Daily Legal News 07.10.2008

Court dismisses suit against tabling part of Nanavati report
The Gujarat High Court Tuesday dismissed a suit seeking direction to quash a part of the report of the Nanavati Commission on the 2002 Sabarmati Express train burning at Godhra and the riots that followed in Gujarat in which at least 1,100 people were killed.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice M.S. Shah observed that Section 3 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act did not prevent the Nanavati Commission from releasing a part of the report nor did it say whether a part report could be filed in the state assembly.
The PIL was filed by the Citizens for Justice and Peace and the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties seeking direction to stop the Gujarat government from tabling part of the report in the forthcoming assembly session commencing Thursday.
The Justice G.T. Nanavati panel on Sep 18 Thursday submitted the first part of its report. The commission’s final report is yet to come. The details of the report are not known.
The two-member Nanavati Commission investigated the February 2002 Godhra train burning that killed 59 Hindus and the subsequent communal riots that swept the state. It examined over 1,000 witnesses over six years.
Petitioner advocate M.M. Tirmizi contended that the Commission was set up to probe the Godhra and the post-Godhra riots in totality and hence could not be split into two parts. He pleaded that it should be an overall report of the complete inquiry.
The first part of the report dealt with the Godhra incidents and did not reflect the role of the chief minister, others ministers and government officials in the ensuing riots, he said.
“A comprehensive report after full inquiry of the Godhra and post-Godhra incidents ought to be submitted to the state government and then tabled in the assembly,” Tirmizi contended.
Tirmizi said that placing a part report of the inquiry is not in tune with Supreme Court judgments. “The prejudicial role of the state government had been exposed following the Supreme Court order of a re-trial into the Best Bakery and Bilkis Bano cases outside Gujarat” wherein the apex court had also directed the Gujarat government to appoint another public prosecutor for the two cases on a request by the victims. He also quoted from the affidavits filed by former Additional Director General of police R.B. Sreekumar about the role of the state in the post-Godhra riots.
Tabling one part of the report was detrimental to public interest and would mean splitting the terms of reference of the Nanavati panel into two, violating the terms of reference of the Commission as it was asked to look into the Godhra and post-Godhra incidents in totality, he said.
Therefore the government should not be allowed to place part of the report in the house on Sep 25, he contended.
By Indo-Asian News Service on Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Karnataka HC issues notice to govt. on minority community petition http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?c630bc38-79c4-46fc-b463-7361c49521c3
Karnataka High Court issued a notice to the State Government on a petition filed by various minority organisations from Mangalore and Mysore, seeking a direction from the State and the Union Government to prevent atrocities against the community.The Division bench of High Court comprising Chief Justice P D Dinakaran and Justice Mohana Shantanagowdar ordered the issuance of the notice.The petitioners sought an inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1952 to either by a sitting judge of the High Court or by a retired Supreme Court Judge, directing the Election Commission to consider the banning or de-recognition of political parties, having affiliation with religious fundamental organisations. They also sought the Court to direct a CBI probe into the attack on places of washing from September 14 in the State.The Advocate General, who was present in the Court, was asked to take the notice on behalf of the State Government. UNI

Delhi HC recalls closure order against builder co. after finding fraud http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?2880ffeb-9b76-476e-b73d-f3742b987981
The Delhi High Court withdrew its preliminary order concerning winding up of a building firm and directed police to investigate the case for the fraud committed by it.Directing the crime branch to investigate the matter, Justice Gita Mittal recalled its preliminary winding up orders against Durga builders as it was found that it had procured a Court order by concealing facts in a fraudulent manner. Justice Mittal recalled(reversed) the order passed by the High Court on January 18 by which it had directed that the company be allowed to wind up as it has no resources.Eleven petitioners who had put in their money in the company for purchase of plots along with an investor named Arun Mehra who had invested nearly Rs Five crores in the company moved Delhi High Court seeking stay on the January 18 order.Arun Mehra’s counsel Rakesh Makhija contended that his client had purchased the share holding assets and liabilities of the company but it was found that R K Nanda, the director of Durga Builders, was selling the properties without his knowledge, so much so that he took money from the buyers and sold one plot to three different companies.The court observed that one Manjit Kaur of M/s Kumar Security Services of Ghaziabad filed a petition seeking Rs 6 lacs from Durga Builders as for the security provided by her.The directors of Durga Builders, R K Nanda and Promila Nanda told the Court that their company was not in a position to pay as it had no funds and sought courts permission for winding up the company.The High Court gave preliminary orders and allowed its winding up and appointed an official liquidator, Rajive Bahl to dispose off the assets of the company and pay the debts.Hundreds of people who are waiting for their des were told by the liquidator that a meagre amount of Rs 1,33,473 was in the company’s bank account. Neither was there any account book for the expenses of Rs 5 crore which was collected from the prospective buyers nor any account books or bank accounts were submitted in the Court.UNI

