LEGAL NEWS 27.11.2008

HC dismisses writ plea
First Published : 26 Nov 2008 12:11:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 26 Nov 2008 11:10:13 AM IST
KOCHI: The Kerala High Court dismissed the writ petition challenging the suspension of four keezhsanthis of the Guruvayur Sree Krishna temple following the discovery of a cigarette butt by a devotee from Bangalore in the `appam’ given to him as nivedyam.
The dismissal of the petition filed by the four keezhsanthis – Kodakkattu Cheriya Krishnan Nampoothiri, Moolamangalam Radhakrishnan Nampoothiri, Nakeri Kesavan Nampoothiri and Mecheri Govindan Nampoothiri – was on the basis of the undertaking given by the Guruvayur Devaswom that the departmental inquiry pending against the petitioners would be completed within 6 months.
The petitioners who were in charge of the `thidappilly’ had been placed under suspension by the deputy devaswom administrator.
According to the petitioners, they are not employees of the Devaswom. So, neither the administrator nor the Devaswom Managing Committee has any power to initiate the disciplinary action against them. They are hereditary temple employees, not drawing any salary from the Devaswom.
Since they are performing religious duties, only the temple’s thantri has the power to initiate disciplinary action against them.

No move to change judges appointment procedure
J. Venkatesan
I’ve reservations about setting up commission to deal with issue: Bhardwaj
NEW DELHI: There is no proposal to change the procedure of appointment of judges to High Courts and the Supreme Court on the recommendations made by a collegium of judges headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Union Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj made it clear on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Law Day celebrations (India adopted the Constitution on November 26, 1949) at the Supreme Court, he referred to the recent controversy over the collegium recommendations to elevate the Chief Justices of three High Courts to the apex court, and said, “I [the government] will not deviate from the mandate of the Supreme Court judgements which laid down the procedure of judges appointment.”
He said: “I have reservations about the setting up of a National Judicial Commission [to make appointments and to deal with errant judges]. If you want to revert to any other system, it is for the judiciary to decide. The independence of the institution of judiciary should be protected.”
He said the present system worked considerably well and there was no complaint about the appointments. “If appointments are to be done by the NJC with outsiders as members, there is bound to be delay and deadlock.”
On the need for more transparency, Mr. Bhardwaj said: “The recommendations for appointments are made by competent persons in the collegium and there is transparency in the procedure.”
On corruption in the judiciary and entrusting cases to the police, he differed with the CJI, who recently permitted the Central Bureau of Investigation to interrogate some judges involved in corruption. “I am against the CBI or the police entering the house of a judge for investigation. Sanction for prosecution of a judge should not be given as this will not be good for the judiciary. We must have a mechanism in the judiciary for peers to deal with the issue. We must insulate the judiciary from all sorts of attacks so that the prestige of the institution is kept at a high level.”
Impeachment issue
Earlier, talking to reporters, Mr. Bhardwaj denied reports that the government was not proceeding further in the matter of impeachment of Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court. He said, “I am taking it forward. These things can’t be decided overnight.”
Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, who inaugurated the celebrations, defended the collegium system of appointments. “We strictly follow the norms and the procedure laid down in the three Supreme Court judgments. We are bound to follow them and we have not deviated from the procedure.”
On the question of transparency by giving details of the appointees and their antecedents as was being done in the United States, he said, “In the U.S., it is a political appointment. Here, it is not so.”
The CJI explained the steps taken to tackle corruption in the judiciary. Reeling out statistics, he said the rate of disposal of cases was very high, whether it was in the subordinate judiciary, the High Court or the Supreme Court, but correspondingly the institution of cases was also very high, resulting in arrears.
Venkatapathy differs
Union Minister of State for Law K. Venkatapathy differed with Mr. Bhardwaj and said it was time that the NJC was put in place to ensure transparency in appointments.
Attorney-General Milon K. Banerjee, Supreme Court Bar Association president P.H. Parekh and vice-president Adish C. Aggarwala stressed the importance of the observance of Law Day.

