Daily Legal News 28.08.08

Bansal, Gupta sent to judicial custody


Judge bribery case: Heated argument between special public prosecutor and defence counsel witnessed in court

The court of Judicial Magistrate (First Class) sent Sanjeev Bansal and Rajiv Gupta, accused in the case pertaining to an attempt made to bribe a High Court judge, to judicial custody for 14 days.

Demanding their police remand, advocate Anupam Gupta reiterated in the court: “Indeed a High Court judge is involved in the case. The identity of the judge already stands established.”

During the arguments, which lasted for more than half an hour, he said the two accused made disclosure statements in which they had said a handset belonging to Bansal was to be recovered from the possession of his Delhi-based friend. Gupta said the handset contained a large number of phone numbers which might offer vital information and leads in the case.

The court witnessed a heated argument between Anupam Gupta and Bansal’s counsel.

Gupta took a dig at Bansal, former Haryana Additional Advocate General, and pointed out that there had been tremendous pressure from both within and outside the legal system on the investigating agency.

“Bansal is an important part of the legal system and he was looking forward to get help from higher quarters from both within and outside. That is why despite custodial interrogation he is opening up in bits and pieces,” said Gupta. Alleging that many high-profile people are involved in this case, he submitted: “The investigating agency is up against a very powerful, intelligent and well-connected nexus that involves higher members of the judiciary.”

Gupta added that a scrutiny of the astronomical bank transactions of Bansal brought to light the fact that his single bank transaction used to be in crores of rupees and that his cash transactions were in lakhs.

Arguing against Bansal’s police remand, senior advocate Rajiv Atma Ram, his counsel, claimed that what Bansal and Gupta told the police were not disclosure statements. “If they were, Bansal would have revealed the name of his friend as well who is in possession of the phone,” he said. He also argued that the statements had not been recorded in the presence of independent witnesses.

After the arguments concluded around 4 pm, the magistrate reserved his orders and told the advocates that it would be pronounced at 5 pm.

Around 6 pm, the magistrate returned to the courtroom and said: “Further police remand is declined.”

Posted online: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 02:41:12


CJI proposes judicial inquiry by 3 Judge Panel into Punjab & Haryana HC scandal


Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan has proposed a judicial inquiry by three High Court Judges Committee to look into the scandal, which has rocked the Punjab and Haryana High Court, with the name of its sitting Judge cropping up in the scandal.

On August 13, Justice Nirmaljit Kaur reported the matter to State High Court Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and local police about an attempt to bribe her by sending a briefcase containing Rs 15 lakh in cash.

The money was allegedly sent by Additional Advocate General of Haryana Sajeev Bansal, who is presently in jail along with his close associate Rajiv Gupta, a property dealer. During interrogation, Bansal has reportedly confessed that the money was in fact meant for another Judge, Nirmal Yadav, who has already proceeded on leave after her name cropped up in the scandal.

The Chief Justice, who is being kept informed about the latest developments in the case by Justice Thakur has suggested the names of Allahabad High Court Chief Justice Hemant Laxman Gokhle, Justice Madan B Lokur of Delhi High Court and Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court K S Radhakrishnan as members of the committee.

Justice Gokhale is likely to head the committee.

Bansal has also reportedly confessed that he was a regular channel between Justice Yadav and a Delhi hotelier.

The suggestion of the Chief Justice has come in accordance with the procedure of in-house mechanism adopted by the judiciary to tackle the menace of corruption in the temples of Justice.

The scandal came to light, when the clerk of a senior solicitor dropped the money at the official residence of Justice Kaur.

Earlier, Bansal had made a statement that the money was taken to the residence of the Judge by mistake, while it was meant for payment of a land deal. The name of Justice Yadav has also cropped up in connection with another land deal in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan district.

The judiciary has already been rocked by another GPF scam of Ghaziabad district court tragedy from where Rs 7 crore was fraudulently siphoned-off during a period of seven years from 2001 to 2007, in which the main accused Ashutosh Asthana has named 36 Judges as the beneficiaries of the scam. Judges named in the scam includes a sitting apex court Judge, 11 Judges of Allahabad and Uttarakhand High Court and 24 District and Sessions Judges of Ghaziabad. The case has been transferred by two benches of the Supreme Court, one headed by Justice Balakrishnan himself, another bench headed by second senior-most Judge of Supreme Court B N Agarwal and has now been transferred to a bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat.





CJI Balakrishnan sets panel to probe ‘cash scam’


Taking a serious note of the ‘cash-at-judge door’ scam that has malign the judiciary again, the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan has constituted a three-member committee to enquire into the Rs 15 lakh bribery case allegedly involving the hand of Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Nirmal Yadav. Besides, a parallel CBI enquiry has also been recommended.

Justice KS Radhakrishnan (Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir HC), Justice Hemant Lakshman Gokhle (Chief Justice of Allahabad HC) and Justice Madan B Lokur (Delhi HC) will probe the case. Justice Gokhle will head the committee set up to unleash the corruption charges’ case involving former additional advocate-general of Haryana, Sanjeev Bansal and three others have been arrested.

Punjab Governor SFR Rodrigues, who is also Administrator General of Chandigarh, has recommended a CBI probe into the scam after consultation with the HC Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur.

Presently the Chandigarh police is investigating the case. The Central Agency will soon set out for Chandigarh and take the records of the case into its supervision from the state police. Considering the sensitivity of the case, the CBI has reportedly been advised to deal the case with utmost sincerity and ensure no local factor could influence the investigation.

The scandal came to light after the clerk, allegedly sent by Additional Advocate General of Haryana Sajeev Bansal, dropped the money at the official residence of Justice Nirmaljit Kaur. Justice Kaur reported the matter to State High Court Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and local police about an attempt to bribe her by sending a briefcase containing Rs 15 lakh in cash.

Bansal, presently in jail, reportedly confessed during interrogation but said the money was meant for another judge, Nirmal Yadav, who proceeded on leave after her name popped up in the scandal.

Accused Sanjeev Bansal and his associate Rajiv Gupta were remanded to 14 days’ judicial custody on Tuesday. Bansal who has reportedly confessed about the delivery of money had earlier made a statement that money was delivered to the residence of judge by mistake. He said the money was meant for payment of a land deal.

Chandigarh police enquiring into the matter reached Solan, Himachal Pradesh and after investigation revealed the money was related to a property deal the judge and her relatives had clinched last week.

The cash scam has added fuel to the judiciary already facing flak by another Provident Fund scam occurred in Ghaziabad district court from where Rs 7 crore was fraudulently siphoned off within a period of 7 years from 2001 to 2007. The main accused, Ashutosh Asthana-a Ghaziabad treasurer, who is presently in jail has named 36 judges includes a Supreme Court judge, 11 Allahabad and Uttarakhand HC judges and 24 District and Session Courts judges of Ghaziabad as the beneficiaries of the scam. The case is under investigation probing by the state agencies.

New Delhi, Thu, 28 Aug 2008 NI Wire



Delhi HC notice to Nagaland

 NEW DELHI, Aug 27 – Delhi High Court has issued notices to Nagaland Government to respond to a PIL filed by Rashtriya Mukti Morcha (RMM), demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the infamous Nagaland lottery scam. The PIL filed by the NGO in 2006, came up for hearing before the Court of the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice A.P. Shah and Justice S Murlidhar. As Mani Kumar Subba, who has been named as one of the respondents in the case, has so far declined to respond, the Court today decided to issue notices to Nagaland Government, said petitioner’s counsel, Ravindra Kumar.

Talking to this newspaper, the advocate said that they have demanded a thorough probe by the CBI into the lottery scam, which he alleged was to the tune of over Rs 7 crore.

The Nagaland lottery scam has come back to haunt the State Government and the self-styled lottery baron after almost a decade of its unearthing. It was in 1996-1997 that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) conducted a special audit leading to the unearthing of the scam that ran to a whopping Rs 5,000 crore. The Union Home Ministry ordered the special audit during the NDA regime.

The CAG report had indicted both the Nagaland Government and MS Lottery, which was the sole distributor of the State lottery. It was accused of defrauding the public as well as the exchequer. Governor of Maharashtra, SC Jamir was the Chief Minister of the State, when the scam was unearthed. The CAG report was handed over to the then Governor O P Sharma.

“The Nagaland lottery did not meet the requirements of the Supreme Court. It was state-authorised and not state-organised. Every opportunity was taken by the state to benefit the state’s sole distributor M S Associates at the cost of the state. Every conceivable transgression took place in the running of the lottery,” the CAG had reported’

The CAG report, submitted in the Nagaland Assembly, said that lottery tickets worth Rs 38,297 crore had not been credited to the State Government account. The entire scam took place between October 1993 and November 1997.

Lotteries were organised to help mobilise additional revenue for the state but because of a vague and loosely worded agreement between the director of the State Lottery and M S Associates, audit found that only 0.105 per cent of the total turnover of Rs 38,297 crore was credited to the Nagaland Government.

The CAG report had categorically said that 83,254 lottery draws were held under different schemes. In each of the 1,522 days, 55 draws took place each day and the turnover of each draw was Rs 45.75 lakh. Neither was the entire amount of sale of these draws amounting to Rs 38,297 crore deposited with the government, as it should have been nor was the prize money given.

The claim that 91 per cent of the face value of the tickets was paid as the prize money was not acceptable, said the CAG report.

The CAG found that the Government should have got at least Rs 383 crore as profit of the entire sale of tickets, but under mysterious circumstances, it got only Rs 40.20 crore from M S Associates in four years. The Government had also not received Rs 54 crore as taxable prize money, which was to revert to the Government and there was no account of non-taxable prizes worth Rs 15,194 crore, which could be won during the period between October1993 and November 1997.

Spl correspondent




BMC proposes to display names of trees for identification


Mumbai, August 27 The BMC has proposed to display the names of the trees on board for easy identification. This has been stated in an affidavit filed by the BMC to the Bombay High Court. The affidavit has been filed by Superintendent of Garden Vijaykumar Dande in response to a PIL challenging the procedure followed for cutting trees in Mumbai.