Bombay HC to hear dispute between Ambani brother’s today http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?1143991e-d900-4bec-ae61-8a1e07fe6f5b
The Bombay High Court will hear today the dispute between the Ambani brothers, Mukesh and Anil, over the supply of natural gas from the formers eastern offshore Krishna-Godavari gas fields. On October 1, the matter was listed before the division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice K K Tated for hearing, but it was adjourned till October 6.The court had earlier restrained Mukesh’s Reliance Industries from entering into gas sales contracts with parties other than Anil Ambani Group’s Reliance Natural Resources and state-run NTPC, but it had agreed with the government’s set price of USD 4.20 per million British thermal unit for KG-D6 gas. Reliance Industries was set to begin gas production from KG-D6 from September, at an initial rate of 25 million standard cubic meters per day, climbing up to 40 mmscmd by March 2009. However, after the court’s restraining order, it was not able to enter into sales contracts. RNRL claims right over 28 mmscmd of gas from KG-D6 at USD 2.34 per mmBtu, the price at which RIL had bid in a tender floated by NTPC for sourcing gas. The NTPC contract was not honoured, as the two firms are in courts over certain clauses in the contract. The Anil Ambani Group, citing family de-merger agreement, claims right over the 12 mmscmd gas RIL had committed to NTPC if its deal with the state-run firm falls. Reliance, which sees peak output from KG-D6 at 80 mmscmd, wants the initial 40 mmscmd freed for sale to customers other than RNRL and NTPC. The Bombay High Court is likely to adjudicate over the claims made by the two parties. Meanwhile, the Centre has impleaded in the case, saying natural gas was a national resource and it cannot be locked over family disputes. UNI

Industry body can resolve RIL-RNRL tussle: Bombay HC
On the RILRNRL KG Basin gas tussle, the Bombay High Court suggested the RIL counsel to approach an industry body for suitable arrangement if it is agreed by both parties, reports CNBC-TV18.

The RIL counsel said that since the suit is on the Memorandum of Understanding, it had to be placed before the Court to be pleaded.

Earlier, the government had moved a Notice of Motion in the case. The Notice of Motion had requested the Bombay High Court to vacate the interim stay on RIL, which was restraining it from creating any third-party interest or rights on the 40 mmscmd of natural gas to be produced from the KG Basin.

Today’s case hearing will continue on October 7.
Published on Mon, Oct 06, 2008 at 12:26 , Updated at Tue, Oct 07, 2008 at 16:45 Source : CNBC-TV18

Delhi HC: Lawyers, sister can meet Delhi serial blasts accusedhttp://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?d63cbf72-f03a-44f3-be15-9c1fa44606cf
The Delhi High Court directed the police to allow lawyers and a sister of accused Zia-Ur-Rehman, who was arrested along with four others after a series of bomb blasts rocked the capital on September 13, leaving at least 24 people dead and nearly 100 injured, to meet him.A bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar directed the Delhi Police to allow two lawyers, including Prashant Bhushan, and sister of the accused to meet him in the presence of a senior police officer at 1900 hrs.Accepting the court order, police counsel Mukta Gupta said besides allowing this meeting, the Court also permitted another accused Saquib Nissar to meet his lawyer. Both the accused will be allowed to meet their respective lawyers for one hour each in the presence of ACP Sanjiv Yadav.Zia’s sister will be meeting her brother along with Mr Bhushan.The court issued the direction on a writ petition filed by senior lawyer Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan. They had charged the police with having violated the basic principles, as laid down by the Supreme Court in the D K Basu case, by not informing the kin of the accused, after arresting him, within a stipulated time frame. They also alleged the police of not allowing the lawyers of the accused to meet them.Asking the police to ensure no detainee was denied his rights, the Court directed them to allow the lawyers to meet all the five accused arrested in the case so far.UNI

