anti-woman but we can’t set it aside: Delhi HC

Agencies Posted: Friday , Sep 11, 2009 at 1835 hrs New Delhi:

Can a law which violates the fundamental right of non-discrimination on the basis of sex be valid? The Delhi High Court says ‘yes’ but expressed its inability to quash it as the law has been put beyond judicial scrutiny under ninth schedule of the Constitution.

A Bench of Justices B D Ahmed and Veena Birbal found the provision of Delhi Land Reforms Act of 1954, which says the property would be first devolved to male lineal descendants and the female would be given property only when there is no male descendants, as discriminatory but refused to set it aside saying its hands are tied.

“The said Act in as much as it is heavily loaded in favour of male descendants of a bhumidhar and this may appear to unfairly prejudice the rights of women and may be construed as discrimination against them solely on the ground of sex but in the wake of the Constitutional provisions as interpreted by the Supreme Court, this court’s hands are tied,” the bench said.

The court made the remarks on a petition filed by a widow and her daughter challenging the constitutional validity of Section 50(a) of the Act which deprived them rights over the property of her husband and father.

The laws which have been put under the ninth Scheduled of the Constitution before 1973 cannot be challenged in courts on the ground that it violates basic structure of the Constitution as the theory of “Basic Structure” was propounded by the Supreme Court in that year.







Judge seeks advice on separate trial

Express News Service Posted: Friday , Sep 11, 2009 at 0057 hrs Ahmedabad:

Disagreeing with the order of a Sessions Judge to try Muslims and Hindus separately in a 2002 post-Godhra riot case, Additional Sessions Judge R H Sharma on Thursday wrote to the Gujarat High Court to guide him as to how to proceed in the case. The case is listed for trial in Sharma’s court.

Acting on an application filed by Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) Rekha Trivedi, Sessions Judge P R Patel had in April this year ordered to file two separate chargesheets for Hindu and Muslim accused.

On March 30, 2002, two persons — one Hindu and one Muslim — were killed in a communal violence in the Gomtipur area of Ahmedabad. In this connection, the police had arrested 44 people, of which 13 were Hindus and 31 Muslims. The police had filed a single chargesheet against all the accused. One of the accused is former BJP MLA from Shaherkotda, Jitu Vaghela.

In her application requesting separate trials, APP Trivedi had stated that since the two groups had formed unlawful assembly separately to fulfill their common objective, they cannot be tried jointly. While defence counsel of the Hindu accused did not object to the application, the lawyer of the Muslim accused, Asmita Palkhiwala, had called the application politically motivated and opposed it since the court had even started examining the witnesses.

However, Judge Patel had granted APP’s prayer and ordered to file two separate chargesheets for the Hindu and the Muslim accused and ordered to trial them separately as well. The case subsequently came to judge Sharma for trial. But disagreeing with Patel’s order, he wrote a letter to the High Court.

According to Palkhiwala, judge Sharma has sought to know as to under which legal provision the order was passed since the court had already framed charges against all the accused jointly and had even started examining the witnesses and that these procedures were not set aside before passing the order.

Palkhiwala said that in case of two separate chargesheets, how will the court divide the witnesses for the two, as there were common witnesses in the case.







Shiney’s bail rejected for the second time

Mumbai, Sept 11 (Agencies):

A sessions court in Mumbai on Friday rejected for the second time the bail plea of Bollywood actor Shiney Ahuja, arrested for allegedly raping his domestic maid at his residence in suburban Oshiwara.
The court rejected Ahuja’s bail on the grounds that it is a “serious offence” and there is a prima facie evidence against him. Earlier, the court had rejected his bail plea on July 8 on the same grounds.

The 36-year-old actor had filed for a bail for the second time on September 5 after the city police filed its chargesheet against him.

The actor’s bail plea, which was pending before a Mumbai sessions court, had been transferred to a fast track court last month, said his lawyer Shrikant Shivade.
Shiney has been accused of raping his domestic help at his Andheri West home June 14.
The charges against the actor will be framed Sep 23 before fast track court judge S.R. Trivedi, Shivade said.
After the charges are framed, the trial – in which the prosecution would examine around two dozen witnesses – shall commence on a regular day-to-day basis by month-end.

The prosecution does not intend to examine all the witnesses who are lined up and it expects the trial to be completed within two weeks, according to a prosecution lawyer.

Shiney, who will continue in judicial custody at the Arthur Road Jail, faces a minimum seven-year jail sentence if the charges against him are proved in court.







Law panel suggests ways to cut pending cases

New Delhi, Sep 11, DH News Service:

The Law Commission has submitted suggestions to the government for initiating steps to reduce the 3.1 crore pending court cases in the country.

Commission chairman A R Lakshmanan said, “There must be full utilisation of the court working hours. The judges must be punctual and lawyers must not be asking for adjournments, unless it is absolutely necessary.”

Grant of adjournment

In its report submitted to Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily, the commission said grant of adjournment must be guided strictly by the provisions of Order 17 of the Civil Procedure Code and unnecessary adjournments should be avoided.

Many cases are filed on similar points and one judgment can decide a large number of cases. Such cases should be clubbed with the help of technology and used to dispose of other such cases on a priority basis; this will substantially reduce the arrears, said the commission.

Another vital suggestion is that vacations in the higher judiciary should be reduced by at least 10 to 15 days and the working hours should be extended by another 30 minutes.

The strike by the lawyers in any place should be banned in accordance with the ruling by the apex court in Harish Uppal (ex-Capt.) vs Union of India case.

With regard to time management in the courts during the arguments, the Commission said oral arguments should be curtailed to one-and-a-half hours and lawyers should be asked to give written submissions rather than wasting time in repetitive arguments.

10-year jail for negligent driving

The Law Commission has recommended to the government to enhance the punishment from two years to ten years for culprits causing death due to negligent driving on roads, reports DHNS from New Delhi.

In its recent report, Commission chairman Justice A R Lakshmanan said Section 304A of the IPC should be amended to make the offence of rash and negligent driving punishable with a maximum of ten years’ imprisonment, instead of two years.

“It has also been recommended that anyone causing the death of any person by driving under the influence of drinks or drugs should be punishable with a minimum term of two years’ imprisonment. We have also recommended various other legal measures to combat road accidents,” said Lakshmanan. The report submitted to Minister Veerappa Moily said more than 100,000 Indians were dying every year in road accidents and at least a million injured or maimed. The Commission said it was probably due to lack of proper provisions in the law that travel through Indian roads had become a tryst with death.







HC order on law school reservation

Bangalore, Sep 10, DHNS:

The High Court has observed that the benefits of Schedule Caste (SC) and Schedule Tribe (ST) cannot be extended to candidates from other states by ignoring presidential orders issued in relation to Karnataka State.

The petitioner, Lokesh representing his minor daughter Preethi, of Mangalore has moved the High Court, challenging the denial of admission to National Law School of India University (NlSIU) in the City. He has also sought to quash the second provision list of selected candidates of selected Law Universities in Karnataka, Kerala and Gujarat.

The petitioner’s daughter, who  had appeared for Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) and had secured 3,288th rank in merit and in category she had scored 54th rank. While she preferred NLSIU as first preference, National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi and National Law University,(NLU) Gujarat as second and third option. preference.

Hailing from Mundala community, she is categorised as SC as per President’s order of reservation list for the State dated 10, August, 1950. After the results were announced on June 15, 2009, she was allotted seat at NUALS Kerala, but was denied admission stating that she does not belong to SC community in Kerala.
On June 29, 2009, the provisional list allotted her a seat in NLU, despite her request for NLSIU, while students from other states were considered in her category.
Counsel for petitioner contended that an SC candidate migrating from original place to other place is not entitled for the same benefit.

Justice B S Patil allowing the petition partially has said that NLSIU cannot extend the benefits to students of other state by ignoring the President’s order issued in 1950 in relation to Karnataka State.

The institutes have been directed to admit the petitioner’s daughter after considering her eligibility and without disturbing admission of others.






SC/ST Act brings little relief to victims, say Dalit activists

Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: Dalit activists attending a State-level dialogue on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, here on Wednesday suggested several amendments to the Rules of 1995 framed under the legislation to ensure a prompt and fair probe into crimes against Dalits and render speedy justice to the victims of persecution.

Speakers at the dialogue, organised by the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights and other Dalit groups, expressed concern over the abysmally low conviction rate under the SC/ST Act and noted that no change in the condition of Dalits had been witnessed during the past 20 years of the statute being in force primarily due to its “weak implementation”.

The participants demanded that all offences under the Act be declared non-bailable and a statutory provision be made for time-bound investigation into the cases without any interference by the dominant castes, besides strict compliance with the rule to hold regular meetings of district-level vigilance and monitoring committees.

National Dalit Movement for Justice general secretary SDJM Prasad said though 3,000 cases were registered under the SC/ST Act in 2005 and 3,950 in 2006, none of them was accompanied by charges under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, which deals with untouchability. Besides, the provision for giving immediate compensation from a separate fund in the registered cases of Dalit atrocities is generally not complied with.

Centre for Dalit Rights chairperson R. K. Ankodia regretted that dignity of life and equal opportunities were not available to Dalits even after the enactment of the SC/ST Act “because of the anti-Dalit mind-set of those responsible for its implementation”.

Justice I. S. Israni, former judge of the Rajasthan High Court, said the senior police officers who should themselves go to the scene of offences under the Act for investigations, often send their subordinates: “This practice leads to shoddy probe and weakens the cases in the court, which gives the benefit of doubt to the accused.”

Supreme Court lawyer P. L. Mimroth said police investigations into offences against Dalits were heavily influenced by the perpetrators of atrocities belonging to higher castes, while the victims were intimidated and forced to withdraw their complaints.

The activists said the police should be instructed to register FIR under correct sections of the Act and extend protection to the Dalit victims and witnesses. The investigating agencies should also apprise the complainants of the progress in the case, filing of charge-sheet and trial in the court.

Former MP Than Singh, People’s Union for Civil Liberties State president Prem Krishna Sharma, Kathumar MLA Babulal Bairwa and educationist M.C. Khandela also addressed the dialogue.






Dowry case: George Chakravarthy remanded

Staff Reporter

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Fourth Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court on Thursday sent Baru Chakravarthy alias George, who is accused of torturing his wife Madhurima for dowry, to 14 days judicial remand.

In a related development, the Family Court also ordered the accused to pay maintenance of Rs.10,000 a month to his wife. Half of the amount was towards medical expenses and the remaining towards maintenance.

Parents to be held

Police Commissioner N. Sambasiva Rao said that the whereabouts of the parents of George Chakravarthy have been found out and they will soon be arrested.

George Chakravarthy had allegedly tortured his wife Madhurima for dowry and drove her to the verge of death.

He had surrendered to the police on Wednesday.

“They were aware of their son’s first marriage but had concealed the fact from Madhurima’s parents and hence they will be arrested,” Mr. Sambasiva Rao said in an interaction with the media on Thursday.

Property offences

Referring to the growing property offences in the city, he said that the offences seem to be committed by the same gang.

The police have some definite clues and the accused would soon be arrested, he said.

The Police Commissioner appealed to people going out of the city on tour to write the date of going on tour, date of return, address and their phone numbers on a piece of paper and keep it in a sealed cover.

The sealed cover should be handed over to the Station House Officer at the police station concerned so that extra vigil could be kept at their house.







Court seeks correct value of seized forest produce

Kochi: The High Court on Thursday directed the Chief Conservator of Forests to issue appropriate directions to all the forest rangers that in cases involving forest offences appropriate market value of the forest produce seized should be shown in the relevant records.

Justice K.T. Sankaran passed the direction while dismissing a bail petition of two persons arrested in connection with a forest crime. The court pointed out that in many forest cases the valuation given by forest officers for the seized produces was very low.

The purpose for giving such value was not known. It was a matter to be looked into by the government and the Forest Department.

The correct valuation of produces seized was necessary for proper disposal of cases.

Statutory appeals

A full Bench on Thursday held that while disposing of statutory appeals and revisions, the decision need not be taken by the official who had earlier heard the matters.

The Bench comprising Justice K. Balakrishnan Nair, V.Giri and Justice C.T. Ravikumar said that in fact, such decisions were taken in accordance with the Rules of Business.

The order might be signed by secretary or additional secretary or joint secretary or deputy secretary or under secretary in the matter. But the decision might not be taken by the officer who signed it.

The principle of natural justice could not be invoked in such matters.

Marad appeal admitted

The court on Thursday admitted a criminal revision petition filed by Shymala, mother of two victims in the Marad massacre case, against the acquittal of 73 accused persons by the Kozhikode Additional Sessions Court (Special).

She also pleaded that death sentence be given to 63 persons who were found guilty by the session court.

According to her, the sentenced imposed on the accused were not severe.







Court order to stop quarrying

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Thursday ordered that quarrying activities on the areas near the Mukkunni Mala which was used for giving training in shooting to defence forces and the police be stopped forthwith. Justice P.N. Raveendran directed the Thiruvananthapuram Collector to ensure that the order was implemented in its letter and spirit. The order came on writ a petition filed by the Union government and Station Commander, Army Station, Thiruvananthapuram.






Court orders bus owner to compensate accident victim

Staff Reporter

He was thrown out when the driver suddenly applied brakes

PUDUCHERRY: Second Additional District Judge E.M.K.S. Siddharthar on Tuesday ordered the owner of a private bus to pay a compensation of Rs.2,21,000 to the victim of a road accident.

T. Dharmaraj (55) of Shanmugapuram had filed a petition under the Motor Vehicles Act, seeking compensation from the bus owner and United India Insurance, for injuries sustained in the accident in May 2003.

Dharmaraj, who was standing inside the bus while travelling from Shanmungapuram to Vazhudavur, was thrown out when the driver suddenly applied the brakes. One of the rear wheels of the bus ran over his right thigh, which had to be amputated.

Dismissing the petitioner’s claim for compensation from the insurance company, the judge ruled that the bus owner must compensate for the disability, loss of income and mental agony suffered by the petitioner, caused by rash and negligent driving.






HC seeks reasons for denial of visa to Israeli

Swati Deshpande, TNN 11 September 2009, 01:53am IST

MUMBAI: An Israeli businessman, denied a visa extension three years after he sought one, got a reprieve of sorts on Thursday when the Bombay high court directed the authorities not to put him in custody and sought reasons for the denial from the ministry of home affairs.

A bench, headed by Justice Bilal Nazki, after hearing Israeli national Hillel Shapira’s counsel Ram Jethmalani, said he should not be confined to Pune or Mumbai. Jethmalani expressed outrage over the government’s actions in denying the 50-year-old “legitimate resident” a visa extension without giving him any reason or hearing him.

He said even a foreigner was entitled to protection under the right to life and equality under the Constitution but here was a case where the authorities were taking away the “livelihood” of a man they “had invited and allowed to set up business in 1996”.

Jethmalani said the authorities’ earlier stand that the foreigner, who ran a health food business in Pune, earned less and paid less tax was most “irresponsible”. He said the visa denial and deportation order, which came in 2009 though the extension application was made “responsibly well before the visa was to expire in June 2006”, was “wholly without any authority of law”. He was kept in inhuman conditions and even had to shell out money for being allowed “to use a toilet”, Jethmalani said.

Darius Khambata, additional solicitor-general, said he would point to Supreme Court rulings which said there was no need to give him a hearing. He said the government had “unfettered right” to decide but promised to return any amount the Israeli was made to pay for his bowel movements.

The court had earlier directed the state and the ministry of home affairs to file detailed affidavits. The state did but the Union ministry is yet to do so.







CBI to submit another report on adoption centre

Swati Deshpande, TNN 11 September 2009, 01:54am IST

MUMBAI: The CBI on Thursday informed the Bombay high court that its earlier inquiries and reports against Pune-based adoption agency Preet Mandir were “incomplete” and that it would submit a report after another probe.

The court is hearing the matter following allegations of irregularities and illegalities committed by Preet Mandir in inter-country adoptions.

Two petitions were filed on the basis of some sting operations; one was filed by Advait Foundation and the other by voluntary group Sakhi and activist Anjali Kate in 2006. The court in 2007 stayed the inter-country adoption activities of Preet Mandir and ordered a CBI inquiry against them. The stay was lifted after the CBI submitted its report.

Darius Khambata, the new additional solicitor-general, said he would take a fresh look at the issue when the matter comes up for hearing. He represents the central government and its organisations.

Khambata told the court on Thursday that the CBI inquiry was not complete and it planned to submit another report. A bench headed by Justice Bilal Nazki said this only meant that the agency “took the court for a ride earlier” as the court orders were based on the CBI reports. He also asked for action against the CBI officer who submitted the report and was told that he had since opted for a voluntary retirement. “Find him,” shot back Justice Nazki.

The CBI admission comes well after its earlier reports, which found nothing wrong with Preet Mandir.

Preet Mandir had been consistently denying that it committed any illegalities in adoption procedures. Advait Foundation counsel Jamshed Mistry said its stand was now being vindicated.







Flouted SC guidelines on building safety and exits

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 11 September 2009, 05:29am IST

NEW DELHI: Be it buses or buildings, schools and governments continue to breach the Supreme Court guidelines on safety of children often resulting in the death of innocent, like the incident that happened in a government school in Delhi on Thursday.

Five girls died of suffocation and head injuries as they got caught in a rumour-engineered stampede in a government school in north-east Delhi. Chief minister Shiela Dikshit has ordered a high-level inquiry into the stampede.

But, not only Delhi but other state governments as well appear to have paid scant regard to the apex court’s April 13, 2009 judgment laying down guidelines for fire-safety measures in schools, which should have buildings that are safe for children.

The tragedy at the Delhi school could have been avoided if the government had taken note of an SC judgment mandating implementation of the National Building Code of India (NBCI), 2005, that envisaged spacious entry and exits for safe evacuation of children during emergencies in schools.

The guidelines came as the SC was apalled by lack of safety measures in government schools, a primary factor that had resulted in several accidents in the past — the tragedies at schools in Kumbakonam and Dabwali where hundreds of children were killed in fires.

If the flouting of SC’s guidelines relating to safety of children in school buses had resulted in several tragedies in the past, many more are waiting to happen as the authorities have turned a blind eye to the 2009 ruling of the SC holding that students had a fundamental right to education in a “safe” building.

“Majority of the schools do not have emergency exits,” a Bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and L S Panta had said while giving the judgment on a PIL filed by one Avinash Mehrotra.

While detailing the fire safety measures that needed to be installed in all schools, the SC had also given a fair stress on school buildings adhering to the National Building Code of India (NBCI), 2005.

It had focused on wide staircases in schools. “The staircases, which act as exits or escape route shall adhere to the provisions specified in NBCI to ensure quick evacuation of children,” it had said, adding, “The size of the main exit and classroom doors shall be enlarged if found inadequate.”

It had rested hope on the state governments, which showed enthusiasm and egged on the SC to issue directions. It had recorded: “States have also expressed enthusiasm for reforms and some have asked this court expressly for directions.” It all stands belied right in the national Capital.







HC: Experience over degree for school job

TNN 11 September 2009, 05:31am IST

NEW DELHIi: The Delhi High Court has said that the experience of an applicant should be counted over qualification during selection as physical education teacher. The high court on Thursday directed the Centre to appoint a former Indian Air Force man for the post of physical education teacher (PET) in Kendriya Vidyalaya within a month after considering his 20 years experience in the force as equivalent qualification.

Giving preference to experience over qualification, a division bench of Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Reva Khetrapal set aside an order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) upholding the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan’s decision rejecting the application filed by Girish Ahuja for the post of PET.

Ahuja served as ground training instructor for 20 years and obtained a certificate from the Central government in order to apply for the post in August 2007.

The Bench rejected the association’s argument that his experience in the Indian Air Force could not be considered as equivalent qualification for the post of PET since it was not equivalent to diploma in physical education or BPED.

After Ahuja retired from the Indian Air Force, he later applied for the post of PET in Kendriya Vidyalaya, under the ministry of human resource development (HRD), in August 2007, but his application was rejected by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan that runs the schools on the ground that he was not holding a degree required to be a physical training teacher in a school.

Ahuja claimed his experience was certified by the ministry of labour as well as the ministry of personnel, public grievance and pension.







Move to derecognise Coimbatore Stock Exchange stayed by HC

TNN 11 September 2009, 04:01am IST

CHENNAI: Scuttling a move to de-recognise the Coimbatore Stock Exchange (CSE) and close down its operations, the Madras High Court has stayed a resolution passed to that effect

Justice P Jyothimani granted interim injunction restraining the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) from derecognising the Coimbatore Stock Exchange Limited, on a writ petition filed by Ellen Venkatesalu Securities (P) Limited, Coimbatore.

According to the petitioner, the SEBI framed guidelines on December 29, 2008 to permit companies seeking de-recognition as recognised stock exchange so as to enable them to carry on o their business activities and not function as a stock exchange.

However, even before the issue could be notified and communicated officially, the CSE convened a general body meeting on December 31, 2008 and adopted a resolution to get de-recognised.

Claiming that the resolution was adopted with an ulterior motive, the petitioner said an extraordinary general body meeting held on July 3, 2009 was attended by a majority of members who had defaulted on payment of annual subscriptions.

Besides restraining the board from giving effect to the resolution, he wanted the board not to convene any more meetings without furnishing the complete membership details.






Life sentence for stabbing grandmom

TNN 11 September 2009, 04:04am IST

A man who stabbed his grandmother to death for not transferring her properties to him was sentenced to life on Thursday by the Thiruvallur district magistrate.

Vasanth Kumar a resident of Bakthavachalapuram, Avadi, had stabbed his grandmother, Radha Ammal, in February 2008. He had repeatedly urged her to transfer all her properties to him and he killed her when she refused.

After hearing the case, the Thiruvallur district magistrate sentenced Kumar to a life term and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000.







Sexual harassment case: 6-month jail term upheld

TNN 11 September 2009, 02:48am IST

PANCHKULA: In a matter pertaining to a teacher’s alleged sexual harassment by a school principal, a local court upheld the six-month imprisonment awarded to the latter by a lower court.

Additional district and sessions judge Ritu Garg on Thursday turned down the appeal filed by accused Satish Kumar, then principal of Government Middle School in Jagrot village in Pinjore. Presently, the accused is posted in a government school in Raipurrani area.

According to police, the schoolteacher had got a case registered under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC against the accused on November 28, 2004. The victim had alleged that the accused had tried to take advantage of his position and had tried to sexually harass her.

Earlier, the cops were reluctant to take action, but on the court directions, the police had registered a case against the accused, a relative of the complainant said.






HC asks advocate to submit report on Sec-22 encroachments

TNN 11 September 2009, 02:58am IST

CHANDIGARH: In the matter pertaining to encroachment in Sector-22 market, Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday appointed an advocate as local commissioner to inspect the sector and submit a report on encroachments.

A Sector-22 Welfare Society had filed a PIL before high court, alleging that despite several representations to the municipal corporation and UT Police, the encroachments are not being removed from markets of sector-22 C and D.

Filed their reply on Thursday, UT police stated that they have no direct role in clearing these. The police submitted that a total of 6,972 challans were issued by traffic police from January 1 to September 7, 2009, on account of traffic violations at Sector 22 light point.







Court refuses narco test of suspects Realtor’s kidnapping

Rajinder Nagarkoti, TNN 11 September 2009, 03:00am IST

PANCHKULA: The police have to start from scratch in the three-month-old case of kidnapping of a city-based realtor after a local court turned down its application to conduct a narco test on three suspects.

Additional district and sessions judge Shiva Sharma turned down the application for a narco test on three suspects – Rajesh Thapar, Brajesh Kapoor and Vinay – for the alleged abduction of realtor Deepak Rai Sagar on June 1. Panchkula SP Amitabh Dhillon said they were probing the matter and would now move the high court in this regard.

Sources said the three suspects had earlier agreed for the test but did not give their consent before the court, which led to the dismissal of the cop’s plea.

Meanwhile, kidnapped realtor Deepak Rai Sagar’s son Sameer Sagar said they were feeling helpless and the police had failed to deliver.

“We are consulting our lawyers and family members to decide upon the next course of action,” he added.
Sagar also alleged that the police were siding with the suspects as they were financially well-off.

Fifty-four-year-old Deepak Rai Sagar, had left office in his car to meet his friend Vinay at Maheshpur village in Panchkula on June 1, and was reportedly abducted on the way.

Later, a case of kidnapping was registered at the sector 5 police station.







35-yr-old gets2 yrs jail in drug case

TNN 11 September 2009, 03:33am IST

PANAJI: The special NDPS court at Mapusa recently convicted and sentenced one Chandrabhan Prasad, 35, to two years rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 for possessing charas.

On February 15, 2008, sleuths of the anti-narcotic cell, who were acting on a tip-off, caught the accused, hailing from Uttar Pradesh, red handed in front of a chapel at Calangute.

When Prasad arrived at the spot, the police surrounded him and conducted a search. The contraband, weighing 448 gm, was found in his possession.

During the hearing, the defence lawyer contended that there were impurities in the drugs and prayed for a lesser punishment.

The public prosecutor on the other hand argued that impurities in charas cannot be determined and that stringent punishment be handed down on the accused.

Special judge Bimba Thaly held the accused guilty on the basis of evidence produced by the prosecution and directed him to undergo imprisonment for two years and pay a fine of Rs 20,000 or in default undergo rigorous imprisonment for another three months.






Wife’s life term for murder upheld

TNN 11 September 2009, 03:31am IST

PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa upheld the sentence of life imprisonment handed down by a trial court on one Monica D’Souza for murdering her husband at Carona, Aldona, in 2004.

Public prosecutor W Coutinho argued that the accused, who appealed against the trial court’s verdict, had failed to explain the circumstances in which her husband had died.

The accused had concealed the knife after the murder, and her clothes were stained with blood, the PP pointed out.

The court observed, “When the appellant was alone with the deceased in her flat, burden was upon her to explain any of the circumstances which provoked her or made her to lose her self-control. There is absolutely no such circumstances brought on record even indirectly.”







HDMC pulled up again: RTI

TNN 10 September 2009, 10:43pm IST

HUBLI: Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) has once again pulled up the Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC) for providing incomplete information to an RTI applicant.

Hubli-based doctor M C Sindhur had filed an RTI application to the HDMC seeking copies of catalogues and the list of files maintained as per section 4(1) (a) of Right to Information Act-2005, in electronic format.

After getting no response from the HDMC within the stipulated 30 days, the latter lodged a complaint to the KIC. In its interim ruling, KIC served a show-cause notice to HDMC, asking why it should not be fined for the delay.

In reply, the defendant told KIC that it had given a CD free of cost to the applicant. But the applicant submitted that not only the CD was sent to him after 48 days, but it contained incomplete information. He requested it to provide him with correct information.

Seriously noting that the CD contained no information about the 12 zones of HDMC, KIC asked the civic authority to put the list of files in order as per section 4(1)(a) and provide the same to the applicant free of cost within 30 days.

Taking objections to HDMC for not preparing the catalogue and the list of files as per section 4(1)(a) of RTI Act even after four years of the Act being implemented, KIC directed the defendant HDMC assistant commissioner (administration) B S Sangresh Koppa and commissioner P S Vastrad to complete the files and give them away in electronic format within 30 days.

The next hearing is on November 12.








SHRC asks govt to pay deceased’s wife Rs 2 lakh compensation

Bashi Kant Choudhary, TNN 11 September 2009, 02:09am IST

SAHARSA: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has decreed that Mahendra Sharma died of starvation and directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to his wife within four weeks.

SHRC has taken strong exception to what it described as a casual approach of the then Supaul district magistrate who, instead of conducting a personal inquiry into the case, chose to rely on a report of a block animal husbandry officer without having the facts verified by some superior officer and arriving at findings of his own.

“We understand that in a case of death by starvation, the DM concerned is to be held personally responsible, and therefore, regarding the allegation that the deceased died of starvation, the DM should have shown better discretion and caused a proper inquiry before submitting his report (to the commission),” said SHRC chairperson Justice S N Jha and sought the proceedings of the case to be sent to the Bihar chief secretary for information and necessary action.

The SHRC proceeding was initiated on the application of two independent journalists from Singheshwar (Madhepura) who had complained that Mahendra Sharma of Bharatpur village under Lalganj Tilathi panchayat of Chhatapur block in Supaul district died of starvation on January 2, 2009.

In the aftermath of the 2008 flood, employment opportunities had reduced drastically and hence, Sharma, a daily wage-earner, after spending two months at a relief camp, returned to his village. As there were no means of employment, he was forced to beg.

According to complainants, 900 people of Lalganj panchayat were denied the first instalment of government relief as their names figured neither in below poverty line (BPL) nor above poverty line list.

Sharma did not have any land for cultivation or residence and nor was he a BPL cardholder. Owing to the non-disbursal of relief, he could not get food even two times a week. Gradually, he became weak and by the middle of December 2008, Sharma was in no position to move. Finally, he died on January 2, 2009. His family had to bury him as it could not arrange wood for his cremation.

SHRC had sought a report from Supaul DM and secretaries of home and relief and rehabilitation departments. The commission has noted that no inquiry was made by the DM, who had merely referred to and enclosed the block AHD report, addressed to the BDO-cum-anchal adhikari. In this report, government officials claimed that Sharma had asthma and he died as his condition got aggravated by the high humidity during the flood.

Barring a denial that he did not die of starvation, there is not a single positive statement that food and other relief items had been given to Sharma, SHRC has observed. It added: “We are inclined to accept the applicant’s version that the death was due to starvation and therefore, the government is liable to compensate the family members properly.”

SHRC, in its order dated August 17, 2009, has directed the state government through its home secretary to pay Rs 2 lakh to Sharma’s widow within four weeks and to report the compliance.







HC admits criminal appeal of Surajbhan

TNN 11 September 2009, 02:10am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court on Thursday admitted the criminal appeal of former MP Surajbhan Singh, challenging the life term sentence awarded to him by the Special Judge, CBI, Patna, in connection with the murder case of former science and technology minister Brij Bihari Prasad.

A division bench, comprising Justice Chandra Mohan Prasad and Justice Dharnidhar Jha, called for the case records from the court of the Special Judge, CBI, Patna, for perusal.

Surajbhan also sought grant of bail after the division bench admitted his criminal appeal for hearing. The court, however, made it clear that any order on the bail plea would be passed only after the perusal of the case records which have been sought from the trial court.

According to the prosecution, Surajbhan was among the assailants who shot dead Brij Bihari Prasad on the campus of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences where he was being treated under judicial custody.

Madrasa Board: A division bench comprising Chief Justice P K Misra and Justice Anjana Prakash directed the state government to file a counter-affidavit to a PIL filed by one Jabbar Alam, wherein it was alleged that the chairman of the State Madrasa Board does not have the requisite qualification.

The petitioner added that even the panel, which appointed him as the chairman of the Madrasa Board, had not been constituted in accordance with the rules.








Q&N: ‘Need judicial commission to probe J&K disappearances’

11 September 2009, 12:00am IST

Human rights violations in J&K hardly create a ripple outside the state. New Delhi-based academic Uma Chakravarti has been associated with the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and has worked to mobilise public opinion about forced disappearances in Kashmir. Humra Quraishi spoke to Chakravarti in the context of the Shopian rape case controversy:

What prompted you to campaign about forced disappearances in J&K?

I’d met Parveena Ahangar of the APDP and was deeply moved by her search for justice. Parveena embodied the tragedies of others like her: mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers and sons. I have never been able to forget her persistence in trying to get at the truth and her determination to hold the state accountable for its actions. She turned her own suffering into a cause with all the others like her, keeping track of all reported cases of disappearances and travelling to meet the families of the disappeared…

Human rights violations in Kashmir don’t spark outrage outside the state. Why?

Part of the problem is the uneven information available in different parts of the country. I have been struck by the segmented nature of the real news published in newspapers. But it is also because the middle classes want to believe that the people’s participation in elections had solved the Kashmir problem. No one wants to address the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the immunity it gives to the security forces, and that rapes, custodial killings and forced disappearances will continue unless there is legal redress for violations of people’s rights. So the easiest thing seems to be to not react or to pick up an item for a little while and then drop it.

What’s been the response of the central government?

The government keeps talking about dialogue and confidence-building measures but has done little in terms of action. The first thing it should do is to set up an independent judicial commission into disappearances so that the average Kashmiri and the individual families that have been pursuing the cases of the disappeared can have a sense of closure. This has been done in Sri Lanka to investigate the large number of disappearances in the 1980s. It will be the first step in pursuing state accountability. It will have a tremendous impact in Kashmir. It will demonstrate the government’s commitment to a rule of law.

Are human rights groups sufficiently vocal about rights violations in Kashmir?

Right from 1990, democratic rights groups and women’s groups have investigated violations and produced numerous reports. Unfortunately, these have a small circulation amongst a particular constituency. Human rights groups have been focusing on state accountability, the rule of law and the right to information. But many more voices need to be raised to make a critical impact. There is not enough outrage outside Kashmir and that is an inescapable fact.

LEGAL NEWS 09.09.2009


Supreme, but not infallible

in New Delhi

The Delhi High Court holds that the Chief Justice of India is a “public authority” under the RTI Act and is covered by its provisions.

IT was a landmark verdict that was delivered by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat in the Delhi High Court on September 2. The Supreme Court, for the first time, was a petitioner before the Delhi High Court, the first appellate court which is itself subject to the Supreme Court’s superior appellate jurisdiction. The issue pertained to a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking information from the Chief Justice of India (CJI) whether his brother judges in the Supreme Court have been disclosing their assets to him in accordance with a 1997 resolution adopted by the Supreme Court.

The CJI, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, maintained that his office was not a public authority under the RTI Act and therefore he was not bound to answer the query. The Central Information Commission (CIC) held that the CJI was a public authority under the RTI Act and was, therefore, bound to answer RTI queries. The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Supreme Court appealed in the Delhi High Court against this ruling of the CIC. The Supreme Court was represented by Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati. Later, the Registrar of the Supreme Court was added as a party. Subhash Chandra Agarwal, the information-applicant under the RTI Act, assisted by counsel, Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan, was the respondent.

Justice Ravindra Bhat prefaced the operative parts of his judgment saying that judges were not unaccountable, but they worked under visible constraints. A judge could be vilified, he said; but propriety required the judge to keep silence, he added. Judgments had to be based on reason; no clarification could be issued, he further explained. Impartiality and diligence were an inalienable part of every judge, he pointed out.

Then he read out the operative parts of his judgment: The CJI, he held, was a public authority under the RTI Act and the CJI held the information pertaining to asset declaration in his capacity as the Chief Justice; his office was a “public authority” under the Act and was covered by its provisions. Secondly, he held that the declarations of assets by Supreme Court judges to the CJI were “information” under the RTI Act, and therefore, subject to the provisions of the RTI Act.

The Supreme Court had argued that the CJI held asset declarations by his brother judges in a fiduciary capacity, which would be breached if they were disclosed to the applicant under the RTI Act. Justice Bhat found this argument insubstantial and held that the CJI did not hold such declarations in a fiduciary capacity or relationship.

Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act says that disclosure may be refused if the request pertains to “personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual”. If, however, the information-applicant can show sufficient public interest in disclosure, the bar (preventing disclosure) is lifted, and after duly notifying the third party (that is, the individual who is concerned with the information or whose records are sought), and after considering his views, the authority can disclose it.

The Supreme Court argued before the High Court that information about personal asset declarations had nothing to do with the individual’s duties required to be discharged as a judge.

The Supreme Court also emphasised that access to information regarding judges’ assets would result in unwarranted intrusion of privacy. Subhash Chandra Agarwal, however, argued that as the information-applicant, he was not concerned with the content of asset declarations. Justice Bhat held that the procedure under Section 8(1)(j) was inapplicable in this case.


As a last resort, the Supreme Court asked the High Court to decide whether lack of clarity about the details of asset declaration rendered asset declarations and their disclosure unworkable.

Agarwal relied on the resolution adopted in the Full Court meeting of the Supreme Court on May 7, 1997, which reads as follows:

“Resolved further that every judge should make a declaration of all his/her assets in the form of real estate or investments (held by him/her in his/her own name or in the name of his/her spouse or any person dependent on him/her) within a reasonable time of assuming office and in the case of sitting judges within a reasonable time of adoption of this resolution and thereafter whenever any acquisition of a substantial nature is made, it shall be disclosed within a reasonable time. The declaration so made should be to the Chief Justice of the court. The Chief Justice should make a similar declaration for the purpose of the record. The declaration made by the judges or the Chief Justice, as the case may be, shall be confidential.”

The Supreme Court suggested to the High Court that the 1997 resolution did not state with clarity what “assets” and “investments” were and that this ambiguity rendered the system unworkable. The High Court agreed with this interpretation of the Supreme Court and shared its concern that there was likelihood of individual Justices of the Supreme Court interpreting the expression differently.

But the High Court did not find this an insurmountable obstacle as the Supreme Court made it out to be. Justice Bhat concluded: “The CJI, if he deems it appropriate, may in consultation with the Supreme Court judges, evolve uniform standards, devising the nature of information, relevant formats, and, if required, the periodicity of the declarations to be made.”

It is tempting to consider the Delhi High Court’s judgment as a setback to the Supreme Court’s image as the provider of sober leadership to the judiciary in the country. It is felt that the Supreme Court contributed to this situation by stonewalling questions under the RTI Act.

Agarwal had avoided asking for details of the assets disclosed by the judges, as the resolution considered them confidential. It is felt that had the CPIO of the Supreme Court provided the preliminary information sought by the information-applicant, the matter may not have reached the High Court.


In its petition before the High Court, the Supreme Court argued at the outset that it had filed the petition not with a view to raise technical objections in order to avoid declaration of assets by the judges but on a fundamental question of law with regard to the scope and applicability of the RTI.

The Supreme Court also clarified that the judges of the Supreme Court were not opposed to declaring their assets provided that such declarations were made in accordance with due procedure laid down by a law that would prescribe (a) the authority to which the declaration would be made; (b) the form in which the declaration should be made, with definitional clarity of what are ‘assets’; and (c) proper safeguards, checks and balances to prevent misuse of information made available.

The Supreme Court might have been legally correct in justifying its petition before the High Court on these grounds, but in the process it was seen as compromising its moral duty to adhere to its publicly declared resolution adopted by the Full Court in 1997. That the 1997 resolution was without legal backing was obvious. Yet, it was precisely because of this that the resolution was supported whole-heartedly and endorsed by the Full Court, thus reaffirming the court’s abiding faith in the moral and ethical basis of the Constitution and the laws. In other words, the 1997 resolution sought to set the judiciary apart from the political class, which was seen as fast losing its moral authority.

However, in 2009 the same Supreme Court questioned the moral legitimacy of the 1997 resolution and exposed its reluctance to abide by any ethical commitments. In its petition before the High Court, the Supreme Court contended that the 1997 resolution was non-binding and, therefore, could not have been the source of the right to seek information. If one were to concede this contention, it would mean casting doubts on the judges of the Supreme Court who endorsed the resolution in 1997 that they did so only because they believed that the resolution was non-binding.

Besides, by refusing to abide by this resolution, the Supreme Court also left in doubt the applicability and relevance of another resolution adopted by the Full Court meeting on May 7, 1997. According to this resolution, an in-house procedure should be devised by the CJI to take suitable remedial action against judges who, by their acts of omission and commission, do not follow the universally accepted values of judicial life, including those indicated in the “Restatement of Values of Judicial Life”.

(The Restatement of Values of Judicial Life, a detailed moral code of conduct for judges of the higher judiciary, was subsequently also adopted by the Chief Justices’ Conference in December 1999. The code laid down 16 specific rules of conduct, illustrative of what is expected of a judge. The very first code suggested that the behaviour and conduct of members of the higher judiciary must reaffirm people’s faith in the impartiality of the judiciary. Accordingly, it advised the judges to avoid any act, whether in official or personal capacity, that can lead to the erosion of this faith.)

While pursuing the case the Supreme Court said individual judges had the choice of declaring or not declaring assets, an autonomy that could not be commented upon or interfered with by the CJI. It cited its own judgment in Indira Jaising vs Registrar General 2003 (5) SCC 494 to suggest that the only source or authority by which the CJI could exercise this power of inquiry over other judges was moral or ethical and, therefore, the CJI could not be asked to disclose a report made to him while exercising this power.

In contrast to the Supreme Court’s claim, the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHBA), another party to the case, submitted that the 1997 resolution was meant to reinforce faith in the judiciary and that the present denial of information tended to undermine it. The DHBA contested the Supreme Court’s claim that the 1997 resolution had no legal sanctity. It suggested that judges functioned under the Constitution and owed their existence to it. It said that if, in the course of a judge’s tenure, a decision to declare personal assets was taken with a view to establishing a convention, such a practice had the sanctity of law as a convention of the Constitution.

Another stance adopted by the Supreme Court was to distinguish the CJI’s office from that of the Registrar of the Supreme Court and plead that the CJI performed a variety of functions than merely as the Chief Justice of India, and in such capacity, through his office, separately held asset declarations and information relating to them pursuant to the 1997 resolution.

Justice Bhat conceded the CJI’s prominent role in higher judicial appointments, and as the “head of the judiciary” or the judicial family. He also acknowledged that the CJI, for convenience, could maintain a separate office or establishment as he performed a multitude of tasks. But all these tasks were directly relatable to his holding the office of the CJI and heading the Supreme Court. Justice Bhat endorsed the CIC’s finding that the institution and its head could not be two distinct public authorities. Information available with the CJI, therefore, must be deemed to be available with the Supreme Court.


Asked by the Appellate Authority (under the RTI Act) in the Supreme Court to reconsider Subhash Chandra Agarwal’s application, the CPIO left unanswered the principal question whether the information relating to asset declaration was held by the CJI or separately in another office of the CJI. The CPIO did not assign Agarwal’s application to either the CJI or any other office or authority. The CPIO was perhaps of the view that the CJI’s office was different from the Supreme Court, and not covered by the RTI Act.

Justice Bhat directed the CPIO to release the information sought by Agarwal about the declaration of assets made by judges of the Supreme Court within four weeks.

One aspect of the judgment is of concern, though. Since Agarwal did not seek the contents of the declarations, it was not necessary for Justice Bhat to pronounce on the disclosability of the contents. But he did precisely that by holding that the contents of asset declarations – pursuant to the 1997 resolution and the 1999 Conference resolution – are ‘entitled to be treated as personal information and may be accessed in accordance with the procedure prescribed under Section 8(1)(j); they are not otherwise subject to disclosure’. Observers expressed concern that this might be used as a loophole by judges who refuse to share the details of their assets in public.

Justice Bhat took note of the Supreme Court’s Full Court resolution on August 26 to put asset details of judges on the Supreme Court’s website, but refrained from commenting on it. (See interview with Prashant Bhushan.)


The August 26 resolution, which has not yet been officially drafted and released in public, is the outcome of pressure of public opinion expressed in various forums.

The opposition to the introduction of the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill in the Rajya Sabha on August 3 was one such event, which showed the government and the Supreme Court in an unholy nexus. Clause 6 of this Bill mentions that the declaration made by a judge to the competent authority shall not be made public or disclosed, and shall not be called for or put into question by any citizen, court or authority, and no judge shall be subjected to any inquiry or query in relation to the contents of the declaration, by any person.

This clause appeared to defeat the very objective of the Bill, which was to ensure transparency. The opposition from members, cutting across party lines, forced Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily to defer the introduction of the Bill. It was a tactical decision, as the introduction of the Bill would have meant testing the government’s uncertain strength in the Upper House. Besides, a Minister cannot introduce a Bill in the House if members oppose it on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. On August 3, members opposed it saying it went against the letter and spirit of Article 19 (guaranteeing freedom of expression).

More developments followed. Justice Shailendra Kumar of the Karnataka High Court wrote a two-part article in a newspaper, distancing himself from the stand of the CJI and questioning his authority to speak on behalf of the entire judiciary on the disclosure of assets. He went ahead and published his asset details on the Internet. Justice K. Chandru of the Madras High Court also defended the disclosure of assets by judges. Justice K. Kannan of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, even while disagreeing on his blog with the demand for disclosing judges’ assets, made public his own asset details to carry credibility.

The CJI described Justice Shailendra Kumar as “publicity crazy” and opined that High Court judges could disclose their assets if they wanted but the Supreme Court was trying to evolve a consensus in this regard. Attorney-General Vahanvati has said that the Supreme Court will appeal against the judgment before the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court. The Supreme Court may well recall that an academic book published in 2000 to mark the golden jubilee of the court was titled “Supreme, but not infallible”.

Copyright © 2009, Frontline.

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without the written consent of Frontline


Of accountability to the people


Interview with Prashant Bhushan, convener of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform.

THE Indian judiciary is considered the most powerful in the world by many observers. In terms of standards of accountability, however, the higher judiciary in India is viewed as the least accountable. The August 26 resolution of the Supreme Court’s Full Court in favour of disclosure of judges’ assets on the court’s website is a result of a sustained campaign by various civil society groups and activists and the sheer force of public opinion, which viewed with suspicion the judiciary’s reluctance to disclose judges’ assets.

The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform (CJAR) is one such civil society initiative, which has from time to time brought together on a common platform various grass-roots activist groups to seek judicial accountability and to mobilise public opinion on the demand for transparency in the functioning of the judiciary.

In this interview with Frontline, Prashant Bhushan, senior advocate of the Supreme Court and convener of the CJAR, answers a range of questions on the assets controversy and its impact. Excerpts:

The CJAR has won a major success with the Supreme Court’s decision to place details of judges’ assets on its website. What explains this success?

Well, initially this was not the major focus of our campaign. But we began to campaign on this issue because it was related to Right to Information (RTI). The RTI has already caught the public imagination. We understood early on that the demand for disclosure of judges’ assets would also catch the public imagination.

It all started with an innocuous RTI application seeking to know whether the judges were indeed filing their asset details with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) in accordance with the 1997 Resolution. Despite the August 26 decision of the Supreme Court’s Full Court, this application has not yet been answered. What is the truth?

Nobody knows. The Supreme Court has been contesting this whole issue right up to the High Court. The CJI has made it clear that the case before the High Court has not become infructuous because the Central Information Commission (CIC) has wrongly decided the case in favour of the RTI applicant saying, ‘the CJI’s office is under the RTI’. The CJI has held the view that his office handles sensitive information. Sensitive information that can cause any kind of harm to the public interest can always be withheld under one or two exemptions. But it is an absurd proposition to say that because an office receives sensitive information it is outside the ambit of the RTI. The Prime Minister’s Office receives even more sensitive information. But the PMO is clearly under the RTI.

Does the case before the Delhi High Court become infructuous following the August 26 decision of the Supreme Court?

No. As you rightly said, the Supreme Court has not yet divulged any information about whether the judges have been complying with the 1997 Resolution or the Code of Conduct. Secondly, this issue – whether assets disclosure will be accessible under the RTI – still needs to be decided. The Supreme Court has directly raised this issue saying, ‘today the RTI applicant wants to know whether there has been compliance; tomorrow, they will ask for the actual assets disclosure’. Therefore, this issue will have to be decided.

Now that details of judges’ assets will be on the Supreme Court’s website, the question whether the RTI applicant will ask for asset details does not arise.

We don’t know in what way this will be put on the website and whether every judge will file it or not. We are also not sure whether the High Courts will put it up on their websites. Therefore, this principle needs to be decided.

Despite the resolution, can judges refuse to declare asset details on the Supreme Court’s website?

Yes, they can.

Will the Bill that is sought to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha be still relevant if the government agrees to delete the objectionable clause barring public declaration of judges’ assets?

Of course. In fact, we have said that it should be a Bill not merely for judges but for all public servants above a certain level. Today, other civil servants are required to disclose assets to the government, not to the public. Not merely assets, even income tax. Unless you know the income statements, you can’t compare their assets with their income to see whether the assets are disproportionate to their known sources of income or not.

The view that income tax returns filed with the Income Tax Department are exempt because they are personal incomes is certainly erroneous. If the assumption is that personal information or information that will cause unwarranted invasion of privacy has no relationship with the public interest, it is clearly wrong. Even if income tax returns can be considered to be personal information, certainly it is related to the public interest. The public interest requires that people know whether people are paying their taxes or not; whether their assets are disproportionate to their known sources of income or not. Not merely public servants but every citizen’s income tax return should be available under the RTI Act.

How do you draw the line between unwarranted invasion of privacy and the public interest?

There is no privacy about income tax. That is the public duty of every citizen. In my view, any information required to be submitted by law to a public authority cannot be considered personal information having no relationship with the public interest. If there is no relationship to the public interest, then there will not be a law requiring you to submit information to a public authority. And it cannot be considered an unwarranted invasion of privacy. If you have to submit information to a public authority, what is the problem in declaring it to other citizens? Whatever invasion of privacy has to take place has already taken place when information is disclosed to a public authority.

The dialogue between you and Justice K. Kannan of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who also declared his assets unilaterally, was interesting. One of the points made by Justice Kannan is that judges are not politicians, who are accountable because they are elected. What is your specific response to this.

The fact that you can choose politicians at least makes them accountable to public opinion. The fact that you cannot choose judges makes them unaccountable even to public opinion. Therefore, it is even more important that judges have some accountability towards the people. That is why the disclosure of their assets and income, to my mind, is absolutely essential for their accountability to the people.

Justice Kannan has also said that if a litigant who is tried by a judge for disproportionate assets points out that the judge trying him also possessed disproportionate assets, it would compromise the judge’s ability to decide that litigant’s case fearlessly.

My answer is that it should not compromise an honest judge’s ability. Anybody whose assets are transparent and honest would not be deterred by such scurrilous attacks. First, nobody would make such scurrilous attacks because it amounts to defamation and contempt. But let us assume that somebody does; why should an honest judge be affected by that? Yes, it will compromise a dishonest judge’s ability to deal with that case. That dishonest judge needs to be off the Bench. He will cause a disaster in so many other cases. Therefore, the advantages of having him exposed far outweigh the possible disadvantage of compromising his ability to decide a case of a dishonest bureaucrat. That argument is like saying that a judge should not at all be accountable, because every accountability compromises the [judge’s] independence to decide matters.

Supposing a judge is answerable to a judicial commission, to say that it will compromise that judge’s ability to decide a matter involving a member of that judicial commission is not a valid argument. For that very small chance, you can’t leave the judges totally unaccountable.

