LEGAL NEWS 22.11.2008

Bombay HC directs for written arguments on Rodrigues’s PIL
The Bombay High Court directed that written arguments be filed within two weeks on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by social activist Advocate Aires Rodrigues, challenging appointments of Mr Nilkant Harlankar and Mr Francisco Silveira as parliamentarians.The bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Nelson A Britto directed on the PIL filed by Advocate Aires Rodrigues, who also challenged conferring of Cabinet status on EDC Chairman Mr Agnelo Fernandes, deputy chairman of Goa Planning Board Dr Wilfred D Souza and Commissioner of NRI affairs Mr Eduardo Faleiro. The court further directed that the matter be later listed for judgement.In a application dated October 7, Mr Rodrigues had requested that judgement should be passed speedily in the case due to the urgency of the matter, as it results in a huge burden on the state exchequer.Chief Justice Kumar and Justice Britto had on March 19, after hearing the final arguments in the matter, reserved the judgement.The arguments on the PIL filed by Advocate Rodrigues on July 17, 2007, were initially heard by the High Court comprising of Justices R M S Khandeparkar and R S Mohite on August 22, 2007 and the matter was reserved for judgement.However on August 24, the court did not pass any order but adjourned the matter stating that it would not be appropriate to deal with the matter as a similar case relating to the validity of the appointment of parliamentary secretaries and conferment of status to Cabinet Ministers in Assam, was pending before the Supreme Court. UNI

Mayawati takes on HC, gets relief from SC
22 Nov 2008, 0103 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Mayawati government on Friday crossed swords with Allahabad High Court — terming its order stalling `Lucknow Mahotsav’ at Smriti Upvan as yet another instance of “judicial indiscipline” — and got relief from the Supreme Court which green lighted the November 25 festival. The Lucknow Bench of the HC had ordered status quo at Smriti Upvan, an 101 acre green area, on a PIL accusing the Mayawati government of violating the earlier court order asking the government not to alter the layout by erecting permanent constructions. Challenging the interim orders of October 14 and November 19, senior advocate Harish Salve and UP additional advocate general Shail Kumar Dwivedi said, “This is yet another instance of judicial indiscipline that threatens to put spokes in the functioning of an elected government.” Salve said earlier too, the SC had come to the rescue of the Mayawati government. On April 21, the SC had stayed a Lucknow Bench order restraining the government from installing statues of BSP founder Kanshi Ram and the chief minister in Ambedkar Park in Lucknow. Salve said the PIL jurisdiction should not be so abused and the courts should not intervene so frequently to make it difficult for an elected government to take decisions independently. Opposing the government’s plea, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, appearing for PIL petitioner Ashok Yadav Dev, said the attempt to destroy the green area by making permanent constructions should be stopped at all costs. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam ordered stay on the HC order, allowing the Mayawati government to go ahead with the Lucknow Mahotsav, for which the state has already allocated Rs 4 crore and of which Rs 3 crore has been spent. However, in an important rider, the apex court directed the state not to make any permanent constructions at Smriti Upvan for the Mahotsav, which the state claimed was giving a platform to handicraft artisans to exhibit their skills. “The Mahotsav aims to preserve the age-old arts and culture of the state of Uttar Pradesh in general and the city of Lucknow in particular,” the government said.

Criminal complaint case filed in Khagaria court against Lalu
22 Nov 2008, 2145 hrs IST, PTI
KHAGARIA: A complaint was filed today in Khagaria lower court against RJD supremo and Railway minister Lalu Prasad for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Hindus in his speech at a public meeting in Muzaffarpur on November 19. The complaint was filed by Vivek Bharti in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate of Khagaria for initiation of criminal case against Prasad and two journalists, including a resident editor of a Hindi daily, for publishing the leader’s speech. The complainant contended that Prasad had made a derogatory statement during his speech at a public meeting organised for take-over of Bharat Wagon factory by the railways. Prasad’s statement that “Sadhu sants asli atanki hain (Saints are real terrorists)” has hurt his and the entire Hindu community’s sentiments, Bharti said in his complaint. The criminal case should be initiated against them under various sections — 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class, by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 120 B (Criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, he said. The complainant submitted that after reading the newspaper he became unconscious and the derogatory statement has had adverse impact on his day to day life. Bharti has also made Union Minister for Heavy Industries Raghunath Jha as party to the case as he was also present on the dais on that day.

Govt rules out POTA-like law
22 Nov 2008, 1729 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Centre ruled out a POTA-like law as demanded by opposition BJP, with home minister Shivraj Patil asserting that relevant portions of
the repealed Act had been incorporated in the existing anti-terror measures. “We have laws, which have provisions to deal with terrorism. They should be used properly,” Patil said despite persistent demands by the saffron party for a tough anti-terror law like POTA and a suggestion by the second Administrative Reforms Commission to have a new and comprehensive law to tackle terror. The home minister said this while inaugurating the two-day annual conference of police DGs and IGs here. Patil said when POTA was repealed, some relevant chapters in it were transferred into the Unlawful Activities Prevention Law “lock, stock and barrel”. The chapters have provisions useful to control terrorist activities, free flow of funds to terrorist groups and relating to the admissibility of certain kinds of evidence collected with the help of electronic equipment, the home minister said. He said there were provisions in POTA which went against the basic principles of criminal jurisprudence relating to the onus of proof and admissibility of the confessions, not made according to the principles adopted in the Criminal Procedure Code. “It is not possible to have a law like POTA on the statute book. The relevant provisions in POTA, needed to control terrorism, have been introduced and retained in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act,” he added.

Govt faces neglect slur in Bero PIL
Ranchi, Nov. 21: Jharkhand High Court has taken cognisance of the state government’s alleged inaction in the immediate aftermath of the Bero school tragedy in which five children of the Rajkiya Anusuchit Janjati Awasiya Uchcha Vidyalaya died after they drank poisoned milk along with evening snacks on November 13.
The court today converted into a PIL a letter written by a human rights activist detailing various instances of negligence on the part of the administration as its representatives shifted 29 students in serious condition to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). Among them, five died on way to Ranchi.
In a two-page letter addressed to chief justice Gyan Sudha Misra, petitioner Ranjit Kumar Roy, has alleged that despite ample resources the administration did little to help the students and their families in their hour of crisis.
He pointed out that there were ambulances and emergency vehicles available at the Sadar hospital, Reproductive and Child Health Centre and Jharkhand State AIDS Control Society, but none of those were used. Instead, anxious parents and their seriously ill children were brought to RIMS, a good 45km away from Bero, in autorickshaws.
Roy, who is associated with the rights group PUCL, said had the government swung into action on time, a few more students could have been saved. He said both the administration and the government was slack due to which the condition of the students deteriorated and some died. Roy also questioned the police decision to arrest and detain for the last seven days milk supplier Pratima Devi (30) and two school cooks, Soma Oraon (50) and Laxman Nayak (52) — they were sent to jail yesterday.
Pratima has told the police she has been supplying milk to the school for the last two years and various students have corroborated statements that the milk must have been poisoned in the evening as those who had drank it in the morning did not fall ill.
Senior police superintendent M.S.Bhatia said the milk supplier was arrested as she was referred to in the FIR filed by the state welfare department that runs the residential school for ST/ST students. “We took action on the basis of the FIR lodged after the incident,” he said.
State police spokesperson S.N.Pradhan said: “All have been arrested on grounds of suspicion. They will automatically get bail from the court when no evidence is found against them.”
Former MLA Vishwanath Bhagat, who was on hunger strike at RIMS to demand a CBI probe into the tragedy, called off his agitation after he was pacified by state health minister Bhanu Pratap Sahi this evening.

