LEGAL NEWS 18.12.2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The contractors charge more than prescribed rates. Please be alert. Ask for bill and immediately complain to the concerned authorities. I have noticed that this corruption is very pertinent in almost all trains. Even passengers are to be blamed partly as they do not ask for menu card and the cash memo.
The highest cheating goes on in vegetarian meal in Thali that costs Rs. 22 and is charged around Rs. 40 from passengers. The vegetarian meal in casserole costs Rs.30 (with 300ml mineral water) but it is charged Rs. 45 from innocent passengers. The full list of items with costs is given below

(The rates are subject to change from time to time. They may be verified through the Train Conductor/Catering Manager)
Sl.No Item Static (Rs.) Mobile (Rs.)
Static (Rs.)
Mobile (Rs.)
Chicken curry 260gms per plate (100gms chicken pieces and 160gms gravy)
Mutton curry 225gms per plate (85gms mutton and 140gms gravy)
Mutton Roganjosh 275gms per plate (125gms mutton and 150gms gravy)
Mutton cutlets (2 pieces) 160gms. per plate
Fried Fish with Chips 135gms per plate (100 gms fish and 35gms fried chips)
Egg curry 240gms per plate(2 eggs and 150gms gravy)
Omelette (2 eggs) per plate
Fried Egg (2 eggs) per plate
Poached Egg with one slice (2 eggs per plate
Matter Paneer 200gms per plate
Boiled Rice (Basmati) 450gms per plate
Allo Matar/Chole 225gms per plate
Veg. Pulao/Biryani 450gms per plate
Cornflakes with Milk 235gms per plate
Fruit Salad with cream 110gms per plate (Fruit Salad 100gms and 10gms Cream)
Jam/Marmalade 25gms per portion
Butter chiplet (10gms)
Bread Slice (large pieces)
Sharbat 250ml per glass
Squash 250ml per glass
Kheer (Rice/Semeye) 140gms per plate
Green salad 150gms per plate
Boiled Egg (2 No)
Custard Plain 140 gms per plate
Vegetable Cutlet 2 pcs 150gms per plate
Idli with Sambhar (220gms) (100gms idli & 120gms sambar)
Sada Vada with Sambhar (150gms) (50gms Vada & 100gms sambar)
Masala vada with Sambhar (180gms) (60gms vada & 120gms sambar)
Masala dosa with Sambhar (250gms) (70gms dosa, 80gms masala with 100gms sambar)
Plain dosa with Sambhar (70gms dosa & 100gms sambar)
Soup with bread slice (1 piece) 150ml.
Roast chicken with boiled vegetable 350gms per plate (100gms chicken and 250gms boiled veg)
Roast mutton with boiled vegetable 350gms per plate (100gms mutton and 250gms boiled veg)
Shami kabab (2 pcs) 50gms each
Dry veg 165gms per plate
Expresso Coffee
Boiled veg 200gms per plate
Chapati 25gms each
Dal 165gms per plate
Finger Chips 100gms
Jodhpur Kachori 100gms
Parantha 50gms each
Rajma Curry 200gms per plate
Curd plain 100gms per plate
Shikanjivi 250ml per glass
Roomali Roti 50gms each
Veg. Burger (50gms veg.Tikka)
Non Veg. Burger (65gms non veg.Tikka)
Paneer Pakora 120gms (4 pcs per plate)
Bread slice(small)
Vegetable S/wich (2 pcs)
Palak Paneer
Stuffed Parantha
Frooti (Tetra pack)
As per MRP
As per MRP
Tea in disposable cup 150 ml with tea bag in 170 ml cup
Roasted Papad
Cold Drink
As per MRP
As per MRP
Dal kachori 30gms (1 pc)
Ice cream of short listed brands
As per MRP
As per MRP
Kulche Chole (2 pcs)/100gms
As per MRP
As per MRP
Potato Chips (pkt)
As per MRP
As per MRP
Namkeens (pkt)
As per MRP
As per MRP
Glass of milk (200ml)
Milk Badam (200ml)
Aloo Bonda (2 no.) / 40gms each
Gulab Jamun (40gms each)
Maggi Noodles (100gms)
Lassi Salt /Sweet (200ml.)
Bread pakora 2 slice (100gms)
Dahi Vada (2 no. 150gms)
Mineral water of short listed brand

Revised Tariff for standard meals, breakfast, tea/coffee etc. at stations effective from 1-06-2003
Revised Tariff for standard meals, breakfast, tea/coffee etc. on trains effective from 1-06-2003
Standard Tea 150 ml Readymade 170 ml cup (disposable cup.)
Standard Tea 150 ml Readymade in 170 ml cup (disposable cup.)
Tea with tea bag- 150ml in disposable cup (170 ml) including tea dispensed through AVM (Automatic Vending Machine)
Tea with tea bag- 150ml in disposable cup (170 ml) including tea dispensed through AVM (Automatic Vending Machine)
Coffee (using instant coffee powder) 150 ml in disposable cup 170 ml capacity including dispensed through AVM
Coffee (using instant coffee powder) 150 ml in disposable cup 170 ml including dispensed through AVM
Tea in pots (285ml) + 2 tea bags +2 sugar pouch with 2 disposable cups of 170 ml capacity
Tea in pots (285ml) + 2 tea bags +2 sugar pouch with 2 disposable cups of 170 ml capacity
Coffee in pots (285ml) +2 Coffee sachet +2 sugar pouch with 2 disposable cups of 170 ml capacity
Coffee in pots (285ml)+ 2 Coffee sachet +2 sugar pouch with 2 disposable cups of 170 ml capacity
Mineral water 1 liter bottle (chilled)
Mineral water 1 liter bottle (chilled)
JANTA MEAL (In quality disposable card board boxes)
Standard Breakfast
Standard Breakfast
Casserole Meals
Meals in Thalis (veg.)
Standard Vegetarian with packaged drinking water in sealed glass of 300 ml.
Meals in Thalis (Non-veg.)
Standard Non-vegetarian with packaged drinking water in sealed glass of 300 ml.
No separate catering charges are payable by passengers on Shatabdi and Rajdhani Express trains.
Posted by Arvind Gupta Advocate SC at 10:54:00 PM

Allahabad HC allows construction of RCF in Rae Bareli
Lucknow, Dec 17: The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday permitted the Centre to start construction of Rail Coach Factory (RCF) in RaeBareli, the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, a project which had sparked a stand off betweeen the UPA government and Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh. A division bench comprising justice Pradeepkant and Justice Sabeehul Hashain in Lucknow passed the order on a wirt petion filed by the central government through the Ministry of Railways relating to 189.253 hectare land dispute. The court said “this order has been passed without prejudice, the right of the parties, with respect to their claim in the writ petition as well as with respect to the lease deed, which is being executed under the present order”. The court also said in its order that “we are of the view that in view of the arguments between both the governments for establishing of RCF, the petitioners be allowed to raise construction, subject to the exicution of the lease deed as suggested by the chief standing counsel D. K. Upadhyay”. The lease deed may be executed by the petitioners subject to further orders which might be passed by the court on the writ petition, the court said. The court observed that if in the case, after execution of lease deed, it is found that some clauses of the lease deed need to be considered or modified, that may also be considered by the court and parties counsel says that whatever directions be issued that may be also complied with as may be possible under law. In October this year, the UP government had cancelled the allotment of the land to the central government which challenged this decision. On October 13, the court passed an interim order to maintain status-quo on the land. Bureau Report

CJI for tough anti-terror laws, legal aid for Qasab
A Vaidyanathan
Wednesday, December 17, 2008 7:45 PM (New Delhi)
On the day the Lok Sabha passed a bill to create a new National Investigation Agency to fight terror, the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan has said that India needs tough anti terror laws like those in America and the UK.Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan did have words of caution though, saying human rights should not be compromised in the process. Justice Balakrishnan also said that he believes every accused including the lone surviving terrorist accused in the Mumbai terror attack, Mohammad Qasab is entitled to legal aid. Otherwise the legal process will be a one-way traffic, the CJI said. In an interview to NDTV, the Chief Justice said, “We should have strong laws. But it should take care of human values providing basic human values to the accused. Strict law is good. I am in favour of it. But how the law should be it is for the Parliament to discuss and deliberate. People of the country should feel safe to live in the country.”The Chief Justice said Qasab, the terrorist under custody, should get a lawyer to defend himself.He added, “I don’t think he will go undefended. Even for helping the court for a proper trial assistance of a lawyer is required. What is the role he has played will come to light if there is a fair trial. Somebody will have to defend. It shall not be one way traffic.”Justice Balakrishnan also said that the police should be better educated, better trained, intelectually vibrant and active. He added that it required training and spending our resources for that.

CJI says Ajmal should get lawyer for ‘fair trial’–fair-trial-/399693/
Posted: Dec 17, 2008 at 2212 hrs IST
New Delhi Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Wednesday said Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested in the Mumbai attacks, should get a lawyer to defend himself so that ‘there is a fair trial’.
“I don’t think he will go undefended. But even for helping the court for a proper trial assistance of a lawyer is required. What is the role he has played will come to light if there is a fair trial. Somebody will have to defend. It shall not be one way traffic,” he told a television news channel.
Several lawyer bodies have refused to take up Ajmal’s case. The opposition Shiv Sena in Maharashtra too has threatened lawyers against defending him in court.
Balakrishnan also favoured a strong anti-terror law but added that it must also safeguard human rights.
Asked whether he favoured a strong anti-terror law in the country in the wake of the November 26, he said, “Of course we should have strong laws.
“”But it should take care of human values providing basic human values to the accused. Strict law is good. I am in favour of it. But how the law should be it is for Parliament to discuss and deliberate. People of the country should feel safe to live in the country,” the Chief Justice said.

CJI administers oath of Office to three new judges of SC
Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan administered oath of office to three new judges of the Supreme Court. The new judges are Justices Ashok Kumar Ganguly, Chief Justice of Madras High Court, R M Lodha, Chief Justice of Patna High Court and H L Dattu, Chief Justice of Kerala High Court.With today’s appointment the total strength of the apex court judges has gone up to 25.The Union government had returned the recommendations of CJI for reconsideration, since three senior-most judges have been ignored by the Supreme Court collegium. The CJI, however, reiterated his earlier recommendations and sent the files back to the government for necessary action. Three judges, who have been bypassed are Justices A P Shah of Delhi High Court, A K Patnayak and V K Gupta.UNI

Cuncolim custodial death: HC declines bail to convicts
18 Dec 2008, 0340 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa on Wednesday declined to grant bail and suspend the sentence of life imprisonment imposed by a trial court last month against assistant sub-inspector Shripati Dessai and head constable Madhu Dessai in connection with the custodial death of Dattu Dessai at Cuncolim. The division bench comprising justice A P Deshpande and justice N A Britto observed that that there must be exceptional circumstances and reasons must be given for suspending the sentence. Considering the gravity of offence, the severity of punishment and the evidence produced, there are no exceptional circumstances in this case for suspending the sentence and granting bail to the two accused, the court held while rejecting the applications. Senior advocate Surendra Dessai, appearing for Madhu Dessai, argued that the case is based on circumstantial evidence and even the injuries on the deceased show that they were on the lower part of the body and were not grievous and there was no intention to murder. There is no specific finding given against the accused and so the sentence could be kept on hold as an appeal is pending, he stated. Shripati’s counsel, senior advocate Saresh Lotlikar, submitted that the case in hand is not of custodial death as the deceased was not arrested. The accused did not misuse his liberty while on bail and presently he has retired, therefore he may be released on bail with conditions as deemed fit, he stated. Public prosecutor Winnie Coutinho pointed out that since the accused were on bail during trial, they are not entitled for suspension of sentence and release on bail. “There has to be careful consideration of the relevant aspects. The order directing suspension of sentence and grant of bail should not be passed as a matter of routine,” she pointed out. It may be recalled that the body of the deceased, who was handicapped, was found hanging on a tree near the Cuncolim police station on June 29, 2001. The police had claimed that Dattu had escaped from the police lock-up and later committed suicide. However, the prosecution alleged that police had assaulted him in the lock-up leading to his death.

Vizhinjam: SC disagrees to stay HC verdict
Thiruvananthapuram, Wednesday 17 December 2008: The Supreme Court today disagreed to impose a stay on the Kerala High Court verdict stopping temporarily the work on the Vizhinjam Container Transhipment Terminal.
The state government approached the Supreme Court pointing out that stopping the work would badly affect the developmental works of the state.

Vizhinjam: Govt. to move SC says, Minister
Thiruvananthapuram, Thursday, December 11, 2008: Kerala Ports Minister M Vijayakumar said the Government will move appeal before Supreme Court against the High Court decision to stall the development of the proposed Rs.53.48 billion port at Vizhinjam
The bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu had asked a committee to look into the tender quotation given by Mumbai-based Zoom Developers, whose bid was not considered by the government citing technical objections.
The firm had petitioned a single member bench of the court a few months ago. After looking into the petition and the reply given by the state government, the judge then quashed the petition.
Following this, the firm approached the division bench and has now got a favourable verdict.
The court has directed the committee to look into the proposal of the firm within 15 days. Till then, no work will be undertaken at the port, which is being developed by a consortium headed by Hyderabad-based Lanco Kondapalli Power Private Ltd, Malaysia-based Pembinaan Redzai Sdn. Bhd. and Lanco Infrastructure Limited.
This is the second time that an attempt to build the Vizhinjam port is being undertaken. During the previous Oommen Chandy government (2004-06), after selecting a consortium of two Chinese and a Mumbai firm through a global tender, the central government had at the last moment decided not to give its sanction citing security reasons.
At that time, the contract was won by a consortium led by Zoom Developers.
A major advantage of Vizhinjam port is that it needs no dredging. The natural depth is 24 meters, one of the deepest in the world.
Another advantage is that the proposed port lies very close to a busy international shipping route. It is to be built on an area of 150 acres and there will be no displacement of local fishermen. The port will be able to handle 4.10 million containers annually.
The port, once ready, would create 5,000 direct jobs and 150,000 indirect jobs.

HC stays verdict in Asna case
Kochi, Thursday 20 November 2008: The Kerala High Court suspended the sentence awarded to 13 BJP-RSS workers in the Ashna murder attempt case.
Justice R. Basant, while suspending the sentence, ordered that they be released on bail on their executing a bond for Rs.1 lakh each with two solvent sureties for the like sum. The court passed the order on an appeal filed against the verdict of the Thalassery Additional District and Sessions Court convicting them and awarding them varying years of imprisonments.
The fifth accused, Naroth Ramachandran, was sentenced to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment while the other accused were awarded five-year jail terms. The appeal said prosecution evidence was not sufficient to connect the accused with the offence alleged against them. The prosecution had not placed the real facts before the sessions court.

HC relief for offenders in chapter cases
18 Dec 2008, 0428 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: Coming to the aid of offenders in chapter proceedings cases languishing in jails, the Bombay high court ordered the jail authorities to produce such persons before courts. A division bench of Justices F I Rebello and R S Mohite passed the orders after being informed that such offenders are left to languish in jail after they fail to come up with a bond. Under chapter proceedings, a person is asked to give a bond, if they are found guilty of breach of peace or related minor offences. The court was told that in Pune’s Yerawada jail, out of 68 inmates booked for bailable offences, 42 are lodged under chapter proceedings. As per the Criminal procedure Code, chapter proceedings have to be terminated after six months. The court has asked the state to produce all such offenders before the magistrate’s court for appropriate orders within seven days. A magistrate has the power to discharge offenders who cannot come up with the bond. The state has also told the court that henceforth all parole and furlough applications will be decided within a specified time frame.

Rights panel can probe cop’s role, says HC
18 Dec 2008, 0207 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court on Wednesday allowed the West Bengal Human Rights Commission (WBHRC) to proceed with its probe on whether IPS officer Gyanwant Singh tried to break up the marriage between Rizwanur Rahman and Priyanka Todi, while he was the deputy commissioner (detective department) of Kolkata Police. But the commission may not pass an order in the matter till HC takes a final decision on Singh’s appeal. WBHRC initiated a suo motu inquiry into the matter after allegations that Priyanka and Rizwanur were summoned to the police headquarters at Lalbazar thrice. It was also alleged that Singh had intimidated Rizwanur into sending Priyanka to her father’s house. The senior police officer was summoned by the Commission and was to appear before it on December 11. Singh preferred an appeal before the high court, however. On December 12, during an ex-parte hearing, the high court did away with Singh’s personal appearance before the WBHRC. He can be represented by a lawyer. When the matter came up for hearing before Justice Dipankar Datta on Wednesday, Singh’s counsel Partha Sarathi Sengupta submitted that the matter was sub judice and thereby beyond the purview of the WBHRC. Only in extraordinary cases, can the Commission summon someone even when the matter is sub judice. Singh had challenged Justice Datta’s August 14 order in which the state government was allowed to initiate departmental proceedings against him. “The extraordinary circumstance has to be determined purely on legal terms on not on how much media glare a case attracts. The WBHRC has not made it clear how this case is extraordinary,” Sengupta submitted. Barrister Jayanta Mitra appeared on behalf of WBHRC and submitted that an insinuation had been made against Singh. “He will only have to explain whether as a police officer, he has the right to intervene in a marriage between two consenting adults,” Mitra said. After hearing both sides, Justice Datta directed that proceedings may continue before the Commission but no order may be passed. Both the WBHRC and Singh were directed to file affidavits. The matter will come up for hearing before the high court again four weeks after vacation.

Justice Prasad acting CJ of Patna HC
18 Dec 2008, 0234 hrs IST, TNN
PATNA: Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad has been appointed the acting Chief Justice of Patna High Court for the second time. A notification to this effect issued by the President reached the high court on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Chief Justice of Patna High Court R M Lodha had left for Delhi for his elevation as a Supreme Court judge. Earlier this year too, Justice Prasad had been made the acting Chief Justice of Patna High Court on March 5 following retirement of then Chief Justice Rajesh Balia. Justice Prasad remained the acting CJ till May 13 after which Justice R M Lodha assumed charge as the Patna HC CJ.

HC throws out plea by 2 Delhi blasts accused
17 Dec 2008, 2314 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Expressing its anguish at the government’s inability to ensure security of its citizens, as was highlighted during the Mumbai attacks, Delhi High Court on Wednesday said that more leverage should be given to the police when such cases are being probed. Justice Kailash Gambhir invoked the latest terror strikes at Mumbai to slam the Central government for its lack of preparedness to face terror and secure its citizens. The judge expressed his views while tossing out a petition filed by two accused in recent Delhi blasts who had challenged their custodial interrogation by police beyond 15 days. “More leverage should be given to the police, especially looking into the sensitivity of a case of this nature involving heinous crimes of such a vast magnitude and enormity…any interference at this stage by court would result in creating bottlenecks in the way of the investigation which ultimately obliterates the probe,” HC noted, refusing to grant any relief to Mohammed Shakeel and Zeeshan Ahmed, alleged terrorists arrested in connection with the Delhi blasts. The court reflected the public concern over security after Mumbai attacks and said that citizens have a fundamental right to enjoy terror-free life. “Right to Life would include right to live with human dignity and the said right will be negatory if the citizens of the country live under the constant fear of violence and terrorism,”the court observed. It further said: “There has been utter failure on the part of governments right from the first terrorist attack in Mumbai in the year 1993 to protect its citizens from the ruthless and barbaric attacks at the hands of mindless terrorists.” “Our country did not woke-up even after these militants attempted an outrageous attack in the year 2001 on our Parliament….it is the obligation and foremost duty of a government not only to preserve the rights of the citizens but also to ensure that the people live without any fear,” the judge added. The court hoped: “There would be no further mistakes and the country will act tough and completely gear-up to have mechanisms in place to effectively combat the menace of terrorism.” “Every citizen of the country recently felt disgusted, distresses and concern when finding totally unmatched and ill-equipped police officers in their khaki uniform fighting with the well-equipped and well-laced terrorist in the recent Mumbai attacks,” the judge remarked, saying the cops must be immediately equipped with the most modern weaponry.

HC seeks status of riot relief disbursement
18 Dec 2008, 0042 hrs IST, TNN
Ahmedabad : While a couple of litigations seeking compensation for riot victims are pending before Gujarat High Court, one more PIL was moved by a member of the special monitoring committee set up by NHRC on Wednesday. The member, Gagan Sethi of Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), has claimed that the Centre on September 11, 2007 announced a revised relief package for victims of 2002 communal violence and wrote a letter to the state government on September 20, intimating it of providing ex-gratia towards relief and rehabilitation of the riot affected people. On September 24, the state government last made a resolution for disbursement of the amount among the affected, a list of whom is with the state. But, Sethi and his team conducted a survey to find that many victims, who suffered loss of life and properties worth crore of rupees, losing their residential, commercial and industrial properties, had not received this compensation. Acting on the PIL filed through advocate Amit Panchal, a division Bench of Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi directed the government pleader to apprise the court on present status of disbursement of revised package. The court has also asked the petitioner to serve a copy of the petition to the Union government. Further hearing in the case is on December 30. Sethi, along with Antarik Visthapit Hakk-Rakshak Samiti, conducted extensive studies and collected data regarding riot victims. They submitted a list of riot victims who have not received any relief to the government, requesting to release the amount, but when nothing happened, Sethi filed the PIL. In all, 1,169 lost their lives and 2,548 people were injured in the rioting that continued for over three months. What petitioner seeks – Children/family members of those who died will be given preference in recruitment in para-military forces, IR battalions, state police forces, public sector undertakings and other state and central government departments by giving necessary age relaxations. – Central government/ state government may launch a special recruitment drive to accommodate eligible members from riot affected families. – Those who had lost their jobs will be allowed to rejoin by treating the period of absence as “dies-non”. – Those who had to leave their jobs due to riots and have already crossed the age of superannuation may be given necessary pensionary benefits by relaxing the normal rules to the extent possible.

Explain underutilisation of workers’ fund: HC to govt
18 Dec 2008, 0008 hrs IST, TNN
Ahmedabad : Gujarat High Court has issued notices to state government, labour commissioner and social justice and empowerment department along with officials concerned asking them to explain why funds raised to educate kids of construction workers and ensure social security to workers in unorganised sectors, have not been utilised. Acting in response to a PIL filed by Bruhad Ahmedabad Adivasi Bhil Shikshit Yuvak Mitra Mandal through advocate Vanraj Parghi, a division bench of Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi has asked for reasons why Construction Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, has still not been implemented in Gujarat even after 12 years of enactment. The petitioner said the Act has provisions to levy 1 per cent cess on land developers and to spend the money on education of workers’ children, their family’s health and shelter as well as safety. However, 12 lakh workers labour without getting basic benefits they are entitled to. Parghi argued that Gujarat had constituted a board as per provisions of the Act in 2004. “More than Rs 100 crore have been raised, and more than this amount is still outstanding against big industrial houses. We have sought court’s direction to use this amount for the welfare of workers and their families, who are mainly tribals,” the lawyer said. Further hearing on this matter is scheduled on December 29.

No live coverage of terror attacks
18 Dec 2008, 1910 hrs IST, IANS
NEW DELHI: No live reporting of hostage crises, avoiding live contact with victims, withholding sensitive information on rescue operations – these were some of the guidelines unveiled by India’s News Broadcasters Association on Thursday in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack. ( Watch ) The self-regulation guidelines for telecast of sensitive events come after media coverage of the 60-hour terror strike in Mumbai saw scathing criticism from the public and the government, which even threatened to impose an emergency protocol. Although the broadcasters’ body had started formulating such guidelines much before the 26/11 attack, leading broadcasters were forced to quicken the process after the event. The guidelines include a self-imposed restraint by broadcasters not to disclose details of hostages and withholding sensitive information on rescue operations. The broadcasters have also been asked to avoid live contact with victims and with security personnel engaged in security operations. The guidelines also urge broadcasters to exercise their judgment by not airing details of identity and number of hostages and refrain from reporting or commentary that gives the impression of sympathizing with terrorists. Unveiling the guidelines at a news conference, former Chief Justice J S Verma asked the powerful to exercise restraint. “The judiciary and the media have become powerful organs. Once you become powerful, you must know your limits,” Verma, who heads the News Broadcasting Standards Disputes Redressal Authority, said. “Self-regulation is a requirement which everyone who has considerable power must exercise. Nobody likes to be told what to do,” Verma told reporters while explaining the rationale for self-regulation guidelines. The guidelines were finalised Wednesday and are aimed at ensuring that the reporting of sensitive situations like the Mumbai attacks does not jeopardise the security of the nation and is not offensive to public taste. The guidelines, also referred to as “emergency protocol” in media circles, are similar to the advisories issued to TV channels by the information and broadcasting ministry during and after the Mumbai terror attacks.

CBI takes up investigations of Assam serial blasts
18 Dec 2008, 1855 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The CBI on Thursday took over probe into the October 30 serial blasts in Assam after the state government-constituted Special Investigation Team failed to bring any clues. CBI sources said a notification was issued by the Centre after the state government requested for a probe by the agency to go into the details of the case. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi agreed to suggestions made by various political parties for a CBI probe into the blasts that left 84 people dead and over 400 injured. The suggestions were made during an all-party meeting held under the chairmanship of Gogoi to discuss the situation arising out of the blasts. The SIT, which was constituted immediately after the blasts, had arrested 11 people but could not make any headway in its probe to unravel the conspiracy behind the attack. The Assam government decided for the CBI probe as the investigations were likely to spread to some neighbouring countries including Bangladesh. Central security agencies believe that ULFA with the help of banned Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islamia were responsible behind the audacious attack.

Govt to introduce biometric passport system by 2010
18 Dec 2008, 1254 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: With a view to checking human trafficking, the Government plans to introduce biometric passport system that will include finger-printing, by 2010, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said. “We have decided to introduce biometric passport system. We intend to complete the entire process by 2010,” he said replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha. Stating that there was a nexus of recruiting agencies and employers in human trafficking, Mukherjee added that Indian workers fall for the lure of more money and resort to illegal migration and end up being harassed and exploited. “Our policy is whenever the nationality (of the worker detained by a foreign country for illegal migration) is identified, we bring them back,” he said. Many illegal migrants destroy their passport and other identity proof on landing on the foreign soil, making it difficult to ascertain their nationality and stay on using liberal immigration rules. He, however, categorically stated that India was not sending any “terrorist” to foreign countries using the human trafficking network. “These (people going illegally from India to foreign land) are civilians, job seekers… we are not sending any terrorist or infiltrators into any country.” Government, he said, adopts a multi-pronged approach to combat trafficking, which encompasses prevention through stronger law enforcement, rescue and rehabilitation of victims including through repatriation of those confirmed to be Indian nationals.

Single judges to hear writs on revenue, service matters
18 Dec 2008, 0336 hrs IST, Vishal Sharma, TNN
CHANDIGARH: Come January and the Punjab and Haryana high court will “discontinue” the practice of division benches hearing writ petitions except in matters of utmost importance. The decision, taken in a `full court’ meeting of judges on Tuesday evening, aims at reducing the backlog of around 2.5 lakh cases pending in the court. “The division benches would only hear petitions touching upon serious Constitutional, public interest, tender, letters patent appeal, CAT and some kinds of election matters. All other types of writs, including revenue and service matters, would be heard by single judges,” a top high court source revealed. The amended high court rules, as decided by the `full court’, will go a long way in fast tracking a huge chunk of pending cases relating to service and revenue matters. Given the peculiar context of Punjab and Haryana, land acquisition and compensation issues form a majority of cases coming to the court. A few days ago, chief justice Tirath Singh Thakur had told TOI: “Despite being only 48 in number, the judges are giving their best and have not slackened a bit in pursuit of speedy litigation. Many novel and innovative steps have been taken and more are in the pipeline.” The court has only 48 judges against the sanctioned strength of 68. The six recommendations made by the previous chief justice were returned by the Supreme Court for “fresh consideration”.

Jallianwala massacre included in national movement
18 Dec 2008, 0332 hrs IST, Neel Kamal, TNN
MALERKOTLA: Yielding to a long standing demand of granting freedom fighter status to martyrs of the Kuka movement and Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the Centre has now formally made them part of the national freedom movement. The Union ministry of home affairs’ communique to the principal secretary, Punjab, sent on December 13, states: “Respecting the sentiments of Punjab government … (ministry) is pleased to accord freedom fighter status to the martyrs of Kuka movement of 1872 and that of Jallianwala Bagh in 1919.” It goes on to add that “these massacres have been formally included in (the national) freedom movement” and the martyrs covered under Swatantra Sainik Samman Pension Scheme. Their kin would now be entitled to benefits. The British had killed 66 Kukas, who marked the first major reaction of the people in Punjab to the new political order initiated after 1849, at Malerkotla. Amongst those who queued up to face the canons was a young kid too small in size to be tied to the machine’s mouth and blown off. Asked to fall back, the minor had perched himself on a fellow freedom fighter’s shoulders and faced the fire. Likewise, at Jallianwala Bagh, many innocent lives had been lost when Gen Dyer had ordered his troops to open fire on an unarmed and peaceful gathering. Welcoming the move, eminent historian and author Malwinderjit Singh Waraich claimed, “Justice has finally been done to the long forgotten martyrs.” Terming it as “a moment of great pride for the sect,” Kuka martyrs memorial trust vice-chairman Surinder Singh Namdhari added: “We are eternally grateful to both the governments. In fact, it would be a moment of double delight when the prime minister unveils the portrait of Satguru Ram Singh, the Namdhari leader who started the freedom movement in 1857.”

Kasab to be tried in special court to ensure speedy trial
17 Dec 2008, 2237 hrs IST, IANS
NAGPUR: Mohammed Ajmal Amir alias Kasab, the lone terrorist captured during the Mumbai mayhem, will be tried in a special court to ensure a speedy trial, the Maharashtra government said on Wednesday. It appointed Ujjwal Nikam – who fought the 1993 Mumbai bombings case – as special public prosecutor for this case. State Home Minister Jayant Patil told the legislature meeting in winter session in this second capital of the state that Mumbai Police would file a charge sheet against Amir within the stipulated 60-day period. Amir was caught alive and has been in police custody, while nine of his associates were killed during the 60-hour terror attacks that left at least 170 other people dead. Nikam attained fame for successfully leading and guiding for over 13 years the state case in the March 12, 1993, Mumbai serial bomb explosions. The trial ended in 2007 with several important convictions, including that of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt. Patil also announced that the state police would soon acquire a helicopter and 36 high-speed boats to beef up security on the state’s 760-km long coastline. The terrorists involved in the 26/11 attacks came from Karachi and reached south Mumbai undetected from the Arabian Sea. The home minister said the defunct state Intelligence Bureau (IB) will be revived and 25 vacant posts in it will be filled soon. Patil’s announcements came during his reply to a house debate of on Tuesday on the Mumbai terror attacks. Unveiling an action plan to strengthen Mumbai’s security in the wake of the latest terror strike, Patil said the best of weapons, technology and know-how available anywhere in the world will be brought in to guard against any future attack with hundred percent success. “I have already talked to the Chicago police in this respect and expert teams have already been sent to some other countries to study their security set-up,” he said. A State Security Guard will soon be constituted on the lines of the National Security Guard (NSG) – the central force that led the operation against the terrorists – and 25 new posts of officers in the intelligence apparatus will be filled within two months, followed by 65 more in the shortest possible time after that, Patil added. “In order to save time, the recruitment process will be kept out of the purview of the Maharashtra Public Service Commission,” he said. While speed boats with aluminium cladding and MP-5 guns are some of the new items in the shopping list of weapons and other things in the security apparatus, creation of 23 check-posts along the coastline is a part of the security beef-up plan. The 26/11 terrorists had taken a sea route from Karachi to Mumbai, crossing the coastline from near the Gateway of India, baring its porosity. The state government’s defence against the criticism on this score was that a distance of only four nautical miles is within its sole jurisdiction and another eight nautical miles in tandem with customs, the distance further deep inside the sea being the responsibility of the Coast Guard and the navy. Clarifying the home minister’s reply, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said an amount of Rs 1.27 billion has already been sanctioned for purchase of weapons and equipment and that the money will be spent before March 31, 2009. Responding to a vociferous opposition demand for action against Maharashtra Director General of Police Anomy Roy and Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Ghafoor for alleged dereliction of duty in the face of the terror strike, Chavan said a high-level inquiry would be carried out to fix the responsibility for the security lapses and the guilty would be punished. Do Kasab’s statements ring true? Would you buy them, given the fact that his cronies are gone and there’s none to corroborate them?

I was offered money to keep mum: Accident witness
18 Dec 2008, 0420 hrs IST, Rao Jaswant Singh & Nitesh Kumar Sharma, TNN
JAIPUR: The main witness in Monday night’s hit-and-run case, Abhimanyu Swami, has alleged that the step-grandson of Rajmata Gayatri Devi and main accused, Vijit Singh, offered him money for not reporting the matter to the police. Swami on Wednesday also alleged that when he refused the offer, Singh threatened him. On Monday night, Vijit Singh was arrested after the Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI he was driving hit a group of students at Gandhi Nagar. A girl student from Kota, Babita Chaudhary (20), was killed on the spot, while four injured were rushed to the SMS hospital. Recalling the incident, Swami told TOI: “I was driving back home from my friend’s house in my Ford Fiesta, when I heard a thud near Gandhi Nagar turn around 10.45pm. When I turned back, I was shocked to find that a girl was hit by a speeding car and she was thrown about 10 feet in the air before falling flat on the road.” Swami said he chased the luxury car and overtook it near a glass factory on Tonk Road. He slowed down his car in front of the Volkswagen and waved the driver to stop, but he hit his car from behind and sped away towards Tonk Road. This didn’t stop Swami from chasing the car. He again followed the car and drove side by side but the Volkswagen again hit his car. “I chased him up to his house at Maharani Farm in Durgapura area and at the same time also informed the police,” he said. Swami said he stopped his car in front of Singh’s house and confronted him. “Do you know whom you are meddling with? This was the first question that Singh shot at me,” alleged Swami and said Singh offered him cash and asked him to keep silent. Swami, who had already informed the police, said the police arrived within 15 minutes and took Singh along with his car to Jhalana Doongri police chowki. The police registered two cases against Singh for causing death and intentionally hitting Swami’s car in order to escape from the scene. Singh says he was drunk Vijit Singh told the police that he was drunk on Monday night at the time of the accident. Police officer Dilip Sharma said Singh said he was returning from Hotel Rambagh Palace when a group of students suddenly appeared in front of his car. He lost control of the car leading to the accident, he said. Police took main witness Abhimanyu Swami to the accident spot on Wednesday and recorded his statement.

HC turns down Todi’s bail plea
18 Dec 2008, 0200 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday turned down the bail plea of industrialist Ashok Todi, the main accused in the death of computer graphics designer Rizwanur Rahman. Justice D P Sengupta turned down the plea of Todi, who is in custody, on the grounds that there was a possibility of tampering with evidence. He observed that Todi was an influential person and had used the police in breaking the marriage of Rizwanur with Priyanka (Todi’s daughter). Meanwhile, the 14th metropolitan magistrate court, Alipore, transferred the case to the city sessions court for trial. All the accused in the case will now have to appear before the city sessions chief judge on December 23 when the date of trial will be given. Todi is not entitled to get relief under provisions of CrPC, as there is sufficient material in the case diary which implicates him for comitting offences punishiable under Section 306 of IPC for abetment to suicide, the judge said. The only saving grace for Todi is that he has already obtained a stay from the Supreme Court against the trial. “We will ask for the trial to begin in the case of others. They haven’t got a stay,” said CBI lawyer Soumen Ghosh. On December 8, a division bench of Justice Amit Talukdar and Justice P S Banerjee referred the case to a third bench after Justice Banerjee did not agree with Justice Talukdar’s decision to grant bail. The matter was then asigned to Justice Sengupta who accepted Justice Banerjee’s view and refused to grant bail to Todi. Ashok’s younger brother and co-accused Pradip Todi, who’d moved Supreme Court for bail and was asked to appeal before the high court, moved his bail plea. The case came up for hearing before the division bench of Justice Amit Talukdar and Justice P S Banerjee, who declined to hear the matter on personal grounds. Now, the Chief Justice will assign hearing of the matter to another bench. All the accused police officers – Ajoy Kumar, Sukanti Chakraborty, Krishnendu Das – and Anil Saraogi, Ashok Todi’s cousin, arrived at the court of the 14th metropolitan magistrate Madhumita Roy on Wednesday. All the four are on bail. Ashok Todi and his brother Pradip Todi too were brought from the Presidency jail. The last to appear was the other accused social worker S M Mohiuddin alias Pappu. After last Friday’s violence inside the court premises when supporters of the accused clashed with reporters, cameramen and lawyers, the police kept outsiders away.

Tribunal started working from Feb 2006
18 Dec 2008, 0010 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre that the term of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal should begin from 2006 and not 2004. This observation has come as a relief for Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, which have filed petitions before the tribunal on issues related to sharing surplus water. Although the tribunal was formed on April 2, 2004, it started functioning from February 1, 2006. The delay was caused by lack of infrastructure for the tribunal. Many felt the Centre would take the initial two years into account before winding up the tribunal. A bench of justices B N Agarwal, G S Singhvi and Lodha directed the Centre to recognize February 2006 as the starting date of the tribunal. Supreme Court advocate Brijesh Kalappa, who is representing Karnataka before the tribunal, said the order has made the tribunal safe from functus osfficio (bereft of power) as a vacuumn would have been created then.

Divorce Cases Head For Lok Adalat For Cheaper Solutions
18 Dec 2008, 0208 hrs IST, Supriya Bhardwaj, TNN
CHANDIGARH: The global financial meltdown is promising to thaw the iciness that prevails between city’s estranged couples in a strictly monetary sense. Usually, individuals seek high alimony from their spouses, but the recession has made the situation a bit different. The season of pink slips is making many couples zero in on the pocket-friendly method of taking their legal battles to the mega Lok Adalat to be held on December 20 and 21. Advocate Munish Dewan, who will be contesting three divorce cases at the adalat, said, “Courts usually decide that the maintenance amount be half of the husband’s salary. But during the Lok Adalat, there is a possibility of compromises leading to lower alimony. This factor is driving more people to take their cases to mega Lok Adalat.” He added, “The current recession means that jobs are not very stable. This is the reason couples may go for the Lok Adalat in hope of some leniency coming their way due to the economic situation.” Sources said 300 couples had decided to get their cases settled during the upcoming adalat. Court officials said there were around 700 cases under the Hindu Marriage Act pending in district courts. With lawyers’ fees skyrocketing, people are keen to get their marital disputes, including divorce cases, alimony petitions, custodial battles and conjugal rights cases to the mega Lok Adalat for amicable settlements. Legal experts said spouses tended to seek extremely high divorce settlement amounts in courts. They added most of the divorce cases involved individuals working for information technology sector, engineering or government. District Bar Association president NK Nanda said, “Divorce cases are increasing and so is alimony amount being sought. I have three cases wherein the the opposite parties have demanded more than Rs 25 lakh for out-of-court settlement. Such cases can be settled in Lok Adalat.” Recession coziness A couple involved in a divorce case decided to reunite after the court of additional district and session judge SK Aggarwal succeeded in making them reach a compromise on Wednesday. The reason cited by the wife, aged 32, while filing for divorce two years ago was that her hotelier husband’s business was failing and he was not able to provide for her. That, however, did not seem to be a problem on Wednesday even as the economic recession continues.

Panel recommends dropping of Goa varsity
18 Dec 2008, 0408 hrs IST
PANAJI/NEW DELHI: Recommending the deletion of Goa University from the list of universities to be centralized under the central universities bill, 2008, the standing committee of the ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) submitted its report to the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. In its report, the parliamentary panel stated, “in the light of views expressed before the committee and representations received from various sections of society, the committee is of the opinion that the provision relating to upgrade of Goa University into a central university be dropped at this stage.” However, the committee found substance in both sides of the arguments and said that “efforts may, however, be made to evaluate the situation with a holistic and balanced approach to ensure that Goa does not remain the only state without a central university“. Saying that the committee deliberated at length on the issue, the report says, “The committee observes that divergent views have emerged mainly due to clause 6(2) which specifically provides that admission of students will be on all India basis.” It was pointed out to the committee that on centralization, local students who failed to obtain seats in the stream of their choice would, in the absence of any other university in the state, have to go to neighbouring states for higher studies. This would nullify the objectives of providing additional access and competitive ambience through a central university. The other view put forth before the committee was that on centralization, Goa University would find a solution for its resource crunch, the faculty shortage as also the declining number of local students. The report says that “the members of the committee unanimously agreed that the views of the people of Goa need to be respected.” Rajya Sabha member from Goa, Shataram Naik said that before the amended bill comes up for consideration and passing in the Lok Sabha where it was introduced, it will have to go to the cabinet for the approval of the amendment. In other suggestions, the panel pointed out that two important branches of learning — law and agriculture — did not find place in the bill. It recommended that they be included among the subjects to be taught. However, the panel found fault with a particular provision that allows the central government to issue directions and call for information from universities. The standing committee told the HRD ministry that existing central universities acts do not have such a provision. “With such power, the autonomy of a university is bound to be adversely affected. In the absence of valid justification for having such a provision, the committee recommends deletion of the clause 32(1) of the bill,” it said. The committee also said that instead of the central government, the appointment of the first chancellor, the first vice-chancellor, the first registrar and the first finance officer should be made by the visitor on the recommendations of search committees comprising eminent persons constituted by the visitor. The panel suggested bringing down the tenure of chancellor and vice-chancellor from five to three years and of the registrar and finance officer from three to two years. The bill is likely to be taken up in parliament on December 22 or 23, 2008 failing which it may be taken up during the budget session.

Cops goof up name of 2nd accused in NFL case
18 Dec 2008, 0201 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: What’s in a name, one might ask. But not many know that the person who was arrested along with K Satyanarayana Raju is in fact the chief executive officer of Maytas Infra, which is in the eye of a storm over an acquisition-and-back off drama along with Maytas Properties by Satyam group of companies. K S Raju and the second person arrested were both directors of Nagarjuna Finance Limited, and were arrested by the city police on Monday on fraud and other charges. The police gave the name of the second accused as Pundi Krishna Swamy Mahadevan, while in fact, the Maytas Infra website lists his name as P K Madhav, CEO. When asked as to why the police gave a misleading name instead of the actual one, the DCP (detective) told TOI on Wednesday evening that “It was a typing mistake committed by a constable,” and hastened to add that the same had now been corrected on the city police website. A perusal of the website, however, showed the arrested person’s name as `P K S Mahadeva.’ The name game by the police is lending credence to allegations that the police are trying to protect the scandal-ridden Maytas from further bad publicity.

Cops probe role of make-up man in Bhargavi’s murder
18 Dec 2008, 0159 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: Police suspect Bhargavi’s make-up assistant might have tipped off Praveen Kumar about the actor’s movements in the city.
According to sources, Venkat, 19, had been working as a personal make-up assistant for Bhargavi for some time, and Praveen was in touch with him. “The call logs of the cell phones of both Bhargavi and Praveen show calls were either made to or received from Venkat’s mobile on Tuesday morning,” a police officer told TOI. Since the time they noticed Venkat’s mobile number in both the mobile phones of Bhargavi and Praveen, the police have been trying to contact him on his cell phone. “It has been switched off. We suspect that he absconded due to fear,” the officer said. After attending a film shoot in Palakollu, Bhargavi reached the city on Monday for a scheduled shoot here. Police suspect that Venkat, after calling Bhargavi, might have passed on the information about her being alone in the city to Praveen Kumar. Police said that they had information that Praveen Kumar purchased the dagger in Nellore and boarded a bus to Hyderabad at around 8 pm on Monday night. After reaching the city in the wee hours of Tuesday, he contacted Venkat again. Ramesh, the driver who went to pick up Bhargavi, told the police that Venkat came to the car and kept the make-up kit inside the vehicle. “After that, he told Ramesh that he would be back in a minute after buying cigarettes. But Venkat did not return after that. We suspect that Venkat might have brought the make-up kit from Bhargavi’s house,” an investigating officer said. The contact address given by Venkat in the application form submitted for a mobile connection is in Chittoor. But the police said Venkat had been staying in the city for sometime now. Police are trying to contact the film and television crew members with whom Bhargavi had worked to trace the whereabouts of Venkat. Meanwhile, the doctors, who performed post-mortem on the actor at the Gandhi Hospital, told the police that she died due to stabbing. “One of her lungs was punctured and heart also suffered stab injury. Doctors said that the two injuries caused her death,” deputy commissioner of police (DCP) (west zone) C Ravi Verma said. The suicide note found in the trousers of Praveen Kumar will be sent to the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratories (APFSL) for handwriting confirmation. For the samples of Praveen’s handwriting, police are in touch with his family members in Nellore. The bodies of Bhargavi and Praveen were handed over to the family members on Wednesday afternoon.

Police looking into bigamy complaint against Goa minister
18 Dec 2008, 1918 hrs IST, IANS
PANAJI: The Goa Police is looking into a complaint of bigamy filed against a cabinet minister in the Goa government, a spokesperson said. Deputy Superintendent of Police Umesh Gaonkar said the complaint of bigamy filed by Sara Pacheco against her alleged husband Tourism Minister Francisco alias Mickky Pacheco had been sent to the prosecution department for a legal opinion. The bigamy complaint was filed by Sara Pacheco on Mickky Pacheco’s birthday Dec 12. The police took cognizance of the case after the matter was reported in the media. “We have sent the complaint to the director of prosecution. We will act after we receive a legal opinion on it, as both the complainant and the minister have not been living together for nearly four years now,” Gaonkar said. Sara Pacheco had lodged her complaint before the police as well as the block development officer (BDO), who is empowered as a protection officer under the Domestic Violence Act. In her complaint Sara Pacheco claimed that she was married to Mickky Pacheco April 10, 1999 and the marriage was duly registered with the Margao sub registrar. “My husband who was very good to me and was deeply in love with me, suddenly changed after he got elected as a legislator and became minister in 2002. It is at this time that he began to stray and chase other women and accused me of being fat and ugly,” the complaint reads, adding that she was forced to quit the house in 2004, “practically only with the dress I was wearing”. “I am now left penniless while my minister husband Mickky Pacheco is enjoying the wealth that belongs jointly to both of us. He has now married Viola Rosaline Fernandes and has three children through her,” the complaint alleges. When contacted, the tourism minister Mickky Pacheco refuted the charges. “Bigamy occurs only when you are married twice. I am married only once,” was his only refrain. Pacheco Pacheco said that he was willing to depose before any authority if required.