Can you bring a comparative perspective to this controversy? Are other countries equally concerned about ensuring judges’ accountability through assets disclosure?

I think there are about a dozen countries, including the United States and South Africa, where assets disclosure by judges is mandatory. In the majority of the countries, it is still not mandatory, though countries are gradually moving towards that. This whole issue of right to information, transparency, disclosure of assets, and so on is all a relatively new phenomenon. Since India has one of the progressive Right To Information Acts in the world, we expect that even assets disclosure in India should be available under it. That way, India is perhaps the only country where the Supreme Court mandated the disclosure of assets of candidates in elections. In line with all that India should also be more progressive and take the lead in such matters.

It has been reported that in their August 26 resolution the Supreme Court judges have decided not to entertain questions on assets disclosure.

I think it is fair enough. If somebody raises legitimate questions on disproportionate assets, by getting access to income statements of judges under the RTI Act, where the value of the assets declared is much less than their market value at the time of their acquisition, such questions can be examined by authorities like the Income Tax Department or the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation]. But the judges themselves answering such questions may lead to harassment.

Are the income statements now available?

The income statements, right now, are not available. I am of the view that they should be available under the RTI Act.

If answering such questions can lead to harassment, then what is the very purpose of assets declaration? If you cannot question a judge against whom there is prima facie evidence, the very purpose of assets declaration is defeated.

If there is a legitimate basis, normally that judge should answer that. Otherwise, the judge’s reputation will be at stake. Because anybody will be free to publish such allegations. The judge may take shelter under the resolution and refuse to answer the question, but that will be at the risk of ruining his public image and at the risk of being prosecuted under the Income Tax Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act because he will be shown to possess assets disproportionate to his income.

Is a watchdog body necessary to scrutinise the assets declaration?

Absolutely. There needs to be a national judicial complaints commission to entertain complaints against judges, to investigate them and take action. This commission should be independent of the government and the judiciary.

The government is proposing a National Judicial Commission, which is an in-house and ex-officio body. Judges are busy people and they cannot sit on this commission. It has to be a full-time body that can devote adequate time to these complaints. Besides, there are conflicts of interest. If there is a complaint against a brother judge, how could the judge on the commission decide a complaint if he is sitting with him every day in and out of the court?

You have said that the judiciary acts like a class, rather like an oligarchy.

In some respects, it does [act like a class]. Even on the assets disclosure, the majority of the Supreme Court judges were against it. It is the pressure of public opinion that has forced them to change their minds. There are a few judges who are not opposed to assets disclosure.

One important thing is the power of the Chief Justice of India. Unfortunately, the CJI has begun to wield enormous powers, far disproportionate to the fact that he is just a first among equals. Giving extraordinary powers to the CJI alone in the matter of appointments is not a healthy thing for the judiciary. Because it makes other judges subservient.

Even if it is assumed that all judges in the Supreme Court’s collegium (comprising the CJI and the senior-most judges) to select judges act honestly, in the absence of a scientific, methodical system, the present method of selection of judges through consultation with the collegium may yield unfair and arbitrary results.

Following a system means preparing an eligibility list, having some way of comparing the merits of the candidates in the list. In the absence of such a system, the CJI names somebody, the No.2 judge in the collegium names somebody else, the Law Minister may name somebody, and that is how it goes. It is a free-for-all.

The time has come to put in place an independent judicial appointments commission.

Even the fact that the CJI decides Benches is not the proper way of dealing with court management. The CJI decides which case goes to which judge. He is empowered to do so under the Supreme Court Rules.

Parliament can certainly limit his powers to decide Bench composition. This overlordship of the Chief Justice in the courts has had a very baneful effect.

There may be many other judges who share the view expressed by the Karnataka High Court Judge Justice Shailendra Kumar [who wrote an article in a newspaper urging disclosure of assets by judges]. But they may be afraid to speak out openly. He was one judge who was not afraid to speak out, despite whatever consequences that could be visited upon him in terms of denial of promotion as the Chief Justice.

Therefore, this court needs to be more democratised, and not so heavily weighted towards the Chief Justice. Under the Code of Conduct, it is the Chief Justice who will decide whether cognisance will be taken on a complaint or not against a judge. Why should it be left to just one person?

Make declaring judges’ assets mandatory for all further appointments

Sriram Panchu

It would be most unfortunate if newly appointed judges were found owning large assets with no credible explanation.

These past weeks have been difficult times for the Supreme Court, particularly the Chief Justice of India (CJI), over making public the details of judges’ assets. Reacting to the CJI’s statements rejecting such disclosure, Justice D.V. Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka High Court wrote a forthright article in a newspaper stating the CJI did not speak for the many judges of integrity in India. Justice Kannan from the Punjab and Haryana High Court publicly declared his assets. The media, former judges and public opinion weighed in heavily on the side of these two.

Members of Parliament, cutting across party lines, earlier rejected a Bill, which sought to prevent public scrutiny of such declarations of assets. The Supreme Court’s isolation was complete. Perhaps for the first time since the days of the Emergency, when the court was reviled for letting down citizens on the issue of unlawful detention, the judges were at the receiving end of public criticism, and seen to be occupying the low moral ground. After all, it is a little difficult to answer the question posed by the common man, “if there is nothing to hide, what is there to fear?” Indeed, the public must have reacted in dismay at the stand taken here; just a few years ago, the Supreme Court made it mandatory for politicians to declare their assets. For many members of the Bench, current and retired, and the Bar, it was galling to see their institution come under suspicion and attack. Fortunately, the Supreme Court reversed course, agreed to disclosure and averted further damage to its reputation and credibility.

Just as well, because another embarrassment was waiting for it a week later. Under the Right to Information Act (RTI), the Central Information Commission directed the Supreme Court to furnish details whether judges had filed their declarations of assets; the Supreme Court challenged this in the Delhi High Court. On September 2, 2009, the High Court rebuffed the apex court, holding that the declarations were not immune from the RTI, and added for good measure that declaring personal assets resonated with the best practices and standards of ethical behaviour of judges.

It is crystal clear that the dominant mood in the country is that judges of the superior courts (Supreme Court and High Courts) must declare their assets and allow citizens to access such information. Indeed, such transparency must be welcomed as an aid to fighting corruption in the judiciary. As early as 1997 the judiciary, then headed by CJI J.S. Verma, resolved to make such disclosures. Compliance was partial; some judges declared their assets, some failed to periodically update the declarations, and some did not declare at all. The correctness of what was declared was not verified; no procedure or mechanism exists for that. No instance of any action against a judge for non- or wrong disclosure.

The primary area of concern is the acquisition of assets by a person after he became judge. The relevant questions are: “Has the judge failed to disclose an asset of value? Is there a declared asset whose acquisition cannot be explained, having regard to the judge’s legitimate sources of income?” These questions cannot be asked when disclosures are kept under wraps in a cupboard in the Supreme Court; but the answers will be sought when the declarations are out in the open. A suitable body and procedures will have to be devised to deal with the questions and get the answers. Safeguards must be erected to minimise harassment to judges, and this will be in addition to the extraordinary power that judges have to punish for contempt of themselves, and the common remedy of criminal and civil action for defamation.

Disclosure is all the more important now because we hardly have any weapon to fight judicial corruption. There is no specific forum to complain to, and no investigative machinery. The police cannot register an FIR against a judge on charges of corruption without the CJI’s permission. Corruption within the judiciary is no small matter; it grows horizontally and vertically. In 2001, a former CJI said 20 per cent of the judges across the board were corrupt; that figure would have to be indexed for inflation. Recent horror stories involve touting for appointments to High Courts, cash delivery to a judge’s house, and gifts to judges from employees’ provident funds. The judges implicated continue to sit on the seat of justice. The only existing remedy is impeachment by Parliament. This is illusory; no judge has ever been impeached. The CJI did recommend in vain impeachment of a Calcutta High Court judge for misdemeanours; a resolution has not even been tabled in the House. But if questions are raised about assets, then the public process of transparency may overcome institutional secrecy, and accountability may begin to replace inertia. After all, it is said, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

The Indian superior judiciary is the most powerful in the world, largely because of two features which are unique to it. The first is its extensive public interest jurisdiction, enabling it to exercise powers in executive and legislative areas. The second is the near total control it exercises over judicial appointments. Neither of these two features was envisaged in the Constitution; the court acquired them by rather creative interpretative exercises. It could do so because public opinion was solidly behind it; people saw it as the one organ of state that was clean and could be trusted. That public trust is the bedrock that sustains the court. It does not have the power of the elected vote, or purse or sword; its legitimacy, and extent of power, is defined precisely by how much public regard it is the repository of. The court lost that trust in August on the issue of public disclosure, could not long sustain isolation and fortunately reclaimed lost ground. The lesson in this for us who are supporters of the judiciary is that if the house is not kept in order and the occupants are not well chosen, the institution will forfeit public confidence, and with it the source of power.

A day after announcing its willingness to openly disclose the assets of its judges, the Supreme Court announced the names of five prospective appointees to the court and others to be Chief Justices of the High Courts. No mention was made of the requirement of declaration of their assets. It will be in the fitness of things for the court to immediately apply the high principle of transparency and require these judges to first declare their assets publicly, and await any information from the Bar or the public, before confirming the appointments. That would demonstrate judicial sincerity and commitment, and allay any residual public misgivings. It would be most unfortunate for the judiciary if any of these judges assumed high office, and was then found owning large assets with no credible explanation. The government too has a constitutional duty to ensure that proper procedures are followed and proper persons selected; and our President, a constitutional power, to advise and guide.

(Sriram Panchu is a senior advocate at the Madras High Court. Email:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

No one is above the LAW of the land…

Ruling in favour of transparency and accountability in higher judiciary, the Delhi High Court ruled that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) was a “public authority” under the Right to Information Act and had to make public the information on assets declared to him by judges.
The ruling by Justice Ravindra Bhat, which came on the SC’s appeal against an almost identical order from the Central Information Commissioner (CIC), ran counter to the consistent stand of Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan that the CJI could not be termed a public authority under the RTI Act.
Though the SC is sure to appeal against the ruling — it will decide in the coming weeks whether or not to move a division bench of the HC or the apex court — the ruling is being seen as a huge moral victory for all those who want more accountability in the judiciary.
Nov 11, ’07: RTI activist Subhash C Aggarwal files a plea in SC seeking info on declaration of judges’ assets
Nov 30, ’07: Information denied in reply to him
Jan 6, ’09: CIC asks SC to disclose information
Jan 17, ’09: SC moves Delhi HC against CIC order
Sept 2, ’09: High Court upholds CIC’s order RTI applicable to judges’ assets too, says HC.
Upholding the CIC’s order directing the SC to disclose whether or not the judges were declaring their assets to the CJI as per a 1997 in-house SC resolution, Justice S Ravindra Bhatt of the Delhi High Court said the information pertaining to declaration given to the CJI and the contents of such declaration were subject to the provisions of the RTI Act.
“Declaration of assets by SC judges is information under Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act,” the HC said. Though the 72-page judgment defined what kind of information was in larger interest and could be made public from the CJI’s office, Justice Bhatt was firm in rejecting the SC’s stand that the CJI held the asset declarations in a fiduciary (held in trust) capacity and disclosing it would amount to breach of trust.
Stating that the argument was without substance, the HC said the CJI did not hold such declarations in a fiduciary capacity or relationship.
Describing transparency as a “powerful beacon”, Justice Bhat favoured evolving some uniform standards and modalities for declaration of assets by judges to bring in clarity.
“The CJI, if he deems it appropriate, may in consultation with Supreme Court judges, evolve uniform standards, devising the nature of information, relevant formats, and if required, the periodicity of the declarations to be made,” Justice Bhatt said.
Highlighting the importance of the RTI Act, the HC said, “The parliamentary intention in enacting this law was to arm citizens with the mechanism to scrutinize government and public processes and ensure transparency.”
The judge said it would be “highly anomalous” to say that judges had no obligation to disclose their personal assets as standards of disclosure for the legislators, parliamentarians and administrators were set by a Supreme Court order. “It would be robbing the solemnity of the resolution to say that they were made with the expectation of not being implemented.”
“The resolution was intended to reflect the best practices to be followed and form of standards of ethical behaviour of judges of higher judiciary… Declaring personal assets is to be seen as an essential ingredient of contemporary acceptable behaviour and establishing a convention,” the court said.
The Supreme Court had declined to reveal information on declarations made by judges that was sought by RTI activist Subhash C Aggarwal, on the ground that there was no law making it mandatory for judges to declare their assets.

Posted by V.S.Kesavan, Advocate, High Court, Chennai. at 5:57:00 AM

SC to hear on alleged tax evasion by PWC on Dec 9


New Delhi, Sep 9 (PTI) The Supreme Court will begin the final hearing in December on chartered accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers’ plea against a Calcutta High Court judgement imposing penalty for alleged evasion of tax by furnishing inaccurate particulars of its income for 2000-01.

A Bench headed by Justice S H Kapadia has posted the matter for the hearing on December 9.

PWC had challenged the Calcutta High Court’s judgement that held that the firm had failed to furnish its true and correct particulars of accounts while filing the returns.

The High Court had also upheld the penalty imposed by the authorities at 100 per cent of the tax alleged to have been evaded.

PWC senior counsel Harish Salve had submitted that the firm had paid the penalty and was not seeking a refund.

SP named in Ishrat report approaches high court


Ahmedabad, Sept 9 (PTI) A police officer named in magistrate S P Tamang’s report which concluded that encounter of Ishrat Jahan and three others was fake, today approached the Gujarat High Court demanding that the report should be declared null and void.

The petition has been filed by current Gujarat anti-terrorist squad Superintendent of Police G L Singhal, who was serving with the city crime branch at the time of encounter in 2004.

Singhal in his petition before the high court has also demanded that the court should immediately grant a stay on the judicial inquiry report of Tamang.

The matter will come up for hearing in the court this evening.

Singhal has also prayed that the three member committee of police officers formed by the high court should continue its investigations in the encounter

SC clueless about Min who tried to influenced Madras HC Judge

Posted: Wednesday, Sep 09, 2009 at 1202 hrs New Delhi:

The Supreme Court has said it has no information about the Union minister, who allegedly approached a Madras High Court Judge to influence his decision in an anticipatory bail case.

The Supreme Court registry also did not exercise section 6 (3) of the RTI Act wherein a public authority needs to transfer the application to the appropriate office, if the asked information was not in its possession.

“Information sought by you is not handled and dealt with by the Registry of the Supreme Court of India,” the reply of the Central Public Information Officer Raj Pal Arora said.

RTI applicant Subhash Chandra Agrawal had sought the details from the apex court about the Union minister who allegedly approached Justice R Raghupathy of Madras High Court to influence his judicial decisions.

Agrawal quoted media reports claiming that Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan had said that Justice Raghupathy had written to Chief Justice of the Madras High Court that the Minister had not spoken to him directly.

Agrawal then filed the first appeal in the apex court and said that in a recent decision, Delhi High Court had clarified that office of Chief Justice of India comes under the RTI Act and if any details are held by it, his application should be transferred to it as per section 6 (3) the Act.

But his appeal was turned down by the First Appellate Authority at the apex court who refused to interfere in the reply given by the CPIO.

“Appellate Authority did put on record my submissions dated September 4, 2009 mentioning esteemed verdict in the matter `CPIO, Supreme Court vs Subhash Chandra Agrawal, by Justice S Rabindra Bhatt at Delhi High Court,” he said.

He said that appellate authority did not pay heed to his arguments seeking transfer of his application to appropriate office which held the information, as mentioned by him in his RTI application and first appeal.

“File-notings also reveal that CPIO’s reply was also endorsed by first Appellate Authority at Supreme Court registry while general principle is that an appellate authority should not be a part of decision-making process,” the activist said.

Agrawal, who won the landmark case against the Supreme Court in the Delhi High Court which brought the Chief Justice of India under the ambit of RTI Act, had asked if the letter of Justice Raghupathy, quoted in the media reports, carried name of the minister.

He had also asked about steps taken against the referred minister and the advocate involved in the alleged incident.

Ex-top cop defends action on lawyers in HC

A Subramani, TNN 9 September 2009, 05:27am IST

CHENNAI: Giving a new twist to the circumstances leading to the February 19 violence on the Madras high court campus, the then commissioner of police, K Radhakrishnan, on Tuesday told the court that there was a mutiny-like situation among police personnel.

“If I had not spent adequate time on counselling the restless policemen and calming them down, there would have been a collapse of morale of the men, leading to a flash strike, plunging the whole city in chaos and confusion,” said Radhakrishnan, in his common counter-affidavit to a batch of petitions pending before a division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi.

Noting that the police had used only minimum force to chase away the advocates, the former commissioner said, “The advocates relentlessly continued their unruly activities. The situation and circumstances were such that the police had to resort to lathicharge but for which the life and safety of the public and the policemen would have been in peril.” In the process some two-wheelers and cars were damaged, he claimed.

Terming it as a serious law and order problem, Radhakrishnan said a total of 292 policemen and officials, including 21 Tamil Nadu Commando Force personnel, had been deployed for security. Besides regulating massive traffic snarls on all roads leading to the high court, he said, he was also engaged in securing the nearby secretariat and the Assembly complex. “I also spent some time ensuring security around the Fort housing the state secretariat and the Assembly, which was in session, as the tension inside the court campus was fast developing into a major law and order problem, and spreading to other areas of Chennai.”

Denying that the police had deliberately violated the human rights of lawyers and outraged the modesty of women advocates, Radhakrishnan said, “The allegation that police officials struck terror and acted unconscientiously is completely wrong and exaggerated.”

In a separate affidavit, director-general of police KP Jain said: “It was the advocates who had invited the problem by organising themselves as an unlawful assembly and indulged in stone throwing, verbal abuse, attacking the police personnel and setting fire to the B-4 police station, which forced the police authorities to take action as per law.”

He further said: “At the same time, I do not want to justify the conduct of some police personnel, who may have exceeded their limits and they deserve to be punished,” he said, adding that they would be punished on being identified. “Equally, the advocates who indulged in violence are also bound to be identified and punished.”

Public secretary P Jothi Jegarajan, who is holding additional charge of home, said that if it was proved that police personnel had committed excesses they would be appropriately punished.

With this, almost all officials charged with either ordering the police crackdown or having led the force on February 19 have filed their responses before the bench. The hearing is scheduled to resume on Wednesday.

Ban on Jaswant’s book: state may file appeal against HC order

Express News Service

Posted: Sep 09, 2009 at 0016 hrs IST

New Delhi The Narendra Modi government on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it is considering filing an appeal challenging the High Court order, which struck down the notification banning Jaswant Singh’s book on Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

State counsel Hemantika Wahi submitted this before the Bench comprising justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph, before whom the petition filed by Singh was listed for hearing.

Singh had challenged the ban on his book — Jinnah: India-Partition, Independence.

The Bench said: “Since the notification challenged in the writ petition has been struck down, no interim order is required to be passed at this stage,” adding that since the notice has already been issued, the Gujarat government will have to file a counter affidavit.

During the pendency of the petition before the apex court, the Gujarat High Court had last week struck down the state government’s notification banning the book.

Singh, along with the book’s publisher, have challenged the state government’s notification, alleging that the book had been banned arbitrarily and without going through its contents.

The state government had banned the book on the Pakistan founder on August 19, two days after its launch, on the charge that its contents were against public tranquillity and national interest.

Terming the ban as illegal, the eight-time MP has submitted that the book was based on “historical facts” and five years of extensive research and that it could not be proscribed on the state government’s “specious” plea.

HC frowns at Puja in hospital

Express News Service

Posted: Sep 09, 2009 at 0546 hrs IST

Kolkata Justice Sanjib Banerjee of the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday asked the South 24-Parganas SP to consider should Puja be held in Belpukur Hospital premises at Kulpi without police permission.

Sujauddin Mollah, a resident of Kulpi, had filed a writ petition last week alleging that Durga Puja was going to be held in the Belpukur hospital as an organisation had started to construct a pandal on its premises.

Mollah’s counsel Idris Ali said the local police had not allowed a religious function to be held in the hospital premises in March 2009. But this time the police remained silent spectators as the organisation started work to construct the pandal, hence the police should take steps to prevent puja on the hospital premises.

Advocate Jaita Chakraborty, the counsel of the state government, informed the HC that local police did not give permission to the hospital to hold puja on its premises.

State order on ’93 blast convicts’ petition not acceptable, says HC

Mohan Kumar

Posted: Sep 09, 2009 at 0503 hrs IST

Mumbai The Bombay High Court on Wednesday orally observed that the Maharashtra Home department order to keep ’93 blast convicts — who had prayed for premature release as they had already spent 14 years in prison— behind bars for 60 years in accordance with the state government’s latest guidelines was not acceptable.

The observation came in response to petitions filed by 1993 serial blasts convicts who face imprisonment for 60 years or until they attain the age of 65 as per the state government’s latest guidelines for those convicted in terror offences.

“This is not acceptable,” Justice Bilal Nazki said.

The court had last month pulled up the state Home department for leaking its order on the matter of premature release of the petitioners to the press before the court was informed of the order.

The court had expressed displeasure at not being informed about the order during the hearing on August 12, even though it was passed on August 4 as per the report that appeared in a section of the media. The court had then sought an explanation.

On Tuesday, an affidavit by Anna Dani, Principal Secretary (Appeals and Security), stated they had no intention of keeping the court in the dark about the decision. Dani also stated that petitioners’ lawyer N N Gawankar was aware of the order as it was communicated to the convicts. Gawankar, however, told the court that he was not aware of the order and had come to know about it through the press.

“Besides, how will I know about it from convicts who are lodged in Aurangabad prison,” Gawankar argued.

Dani also apologised to the court and said she has taken up the matter with the authorities concerned and asked the office of the public prosecutor for proper coordination henceforth. At this, justice Nazki said as to who she (Dani) was to dictate such things to the prosecutor’s office.

Additional public prosecutor Aruna Kamat Pai submitted that the state advocate general (AG) was not aware of the Home department order and that she would communicate the same to the AG. Pai sought a day’s adjournment.

The petition for premature release had been filed by convicts Salim Mira Shaikh, Niyaz Shaikh, Shaikh Ali, and Moin Qureshi.

Find missing baby or be present in court, HC tells DGP

Express News Service Posted: Wednesday, Sep 09, 2009 at 0512 hrs Mumbai:

After being summoned to Bombay High Court last month over a missing child — the boy was finally traced last week— Maharashtra DGP S S Virk has been now told to be present in court next week unless another child, a baby stolen from the BMC-run Sion Hospital around nine months ago, is found.

The court was hearing a petition by the baby’s parents Mohan and Mohini Nerurkar.

Last week, the missing son of complainant Priti Chug, who had alleged that her four-year-old son had been taken away by her absconding husband, was finally traced.

On Tuesday, the court gave police time until next Monday to trace the missing baby failing which Virk will have to remain present in court.

The BMC informed a division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi that almost all the guidelines for security of babies in corporation hospitals have been complied with.

“But what about the child?” justice Nazki asked.

On querying about the efforts made by the police, additional public prosecutor K V Saste informed the court that a baby was located in a local train at Bandra station. But investigations revealed it was not the missing baby. Saste submitted that the police are taking sincere efforts to find the baby.

“When you take sincere efforts you can find the child,” Justice Nazki remarked pointing out that it has been nine months since the baby was stolen.

The court then said that the DGP will have to appear in all such cases. Appearing for the petitioners’ lawyer, Ashish Chavan submitted that the question whether the corporation is responsible for the baby’s disappearance remains unanswered.

The court said that it would fix responsibility for the lapse and decide on the compensation to be given to the family during the next hearing.

HC nod to Darjeeling RTA office in Siliguri

TNN 9 September 2009, 05:51am IST

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court on Tuesday put its seal of approval on a West Bengal transport department notification on opening an Regional Transport Authority (RTA) office for Darjeeling district in Siliguri.

The district’s RTA head office in Darjeeling has not been functioning properly as tension prevails in the Hills due to the Gorkhaland agitation.

The court order will help vehicle owners and the transport department to complete official work like collection of road taxes and fees, renewal of permits and issuing of fitness certificates in Siliguri itself.

The order was passed following a writ by Mrinal Kanti Sarkar, of the Siliguri Minibus Syndicate, demanding an RTA office in Siliguri. The petition highlighted that the continuous political disturbance in the Hills had hampered work at the RTA office. Vehicle owners from the plains were finding it risky to visit the office in Darjeeling town, the petition stated.

On February 5, 2009, the transport department opened an additional counter of Additional Regional Transport Office (ARTO) in Siliguri for six weeks following a court order. When normality returned, the RTA office of Darjeeling started to function again.

But fresh disturbances before the elections saw regular work being disrupted again.

The petitioner then moved a fresh petition in Calcutta High Court in July, demanding that a full-fledged RTA office be set up in Siliguri. In course of hearing, the court wanted a report from the state government on this issue.

On Tuesday, state advocate N I Khan submitted before Justice Tapen Sen that the transport department had issued a notification on August 28 for opening an office of an Additional RTA in Siliguri.

HC nod to Darjeeling RTA office in Siliguri

TNN 9 September 2009, 05:51am IST

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court on Tuesday put its seal of approval on a West Bengal transport department notification on opening an Regional Transport Authority (RTA) office for Darjeeling district in Siliguri.

The district’s RTA head office in Darjeeling has not been functioning properly as tension prevails in the Hills due to the Gorkhaland agitation.

The court order will help vehicle owners and the transport department to complete official work like collection of road taxes and fees, renewal of permits and issuing of fitness certificates in Siliguri itself.

The order was passed following a writ by Mrinal Kanti Sarkar, of the Siliguri Minibus Syndicate, demanding an RTA office in Siliguri. The petition highlighted that the continuous political disturbance in the Hills had hampered work at the RTA office. Vehicle owners from the plains were finding it risky to visit the office in Darjeeling town, the petition stated.

On February 5, 2009, the transport department opened an additional counter of Additional Regional Transport Office (ARTO) in Siliguri for six weeks following a court order. When normality returned, the RTA office of Darjeeling started to function again.

But fresh disturbances before the elections saw regular work being disrupted again.

The petitioner then moved a fresh petition in Calcutta High Court in July, demanding that a full-fledged RTA office be set up in Siliguri. In course of hearing, the court wanted a report from the state government on this issue.

On Tuesday, state advocate N I Khan submitted before Justice Tapen Sen that the transport department had issued a notification on August 28 for opening an office of an Additional RTA in Siliguri.

HC stays proceedings against CM

TNN 9 September 2009, 04:36am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court on Tuesday stayed the cognizance taken against chief minister Nitish Kumar by Barh’s additional chief judicial magistrate (ACJM) on a protest-cum-complaint petition, alleging his involvement in a murder in 1991.

One Sitaram Singh was murdered during parliamentary poll in Barh. Nitish had eventually won the poll as the then Janata Dal nominee.

A single bench presided by Justice Seema Ali Khan stayed the proceedings and called for case records of the Pandarak police station case no 131/91.

In his petition, Nitish sought quashing of the entire proceedings, including the cognizance. Taking special permission from the government to appear for Nitish in the case, additional advocate general Lalit Kishore pleaded before the court that protest petitioner Ashok Singh, as a witness in the case, had earlier deposed that he had only heard about the murder that took place near a polling booth.

The charges against Kumar were found untrue during police investigations and the protest petition was filed after full 18 years with an ulterior motive seemingly at the behest of Nitish’s political opponents, Kishore said and added the informant of the case, Rajaram Singh, did not appear in the court all these years to pursue the case.

Ashok Singh’s lawyer Dinu Kumar submitted that Nitish had fired shots, causing injury to Sitaram who later succumbed. He told the court that the informant could not pursue the case because he was threatened by people having criminal antecedents.

Idea gets HC nod for infra demerger

9 Sep 2009, 0050 hrs IST, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: Idea Cellular has got the Gujarat HC nod for demerging its passive infrastructure to Idea Cellular Towers Infrastructure, its wholly-owned subsidiary.

This arm will have Idea’s 11,000 towers in nine circles and will merge with Indus Towers, the JV between Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea. The HC also allowed Idea to adjust Rs 544-crore non-compete fee paid to Spice Communications against balance in securities premium account, it said.

Idea Cellular had announced the acquisition of Spice in June past year, paying over Rs 2,700 crore for a 40.8% stake. At that time, Idea Cellular had said it would pay Rs 544 crore as non-compete fee.

The towers hive-off was first proposed by the company board in July 2007 and was approved by shareholders and creditors in July 2009. Idea’s scrip closed at Rs 80.20, down 1.23% over the previous close.

Idea holds a 16% stake in Indus, while the other two JV partners have a 42% holding each. With the approval for the hive-off, this stake will be held through the new tower company. Increasingly, Idea is opting for shared towers, instead of owned towers to convert capex into opex. As a result, it will lower the operating margins going forward.

Law Minister: Need to infuse accountability in judiciary


Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily said the judiciary needed to be held accountable for its actions.

“We have the best and independent judiciary but independence without accountability is of no use,” Mr Moily said, addressing the National conference on Legal & Administrative reforms and double digit growth organised by ASSOCHAM here.

Mr Moily said legislation was already being developed to attract foreign investors and some provisions of the Arbitration Act 1988 which has some lacune was being amended so that disputes were resolved effectively.

“Legal or administrative reforms, we will put these in place within one year and India will become the destination to settle ADR (alternate dispute redressal) cases of the world,” he said.

“We have the capacity, able judges, able lawyers and we will do it. Like we did it in Banglore. Today Karnataka has captured the entireIT-hub. Likewise, we will capture the entire legal market,” Mr Moily said.

He pointed out that ruthless methods in administration were sometimes very harmful. “We have to build a citizen centric administration and its hallmark should be ethics, accountability, transparency, rule of the law, and efficiency,” he said.

“We have to target these qualities in administration and see to it that the victims of useless litigation are compensated. We have to reassure the foreign investors that India is a mixed economy and a welfare state where there is protection against unnecessary Government interference. corruption has to be curbed,” he added.

Mr Moily said, “when we introduced section 138 of the negotiable instruments act in 1988 for the cases of bounced cheques , little did we know that the cases will jump up to 38 lakh . Now we have developed special courts for such cases and these 38 lakh cases will be resolved soon.” He emphasised the need to encourage young entrepreneurs to change the mindset. “We should always think out of the box and come up with solutions. Have a global mind and think of the global Challenges .We need to prepare the Youth and develop a super high way for Industrial growth,” he added.


What about appointment of rights panel chief? Delhi High Court

(Source: IANS)
Published: Wed, 09 Sep 2009 at 18:26 IST border=0>

F Prev Next L

// New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the central government what steps it had taken for the appointment of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman, a post vacant since May 31.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Manmohan said: “We need some statement from government. It is a serious issue.”

The government counsel replied: “Government is under the process of amending the law.” According to the rules, the commission is to be headed by a retired chief justice of India.

The court was hearing a public interest petition filed by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation claimed that there are two retired chief justices of India eligible for the post, but the government is reluctant to appoint them.

Former Gujarat Minister Writes To SIT
To Probe Modi’s Role Into Gujarat Pogrom

By Jaspal Singh

8 September, 2009

New Delhi: The mayhem in Gujarat was the result of a thoroughly thought-out, elaborate and heinous strategy to communalise the society at large in Gujarat, with a view to derive political benefits,” writes ex-IPS and former Cabinet Minister of Gujarat Jaspal Singh to the Supreme Court-appointed SIT that is looking into the role of Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his ministerial colleagues and police officers in the Gujarat 2002 riots.

Jaspal Singh, who has been Commissioner of Police and then Mayor of Vadodara, wrote the letter on September 7, 2009 to Dr. R.K. Raghavan, Chairman, Special Investigation Team (SIT).

Singh in the letter has urged the SIT to investigate in details the communalization of Gujarat and examine the participants (officials as well as ministers) of the crucial meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the day Godhra carnage occurred. In the letter Singh named some officers who attended the meeting, and urged the SIT to examine them. They include: Smt.Swarnakanta Varma, IAS, the then Acting Chief Secretary, Mr. Ashok Narayan, IAS, the then Home Secretary, Dr. P.K. Mishra, IAS, the then Principal Secretary to the CM, Mr. Anil Mukim, IAS & Mr.A.K.Sharma, IAS, Secretaries to CM and Mr.P.C. Pande, IPS, then Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad.

Full text of Singh’s letter to SIT:


Sub: Gujarat Riots of 2002 – Action thereon

Apropos my letter dated Jun 06, 2009, I write to compliment you for pursuing investigations in to the Gujarat riots of 2002 with vigour by recording statement of Mrs.Zakia Jafri, widow of late of Mr.Ehsan Jafri, a former member of the Parliament, Shri R.B.Sreekumar, IPS (Retd), former DGP of Gujarat, and Mr.Rahul Sharma a serving IPS officer of Gujarat cadre. While the progress of the case does bring some comfort to the victims of the genocide unleashed in Gujarat, lot more remains to be done as expeditiously as possible, so as to instil a sense of hope in the hearts and minds of Indians, that the rule of law would be respected and no one would be spared for flouting it. The happenings of 2002 have brought shame and disgrace of unfathomable proportions, and only investigation by the SIT under your command can redeem the honour of the country.

I list below some of the matters which need to be investigated in detail in pursuance of trust reposed in you, and your team by the Hon’ble Apex Court. Your efforts will assuage the terribly dented image of our great country, and hence your responsibility is immense. As a retired IPS officer I consider it a matter of pride that the job to redeem the honour of the country has been entrusted to the SIT headed by a IPS officer. The outcome of the SIT’s investigation and actions following it may prove to be a benchmark in the history of our country.

1. Communalisation of Gujarat: The mayhem in Gujarat was the result of a thoroughly thought out elaborate and heinous strategy to communalise the society at large in Gujarat, with a view to derive political benefits. Towards that end the exclusivist, fundamentalist and sectarian pseudo religious groups among Hindus and Muslims played a leading role, aided and abetted by those at the helm.

2. Examiniation of participants in the crucial meeting chaired by the CM – Narendra Modi:
Examination of the following persons is crucial for the purpose of the SIT:
a) Smt.Swarnakanta Varma IAS, the then Acting Chief Secretary
b) Mr.Ashok Narayan, IAS, the then Home Secretary
c) Dr.P.K.Mishra, IAS, the then Principal Secretary to the CM
d) Mr.Anil mukim, IAS & Mr.A.K.Sharma, IAS Secretaries to CM
e) Mr.P.C.Pande IPS, then Commissioner of Police Ahmedabad
f) Shri K.Chakravarty, IPS, the then DG of Police, Gujarat
g) Shri G.C.Raiger, IPS, the then Addl. DGP of Gujarat
h) Shri Nityanand, IPS, Secretary in the Home Department.

3. Representative of CBI: The SIT must examine Shri Rajendrakumar, the then Jt.Director, Central Intelligence Bureau (CBI) in charge of Gujarat who had insisted on the state DGP to deem the burning of the train at Godhra as a terrorist act mounted by the ISI.

4. Examination of Ministers: Examine all those ministers of Shri Modi Government about the details of the meeting held at the residence of the CM on 27.02.2002, including the then Minister of State for Home Shri Govardhan Zadapiya who had admitted in the State Assembly about the meeting convened by the CM. It may be mentioned that the State Assembly was in session on the day the tragic events took place at Godhra. This can be verified from the official records of the State Assembly. This will clarify that the CM had directed the officers to permit free play of Hindu revengefulness on the Muslims (Reference to June 03, 2002 issue of the weekly – Outlook).

5. Whether prompt action taken: Examine whether there was delay in requisitioning army and central para military forces with a view to give free hand to the anti Muslim rioters.

6. Law and order Review meeting minutes: Examine the minutes of the law and order review meetings chaired by the CM, the Chief Secretary, and the DGP jointly, or otherwise and subsequent follow up action by subordinate officers in the police department, and executive magistracy from District Magistrates to Mamalatdars. If minutes were not kept it would be obvious that monitoring of the implementation of decisions could not haven been done.

7. Follow up action: Examine how the monitoring of the implementations of the decisions in these review meetings was done by the CM to DGP without minutes of these meetings.

8. Media reports – sources: Conduct deeper probe in to the source of media reports about the meeting chaired by the CM, where the CM directed the officials to be soft on Hindu rioters.

Investigation on the above lines could provide evidence of extra judicial confessions.

Some further investigations that are necessary are:

a) Examination of documents on the communications between and among the CM’s office, CS Office, Home department, DGP Office and the Commissioners of Police of Ahmedabad, Baroda, and SPs of major riot affected districts in the period from 27.02.2002 to 31.05.2002. Similar correspondence from the relevant police stations to district / commissionrate level officers also be examined to find out whether there were major omissions and commissions to facilitate the Pogram against the Muslims

b) Examination of documents on communications between the DGP and the State Control room in Gandhinagar, and the Commissionarates, besides offices of the DSPs, Addl. DGP (Intelligence)

c) Examination of entries in the registers and log books of the police patrol vehicles in cities and important towns.

d) Examination of documents on various incidents and action reported by DGP and CP Ahmedabad and riot affected districts to their higher officers.

e) Examination of reports by DGP, Home department, Chief Secretary, ADGO (Intelligence) to the Central Government and to find out veracity of reports and efforts of anyone to suppress truth.

f) It is on record that the Gujarat State intelligence branch had sent daily reports to Shri B.K.Haldar, Jt. Secy, MHA, New Delhi from 13.03.2002 onwards. Besides, daily reports which were sent on various specific incidents that took place in Gujarat. A study of these reports will indicate that there was anti-minority prejudice explicit in the actions of the state police which prompted them to avoid arrest of Hindu rioters and concentrating on penalising the Muslims. Analysis of the statistics prepared by the Add. D.G., Intelligence, Gujarat in the form of daily reports will reveal that the casualties in the police action weighed heavily against the Muslims, as also the destruction and damage to properties.

g) Action must be taken to procure data regarding representations from the riot affected people and general public received through phone calls, written complaints and personal representations from 27.02.2002 to 31.05.2002. It is also necessary to examine the quality and character of response to these by the enforcing officers. In case responses are found to be inadequate, and unprofessional, an adverse inference can be drawn against the concerned officers.

h) Examination of documents on meetings held by CP, Ahmedabad and other police commissionarates and affected districts during the same period to find out the nature of instructions given and decisions taken thereon and the extent of their implementation.

i) Examination of concerned officers from DGP to field officers at the police station level on their failure to comply with the directions and instructions on handling of communal situation in Gujarat as per Gujarat State Police Manual Vol-III, Rule 21 to 31, and DGP Gujarat’s booklet on “Criminal Riots – Strategy and Approach” forwarded to all senior police officers by the then DGP Shri K.V.Joseph vide his letter No. SB/49/1050/1175 dated 19.11.1997, compilation of Government instructions captioned –“Criminal Peace”, and recommendations of Justice Reddy Commission and the Commission headed by Justice Dave.

j) Officers in charge of areas where large scale violence happened should explain the reason for their dereliction of duties in violation of the provisions of Gujarat Police Manual Vol-III, Rules 24, 134, 135 and 136. It is relevant to note that such culpable connivance by government functionaries with the rioters had prompted the Apex Court to portray the Gujarat bureaucracy as modern day Neros and the Hon’ble Supreme Court had actively intervened to correct the aberrations by ordering :

i) Transfer of Bilkisbano rape case to CBI in April 2004
ii) Transfer of Bilkisbano and Best Bakery cases to Maharashtra in April 2004.
iii) Review of 2000 odd closed cases (August 2004)
iv) Creation of SIT to reinvestigate 9 major carnage cases (March 2008)
v) Order of the Supreme Court to the SIT to investigate on all points contained in the complaint filed by Mrs.Jafre (April 2009)

k) SIT should go in to the series of circumstances indicating criminal motive of the CM, Gujarat and his collaborators in projecting the Godhra train fire incident as an outcome of conspiracy by ISI and a terrorist act. There is sufficient evidence to prove that even before the investigating or intelligence agency had any information about conspiracy behind the Godhra fire, the CM, Gujarat, a national leader of BJP, declared it to be a consequence of conspiracy. This is the starting point of anti minority carnage. The CM made a statement in the state assembly that the Godhra train incident was a pre-planned terrorist act and was a result of a conspiracy.

l) In fact the Gujarat police brought out the questionable conspiracy element only by the end of March 2002. The Apex Court had not supported the Gujarat State Government’s application of provisions of the then prevailing POTA on the accused of the Godhra train fire.

m) Revelations by some witnesses in the Godhra train fire case in the operation ‘kalank’ brought out by ‘Tehelka’ magazine about the Gujarat police bribing them to give false evidence. The then Home Secretary Mr.G.C.Murmu, and Government pleader Mr.Arvind Pandya tried to tutor the then Addl. DGP. Shri R.B.Sreekumar to support Government’s conspiracy theory during his cross examination by the Nanavati Commission. The then Godhra Collector Ms.Jayanti Ravi openly stated that the Godhra incident was criminal and she did not mention either about the conspiracy or it being a terrorist act.

n) In fact in my view the ill motivated declaration of ISI being behind this conspiracy was a part of the larger conspiracy to perpetuate genocidal crimes against the minority community for ensuring political consolidation of the majority community in favour of the BJP to procure electoral dividends. Simultaneously the Sangh Parivar could achieve their ever pursued hidden agenda of treating the Muslim minority as second class citizens. Having denied proper relief and rehabilitation in pre-riot vocations/trades, commerce and agriculture, many riot victims were forced to compromise with the perpetrators of the violence and consequently not even 25% of the cases reviewed on the Apex Court’s orders could end up in prosecution of accused persons.

o) Abnormality and impropriety in the following actions by Shri Modi government after the Godhra incident need to be uncovered, as they are linked to the plans to inflict maximum damage on the Muslims.

I. A condolence resolution was passed in the state assembly to condone those who were killed in the train fire, though no person for whom such resolutions are customary were killed.

II. No condolence resolution was passed to condone the death of Ehsan Jafri, a former MP as was customary. This was in total violation of legislative norms.

III. No discussion in the state assembly on the riots was held for over 10 days as the assembly remained closed during the period.

IV. The CM and BJP leaders supported the Gujarat Bandh call given by the VHP on 28.02.2002.

V. Neither the CM or any senior BJP leader made any appeal for peace on the eve of the Bandh on 28.02.2002.

VI. Parading of dead bodies of Godhra fire victims in Ahmedabad city was done in violation of all regulations in this connection. Please enquire in to how the dead bodies were handed over to unauthorised persons viz. VHP leaders and not the legally entitled kin of the diseased. SIT should procure all documentary evidence about the whole process viz. Which officer had released the dead bodies to the VHP. Please procure and confiscate the relevant records immediately. Who were the persons who received the bodies, why unidentified dead bodies were also handed over to such unauthorised persons. The concerned officers be asked to produce the details of Government order, if any, in this connection. In case relevant officers take the cover of non availability of records, they should be prosecuted for deliberate destruction of evidence.

p) Mr.P.C.Pande the then Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad should be examined on the following fatal acts of negligence facilitating the blood bath in Ahmedabad city.

I. Non initiation of preventive measures as per numerous instructions including those in Gujarat Police Manual etc. from 27.02.2002 onwards when anti minority riots started.

II. Why imposition of curfew on 28.02.2002 was delayed up to 1300 Hours?

III. Why no redeployment of the SRP and additional police force was not done on 28.02.2002? The SRP continued to be at the same places as they were before.

IV. Please examine as to what follow up action he had taken on the state IB reports as cited in the affidavits filed by the then Addl. DGP Intelligence.

V. What further action did he take on his letters to the DGP, and the Secretary Home, about the role of VHP in fomenting trouble and extortion of protection money from miscreants.

q) Examine the officers of the state intelligence branch Ahmedabad City and other major riot affected areas as to whether they reported the anti minority stance of the police at the ground level during and after the riots resulting in non registration of FIRs by the riot victims. Misinformation of the intensity of crimes, clubbing of numerous offences as just one single incident.

r) Not arresting Hindu accused promptly, and not taking them on remand for collecting additional evidence, and recovery of looted or stolen property.

s) Prejudicial stand of Special Public Prosecutors some of who were office bearers of the Sangh Parivar.

t) Examine the officers in charge of the riot affected areas regarding the instructions given by them in response to distress calls from the riot victims, monitoring of the implementation of these instructions, any disciplinary action taken against anybody for non compliance etc. Examination of relevant documents in the CP or SP offices, Offices of Range DIGs/IGs and SDPOs, and police station officers absolutely imperative.

u) Electronic and print media had brought out graphically the pictures of parading of dead bodies, ghastly scenes of riots etc. These be procured and analysed, and further probes be done like arresting those found indulging in violence.

v) Many Sangh Parivar leaders and accused in anti minority carnage had boasted about their active involvement in the riots to Shri Ashish Khaitan, the Tehelka correspondent in the video. Make further inquiries about the information brought out in operation ‘kalank’. These revelations are extra judicial confessions. The forensic test of all these persons is also necessary.

w) Please examine state home department officials and DGP, Shri K.Chakravarty about follow up action initiated by them on the state IB reports regarding prejudices of the state police against the riot victims. Please examine Home Secretary Shri Ashok Narain, as to what action he had taken on the demand by the National Minority Commission about highly inciting and incendiary speech of the CM in 2002.

x) Please examine the Secretary, Law Department for appointing supporters and office bearers of the Sangh Parivar as Special Public Prosecutors to present cases against the accused belonging to Hindu community.

y) Please examine the District Magistrates of relevant districts as to why they recommended supporters and office bearers of the Sandh Parivar for appointment as Police Public prosecutors to the state law department.

z) Please examine the Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi, about the details of instructions given by him to the Chief Secretary, Home department officials and the DGP during the riots and subsequently. Did he notice any acts of omission or commission by such officers, if so what action he had initiated to correct the system and discipline those who derelicted their duties. Did the CM initiate any curative measures to redress the grievance of the victims before the intervention by the NHRC, the Apex Court, and the national level bodies. If no such action was taken, then this must be deemed as part of a conspiracy to perpetuate violence on the Muslim minority and subversion of criminal justice system. Please examine Mr.Modi on the action taken by him about malicious role of one of his cabinet ministers, Mr.Bharat Barot in inciting anti minority violence as reported by the CP, Ahmedabad.

It is quite likely that the Government functionaries who collaborated with the CM and the Sangh Parivar in executing anti minority violence will refuse to provide relevant evidence to the SIT. Therefore the SIT will have to depend on the documentary evidence in Government and police records heavily. Once clear picture about planning and execution of conspiracy emerges, the relevant culprits should be confronted and their forensic test be carried out.

I strongly feel that a few officers known for their competence, professionalism and integrity need to be inducted in to the SIT from the Gujarat Police. The supervisory officers in the SIT at present are handicapped by their lack of knowledge Gujarati language. To overcome this problem I would strongly recommend the induction of the following officers in to the SIT.
1. Mr.Satish Verma, IPS 1986
2. Mr.Rahul Sharma, IPS 1992
3. Mr.Rajnish Rai, IPS 1992
4. Dr.(Mrs) Neerja Gotru Rao, IPS 1993 and
5. Mr.Hasmukh N. Patel, IPS 1993
For probing points contained in the complaint filed by Mrs Jafri.

Any failure by the Indian Judicial system to bring under the clutches of law, the real planners and executioners of anti-minority genocide in 2002 would further energise anti Indian forces internationally and particularly those jihadi groups who have been denigrating the Indian State authorities for their failure to protect the minority community. The Islamic terrorists who had claimed responsibility for explosions and terror acts throughout India since 2002 have declared their dastardly acts as revenge and retribution for Gujarat genocide. These groups will fully capitalise on any situation which will provide immunity from prosecution to the CM, Shri Narendra Modi and his aides and attract frustrated riot victims to their camps to the detriment of our national interest.

Praying for expeditious actions on the above suggestions/requests.

Yours sincerely,

Jaspal Singh IPS (Retd)
4, Green Park, Akota, Vadodara 390020
Telephone: 0265 2332555

Appoint full-time NCW chief, Brinda tells PM

9 Sep 2009, 0321 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: On a day Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a national mission to empower women, his government faced accusations of being “indifferent” to the National Commission for Women (NCW), an autonomous body which monitors implementation of constitutional and legal guarantees for women as well as policies.

Irked over the absence of a full-time chairperson for the statutory body, CPM on Tuesday sought prime minister’s intervention to ensure the post is filled and has the status of a Cabinet minister. In a letter to Mr Singh, CPM polit bureau member Brinda Karat said three months had passed since the present incumbent Girija Vyas was elected to the Lok Sabha, but the government had not taken any step to appoint a new chairperson.

Praising Ms Vyas, she said her work in the Commission has earned her the highest regard and respect. Ms Karat said both Ms Vyas and Ms Krishna Tirath had agreed that a full-time chairperson was required. “On an earlier occasion, I had drawn your attention to the injustice meted out to the Commission in that the chairperson of other similarly constituted commissions had the status of a Cabinet minister which was denied to the chairperson of the Women’s Commission and was therefore discriminatory.

But now instead of undoing that injustice, the government has shown its indifference and neglect of the commission by the inordinate delay in appointing a full-time chairperson,” said the CPM MP, who is also a leader of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).

She said NCW was not a government department and was born out of long struggle of women for a statutory autonomous body to monitor the implementation of constitutional and legal guarantees for women and to intervene where there were violations by the state as also on all policy matters concerning women. “There is resentment among women about the approach of the government to the Commission,” Ms Brinda Karat said.

Woman files complaint against TV reporter


Lucknow, Sep 8 (PTI) A day after National Commission for Women (NCW) sought a report from Uttar Pradesh government on alleged selling of women in Bundelkhand region, the woman concerned today lodged a complaint against television reporter for portraying her in bad picture in Jhansi district.

Kusum alias Sallo lodged a complaint at Todafatehpur police station in Jhansi today alleging that a news channel aired a story on September 5 in which her character was portrayed indecently, police said here.

In her FIR, Kusum said that as claimed by the news channel, she was never sold by her brother-in-law Shripath, nor her husband Deshraj paid any money to “buy” her.

“I am willingly living with Deshraj Ahirwar as his wife for the last six years,” she said her FIR.

New CBI team to probe Aarushi murder

IANS | New Delhi

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is forming a new team to probe the sensational murders of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar and her family’s domestic help Hemraj last year, the agency announced on Wednesday, days after reports said the vaginal swabs of the teenager may have been substituted.