Awaaz Foundation, an NGO, had alleged that the procedure for seeking permission to cut trees for redevelopment is faulty. Dande, while denying the allegations has revealed that the final count of trees is only 19, 17,844 consisting of 366 varieties excluding mangroves and forest land. The affidavit reveals that of the nearly nine crore budget allotted for 2008-09, only Rs 2.5 crore has been utilized till June 2008. According to petitioner Sumaira Abdulali, the Tree Authority is always the last to know about cutting of trees and do not follow proper procedure to cut trees. It is the responsibility of the Tree Authority to maintain greenery in the urban areas.

The ‘tree cess’ worth Rs 100 crore collected as part of the property tax is not being used properly by the authority, the PIL alleged. Dande, however, states that the tree authority grants permission for chopping of trees after sufficient scrutiny and following due procedure. The petition further contends that “there is a clear and direct nexus between the builders and the BMC officials as well as the Tree Authority.” The petition goes on to say that there is a construction boom in the eastern and western suburbs of the city and the green cover is indeed disappearing in the name of development and there is no adequate mechanism in place regarding replacement and transplanting of the trees. It alleges that the authorities concerned have given permission to cut trees freely and there is no information regarding the steps that needs to be taken by the builders to ensure that adequate number of trees are planted in place of those have been cut for the purpose of construction.

Dande further states that Green Awards would be given to those who plant maximum number of trees and steps are being taken to develop tree gardens. The petition also states that “despite grant of more than required funds to the Tree Authority the same has been lying admittedly un-utilised. The PIL will come up for hearing on August 28.

Mohan Kumar

Posted online: Thursday , August 28, 2008 at 02:42:55



Abattoir: govt, BBMP in coma, says Bangalore High Court


BANGALORE: The high court division Bench on Wednesday pulled up the government and BBMP for not shifting and setting up a modern abattoir for the city even six years after the court order, and told them to find a solution to the vexed problem.

“The case was filed in 1997. The court directed you to shift the abattoirs on August 13, 2002. But you are still dragging your feet. Though a new abattoir was envisaged on a 40-acre plot, the local MLA is creating problems. The executive is helpless. The government and the BBMP seem to be in a deep coma,” the Bench observed.

Notice to BDA, state over PRR

The high court ordered issuance of notices to the BDA and government with regard to PIL challenging the Rs 3,500-crore Peripheral Ring Road project Phase-I (PRR-I ).

The division Bench, headed by the chief justice, said any acquisition will be subject to the result of the writ petition.

Lt. Col. P R Rai and others challenged the project on the ground that feasibilty report was not prepared before final notification was issued on June 29, 2007.

The preliminary notification was issued on September 23, 2005, and an additional notification issued on November 15, 2006. The government told the BDA to prepare a feasibility report before approving the project in April 2007, the petitioners claimed.

Plea on ‘Bengaluru’ spelling admitted

A division Bench has admitted PIL challenging the use of ‘uru’ in the names of Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore, instead of ‘ooru’ .

“Since you have approached the Centre, let them decide. But in Chennai , even after the change of name, the high court is still Madras High Court. It’s the same with Bombay High Court,” the Bench observed before adjourning the hearing.

The petitioners claimed the use of ‘uru’ is incorrect and meaningless and sought a direction for using ‘ooru’ , which corresponds with the Kannada word for ‘place’ .

BBMP to reply on slum

A division Bench has directed the BBMP to file an affidavit with regard to time-frame for rehabilitating slumdwellers who have been put up at a park in Austin Town. The court also wanted to know when the temporary structures will be cleared.

KIADB acquisition stayed

A division Bench has issued interim stay on a May 9, 2008 KIADB notification for acquiring 995.90 acres in three Koppal villages for Arees Iron and Steel Ltd.

The petitioners said KIADB can acquire land only for public purposes and has exceeded its jurisdiction by doing so for a single entity. The company also did not buy the property outright from farmers, they said.

Cost imposed on insecticide firm

A division Bench has imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on insecticide manufacturer Rallis India Ltd for creating a stalemate in the legal process for over a decade.

The Bench also directed the trial court to complete proceedings within three months and file reports every 15 days about the progress of the case.

The authorities initiated criminal proceedings against the company and its distributors in 1997, after testing a sample of Hexaconazole solution . The company claimed the lab was not authorized. The Bench found that one part of the lab statement which mentioned its authorization was not submitted in court.

toiblr.reporter@timesgroup .com 28 Aug 2008, 0653 hrs IST,TNN



Judge seeks to recuse herself in Reliance-NTPC case


Justice Roshan Dalvi sought to recuse herself from the case involving Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) over the supply of gas from the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin today.

RIL had applied to the Bombay High Court seeking the appointment of a new judge, legal sources said, on grounds that Justice Dalvi holds four shares in NTPC.

Based on today’s closing price of the NTPC scrip on the Bombay Stock Exchange, the four shares are worth around Rs 685.

RIL was not available for comment on the development despite repeated attempts.

The case stands postponed till the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, Swatanter Kumar, appoints a new judge and issues a fresh date of hearing.

NTPC and Mukesh Ambani-promoted RIL have been involved in a legal row in the Bombay High Court since December 2005 over the latter’s claim that it has only signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with NTPC and does not have a concluded contract with the power company.

NTPC has maintained that it has a concluded contract with RIL for the supply of natural gas to its Kawas and Gandhar power stations in Gujarat.

NTPC had invited the bid in October 2002 and RIL had emerged as the sole successful bidder for supply of natural gas to these projects. RIL had won the right to supply 12 million metric standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd) of gas to NTPC’s power projects in Gujarat at $2.34 per million metric British thermal unit (mmbtu). RIL had quoted the lowest price in 2004 in the bidding process and was subsequently issued an LoI.

NTPC went to court in 2005 after RIL did not sign the gas sale and purchase agreement (GSPA) because of a dispute over a clause relating to unlimited liability.

The resolution of this case is important for another case over the supply KG basin gas involving RIL and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL), promoted by Mukesh Ambani’s brother Anil because the RIL-RNRL GSPA was drafted on the lines of the NTPC-RIL agreement.

Meanwhile, in a related development, R S Sharma, chairman and managing director of NTPC, met the Advocate General of Maharashtra, Ravi Kadam, in Mumbai today and briefed him that the government’s counsel in the gas dispute case between RIL and RNRL would withdraw his statement that “NTPC did not have a concluded gas contract with RIL”.

The counsel, Justice TS Doabia, was representing the ministry of petroleum and natural gas. The next hearing for RIL-RNRL case is scheduled for September 1.

Bs Reporter / Mumbai August 28, 2008, 0:28 IST


SC grants more time to Godhra probe panel


NEW DELHI, Aug. 26: The Supreme Court today granted time till 31 December to the Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by former CBI director Mr RK Raghavan, to complete the probe into the Godhra train burning incident and submit its final report on whether a dozen major cases of the Gujarat communal riots that followed required CBI investigation.
A three-judge bench of Justices Mr Arijit Pasayat, Mr P Sathasivam and Mr Aftab Alam granted the extension of time when the SIT made a request for the same.
The bench adjourned the hearing soon after Justice Mr Pasayat lost his temper over the submission of senior counsel Mr KTS Tulsi when he remarked that “this honourable court has suspended the Constitution with one stroke of pen and no court is prepared to hear the bail applications of the accused and they are being told to go to the Supreme Court”.
Justice Mr Pasayat told Mr Tulsi not to raise his voice and made it clear that the court had not said anything on that aspect.
Over 100 accused are in jail for their involvement in the burning of a train at Godhra, in which 52 kar sevaks, returning from Ayodhya, were burnt alive in 2002 when bogie number S6 was allegedly set ablaze. Following this incident communal riots broke out in Gujarat in which hundreds were killed.

Statesman News Service


Darken the circles on CET answer sheets – Bombay HC


Mumbai: Aspirants of the Common Entrance Test (CET), Maharashtra have been advised to mark their answer sheets by darkening the circles properly.

The Bombay High Court said that students are given marks even if they have ticked the correct circle and not darkened the circle.

The High Court has, therefore, strictly directed the State Government to evaluate answer sheets according to the instructions listed in the CET brochure.

“A student taking the CET Examination puts in a lot of hard work with an aim to secure a seat in a reputed institution. No laxity can, therefore, be permitted in the matter of assessment of answer sheets as it may affect the future of students”, said a division bench comprising Justice P.B. Majumdar and Amjad Sayed.

“No student should be kept in dark. All actions of the state should be transparent. A bright student may loose his chance of getting admission in a medical course if the state adopts procedures contrary to the ones prescribed”, the judges added.

The decision has come in after a petition was filed by a Pune resident -Manjeri Patil, who missed out on a seat in a medical college by a few marks only.

During revaluation, Manjeri realized that marks had been awarded to her for answers where she had put a tick mark.

However, according to the information brochure, scratching, overwriting, tick mark and multiple answers are considered as a wrong answer and no marks are awarded for such questions.

Assistant Government Pleader MD Naik told the HC that the rule had not been followed strictly and the State had taken the opinion of ‘some experts’ regarding this issue as there were several cases of students putting a tick mark instead of blackening the circles in a hurry.

“Ultimately, on the basis of the opinion received, a decision was taken that tick marks would be taken into account so that a student, who has answered a question correctly does not suffer”, said Naik

The High Court, however, said that the State Government’s decision is “highly unjustified”.

“In a society governed by the rule of law, a citizen is expected to know as to what is the correct procedure and principle by which he is likely to be guided”, said the court.

The State Government has given an undertaking to the HC stating it would strictly adhere to the norms and in the event of any change, would inform students about the changes in advance.

August 27, 2008 


Green group can hold silent protests: HC http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mumbai/Green_group_can_hold_silent_protests_HC_/articleshow/3409809.cms

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Tuesday restrained Greenpeace activists from protesting outside Tata’s headquarters in the city, Bombay House, or the residences of any of its directors in connection with its Dhamra project in Orissa. They contend that the project is endangering the eco system.

Hearing a petition by Tatas, Justice V M Kanade earmarked three sites where the activists could hold silent protests- the Income Tax building at Churchgate, near Liberty Cinema and near Metro cinema.

The organisation also gave an undertaking to the court that it would not obstruct anyone from entering or leaving the buildings.

Greenpeace’s run in with the Tatas concerns the latter’s venture with Larsen and Toubro to build a port near Dhamra on the Orissa coast. According to the environmental group, the port is located barely 12 km from the marine sanctuary of Gahirmatha beach, which is the breeding site of the rare Olive Ridley Turtles. The environmental organisation claims that construction and dredging activity affect the ecosystem and the turtles ‘ habitat.