HC summons Indian Botanical Garden additional director for axing trees
Express News Service
Posted: Nov 22, 2008 at 0109 hrs IST
Kolkata, November 21 Expressing concern on the felling of trees by the Indian Botanical Garden, the Calcutta High Court on Friday ordered the institution’s additional director G S Giri to appear before it on Monday to submit an explanation. The order came after a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by environmentalist Subhash Dutta came up for hearing before a Bench comprising Chief Justice SS Nijjar and Justice Sanjib Banerjee.
Dutta in his petition said the garden authorities have uprooted nearly 100 trees inside the garden illegally.
The PIL added the Indian Botanical Garden, which comes under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, had axed the trees in November and later sold them in pieces. According to the litigant, the trees were axed from a seven acre area to make way for a garden.
He added the authorities have violated the West Bengal Trees (Prevention and Conservation in Non-Forest Areas) Act 2006, by felling the trees without obtaining permission from the West Bengal Forest Department.
Dutta had lodged a complaint with the Shibpur police station and the Forest Department against the Indian Botanic Garden on November 16. While the police did not take any action, the Forest Department had taken a serious note of the felling of trees.
The goverment has sent a notice to the garden authorities asking for an explanation. “We have also informed the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests about the episode,” said Bijoy Chatterjee, Principal Secretary, Department of Forests and Tourism.
What has invited the wrath of the state government is the gross violation of a law passed by the state government three years ago, which clearly defines that permission has to be taken from the authorities concerned before axing any tree.
Even Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee saw red on the issue and asked his officials to look into the matter. “It was a serious and unpardonable offence. I have asked the Forest Department to look into the matter and take action,” the chief minister had said at a function in Kolkata on Wednesday.

WCD ministry against ‘misuse clause’ in sexual harassment law
22 Nov 2008, 0159 hrs IST, Himanshi Dhawan, TNN
NEW DELHI: If a woman files a false complaint for sexual harassment, she will probably get away with it if the women and child development ministry has its way. The WCD ministry and the National Commission for Women have rejected law ministry’s suggestion of adding a “misuse clause” to the proposed Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill that is currently in the final stages. The WCD ministry has reasoned that adding a penalty clause for misuse will act as a wrong precedent. At a recent meeting, representatives of the WCD ministry and NCW were able to convince the law ministry that if a clause was added to the present bill, the ministry would be forced to do so in any legislation it plans to bring in the future. “Our ministry’s logic was that since no other law has a misuse clause, why should this one be made an exception. After all, the Indian Penal Code addresses the issue of misuse adequately. If it does not, then IPC needs to be strengthened,” a source said. The law ministry had recently returned the legislation asking that a misuse clause added to it. They also suggested that women working in the unorganised sector should also be included. The WCD ministry and NCW have accepted this and are drafting adequate measures to make the law applicable to the unorganised sector. The proposed legislation is expected to provide redressal for women plagued by sexual harassment not just in government and organised private sector companies but industries that have so far managed to stay out of the loop like hospitality industry including catering services, restaurants, professions like NGOs, health services and coaching centres, domestic helps, women working in tailoring, or beauty parlours. Under the bill, an employer must constitute an internal complaints committee where the majority members should be women. In cases where an internal committee cannot be set up or if the complaint is against the employer himself, the aggrieved woman can approach a local committee set up by the government under a district officer. The penalty, if harassment is proved, will be levied keeping in view the victim’s mental suffering and trauma, income and financial status of the woman, medical expenses incurred by the victim and loss in career opportunity because of the incident. The bill also prohibits publication or making contents of the inquiry or the aggrieved woman’s details available. The employer will also be expected to provide a safe environment at the work place, organise sensitisation workshops and create awareness regarding the rights and penalties under law.

Rahul was not shot from close range: FSL
22 Nov 2008, 0148 hrs IST, S Ahmed Ali, TNN
MUMBAI: Forensic experts have given a clean chit to the police team which shot dead Rahul Raj, a Patna resident who hijacked a BEST bus at Kurla on October 26. There was a political uproar following the shooting and some Bihar politicians had alleged that the youth was shot dead in cold blood. The state government then launched a formal inquiry into the shooting. TOI has a copy of the Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) report, which was submitted to the police commissioner on Friday. It will be forwarded to the state home department. The chemical analysis report said that there was absence of blackening and powder residue around the periphery of bullet holes on Raj’s skin. It further says that the injuries are far “beyond the powder range of the weapon”. This means that the bullets were fired from a distance of at least four to five metres. The three firearms — a 303 rifle and two 9 mm pistols — from which the bullets were shot at Rahul, were sent for ballistic examination. The ballistic expert report which is also attached with this report says that the police weapons were in perfect working condition, ruling out the theory that the firing was from close range. Four bullets, all fired from pistols, hit Rahul on his chest and face. The FSL expert also examined the BEST bus frame which was pierced by some bullets in the exchange of fire. “After examining everything in minute detail, it is now concluded that the police team fired from a safe distance of around five metres and above,” said an FSL official on condition of anonymity. The officials of Grant Medical College also told chief secretary Johny Joseph during the inquiry that prima facie, Raj was not shot from pointblank or close range. Rahul Raj, who had held the BEST bus passenger hostage on October 26, on Andheri Kurla road was gunned down by the police. Rahul Raj had claimed that he had come to kill MNS chief Raj Thackeray over latter’s drive against Biharis. Rahul had tried to strangulate the bus conductor and had even fired two rounds in which a passenger Manoj Bhagat received a bullet injury. A day after the post-mortem, Dr B G Chikhalkar, part of the post-mortem team, had said there was a dark mark around the bullet injury on the face, indicative of the fact that the bullet was fired from close range. But Dr Chikhalkar, who had repeated this statement on TV, soon retracted what he had said.