To Find Out Irregularities In Land-Related Projects
18 Dec 2008, 0420 hrs IST, Prakash Bhandari, TNN
JAIPUR: Heaps of files relating to various cases under 90 (b) of the Land Revenue Act, change of land use (CLU), mine allotments and excise-related contracts with liquor manufacturing companies and house allotments have started accumulating in the chief minister’s office. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot after assuming power had asked the chief secretary D C Samant to ask officials at various levels to send files related to 90 (b), and other such cases of shady deals effected by the Vasundhara Raje government. After the files have been reviewed, Gehlot wants to know as to who were the people responsible for the act. “As a practice, each government after assuming power asks for records of last six months of the previous government. The basic idea is to know as to whether any illegal regularizations, out of way clearances or allotments were made flouting all the rules and norms. There are more than 10,000 cases of 90 (b) and change of land use (CLU) which were cleared by the previous government, not only in Jaipur Development Authority, but through various district collectors, Urban Improvement Trust (UIT), municipal councils etc. In the 10,000 cases of 90 (b) the share of the JDA is only 15-20%. Thus after studying the files it is to be established whether such clearances were according to rules or whether it was done arbitrarily. Moreover if the new government finds that in some cases where irregularities were committed by the previous government and total compliance is still pending, then the new government often stops the process as a precautionary measure,” said a senior official of chief minister office (CMO). All the collectors, Urban Improvement Trusts, municipal councils and JDA are eligible to issue 90 (b) orders. But more important than the 90 (b) process is change of land use (CLU). The CLU clearance is given only by the department of urban development and the urban development minister himself takes decision on the CLU files. During the BJP reign, JDA and the Jaipur district collector cleared a large number of cases in 247 villages adjoining Jaipur, these cases were related to 90 (b). Similarly the collectors of Udaipur, Alwar, Kota and Bhiwadi Urban Improvement Trust also cleared 90 (b) related cases. A number of hotels that came up in Udaipur were built only after CLU given by the UDH department. There are four dozen cases of CLU that were granted for various lands located in Neemrana and Bhiwadi, in favour of Delhi-based builders and colonizers. In Kota and Udaipur, two major township projects were cleared, while in Bhilwara 1 lakh sq mt of land was given CLU. This land belongs to a textile company. Studying the files and finding out how rules and norms were flouted is a mammoth job and is likely to take a few months.

38 Bengal kids rescued from Orissa
18 Dec 2008, 0211 hrs IST, TNN
BHUBANESWAR: Government Railway Police (GRP) rescued 38 children
, all seven to 17 years of age, from a train while they were being shipped off to Kozhikode in Kerala on Tuesday. They were stopped at the Mancheswar station in the fringes of the city. On Tuesday, some passengers of the Muzaffarpur-Yeshwantpur Express alerted police at Bhubaneswar station, suspecting it to be a case of child trafficking. Later, GRP rescued the children, all Muslims, from Mancheswar station. The kids have been kept at Childline, a shelter. Nine persons escorting the kids, have been arrested and booked under Sections 342, 365 and 34 IPC. They claimed to belong to Malda and said they were taking the children to Kozhikode to admit them to a madarsa. They couldn’t provide any document to support their claims though. “We will trace the kid’s parents and send them back. We have forwarded all the arrested to court,” said B D Rout, OC of GRP (Bhubaneswar).

26 Illegal tanneries shut down
18 Dec 2008, 0209 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: Twenty-six illegal tanneries have been shut in Tiljala, Topsia and Tangra after the three-day drive by Kolkata and South 24-Parganas police to execute a High Court order issued a week ago to close down illegal tanneries. The Kolkata and South 24-Parganas police had a list of 14 illegal tanneries. During the drive, police found more illegal tanneries in the area. Out of the 26 units closed so far, 11 were operating and the remaining were already in the process of shifting to other spot. Additional SP (industrial) South 24 Parganas Sunil Chowdhury said they did not face any resistance from locals. “Instead, locals cooperated with us in carrying out the drive,” he said. However, some Aituc supporters blocked the road from 3 pm to 3.30 pm. The police will continue the drive on Thursday to find whether any more illegal tannery units are still functioning. The West Bengal Pollution Control Board, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, CESC and police jointly carried out the drive. This was the third such drive to close down the illegal tannery units. Previously such drives were undertaken in 2002 and then in 2004.

IRCTC supplied fake brand oil
18 Dec 2008, 0226 hrs IST, TNN
NAGPUR: The discovery of purchase of 300 tins of duplicate soyabean oil worth Rs 2.65 lakh here by local Indian Railway Catering Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) officials has created a flutter. The purchase came to light when Pramod Choudhary, vigilance officer of SK Oil Industry, Jalgaon, came to Nagpur and informed the IRCTC officials that the oil they had bought on quotations was duplicate. He informed the IRCTC that looks after catering on Indian Railway trains, that the Soya Drop brand oil purchased by them had been withdrawn from the market two years ago. A local trader Balaji General Agency, Sitabuldi, had supplied 300 tins of ‘Soya Drop’ oil. Each tin contained 15 litres oil. SK Oil Industry now markets its oil under a new brand name ‘Silver Soya’. Choudhary told TOI, “We received lot of complaints that some local dealers were misusing our brand and supplying oil locally. The label pasted on the tins supplied to IRCTC on Wednesday tallies with our brand details including the phone numbers.” He also showed both the new label and the discontinued one. Sources said each tin was supplied for Rs 877 after deducting Rs 18 towards return of empty tin to the dealer. Interestingly, a source said, other dealers who were asked for quotations were not told about this provision. Otherwise, they were also ready to deduct Rs 22 for each empty tin returned. “This condition was told only to the Balaji Agency by a local IRCTC official in the office purchase committee (OPC),” sources said. That enabled him to be lowest and thus win the order. The supplier was blacklisted some 15 years ago for irregularities, sources said. Speaking to TOI, divisional railway manager (DRM) Ashwani Kumar Kapoor said, “This is disturbing. Although I don’t deal with IRCTC affairs, this has happened at our station and I will write about it to the IRCTC general manager in Mumbai.” The OPC, which cleared the quotation of Balaji Agency, consisted of Vijay Kundle, assistant manager, Mumbai, R B Sawarkar, assistant manager, V V Vyawhare, station officer, and R S Tayde, senior catering inspector (godown), all based in Nagpur. When contacted, Sawarkar shifted the blame on the Mumbai official saying the quotation was cleared by him on September 15. Choudhary says, “The IRCTC officials should have asked Balaji Agency whether it was our authorised dealer. I have told them to seal the stock as it doesn’t belong to us and we will not be responsible for any complaints of adulteration.” The IRCTC officials have decided to stop payment to Balaji Agency. “We may also return the stock,” Sawarkar said. RKB Bajaj, consultant IRCTC, Nagpur, said he was filing an FIR with Government Railway Police, Nagpur Station, in this case.

Condoms in ladies’ wing baffle cops
18 Dec 2008, 0224 hrs IST, Soumittra S Bose, TNN
NAGPUR: Ajni police team investigating the death of Dr Meenal Kondhari was baffled to find some condoms at different places in the ladies wing of the hostel. Condoms were also found in the dustbin near the room where Meenal’s body was discovered. The police team, which found a syringe and a needle on the ground beneath the window at the rear of the hostel building, also stumbled upon a used condom at the spot. They initially ignored it, but were baffled when more were found elsewhere. A constable attracted the attention of senior police inspector Sunil Jaiswal towards the finding in the hostel where men are generally not allowed. “We wanted to know from the authorities how the condoms might have got there. But we are not considering it as a part of the investigation as of now as there is no angle of an affair being behind the case so far,” said Jaiswal who is viewing the death prima-facie as a suicide. A MARD office-bearer, however, said that this being a PG residents’ hostel, many inmates were married and were often visited by their spouses. The authorities took a lenient view in such cases, he said.

Illegal liquor coming from Punjab
18 Dec 2008, 0232 hrs IST, TNN
PATNA: The excise department has detected entry of illegal liquor into Bihar from Punjab in the name of transporting it to Arunachal Pradesh. “We have detected at least three such cases in which, illegal liquor is being unloaded in Bihar,” said excise commissioner S Vijaylaxmi N. She said the Arunachal-based firm for which the liquor was meant was found to be fake. “We sent an official to Arunachal Pradesh. The excise department of the state has given us in writing that no such firm exists there,” she said. “The excise departments of both Punjab and Arunachal Pradesh have been alerted about it,” she said. Admitting that the entry of illegal liquor was posing a problem, she said that most of the liquor sold in roadside dhabas was illegal.

‘Moral police’ put behind bars
18 Dec 2008, 1128 hrs IST, PTI
PUNE: Two city Constables, who undertook a literal ‘moral policing’ as a lucrative option, are now cooling their heels in a lock-up here. The duo – Ramdas Gadre and Anand Ayachit – according to police, chased two motor-cycle borne college youths in the small hours of Wednesday in a rickshaw and stopped them when they were passing through Budhwar Peth area, a red light zone. A complaint lodged with police by the youths said the two Constables took them to task for “visiting prostitutes” and demanded money to avoid “action” against them. Since the youths did not have much money with them, the Constables took them to an ATM near Alka cinema house and made them withdraw an amount of Rs 3,000. The scared youths were then let off. Recovering from the midnight shock, the youths filed a complaint at Pharaskhana police station in the morning alleging extortion by the Constables. They were shown photographs of all police staff under the jurisdiction and asked to identify the duo. After the complainants recognised Gadre and Ayachit, police arrested them last night under the offence of extortion. The police authorities conceded that similar complaints were being received from red light areas of the city and asked people to be vigilant and come forward to report without fear. The episode has outraged citizens at a time when police are still groping in the dark in the investigation into the brutal murder of Suresh Alurkar, owner of a landmark music shop, on last Sunday.

Reward for informants who help curb graft
15 Dec 2008, 0930 hrs IST, AGENCIES
THANE: In order to weed out corruption from the state, the Maharashtra government has announced a scheme of awards to the informants. A Government Resolution (GR) issued on November 4, 2008 has said those who give information about the unaccounted property made by government and semi-government officers would be given substantial amount as reward. The resolution states that such a move will help in keeping corruption under check. According to the GR, Rs 2 lakh will be given to those who give information about the disproportionate assets worth above Rs 5 crore owned by public servants. For assets to the tune of Rs 1-5 crore, the reward is Rs 1 lakh. The reward for assets worth Rs 50 lakh-1 crore, Rs 25-50 lakh, and up to Rs 25 lakh is Rs 50,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 10,000 respectively. The reward will be given keeping full confidentiality in cases where the chargesheets are filed in courts, and in keeping with section 7 of the Anti-corruption Act of 1968. However, the GR instructs the director general of the ACB to not rely completely on the information given by the informers, but to have departmental personnel verify the information and then proceed. The government has also said the informers can be provided protection if required.

Four year old Kerala sex scandal kicks up fresh controversy
12 Dec 2008, 0848 hrs IST, IANS
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The death of a teenage girl in a private hospital in Kottayam in 2004, known as the Killiroor sex case, has stirred up fresh controversy in Kerala especially with the name of a state minister getting involved. The Kerala state unit of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) on Thursday asked the Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, who belongs to Kerala, to inquire into the manner in which the Thiruvananthapuram Chief Judicial Magistrate Phillip Thomas asked the police to file a case against Kerala Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi. On Wednesday, Thomas hearing a petition from N. Nagaraj directed the police to register a case against Sreemathi and two officials in Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan’s office over allegedly hiding a file containing information about the case. The six people named to be investigated include Sreemathi, private secretary to Achuthanandan S. Rajendran, political secretary to Achuthanandan K.N. Balagopal, the children of two state ministers and Latha Nair, an accused in the case. Addressing reporters here, office bearers of the state unit of AIDWA said that the central committee of the AIDWA also has taken up this issue. “We wish to find out if the move to include a leader and a minister like Sreemathi along with one of the accused in the case is right,” said state AIDWA president T.N.Seema to IANS. Thomas asked the Cantonment Police Station sub inspector to register a case and investigate the missing file in the Killiroor sex case. This issue surfaced after K. Suresh Kumar, an IAS officer and a former official in the office of Achuthanandan, last Sunday told the media that the two officials in the chief minister’s office were hiding this sensitive file. Following his outburst, Kumar was suspended Wednesday evening pending inquiry from the post of managing director of a state owned cooperative bank. The Killiroor sex case pertains to the death of teenager Shari who died in mysterious circumstances in a private hospital in Kottayam in 2004. Achuthanandan, who was then leader of the opposition, had said that according to the doctors the victim’s health deteriorated after a VIP visited her. Shari’s father Surendran later alleged that the VIP who Achuthanandan referred to was Sreemathi. Meanwhile, Surendran is likely to approach the high court to petition against the missing file.

Sad reflection on democracy with appointment of defeated candidates
Thursday, 18 December 2008
NAWANSHAHR: Maintaining that appointment of defeated candidates as Chairmen of district Planning Committees was a “sad reflection on democracy and negation of popular mandate”, former deputy speaker and senior congress leader Bir Davinder Singh here on Thursday said that he, after consultations with the party, could file a PIL on the issue.

He added that chairmen for such Boards or committees must be the elected representatives of the people.”As MLAs are the ex-officio members of such Committees, how could they be made to accept chairmanship of a person whom they have defeated?” he asked. Singh, an aspirant of party ticket for Anandpur Parliamentary constituency, who was in the town in connection with his “jan sampark” programme as part of his preparations for the ensuing Lok Sabha poll, earlier laid out his priorities if the party high command approved his candidature for the seat. These would be, he said, strengthening of basic infrastructure and bringing about the much-needed changes in core sectors like education, health and public distribution system.
He claimed that he had also specific plans for solving the grievances of the NRIs and keeping them intact with their roots in the state. To a question he denied there were three different centres of power in the state congress at the moment. He said that all these so-called power-centres were working under the flag of congress with different responsibilities-Mohinder Singh Kaypee with the responsibility of running the organisation, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal as the leader of party’s legislative wing and Capt Amrinder Singh as the chairman of Campaign Committee. To another question,he said he would continue his crusade against corruption and “untruth” prevailing in the society, esp. in the political set up in the country.”His desire is that the people should be able to enjoy a vibrant democracy in the country”,he maintained. President of district NRI Sabha Kewal Singh Dhillon was also present.

Nano Car Project: Third petition filed in Gujarat High Court
18 Dec 2008, 1704 hrs IST, PTI
AHMEDABAD: A third petition demanding compensation for land sold by the state government to the Tata for the Nano Car Project was filed in the
Gujarat High Court by the farmers of Bol Village in Sanad taluka here where the manufacturing unit is coming up. A division bench of Chief Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Qureshi today adjourned the hearing on the three similar cases which are being heard simultaneously till January 19, 2009. The court has also asked the government to file a reply to the petitions explaining under what circumstances and on what basis was the land under question was acquired by the government in 1900. State government has recently given 1,100 acres of the land to Tata at Northcout farm in Sanand Taluka to relocate their Nano car project from Singur to Sanand. Two petition filed in the matter includes one by farmers of Khoda village demanding compensation for 865 acre of land and other a public interest litigation (PIL) by Gandhinagar-based Rashtriya Kisan Dal, asking for adequate compensation for the farmers. Eighteen farmers of Bol village have claimed that they are original owners of the 960 acre land which was taken on lease by the government for 99 years from their ancestors during the drought in 1900 for protection of cows of ‘Kankreji’ breed.

Delhi HC notice to police over rights of delinquent juveniles
New Delhi, Dec 17: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought an explanation from city police on a complaint that they were making juveniles who are in conflict with the law to sign self-incriminating statements during investigation.
Converting a letter written by an NGO into a PIL, a Division Bench of Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar issued notice to the police and sought a reply by January 7, 2009. Taking suo motu cognisance of the complaint, the Bench asked the Delhi Police counsel to tell the department to stop this practise. The legal officer of NGO, Voluntary Child Rights, in his letter written to Justice Madan B Lakur alleged that the children in the juvenile homes have complained several times to the NGO that the police were forcing some children who were in conflict with the law to make incriminating statement. He alleged in the case of juveniles accused of serious offences, the police were forcibly obtaining their signatures after recording their incriminating statements and attaching the copy of the statement along with the chargesheet. The Division Bench has now fixed January 7 as the date for further hearing of the PIL. Bureau Report

Bid to ban Google Earth fails
18 Dec 2008, 0246 hrs IST, TNN
CHENNAI: A public interest writ petition to impose “total or partial ban” on Google Earth failed in the Madras High on Wednesday, with the first bench dismissing the PIL filed by a retired police official. The first bench comprising the acting chief justice S J Mukhopadhaya and Justice V Dhanapalan dismissed petition of J Mohanraj, after observing that judges were not experts and the petitioner should move an appropriate forum for remedy. In his submissions, Manikandan, counsel for the petitioner, said Google Earth mapped the terrain of India upto 200 metres in contravention of the National Mapping Policy and the National Security Act. The Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Survey of India are the only two authorities responsible for mapping the country, he said. Noting that many countries have complained about the Google Earth application, he said that pursuant to the controversy the internet company had agreed to “fuzzy and low-resolution or distorted” images of sensitive military and scientific establishments on the web. He said former President APJ Abdul Kalam had expressed an apprehension that Google Earth’s imaging would pose a security risk to vital installations in developing countries, which already faced terrorist threats. The judges, however, said that since there were forum created under the TRAI Act 1997, besides the parliament and legislature to take appropriate decisions on national security, it would be desirable to leave the matter to those forums. They shall make an appropriate law in this regard, the bench said and disposed of the petition. (EOM)

HC asks Gujarat govt about status of Union riot relief package
Ahmedabad, Dec 17: The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday asked state government to provide status report regarding the implementation of Central government’s relief package for 2002 riot victims. The decision comes following the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding implementation of the Central relief package for 2002 riot victims, filed today by Gangan Sethi, member of Special Monitoring Group appointed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Yusuf Shaikh, convener of Antarik Visthapit Hakk-Rakshak Samiti and a Vadodara-based NGO working for the rights of riot victims. The division bench of Chief Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Qureshi while admiting the PIL asked the state government to provide status report of the implementation of the Central government’s relief package and scheduled the matter for further hearing on December 30. The court further directed the petitioner to give a copy of the PIL to Central government counsel. The PIL says that Gujarat government has failed to disburse the Central government’s relief package among the families of over 1,169 victims of post Godhra communal violence. Subsequent to the announcement by the Central government to provide additional ex-gratia towards relief and rehabilitation of victims of 2002 communal riots in Gujarat on September 11, 2007, the Gujarat government had passed a resolution on September 24, 2007 for implementation of the package, it added. Bureau Report

Another PIL against Narayan Rane over terror allegations
Press Trust Of India
Mumbai, December 17, 2008
First Published: 19:43 IST(17/12/2008)
Last Updated: 19:46 IST(17/12/2008)
Another PIL has been filed against Congress leader and former Maharashtra revenue minister Narayan Rane, seeking that he disclose the information about politicians’ alleged links with the terrorists.
Rane, who was recently suspended by the party, had alleged in a press conference on December 6 that terrorists who attacked Mumbai last month got “logistical and financial” support from some politicians without revealing any names.
Purushottam Barde, Solapur district president of Shiv Sena, on Wednesday filed PIL in the Bombay High Court, saying that court should direct Rane to reveal more information regarding this.
Also, action should be taken against Rane if the information proved to be false, PIL says.
It also mentions Rane’s another allegation that former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had links with a person connected with fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim. Rane should be forced to reveal information regarding this too, it says.
Earlier Dr Avisha Kulkarni, a social activist, had filed PIL with identical demands following Rane’s allegations.
Both PILs might come up for hearing on Thursday.
Rane, a former Shiv Sena man, fell out with Congress leadership after being denied chief minister’s post when Vilasrao Deshmukh resigned.


Mulayam assets case: Plea says law officers misleading CBI
New Delhi, Dec 16: An application was on Tuesday moved in the Supreme Court alleging that senior law officers of the Centre were giving misleading legal advice to the CBI in the disproportionate assets case against former UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav to please the government. “It is unfortunate for this country that wrong and misleading advice are being given by the senior law officers of the Centre with a view to please the government in place,” Vishwanath Chaturvedi, who had filed a petition seeking CBI probe against Yadav and his kin, said in his fresh application mentioned before a Bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir. He opposed the CBI stand to withdraw its application through which it had sought permission to file the status report on the inquiry into the matter directly before the apex court, without making a reference to the Centre. Chaturvedi, who was accused by Yadav in an open court of filing the PIL against him at the behest of the Congress, alleged that the UPA government was paying the price for the political support it received from the Samajwadi Party during the confidence motion on July 22 in the Lok Sabha. The agency which was asked by the order of March 1, 2007 to conduct preliminary inquiry and submit its report to the government for further steps had filed an application in October 2007 seeking apex court’s permission to place the status report directly before it. However, on December 6, the CBI sought withdrawal of the application saying that the change in stand was based “on the legal advice and directions of the Centre”. Opposing the fresh CBI stand, Chaturvedi sought a direction for the agency to stick to its commitment to file the status report before the apex court alleging that the progress in the case might be guided by political compulsions since the UPA government had proved its majority in parliament with the support of Yadav’s party. “If the CBI will submit its report to the Centre, it (Centre) may proceed in the matter according to its own political compulsion and not depend upon the outcome of the inquiry report,” he said. The CBI in October last year had informed the apex court that a preliminary inquiry undertaken by it disclosed commission of offences by Yadav and his family members. The petitioner sought modification of the March 1, 2007 order to the extent that the CBI will proceed further in the matter without any reference to Centre or state government and submit its inquiry report with the court. Chaturvedi on November 26 had sought a direction to the CBI to register a regular case and proceed with proper investigation under the supervision of the apex court. The apex court had ordered a CBI enquiry on the alleged accumulation of disproportionate assets by Yadav, his sons — Akhilesh, Prateek — and daughter-in-law Dimple. It asked the CBI to examine, whether the allegations made by the petitioner with regard to the disproportionate assets of the Yadavs were true or not and submit a report to the Centre which may take further steps. The apex court had rejected the plea of Yadav and his family that the PIL was motivated and filed by Chaturvedi, who was a Congress activist. “The ultimate test in our view, therefore, is whether the allegations have any substance. An enquiry should not be shut out at the threshold because a political opponent of a person with political differences raises an allegation of commission of offence,” the apex court had observed while ordering the CBI inquiry. Subsequently, the Yadavs filed a review petition but the same could not be adjudicated after Justice A R Lakshmanan (since retired) recused himself from hearing, following an anonymous letter which, according to the judge, virtually questioned his integrity. Bureau Report

Too Deep For The State
The flourishing illegal mining business in Meghalaya could soon turn to uranium deposits and explosives, reports TERESA REHMAN
Seven kilometres from Cherrapunjee, in Meghalaya’s Muriarktang Laitryngew village, 20-year-old Ban Kerlang Swer prepares to enter a 300m “rat-hole” coal mine. A piece of cloth goes over his head and a rubber tyre tube is secured to his back to shield him in the pit. Another piece of tubing attaches a torch to his forehead. “This is my guiding light,” he smiles.Swer has on a pair of gumboots, common in a high-rainfall area like Cherrapunjee, but that’s about all he wears for protective gear. Equipped with the most rudimentary of tools — a pickaxe, a bamboo trolley, a basket and a lit candle — this Class VIII drop-out is oblivious to the high methane content of the pit he is about to enter. Instead, he will rely on his candle to tell him how much oxygen he has left — when the flame goes out, he’ll have to run.Meghalaya is stippled with thousands of mines of the kind Swer works in, and not one of them is legal. In no other state is illicit mining as unabashed or as entrenched as it is here, with unregistered coalmines virtually a cottage industry. A Sixth Schedule state, Meghalaya has three autonomous district councils with which the government — by law, the sole authority to lease and license mines — is to share revenue collected from licensed mine owners. Traditional institutions, however, openly flout mining norms, and customary heads like the Syiem of the Khasis, the Dolloi of the Jyantias and the Nokma of the Garos let out land at will to private operators. This is a gross misinterpretation of the Sixth Schedule, says LH Changte, Assistant Controller of Mines and Officer-in-Charge, Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM). “Just because the land belongs to the tribals does not mean that the minerals underground also belong to them. All minerals belong to the State.”Starting a mine here is literally a matter of ‘finders takers’. Sampain Buhsan, owner of a mine at Cherrapunjee, narrates how in the Khasi hills most mining is done on public land owned by the Syiem. “We usually start digging wherever we see blackish slate because we know from experience that it’s a potential coalmine,” he says. “We register for Rs 100 with the village headman, who conducts a survey to verify whether we’ve found a new mine and ensures there’s a 20-feet gap between two mines. It is a gamble for us when we invest as it’s quite possible we may not find any coal.”A source of great hazard in the conflict-torn Northeast is these mines’ use of explosives. Most mine owners procure gelatine sticks and detonators on the black market from licensed contractors. Officially, only a district commissioner has the authority to issue an explosives licence, on which the mine owner has to submit a day-to-day account of the explosives used. But when the mines are illegal, such bureaucratic vigil becomes irrelevant.Accidents in the rat-hole mines go unreported and no one is willing to dwell on even a minor mishap. When he was a mason, Belawan Star Majaw, 26, used to earn Rs 1,200 a week; as a miner, he now earns Rs 2,800. Majaw first entered the mines when he was seven. “I went in with experienced people and had nothing to fear,” he says. “It’s difficult work but I’m willing to continue with it so long as I earn my money.”The environmental toll of the illegal mines also has civil society groups worried. Recently, the Chitmang Hills Anti-Mining Forum, a conglomeration of eight NGOs led by the influential Garo Students Union, initiated a protest against illegal mining in the vicinity of the Garo Hills’ Balpakram National Park. Points out Forum spokesperson Arpan Sarma, “Any legal mining activity needs environmental clearance at three levels.” The mine owners of Meghalaya, obviously, have none. The proposed Balpakram mining has the approval of the Garo Nokma but has taken no other environmental or pollution control clearance and has provided no clarity about the status of the land proposed to be mined within the national park.Brian Kharpran Daly is the general secretary of the Meghalaya Adventurers Association, which has filed a Supreme Court PIL over the degradation to the state’s unparalleled caves that illegal mining poses. “We have identified over 1,150 caves, and explored and mapped over 700,” he told TEHELKA. “Some are as long as 31 kms, and we are discovering new ones every year. Coal and limestone mining are destroying these vast underground systems.” While indiscriminate limestone mining removes the roofs of the caves, unscientific coal mining leads to deforestation. With the area’s heavy rainfall, massive soil erosion is a logical consequence. This soil finds its way into the caves and chokes out all that lives inside them. “Some of these life forms have not even been documented,” says Daly. “Today with global climate changes, these caves offer a vast array both in terms of biodiversity and for the study of fossils, which are the evidences of thousands of years.”Apart from hazards to miners and the environment, what makes such unregulated mining activity of grave issue is the fact that Meghalaya is rich in uranium. Instances abound of people caught trying to smuggle “yellow cake” or uranium ore. In a time of globally heightened security concerns, no monitoring of what is actually mined can spell disaster.
Tackling Meghalaya’s illegal mining is no easy task, as Changte rues. “If a mine is not legal, neither the IBM nor other Central agencies like the Directorate of Mines Safety or the Controller of Explosives have any control over it and they cannot inspect or monitor it,” he says. “Even the police cannot do anything because such a mine’s offences do not come under the CrPC. Our hands are tied.”Interestingly, the Meghalaya government collects royalties from illicit mine operators and even issues them receipts, thus not only encouraging them but making itself a collaborator. Although the state government is now drafting guidelines to regulate unscientific mining, its politicians are believed to be sponsored by the mine owners and so, perhaps, a firm policy on mining is not to be expected.As a possible solution, Changte suggests setting up a legal-mining NGO. “The government needs to convince both mine operators and landowners that systematic and scientific mining will be more profitable and will yield higher recovery rates,” he says. Moreover, if the coal is sold outside Meghalaya, any sensible customer will ask for a mining lease. And the possession of a legal mining lease will also help in the mechanisation process as banks and financial institutions will then be willing to invest. A legal mine operator can even apply for an explosives license.As of now, however, operating an illegal mine is far easier in Meghalaya than running a legal enterprise because of the deep-rooted corruption of the industry in the state and the many stakeholders involved in it. Lack of mining reforms and failing institutions have put in place a system of mayhem that is can only be detrimental to our national resources.

Govt reluctant to enforce TRS
16 Dec 2008, 0421 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande, TNN
MUMBAI: Despite the growing number of private vehicles in the city, the government is reluctant to enforce a Traffic Restraint Scheme (TRS) that

envisages 15-20% vehicles off the city roads on any given day by rotation. London, Athens and Mexico have implemented TRS successfully, but according to a committee headed by former DGP, P S Pasricha, it was not practical in a city like Mumbai. The government had informed the Bombay High Court that unless the infrastructure and public transport system were strengthened, there was no incentive to avoid the use of private vehicles. But the PIL has been pending on the issue, with little progress. Debi Goenka of the Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG), who has been pushing for the TRS scheme since 2001, said that reducing the number of vehicles through TRS doesn’t require any investment.
“The BEAG, which took over Dr Sandeep Rane’s PIL against vehicular pollution, has been advocating an upgrade in public transportation and its use to curb pollution,” he said. The PIL is now expected to be heard on January 21, 2009.

I-T fuel to assets case fire
Ranchi, Dec. 15: The income tax (I-T) department today told Jharkhand High Court that it was “aware of the assets acquired by ministers of the state that were disproportionate to their incomes”.
I-T officer Ranjit Kumar Lal, in an affidavit, said his department had the information of the properties acquired by ministers Bhanu Pratap Sahi, Kamlesh Singh, Bandhu Tirkey, Dulal Bhuiyan and former minister Chandra Prakash Choudhary — and maintained that an investigation to find out the sources was on.
Lal further stated that more documents had to be scrutinised before a consensus could be obtained.
Earlier, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra and Justice Ajit Kumar Sinha had directed the I-T department to file a status report in the matter and inform the court of the developments. A similar order was directed to the vigilance department to probe into the income and assets of Hari Narayan Rai and Anosh Ekka. The vigilance report would be discussed on January 22, 2009.
The case of disproportionate assets of ministers began with a PIL filed by one Durga Oraon. Oraon, in a supplementary affidavit, had revealed properties acquired by water resources minister Kamlesh Singh in the name of his wife Madhu Singh and children Surya Sonal Singh and Ankita Singh in Edalhatu on the outskirts of Ranchi.
Singh allegedly also owns property in prime locations across the state capital — including a duplex in Aastha Regency Apartment at Piska More and three acres at Katahal More in Ratu Block. Most of the properties are registered in the names of his family members.
Oraon has also named former minister Chandra Prakash Choudhary of acquiring assets worth crores in Ramgarh. The affidavit alleges that Choudhary has floated a construction company with an Ahmedabad link and is allegedly funding real estate projects.
Health minister Bhanu Pratap Sahi has also been accused of amassing assets in Uttar Pradesh and Gurgaon. Oraon has alleged that Sahi has purchased land at Rapasganj in Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. Sahi is also said to be constructing a shopping mall in Gurgaon and is pegged to have property over Rs 100 crore.
Oraon’s PIL also mentions former chief minister Madhu Koda and his friend Binod Sinha as owners of properties beyond their disclosed income. Both Koda and Sinha have properties in India and abroad that have been purchased through illegal means — the PIL alleges.

Jurists call for quick implementation of police reforms
New Delhi, Dec 15: Eminent jurists and former police officers on Monday asked the Centre and state governments to quickly implement the police reforms laid out by the Supreme Court and lamented “too much politicisation” of police force.
Highlighting the need for resolving the issue of political interference in the police forces’ functioning, the eminent citizens said it was imperative for the Monitoring Committee to more aggressively pursue its mandate to hold the administration accountable for its inaction. Former Solicitor General Soli Sorabjee, speaking at a discussion on Citizens for Police Reforms here, favoured approaching the Supreme Court over the failure of state and Central governments to implement the police reforms which favours greater accountability and transparency for police force. “The two most important Supreme Court directives involve giving the DG of police two-year tenure and setting up a Police Establishment Board. If the Supreme Court is not respected in this regard, contempt proceedings should be initiated. If any state refuses to obey it, they should be taken to task,” Sorabjee said. He said “there has been too much of politicisation of the police force and many good police officers are not able to do their rightful duty because they are concerned about their tenure”. The speakers, who included former Chief Justice of India J S Verma and former NSG Director-General Ved Marwah, said it is imperative for the Monitoring Committee, set up by the Supreme Court to report on states’ compliance with its directives, to more aggressively pursue its mandate to hold states and the Central government accountable for their inaction. They also called for “requisite” political will to enact the necessary changes in the law-enforcement agency. Sorabjee also favoured an independent merit-based procedure to select the DGP and a minimum fixed term of two years should be ensured so that he can do his job without any fear of transfer. “The Monitoring Committee should have completed its work in six months and it is not fair on its part to have taken so much time to complete its work,” Verma said, adding that the Mumbai attacks should be “used” to build up pressure on the Governments to act urgently on implementing the police re0forms. “The time for discussing reforms had long passed. Rather, the focus should be on practically implementing the necessary changes that will ensure better delivery of policing services,” Verma said. Sorabjee, who headed the latest Police Reforms Commission, said a Police Welfare Board should be established to take care of the basic necessities of the police personnel. Marwah said he was disappointed that notwithstanding the repeated recommendations from various committees, it appears that the requisite political will is absent to enact the necessary changes. The police should be given necessary training and should be provided with better resources and weapons, the former Solicitor general, who has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court on the issue, said. Verma said security for people who take it as a status symbol should be removed. These three eminent personalities are among the 40 citizens who signed an open letter last week addressed to all Indian politicians that was endorsed by former Prime Minister I K Gujral among others. Bureau Report

Maharashtra to probe top cops’ lapses during Mumbai attack
17 Dec 2008, 1852 hrs IST, PTI
NAGPUR: Maharashtra government on Wednesday announced a high-level probe against director general of police A N Roy and commissioner of police Mumbai Hasan Gafoor over their alleged lapses during the Mumbai terror attack, a day after opposition Shiv Sena-BJP demanded their removal. The announcement about the probe against the two senior police officials was made by chief minister Ashok Chavan in the assembly here on Wednesday after home minister Jayant Patil replied to a debate on the Mumbai terror attack in the House. The Sena-BJP had in the state legislature on Tuesday criticised the Maharashtra government for the Mumbai terror attacks and demanded removal of Roy and Gafoor, along with home secretary Chitkala Zutshi, accusing them of being responsible for the alleged lapses. Leader of the opposition Ramdas Kadam said the three top police officers, including ATS chief Hemant Karkare, who lost their lives were wearing sub-standard bullet proof jackets and Inspector Vijay Salaskar, an encounter specialist, was not having a AK-47 rifle. Earlier today, Patil said Maharashtra government will set up a special court in consultation with Chief Justice of Bombay High Court to try cases related to the terror attack. The chargesheet against perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack will be filed within seven days, he said. Advocate Ujwal Nikam has been appointed as special public prosecutor in the case, he informed the House. The government would also set up a state security council under the chairmanship of the chief minister, Patil said.

Congress learnt from experience in fighting terror: Sibal
17 Dec 2008, 1808 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Union science and technology minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday said Congress had learnt lessons from its past experience in fighting terrorism but emphasised that the proposed anti-terror laws were not “a replica of POTA”. “In life, as in politics, nothing is static…. ideologies change. We all learn from experience,” Sibal said during the debate in Lok Sabha on the proposed amendments to the Unlawful Activities Act and the Bill for formation of a National Investigation Agency. Leader of Opposition L K Advani had in his speech during the debate accused the Congress of “waking up” after “7-8 years” to the need for an anti-terror law and being “soft” on terror. Sibal was replying to Advani. He emphasised that this legislation was not a move by the government to bring back POTA in another garb. “This law is not a replica of POTA,” he said adding, it would have no provision of admissibility of any confession made to a police officer. Refuting BJP’s oft-repeated charge that Congress was soft on terror, the eminent lawyer said, “You (BJP) should remember that we brought TADA. If anybody has faced terrorism, it is the Congress party.” He added that when the Congress realised that TADA was being misused, it let the Act lapse. Sibal said India was not soft on terror and had more stringent anti-terror laws than the US and the UK. “The Patriot Act in the US is applicable to non-citizens…In the UK, a person can be kept under detention only for 28 days. Under our law, the detention will be for 180 days,” he said. The debate saw BJP and Congress sparring with each other to score points over who had fought terror better in the past.

Admit mistake of not bringing tough law earlier, Advani tells UPA
17 Dec 2008, 1806 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Seeking to appropriate the credit for the new anti-terror laws, BJP on Wednesday said the Congress-led coalition should accept its “mistake” of not bringing such legislations earlier and alleged that the delay has “harmed” the country a lot. “You have woken from the slumber of ‘Kumbhakarna’ of the last 7-8 years. I want you to accept that you were wrong and it was a mistake,” leader of opposition L K Advani said in the Lok Sabha making a scathing attack on the Government’s policy so far on tackling terror. Advani told the Congress that it has done a U-turn on the issue in the wake of the outrage caused by the Mumbai terror strikes and reminded the treasury benches that the BJP-led NDA has been a votary of strong anti-terror laws. “I find nothing wrong in the new legislations and we support it in principle, but there are certain lacunae which need to be addressed,” he said. Noting that he was satisfied with the measures, but was “not happy” as the steps have come after much delay, he told the Government that media was dubbing the development as “old wine in new bottle and UPA returns to POTA”. He alleged that the main flaw in the government’s handling of terror so far was that it treated terrorism as a law and order problem. Taking a dig at the Congress which had dubbed the POTA as “anti-minority”, Advani said maybe as the new laws were brought about by the UPA, the party felt it would not be considered to be against the minorities. The situation the country was finding itself in today was not different from that of war, Advani said and asserted that it should be faced with unity and above all, a will to win. “If the two laws indeed mean that you have turned a new leaf and you have taken a new turn, I will be very happy,” he said regretting that anti-terror law was earlier being treated as an “anti-minority” law. The former home minister also wanted the bills to have provisions that memberships of banned organisations like SIMI should be construed as a terrorist act. “And we have a strange situation that members of the cabinet keep on defending SIMI”. Turning to the issue of delay in the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, Advani said such delay sends a wrong message the world that India is a soft country. Describing Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism, he took exception to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remark sometime back that Pakistan was itself a “victim of terrorism”. He also disapproved of the joint mechanism between India and Pakistan to fight terror. The leader of opposition said that in the last Lok Sabha elections, Congress and its allies had made POTA an issue and promised to scrap it if elected. Pointing out that TADA was brought when P Chidambaram was minister of state for home, Advani said the BJP never made any demand of scrapping TADA but just warned against its misuse.

Antulay raises doubts over Karkare’s killing
17 Dec 2008, 1916 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Union minority affairs minister A R Antulay set off a major controversy on Wednesday when he raised doubts over the killing of Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare by Pakistani terrorists, suggesting a link with the Malegaon blasts that were investigated by him. ( Watch ) Opposition parties were quick to attack the minister for his “misdemeanour” and demanded immediate clarification from the prime minister but the Congress party distanced itself saying they were his “personal remarks”. BJP and Shiv Sena members raked up the issue in Lok Sabha and demanded home minister P Chidambaram, who had moved two anti-terror bills, to clarify the situation. Maintaining that “there is more than what meets the eyes”, Antulay said Karkare was investigating some cases in which “there are non-Muslims also”, an apparent reference to the Malegaon blasts case in which sadhvi Pragya Thakur and a Lt-Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit were among the 11 persons to be arrested. “Unfortunately his end came. It may be a separate inquiry how his (Karkare’s) end came,” he told reporters outside Parliament. Antulay said “Karkare found that there are non-Muslims involved in the acts of terrorism during his investigations in some cases. Any person going to the roots of terror has always been the target, he said. “Superficially speaking they (terrorists) had no reason to kill Karkare. Whether he (Karkare) was victim of terrorism or terrorism plus something. I do not know,” he added. When he came under attack in Lok Sabha on the issue, Antulay sought to wriggle out saying he had not talked about who killed Karkare but about “who sent him in the direction” of Cama hospital, outside which he was killed. “Who had sent them to Cama hospital (a lane opposite which he and two other officers were killed by Pakistani terrorists on Nov 26). What were they told that made them leave for the same spot in the same vehicle. “I repeat what I had said. I had not said who had killed them but only questioned who had sent them there (Cama Hospital) in that direction,” he said in Lok Sabha where BJP and Shiv Sena members attacked him for his remarks. Anant Geete of Shiv Sena accused him of “misleading” the house and sought Chidambaram’s clarification. Earlier in the day, describing Hemant Karkare as a very bold officer having great acumen and vision, Antulay asked “How come instead of going to Hotel Taj or Oberai or even the Nariman House, he went to such a place where there was nothing compared to what happened in the three places?” “Why all the three (Hemant Karakre, Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte) went together. It is beyond my comprehension,” the minister said. The minister’s remarks came under immediate attack from BJP which asked the prime minister to clarify whether his remarks are an “individual misdemeanour or the collective wisdom of the Cabinet”. “The remarks are obnoxious and deserves a clarification from the prime minister,” BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters. Reacting to Antulay’s remarks, Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi they should be treated his “personal views” and Congress party does not agree with them and does not support such a formulation. To a question, he said there was no question of embarrassment to the party. Samajwadi Party MP Amar Singh, who himself was in the centre of a controversy when he had raised doubts over the killing of a Delhi police official in an encounter recently, said a senior leader like Antulay should before issuing any statement uphold the cherished tradition of collective wisdom of the cabinet. Not completely disapproving the remarks, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said Antulay must be having “more information” since he hails from Maharashtra. The issue came up when the house was discussing two bills brought in by the government to tackle terror against the backdrop of Mumbai terror attacks. Geete said the prime minister and several senior union ministers have gone on record to say that Karkare was killed by terrorists. Not satisfied with Antulay’s reply, Geete charged the union minister with “misleading” the house, which he “did not “expect”.

Parliament debates tough anti-terror bills
17 Dec 2008, 1508 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Parliament on Wednesday opened the debate on tougher anti-terrorism laws and a plan to set up an FBI-style agency designed to plug gaping security holes exposed by last month’s Mumbai attacks. ( Watch ) Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said in the Lok Sabha that government has sought to make a “fair balance” of respect for fundamental rights and the demand of the people for tough provisions while bringing forward two legislations to fight terror effectively. Moving the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Bill and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendments Bills for consideration in the House, he appealed to the members to pass the bills unanimously and promised to rectify defects in the legislation, if any, in the next session in February. “We will do our best to satisfy your aspirations. Let us pass these two bills,” he said in a brief speech commending for consideration the two bills, which were introduced in the House yesterday. Dealing with some of the provisions of the bill, he said notwithstanding the constitution of the NIA it would still respect the state government’s right to investigate cases and would even associate them in such investigation. “We have struck a balance between right of the Central government and the state governments to decide on investigation,” the minister said. In the UAPA bill, he said even while making tough provisions the Courts have been given the powers to decide on the prosecution’s case in the matter of bail and presumption of guilt on the accused in some specific cases. Home Minister P Chidambaram had introduced the two draft legislations in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The legislation includes provisions allowing police to hold suspects for up to 180 days, rather than the current 90 days, and allows for a financial clampdown on suspects. Last week, making a statement in the Lok Sabha on the Mumbai attacks, Chidambaram had members to pass the bills to tone up the security and prosecution apparatus in this session itself. The current session will conclude on December 23.

Three SC judges take oath
17 Dec 2008, 1226 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court Collegium finally having its way overlooking Centre’s reservations, Asok Kumar Ganguly, R M Lodha and H L Dattu were on Wednesday sworn in as judges of the apex court. Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan administered the oath to them at a simple ceremony in his court. With this, the number of judges in the apex court has risen to 24 against the sanctioned strength of 26. The elevation of Ganguly, Lodha and Dattu — Chief Justices of Kerala, Madras and Patna High Courts as judges of the Supreme Court, was mired in controversy as the Centre had asked the Collegium headed by the CJI to reconsider the decision, taking into account the seniority of three other Chief Justices of High Courts. The Centre had pointed out that the collegium overlooked the case of their seniors, Delhi HC Chief Justice A P Shah, Madhya Pradesh HC Chief Justice A K Patnaik and Uttarakhand HC Chief Justice V K Gupta, for appointment to the apex court. However, the Collegium, comprising five senior most judges of the apex court, refused to reconsider the decision and persisted with the names already recommended by them. With no option left, the names were forwarded by the Centre to President Pratibha Patil who approved their appointments. The CJI had contended that seniority was only one among several criteria for promoting judges to the top court and stressed the importance of merit.

