My first million: Success writ large
Being a criminal lawyer for about six years had perhaps sharpened his instincts. For, just when India began delicencing its industries and started allowing foreign direct investment to land on its shore, Rohit Kochhar decided to set up a corporate law firm. The move paid off. Industry—both Indian and foreign—got tangled in the mesh of myriad archaic laws and several new policies that were formulated to aid economic liberalisation, and lawyers specialising in company laws were destined to make a killing. It’s an irony that Kochhar had to hire a criminal lawyer to appear for himself recently. “Not that I can’t do the job. But I really don’t have the time,” he grins. Indeed his firm has grown several times since it was set up in 1994. His firm, Kochhar & Co has clients such as Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Apple, Ford, Mitsubishi, Caterpillar, Bloomberg, Avaya, Apollo group, United Health group and Textron group, among others. It is the only Indian law firm that has six offices in the country and three overseas. “We opened our first overseas office in Atlanta in 2002, which was followed by the Tokyo and Singapore last month,” Kochhar says. Kochhar and Co has also forged a JV with US-based Pinkerton C&I, a $8-billion revenue investigation company and a global leader in security to provide investigation support to large companies. Kochhar was born in amiddle class family. His father worked in Telco (now Tata Motors) with a modest salary. “The only time I borrowed money from him was when I purchased my first Maruti 800,” he claims. After graduating in law from the University of Mumbai in 1987, Kochhar practiced in the Delhi High Court for about eight years as an independent criminal lawyer—without following the norm of working under an established lawyer. It was a successful stint and Kochhar specialised in COFEPOSA (Conservation of Foreign Exchanges and Prevention of Smuggling Activities) matters.In 1994, he established Kochhar & Co in Delhi with two other lawyers. “The economy had opened up, I saw a good opportunity of getting foreign clients,” he says. “As a professional I had saved enough to pursue two dreams. I bought a sports car and set up the law firm with whatever remained.” His fascination for hot wheels is still intact. A six-door custom built Limousine, a BMW, a Merc and a red sports car adorn his home—a plush bungalow in south Delhi’s Sainik Farms. The transition from being an established criminal lawyer to finding a footprint in corporate law wasn’t a cakewalk and Kochhar was forced to go back to the books. Also, to court clients with established players like Amarhand & Mangaldas and Bhasin & Co around wasn’t easyeither. “In those days, beauty parades were uncommon so it was all the more difficult to convince them of our services. We were relatively new and small,” Kochhar says. “It was thorny. But I learned along the journey. I made a three-week marathon trip to Singapore visiting law firms and convincing them to give business and refer clients to my firm,” says Kochhar. The newly-established firm was able to bag big clients from the Singapore trip — MTV and Matsushita. MTV was setting up its India office at that time. The big push however came after the government allowed FDI into various delicensed sectors, especially telecom. Kochhar & Co added clients like Nortel Networks, GTE and Sojitz among others. “I earned my first million around that time,” he reminisces. The firm’s work includes regulatory approvals, joint ventures, foreign collaborations, mergers and acquisitions, company law, exchange control, general commercial transactions and corporate litigation. He advises numerous Fortune 500 companies that includes major US, Japanese and European corporations on a host of Indian law issues and sits on the board of Indian subsidiaries of such corporations. Any confessions? “Yes, I set my heart on my dreams, was determined, was geared up to persevere hard. I believe that zooms one off towards unprecedented success.” At present, his dream is to expand to ten more overseas offices getting a team of over 200 lawyers and reaching the Rs 100-crore mark turnover in a couple of years.
22 Sep, 2008, 0000 hrs IST,Monica Behura, ET Bureau
Court decision on Ambani dispute critical to gas sale
The sale of the critical natural gas component from Reliance Industries’ Krishna Godavari basin oil field hangs on a Bombay High Court decision on the dispute between the Ambani brothers.
The court is expected to take up the matter of the sale of gas by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries (RIL) again on September 30.
“The court would take a decision in the near future,” said PMS Prasad, president, E&P, Reliance Industries. “We just hope the people of the country go for what is right.”
Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) spokesperson refused to comment on the issue.
The dispute is about an agreement of supply and pricing of natural gas between RIL and ADAG’s Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL), which will require 40 mmscmd (million metric standard cubic metres per day) of gas that RIL would have to supply at a cost of $2.34 per mmbtu (million metric British thermal unit) for 17 years for all of it power generation needs.
Reliance Industries has objected to the terms and conditions (which include price, duration and quantity) of this gas sales agreement. It has refused to supply gas to ADAG saying that it does not follow the price notified by the government.
ADAG has gone to court seeking directions to force RIL into complying with its portion of the agreement.
Speaking on the price of the crude oil to be supplied to refineries, Prasad said that the company had found that the market price of crude is different from what the government has decided.
“At this point we are with the government. But we did a market survey, and the price of crude is higher than what the government is willing to pay us,” he said.
The first batch of crude oil produced from the KG basin is going to Hindustan Petroleum’s Kakinada refinery in Andhra Pradesh.
RIL may look at bringing in a partner at some future point for its operations at the KG D6 block. “If we see that there is value for us in form of participation in a foreign oil field, or something similar and if the partner too sees value in us, we may consider a partnership,” said Prasad.
“We can now confidently look forward to production from a series of other fields,” Mukesh Ambani said earlier.
Mumbai, September 21, 2008
Information Commission Has Jurisdiction To Issue Directions ALLAHABAD High Court
High Court of Judicature Of Allahabad, (Lucknow Bench)Landmark Judgement That Information Commissions Can Issue Directions Writ Petition No. 3262 (MB) of 2008Public Information OfficerVs.State Information Commission, U.P. and others.Hon’ble Pradeep Kant, J.Hon’ble Shri Narayan Shukla, J.(Delivered by Hon’ble Pradeep Kant, J.)Counsel for petitioner Sri Anil TiwariCounsel for Respondents Sri Chandra Bhushan PandeyFollowing two questions arise for determination in the present writ petition:(1) Whether the information disclosing the names of the persons including address and amount, who have received more than Rs.1 lac from the Chief Minister Discretionary Fund, can be given to the information seeker or it is an information, which stands exempted under Section 8 (j) of the Right to Information Act.(2) Whether the Chief Information Commissioner while considering the complaints under Section 18 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 is competent only to award the prescribed punishment, in case of failure of information being given as per the provisions of the Act or while dealing with the said complaints, any direction can also be issued for furnishing the information which has not been provided, though it is not found to be exempted under the provisions of the Act.Right to Information Act, 2005 (referred to as the ‘RTI Act’) enacted by the Parliament, received assent of the President on 15.6.2005, and which came into force w.e.f. 12.10.2005, is relatively a new legislation and, therefore, is having its teething problem giving rise to various issues, which require consideration by the Court. Needless to mention that the Act is not meant for creating a new type of litigation or a new forum of litigation between the information seeker and the information giver, but may be that some of the informations asked for, be inconvenient to the persons to whom it relates and, therefore, every effort would be made to refuse divulgence of such an information and for that matter either to refuse the information by delaying the process or passing a specific order of refusal, may be some time by taking shelter under the provisions of Sections 8 and 9 of the Act, which are the exemption clauses. The information covered by the aforesaid provisions is either completely exempted or it has been given limited protection i.e. though the information is otherwise exempted but can be disclosed on the satisfaction of the Public Information Officer, if he is satisfied that the disclosure of such an information is in larger public interest.Our Constitution establishes a democratic republic. Democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. The revelation of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interests including efficient operations of the Governments, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information and, therefore, with a view to harmonise these conflicting interests while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal, the Parliament enacted the Act of 2005 to provide for furnishing certain information to citizens who desire to have it.RTI Act in fact, has been enacted to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, the constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.’Right to Information’ is the right to obtain information from any public authority by means of, (i) inspection, taking of extracts and notes; (ii) certified copies of any records of such public authority; (iii) diskettes, floppies or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device. Information in this context means any material in any form relating to the administration, operations or decisions of a public authority. The Act provides for making information held by executive agencies of the State available to the public unless it comes within any one of the specific categories of matters exempt from public disclosure. Virtually all agencies of the executive branch of the government are required by the Act to issue regulations to implement the provisions of the Act. These regulations inform the public where certain types of information may be readily obtained, however, other information may be obtained on request, and what internal agency appeals are available if a member of the public is refused the requested information. The Right to Information Act is designed to prevent abuse of discretionary power of the governmental agencies by requiring them to make public certain information about their working and work product.Right to information or right to know is an integral part and basic tenet of the freedom of speech and expression, a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. It also flows from Article 21 as enunciated by the apex court in the case of Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd. vs. Proprietors of Indian Express Newspapers Bombay Pvt. Ltd. And others, (1988) 4 SCC 592. The apex court in this case while dealing with the issue of freedom of press and administration of justice, held that ‘we must remember that the people at large have a right to know in order to be able to take part in a participatory development in the industrial life and democracy. Right to know is a basic right which citizens of a free country aspire in the broader horizon of the right to live in this age in our land under Article 21 of our Constitution. That right has reached new dimensions and urgency. That right puts greater responsibility upon those who take upon themselves the responsibility to inform’. It is thus, a fundamental right, which cannot be denied, unless of course it falls within the exemption clause or otherwise is protected by some statutory provisions. The functioning of the State and its instrumentalities and functionaries under the cover of darkness leave the citizens ignorant about the reasons and rationale of any decision taken by the authorities or any policy made and the implications thereof, whereas the citizens have a guaranteed ‘Right to Know’. The legal and consequential corollary of the aforesaid right will be that a person getting the required information may move for redressal of the wrong done or any action taken, order passed or policy made by approaching the appropriate forum, as may be permissible under law. The purpose and object of the act is not only to provide information but to keep a check on corruption, and for that matter confers a right upon the citizens to have the necessary information, so that appropriate action may be initiated or taken against the erring officers and also against the arbitrary and illegal orders.The Supreme Court even before the advent of the Right to Information Act, 2005 had stressed upon the importance of transparency in administration and governance of the country and for that matter time and again has entertained writ petitions requiring the State to disclose the information asked for.Reference can be made to the case of State of U.P. vs. Raj Narain, (1975) 4 SCC 428. A Constitution Bench of the apex court in this case, considered the plea of privilege of not disclosing the information with respect to the tour arrangement of Smt. Indira Nehru Gandhi for her tour programmes of Raebareli and also the information disclosing any general order for security arrangement during the general elections alongwith disclosure of all correspondence between the Government of India and the State Government, and between the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister, and held unanimously that the informations asked for, are to be disclosed. The appeal against the judgement of the Allahabad High Court was allowed. His Lordship Justice Mathew, in a separate concurring judgement, in Para-74 observed as under:”In a government of responsibility like ours, where all the agents of the public must be responsible for their conduct, there can be but few secrets. The people of this country have a right to know every public act, everything that is done in a public way, by their public functionaries. They are entitled to know the particulars of every public transaction in all its bearing. The right to know, which is derived from the concept of freedom of speech, though not absolute, is a factor which should make one wary, when secrecy is claimed for transactions which can, at any rate,have no repercussion on public security. To cover with veil of secrecy, the common routine business, is not in the interest of the pubic. Such secrecy can seldom be legitimately desired. It is generally desired for the purpose of parties and politics or personal self-interest or bureaucratic routine. The responsibility of officials to explain and to justify their acts is the chief safeguard against oppression and corruption.”As a result of constant demand of disclosure of information and to make the people know about the functioning of the Government, its authorities and functionaries and the manner in which, decisions are taken or even policy made, including their implementation and to uproot corruption, redtapism and delay in functioning of the State functionaries, apart from decisions taken in individual cases the central legislation in the shape of Right to Information Act, 2005 has been enacted, which prescribes the substantive as well as procedural provisions for securing the information by any person, who seeks that information, without requiring him to disclose the reason as to why this information is being asked for.The Act obligates every public authority as defined in Section 2(h) to designate as many officers, as Central Public Information