BCCI top brass along with Pawar move SC against Calcutta HC order
22 Nov 2008, 0123 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: BCCI top brass and Union minister Sharad Pawar rushed to the Supreme Court on Friday seeking a `third umpire’ view on the legality of the Calcutta High Court’s direction to initiate criminal proceedings against them, allegedly for filing a false affidavit in the case relating to expulsion of Jagmohan Dalmiya from the cricket board. Among those against whom the HC ordered criminal proceedings were BCCI president Shashank Manohar, Pawar, administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty, Niranjan Shah, N Srinivasan and Chirayu Amin. Their fault, as perceived by the HC judge Nadira Patherya, was that they filed an affidavit in May 2007 in Dalmiya case that was, in content, almost diametrically opposite to their affidavit filed two months earlier. “The HC completely misread the evidence and without giving the persons a chance to explain, initiated criminal proceedings,” the petitioners said before the SC, seeking its stay. They added that the HC, by proceeding ex-parte, had made a mockery of the principles of natural justice that demanded that no one should be condemned without being heard. It said the March 2007 affidavit filed by Pawar & Co was based on facts about non-requirement of registration of accounts before the Registrar of Societies. But the later affidavit was filed only by Ratnakar Shetty telling the HC that the Registrar of Societies had actually taken note of the accounts as well as the modified rules under which Dalmiya was expelled. Dalmiya had pointed out this discrepancy and accused the petitioners of committing perjury — lying on oath before the court. The basic grievance of Pawar & Co is that not only did Dalmiya not tell the whole truth before the HC, but he also took advantage of his own default in not intimating the Registrar of Societies about the accounts when he was at the helm of affairs of the cricket board. Moreover, if a subsequent affidavit sworn by Shetty places facts that were quite removed from those stated in the earlier one, how could Pawar & Co, who had not sworn the latter affidavit, be dragged to face criminal proceedings, the petitioners asked and sought a stay of the HC order. Dalmiya was expelled from BCCI on December 10, 2006, a development that had forced him to quit as president of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). On July 20 last year, the Calcutta HC had termed Dalmiya’s expulsion illegal.

SC gives interim protection to 3 cops in Rizwanur death case
22 Nov 2008, 0102 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Three Kolkata cops, directed to surrender after the Calcutta High Court cancelled their bails in the controversial Rizwanur Rehman case, followed the footsteps of another accused Ashok Todi to get interim protection from arrest from Supreme Court on Friday. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam posted the petitions — filed by IPS officer and former deputy commissioner of Kolkata Police Ajoy Kumar, former assistant commissioner of police Sukanti Chakraborty and sub-inspector Krishnendu Das — for hearing on December 5 and ordered that till that day, they should not be arrested. Appearing for the cops, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi and advocate Suchit Mohanty argued that the police officers were on bail all along and suddenly, without any change in the ground situation, the HC erroneously cancelled their bails and asked them to surrender before the trial court by Friday. The HC had upheld the plea of Rizwanur’s mother Kishwar Jahan, who had sought cancellation of bails granted to the cops on the ground that they might try to influence the witnesses. Earlier, Todi had got relief from arrest after he had rushed to the SC challenging the trial court order issuing non-bailable arrest warrants against him. The SC had told the CBI not to arrest him till it heard his plea alleging that the agency had exceeded the HC’s order by filing a chargesheet when it was only asked to submit a probe report in sealed cover. The CBI had accused Todi of driving Rizwanur to take the extreme step as the businessman had made incessant attempts to break his daughter away from him. Apart from Todi, the CBI chargesheet had named Todi’s brother Pradeep, brother-in-law Anil Saraogi, the three cops and Rizwanur’s neighbour S M Moinuddin alias Pappu.

HC stays court martial against Lt-Gen accused of corruption
22 Nov 2008, 0008 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Army’s plan to court martial a retired Lt-General, Surendra K Sahni, ran into rough weather on Friday after the Delhi High Court put an interim stay on legal proceedings against the former Army Service Corps officer. An Army court of inquiry (CoI) into massive irregularities in procurement of “certain items of dry rations” for soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir had prima facie indicted Sahni, then posted as the director general of supplies and transport, a Maj-Gen, two Brigadiers and eight other officers in 2006. The scam involved the multi-crore purchase of around 1,000 tonnes of `masoor dal’, which was found adulterated and unfit for human consumption. There was also irregularities in the purchase of huge quantities of animal feed for the force in early-2005. The “disciplinary proceedings” against Sahni in the shape of a court martial (military trial) were, however, put on hold after he filed a writ petition in a civilian court. Sahni subsequently retired in 2006. The Army HQ had recently taken sanction to proceed against Sahni, issuing orders for the convening of a general court martial (GCM), with a five-member bench headed by a senior Lt-Gen, against him at the 11 Corps in Jalandhar from November 26. But in a breather to Sahni, the Delhi HC on Friday granted an interim stay on court martial proceedings against him after his lawyer Viraj Dattar moved the court. The lawyer said that despite the HC listing Sahni’s petition challenging his trial for final hearing on December 2, the Army wished to go ahead with GCM this month. Sahni, on his part, has argued that he was victimised, without being given an opportunity to put his stand before charges were prepared against him. The division Bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Manmohan stayed the court martial till January 7 after the government sought more time to table additional documents in the case. “We are adjourning the hearing at the government’s instance. We direct that there shall be no court martial proceedings in the meantime,” said the Bench, adding that “petitioner may not report to Jalandhar for the court martial on November 26”. If the court martial had gone ahead, Sahni would have become the first-ever Lt-Gen, serving or retired, to face such military proceedings for alleged corruption. Incidentally, around the same time as Sahni’s indictment by the CoI, another ASC Lt-Gen, S K Dahiya, had also faced legal proceedings. Dahiya, who too retired subsequently, had been indicted by a CoI for alleged irregularities in the operation of the “frozen meat contract” for supplies to troops posted in the high-altitude Ladakh sector. In this case, too, a brigadier and three other officers were also held prima-facie guilty by the CoI. The names of Sahni, Dahiya, four Maj-Gens, nine Brigadiers, a Navy Commodore, two Commanders, a Lt-Commander, an IAF Group Captain and a Coast Guard DIG have figured in a list of 21 senior officers facing corruption charges tabled by defence minister A K Antony in Parliament. The corruption charges range from selling military liquor in civilian markets to financial bungling in purchase of cereals, petrol and the like in the armed forces. In yet another indicator of the declining standards of probity and discipline in the armed forces, a Maj-Gen even faced the music for sexual harassment earlier this year. The court martial against Maj-Gen A K Lal, removed as commander of the strategically-located 3 Infantry Division at Leh in September 2007 after a woman officer accused him of “misconduct” and “misbehaviour”, held that he should be dismissed from service.

CJI to launch hi-tech pilot project today
22 Nov 2008, 0023 hrs IST, TNN
BANGALORE: A hi-tech pilot project connecting the higher judiciary of the state with its district and taluk units providing direct interaction, will be inaugurated on Saturday. Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan will inaugurate this project in the presence of the chief minister and the Chief Justice of Karnataka high court, P Dinakaran. The main aim of this project is to provide access to inexpensive, speedy and timely justice and also reduce pendency of cases. Video conferencing would enable the higher judiciary not only to monitor and supervise the judicial and administrative functions of district and taluk courts, but also guide them. The high court has identified 2,14,891 petty cases and 63,047 compoundable cases for disposal before December-end. Apart from this, 77,252 motor vehicle cases and 30,301 land acquisition cases are also considered for speedy disposal.