Govt disapproves of ‘non-state’ law enforcers like Salwa Judum
17 Dec 2008, 1221 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: In a virtual disapproval of anti-Naxalite group ‘Salwa Judum’ in Chhattisgarh, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said the Centre was not in favour of “non-state” actors taking the job of law enforcement in their hands. “We are not in favour of non-state actors taking law enforcement in their hands,” he said replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha. Chidambaram was asked by D Raja of CPI if the Centre would consider asking the Chhattisgarh government to disband Salwa Judum, a counter-Naxalite vigilante group launched in Dantewada district in 2005. “Law and order and law enforcement is the responsibility of the state government… we do not approve of non-state actors taking over the responsibility,” he said. He, however, refused to go into legality of the group saying the matter was before the Supreme Court. Chidambaram said Salwa Judum was an organisation which apparently had the support of the state government and Centre had nothing to do with it. On the continued detention of human rights activist and doctor Binayak Sen in Chhattisgarh since May 2007, he said the matter was under his consideration.

Govt moves bill on NIA
17 Dec 2008, 0056 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: With BJP extending support to a central agency to investigate terror crimes, the Manmohan Singh government moved swiftly on Tuesday to introduce a bill to set up a National Investigation Agency backed by tough anti-terror laws within 15 hours of obtaining approval of the Union Cabinet. Seeking to ride on the support for NIA in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, home minister P Chidambaram introduced the NIA Bill, 2008, which has sought to provide a very wide-ranging ambit for the proposed agency to “investigate and prosecute” offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of the country. Even as speculation mounted through the day about when the bill would be introduced, Chidambaram entered the Lok Sabha just past 3 pm as a discussion on a bill on unorganised labour was in progress. With a handful of MPs in the House and a sparsely populated press gallery, he sought leave to introduce the bill. By 3.10 pm, he had done so and also introduced a bill to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The NIA Bill is expected to be taken up for discussion on Wednesday and may well be passed into law by the end of the week. After the Lok Sabha clears it, the Rajya Sabha will take it up immediately after. The schedule listing the Acts under which offences can be probed by NIA include the Atomic Energy act, UAPA, Anti-Hijacking Act and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act. The quick-footedness, brushing aside the sensitivity about treading on the powers that have been cherished by states and pushing reluctant elements in UPA while sealing BJP support highlighted the shift in discourse on terrorism after 26/11. With Congress keen to signal that is serious about terrorism, the NIA will be another step in consonance with the process that began with the sacking of Shivraj Patil, and was followed by the appointment of Chidambaram as home minister, decapitation of the Maharashtra government and some tough diplomacy on Pakistan. Confounded that its terror plank did not cut ice with Delhi voters, and failed in Rajasthan too, BJP quickly extended support. The Opposition party argued that the Centre’s “reluctant and incomplete” step towards an effective anti-terror regime was a vindication of its campaign for strong laws. The NIA is not short of ammunition to trigger a debate on the touchy subject of Centre-state relations. The NIA bill empowers the Centre to take suo motu decision if an offence was a federal offence, relegating the opinion of state to a secondary consideration in case of a difference of opinion. This issue has been a point of discord since the agency was mooted. The Left announced it would seek amendments to demand that states should be, as a rule, associated with NIA probes. As of now the bill says states “may” be associated. The Cabinet, which cleared the NIA and amendments to UAPA late on Monday night, saw the provisions for admissibility of evidence being rejected alongwith putting the onus of proof on the accused. Chidambaram was keen to include the admissibility of confessions, but this ran into political opposition from ministers like Lalu Prasad and Ramvilas Paswan. The option for a special law was also ruled out. Some of these apprehensions were articulated by minority affairs minister A R Antulay after the bill was brought in Parliament, as he “did not rule out the possibility of the law being misused”. He demanded that the same law be made applicable for communal riots. Congress’s push on terror front is clearly a bid to usurp the plank from BJP in the wake of breather given by its victories in Delhi and Rajasthan. Since then, the party had maintained a tough stance on Pakistan as well. The BJP bid to claim the original authorship on the government’s first tangible anti-terror move is clearly aimed to claim some credit and also argue that it had been more clear-eyed in assessing the dangers posed by terrorism. While Mumbai has hammered home the reality of terrorism as a national threat, reining in UPA allies prone to make a religious issue of it, the turnaround in Congress’s fortunes has also helped in stalling the armtwisting. NIA, which would be be headed by a Director General at par with the DGPs of states, would deal with offences of terrorism, counterfeit currency, violation of SAARC conventions like human trafficking, narcotics and organised crime, plane hijacking and violations of atomic energy act and weapons of mass destruction act among others.

UAPA retains most of POTA’s stringent provisions
17 Dec 2008, 0056 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: POTA is almost back. Though the anti-terror law the government has sought to legislate does not have a few key provisions of POTA like admissibility of confessions, many other aspects like use of wiretaps as evidence and stringent bail conditions are now set to be part of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The Mumbai attacks have done what 20 other jihadi strikes on the Indian mainland outside Jammu and Kashmir in four years could not do. The political opposition and Congress’s own lack of apetite for hard anti-terror laws melted before the staggering scale of the Lashkar-e-Taiba strikes on Mumbai. Detention without bail for upto 180 days instead of 90 days, police custody of accused upto 30 days instead of 15 and life imprisonment for those involved in terror acts are some of the provisions in the UAPA which were part of POTA. The bill has, however, not revisited one of the most stringent provisions of POTA — treating confession before police as evidence. As far as banning an organisation or freezing its assets are concerned, the bill, unlike POTA, has taken into consideration the existing resolutions of the UN Security Council. Accordingly, it provides for extending ban on any outfit which has already been proscribed by the world body. Considering this, if Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a banned outfit in the UNSC list, it will automatically come under the category of proscribed organisation in India. Referring to bail provisions and extension of detention to 180 days, the bill has taken into account the difficulties faced by investigating agencies in completing the probe within the stipulated 90-day period — particularly in terror-related cases which generally have inter-state ramifications. The extension is, however, only limited to Indians involved in terror acts. The amendment is not so kind to foreigners who will be denied bail until proven innocent. Even an Indian national accused in a terror-related case cannot be released on bail or on his own bond unless the public prosecutor has been given an opportunity of being heard on the application for such release. The bill says that the court shall presume, unless the contrary is shown, that the accused has committed an offence for which he has been arrested, including possession of arms or explosives with a belief that these or such substances were used in the commission of a terror act. The amendment also provides for freezing, seizing and attaching funds and other financial assets or economic resources held by individuals or entities engaged in or suspected to be engaged in terrorism. In case of monetary instruments, the proposed law has also for the first time included “seizure of credit or debit cards (or cards that serve a similar purpose)” as ones to be considered as evidence. Currently, only coins, currency, postal orders, traveller’s cheques and banker’s drafts come under the category of being freezed and seized, besides bank accounts. A new section has been inserted in the bill which says that those using explosives, firearms, lethal weapons, poisonous chemicals, biological or radiological weapons with the intention of aiding, abetting or committing terror act “shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years”. The bill says that every offence punishable under this Act shall be deemed to be congnisable offence. The bill says that anyone in India or in a foreign country who directly or indirectly raises or collects funds or provides funds for a terrorist act shall be punishable with at least five years imprisonment, which may extend to life. A similar punishment has been provided in the bill for those organising camps for training in terrorism, and also for those recruiting persons for commission of a terrorist act. Such provisions will specifically help cops to prosecute all those who were arrested in south India this year for not only running training camps in Karnataka, Kerala and Gujarat but also recruting cadres from far-flung areas. Since all these provisions are currently missing in the existing Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, it is believed that the new provisions will further widen the net for the cops to investigate different facets of terrorism. Even the home minister admitted this while introducing the bill while stating the statement of objects and reasons for the proposed amendments. Referring to various suggestions for making the existing anti-terror law more tough, the statement clearly mentioned that the government was of the view that further provisions were required to be made in the law to cover various facets of terrorism and terrorist activities including financial terrorism which are not fully covered under the current law.

‘Rescue efforts had hit language barrier’
17 Dec 2008, 0033 hrs IST, Sukhbir Siwach, TNN
CHANDIGARH: As a member of the National Security Guards team that cracked down on terrorists in Mumbai, Sunil Kumar Yadav, the 29-year-old Armyman from Pataudi is out of danger, but he is still fighting the demons of post-26/11. Yadav, who is recuperating from injuries he suffered during the operation at the Taj hotel, says while fighting the terrorists, hitting a language barrier was something the ace NSG commandos least expected. “More than killing the terrorists, it was rescuing a foreigner that proved to be difficult,” Yadav told TOI on Tuesday. Home again, the Haryana commando, who spent six of his eight years of service in Army in Jammu & Kashmir, recalled the hours inside the Taj. “This (foreigner) lady was causing quite a tumult inside the room but wouldn’t open the door. So, we had to break it open. We found her huddled under the bed. But she refused to come out, taking us for terrorists. I had to summon a guide from the hotel to explain things to her,” he says. Rated as one of the best NSG commandos within a year of his duty with the organisation, Yadav and his team rescued more than 150 hostages from the Taj. “Inside (the hotel), it was worse than encounters we have in the Kashmir valley. We had no idea which rooms the terrorists were in and saving the civilians was a priority.” Part of the team led by Maj Sandeep Unnikrishanan, Yadav was the first commando to get injured in the operation. “On the (November) 27th evening, a woman was injured in the terrorist attack on the third floor. I was hit while trying to pull her to saftey. Two bullets hit my ribs and another crossed through my jacket.” He has only one regret, he couldn’t fight for his country till the end. “We are proud of him,” says his mother Rajesh Yadav, adding, “My heart started beating fast when I came to know that he had been shot. I wanted to fly out to be with him.” For now, the braveheart is happy to be with his family and a two-year-old son. But he secretly hopes he recovers soon and goes back to doing what he does the best.

French turban ban challenged in UN
17 Dec 2008, 0050 hrs IST, I P Singh, TNN

JALANDHAR: A Sikh advocacy group has challenged the French government’s ban on turbans before the United Nations Human Rights Committee. United

Sikhs, which filed the challenge on December 15, told TOI that since France passed a law in 2004 banning the wearing of religious symbols, including the Sikh turban, to public schools, three cases had been moved before the UN. ”We’re asking the UN to deliver Sikhs in France their rights under Articles 2, 17, 12, 18 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which are derived from the inherent dignity of the human person,” said legal director of United Sikhs Mejindarpal Kaur in a statement. ”Under the ICCPR, France may restrict these fundamental rights on only the most compelling grounds, and may do so only so far as absolutely necessary. We submit that France has not made out a compelling case for denying a Sikh the right to wear a turban,” she added. United Sikhs’ staff attorney Jaspreet Singh said one of the applicants, Bikramjit Singh, was 18 years old when he was expelled from school in 2004 after France passed the law. The other two applicants are Shingara Mann Singh (52) and Ranjit Singh (70) who were denied renewals of ID documents because they refused to remove their turbans to get identity photographs clicked. While Shingara Mann Singh, who held a French passport for 15 years, was refused replacement passport by French authorities in 2005 as he refused to remove the turban for his pensioner photo ID, Ranjit Singh has been deprived of health care since 2002 for want of renewal of his residence card with a similar condition. Their cases were dismissed by French courts and then by European Court of Human Rights. ”In essence, France is insisting that the applicants expose themselves not only at the time the photograph is taken, but also each and every time they have to produce their ID. France’s insistence that the applicants choose between repeated violations of their religious beliefs, with the attendant shame and humiliation, and being unable to travel (and transact) freely inside and outside France is unjustifiable,” lawyers commented on the ID cases.

French turban ban challenged in UN
17 Dec 2008, 0050 hrs IST, I P Singh, TNN
JALANDHAR: A Sikh advocacy group has challenged the French government’s ban on turbans before the United Nations Human Rights Committee. United Sikhs, which filed the challenge on December 15, told TOI that since France passed a law in 2004 banning the wearing of religious symbols, including the Sikh turban, to public schools, three cases had been moved before the UN. ”We’re asking the UN to deliver Sikhs in France their rights under Articles 2, 17, 12, 18 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which are derived from the inherent dignity of the human person,” said legal director of United Sikhs Mejindarpal Kaur in a statement. ”Under the ICCPR, France may restrict these fundamental rights on only the most compelling grounds, and may do so only so far as absolutely necessary. We submit that France has not made out a compelling case for denying a Sikh the right to wear a turban,” she added. United Sikhs’ staff attorney Jaspreet Singh said one of the applicants, Bikramjit Singh, was 18 years old when he was expelled from school in 2004 after France passed the law. The other two applicants are Shingara Mann Singh (52) and Ranjit Singh (70) who were denied renewals of ID documents because they refused to remove their turbans to get identity photographs clicked. While Shingara Mann Singh, who held a French passport for 15 years, was refused replacement passport by French authorities in 2005 as he refused to remove the turban for his pensioner photo ID, Ranjit Singh has been deprived of health care since 2002 for want of renewal of his residence card with a similar condition. Their cases were dismissed by French courts and then by European Court of Human Rights. ”In essence, France is insisting that the applicants expose themselves not only at the time the photograph is taken, but also each and every time they have to produce their ID. France’s insistence that the applicants choose between repeated violations of their religious beliefs, with the attendant shame and humiliation, and being unable to travel (and transact) freely inside and outside France is unjustifiable,” lawyers commented on the ID cases.

Gram Nyayalayas bill introduced in RS
17 Dec 2008, 0046 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The government on Tuesday introduced the Gram Nyayalayas Bill, 2008 in Rajya Sabha aimed at providing inexpensive justice to villagers at their doorstep. Introducing the bill, law minister H R Bhardwaj said gram nyayalayas would have first class judicial magistrates and “not some lay persons acting as judges
“. Bhardwaj said he had sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s support to appoint at least 3,000 judges, who will be the judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) to the courts and will be called `nyaya adhikaris’. “They will be strictly judicial officers and will draw the same salary and derive the same powers as first class magistrates working under the High Courts,” he said. These courts will be located at the district headquarters and talukas, the minister said. The judges will travel to the villages, work there and dispose of the cases, he added. The cost of litigation will not be on the litigants but would be borne by the state.

House panel wants foreign banks to lend more to poor, farm sector
16 Dec 2008, 2317 hrs IST, Pradeep Thakur, TNN
NEW DELHI: Foreign banks operating in India may soon have to compulsorily diversify into rural areas and earmark at least 10% of their net bank credit to weaker sections of society and the agriculture sector — stipulated as priority sectors. A parliamentary committee on finance on Tuesday said the excuse that these banks don’t have rural presence was not tenable. It said, “These banks must expand their share of agricultural advances under priority sector and also be given specified target for lending to weaker sections without further loss of time.” The tough talk from lawmakers comes after a similar reminder to the finance ministry failed to elicit the desired result. Refusing to set any deadline or target for foreign banks to lend to priority sectors, the government had earlier contended that since foreign banks did not have rural branches, sub-targets for lending for agriculture and weaker sections had not been stipulated for them. The House panel observed that foreign banks had adopted a non-serious approach towards lending to the priority sector. It stressed that credit must reach to the lower layers of society. The finance ministry also came in for severe criticism from lawmakers for not monitoring the guidelines specified for private and public sector banks to achieve the prescribed target of 10% to weaker sections. “The RBI must ensure that banks achieve the targets stipulated under the priority sector advances to weaker sections in letter and spirit,” it said, rejecting the government response that the outstanding credit to weaker sections had gone up. The committee members, deliberating on the issue of credit facility extended by nationalised banks to SCs and STs, recommended stiff action against those who failed to meet the target in lending to priority sector. The mandatory contribution in the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), which is used for priority sector lending, is below target because government pays lesser amount of interest to banks on such deposits. The parliamentary panel, however, said the banks should not be allowed any interest on contribution to RIDF in case they fail to achieve the target. The government had in the past communicated to the banks that failure to achieve priority sector lending would be taken into account for granting regulatory clearances in seeking expansion and for various other purposes.

BJP to back NIA Bill, but says it’s `incomplete’
16 Dec 2008, 2312 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: BJP said it would support the Bill for a National Investigation Agency brought forward by the Manmohan Singh government claiming that it was a “reluctant acceptance” of what the main Opposition party had been campaigning for since the repeal of POTA. BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley said, “We have been calling for a tough investigation and punitive system to deal with terrorism. Some provisions have been toughened and it has been recognised that there is a need to treat terror crimes in a separate category.” While BJP will enable the government to pass the Bill in Parliament, the party is keen to make the point that the law is “incomplete” in the face of the political compulsions of the ruling coalition. “The admissibility of confessions before a senior police officer and a magistrate is not there. This means that the damning account of arrested Mumbai terrorist Ajmal Kasab — on which India has built its case against Pakistan — will not be acceptable in court,” he said. In consultations with the government over the NIA and changes in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, BJP put it across that the agency needed the backing of a strong anti-terrorism law. The party also called for the inclusion of admissibility of confessions given in writing or recorded by electronic devices like tapes and sound tracks. Such confessions should be reproduced before a magistrate and any complaints of torture should be investigated. These provisions were important, said BJP, because producing eye witnesses is not easy in anti-terror cases. “Establishing the Karachi link might be difficult in the case of Kasab if the all that a terrorist divulges is entirely inadmissible in court,” Jaitley said. This would only strengthen Pakistan’s argument that the evidence being quoted is not being considered by courts in India. BJP pointed out that in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, confessional statements under TADA had been excluded from evidence as the eventual conviction was under IPC. But in that case too, no less than 26 persons were sentenced for TADA offences by a special TADA court. The Supreme Court later held that it was difficult to establish that the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi had been carried out with the intention to “overawe the state” as stated under TADA. BJP also called for tough bail conditions, arguing that no person likely to face a death sentence would come back. Bail provisions under TADA and POTA required that the public prosecutor must have the powers to oppose bail which would be granted in rare cases. These provisions exist in MCOCA.

Carbide waste to go: HC
16 Dec 2008, 2220 hrs IST, TNN
JABALPUR: The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Tuesday cleared the decks for disposal of several tonnes of toxic waste accumulated at the world’s biggest industrial disaster site the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal. The high court has set aside objections raised by the Gujarat government and Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) for disposal of the toxic wastes at Ankeleshwar in Gujarat. A Bench of Chief Justice AK Patnaik and Justice Ajit Singh threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against those who objected to the incineration of the toxic waste at Ankeleshwar, putting at rest the over two decades of uncertainty about the disposal of the toxic waste from the now defunct Union Carbide plant. The waste is causing air, soil and water pollution. The high court passed this order in response to a petition moved by one Alok Pratap Singh seeking direction for safe disposal of the toxic waste, which is causing innumerable problems to the people living around the tragedy site of Union Carbide plant in Bhopal after both Central and state governments refused to take responsibility. The world’s biggest industrial disaster struck the Union Carbide plant in the early hours of December 3, 1984, when deadly methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the plant leading to the death of more than 3,000 people. Earlier, when the matter was taken up before the court after due considerations, Ankeleshwar was identified as the ideal location where the toxic waste could be incinerated without causing environmental pollution. The Gujarat government had also given its consent, said counsel for the petitioner Naman Nagrath. However, in subsequent hearings, the Gujarat government and GPCB did a volte face citing environmental pollution. The court while taking it very seriously sought a report from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) whether the claim of the GPCB was right or not. The CPCB, in its report, cleared the matter making it amply clear that Ankeleshwar was the ideal place for incineration of the toxic waste lying in the Union Carbide plant. While accepting its report, the court has given its stamp of approval for disposal of the toxic waste at Ankleshwar and threatened to initiate contempt of court proceedings against those who pose any hurdle in the way of its disposal. According to counsel, a 10-member taskforce under the Central government would monitor the entire process of disposal of over 350 tonnes of loose toxic waste in the factory site. In the first phase, toxic waste in the factory site would be disposed of and in the next phase, the remains of the defunct factory would the dismantled and in the third and last phase, the rest of the ground would be cleared enabling the people there lead a pollution-free life, Nagrath added.

Rizwan case: Industrialist Ashok Todi’s bail plea rejected
17 Dec 2008, 1143 hrs IST, PTI
KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday rejected the bail plea of industrialist Ashok Todi, main accused in the Rizwanur Rahman case. ( Watch ) Hearing his bail plea after a division bench differed on the issue, Justice B P Sengupta rejected the application. A bench comprising Justice Amit Talukdar and Justice P S Banerjee had differed on whether to grant bail to Todi, with the former being in favour and latter against. The matter had then been assigned to Justice Sengupta by Chief Justice S S Nijjar. Justice Sengupta agreed with Justice Banerjee’s view that as Ashok Todi is the main accused and there is a strong prima facie case against him, bail should not granted at this stage. Ashok Todi and his two relatives, Rizwanur’s family friend Pappu and three police officers have been accused of abetment to suicide, criminal intimidation and conspiracy, by the CBI in connection with the death of Rizwanur. The computer graphics designer’s body was found besides a railway track a month after his marriage to Todi’s daughter, Priyanka, in August 2007.

Protests in Mumbai after lawyer offers to defend Kasab
17 Dec 2008, 1455 hrs IST, PTI
MUMBAI: A mob on Wednesday protested outside advocate K B N Lam’s south Mumbai residence after he offered to defend Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist caught in the recent terror attack here. A mob, suspected to be Shiv Sainiks, started protesting outside Lam’s house in Breach Candy, shouting slogans and holding posters against the lawyer, police officials said. Lam, who has been a barrister at London’s Lincoln Inn, had a few days back offered to appear for Ajmal stating that every accused has the right to be defended. Last week, a similar protest targeted senior criminal lawyer Ashok Sarogi who had said he was approached to appear for Ajmal and that he will take a decision on it within few days. However, a few hours later, Sarogi had said he would not be appearing for the terrorist citing ethical constraints.

HC’s nod to composting units at Patto
17 Dec 2008, 0458 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa on Tuesday granted permission to the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) to use the composting
units at Patto, Panaji to process the city’s garbage. In a related order, the court directed the CCP to refrain from using the anaerobic digester system (ADS) at Patto. The CCP had sought to know from the court whether the court’s previous orders regarding the site would prevent the corporation from using the composting units at the site. The CCP had in the application sought permission to dispose wet waste and other garbage at the composting units. CCP’s advocate, Agnelo Diniz assured the court that the corporation would not dispose more than two truckloads of garbage at the site and also undertook to do so after office hours to prevent any nuisance to people in the area. While directing strict compliance of the assurances given on behalf of CCP, the court permitted the corporation to process wet waste at the site. However, the court directed that this would be subject to the CCP obtaining clearances from the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) and the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB). A division bench comprising justice A P Deshpande and justice N A Britto were hearing a public interest litigation filed by Mother Earth Foundation, a non government organization, complaining about the failure of the ADS set up by the CCP at Patto Plaza. The petitioner had stated that students of five prominent schools in the area were affected by the resultant stink. In a related petition filed by the Goa LIC Employees Union, the court directed the GSPCB to inspect the ADS plant at Patto and file a feasibility report to the court before allowing the corporation to restart the plant. The court has also directed the CCP to refrain from using the plant unless and until it is repaired to the satisfaction of the GSPCB. The union had filed the petition seeking shifting of the ADS plant from Patto. They had also sought that the CCP be prevented from restarting the plant at its present site. The matter will be next heard on February 3.

HC orders release of advocate
17 Dec 2008, 0454 hrs IST, TNN
The AP High Court has directed the home and prison authorities of the state to set free Ch Jagadish Babu, who has been serving a six-year term at Rajamundry jail.
The division bench comprising Justice A Gopal Reddy and Justice R Kantha Rao passed the order after hearing the petition filed by the wife of the convict.
Petitioner’s counsel alleged that the authorities bungled in the calculation of special remission periods to be granted to non-life convicts.

Hyderabad: HC notice to film director
17 Dec 2008, 0150 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: The AP High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the state government, film director K Raghavendra Rao and music director Chakravarthi’s kin asking them to explain why they are not using the 2.20-acre plot allotted to them in Sheikpet mandal of Hyderabad for the specified purpose for which it was given.
The division bench comprising Justice T Meena Kumari and Justice G Bhavani Prasad, while hearing a petition filed by TRS legislator T Harish Rao questioning the inaction of the authorities in taking back the land from the director, gave three weeks time to the respondents to file their replies. As per the norms of the original allotment made in 1984, this land was supposed to be used for the development of the film industry by building facilities for recording, re-recording, editing, dubbing theatre and an outdoor unit facility. When the ace director tried to construct commercial complexes in the land in 2006, the then Khairatabad legislator P Janardhan Reddy filed a petition in the high court against the move.
Following this, the government told the high court that they were initiating action to resume the land. Despite this, Harish Rao said in his petition, the director is going ahead with the construction and the state is not doing anything.

HC directs disposal of Deen Dayal Trust case
17 Dec 2008, 0108 hrs IST, Abhinav Sharma, TNN
JAIPUR: A single judge bench of Rajasthan High Court on Tuesday directed the trial court to dispose off the land allotted to Pandit Deen Dayal Trust by former chief minister Vasundhara Raje. The allotment took place when Raje was its chairperson. The land measuring 7,693 square metres was allotted at a concessional rate of 5%, compared with the then prevailing market price at a prime location near Civil Lines. It was alleged in a complaint, filed by one Prakash Kukkar, that the land was sought much prior to the date when the trust came into existence. The trust members included former home minister Gulab Kataria, former State BJP president Bhanwarlal Sharma and mayor Ashok Parnami. The mayor had applied for land on behalf of the trust in March 2006. The complainant had filed the complaint before the court of additional chief judicial magistrate no. 2 who had directed the Gandhi Nagar, SHO, to investigate the matter. Later an FIR was also registered. Ashok Parnami then filed an application before the district judge to transfer the matter to any other court pursuant to which the matter was transferred to the court of chief judicial magistrate, Jaipur City. Parnami has challenged the order of transfer of the matter to the court of CJM in the high court by way of a criminal miscellaneous petition on Tuesday. R D Rastogi, counsel for Parnami, told the court that though the application was moved by the members of the trust to transfer the matter to any other court but the order was passed under the influence of the counsel for the complaint. Ajay Kumar Jain, counsel for the complainant, on the other hand told court that the big shots of the political party are trying to manage the case linger on by way of futile and frivolous transfer applications. “I had not suggested the lower court to transfer the matter to the CJM court. After hearing both the advocates, justice G S Saraf directed the matter to be transferred to ACJM no. 5, Jaipur City and further directed him, as requested by the complainant, to expeditiously decide the matter. The matter came into limelight sometime in December 2006 in the wake of a storm created over the issue by the then Opposition Congress. In the wake of the controversy, the trust decided to return the land to the government. In a PIL, the representatives of the government and JDA made the plea that the issue ceased to exist after the trust’s decision to return the land. However, the court then directed to disclose all the details of the deal between the government and the trust. The court then ordered that all the documents relating to the application, allocation and the cancellation along with any other relevant paper be made available on oath.

Show no mercy
By: Jhonny D,Anjum Samel
Date: 2008-12-16
When Pakistani terrorist Qasab opened fired on innocent passengers at CST on November 26 did he think twice? Then why are we delaying his punishment? Hang Qasab immediately. We cannot rely on the information provided by him. Hang him and give out a message that India is serious about putting an end to terrorism. When al-Qaeda attacked the Twin Towers in America, Bush attacked Iraq and hanged Saddam Hussein immediately after his capture. Why are the Indian media and government being soft on Qasab. Citizens should demand death penalty for Qasab. The captured terrorist, Ajmal Amir Qasab’s defence has stirred up a controversy as lawyers have reportedly refused to defend him. This, in CJI KG Balakrishnan’s opinion is “inappropriate”. There are others who feel that due legal process ought to be followed to do justice to any “accused” whom law considers innocent till proven guilty. However, in Qasab’s case, the world has witnessed the mayhem he unleashed in Mumbai. There is abundance evidence to send him to the gallows.

Ajmal Kasav is lucky, he was caught alive in India
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
“I think there should not be a legal process and it’s useless in our country. Such terrorists (Kasav) should be hanged publically in front of Gateway of India. That’s our demand”, says Shiv Sena MP and party spokesman Sanjay Raut. I wonder what would have happened if the same statement was given by MNS‘s “Raj Thackeray and his band of goons”*. I feel, the young blood of Bombay [read Mumbai if you are Raj Thackeray or his fan] would have wrecked “Raj and his band of goon’s”* neck! Law maker Sajay Raut should have at least remembered laws of his own land before he made such pedantic statement.Ajmal Amir Kasav is extremely lucky to have been caught alive in a country where fundamental right of “life and liberty” is never denied to anyone. Many people, like Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, who feel Kasav should be deprived of legal assistance, are right in some way. Simply because he was caught red handed and the crime he committed is conspicuous. His Pakistani nationality has nothing to do with this denial; terrorist is a terrorist no matter which country he belong to. There are other section of people who say, however heinous his crime may be, he should be given legal assistance at least for the sake upholding the law of the land and morally defeating those who preach hatred and violence. The legal experts say, the dilemma of whether to provide legal assistance to Kasav can be solved by declaring Kasav as “enemy alien” under the Article 22(3), so that he can no longer have the fundamental right of life and liberty.I feel Kasav’s case may have far reaching impact on domestic laws for preventive detention. Today, “exceptional” status of Kasav’s case is unquestionable, “the trauma resulting from the terrorist attacks may be used as a justification for undue curtailment of individual rights and liberties. Instead of offering a considered response to the growth of terrorism, a country may resort to questionable methods such as permitting indefinite detention of terror suspects, the use of coercive interrogation techniques, and the denial of the right to fair trial….the most prominent example…is the treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay who were arrested by U.S. authorities in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. It is alleged that they have detained hundreds of suspects for long periods, often without the filing of charges or access to independent judicial remedies. [CJI of India]”So, the point here is, denying legal access to Kasav may just be a pretext to the misuse of preventive detention laws in the name of terrorism. “In some circles, it is argued that the judiciary places unnecessary curbs on the power of the investigating agencies to tackle terrorism. In India, those who subscribe to this view also demand changes in our criminal and evidence law — such as provisions for longer periods of preventive detention and confessions made before police officials to be made admissible in court. While the ultimate choice in this regard lies with the legislature, we must be careful not to trample upon constitutional principles such as ‘substantive due process.’ This guarantee was read into the conception of ‘personal liberty’ under Article 21 of the Constitution of India by our Supreme Court.** The necessary implication of this is that all governmental action, even in exceptional times, must meet the standards of reasonableness, non-arbitrariness, and non-discrimination [CJI of India, K.G.Balakrishnan].”Thus, at least for the sake of completing legal procedures under our laws, Kasav should get legal access, so that the perpetrators can be brought to the book soon, so that the souls of many innocents and brave officers who lost their lives may rest in peace.* Excerpts from widely circulated SMS: Where was Raj Thackeray and his band of goons when South Mumbai was burning? He should have been at the forefront of action trying to save Mumbai from the terrorists! How on earth did he allow north Indians and Indians from some other locations who are in the NSG to dare come and save Mumbai???!!!! Go get the terrorists Raj! Go get ’em!!].** This idea of ‘substantive due process’ was incorporated through the decision in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 597. In a way this was an answer to Madam Gandhi’s misrule during infamous emergency. The law of preventive detention was widely misused. All the opponents of Madam (Indira) Gandhi, like Jayaprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, were put behind the bars. Madam Gandhi even ensured that her opponent Maneka Gandhi was deprived of her passport. Maneka Gandhi challenged the “reasonableness” of denial of her passport. Supreme Court intervened and upheld Menaka Gandhi’s appeal. Ultimately, government had to give passport to Maneka Gandhi. The apex court simply said, why only Maneka Gadhi, out of thousands of others who had applied for passport? That’s where the question of “reasonableness” of government’s action lies.

HC rejects serial blasts accused’s plea against police custody
New Delhi, Dec 17 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today dismissed a petition of suspected terrorists allegedly involved in the September 13 serial blasts here, challenging their custodial interrogation beyond 15 days.Justice Kailash Gambhir dismissed plea of Mohd Shakeel and Zeeshan Ahmed, who, along with three others have been arrested for allegedly carrying out the blasts in the capital.Both the accused had on October 22 approached the court seeking to quash a trial court’s order sending them to police custody till October 27.Appearing for the family members of the accused, counsel Prashant Bhushan had contended that an accused can be detained for a maximum period of 15 days but the lower court had allegedly erred by extending their police custody beyond the period.The petitioners had challenged the trail court’s order of October 16 by which five suspected terrorists Mohammed Saif, Zeeshan Ahmad, Mohammed Shakeel, Zia-ur-Rehman and Saquib Nissar were remanded to 12 days’ fresh police custody.Zeeshan, 23, and Shakeel, 24, were arrested by the Delhi Police on September 19 and 20 respectively under suspicion of being involved in the serial bomb blasts and were twice remanded to police custody till October 16. Their police remand were further granted till October 27.On October 27, all five accused were handed over to Gujarat police for their alleged involvement in the serial blasts in Ahmedabad.Out of the five, Mohd Saif is at present in custody of Rajasthan police which are probing his alleged role in Jaipur serial blasts.A series of blasts in the capital had claimed 26 lives and left scores others injured. PTI

HC orders release of advocate
17 Dec 2008, 0454 hrs IST, TNN
The AP High Court has directed the home and prison authorities of the state to set free Ch Jagadish Babu, who has been serving a six-year term at Rajamundry jail.
The division bench comprising Justice A Gopal Reddy and Justice R Kantha Rao passed the order after hearing the petition filed by the wife of the convict.
Petitioner’s counsel alleged that the authorities bungled in the calculation of special remission periods to be granted to non-life convicts.

Charitable hospital moves HC against PMC
17 Dec 2008, 0448 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande, TNN
MUMBAI: A super-speciality charitable hospital in Pune, run by the Lata Mangeshkar Medical Foundation, recently moved the Bombay high court against the “draconian” seizure of all its eight sonography machines by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). The civic body seized the 650-bed hospital’s ultrasound equipment in August on the pretext of it being misused to carry out banned sex determination tests, thereby abetting female foeticide. When the matter came up for its first proper hearing, in the HC on Tuesday, R A Dada, counsel for the hospital, expressed shock and indignation at the PMC’s “arbitrary and unreasonable action, without any evidence” while the PMC counsel R G Ketkar tried to justify the seizure as being in “public interest”. At one point, Justice Bilal Nazki, who along with Justice J H Bhatia, was hearing the matter said, “If we had such machines 100 years earlier, we would perhaps not have had Lata Mangeshkar.” Trouble began for the hospital when a civic advisory committee set up to implement the Preconception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, found that eight out of 600 forms were not filled completely by pregnant women undergoing a sonography. The deputy medical officer of PMC locked up all ultrasound machines in a room. Four months later, Dada said the appellate authority has yet to give the hospital a hearing for the unconstitutional action. In an equally serious tone, Justice Nazki said the machines are important for diagnostic purposes for “all types of ailments” and the PMC “has to strike a balance” to ensure that “other patients don’t suffer.” The public trust founded by the famous Mangeshkar family in 1989 runs the premier Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital which has 70 ICU beds and also caters to the lower income group. “There is nothing to show that the banned sex determination tests were carried out in the hospital. The prolonged seizure, without even a proper panchnama, is nothing but a punishment in advance,” said Dada adding, “The hospital was doing nothing wrong nor does it want to, otherwise it wouldn’t be struggling like this for four months. Patients have to be sent outside for sonography. The machines can’t be kept unused like this.” Besides, the hospital said that in each of the eight cases where the form was apparently incomplete, the women were in an advanced state of pregnancy and even if the sex of the foetus was determined, abortion was out of the question under the law. Moreover, each woman had submitted a letter testifying that the sonography was performed only “for foetal growth and well-being, and not for sex determination or abortion”. In some cases, the tests were carried out barely two days before delivery. Hospital authorities also said the hospital was being discriminated against. Ketkar insisted it was “physically impossible” to keep tabs on all clinics where sex determination tests are probably being carried out. Nazki then said, “When we have lost our moral fibre…if a mother is prepared to kill a baby in her womb, no law has the power to stop her.” The court will continue with the matter on Wednesday.

PIL againt OMR toll system, HC orders notice
17 Dec 2008, 0549 hrs IST, TNN
CHENNAI: A day after toll collection started on Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR), causing a pile-up of vehicles near the toll plaza and public anger over the new levy, the Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered notice to the government on a public interest writ petition against the toll system. The petition, filed by VOICE Consumer Care Council, said the Tamil Nadu Highways Act did not have any provision to collect toll on any of the state highways, which included the OMR or Rajiv Gandhi Salai. Admitting the petition on Tuesday, a division bench comprising Justice S J Mukhopadhaya and Justice V Dhanapalan directed the authorities to file their replies by Monday, when the matter would be taken up for final hearing. While the National Highways Act, a Central legislation, specifically provided for collection of toll by the government or a third party under the Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) scheme, the State Highways Act did not have any such ingredient. Section 7 of the National Highways Act enables levy of fees, whereas Section 8(A) of the Act empowered the Centre to enter into agreements with any person for the development and maintenance of national highways for a fee. “Unlike the Central Act, the State legislation relating to highways did not enable the state government to levy fees by a legislative provision, which is an essential ingredient without which fees cannot be levied at all,” K M Vijayan, senior counsel for the petitioner said. He contended that neither the Tamil Nadu government nor a third party could be permitted to collect toll on the road, as the impugned GO enabling toll collection was not supported by a legislative provision under the Tamil Nadu Highways Act. Vijayan further contended that toll should be collected only when the road was completed and all amenities were in place. Pointing out that the 20.1-km road was yet to be fully ready for use, the senior advocate also questioned the rationale behind allowing the company to collect toll for the next 28 years — that is, upto the year 2036. “It is not known on what basis the fee is determined, without taking into account the amount spent and the revenue gained. There appears to be a clear case of unjust enrichment in favour of the Information Technology Express Highway Limited,” said the petitioner and trustee of the Council, R Sureshkumar. (EOM)

Shifting of scrapyards on anvil, AG tells HC
17 Dec 2008, 0452 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: The advocate general, Subodh Kantak has on Monday informed the high court of Bombay at Goa that the government is examining a proposal to shift all the scrapyards in the industrial estates. The court was hearing a letter petition filed by one Jatin Ramaiya, a law student in V M Salgaocar College of law, Miramar. He had pointed out that about 42 illegal scrap yards are located in Ponda within proximity of residential areas. Considering the gravity of the matter the court was of the opinion that scrapyards in the entire state should be brought under the purview of the petition. Ponda municipal councils advocate S D Padiyar told court that out of the existing 42 scrapyards only seven scrap yards come under municipal jurisdiction. All seven have been issued notices, he added. The court has also appointed advocate John Abreu Lobo as amicus curiae in the matter. The matter will now be heard in January.

HC acquits two Syndicate Bank honchos in graft case
17 Dec 2008, 0331 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande & Kartikeya, TNN
MUMBAI: Fifteen years after being accused of misusing his official position in a bank to invest Rs 132 crore of public money for his own profit, a special security scam judge at the Bombay high court has acquitted a former executive director, R S Pai and a managing director, K R N Shenoy, of Syndicate Bank. The two were charged with siphoning off funds placed in the bank’s Portfolio Management Scheme (PMS) by the Oil Industries Development Board (OIDB) in 1991. Though a complaint was initially filed in 1993 against the bank’s divisional manager R Sundaresan, a chargesheet was filed in the case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in July 1997 against Pai and Shenoy. The case was sent for trial to a special court. When the matter came before Justice V M Kanade, presiding over the security scam cases, he acquitted the duo after saying that the CBI had not been able to prove there was a criminal conspiracy between Pai and Shenoy to divert OIDB’s funds. The high court held that the prosecution had failed to establish a link between Pai, who was stationed at Manipal in Karnataka__where Syndicate Bank has its head office__and Shenoy, who was in Mumbai. The evidence given by the witnesses also did not indicate that there was “any meeting of minds” between the two accused. The court also said it was “surprising” that the CBI had not investigated officials at OIDB who were “equally responsible” for making investments with Syndicate Bank and for the risks involved in it. Moreover, the initial complaint was filed against an official called R Sundaresan but later the case against him was dropped. He was examined as a prosecution witness in the case without giving “any explanation” for doing so, the court observed. The court also held that the CBI had “turned a blind eye towards OIDB officials” who had raised a boogie about being unaware of rules governing the investment of surplus funds. The court also held that the entire amount involved in the case was finally repaid to OIDB and no loss had been caused to it. Besides, there was no CBI evidence to prove that 62,000 shares from the promoters’ quota of the private companies was transferred to Pai or his family members as a reward, as alleged.

HC summons HUDA administrator
17 Dec 2008, 0227 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: With Panchkula Sector 2 residents moving the high court here against the upcoming Dikshant Global Public School for allegedly violating building byelaws and encroaching upon green space of the sector, the high court on Tuesday summoned the HUDA administrator, Panchkula, seeking an explanation from him on various issues raised by the petitioners. Perplexed over the submissions made by the petitioners’ counsel that despite getting the land on the basis of being a nursery school, the school authorities were issuing advertisements claiming it to be a high school. At this the school counsel intervened to assert that there were two schools by the same group and the petitioners were “mixing them up.” In fact, a division bench, headed by chief justice Tirath Singh Thakur and justice Jasbir Singh, wondered as to of what use the nursery kids would make of shooting range, yoga classes, holistic development techniques etc so loudly proclaimed by the school authorities in their advertisement. The CJ also sought to know the extent of construction permissible for a nursery school and if for a sector of 2,500 residents, a school for 750 nursery children was feasible. The CJ then ordered that the HUDA administrator be summoned to explain the norms regarding grant of sanction to a nursery school and other incidental things.

Apex court refuses bail plea of Ashok Todi
Submitted by admin2 on 17 December 2008 – 3:53am.
Indian Muslim
New Delhi : The Supreme Court Tuesday denied bail to West Bengal industrialist Ashok Todi who is accused of driving his son-in-law Rizwanur Rahman to commit suicide.
“We are not inclined to entertain the petition,” said the bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam, refusing to grant bail to Todi.
The bench also refused to accede to a plea by Todi’s counsel Harish Salve for a direction to the Calcutta High Court to decide his bail plea before the winter vacation.
“We can’t give such a direction,” said the bench, adding it can only ask the high court to dispose of Todi’s bail plea expeditiously.
Todi approached the apex court for bail after the Calcutta High Court gave a split verdict on his bail plea and the case was referred to a third judge.
Salve told the apex court that his client’s bail plea has been hanging fire since long owing to the differences between the judges of the division bench of the high court on granting it.
Justice Amit Talukdar of the high court’s division bench was of the view that Todi should be granted bail as there was no reason to apprehend that he would influence witness and tamper with evidence.
The other judge, Justice P.S. Banerjee, was against granting bail owing to the allegations that millions of rupees had changed hands for separating Rizwanur from Todi’s daughter Priyanka. Rizwanur’s mother Kishwar Jahan too opposed Todi’s bail plea in the high court.
Ashok Todi’s brother Pradip Todi was also denied bail by the Calcutta sessions court. Anil Sarogi, Ashok Todi’s brother-in-law who had surrendered in the designated Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court Dec 8 on the apex court directions, was granted bail.
The CBI, which probed the case on the high court order, has indicted Todi brothers, their brother-in law Sarogi, and another accomplice Mohammed Moiuddin for driving Rizwanur to commit suicide.
Rizwanur allegedly committed suicide a month after his marriage to Priyanka. His body was found near railway tracks Sept 21 last year.
Seven people have been indicted in the case, including three police officers – former deputy commissioner (detective department) Ajoy Kumar, former assistant commissioner anti-rowdy section Sukanti Chakraborty and Krishnendu Das.
They have been charged with abetment to suicide, criminal intimidation and conspiracy.
Ashok Todi surrendered before the CBI court Dec 1.

Censure schools violating nursery norms, PIL pleads in HC
Chinki Sinha Posted: Dec 17, 2008 at 0112 hrs IST
New Delhi: An NGO has moved the Delhi High Court alleging many private, unaided schools in the city are violating nursery admission norms, as set by the Directorate of Education (DoE).
In its Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed on Monday, the School Choice Campaign (SCC) has pleaded with the High Court to intervene and take action against errant schools. The case would be heard on Wednesday.
Launched in 2007, SCC is a nationwide initiative formed by the Centre of Civil Society. Last week, it started Action for School Admission Reforms (ASAR) to help parents take their complaints to the authorities. The ASAR has so far received 17 complaints, and they are part of the PIL, SSC associate director R Baladevan said.
Lack of transparency in the points system and schools interviewing children in violation of DoE guidelines are among the complaints in the PIL, Baladevan said.
A recent ASSOCHAM study had found that schools in the city had made more than Rs 5,000 crore just by selling prospectus and registration forms between 2000 and 2008. The average cost of these forms, the study found, was Rs 500 — by law, schools cannot charge more than Rs 25 per form.
According to the PIL, many private recognised and unaided schools are violating DoE guidelines, and some are going against the Supreme Court’s order by interviewing children.
A DoE circular had asked schools to issue forms from December 15 to 31 and accept completed forms until January 7. But most schools contend they were granted autonomy regarding schedule and admission guidelines last year and are, thus, not bound by DoE’s schedule. School officials say they are only required to inform the authorities of their schedule and admission criterion.
“If autonomy is the issue, then they (schools) must inform the parents,” Baladevan said. “What is the point if a school and DoE have this conversation in secret?”

A R Antulay should be dismissed
Posted on December 17th, 2008
by Sumankar1 in All News
A R Antulay who is a minsiter in UPA Government caused an uproar in the Parliament by suggesting that Mr Karkare and his team were sent to confront terrorists at Cama Hospital instead of Taj purposely and killed.
Such a preposterous statement coming from Mr Antulay is a reflection of what the Congress Government has created in the last few years through its pseudo secularist policies.
Now the option available for Congress is to either accept Mr Antulay’s statement as a possibility and order an enquiry or dismiss him forthwith so that such obnoxious trouble makers do not represent the Government.
Given an opportunity, Mr Antulay may state that Kasab was an agent of Hindu outfits designated to kill Mr Karkare.
I think there is enough case to book Mr Antulay under the current laws itself for trying to create disharmony in the society.
I wish a PIL is filed by a public spirited lawyer to ensure that the irresponsible statements made by Mr Antulay are taken as an anti Indian statement and action sought. Otherwise his statements are likely to be used by Pakistan to support their fancy claim that Kasab is not a Pakistani. Perhaps they would also say that he is a citizen of India itself !