On August 20, Greenpeace activists had launched a sitin protest at Bombay House. 27 Aug 2008, 0519 hrs IST,TNN



Third HC judge to hear percentile case on Friday


MUMBAI: It was clearly a wide divide between the views of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice A P Deshpande in the percentile case.

“It is arbitrary, irrational, illegal, unreasonable, passed in undue haste with no application of mind and violates the fundamental right of merit-cum-preference ,” said the Chief Justice of Bombay high court, mincing no words on the Maharashtra government’s new normalisation system for admissions to first year junior college.

Justice Deshpande differed, “It is not arbitrary, nor unreasonable , not harsh and the state has successfully demonstrated that it has created a level playing field (for all students of diverse boards).”

A day after the split verdict in the petition challenging the state’s introduction of the controversial percentile formula to govern FYJC admissions, Justice J N Patel, the third judge before whom the matter now rests, has fixed the hearing on August 29-30 . His decision will be significant in finally judging the legality of the government resolution.

Justice Deshpande said the state’s policy withstood the test of reasonableness as laid down by the Supreme Court. “As a matter of fact, the formula has not operated strikingly to the detriment of the interest of the students from ICSE and CBSE boards. They are getting more seats than their numerical proportion,” he said, reasoning why the state was right.

He noted that it was not necessary for the state to have heard the persons who would be affected. “The state has introduced a definite principle rather a statistical formula aimed at normalisation of the percentage of marks, and the same operates equally to all the students,” he said, accepting the state’s stand that till 2007, though only a few thousands of students used to pass Std X from other boards, such as CBSE and ICSE, they could secure majority of the FYJC seats in the more sought after prestigious colleges, leaving SSC students high and dry.

However, Deshpande sounded a word of caution, saying the state “is expected to take such vital decision in more coordinated and comprehensive manner well in advance The admission process could have been better streamlined and it would have been more desirable of the state to have sought participation of all the boards after obtaining the entire data which was required for taking the decision” .

The Chief Justice, on his part, said the state not only got its policy all wrong, it even contradicted its own stand. Kumar relied on the wikipedia definition of percentile and said it “will be a misnomer and misapplication to apply the percentile formula to candidates falling under different and distinct categories” .

He frowned on the unnecessary haste of the state to bring in the policy change. “Every policy of the government is expected to be framed on prudent principles, should be free of arbitrariness and essentially be published in larger public interest while satisfying the criteria of Constitutional mandate of Article 14 (right to equality),” he said.

Kumar also said that the petitioner’s father had demonstrated how the rule of merit was defeated. The petitioner, an ICSE student, was superseded by 60 students with lesser marks than his in the admission list.

The Chief Justice found that the state contradicted itself while defining ICSE students as “more privileged’ ‘ and said it was an inappropriate expression “to be used by the might of the state” .

In the present case as well, except for a bald allegation by the state that they are different boards, no material has been placed on record to establish distinction between courses, marking, syllabus and process of teaching, the CJ added, holding that the “the reason of liberal marking and privileged students relating to any board other than SSC board are arguments of frustration.”

27 Aug 2008, 0523 hrs IST,TNN



HC orders release of Ansals’ passports


The Delhi High Court on Monday ordered the release of passports of Sushil Ansal and Gopal Ansal, the owners of Uphaar cinema hall, who were sentenced to two years imprisonment in the Uphaar fire tragedy case.

The court, however, asked Ansals to inform the High Court Registrar about their trip to abroad and the itineraries before they leave the country.

The passports are presently deposited with the Registrar as the appeal filed by Ansals and other convicts are pending before the High Court.

Justice HR Malhotra also made it clear that in case the Ansal brothers wish to visit abroad for more than a month they have to seek the court’s permission.

At least 59 people were killed due to asphyxia following a fire that broke from the transformer during screening of a Hindi movie ‘Border’ eleven years ago.

Meanwhile, the court also granted bail to two of the hall managers, NS Chopra and Ajit Chowdhary, but denied bail to three DVB employees and the cinema hall gate keeper.

A court here had on November 23, 2007 sentenced Sushil Ansal along with his brother Gopal Ansal to two-year jail term for causing death by their negligent act. The Ansal brothers, however, have been granted bail in the case.

Seven others — Radha Krishan Sharma, NS Chopra, Ajit Chowdhary (Uphaar managers), Manmohan Unniyal (cinema’s gatekeeper), Brij Mohan Satija, AK Gera and Bir Singh (all DVB officials) — held guilty for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, were awarded seven years rigorous imprisonment.

The other three, convicted for offences similar to that of Ansal brothers, were also given two years’ jail term each but were granted bail.

 Press Trust Of India

New Delhi, May 19, 2008

First Published: 22:33 IST(19/5/2008)



Don’t raze ancient mosques: HC to AMC http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Ahmedabad/Dont_raze_ancient_mosques_HC_to_AMC_/articleshow/3410064.cms

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat High Court, on Tuesday, once again restrained Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) from demolishing parts of two ancient mosques near Astodia gate in a bid to widen the road.

Admitting a public interest litigation (PIL) by Sunni Awami Forum demanding protection of the early 16th century architectural marvel Rani Sipri and 480-year-old Siraji Saiyed Masjid, known as Khajuriwali Masjid, a division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice MS Shah and Justice DH Waghela directed the forum to make a representation before the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to include the Khajuriwali Masjid as a protected monument under the ancient monument Act. The court has also directed the ASI to act on the application by the forum within four months.

The Rani Sipri Masjid is a declared protected monument by the ASI. When AMC initiated the road widening process of the stretch between Victoria Garden and Astodia Gate last year, there was a massive protest from citizens as the AMC proposed to demolish the boundary wall of the Rani Sipri mosque as well as a part of the Khajuriwali Masjid, standing on the opposite of the road.

The forum filed a PIL in the high court dragging the AMC, ASI and other concerned authorities to court, and the high court as per the ASI norms stopped the demolition of structures in 200 metres radius from the Rani Sipri mosque.

However, the issue of Khajuriwali Masjid remained unsolved , as it doesn’t feature in the list of AMC’s heritage list. Hence, the court has asked the petitioner to request the ASI to include this mosque in its protected monuments’ list, said advocate Mukul Sinha.

27 Aug 2008, 0710 hrs IST,TNN



Is water ‘food’ ? HC to decide


AHMEDABAD: Can water be considered as food? This issue is to be decided by Gujarat High Court in a criminal complaint by a water pouch making company from Gondal town of Saurashtra.

A small water pouch production unit named New Ganga Packaging owned by Mukesh Hingrajiya and a vendor, Hasmukh Patel, both from Gondal, have approached the HC with this strange question citing legal provisions. The government has also cited a certain notification, under which water can be treated as food, for booking a person under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.

As per the case details, in December 2003, a health inspector of Gondal municipality collected 34 water pouches from Patel and sent them to a public analyst for testing. The report said that the content inside the pouches and material printed on it didn’t match. So the officer filed a complaint before the chief metropolitan magistrate in Gondal against the two for misbranding the water pouch.

However, Hingrajiya and Patel claimed that they could not be tried under the Food Adulteration Act sincethe law exempts water and drugs, and sought their names to be discharged from the case. But, the metropolitan court dismissed their application in 2005 and decided to go on with the criminal trial.

The owner-vendor duo approached a sessions court in May 2006, but lost the case in December 2007. Aggrieved by this, both of them have moved the HC through advocate Tushar Sheth involving the state government as well as the ministry of health & family welfare of the Union government . In their petition, the duo has claimed that under Section 2 (V) of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, food means any article used for human consumption other than drugs and water. So, water is excluded from the definition of food. Hence, the lower court has erred by considering packaged drinking water as food.

On the other hand, the government has cited a notification dated March 21, 2001, by which packaged drinking water is included in food. However, the petitioners have claimed that the notification itself was illegal, for, it was totally contrary to the Act and the government had not even made any amendment in the law before issuing such notification.

Urging the HC to consider the legality of the 2001 notification, the petitioners have sought direction to the lower court to terminate criminal proceedings against them. After hearing Sheth and the government , Justice AS Dave has admitted the petition and stayed proceedings in the Gondal court against the two till it reaches a conclusion on the issue. 27 Aug 2008, 0713 hrs IST, Saeed Khan,TNN




HC Bar Association lawyers refuse to defend blast suspects


Jaipur (PTI): Lawyers affiliated to the Rajasthan High Court Bar Association here have declared that they will not represent any of the suspects in the Jaipur serial blasts case.

“About 3,500 bar lawyers are united and have pledged that they would stay away from cases related to such heinous crime,” Association president Madhav Mitra said on Wednesday.

The Association took the decision after Shahbaz Hussain, one of the alleged masterminds of May 13 serial blasts that killed 68 people, was arrested in Lucknow on August 26 and produced in a local court here on Tuesday.

The District Bar Association and the Jaipur Bar Association have also called up meetings to discuss the issue, sources said.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


No relief for NSUI candidates from HC http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Delhi/No_relief_for_NSUI_candidates_from_HC/articleshow/3411669.cms

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by NSUI candidates challenging rejection of their nomination papers in Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) election.

Justice G S Sistani rejected a plea of three NSUI candidates, who contended that Chief Election Officer had wrongly rejected their nomination papers and there was ambiguity in the form itself.

“Reading of the form shows no ambiguity and election process is going on. So this is not a fit case for the court to interfere,” Justice Sistani said while dismissing their petition.

The petitioners — Tanupriya Gupta, Bhavana Gera and Deepka Deshwal — had contended in the petition that their nomination papers were rejected due to the fault of their Principals and Heads of Departments in verifying it and that they should be allowed to apply afresh.

27 Aug 2008, 1310 hrs IST,PTI



HC asks police to produce girl on father’s plea


NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has directed the city police to produce before it a minor girl on the plea of her father who accused his former wife of trying to take away the girl to Canada.

Sayda Afshan Rehman, former wife of the petitioner, was detained by the Foreign Residents Registration Office (FRRO) on August 23 after it was found that she was illegally staying in the country along with her 7-year-old daughter.