Potential of e-Judiciary in India
Mayank Saxena states that the e-Judiciary can streamline judicial proceedings leading to speedy trials
The performance of any Government can be tested by the efficiency of its judicial system. The Indian judicial system is known for its impartiality, independence and justice-oriented approach. The first duty of any court is to do justice, but in the process to perform it in the most democratic fashion. Today new frontiers are challenging its capabilities and its way of functioning. India currently is facing shortage of ‘Judicial Officers’ to handle the number of cases that have been filed and have accumulated over time. The seriousness of this situation should be realized and the Government should pro-actively use Information Technology (IT) to make e-Judiciary an integral part of its judicial system.
e-Judiciary is a judicial system that uses the Internet and electronic documentation from the time the case is registered until the time judgment is rendered; the records of proceedings and judgment can be accessed for future reference. An ideal e-Judiciary system for any country at a given point of time should be compatible with the socio-economic factors of that country at that point of time.
The increasing backlog of cases threatens to our judicial system; official figures revealed from the Home Ministry’s Department of Justice states that the Allahabad High Court had around 1.09 million pending cases and the Supreme Court of India had a total of 39,780 civil and criminal pending cases at the end of 2007. In the Indian context, this is a clear violation of ‘Right to Speedy Trial’ as conferred by Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court has realized this and an e-committee has been formulated. This committee has initiated steps for the computerization process of the Supreme Court and other courts. However, we should not limit the advantages of IT by mere computerization, but capitalize on the other benefits of IT in a phased manner as per the feasibility and maintain user friendliness for judges and advocates who would be the main users of this system.
In order to have an effective e-Judiciary System, the following steps might help:
Initially, proper training regarding the use of IT should be imparted to judges and advocates before capitalizing on the benefits. Their reluctance to accept this change can be decreased if the long-term perspective is taken into consideration.
With the help of interconnectivity, the data can flow to a central computer from where ‘Certified Copies’ of the concerned documents are made available. Further, cause lists, names of the judges, court numbers, and name of the advocates etc should be available on the Internet and the information should be updated regularly. This step could reduce the personal interface of citizens and business with public service providers, cutting delay, bureaucratic red tape, corruption and harassment besides increasing the speed of response
The information to the general public can be made available through information kiosks in an unbiased manner so that the underprivileged sections of the society can access information as and when required
Beyond this, the presence of crucial witness through video conferencing can be used on a wider scale; it has already been started in some regions
The medium of the Internet can be used for filing of cases, bail applications, serving of notices, etc. This will enhance transparency and accountability by making information available to citizens through Web sites, reduce information monopoly, simplify processes and empower citizens to put pressure on public officials to deliver performance
The paper records of the proceedings are difficult to track, store, manage, produce and reproduce on desired occasions; in some cases, these could be destroyed due to natural calamities and their reconstruction might not be possible. Under such a circumstance, the court has no other option but to acquit the accused. An electronic record is not only durable but can be easily tracked, stored, managed, produced and reproduced as well.
The Indian Government has realized the advantages of e-Judiciary and taken some vital steps towards it. Presently, the Supreme Court has undertaken ‘e-courts’ efforts in three phases as a Mission Mode Project under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) to link about 15,000 courts from the District Court to the Supreme Court through a Wide Area Network. A plan to provide required infrastructure and concentrate on capacity-building, judicial process from filing to execution, and finally making the information available online between the courts, prosecuting and investigating agencies, prisons, land records and registration offices is also underway, leading accelerated disposal of civil and criminal cases. Our former President, A P J Abdul Kalam, had suggested the creation of e-judiciary by establishing “Judicial e-Governance Grid” from the district courts to the Apex Court in order to cover the entire judicial system in the country. There are some provisions in the IT Act, 2000 that are inevitable for the smooth functioning of the justice system such as legal recognition of e-Records, legal recognition of digital signatures and retention of e-Records. There are some High Courts whose Web sites display the daily cause list, the judgment delivered and information that is useful to the citizens.
There are some crucial challenges, which the Government needs to resolve in order to have a proper e-Judiciary in place. The biggest challenge is the lack of ‘e-Readiness’ on the part of senior judges and advocates who are comfortable with the traditional mode of imparting justice.
The implementation of IT shall bring along challenges related to security of data and infrastructure, which shall be resolved with time as the system matures. Initially, the Government might be reluctant to invest in the system but if it considers the return on investment with a long-term horizon, introducing IT will be lucrative for the present judicial system.
The impact of an effective e-Judiciary can also be seen in developed countries like Singapore, which is currently well known for its e-Governance model and long regarded as one of the world’s least corrupt countries. The E-Courts System of Singapore has incorporated innovative technology to provide for the most conducive and effective courtroom environment. It has seen the implementation of leading technologies like Digital Transcription System (DTS), Electronic Queue Management System (EQMS) and Electronic Signage System (ESS) to improve the efficiency of cases in the new Supreme Court building. The Supreme Court uses its Web portal to improve accessibility to justice by providing more information on court procedures and judgments as well as services in a user-friendly manner. Besides e-Judiciary, there are about 1,600 Government services readily available over the Internet in Singapore. This plays a key role in developing Singapore’s knowledge-based economy and at the same time provides effective services that engage citizens and enhance Government transparency.
The system of e-Judiciary exits in India; it however needs to be updated and upgraded to meet current challenges and technological needs. The Government needs to test various standards and policies over a period of time to make them compatible with Indian socio-economic realities. India and its populace (both rural and urban) would need to acclimatize themselves to a digital environment; the future is moving towards a completely online environment. The standards set by foreign countries, particularly developed nations, must not be followed blindly rather they must be compatible with the Indian environment before the application can take place. e-Judiciary is not just the computerization of standalone back office operations: it is a means to change how the Government operates and dispenses justice fundamentally and implies a new set of responsibilities for the governmental machinery.
The author is Senior Industry Analyst, ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan – South Asia & Middle East

Goa rape investigation neither ‘just nor fair’: HC
21 Nov 2008, 1734 hrs IST, PTI
PANAJI: The Goa Bench of Bombay High court on Friday termed the police investigations into rape of the German minor as neither “just nor fair”. “We have no hesitation in observing that the investigation into the case is neither just nor fair. The jurisprudence is to ensure that just, fair and logical investigation in accordance with criminal procedure code and police manual,” the bench ruled today. The bench comprising Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Nelson A Britto came down heavily on the investigating officers in the sensational German minor rape case. The German lady had accused Goa state education minister Atanasio Monserratte’s son Rohit and public works department minister Churchill Alemao’s nephew Warren of sexually exploiting her 14-year-old daughter. The bench which heard the case for most of the part of the day today also asked the police why the case be not handed over to the specialized agency like Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Expressing its reservations over the granting of bail to Rohit by Goa children’s court, the High Court also asked the state to issue showcause notice to the accused why his bail order should not be quashed and he directed to surrender. Superintendent of Police (North) Bosco George and police inspector Tushar Vernekar investigating the case were also warned by the bench to make sure that the investigation is fair.