Kerala HC appoints observer for Sabarimala melsanthi selection http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?48c8d2ae-3ba9-4339-9e5e-6e431e9eef54
The Kerala High Court appointed retired judge K Padmanabhan Nair as an observer for the selection of the Melsanthis (chief priests) of the Sabarimala and Malikappuram temples. A Division Bench comprising Justices P R Raman and T R Ramachandran Nair also directed Justice Padmanabhan Nair to file a report before it about the selection process.The court also raised the strength of the selection committee from five to eight. Earlier, the selection committee was consisting of members from the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) and two Tantris of the Thazhaman Illam. The bench directed to include two experts — one from ten renowned Tantris suggested by the High Court and one from the Melsanthis of the previous five years of the two temples. The court, however, gave the right to nominate those persons to the senior Tantri of the Thazhaman Illam.The court also directed to include the Devaswom Commissioner in the selection committee.The bench observed that the selection of Melsanthis shall be conducted as per the schedule already decided. It also clarified that the re-constitution of the selection committee was for this year only and the TDB would have to make comprehensive guidelines to be formulated in accordance with the recommendations of the Justice Paripoornan Commission.The court issued this order while considering a report filed by Devaswom Ombudsman Justice R Bhaskaran, seeking a direction to make the selection for the post of Melsanthis as per the Justice Paripoornan Commission recommendations. Meanwhile, the Kerala Government and the TDB have informed the bench that they are ready to set up a high-powered committee for the smooth conduct of the Sabarimala mandala season this year.The government informed that the committee will be constituted under Additional Chief Secretary K Jayakumar. It will also have Director-General of Police, ADGP (South Zone) V R Rajeevan and various department heads as its members.It will have the powers to make regulations and take action in all matters related to the Sabarimala festival this year.The bench, however, directed them to file draft guidelines about the functions and powers of the committee. UNI

Despite HC rap, I-T dept to file more old appeals
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court recently pulled up the income-tax department for excessive delay in filing appeals, but it appears that the ruling has not had any impact. The department is gearing up to file nearly 300 appeals, some of which have been gathering dust for over six years. The HC is the next forum to challenge Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) orders. The HC last month rejected 19 appeals on the grounds that the delay in filing the same was not explained. The court also observed that the officers had not been attaching importance to filing appeals within a specified time-frame. It is learnt that the current initiative to file appeals has been mooted by the chief commissioner of I-T , Debabrata Das. According to sources, in most of these cases, his predecessor Taranand (who retired two months ago) had advised against going in appeal as there was an inordinate delay. An I-T official said Taranand felt it was a waste of government expenditure. “The department has to pay a court fee of a minimum Rs 10,000. It is directly proportional to the sum involved,” an official said. Sources said Das had, however, decided to reverse this decision except in the case of Reliance Port and Terminal. The company is developing ports in Gujarat on land owned by the state maritime board. The department reportedly has decided not to go in appeal in this case. The significant appeals currently being scrutinised by the department-to challenge in the high court-include those of Tata Power, Central Bank, L&T , Otis Elevators, Mahindra & Mahindra and Indian Hotels. Sources said that in most of the cases, ITAT passed the orders 5-6 years ago and the high court was unlikely to entertain the same. Das told TOI that he was reviewing the cases but refused to elaborate.
6 Oct 2008, 0608 hrs IST, C Unnikrishnan,TNN

Relief for Singareni SE as HC sets aside firing order
Hyderabad: Justice L Narasimha Reddy of the AP High Court, has set aside the removal order and the consequential forfeiture of gratuity pertaining to a superintendent engineer of Singareni Collieries on the ground that the management of the company was selective in punishing him in a fraud case in which he was neither the beneficiary nor the sanctioning authority . The SE D Komaraiah was removed from the service in October 2006 after a fraud on the company in respect of payment of terminal benefits of a mazdoor, B Mallaiah, working under him and the sanctioning of monthly monetary compensation (MMC) to the mazdoor’s wife came to light. Though Mallaiah was alive, his wife approached the authorities in April 1998 and produced a death certificate of her husband issued by municipal commissioner of Kothagudem in Khammam district and availed all the terminal benefits and also MMC accorded to the dependents of a deceased employee. Following a petition filed by the SE who challenged the action of the authorities, the judge studied the whole issue and wondered as to why the company did not choose to take any action against the employee Mallaiah or his wife who were instrumental in making the claim. He also pointed out the role of one Hussain, a clerk who was found to be guilty of hatching the entire plan. Interestingly, the judge said, the employee Mallaiah himself appeared before the vigilance and the departmental enquiries and admitted his guilt. Any sensible agency would have taken steps to recover the money and file a complaint against the those who committed the fraud, the judge said. The vigilance cell created by the company was selective for obvious reasons , he said in a recent judgement. The general manager who sanctioned the amount and another half a dozen officers who assisted him in evolving the things have either been totally let off or were permitted to retire honourably, the judge said. The SE, who is, neither an appointing authority nor the disciplinary authority was targeted and the legal and factual pleas taken by him were ignored, he said.
6 Oct 2008, 0731 hrs IST,TNN


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