“A new team is being formed to probe the Aarushi murder case,” CBI spokesman Harsh Bhal told IANS.

Bhal said CBI Deputy Inspector General “Arun Kumar (who was leading the probe) is completing his term in October. Arun Kumar has sought early repatriation (to Uttar Pradesh) and that is why the new team will be formed before his term ends”.

The new team is being formed 17 months after Aarushi was found murdered in her parents’ Jalvayu Vihar apartment in Noida May 16 last year. The family’s domestic help Hemraj was found murdered a day later on the terrace of the house. The case has remained an unsolved riddle.

On Sep 5, IANS reported that Kumar has been asked to return to his home state following poor handling of the sensational double murder case. The decision follows the startling reports of a surreptitious replacement of Aarushi’s vaginal swabs with another women’s.

Kumar, a senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, was on deputation to the CBI.

Earlier on Wednesday, the CBI maintained it had known “for eight months” that the vaginal swabs of Aarushi may have been substituted and that it was probing the tampering of evidence.

“Our investigators have been following this angle for the last eight months and will soon file a status report in the Supreme Court,” Bhal said, when asked about the DNA sample of the teenaged victim reportedly being changed with that of an unidentified woman.

“There is nothing new in it (the allegations of tampering) as far as investigations are considered,” he said.

Bhal refused to divulge any more details, saying the murder was being investigated and the matter was sub judice. “Nothing can be shared with the media right now.”

The double murders have remained one of the country’s biggest whodunits. After meandering through unexpected twists and turns, the probe had almost reached a dead-end.

All those who were picked up for interrogation in the initial weeks of the murder – Aarushi’s dentist-father Rajesh Talwar, his medical assistant Krishna and two other domestic helps, Raj Kumar and Vijay Mandal – are out while the CBI still continues to hunt for material evidence.

But latest reports that the vaginal swabs were substituted has re-ignited media and public interest in the case.

There have been allegations that a pathologist, Richa Saxena, who works for a government hospital in Noida, had tampered with the DNA samples. But Saxena, who collected the swab samples taken by doctor Sunil Dohre during the autopsy, insisted that there was no mix-up.

“It is sheer mischief to rake up another controversy,” Saxena, who was at that time assisting Dohre, told IANS. Saxena, who was said to be absconding, also insisted that she was being “dragged into a bigger conspiracy”.

“I am not absconding but have been very disturbed with false allegations against me. This is a conspiracy to shield the real culprits in the case and I am being dragged into this large conspiracy,” said Saxena.

Gujarat picks holes in Tamang report on ‘fake encounter’

Rathin Das | Ahmedabad

BJP defends Modi

The Gujarat Government on Tuesday rejected the findings of the Metropolitan Magistrate’s probe report that called the June 15, 2004 encounter killing of four people, including Mumbai college girl Ishrat Jahan, as fake. The statutory inquiry report by Metropolitan Magistrate SP Tamang on Monday said the police officers had ‘staged’ the encounter to gain appreciation of Chief Minister Narendra Modi and get promotions.

Rubbishing the report, State Government spokesman and Health Minister Jay Narayan Vyas said the probe report was “bad in law” and would be challenged in an appropriate court. Vyas said the report by the Metropolitan Magistrate did not have any sanction of appropriate law as the High Court too has ordered a committee to probe the same incident.

The inquiry by the Metropolitan Magistrate should have been stopped when it became known that the Gujarat High Court too has appointed a committee of three IPS officers to probe the same incident.

The Health Minister questioned the findings of the report as the Metropolitan Magistrate had not bothered to question the accused police officers who are alleged to have ‘staged’ the encounter.

As a strange coincidence, both the Metropolitan Magistrate and the High Court appointed panels with three IPS officers each as their members. The panels were asked by respective courts to conduct the probe on the same day – August 13 this year, and given time till November 30 for submitting the reports.

Vyas questioned the hurry with which the Metropolitan Magistrate submitted his report even while the High Court-appointed panel too was at the same job.

Vyas said the probe panel did not give time and opportunity to the accused police officers any chance to defend themselves and also referred to the intelligence inputs from the Centre about the terrorists’ link of the four persons killed in the ‘encounter’.

Challenging the logic of giving a clean chit to the four victims in the report, Vyas quoted from the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Gujarat High Court wherein the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba links of the foursome were clearly stated.

About the ‘innocence’ of the college girl Ishrat Jahan, Vyas said the Lahore-based Ghazwa Times, mouthpiece of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, had said on July 15, 2004 that its woman activist was unveiled by Indian police and her body was kept with other mujahideens on the ground.

The Home Ministry had filed the affidavit in the High Court to oppose the demand for a CBI inquiry into the whole episode made by Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kausar.

The affidavit filed by the Home Ministry made clear references to the terrorist connections of the four who were gunned in the encounter in the eastern suburb of the city around 4.30 am on June 15, 2004.

The Centre had received specific inputs that LeT had been planning to carry out terrorist activities in various parts of the country, including Gujarat, and it was planning to assassinate top national and State leaders, Vyas quoted from the Home Ministry affidavit.

“Javed was in regular touch with LeT operatives to carry out terrorist activities in Gujarat,” Vyas quoted from the affidavit to refute the Metropolitan Magistrate’s report’s view that the killed youth were innocent.

Vyas also said that Javed — born Pranesh Pillai but converted to Islam after marriage to one Sajida — had four criminal cases against him in Thane and had two passports in different names.

The Home Ministry affidavit also pointed out several contradictions with regard to the activities, occupation and movement of Javed and Ishrat in the last few days till their death in the encounter on June 15, 2004.

Acting on a writ petition filed by Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kausar, the Gujarat High Court has ordered a high-powered committee headed by Additional DGP Pramod Kumar to probe the controversial encounter. Other members of the committee are IPS officers Mohan Jha and JK Bhatt.

In Delhi while the BJP defended Modi, the Congress and CPI(M) have slammed the Gujarat Government over the fake encounter allegations.

Senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu has said the Gujarat Chief Minister cannot be held responsible for everything that happens in the State. “Do you think anything that happens in any State the Chief Minister is responsible? If anything happens in the national Capital, is the Prime Minister responsible?” Naidu said in reply to a question on whether Modi should be held accountable for the Ishrat Jahan encounter.

Naidu accused the media of suffering from “Modi-mania”. “How is the Chief Minister concerned with this (Ishrat Jahan case)? Let law take its own course,” he said.

But holding Modi squarely responsible for the Ishrat’s killing, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said Modi would have been in “some other place” if the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter had taken place in a foreign country.

He told reporters that Modi could be headed for bigger trouble as “there are many such cases which are coming up now. If more investigations are conducted, more skeletons may tumble.”

Noting that the law will take its own course, he said the revelations in the encounter were a “very serious matter for the country and in any other foreign country, Narendra Modi would have been in some other place.”

Terming the incident as “most unfortunate”, Moily said, “Many things are done brutally and in inhuman way.”

The CPI(M) has demanded resignation of Modi and said he should take moral responsibility for the killing of a college girl and three others in the fake encounter case.

“The targeted killings of persons belonging to the minority community by the State police reveal the state-of-affairs under the Narendra Modi Government,” the CPI(M) Politburo said in a statement.

“The enquiry has revealed the hand of senior police officials, including then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner and DIG Vanzara who is now facing trial for another fake encounter killing — of Soharabuddin Sheikh and his wife,” the statement said.

A contested inquiry

The Pioneer Edit Desk

Jumping the gun on Ishrat killing
Ametropolitan magistrate in Gujarat has come to the conclusion, in roughly three weeks and without going through the process of collecting evidence, that the police faked the ‘encounter’ with four ‘terrorists’, among them a young college student, Ishrat Jahan, to secure promotion and appreciation. The incident occurred on June 15, 2004, in the outskirts of Ahmedabad. The police claim that they had real time, actionable intelligence input that Ishrat Jahan and the three men who were travelling in a car, had entered Gujarat from Mumbai to carry out terrorist attacks, including the assassination of Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The three men were Javed Gulam Mohammad Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, a Hindu who had embraced Islam to marry a Muslim woman, held two passports and was wanted for crimes committed in Mumbai, and two Pakistanis, Amjad Ali alias Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani. They were believed to be Lashkar-e-Tayyeba operatives; nobody came forward to claim the bodies of Ali and Gani. Within days, the LeT had admitted that all four were its members and had been martyred. The Metropolitan Magistrate, Mr SP Tamang, has claimed in his 240-page hand-written report that all this is fiction; that the police killed the Ishrat Jahan and the four men in cold blood; and, that the killings were later shown as an ‘encounter’.

Three points need to be made about Mr Tamang’s report. First, it has been produced with amazing speed; second, the policemen who have been named were not questioned; and, third, the due process of conducting a magisterial inquiry was not followed. That apart, on August 13, the same day Mr Tamang was asked to probe the deaths, the High Court set up a Special Investigation Team, comprising senior police officers, to conduct a similar inquiry. The SIT is still at its job, but Mr Tamang has completed his report and given it to the media. The Gujarat Government has contested Mr Tamang’s claim and, apart from declaring its intention to contest the report, has let it be known that the intelligence input came from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, which has also submitted an affidavit in the High Court reiterating that the four were linked to the LeT and they were on a terror mission, including assassinations. The Congress-led UPA was in power at the Centre when the encounter happened; hence, the Gujarat Government could not have ‘manipulated’ the Home Ministry’s affidavit.

The political reaction to Mr Tamang’s claim has been predictable with the Congress seeking to gain political mileage out of it by slyly dragging Mr Modi’s name into the affair. This is reprehensible, not least because the last word has not been heard on the killings. With the High Court setting up an SIT, the probe conducted by Mr Tamang should have been called off; instead he has sought to pre-empt, if not influence, the SIT’s inquiry. This is patently unacceptable. An issue as serious as ‘fake’ encounters or extra-judicial killings by the police, which deserve to be condemned in unequivocal terms and have no place in a civilised society governed by law, should not be trivialised in so cavalier a manner as has been done by Mr Tamang. If indeed Ishrat Jahan and the three men were innocent victims, then the guilty policemen must be brought to justice and given exemplary punishment. But a flawed report is not the way to go about this task, nor does partisan politics help reveal the truth.

Murder most foul

The Pioneer Edit Desk

CBI botched up Aarushi probe

The latest revelations in the infamous Aarushi-Hemraj murder case have further exposed the rot that plagues our criminal justice system. After the confirmation that Aarushi’s autopsy samples were tampered with — her vaginal swab was swapped with that of another female — it now appears that the CBI, which was asked to investigate the case, had adequate reasons to believe that crucial evidence related to the crime had been mishandled as much as eight months ago. For, late last year the country’s ‘premier’ investigative agency had found some original medical papers of Aarushi’s autopsy missing from the district hospital in Noida where the test slides of Aarushi’s vaginal swabs were also prepared. Given the nature of the crime — murder with possible rape — analysis of the correct samples could have been critical to nabbing the culprits. But the Central Forensic Laboratory in Hyderabad has established that the sample slides do not even contain Aarushi’s DNA. And since Aarushi’s body has long been cremated — on May 17 last year, exactly a day after the autopsy — there is no way to verify the samples. On the other hand, Hemraj, the other victim in the double murder, was cremated without anyone drawing his DNA samples. Yet the CBI has done little to go after those responsible for spiking the investigation. It has belatedly formed an internal committee to look into the mishandling of evidence in the case. Meanwhile, Dr Ritcha Saxena, who is supposed to have made the pathological slides for Aarushi’s swabs, has long gone into hiding.

Cases like the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case or the Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Mattoo murder cases are classic examples of how our criminal justice system can easily be subverted if one has the resources. Crucial evidence can be tampered with, witnesses can be ‘bought’, and investigations can be derailed with the slightest of external influence. Let alone the local police, that the CBI too cannot seem to be able to prevent botching up of investigations under its scanner is truly worrisome. It is no secret that corruption is the cancer that is eating away at the vitals of our criminal justice system. Greasing a few palms has become the difference between establishing guilt and getting away with murder. Unless corruption is fought tooth and nail things will only go from bad to worse. The Aarushi-Hemraj murder case, despite being a high-profile case that was significantly tracked by the media, is yet to see justice even after more than a year. If this is the state of affairs with this case one can very well imagine the status of those thousands of criminal cases that go unreported. Revamping the criminal justice system is a solution. But words need to be backed up with action.

HC raps litigants for deploying time wasting tactics

Parvaiz Sultan | New Delhi

The Delhi High Court has expressed its displeasure over the undue advantage of the court’s procedure and technicalities taken by the litigants for dragging matters for long as per their convenience.

The Court was also peeved at counsels appearing for their client and observed that it seems they are also part of such practice and are supported by the Bar. Justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra was unhappy in particular with one Sohan Singh, who facing contempt proceedings, moved an application in the Court with a prayer of modification or withdrawing an order after a month it was passed saying that his counsel (senior counsel) appearing for him has submitted undertaking without his instructions and sought more time to comply with the order.

“It has become a normal practice to give undertakings in the Court and then to deny them, defy them and not act on them and then try to wriggle out of the undertakings by adopting one or the other method,” the Judge noted in the judgement while dismissing his application. He further remarked that these attempts are adopted to humiliate the Courts and also slapped him a fine of Rs 25,000 for wasting Court’s precious time.

The Court also observed giving undertakings has become another strategy for gaining time and the statements that may be made in the Court are losing their sanctity because of these tactics being adopted and supported by the bar. “It is most unfortunate that senior counsels are allowing themselves to be used in this manner and are prepared to argue that earlier senior counsel acted without instructions and the Court should, on the weightage of an affidavit of instructing counsel, discard the submissions of the earlier senior counsel and believe the present senior counsel,” Justice Dhingra said.

“I consider that these kind of applications which try to demean and degrade the proceedings in the Court and where the Advocates are changed only with the motive of taking advantage of the procedural technicalities of the Court should be deprecated,” he said, adding that the application is hereby dismissed with the costs of Rs 25, 000 to be deposited in Prime Minister’s Relief Fund within 30 days.

Singh, who was involved in some property dispute submitted through a senior counsel during the argument of contempt proceedings, said that he would be vacating the premises in his occupation within two weeks. Later, he approached the Court and sought more time to comply with the order saying that the counsel appearing for him acted without his instructions.

HC directs State Govt to pay compensation in land case

PNS | Jabalpur

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has directed the State Government to decide compensation within three months over the alleged illegal acquisition of 122 acre land here belonging to a certain family.

Hearing a petition by Vishvanath Pachouri and Azad Kumar Pachouri challenging the acquisition of 122 acre land under the Land Acquisition Act, a single-member bench of Justice Rajendra Menon on Friday observed that the government had failed to implement court orders passed on April 7, 2005, to settle the compensation afresh. The court directed to settle the compensation before November to avoid initiating Contempt of Court proceedings.

Ganjam lawyers seek constable’s suspension

PNS | Berhampur

The attack on a lawyer by a police constable within the court premises has taken a new turn as the Ganjam Bar Association has resolved to ask the city Superintendent of Police RK Sharma to suspend the guilty constable within a week.

The Association had convened an emergency meeting on Tuesday in which several veteran lawyers and members of the association expressed concern that a police constable had dared to assault a practicing lawyer and that too within the court premises. They further said the police personnel were frequently attacking lawyers and even do not hesitate to rain lathis at times.

It was also resolved that the constable should appear at the bar and he should bag apologise before the lawyers. An Inspector should inquire into both the FIRs lodged by the lawyer and the constable. And the inquiry should be completed within one month as per the resolution of the bar association, informed an office-bearer.

It may be recalled that one constable had allegedly attacked a lawyer on Monday. Lawyer Rabi Narayan Bisoyee had lodged an FIR against constable Purna Chandra Sahu. Constable Sahu had also filed a counter FIR at the police station against lawyer.

Rs 50 cr spent on illegal flights: AG office to HC

Ratnaker Bhengra | Ranchi

With the office of the Accountant General conclusively arriving at a figure of a little over Rs 50 crore accrued during the relevant period on helicopter flights misuse, and submitting these accounts to the Jharkhand High Court, the attention grabbing case seems to be heading for a climax.

On presentation of the accounts, the State sought time for replying to the same. The HC granted the Government the requested time.

It will be recollected that in the PIL, Bindu Bhusan Dubey alleged that there has been gross misuse of the helicopters at the disposal of the State Government by various known and unknown persons. The sums cited fluctuated from Rs 34 crore to Rs 17 crore.

While Dubey had initiated the matter, being an issue of money, the office of the Accountant General was responsible for delving into the various sums alleged to have been spent or as put forward by the State Government. The State had arrived at the figure of around Rs 17 crore for the relevant flights or those that mattered.

Finally, the Accountant Generals office was tasked to come out with the flights and corresponding figures after submissions of the relevant papers.

In its affidavit which it presented on Tuesday, the AG office submitted that the total flights in question are 946, of which 784 are chartered, 138 are Dhruv flights and 24 are air force flights.

The total numbers of hours of flying are given as 2236.27 hours, and the total apportioned cost is indicated as Rs 50.9878597 crore. The cost per hour of flight time is calculated as Rs 2.28 lakh per hour. The affidavit submits that the total expenditure includes such expenses as office expenditure, maintenance, insurance, rent, taxes.

In one paragraph, the AG has stated that on the basis of scrutiny of records and replies by the State and in the absence of any rules, none of the journeys made by the hired or owned aircrafts during the period in question are regular and authorised.

The AG office also submitted the names the passengers which differed from the names of passengers who actually traveled as per the records of the Civil Aviation Department.

Don’t delist dental colleges: Haryana to HC

Monika | Chandigarh

Haryana’s Health and Medical Education Department on Tuesday requested Punjab and Haryana High Court not to de-recognise six dental colleges of the State alleged for illegally admitting 144 students considering loss to the admitted students.

Informing the court through an affidavit following the petition filed by Gurgaon resident Mohan Lal Pipal, Deputy Secretary of the State’s Health and Medical Education Department, submitted that in order to curb the practice of illegal admissions without affecting the future of already admitted students, the State Government has recognised the matter and recommended to the Government of India vide letters dated August 21, 2009 and August 24, 2009 that admissions to the alleged dental colleges may be reduced by 25 per cent of their present intake every year for four years.

The affidavit informed that the total of 2,217 students were admitted to the Bachelors of Dental Surgery (BDS) and 217 to Masters of Dental Surgery (MDS) in the sessions 2005-06 to 2008-09 in the six institutions and admissions for 2009-10 is under process.

“Out of 2217, 144 students have been admitted illegally,” posited he adding that if these institutions are de-recognised, all the students who have incurred their time and money for the course will not be able to get their degrees causing a huge loss to them.

The views of Haryana were also sought earlier vide letters dated March 23, 2009 received from Union ministry of Health and Family Welfare while intimating the number of illegal admissions made in the six private un-aided dental institutions.

HC records statement of ‘dead man’: Put to death 13 years ago, dead man -Jasgir Singh – once again walked into the court on Tuesday and accepted before the division bench of Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Jitendra Chauhan that he was indeed Jagsir Singh, son of Sukhdev Singh of Tallewal village and denied any knowledge regarding his family or Nachhatar Singh.

The court had recorded his statement and maintained that the state authorities are liable to pay the compensation and not the investigating or low-rung officers.

Undergone five years of imprisonment in a murder case, that actually never happened, the petitioner Nachhatar Singh, while talking to reporters, stated that he was framed due to political conspiracy and eventually climaxed with suicide of his only son.

He said: “Two members of legislative assembly are behind this as I were the village sarpanch belonging to Congress. We even complained to police that Jagsir is still alive, but SP and DSP built up false evidence and even recorded confessional statements after torturing us.”Exemption from personal appearance not granted: Taking cognisance of contempt of court petition filed by surveyor-cum-loss assessor KN Sethi, the Punjab and Haryana High Court elucidated that exemption cannot be granted to the respondent in contempt cases from personal appearance on grounds of observance of orders.

Pursuing the petition, Justice Rakesh Kumar Garg averred, “National Insurance Company’s (NIC) former chairman-cum-managing director S Ramaswami and United Insurance Company’s (UIC) chairman-cum-managing director N Sriniwasan were not granted any exemption from personal appearance before this court, yet they have chosen not to be present before this court.”

Panel on Rent Control Act implementation

Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The Punjab government has set up a committee to study the implementation of the Rent Control Act in the state. The committee will visit the country’s states which have implemented the Rent Control Act.

The committee is expected to give a report by the end of the month following which the process of implementing the Act in the state will start.

Sources said the constitution of the panel might be a “delaying tactics” of the government to avoid implementing the Act.

The Punjab Rent Bill was passed by the Vidhan Sabha in April 1995 and it got the President’s assent in 1998, but even after more than a decade the Bill has not been notified by the government.

The Bill regulates the landlord-tenant relationship, demarcates their rights and obligations and lays down grounds of eviction of tenants. The tenant lobby has been reportedly responsible for not allowing the Act to be notified all these years as the implementation of the Act is expected to hike rent.

The government is said to be under pressure from the Union government to implement
the Act.

“In case the state wants the Centre to fund its schemes under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the state will have to implement the Act soon,” said a source.

“Amendment of rent control laws is mandatory reform in the mission. States are expected to implement the reform in the mission period. It is believed existing rent control laws are in favour of the tenant. The objective of the reform of the Rent Control Act is to bring out amendments in existing provisions for balancing interests of landlords and tenants. Reform in the rent control laws is believed to improve housing situation in urban areas, lessen distortions in the market, and have beneficial impact on urban finances,” states the JNNURM brochure.

The previous Congress government in the state headed by Capt Amarinder Singh had agreed to undertake reforms following which the money under the scheme was released by the Centre.

Till now, the state has taken Rs 1,300-crore grants for development projects. However, the further funding will be allowed only after the state informs the Centre that the reforms are being carried out.

Benipal to oppose Bains’ bail plea

Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 8
Following allegations that the special investigation team (SIT) constituted to look into the tehsildar attack case would not oppose the bail application of SAD councillor and accused Simarjit Singh Bains, the victim tehsildar has taken upon himself the task of arguing on the plea.

The tehsildar, Major Gurjinder Singh Benipal (retd), said today that he would argue the case himself in the court tomorrow. Bains’ plea, along with those of six others, would come up for hearing in a local court tomorrow.

“I will be there with my lawyer and will oppose the bail application. I do not care whether SIT opposes it or not,” said Major Benipal.

Stating that he had lost faith in the Punjab police and was only trusting the judiciary, he added he would leave no stone unturned and argue the plea. “If I feel the police is not playing a fair part, I will go up to the High Court. I have to get justice,” he said.

All 18 revenue officials posted in the district would proceed on mass protest leave and remain present during the hearing.

Doc gets jail for removing kidney
Dr SN Gupta had removed the kidney of a woman, who had come to his nursing home in June 2003 reporting pain in the abdomen

Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Panipat, September 8
The district courts today found a city doctor guilty of removing kidney of an unsuspecting patient and sentenced him to an imprisonment for five and a half years.

The court of ACJM JB Gupta, while pronouncing the verdict, also imposed a penalty of Rs 7,000 on the doctor, who runs a nursing home in the district.

According to the case, Suresh Kumar, a resident of Uttar Pradesh, had filed a complaint alleging that his wife Omal Malik had reported pain in the abdomen, following which she was admitted to Geeta Nursing Home in June 2003. Dr SN Gupta told them that his wife had a stone in the kidney and she had to be operated upon at the earliest.

He got his wife operated at the nursing home, but Omal again reported pain in the abdomen in November 2005.

Suresh got her examined by other doctors, who reportedly told him that one of her kidneys was missing, following which he and his relatives held a protest outside the nursing home.

The police registered a case under Sections 326, 420 and 406 of the IPC and Sections 18 and 19 of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act against the doctor in November 2005.

The couple then moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking justice. After hearing the prosecution and the defense counsels, the local court held the doctor guilty and sentenced him to five and a half years.

HC reserves judgment on police officers’ bail plea

Kumar Rakesh
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, September 8
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court today reserved its judgment on the bail application of two police officials arrested for destroying evidence in the rape-and-murder case of two Shopian women.

The defence lawyer, who is representing suspended SP Javid Iqbal Mattoo and DSP Rohit Baskotra, presented his arguments against the opposition to his clients’ bail plea by the state and the Bar Association. He said the special investigating team (SIT) had failed to produce any material evidence to implicate both officials’ crime even 55 days after their arrest. When he was asked by the court why the SP did not reach the spot after the bodies of both women were recovered on May 30 morning, he said he was busy with other work and had directed the SHO, also in detention, to probe it.

The Bar continued with its objections and its lawyer said a Division Bench of the High Court headed by Chief Justice Barin Ghosh had ordered their arrest on strong suspicion of their involvement in the crime.

After hearing the arguments, Justice Sunil Hali reserved his judgment.

He had earlier asked the SIT to file an affidavit to tell the court about the number of days it would take to finish the probe. Farooq Ahmad, IG, Kashmir, who is also supervising the SIT probe, had said that they could not say in advance as how many more days they would take.

The SIT has to produce a challan against the four arrested cops within 60 days of their arrest made on July 15, or the court is bound by the Supreme Court guidelines to release them on bail.

Official sources said the SIT had no tangible evidence to link these four cops with the crime they had been accused of, but it was trying its hardest to prepare a challan as bail on this count would further embarrass the state government. The government has told the SIT to go ahead with the filling of a challan with whatever substance it has.

The bail application of two more cops, the then SHO and the investigation officer, is to come up before the High Court tomorrow.

Cong seeks CBI probe into sex scandal

Tribune News Service

Shimla, September 8
The Congress has demanded a CBI inquiry into the alleged call-girls scandal at a local hotel and has sought an immediate action against the ruling party politicians and the officer of the Environment Department involved in the case.

General secretary of the party Kuldeep Rathore said the police was under tremendous pressure to hush up the matter and the truth could be brought out only through an impartial probe. The politician, who heads an important committee of the government, should quit forthwith and if he refused to so, the government should sack him. The officer should also be suspended till an inquiry is conducted into the scandal, he added.

He said the Prime Minister had, at a recent meeting, expressed concern over corruption in environment clearances and the current episode had only highlighted the deep nexus between politicians and officers in the state. The BJP was always infamous for corruption, including financial corruption, land scams and now even moral turpitude.

The conflicting statements of the superintendent of police in various newspapers indicated that the police was trying to shield the guilty. It was not for the first time that the police was behaving in such a manner under the present regime. During the recent Lok Sabha poll, the “currency wad” episode was covered up, he said.

The BJP government has, in the past 18 months, promoted a political culture alien to the state which is inhabited by honest and hard-working people. The moral fibre has been weakened and the people were bearing the brunt of rampant corruption, he said.

RTI queries baffle central power sector staff

Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, September 8
The right to information (RTI) has empowered Indian citizens to procure facts regarding public offices.

However, certain queries by citizens are illogical and far-fetched. One such query made by one Sanjay Giri, a resident of Nimatpur area of Burdwan district of West Bengal, has been keeping the entire central power sector establishments in the country on tenterhooks for past more than one month.

Highly placed sources told The Tribune that Giri sent his set of queries under the RTI to the Union Minister for Power who further forwarded it to all central government power establishments as the NHPC, the NTPC, power grid and BBMB etc.

The applicant had sought a list of all material purchased in the power sector since 1989. He had also sought department-wise daily reports of all concerned departments of power sector, bearing purchased since 1989, make of bearing, number, size, indents of their purchase and usage.

He had also sought the list of material repaired and reconditioned, medical facility provided to employees and casual labour, tender prices in detail, names, addresses and telephone numbers of all power sector suppliers.

Officials, who have been busy collecting the information sought, are perplexed about its use. While talking to The Tribune, they said the list of materials ranged from simple safety pins purchased for office purpose to highly sophisticated parts of turbines. To make a list of these materials since 1989 was an almost impossible task as some of 20-year old record might have got destroyed, they alleged.

However, the most difficult part of the set of queries is the list of trees and plants in power sector areas along with their names and numbers. The areas of some of the power sector establishments as the NHPC, NTPC and BBMB extend to thousands of acres spreading across various states. To calculate the numbers of trees and plants in these areas along with their names was an intricate task, they added.

Employees, who are busy trying to collect the information sought, said the public information officers were pressing them to provide the information at the earliest as they were liable to be fined if they failed to do so. However, the applicant might also have to shell out lakhs of rupees as the information sought would comprise many pages, they said.

Muthoot murder: Two surrender before TN court

TIRUNELVELI (TN)/THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, 8 SEPT: Two persons wanted in connection with the murder of Kerala-based businessman Paul Muthoot George, today surrendered before a
court here. Om Prakash and Puthenpalam Rajesh, who surrendered before judicial magistrate Mr S Selvam, were remanded in judicial custody till 11 September. Mr Selvam ordered that they be produced before a magistrate court in Pattanamthitta in Kerala on 12 September.
The duo was suspected to have travelled with George, the day he was murdered by a gang in Alappuzha in the wee hours on 22 August. They had escaped from the spot by George’s car and fled to the neighbouring state.
Meanwhile, the Congress-led United Democratic Front today walked out of the Kerala assembly and staged a dharna outside the House after the Speaker refused leave for an adjournment motion to discuss the case. Alleging a nexus between the police and criminal gangs, the Opposition also demanded that the home minister Mr Kodiyeri Balakrishnan resign from his post for misleading legislators in the murder case. Leader of the Opposition, Mr Oommen Chandy, said that the media has done more to bring facts to the table while the current government was doing its best to blotch up evidence. “Mr Balakrishnan had asked the media to stay away from the case and let police do the job but a recent undercover operation by a local TV channel has clearly revealed that the police is trying to cover up for their bosses,” he said, after walking out of the Assembly today.
Inspector General of Police, Mr Vinson Paul told the Press that a man called Kari Satheesh (now in police custody) had used an S-shaped knife to stab the 32-year-old businessman. CPI-M state secretary Mr Pinarayi Vijayan improvised on the IG’s statement and said that it was the RSS that used weapons of this nature and that the media was probing the wrong political connection. Mr Balakrishnan’s son, Bineesh Kodiyeri, is also said to be friends with the accused. The BJP has demanded an apology from Mr Vijayan.
In another twist, a blacksmith from Alappuzha told an undercover reporter that he made an ‘S-shaped’ knife as per the directions of investigating officer Mr KA Thomas, which according to the channel could have been planted in Kari Satheesh’s house.
Police had said George was murdered by a criminal gang, which stabbed him to death after a sudden provocation following a heated exchange over the businessman’s car hitting a motorcyclist.
Both Om Prakash and Rajesh had been listed as wanted persons under the Goonda Act. SNS & Agencies

RIL contract provides no govt role in gas price fixation: RNRL New Delhi, Sep 9 (PTI):

Anil Ambani group firm RNRL on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the government has no role to play either in the utilisation or the fixation of gas price as per its contract with Mukesh-led RIL.
“RIL has complete marketing freedom for sale of gas within India. The marketing freedom would include within its scope the freedom to sell the gas on such terms and at such price that RIL deems fit and proper,” RNRL said in an affidavit while replying to the petition filed by RIL.

Stating that Reliance Industries Ltd has been changing its stance with regard to the MoU (family agreement), Reliance Natural Resources detailed RIL’s response on different occasions and said “this fully exposes RIL’s blatant lie and falsehood.”

The two sides had approached Supreme Court challenging a decision by the Bombay High Court on June 15, which said RIL should provide 28 million cubic metres of gas per day to RNRL at USD 2.34 per mmBtu and both the parties should sign a necessary agreement for the same within a month.

RIL, however, is pleading that it was only a contractor for the gas from the Krishna-Godavari basin’s D6 block and did not have the power to fix the price, while the government has also moved a special leave petition in the case asserting its right on pricing and distribution of natural gas.

The apex court has decided to commence hearing on this matter on October 20.

Stating that the supply of gas was not subject to any gas utilisation policy of the government under the PSC with RIL, RNRL said in its affidavit that “the petitioners (RIL) are seeking to mis-interpret the terms of the Production Sharing Contract to suggest that any sale of gas has to be in accordance with the gas utilisation policy.”

RNRL further said that RIL had made a “valid, binding and enforceable commitment in the year 2005 to supply gas on the agreed terms to RNRL” and the said commitment and obligation was not affected in any manner by the gas utilisation policy announced by the government in 2008.

The Anil Ambani group company also said that it had never questioned the government’s ownership over natural resources, but noted that the government being owner of the gas fields was also bound by the terms of the PSC, under which the ownership of gas produced was shared with the contractor RIL.

In terms of PSC, RIL has complete market freedom to deal with the gas that belongs to it and the “Company Court and the Division bench had given directions only with regard to the gas that belongs to RIL and has not given any direction in relation to the gas that belongs to the Union of India,” RNRL said.

RNRL further submitted that the Bombay High Court order had not disregarded the PSC between RIL and the government of India.

Scam effect

“A clear set of rules for land acquisition is needed”
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s dream of reviving industry in West Bengal seems to be running aground. The latest casualty of the Bengal government’s failure to resolve problems arising from land acquisition for industry are projects that Infosys and Wipro were hoping to set up in the state. The government has said it is scrapping the proposed IT township at Rajarhat, a Kolkata suburb, where it was to provide the two IT majors with land. This is a serious setback for Bhattacharya’s ambitions of transforming Kolkata into an IT hub. It is the third major blow dealt to his effort to revive industry in the state. As in Nandigram and Singur earlier, where problems over land acquisition forced the withdrawal of major projects — Tata Motors pulled out its Nano project from Singur following violent protests there — in Rajarhat too, questionable land deals have aborted the IT township. It has been alleged that the land for the township was acquired from farmers at gun point. In fact, the violent flare-up in the area a fortnight ago is believed to be linked to the improper methods that were used by developers to acquire the land.

The scrapping of the IT projects will undermine Bengal’s image, already sullied by mass protests and the Singur fiasco, as an investment destination. This is a pity because Bhattacharya had worked hard to invite investors to the state. His initiative had sparked some hope that the terminal decline of Bengal’s once great industrial sector would be arrested and that its revival would provide employment. That hope has now been dashed. Investors will be wary of putting their money in Bengal.

It is not West Bengal alone that is facing problems over land acquisition for industrial purposes. Violent protests have erupted in Goa, Maharashtra and Haryana when state governments sought to acquire land for special economic zones. Industry bodies have been calling on the Centre to come out with a comprehensive policy that ensures fair and transparent acquisition of land and clear rehabilitation and resettlement guidelines. The Centre did come out with a Land Acquisition Amendment Bill and a Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill but has dragged its feet on the matter since. A clear set of rules for land acquisition will protect farmers’ rights and allow infrastructure and other projects to move easily. Bengal, indeed India, cannot afford to lose investment and projects.

Court flays police actions during probe

Director-General of Prosecution defends police action

High Court disposes of writ plea for CBI probe into Paul murder

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday orally criticised the police for some of their actions during the ongoing investigation into the murder of businessman Paul Muthoot George.

Justice M. Sasidharan Nambiar flayed the police during the hearing on a writ petition seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the murder. The court orally pointed out that the investigation officer holding a press conference to announce the arrest of the accused even before the investigation was complete was unheard of. The court orally said that such actions would set a bad precedent.

Criticising the action of the police in allowing the accused to speak to the media, the court orally said that it was not proper.

Director-General of Prosecution V.G. Govindan Nair justified the actions of the police claiming that it was a mysterious murder case.

The court orally deprecated the tendency of the media to hold discussions on the investigation.

The Director-General of Prosecution submitted that the media were holding a trial in the case by themselves. He said the case was being conducted properly and that the investigation would not be influenced by any external agencies.

Disposing of the petition filed by P.S. Vilasini, mother of Satheeshkumar alias ‘Kari’ Satheesh who was arrested in connection with the murder case, the Judge said it did not find any need to issue directives during the initial stage of the investigation. If circumstances warranted it, the petitioner was entitled to approach the court.

According to the petition, she suspected that her son had admitted to the crime in return for the money offered by someone. She alleged that the involvement of other persons had not been meticulously examined by the State police due to political interference. They had tampered with crucial evidence and fabricated new evidence against her son. She alleged that the case was foisted on her son to protect certain “kingpins and real goondas” who had perpetrated the crime.

Bofors case: CBI given time

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Tuesday allowed a CBI plea for two weeks’ time to explore the options available in the Bofors case after the withdrawal of Interpol’s Red Corner Notice against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi. — PTI

U.P. government rapped for construction of memorials

J. Venkatesan

Wasteful expenditure of taxpayers’ money subject to judicial review, says Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh for constructing memorials and statues for Kanshiram, Mayawati and other leaders using taxpayers’ money and said spending huge amounts for this purpose would be subject to judicial review.

When a Bench of Justices B.N. Agrawal and Aftab Alam was inclined to pass an interim order staying all further construction activities, the subject matter of various petitions pending in the Allahabad High Court, senior counsel S.C. Mishra, appearing for the State gave an undertaking that no further construction would be carried out on the properties in question.

When Mr. Mishra defended such constructions saying that there was no illegality as all the expenses had been approved by the Assembly, Justice Agrawal said: “As per the reports, you [State] are spending over Rs. 2,000 crore on such memorials. Your [the State’s] Gross Domestic Product is only around 2 per cent. We may ask the government as to how such a colossal expenditure can be incurred. We can even ask it to produce the Budget papers.”

Mr. Mishra tried to defend the State government’s action saying the petition was not maintainable. He said: “There is the Teen Murti Bhavan [memorial for Nehru] worth over Rs. 5,000 cr. There is opposition only because memorials are built for Dr. Ambedkar or Kanshiram. Nobody raised a whisper when memorials were built on Raj Ghat [area] for the former Prime Ministers and four members of one family [Nehru] at a cost of Rs. 10,000 cr.”

Justice Agrawal said: “There is no memorial for the former Prime Ministers late P. V. Narasimha Rao and Mr. Deve Gowda.We have to examine a larger issue. Your decision cannot be arbitrary because it involves taxpayers’ money. You cannot spend it as you like.”

When Mr. Mishra said the issue was being raised for political purposes, Justice Agrawal said: “We are not concerned with political mileage. The Court can act upon legal issues. It can be subject to judicial review because constitutional propriety is involved. It involves constitutional issues. There will be colossal wastage of money if we order demolition of the constructions. It will be a wasteful expenditure. You cannot fritter away public money like this.”

Justice Alam told Mr. Mishra: “Your action is not bona fide. You are trying to put a fait accompli before this court. This may have serious implications and consequences. If you say that all demolitions were carried out prior to February 27, 2009 [when the Supreme Court passed the restraint order] why was this not brought to the notice of this court?”

Senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi appearing for the petitioner submitted that the Mayawati government took upon itself the task of demolishing recently built government buildings for the construction of smaraks and in certain cases built concrete parks, devoid of greenery.

The counsel said that the Supreme Court had, by an interim order passed on February 27, restrained the State from further demolishing government buildings which were the subject matter of writ petitions pending in the Allahabad High Court. The petition also sought a direction to stop construction of memorials, statues, memorials, parks and symbols (elephants) at the cost of public money. The Bench in its brief order said that in view of the undertaking, no formal interim order was necessary and posted the matter for further hearing on September 29 on the applications filed by Mithilesh Kumar Singh. Meanwhile, the Bench asked the State to file its response and rejoinder, if any, by the petitioner.

Modify pill advertisements: Drug Controller

Gargi Parsai

It should not suggest that one could go in for unprotected sex because of ready access to pill

Doctors say repeated use as a method of contraception must be discouraged

NEW DELHI: The Drug Controller of India has asked manufacturers of the Emergency Contraception (EC) pill to modify their advertisements that have suddenly burst on the television channels. The advertisements show a woman expressing fear of pregnancy after unprotected sex, and her friend advises her to take the EC pill. Both women are then seen walking hand in hand with their male partners — all television stars — saying they were now “tension free.”

Medical practitioners, who participated in the National Consensus on Rational Use of Emergency Contraception in India here on Monday, while appreciating the “positive impact” of the ads in generating awareness, suggested that they carry a word of caution about the “emergency use.”

‘No substitute’

“The EC pill is not a substitute for regular methods of contraception. It should not be conveyed that you could go in for unprotected sex because you have access to EC pill. Rather, it should be that because you’ve had unprotected sex, you have the option of an EC pill to prevent pregnancy. Repeated use of the EC pill as a method of contraception should be discouraged,” said Suneeta Mittal, chief coordinator, Consultation and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences. The doctors wanted this aspect highlighted in the ad campaigns.

They stressed that the EC pill was not a protection against reproductive tract infections, sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. Also, it was not to be used as an abortion pill. At the same time, they did not want television ads to “stigmatise” abortion.

Depending upon when the EC pill is taken during the menstrual cycle, it could prevent or delay egg formation, interfere with fertilisation to stop a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. It should be taken within five days of unprotected sex. However, the EC pill is not effective once pregnancy is already there, say the doctors.

Labour Commissioner told to verify membership figures of MRF unions

Special Correspondent

Division Bench allows petition filed by one of the unions

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Labour Commissioner to call upon the MRF United Workers Union (MRFUWU), Arakkonam, and the MRF Arakkonam Workers Welfare Union, Ichipudur, Arakkonam, to submit their membership figures published as per the code of discipline and examine them.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice H.L. Gokhale and Justice D. Murugesan allowed a petition filed by the MRFUWU seeking a direction to official authorities to take steps to implement the recommendations contained in the 348th report of the International Labour Organisation governing body committee on freedom of association and ensure recognition of the petitioner union by the management.

The petitioner, a registered trade union, claimed to represent a majority of the workmen functioning in the company. The other union also claimed to have majority of membership.

The Bench said that in the event of any objection, it may be verified in the light of the code of discipline by personal interrogatories so as to arrive at the correct membership. Alternatively, ballot system, which although was recommended by the ILO committee, was not accepted in any of the statutes which had been brought to the court’s notice.

The court said that in its view the only alternative was to direct the State government and the Commissioner of Labour to conduct the exercise as per the code of discipline to which the State government was agreeable.

Accordingly, the petitioner union may apply to the Labour Commissioner within two weeks presenting its claim of membership figures during the last six months. On receipt of the application, the official would issue notice to the two unions within two weeks thereafter calling upon them to submit their membership register and the necessary supporting documents.

The notice would call upon them to produce their records as per the code of discipline during the period of six months prior to the notice. The Labour Commissioner should thereafter proceed to decide as to which union was the representative union of the workmen.

The Bench said it could not permit the management to say that the union which showed the larger membership at the end of the exercise would not be recognised. It should be recognised.

“Bill to be introduced soon”

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: A Bill seeking to make all medical testing laboratories register themselves with the Quality Council of India (QCI), will soon be introduced in Parliament, Thuppil Venkatesh, Principal Advisor, QCI, has said.

The Central Laboratories Establishment Bill, to be introduced in the next session of Parliament, once passed, will mandate all testing laboratories to register with the QCI. “Only a handful of labs are accredited. Most others are merely registered under the Shops and Establishments Act. Anyone can start a lab today, with no formal accreditation. This poses a risk to the public at large,” he told the audience at a seminar on quality control in diagnostic labs.

Diagnosis is a crucial step in determining healthcare planning, including medication and it is imperative we give it the attention it deserves, Dr. Venkatesh stressed. “Quality control in diagnostic labs is a critical step in establishing standardised testing procedure for patients. We are committed in our efforts to help diagnostic labs across the country follow world-class practices to ensure the best patient care,” he added.

The seminar was organised by QCI in association with Bio-Rad Laboratories in Chennai on Tuesday.

Court orders notice on PMK candidate’s plea

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered notice on an election petition filed by the Pattali Makkal Katchi candidate in the Sriperumbudur Lok Sabha constituency challenging the election of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam nominee, T.R. Baalu.

Justice S. Rajeswaran said the notice would be returnable on October 8.

In his petition, A.K. Moorthy of the PMK alleged that Mr. Baalu managed to win the election by “large-scale corrupt practices.” Out of the six Assembly segments in the parliamentary constituency, many irregularities were found in the Pallavaram and Sriperumbudur Assembly constituencies.

High Court directive on ‘Erudhu kattu’

Staff Reporter

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here has asked the Aakavayal panchayat President in Ilayankudi Taluk of Sivaganga district to submit a demand draft (D.D.) for Rs.5 lakh as a pre-condition to permit ‘Erudhu kattu’ (a sport in which oxen are tamed by pulling ropes across their neck) in a local temple festival.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Chitra Venkataraman and Justice M. Duraiswamy directed the panchayat president to present the D.D. by Thursday. In the meantime, the Sivaganga Revenue Divisional Officer and Superintendent of Police were directed to inspect the venue and file a report on the safety arrangements made.

The Bench said that the condition to deposit money was being imposed by following earlier orders passed by the High Court while according permission for ‘jallikattu’ (bull fight). The amount could be used to compensate the participants or spectators who suffer injuries in the sporting event.

The court recorded submission made by a Government counsel that the Legislative Assembly has passed a Bill recently to regulate jallikattu and such other sports. Producing a copy of the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Bill, 2009, he said that it would be notified soon after obtaining the President’s assent.

The Bill states that permission shall not be granted unless the District Collector was satisfied that the event was conducted between January and May and the venue was suitable for orderly conduct of the event. The spectators would be allowed to watch the event only from the gallery

Lawyers distribute chicken in protest

MADURAI: A section of lawyers in the Madras High Court Bench here distributed pieces of fried chicken and ‘mutta bonda’ (a snack made with egg) free of cost in protest against not serving non-vegetarian food in court canteens across the State.

“Give information sought by people”

Special Correspondent

Call to approach Public Information Officers

THANJAVUR: The State Information Commission had taken up 8,616 petitions in the last three years for an enquiry and provide information to people, said Sharadha Nambi Arooran, State Information Commissioner here on Tuesday.

She told presspersons that all public institutions — both government and government-aided institutions — are required to provide the necessary information sought by the people under the Right to Information Act. They can’t deny information to the people. Mrs. Arooran said that many private complaints with demand for ration cards, pension benefits, etc have also been received by the commission. But these can’t be entertained as they don’t come under the purview of the Act.

Hence, out of the total petitions received one-third of them is rejected.

People can approach the Public Information Officers appointed in each government department and office for getting the required information. He can take 30 days for providing information. If he doesn’t provide information in the stipulated period, they can appeal to the appellant authority in the same office. There also 30 days of time are permitted. If no information is provided here too, they can approach the State Commission.

“I am here for the past two days and received petitions from people of Thanjavur, Tiruchi, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore and Pudukottai districts. Revenue and land-related petitions are presented more in Thanjavur. Many people have taken information about lands and this helped them establishing their rights and getting pattas in court cases,” she said.

There is no prescribed format for submitting the petition. Mere a white paper will do. They can write their complaints and put the signature and give the petition to the Public Information Officer.

The State Information Commission will take a stern action against the official, if he or she has provided wrong information, misleading information or incomplete information.

A fine amount of Rs. 25,000 can be imposed on the erring official as per the act. Fines were imposed on 50 officials so far. Departmental disciplinary actions suggested in many cases.

Not a NICE alignment, petitioner tells HC

Staff Reporter

Court orders issue of notices to Ashok Kheny and other NICE officials

‘Kheny and other NICE officials refused to accept earlier notice’

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court was on Tuesday told that Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE) had not obtained permission from Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) before changing alignment of the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project (BMICP).

The BMICP comprises of an elevated expressway between Bangalore and Mysore and several link and peripheral roads and interchanges. It also consists of townships. The project has run into controversy as landowners and even the State Government has claimed that excess land has been acquired for the project.

In his petition before the High Court, a resident of Bangalore, Vijay Raghavan, claimed that NICE had not obtained permission from MoEF before embarking on any change in the alignment of the project. He said this fact had been admitted by the Public Works Department.

The petitioner told Justice Mohan Shantangouder that a batch of petitions challenging the alignment of the project at Gottigere, Pantharpalya and other areas were being heard by Justice B.S. Patil.

Justice Mohan Shantangouder directed the High Court Registry to place the case before the Chief Justice so that all NICE cases could be clubbed and heard together.

Court notice

A Division Bench comprising Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Jawed Rahim ordered issue of court notices to Managing Director of NICE Ashok Kheny and other NICE officials.

The Bench passed the order after the petitioner, Vijay Raghavan, who had filed a contempt petition against Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyruppa, Revenue Minister Karunakara Reddy, Chief Secretary Sudhakar Rao and several others, including officials of NICE, said Mr. Kheny and other NICE officials had refused to accept the notice.

Mr. Vijay Raghavan had filed the contempt petition against the alleged violation of several court orders on the construction of a peripheral road, as part of the BMICP, at Gottigere.

HC quashes demand notices on cinema

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court has quashed demand notices by the Department of Commercial Taxes on a cinema in Periyapatna in Mysore district seeking payment of entertainment tax.

The department, in its notice to Mahadeswara Swamy Picture House on July 16, 2009, had sought payment of entertainment tax for exhibiting a Kannada film, Krishna, between October 5, 2007 and December 20, 2007.

The cinema moved the High Court against the demand notices. It said the Commissioner of the Department of Information, Bangalore, had certified Krishna as an original Kannada movie. Since it was certified as an original Kannada movie, the theatre management did not collect entertainment tax from movie-goers or remit any tax.

Subsequently, the Department of Commercial Taxes issued demand notices to the cinema asking it to pay entertainment tax, saying that the movie was not original and that it was a remake of a Tamil film. The cinema urged the court to quash the demand notices, saying that it was illegal and arbitrary. Justice A.N. Venugopala Gowda allowed the petition and quashed the demand notices, saying that it was illegal.

Court orders status quo on tree-felling plans

Sudipto Mondal

MANGALORE: In a development that is held as a “partial victory” of the agitation against felling of trees in Kankanady, the Principal Civil Judge (Junior Division) issued a “status-quo” order to the Mangalore City Corporation and the Forest Department on Tuesday. Advocate Suma R. Nayak, who argued the case for the agitators, told The Hindu that as per the order, there should be no attempt at felling the 40-odd trees along the stretch connecting the Kankanady and Kotichennaiah circles. The order will be in place until the Mangalore City Corporation’s Commissioner, its executive engineer and the Tree Officer of the Forest Department file their objections before the court. The “partial victory” notwithstanding, questions are now being raised by some sections on the massive attention that the felling of trees on this stretch had received, compared to the thousands of trees that were felled for the first phase of the Mangalore Special Economic Zone project.