Raj fears threat to life in J’khand, seeks HC relief
22 Nov 2008, 0120 hrs IST, Manohar Lal, TNN
RANCHI: The Jharkhand High Court has adjourned till November 28 hearing on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray’s petition, seeking exemption from personal appearance in courts of the state and transfer of all cases filed against him in the state to Maharashtra. As many as six cases have been filed in different parts of Jharkhand against the MNS chief for his hate campaign against north Indians. They include three cases in which he has been accused of inciting violence leading to murder. Warrants of arrest have been issued in two of the six cases. Thackeray’s petition came up for hearing before a single bench of Justice D K Sinha on Friday. He has pleaded for representation in the trial courts through his lawyers. Thackeray’s counsel YB Giri pleaded for relief from the HC, saying his client could face threat to his life if he comes to the state. The cases should be transferred to Mumbai as a similar case is pending in a Mumbai court, Giri further submitted before the HC. Mumbai Police on Thursday submitted in the Jamshedpur court a certified copy of the transit bail granted to Thackeray by a Mazgaon court. The Jamshedpur court had earlier issued a non-bailable warrant of arrest in connection with a case filed by one Hameed Raza, a lawyer. “The transit bail gives Thackeray 15 days’ relief, which ends on November 30, following which the hearing in my case will take place on December 1,” said Raza. The MNS chief has been directed by another Jamshedpur court to appear in person before it on November 28 in connection with a case filed by Sudhir Kumar Pappu, also a lawyer. In both the cases, the trial courts have rejected his petitions seeking exemption from personal appearance.

Chaos order of the day as HC parking reserved for lawyers, litigants suffer
Posted: Nov 22, 2008 at 0035 hrs IST
Chandigarh, November 21 With the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar giving advocates and judges the exclusive right to use the HC parking lot, utter chaos prevails on the premises. While the advocates enjoy the comfort, litigants have to walk almost half a kilometre to reach the court. At times, the rush of vehicles is so much that people are forced to leave their vehicles in the parking lot outside the Punjab Secretariat.
“I am a representative of the advocates and have to ensure that no lawyer is late to court for want of parking space. Ever since the change was introduced, we haven’t wasted time searching for parking space. The conditions were horrendous earlier. Once, we were stuck in a jam inside the parking lot for several minutes while taking an advocate, who had suffered a heart attack, to hospital,” said Rupinder S Khosla, president of the High Court Bar Association.
He blamed the UT Administration for not taking steps to solve the problem.
“Why should the HC parking be confined to lawyers? Do litigants come for fun to the High Court? If the advocates get late, so do we. Why has everyone forgotten about the witnesses and the accused who have to appear in court? And if they are late, the court issues strictures against them,” said Baljinder Singh, a litigant.
Completing the long walk from distant parking lots is also a cause of concern for senior citizens. “I am an old man and have to visit the High Court in relation with a civil case. Ever since the entire parking was reserved for advocates, I have to walk a long way to the HC,” said 65-year-old Kuljinder Singh.
No sign yet of multi-level parkingA few months ago, the UT Administration had proposed the construction of a multi-level parking lot on the High Court premises to put an end to the parking problem. No substantial progress on the project has been made till date.

Plea filed in SC on judges’ selection, says President must accept panel’s names
Express news service Posted: Nov 21, 2008 at 2350 hrs IST
New Delhi, November 20 : Even as the UPA Government showed signs of pulling back to avoid any confrontation with the judiciary by forwarding to the President the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium with respect to elevation of three High Court chief justices, the issue refuses to die down.
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking directions to the Union Government to clear the collegium recommendations. The petitioner, advocate R K Kapoor, has asserted that the President is bound to go by the recommendation of the collegium, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI), on appointment of apex court judges. The petition is expected to come up for mentioning on Friday.
The recent recommendation of the names of Madras HC CJ A K Ganguli, Patna HC CJ R M Lodha and Kerala HC CJ H L Dattu by the SC collegium had been questioned by the PMO on the advice of the Union Law Minister H R Bhardwaj, as some other HC CJs senior to these three had been left out. However, after the PMO sent the file back to the collegium for reconsideration, the same was returned within a couple of days without any changes being made.
Quoting the Constitution and judicial pronouncements with regard to procedure to be adopted for appointment of judges, Kapoor has asserted that the collegium has the final say on elevation of HC CJs to the apex court and neither the PMO nor any other executive authority could intervene in the matter.

Abhaya case: Accused moves Kerala HC
Kochi (PTI): Father Jose Puthrikayil, arrested in the sister Abhaya murder case, on Friday filed a petition in the Kerala High Court seeking to quash the order of a chief judicial magistrate remanding him to 14 days’ CBI custody.
Continuous detention of any person, especially a priest for 14 days at a stretch is “illegal, inhuman and hard”, Puthrikayil, second accused in the case, stated in the petition.
He said that the CBI has not narrated the prior history of investigation and likelihood of further charges which it expects to derive from the accused. The investigating agency is bound to narrate the above aspects in an affidavit, he stated.
The remand report was also silent about the involvement of him and evidence so far collected, the petitioner said.
The petitioner also complained that before being produced in court, he was in custody for over 30 hours and the CBI had not showed the courtesy to explain the delay in producing before court.
The petition is likely to come up for hearing on November 24.
Puthrikayil was arrested along with Father Thomas Kottur and Sister Sephi in connection with the murder of Sister Abahya, a nun of the St Pius convent on March 27, 1992. The three were arrested on Wednesday.

HC asks Pepsi to remove mountain’s picture from water bottle
Press Trust of India / New Delhi November 21, 2008, 13:37 IST
The Delhi High Court today directed Pepsico India, to remove the picture of a “snow capped mountain” from its packaged water product Acquafina.
“We direct respondent (Pepsi) to remove pictorial device ‘snow capped mountain’ from label of article ‘Aquafina’ within six months and also add the phrase ‘as per BIS standard’ to its label with the phrase ‘purity guaranteed’,” a bench comprising Justices Mukul Mudgal and Manmohan said.
“The pictorial device suggests that the packaged mineral water being manufactured and marketed by the company has its origin in the mountain which creates a misleading impression in the minds of the purchasing public,” the bench said.
The court passed the direction on a petition filed by Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) challenging a single bench order of the court which had allowed the company to use the mountain’s picture on its product.

BSNL to refund security deposit to complainant
Express News Service
Posted: Nov 21, 2008 at 2344 hrs IST
Chandigarh, November 20 Setting aside the dismissal of a complaint by the Ludhiana District Consumer Forum, the UT State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed BSNL to refund the security amount of Rs 3,000 towards a telephone connection. The company has also been directed to pay the litigation cost of Rs 2,100.
The complainant, Ram Singh Paul, a resident of Ludhiana, had applied for a telephone connection in January 1996 and had deposited Rs 3,000 towards the same. He was then provided a waiting list number.
He said he kept waiting for the connection and gave requests for the installation of the telephone, but to no avail. He then asked the company to either install the telephone or refund the security deposit.
It was averred that his plea fell on deaf ears and while his phone was never installed, the money was also not refunded.
BSNL, in its reply said the telephone was installed at the address specified in the application. They added that the complainant defaulted in making the bill payment and his connection was thus snapped in 1998.
The Ludhiana District Forum found that when the complainant wrote a letter for snapping the connection, Rs 1,115 was refunded to him and the connection remained in operation till 1998. The
forum said the complainant took a stand that his connection was not installed whereas, the bills indicate that it was. His complaint was thus dismissed on these grounds.
The complainant then moved the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission following which, the case was transferred to the UT State Commission.
The Commission said BSNL failed to prove that the connection was made operational and that the same was used to make calls.
“If it was so, then the metre reading would have indicated and corroborated this plea of the BSNL,” said Justice KC Gupta, president, UT State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
The Commission also said that the plea that the telephone was subsequently disconnected due to non-payment of bills is also not substantiated by the bills placed on record as there is no reference of any unpaid bill indicated in the bills produced by the company.