CJI’’s office comes under purview of RTI Act, says CIC
November 26th, 2008 – 5:06 pm ICT by ANI –
New Delhi, Nov.26 (ANI): The Chief Information Officer, Wajahat Habibullah, today said that the office of the Chief Justice of India does come under the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005.Delivering a talk on “Working of Right to Information Act Issues and Challenges” at the Observer Research Foundation, a press release of the foundation quoted Habibullah as saying that the Central Information Commission would hear soon some petitions pending on the issue. The press release further quoted the CIC as saying that he had had discussions with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariat to improve flow of information regarding the functioning of Members of Parliament.He said the purview of the RTI went beyond Central and State governments, encompassing any body which has received government funding. This includes institutions like SGPC, Distcoms, Stock Exchanges, aided schools, etc.According to the press release, the CIC said there is a need to effect changes in the training of government officials where they are told not to impart with government information to public though they themselves are paid from the public money of tax payers.The CIC described as “complete anachronism” the Official Secrets Act of 1923. He said the Commission has suggested to the government to repeal it, but no progress has been made in this regard.Noting that in some cases even the PIOs (principal information officers) themselves were not aware of their roles, the CIC was quoted by the press release as saying that though there many issues to be tackled, he has no doubt that the RTI Act has become a powerful tool even for the weak and illiterate people to get information which otherwise would have been near to impossible to get.“This is the Act people can use and will use it,” the CIC said, noting that the largest users in Delhi are slum dwellers and women.He said now the NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) has also been brought under the RTI Act, which rural people are using.The CIC said there is an urgent need to bring in uniformity and homogeneity of the fees under RTI Act to make it easier and affordable to all citizens. He also felt that the Commission should be empowered to take contempt action in case of poor compliance to improve compliance level.He also admitted that the victimisation fear among some applicants is also a real problem which needs to be addressed.The CIC welcomed the suggestion of the President of ORF Centre for Politics and Governance, Mr. Surendra Singh, that ORF would like to present the Commission its study on the various aspects connected with the RTI Act and how to make it more effective.Surendra Singh, a former Cabinet Secretary, said though RTI has made lots of progress, there are still many issues which needed to be tackled. He listed coverage of the RTI Act, awareness among citizens, the userfriendliness, the cost factor, the impact of Official Secrets Act, fear of victimisation among applicants, etc as some of the issues impacting the effectiveness of the RTI Act. (ANI)

NREG scheme has suffered due to corruption: CJI
Bangalore (PTI): Chief Justice of India Justice K G Balakrishnan on Saturday said the implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREG) has suffered due to systemic problems like corruption and nexus between officials and contractors.
It was not uncommon to come across accounts of falsification of wage records or records indicating that a particular individual had worked only for a few days on a site whereas the reality would be that the same person had been engaged there for much longer period, he said.
Local contractors also deny access to muster rolls on demand by workers and activists, the CJI said.
He, however, said though the scheme had received some favourable reports in terms of limiting distress migration in some districts, there were several systemic problems.
The CJI observed these problems could be addressed through persistent efforts of the civil society, institutions and legal system. “It is important for individuals to be aware of their entitlements under the scheme and to collectively participate in social audits concerned with NREGS,” he said.

I’m against police probing members of judiciary: Law Minister–Law-Minister/391251
Tannu Sharma Posted: Nov 27, 2008 at 0406 hrs IST
New Delhi : Law Minister H R Bhardwaj on Wednesday said he disapproved of the police or any other investigating agency questioning members of the judiciary over allegations of corruption. He was speaking at the Supreme Court lawns on the occasion of Law Day where he shared the dais with Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan. “I am very disappointed to see the Central Bureau of Investigation or police investigate judges. We should have something like it is in the UK,” the minister said as he underlined the need for a mechanism “within the judiciary” to deal and remove errant judges, if allegations against them are found true.
Only recently, the CJI had ordered a CBI probe into UP provident fund scam, involving several retired and serving judges, including one from the apex court. The CBI was also asked to investigate a case of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, where huge sums of money were allegedly sent to a judge seeking favour.
The minister recalled how in the past there had been instances when former CJIs had asked judges, under cloud over allegations of impropriety or corruption, to step down and the appeal had been duly complied with.
Earlier, speaking to reporters about Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court, who has refused to step down despite being asked by the CJI after allegations against him came to light, Bhardwaj brushed aside reports that impeachment proceedings against Justice Sen would not be initiated. He said since the CJI had recommended it, the Government would abide by it. “But at the same time”, he added, “it’s a cumbersome process and will take time.”