Why did the anti-MSEZ activists, who were part of the campaign in Kankanady, not move the court about the destruction in MSEZ Phase-I? Why did local leftwing groups such as the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), which were again part of the Kankanady agitation, not join hands with the same activists in agitating against the MSEZ? Were all the people in the Kankanady agitation worried about the trees alone, or were there some who were anxious about losing prime property?

Vidya Dinker, an activist, concedes that the Phase-I of the MSEZ went through without resistance from the locals. “We always base our agitations on people’s support,” she says.

State vice-president of the DYFI Muneer Katipalla says that his organisation too was of the view that there were wanton violations in the Phase-I of the MSEZ project.

SBI recruitment norm flouts apex court verdict

C. Gouridasan Nair

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State Bank of India (SBI) norm that pregnant women would be ineligible for recruitment and promotion during pregnancy, which clearly violates Constitutional guarantees of equality of opportunity and protection against gender discrimination, has gone unchallenged for years now despite the Supreme Court holding a similar provision in the recruitment norms of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India unconstitutional way back in 1991.

The SBI has been insisting on women candidates and serving women undergoing medical examination at the time of recruitment/ promotion to determine whether they are pregnant and submitting a declaration giving details of their menstrual cycle so as to defer posting/ promotion during the period of pregnancy. Despite news reports exposing the discriminatory provisions and strong denunciations from the State CPI(M) and various women’s organisations, the bank has not taken any step to take corrective action so far.

Bank unions, which had not taken serious note of the issue all these years, have now entered the fray urging the bank management to scrap the discriminatory provisions.

The Supreme Court had handed down its verdict on October 31, 1991 against almost identical provisions in the recruitment norms of the LIC when allowing an appeal filed by Meera Mathur of Delhi against the decision of the LIC management to retrench her from service during probation as an assistant on the ground that she had withheld information about her pregnancy at the time of recruitment.

The apex court had held that the particulars that were sought to be furnished in the declaration were ‘indeed embarrassing, if not humiliating.’ “While we are moving forward to achieve the constitutional guarantee of equal rights for women, the Life Insurance Corporation of India seems to be not moving beyond the status quo,” the court had observed.

The provisions in the SBI recruitment norms that insist on women providing information about their menstrual history, date of last menstrual period, any evidence of pregnancy and history of diseases of the uterus cervix, ovaries or breasts have remained in place almost two decades after this verdict.

State Bank Staff Union (Kerala Circle) general secretary K. Raja Kurup told The Hindu that the SBSU had already taken up the issue with the bank authorities and sought scrapping of the anti-women norms.

Contempt of court petition: High Court reserves verdict

Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a contempt of court petition filed against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the Sister Abhaya death case.The Bench comprising Justice K. Balakrishnan Nair and Justice P. Bhavadasan reserved its judgment after the conclusion of the arguments by counsel for the CBI and the petitioner.

The petition was filed by M. Thomas, father of Sister Abhaya. He contended that CBI Dy.SP Nandakumar Nair had not complied with the court’s earlier directive for retrieving the original video tapes containing the narco-analysis procedure done on the three accused in the case.

Refuting the allegation, Mr. Nair said in an affidavit that he had fully complied with the directive. The three video cassettes handed to him by S. Malini, former Assistant Director, Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Bangalore, were the originally recorded narco-analysis test videos. They had been submitted before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Ernakulam.

Supreme Court to consider Lyngdoh report modification

J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI: With the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union seeking modifications in the Lyngdoh Committee’s recommendations on student union elections, the Supreme Court has posted the matter for final hearing on October 27 to consider amendments and modifications.

A Bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice A. K. Ganguly asked amicus curiae and Solicitor-General (S-G) Gopal Subramaniam and counsel for various parties to give their suggestions so that the Court could examine modifications.

The S-G said pursuant to the earlier directions of the Supreme Court the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations had been fully implemented by the universities and colleges and the mechanism was working very well. However, when Mr. Justice Ganguly referred to the application from the JNUSU for amendments, the S-G said certain amendments could be considered. The Bench then posted the matter for final hearing on October 27 and asked the parties to complete the pleadings by then.

When the S-G informed the Court how the R. K. Raghavan Committee’s recommendations on ragging had been implemented, Mr. Justice Katju observed that ragging was a barbaric practice resorted to by seniors. He said freshers should not be scared and there should not be any apprehensions in their minds.

“Seniors should not behave in a barbaric manner. They should behave like elder brothers to freshers,” he said.

The JNU students’ union wanted the upper age limit raised from 28 years to 32 for research students.

Rejecting this stand, the amicus curiae recommended that the upper age limit for candidature in student elections in respect of M.Phil./Ph.D. students be increased to 30 years and no further. On the stipulation that a candidate should contest only once for the post of office-bearer and twice for the post of an executive member, the application wanted the restriction should be removed.

However, the amicus curiae said: “A candidate shall have three opportunities to contest for the post of office bearer/executive member, provided that he/she may hold that post for no longer than two consecutive terms.”

Election Commission is a constitutional body of equals”

J. Balaji

Now ECs will join CEC in preparing confidential reports

‘CEC is first among equals with certain leadership and administrative responsibilities’

‘This has not been done ever since the Commission became a multi-member set up’

NEW DELHI: As part of bringing in more transparency and reforms in the functioning of the Election Commission, the Commission has now decided that the performance appraisal report or annual confidential report would hereafter be written jointly by the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the two Election Commissioners (ECs).

Hitherto, writing or reviewing such reports was the prerogative of the CEO and the ECs had no role to play.

As per the EC guidelines, the Annual Confidential Reports on the officers in the rank of Deputy Election Commissioners and above, and Deputy Secretaries and above in the State/Union Territories election departments have to be written or reviewed by the CEC alone.

In the States/UTs, the ACRs of officers like Deputy Chief CEOs or Joint CEOs/additional CEOs were written by Chief Electoral Officers and then forwarded to the for approval/review of the CEC. Now, the system has been totally changed and all three members are to be involved in the job.

When contacted, CEC Navin Chawla confirmed the report and informed that the Commission had already issued a circular in this regard. Though the CEC was the first among equals with certain leadership and administrative responsibilities, “I wanted to involve both the Election Commissioners – S.Y. Quraishi and V.S. Sampath — in the exercise,” he said.

The legal position was that the three-member Election Commission was a constitutional body of co-equals, with equal voting power, he added.

Multi-member set up

“Hereafter all three of us would jointly write the report. This has not been done ever since the Commission became a multi-member set up, during the period of then CEC T.N. Seshan,” he said.

Apex court hints at shifting PF case

J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday indicated that the case relating to the Provident Fund scam of Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh might be transferred to a CBI court in Delhi from the court of Special Judge, CBI, Ghaziabad.

A three-Judge Bench of Justice D. K. Jain, Justice V. S. Sirpurkar and Justice G. S. Singhvi hearing the PF scam case asked Attorney-General G. E. Vahanvati to explore the possibility of shifting the case from Ghaziabad in view of an application filed by petitioner Nahar Singh Yadav seeking such a direction.

Mr. Vahanvati submitted that the CBI had made a lot of progress in the case and pointed out that already four status reports had been filed. “The investigation has passed the stage of preliminary enquiry (PE) and is in the stage of RC (Registration of case). I am not in favour of filing the charge-sheet in a peace-meal manner,” he said.

Senior counsel Shanti Bhushan and Anil Divan, appearing for the petitioners, said not a single charge-sheet had been filed since the CBI took over the probe.

When the Bench wanted to know the reason for delay, Mr. Vahanvati said the CBI was awaiting the report of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory which was examining 21,000 documents and 6,000 specimen signatures.

The petitioners alleged that despite four status reports no charge-sheet had been filed against any judicial officer. Since the case involved misappropriation of funds from the public exchequer and manipulation of government accounts, it would be appropriate if the case was shifted from the Ghaziabad court to a CBI court in Delhi. The Bench asked Mr. Vahanvati to respond to the application and file a fresh status report within four weeks.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing in November.

Court quashes age criteria for short-listing

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has quashed short-listing of applications for recruitment of teachers on the basis of age by the MCD, saying that it is a violation of the Fundamental Right against discrimination on the basis of age.

A Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice A. K. Pathak quashed the short-listing of the applications on a bunch of petitions by a group of applicants whose applications were rejected by the local body.

“A State may fix short-listing criteria on the basis of educational qualifications or experience or marks obtained in an examination or an interview or any other criterion which enables the most competent person to be selected,” the Bench said.

The civic body had invited applications for recruitment of teachers in the age group of 18 to 30 years.

But, at the time of short-listing of applications for test and interview it had called for completing the recruitment process only those candidates who were in the 28-30 age group.

Ridiculous answers to RTI queries, says citizens’ association

Staff Reporter

Info sought about ‘appointment of men to posts reserved for women’

Query made about allotment of land to university

BHUBANESWAR: Citizens’ Apex Association (CAA) on Tuesday charged that various departments were furnishing “ridiculous” answers in response to Right To Information (RTI) queries.

CAA alleged the organisation had filed a series of RTI applications with various departments, but on many occasions it received replies such as “documents are not readily available” and “enquiry is on”.

The association, an organisation of concerned citizens, sought information from Home Department regarding, “whether five male candidates were appointed against the five vacancies reserved for general women and such appointment was given within the orbit of Women Reservation Rule, 1994” in the year 2007.

First Home Department came up with answer, “the required information/documents as sought for are not readily available in the concerned section and it will take some more time to prepare the information,” said CAA President N. K. Panda here on Tuesday.

‘No action’

A few days after the department again replied that “no such information is available in this department… However, enquiry is going on in this regard.” Mr. Panda pointed out. He charged that the SIC too did not take tough action against concerned and till date the reply was yet to be delivered.

Similarly, GA department also took similar pleas as of Home Department to a question regarding “out of the land allotted to Utkal University, how many acres of land are being utilized, how many acres of land are under the encroachment by outsiders and how many acres of land are under the occupation of slum dwellers and steps taken to evict them?”

CAA said if information to be furnished in 30 days took 30 months and correct information was avoided at all costs, SIC should take effective steps against the culprits, otherwise like other laws, this law would also fail to achieve its objective.”

Rajasthan CIC grilled at public hearing in Jaipur

Special Correspondent

Speakers clamour for change in style of CIC

7-hour meeting also discusses 201 case studies

JAIPUR: The performance of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) was put to public scrutiny here in the Rajasthan capital on Monday with aggrieved citizens, activists and a panel of eminent persons debating it for seven long hours at a large gathering which included village folks.

The “Jan Sunwai” conducted by Soochana ka Adhikar Manch (Right to Information Platform) was the first of its kind in the country after the passage of the Right to Information Act in 2005.

One heartening aspect of the public trial was the presence of the State Chief Information Commissioner M. D. Korani amid charges of indifference and insensitivity flying fast and thick from the complainants, some of whom lost their cool in the process. After attending the forenoon session he left with the observation that such a “public forum has no right to discuss the decisions of the CIC”. However, to everybody’s relief, he returned to the public hearing towards the end.

The panel, which included three former Rajasthan High Court judges, National Federation of Indian Women general secretary Annie Raja and senior journalist Prabhash Joshi, acted as moderators though there were not many kind words from them too for Mr. Korani, a former IAS officer, who chose to defend himself. The Information Commission came into existence in Rajasthan in April 2006. Mr. Korani, the only Commissioner so far in the State, took the oath the same year in November.

“This is the first meeting to make the CIC accountable,” said Harnesh Pandey, an RTI activist from Gujarat. “The negative environment is causing a lot of damage to RTI,” he said. “The CIC’s style has to change,” said Mr. Joshi, observing that Rajasthan has been the cradle of the RTI movement.

“Let the other States replicate this initiative,” added Ms. Raja. A word of sympathy came from Justice Pana Chand Jain, though with a rider: “I appreciate the CIC for his courage to be present here. But unless corrective measures are carried out soon, there will be public reaction.”

Magsaysay Award winner Aruna Roy, who termed the transparency movement a “bloodless revolution” taking place in the country, said the Act has strengthened democracy in the country and added: “Everyone needs transparency. Without information you cannot make an informed choice.” Mr. Korani defended his position pointing out that those who were satisfied with the information they received were not here to report it but only those who were frustrated over the denial of it. “I expect only negative responses here. But we have our own problems which I am not anyway going to discuss here,” he said.

He also told them initially that if they talk in a polite manner they would elicit a better response from him.

The case studies presented by activists found Mr. Korani’s performance “poor”, if not dismal. But some blame went to the State Government also. “If the Government does not take interest, nothing is going to happen. Sometimes the very act of seeking information is termed ‘politically motivated’ by the Government,” said information activist Nikhil Dey, adding, “In one case, asking for information led to filing of a case against the individual on charges of creating hurdles in government functioning.”

The group had taken up case studies of 201 persons from 28 Rajasthan districts out of 700 whose complaints were disposed of by the CIC. Out of these, 106 reported not getting any information at all after several attempts — including many visits to the CIC office as well as the concerned departments and even paying Rs.34,000 in a Barmer panchayat for getting copies of muster rolls at an NREGS site.

As many as 41 persons complained of receiving incomplete information while 24 reported getting wrong information. In four cases, appeals were rejected. Only 14 persons were happy about the information they got.

Perhaps it all ended well as Mr. Korani, addressing the gathering for the third and last time, said he would try to “carry out the suggestions”, adding, “I respect both complaints and suggestions.”

HC issues contempt notice against Jet pilots


Posted: Wednesday, Sep 09, 2009 at 2024 hrs Mumbai:

The Bombay High Court issued a contempt notice to the pilots’ union of Jet Airways for continuing the strike despite an earlier order restraining them.

The contempt notice was issued by Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud who sought a reply by September 14 on a petition by the airline.

A division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice A M Khanwilkar had yesterday restrained the pilots’ union from continuing the strike.

Jet had moved the court after the pilots proceeded on sick leave en mass on September 7 to protest sacking of two of their colleagues.

Jet’s lawyer had argued that going on sick leave in such a way was tantamount to strike.

Jet’s contention is that pilots cannot go on strike when conciliation proceedings are underway under the provisions of Industrial Disputes Act.

Child Commission approaches SC against gay sex

Agencies Posted: Wednesday, Sep 09, 2009 at 1946 hrs New Delhi:

The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights has approached the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court’s verdict legalising gay sex on the ground that it would adversely affect child rights.

The Commission, in its petition, contended gay sex would have adverse impact on psychological, physical and mental development of children.

The petition is likely to be taken up on September 14 when the apex court would hear similar petitions filed by others challenging the High Court’s verdict.

The apex court had earlier issued a notice to the Centre on a petition filed by a Christian body, a disciple of Yoga guru Ramdev and a astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal seeking a stay on the High Court verdict legalising gay sex on the ground it will have a catastrophic effect on the society’s moral fabric.

All the petitioners have sought setting aside of the July two High Court verdict legalising gay sex between consenting adults in private, which was earlier a criminal offence punishable with up to life imprisonment.

Gujarat HC stays Tamang report on Ishrat encounter…/515033/

Agencies Posted: Wednesday, Sep 09, 2009 at 2016 hrs Ahmedabad:

The Gujarat High Court stayed metropolitan magistrate S P Tamang’s report which had described as ‘fake’ the police encounter in which alleged terror group operative Ishrat Jahan and three others were killed.

Acting on a a Gujarat government petition seeking a stay on the report, Justice Kalpesh Javheri said the observations made in the report were beyond the jurisdiction of the judicial magistrate.

Justice Javheri also ordered the appropriate authority of the High Court to look into the actions of magistrate Tamang and take necessary action.

The next hearing of the case is on September 30. However, the court has given liberty to Ishrat’s mother to produce the report before the three-member committee constituted by the High Court last month to investigate the encounter.

It further said the report can be considered as evidence by the committee.

The four persons, claimed to have been killed by the police in an encounter on the outskirts of the city on June 15, 2004 were Ishrat, Javed Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, Amjad Ali alias Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani.

LEGAL NEWS 08.09.2009

Dispensing justice, speedily

Administration of justice in Germany does not deal with punishment of the guilty alone. It also means acquittal of the innocent.

Mohan Murti

The wheel of justice, or the dharmachakra, is the logo of the Supreme Court of India, which depicts the 3rd Century BC lion capital built by Emperor Ashoka, with an inscription from the ancient and sacred Rig Veda, yadho dharmasthadho jayah, meaning “victory is where justice reigns.” The logo was adopted on January 28, 1950, when the court was first set up in the Chamber of Princes, within the Parliament building in New Del hi, just two days after India became a republic.

The dharma, or justice, that is inscribed in the Supreme Court’s logo has long been brutally suppressed due to inefficient administration. And the delays in providing justice can be attributed to specific institutional and governmental ineptitude. Their causes are also in some way deeply entrenched in India’s the social order. The dharmachakra is thus seen over the Supreme Court building but hitherto not felt by the society over which it supposedly reigns. This paints a graphic picture of India’s collapsing justice system, of which the courts are but one part and the Administration, the other arm.

Endemic delays in justice system

Over 30 million cases are pending in courts across India. The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had declared just a few weeks ago that clearing the backlog of cases is the biggest challenge for the judiciary, and that India has the largest number of pending cases in the world.

Vacancies in the judiciary are the other big problem. Three thousand posts of judges are lying vacant due to delays in recruitment. While the issue of declaration of assets by the Supreme Court and the higher court judges has been made clear, the controversial issue of corruption in the judiciary remains.

I recall my father mentioning that when he enrolled as a lawyer in the Madras High Court, some 55 years ago, his first case was a matter of the partitioning of some land between its co-owners. While he was studying the case, it became evident that the case was kept pending for about 35 years, during which time the original parties had died.

Curiously, he found out that the delay was mainly from adjournments for various reasons, some on the request of the lawyers for both the plaintiff and the defendants, and quite a few because the court probably thought that the case could not to be heard on a particular day. Meanwhile, the legal counsels to the case were collecting their fee. This practice continues even today.

Let me now share the forms of innovations in legal education and the judicial traditions in Germany. The administration of justice in Germany does not deal with the punishment of the guilty alone. It also means acquittal of the innocent. Fairness and speed are equally important in the administration of justice. Speed, in the German eye, serves the best interests of the accused, the survivors and society, at large.

Even as the German Constitutional Court has been shaping post-War Germany, German jurisprudence has spread to impact Europe and much of the world.

Legal Education

The education of judges and prosecutors in Germany is still ensured by a uniform educational system. At the same time, the education of all legal professionals is still strictly orientated to service as a judge. It is not a matter of pure chance that the requirements for the qualification of each legal profession are defined in the German Law on the Judiciary. Anyone who has qualified for the position of a judge is automatically qualified for any other legal profession.

The education consists of an arduous and demanding course of study at a university, taking at least three and a half to four years and concluding with the First State Examination — entirely administered by the Judiciary — not the University!

The subsequent two years of practical training include several compulsory stages, which must be completed at civil and criminal courts or the department of public prosecutions, at administrative authorities and at the offices of freelance lawyers. Further stages are optional. The Second State Examination grants one the qualification to hold judicial office, that is, as a judge, notary public, etc.

The Judges

The newly employed judges or public prosecutors have a special status as probationers. During this time, which generally lasts at least three years, they normally enjoy full judicial independence in the cases they are assigned.

All judges are offered post-graduate training courses by their respective courts and specifically by the High Courts and the Ministries of Justice in the State. A post-graduate training institution for the general use of all States and the Federation is the German Judges’ Academy in Trier, which now has a branch in Wustrau, near Berlin.

Judges in Germany are public officers. They are bound by the Right to Information law and a duty to perform. They have their feet firmly on the ground. Their loyalty, pledge is to the law — unlike in India, where a Supreme Court Judge made a speech restating his primary allegiance to his religion. India needs to demystify the profession of judges and their unbefitting attitude.

Alternative Regulations

The quest for another means to settle a dispute, other than by judicial ruling, is traditionally embodied in the German Code of Civil Procedure. In civil proceedings, the judges of each instance are obliged to work towards an amicable settlement. This also applies to the other procedural codes, like labour and tax.

Even the criminal procedure has elements of settlement — a criminal case may be discontinued in the event of negligible guilt, on the occasion that certain conditions are imposed on the defendant. Europe, and especially Germany, has shown that rights are made real not just by the enactment of laws but by their implementation.

Implementation depends on institutions: police, prosecutors, courts. In the European eye, if these do not function at all, or other than as envisaged under the laws, then grand declarations of rights remain meaningless and people’s lives are made miserable.

(The author is former Europe Director, CII, and lives in Cologne, Germany.

Lifting well on justice

Editorial Posted On Monday, September 07, 2009

Three cheers to Delhi High Court judge Ravindra Bhatt. In a brilliant judgment he turned turtle the belief that ‘Your Lordship’s” were infallible and asserted that all power, including judicial power, is accountable to the highest law of the land – the Constitution. Thus, in one fell stroke he not only brought the Justices down from their high judicial pedestal on level with the “little man” but also ushered in a new chapter of accountability in the judiciary thereby hoping to restore the faith of the public in the judiciary.
In his 72-page judgment Bhatt said: “All powers, and judicial power being no exception, is held accountable in a modern Constitution. Holders of power are expected to live by the standards they set, interpret or enforce, at least to the extent their office demands. Judging is not a job, it is a way of life. Wherever I enter the court room, I do so with the deep sense that, as I sit at trial, I stand on trial.”
The landmark order was pursuant the Supreme Court appeal to the Delhi High Court against the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) order that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) should make public judges’ assets, following a request by an activist under the Right To Information Act. Justice Bhatt was all for  transparency and accountability in higher judiciary, by stating that the CJI was a “public authority” under the RTI and had to make public the information on assets declared to him by judges.
“Declaration of assets by SC judges is information under Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act.” The Act, he emphasized was “enacted to arm citizens with the mechanism to scrutinize Government and public processes and ensure transparency.” It would be “highly anomalous to say that judges have no obligation to disclose their personal assets as standards of disclosure for the legislators, parliamentarians and administrators were set by a Supreme Court order.”
Describing his “humbling experience” and transparency as a “powerful beacon”, Justice Bhatt disagreed with the CJI Balakrishanan’s contention that the Apex Court’s 1997 resolution of giving “personal information” was “voluntary and confidential”, a mere moral duty and not a legal obligation inviting sanctions in case of non-compliance. He was firm in his view that in the exercise of the legitimate jurisdiction to impact people’s lives, property, liberties and individual freedoms, judges have an obligation to disclose their personal assets to someone or an authority. “The judge, the verdict aid, was a casual law-maker, just filling in the gaps,” he added.
Rejecting the Apex Court’s stand that the CJI held the asset declarations in a fiduciary (held in trust) capacity and disclosing it would amount to breach of trust, the High Court held that the argument was without substance, and said the CJI does not hold such declarations in a fiduciary capacity or relationship. However, Bhat made a concession. He suggested that the CJI could evolve some uniform standards and modalities for declaration of assets by judges to bring in clarity.
Be that as it may, some legal luminaries still harbour reservations, given that the disclosure might embolden ‘dissatisfied’ and unscrupulous lawyers-litigants to abuse and raise questions about the judges’ wealth and compromise the independence of the judiciary.
Imagine a judge enquiring into allegations of disproportionate wealth of a ‘corrupt’ neta or babu wherein during the proceedings, the petitioner could ask the judge, “Before questioning me about my wealth, first explain how you obtained yours?” Also picture: A litigant accuses a judge of passing a judgment for monetary considerations and claims that the assets declared are forged and under valued. What then? Is the judge going to concentrate on the cases before him or explain his integrity?
However, many commend Justice Bhatt’s order. They argue that transparency and accountability is the only way forward given allegations of the enormous increase in corruption and misconduct of judges due to the lack of accountability, specially in the lower level of judiciary. No doubt that there could be frivolous petitions. Some to even pressurise the judiciary. But those would be successful only if the judiciary has something to hide!
Arguably, if wealth has been acquired honestly why would a litigant resort to such low tactics and why should any member of the judiciary have fear? After all, aren’t judges expected to dispense justice without fear or favour? Can fear of threats become the raison d atre for lack of transparency. Remember, the judiciary, like Caesar’s wife, must not only be above suspicion, but must also be seen to be so.
In fact, in many countries personal disclosures are mandatory. The American ‘Ethics of Government Act of 1978′ requires that federal judges disclose the source and amount of personal and financial information other than that earned as employees of the US government each year. They must also reveal from where and whom, description and value of gifts for which the aggregate value was more than a certain minimal amount received from a source other than a relative. South Korea, Latvia and Mongolia have similar legal provisions making it mandatory for wealth declaration.
To access information in the US, a person has to submit a written application to access a copy of the declaration of assets while in Mongolia, the information is published in the government news magazine and placed on the internet. In addition to examination by a public ethics committee, South Korea mandates that property declarations be published in a public bulletin within a month of submission.
South Africa enacted a law in 2008 that requires judges to submit their ‘registrable interests’ to a custodian that is responsible for auditing the declarations. In Philippines, wealth declaration cannot be used for commercial purposes though inspection is allowed and contents can be published in media while in Russia, the information must be published within a week.
Sadly, the Indian judiciary enjoys the opaqueness of the iron curtain. As former Chief Justice Bharucha remarked judges are mere mortals given to temptations. According to him 20% of the judiciary was reportedly ‘corrupt’. Recall, the UP crisis in 2007 when the nation reeled under news that a Supreme Court judge, High Court and District judges had received benefits from siphoned off employee funds. What to speak of last year’s corruption case of mistaken identity that rocked the Punjab & Haryana High Court. Wherein Rs 15 lakhs was paid to the wrong judge! Instead of Nirmal Yadav to Nirmaljit Kaur for a land deal. The CBI recommended prosecution but nothing came of it.
In 2002 too, the then Chief Justice Sahariya report deprecated the conduct of Mehtab Singh Gill. And again in April 2006 the State Vigilance Department Court taped a conversation between the judge and some citizens. Earlier, three judges were taken off work. One was asked to proceed on leave before retirement, the second was absolved and the third was Gill again. The result? Zilch. In 2003 Delhi Court judge Shamit Mukherjee resigned over his alleged complicity in a DDA scam.
Questionably, not only judges, it is high time that the Executive must also be brought under the public scanner. All IAS and IPS too should come forward to declare details, either in their departments or in a national directory specially created for the purpose. We can no longer pretend that corruption does not exist. It does.
In sum, the judges cannot hide behind the iron curtain and demand immunity. After all, immunity leads to impunity. They need to remember that the Lady of Justice is blindfolded but her scales of justice are equal for all. Et tu Your Lordships? —- INFA
By Poonam I Kaushish

Jharkhand: PIL filed against former CM Arjun Munda


A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking CBI inquiry against former Chief Minister and Jamshedpur MP Arjun Munda has been filed accusing him of amassing property disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The PIL filed by one Shankar Chourasia stated that the former Chief Minister had ‘misused’ his official position and collected property at the cost of poor tribals and other indigenous groups of the state.

The petitioner alleged that about 44 Memoranda of Understanding were inked with various industrial houses during the tenure of Mr Munda.

The former CM was given crores of rupees through middleman Amarpreet Singh Kale in order to facilitate the execution of the MoU, the petitioner alleged.

The petitioner further alleged that the affidavits filed by Munda in 2004 and 2009 elections were not true as he did not disclose the properties on the the name of his spouse correctly.

‘The total cash and bank deposit shown in 2004 was Rs 3,40,595, but surprisingly, it increased to the tune of Rs 78,11,476 in 2009 which was almost twenty times more,’ the petitioner averred.

The petitioner also said the former CM and his spouse had stake in Birsa Munda transport company and KYS group of companies.


Centre to prevent licensed arms from going to terrorists

Mail Today Bureau New Delhi,  September 8, 2009

The Centre on Monday submitted before the Supreme Court that it was in talks with state governments to plug loopholes in the procedure for grant of arms licences to prevent sale of arms to criminals and terrorists.

The submission was made by solicitor general Gopal Subramanium during the hearing of a PIL highlighting involvement of defence officers in the sale of prohibited and non- prohibited bore weapons to civilians, including those with criminal antecedents, in some districts of Rajasthan.

” The Centre is looking into the matter… We are in talks with state governments to ensure checks and balances in the procedure for grant of licences,” Subramanium said.

Earlier, advocate Arvind Kumar Sharma, who had filed the petition, said that investigation by both the state government and army had showed that some people had illegally purchased arms.

He pointed out that the defence ministry had submitted in an affidavit before the court that some army officers were involved. The state government, on the other hand, had admitted that rules were flouted by some licencing authorities.

Sharma said the criminals from other states were coming to Rajasthan to purchase arms being sold by army officers. Investigations had showed that a person from Punjab was granted licence by authorities in Rajasthan.

The state government said that it had registered an FIR and had written to the Punjab government.

Sharma, however, alleged that so far, no action had been taken and one of the suspects was currently posted as a collector in another district.

The court adjourned the matter to October 9 after the state government said that it would file an affidavit giving the factual position and details.

On its part, the defence ministry had said in its affidavit that a court of inquiry ordered by HQ South Western Command had been finalised and necessary follow up action was being initiated against those found to be involved.

Such sale was mainly done in Bikaner and Sri Ganganagar districts of the state, the ministry said in response to the PIL.

Courtesy: Mail Today

Madras HC bench posts PIL against Indian team’s Lanka tour for Sep 9


The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has posted to September 9 the next hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to stay the participation of Indian cricket team in the Tri-nation series beginning in Sri Lanka today.

The PIL by a practicing advocate Jel Paul Antony contended that the participation of the Indian team should be stayed in protest against the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka by that country’s government in the guise of eliminating terrorism.

A Division Bench of the court comprising Justices P Murugesan and C S Karnan adjourned the case, after the advocate of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the government counsel submitted that they did not get instructions from the respective departments and the Board and the High Court Bench did not have the jurisdiction to stay the team’s participation.

The counsel for the petitioner also objected the adjournment of the case stating that the Indian team was leaving for Sri Lanka soon after the conclusion of the Corporate tournament today, in some members of the national team were participating.

It would be a major embarrassment in case the court decided that the team should not play in Sri Lanka. He also disagreed with the government counsel’s contention that Madurai HC bench did not have the jurisdiction to deal with the case, as there was no cause of action.

He contended that any court in the country could be approached with such a prayer.

He also submitted that even the former Chief Justice of Sri Lanka had condemned the human rights violations and torture of Tamil refugees in the camps there and asked what other proof was needed.

The petitioner also submitted some photographs as proof of the torture of Tamils in the Sri Lankan camps.

The counsel for the petitioner said India had supported the Palestinian and Bangladesh freedom struggles. Moreover, India is a signatory of United Nations Charter to protect human rights.

‘What was happening in Lanka was worse than what happened to Blacks in South Africa when apartheid was practiced,’ he said.

If the government sends the cricket team to Sri Lanka, the world community would not respect India, he submitted.


CSSMU inaction against errant teacher might draw court’s contempt

TNN 8 September 2009, 05:02am IST

LUCKNOW: Inaction of Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University (CSMMU) administration against 11 teachers found prima facie guilty of indulging in private practice (PP) may amount to contempt of court. The HC, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), had on January 3, 2008, directed the university to conduct an inquiry and take action against teachers doing PP despite a ban. But even 18 months after, no action has been taken, though the varsity has `concrete’ evidences against 11 teachers accused of violating the ban.

The case of Dr AK Sachan, an associate professor in pharmacology department, has made the issue even more serious. Dr Sachan is said to be the managing director of a private hospital whose ultra sound machine was sealed by the health officials last year in a raid after finding certain anomalies. He filed a petition in the court for relief. However, the HC bench took cognizance of the fact that how can Sachan while being a faculty member in CSMMU is also involved in running a private hospital, which amounts to PP.

The HC while hearing Dr Sachan’s petition last week had directed him to explain as to why departmental action not be ordered against him for indulging in PP. On Monday, Dr Sachan moved an application in the HC requesting to allow him withdraw the petition. But the bench comprising Justice Pradeep Kant and Justice Rituraj Awasthi turned down the application and directed Dr Sachan to appear in person on September 10. Court took cognizance of Dr Sachan’s status but surprisingly, the CSMMU authorities have overlooked the matter so far.

The ban was imposed following complaints that teachers devoted more time for PP and coerced patients to come at their private clinics. A PIL was filed in 2007 seeking strict implementation of the ban. The HC took a tough stand. But teachers reacted by threatening to resign en masse. Later, on court’s order, Commissioner Lucknow identified around 50 errant teachers through local intelligence units. In response, teachers launched an agitation demanding better salaries. The state government succumbed and doubled their salaries.

Besides salary hike, PP option was also given but for that teachers had to enter into a contract and forego service benefits. Some opted for contract but many out of over 300 teachers are still indulging in PP while enjoying regular services. This, said a senior professor, was unfair for those who honestly opted for contract and others who left PP. “Such teachers are also giving a message to students that with money power one can flout any norm with impunity, he said. Teachers, however, say that they have been falsely implicated.

Vice-chancellor Saroj Chooramani Gopal refused to talk on the issue. But sources said that she was forced to defer action due to arm-twisting by a few teachers through their contacts in bureaucracy, politics and CSMMU executive council members. Earlier also efforts to improve patient care and quality of teaching in CSMMU was opposed in a similar way by a section of teachers who went all out to scuttle moves to increase work hours and reduce number of holidays as well as introduction of promotion policy as prescribed in the CSMMU Act.

When contacted, Dr Sachan said that he opened the private hospital in 1991 and got appointment in CSMMU in 2002. “Thereafter, I am not taking any money from the hospital, but since the initial registration of land and building was in my name, it continues even today,” he said.

PIL on closing down potassium cholrate factory

TNN 8 September 2009, 03:08am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has ordered notices to the state and central government authorities, on a public interest writ petition to close down the polluting potassium chlorate industries in Karaikal.

The first bench comprising chief justice HL Gokhale and justice M Jaichandren issued the notices, on a PIL filed by social activist Traffic KR Ramaswamy, who said many of these industrial units were polluting the environment and were also involved in the diversion of subsidised potash supplied to farmers. The bench has posted the matter to September 14 for further hearing.

According to Ramaswamy, many of these industries, in collusion with local distributing agencies, procured the subsidised potash meant for farmers at Rs 4.5 a kilo, and used them for the manufacture of potassium chlorate. Charging the units with making unlawful monetary gains, the petitioner said the central government subsidy of about Rs 4,000 crore meant for farmers was being diverted to industries.

Naming two units in the Karaikal region, Ramaswamy said authorities were remaining mute spectators to these units though they were causing huge environmental pollution. “These units are converting potash into potassium chloride and further oxidise that into potassium chlorate. In this process, heavy chlorine gas is emitted, polluting crops and plantations in a radius of about five kilometres,” he said.

SC notice to BSNL on Trai’s plea
Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 07, 2009, 20:28 IST

The Supreme Court today issued notice to state-run telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) on a petition by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which had objected the PSU’s charging higher tariff from subscribers by way of reducing the pulse rate of each call.

BSNL had earlier got a favourable judgement from telecom tribunal TDSAT in this regard and the same was challenged by Trai.

A Bench headed by Justice B Sudershan Reddy sought reply from BSNL as to why it should be allowed to go ahead with the tariff increase.

Challenging the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal’s order that quashed TRAI’s directions on the traiff increase, the petitioner said that the judgement had a major impact on consumers as they were forced to pay higher charges as a result of change in the pulse rate from 180 seconds to 45 seconds in each call within six months of the date of their enrollment under the respective tariff plan.

Trai senior counsel Harish Salve and Sanjay Kapur said BSNL had enriched itself duly without any notice to unwary consumers about the reclassification of calls and the consumers, who had not completed six months in their tariff plans, have been forced to pay higher charges.

High Court restrains any kind of strike: Jet–Jet


Mumbai, Sep 8 (PTI) Stung by more than half of its pilots taking mass sick leave that forced cancellation of about 190 flights by 1400 hrs, Jet Airways today termed the agitation as illegal and secured a restrain order from Bombay High Court against any strike.

“The Bombay High Court has passed an order restraining any kind of strike,” Jet CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer told PTI on phone and added that all possible efforts were being taken to save passengers from inconvenience and restore normalcy.

As many as 156 domestic and 32 international flights were cancelled by 1400 hrs, he said, adding that the airline operates a total of 380 flights a day including 80 overseas.

“We were assured by the National Aviators Guild last night that there would be no strike and we went by this assurance.

Not responsible for HC violence, says senior cop in court

TNN 8 September 2009, 02:54am IST

CHENNAI: Law should catch up with police personnel who had indulged in “individual acts of violence,” M Ramasubramani who was the joint commissioner of police here when violence rocked the Madras high court on February 19 has said in his reply to court.

Ramasubramani, whose suspension was recommended by a full bench of the court, served his counter-affidavit on Monday, stating: “As regards the excesses committed by individual policemen, I am not justifying it at all, and law should catch up with them. My respectful submission is that I cannot be held vicariously liable for individual acts of violence.”

Adopting a conciliatory stand and narrating the sequence of events that culminated in the injuries to scores of people and grave damage to vehicles and court halls on February 19, Ramasubramani said: “At the outset, I wish to place on record my sincere apologies to this honourable court, to the judges, to the innocent lawyers, to the court staff, to the press and the public, who fell victim in the unsavoury incident that took place on February 19.”

The joint commissioner of police, who is at present deputy inspector-general of police (Tiruchi range), submitted that he did not know the exact time of arrival of the then commissioner of police, and added that the peace-loving majority of advocates had failed to rein in a “minuscule group of lawyers.” He said advocates kept provoking police with obscene words and gestures and that he was not disclosing the names of advocates in order to save them from embarrassment.

Ramasubramani said he cannot now be subjected to examine whether the lathicharge was justified, and added that it was a tense situation where “provocation was continuous and sustained.”

The court ought not to have directed the government to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him and place him under suspension, the official said. Ramasubramani, reiterating that the high court police station was burnt down by advocates, said the inquiries by the CBI and the government-appointed Dr Sundaradevan IAS committee would reveal the truth.

A division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi is scheduled to take up the hearing of the case on Wednesday.

HC stays govt funds for church repairs

TNN 8 September 2009, 05:12am IST

A two-member bench of the AP High Court on Monday directed the authorities to maintain status quo on government funds for building or repairing churches. The bench of Chief Justice Anil R Dave and Justice C V Nagarjuna Reddy was hearing a writ petition filed by Tripuraneni Hanuman Chowdary complaining that the state government was engaging itself in the promotion of a religion contrary to court injunctions. He listed 49 GOs, placing 150 Christian institutions as beneficiaries of state aid. The petitioner argued that there were no legislative sanction for the said expenditures and thus illegal. Listing various GOs between December 2001 and March 2009, he said the state was promoting Christian related activities in the guise of SC/ST welfare. He said the state was getting involved in a systematic manner for promoting church-related activities.

The petitioner had earlier filed a writ challenging the action of the government in granting funds for Christian pilgrimage. A two-member bench by an order dated July 22 had suspended the GO granting such allowances.

HC poser to authorities on work in ridge area

Nitin Sethi, TNN 8 September 2009, 04:20am IST

NEW DELHI: In what is bound to become a carefully watched case in Delhi, the High Court has asked the authorities to give reasons why it should not stop all development and construction activity in the Ridge area.

The court’s question to the Delhi Development Authority, the defence ministry, the Delhi and Union governments has come as a response to the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) reporting that unchecked construction in the Ridge area is depleting groundwater at an alarming rate.

Irked by the poor response from the concerned authorities, the court had even threatened that it would take an ex-parte decision.

Any orders along the lines the court has suggested would impact a large swath of South and South-West Delhi beginning from the Masoodpur and Mahipalpur area stretching through Vasant Kunj, Vasant Vihar to the airport and defence land beyond that to the West.

The petitioners in the case had filed a PIL stating that due to indiscriminate construction in the water recharge area around Nelson Mandela Marg, the groundwater reserve was fast depleting.

The CGWA pointed out that it was responsible for regulating extraction the groundwater through borewells and tubewells especially in the South-West district which has been declared as critical.

But the petitioners contended that CGWA was not fulfilling its entire set of functions by not regulating the construction that was eating away the recharge area for the district.

CGWA filed a report with the court stating that “Long term water level behaviour at village Bhatti has indicated that during years 1996 to 2003 ground water levels have witnessed sharp water level decline of 17 metres.” The authority, however, mentioned that the closure of mining had helped recover two metres of that from 2003-04.

The CGWA report recommended that infrastructure activity in the hilly area should be kept in check so that ecological balances are duly maintained. The report said, “Any construction and other activities in the Ridge areas of Aravallis will lead to choking/sealing of joints (in the earth structure below) resulting in reduced recharge.”

The report also pointed out that a dense network of tubewells exists in the region that people require for domestic use.

The Vasant Kunj malls too had earlier come under scrutiny for violating environmental regulations. These had been later cleared post-facto.

But the current case could open a greater can of worms with the role of the groundwater authority as well as DDA being questioned in the case. At the same time, with massive projects and construction on in the South-West disctrict and substantial presence of the Army in the belt, the court case is bound to make the government sit up.

After repeated hearings, the Delhi government has finally informed the court that it would consult CGWA and get back with its reply by the next hearing.

HC stays proposed action of PU against teachers

B K Mishra, TNN 8 September 2009, 03:28am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court (HC) on Monday stayed the proposed action of Patna University (PU) against its 134 teachers whose services were regularised under different absorption statutes.

Hearing writ petitions filed by three teachers of PU namely Dharmashila Prasad of Magadh Mahila College and Pramod Kumar Poddar and Vinay Kumar Kanth of B N College, Justice Mridula Mishra of Patna HC asked the university to refrain from taking any coercive action against the petitioners and other similarly placed teachers pending the final judgement. PU was asked to file a counter affidavit within two weeks.

PU had issued show cause notices to as many as 134 teachers in July this year asking them to explain as to why the period of their services rendered before their absorption be not curtailed and the date of their first appointment and subsequent promotions be not shifted.

The teachers did submit their replies to the show cause notices served on them, but remained apprehensive of the punitive measures being contemplated by the authorities. Hence they approached the HC seeking justice.

Appearing on behalf of the petitioners, advocate Binod Kumar Kanth pleaded that PU teachers were governed by a separate Act hence they should not be tagged with the teachers of other universities. He argued that the services of PU teachers were regularised strictly as per the provisions of the absorption statues and their initial appointments were made in a regular manner. He also cited the judgement of a constitution bench of the Supreme Court holding that once regularised and held legal, the cases of absorption need not be reopened. Advocate Ajay Sinha appeared on behalf of the university.

Meanwhile, hailing the interim judgement of Patna HC, Federation of University Teachers’ Associations of Bihar working president K B Sinha asked the vice-chancellors of all the universities not to act on the dictates of the bureaucrats and take lessons from the judgement. He said that unwarranted expenditure being incurred by the universities on litigation should be realised from the VCs.

CBI gets HC nod to book govt officials in ashram deaths

Shibu Thomas, TNN 8 September 2009, 02:06am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has given the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the go-ahead to book persons, including government officials, responsible for providing sub-standard food to tribal children in state-run ashram schools. The court also ordered the government to fix responsibility and initiate action against officers who provided bug-infested food to the children in such special schools.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation on the condition of schools and the death of five children in one such school in Dahanu.

The CBI submitted a confidential report to the court detailing how the food was infested with bugs.

Additional solicitor-general Darius Khambata informed the court: “except at two places, foodgrains in all other godowns were not fit for human consumption.” The court was also told that four students had died of snake bites at different ashram schools in the state.

The court said that the CBI was free to file additional charge sheets if required against persons whose negligence caused the death of the children.

HC fiat to Maria in Shakeel gang members’ case

TNN 8 September 2009, 02:15am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday gave the Mumbai cops two days to undo the damage they caused by informing the media of the arrest of alleged Chhota Shakeel gang members for plotting to kill two lawyers representing Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur but failed to mention it in the remand copy against them.

A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi came down heavily on the police and asked them if such misleading leaks in the media was a new strategy to pressure and “browbeat the court”.

The court was hearing a petition filed by one of the accused, Kamil, who sought a clarification from the police. The petition pointed out that in documents submitted to court seeking police custody, the agency had mentioned that they had been booked for attempting to commit dacoity. In an affidavit, joint commissioner of police Rakesh Maria had earlier told the court that the press had prior information about the alleged murder plot. The court refused to accept this explanation, charging the police with trampling upon the rights of the accused.

Minister Sudhakar’s case adjourned to Tuesday: HC asks for case diary

TNN 8 September 2009, 01:00am IST

BANGALORE: The high court has adjourned to Tuesday a criminal petition filed by social welfare minister N Sudhakar. The HC also told the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to produce the case diary or station house diary before the court.

Pressure is mounting on Sudhakar to resign. Also, the deadline given by chief minister B S Yeddyurappa will expire on Tuesday.

On September 1, CBI had submitted a chargesheet in a special court relating to a bank fraud case against Sudhakar.

Defeated BJP candidate N R Lakshmikanth from Hiriyur, which Sudhakar represents, has sought to implead himself and three other persons in the case.

“Do you want to implead yourself as accused or prosecutor?” asked Justice Subhash Adi. The court told Lakshmikanth to file an affidavit if he wants to get himself impleaded.

HC stays summons


Patna, Sept. 7: In a major reprieve, Patna High Court today stayed a lower court’s summons issued to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar in connection with the murder of a Congress activist during the 1991 Lok Sabha polls to the Barh seat.

Opposition RJD and LJP had demanded that the chief minister step down after the court of Barh chief judicial magistrate summoned Nitish on September 9 for being a “party” to the 18-year-old murder of one Sitaram Singh near a polling booth at Pandarak in Barh.

The chief minister rejected the Opposition’s demand and his party, the JD(U), declared the summons as illegal because a prosecution had “exonerated” the chief minister long ago.

Justice Sima Ali Khan today ordered a stay on the summons in response to a writ petition filed by Yogendra Prasad Yadav, who also stands chargesheeted in the case and had prayed that the HC stay the lower court’s order.

Even before this, the bench of Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi had stayed proceedings in the case that came up at Barh court on April 24, 2009. Sima Ali Khan declared the CJM’s summon as unwarranted and uncalled for as the bench of Tripathi had already stayed the proceedings.

After issuing the stay order, Khan referred the case to the bench of Tripathi, who will fix the next date of hearing. Much after the prosecution gave its clean chit to Nitish, a relative of the deceased, Ashok Kumar Singh, challenged the prosecution’s exoneration in the CJM court.

JD(U) state party chief Lallan Singh and national spokesman Shivanand Tiwary suspected that Ashok had challenged the prosecution’s exoneration with a malicious design at the behest of RJD boss Lalu Prasad and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan.

Delhi HC asks revenue dept to reply on Microsoft plea

fe Bureaus
Posted: Tuesday, Sep 08, 2009 at 0016 hrs IST
Updated: Tuesday, Sep 08, 2009 at 0016 hrs IST

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday instructed the revenue department to file its reply on the writ petition of Microsoft India challenging a duty demand of Rs 260 crore by the revenue department for violation of service tax norms. The division bench of the Court headed by Justice A K Sirki and Justice Valmiki J Mehta has also directed that the matter be listed for September 22.

While Microsoft India was unavailable for comment till the time of going to press, it is expected to have a significant impact on companies involved in the export of services, especially in the IT sector.

In July this year, an appellate tribunal of the department had ordered Microsoft India to deposit Rs 70 crore for hearing its appeal against the revenue department.

The tribunal in its decision had noted that the place of performance of a service is decisive for determining the event of taxability as well as the incidence of tax. It also questioned a CBEC circular clarifying under the Export of Services of Rules, the location of the service receiver is more relevant than the place of performance. Further the circular clarified that the phrase ‘used outside India’ should be understood to mean that the benefit of service accrues outside India.

The case dates back to 2008, when the Central Board of Excise and Customs had slapped a demand notice of Rs 126 crore on Microsoft India, along with an equal fine and interest. It had claimed that Microsoft India’s Gurgaon unit had carried out marketing services for Microsoft Singapore from 2005 onwards.

“It will be interesting to see what the High Court decides. The CBEC circular has called for the ‘beneficial enjoyment of services,’ which is an internationally practice. One hopes that under the goods and services tax regime, this provision would be followed,” said Pratik Jain, executive director, KPMG.

The revenue department claimed that the Microsoft India was carrying out marketing events and other promotional activities for the Singapore subsidiary.

Shah’s lawyers file writ petition
Rising Kashmir News
Jammu, Sep 07: A team of lawyers represented by senior advocate, Pran Nath Bhat filed a writ petition in Jammu High Court against the state government wherein they have requested that they be acquainted with all the accusations leveled against JKDFP chief, Shabir Ahmad Shah so that these could be accordingly defended against.
Meanwhile, another team of lawyers represented by advocate Vikas has approached District Court Udhampur to acquire bail in favour of Shah against the accusations of his instigating and provoking masses against Indian state, and mobilizing their opinion in favour of freedom struggle.
JKDFP spokesperson has said that for last one year now the ailing party chief is being kept under “unlawful and unjustifiable” detention on one excuse or the other showing scant consideration for his ill health.

Northeast Echoes


Playing with the judiciary

Gauhati High Court’s recent directive that former Jharkhand MP Sukhdeo Paswan should pay Rs 1 lakh for wasting the court’s time on a public interest litigation (PIL) against Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, which has fizzled out, is an eye-opener.

The nadir to which politics has sunk merits no debate, but that politicians would even use the judiciary to settle political scores is a very serious matter. As practitioners of democracy, we encounter hypocrisies from politicians that leave us gasping. But the moral high ground adopted by one politician to crucify another only leaves us more bewildered, especially when the litigant has in a cavalier fashion decided to withdraw the case.

The controversy here is not about Biswa Sarma, but on the petitioner who used the route of a PIL which is actually a redressal mechanism afforded by the judiciary to enable citizens to correct injustices in governance.

Political games

That the petitioner then did a complete turn-around and withdrew his petition on the plea that there were “unknown facts” regarding the core issues raised in the PIL after filing the affidavit and counter-affidavit filed by Sarma, smacks of hypocrisy. We come to the oft-quoted adage that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies. But while politicians can change their “bedfellows”, they have no right to make an ass of the law.