Officers or State Public Information Officers, as the case may be, in all administrative units or office under it as may be necessary to provide information to persons requesting for the information under Section 5 of the Act.Section 2(j) says that ‘”right to information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to-(i) inspection of work, documents, records;(ii) taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records;(iii) taking certified samples of material;(iv) obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device,’ whereas Section 3 says that ‘subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information.’Section 4(1) obligates that ‘(a) every public authority shall maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act and ensure that all records that are appropriate to be computerised are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerised and connected through a network all over the country on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated. (b) publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act-(i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties;(ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees;(iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability;(iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions;(v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions;(vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control;(vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof;(viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public;(ix) a directory of its officers and employees;(x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations;(xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made;(xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes;(xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it;(xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form;(xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use;(xvi) the names, designation and other particulars of the Public Information Officers;(xvii) such other information as may be prescribed, and thereafter update these publications every year’.Apart from the informations aforesaid, the Act permits any person to seek information in the prescribed manner by moving an application to the Public Information Officer, giving the details of the information asked for and also depositing the requisite fee, as may be prescribed.Section 6 of the Act says that a person, who desires to obtain any information under this Act, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed, to-”(a) the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, of the concerned public authority;(b) the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, specifying the particulars of the information sought by him or her. Provided that where such request cannot be made in writing, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall render all reasonable assistance to the person making the request orally to reduce the same in writing.Sub-clause (2) says that an applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.”Section 7 of the Act provides the mode and manner of disposal of request made, seeking information, which prescribes a maximum period of thirty days for providing such information from the date of receipt of the application on payment of such fee, as may be prescribed. It also says that the application may either be accepted or may be rejected for the reasons specified in Sections 8 and/or 9. The proviso annexed to Section 7(1) says that where the information sought for concerns the life or liberty of a person, the same shall be provided within forty eight hours of the receipt of the request. Sub-clause (2) says that if the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, fails to give decision on the request for information within the period specified under sub-clause (1), the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, shall be deemed to have refused the request.Section 7 in effect prescribes not only the procedure, which is to be adopted after receipt of the request of seeking information but also prescribes the time limit, in which such information is to be given, the payment of requisite fee and various other procedure, which may be required to be fulfilled while seeking and giving the information. The present controversy does not relate to the prescription of fee and the manner in which additional fee can be asked for, but is confined to the questions, formulated in the opening part of this order. If the information is not given within the time period prescribed for giving information, it would be deemed to have been refused, even if information is not specifically refused or denied. The information can be refused only in case there exists any reason specified in Section 8 or Section 9. Sub-clause (8) of Section 7, makes it mandatory to communicate the person making the request; (i) the reasons for such rejection; (ii) the period within which an appeal against such rejection may be preferred; (iii) the particular of the appellate authority.Section 8 provides exemption from disclosure of information and it categorically provides the specified informations, where disclosure of the information shall not be obligatory notwithstanding the provisions of the Act, 2005.A perusal of the aforesaid provisions of Section 8, reveals that there are certain informations contained in Sub-clause (a), (b), (c), (f), (g) and (h), for which there is no obligation for giving such an information to any citizen; whereas informations protected under sub-clause (d), (e) and (j) are though protected informations, but on the discretion and satisfaction of the competent authority, that it would be in larger public interest to disclose such information, such information can be disclosed. These informations thus, are having limited protection, the disclosure of which is dependent upon the satisfaction of the competent authority that it would be in larger public interest as against the protected interest to disclose such information.Sub-clause (i) protects the information with respect to cabinet papers including records or deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers, for a definite period after which protection umbrella stands eroded when the decision is taken and the matter is complete or over, provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed. There can be no quarrel or any dispute with respect to the information which are completely protected or to say totally exempted from being disclosed as no citizen can claim a right to have such an information, but the dispute arises where exemption is being claimed under any of the aforesaid provisions of Section-8, but the question arises as to whether information asked for is covered by any of the exemption detailed in the said section or not.The controversy arises where exemption is claimed under limited protection provided under sub-clause (d), (e) and (j), and the information seeker requests for disclosure of the information, but the Public Information Officer refuses to supply such information on the ground that information stands exempted. In such cases, the role of the appellate authority or that of the Commission including that of the Chief Information Commissioner is very important, depending upon the jurisdiction exercised and the satisfaction arrived by such authority in deciding as to whether; (i) information asked for, at all stands exempted under any of the aforesaid provisions; and (ii) even if it is exempted, should it be disclosed in larger public interest as against the protected interest of the individuals.In case of third party information, the provisions of Section 11 are to be taken into account, which prescribe a procedure of affording opportunity to the third party to whom the information relates, or who has given the information and who has treated the said information in confidentiality, by giving him notice to have its views and, thereafter, it is to be decided as to whether the information should be disclosed or not, as per the satisfaction of the competent authority.In case of refusal of information either by specific order by Public Information Officer or under the deeming provision of refusal, the matter can be taken up in appeal under Section 19, before the first appellate authority as may be prescribed and further in second appeal to the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be.The provision of appeal has been made for third party also under sub-clause (2) of Section 19. The period for deciding the first appeal is thirty days with total extended time of 45 days. The limitation for filing the appeal is also thirty days, but this period can be condoned on sufficient cause being shown by the appellant, by the appellate authority. The second appeal has to be filed within 90 days from the date on which the decision should have been made or was actually received. The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of ninety days if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time. In appeal, reasonable opportunity is to be given to the third party also, if the matter relates to third party.Sub-clause (7) of Section 19 says that the decision of the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may, shall be binding, and sub-clause (8) says that in its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to- “(a) require the public authority to take any such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of this Act, including-(i) by providing access to information, if so requested, in a particular form;(ii) by appointing a Central Public Information Officer or a State Public Information Officer, as the case may be;(iii) by publishing certain information or categories of information;(iv) by making necessary changes to its practices in relation to the maintenance, management and destruction of records;(v) by enhancing the provision of training on the right to information for its officials;(vi) by providing it with an annual report in compliance with clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 4;(b) require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered.(c) impose any of the penalties provided under this Act;(d) reject the application.”Section 19 (8) thus, authorises the Commission to require the public authority to take any such steps as may be necessary to secure compliance with the provisions of the Act, and sub-clause (c) also permits to impose any of the penalties provided under this Act. The penalty has been provided under Section 20 of the Act, which can be imposed in the given circumstances mentioned therein.Sub-clause (1) of Section 20 gives the circumstance, under which the penalty can be imposed and it permits a penalty of Rs.250/- each day till application is received or information is furnished, so however, the total amount of such penalty shall not exceed Rs.25000/-. Sub-clause (2) of Section 20 gives power to recommend for disciplinary action against the Central Public Information Officer or a State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, under the service rules applicable to him, in case the Central Information Officer or the State Information Officer, as the case may be, has denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information. Section 18 is the provision for making complaint and lays down the procedure for entertaining a complaint and making enquiry.Section 18 reads as under:”18(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall be the duty of the Central Public Information Commission or State Information Commission,, as the case may be, to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person-(a) who has been unable to submit a request to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, either by reason that no such officer has been appointed under this Act, or because the Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, has refused to accept his or her application for information or appeal under this Act for forwarding the same to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, or senior officer specified in sub-section (1) of Section 19 or the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be;(b) who has been refused access to any information requested under this Act;(c) who has not been given a response to a request for information or access to information within the time limit specified under this Act;(d) who has been required to pay an amount of fee which he or she considers unreasonable;(e) who believes that he or she has been given incomplete, misleading or false information under this Act; and(f) in respect of any other matter relating to requesting or obtaining access to records under this Act.(2) Where the Central Public Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to inquire into the matter, it may initiate an inquiry in respect thereof.(3) The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall while inquiring into any matter under this section, have the same powers as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), in respect of the following matters, namely:-(a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce the documents or things;(b) requiring the discovery and inspection of documents;(c) receiving evidence on affidavit;(d) requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office;(e) issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents; and(f) any other matter which may be prescribed.(4) Notwithstanding anything inconsistent contained in any other Act of Parliament or State Legislature, as the case may be, the Central Information Officer or State Information Commission, as the case may be, during inquiring of any complaint under this Act, examine any record to which this Act applies which is under the control of the public authority, and no such record may be withheld from it on any ground.”Section 18 thus is a provision which is a consciously introduced section, so as to exercise complete control over the functioning of the Public Information Officers, at the time of receiving application, and at the time of giving information or during the appeal under the Act. Any applicant who has not been given a response to a request for information or access to information within the time limit specified under the Act, or who has been required to pay an amount of fee which he or she considers unreasonable, or has been given false information, and in respect of any other matter relating to requesting or obtaining access to records under the Act, may approach the Commission, who would enquire into the complaint, and while making an enquiry, it has all the powers as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), in respect of the matters enumerated therein. The Commission under sub-clause (4), which begins with a non obstante clause, during enquiry of any complaint under the Act, can examine any record to which this Act applies which is under the control of the public authority, and no such record shall be withheld from it on any ground.In the light of the aforesaid provisions of the Act, the matter in issue requires consideration. Learned counsel for the petitioner has argued that the information asked for, namely, names and details of all the persons who have received more than Rs.1 lac from the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund during the period 28.8.2003 upto 31.3.2007, cannot be provided as it stands exempted under Section 8(j) of the Act.The second argument is that the Commission while dealing with the complaints under Section 18, could not direct the Public Information Officer to supply the information within a specified time, regarding which complaint has been made, as under Section 20, it is only the penalty which can be imposed on the erring officer, but information cannot be directed to be given, as such a direction could be issued only in appeal, whether first or second and the present applicant having not preferred the second appeal, his prayer for disclosure of the information asked for, in proceeding under Section 20 could not have been entertained.Section 8 (j) of the Act gives