Mulayam assets case: plea urges Supreme Court to ‘monitor’ probe…/399347/
Express news service Posted: Dec 17, 2008 at 0019 hrs IST
New Delhi: In a disproportionate assets (DA) case involving SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family members, the Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to examine a plea seeking a modification of its earlier order dated March 1, 2007, where the preliminary probe report was directed to be placed before the Central Government.
This was agreed upon after the petitioner, Allahabad-based advocate Vishwanath Chaturvedi, made a brief mention of the matter seeking permission to file a fresh application with his plea for “modification” of the court’s order.
The petitioner, who had filed a PIL seeking an independent and impartial probe into the wealth and assets of Yadav and his kin, urged the court to continue to “monitor” the probe besides directing the CBI to register a regular case (RC) against the respondents.
His application comes barely a few days after the probe agency, CBI, moved an application seeking withdrawal of its previous application, where it had sought permission to file the status report on the inquiry directly before the apex court.
Opposing the agency’s plea, Chaturvedi said, “It is unfortunate for this country that wrong and misleading advice is being given by the senior law officers of the Centre with a view to pleasing the Government.”
The petitioner sought directions for the agency to stick to its commitment to file the status report before the apex court, alleging the progress in the case might be guided by political compulsions since the UPA Government had proved its majority in Parliament with the support of Yadav’s party.
“If the CBI will submit its report to the Centre, it (Centre) may proceed in the matter according to its own political compulsions and not depend upon the outcome of the inquiry report,” he said.
Justices Altamas Kabir and Markandeya Katju, before whom a brief mention was made, allowed the application to be filed.

AIADMK seeks JPC on spectrum deal
Express News Service
First Published : 17 Dec 2008 02:00:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 17 Dec 2008 12:15:25 PM IST
NEW DELHI: Terming the spectrum allocation controversy as the greatestever scandal in the country, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on Tuesday demanded the dismissal of Union Telecommunication Minister A Raja and the setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the issue.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha, AIADMK leader Dr V Maitreyan demanded that the 2G spectrum allotted to real estate companies be cancelled.
As AIADMK and DMK members clashed over Maitreyan’s demand, members of the CPM and the BJP supported the AIADMK.
Amidst objections from DMK members, Maitreyan criticised the Union Minister of allotting 2G spectrum for mobile services on first-come first-served basis instead of going in for global auction, which resulted in a loss of nearly Rs 1,00,000 crore to the exchequer.
“To put it in perspective, the six crore population of Tamil Nadu can be provided rice, now priced at one rupee a kg, free of cost, through ration shops for the next 140 years with this money,” Maitreyan said.
He pointed out that the Central Vigilance Commission had questioned the deal and the Delhi High Court had admitted a PIL against the spectrum allocation.
Referring to Raja’s claims that he had not deviated from the norms followed by his predecessor, the AIADMK member pointed out that his predecessor too was a DMK nominee who functioned according to the dictates of his party boss.
Echoing Maitreyan, CPM member Tapan Kumar Sen said that the allocation had been made to dubious companies that had nothing to do with telecommunication.
He too demanded a JPC probe.
BJP member Prakash Javadekar alleged that the spectrum scandal has broken all the records of corruption. Referring to reports that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had written a letter on the issue, Javadekar demanded that its contents be made public.
Janata Dal (U) member Sharad Yadav said the spectrum controversy is a big issue that needs a thorough debate in Parliament.

Stakeholder queries set to delay 3G auction
Nivedita Mookerji
Wednesday, December 17, 2008 03:34 IST
NEW DELHI: A delay in holding auction for 3G (third generation telecom) and broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum looks imminent with concerns being raised by stakeholders and others.The full Telecom Commission is scheduled to meet today to deliberate on the issue of 3G and BWA auction, even as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has already issued the information memorandum on the modalities of the auction process.3G auction is scheduled for January 16.BWA bidding will happen two days after that. The telecom industry, including GSM and CDMA operators, has sought multiple clarifications from DoT on various aspects of the 3G auction. The players claim DoT had hurriedly brought out the information memorandum and suggest it devote more time to clarifying issues related to the auction process. Meanwhile, a public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Delhi High Court by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation and a few internet service providers such as Sify and Tulip against auction of BWA spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band.The complainants have argued that they have existing operational links in that frequency band, which cannot be vacated as they are serving many subscribers. Another bone of contention is the recommendation of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) that an annual administrative charge equivalent to 2% of the highest bid must be paid by the 3G players. DoT has not made this a part of its information memorandum on 3G and BWA auction, and is not even keen to include it in future. Also, many in the industry feel this is not the right time to hold 3G auctions as the players are faced with economic slowdown. Vodafone wrote a letter to the DoT to this effect recently, and many foreign players want to join the 3G bandwagon in India through the mobile virtual network operator route once it is allowed in the country. Even if there is an auction, the bid price would be much lower than expected, experts said. However, for the government, it is important to raise funds ahead of the general election slated for April-May 2009. Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) director general TV Ramachandran has sought equal opportunities and level-playing field principles in the allocation of 3G spectrum. He has said that 3G spectrum must be allocated simultaneously to all successful bidders for ensuring “adequate and healthy competition in the sector.” According to Ramachandran, if the slots for 3G spectrum are limited, it could significantly distort the bidding process, and consequently the market, as it could lead to unrealistic bids for 3G spectrum. In case equitable distribution of spectrum is not possible due to scarcity of the natural resource, COAI has suggested alternate formulae for the auction. Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI) secretary general S C Khanna has asked for clarifications on the timetable for auction of spectrum in 800 MHz, 1900 MHz and 450 MHz bands for a level-playing field for CDMA operators.AUSPI has also asked for clarity on the existing quantum of spectrum and the value of entry fee for getting the unified access licence for standalone 3G operators. As of now, two circles have been left out of the 3G bidding process completely, and in other circles, there are a varying number of slots available for private players.

Hospitals given last chance to set up plant
17 Dec 2008, 0029 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore : The closure of 14 government hospitals in the city, as per a high court Lok Adalat order, has been postponed following an undertaking by the defaulters that they will set up biomedical waste treatment plants. The tribunal had ordered their closure by December 17 for failing to set up the plants. There are 17 government hospitals in the city. The adalat — comprising Justice K L Manjunath and member A N Yellappa Reddy — passed the order while hearing a 1998 PIL that was referred to it. The petition was regarding supply of potable water to residents of Bellandur. Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) officials will now issue fresh notices to the hospitals for initiating action for their lapses in implementing the order. At the last hearing, the hospitals were given time till December 4 to set up plants for treating biomedical waste. Only three of them responded to the direction and are in the process of installing treatment plants. The hospitals were issued notice on October 24 and the authorities were called for a personal hearing on November 24. According to senior advocate S Vasudeva, though the KSPCB informed them about setting up a plant more than a year ago, they continued to operate without it, polluting the environment and affecting the health of residents. “Today, the authorities of these hospitals have given an undertaking on installing the plant. They have to submit a report on the work by January 20,” Vasudeva said. Hospitals facing the charges are government general hospitals in Indiranagar, K R Puram and Yelahanka, Jayanagar Government Hospital, Hajee Sir Ismail Sait Ghousia Hospital, SDS TB Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, Bowring Hospital, Shivajinagar, Minto Hospital, Chamarajpet, Vanivilas Hospital, K R Road and Kidwai Institute.

Court decree for parking lot
Source: The Sangai Express
Imphal, December 16 2008: The Gauhati High Court, Imphal Bench has decreed that a parking lot for all types of passenger vehicles plying along the route from Thoubal to Imphal should be provided either at Thoubal Bazar or near Thoubal DC office complex.The ruling was issued by Justice BK Singh and Justice UB Saha of Gauhati High Court, Imphal Bench on December 10 after hearing a PIL filed by one Waikhom Inaojuge of Thoubal Achouba and Sougrakpam Roben of Thoubal Mayai Leikai.Advocate HS Paonam appeared in favour of the petitioners while Divisional Government Advocate RS Reisang appeared for the State.

SC refuses to entertain IMA plea against ayurvedic doctors
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 20:09 IST
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a PIL challenging the permission given by several state governments to ayurvedic doctors allegedly practising allopathy.
The apex court also pulled up the Indian Medical Association for filing the petition in which it had made list of 25 prayers and several respondents as party.
“You should not file this sort of a petition. You have made 25 prayers and named too many respondents,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said while disagreeing with the submission of senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta that allowing ayurvedic doctors to practice allopathic medicine was in violation of the provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act.
The advocate had cited a judgement of the apex court to buttress his submission but the bench declined to accept it.
“We are not going to look into the judgement given by this court,” the Bench, also comprising Justice P Sathasivam said adding that “it is not possible for this court to supervise the whole system”.
The court suggested that the IMA can approach the Medical Council of India with its plea.
“We cannot give general directions. You have sought wide directions which are not possible,” the Bench said.
Realising that the Bench was dismissing the petition, the advocate sought to withdraw it with a liberty to approach an appropriate court.

Urgent – need photographs for a PIL
Submitted by Promod Kapur on 17 December 2008 – 11:13am.
Dear readers, for our ongoing Bangalore Masterplan-2015 PIL, we urgently need some help. We require photographs that show the adverse effects of converting a road of a residential area into “mutation corridor” (see below for what is this, or open attached file). If the photos can also show vehicles parked on the road and pavements due to lack of proper parking space, it will be great.
What is a mutation corridor? Here is some text from BDA website (Masterplan-2015, Landuse PDF, Article 5)). If you want to help, and have any doubts, post a comment. Once again, the need is very urgent.
Article.5 MUTATION CORRIDOR ZONE1.0 Definition of the zone:The Radial Corridors and main Corridors of the city are designated as Mutationcorridor zones, predominantly having a road based development.
2.0 Master plan strategies:• Promote Commercial office spaces and high density housing.• Facilitating necessary setbacks required for future improvements of roadsand access.
3.0 Regulations for this zone:
3.1. Eligibility for the zone:3.1.1 Plot/s shall face the Road with minimum of 30 % of average width of plot asFrontage.3.1.2 Plot upto 100.0m depth is eligible.3.1.3 For a plot over a depth of 100.0 m, a public road as prescribed by theauthority during sanction process shall be provided to connect theneighbouring areas.3.1.4. If the plot does not meet the above criteria for the mutation corridorthe plot can avail the regulations of the respective main zone, in which it issituated.
3.2. Minimum Plot size:The minimum plot size of newly sub divided plot shall not be less than 500sq.m
3.3. Permissible land uses:3.3.1 Main Land use category: C33.3.2 Ancillary land use category: R1, L2, U33.3.3 All ancillary uses are permissible upto 300 sq.m or 30 % of the total built uparea.

Police Modernization PIL
December 16th, 2008 doshiamit Posted in Uncategorized
UPDATE: An email id has been provided. Email this address with in case they need to show citizen support in court.
There are a lot of questions being asked about how the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai could take place. Most of this seems like noise rather than any sort of concrete measure to improve security. A friend of mine has been involved with a PIL that is asking for an accounting on why numerous police modernization initiatives have gone nowhere. The Society of Indian Law Firms(SILF) and the Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry are both involved as well. In my mind this kind of PIL is far more productive than the abstain from voting, tax revolution, bomb Pakistan nonsense that is being forwarded on the internet and over sms’s.
The filing of the PIL got some coverage in the press but not enough. Here are some articled from Mint, Indian Express and DNA. This is not the flashy emotional appeal that the majority of the press seems to lap up. This is a substantive series of steps we would like our government to take and consequently the amount of coverage is limited.
My friend has asked me to help get the word out, and try and get as many people as possible to sign up here.
So what can you do?
First and foremost I would appreciate it if you could pass this message on as far and wide as possible. The more people who sign up for this the better. At the bottom of this post there is a little share this button. You can use that to email this post, or share it with anyone you would like to. Pass it through facebook, through orkut, through twitter anyway you can think of getting this in front of as many people as possible. There is a forum on the website Its not very active right now but maybe we can change that.
Next step would be to take this out of cyberspace and into real life. I have some ideas for things we can do, but lets see how many people we can get to work on this.
If you would like to read the full text of the PIL you can download it from here.
Below is a Background Note about the PIL.
It has happened before and it could happen again. Mumbai has been attacked by terrorists over 15 times in the last 2 decades and by virtue of it’s position as the country’s financial capital, is a prime and vulnerable target for future attacks.
26/11 has yet again exposed the many weaknesses in Mumbai’s security systems. The audacious attack on 2 of Mumbai’s leading hotels and it’s key railway station has led to a tremendous loss of civilian and police lives and great damage to property. The anger and anguish amongst Mumbaikars is palpable. This time it cannot go to waste – it has to be channelised towards effecting constructive change for the City.
Mumbai has a more than 16 million strong population and just 42,000 policemen & women. Festivals, floods, fighting crimes and terrorist attacks…Mumbai’s brave police men and women put their lives on the line everyday. They help keep the wheels of India’s financial capital turning – but what have we done to help them?
Now the Society of Indian Law Firms, that represents India’s leading law firms, supported by a large group of leading business personalities in Mumbai and the Bombay CHamber of Commerce & Industry believe it’s high time Mumbai did something for it’s Police.
– The Petitioner is the Society of Indian Law Firms supported by a group of concerned Mumbai citizens and business leaders from the City. On Thursday, India’s oldest chamber of commerce, the Bombay Chamber of Commerce & Industry joined the PIL. The Bombay Chamber has over 2000 member companies. It is for the first time in the Bombay Chamber’s history that it is backing citizen action of this sort.
– More training, modern equipment, better coordination, enhanced resources and an elite force that can deal promptly with terrorist attacks – the solutions are all known, discussed and debated. In many cases the State has even promised to implement measures to help better equip the Police. But little has come of it.
– Now the only option is to seek Court assistance in ensuring that all measures are taken to assist the Police in being better equipped to deal with the threat of 21st century terrorism
-The judiciary is the last standing pillar of democracy. Whenever all else has failed, the courts have come to the rescue of citizens – be it pertaining to the Environment, Heritage, Law & Order or Road Safety…
PIL has been a very effective tool used by Citizens to have their voices heard
– And so the SILF, Bombay Chamber and it’s supporting citizen team are now appealing to the Court to help ensure the State assists in modernising Mumbai’s Police
The PIL requests the Bombay High Court to direct the Union & the State (both, either/or wherever applicable)
a) Pursuant to the guarantee of ‘right to life’ in Article 21, the Union & the State should take all appropriate measures to meet the security threat to Mumbai
b) To disclose via affidavit all concrete steps being taken, with timeline and funding particulars, regarding establishment of Special Squad (Quick Response Team has been put together but not fully empowered)
c) Alongwith the above 2 points a) & b), the Union/State should
1. Permanently station NSG unit in Mumbai and wherever else required in Maharashtra
2. Provide sufficient coastal security coverage
3. Establish coordination mechanisms across Intelligence agencies, State Police and all Security Agencies
4. Assist, train and equip Police to meet new age terrorist threat
d) Alongwith a), b) & c), the Union/State should
1. Formulate and implement Crisis Management Plan
2. Procure and provide adequate equipment/vehicles/machinery (including Marine & Chopper units) for quick mobility via land/sea/air for effective patrolling, prevention and containment of crime/terrorist attack. This should be reserved for Police duties
3. Identify, fund and provide Surveillance Gear (such as CCTV coverage)
4. Implement the McKinsey Report that studied the Mumbai Police and advised on improvement and modernisation
e) Appoint Citizen Committee comprising of eminent citizens, retired judges and police officers to assist and advise on the implementation of all these measures.

Salwa Judum: Chhattisgarh assures SC of action on NHRC report

New Delhi, Dec 16 (PTI) Chhattisgarh government today assured the Supreme Court that further action would be taken on the recommendation of the NHRC which probed the alleged human rights violation by Salwa Judum, a people’s movement to combat naxalism in the state.The apex court asked the state government to file Action Taken Report (ATR) on the recommendations made by the NHRC which had pointed to incidents of burning and killing on which FIRs were not registered and cases of high-handedness of the Special Police Officers, the civilians, armed with weapons to fight naxal menace.The report by the NHRC had stated that villagers have become victims of the fight between naxalites and Salwa Judum.Senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the Chhatisgarh government, said the state has already acted reports and recommendations of the NHRC and have lodged FIRs in the cases which were pointed out.Further, in some cases the probe has been initiated before registering the FIR.Senior advocate Ashok Desai, appearing for one of the petitioner, stressed the need for taking steps against the SPOs who are accused by the NHRC report of indulging in extra-judicial killings.A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan posted the matter for further hearing on February 3 next year.In an exhaustive report supported by documents, NHRC had inquired into alleged human rights violations by activists of Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh even as the Centre had approved the state government’s stand. PTI

NHRC chief touched by visually impaired man’s anguish
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Sobhapati Samom
Imphal, December 15 2008: VISUALLY IMPARIED Sapam Jasobanta, a resident of Tera Sapam Leirak in Manipur’s Imphal west district drew the attention of National Human Rights Commission Chairman Justice S Rajendra Babu over the rejection of his plea for applying in the Manipur Public Service Commission exmaination in the recent time. Jasobanta raised the issue of discrimination against disabled persons due to non-implementation of certain Disabilities Act in the region, during the technical session of the ongoing two day regional workshop on disability for north eastern region here at the banquet hall of the 1st battalion MR today.Jasobanta said, “This act is nothing but a paper tiger in the state”.”I had applied for MPSC examination three years back but they rejected, later I wrote to Labour Commissioner but there’s no response” he narrated.Later Jasobanta filed a case in the Gauhati High Court Imphal Bench but it was withdrawn and subsequently he filed in Supreme Courton September 3 last wherein the court kept it “under consideration”. “I didn’t want to blame the government as they (government) are not aware of it” the visually impaired Imphalite felt.Similarly Tami Taniang, a physically handicapped member of Arunachal Pradesh Handicapped Welfare Society who flew down here along with one of his assistance from Naharlagun near Itanagar for the workshop requested the NHRC to ask the states for effective implementation of Disability Act in his state as well in future. Sharing a similar sentiments, Government officials, NGO leaders and legal experts during the technical session of the workshop on Monday observed that the rights of the disabled persons in north east states are in a bad shape.It appears that the sensibility on this disabilities both in government and NGOs is lacking not to speak of enjoying the provisions of the legislations or the rights under Article 41 of the constitution. Even the Special Rapporteur Asha das of the NHRC after listening to statements of the government officials of the NE state during the technical session said, it appears that the initiatives which is to be taken up for the welfare of the disabilities is lacking behind here. Asha who made her observation during in presence of the NHRC chairman Justice S Rajendra Babu further said, “the government need to take up pro-actice steps” while the “NGOs can identity the jobs for the disabled persons”. Article 41 of the constitution directs the state to make effective provision for securing right to work,to education, to public assistance in cases of disablement.Besides there are four legislations towards the protection, welfare, rehabilitation and development of people with disabilities. Meanwhile one Anthony, an official of Nagaland’s social welfare department drew the attention of NHRC to intervene political interfence in executing works relating to the disabled persons in his home state.He said,”I presume, no other state has such kind of political interference” while taking up welfare activities of Nagaland’s 30,000 disabled persons. Government officials of Assam, Meghalaya and Sikkim at the same time underlined their hardship in finding the official datas in connection with the employment of disabled persons in different government departments in their respective states. According to a lady official from Meghalaya, around 100 out of 180 disabled persons registered in the special employment exchange of the state got job opportunity in both central and state establishments. Similarly there are reports of appointing 250 individuals in Tripura.However in case of host Manipur,due to lack of awarness, the state authority is yet to get detail report on it.

NHRC Report on Safety and Security of Youth

National Human Rights Commission has submitted a report on Missing Children and a study on Human Trafficking with special focus on women and children which inter-alia, states that there is increase in number of crimes against children in the country. As per data complied by National Crime Records Bureau, Year-wise number of cases registered for crimes against children is as under :
Year No. of cases
2004 14423
2005 14975
2006 18967
2007 20410
Law and Order is a State subject. It is for State Governments to take appropriate action in every crime. However, the report of the NHRC has been circulated to all State Governments and Union Territories for taking action on the recommendations made by NHRC in its report. However, Ministry of Women and Child Development is considering a comprehensive legislation to cover the offences against children to create a safe environment for children.
This was stated by Dr. Shakeel Ahmad, Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs, in written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today.


Interest paid to head office taxable, tribunal tells StanChart

AgenciesPosted: 2008-12-17 13:25:34+05:30 ISTUpdated: Dec 17, 2008 at 1325 hrs IST

New Delhi: The spectre of Harshad Mehta has returned to haunt the Indian arm of Standard Chartered Bank, with a tribunal ruling that the interest it paid to its headquarters on an amount borrowed to make payments to NHB, in the aftermath of the infamous stock scam of 1992, is taxable.
The case concerns UK-based Standard Chartered Bank, which had paid an interest of about Rs 32 crore to its head office on the sum borrowed from its headquarters to pay to the National Housing Bank (NHB) in the assessment year 1996-97.
Standard Chartered had been asked by the Reserve Bank at the time of the notorious Harshad Mehta stock scam to pay about Rs 506.54 crore to NHB, which it borrowed from its head office and also paid an interest of Rs 32 crore on the borrowed sum.
The Delhi bench of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) giving a ruling in case of the bank said, “It (interest paid to Standard Chartered bank’s head office) is not an expense in the hands of non-resident assessee and hence cannot be allowed.”
The bank had shown the amount as an expense for itself.
An amount shown as an expense by an entity is eventually deducted from the income of the company, thus not being taxed.
The tribunal sided with the argument of the tax department, which said that the interest paid by an Indian branch of the foreign bank to its head office is not to a different entity but only to the head office and hence, just an inter-branch transfer.
Besides, if this payment is treated as expense, the same shall become income in the hands of the head office, which has earned from India and hence is also taxable here, the order said.

Needed: more human rights lawyers
17 Dec 2008, 0024 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore : While there are human rights violations everywhere — child labour, exploitation of women employees, encounter deaths, there are very few specialist lawyers around to handle these cases in the country. There are few takers for this subject as compared to corporate or international law. However, with national and international civic societies making their inroads here, there are more options for lucrative employment. According to chairperson of National Institute of Human Rights (NIHR) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) consultant, Prof. B B Pande, human rights legal advocacy is inadequate but lawyers of any specialization, regardless of civil or criminal law, can argue cases pertaining to human rights. “In cases like rape, sexual harassment at workplace, argument can be strengthened with knowledge of a specialized lawyer in human rights,” says, Anuradha Saibaba, faculty, NIHR. She added, “During my graduation, I studied for 30 papers excluding human rights as it was an optional subject. When I wanted to do my Master’s in human rights law in 2000, not many universities offered the course and I had to go abroad. Now, the Bar Council of India has made human rights mandatory for graduation.” It was only last year that Karnataka established a State Human Rights Commission (SHRC). Though the Protection of Human Rights Act recommended the setting up of human rights courts for speedy trials of offences, these are yet to be initiated. “By having such courts, we’ll also have specialized lawyers in human rights,” says Anuradha. R Manohar of SICHREM, says, “It’s very difficult to find lawyers specializing in human rights. So, lawyers from other specialization argue from the human rights perspective and we have civil and criminal lawyers assisting the public on our helpline.” According to legal expert, with human rights angle in almost all legal cases, specialisation in human rights brings in the sensitivity as well as in depth understanding of the issue but there are very few law students opting for specialisation and for pursuing research in human rights. To encourage law students to take up research, NHRC is funding several programmes and currently, five students from the tenth batch of NIHR are studying amendments in the Constitution of India that have impacted human rights. The research focuses on personal liberty, land reforms, reservation, gender justice and child rights and funded by NHRC. Researcher’s Perspective * The edifice of human rights firmly stands on the bedrock of a dignified existence of human being and fullest efflorescence of individual personality is unattainable without the right to personal liberty. — Saurabh Dhawan, personal liberty * Human rights cannot be fossilised and given a new dimension by constitutional amendments. — Iranagouda K Kabbur, reservation * Women constitute 50% of the world’s population and account for 66% of the work done, but they have only a 10% share in the world’s income and own 1% of the world’s property. This battle for gender justice has been a long-drawn struggle. — Shradha Baranwal, gender justice * For long children’s issues have been viewed from a paternalistic and welfarist approach. It is only in recent times that children have been recognized as distinct individuals. — Anuradha Saibaba, NIHR faculty and project co-ordinator * Land reforms has perhaps seen the maximum number of amendments rivalled only by those pertaining to reservation. Daniel Mathew, land reform

DARJEELING HILLS: Gorkhaland activists approach rights panel for justice
Posted by barunroy on December 17, 2008
Siliguri, Dec 16 (IANS) Protesting an attack on its supporters last week, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), seeking an end to what it terms “state-sponsored terrorism”.”We have sent a letter to NHRC Monday demanding its intervention into the collusion of the police and administration with those perpetrating violence against us,” GJM press and publicity secretary Binoy Tamang told IANS Tuesday.
Tamang said he did not understand why Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) cadres were attacking supporters of the GJM, which is leading a democratic movement for the creation of a separate Gorkhaland state in the hill areas of northern Bengal.
He alleged as these parties were constituents of the state’s ruling Left Front, the police looked the other way when their activists attacked GJM members. “Later, instead of coming to the rescue of our suppporters who were being mercilessly beaten up, the police attacked them with canes,” he said.
“We have given a list of the accused, who had attacked the GJM supporters Dec 10, to the police and demanded immediate action against them. But now we find it has all been meaningless. So, we had to turn to the NHRC for justice,” Tamang said.
At least 25 people, including 10 policemen, were injured last week following violent clashes between rival GJM and Jana Jagaran Mancha (JJM) at Hamiltonganj in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district.
The clashes took place occurred when GJM activists, who surrounded the Block Development Office and the Gram Panchayat office at Hamiltonganj under Alipurduar sub-division, met with resistance from workers of JJM, which is opposed to the creation of a Gorkhaland state.
After the incident, the GJM gave a call for a 12-hour shutdown in Darjeeling Hills and the neighbouring Terai and Dooars regions Thursday (Dec 11).
A round of tripartite talks held in the national capital to resolve the issue has not been able to break the deadlock so far.
“We have also called a central committee meeting Dec 22 to decide whether our representatives will participate in the tripartite meeting in New Delhi Dec 29,” Tamang said.

LEGAL NEWS 16.12.2008

If judiciary fails, god will do justice, says Kandhamal priest
By Saroj Kumar Pattnaik, K. Nuagam (Orissa), Dec 14: The priest at a pastoral centre, the blackened remains of which are a testimony to the horror of anti-Christian riots in Kandhamal district, says the community has full faith in god and is confident that the nun who was raped by a rampaging mob will get justice soon.
“We are a peace-loving people and believe in god. We have full faith that the almighty will give justice even if the judiciary fails,” Father Dushmant Nayak of Divya Jyoty Pastoral Centre in K. Nuagam village in Kandhamal told IANS, giving his account of the rape of the centre’s 29-year-old nun and the trauma the community has gone through in the past three months.The Catholic nun was allegedly raped by armed rioters Aug 25, two days after the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four others in his ashram at Jaleshpatta, about 55 km from the pastoral centre. The spiral of violence against Christians and their properties in Orissa had just begun.”All was good and brotherhood prevailed in our place until the swami (Laxmanananda) was killed by some criminals for some reasons,” Nayak said, rubbishing the claims by Hindu groups that some Christian organisations had engineered the plot to kill the religious leader.”As I said, we are peace-loving people and I don’t believe that anyone from our community could be behind the murder. As a representative of the Christian community, I strongly condemn the killing,” he said.On Maoists claiming responsibility for killing Laxmanananda, Nayak said he and his community had no idea who killed him and why. “But, it is a crime and I condemn the murder,” he said.When asked why the nun was avoiding an identification parade, he said: “She has completely lost faith in the local administration and police, who chose to remain mute spectators when the mob was parading her naked on the road.””How would you trust those who had turned deaf to your screams for life?” he said, noting that over a dozen policemen were present at the police outpost where she and Father Thomas Chellan were dragged and severely beaten up.Chellan, who left Kandhamal following the incident, is now recuperating in his hometown in Kerala and could not be contacted over phone.According to Nayak, hundreds of people participating in the funeral procession of Laxmanananda Aug 24 stopped at the centre and started ransacking the building, putting everything on fire.”The burnt walls of the building and the heap of ash and debris inside each room are the chilling testimony to that horrific incident,” he said, adding that all those who were present in the church at that time fled into nearby forests to save their lives.Chellan and the nun however were given shelter by a Hindu family near the church. But the next afternoon a mob of 50-60 people stormed the house and dragged them out before physically and sexually assaulting them, Nayak said.

India Criminal laws and procedures – overview
The criminal justice system descends from the British model. The judiciary and the bar are independent although efforts have been made by some politicians to undermine the autonomy of the judiciary. From about the time of Indira Gandhi’s tenure as prime minister, the executive has treated judicial authorities in an arbitrary fashion. Judges who handed down decisions that challenged the regime in office have on occasion been passed over for promotion, for example. Furthermore, unpopular judges have been given less-than-desirable assignments. Because the pay and perquisites of the judiciary have not kept up with salaries and benefits in the private sector, fewer able members of the legal profession have entered the ranks of the senior judiciary.
Despite the decline in the caliber and probity of the judiciary, established procedures for the protection of defendants, except in the case of strife-torn areas, are routinely observed. The penal philosophy embraces the ideals of preventing crime and rehabilitating criminals.
Criminal Law and Procedure
Under the constitution, criminal jurisdiction belongs concurrently to the central government and the states. The prevailing law on crime prevention and punishment is embodied in two principal statutes: the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973. These laws take precedence over any state legislation, and the states cannot alter or amend them. Separate legislation enacted by both the states and the central government also has established criminal liability for acts such as smuggling, illegal use of arms and ammunition, and corruption. All legislation, however, remains subordinate to the constitution.
The Indian Penal Code came into force in 1862; as amended, it continued in force in 1993. Based on British criminal law, the code defines basic crimes and punishments, applies to resident foreigners and citizens alike, and recognizes offenses committed abroad by Indian nationals.
The penal code classifies crimes under various categories: crimes against the state, the armed forces, public order, the human body, and property; and crimes relating to elections, religion, marriage, and health, safety, decency, and morals. Crimes are cognizable or noncognizable, comparable to the distinction between felonies and misdemeanors in legal use in the United States. Six categories of punishment include fines, forfeiture of property, simple imprisonment, rigorous imprisonment with hard labor, life imprisonment, and death. An individual can be imprisoned for failure to pay fines, and up to three months’ solitary confinement can occur during rare rigorous imprisonment sentences. Commutation is possible for death and life sentences. Executions are by hanging and are rare–there were only three in 1993 and two in 1994–and are usually reserved for crimes such as political assassination and multiple murders.
Courts of law try cases under procedures that resemble the Anglo-American pattern. The machinery for prevention and punishment through the criminal court system rests on the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973, which came into force on April 1, 1974 Arial'”>, replacing a code dating from 1898. The code includes provisions to expedite the judicial process, increase efficiency, prevent abuses, and provide legal relief to the poor. The basic framework of the criminal justice system, however, was left unchanged.
Constitutional guarantees protect the accused, as do various provisions embodied in the 1973 code. Treatment of those arrested under special security legislation can depart from these norms, however. In addition, for all practical purposes, the implementation of these norms varies widely based on the class and social background of the accused. In most cases, police officers have to secure a warrant from a magistrate before instituting searches and seizing evidence. Individuals taken into custody have to be advised of the charges brought against them, have the right to seek counsel, and have to appear before a magistrate within twenty-four hours of arrest. The magistrate has the option to release the accused on bail. During trial a defendant is protected against self-incrimination, and only confessions given before a magistrate are legally valid. Criminal cases usually take place in open trial, although in limited circumstances closed trials occur. Procedures exist for appeal to higher courts.

India has an integrated and relatively independent court system. At the apex is the Supreme Court, which has original, appellate, and advisory jurisdiction (see The Judiciary, ch. 8). Below it are eighteen high courts that preside over the states and union territories. The high courts have supervisory authority over all subordinate courts within their jurisdictions. In general, these include several district courts headed by district magistrates, who in turn have several subordinate magistrates under their supervision. The Code of Criminal Procedure established three sets of magistrates for the subordinate criminal courts. The first consists of executive magistrates, whose duties include issuing warrants, advising the police, and determining proper procedures to deal with public violence. The second consists of judicial magistrates, who are essentially trial judges. Petty criminal cases are sometimes settled in panchayat (see Glossary) courts.
Trebuchet MS’; mso-bidi-font-family: Arial”>Data as of September 1995
NOTE: The information regarding India on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of India Criminal Law and Procedure information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about India Criminal Law and Procedure should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

Govt asked to reply on co-op Act amendment
16 Dec 2008, 0154 hrs IST, TNN
PATNA: The Patna High Court on Monday directed the state government to file a counter-affidavit to a writ petition challenging an amendment to the Bihar Cooperative Societies Act 1935. A division bench comprising Chief Justice R M Lodha and Justice K K Mandal issued the directive on a writ petition which submitted that the amendment to the Bihar Cooperative Society Act had been brought about in violation of a provision of this Act and the Indian Constitution which required assent of the President. Proceedings cancelled: The high court on Monday quashed the proceedings of a special meeting of the Karpi Panchayat Samiti in Arwal district held on August 19 early this year. In the meeting, panchayat pramukh Parvati Devi had defeated a no-confidence motion moved against her. The quashing was ordered by a single bench presided over by Justice R K Datta while allowing a writ petition of a member of Karpi Panchayat Samiti, Kela Devi.

Govt tables Bill to set up National Investigating Agency
16 Dec 2008, 1727 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Rattled by the Mumbai terror attacks, government on Tuesday introduced two Bills to set up a National Investigating Agency (NIA) with special powers and to amend the law to provide for more stringent action to deal with terrorism effectively. The National Investigating Agency Bill 2008 and The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill were moved by home minister P Chidambaram in the Lok Sabha, a day after the Union Cabinet gave its nod to such measures. The NIA Bill provides for setting up of special courts for speedy trial of terror-related offences, with hearings to be held on day-to-day basis. Any case pending in any special court can be transferred to any other special court. Notwithstanding law and order being the state subject, officers of the NIA above the rank of sub inspector will have special powers to pursue and investigate any offence related to terror across the country. Officers of the agency would enjoy all powers, duties, privileges and liabilities which the local police officers have in connection with cases related to terror. The Bill to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has stringent provisions including detention period of 180 days instead of 90 days now and denial of bail altogether to a foreigner accused of terrorism in the country. Even an Indian national accused in a terror-related case cannot be released on bail or on his own bond unless the public prosecutor has been given an opportunity of being heard on the application for such release. The Bill says that the court shall presume, unless the contrary is shown, that the accused has committed an offence for which he has been arrested, including possession of arms or explosives with a belief that these or such substances were used in the commission of a terror act. It also provides for freezing, seizing and attaching funds and other financial assets or economic resources held by individuals or entities engaged in or suspected to be engaged in terrorism. A new section has been inserted in the Bill which says that those using explosives, firearms, lethal weapons, poisonous chemicals, biological or radiological weapons with the intention of aiding, abetting or committing terror act “shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to ten years”. The Bill says that anyone in India or in a foreign country who directly or indirectly raises or collects funds or provides funds for a terrorist act shall be punishable with at least five year imprisonment, which may extend to life. A similar punishment has been provided in the Bill for those organising camps for training in terrorism, and also for those recruiting persons for commission of a terrorist act. The Bill says that every offence punishable under this Act shall be deemed to be congnizable offence. It says that if it is not possible to complete the investigation within 90 days, it may be extended upto 180 days. Besides, no person accused of a terror-related offence, if in custody, would be released on bail or on his own bond.

Notice to government on Swamy’s petition
J. Venkatesan
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government on a petition filed by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy seeking transfer of his writ petition, challenging the release of 1,405 convicts in the State, pending in the Madras High Court to the apex court.
A Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam issued notice after hearing Dr. Swamy, who submitted that since a similar petition pertaining to Andhra Pradesh was pending in the apex court, his writ petition raising the same legal issues should be heard along with that matter. He said that it was a serious issue as some of the convicts who were released had committed murder and heinous crimes and the apex court should decide it expeditiously.
In his transfer petition, Dr. Swamy said there were substantial questions of law of public importance as to the power/misuse of power by a State Governor/government in effecting the epidemic of large scale premature release of prisoners without due consideration and sometimes with mala fide motive merely to celebrate some occasions. He said the High Court had permitted the Tamil Nadu government to carry out the release of convicts after taking due safeguards to ensure their speedy incarceration, if the writ petition was allowed.
He said if the transfer was not allowed there was a possibility of conflicting orders being passed by the High Court and the apex court. Further, no prejudice would be caused to any of the parties if his writ petition was transferred from the High Court to the apex court, he said and sought a direction in this regard.

Malegaon blast probe: Rahirkar remanded to police custody
16 Dec 2008, 1549 hrs IST, PTI
MUMBAI: The special MCOCA court here on Tuesday remanded Ajay Rahirkar, an accused in the September 29 Malegaon blast case and treasurer of right-wing group Abhinav Bharat, to police custody till December 20. Eight other accused including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur have been sent to judicial custody till December 29 by the court. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit, who is presently in the custody of Matunga police in a forgery case, was today remanded to judicial custody till December 18 by the Kurla Metropolitan Magistrate. Another accused Rakesh Dhawde is presently in the CBI custody for his involvement in the Nanded blast.

Cash-for-vote: Somnath recommends probe against 3 accused
16 Dec 2008, 1420 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Tuesday recommended a probe by the home ministry into the role of three persons who were named in the alleged ‘cash-for-votes’ scam that rocked Parliament during the Confidence Motion in July. The Speaker referred to the Home Ministry the matter related to Sanjeev Saxena, alleged aide of Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, Sudheendra Kulkarni, a close aide of senior BJP leader L K Advani, and Suhail Hindustani, a day after the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee said that there was need for further investigation into the roles played by them. In its report submitted in Lok Sabha on Monday, the Inquiry Committee, headed by V Kishore Chandra Deo, had given a clean chit to Amar Singh and Ahmed Patel, political adviser to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, saying the “material on record does not conclusively prove” that they had sent money to three BJP MPs for the “purpose of winning” them over for the Confidence Motion. “The Committee has, however, found the evidence given before the Committee by three persons involved in this episode as unconvincing and the Committee have suggested that their role in the matter needs to be investigated by investigating agencies,” Chatterjee noted in the House today. “I am, accordingly, referring the matter pertaining to the said three persons to the Honourable Minister of Home Affairs for appropriate action in the light of the recommendations of the Committee,” the Speaker said.

House panel exonerates Amar Singh
Neena Vyas
NEW DELHI: The Kishore Chandra Deo parliamentary committee has given a clean chit to Samajwadi Party MP Amar Singh and Congress MP Ahmed Patel in the “cash for votes” scam.
It, however, recommended further investigation by appropriate investigative agencies into the role of Sudheendra Kulkarni (political aide of L.K. Advani), Sohail Hindustani (Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha activist), and Sanjeev Saxena (aide of Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh), who handed over bundles of currency notes to three BJP MPs ahead of the trust vote in Parliament on July 22.
No direct evidence
While damning Mr. Saxena as a “bribe-giver wittingly or unwittingly,” the report said the source of the money could not be established. Thus, Mr. Amar Singh has been let off the hook for there was “no direct evidence against him.” But his party MP Rewati Raman Singh has been criticised by the panel for allowing himself to get involved in “such shenanigans.”
Mr. Raman Singh’s role seemed “limited to persuading the members [BJP MPs] to meet Mr. Amar Singh.” As for the political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, Ahmad Patel, the committee said there was “not an iota of evidence [against him] either in the tapes or in the depositions made by witnesses who appeared before committee.”
The panel submitted the report to Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on November 12. The 467-page report with unedited transcriptions of audio-video tapes and depositions of witnesses was tabled in the House on Monday. The report carries three dissenting notes from V.K. Malhotra (BJP), Mohammad Salim (CPI-M) and Ram Gopal Yadav (Samajwadi Party).

337 kids die of malnutrition in Amravati
16 Dec 2008, 0203 hrs IST, Vaidehi More, TNN
AMRAVATI: Melghat is synonymous with tigers but unfortunately also with high rate of child mortality due to malnutrition. Despite tall claims by various government agencies, malnutrition deaths continue to haunt this tribal belt. As many as 337 children died of malnutrition between April and November, according to the data catalogued by the Zilla Parishad health department. According to the data, out of 337 malnutrition deaths, 230 kids were from 0-1 age group while 80 from 1-3 years and 27 from 3-6 years age group. Currently, Melghat has a child population of 34,888. Out of these, 13,540 children enjoy good health, 14,131 kids are in stage one of malnutrition, 6,750 children — stage two, 417 — stage three while 50 kids are suffering from extreme malnutrition. This despite the fact that there are 11 primary health centres (PHCs) in Melghat, various schemes like Child Development Centres, Day Care Unit, Matrutva Anudan scheme, Pada volunteers scheme focusing on the overall health of the tribals. Taking cognisance of the alarming number of malnutrition deaths, social activists Dr Ravindra Kolhe and Rajendra Burma had filed a petition in the High court which in turn had directed the additional chief secretary Chandra Iyenger to visit Melghat and take stock of the situation. Iyenger accompanied with district officials and director health service visited some villages of Dharni and Chikhaldara tehsil in Melghat on October 22 and 23. Earlier, district collector Dr Purshottam Bhapkar had also conducted a health camp for the children in the region in August. Private doctors were taken to Melghat to render their expert services to the tribal population there. Despite this, the situation in Melghat with respect to malnutrition deaths continue to be very alarming. Experts have pointed out that despite various schemes and PHCs, deficient qualified staff had resulted into poor health services in Melghat.

One of those arrested in Orissa nun rape case is blind: BJP MLA
15 Dec 2008, 2300 hrs IST, PTI
BHUBANESWAR: One of the 10 accused arrested for the alleged rape of a nun in Kandhamal district was blind, claimed an MLA in Orissa assembly on Tuesday. Karendra Majhi, a BJP MLA from Baliguda, made this claim while participating in the debate on the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and the situation thereafter. “I had been to Baliguda jail recently to meet some innocent people forcibly detained by police. There I found Gajendra Digal who is blind,” Majhi said. Claiming Digal to be innocent, the MLA said it is improper to arrest a blind person on charge of rape. Digal, a resident of K Nuagaon and aged between 45 and 50 years, could be present at the spot when the mob struck. But how can a blind person rape someone, he asked. Alleging that police arrested some people without any valid reason, Majhi said that one father-son duo was also arrested on the alleged nun rape case. Majhi stated that arrest of the blind man indicated how sincerely the police arrested people in connection with Kandhamal violence.

Higher income ceiling for OBC creamy layer falls foul of court order: petition
Legal Correspondent
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on writ petitions challenging the revision of the income criterion for the creamy layer among the Other Backward Classes from Rs. 2.5 lakh to 4.5 lakh for admission to educational institutions.
In his petition, P.V. Indiresan pointed out that in the Ashok Kumar Thakur (OBC) case, the court had explicitly said non-exclusion of the creamy layer and inclusion of forward castes in reservation violated the right to equality under Articles 14, 15 and 16 as well as the basic structure of the Constitution.
However, the Centre, on October 13, issued an ‘Office Memorandum’ increasing the income ceiling for the OBCs. Thereafter, it attempted to fill vacant seats in Central institutions by OBC candidates contrary to the court direction that vacant OBC seats go to general category students.
The petitioner said: “It is clear that this has been done with the sole mala fide intention of granting the elite sections of the OBCs a wider pool for purposes of reservation, which would subvert the clear dictum of the Constitution Bench judgment.” The effect of the Office Memorandum was that those excluded from the benefit of reservation “are a negligible group, rendering the very reservation policy questionable as providing caste-based benefits was contrary to the scheme of Articles 14, 15 and 16.”
If the Office Memorandum was allowed to prevail, it would lead to a fractured social system where “unequals are treated equally, and the very concept of the creamy layer evolved as a check on prohibited classification will be defeated,” Prof. Indiresan said.
In its petition, the Nair Service Society said: “The creamy layer class in OBCs, despite having reached the level to compete with the so-called forward class, would continue to derive the benefits of reservation by such unreasonable increase in the income limit.” The petitioners sought quashing of the Office Memorandum.