In March this year, Paswan, the MP who represented Araria, Bihar, for five terms had quit the BJP because he was not given a ticket. He was later given a ticket from the Samajwadi Party (SP). The SP is known for its proximity to the Congress.

It is no surprise, therefore, that Paswan’s enthusiasm to pursue the PIL against Biswa Sarma dwindled.

When he first filed the PIL in December 2007, he was an ardent follower of the BJP, which is in alliance with the AGP in Assam. At the time Paswan was probably the AGP stooge out to embarrass Biswa Sarma. Now that Paswan has lost the elections he has also probably lost interest in the PIL, which costs both time and money to pursue because lawyers don’t come cheap. This is one plausible reason why the former MP withdrew the case, apart of course from the fact that he and Biswa Sarma could soon be supping from the same political table. This is why politicians make dangerous litigants.

It is, therefore, in the fitness of things that the Gauhati High Court has passed an order asking the next petitioner against Biswa Sarma, AGP legislator Padma Hazarika, to deposit court fees amounting to Rs 1 lakh before they admit the petition.

Going scot free

The Tada cases against Biswa Sarma, which were lodged at Chandmari and Panbazar police stations, are on the face of it very serious. The allegations of extortion at the behest of Ulfa are not to be taken lightly because they point to a link between the Congressman and a notorious militant group that is responsible for bleeding Assam and continues to do so even today.

The stories about the missing case diaries reveal the rot and stench in the police department. And the fact that the police officer, who claimed to have misplaced Biswa Sarma’s case diaries, was let off is an insult to our collective intelligence.

With such a horrible history behind it, how can the police department of Assam claim any credibility? Does this not indicate that the police too are up for sale to the highest bidder, mainly politicians?

It is easy for the health minister to now take a moral high ground and say that he has been penalised enough and that his cases should be quashed once and for all. Without the case diaries and confessional statements how can any prosecuting agency pin him down?

This makes us wonder why the small fries are kept in jail for petty crimes and why the big fish escape big offences. Isn’t this one reason why militancy finds acceptance among the repressed?

We are to blame

Without being moralistic and also with the pragmatism that one is forced to adopt, while using prisms to view the practitioners of politics, one can only aver that politicians get away with the worst of crimes because we patronise them once they are in power.

In other words, we connive with them. No one, not even the so-called Christian states, ostracises a politician even when he is blatantly corrupt and perversely immoral.

So politicians feel they have a blank cheque to misuse public funds and also that they are allowed to bend and break the laws that govern ordinary mortals.

As a people we are as much to blame for our acquiescent behaviour vis-à-vis politicians with a colourful past. Why is it so easy to forgive and forget the sins of politicians even while we murmur with disgust at the degeneration of morals all around us?

It is a pity that the law, too, should adopt different yardsticks for different people. How can anyone trust such a distorted criminal justice system? And if citizens lose faith in the entire judicial process and use their own kangaroo courts to deliver summary justice, would the system have the moral authority to clamp down on them?

Personally one is aggrieved that the police could misplace highly incriminating documents against highly placed accused persons. In whose payroll are they anyway? Politicians, or the public exchequer?

(The writer can be contacted at

Bans binned

The Indian Express

Posted: Monday, Sep 07, 2009 at 0235 hrs

The logical end of censorship, Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once claimed, “is when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.” In banning Jaswant Singh’s magnum opus Jinnah: India, Partition-Independence, the Gujarat government was certainly following the first half of this dictum: it banned a book that virtually everybody in the political class is ploughing through. This, even though the Gujarat government had obviously not read the book, a discrepancy which the Gujarat High Court pointed out in its order overturning the ban.

That the decision to ban Jaswant Singh’s book — a decision that ran concurrently with the BJP’s decision to expel its author — was politically motivated is a no-brainer. The ostensible reasons were either absurd (that the book would cause communal violence) or cynical opportunism (that derogatory references to Sardar Patel were made). In fact, the book’s references to Patel, for historians to nit-pick over, were clearly harmless, as the book’s consequences elsewhere show. The Gujarat High Court rightly pointed out that the Gujarat government’s notification did not make even the pretence of an argument. In such a situation, the notification was a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech and expression.

A party that glorifies these fundamental rights when it comes to books by Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasreen demeans itself when it advocates censorship when convenient. The bogie of Sardar Patel was especially repugnant, the hope that some political harvest could be gained in the land of his birth. Not all of the BJP thought the same way:  Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa refused to ban the book. But it seems that the Gujarat government has learnt neither from his example, nor the high court’s pronouncement: it might issue another notification, with fresh grounds for a ban. If that is indeed its intention, the state government should rethink. And it is hoped that political leaderships across party and state lines will read this as a sign that capricious bans are out.

PM shocked over low conviction rate of cases under SC/ST Act
Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 7, 2009, 13:02 IST

Expressing shock over less than 30 per cent conviction rate for cases of atrocities against SCs and STs, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today asked state governments to give more attention to the issue and said court cases related to such matters should be “pursued on priority”.

“Reports of atrocities against SCs, STs and senior citizens continue to appear with disturbing regularity. I have in fact written to the Chief Ministers of all states recently to enforce the provisions of the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

It is shocking that conviction rate for cases of atrocities against SCs and STs is less than 30 per cent against the average of 42 per cent for all cognisable offences under IPC. The state governments need to give more attention to this issue,” he said inaugurating a conference of state ministers of welfare and social justice here.

Singh told them to conduct meetings of state and district level vigilance committees on a regular basis and said that court cases should be pursued on priority.

Focussing on the need to change the general mindset towards disadvantaged groups, the Prime Minister said such people should be made equal partners in the developmental processes.

“We propose to amend the Persons with Disabilities Act in consultation with states so as to bring it in line with the UN Convention (on Rights of Persons with Disabilities),” he said.

Referring to the drought like situation prevailing in many parts of the country, Singh said, “the experience has been that weaker sections tend to be the worst affected by such natural calamities.

“We, therefore, need to step up monitoring and implementation of welfare schemes like NREGA, Annapurna and Old Age Pension Scheme, which target the weaker sections.”

He said the government plans to take up a new scheme from this year on a pilot basis namely, ‘Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana’ for integrated development of 1,000 villages, each having more than 50 per cent SC population.

The scheme aims at implementation of various development projects in these villages, with an additional fund of Rs 10 lakh per village to meet those requirements that cannot be met from existing schemes, he said, adding that if the pilot scheme is successful, then it could be expanded.

On the mobility problems faced by disabled persons, the Prime Minister said educational and healthcare institutions, government offices and banks, should be made more accessible.

“Small steps like ramps… Actually go a long way in this direction,” he said.

Singh called on the Ministry of Communications and IT to promote development of user friendly software in all Indian languages.

“Our websites need to be more user friendly for disabled people and I am happy that the ministry for social justice has made a beginning in this regard. The National Institute of Design should be urged to encourage the design of everyday appliances and instruments that cater to people with various disabilities,” he said.

With the economy emerging from its slowdown phase, the Prime Minister urged the corporate sector to “respond handsomely” to the scheme to promote employment of disabled persons in the private sector.

Referring to the self-employment scheme for rehabilitation of manual scavengers, a programme run by the ministry for social justice, he said, “I am told that more than half of the identified beneficiaries under the scheme are yet to be rehabilitated.

“States should be more proactive in implementing scholarships and hostel schemes for SCs, STs and OBCs.”

He said disability certificates should be issued within a month of the date of application. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said focus of 11th Plan is on inclusive growth and both the Centre and the states should work together to achieve the objective of helping socially disadvantaged groups.

“In the Planning Commission, we have been implementing the SC sub-plan and are engaged with other ministries to ensure its implementation,” he said.

Noting that the compliance of states was “not satisfactory”, he said the Commission has written to Chief Ministers that their annual plans would be cleared only if they implement the SC sub-plan properly.

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik said effectiveness of ongoing schemes must be enhanced and there should be a strategic partnership with civil society, industry and the government to provide social justice.

HC judge emphasises need for awareness on gender issues

Kartikeya, TNN 7 September 2009, 01:11am IST

MUMBAI: Giving a host of examples where practices discriminatory towards women have been struck down by the judiciary, justice Roshan Dalvi of the Bombay high court said more effort was needed before our society becomes sensitive towards problems faced by women.

Dalvi, who is amongst a handful of women in the country who sit on the bench in a high court, was speaking to students of K C Law College on Saturday. “It may be a while before we are able to enforce a uniform civil code but the judiciary, with the help of peripheral laws, has been protecting the rights of women from all communities,” Dalvi said. She added that gender-biased and stereotypical perceptions of women in society had been an impediment in allowing them to realise their true potential. “If a woman wants to work till late at night in a bar then a government order to stop her from doing so is discriminatory,” Dalvi said. She added that a similar rule had been rightly rejected by the Delhi high court.

“The HSNC Board which runs the college is celebrating its 60 years and we are organising several lectures by legal luminaries. It gives students a peek into how judges think on thought-provoking topics,” said principal Neelima Chandiramani.

Dalvi said during rape trials, it would be welcome if efforts could be made to ensure that both the prosecutor and the judge were women. “When I heard testimonies of rape victims, I realised that it helped when even the typist in the courtroom was a woman. It put the victim more at ease while narrating her trauma,” she said. The Criminal Procedure Code does call for women officials in rape matters but the provision is not always implemented due to lack of women lawyers and judges.

HC quashes case of suicide abetment

Shibu Thomas, TNN 7 September 2009, 01:09am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court recently quashed charges of abetment of suicide slapped against Akola municipal commissioner, following the death of the corporation’s chief accountant. Around four years ago, Sanjay Rathi, the chief accountant, had left a suicide note saying he was taking his life as commissioner Sanjay Kakde had forced him to do some alleged irregularities. Justice R Y Ganoo observed that Kakde could not be held responsible for Rathi’s death.

“(Kakde) cannot be held responsible for (Rathi’s) frame of mind, which ultimately ended in the commission of suicide,” said Justice Ganoo.

The judge added that even if the suicide note was accepted as the truth, still, just because Kakde had forced Rathi to sign certain documents, “at the most it would amount to certain irregularities committed by Kakde in discharge of his office.” That may still not amount to abetment of suicide, said the court.

Rathi’s body was found on December 16, 2005, lying on the railway tracks at Akola. During investigations, the police recovered a suicide note addressed to the secretary, accounts and finance department, Mantralaya. Rathi in his letter claimed that Kakde had pressurised him to sign and pass various bills though he did not approve of it.

Apprehensive of the fact that irregularities may be discovered and he would be prosecuted, Rathi wrote in the note that he was committing suicide. Kakde’s advocate contended that charging the municipal commissioner with abetment of suicide was “far fetched”, even if the allegations of irregularities were taken to be correct.

The prosecution lawyer on his part claimed that the suicide note was “clinching evidence” against the Akola civic chief. He also said that the commissioner had put so much pressure on Rathi that the latter reached a state of mind that suicide was the only answer. The high court judge, however, did not agree with this contention.

The defence advocate also pointed out to the statement of a witness who claimed that he had seen Rathi trying to cross the tracks and being run over by a train.

The judge said that there could be two possibilities-that either Rathi committed suicide or that he met with an accident. This would give Kakde the benefit of circumstances, the court said, while quashing the FIR and the charge sheet filed against the commissioner.

HC seeks cop inquiry into lecturer’s death

TNN 7 September 2009, 12:37am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has asked the Maharashtra director-general of police to select an officer for conducting an inquiry into an 18-year-old case of the death of a woman lecturer at a college in Sangamner.

A petition filed in the high court `alleges’ that state agriculture minister Balasaheb Thorat was involved in the death.

According to a division bench of Justice B H Marlapalle and Justice Roshan Dalvi, the inquiry was needed to find out whether the death because of burn injuries was “accidental, suicidal, or homicidal.”

Vijaya Deshmukh was a lecturer at Amrutvahini engineering college in Sangamner, run by Thorat. She died on February 1, 1991 from burn injuries, but no police investigation was carried out to find out if it was a murder or an accident, claims the petition.

Petition in HC wants closure of StanChart’s India operations
Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 06, 2009, 15:55 IST

The Delhi High Court has issued notice to Standard Chartered Bank on a petition, which alleged non-payment Rs 1.5 lakh by the foreign bank as directed by the DRT and sought winding up of the lender’s India operations.

A single member bench of Justice S K Mishra has directed the foreign bank to file its reply within four weeks on a petition filed by three persons in a property case.

The petition followed StanChart’s alleged failure to pay a cost of Rs 1.5 lakh to the persons as per the judgement of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) in New Delhi.

The DRT in its ruling on May 15 quashed two notices of the Bank on taking possession of the two properties located in Nizamuddin West in New Delhi under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act. The DRT also asked the bank to pay Rs 1.5 lakh along with 18 per cent interest to the persons.

However, according to the petition filed by advocate Gajendra Giri, the bank neither paid the amount nor returned the property papers of his client D S Sawhney’s home.

“Standard Chartered Bank has illegally withheld property documents despite the fact that nothing is due against the said property and thus bank has cheated them and is illegally withholding the documents nor it paid the cost amount as directed by the DRT,” contended the petitioner.

Giri contended that as per sections 45 A, 45 B of the Banking Regulation Act and the Companies Act, if a banking company fails to pay debt or refuses to pay any lawful demand “within two working days” then the High Court has the power to order winding up of the bank.

HC asks daily to pay Rs 5 lakh for calling trader 420


Shillong, Sept 6 (PTI) The Gauhati High Court has asked a Meghalaya-based English daily to pay Rs 5 lakh as damage to a businessman who was dubbed as “Char sau bees” (420) in one of its reports six years back.

A Shillong Bench of the Court headed by Justice T Vaiphei and Justice Hrishikesh Roy observed, “The news item published under the heading Char sau bees makes serious allegations on the conduct of the plaintiff.”

Dismissing a contention by the lawyers, representing the Daily, that the comments were mere ‘banter’, the Court said, “the item cannot be brushed aside as something written in lighter vein in the category of banter or humour … as the news item extracts the provisions of Section 420 of IPC and makes a demand for punishing the plaintiff for conspiracy and cheating.

Government abides by legal advice on swearing-in of Ministers

N. Rahul

Experts take two scenarios into consideration while making suggestion

HYDERABAD: Wide-ranging consultations were held with legal experts like Attorney General Ghulam E. Vahanvati and his predecessor K. Parasaran before the Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh recommended that “it would be the right thing” for all 34 Ministers of the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy Cabinet to take the oath of office if they were to continue.

Advocate General D.V. Sitaram Murthy made this recommendation to Chief Secretary P. Ramakanth Reddy late on Saturday night after two days of hectic parleys with former Lok Sabha Secretary General and an expert on constitutional law Subhash C. Kashyap besides Mr. Vahanvati, Mr. Parasaran and Advocate General of Maharashtra Ravi Kadam.

Right thing

At the height of the controversy over whether the Cabinet should be sworn in at all or there was no need for it, the legal experts believed that the swearing-in would indeed be the right thing to do though there were no consistent conventions in the event of the death or resignation of Prime Ministers or Chief Ministers in harness.

Jawaharlal Nehru’s Council of Ministers was continued by his successor Gulzarilal Nanda without a fresh swearing-in when the former died. Similarly, Brahmananda Reddy continued with the Cabinet of Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy when the latter resigned. However, Rajiv Gandhi’s appointment as Prime Minister was followed by the swearing-in of his Cabinet after a few days and so was the case when Ashok Chavan took over as Maharashtra Chief Minister recently.

Argument on analogy

The legal experts looked at two scenarios in taking a view whether or not the Council of Ministers stood dissolved after YSR’s death. One, they discussed that the term of the Council would extend till a new one was constituted as the Governor only appointed the Chief Minister. There was no requirement for the swearing-in as it was already under oath and could continue to function. This was endorsed by the Supreme Court in a judgement in 1971.

Second, they discussed that the Council was necessarily to be sworn in under Article 164 (3) of the Constitution as the Chief Minister holds office till resignation or death. In the present case, when Mr. Rosaiah submitted a letter to the Governor to continue the old team, they based their argument on analogy that the Governor appoints the Council on the advice of the Chief Minister. Then, Mr. Rosaiah’s letter had to be considered as an advice to the Governor to appoint his Council of Ministers which required a fresh oath, Mr. Sitaram Murthy told The Hindu.

Accordingly, Mr. Rosaiah held consultations with the Chief Secretary on Sunday morning and requested the Governor at 11 a.m. to administer the oath to the old team.

NCW asks for report from Maya govt on women’s sale

Aasim Khan / CNN-IBN

Published on Mon, Sep 07, 2009 at 21:37, Updated on Mon, Sep 07, 2009 at 22:08

NATIONAL SHAME: National Commission for Women has asked UP government to send a report.

New Delhi: A day after CNN-IBN exposed how farmers in Bundelkhand were selling their wives on stamp paper, the news has had an impact in New Delhi.

The story that showed the plight of women who were forced into flesh trade in the draught-hit region of Uttar Pradesh has now caught the attention of the National Commission for Women.

Kalicharan is a poor debt ridden farmer of Bundelkhand, who was forced to sell his wife to ensure his own survival for a few more days.

Now after CNN-IBN exposed the plight of people like Kalicharan help is starting to pour in.

Taking note of the reports the National Commission for Women has decided to take action.

“We have taken a note of the CNN-IBN report and have set up a committee to investigate. I have written a letter to the Uttar Pradesh government to find out the details,” NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas said.

In their letter to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary the NCW has demanded a full report from Uttar Pradesh administration within 48 hours.

NCW has also demanded action against the police officials who tried to silence the farmers as shown in the Network18 report.

The commission has also decided to send a special investigation team to find out the facts of the matter in case the state government does not reply adequately.

It is not just the NCW but the Congress, too, which has take note of the report.

The party which has been working on Bundelkhand overtime through frequent visits of Rahul Gandhi is also dispatching a three-member team to Jhansi on Tuesday as the issue begins to dominate national political radar

“Your channel has done a great service by bringing this story. Once again it has shown how the poor are treated,” said Communist Party of India-Marxist MP and Politburo member Brinda Karat.

Already under fire for building her own statues the expose is a proving to be a real test for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.

So far Uttar Pradesh government has avoided answering the questions, but with the NCW serving it a 48-hour deadline, time to prove her critics wrong is running out for Mayawati.

Girija Vyas against Sach Ka Saamna

TNN 6 September 2009, 05:01am IST

JAIPUR: Following complaints, the National Commission for Women has decided to serve notice to the producers of the controversial reality show ” Sach Ka Saamna.”

“We have been receiving regular complaints from aggrieved women as their husbands began questioning their character after watching the programme on TV and have decided to serve notice to the producers of the programme,” Girija Vyas, chairperson of the NCW, told reporters here.

Vyas also appealed to the people “not to participate in the programme as private life is something personal and not for the public. It is against the social values and ethos of our society,” she said.

“I am also of the opinion that there must be difference between one’s personal and public life,” she added.

Such revelation of truth not only affects the life of the participants but also that of viewers as there were reports of some of the participants family life in tatters, she said. The contents of the show which delves into the personal and sexual adventures of contestants have been described as degrading to “Indian culture” by parliamentarians and social activists.

Subsequently, the ministry for information and broadcasting had also sent a notice to the channel. Vyas added the NCW had proposed certain amendments to the Prohibition of Indecent Representation of Women and Children Act. She said perturbed over indecent representation of women on television the NCW had favoured changes in the law to bring the electronics media in its ambit.

She disclosed that such a recommendation was sent to the ministry of women and child development. She said to widen the scope of the act and its applicability the definition of advertisement’ is also proposed to be amended. Advertisement would include any notice, circular , label, wrapper, or other document besides visible representation made by means of any light including laser, light and fibre optic or any other media, she said.

“Indecent representation of women means depiction of women as a sexual object’. It includes depiction in any manner of the figure of woman, her form or body or any part there of in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent, derogatory, or denigrating women,” she added.

A new clause has been proposed to be included to extend the applicability of the act to the visual media and computer including internet, Vyas said.

The penal provision includes imprisonment for a term not less than two months which may extend to two years. In case of second or subsequent conviction the punishment may be for six months extend up to five years, she said.

Vyas said considering the large number of complaints of domestic violence and dowry cases received from NRI women, the commission plans to set up an NRI cell to deal with such cases.

NCW seeks amendment to indecent representation of women Act

Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: The National Commission for Women (NCW) has sought an amendment in the Prohibition of Indecent Representation of Women and Children Act 1986, incorporating more stringent punishment for its violation. The Commission wants a definition of the electronic media and fresh interpretation of the term “advertisement”, among other things to widen the purview of the Act.

“The existing Act has many drawbacks and is not comprehensive,” said Girija Vyas, chairperson of the NCW, talking to media persons here over the weekend. “The NCW has sent a draft bill to the ministry proposing certain amendments in the Act to make punishment for those who violating it more stringent and also to make it applicable to television channels,” she said.

Dr. Vyas said the Commission was perturbed over continuing indecent representation of women on television. The depiction of women as a sexual object should be stopped by law. The definition of indecent representation of woman would include the depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman, her form, her body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent, derogatory or denigrating, she pointed out.

“The amendment proposed by us includes extension of the applicability of the Act to the visual media and the computer, including internet and satellite related communication. A separate chapter on provisions relating to prohibition and penalties has also been proposed,” Dr.Vyas noted.

Terming the existing provisions for penalties in the case of violation of the Act, Dr.Vyas said the amendment would make the punishment for a term not less than two months, which may extend to two years. In the case of second or subsequent conviction the punishment might be six months which could extend to five years along with a fine of not less than Rs.10, 000 which might extend to Rs.5 lakhs, she observed.

Dr.Vyas said the Centre should set up an authority to govern and regulate the manner in which the women are represented in any document, published, broadcast or telecast. The Authority shall be headed by member secretary, NCW and should have representatives from Advertising Standards Council of India, Press Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and a member experienced in working on women’s issues, she pointed out.

Legal News 01.09.2009

Madras HC issues notice to I&B Ministry over obscenity, violence on TV Team

(1 September 2009 5:35 pm)

MUMBAI: The Madras High Court (HC) has issued notices to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, Prasar Bharati and the Central Board of Film Certification on the issue of transmission of obscenity, violence, vulgar telecasts and exhibition of indecent dramas, serials, dances and advertisements by private channels.

Hearing on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Rev Father Pancras M Raja along with three others, the first bench of chief justice HL Gokhale and justice D Murugesan, have asked the parties to file the responses by 5 October.

In the PIL, the petitioners have sought order to restrain repeated telecast of events which terrified viewers. These include the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai and the 19 February police-advocates clash in the Madras High Court premises.

According to the petitioners, youth and children were being exposed to ‘mind pollution’ by the TV programmes and advertisements telecast by the satellite cable TV networks. Contending that mind pollution was worse than all other types of pollution, the petitioners claimed that psychologists all over the world have been cautioning that exposure to media violence and sex had a damaging impact on children, minors and youth.

Gujarat may modify ban order on Jinnah book

Nikunj Soni / DNA

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 9:57 IST

Ahmedabad: The state government is likely to file a reply or submit a ‘modified notification’ in court, when hearing of the PIL challenging the ban imposed on Jaswant Singh’s book resumes in the Gujarat high court on Tuesday.

The state government had issued a notification on August 19 banning the book, ‘Jinnah-India, Partition, Independence’, written by expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh. Incidentally, Singh’s petition challenging the Gujarat government’s ban order is also to be heard in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.On Monday, a special 3-judge bench of the Gujarat high court, comprising chief justice KS Radhkrishnan, justice Akil Kureshi and justice KM Thaker, took up the PIL for final hearing, after refusing the state government’s request for two days’ time to file a reply.

“The high court can’t go beyond the content of the notification and look into the affidavit,” said chief justice Radhakrishnan. “The Supreme Court has observed that the validity of the notification is to be tested only on the bases stated in the notification and not otherwise.” The chief justice’s observation came after the additional advocate general, Tushar Mehta, sought time to file a reply.

The counsel for the petitioners, Anand Yagnik, challenged the validity of the notification, and argued that it was issued without giving reasonable grounds. He further argued that the government had banned the book without reading it and without any application of mind. He contended that the notification does not point out which portions of the book are objectionable. As a result, it was not possible for any reasonable man to determine from the notification whether something written in the book was objectionable, Yagnik said.

Tamil Nadu: Anna University VC suspended on corruption charges


Anna University Coimbatore Vice Chancellor R Radhakrishnan was placed under suspension on charges of corruption, the Tamil Nadu Government told the Madras High Court today.

When a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) came up for hearing before the first bench, comprising Chief Justice H L Gokahle and Justice Murugesan, seeking registration of corruption case against Mr Radhakrishnan, Advocate General (AG) P S Raman submitted that the Government has placed the Vice-Chancellor under suspension in view of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) registering a case against him on corruption charges.

In his counter affidavit, the AG said the Government had permitted the DVAC to register the case against Mr Radhakrishnan.

The counter filed by the Higher Education Department Deputy Secretary, said the Government accorded its sanction to the DVAC on July 30 and Mr Radhakrishnan was suspended two days ago.

The Government had asked the DVAC to register a regular case on the allegations contained in the proposal of the DVAC Director, as well as the contents of the affidavit filed by advocate S Sivapandi, who filed the PIL.

The DVAC probe was on against the accused, the AG said and prayed for the dismissal of the PIL in view of filing of case against the Vice-Chancellor.

The Bench disposed off the PIL. After recording the submissions filed by the AG.


PIL challenging MLAs pay hike dismissed

Tue, 2009-09-01 02:18 — editor

By Gopal Ethiraj, Chennai

Chennai, 01 September, (

A petition challenging the order of the government to hike salary and decision to allot land for constructing house for MLAs, has been dismissed on Monday by the Madras High Court.

When the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed the social activist ‘Traffic’ K R Ramaswamy came up for hearing before the First Bench of Chief Justice H L Gokhale and Justice D Murugesan, the Government Pleader (GP) Raja Kalifulla submitted, that the salary hike to the MLAs was announced by the government in the State Assembly.

And on the government has not yet taken any decision to allot any piece of land to MLAs; the government has closed the proposal of allotting lands to them, the GP informed the court.

Dismissing the petition, the Bench recorded the statement of the GP and said, the MLAs’ salary increase was within the permissible limit.

In his petition, ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy, had earlier submitted that the hike in the salary of MLAs announced by the Finance Minister was unwarranted.

He said legislators were expected to serve the people, recalling that in the distant past only an honorarium was paid to MLAs when they attended Assembly sessions. There was no fixed monthly salary.

He also submitted that at present MLAs were given free accommodation with modern facilities. It was not necessary to allot free land or land at a concessional price in the city, which was already facing acute shortage of space.

When several hut-dwellers were not able to get [better] accommodation, it was not fair to give additional accommodation to MLAs, most of whom owned houses in their constituencies and also in the city. He had sent a fax message to the authorities, the Finance Minister and the Chief.

Non-veg food in jails: HC gives 3 options to state

Express News Service Posted: Tuesday , Sep 01, 2009 at 0516 hrs Mumbai:

The Bombay High Court has given three options to jail authorities in the state for providing non-vegetarian food to prisoners.

The options were provided on Monday following a petition by a few convicts in the 1993 serial blasts case. They pleaded that non-vegetarian food be made available in prison canteens.

A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi has asked the jail authorities to include non-veg food in the menu once or twice a week. The bench also gave two other options: either sell non-veg food in prisons so that convicts can buy them or purchase it from outside.

“The authorities have been given a week to file their reply,” petitioners’ lawyer Aisha Ansari said.

According to the petition, as per Maharashtra Prison Manual, eatables can be sold in prison canteens. However, the convicts claimed that the Inspector General of Prisons had issued a circular in September 2008 directing that eatables should not be sold in prison canteens. Petitioners Sardar Shahavali Khan, Salim Mira Shaikh and four others are lodged in Aurangabad Central Prison.

The judges observed that if the reason for not selling eatables is because they are prisoners, it is a colonial attitude.

Ansari said this facility had been available since 1949. She contended that foods such as chicken, eggs and mutton were sold in prisons canteens and prisoners could buy them.

HC seeks date for Shopian probe completion

TNN 1 September 2009, 03:36am IST

SRINAGAR: Hearing the bail application of two police officers — then Shopian SP Javid Iqbal Matoo and DSP Rohit Baskotra, Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday directed police to give specific date within four days for the completion of investigation into Shopian rape and murder of two women.

Justice Sunil Hali directed special investigation team of Jammu and Kashmir police to inform the court within four days as when it would complete the probe so that it could take a decision on their bail plea.

The police had arrested four police officers — Matoo, Baskotra, former SHO and a sub-inspector of Shopian police officer after one man judicial commission held them responsible for destroying evidence in the case.

Judge’s revelation: HC issues notice to bar council chief

TNN 1 September 2009, 04:02am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras high court on Monday issued notices to Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry chairman RK Chandramohen and the Bar Council of India on a writ plea seeking disclosure of the name of the Union minister who had attempted to contact Justice Regupathi for a favourable order in a criminal case.

A division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi admitted the petition filed by advocate Elephant G Rajendran and asked Chandramohen, who appeared for the accused doctor-son duo in a marksheet scam case, to submit his reply within four weeks.

On Monday, a copy of the confidential report of Justice R Regupathi, explaining the details and circumstances under which he had revealed in an open court that a Union minister tried to exert pressure on him, was also furnished before the bench.

The copy was submitted in a sealed cover, when a writ petition filed by Rajendran against Chandramohen came up for further hearing. Last week, the bench had directed the registrar-general of the court to furnish a copy of the report, if any.

After perusing the report, the judges said they were satisfied that a prima facie case was made out for issuing notices to the Bar Council of India as well as Chandramohen.

“The letter circulated by the registrar-general is returned to him to be kept in safe custody for being produced as and when called for. We had the benefit of going through the letter by the judge (Justice Regupathi), and we are satisfied that prima facie case has been made for admission,” observed the judges.

During arguments, the judges told the chairman’s senior advocate Vijay Narayan that the former must explain on what capacity he was holding the statutory post. “If he does not file his reply, we will be constrained to pass a direction,” Justice Kalifulla said.

Last month, Justice Regupathi created a flutter in judicial circles when he disclosed in open court that a Union minister had tried to reach him over mobile phone and exert pressure on him to grant anticipatory bail to the doctor-son duo, accused of tampering with Pondicherry University records and forging marksheets. The scam is being investigated by the CBI now.

HC pulls up state over 60-yr jail terms for ’93 blast accused

TNN 1 September 2009, 02:21am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday pulled up the Maharashtra government for keeping it in the dark over the state’s decision to make three 1993 blast accused serve 60-year prison terms. A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi directed home secretary Chandra Iyengar to file a detailed affidavit on the issue in a week.

The matter concerns four blast convicts, Salim Mira Shaikh, Niyaz Shaikh, Shaikh Ali and Moin Qureshi, who are serving life imprisonment for their role in the blasts conspiracy. Earlier this year, the state had ordered that the four would have to spend 50 years in jail or till they attain 65 years of age. Subsequently, on August 4, 2009, the state increased the jail term to 60 years for three of them. Despite a court hearing in the matter a week later on August 11, the state did not inform the court of its fresh decision.

On Monday, the state again sought time to file an affidavit. This infuriated the court which pointed to reports about the decision that had appeared in a section of the media. Additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai told the court that the prisoners were informed of the state’s order on August 18 itself. Advocate general Ravi Kadam also told the court that there were instances previously in other cases when petitioners had leaked information before the matter came to court.

The petitioners were represented by advocate N N Gawankar who said that he had not received any information about the government order of 60-year jail term from his clients who are in jail.

Disqualified DUSU poll candidates move HC

Puneet Nicholas Yadav / DNA

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 3:27 IST

Delhi: National Students Union of India (NSUI) and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) candidates moved the Delhi high court on Monday, challenging their disqualification from the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elections.

Candidates for the president’s post Deepak Negi (NSUI) and Rohit Chahal (ABVP), NSUI’s vice-presidential candidate Umesh Tanwar, and ABVP’s Lalit Chaudhary and Ashok Khari, running for the posts of general secretary and joint secretary, were disqualified on Friday for violating the poll code.

The varsity claimed the candidates had exceeded the election spend of Rs5,000, were using cars and holding rallies. The candidates, on the other hand, accused the university of misinterpreting the Lyngdoh panel’s suggestions.

Mysore violence: HC orders release of 25 detainees

TNN 1 September 2009, 01:40am IST

BANGALORE: The high court has directed the authorities to immediately release 25 persons kept in Belgaum’s Hindalaga prison. They were arrested following the July 2 communal violence in Mysore.

“Body warrants cannot be considered as detention order,” a division Bench headed by Justice Manjula Chellur observed on Monday. It granted an interim order on a habeas corpus petition filed by P Mohammed Sameer, state council member of Popular Front of India.

The court pulled up the authorities for filing different versions on the arrest and re-arrest of the detenues. On August 3, the court had directed the release of all the 160-odd persons who were arrested following the violence. Some of them were arrested again after the release.

A division Bench has put a rider on appointments to 40-odd first-grade college lecturer posts in government degree colleges, observing that these appointments are subject to the court’s final decision.

The HC directed issuance of notices to KPSC and the distance education council. Ravindranath and others had challenged the appointments, contending that the M Phil degree obtained by selected candidates is for one-year course as against the stipulated two years.

On August 19, the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal dismissed their petitions, saying it cannot decide on such matters, thus paving the way for appointment of 2,550 first-grade college lecturers.

A division Bench of the high court will, on Tuesday, hear a civil contempt petition in the Gottigere lake issue. Vijayaraghavan, in his petition, alleged that the court’s June 16, 1999, order in environmentalist Suresh Heblikar’s case is being violated by NICE authorities in relation to construction of the peripheral road over the lake.

Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, revenue minister Karunakara Reddy, NICE head Ashok Kheny and department secretaries are arrayed as parties in the contempt petition.

The complainant contended that the 1999 order was specific that the waterbody shouldn’t be bifurcated at any cost.

Bombay HC Judge Bilal Nazki elevated as Chief Justice of Orissa HC

Submitted by mumtaz on 31 August 2009 – 11:52pm.

By Staff Reporter,

New Delhi: Justice Bilal Nazki, senior most Judge of Bombay High Court has been elevated and appointed as new Chief Justice of Orissa High Court. Justice Nazki, who belongs to Jammu and Kashmir, has rich experience as a practicing lawyer and the Judge of three High Courts.

He has served as judge in Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Andhra Pradesh High Court and Bombay High Court.

Born on November 18, 1947 in Srinagar, Justice Nazki obtained Law Degree from Aligarh Muslim University in 1973 and joined Bar at Srinagar. He practiced in the High Court as well as in the subordinate courts. He has also appeared before the Supreme Court, and has worked as the Legal Advisor to various State Government undertakings.

He became Deputy Advocate General of Jammu and Kashmir State in 1986 and then elevated as an Additional Judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in 1995. He became permanent Judge of the High Court in 1996. He was transferred to Andhra Pradesh High Court in 1997. He also functioned as Acting Chief Justice of AP High Court twice.

He was transfered as a Judge of Bombay High Court in January 2008.

SC resolution on judges’ assets in two weeks

TNN 1 September 2009, 03:19am IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday was informed that the judges of the Supreme Court would take two weeks to sign the resolution on making their assets public.

The HC, which had reserved its order on the case pertaining to Central Information Commissioner’s order directing the apex court to reveal information pertaining to declaration of assets by apex court judges, was told that the process was being finalised.

As per the case, the Commission had held that office of CJI comes within the ambit of Right to Information Act and the apex court is bound to reveal the information. The Supreme Court had then approached Delhi high Court challenging the order which was stayed on January 19.

The apex court’s response came when Justice S Ravindra Bhatt sought its response on the issue as the development took place after he had reserved the verdict on declaration of assets. Attorney General Goolam E Vahanwati, appearing for the apex court registry, informed the court that minutes would be signed in two weeks.

The court, after hearing his submission, said it would deliver the verdict on September 2.

Last week, the apex court judges have in principle agreed to make public their assets by putting them on its website.

An end to court backlog

V Krishna Ananth

First Published : 31 Aug 2009 11:29:00 PM IST

Last Updated : 31 Aug 2009 01:38:06 AM IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s lament over the pendency of disputes — three crore cases pending before courts across the country — was indeed a brave statement. And even if it was unintentional, he gave an opportunity to the middle class to raise a discussion on the state of the judicial system. The blame game began and anxious reporters churned statistics of vacant posts at various levels of the system including the higher judiciary.

The Prime Minister also promised those assembled in the august gathering — chief ministers and the chief justices of the various High Courts — that the executive was willing to walk that extra mile to remedy the system. Appointing judges to all the vacant posts and setting up several hundred special courts would have to be done, he said. No one will quarrel with his intentions, as the huge backlog is eroding the citizen’s faith in the justice system. If it is allowed to persist, there can be very little hope for the survival of the democratic edifice.

But it is also important to ponder some truths invisible to those who do not watch the functioning of the justice delivery system from close quarters. It will help them decide whether the malady is entirely due to the inadequate number of judges, and also to test the veracity of the impression that most cases are kept pending because of repeated adjournments that lawyers are known to seek.

It is true that litigants suffer monetarily and otherwise when lawyers seek adjournments. But it is also a fact that judges who refuse repeated adjournments end up with a bad reputation.

Manmohan Singh did not, incidentally, make an issue of this, but the urbane sections, most of whom hold a poor opinion of lawyers, have taken the opportunity to blame it all on the Bar and the Bench. I must agree that this is not misplaced. But a systemic problem cannot be corrected by seeking to tackle the peripheral issues alone. Hence it is important to set out a few harsh truths that are the cause for the huge backlog, more than just the inadequate number of judges and the avarice that leads lawyers to prolong a case by repeated adjournments.

One such truth is that the government is the primary cause for a large number of cases at the outset. Let us take, for instance, the petitions filed in the various High Courts: Without going into exact numbers, it is possible to state that more than half are filed by factory workers, pavement dwellers and such ordinary people. And as is the case with writs, under Article 226 of the Constitution, the litigant approaches the High Courts only when all other attempts to obtain justice fail.

Among these are a representation by a factory worker to the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESI) for medical treatment for peripheral neuropathy, a disease contracted due to exposure to dangerous chemicals at work. The ESI Act states clearly that the worker is entitled to compensation for such occupational diseases. But the officer at the ESI dispensary does not care to do his job until a writ is obtained from the High Court. This takes at least 12 weeks and will cost the worker a few hundred rupees provided the lawyer does not take adjournments and judge is committed to the justice delivery system.

Likewise, there are instances of a poor Dalit, allotted a small piece of land as part of a government scheme to provide housing sites to the community, having to file a writ petition to enjoy possession of the land. Even after the writ is issued, the revenue officials do not do their job. The poor man is then forced to file a contempt petition. And only then does the officer concerned wake up to explain that the land meant for the project has been encroached upon! In this instance, the entire process took a decade because the government pleader representing the respondent had to wait several months for instructions from the department concerned at every stage when the case came up. The fault thus lies with the bureaucracy rather than the Bar and the Bench.

This is not all. Things get clearer if the details of the various stages of a writ petition are provided. Briefly, writ petitions arise either out of a judgment by a lower court or an order of the government (a writ of certiorirarified mandamus) or out of sheer inaction by the government official (writ of mandamus) seeking a direction that the concerned officer do his/her job. It is filed either by the citizen or by the government itself. And where it is filed by a citizen the government pleader takes some time to discuss the case with the officer concerned and file a counter statement. When the case is settled, the loser prefers a writ appeal.

Where the government is the appellant, it has its own advocate. The citizen, however, has to raise the resources to engage a lawyer at the appeal stage. Even if the appeal is decided against the state, the battery of government advocates in the Supreme Court will take care of the process to file a Special Leave Petition (SLP). The citizen, however, has to raise more money to defend himself in the Supreme Court. And if the SLP is dismissed, the officer who decided to fight the case, spending a huge sum of taxpayer’s money as fees, is not held responsible in any way.  The losers are the citizens who have to go through all the pain and the taxpayer whose money is spent by the government in pursuit of “justice”. The fact is that in most cases, the government’s pursuit of justice is against its own citizens and their rights!

The Prime Minister’s concern and his lament over the case backlog are justified. But the remedy lies in making the bureaucrats and their political masters responsible for their decisions. It is possible to amend the rules: Where a government officer is held responsible for an illegality against the citizen, make sure that he/she pays for the action or inaction. And where law officer in a particular department advised the government to prefer a writ appeal or an SLP,  he/she must be made to pay the costs if it is dismissed. This will be a sure deterrent against indiscriminate appeals and help reduce the backlog in a big way.

As for the Prime Minister’s lament about the number of undertrials languishing for long years in jail, it is sad that he is unaware of the law of the land, as laid down by the Supreme Court in the Hussainara Khatoon vs State of Bihar (AIR 1979 SC 1369) that undertrial prisoners shall not be detained in jail even for a day longer than the maximum term of imprisonment that could have been awarded on conviction. There are several other judgments that have put the onus of a speedy trial on the prosecution.

In other words, if undertrials languish in jail, the responsibility lies with the executive and not the judicial system

Brar retires, benefits withheld

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Harcharanjit Kaur Brar will not get the retiral benefits, at least for the time being.

As she retired on attaining the age of superannuation today, the Punjab and Haryana High Court made it clear that her retiral benefits will not be released till the next hearing in a contempt case.

The petitioner, Saristi Pal, through counsel GS Bal had earlier alleged non-compliance of the high court order dated November 27, 2008.

Elaborating, Bal had asserted that the petitioner and nine others had filed a writ petition for the grant of pensionary benefits by taking into account their entire service, including service rendered against aided post.

The petition was disposed of with a direction to the respondents to decide the legal notice within six months.

As the matter came up, it was brought to the Bench’s notice that “the respondents were adopting a pick and choose method in implementing the orders of this court as similar benefits had been given to many of the other similarly situated employees, whereas the petitioners had been denied the same.”

Justice Rakesh Kumar Garg asserted: “It is also brought to the notice of this court that the respondent is retiring today on attaining the age of superannuation. Punjab is directed not to release the retiral benefits of the respondent till the next date of hearing”.

The case will now come up on September 17.

Inspector gets life term for rape

Tribune News Service

Karnal, August 31
District and Sessions Judge, Karnal, Vinod Jain today sentenced Inspector Jai Singh to life imprisonment for raping a married woman in the police station at Nissing on June 25 last year.

The rape case was registered against Jai Singh on a complaint of the victim, who had a love marriage with a resident of Dachar village against the wishes of her parents and had approached the high court for providing security to her so that she could meet her family members in the presence of the police.

The victim, hailing from Indri village, alleged that when she came to the police station to meet her parents on June 25 last year, Inspector Jai Singh allegedly reaped her. On her complaint, the then SP, AS Chawla, and the DSP had reached the spot and got a rape case registered against the accused. He was immediately arrested and placed under suspension.

The DNA test conducted by the State Forensic Science Laboratory, Madhuban, and the medical examination report also confirmed rape.

The prosecution produced 19 witnesses in the court and the Judge sentenced him to life imprisonment and also ordered him to pay a fine of Rs 20,000.

HC dismisses plea against transfer order

DS Chauhan

Jammu, August 31
Justice Nissar Ahmad Kakroo of the J&K High Court has dismissed the writ petition of Mohd. Sadiq, who challenged his transfer. He stated that transfer of a government employee from one place to another was a rule and an administrative exigency but the cancellation of the order was an exception.

Sadiq, working as principal of Government Higher Secondary School, Mankote, was transferred and posted as Deputy Chief Education Officer, Mendhar, vide the government order dated June 18. However, the order was modified on June 24 and he was transferred to Mankote as such.

The petitioner challenged the order of modification on the ground that once the transfer order was acted upon and implemented, it cannot be cancelled in abeyance.

The state justified the modification of the order of transfer owing to good performance of Abdul Hamid Fani as deputy chief education officer followed by demand of public representatives.

Justice Nissar Ahmad Kakroo disagreeing with the contentions of the petitioner’s counsel said: “It transpires that order of modification of transfer on public demand, certainly does not punish the petitioner and the consequence of modification being petitioner’s continuation as principal does not entail his dislodgement. Moreover, a transfer will not be vitiated by itself because it is made on the recommendation of an MLA. There can be no hard and fast rule that every transfer at the instance of an MP or MLA would be vitiated. It all depends on facts and circumstances of an individual case. Thus, situations are conceivable where order of transfer may be mala fide and politically motivated. In such case, the court can refuse interference.”

Shed for lawyers

Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 31
Ajay Khajuria, Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur, inaugurated a shed for lawyers constructed at a cost of Rs 2.75 lakh by the Public Works Department, on the premises of the District Court Complex today.

Janak Raj Kotwal, District and Sessions Judge, Yashpal Kotwal, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Arvind Khajuria, District Mobile Magistrate, Vinod Kumar, munsif, Surinder Khajuria and Anil Vijay, president and secretary of the Bar Association, Udhampur, and other advocates were present on the occasion.

Surinder Khajuria appreciated the gesture of the district administration in improving the working conditions of advocates.

One-year jail for ex-health director

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 31
The Anti-Corruption Court, Jammu, today sentenced Dr Mohan Prakash Gupta, former Director of Health Services, to one-year imprisonment, besides imposing a fine of Rs 10,000.

Acting upon a written complaint lodged by the Under Secretary, Health and Medical Education Department, Srinagar, the Vigilance had registered a case under FIR number 39/98 against Dr Gupta for making 58 illegal appointments in the department. Subsequently, the Vigilance had investigated the case.

The Under Secretary, in his complaint, had alleged that Gupta while being posted as Director Health Services had made 58 illegal appointments to various posts of Class-IV and non-gazetted categories in violation of rules and procedures.

All these appointments were made on the date of his superannuation, i.e. March 31, 1998.

During the investigations, the Vigilance substantiated the allegations and accordingly a charge-sheet was produced in the court on August 25, 2008.

After the completion of trial, the Special Judge today held the accused guilty and convicted the accused under Section 5(2)of the J&K Prevention of Corruption Act.

Buta agrees to CBI questioning

New Delhi, August 31
Buta Singh, Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, today informed the Delhi High Court about his willingness to be questioned by the CBI in connection with the bribery case involving his son.

Buta Singh, former Bihar Governor, agreed to do so after the CBI clarified that he was required to be questioned as a witness and not as an accused in the bribery case.

He said he would be available to the CBI on September 10 at 11 am at his office and the probe agency officials could come and question him.

Justice Geeta Mittal, after recording the statement given by Buta Singh’s counsel, disposed of the matter and asked the investigating agency to question Buta Singh on the dates given by him.

The high court had on August 26 sought response from the CBI on a petition filed by Buta Singh, who had accused the probe agency of illegally summoning him for interrogation in the bribery case.

He had contended that he held a post of Cabinet rank and the CBI could not question or interrogate him without taking sanction from the Centre.

On August 25, he approached the Delhi High Court challenging CBI’s notice to appear before it in connection with a bribery case registered  against his son.

His son was arrested on July 31 by the CBI for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 1 crore from a Nashik-based contractor to close an atrocity case against him pending before the commission headed by his father. — PTI

SC stays age bar on law courses


New Delhi, Aug. 31: The Supreme Court has stayed a Bar Council rule that set age limits on students of legal courses.

The council has set 20 years as the upper age limit for entrants to the five-year integrated LLB course and 30 years for enrolling in the three-year degree version.

The Bar Council of India, the apex regulatory body for legal education, had introduced the rule last September to check the declining standards of legal education by getting in younger people. The only concession was a five-year relaxation for reserved category students.

The rule has been challenged in at least 11 high courts on many grounds. Critics say keeping out those interested in studying the subject is not the way to reduce overcrowding. The rule will also restrict lateral entry of professionals from other fields, they say.

Many doctors, engineers, CAs and others take up the law courses later in life to deal with cases related to their areas of specialisation.

The age limit is arbitrary and unreasonable, the critics say. It is also against the principle of equality (Article 14 of the Constitution) and the right to pursue any trade, occupation or profession of choice under Article 19.

The council believes setting an age limit will improve the quality of lawyers and help deal with the challenges posed by liberalisation of the profession.

It had earlier tried to prevent those above 45 from enrolling as lawyers but courts spiked the rule.

Fire in High Court destroys judges’ chambers, library

Staff Reporter

Over 100 firemen fight the blaze that began around 4.30 a.m.

HYDERABAD: Fire broke out in the Andhra Pradesh High Court building, a heritage structure, destroying the chambers of five judges, a library housing valuable books and a mini-conference hall in the early hours of Monday.

More than 100 firemen had to sweat it out for over three hours using 15 fire tenders to douse the flames that began around 4.30 a.m. Though the blaze was put out by 7 a.m., smoke continued to billow out till evening prompting Fire Service officials to continue fire-fighting operations and deploy teams of firemen at the spot to face any eventuality.

Building examined

The police and the Fire Service officials said they were yet to ascertain the reasons for the fire. The A.P. Forensic Science Laboratory Director, O. Narasimha Murthy, and the CLUES team of Hyderabad Police, led by Suresh, thoroughly examined the damaged High Court building looking out for evidence to confirm the source of the fire.

The team collected some samples and would examine the building on Tuesday also for leads.

Investigators suspect that the fire started in the second floor and spread to the first floor. “This is to be corroborated with evidence because normally flames tend to go upwards,” the police said. It is being probed from both the ‘sabotage and short circuit’ angles. The entire open space on the court premises is usually parked with vehicles of clients and advocates.

It would have taken longer to douse the flames if the fire started during the day since manoeuvring the fire tenders amid the parked vehicles would be difficult.

The Fire Services Director General, Aruna Bahuguna, told reporters that the fire control room received the alert of the fire accident at 4.51 a.m. Within minutes, the Moghalupura fire station staff rushed to the spot through the Musi river side gate. “As the flames were spreading, we alerted our higher-ups for assistance pressing into service 14 more fire tenders including the snorkel,” Fire Officer M.S. Sharieff said.

Extensive damage

Chambers of four judges on the second floor, chamber of a judge and that of Registrar General, mini conference hall and the library on the first floor were extensively damaged.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy spoke to the Chief Justice, Anil Ramesh Dave, over phone and offered all assistance to refurbish the court building. Earlier, the Advocate General apprised Dr. Reddy about the fire accident.