limited protection. The information asked for under the aforesaid clause, can stand protected, if it satisfies, either of the following conditions:”(i) it should be an information which relates to personal information, and the disclosure of such information has no relationship to any public activity or interest(ii) or it would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual.”The discretion, which has been given to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer or the appellate authority, as the case may be, is to the effect that on their satisfaction that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, the same may be supplied. It means that though the information asked for is otherwise exempted from being supplied, but it can be disclosed if larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information. Who will decide this larger public interest? It is not the applicant or the person, against whom the information is asked for, but the information officer or the competent authority, as the case may be. Of course, while deciding the aforesaid question, the views of both the parties can be taken into account or so to say have to be taken into account by the concerned authority under the RTI Act, for the reason that the person who is asking for the information, would say it is in larger public interest to disclose the information, whereas the person against whom the information is being asked for shall dispute the aforesaid fact.The information regarding the money advanced beyond Rs.1 lac to any person from the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund, apparently is not an information which could be said to be protected under the provisions of Section 8 and in particular Section 8(j) of the Act.The petitioner’s case is that if such an information is disclosed, it would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual. The individual means the person who is the beneficiary of such amount.Elaborating the aforesaid plea, reliance has been placed upon the application /objections filed by the petitioner before the Commission, wherein it has been said that the persons who have received or would have received the discretionary fund of the Chief Minister also have a social status and self respect and if their names are disclosed, that will be an unwarranted invasion in their privacy.For testing the aforesaid plea, the nature of such grant has to be seen and it is also to be tested, whether the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund is immune to any sort of scrutiny or audit or that such fund can be used or diverted in any manner, as the Chief Minister desires and that no limitation or restriction has been imposed under the scheme, under which this fund is to be provided or its disbursement stands protected under the provisions of Section 8.A keen look upon the scheme of Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund, and the Rules which govern it, is necessary for dealing with the issue involved.In supersession of the U.P. Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund Rules, 1989, Rules of 1999 were enforced by the Governor of the State in exercise of his powers under Article 283(2) of the Constitution of India.Article 283 (1)……..Article 282 and 283, which fall under Chapter-I, Part-12 of the Constitution dealing with finance, has been placed under the heading ‘Miscellaneous Financial Provisions’.Article 282 deals with the expenditure defrayable by the Union or a State out of its revenues, lays down as under:”The Union or a State may make any grants for any public purpose, notwithstanding that the purpose is not one with respect to which Parliament or the Legislature of the State, as the case may be, may make laws.”Article 283 is about the custody, etc, of Consolidated Funds, Contingency Funds and moneys credited to the public accounts, wherein sub-clause (2) provides that ‘Consolidated Fund of the State and the Contingency Fund of the State and the custody of public money other than those credited to such funds received by or on behalf of the Government of the State, their payment into the public account of the State and withdrawal of moneys from such account and all other matters connected with or ancillary to matters aforesaid shall be regulated by law made by the Legislature of the State, and, until provision in that behalf is so made, shall be regulated by rules made by the Governor of the State’. It is in pursuance of the aforesaid power vested with the Governor, the Rules of 1989 and thereafter, the Rules of 1999 have been framed.The Rules of 1999 were amended by notification issued on 22.11.2005, with respect to certain clauses and again vide notification dated 22.11.2006, issued by the Governor in exercise of his powers under Article 283(2) of the Constitution of India.Amendments/modifications made in the Rules of 1999 are only with respect to the entitlement category and the amount which can be awarded to the person entitled for such discretionary fund, rest of the Rules of 1999 are still in force.In the Rules of 1999, Rule-2 provides that the adequate or sufficient amount, with the sanction/consent of the Legislature of the State (Rajya Vidhan Mandal), shall be placed in the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund, which shall be granted to the individuals or to the institutions by the Chief Minister. The explanation given therein deals with the situation when there is President’s Rule in the State.Rule-3, lays down the conditions under which the grant/payment from the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund can be given. Sub-clause (1) says that the grant shall be made to such persons or institutions, who are eligible for such a grant from the State fund. Sub-clause (2) says that the grant shall not be recurring and it would not mean that it would be spent in any personal type of expenditure nor such an expenditure would be borne by the discretionary fund.Sub-clause (3) of Rule-3, lays down the category of persons to whom the grant can be made and also the maximum amount which can be paid to such persons including the institutions.Sub-clause (4) gives the discretion to the Chief Minister to award the amount in excess of the amount prescribed to any person in any special matter, as per his or her discretion, as the case may be, whereas sub-clause (5) prescribes for audit of the discretionary fund by the Accountant General, making it obligatory for the Chief Minister’s office, to forward him a copy of the order of grant made in favour of any person.Sub-clause (6)(Ka) and (6)(Kha) confers power upon the Chief Minister or the officer nominated by him to make inspection of the record of the person, to whom the grant has been made, if it is a grant of more than Rs.5,000/-.Sub-clause (6)(Kha) says that the District Magistrate shall make verification and shall certify about the utilization of the grant made and he will make relevant records available at the time of audit. The District Magistrate shall also ensure that the grant has been made to the eligible persons.Sub-clause (7) requires the beneficiary to give a certificate that he has not taken the benefit of any discretionary fund of any Minister and has not applied for any discretionary fund of any Minister and that in the relevant year, he is not a beneficiary of such a grant. It is only after giving such a certificate, the grant shall be disbursed.Sub-clause (8) says that the beneficiary has to utilise the amount of grant from the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund within the prescribed period and if he fails to do so, he will have to return the unused money in one go.Sub-clause (9) obliges the District Magistrate to give utilization certificate of the amount paid to the beneficiary, and sub-clause (10) says that the order of sanction form the discretionary fund and the account disbursed, shall be maintained in the Account Section of the Chief Minister’s office.Sub-clause (11) says that where the amount of such discretionary fund is more than Rs.500/-, the beneficiary will have to give a stamp receipt in acknowledgement thereof.By means of the amendment/modification by the notification dated 22.11.2005, sub-clause (3) which deals with the category of persons entitled for the grant and the amount which can be given to a particular person including institutions has been amended, enhancing the said amount to certain extent and lastly by the amendment of 2006, amendments have been made in sub-clauses (3), (4) and (6) to the same effect, i.e. the category of persons to whom the grant can be made from the discretionary fund of the Chief Minister and the maximum amount that can be paid to such persons, etc.The Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund thus, is a part and parcel of the Consolidated Fund of the State, subject to all constitutional sanctions and statutory bindings. It is in fact the public money and, therefore, public has a right to know about it.The Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund thus, is not and cannot be treated as personal fund of the Chief Minister, but it is the discretionary fund, which has to be disbursed, at his/her discretion, as the case may be, which disbursement again is governed by the Rules. The discretion has to be exercised in the manner as may be prescribed under the Rules.The amount of Rs.1 lac or more can be given to persons, who are enumerated in Rule 3(b) to 3(f).Rule-3 read as under:”(3)This grant may be given by the Chief Minister to the persons upto the limit mentioned below according to his discretion:(a) to helpless, Disabled, persons of poor classes or boys or widows: Not more than Rs.1,00,000/-(b) to institutions involved into social and cultural activities (other than institution based on caste or religion : Not more than Rs. 5,00,000 /-(c) to poor persons suffering from illness : Not more than Rs. 5,00,000/-(d) to for the construction of building of non governmental educational institutions : Not more than Rs. 5,00,000/-(e) to poor families whose earning member is killed in a brutal murder / crime or died due to accident, snake bite or drowning of boat: Not more than Rs. 5,00,000/-(f) to persons suffering from massive fire breakout, land sliding, snowfall or other natural calamities : half of the loss occurred on general standards or Rs. 200,000/- whichever is less.(g) to person seriously injured in (one) accident and is in need of money: Not more than Rs. 1,00,000/-(h) to needy person injured in (two)accidents: Not more than Rs. 25,000/-”The rules aforesaid thus prescribed the category of persons, who are entitled for the benefit of discretionary fund of the Chief Minister with the maximum amount that can be given to them, of course subject to discretion of the Chief Minister, who is authorised to give an amount even in excess of the prescribed limit, but it does not lay down anywhere that the discretionary fund can be given to persons not entitled under the rules. Even supposing (though the Rules do not permit) that the Chief Minister has the power to extend the benefit of the discretionary fund to any class of person/persons with discretion of any such amount being paid, none the less, it is governed by the rules and, therefore, if any amount is paid to a person, as enumerated under the rule or that the amount has been paid in excess of the amount prescribed, the amount paid even then cannot be treated to be an action of the Chief Minister or the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, which is not amenable to the public knowledge. The discretion which is governed by the rule cannot be treated as insulated with immunity so as to cover it up and not to make it known to the person, who is asking for such an information. No rule or provision, either constitutional or statutory has been placed before us to draw a presumption of secrecy with respect to the amounts disbursed and the details of such person or in other words, with respect to the disbursement of the discretionary fund from the Chief Minister Secretariat, to the persons who are the beneficiary of such disbursement.In the case of Coimbatore District Central Coop. Bank v. Employees Assn. (2007) 4 SCC 669, the court dealing with the doctrine of proportionality, a principle where the Court is concerned with the process, method or manner in which the decision maker has ordered his priorities, reached a conclusion or arrived at a decision, observed that the doctrine of proportionality has its genesis in the field of administrative law. The Government and its departments, in administering the affairs of the country, are expected to honour their statements of policy or intention and treat the citizens with full personal consideration without abuse of discretion. There can be no “pick and choose”, selective applicability of the government norms or unfairness, arbitrariness or unreasonableness. The very essence of decision making consists in the attribution of relative importance to the factors and considerations in the case. The doctrine of proportionality thus steps in focus true nature of exercise, the elaboration of a rule of permissible priorities. “Proportionality” involves “balancing test” and “necessity test”, whereas the former (balancing test) permits scrutiny of excessive onerous penalties or infringement of rights or interests and a manifest imbalance of relevant considerations, the latter (necessity test) requires infringement of human rights to the least restrictive alternative.The Chief Minister while distributing the amount to the persons entitled to have the benefit of the aforesaid public fund, has the discretion to make such grant to the eligible persons and while exercising the discretion, he/she as the case may be, has the discretion to enhance the amount as against the amount normally prescribed for each category, but the discretion to whom the amount under the discretionary fund should be paid and what amount should be paid also has to be exercised with caution and care and on a reasonable basis, e.g., in any special matter where the amount specified is found to be very low, so as to meet the exigency for which the amount is to be paid, the Chief Minister would have the discretion to make a larger payment which means that the discretion of giving enhanced amount is also circumscribed by the requirement of it being a ‘special matter’. For example, in case a poor person needs to have the medical expenses for kidney transplant, lever transplant, bypass surgery or any other disease like cancer etc. requiring huge expenditure in his treatment, the enhanced amount can be given. Illustrations aforesaid are not exhaustive, as there may be many more cases, under different entitlements, where the Chief Minister could exercise the discretion of providing any enhanced or increased amount as against the one prescribed. Whenever a discretion is vested with any authority to do or not to do a thing, it has to be done by exercise of sound discretion, as per the rules and guidelines given under the rules.When the Rules themselves prescribe the categories of persons to whom the benefit can be extended with the eligibility criteria, the maximum amount which can be paid to such defined persons, there being requirement of making audit by the Accountant General, U.P., of the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund with powers to the Chief Minister and District Magistrate to look into the records of the beneficiaries and verify that the amount has been received by the eligible persons, coupled with the fact that the beneficiary is also under the obligation to utilise the fund given to him within the prescribed period for the purpose it was given, failing which, unused amount has to be refunded in one go, it cannot be said that there can be any secrecy in the matter either with respect to the disbursement of the discretionary fund to any particular person or his/her entitlement for the same nor it would be a case of infringing any right of privacy of a person, to whom the benefit has been extended.There appears to be no reason for not making such information known to the public or atleast not making it known to the persons, who asks for such information, when the disbursement is made under the Rules notified by the Governor. Extending the benefit to the eligible and deserving persons, is a laudable object and a highly appreciative function of the Chief Minister and, therefore, also the disclosure of such an information would not affect the credibility of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat or its functioning, but would make the entire functioning transparent, which would enable the applicant to know that the discretionary funds have been properly utilized. In a democratic set up, every organ of the State including the legislature and the executive is answerable and accountable to the public. There cannot be a bar nor any impediment can be placed in disclosing such an information which relates to the benefits extended from the discretionary fund of the Chief Minister to the persons entitled to such benefit. Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund is a name, but none the less it is a public fund and public money. The citizens have a right to know that in what manner, the said discretionary fund has been used and utilized. From the category of persons to whom this benefit can be extended, it is clear that it takes into account not only the destitute, disabled weaker section of people, widows, children, but it also prescribes the given amount for social and cultural organizations, poor person suffering from disease, for construction of the school building of any non-governmental educational institution etc. etc. That being so, there cannot be any plausible reason for not disclosing the information regarding disbursement of the discretionary fund to any person.The plea that if such an information is disclosed, it would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the person who is a beneficiary is concerned, the same is wholly untenable and devoid of substance. The person who is extended the benefit of discretionary fund does not compromise with his honour and prestige nor acceptance of such a benefit belittles his status. The Chief Minister while extending the benefit of the given amount from the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund, discharges his/her, as the case may be, social obligation, in consonance with the socio economic policy of the State to the person, who is entitled under the rules for having the said benefit. The extension of the economic assistance to the persons entitled, is a step towards discharging the functions of a welfare State by providing monetary help to the deserving under the Rules.The benefit is supposed to be extended possibly to the maximum number of persons, who fall within the category of entitlement, which care has been taken by providing the maximum amount against each category of person, which can be normally provided. This has been done with a view to meet the economic capacity and the amount, available in the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund. The amount appears to have been prescribed against each category, with a view to make the funds available to maximum possible number of people and not allowing the discretion to be exercised in a manner, so that it concentrates into the hands of few beneficiaries. Of course, those who are not entitled for the discretionary fund, may not be allowed the money from the said fund, if the rule or the law otherwise does not permit.The beneficiary of the discretionary fund cannot feel any inconvenience or discomfort, in case the information is given about the amount, that has been given to him under the said rule. Of course, if any undue advantage has been derived, it cannot stand protected by simply hiding or by not disclosing the information to the person, who asks for the same.The plea that if such an information is given, it would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual beneficiary is otherwise also not available to the petitioner or the Public Information Officer or the State nor to the department concerned, as it may be the individual defence, if at all available, to the beneficiary. The information asked for, is only to provide the information with respect to the discretion of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, where the funds have been released to the beneficiaries, and not the information from the beneficiaries, as to what they have done to the funds given to them. In case, any such information is asked for, which relates to third person, namely, the beneficiary, and if, he or she had claimed confidentiality of such an information, and if such an information can at all be treated as confidential, only in that case, provisions of Section 11 would apply, but it would also not mean that such an information would stand absolutely exempted from being disclosed.It is to be noticed that when the beneficiary of the grant from the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund is under an obligation to use the money so paid for the same very purpose, for which, it has been paid with the obligation upon the beneficiary to return the unused money in one go, and that too within the prescribed period, for which utilization certificate has to be furnished by the District Magistrate after making necessary verification, it cannot be said that it is an information, which can seek confidentiality within the meaning of Section-11 of the Act of 2005 or can be treated as confidential by the beneficiary, treating it to be a third party information. One cannot forget, that the monetary assistance extended to the beneficiary is from the public fund.In our considered opinion, the information asked for regarding the names and details of the persons, who have been paid an amount of more than Rs.1 lac from the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund for the period in question, is not an information, which is covered under Section 8(j) nor it stands exempted otherwise.This takes us to the next question regarding the authority of the Commission/Chief Information Commission to direct the Public Information Officer to give the information asked for within a specified period, while dealing with a complaint under Section 18 of the Act.The petitioner in support of his plea, that the Commission cannot direct for supply of the information, in proceedings under Section 18, has relied upon the case of Reliance Industries Ltd. vs. Gujarat State Information Commission and Ors., reported in AIR 2007 GUJARAT 203. A learned Single Judge of the High Court of Gujarat in this case, while considering the effect of information asked for relating to third party, taking into account the provisions of Sections 11 and 19 of the Act, also had an occasion to consider the scope of Section 18 of the Act, wherein the Court observed that a third party information cannot be given unless the rules of natural justice are followed in the manner prescribed under the Act.The legal proposition as enunciated by the Gujarat High Court with respect to affording of reasonable opportunity to the third party to whom either the information relates or who had supplied the information and which information is being treated as confidential by such a person, is not only the tenet of the principles of natural justice but it also flows from the statutory provisions of Section 11(1) itself. In case where Section 11 applies, of course, due opportunity, as provided under the Act, has to be afforded to the third party and only after following its rules, the information can be supplied or refused and that too by giving reasons.We, therefore, are in respectful agreement with the aforesaid view of following the rules of natural justice, expressed by the Gujarat High Court.The view expressed otherwise in respect of locus standi of a person to seek an information and also on the scope of Section 18 of the Act, requires consideration.The Gujarat High Court while dealing with the aforesaid proposition of law, took into consideration the judgement of the apex court in the case of Ashok Kumar Pandey vs. State of West Bengal and others, reported in AIR 2004 SC 280, for holding that care has to be taken that the information is not asked for by the persons, who seek the information with an intention to blackmail the person against whom the information is asked for and that the nature of the information asked for and the person who asked for information are the relevant considerations.In regard to the observations of the Gujarat High Court, suffice would be to mention that the Court proceeded on the assumption that the right to seek information is like filing writ petition in the nature of public interest litigation. In a public Interest litigation, care has to be taken that it is not a petition for settling the personal score or satisfying the personal vendetta or is not a publicity interest litigation or pecuniary interest litigation. The essence of the grievance raised and the bona fide of the person in bringing the issue to the Court, are such key factors, which play an important role in the public interest litigation. The Supreme Court even in a petition of PIL has held in the case of T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad (98) vs. Union of India and others, (2006) 5 SCC 28 and Vishwanath Chaturvedi (3) vs. Union Of India and others, (2007) 4 SCC 380, that even if the person bringing the cause to the Court has no locus standi to pursue the matter or he is not a bona fide person or a public spirited person or may have approached the Court with political reasons but still in such a case the grievance raised can be looked into and if found genuine and worth being enquired into, the same can be entertained.Under the Right to Information Act, the locus standi of the person is of no avail. Any citizen can ask for any information, which is not protected under the relevant clauses of exemption. The Public Information Officer is under the legal duty to supply the information so asked for.Sub-clause (2) of Section 6 itself says that an applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for seeking the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him. This leaves no room of doubt that the information cannot be refused on the ground that the person asking for information is not a bona fide person and it cannot also be enquired from him as to why he is seeking the information.The view, therefore, expressed by the Gujarat High Court in this regard without adverting to the scheme of the Act, 2005 and without noticing the provisions of Section 2(j) and Section 3 of the Act, are contrary to law. Section 2(j), says that the right to information means the right to information accessible under this Act, which is held by or under the control of any public authority and Section 3, says that subject to the provisions of this Act, all citizens shall have the right to information. We thus find that the Gujarat High Court did not take into consideration the provisions of Section 2(j) and Section 3 and also sub-clause (2) of Section 6, which specifically prohibits from making any enquiry from the applicant for giving reasons for seeking the information or any other personal details except his address, where he could be contacted. Thus, the view expressed by the Gujarat High Court in respect of the locus standi of the applicant, asking for any information cannot be said to be a binding precedent. We, therefore, with utmost regard to the learned Judge of the Gujarat High Court, are unable to subscribe to the said view.Gujarat High Court also held that the information cannot be directed to be given under Section 18, but recourse can be taken in appeal for having the information, which has been either illegally withheld or has been specifically refused.For finding out the true meaning, import and scope of Section 18, we have to make purposive interpretation of the provision, keeping in view the object and purpose of the Act.On seeing the scheme of the Act, the relevant extracts of which, we have reproduced earlier, it is beyond doubt that the object and purpose of the Act is to provide information to the citizen (applicant), who makes a request for having such an information, which can be given under the Act and which does not stand exempted or so to say is not prohibited from being furnished under the provisions of the Act.Normal rule of interpretation is, to give such meaning to the provisions of the Act, which furthers the object of the Act and does not restrict its applicability so as to defeat its very object and purpose. The intention in making a provision, the principle which guided for such an enactment and the mischief which is intended to be rectified cannot be lost sight of, while discovering the true meaning and import of the provisions of the Act. While interpreting any statute, normally a literal construction of the provision has to be made and if the language is clear, unambiguous and meaningful, which forwards the cause of enactment, the Court would restrain itself from making an effort to interpret the provisions in any different manner, which would have the effect of amending the rule or rewriting the provision. The literal rule of construction is the normal rule of interpretation, which does not infringe upon the statute or the statutory provision and carries forward the intention, object and purpose of the Act. Any hardship to any person or any lacuna in the Act can also not be filled in, unless of course the provision militates against the object and purpose for which it has been enacted or leads to absurdity.In the case of A.N. Roy, Commissioner of Police and another vs. Suresh Sham Singh, reported in (2006) 5 SCC 745, the Supreme Court observed as under:”it is now well-settled principle of law that the court cannot enlarge the scope of legislation or intention when the language of the statute is plain and unambiguous. Narrow and pedantic construction may not always be given effect to. The Courts should avoid a construction, which would reduce the legislation to futility. It is also well settled that every statute is to be interpreted without any violence to its language. It is also trite that when an expression is capable of more than one meaning, the court would attempt to resolve the ambiguity in a manner consistent with the purpose of the provision, having regard to the great consequences of the alternative constructions.”In the case of Southern Petrochemical Industries Co. Ltd. vs. Electricity Inspector and ETIO, (2007) 5 SCC 447, held that only in case a literal interpretation gives rise to anomalous situation, purposive interpretation may be resorted to, and again in the case of S.B. Bhattacharjee vs. S.D. Majumdar, (2007) 10 SCC 513, it was said that for giving effect to the legislative intent in the face of draftsman’s unskillfulness or ignorance of law, the court must consider executive instructions or office memorandum as executive interpretation based on the doctrine of contemporanea expositio.In the case of Raghunath Rai Bareja vs. Punjab National Bank, (2007) 2 SCC 230, the Supreme Court held that the literal rule of interpretation really means that there should be no interpretation. In other words, we should read the statutes as it is, without distorting or twisting its language. The literal rule of interpretation is not only followed by judges and lawyers, but it is also followed by the layman in his ordinary life. The meaning of the literal rule of interpretation is simply that we mean what we say and we say what we mean. The first and foremost principle of interpretation of a statute in every system of interpretation is the literal rule of interpretation. The other rules of interpretation e.g. The mischief rule, purposive interpretation, etc. can only be resorted to when the plain words of a statute are ambiguous or lead to no intelligible results or if read literally would nullify the very object of the statute. Where the words of a statute are absolutely clear and unambiguous, recourse cannot be had to the principles of interpretation other than the literal rule. Even if the literal interpretation results in hardship or inconvenience, it has to be followed.The Supreme Court had