Save Dharanikota, HC tells govt
27 Nov 2008, 0405 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: The state government’s housing scheme came in for flak at the AP High Court here on Wednesday with Justice V V S Rao expressing displeasure over the alleged destruction of an ancient fort – Dharanikota – near the Buddhist pilgrimage centre Amaravathi in Guntur district to make way for the welfare scheme. Ironically, it was the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that filed a petition in the High Court alleging negligence and high-handedness on the part of the state government in protecting the national monument. The local revenue authorities are destroying this fort for the purpose of constructing a housing colony in this fort, ASI contended. The government of Madras had issued a GO in 1921 declaring the fort as a protected monument and even the Government of India had recognised this as a structure with national importance, the ASI petition claimed. The fort was built during the rule of the Satavahana dynasty. The judge found fault with the authorities, saying that they were trying to spoil a 2,500-year-old national monument and asked the assistant solicitor general A Rajasekhara Reddy to brief the court its history by Thursday. The judge at one stage said he would order the principal secretary of the revenue department to come and explain as to what his subordinates are doing in this case. ASI’s petition said despite a complaint made by them in the Amaravathi police station and to the district collector of Guntur, nothing was done to stop the destruction of the fort. Instead, the district authorities destroyed a part of the fort and levelled the land for the purpose of housing, it said.

Tatas move HC to stall proceedings on disclosure of deal
Express News Service
Posted: Nov 27, 2008 at 0530 hrs IST
Lucknow The Tata Motors has sought the intervention of the Calcutta High Court to stall the proceedings pending with the State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) on the disclosure of the agreement between the company and the government.
A counsel of Tata Motors moved a petition on Wednesday seeking an order to stop the proceedings to be held by the commissioner. The company has also challenged the RTI Act, 2005 saying it was unconstitutional. Justice Dipankar Dutta fixed December 2 as the next date of hearing.
Justice Dutta had directed the SCIC on September 26, 2008 to hold the hearing on the disclosure of the agreement within eight weeks. The SCIC held a hearing at Bhawani Bhavan on November 19.
Subrata Gupta, Managing director of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, two representatives of the state government and a representative of the Tata Motors attended the hearing.
Partha Chatterjee, Leader of the Opposition and Trinamool MLA, and Amitava Chaudhury, a social worker, also attended the hearing as they had filed petitions for the disclosure of the agreement. The information commissioner had fixed November 28 as the next date of hearing.
Meanwhile, Tata Motors had moved a petition on November 21 in the High Court seeking a stay on the hearing.

HC rejects PIL against BPSC PT results
27 Nov 2008, 0449 hrs IST, TNN
PATNA: The Patna High Court on Wednesday dismissed a PIL seeking scrapping of a list of 19,000 preliminary test (PT) qualifiers for the Bihar Administrative Service on the ground that at least 14 of the 150 Model Answers, on the basis of which the objective-type PT’s answer-sheets were evaluated, were incorrect. The PT was conducted by the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) earlier this year for the 48th to 52nd batches of state civil services examination. The last such test was conducted five years ago, and the 2008 PT aimed at clearing the backlog. A division bench comprising Chief Justice R M Lodha and Justice K K Mandal dismissed the writ petition of lawyer M S Hoda, saying the petition was not of the nature of public interest. Additional advocate general-3 Lalit Kishore pleaded against the admissibility of the PIL. “As many as 15 writ petitions have already been filed on the matter by unsuccessful candidates,” he said. A single bench presided by Justice Shivakirti Singh on Tuesday fixed December 4 as the date of hearing of eight of the 15 such writ petitions,” the state counsel informed the HC, adding when individuals have moved the court, there is no need for a PIL. He further submitted the BPSC had detected the wrong answers before the publication of results, and constituted a panel of experts which recommended evaluation of only the 136 questions for which correct answers were available. The recommendation was followed before declaring the PT results. Rules permit to clear either 10 times the number of vacancies, which were 300, or 10% of the total number of PT candidates for the mains. In a goodwill gesture, the BPSC followed the second principle so as to give opportunity to maximum number of candidates to write the mains, the counsel submitted before the court.