Monday and Tuesday were declared holidays for the High Court. However, urgent matters like stay of arrest would be taken up, the authorities announced. Work would resume from Wednesday.

Governor N.D. Tiwari, Ministers Sabita Indra Reddy (Home), M. V. Ramana Rao (Law), and D. Nagender (Health) and DGP S.S.P. Yadav visited the High Court premises.

“Role for legal camps in socio-economic uplift”

Staff Reporter
PUDUKOTTAI: A legal awareness camp was organised jointly by the Taluk Legal Services Committee, Aranthangi and Manmelkudi People Social Service Sangam at Singavanam village in the district recently.

Speaking on the occasion V.P. Velusamy, chairman, Taluk Legal Services Committee and District Munsif, Aranthangi, said that legal awareness camps organised at the village level played a great role in the socio-economic uplift of the common people. The Constitution guaranteed free legal services to the needy for their uplift at all levels.

T. Panneerselvam, Judicial Magistrate, Aranthangi spoke about the functions of the Taluk Legal Services Committee. A majority of the problems could be settled by way of conciliation or mediation, he observed.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kottaipattinam M. Baskar, Bar president M. Shanmugasundaram, secretary P.S. Sivaraju, advocates and local body representatives spoke on the occasion.

A good number of members from women self-help groups and general public participated in the camp during which petitions containing grievances were received.

State seeks amendment to Article 174

Special Correspondent

Bangalore: The State Government, which has planned to hold legislature sessions for a period of at least 60 days in a calendar year, has requested the Centre to amend Article 174 of the Constitution to ensure minimum number of days of legislature session in a year.

In his address at the Parliamentary Minister’s conference in New Delhi on Monday, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs S. Suresh Kumar said the use of computer technology in holding the legislature session would be of great help to legislators as well as to laymen keen to know how this set-up functioned.

“We have planned to make the legislature of our State more tech-savvy by launching a dedicated website which would give complete details of members, questions they have asked, assurances they have got from the Government, committees, committee meetings, amendments, Bills, Acts, research undertaken and the like.”

Mr. Suresh Kumar said this meeting “is an opportunity to interact and to move forward in our effort to make our parliamentary system more meaningful. We all should be realistic and at the same time committed to bring in at least a little welcome change.”

Contempt plea filed

BANGALORE: A resident of Bangalore, who owns land at Gottigere, has filed a contempt petition against Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyruppa, Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy, Chief Secretary Sudhakar Rao and several others, including officials of NICE on the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project.

Apex court admits Pinarayi’s writ plea

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday admitted a writ petition filed by Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan challenging the Kerala Governor’s order granting sanction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute him for certain alleged offences in the SNC-Lavalin case.

Mr. Vijayan is accused of wrongfully awarding a contract to the Canadian company for the renovation of some hydroelectric plants in the State when he was Power Minister in 1997. The CBI had filed a charge sheet against him.

A Bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice B. Sudershan Reddy, while admitting the petition, issued notice to the Kerala Home Secretary and the CBI and said “the matter requires examination.”

Senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for Mr. Vijayan, submitted that the question raised in the proceedings was whether the Governor had any discretionary power to act on his own to grant sanction for the prosecution of a former Minister independently, without the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. The Cabinet took a decision that it was not necessary to grant sanction for prosecution. But the Governor, wrongly assuming that he had powers to grant sanction on his own, granted sanction for prosecution.

He argued that in the Samsher Singh case, a seven-Judge Constitution Bench had in 1974 held that the Governor had no discretionary powers to act on his own. Again in 2004, a five-Judge Constitution Bench had said that the ‘doctrine of bias’ would not be applicable in a case where a collective decision was required to be taken in relation to a former Minister. The question of bias would apply only if the Council of Ministers was to take a decision in respect of the Chief Minister or a Minister.

Judge’s poser

Mr. Justice Raveendran asked Mr. Nariman: “Why a sitting Minister? What is the position if the person happens to be the secretary of a party and who controls the entire Ministry. Will the question of bias won’t apply even then.” Mr. Nariman said: “I don’t think that a secretary of a political party controls the Council of Ministers. The court will have to examine some new theory, if necessary by a larger Bench.”

Counsel Shanthi Bhushan, appearing for T.P. Nandakumar, journalist, opposed the petition as an intervener and said the decision taken by the Governor in exercise of his powers under Article 163 of the Constitution could not be called in question.

Counsel E.M. Anam, appearing for the People’s Council for Civil Rights, represented by its president T. Asaf Ali, also opposed the petition as an intervener.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the State of Kerala, said “this case has far-reaching portents in a federal system which requires examination.”

High Court rejects American couple’s adoption plea

Staff Reporter

Real intention appears to be exploitation: Judge

“Already three kids, where’s the need for more?”

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday imposed a cost of Rs.20,000 on an American couple who had approached it against an order of a District Judge here rejecting their petition for adoption of a 10-year-old orphaned boy, holding that the “appeal filed by them is nothing but an abuse of the process of law”.

Justice V. B. Gupta also passed severe strictures against the couple’s efforts for adopting the child, observing that “the real intention of the appellants, Craig Allen Coates and Cynthia Ann Coates, in adopting the child who is suffering from mental delays appears to be to exploit him as a domestic help for the husband who has been suffering from cerebral palsy since birth”.

In his judgment, Justice Gupta also emphasised the fact that the appellants already had three children and where was the need to further expand their family.

The Okhla police had found the child abandoned and handed him over to the Welfare Home for Children. The Welfare Home is a registered society licensed by the Delhi Government to keep and maintain abandoned, orphaned and destitute children. The child had been declared abandoned and is certified as legally free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee. The Coordinating Voluntary Adoption Resource Agency and Central Adoption Resource Authority have been given clearance for inter-country adoption of the child.

In their appeal, the couple argued that the trial court had wrongly dismissed their petition even though the Union Government had granted a No Objection Certificate to them for adopting the child.

Dismissing their contention, the Court said: “The impugned judgment of the District Judge is based on sound legal principles as it deals in detail with legal and moral principles.”

The judges’ assets imbroglio

Anil Divan

When its judges decided in principle to put their assets on the website, public perception prevailed and the Supreme Court enhanced its own reputation.

The controversy relating to the disclosure of judges’ assets has achieved, for the moment, a happy resolution. A vigorous debate among the public, former judges, leaders of the Bar, Bar Associations, High Court judges and last but not the least the Chief Justice of India — is a sign of a vibrant democracy. The method and content of the disclosure are still opaque and may require further debate.

The contest was a thrilling and educative exercise, for every citizen. The media, particularly the electronic media, were a force-multiplier and reached many households across India. The debate will always remain a landmark and turning point in Indian legal history and will be the stuff shared by law teachers with generations of law students and citizens.

Let us briefly recount the highlights of the controversy. The first shot was fired when an application was made by one S.C. Agrawal under the Right to Information Act (RTI) seeking information “whether judges declared their assets as per the May 7, 1997 Resolution” — a resolution unanimously passed by Supreme Court judges. The demand was not for a disclosure of assets.

The redoubtable public interest crusader, Prashant Bhushan, representing Agrawal, succeeded before the CIC. This was a landmark order upholding the right of the citizen to information, in furtherance of the principles of judicial accountability.

The Chief Justice of India reacted: “We do not agree with what [the] CIC has said — we might appeal against it in Court” (Hindustan Times, 11.01.09).

Former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma, who was instrumental in getting the 1997 Resolution passed unanimously, publicly opined that the assets of the Supreme Court judges were very much in the public domain (The Indian Express, 19.01.09).

Justice Ravindra Bhat of the Delhi High Court stayed the CIC’s decision on 19.01.2009 in a writ petition filed by the CPIO of the Supreme Court and appointed F.S. Nariman as “Amicus Curiae” who declined since he had very clear views — publicly expressed — that judges must disclose their assets.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said: “Judges of the higher judiciary should also be subjected to accountability on issues like declaration of assets …” and added “he had allowed access to information about MPs’ assets to anyone who sought it.” (The Indian Express, 22.01.09)

Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee cryptically said: “Whether legally bound or not, in the fitness of things, judges should declare their assets.” (The Times of India, 23.01.09)

The argument of the Supreme Court Registry that the resolution was purely voluntary and confidential and did not require any disclosure under any legal provision did not cut much ice, either with the Bar or the public. The Delhi High Court Bar Association resolved to support the CIC order. (The Hindu, 25.01.09).

After a brief summer interlude, on August 3, 2009, the introduction of the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill, 2009 in the Rajya Sabha brought the controversy to the centre-stage. The Bill contained Clause 6 prohibiting the disclosure to the public or in any other manner except in court proceedings where an offence is alleged or in proceedings involving misbehaviour. The battle-lines were drawn. The Bill supported the Supreme Court judges.

A stormy debate followed and Arun Jaitley, himself a leading lawyer, contended that the clause violated Article 19(1)(a). Ram Jethmalani said: “what this Bill does is, it creates a suspicion in the public mind that the judiciary is seeking favours from the executive — Now, this privileged position, which the judges are seeking from the executive makes them totally subservient to the executive.” Some members of the ruling party joined the criticism. The passing of the Bill was deferred. Parliamentary support was not forthcoming.

The parliamentary debate triggered strong articles from former Chief Justice J.S. Verma and F.S. Nariman. Justice Krishna Iyer also threw his considerable weight in favour of disclosure. Justice Shylendra Kumar (Karnataka High Court) wrote an article supporting disclosure and, inter alia, stated “The Chief Justice of India does not have the authority to speak for all other judges” (The Indian Express, 22.08.09). Justice Kannan of the Madras High Court voluntarily disclosed his assets. Senior Advocate K.K. Venugopal is reported to have said: “I agree with the judge of the Karnataka High Court that all judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts should make a complete disclosure of their assets.” (The Indian Express, 23.08.09)

The Chief Justice responded to Justice Kumar’s article by saying “he wants publicity and such a thing is not good for a judge. Judges should not be publicity-crazy.” (The Indian Express, 24.08.09) The stand of Justice Shylendra Kumar received wide support.

On August 27, 2009, The Hindu reported that the judges of the Supreme Court had decided in principle to put their assets on the website, but regarding the modalities — in what manner or form — no decision was taken. Transparency triumphed. Public opinion prevailed. The entire nation was happy that the Supreme Court had enhanced its own reputation by agreeing with the public perception. The decision received laudatory notices in many editorials.

The remark by the Chief Justice about the Karnataka judge, that he was “publicity crazy,” was an off-the-cuff remark — an impulsive reaction in an unguarded moment. The Chief Justice, in an exclusive interview, is reported to have gracefully said about the Karnataka judge: “He is young and has a good chance to make it to the Supreme Court on the basis of merit once he attains the required seniority — why alone an elevation to the SC, he has a good chance of becoming the CJI” (The Times of India, 29.08.09).

Exchanges between judges in public are not unknown in other jurisdictions. Earl Warren and Felix Frankfurter’s exchange in the U.S. Supreme Court has been recounted by Bernard Schwartz. Justice Frankfurter while dissenting observed in open court that the majority opinion was an “indefensible example of judicial nitpicking” and “excessively finicky appellate review.” Chief Justice Warren angrily retorted “that was not the dissenting opinion that was filed … As I understand the purpose of reporting an opinion in a courtroom is to inform the public and is not for the purpose of degrading this court.”

Lord Atkin is admired for his powerful dissent in Liversidge vs. Anderson where he stated about his colleagues: “I view with apprehension the attitude of judges who, on a mere question of construction when face to face with claims involving the liberty of the subject, show themselves more executive-minded than the executive.” The majority, including Lord Maugham and Lord Wright, were not amused. They refused to talk to him. Lord Maugham wrote a letter to the London Times criticising Lord Atkin and defending his own judgment. Maugham was widely criticised for this unprecedented “lapse.”

In the State of Rajasthan vs Union of India, acting President B.D. Jatti saw Chief Justice M.H. Beg before he wrote his judgment. Justice Goswami records in his judgment: “I part with the records with a cold shudder. The Chief Justice was good enough to tell us that the acting President saw him during the time we were considering judgment after having already announced the order and there was mention of this pending matter during the conversation.” Chief Justice Beg issued a press statement giving his views.

The current controversy has broken fresh ground. For the first time, the Supreme Court became a litigant before a High Court; for the first time, a High Court judge spoke up against the view of the Supreme Court judges — not in their judicial capacity because that is not permissible — but on a public issue with ethical dimensions; for the first time, former judges, in an effort to preserve the institutional integrity and respect of the Supreme Court, vigorously entered the fray; and for the first time, the media boldly took a critical stand against the apex judiciary.

In cricketing terms, the Supreme Court team has been bowled out against the citizens’ team which prevailed. The opening fast bowling combination of Verma and Nariman created the momentum — the Rajya Sabha debate carried it forward and the final six came from a High Court judge. Meanwhile, the media rating almost touched 20-20 levels.

But there are no winners and no losers in this friendly contest — because both sides believed that they were protecting the independence of the judiciary. The only winner is Indian democracy. Have we graduated from the most populous democracy to a more robust democracy?

(Anil Divan is a Senior Advocate.

Allahabad HC dismisses Karan Johar’s petition

Agencies Posted: Tuesday , Sep 01, 2009 at 1950 hrs Lucknow:

The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by filmmaker Karan Johar seeking quashing of a complaint against him which objected to playing of national anthem in his movie.

Dismissing the petition, the Lucknow Bench of the Court directed Johar to appear before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow, in person on September 14.

On July 16, Justice D V Sharma directed the Bollywood director to appear before the High Court on July 20 along with original film ‘Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham’ in connection with the complaint.

The complaint was filed under various provisions of the Prevention of Insult to the National Honour Act, 1971.

Johar’s counsel informed the Court that the filmmaker could not appear before it due to health reasons.

The lawyer also cited security reasons for non-appearance saying being a celebrity, Johar needed proper security.

The High Court later reserved its judgement.

In 2002, Pratap Chandra filed a complaint against the director alleging that the scene involving playing of the national anthem had violated provisions of the Act.

The then Judicial Magistrate in his order issued on April 17, 2002 had summoned the director on May 17 that year.

Johar had challenged the CJM’s order in the High Court.

Not so softly

The Indian Express Posted: Tuesday , Sep 01, 2009 at 0322 hrs

Certain disclosures are inconvenient and dangerous; they hurt so many vested and entrenched interests. S/he who dares to report corruption or violations of the law within an organisation is thus soon pounced upon and, in whistleblower jargon, “mobbed”, after having his/her identity revealed somehow and thereby anonymity and safety compromised. Why else was Satyendra Dubey murdered? Why else, as reported in this newspaper, do chargesheets, suspensions, censures and “departmental inquiries” spell the fate of so many public sector whistleblowers, now compelled to visit the courts to defend their honour, to have their injustices redressed, to retain the law’s focus on their acts of courage which exposed so much amiss? Nevertheless, while these unfortunate individuals did not imagine the 2004 whistleblowers resolution to be so ineffective, or that their identities and reports to the Central Vigilance Commission might be leaked, persecution of whistleblowers is a global phenomenon. The global record on whistleblower protection is also inconsistent.

The bottomline however is this: a country with undeniably sound democratic credentials cannot persist in this lack of institutional transparency and empowering laws. Last week, the prime minister spoke about the need to tackle corruption immediately and effectively. That, and institutional transparency, will not come about if those who make confidential disclosures about wrongdoings in public organisations are not protected — in theory and practice. Thus formal legislation protecting them, replacing the 2004 resolution, could provide a solution. That the government has finalised the draft of the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Informers) Bill 2009 is undoubtedly a step forward, but ministers have significantly been excluded from its purview; nor is there any provision for corporate whistleblowers yet.

Ignoring frivolous or false cases, and excluding matters sub-judice or encroaching on strategic interests, protecting whistleblowers is a means of protecting citizens and the public interest. Provisions thereof would also be in keeping with the president’s promise of a public data policy in June and the RTI Act, which is transforming India in many ways. Whistleblowers expose what escapes the public eye but needs to be acted upon. They cannot perform this essential, and thankless, role without adequate legal cover.

Their identities disclosed, facing probes and cases, whistleblowers do rounds of courts

Ritu Sarin Posted: Monday , Aug 31, 2009 at 0436 hrs New Delhi:

Chargesheets, censures, departmental inquiries, suspensions. That wasn’t what these government employees — some very senior, others relatively junior — imagined when they reported corruption in their departments using the secrecy route ensured by the 2004 whistleblowers resolution.

But a list of cases compiled by The Indian Express shows this has been the fate of whistleblowers belonging to departments as diverse as the Railways, PSU banks, Ministry of Defence and Department of Telecommunications — they have been forced to go to court, challenging their “victimisation”.

A scrutiny of their court records and correspondence with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which is meant to register and follow up all complaints of whistleblowers, makes it evident why the 2004 resolution needs to be replaced with a formal legislation on protection of whistleblowers.

Department of Telecommunications Divisional Engineer Azam Siddiqui filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court after the BSNL challenged the reprieve he got from the Central Administrative Tribunal. “All my troubles and insecurities began after I exposed a Rs 100-crore scam at the BSNL exchange in Allahabad. Since then, I have been chargesheeted while juniors are being promoted,” he said.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who is appearing in court on behalf of four such whistleblowers, said the Supreme Court’s handling of the whistleblower’s plea could prove to be a benchmark.

“I have also been interacting with the CVC on this issue. It is very clear to me that the whistleblowers resolution has failed to achieve the objective with which it was drafted… In some cases, the identity of the whistleblower has ben disclosed to the CVO of the department,” he claimed.

In two recent instances, the CVC made strange written requests to departments. When whistleblowers made the CVC and the departments concerned respondents in the case, the CVC requested them to ask their lawyers to defend them as well.

One such case is that of Abhijit Ghosh, a General Manager with the Central Bank of India who has been suspended for almost a year now and was served three chargesheets earlier. Incidentally, Ghosh himself did a five-year stint in the CVC. In 2008, he filed a complaint under the whistleblowers resolution against the Chairman and Managing Director of the Bank. While no action has been taken on the complaint, the CVC requested the bank’s counsel to appear “on behalf” of them in the ongoing hearings at the Delhi High Court.

A similar petition has been filed by Sudhir Chopra, a Joint Director in Defence Estates, who began his complaint spree on illegal land requisitioning in 2000. When the whistleblowers resolution was given to the CVC, he converted his complaint to that of a whistleblower.

While the CAT gave him relief by quashing a penalty order served on him, he has appealed to the Delhi High Court to quash the departmental inquiry as well. “There is no question about it. Instead of my whistleblowing act being applauded, I feel victimized. My juniors are being promoted while I am running to courts to get the inquiry order vacated,” Chopra said.

S K Nagarwal, a Civil Engineer in the Railways who “blew the whistle” on corruption in the Eklakhi-Balurghat line, alleges that despite CBI cases being lodged after his complaints, copies of his complaint to the CVC were distributed to the contractors involved.

“First, my identity was compromised. And after repeated transfers, I was served chargesheets with frivolous allegations. The inquiries are still on. In my view, the CVC, which is meant to protect whistleblowers, is doing just the opposite,” Nagarwal said.

SC refuses directions on Mayawati park row

PTI 1 September 2009, 07:00pm IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to pass any directions against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for allegedly defying its orders and constructing certain structures for proposed Kanshi Ram Research Institute but said it would examine the charge if the petitioner submits concrete details.

“We cannot rely on newspaper reports. You give us the details and we will examine the issue. Give us specific details. You can also file a contempt petition if you feel that demolitions have been carried out,” a bench of Justices B N Aggrawal and Aftab Alam said.

The apex court granted the petitioner Mithilesh Kumar a week’s time to submit the details and listed the matter in the mentioning list for next Tuesday.

The apex court passed the direction after Kumar complained that Mayawati government was going ahead with the demolitions of various green belt area in Lucknow city for construction of the BSP founder’s memorial adjoining the Ambedkar Sthal park.

He also alleged that despite the apex court restraining the state on February 27 from carrying out further demolitions, the government was going ahead with the same and also errecting new structures.

However, the petitioner could not furnish any specific details except newspaper clippings, after which the bench directed the petitioner’s counsel C D Singh to furnish further details.

Juvenile released after 10 yrs in jail

Kartikeya, TNN 1 September 2009, 02:48am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has ordered the release of a man locked up in jail for the last ten years after it found merit in his plea that he was a juvenile when he was charged with murder in 1995.

Police records and other documents said that Vishwas Narayan Patil was only 17 when he was charged with murder along with three other family members. This is what seems to have convinced Justices Roshan Dalvi and B H Marlapalle to order his release. Patil had continued serving out a full life sentence since his conviction by a sessions court in 1999.

Under the Juvenile Justice Act, underage offenders are tried only by special juvenile courts and are detained for no more than three years in remand homes as a punishment for their crimes. They are not kept in regular prisons.

In 2008, Patil filed a petition from jail before Justices Roshan Dalvi and B H Marlapalle pleading that he was a juvenile when he committed the crime on January 29, 1995. After his arrest, he was tried as the fourth accused in the case by a sessions court in Sangli and sentenced to life behind bars in December 1999. Patil’s appeal against the conviction was turned down by the HC in 2004.

When the plea of juvenility was made, the HC sought a reply from the state in July 2009 on whether there was any truth in Patil’s claim that he was born on January 5, 1978. Public prosecutor P A Pol then informed the court that the investigating officer in the case had recorded that Patil was only 17 when the murder took place. The charge-sheet also mentioned the same age.

The judges observed that the prosecution itself had admitted that Patil was a juvenile on the date of murder. They said that no further inquiry was needed and ordered him to be released immediately. They did note that Patil had by now “suffered a sentence of more than ten years.”

SC seeks list of affected parties in forest land issue

Somit Sen, TNN 1 September 2009, 02:07am IST

MUMBAI: The Supreme Court, which is hearing the forest land case, on Monday directed all petitioners to submit a `category-wise list’ of affected citizens/builders in Mumbai before September 30.

Petitioner Prakash Padikkal said he would compile a list of 4.5 lakh residents of forest land in the eastern suburbs, whereas the other petitioners would submit a list of builders and developers whose projects are affected by the Maharashtra Private Forest Acquisition Act, 1975. “We will have to give supporting evidence for every case. It will be a mammoth task,” Padikkal stated. He said the court was likely to pass an order based on submissions in the four categories.

The categories were recently defined by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which was appointed by the apex court to make recommendations in the case. For flats constructed before June 22, 2005, the CEC recommended dereservation by paying a Net Present Value (NPV), estimated between Rs 8 to Rs 12 per square feet. The second category involved builders whose constructions were completed before June 22, 2005, but were waiting for the occupation certificates.

The panel members suggested that they be charged five times the NPV. In the third category, the CEC suggested that those builders who had taken up factories and commercial establishments for redevelopment as residential complexes, the court may grant them permission after charging them ten times the NPV. And the fourth category involved those builders whose construction plan was pending for approval and only land was acquired. The CEC had suggested that they be granted relief by charging them 20 times the NPV.

During Monday’s hearing in the apex court, the state government filed an affidavit, in which it agreed to the CEC’s suggestion of charging affected parties as per the NPV. “The state counsel, however, said that all cases be referred to the green bench (also called the forest bench) of the Supreme Court. This was opposed by us,” Padikkal said. He stated that if the matter was referred to the green bench, it would further delay the case by a few years.

High court nod for varsity to amend revaluation rules

TNN 1 September 2009, 02:31am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday granted Mumbai University liberty to amend its rules in connection with revaluation of exam papers to ensure a speedy process. The order came after a statement was made by university counsel Rui Roderigues that the university was planning to disband an existing expert committee in the present two-tier revaluation process so that the process could be expedited.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar said that the court expected the university to amend the rules expeditiously. This would mean that students may soon get their revaluated marks faster now.

The court disposed of a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) based on a representation made by a few students from Government Law College. Later, two other students also approached the court to point out that according to rules, the revaluation marks are only considered if they are 10% more or less than the original marks.

The court was told that early in 2000, the revaluation system was scrapped and reintroduced after court intervention. A two-tier system took shape. Students had complained that often revaluation results were declared after much delay and usually after the exam for the following term was over.

Haryana DGP kin case: Doctor seeks bail

TNN 1 September 2009, 02:33am IST

PANCHKULA: A doctor from Morni, booked for threatening the kin of Haryana DGP RS Dalal, moved an anticipatory bail plea on Monday. While Panchkula police was still on the trail of Dr Ashok, two of his servants had already been granted bail by court.

Police had booked the trio for trespassing and threatening Mohini Pratap of Bahadurgarh. Dalal’s relative, she filed a complaint on August 27 with Chandimandir police station, stating that Ashok, Kulvinder and Sunil had installed a water tank on her land.

She alleged that on last Thursday, when she had gone about fencing her plot, the doctor and his servants misbehaved with her. Soon, police registered a case under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 452 (house trespass) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.

Accused free in Army hospital rape trial

Rajinder Nagarkoti, TNN 1 September 2009, 03:00am IST

PANCHKULA: Delivering its judgment in the trial regarding the rape of an airman’s wife on Command Hospital (CH) premises, the court of district and sessions judge SP Singh acquitted the accused – Hautam Singh and Iftikhar Khan on Monday. The alleged rape had occurred on November 22, 2008.

Police were not able to produce much technical or medical evidence to corroborate the allegations against the two men who were posted as nursing assistants in the hospital’s neurosurgery ward.

Amit Dudeja, one of the defence counsels, said, “We argued before the court that the accused were being falsely implicated. The statement of the complainant that she did not know the accused was wrong. We had records that showed that she had made telephone calls to the accused from her mobile phone before the alleged rape.”

He said the medical report showed that there were no injury marks on the complainant’s body. Dudeja added that the police could not provide evidence that accused had filmed the alleged incident.

Deposing before the judicial magistrate on November 24, 2008, the victim, whose statement was recorded under Section 164 of CrPC, had said that she fainted while she was being raped and that when she regained consciousness half-an-hour later, her violators, had fled the spot.

She had told the police that on the day of the alleged incident, she had gone to CH for physiotherapy. She had stated that later, she went to meet a patient on the second floor of the hospital. She had added that then she went towards the neurosurgery ward at about noon where Hautam Singh was standing and asked him about Dr JR Sharma.

The complainant had told cops that Hautam then caught hold of her hand and dragged her into the canteen, where he shut her mouth with his hand and raped her. Later, Khan also molested her, the complainant had said. She had stated that she had then escaped from the hospital and reached home.

The complainant had said that at around 4pm on the day Hautam had called her and told her to keep quiet about the incident or they would circulate the clip of the rape that a man named Raj had recorded.

She had stated that she only informed her husband of the incident on the next morning, who told his commanding officer with an FIR being lodged.

She had added that her husband also received treatment at the hospital after his accident in Ramgarh on February 8, 2008.

The court granted bail to the two accused on Monday. Panchkula SP Amitabh Dhillon stated that he had not received a copy of the order and would be able to comment on the issue after getting it.

Man convicted for violating minor

TNN 1 September 2009, 03:05am IST

CHANDIGARH: Finding him guilty of raping a 16-year-old, court of additional district and sessions judge RS Attri handed seven-year imprisonment to Sukhpal and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on him. Cops said that in July 2008, the 34-year-old had visited the victim?s school and taken her to his house in Hallomajra where he had allegedly raped her for three days.

He had used the promise of marriage as a lure, said sources. The girl’s parents had lodged a complaint with the police while looking for her. Police had found the victim at Sukhpal’s residence on July 30, 2008.

Jodhpur lawyers issue ultimatum

TNN 1 September 2009, 05:07am IST

JODHPUR: Some lawyers of Jodhpur has issued an ultimatum to Rajasthan High Court chief justice Jagdish Bhalla to come here for discussion over the split of main bench of HC, Jodhpur.

In a message faxed to Bhalla, the lawyers have set September 2 as deadline for resolving the matter. Spokesperson of the action committee formed to spearhead the movement, Nathu Singh Rathore, said, “We have not received any assurance or invitation for talks. We will hold rallies on September 1 and 2 followed by one-hour traffic jam. If we do not get any response from Bhalla by September 2, we will hold “mahapadav” at the high court premises on September 3. It will be attended by advocates of all bar associations of western Rajasthan and other organisations. If this fails to evoke any response, we will hold more demonstrations on September 4. We may disrupt convocation of National Law University on September 5 which will be attended by chief justice of India K G Balakrishnan,” Rathore said.

The advocates were irked by the absence of Bhalla who was supposed to be in Jodhpur on August 31. Rathore said after the shifting of permanent bench of court at Jaipur, it was decided that chief justice will be present in Jodhpur for 15 days. Since Bhalla did not turn up today, it shows sheer apathy towards our cause, he claimed.

Victoria order violated again

TNN 1 September 2009, 04:25am IST

KOLKATA: Despite the Calcutta High Court order, several buses and other vehicles were parked on the roads in front of Victoria Memorial during the Left Front rally on Monday, violating the court’s order that no vehicles should be parked in its vicinity.

Several buses and Matador vans, which brought Left supporters to the rally, were seen parked behind Victoria on both sides of Hospital Road and Queen’s Way. Environment activist Subhas Datta said this was a blatant violation of the HC order.

“Many buses and other vehicles with red flags on it were parked on both sides of the roads behind Victoria, which is a prohibited zone. It is the duty of the police to look into the matter,” he said.

The HC had ruled on September 28, 2007, that vehicles should not be parked near the Victoria Memorial. Datta said a red-mark zone was identified surrounding the memorial, including the area around the AJC Bose Road flyover adjacent to Victoria, the stretch till Birla Planetarium and the road leading to the Race Course.

The court had also said that no open ovens would be allowed on the Brigade Parade ground and had directed the police to not grant permission to hold any meetings or rallies within 3 km of the memorial.

Datta, who had earlier filed petitions in the HC for such violations earlier, said he would not move court this time. “On previous occasions, I had taken photographs and submitted them in court. But it becomes difficult to establish the matter. Police should take up the case,” he said. Another gross violation of the order had taken place during a DYFI rally on December 20, 2008 when several buses were parked on the Maidan and food was cooked in the open, leaving it in a mess.

Joint commissioner of police (traffic) Ranvir Kumar admitted that no vehicles are supposed to be parked on the roads surrounding Victoria. “We will certainly prosecute the culprits if such violations have occurred,” he said.

Cheque issued by court returned

TNN 1 September 2009, 01:27am IST

PUNE: The treasury branch of the State Bank of India here has returned a cheque for Rs 40,000 issued by a magistrate court as payment of maintenance to a woman national cricket player in a case under the Domestic Violence Act.

The cheque was returned as the litigant’s bank did not get the cheque passed from the treasury office before presenting it for clearance.

The court had issued the cheque to the cricketer on August 19. She, in turn, deposited the cheque with a nationalised bank on August 24, which in turn sent it to SBI for clearance.

As per the rules, any cheque issued by the government or judiciary has to pass through the treasury branch before it is honoured. Since the nationalised bank in question circumvented the procedure, SBI returned the cheque.

What’s more, the nationalised bank deducted Rs 100 as charges from the cricketer’s account as the cheque was returned without clearance.

The woman’s lawyer, Anita Kataria, made a complaint to the court in this regard on Monday.

Speaking to TOI, the court’s assistant superintendent K K Biwal said the court has now sent an advisory to the treasury to clear the litigant’s cheque.

The cricketer had filed a case against her husband seeking relief under the DVA. Following judicial magistrate first class Umeshchandra More’s order, the husband deposited Rs 40,000 in the court on August 8.

Accused in Rita Bahuguna Joshi house arson case get bail

TNN 1 September 2009, 03:39am IST

LUCKNOW: CB-CID magistrate Abid Shamim on Monday ordered release of five accused who are in jail in connection with arson and riot at the house of UP Congress Committee chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, on personal bond and a surety of Rs 20,000.

Guddu Yadav, Shiv Kumar Singh, Indu Singh alias Pappu, Zamir Khan, Surajjit Kumar Tiwari had been booked by the CB-CID for indulging in arson and riot on July 15. A servant of Joshi lodged an FIR in this connection alleging involvement of some BSP leaders/politicians and police officers. After a nation-wide outrage over the case, the state government handed over the probe to the CB-CID. It arrested the said accused and put them behind bars.

On Monday, arguing on behalf of the accused, advocate GN Shukla said that there was no evidence against the accused. Till date, the CB-CID had not been able to collect even an iota of evidence against them. Therefore, the remand of the accused should not be extended any more and they should be set at liberty forthwith, pleaded Shukla.

Hearing the application to refuse the remand of the accused, the court did not find prima-facie evidence against them and hence also did not find it proper to keep them in jail any longer. The court accordingly ordered release of all the accused on a personal bond and single surety. The court directed the accused to cooperate in the investigation.

SC does U-turn on Lyngdoh report

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 1 September 2009, 03:23am IST

NEW DELHI: Adopting the Lyngdoh committee’s stringent recommendations, the apex court had four years ago laid down guidelines to limit the role of money and muscle power in elections to student bodies in colleges and universities. But things appear to have come full circle in the Supreme Court.

On Monday, the apex court said the earlier intervention in students’ union elections were unwarranted and resolved to set right the error on Friday.

After the retirement of Justice Arijit Pasayat, who headed a Bench which had strictly implemented these guidelines, the issue came up before a Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and A K Ganguly on Monday and its views were diametrically opposite to the court’s earlier proactive approach.

The Bench headed by Justice Katju said, “We don’t agree with the appointment of the Lyngdoh committee. Can the court do anything it likes? There are certain principles to be followed in exercise of writ jurisdiction. We do not feel the Supreme Court should interfere in everything.”

Terming students’ unions as private bodies, the Bench virtually castigated the earlier approach of the apex court when it said, “No writ lies against a private body except the writ of habeas corpus. A students’ union is not a statutory body. How does a writ lie in connection with its election?”

It brushed aside the argument of Kerala University’s counsel that its appeal against the HC order had become infructuous and posted the matter for Friday to lay down guidelines for entertaining such matters in future.

“The law is above Supreme Court and the Supreme Court is not above law. Let the matters be listed on Friday. We will lay down guidelines that the Supreme Court cannot interfere in private body elections such as that of students’ union,” the Bench said making its intentions clear.

In 2005, on the directions of the SC, the HRD ministry had set up a committee headed by former chief election commissioner J M Lyngdoh to curb the play of money and muscle power as well as politicisation of students’ body elections. The development had come close on the heels of the lynching of Professor H S Sabharwal by a mob during students’ body elections to a Ujjain college in Madhya Pradesh.

The main recommendations of the Lyngdoh committee which were ordered to be implemented by the apex court included:

* Ban on students having previous crime record from contesting elections
* Upper limit of election expenses per candidate pegged at Rs 5,000
* No funding by political parties
* Minimum 75% attendance for all wanting to contest
* Age-limit for undergraduate students 25 years and for PG and research students 28 years
* No outsider can campaign inside campus
* All candidates jointly responsible for cleaning the polling area

SC wants 3% job quota for visually challenged and hearing impaired

TNN 1 September 2009, 04:56am IST

NEW DELHI: Visually challenged, hearing impaired and physically handicapped persons can soon expect the Centre to advertise a large number of vacancies for jobs in various departments of the government.

For, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre what was holding it back from identifying and filling posts reserved under the Persons with Disabilities Act, which was enacted in 1995 mandating a job quota of 1% each for visually challenged, hearing impaired and physically handicapped.

Though it did no agree with the petitioner’s counsel Mukul Rohtagi that 3% of the total cadre strength of each department should be filled with these three categories of handicapped persons, the Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said it had no quarrel with the proposition that they should have got 3% of the vacancies declared since 1996, when rules under the Act were framed.

However, it expressed displeasure over the fact that the government had not acted in accordance with the mandate of the Act in identifying posts in each department and giving 3% reservation to the categories mentioned in the Act.

Appearing for the Centre, additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran informed the Bench that the identification of the posts in each department was being done and they would be advertised shortly.

The Bench asked the Centre to file a comprehensive status report within four weeks detailing the steps taken to identify the posts and the measures taken to fill them.

Subverse: Shhh! It’s a secret

Jug Suraiya2 September 2009, 12:00am IST

Should the Right to Information Act be renamed the Right to Ignorance Act? Despite the introduction of the RTI Act, India continues to be an information-poor and, consequently, ignorance-rich country. The official policy seems to be that public ignorance is sarkari bliss. Thanks to the Official Secrets’ Act (one of the less desirable relics of British rule, under the colonial regime largely used to suppress nationalist sentiment and activity) India remains to paraphrase the words of Winston Churchill describing the Soviet Union a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in a secret.

Just how secretive our sarkar is can be gauged by its reluctance, verging on paranoia, about giving the public access to classified documents which have passed their official expiry date and could now legitimately be allowed to surface. Though the Public Record Rules of 1997 state that official documents of a sensitive nature are to be made public after 25 years, in practice this is far from the case.

According to a TOI report, instead of being housed in the national archives, where researchers could have access to them, declassified documents are sent into the custody of the Prime Minister’s Office, which according to the latest tally is sitting on 28,685 so-called ‘secret files’.

The PMO is meant to declassify and make public these files as per the rules laid down in a manual of ‘departmental security’ (some might feel that ‘depart mental’ would be an apter term) issued by the home ministry. And what exactly does this manual say about de-secretifying secrets? Sorry, but that’s also a secret.

In short, not only is the public voters and taxpayers who respectively elect and financially support the government not permitted to know about the inner functions of its own sarkar but it isn’t permitted even to know just why this knowledge is being denied. This would be fine if India were a totalitarian state, like China. Or a thinly veiled military dictatorship, like Pakistan.

But India is supposed to be a democracy. And not just any common or garden democracy, but one that claims to be the most populous in the world. Can such a democracy or for that matter, any democracy worth the name call itself a democracy if it persistently denies its citizens access to information relevant to governance and policy formation?

Informed choice is the bedrock of democracy. Without the wherewithal of information, and without the ability to make a choice on the basis of that information, democracy becomes a mockracy: a mockery of itself. For knowledge is power, and lack of knowledge is dispossession of power.

In this context, successive governments have done little or nothing to empower the common citizen. Instead, they have chosen to empower themselves, at the expense of the citizen, by holding on tight to information which for undefined reasons of ‘security’ continues to be a secret long after its ‘don’t-use-by-date’ as a secret has lapsed.

Of the 28,000-plus ‘secret’ files buried in the bowels of the PMO, only one was released into the public domain in 2005, two in 2006, 37 in 2007, 25 in 2008 and zero in the current year. Why does the sarkar suffer from this chronic constipation of secrecy, which is so injurious to the health of our democracy? When it comes to taking out hugely expensive ads in the media ads paid for by the taxpayer lauding its own real or imaginary achievements, the sarkar at both the central and state levels is positively prodigal in its largesse of bestowing information (or misinformation?) on the public. So why is it so niggardly about doling out supposedly ‘secret’ information which is well past its due date?

Hush! Don’t ask such a question. Don’t you know that the answer to that is itself a secret?

LEGAL NEWS 31.08.2009

Probe ordered into fire at AP High Court


Hyderabad, Aug 31 (PTI) An enquiry has been ordered into the fire incident at the Andhra Pradesh High Court today.

The fire, which broke out in the wee hours, gutted eight judge chambers and damaged a library and a conference hall following which a probe has been ordered into the incident, Fire Brigade DG Aruna Bahuguna told reporters after inspecting the site.

Preliminary investigations point out that the fire started with a short circuit, she said.

However, we will enquire into all angles, the DG said, adding, “We have to ascertain whether the fire was first noticed in the first or second floor.”

Meanwhile, official sources said the High Court would be closed for two days in view of the fire.

Supreme Court accepts CPI-M leader Vijayan’s plea (Lead)

New Delhi, Aug 31

The Supreme Court Monday admitted CPI-M Kerala state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan’s plea against the state governor’s approval to the Central Bureau of Investigation to prosecute him for his alleged role in a corruption case as a minister in 1997.

A bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice B.S. Reddy admitted Vijayan’s lawsuit directly for hearing, skipping preliminary formalities like issuing notices to various parties to the lawsuit and seeking their replies, as it involved some important questions of law.

The crucial questions that cropped up during the preliminary hearing included weather a government could be immune to the influences of the ruling party or its chief, and whether the CBI could directly approach the governor to seek sanction for prosecution of a former or sitting state minister without hurting the federal structure of the country.

“But what if the person is a general secretary, who controls the party? Can’t he influence the government?,” asked Justice Raveendran as senior counsel Fali S. Nariman, appearing for Vijayan, contended that as former minister Vijayan was in no position to influence the state’s council of ministers to impede sanction for the prosecution in the corruption case.

Nariman pointed out to the court that in the case of Vijayan, the CBI had directly written to the state governor seeking his approval under section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code for prosecution for his alleged corrupt deeds as power minister in 1997.

Nariman told the court that after the state governor received the CBI request, he referred the matter to the state chief minister, who in turn got the legal opinion of the state’s advocate general.

The advocate general opined that there was no case of corruption made out against Vijayan and accordingly the state’s council of minister advised the governor not to grant sanction for Vijayan’s prosecution, said Nariman. Yet the governor granted his sanction to prosecute Vijayan, Nariman said.

Responding to the court’s query as to whether the governments could be deemed to be immune to the influence of the ruling party or its chief, Nariman sought to assert that the constitutional provisions of the country ensure that the government remain immune to the undue influences of the ruling party.

Appearing for the state government, senior counsel Harish Salve contended before the court that the CBI directly approaching the governor and seeking his sanction for Vijayan’s prosecution did not auger well for the federal structure of the country.

He pointed out to the court that if the state government had advised the governor against Vjayan’s prosecution, it was not a situation without remedy.

The state government’s action could have been challenged in the high court and the governor should not have directly come forward to grant his sanction for prosecution ignoring the advise of the council of ministers, which is constitutionally binding upon him, he said.

Appearing for the state governor, former union law minister Shanti Bhushan defended the decision to grant sanction to prosecute Vijayan, saying that the governor was empowered to utilize his discretion.

He said the governor had given his approval for prosecution after taking appropriate legal advise from a retired high court judge.

Vjayan is facing prosecution for his alleged role in awarding a contract in 1997 for renovation and modernization of three hydro-power plants in the state to a Canadian firm, SNC Lavalin, without any competitive bidding.

The government’s official auditor later had found that the award of the contract by the Kerala State Electricity Board to the firm at the behest of the minister had resulted in a loss of Rs.3.5 billion to the exchequer.

The contract had allegedly been given to the Canadian firm ignoring a Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited report, which had said that the renovation of three power plants could have been achieved at a cost of less than Rs.1 billion.

Last updated on Aug 31st, 2009 at 19:09 pm IST–IANS

Pinarayi case: SC notice to CBI, Kerala govt

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 31 August 2009, 03:26pm IST

NEW DELHI: SC has issued notices to CBI & Kerala govt on Pinarayi Vijayan, the CPM politburo member petition challenging governor’s sanction for his prosecution in Supreme Court.

A bench of Justice R.V. Ravindran and Justice B.S. Sudarsan Reddy admitted Vijayan’s lawsuit directly for hearing saying that it involves several important questions of law.

The questions included how much influence a ruling political party or its chief can impose upon its government.

Vijayan is accused of wrongfully awarding a contract to the Canadian company SNC Lavalin for renovating three power plants when he was the state power minister in 1997.

The charges against Vijayan were filed in the special court after Kerala Governor R.S. Gavai in June gave the go-ahead to the CBI to prosecute the Marxist leader.

The CBI had asked Vijayan to appear before the CBI court at Kochi Sep 24 in the Rs.374-crore SNC Lavalin scam, in which he is the seventh accused.

J&K HC to hear bail application in Shopian case today


The Jammu and Kashmir High Court will resume hearing on the bail application of two police officers in Shopian double rape and murder case today.

The case came up for hearing before the single bench of Justice Sunil Hali on August 28.

However, after hearing the arguments from both sides, Justice Hali listed the case for Monday for further arguments.

The counsel for the accused Aseem Mehrotra pleaded that since there was no material evidence against both police officers, they should be released on bail.

He informed the court that there was no evidence which suggest their direct or indirect involvement in the crime.

However, counsel for the state opposed the bail and said that despite violence marks on the bodies of two women — Neelofar and Asiya — the police officers failed to register an FIR. An FIR was registered after a delay of six days during which period vital evidence in the case had been destroyed.

One-man commission of inquiry headed by Justice (retd) Muzaffar Jan, appointed to probe the rape and murder, in his report has said that involvement of a state police agency could not be ruled out completely.

Later, Matoo and Rohit were arrested alongwith two other police officers on the direction of the High Court.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) is now probing the case.

The SIT had announced a reward of Rs 20 lakh for any one who would provide any clue leading to arrest of the culprits.


Patna HC confirms provisional bail of JD(U) MLA in Brij Bihari murder case


Patna High Court confirmed the provisional bail earlier granted to JD(U) MLA Shashi Kumar Rai in connection with the murder of former minister Brij Bihari Prasad.

A division bench of the court comprising Justice Navin Sinha and Justice Dharni Dhar Jha confirmed the provisional bail, earlier granted to Mr Shashi Kumar Rai and accepted the appeal filed by him challenging the judgment of a lower court which had sentenced the JD(U) MLA to two years rigorous life imprisonment.

Earlier, Mr Rai was awarded two years of life imprisonment by Additional District and Sessions Judge V P Mishra on August 12, 2009 in connection with the murder of Brij Bihari Prasad.

Mr Prasad was shot dead on June 13, 1998, and was admitted in Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna.

The JD(U) MLA was released by the lower court on provisional bail after he was awarded two years of rigorous imprisonment. The provisional bail of Mr Rai was required to be confirmed by Patna High Court, as per provision of the law.


HC holds couple’s marriage legal, orders protection

DNA Correspondent

Monday, August 31, 2009 8:31 IST

Ahmedabad: Justice HN Devani of the Gujarat high court has ordered the Jamnagar police to protect a couple who solemnized love marriage against the wishes of their family members. The court issued order to protect the couple after the girl, Jalpa Kanani, herself moved petition against her father and local police, who allegedly harassed the couple’s siblings.

The row started after 21-year-old Jalpa, who belongs to the Patel community, married one Jaideep Parmar, of another community, with whom she was having an affair. Jalpa’s father lodged a complaint against Jaideep and other persons who supported them while registration of the marriage. Under the influence of the community leaders, the Jodia town police of Jamnagar district started harassing the friends and siblings of the couple.

It was then that Jalpa filed a petition before the Gujarat high court against her father, police sub inspector of Jodia town police and district superintendent of Jamnagar police.
Kandarp Dholakia and Tushar Sheth, Jalpa’s counsels, submitted to the court that the police are unnecessary harassing the couple and their supporters at the behest of Jalpa’s father. The court, however, ruled that the marriage is legal since the two are adults. In its order to the police the court has also directed that the police should avoid taking any coercive action against the couple and protect them.

HC dismisses plea for recognition to city nursing institute

Parimal Dabhi

Posted: Aug 31, 2009 at 0043 hrs IST

Ahmedabad In what could be an eye-opener for the students opting for professional courses without checking the credibility of the institutions, the Gujarat High Court has refused to entertain a petition by a student, who had enrolled in a private ‘nursing’ institution unrecognised by the Indian Nursing Council.

The student had prayed to quash a decision by the Employment and Training Department that she cannot be given the certificate of passing an examination of nursing.

The petitioner has been identified as Jully Patel from Shahibaug. Jully had enrolled for the Certificate Course in Health and Social Nursing Care in 2007 offered by the Ahmedabad Institute of Medical Sciences (AIMS). It is run by the Maharana Pratap Health Care Foundation in the Satellite area of Ahmedabad.

The course duration was two years. And when Jully inquired about the schedule of the examination after two years, AIMS officials intimated her about the letter they got from the office of the Employment and Training Department in August 2009.

The department had asked the institute to delete the word

‘nursing’ from the name of the course and certificate since they did not take the mandatory permission from the Indian Nursing Council and the Gujarat Nursing Council.

Shocked by the revelation, Jully moved the HC through her counsel, Pradeep Patel.

There are two more such institutions in the state, one each in Visnagar and Mehsana, and students of which will not get the certificate of nursing as per the decision of the Employment and Training Department.

Dismissing the petition, Justice R R Tripathi observed, “If a particular course requires recognition from the apex body like Indian Nursing Council or Gujarat Nursing Council, the court cannot waive and direct the apex body to give recognition or to give post-facto recognition.”

The court further observed, “…grant of any relief in this petition will give a boost to the persons running such institutes without obtaining necessary recognition from the body authorised to give under law.”

As regards the the petitioner’s grievances against the institute, the court left it open for the petitioner to file any civil suit for file for damages against the institute.

Unlicensed quarries come under HC fire

Swati Deshpande, TNN 31 August 2009, 12:42am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has stepped in to stem the largescale illegal quarrying and resultant environmental and ecological damage in Thane district and in Navi Mumbai. The HC recently directed that quarrying by any unlicensed operator at nine locations be stopped immediately till further orders.

A PIL filed before the HC stated that according to the Thane collectorate, there was no quarrying lease granted for nine sites and yet hills were being razed illegally.

The HC ordered government officials to ensure that its direction was”scrupulously observed” and called for detailed affidavits from the Thane and Navi Mumbai municipal corporations, Thane collector, state environment & forest department and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board on the extent of environmental damage and status of quarrying activities.

The order comes as a breather for those fighting against the powerful quarrying operators’ lobby and more importantly, the unquantifiable and irreversible environmental damage that the unrestricted quarrying is causing to the scenic hill area of Thane and Navi Mumbai.

The PIL was filed by Pradip Indulkar, a local businessman-activist after answers to his queries under the Right to Information (RTI) Act led him to believe that the civic authorities were finding ways to modify licence terms to enable continued quarrying by some operators. He also relied on several news reports, including one that appeared in TOI, to point out that not just the hills in Thane, but lakes and reservations for public play parks were being destroyed due to the rampant greed of stone quarry operators.

Indulkar’s lawyer Madhav Jamdar said preservation of ecology is a legal obligation of the government authorities. But he pointed out that a survey of a few sites in Thane around Ghodbunder road showed that illegal quarrying was taking place in the surrounding forest

in village Ovale. Elsewhere in Bhayandarpada village, quarrying was permitted by authorities beyond permissible limits.