an occasion to consider the principle of purposive interpretation in the case of State of U.P. and others vs. Jeet S. Bisht and another (2007) 6 SCC 586, wherein two Hon’ble Judges have delivered the judgement separately, but the out come of the petition is the same, though reference to Larger Bench has been made, on the reasoning given by them. In paragraphs 72 and 73, Justice S.B. Sinha, held as under:”72.With the advent of globalisation, we are witnessing a shift from formalism to a value-laden approach to law. In the contemporary scholarship, especially with the decimation of law as purely an autonomous discipline (with the emergence of cross-cutting realms such as Law and Economics, Law and Philosophy, Law and Society, IPR et al), we see that laws embody a goal, which may have its provenance in sciences other than law as well. It is no more the black letter in the law which guides the interpretation but the goal which is embodied by the particular body of law, which may be termed as the rationality of law.73. Law, in its value-laden conception, is not entirely endogenous in its meaning and purpose, the construction thereof also depends on the statement of purport and object. There is a spillover of the aforementioned shift in philosophy of law to statutory interpretation. Purposive interpretation, of lately, has gained considerable currency, which is relevant for the sake of maximising the efficiency in respect to the point behind the rule. There may be a situation when purposive interpretation is required even in the context of deciphering the constitutional mandate by invoking the notion of active liberty discovered by Justice Stephen Breyer of the American Supreme Court. This is the precise role which was exhorted by Bruce A. Ackerman in the famous Storrs Lecture.”Despite reference to Larger Bench, the rule of purposive interpretation, can still be made applicable to understand the provisions in the instant case.Section 18 of the Act is a provision, which allows the applicant who has been refused information or who believes that complete information has not been given, or who has been denied the information by simply delaying the information, to make a complaint to the Commission, Central or State, as the case may be, who would make an enquiry into the said complaint. Section 19(8)(a) is in general terms, which confers power upon the Commission, may be the Central or the State, to require the public authority to take any step as may be, necessary to secure compliance under the said Act including providing access in a particular form to the information asked for. This means that the Commission can direct for supplying the necessary information in such form, as may be required, therefore, there cannot be any dispute that in the appeal proceedings, the information which has not been given by the Public Information Officer can be directed to be supplied.What would be the position, in case a complaint has been made under Section 18 of the Act, regarding refusal of information etc. is a matter which requires consideration. Section 18 is a provision which gives a statutory avenue for vindicating the grievance of the persons, who asked for such information, but the same has not been given. To keep a check and control upon the functioning of the Public Information Officers, so that they may not go berserk and violate the statute, capriciously and arbitrarily, Section 18 has been enacted. In case the Commission finds that the concerned officer has violated the provisions of the Act, in discharging the duties under the Act and has illegally, wrongfully or malafidely refused the information, he can be subjected to a penalty, which may be, namely, Rs.250/- per day, till the information is provided or to a maximum of Rs.25000/-. In case the intention of the provision of the aforesaid Act was only to punish the guilty information officer, there would have been no occasion under Section 18(3) to confer powers upon the Commission, which are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), requiring discovery and inspection of documents and requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office, and for specifically providing under sub-clause (4) of Section 18 that notwithstanding anything inconsistent contained in any other Act of Parliament or State Legislature, as the case may be, the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, may, during the inquiry of any complaint under this Act, examine any record to which this Act applies which is under the control of the public authority, and no such record may be withheld from it on any grounds.The obvious intention and the purpose of the aforesaid powers being vested with the Commission in the matter of enquiry is to confer all such powers upon the Commission, which can compel the erring officers to disclose and supply the information, which cannot be withheld for any reason whatsoever under the provisions of the Act. Of course, an enquiry on such a complaint naturally would mean to enquire as to whether the information was rightly refused, delayed or was incorrectly given, and for that matter, the power, as given in sub-clauses (3) and (4) of Section 18 the Act, have to be used and on finding that the information was wrongly refused or illegally withheld or was incorrectly or malafidely refused, the Commission cannot be stopped from issuing direction for giving the necessary information.The purpose of holding enquiry would be of no meaning if only punishment is given to the erring officer, as it would not serve the purpose of the Act and the power so conferred upon the Commission, requiring requisitioning of any public record or copies thereof from any court or office, shall also have only a limited purpose to find out as to whether the punishment should be awarded to the erring officer or not. This is not the intention of the Act or the provisions of Section 18.Section 20 which prescribes the penalties, takes into account both ‘complaint’ and ‘appeal’, says that the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be, while deciding any complaint or appeal, if satisfied that the application has wrongly been refused from being entertained or the information has not been given for the reasons given therein, impose the penalty as prescribed, meaning thereby that at the time of either deciding a complaint or an appeal, the Commission has the power to impose penalty and that this penalty would be imposed till the application is received or information is furnished. This clarifies that the penalty can be imposed by the Commission while deciding the complaint or while deciding the appeal. Such penalty can be imposed for such term, till the application is received or information sought for is given, as the case may be, @ Rs.250/- each day, subject to a maximum of Rs.25,000/-. So far the power to issue direction for receiving the application or for supplying the information is concerned, it is for one and the same purpose, i.e., for supplying the correct information to the applicant, if it does not stand exempted under the Act. In this regard, there can be no distinction, when the Commission enquires into a complaint or hears an appeal under the aforesaid power.This view also stands fortified by the fact, that Section 20, which gives the consequence of enquiry being held under Section 18, on a complaint being received, says in sub-clause (1) “…… It shall impose a penalty of Rs.250/- per day, till the information is provided or to a maximum of Rs.25000/-”, meaning thereby that the penalty is to be imposed for compliance of the provisions of the Act.The aforesaid clause in inverted commas, means beyond doubt that the Commission on being satisfied about the complaint and while deciding any complaint or appeal, if it is of the opinion that without any reasonable cause, the application was refused, or the necessary information has not been given or the same has not been furnished within time or has been malafidely denied or the knowingly incorrect information has been given etc. etc., only then it shall impose the penalty aforesaid. Since the penalty of Rs.250/- per day is to be imposed till the application is received by the Public Information Officer, Central or State, as the case may be, if they had refused to accept application or the information asked for is furnished, it is apparent, that the very purpose of this penal provision is to make the officer concerned to supply the information.In a given case, where a complaint has been made that the information has not been furnished, the penalty of Rs. 250/- each day, shall be imposed till the information is furnished, to a maximum of Rs.25000/- , which means that even while dealing with the complaints, the Commission can ask for the disclosure of the information, otherwise, the provision would not have contained the phrase aforesaid, which prescribes the penalty of Rs. 250/- each day, till application is received or information is furnished, as the case may be. The intention of the provision is clear. The penalty is to be imposed for the period during which either the application is not received or the information is not given, but the moment, the application is accepted or information is given, as the case may be, the penalty cannot be imposed any further. Of course, the maximum limit of penalty is Rs.25000/-, but that does not in any way fetter the power of the Commission to issue a direction for furnishing the information. The maximum amount of penalty does not qualify the main substantive provision, which says that it shall be imposable till the information is given or the application is received, as the case may be.In a given case where no appeal has been filed or even after first appeal, the information has not been given and if no second appeal has been filed, but a complaint has been made, it would be the discretion of the Commission to pass appropriate orders for furnishing of the information, in case the Commission is satisfied and if it is established from the record that the information was illegally refused or not given correctly etc. etc.In the absence of any prohibition under Section 18 and there being no other provision, which puts any embargo or curtails the jurisdiction of the Commission to order for supply of the information not duly supplied, or to ask for receiving of the application, which has been wrongly refused from being entertained, the provisions of Section 18 has to be read in a manner, which does not have the effect of curtailing the jurisdiction of the Commission, which otherwise can be exercised under the provisions of the Act.Section 18 is a substantive provision regarding lodging and enquiring into a complaint, whereas Section 20 is the consequence of such an enquiry.The whole purpose of making an enquiry on a complaint being given by the affected person, shall stand defeated, if the two provisions are read in isolation or they are given a meaning which does not further the object of the Act. From a harmonious construction of the aforesaid provisions keeping in mind the purpose for which they have been enacted, it can be safely concluded that the powers of the Commission under Section 18 are not restricted only to make enquiry and award punishment, but they also extend for issuing direction for receiving the application or for giving the necessary information under the provisions of the Act. Any other interpretation would not be in consonance with the scheme of the Act and shall also amount to restricting and curtailing the power of the Commission by judicial interpretation.The Act contains two types of information; first which is to be suo motu provided without even being asked for under Section 4 and the other information, which is to be given when asked for. Of course, there is a third classification, which exempts certain information from being disclosed and a corollary to the said exemption is such information, which though stands protected, but can be disclosed by the competent authority, if satisfied that it is in larger public interest to disclose such information. Any interpretation to any of the provisions of the Act, if leads to absurdity or may lead to defeat the very purpose of the Act, has to be avoided. There is no attempt to twist the words or the phraseology used, but for correct interpretation of provision of Section 18, it cannot be read in isolation, but has to be seen in the light of the consequences of a complaint of Section 18, as given in Section 20 of the Act, besides also the purpose and object of the Act for which it has been enacted. It shall be a futile exercise in case the enquiry as contemplated, on a complaint is made, but remains confined only to the award of punishment with no consequence of furthering the object of the Act, i.e. without requiring the Public Information Officer to supply the information asked for. The meaning, intention and import, therefore, is clear that if a complaint is made and if the Commission is satisfied that the information has wrongly been withheld or has been refused, etc., then in addition to the penal actions prescribed it can also order for supply of such an information.We, therefore, with deep respect are unable to concur with the view expressed by the Gujarat High Court to the contrary in the case of Reliance Industries Ltd. vs. Gujarat State Information Commission and Ors., reported in AIR 2007 GUJARAT 203, with respect to the scope of Section 18.In view of above, we are of the considered opinion that neither the information asked for regarding distribution of the discretionary fund viz. in the instant case, information regarding the details of the persons, who have been given an amount of more than Rs.1 lac can be refused nor it stands exempted under Section 8(j) of the Act.We are also of the view that the Commission while enquiring into the complaint under Section 18, can issue necessary directions for supply/disclosure of the information asked for, in case the Commission is satisfied that the information has been wrongly withheld or has not been completely given or incorrect information has been given etc., which information otherwise is liable to be supplied under the provisions of the Act.Before parting, we will also like to put on record that all the information regarding the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund, including the information regarding the persons, who have been granted any amount from the discretionary fund with their category and the amount paid/disbursed, may be treated such an information, which requires to be made available to the public in terms of Section 4 of the Act. The public has a right to know about the disbursement of the Chief Minister’s Discretionary Fund to the persons and the amount which has been paid with a further information that whether the amount has been properly utilized in the given time or not. We, however, refrain ourselves from issuing any such directive, but we hope and trust that the State Government shall look into the matter and exercise its discretion, particularly when there are specific rules, duly formulated by the Governor, prescribing for audit by the Accountant General, U.P. of the discretionary fund and also other provisions regarding the entitlement and utilization etc., which we have already discussed above.We have been persuaded to make these observations in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of 1999, sub-clause (xvii) of Section 4(1)(b) and also sub-clause (2) of Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, which says that it shall be a constant endeavour of every public authority to take steps in accordance with the requirements of clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 4, to provide as much information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including internet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information.We, thus do not find any illegality in the impugned orders dated 12.12.2007, 18.1.2008 and 15.2.2008, contained in Annexure Nos.1, 2 and 3 respectively to the writ petition, passed by the Commission nor we find any reason for the petitioner not to supply the information asked for.