‘Idealistic’ RTI activist does a U-turn, now wants all perks
27 Nov 2008, 0523 hrs IST, Manoj Mitta , TNN
New Delhi: When he publicly resolved not to take any government bungalow, car or salary, Shailesh Gandhi seemed to more than share Mahatma’s surname. But barely a fortnight after being sworn in as a member of the Central Information Commission (CIC), Gandhi has tendered a written “apology” to RTI activists for giving up on his “romanticised frugal living.” In a letter announcing his “turnaround” on October 2, Gandhi, the only one of the nine-member CIC appointed at the instance of RTI activists, said, “I realise that it is my ego which is preventing me from admitting my mistake. I am therefore apologising for the mistake I had made in stating that I would work without salary, house etc., and now plan to take these.” An IIT engineer who had sold his plastic bottle factory in Mumbai before turning into an RTI activist, Gandhi apologised because, while proposing his name in August, eminent persons like Anna Hazare, Medha Patkar and Arvind Kejriwal had written to Sonia Gandhi that he would work for a token salary of Re 1 per month and would not take any government bungalow or allowances. Though he had accepted their suggestion “without much thought”, Gandhi developed second thoughts about the alternative proposal of letting others take care of his needs. “I felt that taking help from individuals, organisations or corporates would not be right. I then started thinking, I would try and stay frugally like Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Jean Dreze, Medha Patkar and other activists whose spartan lifestyle I admire.” But after moving into a hostel in Delhi, “the actual reality of trying to practise my romanticised frugal living is now staring at me. I went out for dinner with a friend and when I saw the bill of about Rs 700, I cringed internally.” Besides, living without his wife was becoming “difficult emotionally.” Thanks to such practical problems, “I am beginning to worry that trying to continue to live without salary, house, etc. will affect my performance, and could result in failing for all the wrong reasons.” Conscious of the possibility of some of his friends being “disappointed by this turnaround” and seeing it as a “betrayal”, Gandhi promised in his letter that “the salary would be used entirely to facilitate my work and for other RTI related work.” Civil society is divided over the issue. While some activists felt that Gandhi’s rethink would help him discharge his duties better, the more idealistic ones said that he had exposed civil society to ridicule by going back so quickly on his commitment.

Industrialists stumped as HC orders closure of 35 ‘erring’ units
Amrita Chaudhry Posted: Nov 27, 2008 at 0500 hrs IST
Ludhiana : The decision of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) to close down 35 dyeing units on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana Court has led to grave resentment in the business fraternity in the city.
Recently, the PPCB had ordered the closure of these units and had even asked the Punjab State Electricity Board to scrap power supply to these units. The order of the PPCB comes close on the heels of the PPCB’s order to close 12 tanneries in Jalandhar.
Suresh Goel, Chairman, PPCB, said, “The hearing in the case is scheduled for next month where the Chief Secretary will submit a status report in the high court. The court has very categorically ordered that all those units that are pumping untreated water in the Buddha Nallah directly or indirectly should be closed down. To begin with, we have ordered the closure of those units that drain dirty water directly into the nallah.”
Goel added, “Two years ago, the P Ram Committee had suggested that these units should be shut down. For the last one and half years, we have been asking the erring units to clean up their act and start treating their water before dumping it or identify some place where it could be used for irrigation but all in vain.”
Meanwhile, the issue once again has attained a political hue with the Bhartiya Janta Party openly supporting the aggrieved industrialists. “The party plans to hold a protest rally on the Gill Road tomorrow against the decision of the PPCB outside its office on the Gill Road,” said Rakesh Gautam, media in charge, BJP.
Brahm Dutt Sharda, President, Dyeing Factories’ Association, meanwhile, added, “The state Government has let us down. Despite our repeated pleas, the government has not been able to guide us to attain zero-discharge level. The authorities never came to our aid and now with this order by the high court, we are in the doldrums.” Sharda added, “The sentiment amongst the industry as such is very low due to the slowdown in the economy.”
What now remains to be seen is whether the latest order by the PPCB is mere a lip service. “There is nothing to worry. All this is just to give a reply to the court. Once this is done, the industry will start working again, at least till the next court hearing or the PPCB will take these orders to its logical end,” said a businessman.
In July this year, during a meeting with the industrialists in the city, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had provided reprieve to industrialists. The intentions of the state government on this issue remain complex. On the one hand, the CM wants to clean the Buddha Nullah and on the other hand does not want to antagonise the industrialists.