Use of explosives was going on unabated in an area reserved as a picnic spot in Thane, said the petitioner, wondering how quarrying permission was granted by the Thane collector for that site to begin with. Permission was granted for five years under the Mumbai Minor Minerals excavation rules to Dynasty Engineering and Construction Company in 2007 with a condition that it had to validate the approval in 2008 from the civic body. The PIL claimed that the company had furnished an undertaking that it would stop quarrying activities when the Thane municipal corporation decides to develop the land as a picnic spot. Jamdar said there might be no hill or green cover left soon for the picnic spot to ever come up.

Similar modifications to leases held by some quarry owners have also been made, the PIL said. None of the quarry owners or even Dynasty has been made a respondent to the PIL and Indulkar said they would be added if the court so directs.

HC cancels results of PCS (prelims), orders fresh test–prelims—orders-fresh-test


Allahabad, Aug 30 (PTI) The Allahabad High Court has cancelled the results of Uttar Pradesh Provincial Civil Service (Preliminary) Examinations-2007 and asked the state Public Service Commission to hold the test afresh within a month.

A division bench of Justices Amitav Lala and Uma Nath Singh on Wednesday passed the order while allowing a writ petition filed by Dhananjay Singh, who had appeared for the examinations held on September 30, 2007, results for which were declared on February 1 this year.

The petitioner contended that while he could not make it, candidates who scored less than he did were declared successful as separate cut-offs had been set for those belonging to the general category, OBCs, SCs and STs.

SC refuses to stay HC order that decriminalizes gay sex- so now homosexuality is legal across India (for now)

It’s kind of old but im excited to read about this.

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the Delhi High Court judgment decriminalizing homosexuality. The ruling is now applicable all

over India.

The apex court also pulled up the government and asked it to speed up its response on the issue.

The Delhi High Court verdict decriminalizing consensual gay sex has put the government in a fix as it remains undecided about its stand in the Supreme Court, 11 days after a response was sought from it on the vexed issue.

“No affidavit has been filed in the court as yet. It has to be seen what happens in the court,” Attorney General G E Vahanvati, had told PTI on Sunday. “You have to wait and watch what happens in the court tomorrow,” he had said.

While the Centre remained non-committal about its stand on the high court verdict which has been opposed by different sections of society, including religious leaders of all communities and a child rights body, gay rights activists have drawn up a detailed strategy to defend the verdict.

“We will file our response to the appeals after it is admitted by the apex court,” said Shivangi Rai, the lawyer actively associated with the NGO Naz Foundation on whose PIL the High Court on July 2 had declared the penal provision (under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code) for gay sex among consenting adults in private as unconstitutional.

The apex court had issued notice to the Centre seeking its response on the petition filed by a Delhi astrologer challenging the high court verdict.

Taking note of sentiments expressed by different sections of the society, the Centre said on Sunday it would not take a hasty decision on legalising homosexuality.

“We have taken note of sentiments expressed by cross sections of people and that is why the government is not hasty to form its opinion to be submitted to Supreme Court,” union law and justice minister M Veerappa Moily told reporters on Sunday.

DUSU polls: ABVP to approach HC, NSUI for structural reforms

Updated on Sunday, August 30, 2009, 17:51 IST

‘-1-mrg-rb7-j align=””> New Delhi: With Delhi University firm on its decision to disqualify six DUSU poll candidates, ABVP on Sunday said it will approach the High Court here for stay order, while NSUI asked for “structural reforms” in these elections.

The two student bodies said they will continue with their decision to protest the “unwarranted” decision by the varsity authorities.

‘-1-mrg-rb7-j align=””>

“The hasty decision should have been avoided as penalty and some other punishment have yielded results. Even if the authorities are ready to set a precedent, they should bring structural reforms in the student union polls,” NSUI national secretary Anand Pandey said here.

He said the student outfit will continue with its protest against the decision which is violative of students rights, but keeping in mind “high moral standards” of NSUI, “we will not invite any independent to contest on our ticket”.

ABVP media coordinator Niharika said, “we have decided to approach the Delhi High Court tomorrow to seek a stay order on the DU decision to disqualify three of the four ABVP nominees for the polls.”

With the disqualification of six candidates, including three from ABVP and two from NSUI, the two rival student outfits are devoid of their presidential candidates.

The NSUI, with only two nominees left in its panel, is likely to face another jolt as a notice has been served to its joint secretary Rahul Mathur for violating code of conduct. A decision in the matter will come by tomorrow evening.

Meanwhile, chief election officer Gurmeet Singh said, “we are implementing the Supreme Court guidelines on DUSU elections. This time a tough decision has been taken to send a clear message that law should not be violated. Earlier, they did not bother and follow any of our decisions.”

Asked about the demands of structural reforms by the student bodies, he said: “If they want something, they should give it to us in writing or knock the doors of the Supreme Court for guidelines.”

On the “structural changes”, the ABVP activist supported the NSUI demand saying “there should be some proposal from DU on the reforms which are needed as some of the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations are impractical to follow.”

The NSUI opposes the Lyngdoh Committee recommendations in totality, while the ABVP oppose some of it.

With all the candidates disqualified, ABVP has lone nominee in its panel — Kriti Wadhera for vice-president post.

Asked if the HC rejects the outfit’s petition, Niharika said, “we have options and we will fight the elections”, indicating that ABVP may invite some independents to contest polls from its platform.

Meanwhile, campaigning has remained a low-key affair in the University and the outfits like SFI, INSO and AISA are seen canvassing.

In wake of the protests, security

has been tightened around the campus.

Bureau Report

Shah Rukh turns a lawyer to expose Indian judiciary in ‘Jolly LLB’

Updated on Sunday, August 30, 2009, 20:22 IST

Spicezee Bureau

Mumbai: Shah Rukh Khan will soon portray a role that he has never done so far. The actor is set to play a lawyer in his forthcoming film ‘Jolly LLB’.

According to reports, SRK is planning ‘Jolly LLB’ under his banner ‘Red Chillies Entertainment’, in association with Rakesh Upadhyay. The film is said to based upon
a lawyer`s life and will try to expose the Indian judiciary.

“Jolly LLB would take on the pros and cons of the judicial system. The discussion on the film with Shah Rukh went beyond two hours though the actor gave just 45 minutes. Shah Rukh felt in love with the script of the film”, adds a source.

Give priority to eyewitness accounts: CJI

Manohar Lal, TNN 30 August 2009, 10:42pm IST

RANCHI: Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan said here on Sunday that eyewitness accounts in criminal cases must be examined properly for speedy disposal of cases.

“In some states, eyewitnesses are not heard. On the basis of my personal experience, I suggest you to hear eyewitnesses properly. This will give you a clear picture of the case, thus paving the way for speedy trial,” Balakrishnan said while addressing the First Eastern Zone Judicial Conference on “Enhancing Timely Justice and Strengthening Criminal Justice Administration”.

The CJI also outlined three points for judicial officers and said judges should have a sense of justice, they should be independent and should shun prejudices. “We are living in a society and circumstances in our house and environment may force us to become partial. But then when we are judges, we should be impartial while deciding the cases,” Balakrishnan said.

This apart, self-introspection and discipline enables you to be impartial, he remarked.

Balakrishnan advised judicial officers to be courteous and kind to understand the feeling of the victims.

The criminal justice system is getting delayed for various reasons and judges should be independent enough to avoid any such delay. There are cases in which Section 498(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is being grossly misused and warrants and notices are being issued providing a platform for unwanted harassment by the police, the CJI said.

He also hailed the new amendment to the CrPC law and said these are very useful but people will have to wait for some more time before it is notified. He advised the judges to write clear judgments in criminal cases and advised them to study Indian Evidence Act, IPC and Criminal Procedure Code.

“Every day you should go through these laws which provides you enough knowledge in dealing with criminal justice system. The Indian Evidence Act does not give any liberty to defence counsel to question the witnesses unnecessarily and seek adjournments,” he added.

He further advised the judges to be punctual and have control over the bar.

In his address, Justice (retired) S B Sinha of Supreme Court said that judicial officers should be aware of petty cases, white-collar crimes and cyber crimes. In a country where there are 73% criminal cases pending in different courts, of which 70% are petty offence, people suffer a lot due to unnecessary delay because of the criminal justice system, Sinha said.

Backlogs: Increasing judges only half the solution
Sukumar Mukhopadhyay / New Delhi August 31, 2009, 0:24 IST

Thirty three years ago I had made a seizure in a customs case and now I had to appear for the eighth time in the Court as a witness. The prosecution case is pending for thirty two years. Seven times I was cross examined as witness before the fra-ming of charges. That was fifteen years ago. Eighth time was now. After my retirement I went to places like Bangalore, Goa, Delhi many times for appearing as witness. All these are not true for me alone but all who appear as witness. I am highlighting all these facts not usually known to others who recommend solutions but are not exactly aware of the ground realities. The reality is far grimmer than what people can imagine from outside.

Recently the Prime Minister told a conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts that the apex court should be the catalyst, organiser, mentor and umpire in tackling this issue of massive backlog of cases pending disposal in courts (Four million cases pending before the high courts and thirty million before the lower courts). As a solution it has been suggested by many that filling up the vacancies of judges and increasing the strength of the Bench would solve the problem largely.

My considered view is that increasing the number of judges is only half the solution. What is needed is a thorough procedural overhaul and attitudinal change in the judicial system.

I may be allowed to present several suggestions from the experience I have gathered over several decades in conducting litigation in different courts in India. This is in continuation of the discussion the Prime Minister has initiated for clearing the backlog. It does not cast any aspersion on any class of people in the system.

i) Easy adjournments should neither be asked for nor allowed. If a person is to be cross-examined as a witness, it should not be done over a period of several years but in quick succes-sion and preferably on a day to day basis.

ii) Delaying tactics by one party (who has vested interest in delay), mostly the one prosecuted, should not be allowed.

They usually ask for irrelevant papers and go to hig-her court for a stay of proceedings on the ground of denial of natural justice. It is easy to detect their intention and scotch such move.

iii) Frivolous appeals from the government side particularly in the fiscal cases has become quite common. There is a very large percentage of cases which are rejected at higher courts. The tendency to file appeal in higher courts even when the issue is settled against the Government is quite common.

A task force should be created to analyse in how many unmerited cases appeals were filed. There is no point in saying that the senior lawyer approved of it.

iv) Admitting writ petiti-ons and giving interim injunctions rather easily in so many cases is one aspect which has to be conside-red with due attention. The principle of alternative remedy should get due consideration. In a very large number of cases, writ petitions are admitted and after a few hearings they are sent back to the department for adju-dication or for decision in appeal.

v) For deciding old cases (which are more than five years old) separate judges may be earmarked so that greater attention can be paid to such files which are usually very bulky and have got dozens of statements and documents in them.

The conclusion is that the massive backlog in courts can be reduced not by a qua-ntitative approach but a qualitative change in the approach on the part of all stakeholders.


MRTP panel dissolution by Sept 1: Khurshid
BS Reporter / New Delhi August 30, 2009, 0:11 IST

Section 66 of the Competition Act for repealing the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Act and dissolution of the MRTP Commission would be notified by Tuesday, said Salman Khurshid, minister of state for corporate affairs. This move would end the problem of concurrent jurisdiction between the two laws.

The Competition Commision of India (CCI), established in 2003 as an advisory body, got statutory powers in 2007 by an Act of Parliament. Thus, this had necessitated repealment of the MRTP Act.

The minister also said in an interaction with members of PHD Chamber of Commerce, an industry body, that the government was open to a dialogue with the industry to know its apprehension and concerns relating to notification of Section 5 of the Competition Act. The Section related to mergers and amalgamations.

He also said that issues relating to prosecution will be addressed in the New Companies Bill.

In the new Bill, many routine defaults will be made compoundable offenses and not treated as criminal offenses.

Need for separate code to deal with terrorists’

TNN 31 August 2009, 03:26am IST

LUCKNOW: Criminologist have suggested the necessity of a separate terrorist code rather than amendment in the existing legislations, to tackle the act of terror.

Prof N R Madhava Menon, a leading criminologist and a member of commission on centre-state relations, who was here in the state capital to attend a two-day national seminar on `Recent anti-terror legislative changes in criminal justice administration: perceptions and perspectives of criminal justice professionals’ at Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University (RMLNLU), said that the act of terror needs to be taken altogether separately. “Simple modifications in existing legislations would not help. In fact, issues of national interest should not be given a backseat fearing the misuse of those laws,” he said.

Menon, a founder director of National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore emphasised on the need of scientific methods for procuring evidence. A guest of honour on the occasion, Menon also made participants aware of a machine called `mobilis’ which captures the video and audio images at the site of the crime that cannot be tampered with.

Dr Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University, Lucknow is leaving no stone unturned in exposing the eager young minds of today’s India to the most intricate details of law.

Prof B B Pande, former professor of law and consultant, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), presented the theme paper `Re-orienting criminal justice policies’ for dealing with crimes like terrorism and extremism in which he raised three issues — rationalising distinct criminal justice policies and enactment of special legislations, justifying special legislations in the light of greater and graver harm potential of certain deviant conducts and creation of distinct and exclusive investigatory agencies.

Earlier in the day, vice-chancellor of the university, Prof Balraj Chauhan welcomed the guests which included former chief justice of Supreme Court of India, justice J S Verma and senior judge of the Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court, justice Pradeep Kant.

Experts also gave their inputs to check the growing menace of cyber crime, which were brought to light by cyber expert, K Rama.

Former judge of SCI and now chairperson, competition appellate tribunal, justice Arijit Pasayat; senior judge of Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court, justice D P Singh, criminologist, Prof K D Rao, director school of Law, IGNOU and Prof Zakaria Siddiqui, former dean, faculty of Law, AMU, are likely to be present on the second day of the seminar.

Rules flouted in Neelankarai case

A Subramani, TNN 31 August 2009, 02:57am IST

CHENNAI: The unexplained custodial death of Rajan, a prime suspect in the Panaiyur double murder, and the manner in which the case was handled subsequently by the police has perplexed jurists and rights activists.

The queries are many: Why was Rajan’s body cremated, not buried, in such a tearing hurry? Why was he not taken to a hospital and a wound mahazar (a list of injuries) compiled by a government doctor if he was really injured in a mob attack while attempting to flee the scene of the crime? Why did the police not permit legal assistance when Rajan was in custody? As mandated by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) guidelines, was Rajan’s post-mortem videographed ? And, has a murder case been registered against the police personnel incharge of Rajan’s custody, as per NHRC rules?

“It is very peculiar to note that according to reported statements by Rajan’s family members, the police insisted that they cremate the body,” said advocate and rights activist Sudha Ramalingam. First, the police should not have been insistent on the issue. Second, even if the family wanted to dispose of the body, the police should have ensured that Rajan was buried and not cremated, she said.

There are umpteen cases where injuries of a suspicious nature have been subsequently established and the culprits brought to book after the exhumation of the body, says Tamil Nadu Advocates Association (TNAA) president S Prabakaran, who is associated with the Federation of Human Rights Associations. The disposal of Rajan’s body has virtually closed all options of investigating his death in custody.

Incidentally, the bodies of the elderly couple who were gunned down, Illangovan and his wife Ramani, were handed over to the relatives only on Friday.

The police’s claim that Rajan was badly injured in a mob attack immediately after the double murder and that he died due to those injuries, does not cut ice with jurists. The Code of Criminal Procedure as well as the Supreme Court’s 11 Commandments to the police in the D K Basu case clearly state that injured detenues should first be taken to a hospital and a wound certificate/mahazar be obtained from doctors, Sudha Ramalingam says. “Why was this not done in the case of Rajan?”

The NHRC guidelines mandate that the entire police force in whose custody the detenue dies should be booked for a case of murder, she points out and asks: “Has the murder case been registered? If so, who are the accused in the case?”

There has been no claim even from the police’s side that Rajan was permitted to meet a relative or friend or an advocate “during interrogation, if not throughout the interrogation,” said Prabakaran. Rajan was nabbed at 4.30 pm on Monday afternoon and remained in police custody till 1.30 am on Tuesday.

According to the police, he collapsed in the Adyar lock-up while drinking a glass of water and was rushed to the nearby Malar Hospital where he was officially declared dead at 2.45 am. The body was shifted to the Government Royapettah Hospital before senior officials issued a statement saying he had died in custody.

A judicial officer who has spent a lifetime handling criminal cases said one must await the revenue divisional officer’s findings in the matter before voicing opinions.

“The essential ingredients of a crime are motive, criminal intent, preparation to commit an offence and its actual commission. Here, all these aspects have been established. But this case is all but dead, unless police come out with a theory that more people were involved in the offence. If no arrest is made in the next few days, then I am sure this case will be simply referred for closure,” the judicial officer said.

He, however, said: “The deafening silence of the close relatives of victims on both sides is disturbing. It indicates that there is something more than what meets the eye. But, little can be done without actionable evidence.”

Dealing with flaws, not laws, police weaken cases against terror suspects


New Delhi, Aug. 30: Even if you’ve been proven to be an outlaw in India, there’s always cause for comfort — in the law itself and from those who are meant to invoke it.

Take the case of suspected Hizb-e-Islami militant Ayaz Ahmed Shah, who was arrested by Delhi police’s special cell with 3.5kg of explosives in 2004 and let off by the courts in January 2009.

Shah got away not because he was proved innocent; he went free because the police were dealing with flaws rather than laws.

Or, to put it more bluntly, they got sanction for prosecution under the wrong law from the wrong authorities — where they should have used the explosive substances act, they applied the explosives act; whereas they should have gone to the relevant district magistrate, they went to the police commissioner. Now the two provisions might sound similar, or indeed the same, but in fact there exists a wide enough gulf between them to let the guilty slip through.

Additional sessions judge R.K. Jain came down heavily on the special cell for such a slumbering blunder on the basics of terror law while acquitting Shah. “The special cell officers were not vigilant enough to procure required sanctions against the accused, resulting in lapses. They treated it as just another case under the arms act. In any case, the benefit of all these lapses has to be given to the accused. Accordingly, I acquit the accused for the offences he is charged with.”

But it now turns out that many more might be in line for freedom, courtesy this critical legal lapse by the special cell; officials have failed to take due sanction under the explosive substances act in close to 40 terror-related cases since 2002. Most such cases are in the final stages of trial and there is little the police can now do to make amends.

Had he been booked, as he should have been, under the more stringent explosive substances act, Shah couldn’t even dream of getting bail, much less acquittal.

Shah’s case has set an alarming precedent for prosecuting agencies — err on as little as a word of the law and it can become an ignominious and embarrassing chapter.

Records show that after the discrepancies in this case were highlighted by Shah’s counsel, M.S. Khan, last year, the police have been scrambling to file central sanctions in cases where they have spotted similar faux pas. The law states that no court shall proceed to the trial of any person for an offence against this act except without the consent of the district magistrate.

The confusion can be traced back to two sets of laws, which the super sleuths overlooked. While the accused were all booked under the explosive substances act, which pertains to materials for making any explosive substances, they got sanctions from the police commissioner under the explosives act, which relates to an act to regulate the manufacture, possession, use and sale of explosives.

These are two different laws with separate sanctioning authorities.

According to the statute, the police commissioner is authorised to sanction cases pertaining to the explosives act, but the district magistrate authorises cases under the explosives substances act.

Thus, in Ayaz’s case, where the commissioner had sanctioned the trial, the court found itself incapable of going on with the case and acquitted him.

“The provisions of both the acts are very clear and the police need to act with great caution as hardcore criminals are involved. What happened shows the police’s callousness and exposes dereliction of duty on the part of the police. They might have overwhelming evidence to nail the accused, but unless there is proper sanction, the case is bound to fall apart and the terror suspect will be acquitted. If an elite anti-terror unit does not know the basics of law that it is claiming to protect, then obviously the terror accused will use the benefit of the technical provision. It’s a matter of great shame for the police,” said noted criminal lawyer Majeed Memon, who defended those accused in the 1993 Bombay blasts.

Khan, who is also the lawyer for another terror suspect, 46-year-old Nazir Ahmad, who was arrested by the special cell in 2005 and booked under the explosive substances act for carrying RDX, has also exploited the terror cops’ negligence.

“We have already shown the court that the trial was invalid and in the next few days when his final hearing comes up in court, I am sure he will be acquitted,” said Khan.

Sources say that since the lapse came to light in Ayaz’s case in 2008, it took the police seven months to get back to court with a satisfactory reply to the defence query about the lapses in sanction. Sources in the department say that Delhi police commissioner Y.S. Dadwal held a high-level meeting with his senior officials and it was then that the process of getting the appropriate sanctions was started.

“According to the principle of double jeopardy, no one can be prosecuted for the same crime twice. The lawyers of the accused are going to invoke this law to get their clients out when the prosecution presses for a fresh trial. The mess they have landed themselves into has become a tangled web,” said Memon, adding that a sanction is a condition precedent for initiating criminal proceedings in the court of law and not subsequent to it, so no fresh trial can be initiated by the prosecution.

Ahsan Untoo, head of the International Forum for Justice as well as the Human Rights Forum of Jammu and Kashmir, however, sees a larger conspiracy in the special cell’s inability to get proper sanctions.

“They are not going to the central authorities, in this case the district magistrate, because they have no case against these people. If the police go to the central government, they have to furnish evidence, which they don’t have. So, the easier way out is to go to the police commissioner. It’s not confusion but conspiracy because in most of these cases, innocent Kashmiris are implicated. In the fight between RAW and ISI, poor Kashmiris are being victimised,” Untoo said.


Ashok Mitra

The country’s Constitution cannot be faulted. The set of directive principles of state policy it starts with is most uplifting. Consider the catch-all entry, Article 41, “The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved ones.” Close on its heels comes Article 45: “The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of the Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen.”

For full six decades, these articles have lain dormant. Along with other assumed obligations on the part of the State, imparting education, including induction of children into primary and secondary schools, has remained an unfulfilled pledge. In both the articles just quoted, there is, of course, an escape clause. Article 41 indicates a rider: the State will perform such and such tasks, “within the limits of its economic capacity”. Article 45 is even more generous: the State should only “endeavour” to send children to school. Whether the State has actually put in the endeavour, or merely gone through the motions, was going to be difficult to determine in all seasons.

The ground reality is daunting though. Close to one-half of the nation continue to be functionally illiterate. Some who are enumerated in the census as literate are barely able to inscribe their signature, but, among them, the proportion of those who lapse into illiteracy is frighteningly high. While the proportion of literate children in the age group of six to fourteen has gone up over the decades, the rate of drop-outs hardly shows any sign of decline. The gender divide is equally daunting; female literacy as well as school attendance among girls lag way behind. It is a sorry picture, and it is so despite grandiose schemes such as mid-day meal schemes and the Total Literacy Campaign.

A directive principle, a few wise ones thought, was not strong enough; to transform the landscape, education must be declared as a fundamental right. The outcome was the 86th amendment to the Constitution and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act. Doubt nonetheless refuses to be a fugitive. Despite the punctilious — even finicky — details in the new legislation, will statutory elevation of education as a fundamental right make much of a difference? If the prerogative of receiving education free of cost is denied to a child, a complaint might be posted on its behalf to the nation’s highest judiciary. The Supreme Court could issue a directive to the authorities concerned, to look into the matter. It is a big country, the source of the complaint might be a remote village thousands of miles away from New Delhi. The authorities could submit the plea that they were doing their best in the matter. If their best were judged as not enough, the Supreme Court might, at most, hold the authorities guilty of contempt of court. That, as such, would not advance the cause of primary education. In addition to the existing National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, a special National Educational Rights Commission too could be set up along with similar commissions for the states. These commissions might work round the clock and receive unending representations. But the impact of their findings is unlikely to be any more impressive than that of the assorted human rights commissions.

No mystery actually lies behind the failure to live up to the promises of the Constitution with regard to literacy and elementary education. Those in charge of shaping the nation’s destiny have not ever considered the issue as one of life and death. Passion can move mountains. If there were enough national passion for the cause, illiteracy could have been wiped out from the country within the space of a few years by launching a massively big push. China could do it within a decade of the establishment of the People’s Republic; the embers of the fervour which drove the revolution were still burning — that did the magic. Or take the instance of a small country in Central America, Nicaragua, which had as high a rate of illiteracy as 92 per cent when the Sandinistas assumed power for the first time in the 1970s. In the course of a bare quinquennium, they brought that rate down to less than 10 per cent.

We did not go through a revolution. Still, we have the commitments in the Constitution reflecting national aspirations during the freedom movement. But, at a certain stage, the passion that ignited those pledges was spent. Whether the poor are taught letters or remain dumb, or whether children from impoverished families attended school, ceased to bother the power brokers. Even where passion was dysfunctional, fear that the deprived millions could turn against them in the polling booths might have propelled ruling politicians to positive action. Notwithstanding their state of ignorance — or conceivably because of it — the poor have, however, continued to exercise their franchise in the manner that the governing oligarchs wanted them to. A little learning, who knows, could in fact be a dangerous thing; if a morsel of literacy imbues the poor with a quantum of social awareness, they might begin to vote errantly; better play safe.

Cynicism, or myopia, or whatever, if only it could be snuffed out, objectives such as 100 per cent literacy and school attendance of all children in the age group of 5-14 should not be beyond the nation’s reach. But it presupposes a return to what is now derisively described as idealism. Conventional modalities per se are unlikely to make much headway. Why not, instead, raise an education army of one million dedicated young graduates who will spread -eagle themselves across the states and Union Territories, and act as a vanguard, under appropriate guidance, of a national literacy-cum-schooling campaign? There were, at the last count, 350 universities and 60,000 colleges in the country, with a total student population exceeding one crore. It should not be difficult to recruit one million earnest ‘literacy scouts’ to take up the challenge. These scouts will be the constituents of a network of state, district, taluk, village and muhalla squads, and reach out to the humblest household in the remotest towns and villages. Each scout may be assigned the responsibility for ten households that have lagged behind or been left out of the literacy race. He will be charged with the mission of ensuring that each child attends school and each adult is literate. The authorities may consider offering the scouts a monthly stipend of say, Rs 15,000. There will be need for further outlays, including some on account of construction of new schools and for essential educational equipment, such as textbooks and other accessories. To reduce drop-outs and persuade economically hard-up parents to agree to send their children to school, monetary compensation may also be called for. Subsidies to raise the nutritional standards of school-going — and even pre-school-going — children should not be ruled out either. All told, the total annual outlay could be of the order of Rs 50,000 crore, supplemental to spending under official auspices pursuant to the recently enacted legislation.

This nation lays aside close to Rs 150,000 crore in the name of defence. A further amount of around Rs 30,000 crore is put aside, it is a fair guess, to ensure internal security, which includes the provision of regalia for a battalion of mostly useless politicians. A system that makes this much of outlay in order to feel safe should not be under any strain to spare another Rs 50,000 crore for universal education. But no: a suggestion of this nature is bound to meet with instant disapproval. For there is no lobby for either universal literacy or primary education. In the absence of pressure groups, the authorities will not deviate from the beaten track. It is an aspect of felt emotions. We are ashamed at the prospect of being given a bloody nose by Pakistan or China. We, however, experience no sense of shame if the majority of our compatriots are horrendously poor or their children fail to attend school because they cannot afford to.

Indian Army flouting guidelines on sexual harassment?

New Delhi, Aug 31, IANS:
The Indian Army goes by the Army Act while probing allegations of sexual abuse. But in the process it may be blatantly overlooking guidelines issued by the Supreme Court on sexual harassment at workplace, say activists.
“We do not go by the Supreme Court’s guidelines. The army officers first come under the Army Act and we take serious note of sexual allegations,” a senior Indian Army official said on condition of anonymity.

Former judge advocate general of Indian Army Maj. Gen. Neelendra Kumar said: “The army has a standing policy that every case of serious nature invariably goes to the military court. The Supreme Court guidelines are not applicable as we have the Army Act.”
The apex court had issued guidelines for conducting inquiries into cases of sexual harassment at workplace in an August 1997 judgment and these are meant to be applicable in the absence of any specific legislation.

“In the absence of legislation to provide for guarantee against sexual harassment and abuse, particularly at workplace, the Supreme Court has laid down guidelines and norms for due observance at all workplaces or other institutions in India, until legislation is enacted for the purpose,” K.P.S. Satheesh, chairman of  NGO The Guardian Foundation, said.

The Army Act 1950, which was formulated for men when women had not been inducted into the forces, does not have specific provisions dealing with cases of sexual abuse. The allegations are generally clubbed with “unbecoming conduct” on the part of officers.

“The army’s argument that its personnel are under the Army Act cannot be accepted since the act was meant only for men. So in the absence of any specific rules, procedures or norms in the Army Act for solving sexual harassment at workplace, the apex court guidelines are very well applicable to the army as well,” Satheesh said.

According to Defence Minister A.K. Antony, during the last five years, 11 cases of sexual harassment have been reported in the armed forces, where the strength of women officers remains minuscule.

Currently, 5,137 women officers serve in the armed forces. They include 4,101 in the army, 784 in the air force and 252 in the navy. A recent example is the case of Captain Poonam Kaur of the Army Supply Corps (ASC). In July 2008, she alleged that three officers of her unit had mentally and sexually harassed her and confined her illegally when she resisted their advances.

The army then constituted a court of inquiry whereby all three officers denied the allegations and she was found guilty on at least 20 counts, including levelling false charges against her senior officers.

The apex court has succinctly laid down that any inquiry team investigating a sexual harassment case should be headed by a woman, more than half the members should be women and there should be third party participation in the inquiry like that of a non-profit organisation.

However, the inquiry into Kaur’s allegations was presided over by Brigadier R.P. Attri of the army’s Western Command headquarters. Among the three members of the inquiry, only one was female and there was no representative from an NGO in the panel.
The Guardian Foundation has moved an application on the army in the National Commission for Women against “violation of guidelines and norms prescribed by the Supreme Court while dealing with cases of sexual harassment at workplace”.


“Judges must know justice is above religion”
A bar association in Kerala has, through a resolution, sought an enquiry into the conduct of a Supreme Court judge, Justice Cyriac Joseph, and criticised a statement he recently made at a meeting of the Christian clergy. The conduct and the statement were reported but they did not receive wide attention. The impugned action of the judge, who was chief justice of Karnataka High Court before being elevated to the Supreme Court in June this year, and the purported statement he made in Kerala are difficult to understand and that is why they have raised questions and caused concern.

The CBI, which is investigating the Sister Abhaya murder case in Kerala, submitted in the Kerala High Court earlier this month that the judge visited the Forensic Science Laboratory in Bangalore in May, and examined the narco-analysis tapes of the accused there. Justice Joseph was Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court then and did not have anything to do with the Abhaya case which was being heard in Kerala. The case has become controversial because of the persistent charges of cover-up attempts by the church. Justice Joseph belongs to the religious denomination to which the three accused, a nun and two priests, belong. The judge’s private visit to the laboratory and his viewing of the tapes have raised questions because there is no satisfactory explanation for his action. Again, at a meeting in which senior members of the clergy were present in Kerala this month, the judge said his religion was more important to him than his position as a judge.  Whatever Justice Joseph meant by the statement, it conveyed the sense that his commitment to his judicial position was less than his loyalty to the community and the church. That is strange because members of the judiciary should be committed to the Constitution and be guided by it only. They need to be above allegiance to castes, communities and religions, sense of identities based on states, languages, and other sectarian considerations. That is necessary to maintain the judiciary’s independence and impartiality and to retain people’s faith in it.
Seen in this light, the judge’s action and words could only be considered improper. A request has been made to the Supreme Court to conduct and inquiry into them and to take appropriate action. Judges should also refrain from attending functions organised by religious, communal or sectarian organisations.

Murderous custom

“Existing laws are enough to tackle honour killings”
The spate of honour killings that have been recently reported from Haryana, Punjab, western UP and Rajasthan show the continuing hold of a malevolent tradition on people’s minds and the inability of the society and the law enforcement agencies to counter it. A number of young men and women have been killed or punished in other ways by members of their own families or traditional village panchayats, called khaps, for getting married against the wishes of the family or in defiance of traditional norms. Even those who fall in love have been punished and couples who eloped to avoid social sanction have been hunted down and made to pay for their ‘mistakes’. A young man was killed in Amritsar last week by relatives of the girl he was in love with. Four cases of killing of couples were reported from Haryana in the last three weeks. In all the cases, the role of khap panchayats is suspected. The state’s average is said to be six or seven cases a month. Many cases go unreported too.

Couples are punished if they marry outside their castes, belong to the same gotra or even to the same village, because such marriages are taboo. Khaps wield enormous power and influence and are outside the pale of law. They dispense justice in terms of medieval and obscurantist social canons. Village social groups and families maintain a sense of false honour handed down from the past and do not accept the free will and right of choice of individual members of society. There is a need to put an end to the barbaric custom which militates against citizens’ rights, rule of law and civilised norms of social life and conduct.

The police and politicians are often found to be colluding with the wrong-doers or at least refusing to act against them. Cases are not sincerely pursued by the police and punishment is rare. Politicians want to keep the khap panchayats, which have control over votes, in good humour. It is difficult to curb the practice unless the law is enforced strictly. There is no need for a separate law, because, as Union Home Minister P Chidambaram stated, honour killings can be treated as murder and legally dealt with accordingly. He has suggested some measures, including sensitisation of the police. It is not only the police but the entire society that needs to be sensitised and educated.

‘Court verdict not a setback’

Staff Correspondent

DAVANGERE: Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has maintained that the verdict of the JMFC, Bellary, upholding the authority of the Election Commission to question the decision of the Cabinet to withdraw cases against the Reddy brothers, was not a setback to the BJP Government.

He said that any government should bow to the order of the court and the BJP Government would honour the verdict. In a democratic set-up, courts played a vital role in pointing out the mistakes of the government, he said.

He was speaking to presspersons here before leaving for Bangalore on Sunday.

Everything for justice

V.R. Krishna Iyer

The best judge will have nothing to hide and everything to discover without fear or favour.

The Prime Minister and the Chief Justice demand more number of courts — in their thousands. This is part of the pathological arrears syndrome. The truth is: more courts, more arrears, more lazy judges, more examples of Parkinson’s Law and Peter Principle. The real cause of the escalating arrears is the absence of accountability and transparency.

The correctional strategy is an effective Appointments Commission in place of the dubious collegium, a vigilant Performance Commission, and periodic collegiate updating of jurisprudence. There is also a need to sensitise judges about socio-economic and political problems, to pare down redundant dockets and prolix hierarchy, streamline procrastination and ensure better-behaved precocity. On the whole, the Victorian system of justice administration should be eliminated and a transformation should occur. There should be periodic Law Reform Commissions whose recommendations are implemented by high-power judicial committees. There should be more itinerant decentralisation, evening courts, creative realism and a critical assessment of the curial hierarchy and public debate of judgments.

For more disposals, early finality and inexpensive justice, the purposeful therapy is not the arithmetical illusion of judicial numbers but intelligent selection of the robed brethren, of result-oriented technology, and summary procedure. One capable judge with sound social philosophy is a better instrument of justice than a dozen mediocre, indolent ignoramuses who will merely add to the adipose of the system.

The Bar contributes to the locomotion of the justice system. Typically, an American attorney delivers better arguments in 30 minutes than a Senior Advocate would do over three days in an inert Indian court. An efficient Bar is more promotive of the celerity of judicial disposal than an elaborate precedent — in a crowded, paper-logged, forensic, prolonged-performance system. The strategy of judicial excellence is not a play with numbers, or a game of hiding assets or delaying the delivery of judgments. The Supreme Court, which is inordinately the fifth deck of a poor system of justice, is infallible for the rich because it is final; not because it is wise, humanist and compassionate or within the reach of the poor.

The Chief Justice claimed that he had the title to represent the entire judicature, claiming an unknown power oblivious of the fundamental fact that he is only first among equals and can be overruled by just two of his brothers. It was a joy to read of the daring move of the judges together asserting the transparency principle, defying the chief and deciding to make their assets public. To hide is to arouse suspicion and suspicion is the upas tree under whose shade reason fails and justice dies.

Any judge who seeks immunity from truth under the cover of the robe robs the rights of We, the People of India, the sovereign of Bharat. Secrecy is unbecoming of the curial fraternity and shall be exposed if they justify their freedom from revelation from the People of India. The transparency of the socio-economic condition of the judges is not negotiably fundamental in any civilised system of justice. The court is an open book and if the Bench seeks an iron curtain between its economic interest and the litigant community it is violative of glasnost.

All’s well that ends well. The huge majority of the judges of the Supreme Court had to save their reputation, dignity and integrity over the most powerful constitutional institution. The Chief Justice of India is the noblest office of justice and is ordinarily infallible, but the court as the whole is supreme and is governed by perestroika and glasnost. What a wonder that the whole court has upheld the finest doctrine of openness. Nothing to hide, everything for justice.

This is why India holds in hallowed reverence the administration of justice. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. Fundamental rights, human values, sacred duties, peace and stability are governed by the performance of the court (Article 41).The best judge has nothing to hide and everything to discover without fear or favour and do justice to everyone, be he high or humble, without affection or ill-will.

Futile assertion

The pity of it is that the Chief Justice made a case when he vainly made a futile assertion that judicial assets are a hidden treasure. No, he made a mistake. But the full court saw the wisdom of judicial assets being responsibly disclosed to serious citizens under accountable conditions, not to frivolous busybodies. The chief may be forgiven because even the great could go wrong.

It was Emerson who wrote: “Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh.”

In our murky world of gloom, greed and agony, our duty is to save the country by means of a compassionate recipe a la Vivekananda: “Feel, my children, feel for the poor, the ignorant, the downtrodden; feel till the heart stops and the brain reels and you think you will go mad. We talk foolishly against material civilisation. The grapes are sour… Material civilisation, nay even luxury, is necessary to create work for the poor. Bread; I do not believe in a God who cannot give me bread here, giving me eternal bliss in heaven. Pooh; India is to be raised, the poor are to be fed, education is to be spread, and the evil of priestcraft is to be removed… more bread, more opportunity for everybody….”

The awakened robes have righted the absurd wrong of the chief. I salute you for overruling the jejune wrong; the jurisprudence of concealment is corruption. Corruption is the power of the rich. The robe shall not permit to be robbed by the rich.

It is better to be ultimately right than consistently wrong. To conceal the truth with regard to assets is unbecoming of fiat justicia, civilised justice, justices and justicing. Sorry, chief. You still can hold a kindly light amid the encircling gloom. No more darkness, but light. You are still the leader of luminous law and untainted truth, without fear or favour.

MCOCA checks crime in state

Mateen Hafeez, TNN 31 August 2009, 04:15am IST

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) has been successful in curbing organised crime, if one goes by conviction figures. The stringent law, introduced in 1999, has achieved a conviction rate of 58% as compared to 25% under the IPC.

Of the 95 cases, where the courts have passed their verdicts, the state got convictions in 57 cases. After Maharashtra, the Act was also adopted by New Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

Prior to MCOCA, the prosecution agencies relied on Terrorism and Anti- Disruptive Activities Act (Tada) till it was repealed in 1995. Between 1995 and 1998, a total of 203 cases of shootout were reported to the police and in most, the underworld was found to be involved.

Soon after MCOCA was put in place in 1999, the number of shootouts fell to 40 from 93 in the previous year. The figures shrunk to 23 in the year 2000. Only 90 shootouts took place in the past nine years, the police say.

“Criminals fear MCOCA as confession under this Act is treated as evidence. Moreover, the police secure their custody for a period of 30 days as the bail provision is tough,” said crime branch chief Rakesh Maria who had invoked MCOCA against gangster-turned-MLA Arun Gawli last year.

Because of the designated courts, the trials begin within two years and are completed at the earliest. 209 members of the Dawood gang and 167 associates of gangster Chhota Rajan were booked under this law.

Former IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh said it is easy to procure permission under MCOCA for tapping suspicious phone calls and using them as evidence. “The higher conviction rate in MCOCA may not be a healthy sign. This is because it uses draconian provisions. These not only ease the rules of evidence but are also inimical to the human rights of innocent persons who ultimately get acquitted by the courts but have to languish in jails for years,” said Singh.

Film financier Bharat Shah and director of movie `Chori Chori Chupke Chupke,’ Nazim Rizvi, along with several others were arrested under MCOCA in 2000. This was the first high-profile MCOCA case. While Shah was acquitted under MCOCA, he was convicted under IPC. Rajan’s wife, Sujata Nikhalje, and others were booked for threatening a developer. Extradited gangster Abu Salem is facing the Ajit Diwani murder case under MCOCA.

Crime branch yet to take a call on Hashmi case

Mateen Hafeez, TNN 31 August 2009, 04:17am IST

MUMBAI: The city crime branch, probing the `alleged’ discrimination against actor Emraan Hashmi in the purchase of a Bandra flat, is yet to decide whether to continue its investigation or close the case. The state human rights commission (SHRC) has said that it was not discrimination but a case of `misunderstanding’.

Emraan had a month ago `alleged’ that he was refused a NoC to buy a flat at Nibbana housing society in Pali Hill `allegedly’ because he was a Muslim. While a section of the society agreed with his `allegations,’ several Muslim film stars criticised Emraan’s statement saying Muslims are not discriminated against. This resulted in a stir and subsequently minister of state (home) Naseem Khan told crime branch chief Rakesh Maria to investigate the `alleged’ discrimination case.

“The crime branch personnel went to Emraan and the seller of the flat, asking them to give their statements. However, none of them have turned up for a statement yet,” said Maria.

The matter was later taken to the SHRC. “We will be asking for a copy of the commission’s order to learn what exactly it has found during the hearing,” said Maria. He added that the SHRC has sent them a letter stating that it was a case of misunderstanding between Emraan and the other party. “We are legally examining if it was a case of discrimination,” Maria said.

The crime branch is still in the process of obtaining legal opinion on whether it will be proper on their part to continue a probe in the case when SHRC has already delivered its verdict. “We don’t know if the SHRC has closed the case. We are yet to get and read the order copy,” he said.

Mediation for couples takes billboard route

Smriti Singh , TNN 31 August 2009, 04:39am IST

NEW DELHI: A picture is worth a thousand words. A huge billboard sprawls across the Metro line at Tilak Marg showing a couple sitting at the extreme ends of a couch. The message is clear there is trouble in paradise. The surprise comes when one sees Delhi High Court written on the billboard asking the feuding couples to come to their mediation cell Samadhan and resolve their differences.

Realising the worth of advertising, the otherwise conservative judiciary has finally come of age. This is one such example of the various ways in which mediation is being advertised by the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee (DHLSC). Its for the first time that the concept of the alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a better way to resolve compoundable offences at pre-litigative stage, is being so rigorously promoted by the HC.

The HC has also involved CAW cell for its promotion through radio channels. Recently, the legal aid committee booked 12 slots on 10 FM channels for over a month and went to promote the concept of mediation. Not only the jingle informs the listener about the various options available to the people, it has put full information about mediation centres at High Court, Nanakpura, Rohini, Karkadooma and Tis Hazari court complexes.

The mediators believe that extensive advertising has spread more awareness about the concept of ADR and there has been an increase in the more number of people looking for alternative options rather than directly going to litigation. With such advertising, now people are coming to us right away. Earlier, we used to get cases after they had already approached the court for litigation. But now, with the media being involved, people have got trust in the option, said Isha Khanna, one of the 15 expert mediator in the HC.

She further said that with all the awareness, the figures have doubled in terms of people approaching the mediation cell. Besides billboards put up on the prominent intersections across the city and FM channels, the DHLSC is also distributing animated brochures and calenders giving information about the mediation.

Seema Dayal (name changed), who recently got her divorce case settled with the intervention of the mediation cell of DHLSC after 13-years of court battle, said, earlier, I was not aware of such an option, but after coming to the mediation cell, my case was settled within three months without any court proceedings.

With the help of Samadhan, Dayal got Rs 22.50 lakh as final future maintenance from her husband.

At the lower level, information about mediation is spread through Delhi Legal Services Authority, which holds camps in all the slum areas of the capital. With that around 100 police personnel across Delhi have also received training in counselling at the TISS.

Right to Education Act soon: Minister

TNN 31 August 2009, 04:56am IST

VISAKHAPATNAM: Union minister of state for human resource development Daggubati Purandeswari said the Centre would soon bring an Act on the Right to Education.

Though primary education is a subject of state governments, the central government has asked all the states to prepare mandatory norms for the implementation of the bill, she said while addressing a programme here on Sunday.

The government would implement compulsory education free of cost from first class to eighth class, but the reservation percentage would be finalised by the states. “To discuss the issue we are holding a meeting with the education ministers of the states in the first week of September in Delhi,” she said.

She ruled out a separate zone for Waltair railway division, which is now a part of the East Coast Railway. “The railway ministry has created a separate zone East Coast railway. So, another new zone will not be possible right now,” she added.

Purandeswari said she has already requested railway minister Mamata Banerjee to merge the Waltair division with South Central Railway.

Justice denied as compensation claims hang fire

A Subramani , TNN 31 August 2009, 02:52am IST

CHENNAI: If justice delayed is justice denied, then no family member of any custodial death victim has ever got justice in Tamil Nadu.

Just consider this. Rohini, whose history-sheeter-husband Lingam was beheaded inside a sub-jail with the knowledge of an assistant jailer in 1992, got a compensation in 2008. The widow of a bootlegger in Thanjavur’s Bhoodhalur area, who was killed in the police custody in 1994, finally got compensation in 2005. The family of Marisamy from Tirunelveli got compensation in 2008, though he was found dead in police custody in 1998. Rajammal of Vaniambadi got her compensation in 2008, for her husband’s custodial death in 1993. Balu (26) was found dead inside Korattur police station in 1998, and his family got its compensation only in 2008.

Marisamy of Nelkattuseval village in Sivagiri was picked up by the Sankarankoil police in Tirunelveli district on September 16, 1998 in connection with a petty case. By noon his wife Kalithai received an information that her husband had hanged himself inside the station toilet. The police said he had used his lungi as a noose around his neck. After it was closed as a suicide case, Kalithai moved the high court seeking Rs 10 lakh compensation. A division bench comprising Justice PK Misra (since transferred) and Justice K Chandru awarded Rs 2 lakh to her. But, by then, a decade had gone by.

Rohini, wife of the notorious Lingam, moved the High Court after her husband was beheaded inside the Nagercoil sub-jail by a gang which had gained entry into the premises with the connivance of an assis-tant jailer. Justice P Jyothimani, who awarded Rs 6 lakh as compensation besides another Rs 3 lakh towards interest, said that be it a convict or undertrial or a notorious element, the duty of the state organ such as the prison is to protect the life and limb of people under its custody and care. But the relief reached Rohini in 2008, nearly 16 years after her husband met with the gory end.

The death of a bootlegger at the Bhoodhalur police station in Thanjavur district in 1994, too ended in the Madras High Court awarding Rs 5 lakh compensation to his wife. Though a single judge first awarded only Rs 70,000 as compensation, a bench headed by the then Chief Justice AP Shah enhanced the amount to over Rs 5 lakh. But the damages came 11 years after the incident in 2005.

Justice KK Sasidharan adopted a multiplier’ formula, usually adopted only while awarding compensation to victims/kin of motor accident victims, to grant Rs 4.32 lakh to a young widow B Ammu and her two children. Ammu’s husband, Balu, was picked up by the Korattur police on November 11, 1998 in connection with a theft case.

Police said Balu hanged himself with his lungi when they allowed him to go to a toilet in the station premises. Though RDO inquiry concluded that it was a case of suicide, justice Sridharan said death while he was in the custody of police is enough to order compensation. “Provisions of sister enactments like Motor Vehicles Act can also be invoked for arriving at a quantum of compensation,” he reasoned. Here again, while the incident occurred in 1998, the compensation came to be awarded in 2008.

The latest case is that of R Dhanasekar, who was shot dead by an escort constable while the former was being taken from a court to jail. It is suspected to be a revenge killing because head constable Murugan’s mother was murdered for gain a few months ago, and Dhanasekar is an accused in the case. Now Dhanasekar’s father has moved the high court for compensation. One does not know, how long the battle is going to take.

Man gets 6-yr jail for neighbour’s murder

31 August 2009, 04:30am IST

BHAVNAGAR: In a six-year-old murder case in the city, a man was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment on Saturday, while a man was sentenced to five years of imprisonment in Botad taluka of Bhavnagar district in a two-year-old murder case.

According to the details of the Bhavnagar case, accused Mithu Garg, 35, had killed Premsagar Gupta ,55, by hitting him with a pan over a trivial issue on January 5, 2003. Garg was angry at Gupta over his refusal to address the issue of water wastage. Garg had alleged that Gupta was wasting water by keeping the taps of his house open.

Garg was arrested on the complaint of Gupta’s son Manish with A Division police station and was booked under sections 302, 504 of Indian Penal Code and section 135 of BP Act. Apart from 10-year imprisonment, additional district court slapped a Rs 5,000 fine and an additional imprisonment of 2 years in the event of failure to pay.

In Botad, Dhiru Dandhal and his two accomplices had beaten up Bharatsinh and his younger brother over an issue of the sale of a cell phone on October 9, 2007. Bharatsinh was badly injured and rushed to first Botad and then Bhavnagar government hospital, where he died during a treatment.

Dhandhal and his two aides were arrested and booked under sections 302, 307 of Indian Penal Code. The fast track court in Botad sentenced Dhandhal to five year imprisonment under sections 324, 304 (2) of IPC and charged him with a Rs 27,000 fine. The court directed that Rs 3,000 of the fine should go to the widow of the deceased as compensation. The two other accused in the case were acquitted for want of evidence.

source: sandesh

Will politicians follow judges in posting wealth details on website?

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 31 August 2009, 12:48am IST

Dark clouds of suspicion have hung about judges for years because of their stubborn reluctance to make their assets public. It has finally been blown away by the winds of transparency generated by a full court resolution of the Supreme Court on August 26.

Many have since laid claim to this revolutionary happening, from RTI applicants to self-proclaimed judiciary watchdogs. But the credit must go to the judiciary, the judges and, of course, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan for being able to strike a consensus on posting their wealth sheets on the SC’s official website.

The seed of this revolution was planted 12 years ago on May 7, 1997, when the full court of the SC decided that all judges, including the CJI, must declare their, their spouses and dependents assets and investments. But, they also took a decision to keep these declarations “strictly confidential”.