Cash-for-votes scam: three MPs give dissenting notes
Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI: The Kishore Chandra Deo parliamentary committee, probing the “cash for votes” scam, carries three dissenting notes from V.K. Malhotra (BJP), Mohammad Salim (CPI-M) and Ram Gopal Yadav (Samajwadi Party).
Mr. Malhotra disagreed with and distanced himself from the observations and conclusions of the report. He noted that Hashmat Ali, the driver who took the three BJP MPs – Faggan Singh Kulaste, Mahavir Bhagora and Ashok Argal – to Mr. Amar Singh’s residence had failed to appear before the committee; a mysterious man in a yellow shirt frequenting Mr. Amar Singh’s residence who carried the bags containing cash into Mr. Argal’s residence had not been identified; and Mr. Amar Singh was exonerated even before further investigations, which could establish that the money had indeed come from him.
Mr. Salim’s main objection was that the committee had restricted the scope of further investigation by excluding “some important names.” It should have recommended that the entire matter be further probed. Further, he felt that the Speaker could ask the Rajya Sabha Chairman to look into the alleged roles of Mr. Amar Singh and Ahmad Patel, a point also made by Mr. Malhotra.
As for Mr. Yadav, he pointed out that Mr. Kulaste had clearly stated “only Arunji could disclose the source of the money,” and this shows there is no confusion at all, not an iota of doubt, about the source of funds. He also pointed out that the BJP MPs had first said a particular car with a certain number-plate was involved in the operation and four days later had changed their version to signal a different car with a different number-plate. This, he said, was done with malafide intention.
The name of CPI leader A.B. Bardhan, who wrote to the committee saying “his MPs are being bought and sold at Rs.25 crore a piece,” came in for comment.
Sudheendra Kulkarni (political aide of L.K. Advani) and CNN-IBN, which was involved in the sting operation, admitted that his comment inspired them to find a way to do the story. Mr. Kulkarni admitted that he was the “facilitator” of what he described as a whistle-blowing operation and “worked with” the three BJP MPs.
In fact, some committee members described him as the “mastermind” of the entire operation. It was also revealed that BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley helped to get the CNN-IBN team on board.
Against rules
Mr. Kishore Chandra Deo explained that parliamentary rules did not permit this committee to call Rajya Sabha MPs Mr. Amar Singh and Mr. Patel to depose before it. “Even if the Rajya Sabha Chairman were to agree, he would have to ask leave of the House, and even after that the MPs whose depositions were sought need not have deposed before a Lok Sabha committee. Perhaps those rules need to be changed, he noted.
Besides Mr. Deo, Mr. Malhotra, Mr. Salim, Mr. Yadav, other members of the committee were Devendra Prasad Yadav (Janata Dal-United), C. Kuppusami (DMK) and Rajesh Varma (Bahujan Samaj Party).
The Speaker indicated that he was yet to decide what he intended to do with the report. There was no clarity whether indeed he would suggest a further probe to the government.

Parliament approves setting up of Jute Board
16 Dec 2008, 0014 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Parliament on Monday approved a legislation paving the way for setting up a National Jute Board to promote cultivation, manufacture and marketing of jute and jute products with the Rajya Sabha returning a bill to this effect with voice vote. The National Jute Board Bill, 2008, was passed by the Lok Sabha in October. Moving the bill for approval in the Upper House, textile minister Shankarsinh Vaghela said, “The creation of the board will enhance coordination between agencies associated with jute growing and jute products in the country for the greater welfare of farmers.” Changes in the nature and character of the board, if needed, can be brought about in the future as per requirement, he added. Taking part in the debate before the passage of the bill, BJP MP Vikram Verma voiced concern over the lack of adequate representation of farmers in the board. He also demanded that the board should be involved in acquiring the unused lands of the jute mills so that these do not fall into the hands of wrong people for commercial use. Verma also called on the minister to allocate more funds for research and development in the jute sector.

Education Bill tabled in Rajya Sabha
Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI: The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Monday by Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development (HRD) M.A.A. Fatmi.
The introduction of the Bill came after several abortive efforts to draft the enabling legislation without which the fundamental right — enacted in December 2002 — cannot come into effect. Besides giving every child in the 6-to-14 age group the right to free and compulsory education, the Bill also seeks to evolve norms and standards for primary education; complete with minimum qualifications for teachers, pupil-teacher ratio, and a ban on private tuitions by teachers.
It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that every child in the target age-group has access to a school in the neighbourhood within three years of the enactment of the law, the Bill also tries to rope in the private sector in this endeavour.
Private schools will have to reserve 25 per cent of seats in Class I every year for children from the disadvantaged sections of society in the neighbourhood. The government will reimburse these schools.
The Bill prohibits collection of capitation fee, screening of either the parent or the child at the time of admission, detention or expulsion in any class till completion of elementary education, and physical punishment.
The Bill provides that no child be denied admission for lack of age proof.

More people committing suicide in south India: Report
16 Dec 2008, 0058 hrs IST, Kounteya Sinha, TNN
NEW DELHI: South Indians aren’t coping well with stress, be it the uncertain times affecting our economy or the pressures at home. And it’s showing in the National Crime Records Bureau’s latest figures on suicides in the country. Even though Maharashtra recorded the highest number of suicides committed in 2007 — 15,184 — four of the top six states with the highest suicide rates are from South India. While Andhra Pradesh recorded 14,882 suicide deaths, Tamil Nadu registered 13,811 deaths followed by Karnataka (12,304) and Kerala (8,962). What’s worse, of these four states, three have recorded an increase in the number of suicides in 2007 compared to 2006. They include AP with a 12.1% increase, TN (11.5%) and Karnataka (0.8%). Experts claim that earlier studies have never pointed to geographical factors behind increased suicide rates. However, they admit that poor mental health programmes in some states of South India and its subsequent failure to identify and treat people with illnesses like depression could have led to the spike in the number of suicides. The NCRB report confirms the explanation. Mental illness was found to be one of the major causes behind people committing suicide in South Indian states. Around 1,982 of those who committed suicide in TN, 637 in Karnataka and 1,384 in Kerala were suffering from mental illnesses. Psychiatrist Dr Samir Parekh from Max Hospital said, “Untreated mental illnesses are the significant reason behind suicides. States which have recorded high suicide rates must immediately starting district level mental health programmes.” A psychiatrist at AIIMS told TOI, “Reputation and economic status holds tremendous value in southern states. People don’t take it very well when they fail to cope with a fall in such standards.” The four southern states recorded large instances when people committed suicide after being unable to cope with illnesses. Andhra recorded 629 such cases, Karnataka (109), Kerala (86) and Tamil Nadu (42). Love affairs gone bad was also a big killer in south India. Andhra recorded 316 suicides due to sour relationships while TN recorded 437, Karnataka 88 and Kerala 81. Poverty was another big reason causing 1,205 suicides in Andhra, 344 in Karnataka and 164 in TN. The health ministry admits that suicide has become a serious health problem which mental health programmes till now did not pay much attention to. “We are now ready with a special suicide prevention strategy for schools and workplaces. Teachers can now to identify students with mental health problems and those who are likely to take drastic steps in ending their lives. Training will be given to MBBS doctors to identify as well as counsel patients suffering from mental health problems at district and sub-division levels,” an official said. India and China now have the highest suicide rates in the world. In China, for every 100,000 people, 99 commit suicide annually. In India, it is 98 for every 100,00 population. Japan, China and India account for about 40% of the world suicides.

India for humane treatment to two sailors
Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI: India has reiterated the need for humane treatment to the two Indians jailed in South Korea for their alleged role in an oil spill and expressed its disappointment over the harsh sentences imposed on them.
It hoped that the court would take into account the complete circumstances of the case and also consider the impact of the judgement on the maritime community while hearing the appeals planned to be filed by the lawyers of both Indians.
These sentiments were expressed by senior Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official N. Ravi when he met the South Korean Ambassador here on Monday.
Captain J. S. Chawla and Chief Officer Chetan Syam were given prison sentences in connection with an accident involving the ship ‘Hebei Spirit’ off the Korean coast last year.
They had maintained that their crude carrier was safely anchored when a crane barge being towed by another ship broke free in the rough waters and rammed their ship, leading to one of the worst oil spills off South Korea’s coast.

Disclose how many given security cover, HC to Punjab
15 Dec 2008, 2247 hrs IST, Vishal Sharma, TNN
CHANDIGARH: A day after TOI highlighted how VIPs in Punjab, many of them still using threat perceptions during days of terrorism as an excuse, had lavished a huge number of securitymen on themselves and kin, Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday sought names of those who have armed guards. Visibly perturbed, Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Nawab Singh, after going through the TOI report placed before them by a petitioner, also asked the state government to disclose details of “threat perception” to such persons. The details — the names of those who get security cover and the number of security personnel on such duty — will have to be placed in a sealed cover before the high court on or before December 22, the next date of hearing. TOI had reported how the Punjab chief minister and his kin had an astounding 1,000 security personnel to cover them. Overall, about 900 leaders and 350 officers have 7,284 gunmen looking after their security needs. This, when internal security, which has come into sharp focus after the Mumbai attacks of November 26, exposed sieve-like loopholes. The significant directions, which may cause quite a bit of embarrassment to the state government once the data start rolling off, came in the wake of a plea filed by SGPC secretary Raghbir Singh who claimed that despite serious threats to him and his family Punjab had withdrawn security cover provided to him on March 3, 2007. During the course of hearing, Raghbir Singh’s counsel hammered on the fact that a large number of security personnel were provided to various influential people “without proper examination of threat perception to them”. Such persons included SGPC members, industrialists, hoteliers, bureaucrats and even medipersons. Surprisingly, police do not have proper records showing how many personnel are attached with which VIP. Depending on the clout they have in the establishment, politicians manage security guards from various police wings like Punjab Armed Police, Indian Reserve Battalion, Punjab Commando Police and 82-Battalion.

3 judges appointed
Legal Correspondent
New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil on Monday appointed Chief Justices A.K. Ganguly (Madras High Court), R.M. Lodha (Patna High Court) and H.L. Dattu (Kerala High Court) as judges of the Supreme Court. They are likely to be sworn-in on Wednesday. With their elevation, the strength of judges in the court has risen to 24, against the total strength of 26, including Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan.

High Court annuls own judgment, orders probe
Legal Correspondent
HYDERABAD: A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice D. S. R.Varma and Justice K. C. Bhanu on Monday declared that the judgment rendered by it in a criminal appeal does not ‘exist in law’ as a ruling had already been rendered in the same case earlier. It directed the High Court Registrar to conduct an inquiry into the lapses by the staff in this regard.
It may be recalled that one Ahmed Pasha was convicted by a court in Adilabad district and had sent a petition to the Legal Services Authority seeking legal aid. His relatives, meanwhile, arranged for an appeal to be filed on his behalf, which came up before a Bench of the court and was dismissed confirming the punishment.
After some time, the appeal that was processed through the Legal Services authority came up for hearing before the present Bench which acquitted him.
Later, it came to light that the two judgments were rendered by two different benches of the court in the same case. This was brought to the notice of the Bench comprising Justice Varma and Justice Bhanu.
Expresses dismay
The Bench expressed dismay over the attitude of the registry which failed to check the appeals being filed against the same judgment and not bringing the same to the notice of the court. The Bench dictated the judgment in the court hall till 6.15 p.m. beyond the working hours. It said that the second appeal, which it had adjudicated, was not maintainable and does not have the sanction of law.

Pension Adalat
VIJAYAWADA: As many as 55 cases were resolved and payments to the tune of Rs.60,000 made at the 23rd Pension Adalat organised by the Vijayawada division of the South Central Railway at the Railway Institute on Monday.
In response to a notification issued earlier by the Vijayawada division of the SCR, 55 representations were received and all were admitted. The payment of Rs.60,000 made pertained to 43 cases of these 55 cases. The adalat also attended to the 27 cases received on the day of last adalat held on February 17, 2007. In addition, 42 new cases were registered.

All set for Child Census 2008
Staff Correspondent
4.6 lakh houses to be covered in three days
Primary schools to remain closed from
December 18 to 20
5,358 enumerators, 559 supervisors to be involved in collecting data
MANGALORE: Various government departments in the district, as well as non- governmental organisations (NGOs) are gearing up for the State-wide “Child census 2008”, scheduled for December 18, 19 and 20.
The government, government-aided and private primary schools will remain closed on these three days. The primary school teachers will be engaging themselves in the door-to-door collection of data about children below 14.
The child census programme of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) aims at indexing three major pieces of information: The number of children, who will become eligible for school or class 1 by June 2009; the number of children between six and 14 who are out of school; and the number of children below the age of 14 involved in child labour.
The census will attempt at finding reasons as to why children below 14 have stayed away from school.
Geetha Shetty, assistant project officer for Dakshina Kannada for SSA, said that the census would provide crucial indicators for the enrolment drive to be launched in June next.
The data would help in identifying the thrust areas for the residential bridge courses. These bridge courses were designed to prepare the drop-outs for mainstream schooling. Tent and mobile schools would be set up in areas with high density of drop-outs based on these statistics, she said.
A joint coordination committee, chaired by the Deputy Commissioner, will carry out the census operation in the district.
The committee will comprise representatives from the Department of Women and Child Development, Labour Department, Mangalore Urban Development Authority, Social Welfare Department and some NGOs. Ms. Shetty said that 5,358 enumerators and 559 supervisors would span out in the district to collect the data from an estimated 4,59,000 households.
Least drop-outs
According to the previous child census conducted in January this year, Dakshina Kannada, together with Udupi, had the distinction of having the lowest number of school drop-outs. It had been found that only 450 children were out of school in these districts.
According to Ms. Shetty, only three of these 450 continue to be out of school. A majority of the out-of-school children in the district were from migratory workers’ families. A substantial number of these children were bed-ridden, physically or mentally challenged, she added.

Court declines to quash charge sheet
KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Monday declined to quash the charge sheet and further proceedings initiated against the former Electricity Minister C.V. Padmarajan and others in a corruption case relating to the award of contracts for the Brahmapuram diesel power plant.
Justice V. Ramkumar, while disposing of petitions filed by Mr. Padmarajan and R. Narayanan, former KSEB Chairman, challenging the Vigilance case, held that the Thiruvananthapuram Vigilance Court alone had the jurisdiction to take cognizance and try the case.
The court ruled that the Thrissur Vigilance Court, where the case was pending, had no jurisdiction to issue summons to the accused and proceed with the case.
The court ordered that the Thrissur Vigilance Court return the police report and connected records for presentation of the case to the Thiruvananthapuram court.
As regards the contention for quashing the case, the court observed that it was too early to accept the ground put forward in support of the same. The court said that the question of prosecution sanctions under section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code was “relegated to the trial stage.” Both sides were at liberty to raise all the contentions before the court during the trial of the case.
Revenue Secretary Niveditha P. Haran who appeared before a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday submitted that she would file an affidavit detailing circumstances under which the government could not fully disburse the compensation for the land acquired for various purposes.
The Secretary told the court that compensation to the tune of Rs.300 crore had to be awarded in various land acquisition cases.

Social justice not ensured: SNDP leader
Staff Reporter
ALAPPUZHA: Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam general secretary Vellappally Natesan has alleged that social justice was not ensured in the distribution of tsunami rehabilitation funds in the coastal region of Alappuzha.
Inaugurating a dharna in front of the Aryad South village office as part of the SNDP’s Ambalapuzha union’s agitation against the ‘misuse’ of tsunami funds, Mr. Natesan alleged that a particular community had hijacked a lion’s share of the funds, particularly scholarship funds.
Officials had bent their knees before this particular community.
The SNDP was not against any community, but at the same time would agitate to any extent to ensure that the Ezhava community was not neglected by the authorities.
Accusing politicians of playing vote bank politics while doling out largesse to a particular community during the tsunami rehabilitation process, Mr. Natesan also said that this community had formed a pressure group to gain all possible benefits.

Supreme Court extends stay on High Court order
J. Venkatesan
Stalling construction in the Commonwealth Games village
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday extended the interim stay of the orders passed by the Delhi High Court stalling constructions in the Commonwealth Games village on the banks of river Yamuna in the Capital for holding the Games in 2010.
During ‘mentioning’ on December 5, a Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam had stayed till Monday the orders dated November 3 and all further proceedings relating to the constitution of a committee to go into the environmental aspects on the construction activities in the village.
On Monday, the bench extended the stay. Regarding constitution of a committee to examine the constructions in the village, the Bench said it would take up the issue later and pass appropriate orders.
When the matter was taken up Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati, appearing for the Delhi Development Authority submitted that the High Court had passed the orders about nine months after reserving judgment.
If the order was given effect to, it would seriously jeopardise the very conduct and holding of the Commonwealth games, for which a commitment had been made to the Commonwealth Federation.
“Shadow on the Games”
He said the direction on setting up of a committee would virtually put a halt on the constructions and had created an uncertainty and cast a shadow on the Games.
Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian, appearing for the organising committee said that 71 countries would participate in the Games and “we are going to face claims from all the competing countries if the Games are not held as scheduled and we are under an obligation to pay damages.”
Senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina, for the Union Sports Ministry, senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi for the Delhi government and senior counsel Harish Salve and Arun Jaitley, for private builders explained how the impugned orders would jeopardise the Games.
In its special leave petition, the DDA said the directions issued by the High Court seemed to suggest that the CWG was being constructed on a river bed/flood plain. It said when expert and scientific bodies had given a categorical finding that the site in question was not a river bed or a flood plain.
On the direction to appoint a committee, the DDA said the fate of the CWG village could not be left to be decided by the committee which had no expertise in matters relating to the classification of the site in question.
The SLP sought quashing of the two orders and the related proceedings in the High Court.

Salwa Judum victims assured of relief
J. Venkatesan
Chhattisgarh Government says it has passed order in this regard
New Delhi: The Chhattisgarh Government has admitted in the Supreme Court that Salwa Judum and security forces had burnt houses and looted property and compensation has been ordered to the families of the victims of these atrocities.
In its response to a petition filed by Nandini Sundar and others highlighting the atrocities, Chhattisgarh Government said it had passed an appropriate order that residents of uninhabited villages would be rehabilitated and that residents of camps would be given rations and health protection.
Further, it said that security forces should not occupy schools or ashram buildings, which had been a long standing demand of the human rights movement in different parts of the country.
The order said: “Necessary action be ensured for rehabilitation of uninhabited families by District Level Rehabilitation Committee constituted under the chairmanship of Collector. Necessary scheme/proposal with respect to rehabilitation be sent to State Level Rehabilitation Committee. Necessary relief money be given in cases of properties damaged by Salwa Judum activists/security forces, besides naxalite violence, after village wise analysis.”
“Security forces be not allowed to stay in school/ashram buildings. Construction of barracks etc. required for stay of police force, be got carried out with the help of Police Department/Authority. Facilities of ration distribution, public distribution system, health toilet etc. in the relief camps be ensured. Inquiries and sudden inspection of complaints be carried out with respect to black-marketing of ration-distribution and kerosene. Proceedings on the aforementioned suggestions be commenced and its monthly report of steps taken be sent.” The case comes up for further hearing on Tuesday.

Demand for reservation in private sector
Staff Reporter
NEW DELHI: Under the All-India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations banner, employees, officers and supporters of reservation from across the country organised a protest march in the Capital on Monday.
After assembling at the Ramlila Grounds here, the protesters marched to Jantar Mantar with bullock-carts and other animals to demand reservation in private sector and higher judiciary. They also demanded filling up of backlog posts, enactment of Reservation Act, strict implementation of Prevention of SC/ST Atrocities Act, besides a host of other demands.
Addressing the rally, the All-India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations National Chairman Udit Raj said earlier there used to be at least a discussion about reservation in the private sector. Dr. Raj said as long as industrialists were pressurised by the Government, they were ready to bear some social obligations but now they have almost retracted.
“Liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation have eroded opportunities for SC/ST and marginalised people to retain the gains already achieved, what to talk about pacing with time and space.”

Lawyers protest against terror attacks
NEW DELHI: A large number of Delhi lawyers took out a silent march here on Monday in protest against the Mumbai terror attacks, demanding concrete action against terrorists and their training camps.
The march was organised by the Delhi High Court Bar Association and lawyers belonging to all district courts’ bar associations participated in it.
The protesters carried placards expressing condolences to the martyrs killed in the attacks as well demanding a firm action against the perpetrators and the sponsors of the crime.
The march started from the High Court premises and terminated at the India Gate.

‘Child labour hampers education in villages’
Staff Reporter
BHUBANESWAR: Political parties must incorporate issues relating to development of children in their manifestos, said students who came from different parts of the State here on Monday.
At a State-level interface of leaders of different political parties with children organised by ‘Orissa Alliance on Convention on Rights of Child (OACRC)’, students, who were earlier sensitised on various children’s issues, apprised leaders from different political of problems faced by them. “Increasing rate of child labour has hampered the education in village level. Government should stop it by constituting a parallel children body at grassroots,” said one Kabita Sahoo, a class-VII students, from Koraput district. Similarly, Sonali Dandasena from same district said primary health care units should be located nearer to villages so that they would not have to take additional pain for availing of those services. “While some leaders accepted that sufficient attention was not given on children’s issues in the election manifestos, others however were of the opinion that rights of children needed to be strengthened further,” OACRC Convenor Ranjan Mohanty said.

High Court rejects Ray’s plea
CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Monday declined to interfere in the disproportionate asset case against senior Congress leader Dilip Ray and rejected a petition of Ray.
The Congress leader, against whom the anti-corruption wing of the police had filed an FIR in 1996, had moved a petition in High Court in 2002 to quash the same.
The High Court after adjudicating over the petition had reserved its judgment last year.
Single judge bench of High Court presided over by Justice B P Das pronounced the judgment and rejected the petition declining to interfere.
his means, the senior Congress leader would now face the trial to be conducted by special vigilance court.
According to reports, the vigilance wing had detected disproportionate assets to the tune of more than Rs 4 crore and an FIR was filed in this connection in 1996. However, when charge-sheets of the case were not filed till after eight years, Ray moved the court to quash the FIR filed against him.
However, Vigilance directorate filed the charge sheets in 2007 and informed the High Court that the anti-corruption wing sleuths have in the meantime have collected several evidences in connection with the case.

CJI didn’t consult collegium over appointments: Govt
Press Trust of India
Tuesday, December 16, 2008, (New Delhi)
The Chief Justice of India did not consult the collegium while recommending the names of 351 additional judges for being made permanent, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Monday.Union Law minister H R Bhardwaj said in a written reply that the appointments were made between January 1, 1999 and July 31, 2007.He said on March 3, the apex court directed the Union of India to bring on record the memorandum of procedure for appointment of permanent judges and the government had complied with the direction. The matter has now been heard and the judgment is reserved.Replying to other questions, the minister said there is no proposal to change the present system of appointment of judges in the higher judiciary, though suggestions have been received from various quarters to make changes in the present procedure.The government has proposed a revision in the salaries and allowances of Supreme Court and High Court judges and for improvement of retrial benefits of former judges, the Minister said, adding that the government orders on the issue will be issued after effecting amendments in the relevant legislation.On a question related to a proposal to set up a panel to make appointments and to deal with errant judges, the minister told the House that the Judges (Inquiry) Bill 2006 aimed at setting up a National Judicial Council to examine complaints against judges was introduced earlier.The Bill was examined by the department related parliamentary standing committee and its report was examined in the department. It has now been decided to withdraw this Bill of 2006 and introduce another Bill titled – Judges (Inquiry) Amendment Bill 2008, the minister said.

BMW case: Delhi HC issues notice to cops on Nanda’s bail plea
16 Dec 2008, 1330 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the police on a bail plea filed by Sanjeev Nanda, a convict in the BMW hit-and-run case undergoing five-year prison term for mowing down six persons in 1999. Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Nanda, pleaded for bail on the ground that his grandfather S M Nanda, ex-Naval Chief, was not well and wanted to see him as he was his only grandson. Justice Kailash Gambhir, however, expressed reservations saying that the criminal appeal filed by Nanda had already reached the final stages. Jethmalani while seeking bail for Sanjeev referring to “excellent” service rendered by Nanda’s grandfather to the nation. “He (S M Nanda) was a man of excellent credentials, who served the nation throughout his life. He was the man who took a boat and went alone to Karachi in 1971 (during the Indo-Pakistani war) to bomb the city. “He is now above 90 years of age and is losing his memory. Whenever he gets back his memory, he remembers his only grandson,” Jethmalani said, while seeking bail for the convict. The court then agreed to hear the plea and issued notice to Delhi Police. Nanda, son of arms dealer Suresh Nanda, was sentenced to five-year jail term on September 5 for killing six persons including three policemen by his BMW car in the wee hours of January 10, 1999 at Lodhi Colony here.

1933 Hari masjid police firing: HC asks reasons for no FIR
16 Dec 2008, 0414 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: The high court on Monday asked the state government why it had failed to register a first information report in the 1993 Hari Masjid police firing case. A section of society should not feel that despite disclosing a cognisable offence, the police are not registering their complaint, said a division bench of justices F I Rebello and R S Mohite, adding, We also cannot allow the police to be demoralised. The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Farooq Mapkar, a victim of the firing at Hari Masjid on January 10, 1993, that killed seven persons. Mapkar has urged the court to direct the police to book assistant police inspector Nikhil Kapse for murder and also hand over the probe to the CBI. Kapse, then a police sub-inspector attached to the RAK Marg police station, had ordered the firing in the masjid at Sewri. The complaint (made by Mapkar) on its own, along with the (Srikrishna Commission) report, prima facie discloses a cognisable offence, observed the judges. Public prosecutor Satish Borulkar told the court that a Special Task Force, appointed by the state government to look into the commissions report that probed the 1992-93 Mumbai riots, had said that no offence was made out. During Mondays hearing, it was, however, revealed that the STF had not even examined any of the injured or other witnesses of the firing or recorded any statements. It was said constables at the spot as well as the driver of the then DCP K L Bishnoi had told the commission it was Kapse who ordered the firing. The wireless messages also supported the version that the firing had started before Bishnoi arrived at the place, and not afterwards as claimed by the police. Further arguments in the case will be held on Tuesday.

HC raps police for allowing scribe to talk to accused
16 Dec 2008, 0649 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Taking a serious view of security breach which allowed a journalist to interact with an alleged terrorist nabbed during the Batla House encounter even as he was being led to a nearby police station, Delhi High Court on Monday slammed the Delhi Police. “In such sensitive case you take the accused to a place where everyone can come and go. How can you secure the safety of accused. It is a serious breach of security,” a bench comprising chief justice A P Shah and justice S Muralidhar said. “You say it was a chaotic environment when they were arrested but the alleged confession is elaborate which prima facie seems not possible,” the court added, while hearing a petition filed by an NGO seeking action against police officials who allegedly leaked the information pertaining to investigations into the case to a news magazine. In their response to an HC query the Delhi Police had denied they allowed any scribe access to the arrested terrorists and said it must have been during the chaos as onlookers and bystanders thronged the Jamia Nagar area that in ensuing chaos some journalist might have managed access to one of the arrested men. Additional solicitor general Gopal Subramanium contended that since a large crowd was following the accused so the journalist might have got an opportunity to talk to them. “As large number of people constituting of local leaders, RWA members among others also started questioning these detainees. The journalist might have managed to talk to them while they were in police custody,” he said. But HC wasn’t convinced and noted, “It’s an elaborate interview and prima facie it was difficult to believe that the journalist conducted the interview while they were being arrested by the police and taken to the police station to interrogate them. HC also wondered why the terror suspects were questioned in a temporary structure. “It is surprising that interrogation was carried out at Jamia Nagar police station which doesn’t even have a lock up facility, this itself is a breach of security,” the judges quipped. The court was hearing a petition which alleged that “Delhi Police is leaking information which was obtained by them in course of their interrogation into the case to the media. Also, the manner in which media publishes such information, apart from being defamatory in nature, affects the fundamental right of accused to a fair trial.” HC however, turned down the plea of judicial inquiry into the Jamia Nagar encounter and said that NHRC, which is looking into the matter, is competent authority to handle the case. “A similar matter seeking judicial inquiry came up before Supreme Court which was not entertained. The NHRC is efficient enough to proceed in the case,” the bench observed and sought a reply from the police on its affidavit filed before NHRC. Five accused were arrested by the city police for their alleged involvement in September 13 serial blasts in the Capital which killed 26 people. Rehman, Nissar and Shakil were arrested by the police from Jamia Nagar on September 20, a day after two alleged militants were gunned down in an encounter. Mohd Saif and Zeeshan were arrested on the day of the encounter.

Teen driver may get away lightly
16 Dec 2008, 0649 hrs IST, Medha Chaturvedi, TNN
NEW DELHI: Being a minor seems to have come to the aid of the 16-year-old boy who was allegedly behind the wheels of the Scorpio which rammed into a Maruti 800 a little past midnight on Friday, killing five members of a family in Keshavpuram area of north-west Delhi. According to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000, no case will be registered against the accused if the section applicable invites punishment for a maximum of seven years. However, if the section applicable is a more serious one entailing punishment over seven years, then the Act provides for a maximum of three years protective custody in a reformatory home. In the Keshavpuram incident, although the case registered is under section 304 of IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), the maximum punishment likely will be three years’ protective custody. “The law states that a juvenile is a person in conflict with law, and hence must be dealt with compassion. We cannot go against the law in trying to punish a minor. If three years is the maximum punishment he faces, then three years will be what he will get,” said a senior police official. Now, the father of the accused can face a maximum punishment of imprisonment for three months or Rs 1000 as fine or both. “I have lost my brother and his family and my daughter in the accident. Do you think that a penalty of Rs 1000 or three months or even three years in prison are enough? I agree that being a child, the accused has only committed a mistake, but what about his father? Why is he not being booked under a harsher section? Is the value for five lives of our family only Rs 1000 or three months’ imprisonment? What kind of an unfair law is this?” said Mukesh Gupta, deceased Rakesh’s brother. He added that the accused’s father did not even talk to the victims’ family once. Advocate YP Singh, who has dealt with many cases pertaining to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act said, “If cops have registered a case under Section 304, it is clear that he is accused of causing death with intent. Section 304 is applicable when there is reasonable evidence to suggest that the driver knew that his actions would cause hurt or death to someone. In this case, the boy did not have a licence and he was overspeeding knowing fully well that this could result in an accident. However, the law favours a minor.”

Courts clear 67 of 300 adoption cases
16 Dec 2008, 0650 hrs IST, Deeksha Chopra, TNN
NEW DELHI: Following the HC directive to clear all pending adoption
cases in four weeks, 67 cases have been disposed of since November 15 until date by the district and sessions judge Mamta Sehgal. As many as 300 adoption cases had been pending with the district courts. Further these cases have now been divided among two other district judges in an effort to lighten load and expedite proceedings in the timeframe. Earlier, all adoption cases were being dealt with by district and sessions judge Mamta Sehgal. In a further move, all new adoption cases would now be divided among the nine district courts. As a reaction to a TOI report on November 14, Chief Justice of Delhi High Court A P Shah called a meeting with Coordinating Voluntary Adoption Resource Agency (CVARA) and concerned district and sessions court judges and gave a deadline of four weeks to district courts to dispose of all 300 pending cases and submit a report to him at the end of this period. The action followed a TOI report on November 14 on how adoption cases were being held up for six months to a year in the Delhi district court, despite a Supreme Court judgment and directive, making it mandatory that all adoption cases be disposed of within two months. As a result, things have started moving quite swiftly in district courts. Already, 67 cases have been disposed of since November 15 until date by the district and session’s judge Mamta Sehgal, who was earlier single-handedly looking after adoption. Now, some of the pending cases with her have been transferred to two other district judges in Tis Hazari. The other two district judges, who are now also handling adoption cases, are M L Mehta of North district and Rakesh Kapoor of West district. Said district judge Rakesh Kapoor: “The old adoption cases will be handled between the three district judges in Tis Hazari and the new cases filed will be divided between the nine district judges in all courts. About 200 cases of adoption and guardianship will be transferred to my court. Now that cases have been divided, they will be disposed of expeditiously. Previously, only one judge was dealing with them.” Meanwhile, when TOI tried contacting district and sessions judge Mamta Sehgal, she refused to comment on the matter. Leila Baig, hony secretary CVARA, told TOI that agencies and lawyers are very happy with this move and are quite positive that held up cases in the district court will now be cleared: “We are very happy with the prompt move by the hony Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and district court judge after TOI published the report on long delays in adoption cases. Many adoption agencies have contacted us, expressing their gratitude. Lawyers have also noted that cases are moving faster.” Lawyers have applauded this direction and say that cases are now being decided very swiftly. “I had at least 40 adoption cases pending in Tis Hazari court, but in the last 20 days itself, 20 of those cases have been cleared by the judges, which is a phenomenal rate. I personally am quite pleased with the rate at which cases are now being disposed of and hope it will continue,” said advocate Mohinder Singh.

Hasan Ali surrenders in fake passport case
16 Dec 2008, 0427 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: Hasan Ali Khan, a Pune-based businessman, on Monday surrendered before the Bhoiwada court in connection with a fake passport case against him. He was arrested and remanded to police custody till December 19. Khan, who is also accused of being involved in a multi-crore hawala racket, was declared a proclaimed absconder by a court in April this year. Worli police officers said Khan was produced before the Bhoiwada court which remanded him to police custody till December 19. “We had registered a case against Khan as he had procured three passports after furnishing fake documents. We are questioning him now,” said Bharat Worlikar, senior inspector of Worli police station. In February 2008, the regional passport office (RPO) lodged a case against Khan, alleging that he had procured three fake passports from Hyderabed, Patna and Mumbai. Khan had also made two separate applications for fresh passports from Chandigarh and Guwahati. He has been booked for cheating under sections of the Indian Penal Code and under sections of the Passport Act, which deals in cases in which false information is furnished to procure a passport. Ali is wanted by the Pune police after a joint raid by the income tax department (IT) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) revealed he had stashed huge amounts abroad. Police said Khan is believed to maintain bank accounts in Switzerland, UAE and the UK. He is also suspected to have stashed huge amounts of money in Swiss bank accounts. Officials also said Ali’s friend, Switzerland hotelier Philip Anandraj, was suspected to be the man who knew about his foreign transactions. Khan also has a history of petty criminal cases in Hyderabad, from where he moved to Pune several years ago. According to the investigating agencies, Khan’s wealth is believed to be about Rs 35,000 crore and most of it is unaccounted.

Frame-up: Closure report challenged
16 Dec 2008, 0650 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Delhi police on Monday sought time from a session court to file its written submissions on the closure report filed by the CBI, which recently gave a clean chit to two Kashmiri youth accused of being members of militant outfit Al-Badr. Additional Sessions Judge Satendar Kumar Gautam deferred the hearing till December 24 giving time to the special cell to file its objections on the CBI’s recommendation to the court that three sub-inspectors of the Delhi Police’s special cell be formally charged for framing Mohd Irshad and Morif Qamar in 2006, by fabricating evidence that linked them to an elaborate terror network. The two were brought to the court following the ASJ Gautam had issued a production warrant against them on the previous date. Earlier, arguing before the court, special cell counsel Rajiv Mohan challenged the closure report. “CBI started fresh investigations in the case. However, the SC’s ruling clearly states that no fresh investigation, re-investigation can be conducted,” he said, adding that CBI was only suppose to further investigate the case. On discharge of the accused, the prosecution said, “in the light of further investigations, the CBI cannot ask for discharging of the accused.” The CBI, however, argued on the loopholes of the investigation done by the special cell and said, “no independent witness has been cited by the local police.” Meanwhile, the defence counsel sought discharging of the Irshad and Qamar on the grounds that the closure report proves them innocent and they have been kept in custody for no reason. The court, however, denied the defence’s request and put their discharge on hold till the objection of the prosecution is filed. The special cell of the Delhi Police had arrested the two in February 2006, from ISBT at Kashmere Gate. The police had at the time claimed that pistols, RDX, detonators and other ammunition had also been recovered from their possession. However, on November 11 this year, the CBI submitted a closure report in the court seeking their discharge as “nothing adverse could be found” against the two. Seeking their discharge, the agency had also sought permission from the court for taking action against three Delhi Police officers posted with the Special Cell, who had played a key role in the arrest at the time. Acting on the directions of the Delhi High Court, the CBI questioned the three officers – Vinay Tyagi, Ravinder Tyagi and Subash Vats. The agency has demanded the three be booked for lying under oath and creating “false” evidence.

HC summons health dept principal secy
16 Dec 2008, 0501 hrs IST, TNN
LUCKNOW: The high court on Monday summoned the principal secretary, health, and director general (medical and health) for December 18 to explain as to why the court should not direct the governments to provide ante haemophilia factors (a kind of protein) in government hospitals. The order came from the bench of Justice Pradeep Kant and Justice Shabihul Hasnain on the public interest litigation filed by the secretary of Haemophilia Society, Lucknow, Vinay Manchanda, and a third year law student of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia University, Nimisha R Bahadur. The PIL seeks availability of medicines and anti-vaccines in the hospitals so that the life of patients suffering from haemophilia could be saved. The court had earlier directed to constitute an expert committee. It met on December 3 and 4 to discuss that positive steps be taken to provide better and more effective treatment to haemophiliac patients. There are 2,693 diagnosed haemophiliac patients in the state. Out of it, 1,594 are registered with the petitioner society. It was informed to the court on Monday that infusion of factor VIII (one of the protein contents of blood serum) is the appropriate treatment of the haemophiliac patients. But since the Factor VIII is not manufactured in India, such patients could be treated by providing cryo-precipitate blood component. The counsel for the petitioners, Rakesh Srivastava and Sudeep Seth, however, rejected the alternative therapy to the haemophiliac patients and demanded that the government must ensure supply of factor VIII and IX in the government hospitals in the state. The PIL will come up for hearing on December 18.

RTI clears decks for SEBI to obtain info from stock exchange
15 Dec 2008, 0254 hrs IST, Viju B, TNN
MUMBAI: This will come as a big relief to lakhs of investors who have been trying to procure information from the Bombay Stock Exchange through the Right to Information (RTI) Act. In a landmark order, the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) appellate authority has directed its own public information officer (PIO) to obtain information from the Bombay Stock Exchange which the regulator has access to, but does not have any third party interest. The order came after RTI applicant Yogesh Mehta filed a slew of appeals with the Central Information Commission (CIC) in July this year. The CIC had directed SEBI’s appellate authority to hear appeals filed by Mehta who sought details of BSE’s Investor Protection Fund (IPF), and BSE’s compliance report of implementation of SEBI’s order. When the appeal came up for hearing, the BSE officials said that though they do not have any objection in providing information to SEBI, they contended that the regulator cannot seek information from BSE for the purpose of providing the same to the citizens under the RTI Act. The BSE officials argued that though various sections of RTI Act do provide citizens the right to get information which is under the control of the public authority, it does not provide the same right to the public authority to collect information from private bodies. “The disclosure of information will also affect the pending legalproceedings. We also fear the information will be misused by the applicant,” the BSE official argued. But when it came up for hearing, the BSE refused to furnish details of court cases which would adversely affect this case. The SEBI’s appellate authority, on hearing the appeal, said it is clear the BSE holds some of the information sought by the applicant and such information also comes under SEBI’s ambit. “There is no prohibition on BSE in providing such information to SEBI or on SEBI accessing such information from BSE for the purpose of RTI. SEBI can also access such information from BSE under the securities laws,” the order said. The SEBI’ s appellate authority, M S Sahoo, in the 15-page order, also noted that if such information is not exempted under section (8) of the RTI Act and if BSE does not have objection to third party disclosure, then the information should be provided to the applicant. While directing the SEBI’s PIO to procure the information from BSE, the appellate authority said he regretted that the information could not be disposed of within the time period specified by the CIC. “This is because of the non-cooperation of SEBI’s PIO and BSE,” Sahoo noted.

HC sees jungle raj in untamed cop inaction
Statesman News ServiceKOLKATA, Dec. 15: Calcutta High Court has often stepped in to prevent breakdown in dispensation of justice owing to police inaction, but seldom has it rubbed it in as it did today. “If Calcutta High Court does not interfere at this moment, jungle raj would prevail.” Mr Justice Dipankar Dutta of this court observed while passing directions in a case of police inaction in North-24-Parganas during the day. The inspector-in-charge of Basirhat police station was directed to ensure that the family members of Mr Netiapada Ghosh could enter and leave their house with police assistance. Permanent deployment of police near their house was also directed, till the disposal of the case. Mr Ghosh, a resident Basirhat in North-24-Parganas had moved Calcutta High Court after he and his family members were prevented from entering their own house by the members of two local clubs. Accused of complicity in the death of Jhuma Ghosh who allegedly committed suicide, Ghosh and other members of his family had been granted bail by sub divisional judicial magistrate, Basirhat. But even after being released on bail, life became an ordeal for the Ghosh family. On their return from court, they were beaten up and prevented from entering their home by some members of Nabasri and Matrika, two local clubs. No steps were taken to ensure their entry and stay in their own home even after a complaint was lodged with the Basirhat police station and information to the superintendent of police, North-24-Parganas was informed, it was alleged. Ghosh moved the court after some of the club members allegedly ransacked his house and looted it.

HC ignores bona fide requirement
Rakesh Bhatnagar
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 02:12 IST
NEW DELHI: While the Delhi high court has said that a landlord can evict his tenant if he wishes to build a pooja room or a guest room to accommodate visiting married daughters and sons, a landlord here was denied this bona fide right by the rent control tribunal and then the HC.
A landlord wanted to evict a tenant who has been occupying the ground floor of his spacious house in the posh Jangpura area since 1973. While the current market rent of the premises stands at Rs15,000 a month, this tenant has been paying the landlord the old rent amount — Rs500.
The tenant then shifted his family to Ludhiana and also purchased a sprawling farm house in Delhi, but refused to vacate from the landlord’s house. The landlord has been living with his ailing wife in a one bed room premises on the first floor of the said house.
The landlord then approached the rent control tribunal to get the tenant to vacate the house. Even though he established that the tenant now owned a house and a farm house of his own and he now needed a pooja room for himself and a guest room for his married daughter and sons living abroad, the rent control tribunal rejected the landlord’s plea.
Dejected, the landlord then moved the HC to challenge the rent controller’s order.
But recalling a supreme court judgment in the case of a landlord Malpe Vishwanath Acharya from Maharashtra, the HC quashed the order.
Giving a boost to harassed landlords, the HC held that “the rent control act was enacted by the legislature to protect the interests of the tenants”.
“This enactment was considered necessary in view of the paucity of accommodation in a city like Delhi. The purpose of the act was not to give a tool in the hands of tenants to trouble the landlords,” a bench of Justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra said.
However, “the purpose is not to give a tool in the hands of tenants to exploit the landlords. That is why, the legislation categorically provides under section 14(1) (h) that if the tenant acquires residential accommodation, the landlord can evict him. It is settled law that merely non mentioning of the provisions of law, is not a fatal defect and the court can take note of correct provision of law and give relief”, justice Dhingra added.

HC shield for family out on bail
Calcutta, Dec. 15: The high court has told police to provide security to a family after they were prevented from entering their home by villagers despite securing bail in a case of abetting their daughter-in-law’s suicide.
Justice Dipankar Dutta said policemen should be posted in front of Nityapada Ghosh’s house in Barasat till the end of trial. “If this court does not intervene, jungle raj will prevail,” he said.
The order came after a plea from Ghosh, a trader in bell metal utensils. He was held with his wife, two sons and two daughters after daughter-in-law Jhuma allegedly jumped into a pond. “They got bail in June but local residents prevented them from returning home and beat them up,” lawyer Anjan Bhattacharya said.

SC questions decision to defer tobacco warnings…/398973/
Express news service Posted: Dec 16, 2008 at 0126 hrs IST
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Ministry of Health to explain why the proposed display of pictorial warnings on packets of cigarettes and other tobacco products has been deferred to May 31, 2009. The graphic warnings were originally meant to be implemented on December 1 but the Union Cabinet decided to defer the move last month. The court gave the Ministry of Health four weeks to file the reasons for the decision and thereafter adjourned the matter.
The notice seeking the Government’s response came from the Bench of Justices B N Agarwal and G S Singhvi, acting on an application filed by an NGO, Health for Millions, which had questioned the delay.
Senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, appearing for the NGO, alleged that Government authorities delayed the implementation of the notification due to pressure from the tobacco lobby. The Centre had earlier issued two notifications directing tobacco manufacturers to print pictorial warnings.

Govt plans new legislation on medical devices: Sibal

BS Reporter / New Delhi December 15, 2008, 15:29 IST
The government is working on a legislation to regulate the quality of medical equipment being marketed in the country, Kapil Sibal, Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences said.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the fifth India Health Summit on the theme “Optimizing Healthcare Delivery in India: A Patient Centric Approach”, Sibal said the new regulation will help standardization of the quality of medical devices manufactured in India.
“Most of the medical equipments in India are imported and the medical devices industry in India has not grown much. The government of India is working on Medical Devices legislation, in order to standardize the quality of Indian manufactured medical devices,” he said.
Sibal identified four key areas—R&D in the field of technology and genomics focussed on target drugging, vaccinations & innovative solutions, manufacturing & managing medical devices domestically, delivery of quality human resource and affordability—as the major challenges before healthcare sector.
Speaking on the occasion, Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, CII National Committee on healthcare & Chairman – Apollo Hospitals Group, said: “The task before us is how do we rapidly fill the huge deficit for quality healthcare, which is inaccessible to many. We should look at innovative healthcare models, work on standard definition and working environment for PPP. Skills availability in healthcare sector is not upto the mark; the government should now look at healthcare’s requirement to quickly multiply the number of healthcare professionals in India.”
Highlighting on the aspects of corporate social responsibility, Pervez Ahmed, Chairman, 5th Indian Health Summit & Executive Medical Director, Max Hospitals Group said solutions to healthcare should follow a proximity approach which is customized to the local community. Integrating research and technology aligning healthcare delivery should be given immense importance, he added.

Ghost of Punjab encounters resurfaces
Ajay Bharadwaj
Monday, December 15, 2008 02:17 IST
CHANDIGARH: The onerous task of identifying bodies cremated by the Punjab Police after encounter killings during the height of militancy has thrown up some chilling reminders. Some 1,000 applications have been received from across Punjab while the authorities are trying to identify 657 bodies in Amritsar.The Kang committee, headed by financial commissioner NS Kang, was constituted in September to confirm identities of 657 unidentified bodies the police cremated in Amritsar between 1984 and 1994. The committee was constituted at the behest of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) after the CBI ascertained the identity of about 1,350 bodies in the district. All of them had been cremated by police at three cremation grounds in Amritsar during the said period without establishing their identity.After the NHRC awarded compensation to families of about 1,350 persons who were cremated as unidentified, the Kang committee was to complete the task of identifying the remaining 657 bodies.But till this week the committee had received applications from about 1,000 people in Punjab. A senior officer said that the rush of applications indicated that the number of people who went missing in Punjab was much higher than thought.Kang, however, clarified that since his committee was looking into cases pertaining to Amritsar alone, the rest of the applications would be turned down. He said, former district judge KK Garg, a member of the committee, would identify cases pertaining to Amritsar within a month.The matter of mass cremations undertaken by police in Amritsar had come to light in the mid-nineties after which the supreme court asked the CBI to fix responsibility. The CBI investigation found that 194 persons had died in police custody whereas over 1200 “unidentified” bodies were cremated at the three cremation grounds in the district.The NHRC awarded Rs1.75 lakh in compensation to the next of kin of 1,051 individuals for violation of “dignity of the dead.” In these cases, the police did not admit custody of the individual prior to death and cremation.The NHRC also awarded Rs2.5 lakh to the next of kin of 194 individuals for the violation of the right to life, where the Punjab Police admitted custody prior to death but did not admit to the unlawful killing.The NHRC had then clarified that it was not expressing any opinion about culpability, yet the entire matter has been a major embarrassment for the Punjab Police.