SC no to PIL for invoking MCOCA against Raj Thackeray
New Delhi (PTI): The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain a petition seeking registration of a criminal case under MCOCA against MNS chief Raj Thackeray for the his party’s hate campaign and violence against north Indians and non-Marathis in Maharashtra.
“It is not our duty to pass orders for registering cases,” said a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, warning an NGO against filing petitions for registration of cases under MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act).
“Don’t convert this court into a police station,” the Bench, also comprising Justice P Sathasivan, said, expressing its displeasure against the NGO, Yuva Shakti, for filing the petition.
“How can we pass such type of directions,” the Bench said referring to the petition in which the NGO had also sought that liability should be put on MNS and its chief for the damage caused to public property during the violence.
The PIL had also sought a direction to the Election Commission for de-recognising MNS as a political party.
Advocate Rakesh Kumar Singh said that the NGO was approaching the apex court as the fall out of the violence was not restricted to Maharashtra but had also spread to other parts of the country.
He submitted that how can the apex court be silent when a political party was encouraging and spearheading violence against citizens, many of whom were students going to Maharashtra to appear in competitive examinations.

HC admits PIL against PCMC land conversion
21 Nov 2008, 0304 hrs IST, TNN
PUNE: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Bombay high court (HC) seeking to prevent Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation
(PCMC) from converting industrial land into residential. The PIL has also sought an inquiry into the PCMC’s policy of converting industrial land into residential. Advocate Sachin Patwardhan has filed this PIL, which was heard on Wednesday. Speaking to TOI Ajay Suryavanshi, legal advisor, PCMC, confirmed that hearing on Patwardhan’s PIL was held in the high court. Suryavanshi said, “The next hearing is scheduled after two weeks. We have not received any show-cause notice from the court as yet but the PCMC will explain its position when asked to do so.” The PCMC has received permission from the state government for amending the Development Control (DC) rules to convert land in industrial zone into residential. Patwardhan has challenged the state government’s order as well as the PCMC’s proposal. The PIL states that the proposal of changing the DC rules was tabled before the PCMC’s general body (GB) meeting in 2001. A supplementary to this proposal to grant permission to construct residential complex on industrial land in the municipal limits was approved at short notice. The petition said that the PCMC made changes as per clause 37 of Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act, 1966 and made a new rule M-6.5. The state had made it mandatory that the developer had to transfer 10 per cent of the land to the municipal corporation if it wanted to change the use of industrial land for residential purpose. The government had also stated that the municipal commissioner should accept suitable charges from the developer for making such change in the use of land. Patwardhan has alleged in the PIL that the decision of the state government and its implementation by the PCMC in this regard is illegal. The PCMC has misled the people by making the changes under the garb of making insignificant changes. Patwardhan has pointed out that 13 projects have been approved to change the usage of land from industrial to residential till now. Elpro International is the only developer who has given 10 per cent land to the PCMC as per the state government rule. The remaining 12 developers have not given the 10 per cent of the land to the PCMC as yet. “The civic officials are purposely not taking possession of the land from the developers and instead have sent a proposal to the state that it will be appropriate not to acquire this land,” the PIL said. Patwardhan has said that it was expected as per the law that the projects under this scheme should be residential but big commercial complexes were being constructed. He alleged that the civic officials were ignoring this violation of the law. He has further said that the face of the Pimpri-Chinchwad industrial township will change if industrial land was used for residential purpose. “One can see the ongoing construction of residential and commercial complexes on the land of companies like Elpro International, Ruston, Garware and Premier that have been closed. Thousands of workers were rendered jobless when these companies were closed. The state’s decision is improper and unjust as it benefits only a handful of industrialists and developers,” he said in the PIL. The PCMC has given permission to 13 projects under the scheme and around 38 lakh sq.ft of industrial land has been converted into residential use. The developers have built commercial and residential complexes on this land and a proposal has been sent to the state government seeking approval of these commercial complexes, he said.

Jawans must move out of schools: HC
Ranchi, Nov. 20: In a major relief for students, Jharkhand High Court today directed the state to ensure that paramilitary forces vacate all government school premises without delay.
The problems students face because of paramilitary camps on campus was recently brought to the notice of a division bench comprising Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Justice D.K. Sinha. Hearing the petition, the court rapped the government for allowing paramilitary forces to set up camps on campus, especially in girls’ schools across the state. Jawans can camp in the open, the bench observed.
The petitioner, Shashi Bhushan Pathak, in his public interest litigation (PIL) had said that the forces had been deployed at Mahulia Uchcha Vidyalaya for security operations. “The state does not have extra space to accommodate them and has made makeshift arrangements in government schools. As many as 40 schools have been converted into temporary camps,” the petition, filed last week, said.
Pathak also said that ever since the forces had occupied schools, the academic environment had been badly affected. “Students do not have a proper environment to study or play. The playgrounds are occupied by forces. The camps are causing much inconvenience to students,” he said.
The petitioner claimed that the forces had been deployed without permission from the HRD department. The personnel are often rough with children and use foul language, which is ruining the academic environment, the PIL said.
Arguing on behalf of the government, the defence counsel said that the forces were camping in schools because the areas were Naxalite-hit.
Extra forces are required to conduct combing operations. The court, however, said it was not satisfied with the reason. The counsel also informed the court that the state cabinet had already taken a decision to shift the forces out of the school premises soon.
The bench directed the government to implement its decision and ensure that the forces move out at the earliest.
It also directed the state government to file an affidavit and inform the court that its orders have been implemented in letter and spirit, and that the paramilitary forces have been withdrawn from schools.