The girl’s mother, a Pakistan national who has obtained Canadian citizenship, and her daughter are presently under the custody of Delhi Government’s observation home “Nirmal Chhaya”.

The Court direction came following a petition filed by Jawed Zia, an Indian, seeking court’s direction restraining FRRO from deporting his daughter to Canada.

Issuing notice to FRRO and the In-Charge of Nirmal Chhaya, a Division Bench of Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice V K Shalli asked the police to produce the girl before it on August 28.

Zia submitted that he got married to Syeda in 1995 and the family shifted to Singapore as he was working there. Two children – a daughter and a son – were born out of their wedlock.

During their stay abroad their marriage turned sour, Zia said and added that his wife obtained Canadian citizenship. Thereafter, she along with the children returned to India and stayed separately from the in-laws in Bangalore.

Claiming that during their stay in Bangalore his parents had to bear the entire expenses, Zia said the divorce petition was moved in a family court and in an interim order the court had granted the boy’s custody to him and the daughter’s custody to his wife. 27 Aug 2008, 1242 hrs IST,PTI




Set up Women grievance redressal cell: Kerala HC



Kochi, August 27: Kerala High court directed that women grievance redressal cells in

work places should be constituted in all Cooeprative societies and private establishments in the state.

Justice Thothathil B Radhakrishnan issued the direction while disposing of a petition by P P Uthuppan of Kothamangalam.

The court said the guidelines in the Vishaka case issued by the Supreme court has to be complied with in the workplace by all institutions and it was not confined to government, Public sector or individual establishments. It applies in full force in Cooperative societies and other establishments also, the court pointed out. ‘The quality of womanhood does not change by the place where she works”, the court observed.

The Vishaka case refers to the protection of human rights. Any guideline by the government in the form of Government order or by Registrar of Cooperative socities touching the subject shall also be duly applied.

The court directed the Registrar of Cooperative Society to ensure appropriate circular containing general directions and incorporate the guidelines prescribed by the Supreme Court in the Vishaka case.


Posted online: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 05:20:39


Woman cannot be debarred from maintenance after divorce: HC


Allahabad, August 27: In a significant judgement, the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday ruled that a woman was entitled to claim maintenance from her former husband even if she had earlier agreed not to do so by way of a compromise.

Passing the judgement, Justice M K Mithal set aside the order of family court at Kanpur of January 18, 2005 in which the application of Manorama, seeking maintenance from her former spouse, was rejected on the ground that they had reached a compromise in the civil suit by which the wife had accepted a lumpsum amount and agreed not to claim any maintenance in future.

The court also turned down the husband’s plea that Manorama be debarred from claiming maintenance on the ground that she had, at the time of granting of divorce by mutual consent, agreed not to claim maintenance.

“The right to claim maintenance under section 125 of the criminal procedure code is a matter of public policy and not of an individual. In such circumstances, the right to claim maintenance cannot be waived by mutual agreement,” the court observed.

Moreover, it added, “any contract which is opposed to public policy is void and thus inspite of any such agreement, the wife cannot be debarred from claiming maintenance until she remarries and is able to maintain herself.”

Posted online: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 08:24:21



Attend courts on time, HC Chief justice tells judges http://www.ptinews.com/pti/ptisite.nsf/0/AB65ACE8E3320CCE652574B20055C4F6?OpenDocument

Chennai, Aug 27 (PTI) Madras High Court Chief Justice A K Ganguly today said he had received complaints that some judges in labour and district courts were not conducting proceedings on time and asked them to refrain from this practice as it badly affects the justice delivery system.
“I have authentic reports that certain judges of labour and district courts are not sitting on time, causing loss of precious time. They are not available in courts on time. This is a crime against society,” he said, inaugurating the 11th additional city civil sessions court for CBI cases and third additional labour court at the High Court premises here.

“It is the duty of the judges to be in the court during court hours. I appeal to the judges to be in courts on time,” he said, adding that the judges should use their judicial powers for the benefit of the people.

He also appealed to lawyers not to resort to strikes as it chocked the judicial system on which a lot of people depend for their livelihood.

Tamil Nadu Minister Law Minister Durai Murugan said the state government was ready to allocate more funds for the improvement of infrastructure of courts.

“We have already sanctioned Rs 100 crore this year for th purpose. The government is willing to sanction more number of CBI and labour courts in the state,” he added.




Cash-at-door judge identified: Counsel


CHANDIGARH: In what has caused a huge flutter among legal circles, UT senior standing counsel Anupam Gupta dropped a bombshell in the cash-at-judge’s-door scam on Tuesday and said he is “compelled” to say that a judge is involved in the murky controversy and that the identity of the judge has been established.

“It is a clear case for prosecution of a judge under Prevention of Corruption Act,” he said, as those present in court heard him out in stunned silence. “Though the stage might not have come, the only thing left is to take prior permission from the CJI.”

This came even as the court of judicial magistrate (first class) Mahesh Kumar declared that the application moved by UT police seeking police remand for former Haryana additional advocate general Sanjiv Bansal and co-accused Rajeev Gupta, whose names figure prominently in the sordid affair, has been declined.

The court added that Bansal and Gupta be sent to judicial remand instead till September 4 and that they be produced before the special court at the time of the case’s next hearing.

The UT’s investigating officer, ASP (central) Madhur Verma, had moved an application seeking a 10-day remand for both the accused.

27 Aug 2008, 0123 hrs IST,TNN



CJI sets up 3-judge panel to go into `cash-at-judge door` scam


New Delhi, Aug 27: Taking a serious view of the ‘cash-at-judge door’ scam in Chandigarh, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan has constituted a three-judge committee to go into it even as a parallel CBI has been recommended.

Justice Hemant Lakshman Gokhle (Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court), Justice K S Radhakrishnan (Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court) and Justice Madan B Lokur (Delhi High Court) will probe the incident in which Rs. 15 lakh was taken by the clerk of a senior Haryana law officer to the residence of a judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Later it turned out that the money was meant for another judge. Justice Nirmal Yadav of the Punjab and Haryana High Court last week recused from judicial work after her name surfaced during the interrogation of the three accused in connection with the case. She is now now on leave.

Meanwhile, Punjab Governor S F R Rodrigues, who is also Chandigarh Administrator General has recommended a CBI probe into the scam after consultations with High Court Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur, a report from Chandigarh said.

“After receiving a report from Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the CJI constituted the committee comprising two chief justices and a judge of the High Court as he felt that deeper probe was needed in the alleged scam,” apex court sources said.

Justice Thakur had also met CJI and discussed the matter in which the name of a sitting judge has surfaced in the scam, the sources said.

He said no deadline has been fixed for the submission of the report and the inquiry by the committee will not come in the way of the investigation of the case by the police.

Bureau Report



Maharashtra Home And Police Depts Joginder Kumar Compliance Orders


The last order in issued by former CJI, Justice MN VENKATACHALLIAH, in joginder Kumar Vs State Of UP directed the DGPs of all states to issue the necessary orders for compliance.

The Protect India Family Foundation filed a bunch of RTIs and were able to get the Maharashtra Govt to produce the orders issued by the then DGP and Dpty Home Secy (Home) to comply with the orders issued by the most hon’ble former CJI.

Here they are:

This is yet another circular uncovered by PIFF.

In this circular, the police pretty much come up with their own rules, in defiance of the directives of the Supreme Court on the arrest of women.  Using the justification outlined in this circular, corrupt cops can categorize grandmothers, mothers and innocent sibling as “unscrupulous females” and arrest them. Justice AN Mulla* was so right about the nature of the Indian police force !

Here is the circular: Mumbai Police Circular On Arresting Women – 2004

Inspite of these orders, the Maharashtra police have been arresting innocents and subjecting them to threats, intimidation, illegal detention and extortion in 498A cases.

They are prima facie guilty of contempt of court.

*Justice A N Mulla had once commented, ” I say it with all sense of responsibility that there is not a single lawless group in the whole country whose record of crime is anywhere near the record of that organized unit which is known as the Indian Police Force.”


Heather Mills faces legal action


Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney’s ex-wife Heather Mills is facing legal action from a civic council over her failure to remove a large marquee from her garden.

Mills is believed to have erected the tent at her $6.4 million (3.2 million pounds) home in East Sussex, England, for her 40th birthday party in January this year, reports Contactmusic.com.

The structure has remained in place ever since, prompting some of her neighbours to lodge objections with government officials.

The district council ruled in favour of the neighbours and signed an enforcement order in May in a bid to force Mills to take down the marquee, but the tent has yet to be removed.

Officials have now set Mills a deadline to get rid of it or they will take her to court.

“She has now been given a compliance date of September 20 to have the structure removed. If it is not done by that time we can start legal proceedings,” said a council spokesman.

Monday, 25 August , 2008, 11:16





HC makes no comment on earlier order

GUWAHATI, Aug 24 – The Gauhati High Court order delivered by a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Hrishikesh Roy on August 14, 2008, has in fact made no comment on the observations made in the July 25, 2008 judgement passed by the court of Justice BK Sharma. However, certain circles here are misinterpreting the August 14 judgement of the Division Bench, which stayed the deportation of 18 suspected Bangladeshi infiltrators, as a total negation of the July 25 order passed by Justice Sharma’s court. It needs mention here that the July 25, 2008 judgement by Justice BK Sharma, while ordering deportation of 50-odd Bangladeshi nationals, made a number of observations on the dimensions of the Bangladeshi infiltration..

In its order, the Division Bench clearly noted that “…We make it clear that by this observation we are only trying to ensure a fair trial to the appellants but not expressing any view on the observations made in the judgement (of Justice Sharma).”

It may be recalled that Justice Sharma’s hard-hitting order gave a grim picture of the cross-border infiltration from Bangladesh, stating that illegal Bangladeshis had become “kingmakers” in Assam. It had also pulled up the police and civil authorities for the easy manner in which infiltrators get access to vital documents like passports, enabling them to enrol their names in the voters’ list.

The reason behind the staying of the deportation of the 18 suspected Bangldeshis, as stated by the Division Bench, was to ensure that “each one of the appellants be given an opportunity to adduce such evidence before the Tribunal to establish their case. However, having regard to the nature of the dispute and also the fact of which this court can take judicial notice of in view of an affidavit filed on behalf of the Union of India in Sarbananda Sonowal Vs Union of India & (2005-5 SCC 665) that a large number of illegal Bangladeshis do exist in the State of Assam and also the chequered history of the law dealing with the identification and deportation of illegal migrants, we deem it appropriate that the deportation of the appellants herein be stayed pending further order by this court.”