The writ petition is devoid of merits and is dismissed.
RIL to await court verdict before production of gas:PMS Prasad
In the midst of the ongoing legal battle with Anil Ambani group firm RNRL, Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Industries today said it would wait for the court decision before starting gas production, while hoping for an early decision. “Since gas can not be stored and has to be sold as soon as it is produced, I am hopeful that there could be some solution.
RIL will wait for the court decision before starting production,” CEO and President of Oil and Gas PMS Prasad told reporters. After the announcement by RIL Chairman Mukesh Ambani that the gas production would start from January 2009, Prasad was asked a number of questions relating to the gas dispute that is pending in the Bombay High Court.
“We are not in a position to comment on gas sales since the matter is subjudice. Somebody will have to take a decision,” he said.
Earlier, talking to Editors, Mukesh Ambani had declined to comment on dispute with RNRL, while a spokesperson for the group has termed the matter as ’subjudice’. There were however, indications that RIL is unlikely to have any out of court settlement with RNRL on the issue as it felt that there was nothing to settle.
Sources indicated that Mukesh is unlikely to meet Anil for the purpose. The Bombay High Court had said during a hearing of the case that the two brothers could explore out of court settlement and perhaps involve their mother Kokilaben.
High Court issues direction to VCI Secretary
Chennai, Sep 21: The Madras High Court has directed the Secretary, Veterinary Council of India (VCI), New Delhi, to consider and dispose of a complaint by a city advocate about ill treatment of his pet dog, resulting in its death, on merit and in accordance with the law.The court permitted the petitioner to send a copy of his earlier representation to the Council.
The petitioner, S Venkataraman from Chennai, said he owned an ‘imported’ breed of dog, which was registered with the Kennel Club of India. It was given an extensive training by a dog trainer from the UK and had won prizes in various shows.On March 6, 2006, the dog’s condition turned worse and it was taken to the Madras Veterinary College Teaching Hospital, Vepery, where Iyyappan of the Orthopaedics Department of Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University examined it. He suggested X-rays to be taken at the hospital and blood tests at a private laboratory on Periyar Salai,Mr Venkataraman submitted.The doctor collected the blood samples and gave it to the petitioner. The full test report was not ready.Armed with the report, he took the dog to the doctor, who directed that it be taken to S Prathaban, Professor and Head, Department of Clinics of the hospital.The dog was taken to an unhygienic treatment room, where left over dextrose drips were administered along with strong antibiotics, infected needles. The treatment was continued for two more days based on the incomplete pathology report.This resulted in tick infestation and the dog died on March 11,2006 the petitioner submitted.Mr Venkataraman said the death of the dog came as a shock to his family. The hospital was projected on the website as having all facilities for pathological tests, surgery and inpatient facilities.The two doctors had not discharged their professional duty in a diligent manner. His notice to the hospital should have been referred to the State Veterinary Council for any enquiry.However, it was not done, the petitioner.The Director had sent a reply stating there was no deficiency in service.The petitioner prayed the court to issue a direction to the VCI to award the appropriate punishment to the two doctors.Justice A Kulasekaran directed the VCI to consider and dispose of the petitioner’s representation dated January 27, 2007 expeditiously.UNI
Sunday, September 21 2008 13:38(IST)
To SC, ST add another SC, raise job quota over 50%: Ministry
NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 21 The Ministry of Social Justice is piloting an amendment in the Constitution to add denotified tribes as a new beneficiary of reservation with the job quota ceiling raised beyond 50 percent — the limit fixed by the Supreme Court — to accommodate them.
In a Cabinet note to the Ministry of Home Affairs this month, the Ministry has asked it to consider the proposal of the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes to provide reservation to them by adding a new Article 342A defining the tribes as a ‘Scheduled Community’.
“Once a denotified tribe is notified as a scheduled community, delete it from the list of scheduled tribe, scheduled castes or Other Backward Castes, as the case may be… Reserve 10 percent of Government jobs for DNTs even if the ceiling of 50 percent is exceeded,” the Ministry restates the recommendations while pushing the First Stage Proposals for Action.
Other amendments proposed are providing electoral reservation to the Scheduled Community in Lok Sabha, state legislatures, Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies as well as setting up a permanent National Commission for DNTs like those for SCs and STs that have powers of a civil court and monitor the safeguards of these sections.
Amitav Ranjan Posted: Sep 22, 2008 at 0134 hrs IST
Reliance Communications moves SC in a tax matter
NEW DELHI: Anil Ambani-promoted Reliance Communications has moved the Supreme Court challenging the imposition of VAT by the Andhra Pradesh government on its recharge vouchers and value added services. The Supreme Court will hear the plea on September 29. The telecom company has challenged an Andhra Pradesh High Court order that asked it to pay one third of Rs 43 crore, the alleged incurred tax liability, on or before September 30. The Andhra Pradesh government has imposed 12.6 per cent VAT on Get Started Kits (GSKs) and recharge coupons, and 4 per cent VAT on SMS, ringtones, and games by treating these services as ‘goods’. It has also asked Reliance to shell out more than Rs 42.93 crore under AP VAT Act. Though the single bench of the HC had stayed the recovery of VAT from Reliance, the division bench had modified the order to an interim stay. The bench held that the interim stay would continue only if Reliance pays one-third of the incurred tax liabilities on or before 30th September and the same would stand vacated in case of any default. Challenging the levy of VAT, Reliance said that GSKs are also paper vouchers like recharge vouchers and were meant to activate the account and connection of the subscribers. It becomes a waste paper after activation and, therefore, it was identical to recharge vouchers and hence cannot be treated as ‘goods’. Recharge vouchers and GSKs cannot be considered as ‘goods’ as the same are merely advance collection for the fee charged by the service provider and would not fall within the meaning of ‘goods’ as defined in AP VAT Act, according to petition. Value added Services like SMS, ringtones, games etc are pure services and beyond the comprehension of the term ‘goods’, it said.
21 Sep, 2008, 1834 hrs IST, PTI
Pricing issue: SC admits IOC petition
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will decide whether the Union government notifications governing prices of petroleum products can be construed as law.
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has raised the issue before the apex court, which has admitted and tagged the petition with a similar matter pending before it.
Oil India Ltd has challenged a Guwahati High Court ruling that upheld the arbitral tribunal’s judgment which held that notifications governing prices of petroleum products have a force of law.
Citing the apex court’s decision, OIL said that the executive instructions of the Centre cannot be construed as law as defined by Article 13 of the Constitution of India.
According to the oil company, the Assam Trade Articles (Licensing & Control) Order does not fix price of the petroleum products and the same is fixed by the ministry of petroleum vide executive instructions which cannot be construed as law.
“The expression having force of law in Article 13 of the Constitution applies only to customs and usages and not to notifications. If a notification cannot be construed as law then it is a mere executive instruction or order and the definition of law can not be stretched to include within its ambit such executive instruction,” it said in its petition.
Subsequent to a tender notification, OIL had entered into a contract with South East Asia Marine Engineering and Construction Ltd (SEAMEC) in June 1998 for carrying out drilling and auxiliary operations in Assam. – PTI
Judiciary overburdened with overwhelming cases: Chief Justice
Gulbarga: Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P D Dinakaran today expressed concern over increasing cases while the machinery and infrastructure of the judicial establishment available for dispensation of justice were not growing proportionately.
Addressing a workshop on ”’advocates as resources person in legal literacy programme” organised jointly by the State Legal Service Authority and BAR association of Gulbarga here, the Chief Justice said common man was put under the impression that only the rich and mighty could afford to go to courts for getting justice.
Mr Justice Dinakaran said the masses were losing confidence in getting justice in time and a large number of people were not aware of their legal rights. He exhorted the legal service authority to create legal awareness and provide legal help to the people.
”Every pending litigation has got a relevant bearing on the socio-economic reforms on the country. Because one dispute leads to another disaster. It is essential to resolve the conflict the moment it raises its head” he said and asked the legal service authority and other relevant authorities to find solution, even at the pre-litigation state.
Allaying speculations that the judges of the Gulbarga Circuit Bench would be reduced, Mr Dinakaran made it clear that the strength of Judges would not be reduced and the bench would be elevated as permanent High Court Bench.
Former National Human Rights Commission Chairman and Former Supreme Court Judge Shivraj Patil said after setting up of High Court circuit benches, pendency of cases would decline.
Mr Patil suggested setting up of courts, irrespective of the number of cases.
High Court Judge justices S V Gopal Gowda, K L Manjunath, N K Patil, B S Patil also spoke on the ocassion.