Jet Airways, JetLite under MRTPC lens
21 Nov 2008, 0132 hrs IST, Chanchal Pal Chauhan, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI: The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) has initiated investigations into the Naresh Goyal-owned Jet Airways and its low-cost subsidiary JetLite over cartelisation concerns. The two airlines announced a code-sharing agreement and back-end synergies last month. The commission is already investigating the high-profile alliance between Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines after they signed a similar code-sharing agreement in September to see whether the formation of an alliance would lead to a monopoly in the aviation business. A senior MRTPC official said: “We have taken into account the recent development as both Jet Airways and JetLite are operating separately. The investigation has been ordered to look into the details of the code-share agreement between these airlines and see whether it violates any provision of the MRTP Act, including unfair trade practices as well as cartelisation in the aviation industry.” A questionnaire mailed to Jet Airways on the issue went unanswered and senior officials could not be reached for comments. Under the code-share agreement announced on October 21, both carriers had planned to leverage their respective networks and offer higher connectivity in more than 50 domestic and international markets. Both airlines are facing an operating loss of over Rs 10 crore daily. The synergies are aimed at curbing losses and optimising their assets jointly. Jet Airways had posted a net loss of Rs 384.50 crore in its second quarter ended September due to decline in passenger traffic and high fuel costs. In the corresponding period last year, the carrier reported a net profit of Rs 28.3 crore. The commission will be tracking all aspects of the agreement and the persistently high air fares. “We are investigating the matter as there are very few carriers in the Indian aviation space, which has led to an all-time high air fares. While crude oil prices have come down drastically, there is no respite in air fares. We will look into all aspects to see if there are unfair trade practices being carried out by carriers resulting in abnormally high air fares,” said the officer.

HC prohibits entry of sanitary workers into sewerage system
Publication Date 22/11/2008 3:19:01 PM(IST)
Chennai: Madras High Court today prohibited the entry of sanitary workers into the sewerage system under the guise of removing the blocks, except under exceptional circumstances.

Passing orders on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), First bench comprising Chief Justice A K Ganguly and Mr Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, however, said sanitary workers could be allowed to enter the system only in case of four exceptional circumstances.

The bench appreciated the authorites for complying with the court”s earlier directions and installing all safety equipment to safeguard the interest of the sanitary workers.

Mr G Narayanan, Managing Director of a private firm, filed the PIL, seeking a direction to the respondents to discontinue the employment of human beings in cleaning manhole and sewerage lines and septic tanks.

He also sought a direction to the authorities to rehabilitate those who were currently employed in cleaning manholes and sewerage lines.

HC asks govt not to withhold medicos’ degrees
22 Nov 2008, 0518 hrs IST, TNN
CHENNAI: Holding that the government cannot have a lien over certificates of post-graduate medical students, the Madras high court has ordered the authorities to return their testimonials. The authorities were holding on to the certificates to ensure that the doctors fulfilled the conditions in bonds they had signed at the time of admission. In several writ petitions, doctors concerned wanted the court to direct the government to return the original certificates deposited by them at the time of admission to the course. They wanted the course completion certificate, conduct certificate, provisional pass certificate and the degree/diploma certificate as well. Their counsel S R Rajagopal apprehended that these certificates had been retained by the government without any authority for the alleged non-compliance of conditions stipulated in the prospectus and the bond conditions accepted by the doctors. Contending that they were willing to serve the government, if required, they said, “as of now there is no work for them.” They referred to a modification in the prospectus norms, and said the government now wanted the candidates “only to serve in India for a period of 15 years, and it need not necessarily be in government service.” Pointing out that the bond did not contain any condition providing for lien over their certificates and that the submitted certificates were the properties of petitioner-doctors, their counsel submitted that authorities could not withhold any certificates, “except with the consent of the doctors.” Also, since all these doctors had given their full address and other communication details, officials could execute the bail conditions, including damages, through appropriate means. Allowing the writ petitions, Justice K Chandru, concurred with the petitioners’ submissions and directed the authorities to return the certificates to the doctors individually through the respective deans of various medical colleges, within two weeks. In case any candidate violates the bond condition by opting to go abroad, the authorities are free to enforce the bond in the manner known to law. Under such circumstances, the damages could be collected by invoking the Revenue Recovery Act, by considering it as government dues. According to Health Department sources, 200 appointment orders were issued. “These were appointments to various district hospitals, medical colleges and taluk headquarters hospitals of their choice. It was a mandatory three-year posting. We told them that we were holding their certificates because we wanted control over them,” the official said. Though the orders were issued several days ago, only 100 people have joined so far. “We did not want them also to leave midway,” he said. The government, he said, was burdened by numerous vacant postings in healthcare units across the state, particularly the rural areas.

HC orders US waste out of India
22 Nov 2008, 0513 hrs IST, A Subramani, TNN
CHENNAI: Forty containers of hazardous municipal waste imported from the US and rotting at Tuticorin Port for three years has been ordered out of India. A division bench of the Madras High Court on Friday rapped ITC Limited for importing the “undesired cargo”. The court directed the company to clear out the waste at its own cost and slapped a litigation cost of Rs 50,000. The judges also asked the Centre to initiate civil and criminal proceedings against officials who “masterminded such illegal ideas” within a period of 12 weeks. The bench comprising Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice S Tamilvanan, dismissing a writ appeal of ITC on Friday, said: “The cargo is municipal waste shipped to India, which cannot be sold or allowed to be disposed of in any manner in India, since it will cause much danger to Mother Nature, as has been correctly observed by the Customs Department and the Pollution Control Board.” ITC sourced the material from US-based Evergreen Specialities which was meant to supply “mixed wastepaper” in August 2005. But on examination, the Customs found that the consignment contained plastic carry bags, pet bottles, used clothes, shoes, metal cans and “dirty liquid emitting foul smell”. Officials said the hazardous municipal waste had characteristics of “eco-toxic and infectious substances”. The US company then conceded that the consignment was sent to India by mistake and ITC shipped it to Ajman in UAE, only to have it returned with a warning. After it returned to Tuticorin, a single judge bench passed a consent order and appointed a committee to inspect and suggest a solution. However, in November 2007, when the committee recommended re-export of 35 containers to the US, the company preferred to appeal, leading to Friday’s judgement. “Having received an undesired cargo from Evergreen, ITC should have shunted it back to the US only,” why did ITC sent the cargo to Ajman without even informing the US company, the judges asked. The division bench also flayed the company for making an about-turn after the committee’s recommendations. The bench said: “It is really painful, rather pathetic, to note that developed countries are searching for dumping yards in developing countries to dump municipal waste to enjoy a pollution-free surroundings in their countries.” Slamming ITC for negligence, the judges asked it to de-stuff the garbage and hand over empty containers to a Tuticorin-based company.

‘Deshdrohi’ producer moves HC
22 Nov 2008, 0305 hrs IST, Bharati Dubey, TNN
MUMBAI: Producer Kamal Khan filed a fresh petition in Bombay high court on Friday, seeking that the ban on his film, ‘Deshdrohi’, be lifted. The petition will come up for hearing on Monday. “I even offered to give an undertaking to the government that I would withdraw the film if any untoward incident happened in the state. I even offered to delete scenes they felt were objectionable and could create problems. But they are not ready to accept any of my offers,” Khan told TOI on Friday. Khan also alleged the government was using his film to protect its vote-bank. Alleging that the government was contradicting itself on the reasons for the ban, Khan said: “The first letter that was given to me stated that Maharashtrians might object but the second letter given to me on Thursday stated that North Indians would get upset. It is ridiculous.” A division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Sharad Bobde of Bombay High Court had instructed the principal secretary (home) to hear out Khan, who later met additional chief secretary Chitkala Zuthsi and principal secretary (appeals & security) Anna Dani. Khan was told that his film was against the Marathi community and could create law-and-order problems in the state. The state government has resorted to Section 6 of the Bombay Cinema Regulation Act and ordered suspension of the screening of the movie for 60 days. The film by Bhojpuri filmmaker Khan, who also plays the lead role opposite actor Gracy Singh, is about a North Indian immigrant’s struggle in Mumbai. The film was scheduled for release on November 14.