The division bench took into cognizance the plea of the 18 appellants that their counsels did not appear before the Tribunal at the relevant point of time and produce the appropriate evidence before the Tribunal in defence of their claims that they were not foreigners but Indian citizens.

The observations of the division bench was made it clear that it gave an opportunity to the appellants to produce evidence to establish their case, as they were not adequately represented in the Tribunal by their erring lawyers.

Staff reporter



Know our Political Leaders – Courtesy PIL on Sharad Pawar & His Wealth – A report


My dear friends,
Our Indian Politics have nourished many political bigwigs with all the power, status, wealth & prosperity.
Our Political leaders from various parties irrespective of regional or National Politics have accumulated the wealth & status within short time after retaining power to rule State / Central Government.
Here is a startling report on our great leader from Maharashtra who has played the kingmaker role in Indian politics.
Yes it is none other than our Sharad Pawar of NCP whose tenure of 6 times as Member of Parliament, Chief Minister, and Cabinet Minister Roles at the center, Chief of BCCI and many roles prospered him for generations.
Thanks to certain P.I.L which brought some highlights on Pawar’s wealth for common citizen’s references.
The formal statement he has filed before the Election Commission on oath indicates that Pawar is so poor that he might barely manage to buy a mid-size flat in one of the slightly better neighbourhoods of Delhi.
He is worth just Rs 3.6 crores.

Even a casual chat with Pawar-watchers in mumbai, Pune and Baramati leaves one bedazzled at the Pawar wealth machine. Tales abound about thousands of acres of land, real estate deals, IT parks, corporate hubs, family trusts and nepotism.
His wealth is the stuff that legends, and jokes, are made of…
He has hidden this wealth well. As a senior Marathi journalist in Mumbai, who preferred the security of anonymity, pointed out, no one is willing to expose him.
He has money and money buys ‘friends’, in media, in industry, and across po­litical divisions.
At the heart of this ‘phenomenon’ is what some people describe as a ‘lust’ for land, mostly agricultural land whose price can go up as much as 300 times when converted to non-agricultural land in the semi-urban areas of Maharash­tra, particularly in the vicinity of Mumbai and Pune. Land has played a considerable role in the controversies that have dogged Sharad Pawar, from the time he was accused of de-r­eserving 285 plots in Mumbai so that they could be sold to industrial houses when he was chief minister.
A recent PIL (Public Interest Litigation) has alleged illegal allotment of land by Maharashtra Krishna Khore Vikas Mahamandal (Ma­harashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation, MKD­VC) over a period of years to benefit the Pawar clan.

Land is not bought directly. Once it has been purchased by a front man (or through a power of attorney taken from the farmer selling the land), an obliging state government starts to build infrastructure in the area. Prices skyrocket; and the land is either sold or used for construction.

Satish Magar built MagarpattaCity in the Hadapsar area of Pune’s outskirts.
It is a spectacular IT and corporate hub built on what was once farmland.

A second developer, Aniruddha Deshpande, is one of the promoters of Lavasa hill station, a lifestyle hill resort be­ing advertised by Lavasa Corporation Limited as “Free In­dia’s largest hill station”.
Among the promoters, till recently, were Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule and son-in-law Sadanan­da, who is a legitimate businessman; they jointly owned sub­stantial shares in Lavasa Corporation. The Sules withdrew from the project in 2006.

The project is being developed professionally by some of the best names in big business like Hindustan Construc­tion Company (HCC) of Ajit Gulabchand, the Avanta Group of Gautam Thapar, Venkateshwara Hatcheries, Aniruddha Deshpande and Vithal Maniar, according to the Lavasa web­site.
Deshpande and Maniar are close associates of Pawar.
Maniar is an industrialist and a trustee in Vidya Pratisthan, the educational institute chaired by Pawar.

The Pratisthan was started by Pawar in 1972 and now has its own ‘Vidya Na­gari’, a campus comprising schools, colleges and hostels in Baramati, Pawar’s constituency, and is run by a trust.

If Pawar has powerful supporters, he also has detractors ready to accuse him of impropriety.

PIL No. 148 of 2006 was filed in Bombay High Court by Shamsundar Haribhau Potare of Baramati.
It alleges that in 2002 Lavasa was illegally given 141.15 hectares of KrishnaValley land at a time when Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar, a min­ister in Maharashtra government, was chairman of MKVDC.
It accuses Ajit Pawar and Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, another minister and MKVDC chairman after Ajit Pawar, of nepo­tism.
According to the PIL, apart from Lavasa, land was ille­gally given to the following:

»Vidya Pratisthan of Baramati, an educational institute of which Pawar is chairman, received 1.45 hectares and 13.1 hectares in Baramati.

» Anant Smriti Pratisthan of Baramati (named after Pawar’s broth­er and Ajit Pawar’s father Anant), received 2.1 hectares in Bara­mati and one hectare in Pune.

» Sharadchandraji Scout and Guide Training Centre, Baramati was allotted 3 hectares of land.

The PIL’s primary allegation is that MKDVC leased out around 528.7 hectares of land, a substantial part of which went to Pawar and his people at an incredibly low price.
To give an example, Lavasa was allotted 141.15 hectares of land at a monthly rent of Rs 22,928 for a lease period of 30 years for the project. That is around Rs 275,136 a year, and a little over Rs 82 lakhs in 30 years, chicken-feed when compared to the money involved in Lavasa and the profit to be made from it.

The PIL also says that KrishnaValley land is not meant for commercial use, but Lavasa is purely a commercial ven­ture, and that the land was disposed of illegally, without in­viting tenders.

Significantly, in March this year, the Bombay High Court said that the charges levelled against Pawar and others in the PIL were serious and could not be ignored.

Sources say that Lavasa, on the banks of WarasgaonLake in MoseValley had its germination around the year 2000 in Pearly Blue Lake Resort Private Limited, in which Anirud­dha Deshpande was director.

Located in the heart of the Sahyadri mountains, MoseValley gets its name from the river flowing through it and offers a spectacular view of the neighbouring mountains. About 200 km from Mumbai and 65 km from Pune, the val­ley has the potential to develop as a prime tourist location. It is also one of the main sources of Pune’s drinking water, with the Khadakvasala dam on Mose river having a live capacity of 11.5 TMC (thousand million cubic) feet, almost as much as Pune needs in a year. Lavasa is being accused of diverting part of that water for its own purpose by building its private dam with a capacity of 1 TMC.

Pearly Blue Lake Resort Private Limited re-emerged as Lake City Corporation Private Limited and then Lavasa Cor­poration Limited.
The original and principal shareholders in Lavasa Corporation Limited included Aniruddha Desh­pande, Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, son-in-law Sadananda Sule, Vithal Maniar and Venkateshwara Hatcheries Limited.

The Sules withdrew from Lavasa soon after a January 2006 Times Of India report drew attention to the fact that the Congress-NCP government had worked overtime to issue clearances to the lake city project.

Lavasa of course is much more than the 141 hectares of disputed KrishnaValley land.
The hill station is being built in an area that earlier had 17 villages.
Critics say that most of the land was acquired from farmers at a rate of Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 an acre; the current going rate would be approxi­mately Rs 1 crore an acre.
Villagers are not allowed to visit what was once their ancestral land.
It is said that the Maha­rashtra government has seized 200 acres of land which be­long to farmers who have run away or gone missing. The government is now leasing out this land to Lavasa.
The road to Lavasa is being developed with government money, but naturally.

Water plays a central role in any development, so is it a matter of coincidence that Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit has been controlling Maharashtra’s water for almost a decade in different capacities, and particularly as water resources minister?

Currently, though his water resources portfolio excludes Krishna Valley Irrigation Corporation, he is at the centre of the Lavasa controversy as he was the chairman of MKDVC from December 1999 to December 2004.

Pune city is fortunate to have enough water, permitting large-scale development; and when there is large-scale con­struction activity, politicians are never far behind.

Take the 117.52 km long ‘Ring Road’ that is being built around Pune to decongest city traffic.
As many as 15 town­ships are being planned adjacent to this road. Each of these approximately 100-acre townships will have anything be­tween 10,000 and 15,000 flats, and a 1,000 sq ft flat can cost up to Rs 30 lakh in such areas.
The builders involved are part of a coterie surrounding the powerful politicians.

Land is also ‘bought’ through power of attorney and de­ velopment agreements; at least 5,000 acres of farmland have been purchased in Pune’s neighbourhood in different plots.
The ‘power of attorney’ scheme also serves to hide the identity of any­one seeking a benami purchase.

Other projects include Amano­ra Park Town, whose launch was an­nounced last year by Aniruddha Desh­pande’s City Corporation. Spread over 400 acres of land at Hadapsar and adja­cent to MagarpattaCity, Amanora will have apartment blocks, school, hospi­tal, market and the other parapherna­lia that have become the norm for lux­ury townships.

NandedCity is being built by the farmers of Nanded village about 20 km from Pune. Satish Magar is the promot­er of this 700-acre project and is plan­ning to replicate the MagarpattaCity model at Nanded. Roha in the Konkan area too has had its share of ‘development’.

“Pawar owns property all over the world, right from Cal­ifornia to India and beyond,” asserts Sambhajirao Kakade, erstwhile MP from Baramati, a former president of state Ja­nata Dal and now a Congress leader.
He has no proof for such an allegation, which may be provoked by political enmity.
The Kakade family has known the Pawars right from the time Pawar’s father Govindrao came from Satara to settle in the vil­lage of Katewadi near Baramati and owned a mere three-and-half acres of land.
But discontent is evident even in Pawar’s stronghold, the sugar industry, much of which is concentrated in western Ma­harashtra.
According to the latest CAG report on Maharash­tra’s sugar industry, the state has 202 co-operative sugar facto­ries, out of which 116 factories are loss-making. Of these, till June 2006, 74 factories have had a negative net worth, and 31 factories have had to face liquidation between 1987 and 2006.
Seventy per cent of these co-operatives are controlled by Pawar and his party NCP.
Corruption is rampant in the sugar industry, and the CAG report criticises both the state govern­ment and the commissioner of sugar for their inability to take action against the boards of directors of these factories.
The sugar factories offer many ways of making money,
right from making false entries when weighing the sugar being sold to tak­ing commissions while deciding from whom machinery or other purchases, including that of land, will be made.
Satish Kakade, a former director of So­meshwar sugar factory in Baramati talu­ka, has many tales of corruption to nar­rate, including how 14,500 gunny bags of sugar were declared to be of poor quality by the chairman of the board and sold off. He has filed a complaint to the sugar commissioner of Maha­rashtra citing 38 instances of corrup­tion at Someshwar factory alone.
The poor health of the industry, however, has primarily to do with pol­icy. Sugar factories are being expand­ed into unprofitable by-product orient­ed ventures like ethanol, cogeneration, distillery, bio-gas etc.