The August 26 decision has punctured the confidentiality clause. This means, every new acquisition of asset or fresh investment by a judge, spouse or dependent will have to be put in the public domain.

The insertion of the confidentiality clause was mainly because the judges had feared harassment at the hands of unscrupulous litigants filing frivolous cases relating to their wealth. Have the judges overcome this fear? Not really, says the CJI. He wants to wait and watch the public’s reaction.

Has this decision rendered the Judges Assets Bill redundant? Not really. It may need some changes, especially of the provision which barred access to wealth declarations through RTI applications. A law may still be necessary since the present declarations are voluntary in nature and it is always better to make things formal rather than keep it informal.

Sadly, the decision to make public their assets will not end the debate about the integrity of judges. If a litigant loses a case before a judge who is rich because of a flourishing practice at the Bar prior to joining the Bench, then he would invariably be the target of allegations of corruption. More so, because off-the-cuff allegations in hushed voices in the corridors of courts spread thick and fast. Judges, despite their bold decision, may have to live with this for some time.

At the same time, their decision to declare every addition to their asset and each new investment has lobbed the ball firmly back to the court of politicians who had recently stalled introduction of the Judges Assets Bill in Parliament.

The politicians declare their assets on affidavits only prior to contesting elections. Will they follow the judges and post on websites their assets and investments and update it with every new acquisition and money transfer?

At the time of elections, we come across affidavits telling how their riches have swelled dramatically in the last five years. During the last general elections, we saw how some managed to increase their wealth from lakhs to crores and from crores to hundreds of crores of rupees.

Will they explain the unusual rate of growth of their wealth? Revelations about the mean and modes to multiply wealth could provide ideas to a large chunk of citizens, who have been struggling for years to cross the poverty line. After all, politicians are the leaders of the masses who should voluntarily take the lead to remove all misgivings of the citizens about them.

LEGAL NEWS 30.03.2009

HC refuses compensation for takeover of agri land

TNN 30 August 2009, 05:19am IST

AHMEDABAD: More than 45 years after Gandhinagar was founded as state capital, three brothers demanded compensation for acquisition of land belonging to their forefathers. The Gujarat High Court, however, has turned down their plea because they raised the issue after four decades.

Varsangji, Kishor and Chhaganji Thakor have claimed that their agriculture land was acquired during 1960s for the Gandhinagar Capital Project, and the family was not given any amount towards compensation at that time. Now, these three have claimed job, or concession rate shop or a plot at a concession rate of Rs 10 per sq m in Gandhinagar towards compensation for their family land.

In their petition before the court, they also sought a direction to grant to the petitioners half of the share out of the premium amount received by the Gujarat Government towards each of the plot holders who have received concession rate plot and sold it out in open market.

During the hearing, the petitioners’ advocate told the court that the predecessors were interested in securing government job as a land loser. Besides this, while demanding compensation the petitioners cited a Government Resolution (GR) passed in 1987 that had offered a job or a shop or agricultural land against the acquisition to develop the city.

However, the petitioners admitted that the government had allotted a residential plot measuring 81 sq m in Sector 26 in Gandhinagar towards a reward. The government countered their argument about 1987 resolution by stating that it was in force for a period of one year only.

After hearing the parties, a division bench of Justices MS Shah and KM Thaker dismissed the petition observing, “The petition suffers from gross delay and acquiescence. The grievance cannot be permitted to be raised after passage of 40 years.”

HC to take action against judges for influencing probe

TNN 30 August 2009, 05:17am IST

AHMEDABAD: Two judges are in trouble now as the Gujarat High Court has asked a concerned high court judge to take administrative action against them for allegedly interfering in a police investigation.

Judicial officers, RD Patel, who was a Judicial Magistrate First Class and VR Raval – a district judge in Gandhinagar, re accused of falsely influencing a case of sexual harassment by dismissing the complaint.

Gitaba Chauhan, a widow working in education department as a clerk, filed a complaint against her officer Gunvant Raval that he misbehaved with her after office hours on January 5, 2007. When the case reached the court, magistrate Patel ordered a court inquiry under Section 202. After police filed report, Patel allegedly did not consider evidence in proper manner and dismissed the case.

The victim kept complaining before the court that nobody was present in the office on the day of incident except her and Raval. However, police recorded statements of other staff members, of whom two peons told the court on affidavit that they were present in the office. But later they changed their stand.

Chauhan then approached the high court demanding action against the officer Raval, who allegedly tried to molest her. During the hearing, her counsel Rashmin Jani made allegations that the government officer and the district judge are relatives and the judge had influenced the magistrate in deciding this case. The petitioner called for the phone records of the accused as well the judges to prove this point. Chauhan also claimed that the judges had tried their best to influence the case during the time of investigation also.

Advocate general Kamal Trivedi has been defending the state government in this case. After hearing primary arguments, Justice Akil Kureshi admitted this case with observation that the magistrate had not considered certain statements that were on the record.

After two years, when the case came up for hearing, the state government again sought adjournment so that the advocate general could argue the case. Justice KS Jhaveri kept this case for final hearing on September 18 with a condition that he would not grant any more adjournment, but meanwhile referred the case to the Unit Judge for taking up administrative actions against the judicial officers.

Orissa HC asks CBI to probe into Derivatives scam


Orissa High Court has directed the CBI to inquire into the dervatives scam that allegedly runs into Rs 25 lakh crore.

A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice I M Kuddusi and Justice Sanju Panda asked the CBI to inquire into the SCAM and file a preliminary report by November 4, while adjudicating a petition filed by one Prabhanjan Parida yesterday.

The Court also directed the Reserve Bank of India to keep a track of the differential amount arising out of the exchagne derivative amount.

The petitioner alleged that a huge amount of money had remained unaccounted due to exchange of derivative contracts entered into by different business houses a couple of years ago to hedge foreign exchage risks.

The petitioner also alleged that as the business houses had signed derivative agreement they had to do with lower rates when the dollar rate was high.

When their goods were supposed to fetch Rs 50 against a dollar they got Rs 40 and the differential amount remained unaccounted, the petitioner added.

The petitione further submitted that it smacked of a scam and could be to the tune of Rs 25 lakh crore and prayed the Court to direct the CBI to inquire into it.


Explain statement on ‘politician-terrorist nexus’: HC tells Rane

By Hetal Vyas

Posted On Sunday, August 30, 2009 at 02:00:06 AM

State Minister for Industries and senior Congress leader Narayan Rane is in trouble again, this time for his post 26/11 statement that “political leaders of this country (India) are in aid and collusion with terrorists”.

The Bombay High Court on Saturday issued a notice to the minister and directed him to explain on what basis he made the statement at a press conference on December 6, 2008.

Rane’s statement had been widely reported by the media the next day.

Social activist Purshottam Barde from Solapur filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the HC in December last year, seeking an explanation about the statement and a court directive for Rane to disclose his source of information.

Barde had first written a letter to the local police commissioner and sought action according to the law. But when the police failed to act, he approached the HC. “Rane is obliged under the law to disclose information about an offence. As a responsible public servant, he should have disclosed the information to the investigating agency immediately as soon as he got knowledge of commission of offence,” the PIL states.

The PIL came up for hearing on Saturday, where the judges orally observed that Rane must file a reply and justify his statement.

Additional public prosecutor Poornima Kantharia told the court that the Crime Branch of Mumbai Police recorded Rane’s statement on August 20. The judges still maintained that the minister will have to justify his statement in court. Rane’s statement was recorded after the court asked the state whether the police had documented it.

In his statement to the Crime Branch, Rane stated that at the press conference, he had said that in case of such incidents, action must be taken as per the ‘Vohra Committee Report’. He has not given any explanation about the statement printed by the media.

The one-and-a-half page reply given to the Crime Branch is written in Marathi and has been signed by the minister.

The court will now hear the case on September 8.

HC asks Rlys to explain non-allocation of funds

Abhinav Sharma, TNN 30 August 2009, 02:55am IST

JAIPUR: A Division Bench of Rajasthan High Court has called for an explanation from the secretary, ministry of railways, and general manager, north-western railway, for not allotting the promised budget for the conversion of meter gauge to broad gauge railway lines on three routes of the Shekhawati region in the state.

The court took a serious view of the fact that the railway minister did make a budgetary promise for the conversion work but failed to provide the funds since year 2007-08. The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Jagdish Bhalla and Justice Munishvar Nath Bhandari, issued a show-cause notice to the railway officials on a PIL filed by Maa Bharti Sansthan, an NGO.

It was brought to the notice of the court that there was a budget provision for the said work on three routes, namely Jaipur-Sikar-Loharu, Sikar-Churu-Bikaner and Churu-Sriganganagar, in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 but required funds were not allotted, hence the work never commenced.

It has further been alleged in the PIL that in the Union Budget for 2009-2010, the ministry has completely obliterated the projects, which were planned in the budget of 2007 and 2008, though new routes have been added in the mean time.

The PIL also highlighted the fact that as per the statement of the railway minister, the entire conversion of some 1,300 km of meter gauge rail route to broad gauge is proposed to be completed during the 11th Five-Year Plan, i.e. by the end of 2011, at an estimated cost of Rs 602.45 crore. But a paltry sum of Rs 15 crore has been allotted for the work to begin in 2009.

It has also been alleged that with the insignificant allotment, it will take decades to complete the conversion work in the country, particularly in Shekhawati region.

Petitioner’s counsel Nitin Jain told the Bench that the people of Shekhawati region, which includes Sikar, Jhunjhunu, Churu, Hanumangarh, Bikaner and Sriganganagar districts, have been raising the demand from last 30 years but to no avail.

It was also alleged that a large number of business community from these six districts alone are engaged in various business enterprises located at far-off places like Assam, West Bengal, Nepal, Maharashtra, Gujarat and southern states, calling their frequent movement with families and belongings from their native places.

“On facts, it is a plain case of betrayal of public trust besides being a breach of privilege enjoined by a public representative and that too by Union minister, by not allocating funds even in Union budget for 2009 for the gauge conversion of the three major railway routes of Shekhawati region,” he argued.

The Bench also took a note of the fact that every year about five crore pilgrims visit religious places like Khatu Shyamji, Salasar Balaji, Jeen Mata, Shakhambhari Mata and Loharghar etc connected by the routes for which conversion is proposed but budget has not been allotted.

DNA test plea at HC


Cuttack, Aug. 29: Sanjita, who has been claiming to be the biological daughter of BJD MLA Arabinda Dhali, has now moved Orissa High Court for a DNA test to prove her case, adding to the former minister’s worries.

Fourteen days after the State Commission for Women ordered for a DNA test to determine her father, Sanjita has filed a writ petition seeking judicial intervention against police inaction.

The commission had on August 13 asked the police commissioner to conduct the test. The next day, Dhali had refused to undergo a DNA test. Later, his wife Manju filed a defamation case on August 17 seeking Rs 5 crore damages from Sanjita, first wife Kamala Baral, acting SCW chairperson Usha Padhee and three others.

Dhali had denied that Sanjita was his daughter but admitted that Kamala, her mother, was his first wife, who said: “Only a DNA test can reveal the truth.”

Sanjita, in her petition, has sought the high court’s direction for the DNA test, while urging formation of a board for drawing blood samples in the presence of a magistrate and getting it tested at an accredited laboratory. “The court should further issue directions to prevent any second draw of blood samples,” the petition filed yesterday has prayed.

Sanjita has also filed a miscellaneous case in the high court seeking maintenance from Dhali.

The heat has been mounting on Bhubaneswar (Jayadev) MLA since cases were registered against him at the Mahila police station in the state capital on the basis of a complaint lodged on July 25 by the 23-year-old woman claiming to be his daughter.

Cases under Sections 10 and 11 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, had also been booked against Dhali upon her complaint that he married her off when she was a minor and his second wife and his brother-in-law tortured her physically at their house.

Yesterday, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack police commissioner B.K. Sharma constituted a three-member team to probe the allegations made by Sanjita.

Advocates agitate to press HC bench demand


Mathura, Aug 29 (PTI) Advocates of Mathura court today staged a dharna at the district collectorate to press their demand for setting up a High Court bench in western Uttar Pradesh.

Court work was suspended due to the agitation led by president of Mathura’s Bar Association Bhupendra Singh.

The legal fraternity here intensified their agitation since yesterday following a strike on Monday.

“Now every Monday there would be some sort of agitation in association with some section of the society,” secretary of Bar Association Sahab Singh Deshavar said at the Collectorate.

The agitating advocates also sent a memorandum to the President of India, which said, “Recommendations of Jaswant Singh Commission should be implemented immediately for providing speedy and cheap justice.

After assets row, judges to face public scrutiny next?

Seethalakshmi S & Prashanth G N, TNN 30 August 2009, 03:16am IST

BANGALORE: In a significant step to make judges accountable, the law ministry is all set to bring in a comprehensive Judges Inquiry Bill during the winter session of Parliament. The move comes at a time when the nation is debating the disclosure of assets by judges.

”The move is aimed at putting to rest all the doubting Thomases. The Indian judiciary enjoys the highest reputation. We cannot allow it to crumble. Once the Bill is passed, it will be a forum to inquire into any complaints against judges. I don’t want anyone to raise a finger at our judiciary. This move is far reaching,”
Union law minister M Veerappa Moily told TOI.

Explaining the need for such a reform, Moily said impeachment proceedings could not be taken forward and that for 62 years now, there has not been a single impeachment.

On the controversy over disclosure of assets by judges, Moily echoed the views of Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan that the judiciary must be safeguarded. ”Anyone and everyone cannot be throwing stones at judges. Transparency and accountability is a must. I agree. But it should not become an instrument for vexation.
If there is a complaint against a judge, then his/her declaration can be used. It is very heroic to say that one will declare assets. There should be transparency, but it is the duty of the government to ensure there is an environment of fearlessness and adequate comfort level in the judiciary,” Moily said.

Stating that judges should not be compared to politicians, he said: ”Judges are not elected. Unlike politicians, they cannot issue press statements and go before the public. It is duty of the government to provide a fearless environment for judges to work. Declaration could be misused by an aggrieved party. We cannot allow the judiciary to become vulnerable.”

He said the impression that judges are not filing assets is not correct. ”They have been mandated to declare assets under the 1997 resolutions. It is possible that the declaration can be used to harass, intimidate or coerce the judiciary. We have to balance declaration and accountability along with a strong, credible and independent judiciary.”

Government committed to judicial reforms

29 Aug 2009, 1026 hrs IST, TNN

The judicial reform ship floated by the government three months ago with law minister Veerappa Moily as captain has had a smooth sailing till now thanks to tail winds generated by intense public opinion that virtually forced SC judges to bow to demands of transparency.

Moily’s roadmap on judicial reforms had four components — make judges declare assets; make them accountable for misconduct; reduce the huge pendency of over 3 crore cases in trial courts and the high courts; and speed up the snail paced justice delivery system.

There had been a longpending demand for making judges declare their assets. But, it gained momentum after SC in its judgment made it mandatory for politicians to declare their assets everytime they contested an election. The government as well as the judiciary was saved the blushes with the CJI and SC judges taking a historic, though belated, decision to voluntarily post their wealth declarations.

The government is working on Judicial Accountability Bill to provide a mechanism to rein in errant judges. At present the CJI sets in motion an internal inquiry the recommendations of which are at best a transfer.

The UPA government’s priority is to reduce the over 3 crore cases pending in the trial courts (2.67 crore) and HCs (38 lakh). It is in the final stages of preparing a blueprint on appointment of ad hoc judges for clearing the backlog and tune up the justice delivery system to reduce the average life of a litigation from 15 years to 3 years.

CJI denies enquiry against Justice Cyriac Joseph

New Delhi, Saturday, August 29, 2009: Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan denied an enquiry against Justice Cyriac Joseph after the Justice watched the CD of the narco-analysis of the accused in the Abhaya case during a private visit to the FSL laboratory in Banglaore. He also added that, so far he has not received copy of the resolution passed against Justice Cyriac Joseph by the Kozhikode Bar Association.

Yesterday the extraordinary general body meeting of the association held had asked the authorities to “request Justice Joseph to keep out of his office without salary or allowance till the conclusion of such an inquiry.” As many as 180 members supported the resolution while six opposed it. The meeting also witnessed some heated arguments over the resolution. The association also slammed the Judge for his statements comparing his faith in god and loyalty to the Knanaya Catholic Church to which he belonged.

The CBI team, which is probing the sister Abhaya murder, had informed Court that, the Supreme Court Judge Cyriac Joseph had watched the recordings of the narco-tests on the three accused in the sensational Sister Abhaya murder case.

Now, Himachal HC judges to disclose assets

Legal Correspondent

Shimla, August 29
Judges of the Himachal Pradesh High Court have also decided to make public the details of their assets in its full court meeting. The assets of all judges, including Acting Chief Justice RB Mishra, will be posted on the high court website.

Registrar General of the High Court VK Sharma informed that the judges had expressed their desire to list this matter in full court again after the availability of the resolution passed by the judges of the Supreme Court in this regard.

Immediately after the announcement of the CJI to make public the assets and liabilities of the judges, Mishra ordered to place this issue for discussion of full court meeting. The judges unanimously expressed their desire to make their assets and liabilities public.

It may be mentioned here that the HP High Court on May 15, 2008, had adopted a resolution to the effect that every judge shall make declaration of all his assets in the form of real estate or investment in his name or in the name of his spouse.

Pay scales cannot be reduced: HC

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that the higher pay scale obtained by workmen cannot be reduced.

The ruling by Justice K Kannan came in connection with a petition filed by Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited against the presiding officer of the UT Labour Court.

The corporation, a state government undertaking, had challenged the award passed by the labour court acceding to a reference that was a sequel to a demand notice on behalf of 35 fertiliser clerks-cum-clerk typists complaining against the order of reversion without notice and fixing them on lower scales of pay.

The main opposition to the labour court award was the alleged inherent lack of jurisdiction for a court to accord sanction for restructuring of cadre and fixing a scale of pay, which was exclusively in the domain of the employer.

The petitioner’s contention was reorganisation took effect only from assistants upwards; and no decision had been taken for providing for any promotion for clerks, fertiliser clerks or senior clerks.

Counsel appearing for the workmen contended that it was decided to revert all workmen without affording any notice to them and to put them on lower scales, even while stating their pays were protected.

Management counsel, on the other hand, contended no notice or opportunity of hearing was required, while reverting a person wrongly promoted. A reversion, which arises on account of rectification of mistake, does not attract Article 311 (2) and principles of natural justice are not required to be followed.

Justice Kannan concluded: “The increase in scales of pay that the workmen have obtained by the upgradation or promotion, in whatever manner they have obtained a higher scale, cannot, in any way, be reduced and the decision of the board reverting them without any notice was against law.”

“The labour court was, therefore, perfectly justified in upholding the claim of the workmen… The award of the labour court is, under the circumstances, perfectly justified and confirmed. The writ petition is dismissed,” it said.

Life term for 3 in ’84 riots case

Rashi Agarwal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 29
Having held them guilty on August 22 of attempting to murder three members of a Sikh family during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, a Delhi court today sentenced life imprisonment to the three convicts, Mangal Sein alias Billa, Bhagat Singh and Brij Mohan Verma. Besides, a fine of Rs 6.18 lakh each was slapped on the trio, failure to pay which would invite an additional imprisonment for four years.

While reading out the sentence, Additional Sessions Judge Surinder S. Rathi pronounced that out of the collective fine, Rs 10 lakh shall be given as compensation to injured Jagmohan Singh and Rs 8 lakh to another injured Gurinder Singh.

During the arguments on duration of jail term, public prosecutor Irfan Ahmed sought maximum punishment of life imprisonment to the convicts, contending that “they committed the crime without provocation and that the victims had no defence and were taken by surprise”.

On their part, the convicts pleaded leniency on the ground of ill-health and old age. The anti-riots cell of the Delhi police had probed the incident in which Joginder Singh and his two sons Jagmohan Singh and Gurvinder Singh were seriously injured while their house was set ablaze by a mob led by the convicts on November 1, 1984.

The case was re-investigated by the police on the recommendation of Justice Rangnath Mishra Commission in 1992 following an affidavit filed by Joginder Singh. The court had framed charges under Sections 148, 395, 436, 307 and 149 of the IPC. The prosecution produced nine witnesses, including Joginder’s sons, who had identified the accused during the trial.

A high drama was witnessed during the proceedings of the case in the court today with a number of relatives of the victims, and even the convicts, breaking down after the judgement was pronounced.

The magistrate also criticised the role played by the police: “The slothful and the quiescent role played by the police and the government, who were at the helm of affairs, resulted in loss of priceless lives and valuable property of riot victims, which could have been saved.”

A Tribune Special
Mayawati in a tight spot
Her assets and statues may unsettle politics in UP, says Our Roving Editor Man Mohan

The rags-to-riches story of ‘Behenji’, as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati (53) is popularly known, has no parallel in Indian politics. Still, her rapid wealth creation has largely gone unnoticed.

Though she is facing various corruption charges, she seems to be worried about the CBI probe. The CBI recently informed the Supreme Court in an affidavit that it was ready with a chargesheet against her in the disproportionate assets (DA) case. The CBI said that it had evidence to prove that Mayawati amassed wealth disproportionate to her known sources of income.

The UP political scene is set to turn tumultuous once the CBI gets the go- ahead from the apex court. And Dalit politics may also go out of Mayawati’s control. She is anticipating trouble in the near future. That is why she recently announced that her successor — even if temporary — would be from the Dalit community.

Behenji’s declared assets

In 2007: Rs 52 crore approximately. They include:

  • One house in Delhi (Rs 18 crore), commercial properties in Delhi (Rs 18.8 crore)
  • House in Lucknow (Rs 97.4 lakh)
  • Deposits in banks, financial institutions and non-banking financial institutions (Rs 12.88 crore),
  • Cash (Rs 52.27 lakh, jewellery (Rs 51 lakh)
  • Gold and diamonds (1034.260 gm of gold, 76.040 gm of diamonds and 18,500 kg of a silver dinner set) (Rs 50,87,529 lakh), murals (Rs 15 lakh).

In 2004: Rs 12 crore approximately. They include:

  • Four houses in Delhi (Rs 1.2 crore)
  • Jewellery (Rs 31 lakh), cash (Rs 1.5 lakh) and
  • Bank investments and finances (Rs 9.78 crore)

Obsession with statues

  • The BSP claims that the elephant’s raised trunk (as shown in the hathi parks) has been a part of Indian culture as a traditional welcome symbol which can be found at ancient buildings and temples.
  • For building elephant statues at public places in UP, Mayawati is facing sharp criticism. The Election Commission has issued a show-cause notice to the BSP asking why the party symbol should not be frozen for violation of rules.
  • About 60 redstone elephants have been installed in the Rs 750-crore Ambedkar Park-cum-memorial in Lucknow and the Noida BSP park. The BSP is now claiming that the party symbol is “not like park elephants.”
  • During elections, Mayawati had claimed about her party symbol: Yeh Haathi nahin, Ganesh hain, Brahma, Vishnu Maheshwar hai.

The CBI earlier tried to catch Mayawati in the Rs 175-crore Taj Heritage Corridor scam also but she escaped prosecution, thanks to both BJP-led NDA and Congress-led UPA governments as they could not make up their minds. Till the last minute, they thought they might require Mayawati’s support to remain in power.

The permission to prosecute her never came from the then UP Governor T. V. Rajeshwar (former Director, Intelligence Bureau), whose term ended this July. The Supreme Court had upheld his decision ruling that it didn’t have the jurisdiction to “interfere” with a Governor’s action.

The Taj case is about an alleged 2002-03 scam, when Mayawati during her third term as Chief Minister was charged with corruption. It was a project to upgrade tourist facilities near Agra’s Taj Mahal. But environmentalists strongly protested, charging that it would spoil the beauty of the monument of love.

The project is now defunct. Though the case also stands buried, its ghost still haunts her. Efforts are being made through three recent public interest litigations (PILs) filed in the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court to get the case reopened.

Interestingly, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) twice gave Mayawati a clean chit in her income assessment cases. These orders have been challenged by the IT Department in the Delhi High Court. The IT authorities continue to keep a close watch on her rising wealth.

Mayawati is now more worried about the CBI probe into her assets case registered on October 5, 2005. It is still awaiting the apex court’s nod to chargesheet her. The CBI’s assets case list includes over 70 immovable assets (including properties of her relatives), over 50 frozen bank accounts of relations, friends and others containing Rs 7.36 crore, and dubious donations to the tune of nearly Rs. 13.18 crore. It is believed that the CBI may submit an updated list of her assets when the case comes up for hearing in September.

The DA case is an offshoot of the Taj Corridor case. While examining the Taj case documents submitted by the CBI, the apex court was alarmed on seeing details about Mayawati’s alleged assets and taking suo motu notice ordered the agency to lodge an FIR against her. Earlier, two reports placed before the apex court by the CBI on September 18, 2003, contained the issue relating to the assets.

In the DA case, the CBI said that the assets shown by Mayawati during her Akbarpur parliamentary election on April 4, 2004, were worth over Rs 12 crore whereas the assets increased to over Rs 52 crore in her declaration papers submitted three years later, when she contested for a seat in the UP Legislative Council just after the 2007 Assembly elections.

Over Rs 52 crore assets include a Rs 18-crore ‘BSP House’ in New Delhi’s Sardar Patel Marg. Earlier, Bungalow No. 11 belonged to noted publisher Yunus Delhvi. Mayawati brazenly explained this as “a gift from party workers and well-wishers.” Her other properties are all in posh areas — two in New Delhi’s Connaught Place, one in Okhla and another on Nehru Road in Lucknow. Property accounts for the largest chunk in Mayawati’s declared wealth.

All the assets that she flaunts today have come to her during her over two decades of political career. She inherited nothing from her parents. Her father Prabhu Das worked as a low-paid clerk in the government. She has also been accused of ordering the BSP MPs to contribute their discretion funds and the MP’s Local Area Development Scheme funds to the party fund illegally. She has also come under criticism from the Opposition for receiving back her own wealth as “gifts” from unknown party sympathisers.

Of late, Mayawati is facing ire from the Opposition and the public for installing since 2007 a large number of statues of Dalit icons like BSP founder Kanshi Ram, Dr B. R. Ambedkar and six of herself in parks and memorials in Lucknow, Noida and elsewhere in the state. The matter is before the Supreme Court.

Mayawati is perhaps the first post-Independence political leader who has installed her statues. These are impressive and tailored to perfection – the lady in stone even holding an expensive handbag!

Dr Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, is not amused. A former MP from Maharashtra, he said: “Just assume you are living in 2510 and taking a stroll in Lucknow or Noida with your grandchildren. They will look at Mayawati’s statue with a handbag. You will tell them that it was a Dalit queen who ruled a northern province hundreds of years ago…But in 2510 you won’t say that the handbag carries people’s hard-earned money.”

Many statues of the elephant – the BSP poll symbol – have also been erected in these parks. The Election Commission has received a complaint against Mayawati alleging that she has violated the rules regarding the use of poll symbols and, therefore, this symbol should be frozen.

The parks in which the statues are being erected are said to have cost the state over Rs 2,000 crore of the taxpayers’ money. Even when about 50 UP districts have been declared drought-hit, Mayawati has sought the Assembly’s sanction for Rs 656 crore for these projects in contrast to Rs 300 crore sought for drought.


The Central Government’s economic intelligence agencies and revenue departments are updating Mayawati’s money profile. She ranks among the 20 top taxpayers in the country. In 2007-08, she gave Rs 26.26 crore as income-tax; her income that year was over Rs 75 crore.

Up to 2003, Mayawati’s tax returns, filed in the 3 (1a) circle in Delhi, showed taxable income of around Rs 80 lakh over a five-year period. And since early 90s till 2003, Mayawati had only declared assets worth Rs 1.11 crore in her income-tax returns.

The income-tax authorities are expecting a substantial increase in her IT returns for 2008-09, mainly because of the heavy flow of “donations” for the BSP in the recent Lok Sabha elections. Top intelligence sources said a major Mumbai-based corporate house backed the BSP in the Lok Sabha polls with a view to settling scores with Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh.

Mayawati graduated from Kalindi College, Delhi University. Hoping to become a District Magistrate, she studied law but worked as a teacher in West Delhi’s Inderpuri Colony before embarking on her political career. In 1984, her mentor, Kanshi Ram, launched the BSP to represent the Dalits and Buddhists. In 2001, he named her as his successor.

Year after year, Mayawati’s income has been rising, whether in or out of power. However, she has merely claimed that she has been receiving huge amounts “as gifts from party workers, supporters and well-wishers.” Her declared assets of nearly Rs one crore in 2003 went up to Rs 52 crore in 2007.


With the closure of the filing of income-tax returns for 2008-09, the authorities are analysing Mayawati’s declaration of income and wealth and comparing it with what they have been gathering over a long period. On a tip-off, one of the agencies is checking out reports about the recent purchase of about 50 acres of land along the Noida Expressway by a Haryana landlord in the name of a person close to Mayawati. The landlord reportedly also acquired 200 acres in the name of his family members, relations and friends after he was told that the UP government would soon acquire the area for a major project and this would double the land price.

“Each paise is accounted for and explained before income-tax authorities,” Mayawati has maintained. She even found an explanation for her newly acquired wealth: donations are from supporters to fight the “false” cases against her. However, the government investigative agencies have a list of a large number of properties in UP and Delhi in the name of her close relations and friends.

Some time ago, the income-tax authorities prepared a confidential list of Mayawati’s immovable assets and also of those which are in the name of her close relatives, friends and party workers. Their worth was estimated at more than Rs 100 crore.

In the initial years of the UPA government’s first term, an IT team kept waiting to raid Mayawati’s relatives and friends but the highly classified operation was abandoned on the orders of the highest authorities in the Finance Ministry.

“It is very difficult to fix the real worth of Mayawati’s assets at any given time as most of them are in the name of others and they continue to grow,” the CBI sources said, explaining that “tracing them is also a Herculean task.”


To prevent the misuse of income-tax laws related to “gifts” received by many politicians like Mayawati and businessmen, an amendment was made in the 1961 IT Act. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for persons like her — as if the IT department was answering their prayers.

Section 56 (2) (v) and Section 56 (2) and (vi) made “gifts” above Rs 50,000 taxable unless, of course, they were from blood relations such as spouse, brothers and sisters. So, “gifts” and “money donations” from others exceeding the value of Rs 50,000 attracts about 30 per cent tax.

Before the amendment, Mayawati had claimed receiving crores of rupees, in the shape of small amounts of Rs 5 and Rs 10 from lakhs of party workers, supporters and well-wishers for championing the cause of the Dalits and poor people. She had claimed that these could not be treated as “taxable income”. The IT department is not equipped to do an in-depth investigation into lakhs of unknown people’s “donations” in smallest currency notes.

“With this money, she built her own castle of personal wealth. The money that came from public sources was meant for the BSP. But, instead of going to the party funds, it was shown as part of her own wealth,” a top income-tax official said.

“The amendment related to “gifts” in the IT Act has made Mayawati’s work easier and our department’s job tougher,” the official said, explaining that many top politicians like Mayawati now happily pay about 30 per cent of donation money coming from unknown well-wishers.

Till 2003, Mayawati had declared assets worth Rs 1.11 crore in her IT returns. Now, as per the CBI documents, assets only in her own name are several hundred per cent more than her earlier declared income.

And the assets go to over 1000 per cent more, if one includes those belonging to her relatives and friends, the CBI sources claim. There are four large plots in Inderpuri (West Delhi) in the name of her close family members. A local property dealer told The Tribune that a 500 sq yard plot in Inderpuri is worth several crores of rupees.

A senior CBI officer said that “one must remember that Mayawati has not inherited assets or any agricultural or non-agricultural income but has declared huge assets, paid impressive income tax. However, she has not accounted for how these wealth was amassed, and, mind you, she has not shown any outstanding loans.”

The IT and CBI authorities allege that most properties of Mayawati have been undervalued. An IT official, who was associated with the preparation of Mayawati’s list of known and unknown assets, said: “The Election Commission’s mandatory affidavit clearly demands the current market value but then, furnishing false information is not a criminal offence yet.”


If reports were to bear scrutiny, Mayawati is now planning to bury a time capsule at a secret place in the state. Or has she already done it? The capsule is said to contain material about her political rule and her fight for the Dalits.

One is reminded of Indira Gandhi’s time capsule lowered at the Red Fort in New Delhi during the Emergency. Officially, it was then said that it contained only material about India’s achievements. But her critics say, Indira Gandhi had done this to immortalise herself.

In response, satirist and author Cho Ramaswamy had planted his own time capsule 10 feet below the ground with copies of his journal Tughlaq. So Mayawati’s capsule would be the third in India…if it happens. Clearly, Mayawati wants her memory to be immortalised.

Like Indira Gandhi, Mayawati is equally ambitious. But her hopes of becoming India’s first Dalit Prime Minister were dashed after the UPA returned to power in the Lok Sabha elections. Still, Mayawati appears unstoppable.

Dirty trick cry in Shopian case


Srinagar, Aug. 29: An additional advocate-general who was representing the Jammu and Kashmir government has claimed he was given the sack for not introducing some “fallacious” content into the Shopian rape and murder case.

The government said there was no truth to his claims.

Syed Riyaz Hussain, the additional advocate-general, said he was dismissed after he refused to incorporate some controversial points in the government’s account.

“The government wanted to put up some points, which I disagreed with because these were fallacious and stupid,” he said, but did not elaborate what they were.

The Shopian incident of May, when two women were allegedly raped and killed by securitymen, sparked furious protests across Kashmir and confronted Omar Abdullah with his first major crisis since taking over as chief minister in January. Omar added fuel to the fire when he initially attributed the deaths of the women to drowning.

Hussain said he had earlier picked holes in the government investigations, which, he claimed, was disliked by higher-ups.

“I told them (the government) that certain things should have been done which were not. But it has not suited them in their political scheme. Last night I was called in by the government and informed about the decision (to dismiss him),” he said.

State law secretary Akhtar Kochak, however, disputed Hussain’s version.

“It is not he alone but several other additional advocates-general who are being replaced by the government. They were asked to resign which they did,” he said.

“These additional advocates-general were appointed by the previous government and it is the prerogative of the present regime to have new faces,” an official said.

SC issues notice to Kerala on PepsiCo’s plea New Delhi, Aug 30, PTI:

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Kerala government on a petition filed by PepsiCo India Holdings seeking quashing of the criminal proceedings initiated over alleged presence of pesticide residue in its soft drinks.
A bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir sought reply from the Kerala government and others and posted the matter for hearing on September 16.

Challenging the Kerala High Court’s judgement that refused to quash criminal proceedings against the company, PepsiCo said that refusal was against the procedure established by law as there were no standards set for pesticide residues in soft drinks under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act 1954 and Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules 1955.

Since no standard for pesticide residues in sweetened carbonated water has been prescribed, it would not be open to a public analyst to conclude that its soft drinks were adulterated and were poisonous or injurious to health, PepsiCo senior counsel K K Venugopal said.
He added it was in universal knowledge that pesticide residues were present in various other food articles.

The pesticide residue allegedly found in its sample was treated as a permissible and non-prohibited substance in other food products like leafy vegetables wherein the permissible limit was 10 parts per million (1,000 times more than what was allegedly found in PepsiCo’s sample), the petition stated.

Stop political support for illegal constructions”

J. Venkatesan

Builders have scant respect for regulatory laws: Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has come down heavily on State governments and politicians for giving support to builders for construction of illegal and unauthorised structures and later extending protection from demolition in the name of compassion and hardship.

“Unfortunately, despite repeated judgments by the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the builders and other affluent people engaged in construction activities, who have over the years shown scant respect for the regulatory mechanism envisaged in municipal and similar laws, as also the master plans, zonal development plans, sanctioned plans, etc, have received encouragement and support from the state apparatus,” said a Bench consisting of Justices B.N. Agrawal and G.S. Singhvi.

Writing the judgment, Justice Singhvi said: “Whenever orders are passed by courts, those in power have come forward to protect the wrongdoers either by issuing administrative orders or enacting laws for regularisation of illegal and unauthorised constructions in the name of compassion and hardship.”

“Irreparable harm”

The Bench, while allowing the authorities to demolish the unauthorised Shanti Sports Club of India at Masudpur in Delhi, said: “Such actions have done irreparable harm to the concept of planned development of the cities and urban areas. It is high time that the executive and political apparatus of the State took a serious view of the menace of illegal and unauthorised constructions and stopped their support to the lobbies of affluent class of builders and others, else even the rural areas of the country will soon witness similar chaotic conditions.”

The Bench dismissed the petition filed by the club challenging the decision by the authorities to demolish the premises, as it was constructed on land acquired by the government in 1965.

The court said that “in the last four decades, almost all cities, big or small, have seen unplanned growth. In the 21st century, the menace of illegal and unauthorised constructions and encroachments has acquired monstrous proportions and everyone has been paying a heavy price for the same.”

“Blatant violation”

Expressing its anguish, the Bench said: “Economically affluent people and those having support of the political and executive apparatus of the state have constructed buildings, commercial complexes, multiplexes, malls, etc, in blatant violation of the municipal and town planning laws, master plans, zonal development plans, and even sanctioned building plans. In most of the cases of illegal or unauthorised constructions, the officers of the municipal and other regulatory bodies turn a blind eye either due to the influence of higher authorities of the state or for other extraneous reasons.”

Giving a warning to such builders, the court said no compromise should be made with the town planning scheme and no relief given to the violator on grounds that he had spent a substantial amount on construction of the buildings.

Madras High Court quashes charge sheet filed against owners of rice mill and grocery store

Mohamed Imranullah S.

“Printing food items that can be prepared using contents of a packet not misbranding”

A Food Inspector booked the duo for printing “misbranded” labels

MADURAI: The Madras High Court has quashed a charge sheet filed against a rice mill owner and a grocery store proprietor at Periyakulam in Theni district for manufacturing and selling rice flour used for making ‘puttu’ (steam cake) in packets carrying pictures of the cakes along with cashew nuts, sugar, cardamom and broken coconuts.

A local Food Inspector had booked the duo under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954 on the charge of printing “misbranded” labels.

He had raided the grocery store on June 21, 2007, collected samples of the rice flour packets, and obtained a report from the Food Analysis Laboratory, Chennai.

Allowing a criminal original petition filed by the accused in the Madurai Bench, Justice G.M. Akbar Ali disagreed with reasons adduced by the Food Inspector. Printing pictures of food items, which could be prepared using the contents of the packets, could not be termed misbranding.

The Judge also said that the petitioner could not be prosecuted in violation of a circular issued by the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine on June 2, 2008. It laid down guidelines for registration of cases with an observation that many people were being booked wrongly on charges of misbranding their products.

One of the paragraphs in the circular read: “Pictures of food items, which can be prepared using ingredients such as edible oil or grain flour or dhal contained in the package of edible oil or grain flour or dhal, are not misleading or false. Actually these are all leading pictures and not misleading ones.”

Taking a cue from this, Mr. Justice Akbar Ali said: “In my considered view, a label containing leading depiction of pictures will not amount to misbranding as contemplated in the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules, 1955. Therefore, the proceeding against the petitioners cannot be allowed to continue as it is an abuse of process of law.”

Earlier, petitioner’s counsel R. Gandhi cited a 2008 Supreme Court ruling in which a High Court was criticised for committing “serious error” by holding that soya bean oil had been misbranded because the packet contained pictures of cabbage, carrot, brinjal, capsicum and other vegetables that could be cooked using it.

Punishment order of Chief Educational Officer set aside


Principles of natural justice violated: Judge

CHENNAI: If an appointing authority differs with the enquiry officer, principles of natural justice mandate that a personal hearing be given to the delinquent before proceeding with imposition of punishment. This is one of the cardinal principles enunciated by the Supreme Court and the High Court, the Madras High Court has said.

Justice V.Dhanapalan was allowing a petition from K.Thangamari, a Chief Educational Officer (CEO), challenging the School Education Department’s punishment against her of stoppage of three increments with cumulative effect, in addition to holding that the said punishment would affect her pension and was inclusive of the leave period.

The petitioner’s case was that she was awarded the punishment in March 2007 in connection with alleged irregularities relating to the purchase of computers when she was the Director of Shramik Vidyapeeth.

The enquiry officer (EO) had held that the charges were not proved.

Mr.Justice Dhanapalan said that the disciplinary authority was empowered to take a different opinion from that of the EO and arrive at a final decision on the disciplinary proceedings when there were sufficient materials to establish the charge.

In this case, the disciplinary authority had erred in concluding that the delinquent was guilty on flimsy grounds and for the same charges against which the proceedings were dropped by the same authority earlier.

Reopening of the closed matter by the School Education Department would clearly indicate that it was done with an ulterior motive. Principles of natural justice had been violated.

The School Education Secretary had not recorded proper reasons for his disagreement over the EO’s findings and no opportunity was given to the petitioner.

Setting aside the punishment order, the Judge directed the authorities to place the petitioner at the seniority level of 2004 over and above her juniors and promote her, if she was otherwise eligible, and consequently extend all the service and monetary benefits thereof.

Petitioner directed to approach DVAC

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: A petitioner who complained that an employee of the Khadi Village and Industries Board (KVIB) had been allowed to go “scot-free” in spite of repeated corrupt activities was directed by the Madras High Court to approach the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), who would be expected to take “appropriate action.”

The petitioner said that one M.Joshwa Chellappa, while employed as manager at the Ambattur Footwear Unit, had redirected funds given by the Adi Dravidar Welfare Board to the purchase of machinery from a private firm at a cost of Rs.39 lakh.

The Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) had subsequently reported that the machinery was not in good condition. There had been similar losses incurred due to the decisions of Mr.Chellappa, the petitioner claimed.

Repeated complaints had resulted in departmental enquiries which had taken a lenient view and allowed him to go scot-free with only censures or warnings, the petitioner said. Chief Justice H.L.Gokhale and Justice D.Murugesan directed the petitioner to file a complaint with the DVAC.

Jail term for couple in stamps case

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: A couple that used fake postal stamps was sentenced to undergo one year imprisonment by a special court here on Friday.

According to a press release, M.R. Vasagar and his wife V. Rajeswari, who were proprietors of a company, had sent letters to 100 customers by affixing counterfeit postal stamps on the covers.

The covers containing counterfeit postal stamps were not received by the addressees and returned.

Based on a tip-off, CBI officials raided the house of the couple and seized the covers containing the fake stamps.

A case was registered against them in 2003. R. Killivalavan, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Egmore, who heard the case convicted both the accused and sentenced them to one year imprisonment.

Supreme Court Judge against free run to bureaucracy

Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: Supreme Court Judge B. Sudarshan Reddy warned here on Saturday that the rule of law could be in peril if bureaucracy was allowed to police a wide area of human activity that eroded personal liberty and choice.

Delivering a lecture in memory of the first Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh, D. Narasa Raju, Mr. Justice Reddy said it was doubtful whether laws could be effective if they were enacted to regulate the relations of people with each other in a society exposed to injustice.

Speaking on challenges facing the Constitution, he felt the greatest challenge was in identifying its custodian and said the responsibility should be vested with every institution and citizen of the State.

Cash, cheque stolen from Fourth JMFC Court

Staff Correspondent

Three security guards suspended for dereliction

of duty

Belgaum: A cheque and Rs. 3,600 in cash was stolen from the custody of Fourth Judicial Magistrate First Class Court in the city.

The incident came to light on Saturday morning when the staff concerned opened the court office and found the iron rods of the window broken. A cheque and cash were found to be missing.

The court is housed in the District Courts compound, which also houses offices of Regional Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and several other district offices and is considered to be most secured zone after police headquarters in the city.

Three security guards who belong to the District Armed Reserved have been suspended for dereliction of duty, according to Superintendent of Police Soniya Narang here on Saturday.

Court rules in poll panel’s favour

Staff Correspondent

BELLARY: Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) Sarvamangala Chikkanagoudar on Saturday ruled that the Election Commission of India (ECI), as a complainant, had the locus standi to oppose the State Government’s decision to withdraw the cases booked in connection with election-related offences.

The decision of the JMFC comes as a victory for the ECI, which had opposed the State Government’s decision to withdraw five cases booked against the Reddy brothers and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists in Bellary for election-related offences during the 2008 Assembly polls.

A decision was taken by the Cabinet recently to withdraw cases booked during the 2008 Assembly elections against BJP leaders, including the Reddy brothers.

The Assistant Public Prosecutor had filed an application informing the court of the Government’s decision and stating that he wanted to withdraw five cases booked in Bellary. Incidentally, Health Minister B. Sriramulu and Karnataka Milk Federation chairman and MLA G. Somashekar Reddy are among the accused in these five cases. The ECI took exception to the Government’s decision and wanted the cases to be prosecuted on the ground that the latter had taken a decision without its approval or concurrence. The ECI had also directed the Deputy Commissioner of Bellary, who is also the District Election Officer, to appoint counsel and file a memorandum in the court stating that it had not agreed to the withdrawal of cases from prosecution.

Accordingly, Sheikh Shafi, appointed on behalf of the ECI, filed a vakalat to inform the JMFC that the Election Commission wanted to contest the cases.

The JMFC has posted the case to November 10 for further hearing.

Legal experts feel law lacks teeth, call for stiff charges

Smriti Singh30 August 2009, 12:11am IST

NEW DELHI: It’s not the first time that due to the negligence of a civic agency, a life has been lost. While the police is yet to register a case, legal experts believe this is a case fit for slapping stringent charges of culpable homicide.

Normally, in such cases, a criminal case of Section 304A (death caused by rash and negligent act) is made out where the maximum punishment can go upto two years. The experts, however, feel that the police should book the accused under Section 304 Part II (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), which has a maximum punishment of 10 years. “If you have a gaping hole right in the middle of a road or for that matter anywhere on the road that people use for walking, there is full knowledge that it might cause hurt. Whenever the knowledge part comes into the picture, the charge has to be Section 304,” said senior counsel K T S Tulsi.

Tulsi, however, believes the law does not have enough provisions for the victim’s family to get justice. Stressing that there is an urgent need “to develop strong tort jurisprudence,” Tulsi adds, “these things are happening so frequently all over the country. Unless the judiciary comes down hard and imposes damages in millions, things will not change.”

Besides a criminal case, the victim’s family can file a civil suit seeking compensation from the civic agency. In a similar case, Delhi High Court had recently directed Delhi government to pay a compensation of Rs 6 lakh to a woman whose young son died after falling into a pit while riding a scooter. The HC had slammed the state for being negligent and thereby violating the right to life and liberty.

In another judgement, a trial court had asked the MCD to shell out Rs 5 lakh in compensation to the family of a businessman who died in 2000 after falling in an open drain in Kanjhawala in outer Delhi. Additional district judge Kamini Lau had held that it amounted to breach of duty on part of MCD as it failed to foresee the likelihood of harm.

With such precedents, the family of the victim can file a compensation case against the MCD and its contractor. Yet, with the way things are, it can take years for the family to get the money.

Show self-restraint, CJ tells judges

TNN 30 August 2009, 12:12am IST

BANGALORE: High court chief justice P D Dinakaran has urged judges to show more self-restraint while expressing personal views.

The CJ was delivering the valedictory address of civil judges (junior division) pre-regular training programme at Karnataka Judicial Academy on Saturday.

Judges should confirm to ethics, he pointed out. “This is not a job or profession. It is a responsibilty. Every word reflects on society. There is nothing wrong in expressing personal views. But judges should show more self-restraint. There should be no loose talk, thinking or action. They should avoid airing personal estimates. Justice and law are alone their faith. They are architects, not masons,” he added.

HC to take action against judges for influencing probe

TNN 30 August 2009, 05:17am IST

AHMEDABAD: Two judges are in trouble now as the Gujarat High Court has asked a concerned high court judge to take administrative action against them for allegedly interfering in a police investigation.

Judicial officers, RD Patel, who was a Judicial Magistrate First Class and VR Raval – a district judge in Gandhinagar, re accused of falsely influencing a case of sexual harassment by dismissing the complaint.

Gitaba Chauhan, a widow working in education department as a clerk, filed a complaint against her officer Gunvant Raval that he misbehaved with her after office hours on January 5, 2007. When the case reached the court, magistrate Patel ordered a court inquiry under Section 202. After police filed report, Patel allegedly did not consider evidence in proper manner and dismissed the case.

The victim kept complaining before the court that nobody was present in the office on the day of incident except her and Raval. However, police recorded statements of other staff members, of whom two peons told the court on affidavit that they were present in the office. But later they changed their stand.

Chauhan then approached the high court demanding action against the officer Raval, who allegedly tried to molest her. During the hearing, her counsel Rashmin Jani made allegations that the government officer and the district judge are relatives and the judge had influenced the magistrate in deciding this case. The petitioner called for the phone records of the accused as well the judges to prove this point. Chauhan also claimed that the judges had tried their best to influence the case during the time of investigation also.

Advocate general Kamal Trivedi has been defending the state government in this case. After hearing primary arguments, Justice Akil Kureshi admitted this case with observation that the magistrate had not considered certain statements that were on the record.

After two years, when the case came up for hearing, the state government again sought adjournment so that the advocate general could argue the case. Justice KS Jhaveri kept this case for final hearing on September 18 with a condition that he would not grant any more adjournment, but meanwhile referred the case to the Unit Judge for taking up administrative actions against the judicial officers.

Blood racket accused produced in court

TNN 30 August 2009, 04:42am IST

LUCKNOW: The seven accused of the 14-member gang arrested by the Lucknow police with regards to the fake blood racket case were produced at the Gangster court on Saturday and the court slapped the Gangster Act on all of them.

From the court three accused Jitendra Singh, Amit Pandey and Amresh Singh were sent back to police custody as court had allowed their remand for a period of four days on Friday. The others were, however, sent back to jail.

Six gang members who were produced before the court were arrested on August 22 and police recovered from them many samples of fake blood. The seventh accused Jitendra Singh surrendered before the court on August 26.

Cases against all of them were now lodged under Sections 419, 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC and the Gangsters Act.

Those caught till now are Deepak Pandey, Alok Kumar Diwedi, Amresh Singh, Dharmendra Singh, Mayank Diwedi, Mridul Diwedi and Jitendra Singh.

Police said that efforts were also on to nab the other absconding accused.


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