SC refuses to entertain IMA plea against ayurvedic doctors
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 20:09 IST
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a PIL challenging the permission given by several state governments to ayurvedic doctors allegedly practising allopathy.
The apex court also pulled up the Indian Medical Association for filing the petition in which it had made list of 25 prayers and several respondents as party.
“You should not file this sort of a petition. You have made 25 prayers and named too many respondents,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said while disagreeing with the submission of senior advocate Nidhesh Gupta that allowing ayurvedic doctors to practice allopathic medicine was in violation of the provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act.
The advocate had cited a judgement of the apex court to buttress his submission but the bench declined to accept it.
“We are not going to look into the judgement given by this court,” the Bench, also comprising Justice P Sathasivam said adding that “it is not possible for this court to supervise the whole system”.
The court suggested that the IMA can approach the Medical Council of India with its plea.
“We cannot give general directions. You have sought wide directions which are not possible,” the Bench said.
Realising that the Bench was dismissing the petition, the advocate sought to withdraw it with a liberty to approach an appropriate court.

Indian screenwriters lay protocol for proactive future
updated on: 15/12/08

MUMBAI: The Film Writers Association’s second Indian Screenwriting Conference was held on 13 and 14 December in Mumbai.The conference took up the issues like the standard and uniqueness of Indian scriptwriting, the politics of a script, screenwriters’ professional and legitimate rights, standard of remuneration, credit protection, royalties, problems confronting the writer-director and the writer-producer relationship and writing for TV amongst others.Convenor of the conference Anjum Rajabali said, “In the last two and a half years, the number of producers have increased by 25 percent, but their ability to understand screenplay is questionable.”The Film Writers Association’s treasurer Subhash Jetly also listed various proposals that have been worked upon and implemented since last year’s Indian screenwriting conference. Some of which include a moral contract to govern writers’ rights, protect writers’ interest in public eye- especially at award functions where best writers’ award will now be given after best supporting actor at the Filmfare and Screen awards, writers’ workshops and seminars be organized in 2009, proactive and dynamic interactions between young and old writers. Additionally, the TV writers contract is underway.During the panel discussions while some writers expressed their concern over lack of fresh and influencing movie script ideas in this time and age, others acknowledged the steady rise in the quality of Indian scripts with a large infusion of fresh talent into the field that takes screenwriting very seriously.Writer turned director Abbas Tyrewala said, “We only talk about what should be done and not about what should not be done, take for instance copying of scripts.”The conference saw in attendance various writers and directors such as Kamal Hasan, Amol Palekar, Rajkumar Hirani, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Prakash Jha, Govind Nihalani, Kamlesh Pandey, Rohan Sippy, Sanjay Gadhvi, Sriram Raghavan, Sridhar Raghavan, Aatish… Kapadia, B R Ishara, Vinay Shukla amongst many others.

British rape victim approaches SC against HC relief to convict
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 19:59 IST
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to examine the petition of a British tourist challenging the bail granted to a guest house owner who was sentenced to life imprisonment for raping her in Rajasthan’s Udaipur district.
A bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and V S Sirpurkar, which had earlier issued notice to accused Parbat Singh and the Rajasthan Government, posted the matter for final disposal in the second week of January 2009 after counsel Vikram Chowdhary mentioned the matter in the court.
Parbat Singh, proprietor of Pardesi Guest House in Udaipur’s Ambamata region, raped the British woman who is a freelance journalist on December 23, 2007 on the pretext of giving her an extra blanket.
Though the Fast Track cum Sessions Court, Udaipur, on May 1, 2008 convicted and sentenced Singh to life imprisonment, the Rajasthan High Court in July this year suspended the sentence and granted the convict bail, pending disposal of the appeal filed by him.
Questioning the suspension of the sentence and the grant of bail, the victim in her petition before the apex court submitted that granting such a relief to the convict has not only wrecked her psychologically and shattered her spirits, but would also seriously erode India’s image as a tourist destination.
The British victim submitted that granting bail and suspending the sentence imposed on Singh involved in such a heinous offence amounted to rewarding a convict and hence the High Court’s order should be quashed.
According to the petitioner, the High Court’s order granting such a relief to the convict was both against the law and principles of equity.

Wives accused of adultery must get alimony
The National Commission for Women has asked the government not to amend section 497 (Anti-Adultery Act) and treat women as ‘victims’ of adultery, thereby paving the way for payment of alimony to adulterous wives. .
CALL IT “unbelievable” if you wish. But, the National Commission for Women has decided to contest in the Supreme Court of India, section 125 of CRPC. Amongst the provisions that the Commission wants a review is an increase in the amount of interim maintenance for women by not less than 30 per cent of the husband’s monthly income. The Commission also wants the provision that deprives a wife from claiming maintenance if she is living in adultery to be deleted. “This provision is mostly misused and adultery cases framed against a woman to deny her basic expenses,” NCW chairperson Girija Vyas said. It has also decided against making Alimony Act gender neutral since, according to the NCW, a majority of households still have men as breadwinners.
Outrageous, insulting and unjust, one may say, but the NCW is doing every bit it can do and is trying every trick in the rule book to ensure that adulterous women get away with their crime and their unfortunate husbands are made to pay maintenance to them. In another recommendation, it has asked the government not to amend section 497 (adultery) and treat women as ‘victims’ of adultery. Under IPC 497, men alone can be prosecuted; women cannot be punished for adultery.
Some people may argue in favour of the NCW plea with regard to misuse of the said provision relating to denial of alimony quoting adultery. It is like saying, “I have a cold and as a solution, I will chop-off my nose.”

It is high time civil society wakes up to this growing tendency of the NCW going overboard in the guise of women empowerment. Men in particular, need to be organised in order to fight and defend their rights.

LEGAL NEWS 15.12.2008

Govt urged to revoke Traffic Victims Act
By PONGPHON SARNSAMAKThe NationPublished on December 15, 2008
Health advocates yesterday called for the government to revoke the Traffic Victims Protection Act, saying it fails to cover all the hospital bills of patients and most of them end up going broke.

Health advocates yesterday called for the government to revoke the Traffic Victims Protection Act, saying it fails to cover all the hospital bills of patients and most of them end up going broke.
“Most traffic victims did not receive as much compensation as they need to pay for medical treatment while staying in the hospital and finally they become bankrupt because they don’t have enough money to pay the hospital. The blame is on the ineffectiveness of this act,” said Dr Paiboon Suriyawongepaisal of Ramathibodi Hospital.
Paiboon, who conducted an evaluation of the Traffic Victims Protection Act since it was enforced in 1992, was speaking at the threeday National Health Assembly in Bangkok last week.
This law is a mandatory scheme in which private insurance companies are the carriers instead of the public sector. The scheme compensates for healthcare costs based on fee for services and maximum liability. The scheme also awards a lump sum payout for death and disability. But during the past 15 years, most victims could not access compensation under this scheme.
Citing an injury surveillance report from the Public Health Ministry spanning 19992005, Paiboon said only 18 per cent of road accident victims received compensation under this act, while 63 per cent had to pay for medical treatment by themselves or use the universal healthcare scheme. And 15 per cent of them relied on other healthcare plans.
The study also found that farmers and labourers were the groups that had to shoulder their own treatment costs the most and eventually become a burden on the hospital.
If accident victims receive emergency care at a state hospital they have to pay the medical bill first and later seek reimbursement from the government, but they need to present many official documents such as a police report.
But in fact, most victims are poor and cannot pay the hospital out of their own pocket. They also are ineligible to apply for financial aid for medical treatment from the hospital.
The law’s failure to protect road accident victims has created a windfall for private insurance companies. Their premiums ballooned from Bt6.5 billion in 1999 to Bt10 billion in 2003.
The private insurance companies pay out only 46 per cent of net premiums to settle claims and spend 41 per cent on administrative costs. This is inadequate to cover all traffic victims.
Dr Vitoon Ungpraphan, a legal expert in medicine, said the government should scrap the Traffic Victims Protection Act and draft a new one that transfers the scheme to the National Health Security Office. Then NHSO will pay hospitals directly for medical treatment to victims while the Land Transportation Department will collect the insurance premiums from personal car users instead of private insurers.
“This method will help road accident victims receive fair compensation as the scheme is run by a state agency such as the NHSO and they do not have to waste their time to gather so many documents to claim for health insurance,” he added.

HC upheld revenue department’s jurisdiction

VODAFONE CASE: Questions still remain unanswered
Mukesh Butani / New Delhi December 15, 2008, 0:44 IST
Whole world is eyeing final outcome.
As the dust begins to settle on the decision of the Mumbai High Court in the Vodafone case, the eyes of the global tax fraternity are now on the outcome of the petition which Vodafone is most likely to file in the Supreme Court. The questions remaining unanswered by the high court would have several multinationals on tenterhooks, as the consequences, both for tax payers with similar transactions and perhaps for Indian M&A fortunes may be far reaching.
BackgroundVodafone International BV (“Vodafone”), a Dutch resident company, acquired interest of Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd (“Hutch”) (a company registered in the Cayman Islands) in CGP Investments (Holdings) Ltd (“CGP Investments”) also registered in Cayman Islands. CGP investments, through a host of intermediate companies, held 67 percent equity interest in Hutchison Essar Limited (“HEL”), an Indian company.
Indian Revenue issued routine show cause notice to Vodafone arguing that it had failed to discharge withholding tax obligation with respect to tax on gains made by Hutch on sale of shares to Vodafone. Vodafone filed a writ petition in the Mumbai High Court challenging the notice. Vodafone also argued that the retrospective amendment in Finance Bill 2008 was motivated to impose onerous withholding tax obligation; an afterthought intended to bring offshore transactions within the Indian tax net.
Court’s decisionThe Court in no uncertain terms upheld the action of Revenue. In arriving at the conclusion, the court felt that Indian Revenue had made a strong case to demonstrate that there was ‘transfer of a capital asset in India’ in the shape of business/ controlling interest/ share in telecom licence. It held that the authority to investigate into facts could not be negated by invoking the writ jurisdiction. Typically, a writ jurisdiction right is resorted in situations where either fundamental rights are violated or any administrative action is exercised without jurisdiction. The Court has drawn adverse inference regarding Vodafone’s action to withhold material facts and documentation, including the actual share sale agreement. In summary, the Court upheld Revenue’s jurisdiction and felt that Vodafone’s petition was premature, as it had not exhausted ordinary remedies under Indian tax laws.
Does the Vodafone decision spell doomWhile Revenue may like to adopt a view that its right to tax such (offshore) transactions has been upheld, it is important to observe that the court has rendered its decision merely on maintainability of Vodafone’s writ petition. The inference drawn by the court that transfer of shares in an offshore holding company results in transfer of underlying business/ economic interest in downstream operating companies is debatable. The findings of the court regarding location of ‘capital asset in India’ should not be viewed as conclusive. The taxability of such transactions will necessarily have to be decided by Revenue based on the facts of each case.
Revenue was focused on basicsAn interesting aspect is that Revenue did not raise questions regarding the sale transaction being an ingenious method to avoid tax. Such an approach would have saddled Revenue with a greater responsibility of demonstrating the true intent. Instead, Revenue chose to stick to basics and focus on the effect of the transaction; thereby driving the point that the intent was acquiring controlling interest in HEL. Revenue relied on interpretation of deeming provisions under the domestic law to conclude that there was an extinguishment of right (as a result of sale). Extinguishment of rights is viewed as transfer for the purpose of levying tax on capital gains. While this may be a deviation from the normal approach a taxman follows, it does not necessarily mean that the argument of tax avoidance will be shelved by Revenue.
Similarly, Revenue did not focus upon other legal issues such as substance over form, piercing the corporate veil, retrospective amendment and constitutional validity thereof (Vodafone’s arguments).
Substance test and international precedentsThe substance over form has been a debatable issue in many jurisdictions. In the case of Azadi Bachao Andolan, the Supreme Court while giving interpretation under the India -Mauritius treaty has effectively held that the “form” of a transaction is to be given precedence over its “substance”, unless the transaction can be proven to be sham. Take, for instance, Canada is very much a form over substance jurisdiction.
It is unusual for Canadian courts to apply judicial anti-avoidance doctrines to prevent abusive tax practice. This is despite the fact that Canadian tax law has general anti-avoidance Rule or GAAR as it is commonly referred to. Interestingly, Revenue authorities in other jurisdictions such as South Korea and the UK have been giving precedence to the substance of a transaction. Korean Revenue authorities have imposed taxes and penalties on companies such as Lone Star and Westbrook on the ground that they invested in Korea through shell companies located in tax favourable jurisdictions.
However, it is noteworthy to observe that domestic tax laws of Korea (unlike in India’s case) allow Revenue to ‘pierce the veil’. In the UK, courts have been increasingly inclined to look into the substance of transactions. Numerous high profile cases such as the Ramsay case, Furniss v Dawson and McGuickan case are examples of such approach.
The 160-page Vodafone judgment, dealing extensively with jurisprudence, is delightful reading for any student and tax law practitioner, not to forget the elated taxman. The ruling is by no means likely to be the bedrock for judicial interpretation as the issues under debate can hardly be said to have been concluded. It is anybody’s guess whether the Supreme Court would go into the merits of the case or simply decline to interfere, as the fact-finding authorities have not gone into it.
Whereas, it is well within the domain of the Supreme Court to lay down the law in case of ambiguity; ordinarily, the benefit of doubt in ambiguous situation should go to the taxpayer. Possibly, the court could be directed by the construction of the agreement should it decide to get into the facts of Vodafone’s case. Whilst Vodafone shall anxiously await the outcome, my plea to tax administrators in the interim is to exercise restrain from taking any administrative action. This will otherwise spell greater uncertainty in our tax laws and create nervousness.
The global tax fraternity would be closely following the Vodafone development. I am reminded of two leading tax personalities from the UK and Germany on a Panel discussion last week commenting upon tax dispute resolution in India. The UK expert maintained that though the UK Transfer Pricing regulations date back to 1915, they did not have as many cases going to trial as in the context of India. The German expert maintained that reading Indian jurisprudence, the German judiciary could derive persuasive value from Indian court cases! Kudos to the Indian Judiciary and not to forget the creativity of Indian tax advisors. Thank fully, only one skill is portable!
The author is a Partner with BMR & Associates and views expressed are personal

Madras HC: Writ challenging choice of books for library dismissed
Madras High Court has dismissed a writ petition, challenging the Tamil Nadu Government’s manner of selection of books for village libraries, established under the Anaithu Grama Anna Marumalarchi Thittam (AGAMT).Mr Justice K Venkataraman dismissed the petitions filed by Rajeswari Puthaga Nilayam and ten other publishers, holding there was no mala fide in the list of books and the mode of their selection by the Commissioner of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj.The government submitted AGAMT was a flagship scheme, launched by the State Government in 2006-07, which aimed at improving the physical and social infrastructure in all village panchayats over a period of five years.One of the components of the scheme was the setting up of libraries in each and every village panchayat at a cost of Rs 2 lakh.When the scheme was completed by 2010-2011, Tamil Nadu would have the distinction of being the only State in the country to have libraries in each and every village panchayat, it said.For selecting books for the libraries, the government, after issuing advertisement, constituted a state-level committee of eminent persons which short listed the books.It had selected 858 books from 548 authors offered by 235 publishers and dealers.The books comprised 148 books for children, 114 for youth, 93 for reference category, 86 about great leaders, 185 on fiction and 219 on non-fiction and 13 books of poetry, it said. UNI

Madras HC: Writ challenging choice of books for library dismissed
Posted on : 14 December 2008 by Y.Prakash
Madras High Court has dismissed a writ petition, challenging the Tamil Nadu Government’s manner of selection of books for village libraries, established under the Anaithu Grama Anna Marumalarchi Thittam (AGAMT).Mr Justice K Venkataraman dismissed the petitions filed by Rajeswari Puthaga Nilayam and ten other publishers, holding there was no mala fide in the list of books and the mode of their selection by the Commissioner of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj.The government submitted AGAMT was a flagship scheme, launched by the State Government in 2006-07, which aimed at improving the physical and social infrastructure in all village panchayats over a period of five years.One of the components of the scheme was the setting up of libraries in each and every village panchayat at a cost of Rs 2 lakh.When the scheme was completed by 2010-2011, Tamil Nadu would have the distinction of being the only State in the country to have libraries in each and every village panchayat, it said.For selecting books for the libraries, the government, after issuing advertisement, constituted a state-level committee of eminent persons which short listed the books.It had selected 858 books from 548 authors offered by 235 publishers and dealers.The books comprised 148 books for children, 114 for youth, 93 for reference category, 86 about great leaders, 185 on fiction and 219 on non-fiction and 13 books of poetry, it said.

Pros and cons of narco test
Rakesh Bhatnagar
Monday, December 15, 2008 02:24 IST
It’s high time the supreme court delivered its much-awaited judgment on the constitutionality of the controversial Narco test. A bench headed by chief justice KG Balakrishnan reserved the verdict on January 25, almost eleven months ago.
Now more than before, a judgment is needed on the subject as the central government is in a hurry to enact an anti-terror law. CJI Balakrishnan said the proposed law should not defy the right to life. But, he had also observed during the hearing of a PIL against narco tests last year that at least this mode of interrogation removes the scope of third degree during custodial interrogation. Lawyers opposed to Narco test said it defies human rights.
A noted lawyer and former solicitor-general, who appeared on behalf of the CBI, said the drug-induced test employs “modern and scientific techniques, which are authorised by law and should be carried out where there are reasonable grounds for believing that such tests will provide evidence. Such tests cannot be construed as invasion of privacy of the accused”.
Though the Constitution is silent on what should be the optimum time for any court to deliver the verdict, the apex court stressed the need for a speedy justice delivery system. About a decade ago, it framed guidelines for compliance by high court judges on judgment delivery. When a magistrate in Bihar delayed pronouncement of a judgment by nine months in 1961, the Patna high court chastised him saying, “The magistrate who cannot find time to write judgment within reasonable time after hearing argument should not do any judicial work at all’’.
But the high court forgot the rebuff given to a magistrate, as it took two years for the court to pronounce a judgment after reserving it. An aggrieved litigant moved the supreme court and asked “whether the exhortation made by high court in 1961 is not intended to apply to itself’’. A bench on August 6, 2001, laid down a deadline of six months for delivering a judgment by any court.

Incompetent Judicial officer may be retired: CJI

New Delhi December 12, 2008
The Chief Justice of India has recommended that any Judicial Officer who is “unfit, ineffective, incompetent or has doubtful integrity” may be retired from service.
In a communique with Chief Justices of all High Courts, the CJI said, “with a view to provide that a Judicial officer who is unfit, ineffective, incompetent or has doubtful integrity may be retired from service even before his continued utility is assessed in terms of directions of the Supreme Court in All India Judges Association case”.
Minister of Law and Justice H R Bharadwaj in a written reply informed the Lok Sabha today that in a letter dated October 14 this year, Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan had said that if implemented in right earnest, “such a provision will keep deviant behaviour in check, besides getting rid of those who are found to be indolent, ineffective or with doubtful integrity”.
“A review on the lines of the provisions contained in Rule 56(j) of Fundamental rules, be carried out firstly when judicial officers attain the age of 55 years. This would be in addition to the assessment being carried out at the age of 58 years in terms of the direction of the Supreme Court in All India Judges Association case,” the Minister said.
He also informed the Lok Sabha that the CJI in his letter dated April 7 had also requested the government to set up 69 additional Special Courts for trial of corruption cases investigated by CBI, a request which Bharadwaj said was under consideration.
[Source: PTI ]

HC exempts AP Governor from personal appearance
New Delhi (PTI): In a big relief to Andhra Pradesh Governor N D Tiwari, the Delhi High Court on Monday exempted him from personal appearance before it in a suit filed by a man claiming to be his natural son.
A Bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Manmohan Singh granted interim relief to former Union Minister on his petition challenging a single-Judge order which had on November 25 directed him to appear tomorrow before the court.
The Bench, however, refused to set aside the order of the single Judge, saying, the matter pertaining to his personal appearance must be argued before the single Judge Bench.
The Division Bench said, since the matter is coming up tomorrow and Tiwari would not have sufficient time to file fresh application, so “he is exempted from personal appearance for tomorrow”.
The Governor has been in a thick of controversy due to the suit filed by 29-year-old Rohit Shekhar seeking declaration from the court that he is the natural son of the former Congress leader.
Tiwari, however, had refuted all the allegations and contended before the court that the petition is scandalous in nature and filed only to defame him.

Bill for protecting IPR in public funded research in Rajya Sabha
New Delhi (PTI): A Bill to develop a framework for protection and utilisation of intellectual property created out of public funded research and development was introduced in the Rajya Sabhaon Monday.
The Protection and Utilisation of Public Funded Intellectual Property Bill 2008, introduced by Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, seeks to provide for a funding agreement between the government and the recipient before release of grant for research and development.
Besides seeking to bar public disclosure, publication and exhibition of the public funded intellectual property, the Bill lists duties of the recipient who retains the titles.
Observing that in order to compete in a global environment, it was necessary for India to innovate and promote creativity, the statement of objects and reasons said that the country also needed to protect and utilise the intellectual property created out of public funded research and development.
“The ultimate objective, however, is to ensure access to such innovation by all stakeholders for public good,” it said.
The proposed legislation would enhance awareness about intellectual property issues, especially in universities, academic and research institutions, the Bill said.
Such innovations could be utilised for raising financial resources of these establishments, through royalties or income, it added.

Karnataka violated SC order by continuing work on Mhadei: MBA
Panaji (PTI): Anti-water damming NGO Mhadei Bachao Abhiyan (MBA) has accused the Karnataka government of violating Supreme Court directives by continuing work on Mhadei water project despite its assurance to the apex court to maintain status quo.
“The work by Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Limited to divert waters of Kalsa tributary of Mhadei river to Malaprabha basin continues on a war footing despite its assurance to SC to maintain status quo,” Mhadei Bachao Abhiyan (MBA) chief Nirmala Sawant said.
The Mhadei water diversion has become a crucial issue for Goa and Karnataka. The Karnataka, from where the river originates, has planned dams across its tributaries to divert the water to Malaprabha basin, which according to them, is required to quench drinking water requirement.
The Goa government and MBA, a non-government organization (NGO), has been opposing tooth and nail the project, which they feel, will severely hamper the ecology of the state. The case which was tossed with various authorities and legal bodies is now pending in SC with Karnataka assuring status quo in the matter.
The MBA has said that the project work has also violated Forest Conservation Act 1980 and Wildlife Protection Act 1972 as the massive silt is dumped into the reserved forest adjacent to the proposed project.
“The case is fixed for hearing on January 15 and hence we expect that Karnataka should immediately stop the work What they are doing is blatant insult to the apex court,” MBA Convenor Rajendra Kerkar reacted.
The project taking shape on Goa-Karnataka border at Kankumbi village is aimed at augmenting the deficit in Malaprabha reservoir by diverting 3.56 TMC feet of water from Kalsa tributary of Mhadei river.

HC exempts AP Governor from personal appearance
New Delhi (PTI): In a big relief to Andhra Pradesh Governor N D Tiwari, the Delhi High Court on Monday exempted him from personal appearance before it in a suit filed by a man claiming to be his natural son.
A Bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Manmohan Singh granted interim relief to former Union Minister on his petition challenging a single-Judge order which had on November 25 directed him to appear tomorrow before the court.
The Bench, however, refused to set aside the order of the single Judge, saying, the matter pertaining to his personal appearance must be argued before the single Judge Bench.
The Division Bench said, since the matter is coming up tomorrow and Tiwari would not have sufficient time to file fresh application, so “he is exempted from personal appearance for tomorrow”.
The Governor has been in a thick of controversy due to the suit filed by 29-year-old Rohit Shekhar seeking declaration from the court that he is the natural son of the former Congress leader.
Tiwari, however, had refuted all the allegations and contended before the court that the petition is scandalous in nature and filed only to defame him.

Ruling on admission to medical colleges under all India quota
Special Correspondent
Respondents directed to return petitioners’ certificates
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has said that PG medical degree/diploma holders who applied for the courses through all India entrance examination for selection to seats under all India quota and were admitted to government medical colleges in the State in 2005-06 are not bound by the terms and conditions issued by the Tamil Nadu Government authorities in their prospectus.
In his order on a batch of petitions, Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar said even if any candidate had executed bond, it would have no effect since they had not applied for admission under the impugned prospectus.
The Judge said candidates admitted under the State quota under the non-service category were bound by the terms of the bond executed by them pursuant to the prospectus. On completion of their course, they were bound to serve in government colleges/hospitals according to the availability of posts for three years, failing which it was open to the State government authorities to recover Rs. 2 lakh/Rs. 3 lakh as the case may be as per the bond conditions.
The court directed the respondents to return all the petitioners’ certificates within two weeks.
Super-speciality course
Mr. Justice Paul Vasanthakumar said no PG/Diploma holder, who completed their course or joined in government service temporarily as per the bond, should be denied opportunity of applying for super-speciality course. If they were selected, they should be permitted to undergo the course subject to the condition that the remaining period of service should be served in government institutions by the persons concerned after completion of their respective super speciality course. If not, it was open to the respondents to recover the bond amount with proportionate amount.
The case of the petitioners who were admitted under the all India quota was that they did not apply for admission to PG degree/diploma course before the respondents (State government authorities) as per the prospectus issued by the respondents for admission for 2005-06.
They appeared for all India entrance test in respect of all India seats. Based on their marks in the entrance examination and as per their choice of the course/colleges, they were selected and admitted to medical colleges in Tamil Nadu.
The candidates contended that the prospectus, particularly a Tamil Nadu G.O. issued in June last year as well as the circular issued by the Director of Medical Education of April this year were not applicable to candidates admitted on the basis of selection made under the all India quota.

Pension Adalat
COIMBATORE: The Divisional-Level Pension Adalat will be held at the Office of the Senior Superintendent of Post Offices, Coimbatore Division, on December 22 at 3 p.m.
Complaints and grievances concerning pension cases pertaining to Coimbatore Postal Division will be considered at the Pension Adalat. Complaints or suggestions to be considered at the Pension Adalat could be sent
to the Senior Superintendent of Post Offices, Coimbatore Division, Coimbatore 641001 on or before December 18.

‘Law will take its own course’
Staff Reporter
Home Minister on ‘encounter’ killing of the accused in acid attack case
Legislation mooted to check crime against women
Sophisticated technology for security of Tirumala
TIRUMALA: Home Minister K. Jana Reddy has asserted that the law will take its own course in the incident involving the killing of the three accused in the acid attack case in Warangal in a police encounter.
Replying to repeated queries of reporters about the killing of youth who threw acid on engineering students Swapnika and Pranita, the Minister said nobody was above the law of the land. He said the government, on its part, was contemplating to enact a legislation to check crime against women and had invited suggestions from constitutional experts for making the provisions of the existing legislations more stringent.
The Minister announced the government’s decision to equip the hill temple of Lord Venkateswara with sophisticated security technology in the wake of the increased terrorist activities in the country. Following warnings issued by intelligence agencies, it was resolved to adopt an uncompromising attitude with regard to the temple security.
Aerial attacks
The State government had, in fact, represented to the Centre to provide necessary assistance enabling it face any eventuality including aerial attacks. As a first step in this direction, the Centre had, in principle, agreed to spare CRPF personnel to the district. In addition, proposal for setting up Tirupati urban police commissionerate was under active consideration of the department. Earlier, the Home Minister was accorded a warm reception at the temple on his arrival by the temple authorities.

Conviction of accused key to criminal justice

The police and prosecutors are failing many a time with regard to this crucial aspect, writes Marri Ramu
HYDERABAD: Securing conviction of the accused is crucial in administration of criminal justice because it not only instils confidence of people in the system but also acts as a deterrent for wrongdoers. Statistics and outcome in sensational cases – barring a few ones like the mysterious death of film actress Pratyusha – suggest that police and prosecutors are failing in this regard frequently.
There are scores of such glaring examples. Firing in the house of film actor Balakrishna, death of a realtor due to firing involving a noted politician’s son, acquittal of slain gangster Azeez Reddy in a firearms case, failure to prove charges against two persons in a criminal conspiracy case connected to the Mecca Masjid blast incident and the recent clearing of charges against three persons in the assassination of IPS officer K.S. Vyas. The list is long.
Tall claims
In all these cases, the police claimed to have achieved a breakthrough after finding prima facie evidence against the accused persons and arrested them. Surely, they would not have framed the chargesheet against the arrested persons unless concrete evidence was found during subsequent investigation. Then, where are the things going wrong? Why is that a huge and organised system of police officers, scientific experts and learned prosecutors is failing to secure conviction of persons found responsible for committing crimes?
There are various reasons for the law-enforcing agencies being unable to prove charges against the accused. For example, almost all the ‘panch’ witnesses turned hostile in the Balakrishna case though questions are being asked why the police failed to get proper witnesses.
Little evidence
In the case of gangster Azeez Reddy, who was arrested for ‘planning extortions and kidnaps for ransom using firearms’, police officers could not ensure that adequate evidence was produced in court, though they had seized a good number of modern firearms from him.
Of all, the recent acquittal of three accused persons in the assassination of IPS officer K.S. Vyas leaves a lot to be desired about claims of police busting a case and their inability to prove charges against the arrested persons.
The defence counsel in this case maintained that even the investigating officer did not turn up at the court to depose though the case got dragged for years.
All this indicates that there is some gap between detection of a crime, arrest of the accused persons, gathering evidence against them and producing the same in the court.
From selection of ‘panch’ witnesses to ensuring the investigating officer’s deposition of evidence on time to coordination between the police and the prosecutors, there are a lot of loopholes requiring immediate attention of the government.

Fresh evidence on Babli ‘illegality’
M. Malleswara Rao
State obtains satellite images showing Maharashtra’s ‘encroachment’
HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh has obtained satellite images as yet another fresh evidence indicating “illegality” of the construction of Babli project by Maharashtra.
The images revealed that the Sriramsagar project reservoir extended up to 126 km in the Godavari above the Sriramsagar dam and out of this, a 45 km length lay upstream of Babli.
The State had long ago paid compensation to Maharashtra, under an inter-State agreement, against the land lost under the reservoir.
A senior Irrigation Department official said the images showed Babli lying across the foreshores of the reservoir, as mentioned in the complaint lodged by the State before the Supreme Court. This implied that Maharashtra had encroached into several km of river course area of the reservoir to construct Babli. The pictures would be placed before the apex court, the official added.
High hopes
With this, the government pinned high hopes on getting a favourable judgment from the court, as it was able to establish that Babli was being constructed on encroached land. It avoided to project the case as relating to water, though the entire dispute is, because the Supreme Court can’t deal with any river water dispute between two States directly and can only recommend setting up of a Central tribunal to deal with the matter.
It was for this reason that the State merely made a passing reference to the 11 barrages which are also under construction by Maharashtra, in its complaint.
An assessment made by Irrigation officials, which tallied with that of K. Srihari of Telugu Desam, former Irrigation Minister, indicated that Babli and the barrages will impound water in the 422-km stretch of the river between Jaikwadi and Babli and ensure an extra 60 tmcft to Maharashtra, in addition to its allocated quota in the Godavari sub-basin.
Babli highlights the utter lack of readymade mechanism at the Central level to resolve a river water dispute between two States. There are no regulatory bodies even today to ensure the States get their water quota allocated by the Bachawat Tribunal.

Licence to be mandatory for nursery farmers
Staff Reporter
Public-private partnership method to be encouraged
Oil palm cultivation to be encouraged
Horticulture programmes chalked out with climatic conditions in view
Rajahmundry: Dr. S. Chellappa, Principal Secretary to Horticulture and Sericulture, has said that henceforth, all nursery farmers should obtain licence as the State Government is going to introduce a new law for doing nursery business in public-private partnership. A new act for licensing is going to be brought shortly, he added.
In an informal chat with media at R and B guesthouse, he said licensing system was meant to ensure that no farmer was cheated. If any nursery owner supplied damaged seeds and plants, the Government could take action against him.
Dr. Chellappa said during 2008-09 the Government had allocated Rs.231 crores to the Horticulture department and Rs.81 crores was spent by November 2008 and the department would spend the remaining amount by March 2009.
He said coco and cashew plantation development were two important programmes that the department was going to take up in the State and other 166 programmes were chalked out in different districts in accordance with climatic conditions.
The idea was to encourage farmers to grow palm oil as the demand for it was increasing.
He said out of 1.25 lakh hectares of land under palm oil cultivation in the country, one lakh hectares were in the State. He asked palm oil farmers to add 25,000 hectares this year which would produce 65,000 tonnes of oil.
The Principal Secretary said the AP Oilseeds Corporation would purchase the oil and through market intervention Government was paying Rs.5000 to farmers. Still, the country was importing 45 lakh tonnes of palm oil. The Government had increased subsidy to 75 per cent to farmers who were producing vegetables.
Agriculture Joint Director K. Nandaiah, Horticulture Deputy Director PM Subhani, Assistant Director Subrahmanyam, B. Srinivas, Micro Irrigation Project Director D. Manohar Rao and others participated in the programme.

‘Advocates should not defend terror suspects’
Staff Correspondent
MANGALORE: Karnataka Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs S. Suresh Kumar on Sunday suggested that advocates should not defend suspected terrorists in court.
Addressing advocates at a convention organised by the Dakshina Kannada District BJP Legal Cell here, the Minister said: “We will not stand in defence of accused terrorists.”
The Minister said there was a need on the part of lower courts in the State to use Kannada. It would help many litigants to understand the proceedings and the judgment delivered. However, there was problem in using Kannada in the High Court as there would be judges from outside the State.

Lawyers told to strive for social development
Staff Reporter
PATHANAMTHITTA: Lawyers should value time, infuse the sense of values in society and strive for social development, Kerala High Court Judge V. Ramkumar has said.
Mr. Ramkumar was inaugurating a day-long professional development programme for junior lawyers at the Pathanamthitta District Co-operatvie Bank auditorium here on Sunday. Kerala Bar Council chairman Vinod Singh Cherian presided over the inaugural function.
Additional District Judge John J. Illikkadan and lawyers George Koshy, Abraham Mathew, T.S. Ajith and P. Santhoshkumar also spoke.
Mr. Ramkumar and High Court Judge K.T. Sankaran took classes. Transport Minister Mathew T. Thomas inaugurated the valedictory meet. Bar Council member Parippaly Raveendran presided over the meeting. Pathanamthitta Bar Association secretary K. Jyotikumar also spoke.

Call for urgent police reforms
Staff Reporter
To address the threats to national security
“Their service should not misused for partisan purposes”
“Should be used as a truly independent public service”
NEW DELHI: In the wake of the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative has demanded urgent police reforms to effectively address the threats to the national security and integrity.
According to the non-government organisation, the police should be reformed in a manner that their service is not misused for partisan purposes but to ensure basic security and to counter terror.
In a statement, CHRI (New Delhi) chairman B.G. Verghese said: “Although such reforms have been discussed for years without much progress, we urge all politicians in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack to finally acknowledge that police reforms are too important to neglect and too urgent to delay.”
He said all Indians were angry that politicians of all the parties had wilfully allowed policing to deteriorate to a point where it could not provide protection to the citizens in even ordinary circumstances.
“Fighting terrorism and other crime is not possible on the basis of a foundationally weak and compromised police service that is used as a private handmaiden rather than as a truly independent public service,” he said.
Mr. Verghese said the present situation stemmed from three major factors: undue and illegitimate political interference in all aspects of policing; neglect by the governments of the poor condition of the constabulary (involving issues such as corruption in recruitment procedures, faulty and misdirected training, bad management and abysmal pay); and lack of accountability for the performance in everyday duty like crime prevention and investigation.
Stating that a swift police reformation was possible, Mr. Verghese said clear and practical recommendations had been given by the National Police Commission in 1979, which were endorsed by the recent Soli Sorabjee Committee. “And in 2006, the Supreme Court issued seven clear time-bound directions to the Central and the State Governments to set in place mechanisms that will address the infirmities of policing. Unfortunately, none of them have complied with these directions,” he said.
The CHRI has urged that all political parties should agree that police reforms and independent policing will be treated as a bipartisan issue; that all political parties in power at the Centre and in States take immediate and effective action towards demonstrable police reforms; and that all the national political parties declare in their manifestos for the general elections that practical steps they commit to take on police reforms during their first 100 days of office.
The NGO is organising a discussion on “Citizens for police reforms: A basis for national security and good governance” at India International Centre this Monday.

Seven cops sacked for custodial death
GHAZIABAD: Seven policemen in Ghaziabad, including two sub-inspectors, were suspended on Sunday after a first information report (FIR) was lodged against them for the death of an person in police custody.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Charan Pal Singh lodged a complaint at the Kavi Nagar police station that legal action should be initiated against the police officers who had picked up for questioning suspect Yogesh Tyagi who died during interrogation.
Station Officers Pramod Kumar and Avinash Gautam were among the policemen suspended after a criminal case was registered against them. Police driver Ram Niwas and constables Surendra, Krishna Pal, Jogendra and Nitendra were also suspended. After Tyagi’s custodial death, tension had erupted in some parts of Ghaziabad. – IANS

“Need to review definition of new drug”
Staff Reporter
NEW DELHI: The Indian Pharmaceutical Congress organised by the Indian Pharmaceutical Congress Association concluded at Netaji Subash Institute of Technology campus in Dwarka here over the weekend.
This year’s theme was “Pharmavision-2020 Regulations for better Healthcare,” and one of the objectives of the discussion was whether India could be a superpower in pharmaceuticals by 2020.
Various resolutions that were passed highlighted the necessity to review the definition of “new drug” and the need for a separate wing to regulate and monitor the activities of contract research organisations among others.

Licences cancelled for 167 fair price shops
Chandigarh: The Haryana Government has cancelled licences of 167 fair price shops for corruption, officials said here Sunday.
The vigilance cell of the State Food and Supplies department has cancelled 167 licences and forfeited security of 677 dealers, amounting to over Rs.519,000 for corrupt practices in distribution of essential commodities among people during the current financial year, officials said.
Officials said that during the period, 18 cases were registered by the police and 16 people were arrested.
Goods worth over Rs. 3,78000 were seized from these traders.
Haryana has 9,552 fair price shops across the State, 6,888 in rural areas and 2,664 in urban areas.

Faulty policy’ affecting PMGSY work, say contractors
Staff Reporter
Threaten to abstain from participating in tenders if talks with Chief Minister fail

Contractors in three districts have already started to cease works under PMGSY
Delegation meets Ministers to convey their demands
BHUBANESWAR: Developmental works in the State are likely to be hit as contractors have taken a tough stance by threatening to abstain from participating in tenders if their proposed talks with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Union Rural Development Minister Chandra Sekhar Sahu fail to solve their problems.
The unanimous decision was taken at the “All Orissa Contractors’ Meet” held here on Sunday.
Contractors’ Association charged that unprecedented rise in prices of materials such as cement, steel and bitumen and flawed procedures being followed by administration emerged as big hindrances for carrying on works.
They said cement prices had gone up by 18.33 per cent by April 2008 compared to last year, similarly steel by 43.26 per cent in the month of July and bitumen by 77.36 per cent this October.
Prabhat Dash, chairman of Contractors’ Forum, said contractors were working as per the prices fixed in 2002 –2003, during last five years the material cost had skyrocketed which was ignored by administration.
“Although the State government agreed and notified for reimbursement of such differential cost of materials to ongoing and future works two years back, the provisions were kept unrealistic that no contractor could get the reimbursement,” alleged Jagdip Bansal, convenor of Western Orissa Contractors Forum.
He said contractors in three districts had already started to cease works in Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) scheme due to those problems.
Procedural obstacles like finalisation of completed works, approval of deviations and extension of time, non-reimbursement of statutory increase by government towards hike of minimum wages and royalties and non-adoption of standard of bidding documents required a re-look, Mr. Bansal said.
A delegation of contractors had already met State Finance Minister, Rural Development Minister and Works Minister to apprise them about the problems being faced by them.

Orissa to implement Sixth Pay Commission recommendations
Special Correspondent
BHUBANESWAR: The State Cabinet on Sunday gave its approval to the report of the fitment committee to revise the pay scales of the State government employees as per the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission.
The Cabinet meeting, which was held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, approved the fitment committee report raising the pay scales.
The fitment committee was set up after the Central government implemented the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.
The revised pay scales will be implemented with effect from January 1, 2006.
As regards the payment of arrears, the Cabinet decided that 40 per cent of the arrears would be paid during the current financial year and the remaining 60 per cent would be paid in the next fiscal.
The revised pay will be paid to the government employees from this month, the Cabinet decided.
The government would bear an additional Rs. 1,400 crore per annum to pay salary as per the revised scales.
The government has already allocated Rs 2,255.36 crore in the supplementary budget to pay salary, pension and arrears.
Panchayati Raj
Although it was a holiday, hundreds of employees had reached the Secretariat to hear about the pay revision.
The Cabinet also decided to amend certain provision of the law pertaining to the functioning of the Panchayati Raj system.

District level planning panels constituted in Punjab
An initiative to speed up development process

Committees in 12 districts formed, others to be announced shortly
Committees to ensure implementation of various development schemes for respective districts
Chandigarh: In a bid to speed up the development process, the Punjab Government on Sunday constituted District Level Planning Committees in 12 out of the 20 districts in the State. The orders to this effect were issued on Sunday under Punjab District Planning Committees Act 2005, an official spokesman said here.
Broaden decision making
He said Planning Committees were being set up to broad-base decision making process and to bring into force the top-down approach to planning and development as advocated by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at different forums, including the National Development Council.
The Committees would prepare the draft plans for their respective districts, ensure their implementation and monitor progress of various development schemes meant for their areas, the spokesman said.
CM’s direction
“The Chief Minister has directed administration in all districts to work through these committees and ensure the implementation of the grass-root approach to development,” he added.
Senior Shiromani Akali Dal leaders Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Bibi Jagir Kaur and Sikandar Singh Maluka have been appointed as the heads of the committees. The Composition of Planning Committees in Amritsar, Roop Nagar (Ropar), Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar (Nawanshehar) and SAS Nagar (Mohali) would be announced shortly, he said. –PTI

275 arrested for Railways examination paper leak
Exam slated to be held on Sunday cancelled
Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh police arrested 275 people following the leakage of a question paper of the Railway Recruitment Board examination, officials said Sunday.
The arrests were made by the Special Task Force (STF) late Saturday night from the Jhunsi locality of Allahabad while 264 candidates were cracking the paper in a house on the outskirts of the city.
The examination was slated to be held on Sunday but was cancelled after the incident.
“The kingpin, train ticket examiner Bedi Lal was arrested earlier Saturday from Allahabad,” Additional Superintendent of Police (STF) S. Anand told reporters.
“Ten of his associates were arrested from the spot while supervising the crime. The examination was to be held for 665 posts of assistant loco pilots and about 35,000 candidates were to appear for it,” Mr. Anand added.
The railways also ran two special trains for ferrying the candidates and declared that a fresh date for the examination would be announced later.
Papers recovered
“The examination has been cancelled and we will soon declare a date,” Railways spokesperson B. Pandey said. The police also recovered two original question papers, 180 photocopies of the question paper besides a large number of mobile phones from the spot.
“The youths were caught red-handed while solving the paper,” Anand added.

Drive to curb illegal plying of buses
Lucknow: In the wake of ‘bus fire’ tragedy in Firozabad district in which 60 passengers were killed, the State transport department is going to launch a massive drive to check fitness of public vehicles and illegal plying of private buses form December 31.
The directives have been issued in this regard on directions of Chief Minister Mayawati after a bus, which was surrendered on transport department’s record, caught fire in Firozabad district on December 9, killing 63 persons.
“The department has directed its tax enforcement officers to keep a tab on vehicles surrendered and ensure that they should not ply on roads,” a senior Transport Department official said.
The additional road transport officers have been asked to monitor such vehicles and send its reports regularly to transport commissioner.
It has also been directed to the officers to realise penalty from the erring vehicle owners if the surrendered vehicles were not found in the specified places during surprise inspections.
“FIRs would also be lodged against them (owners) under section 12 of Motor Vehicle Act,” the official said. –PTI

HC directs Amreli SP to supervise Dalit death case
Parimal Dabhi
Posted: Dec 15, 2008 at 0446 hrs IST
Ahmedabad The Gujarat High Court has ordered the Superintendent of Police of Amreli to supervise the investigation into the mysterious death of a 30-year-old Dalit man, based on the postmortem report.
The order has come in view of the tardy police investigation in the 2007 case in Amreli district. The Amreli police had reportedly dismissed the case as an accidental death. The deceased’s younger brother, however, suspected foul play behind the death of his brother, who went missing after two of his upper-caste employers had forcibly taken him to drive a truck.
According to the details of the case, the deceased, Arjan Bamaniya, a driver by profession from Ghantvad village of Junagadh district, went missing on September 6, 2007, after two of his employers, Ramsing Vala and Kalu Vala, had allegedly taken him to drive a truck against his wish.
When he did not return home, his family started searching for him. The next day, they were asked by the police to identify a dead body recovered from a well in a village in Amreli district. “The Amreli police had filed a case of accidental death saying that Arjan had committed suicide in the well out of fear, as the truck he was driving had met with a fatal road accident. Subsequent police investigation, however, revealed nothing to prove this claim,” said Valjibhai Patel, secretary of Council for Social Justice, a voluntary organisation working for the welfare of the down-trodden.
“The police did not even do the panchnama of the said truck, nor did it record the statement of the cleaner of the truck,” added Patel, who helped Arjan’s brother, Babu, a farm labourer, to file a writ petition in the High Court against the police investigation in the case.
Announcing the order on the petition, Justice D H Waghela also gave the petitioner “the liberty to file fresh petition at the appropriate stage, if necessary”.