To give an example, Baramati talu­ka’s Malegaon sugar factory (estimat­ed worth Rs 35 crores), is now being dragged into a cogeneration scheme that will cost Rs 72 crores.
At Malega­on factory, Ranjan Taware is one of the directors and heads the farmers’ panel that lost the recent sugar co-operative election to the NCP. He says that facto­ries like Malegaon with a crushing ca­pacity of 640,000 tonnes of sugarcane in the 160-day season are not being able to get their supply from their own farm­er members primarily because farmers are not growing sugarcane. So these factories are turning to outside farm­ers for 55% of their raw material. But expanding into a co-generation project means that the factory will need a sup­ply of eight lakh tonnes of sugarcane every season from its farmer members, a quantity that the farmers cannot pro­vide. Because of poor choice of fertil­isers, the land is turning saline and is losing its fertility. Sugarcane yield too has come down to 28-30 tonnes per acre from 50-60 per acre. “From where will we get the sugarcane for such proj­ects?” asks Taware. The loans that these factories are taking are impacting the farmers whose discontent is not taken into account by those in authority.

As for ethanol, factories were en­couraged to venture into ethanol by successive state and Central govern­ments without taking into account the impact this biofuel can have on food prices. Farmers were assured that the oil companies would buy the ethanol produced in these factories at about Rs 17.50 a litre. But when it came to buy­ing the ethanol, the oil companies of­fered the farmers a price of Rs 15 or so. The farmer’s profit margins went down and he started shying away from etha­nol. Leaving controversies about etha­nol aside, the bottom line is, this too proved to be an area where policy fal­tered in front of reality.

As a result, factories like Jawahar in Ichalkarangi, Adinath in Karmala of Solapur, Vasantdada in Sangli have gone into heavy debts.

The common consensus in west­ern Maharashtra is that this will have a direct impact on sugar prices in the country, sooner rather than later. In­dia depends on Maharashtra for about 45% of its sugar.

Pawar can hardly escape the blame for the situation that prevails in his own backyard.

A visit to Baramati taluka and town, about 100 km from Pune, gives one an idea of the extent of the Pawar control, influence and the ability to achieve something if he wants to. Six-time MP from Baramati, Pawar has transformed his stronghold from a sleepy smaller-than-a-small-town to a wannabe hub of commerce, in­dustry and edu­cation. It is an achievement anyone could be proud of.
The highway from Pune to Ba­ramati offers a smooth ride through the barren and inhospi­table Western Ghats. It is sugarcane country. The approach road is dominated by bullock carts carrying towering bundles of sugarcane to factories. On both sides are pucca houses that were once mud huts. The town, prosperous and posh in parts, is witnessing a building boom and comes complete with wide metalled roads, dividers, street lights and a plethora of colour co-ordinated buildings — even the police station is light apri­cot, Baramati’s ‘theme’ colour. Amidst this, pride of place is occupied by Pawar’s Vidya Pratisthan.
The Pratisthan started off with an English medium school in 1973, and now, in a sprawling and leafy 120-acre campus called Vidya Nagari, runs a variety of schools and colleges teaching everything from law, information technology and engineering to biotechnology. The MagarpattaCityPublic School in MagarpattaCity is also run by Vidya Pratisthan as also two hostels in Pune city. It is a mammoth venture and at­tracts students from outside Baramati as well. Even Pawar’s biggest detractors admit that the education provided here is good and that merit counts, not donations.
Baramati has given Pawar mythical stature; his relation­ship with the grassroots is awesome.
He is said to remember by name every person he meets even once.

The less-than-gentle joke in Maharashtra is that Sharad Pawar “Saheb” has enough personal wealth to run Delhi for five years. 

Courtesy : web sources http://www.covert.co.in/150508/sharad.htm

© purefriendship., all rights reserved

Aug 23 2008



Sunil Jain: Who is the government batting for?



While the battle between Mukesh and Anil Ambani over the supply of 28 mmscmd (million metric standard cubic metres a day) of natural gas from Reliance Industries Ltd’s (RIL’s) Krishna-Godavri Basin gas continues in the Bombay High Court, the government stance on it is getting more and more suspect. In the last two years, there have been at least three instances, the last of which just a few days ago, of the government actively stepping in on Mukesh Ambani’s side to ensure RIL does not have to meet its obligations to sell this gas at previously contracted prices. But first, some quick facts of the matter.

  “In 2003, the government-owned NTPC floated a tender asking for potential suppliers of 12 mmscmd of natural gas for its proposed power plants at Kawas and Gandhar for a period of 17 years. RIL won the bid when it quoted $2.34 per mmbtu (million metric British thermal units), edging out several global suppliers. Later, towards the end of 2005, RIL unilaterally modified the terms and conditions of its agreement with NTPC — for instance, instead of having unlimited liability for non-supply of gas to NTPC, this was capped. NTPC refused to accept this and filed a case in the Bombay High Court asking that RIL be made to honour its original commitment.

   “Since the NTPC deal happened at around the same time, in early 2004, it was agreed that RIL would supply 28 mmscmd of gas to Reliance Energy’s 7,480 Mw Dadri power plant on the same commercial terms at NTPC (at that time, the Reliance empire had not been divided); when the family split took place, this was put into the family agreement, which was ratified by RIL’s 2 mn shareholders as well as by the court. Later, when the demerger was taking place, Anil Ambani alleged RIL, which controlled all the group companies (including the ones he got finally), unilaterally changed some of the clauses, on liability for instance, though the price and the quantity of gas to be supplied remained the same. Anil Ambani went to the Bombay High Court and in October 2007, while ruling in his favour, the court asked both sides to re-work the contentious clauses in the contract within four months keeping in mind that the family settlement was the base document.

  “RIL appealed this and one of the arguments being made is that the family settlement was signed by Mukesh as a member of the Ambani family and not by RIL. While the arguments are going on, the court suggested last week that perhaps the Ambanis’ mother be asked to step in again to broker another peace.

  “Such is the state of the government’s support to NTPC that while Anil Ambani has got a stay preventing RIL from selling what he says is his share of the gas and has won one round in court, the NTPC case is proceeding at a snail’s pace.

Now for the government’s complicity. Under the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) that any oil/gas prospector has with the government, a certain part of the gas/oil has to be given to the government. So, in May 2006, RIL sent a letter to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, headed by Murli Deora, asking it to approve the Anil Ambani contract. The ministry rejected this on the grounds the price had not been arrived at through a competitive bid. While this ensured RIL could not legally sell gas to Anil Ambani, the decision was faulty since the government’s concern is only its share of revenue — that is, Mukesh could give the gas to Anil for free as long as he gave the government its share on the basis of the market price. As for that, since the contract had the same commercial terms as the NTPC one, it was actually competitively bid (see “What Murli’s actions mean,” 31/7/2006).

On June 25 this year, an Empowered Group of Ministers came up with its recommendations on a gas utilisation policy for the country, or a priority list of which industries should get gas first and which last. This mouthed generalities for other gas projects but had detailed guidelines for RIL’s KG Basin gas. Among others, the gas utilisation policy ensured that neither NTPC nor Anil Ambani’s Dadri project will get gas from RIL (see “Amar Singh’s right, mostly,” 21/7/2008)! It’ll be interesting to see what happens if Anil Ambani wins the Bombay High Court case. Perhaps the government will say that while the EGoM made its recommendations, these had not been accepted. Perhaps that’s where Anil Ambani’s friend Amar Singh’s new-found clout will come in handy?

And last Thursday, during the course of the court case, the government lawyer TS Doabia (a retired judge) told the court that NTPC did not have a ‘concluded’ deal with RIL! In other words, he single-handedly destroyed NTPC’s case before the same Bombay High Court which, by the way, was supervised and is being argued by the country’s solicitor general. After all, if NTPC doesn’t have a “concluded” deal with RIL, it can’t be asking the latter to supply it gas on terms agreed to in 2003, when oil prices were a fraction of what they are today. It remains to be seen if NTPC will be allowed to contradict this statement and what bearing it will have on its own case against RIL. But one thing is clear, despite 17 years of economic reforms under Dr Manmohan Singh, the days of neutral government are still quite far away.

Sunil Jain / New Delhi August 25, 2008, 1:01 IST


Nabard chief’s appointment challenged in High Court


 In a significant development, regulator-cum-refinance agency National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) chairman Umesh Chandra Sarangi’s appointment has been challenged by a Nabard official in the Uttarakhand high court. The petitioner has argued that Sarangi’s appointment is illegal and should be cancelled forthwith.

Sarangi, who is a senior IAS officer of the Maharashtra cadre, took over as the Nabard chairman on December 3 last year for a three-year term. The petition filed by a middle ranking Nabard officer has prayed that a new chairman be appointed as Sarangi’s selection took place after sidelining the names of those empanelled by the selection committee. Sarangi’s name was reportedly included in the eleventh hour and was later accepted by the Centre.

The petitioner has made the central government, Nabard and Sarangi as defendants. The Uttarakhand high court has set the hearing in the matter for September.

Sarangi confirmed this development and told FE: “The petitioner has challenged my appointment as Nabard chairman. The Centre and I have been made parties to the petition and we are in the midst of preparation of our reply. The case is slated for hearing in September.”

Nabard sources said that this is for the first time since its inception in 1983 that an appointment of chairman has been challenged in the court of law. Sources did not rule out the possibility of the involvement of certain vested interests within the organisation behind this move.