PU violence draws HC intervention
27 Nov 2008, 0026 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: With frequent violent incidents involving students marring the image of one of India’s oldest varsities, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stepped in to right the wrongs. Demanding a detailed report from vice-chancellor or registrar of Panjab University and UT SSP, HC has sought to know whether any mechanism is in place to stem the proliferation of criminal activities in the temple of education. Drawing parallels with school and college violence in developed countries, especially USA, justice MMS Bedi made it clear that a balance had to be struck between right to personal liberty of students and public tranquillity. In the November-25 order, made available on Wednesday, the judge asked PU and cops of steps taken to prevent infiltration of arms, unauthorized persons and criminal elements on the campus. Also, if any effective rule to prevent on-and-off-campus misbehaviour of students and a security regime to ensure protection of innocent boys, girls and staff existed. Miffed at the sorry state of affairs, justice Bedi asserted that allegations against students indulging in criminal activities had to be viewed seriously, with no place for terror and crime in an educational institution. Referring to past incidents, he wanted to know if any policy by a competent PU forum had been formulated to curb crime after taking into confidence senior administrators, student leaders and parents. Alluding to the doctrine of `in locus parentis’, meaning in place of a parent, justice Bedi stressed on a healthy relationship between the university and its students just as one existed between a child and his parents. The significant directions came in the wake of a decision pending on the bail plea by Harpreet Singh Multani, a student leader booked for assaulting a law department scholar during semester examinations. Multani knocked HC doors alleging that he was implicated owing to rivalry between student unions, SOPU and PUSU.

Rabbi complains, HC stays release of Sorry Bhai!–HC-stays-release-of-Sorry-Bhai-/391250
Ayesha Arvind Posted: Nov 27, 2008 at 0405 hrs IST
New Delhi : The Delhi High Court on Wednesday stayed the release of the film Sorry Bhai! till December 8 after singer Rabbi Shergill filed a petition alleging that one of the songs in the film was quite similar to a song in his album released in July this year.
The film, directed by Onir of My Brother…Nikhil fame, was scheduled to be released on November 28. Its music was released last month. Shergill has raised objection to the song Jalte Hain, saying its “composition, rhythm and tempo were very similar” to his song Ballo.
Justice Rajeev Sahay Eudlan of the high court has asked the producers to either remove the song or opt for a stay.
Pointing out that his album was released before the music release of Sorry Bhai!, Shergill said his song must have been picked up by the film’s music director, Gaurav Dayal. He said the incident had caused “irreparable damage to his reputation”.
Shergill’s counsel told The Indian Express that they hadn’t contacted the filmmakers. The singer himself was unavailable for comment.
Earlier this year, in a similar case, the Bombay High Court had restrained film producer Rakesh Roshan from releasing Krazzy 4, after jingle-composer Ram Sampath contended some songs were plagiarised from tunes he had composed earlier.

Request Centre to alter Masterplan: HC–HC/391232
Express News Service Posted: Nov 27, 2008 at 0331 hrs IST
New Delhi : The Delhi High Court today asked the DMRC and the NDMC to approach the Ministry of Urban Development to modify the Delhi Master Plan and resolve their differences over the development of alternative shops for the displaced Panchkuian Road businessmen.
The suggestion came after the DMRC expressed its inability to rehabilitate the displaced shopkeepers as the NDMC had declined to sanction its plan for construction of alternative shops for them, saying that it would violate the Master Plan.
According to New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), as per the Zonal Development Plan, about 18 acre land on Bhai Vir Singh Marg was marked for the Central Business District (CBD) and a portion of the area has been allotted to DMRC.
“The ground coverage of CBD plot having been fully exhausted, the NDMC could not have statutorily accorded sanction to the building plans of DMRC,” said NDMC, adding the sanction to such building plan would violate the Delhi Master Plan.
At this juncture, a Division Bench headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal suggested both public bodies to request the Ministry of Urban Development for modification of the Master Plan. Asking them to resolve the issue jointly, the Bench told them to submit the representation to Centre in week’s time.