HC seeks probe into road bill scam
Ranchi, Dec. 13: Jharkhand High Court has directed the state to probe into allegations of misappropriation public money on the pretext of road construction in Palamau.
The court has asked the government to review an enquiry report, which has named former Palamau deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Chaubey, now posted in Hazaribagh, and a number of engineers guilty of embezzlement of government funds. The government will have to file an affidavit.
In a PIL, one Ram Pravesh Singh, had said that road construction work was undertaken at Husainabad in Palamau in 2002 under the food-for -work programme of the Union government. In the name of road repair, a large number of fake bills were made to withdraw money from the treasury, he alleged.
Singh claimed that bills have also been produced of roads that are in a good condition and no repair work has been done on them. The disbursing authority has also not bothered to check the genuineness of the bills and has released money. A complaint was made to the commissioner of Palamau and he had ordered an enquiry by the additional deputy magistrate (law and order) Khurshid Alam.
The latter, after conducting a detailed enquiry named a number of executive and superintending engineers, who were guilty of raising false bills to realise government money. Alam in his report had also named the then Palamau deputy commissioner, Chaubey. He was said to be guilty of overlooking the bills that had his signatures. The deputy commissioner ought to have enquired into the bills before passing them for payment, the report said.
The report was presented before the Palamau commissioner, who sent the matter back to Chaubey for taking action against errant officials. However, the matter was put in the cold storage and no orders were passed by Chaubey against the named officials of the road construction department. The petitioner, finally, moved the high court.

HC provides relief in ‘high-pitched’ tax assessment cases

Bs Reporter / New Delhi December 15, 2008, 0:49 IST
In the case of an unreasonably ‘high-pitched’ assessment and tax demand, the assessee would be entitled to a stay on the tax demand, the Delhi High Court has said in a recent ruling.
The court also held that Instruction No 96 of August 21, 1969, which permits stay in ‘high-pitched’ assessment cases, would still hold good, despite the fact that it has been superseded by another instruction later.
A tax demand is called ‘high-pitched’ if the income-tax officer estimates the income to be at least more than twice the amount declared by the taxpayer.
The Delhi High Court gave its ruling in a case where a search was conducted in the business premises of the petitioner (assessee) and an order was passed, assessing the assessee’s income at approximately 74 times higher than the income filed in the tax return.
The assessing officer (AO) sent a demand notice of Rs 3.57 crore and a part of the demand was adjusted against the cash seized during the search. During appeal, the AO granted stay on some part of the demand.
The assessee also filed an appeal before the Commissioner of Income Tax (CIT). Even as this appeal was pending, the assessee filed a writ petition against the demand notices before the Delhi High Court, requesting to quash the demand notices and stay the balance demand in view of the Instruction No 96.
The revenue department contended that Instruction No 96 stood superseded by the subsequent Instruction No 1914.
According to the high court ruling, under Instruction No 1914, a demand could be stayed in exceptional circumstances where the assessment order appeared to be unreasonably high-pitched or where genuine hardship was likely to be caused to the assessee. The court added that Instruction No 96 had the illustration that an assessment at twice the amount of the returned income would be a high-pitched case.
The assessed income in the case in question was approximately 74 times of the returned income and hence would fall within the expression “unreasonably high-pitched”, the court held.
The court directed that the impugned notices be kept in abeyance until the jurisdictional CIT decided the stay application.

Madras HC allows Quo-warranto against retired judge
The Madras High Court allowed a Quo-warranto petition against N Kannadasan, who was appointed as the President of the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (SCDRC).A Division Bench, comprising Justices P K Misra and A Kulasekaran, set aside the Government Order for the appointment of Mr Kannadasan.Mr Kannadasan, a former Additional Judge of the Madras High Court, was not confirmed as a permanent judge. Later, Mr Kannadasan accorded the status of a retired judge of the High Court and was appointed as the President of the SCDRC.However, this was challenged by Advocate Annametha and ten other advocates. In their petition, they had submitted that there were certain allegations against Mr Kannadasan, in view of which he was not confirmed as a regular judge. Only a retired High Court Judge could be made President of the SCDRC. Hence, his appointment was against the law, it should be quashed.The petitioners also challenged his status as a retired judge. UNI

Calcutta HC ask tanneries to relocate
In a bid to control pollution, the Calcutta High Court asked all the existing tanneries in Tangra and China Town area to shift to the New Leather Manufacturing Complex at Bantala by Wednesday.A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Surinder Singh Nirjhar, issued a ruling on the petition filed by a local resident Mukhtar Alam.In his petition, Mr Alam said, more than 67 tanneries existed in China town and Tiljala area, despite a court order to relocate the industries.In 1977, the Apex Court directed all tanneries in the area to shift to the Bantala Leather Complex where all modern facilities are available for the leather manufacturing unit.There are over 500 tanneries in the area. Most of them had shifted to the Bantala Shopping Complex following the Apex court order, excepting these ones, according to a petition.UNI

HC grants bail to cab driver in drug smuggling case
New Delhi (PTI): A cab driver, accused of drug peddling, has been granted bail by the Delhi High Court under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
Directing to release Dilbagh Singh on bail, Justice Kailash Gambhir in a recent order asked Singh to furnish a bail bond of Rs 50,000 and a surety of like amount.
Filing a bail plea, Singh’s counsel T L Garg submitted that no contraband was recovered from the driver’s possession when DRI officials intercepted a Nigerian national taking contraband from co-accused Rohit Goel, saying Singh was a mere taxi driver and had provided service to the prime accused.
He claimed that Singh had no knowledge about the involvement of the Nigerian national in the drug smuggling and denied of having any relation which the prime accused.
According to the case registered by the Department of Revenue Intelligence(DRI) on September 9, last year, Kouassi Nguessan Williams had hired Singh’s taxi to reach Vikas Puri where Goel was to deliver him the drugs.
The DRI officials had then intercepted them.

SC slams courts passing judgement without giving reasons
The Supreme Court has strongly disapproved the practice of courts passing orders without giving reasons.A bench, comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and Mukundakam Sharma, while remanding back a case involving the murder of five people, including police officials in Paradip port in Orissa, observed, ‘We find that the High Court has discussed in major parts of its judgement the factual scenario as projected by the parties. Thereafter by abrupt conclusions prosecution witness 2’s evidence has been discarded.This certainly was not the proper way of disposing of an appeal involving accusations relating to death of the five people. On that limited ground we set aside the impugned judgement and direct the High Court to reconsider the matter afresh dealing with various points highlighted by the prosecution and the response of the accused persons.If the High Court intends to differ from the conclusions of the trial court it has to indicate reasons therefore. Merely stating that the evidence of a witness is not believable would not suffice.We make it clear that we have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case.’ On March 14, 1984 tension prevailed among two groups of workers, who were working in the Paradip port area and a 500-strong mob attacked the police party, who had gone there to rescue Bhima Jena and his supporters, whom the mob wanted to kill. As a result of mob violence Bhima Jena and officer in-charge AK Kanungo, APR Mustaqe Mohammad, APR constable Niranjan Sahu and sepoy No 3 P K Mohapatra were killed. The unruly mob also set on fire the hutments of the rival labour group. Due to police firing some members of the mob were also injured. In all, 114 people were put on trial. Some of them died during the trial. The trial court convicted the five respondents for murder and sentenced them to life imprisonment. They were also found guilty of the offence of attempt to murder. The Orissa High Court, however, acquitted all the respondents, including Sikhar Jena and others through a cryptic and non-reasoned order. The State of Orissa challenged the High Court order of acquittal in the apex court.UNI

Bombay HC dismisses PIL without locus standi
The Bombay High Court has dismissed a writ petition of a social activist against a businessman and his companies for allegedly frauding people. The court recently dismissed Moin Akhtar Qureshi’s petition seeking criminal action against one Sayeed Mohammed Masood and his companies on the ground that the petitioner did not have a locus standi and demanded imposition of Rs 5,000 as penalty on him, sources said.Rejecting the PIL, a division bench comprising S B Mhase and A A Sayed, termed the petition frivolous and slapped a penalty of Rs 5,000 on Qureshi to be paid within two months.Qureshi had filed a PIL against Masood, alleging that the businessman along with a senior police official had started various companies and smashed Rs 10,000 crore from the public by fraudulent means.It further stated that Qureshi had utilised the funds for his own benefit and left thousands of people in lurch.City Realcom Ltd, City Cooperative Credit Society, City Communication Ltd, City Money Ltd, City Airlines Pvt Ltd, City Resorts were some of the companies run by Masood.UNI

Jharkhand HC asks IT dept to file report on 8 ministers by Jan 22
The Jharkhand High Court asked the Income Tax Department to file a report about assets of eight MLA’s, including seven ministers, and a former chief minister by January 22 in connection with a case of possession of property more than known source of income.The eight ministers under scrutiny were Dulal Bhuiyan, Kamlesh Singh, Bandhu Tirkey, Bhanu Pratap Shahi, Chandra Prakash Chaudhary, Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai. Former chief minister Madhu Koda was also an accused in the case.Significantly, regarding the Rural Development Minister Enos Ekka and Tourism and Urban Development Minister Hari Narayan Rai against whom FIRs had already been filed by the government as per an earlier legal order, the Court also directed the vigilance department to submit a progress report about the duo’s case by the same date.A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra and Justice Ajit Kumar Sinha passed the order while hearing a PIL filed by one Durga Oraon. Reetu Kumar and Rajeev Kumar appearing on behalf of the petitioner contended that the ministers under scanner got more than what they had disclosed in their affidavit while filing nomination papers during the elections. Another controversial businessman Sajeev Chaudhuri, allegedly close aid of former chief minister Madhu Koda, was also under the court vigil in the same case.UNI

Two PILs look to tech to rescue Mumbai

Leslie D’Monte / New Delhi December 15, 2008, 0:25 IST
One wants ban on Google Earth, other for harnessing technology to combat terror.
Two public interest litigations (PILs) have been filed in the Bombay High Court, following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai — one by Mumbai-based lawyer Amit Karkhanis seeking a ban on Google Earth, a technology application which gives access to ‘sensitive’ Indian defence and civilian establishments, and the other filed by Ficci IT cell chairman Vijay Mukhi, which includes a 12-point Rs 50-crore plan on how the government can save India from terror attacks with the help of technology.
Mukhi’s PIL (which has Sarla S Parekh, mother of Sunil and mother-in-law of his wife Reshma who lost their lives in the Mumbai attack, as the co-petitioner) states: “…the present security capabilities of the state machinery are inadequate to anticipate, prevent and mitigate such attacks and there is an urgent need to introduce fresh technology and upgrade the existing technology”.
It has, therefore, recommended a Rs 50-crore, 12-point plan for the use of surveillance technology (see box) to avoid such attacks in the future. “The purpose of giving the costing herein is to pre-empt being faced with an answer that all the suggestions below are too expensive and that there isn’t a budget available…(and that with this budget, Mumbai could) set up state-of-the-art e-security software, equipment and personnel. Out of this, some expense would be an annual expense and some would be useful beyond Mumbai…,” states the petition. On the other hand, the PIL filed by Karkhanis asks for a ban on Google Earth or at least that vital installations be blocked out.
The irony of the approaches to technology by the two well-intentioned petitions has not been lost on observers. “If you ban Google Earth, why not ban MapQuest too,” asked an internet security expert who did not wish to be named. Moreover, there is not only Google Earth or MapQuest but hundreds of such offerings in the market, not to forget the global positioning system (GPS) devices which can perform these tasks with ease and more efficiency than even Google Earth. “Are we going to ban all these too?” Experts point out that such PILs could only harm the interests of Indians since terrorists could anyway access Google Earth from other countries.
Internet and e-mail surveillance
Around Rs 10 crore, including cost of physical premises and training
Around Rs 5 crore, including R&D in this area
State-of-the-art Mobile forensic lab
Around Rs 1 crore
Intercept mobile phone conversations in real time in Mumbai would cost
Around Rs 1.5 crore
Satellite phone interception
Around Rs 8 crore
Mobile phone jamming
Around Rs 2 crore
Writing keystroke loggers and stealth software and hacking into computers
Around Rs 3.5 crore
Creating a virtual cyber police (machines + core group of 10 hackers)
First-year cost around Rs 1 crore
Computer Forensics Laboratory
Around Rs 3 crore in first year
Breaking encryption and creating one’s own Algorithms
Rs 2 crore per year
Installing CCTVs in public places
Rs 13 crore to start with
When contacted, a Google spokesperson said: “We are yet to receive a copy of the petition, hence cannot comment on the specifics.” The spokesperson, however, added that “…Google strongly condemns acts of terrorism and violence. Tools such as Google Earth are built from information that is already available from both commercial and public sources, and it is important to remember that the same information is available to anyone who purchases imagery from those public sources. In India, Google Earth has been used for flood relief in Gujarat, Tsunami relief and rehabilitation in southern India and earthquake relief in Kashmir. We believe that the benefits of access to tools such as Google Earth for such valuable purposes far outweigh any negatives from potential misuse. Google is always willing to discuss relevant issues with public agencies and officials.”
The Bombay Technology Club (BTC), which has seasoned industry professionals as its members, such as Zenith Computers Chairman Raj Saraf, Hexaware Technologies Chairman Atul Nishar, Infrasoft Technologies CEO Hanuman Tripathi and Adino Group Chairman Nanik Rupani, said it “strongly approves of the (Mukhi’s) PIL”.
“We need to use large doses of technology not only to gather intelligence but also to collect evidence that can be used in courts to convict the terrorists and also convince the world of the country that they come from. We would encourage others to file PILs that specify specific steps that the government should take which are doable and practical,” the BTC urged in a statement.

Post-26/11, a PIL boom to reform govt
Press Trust of India
Sunday, December 14, 2008 1:55 PM (Mumbai)
It seems that citizens’ weapon of choice for battling the terror is PIL.At the last count, six Public Interest Litigations (PILs) have been filed so far, urging the courts to force the government to reform the security set-up; and punish those whose lapses helped the terrorists.The petitioners include a body of law firms, a woman who lost her son, daughter-in-law in the attacks, and a former top law officer of the country.How can a handful of terrorists enter Mumbai so easily and cause mayhem, asks petition filed in the Supreme Court by Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney General of India.”Current level of training as well as weaponry possessed by police is antiquated and unable to cope with weaponry of the terrorists,” Sorabjee’s petition says, seeking direction to the government to provide modern weapons and equipments to police.Though reluctant initially, the apex court issued notice to Central Government in this PIL.Bombay High Court came literally within the ‘striking distance’ of terrorists on November 26. All the places where terrorists struck are within the radius of two kilometers from the High Court building in South Mumbai.Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) has filed PIL in the Bombay High Court, asking why ‘Quick Response Team’ of Mumbai police could not do much when attacks began.Another PIL, filed by advocate V P Patil, seeks action against M K Narayanan, National Security Advisor, accusing him for “negligence”.

Jharkhand’s newly-married minister in trouble
15 Dec 2008, 1047 hrs IST, Sanjay Ojha, TNN
RANCHI: Jharkhand health minister Bhanu Pratap Sahi is in the news but for a “knotty” reason. On Sunday, a woman from Sidhi district in Madhya Pradesh accused him of marrying another woman even if he is engaged to her for almost two years. In an FIR filed with the local police station, Shipra Singh alleged that Sahi was engaged to her but married another woman, Chhani, from Uttar Pradesh, on Friday. “Sahi got engaged to me at a family function at Ambikapur in Chattisgarh on February 1, 2007. His sisters and other relatives were present at the function that was held in accordance with Hindu rituals. His nephew, Prakash Singh, had played a very important role. I was shocked to learn that he has got married to another woman. He did not even inform us about his intention to break the engagement,” Shipra said. “He has ruined my life and harmed my family prestige. Everybody in the town is talking about it. My family is going through a tough time explaining to people that it was not my fault that our engagement was broken. He had demanded a dowry of Rs 50 lakh and we were ready to pay the amount. He had also demanded a four-wheeler of his choice,” she told TOI over phone from Sidhi. Sahi was, however, not ready to accept the charges. “A few days after the engagement, I realized that the girl’s family did not match our social status. As a matter of fact, she does not come from a respectable family,” he said. “Without making much hue and cry, I disassociated myself from the girl and her family. On Friday, I married a woman who fits into my family,” the minister said, adding that he was ready to face a court case rather than marry a woman “with whom I cannot lead a peaceful life”. Incidentally, the minister was in the news recently after a PIL was filed with Jharkhand High Court accusing him and some of his Cabinet colleagues of amassing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.

Irregularities galore in admission process of homoeopathy colleges
Amrita Didyala
Posted: Dec 15, 2008 at 0436 hrs IST
Ahmedabad Close to 350 of the total 1,050 seats in the 12 homoeopathy colleges across the state have been remaining vacant for the last couple of years.
The primary reason for this is the substantial delay in the completion of the admission procedure that has diverted many students to other educational options.
Exams for the homoeopathy colleges are held in May every year. This year, the number of seats lying vacant at the time of the closure of admission in November, was over 300. In the last two years, the numbers have been equally large at over 350 vacant seats.
While the delay has, of late, become a trend, it has also brought about a large number of admission as well as eligibility-related irregularities as pointed out by the students. The vacant seats are later offered for direct admission.
Snehal Shah, a first-year homoeopathy student said: “At the time of the acceptance of the application form, the eligibility criteria was 55 per cent marks. By the time the admission process got over, it was lowered to 35 per cent. In the process, some of my batchmates diverted to other options, while later on students with lower percentages secured admissions.”
Manish Doshi, an executive council member of Gujarat University, said that after a PIL was filed in 1994 to put a check on large-scale irregularities in the admission procedures, the process was centralised in 1996.
“However, the irregularities are fast setting in once again. On one hand, the unnecessary delay in the procedure has caused a loss of talented students as they divert away, on the other hand, it has become a money making business for the management, as they offer the vacant seats for a good price and reduce the eligibility criteria, giving a severe blow to the merit-based admission system,” Doshi added.

Technology held captive to paranoia
Kamlesh Singh
Sunday, December 14, 2008 23:44 IST
The maniacs who mauled Mumbai on November 26 were armed with more than just Kalashnikovs and grenades. They had satellite phones, Blackberry phones, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Google Earth maps. Mumbai 26/11 was not the first time terrorists used technology to kill. It will not be the last. But yet, every time there is evidence of technology aiding terror, hawks inside the government and outside it seek to wage a war on personal technology tools that have made our lives easier.Last Tuesday, a Mumbai-based lawyer filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court demanding that Google remove images and maps of Indian cities or at least of our vital installations from the Google Earth service.In one more after-effect, New Delhi has found another excuse to mount an offensive on the Canadian proprietor of Blackberry, Research In Motion (RIM). Blackberry devices are encrypted so strongly that even government agencies find it difficult to intercept and crack them. Security hawks had threatened RIM with a ban early this year unless it gave the government access to its servers. RIM had then refused to oblige. Post-Mumbai, it faces twice the pressure to give in.Half-knowing media pundits add to the shrill. Every time a group like the Indian Mujahideen sent emails to claim responsibility for a blast, TV news channels made Wi-Fi the root of all terror every half an hour. Cops cracked down on cyber-cafes giving the impression that those emails were more dangerous than the explosions.A couple of years ago, there was a rumpus over satellite images of Rashtrapati Bhavan being available on the Internet. A newspaper hyped the security risk and the government forced Google to blur some images. If somebody wanted to attack the Rashtrapati Bhavan, he or she would find myriad ways to get maps. There are books available on its architecture and history with maps in fine detail. If you want a South Mumbai map with hotel legends, you can buy it anywhere in the world.So can a terrorist. You need a modern police force and better intelligence infrastructure to stop that terrorist from coming on to your shore. Since the poor state of the police force exposes the performance of the political class, politicians look for softer targets like Blackberry. It creates a fig leaf to hide the decades of neglect that has rusted our security apparatus.Blackberry’s encryption helps corporations conduct business on the go without the fear of someone snooping on company secrets. Google Maps, now also available on mobile phones, helps us find our way in unknown cities. It also helps us to find the nearest ATMs, restaurants, chemists and other utility near any place we may be. With GPS-enabled phones, you also get your location and turn-by-turn directions to your destination. We have also inherited Raj-era paranoia, together with our police and bureaucracy — both built by the gora sahibs. As a result, they still treat the common folk as not-to-be-trusted natives. Till date, you cannot take photographs of random bridges, railway stations, airports and even some bus stands. This, in an age when satellites can spot every single brick used in the structure which bears the legend, “Photography Prohibited”. Possession of maps and photographs may lead you to detention if not jail. You may end up violating the Official Secrets Act. Ask Professor Iftikhar Gilani.Technology is a two-edged sword. When mobile phones became very popular, the police feared that criminals would use them to their advantage. The mobile phone did make criminal enterprise quicker and deadlier. But the same phone gave it away. Today, police track down criminals by tracking their phones. Controlling modern communication tools will only mean controlling freedom. Giving police smarter devices is a smart idea. Banning smart devices just because a terrorist may misuse them is stupid. Should we ban kitchen knives because one can be used for committing a murder?The author has just shifted to Chandigarh and often uses GPS to find his way

Monday, December 15, 2008
The case of Vijay Kumar Gupta v. Renu Malhotra, recently decided by the Delhi High Court, deals with the important issue of the definition of the word “Court” in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, as well as the pecuniary jurisdiction of the High Court. In 1998, the decree-holder filed a petition before the Delhi High Court for appointment of an arbitrator under Section 11 of the Arbitration Act. The petition was valued at Rs. 5 lakh, which was within the pecuniary jurisdiction of the High Court. While the arbitration proceedings were pending, the judgment debtor filed two petitions before the Court under Sections 27 and 37(2)(b) of the Act. During the pendency of the petition under Section 37(2)(b) the arbitrator passed an award in favour of the decree holder. The judgment debtor assailed this award under Section 34 of the Act, in the Delhi High Court. The question was whether the High Court had jurisdiction over the matter.The relevant provision is Section 42 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. Section 42 of the Act provides for jurisdiction of Court to deal with arbitral proceedings. It states that only the Court to which an application has been previously made with respect to an arbitration agreement, will have jurisdiction over subsequent matters arising from the arbitration agreement and arbitral proceedings. The issue raised in the instant case was whether the appointment of the Arbitrator by the Delhi High Court clothed the High Court with the jurisdiction to deal with the execution proceedings following the arbitral award. The decree-holder contended that since the High Court had appointed the arbitrator, it is vested with the jurisdiction to deal with subsequent matters by virtue of Section 42 of the Act. The judgment debtor raised the contention that the mere appointment of the arbitrator under Section 11, Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 should not endow the Delhi High Court with the jurisdiction to deal with the execution petition. Relying on precedents, the judgment debtor contended that the execution petition can only be entertained by the Civil Court and not the High Court. In this light, it is pertinent to cast a look at Section 2 (e) of the Arbitration Act. It states that for the purposes of the Arbitration Act, the word “Court” includes the principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction and the High Court in exercise of its original jurisdiction. The only precondition is that the Courts should have been of competent jurisdiction to deal with the subject-matter of the arbitration if the same would have arisen in a suit.In the instant case, the decree-holder contended that the word “Court” under Section 2(e) of the Act refers to High Court. Rejecting this submission, the Court remarked that as has been well-established through precedents, ‘Chief Justice’ under Section 11 of the Act is not equivalent to “Court” under Section 2(e) of the Act. Therefore, the mere appointment of the Arbitrator does not vest the Delhi High Court with the jurisdiction to deal with execution proceedings. The Delhi High Court asserted that the meaning of the term “Court” under Section 42 must be read in conformity with Section 2(e). It was also contended that by filing an application under Section 34 for setting aside the award, the judgment debtor had acquiesced to the jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court, and was therefore now barred from making a challenge about the same. However, the Court rejected this contention, and noted that acquiescence could not confer jurisdiction where none had existed. In the instant case, the Court found that the Court lacked jurisdiction because of the pecuniary limits that had been placed upon it by a 1996 amendment to the Delhi High Court Act, which enhanced the ordinary civil jurisdiction of the Court from five lakhs to twenty lakhs. As no action on the part of the judgment debtor could confer jurisdiction upon the Court where it was clearly lacking, the Court held that it lacked the pecuniary jurisdiction to entertain the present execution petition. This judgment is especially relevant for clarifying doubts as to the jurisdiction of the High Court over execution matters, and also settles a controversial debate about the correct construction of Sections 11 and 42 of the Arbitration Act. Gautam Bhatia & Venugopal Mahapatra
Posted by Venugopal Mahapatra at 4:58 PM

Will Supreme Court take note of High Court’s Order on Waste Trade?

Monday, December 15, 2008
Note:One hopes even Supreme Court bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice S H Kapadia will adopt the wisdom of the Madras High Court with regard to Waste Oil, Obsolete ships and other hazardous wastes. The next date of hearing is on January 9, 2009. A hazardous wastes case is pending in the apex court since 1995. But in the absence of sound approach like asking the Central Government to initiate civil and criminal proceedings against officials who mastermind illegal and anti-national deals, imposing cost of waste clearance on importers and slapping litigation cost; illegal traffic in toxic waste has become a routine affair in our country. A Supreme Court order had banned import of hazardous waste. Officials of easy virtue in the Environment Ministry have acted to undermine the order with impunity at the behest of hazardous waste traders. The situation has worsened after the order. Shockingly, there are numerous instances in the ongoing case in the Supreme Court where importers were reported non-existent and toxic ships enter Indian waters with fake national flags! Our hazardous wastes regulation is one of the most weakest in the world and even the new that Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008 is a disappointment. Rajya Sabha Committee on Subordinate Legislation has invited comments on it. Hopefully, the Committee will take cognisance of Madras High Court’s order and get the current rules and institutions overhauled and brings Union Ministry of Environment and Forests under parliamentary control because this Ministry’s acts of connivance is too grave to be ignored. Even Commerce Ministry’s role does not bring it any glory. It is germane to recollect that Japan and India have signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement that may facilitate dumping of Japanese toxic wastes in our country.Given the fact that our municipal waste remains quite toxic and household hazardous waste has been totally ignored, the parliamentary committee must treat mixed municipal waste too as having characteristics of hazardous waste. It appears that Madras High Court order of November 21, 2008 has done the same.Gopal KrishnaMadras HC orders to return containers imported from United States*The Madras High Court ordered to send back the 40 containers of hazardous municipal waste imported from the United States and rotting at Tuticorin Port for three years.While dismissing a writ petition by ITC, the division bench comprising Justice Elipipe Dharmarao and Justice S Tamilvanan 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 danger to Mother Nature, as has been correctly observed by the Customs Department and Pollution Control Board.’ The bench also rapped ITC Limited for importing the ‘undesired cargo’. The Judges directed the company toclear out the waste at its own cost and slapped a litigation cost of Rs 50,000. Judges also asked the Centre to initiate civil and criminal proceedings against officials who masterminded such illegal ideas within a period of 12 weeks.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 consignment contained plastic carry bags, pet bottles, used clothes, metal cans and dirty liquid emitting foul smell. Officials said hazardous municipal waste had characteristics of Eco-toxic and infectious substances.UNI
Posted by Gopal Krishna at 4:07 AM

Kandhmal: anti-conversion law imperative
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Sandhya Jain Vijayavaani 27 August 2008 In a virtual replay of the post-Godhra riots of 2002, the secular and foreign media has worked overtime to delink the ugly, provocative murder of 80-year-old Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four disciples on Krishna Janmastami day with the violence that subsequently rocked some districts in Orissa. This is simply not on.Swami Laxmanananda was actively involved in the protection of tribal dharma from aggressive Christian evangelists in the state’s tribal belt since 1966. He was killed in his crowded ashram at Jalespata, Kandhmal district, while performing Janmastami prayers. The murder came close on the heels of a letter warning he would suffer for preventing Hindus from converting to Christianity; in fact, his efforts had caused thousands of tribals to return to the Hindu fold, to the chagrin of the missionaries.As the Swami had been previously attacked on 25 December 2007 for the same reason, he personally lodged a complaint with the police and enclosed the threatening letter along with the FIR. He sought police protection, but fell to the determination of his assailants before it could arrive. A gang of 20 to 25 goons barged into his ashram around 9.35 pm, lobbed a hand-grenade at the gathering of devotees, and fired indiscriminately with sophisticated weapons, killing Swami Laxmanananda and four ashram inmates, including Mata Bhaktimayee, on the spot.Initially, the administration suggested that the killers could be Maoists, identifying a group known as the People’s Liberation Revolutionary Group. But Hindu leaders vigorously refuted this, accusing Christian groups of sponsoring the attack, especially as the district witnessed fierce Christian violence against Hindus last Christmas. A BJP state leader Suresh Pujari said Swami Laxmanananda had no enmity with the Red rebels, and was only opposed to religious conversion taking place in various parts of Orissa. He alleged that those opposed to the saint’s anti-conversion activities had killed him.However, it may be pertinent to note that most Maoist activists in the district are also recent converts to Christianity. Security forces are said to have seized 20 guns from 47 Maoists arrested in connection with the burning of villages inhabited by Hindus. In this respect, the murder of Swami Laxmanananda may be said to closely resemble the murder of Swami Shanti Kali ji Maharaj in Tripura in August 2000; he too was shot in his own ashram by gun-wielding goons after several dire warnings for anti-conversion activities in the state’s tribal belt. Subsequently, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar admitted the involvement of the Baptist church with the insurgency in the state.It is surely pertinent that Orissa police arrested one Pradesh Kumar Das, an employee of the aggressive Christian organisation, World Vision, from Khadagpur, while trying to escape from the district at Buguda. Two other neo-converts, Vikram Digal and William Digal were arrested from the house of Lal Digal, a local militant Christian, from Nuasahi at Gunjibadi, Nuagaan. They admitted having joined a group of 28 other assailants. Orissa has also seen an influx of rich American Baptists, for obvious reasons.In a television debate on the violence that followed the Ashram murders, Biju Janata Dal MP Tathagata Satpathy asserted that regardless of the actual efficacy of an anti-conversion ban, there could be little doubt that there was an urgent need for anti-conversion legislation as aggressive evangelization was seriously harming the social fabric of the state.Violence broke out in the state as public sentiments ran high when the body of Swami Laxmanananda reached Chakapada in Kandhamal district for last rites; some shops and vehicles were torched though Home Secretary Tarunkanti Mishra said the bandh called by the Sangh Parivar was “total and by and large peaceful.”It is true that two persons, including one woman, were burnt to death when unidentified persons torched an orphanage run by a Christian organisation at Phutpali in Bargarh district. The twenty children at the orphanage were unhurt. One Rasananda Pradhan was also burnt to death when his house was set ablaze at Rupa village in Kandhamal district. Nearly a dozen churches were attacked in Khurda, Bargarh, Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Koraput, Boudh, Mayurbhanj, Jagatsinghpur and Kandhamal districts and Bhubhaneswar.Yet the secular media, particularly the electronic media, has highlighted the violence of the post-Ashram murders as though it were a suo moto, unprovoked assault by the Hindu community, particularly the agitating VHP cadres, completely glossing over the original sin. Media has sought to diminish Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati by calling him a ‘VHP leader’ opposed to conversions – as though that vindicates his murder! In contrast, a woman who died in the subsequent violence was erroneously and repeatedly identified as a ‘nun’ and projected as a victim of religious persecution.The truth is otherwise. It is those working overtime – with foreign funds and foreign missionaries – to annihilate the native faith of this country who are aggressors and cultural iconoclasts; this point needs to be understood by all concerned. In the specific context of Orissa, there is need to revisit the sensational murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines in January 1999, and honestly assess the tribal anguish that led to that sad denouement. One of the reasons why there has been no sober voice on the Staines murder is the tragic fact that his two minor sons died with him; but now that we are nearly a decade away from that event, we need to give the tribal agony due respect. A blanket ban on missionaries operating in tribal areas could go far to assuage tribal feelings. Indeed, the recognition that missionaries may have gone too far in provoking the increasingly affirmative Hindu community forced some Christian groups to condemn the murder of Swami Laxmanananda by evangelist religious fanatics.No doubt the Judicial Commission set up by the Orissa Government under Justice Basudev Panigrahi will bring out the truth about the previous December 2007 violence in which Swami Laxmanananda was attacked; he escaped four attempts on his life before falling to the last attack. The Commission’s findings will also throw light on the events that resulted in his eventual murder.Initial reports suggest that Swami Laxmanananda was also active in the movement against illegal beef trading, and was demanding a high level probe into an alleged illegal beef trading racket in Kandhamal. The multi-faceted Swami devoted considerable energy to the socio-economic development of local people in remote areas of Orissa. He opened several social service institutions including schools and hostels for tribal boys and girls, with free education and hostel facilities. This cut at the roots of the evangelists and created much ill-will towards him.A major reason for the heightened tensions in Kandhamal over the past few months was due to the fact that the important Kandha (Kondh) tribe was extremely vigilant about protecting its religion and culture. The second local group, the Scheduled Caste Panas, have mostly converted to Christianity.As a result of conversion, the Panas lost the reservation benefits due to SCs under the constitution. Guided by the missionaries, they began to agitate for Scheduled Tribe status on the specious plea that they also spoke Kui, the mother tongue of the Kondhs, which is also the principal language of the district. This agitation created deep apprehensions in the minds of the Hindu STs and SCs, that converts would grab their reservation benefits. Their fears deepened when the UPA-appointed Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission recommended extension of all reservation facilities to converts among the Dalits, which would include the Panas in Orissa.Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati took this simmering discontent head-on, calling for an open debate on conversions, which were at the root of the unrest in tribal-dominated areas. He asserted: “I have told the National Human Rights team that conversion and foreign funding to NGOs were the reasons behind communal riots in Kandhamal.” He asked the NHRC to probe the fake caste (Scheduled Tribe) certificates fraudulently obtained by non-tribals and take appropriate action against them.Now that this valiant warrior for Hindu civilisation and India ‘s foundational ethos has been struck down, the State and Central Government owe it to the nation to scrutinize the flow of foreign funds to Christian missionaries and make public the manner of their utilization. There must also be a complete ban on the foreign funding of faiths not indigenous to this soil.
Posted by Rashtra Varta at 9:17 PM

4 yrs on, accident victim gets justice at Lok Adalat
Aneesha Sareen
Posted: Dec 14, 2008 at 0058 hrs IST
Chandigarh The special Lok Adalats held at the district courts, on Saturday, brought relief to a man who had been fighting the compensation battle for his legs for over four years.
Yoginder Pal Sharma, a former technician with the Punjab State Electricity Board, had received nearly 40 per cent permanent disability in the legs on January 6, 2005, when he was hit by a car in Sector 26. He was later operated at the Fortis Hospital.
The motor accident claim tribunal (MACT) directed the Oriental Insurance to pay Sharma Rs 4.25 lakh as compensation. On the decision, an emotional Sharma said his paralysed legs discouraged him to take further steps, but his staunch determination to fight till the last kept him going.
The Patiala resident told Newsline: “Life has to go on and I am contended that I finally received the compensation.”
Yoginder’s counsel Manish K R Rampal said the tedious trial had forced his client to travel all the way from Patiala every time there was a hearing. “With the case compromised, he is saved from the harassment too,” said Munish.

Litigants flood pre-Lok Adalat
14 Dec 2008, 0301 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: Flooded with litigants, who were keen to get their cases settled, city’s district court had a glimpse of things to come during Samadhan 2008, a mega Lok Adalat. The Punjab and Haryana High Court’s chief justice, Justice Tirth Singh Thakur along with other judicial officers and a senior police officer supervised the court premises during pre-Lok Adalat on Saturday and also guided the judicial officers. Approximately 8,200 traffic challans were disposed of and Rs 8.51 lakh was realized as fine from the traffic violators today. Meanwhile, 513 cheque bounce cases, involving Rs 35.72 lakh, were settled under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. Besides, 147 civil suits and six Motor Accident Claim (MACT) cases were decided and a sum of Rs 17.31 lakh was awarded to complainants. In order to handle the crowd, tents were raised in district court premises to accommodate makeshift courts. It been a special traffic Lok Adalat, the Chandigarh traffic police has put up an exhibition to spread the message about road safety loud and clear to residents. “The awareness camp was stationed in court’s complex for the first time,” informed HS Doon, SP traffic. The District State Legal Services Authority organized another Lok Adalat in Panchkula’s district court, where 1,882 cases were decided by eight benches of local courts. “While in Chandigarh it was a special traffic Lok Adalat, in Panchkula all types of cases – traffic challans, MACT, Hindu Marriage Act- were taken up in pre Lok Adalat,” said a court official. Box:
Samadhan to settle all pending cases According to officials, any person whose case is pending in any court can get his case settled during mega Lok Adalat, which is scheduled to be held on December 21-22. During Samadhan 2008, cases from all categories, including traffic challans and cheque bounce litigations, will be decided amicably.

MACT Lok Adalats disburse Rs 1.34 crore

Express News Service Posted: Dec 14, 2008 at 0223 hrs IST
New Delhi: More than Rs 1.34 crore was disbursed to road accident victims on Saturday at the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) Lok Adalats, organised at all five district courts by Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA).
The bench, comprising a sessions judge and a doctor, aided the victims and insurance companies in arriving at harmonious decisions.
While the sessions judge looked after legal issues and lawful ways of resolving contentious issues pertaining to compensation, the doctor opined on the nature of injuries and similar medical matters, so as to arrive at a just and fair figure of compensation.
Nine Lok Adalats were organised at the Tis Hazari, Rohini, Karkardooma, Patiala House and Dwarka district court complexes and as many as 79 such matters were disposed of, to the mutual satisfaction of victims and the companies.
Lok Adalats at Tis Hazari disposed of the maximum, 29 accident claim cases, while at Patiala House courts, 18 such matters were decided upon.
“Despite the letter threatening to blow up court complexes, litigants appeared before the benches, showing their unshaken faith in the judicial system and the law and order arrangements,” Sanjay Sharma, DLSA project manager, told Newsline.
The event garnered an encouraging response, strengthening confidence in alternate disputes redressal mechanisms, like Lok Adalats, which could help immensely in reducing the burden on regular courts, Sharma said.

A scar fetched her Rs 60K relief
14 Dec 2008, 0206 hrs IST, Smriti Singh, TNN
NEW DELHI: Arguing that any visible defect on the body of a girl can harm her marriage prospects, a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal on Saturday awarded a compensation of Rs 60,000 to a 23-year-old girl who got a scar on her ankle due to an accident. Poonam Sharma (name changed), went home content as her case under MACT court was settled by presiding officer Arun Kumar Arya. As per the case, while going to her office, Poonam had met with an accident and injured her left foot. Although there was no fracture, the injury left a scar. Settling the case amicably and directing United India Insurance to pay her a compensation for the scar so that she could go for a plastic surgery, judge Arya disposed of the case as part of Mega Lok Adalat. In another case, a 12-year-old boy, who sustained 31% disability in the leg after he met with an accident, was awarded a compensation of Rs 1,40,000 by the lok adalat. His case was also settled amicably by the court. Many such MACT cases were disposed of on Saturday in lok adalats held at all the five court complexes. Lok adalats on Saturday disbursed Rs 1.34 crore as compensation to road accident victims and their families by settling 79 cases. Nine lok adalats were organized at Tis Hazari, Rohini, Karkardooma, Patiala House and Dwarka district courts and they took up to 518 motor accident claims cases, Sanjay Sharma, project manager of the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA), said. “Out of 518 cases, 79 cases were decided to the mutual satisfaction of the insurance companies and the accident victims and their family members,” he said, adding lok adalats elicited “overwhelming” responses from the litigants. The Lok Adalats have been set up to amicably resolve non-serious cases and the regular courts transferred the matters after taking consent from litigating parties. Each court had an experienced doctor to asses the injuries and thereby helping the court to award the compensation. “Alternate disputes redressal mechanisms such as lok adalats help in decreasing the burden on regular courts,” Sharma said. Unresolved 439 cases were remanded back to the original courts, he said. Lok adalats at Tis Hazari disposed of the maximum accident claims cases, a total of 29, while at Patiala House courts, 18 such matters were decided, he said. “The DLSA has become the first such body in the country which has decided to organize MACT lok adalat in all the five district courts on every second Saturday of the month,” the project manager said.

Cabinet clears move on federal probe agency
15 Dec 2008, 2144 hrs IST, IANS
NEW DELHI: The union cabinet on Monday gave its approval to the proposals to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and to set up a national investigating agency, it was announced. “Bills for these purposes will be introduced in parliament,” an official statement said after the cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. An all-party meeting, held this month in the wake of the November 26 Mumbai terrorist attacks, had proposed to set up a federal investigating agency.

No ‘one rank-one pension’ for Armymen
15 Dec 2008, 2033 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Rejecting a long-standing demand of ex-servicemen, the government today said it was not contemplating providing “one rank-one pension” to similarly placed officers and jawans after their retirement. Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said the demand was “not found acceptable” due to administrative, financial and legal reasons. Moreover, Raju said, the pensionary benefits of personnel below officer rank, particularly of the three ranks of Sepoy, Naik and Havildar have been significantly increased by increasing weightage from five years to 10, eight and six years respectively. They were also allowed pension before January 1996 to be computed with reference to the maximum of the pay scale introduced from January 1, 1996. With the pay commissions increasing the pay of armed forces and men every 10 years, the gap between the pension received by those who retired before the implementation of the respective commissions widened. Similarly placed retired officers (with same ranks and number of years of service) were receiving different amounts as pension, which has been opposed by lakhs of ex-servicemen all across the country and hence the demand from them for “one rank-one pension.” In another reply, Raju said the government had already received representations from ex-servicemen regarding their grievances against various recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission.

Pirates held, ship saved, what next? Indian ship doesn’t know
15 Dec 2008, 2006 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: With no instructions from the Indian government, naval officers on board the ship INS Mysore are confused about what to do with the 23 pirates and their dhow apprehended in the Gulf of Aden while repulsing an attack on an Ethiopian merchant vessel. “Since Saturday afternoon, the 12 Somali and 11 Yemeni pirates are in custody on board INS Mysore and they are being fed with rations meant for sailors,” Navy officials said here on Monday. “We have not received any instructions yet from the defence ministry or the external affairs ministry on what needs to be done with the pirates,” they said The piquant situation that INS Mysore finds itself in has been compounded as the Rules of Engagement issued to the warship before it set sail to Gulf of Aden on anti-piracy patrol duties is unclear on the course of action if it did seize a pirate vessel and sea brigands, officials said. However, officials claimed that frantic efforts were in progress in both ministries to get a foreign port to accept the bandits for trial in their courts and were optimistic of finding a solution by Tuesday. The only other option available to INS Mysore is to abandon its anti-piracy patrols and return to an Indian port to hand over the pirates to local authorities for trying them. But that appears to be unacceptable to the Navy authorities as their action against the sea bandits was just gaining momentum. Officials said under the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS), International Maritime Organisation resolutions and the Navy Act and Regulations, the warships were authorised to seize and apprehend the pirates.

No arms training for CBI’s new sleuths
15 Dec 2008, 1907 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Is CBI saying Farewell to Arms? It appears so since GenNext CBI sleuths will be on the field without any arms training following a decision by the country’s premier probe agency to stop imparting this skill in their training course. “…We have taken out the arms training module for them and have concentrated on increasing their hi-tech skills like using the latest softwares and gadgets which would be useful in their investigation,” CBI Joint Director K Saleem Ali told journalists during an interaction programme. With every second terror strike having a vital link to the cyberspace, the CBI has decided to train new officers more on cracking cyber crimes rather than focus on target shooting with arms. At present a batch of 38 trainee sub-inspectors are undergoing training at the CBI Academy in Ghaziabad who would be the agency’s generation-next officers, he said. “These officers are being trained in everything from computer to driving a car…We have concentrated on increasing their hi-tech skills so that on their induction, they could perform in more better way,” Ali said. Ali said the CBI is training them in such a way that the new breed of officers become multi-taskers and hence the stress is not only on physical fitness but also mental and intellectual strength.

Parliament approves salary, pension hike for President, Vice-President, governors
15 Dec 2008, 1726 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Parliament on Monday approved three-fold increase in the monthly salary of the President, Vice-President and state Governors with the Rajya Sabha returning the bills. While the President will get Rs 1.50 lakh per month, it will be Rs 1.25 lakh for the Vice-President and Rs 1.10 lakh for the Governors. The four bills have already been approved by the Lok Sabha. The President and Vice-President will also be entitled to a pension of 50% of their salaries. The revision in salary and pension will come into effect from January 1, 2006. At present, the President gets a monthly salary of Rs 50,000, the Vice-President Rs 40,000 and Governors Rs 36,000. In addition, former Presidents will also be entitled to a mobile phone, internet and broadband connection and an additional private secretary and peon. The office maintenance expenses will be raised from Rs 12,000 to Rs 60,000 per annum. The spouses of deceased Presidents will also be entitled to furnished residence, secretarial staff, car, telephone and travel facilities. In case of former Vice-Presidents, the bills seek to provide additional staff and office maintenance expense of Rs 60,000 per annum, up from existing Rs 12,000. The spouse of the deceased Vice-President too will be entitled to a furnished accommodation.