Sarangi’s appointment has been challenged at a time when Nabard is currently involved in the implementation of the Centre’s ambitious debt-waiver programme for small and marginal farmers across the country. As reported by FE, Nabard has initiated several measures to provide liquidity to co-operative banks and regional rural banks (RRBs) that are short of cash following the farm loan relief package.

Of the Rs 71,000 crore package, these banks together settled outstanding debt amounting to over Rs 35,400 crore. Since they depend on recovery of dues to finance fresh lending, the banks are complaining of cash constraints in disbursing fresh loans.

Nabard suggested a refinance budget of Rs 21,500 crore in 2008-09 against Rs 18,432 crore last year. The cooperative banks will be allocated Rs 5,491 crore, while each RRB will get Rs 60 crore. The Maharashtra state co-operative banks will get a share of Rs 330 crore.

Sanjay Jog
Posted online: Monday , August 25, 2008 at 00:20 hrs

 SC ruling on Gridco- A beneficial blow for electricity reform

NEW DELHI : Reputation, it has been remarked, is no more than a bubble which man bursts when he tries to blow it for himself. But a blow can be hugely beneficial as well, meant to fundamentally change and reshape the status quo.

The Supreme Court, for instance, has delivered a major blow for power sector reforms, in unreservedly upholding the position of the Grid Corporation of Orissa ltd (Gridco) on the issue of electricity tariffs.

The ruling would pave the way for nominally power surplus utilities to evacuate and sell electricity at reasonable prices pan-India , and at rates which are very much in line with average local and national tariffs. Yet the very reasonableness of such tariffs was the issue.

In its judgement of August 13, the apex court has also set aside the negative ruling of the Appellate tribunal for electricity (Aptel), which had necessitated the appeal by Gridco. As the Aptel order had maintained , almost two years ago, Gridco buys power from generators at an average cost of Rs 1.10/Kwh and sells the surplus power to the Power trading corporation (PTC) within the range of Rs 4.61 to Rs 4.81/unit.

It added that in case the tendency is encouraged , it would defeat the spirit of competition and that power will never be available to consumers at judicious rates. So what was mandated was that Gridco sell power to PTC at Rs 1.10/Kwh
plus a maximum trading margin of no more than 4 paise per unit as set by CERC, the central electricity regulator.

Gridco is a corporate entity mandated in Orissa to carry out bulk supply of power. The Aptel ruling seemed totally oblivious of the fact that local electricity tariffs in, say, Bhubaneswar, are already Rs 4.50/unit for those consuming over 100 units per month, but less than 300 units. And that’s only the energy charge.

There are additional monthly charges as well. It is not even the case that power tariffs in Orissa were somewhat unusual . In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, for instance , the regulated tariffs for consumers using less than 300 units are of a similar range, of Rs 4.50/unit. So in calling for Rs 1.10+4 paise for inter-state power, the Aptel order clearly erred on the side of caution, and rather excessively so.

To see how illogical it is, consider the proposition of asking coal pit-head thermal generators to execute interstate sales at, say, 65 paise per power unit. It would seem plain absurd. Remember also that the cost of pit-head power can be as low as 60 paise per unit, and that existing power producers and distributors do not need a license for power trading.

Clearly , the Aptel order, in calling for cut-price rates, was confusing actual costs with regulated prices!
In a scenario of widespread power shortages, regulating tariffs and margins are quite desirable, so as to avoid sheer profiteering. However, a rigid regulatory approach may well short-circuit the still fledging national market for electricity and overtly discourage power exchange.

Given that the power sector is hugely capital intensive, the lack of reasonable rates and margins can stultify trading and dispatch. With the opportunity cost (read the real cost of output foregone) is definitely closer to Rs 4.50/unit than to Rs 1.10/unit, plus a maximum of 4 paise trading margin, the Aptel order clearly and quite needlessly made electricity economics stand on its head.

Thankfully, the apex court ruling has now set aside the tribunal’s order and upheld the stance of Gridco. Also notable is the reasoning in the Supreme Court’s ruling. Gridco’s electricity transaction is not even seen as inter-state sale. As the ruling observes, the contract was concluded in Orissa and the transmission loss was to be borne by a separate entity, PTC.

Further, it is stated that under Rule 9 of the Central Electricity Rules, 2005, there is no restriction on the licensee effecting sale or re-sale in the same state and no separate license is needed. Besides, the court adds, there was no agreement to “take out the electricity” as was inferred by the Aptel order, now been set aside.

The larger issue, which the court has deliberated upon, is the following: when there is a case of sale and re-sale involved of goods—power is a commodity— ”there is nothing in the transaction from which springs a bond between the sale and the intended export linking them up as part of the same transaction.”

The ruling adds that “knowledge that the goods purchased are intended to be exported does not make the sale and export parts of the same transaction , nor does the sale of the quota with the sale of the goods lead to that result.”

Hence it can be well inferred that the position that Gridco is profiteering from evacuating nominally surplus power is plain incorrect. It remains to be seen whether cross-country power exchange, still tiny in proportion to overall generation, would now take off.

The trading margin, of a ceiling of 4 paise/unit, needs to be fixed as a percentage of total tariffs and, simultaneously, wheeling charges rationalised . About time, surely.

25 Aug, 2008, 0414 hrs IST,Jaideep Mishra, ET Bureau




No respect for our judiciary


In the exercise of its contempt power, the Delhi High Court did not do enough to punish the senior lawyers, RK Anand and IU Khan, while convicting them for obstructing administration of justice by trying to influence an eyewitness in the BMW hit-and-run case. They got away with an indulgent punishment of four-month bar on appearing before the court and a recommendation that they be stripped of their senior counsel designation. I have not read the entire judgment, but one thing is sure that this was a case of somebody misusing their professional services and flouting their legal obligations.
These senior lawyers tried to subvert the cause of justice for the benefit of their client and to profit from it. This is a deplorable case of malpractice and called for the most severe form of punishment.

There is a crisis of character in our country. All limbs of the criminal justice system — be it the judiciary or the police — have failed to take action against their own. The failure to self-regulate does not augur well for the system. As an institution, the criminal justice system should command the respect of society.

What defence do the guilty lawyers have? The evidence is there on tape. Sting operations are legitimate as long they do not employ illegal means. The people crying foul against such media activism either have something to hide or fear that they could one day be a victim of one such sting.

Now, the forums vested with the power to take corrective measures should do their duty. The chief justice of the concerned high court should have stripped the gentlemen of their senior counsel designations. The Bar Council of India, which is the regulatory authority of the legal profession, is yet to act. Under the Advocates Act it can expel lawyers. I hope it will exercise its power.

Mahesh Jethmalani is a senior counsel. He spoke to Anshika Misra

Anshika Mishra

Saturday, August 23, 2008  21:51 IST



HC bans plastic bags in all city markets


NEW DELHI: In a major step towards tackling the plastic menace, the Delhi high court on Thursday extended the ban on plastic bags to all markets in the city. Since hotels, hostels and shopping malls have already been declared no-plastic zones, the new order, if strictly enforced, will significantly reduce the use of this ecologically hazardous material.

The court also asked the Delhi government to increase the minimum permissible thickness of plastic bags from 20 microns to 40 microns and ordered the closure of all illegal recycling units in the city with immediate effect.

A bench headed by Justice T S Thakur, responding to a PIL by Vinod Jain of an NGO, Tapas, asked the city government to consider the recommendations of the Justice Chopra committee. The panel, comprising Delhi Pollution Control Board chairman J K Dadoo, Central Pollution Control Board chairman J M Mauskar and retired judge R C Chopra, had sought the use of virgin plastic in place of recycled plastic, a ban on small plastic pouches and getting plastic manufacturers to set up a state-of-the-art recycling unit.

While the government representatives chose not to talk about the order, saying they hadn’t received a copy of the judgment, petitioner Jain said this was the first step in completely phasing out plastic bags from the city.

“The court has banned the bag at all places where it is used the most. The only setback at this point appears to be the lack of a deadline for implementing the ban. The government may take forever with this order,” he said.

Experts, however, point to another huge problem that may occur after the order on closure of illegal recycling units is enforced. Delhi recycles about 1.2 million tonnes of plastic a year of which about 90% is done illegally, say industry insiders. In the process, the industry uses up about 50% of the city’s plastic waste. At present, Delhi has no other mechanism for handling its waste and most of it finds its way to sewers and the Yamuna. As one expert asked, “Once the illegal units are shut, what is to happen to all this waste?”

“Delhi Pollution Control Committee does not have sufficient staff for such an operation,” a government official said. “Till some time back, DPCC did not even have a clear idea of the extent of illegal plastic recycling taking place in the city. The collection mechanism was based largely on ragpickers. While the order is good for the city, the government needs to plan out its course of action before implementing the order in a hurry.”

8 Aug 2008, 0424 hrs IST,TNN


Donate rice to get bail:HC

MADURAI: Four men charged with smuggling rice meant for distribution through fair price shops, were granted anticipatory bail by the Madurai Bench of the High Court on Friday, on condition that they donate rice to homes for the aged.

Selliah, Sethu and Gajendran of Madurai and Vailankanni David of Dindigul were arrested when they were attempting to smuggle PDS rice by lorry. The lorry was also seized. All four men filed pleas before the Madurai Bench seeking bail.

Justice T Suthanthiram directed Vailankanni David and Gajendran to purchase 250kg of rice from the open market and donate it to Anbalaya, home for the aged, in Sellamanthadi, near Dindigul. Selliah and Sethu were directed to donate 500kg of rice each to Anbagam, home for the mentally challenged, in Madurai, from the open market. On this condition, they were allowed to go on bail.

Sunday August 24 2008 02:03 IST

Express News Service



HC lays down guidelines for adoption cases

CHENNAI: Show enough sensitivity while handling adoption-related cases, accord due respect and courtesies to adoptive parents, do not conduct such proceedings in open court along with other criminal or civil cases, complete all court formalities in four months, and specify the date of birth of the child.

These are among the guidelines laid down by the Madras High Court for district judges hearing adoption-related cases.

Justice K Chandru, passing orders at the Madurai bench of the court, also said: “District judges must realise that they are dealing with the future of a child, and must show sufficient care and promptness.” He was disposing of a writ petition filed by a parent who had sought the birth certificate for his adopted child.

Wondering why such a simple petition was pending for 17 months, justice Chandru stipulated that district courts should not take more than four months to decide on adoption applications. The court could hear such matters in the judges’ chambers or during special timings, he said, adding that they not be heard in open court.