© 2008 mynews.in
Publication Date 21/9/2008 7:31:21 PM(IST
Khairlanji case: Judge says he received threats
BHANDARA: Additional ad-hoc district and sessions judge SS Das hearing the Khairlanji massacre case on Saturday expressed apprehension over threats and abuses he is receiving from unknown quarters. “Some persons are trying to interfere in the work of judiciary by using pressure tactics. But I want to make it very clear that judgment will be delivered on the merits of the case without favouring anybody,” the judge told the packed courtroom. Taking a dig at media and leaders of various organisations who have commented on his earlier verdict of naming eight accused guilty and acquitting three, the judge said that he was ‘deeply hurt’. “The people must have patience, instead they try to interfere in the work of judiciary. If people want to argue themselves, then I think I am not needed here,” Das remarked. He appealed to the media and leaders of different communities not to mislead the people. “The sentence will be announced in four days. Therefore, the people must have some patience and co-operate with investigating agencies,” Das said. The court closed the hearing on award of sentence to the eight accused after marathon arguments from the prosecution and defence sides. The sentence will be announced on September 24. To this, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam tendered an unconditional apology and behalf of all those who allegedly ‘tried to influence the judiciary’. Both Nikam and defence counsels including Sudeep Jaiswal and Neeraj Khandewale appealed Das to initiate contempt proceedings against such persons and also the media, if it is involved. Nikam also submitted CDs and videotapes of speeches made by leaders of different organisations and their comments on the verdict to the court towards the end of hearing on Saturday. Jaiswal said that they were informed by the CBI that some unscrupulous elements may pelt stones at their vehicles. Commenting on the threats received by Das, inspector general of police (Nagpur) Shrikant Savarkar said that he has no information about it, but now that the judge has said it in the courtroom, his team will inquire into it
21 Sep 2008, 0300 hrs IST,TNN
HC asks Centre to put Rs 50,000 in Bihar Relief Fund
New Delhi (PTI): In a special gesture towards Bihar flood victims, the Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to deposit Rs 50,000, cost imposed on it in a case, to the state Chief Minister’s relief fund.
A bench headed by Justice Vikramjeet Sen pulled up the government for taking a stand against law and directing a co-operative society for repatriation of government equity in the society.
After going through the documents the court found that there was reversal of thinking on the part of government which had refunded the amount a long time after accepting it as part of the redemption of its shares.
“Since the stand taken by the government is found contrary to law and diametrically opposed to the written opinion of the Attorney General, the petition is allowed subject to the payment of Rs 50,000 as costs payable by the government in favour of Chief Minister Relief Fund, Bihar within two weeks,” the Court said.
The Court passed the order on a petition filed by Krishak Bharti Co-operative Limited challenging a government order directing the repatriation to the Centre the equity held by it in the society.
The Court after hearing both the sides quashed the government’s order.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
No maintenance for wives with high income: HC
NEW DELHI: A woman with sufficient income to support herself may not need a court order for receiving maintenance from her estranged husband, the Delhi High Court has said. The court’s observations came while setting aside a family court’s order to grant maintenance in a matrimonial dispute to a woman who was earning a salary of Rs 80,000 per month. “Where a wife has no income or is without any support for maintaining herself, the court has to pass an order considering the income and living status of the husband. However, where the wife and husband both are earning and having good salary, an order is not required,” Justice S N Dhingra said. On July 25 a city court had directed Satish Kumar (name changed), the woman’s husband, to give Rs 7,500 per month to his wife Sunita (name changed) as maintenance following their matrimonial discord. Setting aside the family court’s order, Justice Dhingra allowed a petition filed by Satish contending that the family court had wrongly granted maintenance to his wife despite the fact that her income was sufficient for self-maintenance and she did not have any other responsibility. The court accepted the wife’s salary slip of February 2007, according to which her gross salary was Rs 80,000 per month and said “a person who is earning this much of salary can very well maintain herself with such a standard which may be envy of many and under no stretch of imagination it can be said that the income earned by her was not enough to maintain herself.”
21 Sep 2008, 0956 hrs IST,PTI
Put Rs 50k in Bihar Relief Fund: Delhi HC asks Centre
New Delhi, Sept 21: In a special gesture towards Bihar flood victims, the Delhi High Court has asked the Centre to deposit Rs 50,000, cost imposed on it in a case, to the state Chief Minister’s relief fund. A bench headed by Justice Vikramjeet Sen pulled up the government for taking a stand against law and directing a co-operative society for repatriation of government equity in the society. After going through the documents the court found that there was reversal of thinking on the part of government which had refunded the amount a long time after accepting it as part of the redemption of its shares. “Since the stand taken by the government is found contrary to law and diametrically opposed to the written opinion of the Attorney General, the petition is allowed subject to the payment of Rs 50,000 as costs payable by the government in favour of Chief Minister Relief Fund, Bihar within two weeks,” the Court said. The Court passed the order on a petition filed by Krishak Bharti Co-operative Limited challenging a government order directing the repatriation to the Centre the equity held by it in the society. The Court after hearing both the sides quashed the government’s order. Bureau Report
School kid takes suspension row to HC
AHMEDABAD: Issue of school discipline is reaching courts nowadays. Gujarat High Court is faced with a case involving a student of St Xavier’s High School, Loyola Hall. The school has suspended the student on disciplinary grounds but he wants to attend classes. Both parties moved court with their demands on Friday. As per case details, class XII student Simardeep Singh Bhatia, was suspended after the school trust passed a resolution that his presence in class was disturbing to other students and he was involved in several skirmishes with schoolmates. There is a history behind the resolution. Simardeep was suspended last year too on the grounds that he bunked classes for a week without seeking leave and was involved in a scuffle with students. This infuriated his mother, Gurjeet Kaur, who filed a suit in city civil court alleging that her son was being victimised. In her petition, Kaur had alleged that by suspending her son, school management had shown “religious bias”, and her son was being targeted because he is a Sikh. Moreover, she also claimed that the principal had acted against Simardeep because his elder brother was beaten up by a teacher and the incident had brought disrepute to the school in media. The school, however, denied charges, and the civil judge appointed an arbitrator. The issue was referred to district education officer, who was in favour of reinstating the student. Now, Simardeep has approached high court requesting that DEO’s order be implemented. He has also alleged that the school is discriminating against him. School authorities too have moved court saying they will not allow him to attend school. School’s lawyer, Amit Panchal, maintained that the school would make arrangements for internal examination for Simardeep or he could appear as an external student, if he wished. But, he would not be allowed to attend classes, particularly after he had made serious allegations against the principal and teachers. Justice Jayant Patel has scheduled further hearing on Monday.
21 Sep 2008, 0432 hrs IST, Saeed Khan,TNN
Tenants need to vacate on expiry of contract: Bombay HC
MUMBAI: Getting a stubborn tenant evicted has been the pet peeve of flat owners in Mumbai. In a recent judgment that will come as a relief to flat owners who let out their premises, the Bombay High Court has held that a person who enters into a leave-and-licence contract has to vacate the apartment on the expiry of the agreement. Justice A M Khanwilkar refused to grant any relief to a city resident who had claimed tenancy rights over a sprawling apartment in Bandra on the ground that the owner had not asked her to vacate the place. The court also asked the petitioner to pay Rs 36,000 a month as compensation (double the monthly rent) till the time she hands over possession of the flat back to the owner. “The petitioners were obliged to vacate the suit premises on expiry of the licence period,” said the judge. The case relates to a sprawling 9,509-square-foot flat along with two car-parking spaces in Victoria Apartment, St Alexious Road, Bandra, owned by Mohammed Hussain Furniturewalla. He had signed a leave-and-licence agreement with one Parineeta Chaudhari for a monthly rent of Rs 18,000 in March 2003 for a period of 22 months. After the expiry of the lease period in January 2005, Chaudhari continued to stay in the apartment and even filed a suit for declaring her as a tenant. Advocate Mubin Solkar, counsel for the petitioner, pointed out the 11-month delay in filing the application for eviction. Under Section 24 of the Maharashtra Rent Control Act, if the licensee fails to vacate the premises at the end of the agreement, the owner can move the authorities to get the flat vacated. According to Solkar, the flat owner had not only failed to issue any eviction notice for 11 months but had also continued to accept the rent. The judge did not agree with this view. “That the owner continued to accept the monthly compensation after the licence period was over, or for that matter, did not issue any legal notice to the petitioners does not go against the owner,” the judge said.
21 Sep 2008, 0248 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas,TNN
HC looks at interim compensation for Blueline victims’ families
New Delhi, September 20 Blueline owners now have one more reason to caution their drivers against reckless driving. In a step which might prove to be the most “effective deterrent” against the rising accident graph of Bluelines in the Capital, the Delhi High Court on Saturday indicated towards a decision to award “immediate” interim compensation to victims’ families to help tide over the tragedy.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar said Blueline owners will have to cough up Rs 1 lakh as interim compensation to victims’ families in case of fatal accidents and Rs 50,000 to those with grievous injuries or permanent disability as the result of the mishap. The court will pass written orders in the case on September 24.
The court has also asked the Delhi Transport Corporation to file a response on whether the public carrier would be amenable to having a similar scheme for accident victims as well.
The Bench views the interim scheme as a humanitarian move to provide sustenance in the form of financial assistance for Blueline victims and their families during the time the bus owner is tried in a court of law.
The case was heard after the High Court, in July 2007, took suo motu cognizance of the increasing number of fatalities involving Blueline buses. Explaining the scheme, the Bench said the Blueline bus would immediately be impounded after such an accident and released by the Metropolitan Magistrate only after the owner pays interim compensation.
“The Magistrate himself will take the deposit from the Blueline owner at the time of the release,” amicus curiae A J Bambhani said, “The compensation amount, whether in the case of death or grievous injuries, will be handed over to the victims or his family by the Magistrate himself.”
To receive the amount, the victim or his/her family will give a written undertaking in the court to file a motor accidents claim case in the Special Tribunal for a final decree on the compensation amount.
“The amount given by the Magistrate is only for immediate help to the victims— the final compensation will be given through the insurance claim on the vehicle as ordered by the Tribunal,” said Bhambhani.
The amount provided as interim compensation will later be adjusted with the final amount of compensation as ordered by the Special Tribunal.
“The interim compensation given by the bus owner will be reimbursed to him by the insurance company after the Tribunal passes its final orders,” the amicus added.
The court foresees a major role etched out for the Delhi Police in accident cases where the victims are from a financially weak background. “The police will immediately notify the Delhi Legal Services.
Authority (DLSA) which will provide free legal aid to victims seeking interim compensation from the Magistrate court,” said the amicus curiae.