Khairlanji convicts move HC against death penalty
22 Nov 2008, 0407 hrs IST, Vaibhav Ganjapure, TNN
NAGPUR: Those convicted in the Khairlanji case have filed an appeal in the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court challenging the death penalty and lifer awarded by the special court in Bhandara. The appeal is likely to come up for hearing before a division bench comprising justices Kishor Rohee and Ashok Bhangale on Tuesday. The appeal will be clubbed with another petition regarding confirmation of death sentence of convicts. The special court of Bhandara ad-hoc additional sessions judge S S Das on September 24 found eight of the 11 accused guilty of mercilessly killing Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange’s wife Surekha, daughter Priyanka and sons Sudhir and Roshan at Khairlanji village in Bhandara. The court had awarded capital punishment to Sakru Binjewar, Shatrughan Dhande, Vishwanath Dhande, Ramu Dhande, Jagdish Mandlekar, Prabhakar Mandlekar, while Gopal Binjewar and Shishupal Dhande were sentenced to life imprisonment after a 16-month trial. They were booked for murder, unlawful assembly and rioting, as well as destruction of evidence. The court gave clean chit to Mahipal Dhande, Dharmapal Dhande and Purushottam Titirmare from all offences. The appeals were filed by the counsels for accused Sudip Jaiswal and Neeraj Khandewale who earlier represented them in the lower court. According to Khandewale, they have challenged the death penalty on the grounds that depositions by prosecution witnesses were full of ‘omissions and contradictions’. He also alleged that these witnesses were ‘tutored’ by the CBI.

HC puts off hearing on Dhoni row with ad firms
22 Nov 2008, 0019 hrs IST, TNN
BANGALORE: The high court has adjourned hearing by a week on the civil miscellaneous petition (CMP) seeking appointment of an arbitrator to resolve the dispute involving Team India ODI captain M S Dhoni and his endorsement companies so as to enable the parties to suggest names of arbitrators. Justice V G Sabhahit adjourned the hearing while noting: “Anyway, he is coming here (for the ODI), you resolve the issue with him.” The court had already held that publication in newspapers is sufficient for service of notice on the parties concerned. The petition was filed by Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited (KSDL) against Dhoni and his promoters Mumbai-based Sporting and Outdoor Solutions and Kolkata-based M/s GamePlan Sports Private Limited seeking arbitration proceedings for breach of contract and damages. In order to give greater visibility for Mysore Sandal Soaps, its makers KSDL had roped in Dhoni as brand ambassador in January 2006 for a term of two years. According to the agreement dated January 3, 2006, Dhoni was to give the company time of five days for two years. But he made himself available on only two occasions. The endorsement agreement, which was to end on January 2, 2008, was terminated on Dedember 20, 2007. The managing director of M/s Marketing Consultants and Agencies, who was the arbitrator as per the clause, expressed his inbaility to act as arbitrator on March 31, 2008. Finally, the company moved court seeking appointment of arbitrator to resolve the dispute under the provisions of Sec 11(6) of Arbitration and Concilliation Act, 1996. The deal was struck between KSDL and Sporting and Outdoor solutions for 70 lakhs for endorsing the soap and 52.50 lakhs was already paid. During his availability, only a 60-second advertisement involving Dhoni was produced, the KSDL has claimed.

HC to hear airport, Metro PILs in January
22 Nov 2008, 0014 hrs IST, TNN
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court will take up a batch of PILs, seeking reopening of HAL airport and also those challenging Namma Metro Project, in January. G R Mohan, a city advocate who has filed PIL seeking retaining HAL airport, moved the court for early hearing before a division Bench headed by the Chief Justice. “Instead of the promised signal free-road to BIA, more signals are added,” he told the court. Advocate general Udaya Holla claimed that these signals were put to prevent accidents due to high-speed driving. While the cases relating to Metro Rail project are posted for January 6, 7 and 8, the airport case will be taken up on January 12 to decide upon the regular hearing date. CMH Road shopkeepers’ and residents’ association has challenged the Metro project taken up under a century-old Tramway Act, 1906. Meanwhile, the special Bench constituted to hear cases related to land acquisition for the Metro project, heard some of the petitioners on Friday. The petitioners have challenged the acquisition under KIADB Act claiming that Metro project is not for industrial purpose.

LTTE still most lethal: tribunal
J. Venkatesan
Upholds ban imposed by Centre
New Delhi: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam continues to be an extremely potent, most lethal and well-organised terrorist force in Sri Lanka and has strong connections in Tamil Nadu and certain pockets of southern India, a tribunal said.
The tribunal, set up under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, was upholding the ban imposed on the outfit by the Centre on May 14, 2008.
Justice Vikramajit Sen of the Delhi High Court, who was on the tribunal, agreed with the Centre’s submissions that “the LTTE continues to use Tamil Nadu as the base for carrying out smuggling of essential items like petrol and diesel, besides drugs, to Sri Lanka.”
The Centre was represented by Additional Solicitor-General P.P. Malhotra, and Tamil Nadu by counsel S. Thananjayan. The LTTE was not represented by counsel.
It was submitted that Kalpakkam and Kudankulam, where nuclear plants are in existence, were proximate to LTTE bases in Sri Lanka. “The Government of India is apprehensive that unless the ban on the LTTE continues, acts of aggression on Indian soil are likely to occur.”
The judge also noted that the LTTE leaders had been cynical of India’s policy on their organisation and action of the state machinery in curbing its activities. Further, according to the submissions, enquiries on the activities of LTTE cadres/dropouts who had recently been traced in Tamil Nadu suggested that they would ultimately be utilised by the outfit for unlawful activities.
The tribunal said stress was laid on the fact that V. Prabakaran, leader of the LTTE, and his intelligence chief Pottu Amman, wanted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, were still absconding and declared proclaimed offenders.
The tribunal took into consideration the submission that “the LTTE will continue to remain a strong terrorist movement and stimulate the secessionist sentiments to enhance its support base in Tamil Nadu as long as Sri Lanka continues to remain in a state of ethnic strife torn by the demand for Tamil Eelam which finds a strong echo in Tamil Nadu due to the linguistic, cultural, ethnic and historical affinity between the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka.”
The judge said: “Each of the submissions is fortified by instances and documents. Examples have also been given of the cases which were registered earlier and are still alive, and in many cases some of the LTTE cadres and members of the Tamilar Pasarai, the Tamil National Retrieval Troops and the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army, who are accused in these cases, are at large and efforts are on to secure them.”
“In the absence of any representation from the LTTE, the entire material placed by the Central government as well as the State government including deposition of their witnesses remains un-rebutted and is taken as having been proved.”
The LTTE was first banned in India following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.


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