HC order against ex-DJB chief jolts Congress poll plans
Express News Service Posted: Nov 27, 2008 at 0238 hrs IST
New Delhi, November 26 : The High Court’s decision to hand down a two-week jail term to former Delhi Jal Board (DJB) chief executive officer Arun Mathur and two other senior officials has rattled the state government, with even Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit calling up Mathur on Wednesday morning for a brief chat.
The court on Tuesday had fined the three officers Rs 20,000 and also ordered the suspended jail term as the DJB has failed to check the inflow of sewage into the Yamuna.
Mathur at present holds the sensitive portfolio of Director (Enforcement) in the state’s Finance department. The court’s order, department officers said, could not have come at a worse time as the Congress-led administration is in its last lap to the Assembly elections. Officers also pointed out that Mathur is supervising several important cases in his present post.
Mathur’s appointment to the post came after a long-scrutinised selection process and it does not help that he is now under fire for failing to prevent pollution in the Yamuna. While Arun Mathur told Newsline: “We are trying to find a way out of this imbroglio,” Government sources said the state would possibly move the Supreme Court to bring a stay on the order.
DJB’s present chief Ramesh Negi said, “We have not officially received a copy of the order. We will not be able to say anything on what went wrong unless we study it. We shall appeal after internal discussions.”
The court’s order pertained to filth seeping into a particular storm-water drain — a four-kilometre watercourse that runs along Greater Kailash I, Chirag Enclave and Masjid Moth in South Delhi. Negi added: “We had invited tenders to repair the drain and contracts were also awarded. We shall float fresh tenders in the next 15 days.”
Mathur is from the 1977 batch of the Indian Administrative Service cadre and has served almost four years in the DJB. He has worked on two big Yamuna Action Plans — meant for cleaning up the river. Sources estimate the money spent on these projects was approximately Rs 15,000 crore. The senior officer was also a strong contender for the post of the municipal chief earlier this year.
Apart from Mathur, two other top DJB officials — Chief Engineer (Drainage) R K Jain and Executive Engineer P Pant — were given similar punishments after a contempt petition was filed by the Residents’ Welfare Association in Greater Kailash I’s S block.

‘Real culprits may be other people’
Express News Service Posted: Nov 27, 2008 at 0330 hrs IST
Gurgaon : GK residents welcome HC order, but says there is more stink than meets the eye
Residents of Greater Kailash are happy with the Delhi High Court order on Tuesday, sentencing former DJB CEO Arun Mathur and two other Board officials to two-weeks in jail for their failure to prevent sewage from flowing into the storm water drain in the area—and finally into Yamuna—despite assuring the court two years ago that they would take steps to prevent the flow.
Though hopeful that the drain may be finally used for the purpose it was designed—to direct rain water into Yamuna—the residents call the judgement a ‘sad’ one, as only few people, who may not really have been responsible, were held accountable.
“This may be just a symbolic judgement. We are proud of the judicial system to have boldly fixed responsibility in this case,” Rajiv Kakria, member of the Greater Kailash Residents’ Association (GKRA), said. “But the real culprits may be some other people, who are the root cause of the problem. Storm water drains are the arteries of Delhi and sewage being directed into them is a deadly issue plaguing the city.”
Appalled by raw sewage flowing into the storm water drain at S block in Greater Kailash I, residents of the area moved the High Court in 2004 after having failed to obtain any relief from the concerned authorities—the DJB and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD).
Then on March 6, 2006, a historical judgement was made in favour of the S block residents, when the Court found DJB “guilty of polluting the river Yamuna for all these years”. The Court then ordered the DJB to fix all broken sewer lines by May 31, 2006, after DJB Chief Engineer B M Dhaul filed a report admitting that the sewer line was damaged with a 250 mm diameter crack.
“Some efforts were made then by the DJB to de-silt the drain, but the results were short-lived, as sewage continued to flow unabated into the drain,” said J R Luthra, president of the GKRA, and one of the petitioners in the case.
In a letter dated October 13, 2006, the petitioners even warned the DJB CEO to heed the problem and initiate action in accordance to the HC order, or they will be forced to move the HC’s special (contempt) jurisdiction.
On February 9, 2007, the DJB wrote to the RWA, stating: “¿the work, costing Rs 52 lakh, is under process of award and the work order is likely to commence in the first week of March, 2007. As anticipated, it is going to be complete in three months period.”
“But nothing was done for two years after the judgement, and we were forced to file a contempt petition on January 11, 2008,” Luthra said. “We did not want anyone to be punished; we wanted our problem to be solved.”
The sewage water flowing into the storm water drain in the area was also a health hazard to the residents. “Many residents have their tube wells installed in the vicinity of the drain, apart from the ones installed by DJB itself,” said Gulshan Bir Singh, another resident. “The sewage contaminates drinking water in large part of the colony because of a common water pipes network.”