He lamented that district judges do not show special attention to such cases and said that adoptive parents are made to attend courts frequently.

“Instead of bringing cheers, frequent adjournments add misery to parents who require strength and support from all concerned in their unique endeavour,” he said.

Noting that even the infant child is made to be brought to court at every adjournment, the judge said the child should be ordered to be produced in court only once during proceedings.

“The adoptive parents must be treated with respect and due courtesies must be shown to them. It must be understood that they are not litigants in adversarial proceedings before the court,” he said.

Justice Chandru also asked the district judges to indicate the date of birth of the adopted child and made it clear that all authorities must accept the date for all practical purposes. The judge then accepted April 23, 2004, as date of birth of petitioner B Selvaraj’s adopted child Yogitha alias Vidyalakshmi.

24 Aug 2008, 0055 hrs IST,TNN




Unsafe for women in sari to ride pillion: HC


THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: If a suggestion by the Kerala high court is acted on, sari may soon be prohibited for women riding pillion on two wheelers in India. The court has mooted the restriction in the interest of road safety and asked the Central and state governments to consider changes in the Motor Vehicles Act.

A division bench comprising Justice C N Ramachandran Nair and Justice V K Mohanan, was hearing an appeal filed by a woman who met with an accident when a truck hit the bike on which she was riding pillion. Disposing of the compensation plea filed by Susamma Thomas of Kollam district, the court said women riding pillion in a sari was dangerous as its loose end could get entangled in the wheels.

The bench observed that the sari would make it difficult for women to sit astride on the rear. Considering road safety, it is better that women sit with their legs on either side while riding pillion on two wheelers, the court said and called upon the Central and state governments to consider changes in the Motor Vehicles Act.

It also asked the authorities to ensure that not more than one child is carried by two adults on a two wheeler. “More load would make the vehicle unstable and cause mishaps,” the bench said.

Motorcycle manufacturers should also be instructed upon to provide handgrips behind the driver seat and footrests for the passenger sitting behind, the bench added. The HC also noted that there was no scheme whereby insurance coverage could be provided to a pillion rider.

24 Aug 2008, 0311 hrs IST, Ananthakrishnan G ,TNN



HC encroached on our powers: BCI


NEW DELHI: India’s apex regulatory body for lawyers, Bar Council of India (BCI) joined issue with Delhi High Court on Saturday and termed its decision to bar senior advocates R K Anand and I U Khan from practising for four months as an encroachment on its power.

Even though it steered clear of commenting on the merits of the case, BCI, led by its chairman Suraj Narain Prasad Sinha sought setting aside of the verdict, predicting it would set a wrong precedent vis a vis debarring of lawyers from practice. “As far as the merit of the judgement is concerned, we are not bothered… our stand is with regard to the powers encroached by the HC in directing the two senior advocates not to appear in HC and its subordinate courts for the next four months,” Sinha said.

BCI also distanced itself from the one-day strike call given by various district bar associations and emphasized that “BCI is not in favour of strike. According to SC, the strike is applicable only in exceptional cases.”

“Even the BCI will take strict action if they are found guilty but encroachment of power of the Council is not acceptable,” BCI member advocate Ram Avtar Gupta said and denied receiving a copy of the HC judgement. When asked what action is the regulatory body planning to take against Khan and Anand now that HC had held them guilty for “obstruction of justice”, Sinha pointed out that it was state bar council, Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) which was still examining the issue. “If the disciplinary proceedings were not finally concluded within one year by the state Bar Council, the matter will be transferred to the BCI,” the Chairman said.

Interestingly, for all its indignation at what it sees as HC’s “transgression”, even the BCD has made little progress in its proceedings against the guilty duo. Last year, days after Anand’s “sharp practices” were exposed via a private TV channel’s sting operation, the capital’s apex regulatory body also took suo motu cognizance and slapped show cause notices, demanding an explanation from Anand and Khan why action shouldn’t be taken against them.

The then chairman had constituted a three-member fact finding committee which sought replies from both top lawyers. Since then the case is lumbering along in the preliminary stage (while HC has come out with its verdict) where members of BCD are trying to establish prima facie guilt of the accused. Only once the members are convinced that charges stick with Khan and Anand’s case be forwarded to the disciplinary committee for start of proper trial against them.

Speaking to TOI, BCD chairman K K Manan said the case against both lawyers was proceeding at a normal pace and HC had no right to debar the duo. “Even HC took more than a year in arriving at its verdict as these things take time. R K Anand has to appear before us on August 29 to present his arguments,” Manan maintained.


24 Aug 2008, 0343 hrs IST, Abhinav Garg,TNN



Mangalore: KKSV to Challenge High Court Verdict on Baba Budangiri Issue


Mangalore, Aug 24: The Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike (KKSV) will challenge the high court verdict on the Baba Budangiri issue, said K L Ashok, general secretary, KKSV. 

Addressing the media here on Friday, August 22, he said, ‘KKSV will go to the Supreme Court questioning the high court verdict which is against history, law, and justice.’ Ashok said that the KKSV will also organize a public awareness movement on the Baba Budangiri issue.

C N Shetty, president, KKSV district committee, Suresh Bhat, vice-president, and Muhammad Kakkinje, secretary, were also present.

Daijiworld Media Network – Mangalore (TU)


COAI in dilemma, whether to challenge HC verdict


NEW DELHI: Stung by outright rejection of GSM operators’ petition challenging government’s policy on dual technology and revised spectrum allocation norms, the COAI is in dilemma whether to challenge the Delhi High Court’s verdict to larger Bench or wait for telecom tribunal TDSAT’s verdict.

The members of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) are examining the Delhi High Court’s judgement and a decision would be taken in a day or two, sources close the development said.

COAI had questioned the events of October 18 and 19, 2007, and said that the Department of Telecom had shown undue haste and hurry in which an in-principle approval was given to Reliance Communications for offering GSM services.
This was, however, rejected by the Delhi High Court in its judgement last week.

“Prima facie, it cannot be held that the decision of the government confers any unfair advantage to any particular person and consequently the submission that the government has disturbed the level playing field has to be rejected,” Justice Gita Mittal had said in the judgement.

A senior official in the DoT said that it was strange on part of the GSM lobby to question government’s act as the spectrum was first allocated to the existing GSM operators in various circles and this was also presented in the TDSAT last week. DoT counsel had said that spectrum was allocated in orderly manner and existing players have been beneficiary of this

24 Aug, 2008, 1720 hrs IST, PTI



Corpn gets HC notice on two roadside temples http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Chennai/Corpn_gets_HC_notice_on_two_roadside_temples_/articleshow/3398319.cms

CHENNAI: Two pavement temples – both “badly affecting pedestrian movement and free flow of traffic” on NSC Bose Road in Parrys Corner area – have been brought under judicial scrutiny. Both of these structures have been provided with electricity and telephone connections, says a public interest writ petition filed by Traffic K R Ramasamy.

The first bench comprising chief justice A K Ganguly and justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, admitted the petition, and ordered the Chennai Corporation to file its response within three weeks.

The petitioner, who has filed several PILs to decongest the George Town area in the past, now seeks a direction to the Chennai Corporation commissioner and secretary of the municipal administration department to demolish the temples and ensure free movement of pedestrians and vehicles.

While the first temple is located just adjacent to the main gate of the Madras high court, the other is located on the Armenian Street-NSC Bose Road junction.

A godown has been constructed on the rear side of the second temple , said the petitioner.Ramasamy, referring to the details obtained from the civic authorities following an application under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, said the competent official of Zone II had given a reply confirming that both the structures were encroachments.

Also, officials have issued eviction orders under Section 362 of the Madras City Municipal Corporation Act 1919, and on July 7, the civic body had issued a demolition order, Ramasamy said.

24 Aug 2008, 0747 hrs IST,TNN




 HC raps SP for dismal performance http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Chennai/HC_raps_SP_for_dismal_performance/articleshow/3398333.cms

CHENNAI: Seventeen “unnatural deaths” within the limits of one police station, that too during a single calendar year. And, all the cases were closed as “undetected.” This is the report card of Adhiyamankottai police station in Dharmapuri district for the year 2002.

Expressing shock and concern at the “very sorry state of affairs” in Dharmapuri district , the Madras High Court has pulled up the superintendent of police for having stated in a “very casual manner that all the cases were undetected , by simply approving the report submitted by an inspector .”

Justice K K Sasidharan was passing the orders on a writ petition seeking a direction to the Thadangam police station to register a case in respect of a murder and to transfer probe to the CB-CID.

The matter relates to an “unnatural death” of one Munusami, who was a witness to two murders committed by a gang which enjoyed the support of a local inspector of police. Apprehending danger to his own life, Munusami had sent representations to the deputy inspector-general of police, Salem range, and other higher officials.

Munusami told the police that one Saravanan was murdered by the gang and that it was not just a case of “unnatural death.”

Ironically, Munusami himself was found dead in November 2004 under mysterious circumstances. Police conducted post-mortem and buried the body even before victim’s son or other relatives could reach the place. According to the police, he died due to severe alcohol poisoning.

His son filed the present writ petition, seeking a direction for registration of a first information report and transfer of probe to the CB-CID.

Justice Sasidharan, citing the counter-affidavit filed by the superintendent of police, said: “It reveals a very sorry state of affairs inasmuch as there were 17 cases of unnatural deaths reported before the Adhiyamankottai police station in the year 2002 alone and all these cases were treated as undetected or referred to on other grounds.”

Referring to the mystery death of Saravanan, the judge said that despite there being a specific allegation by Munusami that it was a murder and that he was witness to it, the police was silent about the investigation to ascertain whether it was murder or not.

Highlighting the need for a sense of social duty and social commitment on the part of police personnel, Justice Sasidharan said: “New concept of home policing or police at your door step and launching of mobile police station will not serve the purpose unless the police make changes in their very outlook and approach issues with a sense of social responsibility.”

Cautioning the police against driving the aggrieved towards kangaroo courts presided over by musclemen in localities concerned, the judge said police were at liberty to register a criminal case and investigate it in accordance with law.

subramani.a@timesgroup .com

24 Aug 2008, 0733 hrs IST, A Subramani,TNN






2 Responses

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