Posted online: Sep 21, 2008 at 0019 hrs
UPA dragging feet on tough anti-terror law issue: Advani
Ahmedabad, Sep 21 (PTI) The BJP today accused the UPA government of dragging its feet on the issue of tough law on terrorism despite the Administrative Reforms Commission’s recommendation for it.”The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) has recommended for a tough law on terror. It’s one week since the bomb blast in Delhi but UPA government has still not decided on introducing a stringent anti-terror law. It seems that they are not serious about it,” Advani told mediapersons here.”They are simply playing vote-bank politics ahead of the general elections,” he charged.”The union government is yet to learn lesson from the serial blasts in the national capital and formulate a tough law to fight terrorism,” Advani added.Asked about his stand on GUJCOCA (Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Act), the former Home Minister said BJP would continue pressing for the Act.”BJP will continue to demand for GUJCOCA though it has been passed by the state assembly consisting of elected representatives of Gujarat,” Advani said.The Leader of the Opposition was here to take part in an executive board meeting of the Somnath Temple Trust, of which he is one of the trustees.”I began Rath Yatra on September 25, 1990 from Somnath temple to Ayodhya. The Yatra changed my life and the political scenario of the country. In remembrance of that historic rath yatra, I visit Somnath every year on same date,” Advani said. PTI
Kerala law reforms panel for legalisation of mercy killing
Thiruvanthapuram (PTI): In a radical proposal, Kerala Law Reforms Commission headed by eminent jurist justice V R Krishna Iyer has suggested legalisation of euthanasia and abolition of the clause, holding attempt to commit suicide an offence, through relevant amendment to the Indian Penal Code.
The proposal drawn up in the form of a draft bill by the Commission says mercy killing could be considered in cases where death is the only salvation and preservation of life would be medically impossible and visited with insufferable physical or mental pain.
The proposal, to be submitted to the state government, defined euthanasia as “deprivation of life by oneself, or by any other person at the instance of the person whose life is lost, or by medical practitioner doing any act or omission resulting in termination of life.”
“The victim of suffering and his closest relatives after taking responsible medical opinion about the irrecoverability of pain-free normality creates the right to euthanasia. Solace compassion, justice and humanism make euthanasia a legally permissible farewell to life in its misery and desperation,” the proposal noted.
It suggested that mercy killing should be carried out with the written sanction of three state-recognised doctors certifying that the patient under consideration is a fit case for euthanasia.
The panel also suggested deletion of Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code which held attempt to suicide as an offence.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Four deposed Pak judges reinstated into Supreme Court
Islamabad (PTI): The ruling Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition on Saturday continued to selectively reinstate judges deposed during last year’s emergency by inducting four judges into the Supreme Court even as it virtually ruled out the restoration of former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to his earlier position.
Two deposed judges of the apex court, Justices Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan and Nasirul Mulk, and two deposed judges of the Sindh High Court were sworn in as judges of the Supreme Court by Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Dogar.
The PPP-led government has already selectively reinstated deposed judges of apex court and High Courts on Punjab, Sindh and North West Frontier Province who agreed to be administered a fresh oath.
The move goes against the demand of the opposition PML-N that all the deposed judges be reinstated in one go through a parliamentary resolution and an executive order. Some 60 judges were sacked by former President Pervez Musharraf when they refused to endorse the emergency he imposed in November last year.
Speaking to reporters after the swearing-in ceremony, Law Minister Farooq Naek said the government is committed to fulfill its promise to reinstate the deposed judges. “Almost all the deposed judges have been restored with their seniority and back benefits ensured,” he said.
Asked about deposed Chief Justice Chaudhry’s position, Naek said, “We have invited all the deposed judges with an open mind to take a fresh oath, but so far as the constitutional obligations and provisions are concerned, there can be no two Chief Justices.
“Justice Abdul Hamid Dogar has already taken oath under the constitution as the Chief Justice of Pakistan,” he added.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
NTPC threatens legal action against Russian equipment supplier TPE
NTPC Ltd, India’s largest power generator, has warned the Russian power equipment supplier, Technopromexport (TPE) of legal action if the later does not resume the work at NTPC’s power project in Bihar.
The dispute relates to NTPC’s Barh stage I project, where the Russian company is supplying boilers for three units of 660 of Mw each. Due to dispute between NTPC and TPE, work in this Rs 8,700 crore project has come to a standstill and is now running two years behind schedule.
“For the past few months, NTPC has been in dialogue with TPE to sort out the disputes over price and time escalations and get work resumed at the site”, according to a press statement issued by the ministry of power today. Further details were not disclosed.
With the disputes remaining unresolved, NTPC has given time till coming Wednesday, after which the state-owned power utility plans to start adjudication proceedings as provided for in the contract.
NTPC has already spent about Rs 3,000 crore in the project the total cost of which is Rs 8,700 crore.
The warning by the Navratna PSU to TPE was announced by Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for power while launching the stage-II of the Barh power project in Bihar.
The total capacity of the stage-II, which is another Rs 7,340 crore project, is 1,200 Mw and employs two units of 660 Mw each to be supplied by Bhel, the India’s largest power equipment manufacturer. The first 660 Mw unit is expected to be commissioned in March 2012 and the second unit in January 2013.
Bs Reporter / New Delhi September 21, 2008, 15:34 IST
Moily panel suggests Special Courts for quick terror trial
NEW DELHI: Keeping in view the doctrine of “speedy trial” as suggested by the Law Commission, the Veerappa Moily panel appointed by the Centre has come out strongly in favour of setting up Special Courts for quick disposal of terrorism related cases. The report on ‘Combating Terrorism’ has said a new comprehensive anti-terrorist legislation should have provisions for constitution of Special Fast Track Courts “exclusively for trial of terrorism-related cases”. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission pointed out in the report that the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) had provided for constitution of one or more Designated Courts for the trial of notified cases. TADA also had a provision that trial of any offence under the Act by such Designated Courts would have precedence over trial of other cases against the accused in any other court and would be concluded in preference to other cases. Even the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) had provided for constitution of Special Courts for trial of specified cases. With both TADA and POTA having been repealed, the 185-page Moily report said the present Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act has done away with such Special Courts. The report said the Supreme Court has also observed that to avoid “unreasonable delay”, the Government should constitute more Designated Courts so that the undertrials did not languish in jail indefinitely and the cases are disposed of expeditiously. Concerned over the slow pace of proceedings in several terrorism-related cases, the Centre has asked states to set-up exclusive or separate courts to deal with them expeditiously. In the backdrop of some major terror attack cases like the Samjhauta Express explosion and the Varanasi Sankatmochan temple blast pending before various courts for long periods, the Centre has asked state governments to set-up such courts in consultation with their respective High Courts. A whopping 2.92 crore cases were pending in various courts in the country as on December 31 last year. Of these, 2.54 crore cases were lying before district and subordinate courts. While 1.81 crore were criminal cases, 73 lakh were civil cases. Concerned over the huge number of pending cases, some Fast Track Courts were established and it has been decided to continue with them up to March 31, 2010. They said central assistance is being provided to states in respect of 1,562 Fast Track Courts reported operational as on March 31, 2005. An amount of Rs 509 crore has been provided for the operation of the scheme in the five year period from March 31, 2005. Approximately Rs 260 crore has already been provided to the states from 2005-06 to 2007-08, they said, adding that a budget provision of Rs 75 crore has been made for the scheme in 2008-09. As per information furnished by the states, Fast Track Courts have disposed of 18,57,098 cases out of 26,69,495 cases transferred to these courts since inception upto December 31 last year.
21 Sep 2008, 1021 hrs IST,PTI
Encroachments galore in Akalgarh market
Ludhiana, September 20 Although shopkeepers at the Akalgarh market have been told to remove their illegal encroachments, no action has been taken against them till date. This has been admitted by deputy commissioner Sumer Singh Gurjar while submitting an affidavit in response to a PIL in the High Court. Gurjar has clearly stated that a three-member committee comprising of SDM (East), MC joint commissioner and the SP City had asked the shopkeepers to remove the encroachments from the market. The matter had been resolved but later the shopkeepers again made illegal encroachments in front of their shops.
In addition to this, the affidavit also states that there is no parking facility in the market, which has over 840 shops, a hospital running in a basement and a gurdwara. He also stated that it is the duty of the MC to issue notices to shopkeepers to remove such encroachments.
Meanwhile, Kartar Singh Patna, chairman of Akalgarh Market Bachao Sangarsh Committee alleged that no action is being taken against the violators due to political pressures.
Express News Service Posted: Sep 21, 2008 at 0208 hrs IST
Mathur named head of Armed Forces Tribunal
New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) A.K. Mathur, a retired Supreme Court judge, was Wednesday appointed the head of the newly constituted Armed Forces Tribunal, which will adjudicate on appeals against military courts’ verdicts on service-related matters.
“The tenure of the appointment of Justice A.K. Mathur as chairperson in the Armed Forces Tribunal will be for a period of four years from the date of assumption of the charge of post or till he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier,” a defence ministry statement said.
Justice Mathur was elevated as judge of the Supreme Court on June 7, 2004 and retired Aug 6 this year.
The tribunal is the military version of the Central Administrative Tribunal that hears appeals of the government’s civilian employees against disciplinary or other action taken against them.
Some 9,000 appeals are currently pending in various high courts and the Supreme Court and they will be transferred to the tribunal once it becomes functional.
The tribunal will consist of a chairperson, 14 judicial members and 15 administrative members.
There is a tussle going on over the administrative members, in the rank of major general and above, that are to be selected from within the Armed Forces.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony had made it clear in a Gazette notification June 13 that the principal bench of the tribunal be set up in the capital by Aug 15, but the deadline was missed.
According to defence ministry sources, while the ministry has set up a selection committee headed by the defence secretary and the law secretary to short-list prospective members, the quarrel over the ‘quota’ for each service in administrative and judicial posts is holding up matters.
Officials say the army is also demanding ‘reservation’ of a few benches of the tribunal, including the one in Jaipur, only for army officers as majority of the legal cases pertain to its personnel in the region. This has also not gone down well with the other two services.
Justice Mathur chairperson of Armed Forces Tribunal
Supreme Court retired judge justice AK Mathur has been appointed the chairperson of the Armed Forces Tribunal for a period of four years from the date of assumption of the charge or till he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier..
JUSTICE ASHOK Kumar Mathur, a retired judge of the Supreme Court has been appointed as chairperson of the Armed Forces Tribunal. The tenure of appointment of Justice AK Mathur as chairperson in the Armed Forces Tribunal will be for a period of four years from the date of assumption of the charge or till he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
Born on August 7, 1943, Justice Mathur was enrolled as an advocate of the Rajasthan High Court in 1967.
He served as assistant government advocate and deputy government advocate and later as government advocate of Jodhpur from 1969 to 1978. He was appointed as additional advocate general of Rajasthan in 1981.
Justice Mathur became additional judge of Rajasthan High Court in 1985 and permanent judge of the same court in 1986. He was transferred to the Madhya Pradesh High Court in 1994, and was appointed chief justice of the same court in 1996. Justice Mathur was transferred to Calcutta High Court in 1999.
He was elevated as Judge of the Supreme Court of India on June 7, 2004, and retired this month.
CJ: Mineguruji , 27 Aug 2008