SC: PIL filed for judicial probe in excesses by ATS against Sadhvi Pragya
A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a judicial inquiry into the allegations of torture and humiliation made by Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur against Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) officials during the investigation of Malegaon blast case.The Sadhvi is one of the main accused in Malegaon conspiracy case which took place in 2006.The Sadhvi, in her affidavit filed in the court of the Special Judge in Maharashtra, has alleged that she was forced to watch obscene CD’s by the ATS officials who also allegedly threatened to strip her naked.NHRC has also sought report from ATS on the allegations made by Sadhvi.Other accused in the case like Lt Col Purohit and Ramesh Chandra Upadhyay have also made allegations of torture and humiliation by the ATS officials during their interrogation when they were taken on police remand.According to the Petitioner, allegations made by Sadhvi are very serious and call for thorough investigation through judicial inquiry and if ATS officials are found guilty then strict action should be taken against them.UNI

PIL challenges govt refusal to register flats
Rajshri Mehta
Thursday, November 27, 2008 03:38 IST
When the state government framed the stamp duty amnesty scheme in June this year, the idea was to bolster its treasury by registering documents of flats sold in the period 1980-85. The scheme has now run into trouble.
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the government’s refusal to register flats under the 2008 amnesty scheme unless the owners paid the unpaid stamp duty – running into thousands of rupees – of the previous occupant at the current market value. The PIL claimed it was unfair on the part of the government to make owners pay stamp duty on a chain of transactions where they were not involved. Nearly 30,000 flat owners have been left in the lurch because of this insistence.
The petition was filed by Anant Nerurkar, a stamp duty consultant at Andheri. He questioned why flat owners were being penalised for a fault of the builders. “Prior to 1985, agreements for sale were charged stamp duty at Rs5. Full stamp duty was payable only after the builder had conveyed the property within four months of the formation of the society,” the petition said. “As builders did not convey the property for years together, they are at fault. How can the government not treat my agreement of sale as proof of my rightful ownership of the flat after 20 years and ask me to pay a high levy?”
The petition requested the court to direct the government to register such documents in the amnesty scheme which ends on November 30.
Despite attempts, state revenue secretary Ramesh Kumar was not available for comment.
Under the scheme, people, who had evaded stamp duty on their property purchase agreements, can regularise their transactions by paying a token penalty of Rs500 for stamp duty of Rs25,000, and a Rs1,000 fine for stamp duty over Rs25,000. Once this scheme lapses, such people would have to pay a penalty of 2% on the total duty amount per month from the date of the flat’s purchase, with the maximum limit being 200%.

LoC scam PIL against Mahanta withdrawn
Spl correspondent NEW DELHI, Nov 26 – In a major relief for embattled former Chief Minister, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, Supreme Court today allowed withdrawal of a PIL seeking reopening of the case against him in the Letter of Credit scam. The infamous LoC scam had come back to haunt the former Chief Minister, when Nabin Chandra Kalita filed a PIL in the Apex Court in 2000, challenging the Gauhati High Court’s order upholding the then Governor, Lt General (retd) SK Sinha’s refusal of permission to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute Mahanta. Today, a Division Bench comprising Justice BL Agarwal and Justice GS Sanghvi allowed the petitioner to withdraw his PIL, over ruling Assam Government counsel, Anil Dewan’s opposition.Kalita had challenged the judgement of the Gauhati High Court, which had upheld the Assam Governor’s order of denying sanction to the CBI to criminally prosecute Mahanta in the scam. Kalita, later told newsmen that he was withdrawing the PIL keeping in view the larger interest of the State, which is passing through a grave situation. He said the case was filed when Bhrigu Kumar Phukan was alive. “Now that he is no more I would not like to pursue the case,” he added.He also denied that he has withdrawn the case on political pressure.Meanwhile, talking to this newspaper, Mahanta’s counsel, Manoj Goel said that he opposed the State Government’s contention that the PIL cannot be allowed to be withdrawn, arguing that the petitioner has the political right to do so.The State Government’s counsel had cited the ruling in the Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal’s case pleading that no sanction is needed to prosecute. Goel said it was not the correct position and political scores are sought to be settled. The argument was accepted by the Apex Court, which allowed Kalita to withdraw the PIL.Interestingly, the State Government’s affidavit of 2000 had stated that Kalita has no ‘bonafide’ contending that Gauhati High Court had erred in holding that the petitioner (Kalita) was “not lacking in bonafide, while filing the writ petition.The Government affidavit sworn by Mrinal Kumar Barooah, the then Secretary to Assam Government, had argued that the Governor can’t be called upon to explain why he has not given sanction to prosecute Mahanta.Mahanta in his 100-page counter affidavit had indicated that the ULFA and Bhrigu Phukan were behind the petition by Kalita. He had alleged Kalita was a set-up petitioner.

‘Nobody should use the recession as a cue to exploit employees’

BS Reporter / New Delhi November 26, 2008, 0:40 IST
R Karthik Shekhar, who quit a high-profile job at a multinational IT firm to float India’s first union for IT/ITeS industry in September 2005, is a strong human rights’ campaigner when it comes to employees’ right. UNITES, the union he represents, has been vocal in many issues in the IT industry including the safety and security of employees. He explains the logic behind the union’s campaign against IT firms, who are allegedly extending the duty hours by more than eight hours. Excerpts: On what basis do you plan to file the PIL?Our concern is that most of these companies are firing people, while simultaneously making them work for more hours. Why should the government not step in to bail them out of the crisis? They are asking their employees to work extra hours because they are getting enough business, contrary to their claims. Nobody should use the recession as a cue to exploit employees and make profits.
Why do you think there is a violation of norms by IT firms?According the Factories Act 1948, maximum working hours per day is nine hours (including the rest intervals), which amounts to maximum of 48 hours per a week. Anything above this should be treated as overtime and compensated. We do not want the eight hours labour, eight hours recreation and eight hours of rest to be changed.
But most IT companies say they don’t cross the 48 working-hour limit in a week?Ever since the industrial revolution, an eight-hour working day has become a standard policy internationally. All these companies claim to be quite transparent and should not push for more than eight hours of work. Even though on pen and paper most companies claim that they use their employees not more than 48 hours a week (in five days), the fact is that there is a sizeable number of people employed in the IT industry who come to us and complain that they are working more than 12 hours a day. In many cases, they are being asked to work on Saturdays and Sundays with no extra payment.
But there are sectors in which employees are being asked to work for more than 15 hours…Yes, but these are very critical sectors like heavy engineering, manufacturing and chemical industry. But in those industries, if the employees are being asked to work for 16 hours, they work for three days a week while the remaining four days are spent in rest. If the IT industry is officially working for five days a week, it’s because of their clients’ requirement, and it is because their clients don’t work on Saturdays and Sundays.
What needs to be done to avert such a situation?I think an industry body like Nasscom should step in to set a guideline for companies for fixing their duty (working hours). The government and especially the labour department should periodically visit the campuses of IT companies to check first-hand whether the companies are abiding by the Factories Act or not. They should ensure that all IT companies put a display on the office notice board specifying the duty hours of each employee, which is certified by the labour department.


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