SC issues notice to Centre over OBC creamy layer
15 Dec 2008, 1500 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the central government on a lawsuit questioning an October 2008 government order that people of Other Backward Castes (OBC) earning annually Rs.450,000 or above alone would be categorised as creamy layer. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and P. Sathasivam issued the notice on a petition filed by noted academician P.V. Inder Sen.

Probe ordered into Pulwama violence
15 Dec 2008, 1235 hrs IST, PTI
JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday ordered an inquiry into violent clashes at Quil in Pulwama district, which left one dead and six others injured, during polling on Saturday. The fact-finding committee to be headed by Principal Secretary (Home) Khursheed Ahmed Ganai has been asked to wrap up the inquiry within 10 days and submit its report by December 26 an official spokesman said here. One person was killed and six others were injured in clashes between anti-poll protesters and security forces in militancy-infested Pulwama during polling for the fifth phase of the J and K assembly elections on December 13. Security personnel had fired in air and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse a group of about 200 anti-poll protesters who turned violent after they were stopped from marching towards a polling booth at Quil village in Pulwama district. One of the three injured identified as Muzamil Ahmad Ganai succumbed at a hospital in Srinagar, officials said. This was the first major incident of violence during polling since the seven-stage exercise began on Nov 17.

Cash-for-vote report: Clean chit to Amar Singh, Ahmed Patel
15 Dec 2008, 1507 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Samajwadi party MP Amar Singh and Congress MP Ahmad Patel were on Monday given a clean chit by a Lok Sabha Committee that went into the alleged ‘cash-for-vote’ scam during the confidence vote in July and said no further action be taken against them. ( Watch ) “As there is no case against Patel and no clinching evidence against Amar Singh, there is no occasion for the Committee or the House to make a request to Rajya Sabha requiring them to appear before the inquiry committee for evidence”, the Committee said in its 466-page report. The Committee, however, recommended that a probe by an “appropriate investigating agency” be done into the roles of Sanjeev Saxena, said to be an aide of Singh, Suhail Hindustani and Sudheendra Kulkarni, an aide of BJP leader L K Advani. Two opposition MPs, V K Malhotra of BJP and Mohd Saleem of CPM, gave notes of dissent on the dissociating themselves from the clean chit given to Singh and Patel. The 7-member Committee was constituted by Speaker Somnath Chatterjee after three BJP MPs Ashok Argal, Mahavir Bhagora and Faggan Singh Kulaste shocked the House by bringing a huge bag and displaying bundles of currency taken out from them. They alleged that Singh and Patel had offered them bribes amounting to Rs 3 crore each for abstaining from voting in support of the government during the trust vote. The two had denied the charge in the media.

Are your drugs boosting your doctor’s lifestyle?
15 Dec 2008, 0028 hrs IST, Rema Nagarajan, TNN
A platinum coupon if you prescribe drug `X’ to 10 patients. A gold coupon if you prescribe brand `Y’ to 25 patients. The more coupons you get, the greater your chances of winning. The prizes: cars, frost-free refrigerators, television sets, digital cameras and silver coins. If you knew your doctor was a contestant for these prizes, how confident would you feel that what has been prescribed to you is what you need, not what improves his chances in the contest? Such contests for doctors are not unknown in India. In one such case, 100 doctors who topped the prescribers charts from cities like Ahmedabad, Chennai, Alwar, Belgaum, Ambala and Agra participated in a lucky draw and were awarded publicly by the Gujarat-based Torrent Pharmaceutical. In another, the same company let some other doctors and their families sample traditional Turkish cuisine and culture in Istanbul as part of a so-called international symposium on metabolic medicine. Another lot from 12 metros splashed around in the best water parks in their cities courtesy the same company. This company has also not spared expenses in helping `educate’ doctors to decide which drugs to prescribe – it took a batch of Sri Lankan doctors on a safari to Kenya for their education. These aren’t allegations – the information is available on the company’s own website. In fact, check out how Torrent itself described the Istanbul junket: “Torrent has once again raised the bar in offering a perfect combination of knowledge sharing and hospitality in the pharma industry”. While these instances may seem particularly brazen, drug manufacturers are no strangers to handing out gifts to doctors. A representative of a pharma firm, who requested anonymity, told TOI that his firm’s Delhi operation has earmarked an annual budget of Rs 2 crore for sundry freebies for doctors in the Capital alone. This does not include gifts and trips abroad, which come from the company’s central funds. And this is just one company’s budget. There are hundreds of such companies with comparable, and sometimes bigger, budgets. Should this be legal? Several countries have brought in legislation to crack down on unethical marketing practices, and the penalties are stiff. Drug companies have had to cough up millions as fines in Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. Over 25 medical centres including prestigious ones like Harvard Medical School, Yale University, University of California and the Stanford School of Medicine have put in place strong conflict-of-interest policies that include zero tolerance for company gifts and free meals and curbs on travel for conferences. In India, however, we just have vague assurances of self-regulation by the drug industry and reliance on doctors’ ethics. Both the associations of drug manufacturers in India, the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA) and Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) on paper have a code of ethics for marketing practices with detailed procedure for registering and examining complaints. However, OPPI Director General Tapan Ray refused to divulge the number of complaints received, the nature of the complaints or what action was taken. “I cannot reveal (that) because it is a self-regulatory process,” says Ray. The Federation of Medical Representatives Associations of India (FMRAI) had sent a complaint against Torrent with evidence to the IDMA. “Forget about acting on our complaint, IDMA has not even acknowledged receipt of the complaint,” says Amitava Guha, joint general secretary of FMRAI. Indian Medical Association general secretary Dr S N Mishra says reports of doctors being bribed are just allegations till proved. “We condemn bribing of doctors, but IMA has no teeth to take action. The government ought to bring in strict regulations,” he says. Repeated attempts to get comments from the Drug Controller General of India Dr Surinder Singh proved futile with faxes and calls remaining unanswered. Chairman of Ganga Ram Hospital, Dr B K Rao, admits unethical marketing practices are a threat to patients and hospitals. “The beneficiaries are chemists and doctors. Even if a doctor takes a favour from a pharma company he cannot push their product in our hospital because we have a committee which shortlists the drugs we use,” explains Dr Rao. However, he admits that the hospital cannot check doctors’ prescriptions in the hospital’s out-patient clinics. So, next time you pop a prescribed pill, be warned: unless it is a doctor you can trust, you might not necessarily be taking what you need. Some of the recent big cases of unethical practices in US October 2008: Biotech firm Cephalon had to pay $425 million. Charge: Company gave millions of dollars of grants for continuing medical education (CME) programs to promote off-label uses of its drugs and gave illegal kickbacks to physicians. January 2008: Neurosurgeon Patrick Chan, had to pay $1.5 million Charge: Took hefty kickbacks from medical-device suppliers September 2007: Bristol-Myers Squibb Company had to pay $515 million. Charge: Paid illegal remuneration to physicians and other healthcare providers in the form of consulting fees, other programs and travel to luxurious resorts to get them to promote BMS drugs. September 2007: Five orthotics companies accounting for nearly 95% of hip and knee surgical implants in the US paid $310 million. Charge: Paid surgeons thousands of dollars per year as consulting contracts and lavished trips and expensive perks to get them to choose their products.

CAG faults implementation of highway projects
15 Dec 2008, 0024 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: At a time when the UPA regime is betting heavily on infrastructure sector to beat the economic slowdown, a report prepared by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said that government’s thrust to push investments through public private partnership (PPP) projects has failed to take the desired course. In a report submitted to Parliament, CAG said the government’s key infrastructure ventures based on PPP model missed the target in 12 out of 17 projects in the first phase of the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP). Though the target date for completion of NHDP Phase-I projects was June 2004, the highway authority was able to complete only five of the 17 PPP projects, the report said, urging the government to “strengthen its planning machinery to monitor and take corrective action for timely execution” of projects. The CAG found discrepancies in the norms set for execution of projects and with regard to their completion and financial rewards resulting in a loss of hundreds of crores to the exchequer. There were inordinate delays in projects, ranging between two and 42 months. Although time and cost were key factors for successful implementation of NHDP, the authority did not prepare a corporate or strategic plan to monitor the same, the report said. Losses were also incurred due to inordinate delays in award of work and in acquisition of land. In fact, the CAG faulted the highway authority for not having the mandatory written code on the basis of which a particular project is assigned for execution under BOT-Toll.

Kasab can’t be denied legal aid, say experts
15 Dec 2008, 0008 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: A legal counsel for Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone militant captured alive in the Mumbai terror attacks may become the state’s necessity if it wants to succesfully prosecute him, say legal experts.
Over the years Indian laws and its interpretaion by the Supreme Court as well as the high courts are emphatic that an accused charged with commiting henious offences would have to be provided legal aid, irerespective of the fact whether he asks for it or not. ” Free legal assistance at state cost is a fundamental right of a person accused of an offence which may involve jeopardy to his life or personal liberty,” said a three judge bench of the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment of 1986 in Sukhdas vs Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh. The view was not new as right from Independence and the promulgation of the Constitution, courts have been equivocal that every accused person has the right to be represented by a lawyer of his choice. The right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, includes right to Legal aid. Article 39 A of Constitution further mandates equal justice and free legal aid. Section 303 and section 304 of the Criminal Procedure Code speaks of the right of an accused to be defended by a lawyer and the state’s duty to provide legal aid. In Kasab’s case, he has sought legal assistance, but the SC judgment ruled that an accused need not even make such an explicit request. Though Kasab’s case may be an open and shut case, he cannot be denied legal assistance and it may affect his conviction. “The exercise of this fundamental right is not conditional upon the accused applying for free legal assistance,” said the 1986 SC order, which added that a conviction of guilt in such cases cannot be sustained. “The conviction reached without informing the accused that they were entitled to free legal assistance and inquiring from them whether they wanted a lawyer to be provided to them at State cost which resulted in the accused remaining unrepresented by a lawyer in the trial is clearly a violation of the fundamental right of the accused under Article 21 and the trial must be held to be vitiated on account of a fatal constitution infirmity,” the apex court had further said. In recent years there have been many instances when the Bombay high Court has sent back the case to be retried only because the accused was not represented by a lawyer. Earlier this year a case involving the murder of a doctor by a mother-daughter duo in Pune, the high court ordered a retrial. In 2006, a division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice Roshan Dalvi called a mistrial in a case of robbery and murder for violation of the legal aid rule. “Denial of opportunity to the accused to be defended by an advocate of their choice or if they were not capable of doing so,or failure on the part of the State to assign an Advocate to defend them at the cost of the State have deprived them of their right and has resulted in miscarriage of justice.” The apex court in an earlier judgement had gone a step ahead and said that legal aid should be provided to an accused not just at the time of trial but also when he is first produced before a magistrate. “That is the stage at which an accused person needs competent legal advice and representation and no procedure can be said to be reasonable, fair and Just which denied legal advice and representation to him at this stage,” said the order of Justice P N Bhagwati and Justice A P Sen in 1981. Besides according to rule 46 of the Advocates Act, anyone genuinely in need of legal assistance should not be denied such aid. Most of the lawyers whom TOI spoke to preferred to stay away from the controversy. Kasab’s Pakistani nationality makes little difference. The Supreme Court as well as laws have been clear that even a foreign national is entitled to rights under Article 14 (equal;ity before law), Article 21 (right to personal liberty) and Article 22(1) and (2) of the Constitution that confer the right to be represented by a lawyer.

Cash-for-vote scam: House privileges panel summons bribe-takers
15 Dec 2008, 0050 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The drama over cash-for-vote scam seems to be unending, with a parliamentary panel on privileges summoning the three MPs who brought the currency notes to Lok Sabha to claim that bribe was being given to win the trust vote. It means the so-called `whistle-blowers’ may be in the dock if they are found to have violated parliamentary privileges, just as the bribe-givers could bear the brunt if proved that they had tried to buy MPs. The privileges committee has called Mahavir Bhagora, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Ashok Argal for a hearing on complaints from MPs Madhusudan Mistry of Congress and Mohan Singh of Samajwadi Party. The complainants were heard by the committee earlier. While Mistry has accused the BJP trio of bringing the House into disrepute by carrying money inside the Lok Sabha, he claimed that their honesty was an afterthought as they had accepted the bribe. He alleged that the three could have gone to the Speaker to lodge a complaint. Mohan Singh has charged them with having indulged in misconduct and breached the House privileges by not allowing him to speak during the confidence motion. It was the turn of the SP MP to speak on the motion when the BJP MPs brought out wads of currency notes and waved them in the House, plunging the proceedings into chaos. The notice to the three MPs comes when an inquiry into the bribery scam is pending with the Speaker and a report is likely to be tabled on Monday. The Deo panel is learnt to have recommended that the bribery allegations for the July 22 trust vote be referred to an independent agency for investigations. While SP general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh, who was accused of being the brain behind the operation, has got a reprieve, his Lok Sabha colleague Reoti Raman Singh and the alleged conduit Sanjeev Saxena, said to be an employee of Amar Singh, are not out of trouble yet. Panel members Mohd Salim of the CPM and V K Malhotra of BJP are learnt to have given dissenting notes.

CBI looks up to its masters in every politically sensitive case
15 Dec 2008, 0056 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich must be ruing his luck for being born in the US. Had he been in politics in India, he probably could have got away or pulled a string or two to avoid FBI from arresting him on the charge of trying to sell President-elect Barak Obama’s vacant Senate seat.
But he could still qualify as a student of Indian politics for refusing to resign despite the humiliation of being arrested and virtually ostracised in US political circles. Similar allegations were made recently by Margaret Alva that tickets to contest MP and MLA elections were being sold. It got “I told you so” grins from everyone. But no one, not even the Opposition, stood up to seek an inquiry. For, they must be aware of the spread of the malaise and felt that any surgical treatment could affect their own limbs. In this “I scratch your back and you scratch mine” politics in India, the investigating agency, especially the image-conscious CBI, gets treated like a pawn and is made to do flip-flops every now and then. We all know how CBI would have loved to step into FBI’s shoes and bring to book Blagojevich clones in India. This predicament of CBI was gauged by the Supreme Court in its famous Vineet Narain judgment in Jain hawala case. It said, “Inertia was the common rule whenever the alleged offender was a powerful person. The Constitution and working of the investigating agencies revealed the lacuna of its inability to perform whenever powerful persons were involved.” It talked about a simple remedy: “Everyone against whom there is reasonable suspicion of committing a crime has to be treated equally and similarly under the law and probity in public life is of great significance.” Will this ever happen in India? Take, for example, the CBI cases against BSP supremo Mayawati and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. Their parties always had a sizeable number of MPs. Big parties, whenever short of majority, have naturally vied for their support. And the CBI has always been used as a weapon with both Mayawati and Mulayam — to either wreck vengeance for their refusal to play ball or to oblige them for their support. Mayawati had her time immediately after being elected to power. Her good equations with the Centre paid rich dividends. She was let off in the Taj Heritage Corridor scam by the UP governor, who refused to grant sanction to CBI for her prosecution. But she knew that nothing is permanent in politics. Her refusal to side with the UPA government saw CBI filing an affidavit in the SC seeking her prosecution in a disproportionate assets case. When she was in the Centre’s good books, Mulayam was not. The Centre egged on the CBI to pursue his alleged disproportionate assets in the SC, which had refused to do so against Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi on the ground that courts should not be political battlefields. After the SC directed a CBI probe, the agency on the basis of evidence collected through a preliminary inquiry sought the top court’s permission to register a case against him and his kin. Mulayam also knew that nothing is permanent. He bided his time for a change in equation with the UPA government. After saving the UPA in the trust vote, it was time to demand his pound of flesh. The CBI moved another application seeking to withdraw its earlier brave stand in the DA case against him. If Mayawati and Mulayam had their share of joy and sorrow at the hands of CBI, there are many who reaped the benefits of being close to power. Bofors case, Babri Masjid demolition case, DA case against Lalu and Rabri, Shibu Soren, Ajit Jogi… the list is endless. Again, the solution to this could be found in Vineet Narain judgment. The SC had said, “A scheme giving the needed insulation from extraneous influences, even of the controlling executive, is imperative.” Till then, the CBI cannot step into the FBI’s shoes and arrest corrupt politicians like Blagojevich.

LEGAL NEWS 14.12.2008

CJI assails media coverage of attacks
Legal Correspondent
New Delhi: The live coverage of the Mumbai terrorist attacks and the subsequent events by the media, in particular television news channels, drew critical observations from Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan here on Saturday.
Speaking at a conference on terrorism, rule of law and human rights, Justice Balakrishnan said: “The symbolic impact of terrorist attacks on the minds of ordinary citizens has also been considerably amplified by the role of pervasive media coverage.”
The Chief Justice said: “One of the ill-effects of unrestrained coverage is that of provoking anger amongst the masses. While it is fair for the media to prompt public criticism of inadequacies in the security and law-enforcement apparatus, there is also a possibility of such resentment turning into an irrational desire for retribution. Furthermore, the trauma resulting from the terrorist attacks may be used as a justification for undue curtailment of individual rights and liberties.”
He said: “Instead of offering a considered response to the growth of terrorism, a country may resort to questionable methods such as permitting indefinite detention of terror suspects, the use of coercive interrogation techniques and the denial of the right to fair trial. Outside the criminal justice system, the fear generated by terrorist attacks may also be linked to increasing governmental surveillance over citizens and unfair restrictions on immigration.”
Justice Balakrishnan said that apprehension and interrogation of terror suspects must be done professionally with adequate judicial scrutiny. “This is required because in recent counter-terrorist operations there have been several reports of arbitrary arrests of individuals belonging to certain communities and the concoction of evidence.”
The CJI said: “In the absence of bilateral treaties for extradition or assistance in investigation, there is no clear legal basis for international cooperation in investigating terrorist attacks. The pursuit of terrorists alone could not be a justification for arbitrarily breaching another nation’s sovereignty. Yet another practical constraint that has been brought to the fore with the Mumbai attacks has been the question of holding governments responsible for the actions of non-state actors. While one can say that there is a moral duty on all governments to prevent and restrain the activities of militant groups on their soil, the same is easier said than done.”

Mumbai police write to Centre on Ajmal’s plea
Staff Reporter
MUMBAI: The Mumbai police have written to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on the surviving terrorist of the Mumbai attacks, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman’s plea seeking contact with the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.
Rakesh Maria, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) told reporters on Saturday that on December 11, Ajmal wrote a three-page letter in Urdu, seeking “consular access” and legal aid from the Pakistan High Commission.
Ajmal said in the letter that he and Ismail Khan, who was killed during the terror attack, are Pakistan nationals. He wanted Ismail’s body taken to Pakistan for cremation. The same day, the police wrote to the MHA and MEA “for onward transaction to Pakistani Consulate (sic),” Mr. Maria said.
Ajmal has given details of his training in the letter. He also named his trainers – Lashkar operative Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, Abu Hamza, Kahfa – and Hafiz Saeed, and handlers.
The Mumbai police have also written to Delhi about all the nine bodies of slain terrorists. “We have said that they are Pakistan nationals,” Mr. Maria said. He said that as per the forensic report received on Friday afternoon, “RDX and petroleum oil” were used in the taxi blast at Ville Parle. The explosive had a battery timer and around 8 kg of RDX was used, Mr. Maria added.

Ajmal seeks legal aid
MUMBAI: Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman, who was arrested on November 26 during the Mumbai terror attack, has written a letter to the Pakistan High Commission seeking legal help. The letter has been forwarded by the Mumbai police to the External Affairs and the Union Home Ministries for necessary action, Joint Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria told reporters on Saturday. — PTI

Bhardwaj: new anti-terror law coming
Legal Correspondent
New Delhi: The Centre will soon come out with a new comprehensive law to specifically deal with terrorist attacks, Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj said here on Saturday. He was addressing an international conference on terrorism.
Later talking to reporters, Mr. Bhardwaj said “I [Law Ministry] have sent a proposal to the Home Ministry. Once it is approved, we will discuss the contents of the law and then place it before the Union Cabinet.”
Asked whether a Bill would be introduced in the current session of Parliament, he said: “We will draft the legislation after it is cleared by the Cabinet. We will try to balance right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution with reasonable restrictions.”
Earlier speaking at the conference, he said the time had come to bring in really effective legislation to combat terrorism, following the Mumbai attacks. “We would arm ourselves with laws specifically aimed at terrorist and disruptive elements. The government would very soon declare the contents of the law.”
International Council of Jurists president Adish C. Aggarwala and director S. Prabhakaran, who presided over separate sessions, said the deliberations of the two-day meet would be sent to the government for follow-up action.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presented the ‘International Jurists Award-2008’ to the Chief Justice of Canada, Beverley Mclachlin (administration of justice) and it was received by Canadian High Commissioner Joseph Caron; Ram Jethmalani (jurisprudence); the Law Society of England and Wales (Bar Affairs) — received by British High Commissioner Sir Richard Stagg; Prof. Peter Mutharika, University of Washington in St. Louis (legal education) and corporate lawyer Rohit Kochchar.
Law Day awards
Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan presented the Law Day award to Justice Ashok Bhan, Chairman, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (administration of justice). Other awardees included Yathin Reddy, vice-president, Tamil Nadu Advocates Association, for his outstanding practice of law and for being a role model to young lawyers; Prof. S. Sivakumar, Indian Law Institute (legal education); senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi (jurisprudence); and Additional Solicitor-General Amarendra Saran (constitutional law).

PIL: why are police still using World War II rifles?
Legal Correspondent
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre on a public interest litigation petition filed by the former Attorney-General, Soli Sorabjee, for a direction that it equip the police and security forces with modern weapons for countering terror attacks. A Bench, consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam, on Friday sought the Home Ministry’s response to the petition, which has expressed concern over the police using inadequate and outdated weapons. The Bench posted the matter to January 2009.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi said the police personnel were ill-equipped to deal with terrorist strikes, particularly the November 26 attack at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai. The police were still using World War II rifles and bullet-proof jackets. The killing of police personnel wearing bullet-proof jackets, including Anti-Terrorism Squad Chief Hemant Karkare, at the CST spoke volumes of the nature of equipment supplied to the force.
The Chief Justice told counsel: “Tell us, is there any country in the world where policemen posted in public places are fully protected? No doubt, police should be equipped with modern weapons at sensitive places. But arming police personnel with sophisticated weapons like AK 47 and posting them at public places like railway stations would only scare away people. Most of these incidents happen all of a sudden. It is not for us to say anything or express any opinion on what the police should be equipped with.” Mr. Sorabjee cited 18 major terror incidents since the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. It was essential to impart comprehensive training to the police.

Judicial custody of Dwivedi extended
Rahi Gaikwad
Mumbai: The Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA) court on Friday extended the judicial custody of Malegaon blast suspect Sudhakar Dwivedi alias Dayanand Pandey till December 16, public prosecutor Rohini Salian said.
Ten other suspects are now in judicial custody. They will be produced in court, along with Dwivedi, on December 16.Ms. Salian said an application demanding an inquiry into alleged leak of details from Dwivedi’s laptop to the media was filed in the court on Thursday.
The Anti-Terrorism Squad has to file a reply by December 16.The Matunga police are seeking custody of Malegaon blast suspect Lieutenant-Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit. “We have got the MCOCA court order; we will produce him in court for police custody,” said Sunil Deshmukh, senior inspector at the Matunga station.
Purohit is a “wanted accused” in a case registered against another Malegaon suspect, Sudhakar Chaturvedi, on November 4, 2008.
It pertains to a fake identity card and an unlicensed pistol recovered from Chaturvedi when he arrived at the Dadar station on November 4.
During interrogation, Chaturvedi said Purohit got him the identity card and the firearm.
“The identity card has been issued by the Deolali cantonment. The photograph on it shows Chaturvedi in Army uniform,” said Mr. Deshmukh.
Purohit was reportedly posted at the Deolali camp, Nashik, in 2006.
Earlier, while seeking custody of Chaturvedi, Ms. Salian told the court: “He is from Abhinav Bharat and close to Purohit.”
The Matunga case against Chaturvedi was registered under Section 171 of the Indian Penal Code (wearing uniform or carrying a token used by public servant with fraudulent intent).

Charge sheet filed in Gulberg Society carnage case
Special Correspondent
AHMEDABAD: The Special Investigation Team (SIT), appointed by the Supreme Court for a fresh inquiry into some of the incidents of communal riot in Gujarat in 2002, filed a 400-page charge sheet in the Ahmedabad metropolitan court on Friday on the Gulberg Society carnage.
The charge sheet was filed against 15 accused now in police custody. It declared nine other accused, including a former and a present BJP member of the Ahmedabad municipal corporation and a senior leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad absconders. Among them was a former Congress corporator.
A frenzied mob attacked the Gulberg Society in Chamnapura locality in the heart of the city on February 28, 2002, and burnt at least 37 people alive. Among those killed was a former Congress member of the Lok Sabha, Ehsan Jafri, while at least 85 people were injured in the riot. Several former residents of the Gulberg Society are still in the “missing” list, but are believed to have been among those who perished in the communal frenzy.
The Gulberg Society was among the dozen-odd comparatively gruesome incidents the apex court ordered for fresh investigation by the SIT, taking it away from the Gujarat police.

‘Uphold human rights by respecting others’
Staff Reporter
People urged not to rejoice at the misfortune of others
KRISHNAGIRI: People should ensure that they uphold human rights by respecting others, said Chief Coordinator (Training), National Human Rights Commission, P. Michael Vedasiromani, here on Saturday.
In his inaugural speech at a function here, Mr. Vedasiromani urged people not to rejoice at the misfortune of others.
To do so would hurt those who were suffering. This would be a violation of human rights.
He added that caste-based human rights violations were higher in India than in many others, including the developed nations.
Poverty denies human rights to many people around the world and particularly in India. Eradicating poverty will ensure that human rights are respected.
He said gender bias paved the way for human rights violations. To avert this it was necessary to fight against female infanticide.
Even though government is taking several steps including cradle baby scheme in government hospitals, it is the duty of society to concentrate on this issue. Men and women should respect each other.
Mr. Vedasiromani added that a good and corruption-free administration could make sure that human rights were upheld. The Governmental and non-governmental agencies should work jointly in this regard and make Krishnagiri a model district in India.
Collector V.K. Shanmugam said that rights and duties were two sides of the same coin. He said that freedom of thinking enshrined in our Constitution was our privilege and pride. He quoted human rights examples from Tamil literature.
District Judge Mr. C. Raghavan said various government schemes should reach the poorest of the poor.
For this, non-governmental organisations should act as a bridge between the government administration and the people. People should use government schemes and welfare measures for good purposes.
The Kaveripattinam M.L.A. Mr. T.A. Meganathan said human rights violations were taking place in police stations. He stressed 50 per cent reservation for women and said that only equality in all respects would safeguard human rights.
Mr. G.K. Dhas, Founder and Managing Trustee, Nobel laureate Mother Teresa Charitable Trust, presided over the programme and explained the activities of the trust in Tamil Nadu and other States in India.
More than 300 women and men from all walks of life participated in the training programme. Members of women self-help groups participated in large numbers.
Freedom fighter and political leader from Janata Dal (U), G.A. Vadivelu, former M.L.A. and trade union leader Mr. K.A. Manoharan, South India Cell for Human Rights Educational & Monitoring, Mr. R. Manohar; Professors C. Paranthaman and J. Vincent from Dr. Ambedkar Law College, Chennai; V.N. Viswanathan, Head of the Department of Political Science, Presidency College, Chennai were present at the inaugural function.
The Superintendent of Police, Anisha Hussein, spoke at the valedictory function.
State Vice-President of the Mother Teresa Trust Mr. S. Vivekanandan welcomed the gathering.
Karnataka State General Secretary, Mr. R. Shanmuga Sundaram proposed a vote of thanks.

Court dismisses publishers’ plea
Special Correspondent
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has dismissed writ petitions filed by Rajeswari Puthaga Nilayam and 10 other publishers challenging the list of books and the mode of their selection by the Commissioner of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj for setting up village libraries under the Anaithu Grama Anna Marumalarchi Thittam.
According to an official release, Justice K. Venkataraman has upheld the mode of selection of books for the village libraries.
The scheme, launched in 2006-07, aimed at improving the physical and social infrastructure in all village panchayats over five years, according to the release.
A component was the setting up of village libraries in each panchayat at a cost of about Rs.2 lakh for the building, Rs.50,000 for furniture and Rs.50,000 for purchasing books, the release stated.

Judge inaugurates library room
Special Correspondent
KURNOOL: High Court Judge P.S. Narayana, who is the portfolio judge of Kurnool district, inaugurated a building that houses central Nazarath, computer room and library at the District Court Complex here on Saturday. The building was constructed at a cost of Rs. 26 lakh.
Addressing judicial officers and members of Bar Association, Justice Narayana called upon the junior advocates to imbibe the spirit and work culture from the senior members of the bar. District Judge Sunil Choudary, Bar Association president Ranga Ravikumar, secretary Prabhakar and Vice president G. Nagaseshaiah were present.

No merger of Social Welfare Department wings: official
Special Correspondent
‘Joint directors being posted to districts to ensure better coordination’
Reforms introduced to expedite implementation of welfare measures: Bharatlal Meena
Post-matric hostels to be opened in naxal-affected areas
SHIMOGA: Secretary of the Social Welfare Department Bharatlal Meena denied here on Friday that the Backward Classes Welfare Department, B.R. Ambedkar Development Corporation, Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Development Corporation and Deveraj Urs Backward Classes Development Corporation were being merged with the Social Welfare Department.
Reacting to reports appearing in a section of the press to this effect, he told pressperson that there were eight wings that came under the purview of the Social Welfare Department, including three corporations and two research institutes, and they would continue to function independently.
As part of restructuring the Social Welfare Department its joint directors were being posted to district headquarters to ensure better coordination among all departments and corporations which came under the jurisdiction of the Social Welfare Department, he said.
Mr. Meena said that no new recruitment was being made for posts of joint director as some officers working in the head office of the department in Bangalore were being posted as joint directors.
Mr. Meena said that there was no change in powers and authority given to the heads of departments coming under the purview of the Social Welfare Department. There would not be any financial or administrative changes in the functioning of the department, he said.
When asked as to why there should be any opposition to the proposed changes in the Social Welfare Department by some organisations working for the welfare of backward classes people, including the Bahumata Sanghatane whose members staged a dharna here on Friday against it, Mr. Meena said they were instigated by some vested interests who were not interested in the welfare of the backward classes people.
Several reforms were being introduced to expedite implementation of welfare measures by the Social Welfare Department, he said and added that condition of hostels being run by the department had improved considerably following steps taken to give them a new look.
He said that the joint directors of the Social Welfare Department, who would be posted shortly, would look after the activities of the hostels.
It had been decided to open 315 new hostels to meet the rising demand, Mr. Meena said and added that even after opening these hostels it would be possible to accommodate only about 20 per cent of eligible students in them.
It had been decided to frame separate Cadre and Recruitment (C&R) Rules for appointment of teachers to Morarji Desai Residential Schools.
He said that post-matric hostels would be opened in naxal-affected areas.

Assembly panel moots change of provisions
Roy Mathew
Aim is to protect environmentally fragile lands
‘Exclude only coffee and cardamom plantations’
Call to protect livelihood of small farmers
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Committee on Subordinate Legislation of the Assembly has recommended that plantations other than cardamom and coffee should not be excluded from the provisions of the Kerala Forests (Vesting and Management of Environmentally Fragile Lands) Act.
The committee observed in its report that many of the fragile lands taken over by the government had tea, rubber and other crops standing on them and, hence, their exclusion from the definition of forests would defeat the purpose of the Act. So, only coffee and cardamom, which are cultivated in forests, needed to be excluded.
(If the government amends the Act as recommended by the committee, it will validate the takeover of tea and other plantations under the Act.)
The committee observed that some cultivated land belonging to small farmers had been taken over under the Act without compensation. Their livelihoods should be protected.
If cultivated land had been notified as environmentally fragile area, that should be reviewed within a specified time. Inspection by a committee specified under the rules should be made mandatory for all takeovers under the Act.
Besides forest officials, officials from Agriculture and Revenue departments and presidents of local panchayats should be included on the committee.
The absence of clear provision for de-notification of land vested in government under the Act gave considerable discretionary powers to the custodian and that led to conspiracies to de-notify fragile lands.
Hence, the rules should be modified with clear provisions on de-notification.
The committee urged that the environmentally fragile lands, remaining to be notified in districts such as Ernakulam, Kottayam, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta should be notified urgently. Steps should also be taken to survey and demarcate lands taken over under the Act.
Trees on such land should not be cut. Complaints from land owners should be redressed through joint verification by forest and revenue officials.
The committee also recommended that amendments should be made to the Act to prevent destruction of hills, rock formations and grasslands near forest areas for construction purposes.
When backwaters are taken over as ecologically fragile land, provision should be made for ecotourism and controlled fishing activities.
Owners had been found destroying mangroves when the government tried to take over them.
So, owners should be encouraged to conserve them under their own ownership. Incentives might be provided for this.

Pension adalat
PALAKKAD: The Railway Pension Adalat of Palakkad Division will be held at 10.30 a.m. on Monday at Railway Institute in Hemambika Nagar, Olavakode. Nearly 100 Railway pensioners and family pensioners will attend it. Grievances will be redressed on the spot. Y.P. Singh, Divisional Railway Manager, Palakkad will preside. Representatives from pensioners associations, banks etc. would participate in the adalat, the Railway press release said. —Staff Reporter

160 cases settled
Thrissur: In all, 1,128 criminal cases related to compoundable offences were considered at adalats held at various places in the
district on Saturday. Among these, 160 cases were settled. The adalats, which began at 9 a.m. continued till 4.30 p.m. Many people visited the adalats for legal advice too.

Lawyers to take out protest march
New Delhi: Lawyers practising in different courts in the national Capital, including the Delhi High Court, will take out a protest march against the Mumbai terror attacks on Monday.
“The lawyers will march from the High Court complex to India Gate lawn at 3 on Monday afternoon,” said K C Mittal, president of High Court Bar Association (HCBA).
“The entire country is reeling under frequent barbaric acts of terrorists and even the courts are not spared by them,” Mittal said.

HC settles questions on medicos’ bond conditions
14 Dec 2008, 0330 hrs IST, A Subramani, TNN
CHENNAI: Settling all questions relating to the status of post-graduate medical students, “bond conditions” and “detention” of their certificates, the Madras high court has said the government cannot impose the bond conditions on students admitted under the all-India quota. Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar, disposing of a batch of writ petitions, said students who occupied the all-India quota seats need not serve in compulsory temporary government service for three years. They also need not pay Rs 2 lakh or Rs 3 lakh as compensation to the government, in case they choose not to serve in government establishments for the stipulated period. But the non-service students, who were admitted under the state quota and had availed themselves of stipend and a subsidised rate of fee, are bound to comply with the bond conditions under which they got admissions, the judge ruled. “If they are offered posting, and if they are not willing to join, they have to necessarily remit a sum of Rs 2 lakh or Rs 3 lakh, as the case may be, to the government.” Concurring with the submissions of advocate A Palaniappan, Justice Vasanthakumar noted that the binding nature of instructions to candidates was well-settled. He said: “It is beyond doubt that the prospectus is the rule of selection, which is binding on the parties. Thus, the students admitted under the non-service state quota, other than all-India quota, are bound to comply with the conditions.” Disapproving of detention of certificates of PG doctors, the judge said, “The bond condition nowhere stipulates retention of diploma/degree certificates or any other certificates.” He pointed out that the candidates had joined the course before the government order which provided for “retention” of certifications. Justice Vasanthakumar, citing an earlier order passed by Justice K Chandru, said retention of certificate was illegal and invalid. Earlier, advocate Palaniappan had argued that candidates admitted under the all-India quota had not applied for admission as per the prospectus issued by the Directorate of Medical Education. So the clause which provided for compulsory temporary service or compensation, would not apply to them. Additional advocate-general S Ramasamy, however, said the doctors could question the clause after having accepted the terms and conditions of the bond, joined the course and completed it. As they had enjoyed a subsidised rate of fee, they are obliged to serve the rural poor for a stipulated period.

Joshi to approach HC for counting of tender votes
14 Dec 2008, 0345 hrs IST, Trilok Sharma, TNN
Udaipur: Will the issue of tender vote change outcome of assembly elections in Nathdwara which was in news because of a single vote issue? Will the tally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress change? Will the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief C P Joshi manage to snatch a victory? These questions are doing the rounds ever since Joshi decided to file a plea in the high court over the 10 tender votes cast on December 4, which are still to be counted. It happened for first time in the history of Rajasthan assembly that someone lost by only one vote. BJP’s Kalyan Singh Chauhan with 62,216 votes defeated Congress’ Joshi by one vote, Joshi had 62,215 votes. According to a Supreme Court ruling, “In any state assembly election, if the number of tender votes can affect the counted result in anyway, then the party concerned has the right to ask for counting the tender votes, but only after filing a plea with state high court.” As the difference in the result is just a single vote, while the number of tender votes are 10, Joshi may just get lucky. On December 4, when polling for the 13th assembly formation was on, 10 bogus votes were cast in Nathdwara. When the real voters arrived and proved their identity, they were allowed to vote under the Tender Voting System. According to the Election Commission guidelines, these (tender) votes are to be kept in a sealed envelope and be a part of the counting process, till not needed. “So now when my fourth consecutive victory is being hindered by just one vote, I decided to plead before the high court to get these 10 tender votes counted,” said Joshi. According to Sub Rule 6 of Election Conducting Rule, 1961, if anyone else votes instead of the real voter, then the polling officer, after the identifying the real voter, may allow him to cast a tender vote. Tender votes are never a part of the normal voting, if not required. If the number of tender votes have any sort of impact on the result, then the concerned state high court can ask for the counting of these votes and it may be added to the total count, following which, the new result emerges.

HC will review its rules for RTI pleas
14 Dec 2008, 0206 hrs IST, Abhinav Garg, TNN
NEW DELHI: The chief justice of Delhi High Court AP Shah on Saturday admitted that some of the rules framed by it under RTI run contrary to the parent Act. Sitting next to chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, justice Shah announced that such rules were already being reviewed and they might soon be amended or deleted. “A judge’s committee is reviewing the RTI rules of high court. Those provisions which don’t align with RTI Act will be removed,” justice Shah promised while addressing the International Conference of Jurists on Terrorism, Rule of Law and Human Rights at Vigyan Bhavan in the Capital. He was speaking on “Role of RTI in promoting rule of law.” HC’s rules on information sharing have repeatedly held to be “in direct conflict with RTI Act” by the Central Information Commission in its rulings and has come under severe criticism by RTI activists too. While clause 4(IV) of HC’s special RTI rules permit the court to allow access of information only to “affected persons” and deny to those who don’t explain why such an information is required, section 5 (A) exempts it from revealing any information which is not in the public domain. The CIC has taken a dim view of both these sections as also HC’s decision to charge Rs 500 for an RTI form instead of Rs 10 as mandated by the law. Even after the price has been scaled down to Rs 50 per form, it is still five times higher than what the Act has fixed. On Saturday, justice Shah signalled he wasn’t wedded to precedent when it came to opening up his courts under the RTI. “Dissemination of information must be totally open. Instead of an oath of secrecy we must take an oath of transparency,” he remarked, saying he was committed towards making HC and subordinate courts in the Capital “completely transparent.” He underscored the need for transparency saying that with the judiciary acquiring greater powers and the resultant clout it was all the more important that it should be made accountable under the RTI Act. “More transparency is needed in the judiciary,” the chief justice opined, conceding that ever since the RTI has come into effect even his judicial work has become more robust. He revealed how authorities now refrain from filing false affidavits in courts because the opposite party can easily file an RTI in the concerned department and get the correct information. “We receive a barrage of RTI requests everyday, perhaps we need to depute more staff,” justice Shah added. On his part chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah hoped HC would take CIC’s recommendations seriously and remove the sections in conflict with the RTI Act. He agreed with justice Shah that staff crunch hindered speedy furnishing of information as public information officers (PIOs) dealing with RTI applications were either overloaded with work or not trained to handle the responsibilities given. One way of easing the flood of RTI requests, Habibullah said, would be that every organization lists out its particulars and administrative information on its own, so that an applicant do not have to resort to an RTI to seek it.

CBI reopens investigations into Nanded blast case
14 Dec 2008, 1207 hrs IST, PTI
MUMBAI: The CBI has reopened investigations into the 2006 Nanded blast, which is being seen as a key indicator of a Hindutva group’s involvement in terror activities. The CBI also took custody of Rakesh Dhawde, one of the accused in the September 29 Malegaon blast even as the probe agency claimed that he had provided arms training to those allegedly involved in the Nanded incident. The decision to reopen the case was taken after some leads emerged during the investigations into the Malegaon case in which 11 people, including Lt Col Shrikant Purohit, have been arrested. “We have reopened the Nanded investigations,” CBI Director Ashwani Kumar said on Sunday in New Delhi. Dhawde has been remanded in CBI custody for three days, a senior CBI officer said, adding, if need arises, they would move court to take custody of others also. The CBI had charge-sheeted ten people in the Nanded case. But sources said it has not been able to trace the leads, as yet, provided by some of the accused who claimed to have admitted, before investigators, their role in the earlier cases. The CBI would also try and probe the links of those arrested in the Malegaon case including Lt Colonel Purohit, with the Nanded case. Earlier, CBI’s role had come into question from the probe conducted by central security agencies and Maharashtra’s ATS as the agency appeared to have not taken due cognisance of deposition of one of the accused arrested in the Nanded case. The accused, whose voice had to be restored by operating his vocal chord which was damaged in the blast, had told investigators that Naresh Rajkondwar, a Bajrang Dal activist, had allegedly planned three blasts outside mosques that shook Jalna and Parbani in Maharashtra in 2003 and 2004.

IFFK film selection challenged in Kerala HC
By DearCinema Desk Dec 14th, 2008
The Kerala High Court admitted a petition challenging the selection of films to the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) to be held at Thiruvananthapuram from December 13.
Justice V Giri issued notices to the respondents including State Chalachitra Academy Festival Director, Secretary to the Department of Cultural Affairs, Selection Committee Chairman and members.
The petition was filed by director Arun R Nath alleging that the constitution of the selection committee was not in accordance with law.
The petitioner submitted that the committee did not include experts in every field.
Countesy: UNI

Cash-for-vote probe panel report likely tomorrow
14 Dec 2008, 1014 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The suspense over the alleged cash-for-vote scam during the July 22 trust vote is expected to be over as the report of the Enquiry Committee is scheduled to be tabled in the Lok Sabha tomorrow. ( Watch ) The seven-member committee was set up by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee after three BJP MPs — Ashok Argal, Fagan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora — waved wads of currency notes in the House, alleging that huge sums were offered to them to save the Manmohan Singh government. In its report, the committee, headed by senior Congress MP V Kishore Chandra Deo, is understood to have suggested that the money trail could be probed by an investigating agency like the CBI or the Income Tax Department. The 600-page report will carry evidence given by witnesses and verbatim transcriptions of the sittings as also the “dissent” notes by some members. While Argal and Kulaste have appeared before the panel, Bhagora could not do so as he was suffering from a heart ailment. Samajwadi Party MP Reoti Raman Singh, BJP activist Sudheendra Kulkarni, Amar Singh’s alleged aide Sanjeev Saxena and Suhail Hindustani, who was seen in the CD released by CNN-IBN TV news channel which conducted the sting operation, and representatives of the channel have also deposed before the Committee.

Centre mulling law to punish cheating wives too
14 Dec 2008, 0628 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande, TNN
MUMBAI: A woman who cheats on her husband may land in the dock if the Union home ministry has its way. Despite vehement protests from the National Commission for Women (NCW) two years ago, the Centre is quietly going about seeking a response from each of the 30-odd state governments to the Mallimath committee’s recommendation that adulterous wives be penalised. As the law stands in India, only men can be criminally tried and punished for adultery. No criminal charges can be made against a wife for sleeping with a man who is not her husband. Section 147 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which makes adultery a crime for men lays down a sentence of up to five years in jail and also a fine. But an offence is registered only if the “aggrieved” husband whose wife has cheated on him files a criminal complaint against the other man. The state or the police can’t act on their own, nor on a complaint made by any other person. And the existing law clearly says that a wife shall not be punishable even as an `abettor’. Though adultery is a rising urban phenomenon and often the cause and ground for a divorce, and though in many parts of the world, especially in the European Union and many US states, the trend is to de-criminalise adultery, the Mallimath committee on criminal law reforms recommended about five years back that women should also be tried for adultery. The existing law is based on the mindset that a wife is a chattel possessed by the man who becomes the aggrieved person. The NCW opposed the amendment, saying that merely punishing a wife, would not save marriages. It also cited the socially disempowered position of women in India. In fact, the NCW, in a progressive move, recommended that adultery should be treated as a civil wrong (where compensation can be sought). In American states where adultery is still a crime, it is rarely prosecuted. The Union home ministry is, however, plodding away at generating feedback and data necessary to amend the law. A few months back, the Maharashtra government received a letter from the home ministry seeking its “views” on the recommendation. State law secretary M N Gilani confirmed that the state’s views have been sought in an all-India exercise to include `wife’ in the offence of adultery. As things stand, IPC section 497 is limited only to adultery committed with a married woman and the male offender alone has been made liable. It is not necessary that the adulteror should know whose wife the woman is so long as he knew that she is married. The Supreme Court, while upholding section 497 in 1985, observed that the “the wife involved in an illicit relationship with another man, is a victim and not the author of the crime…adultery is an offence against the sanctity of matrimonial home, an act which is committed by a man, as it generally is. Hence those men who defile such sanctity are brought within the net of law…” There is, however, a difference of views within the legal circles. Mridula Kadam, a divorce lawyer, said,”It takes two to tango and there appears to be a discrimation under the existing law which needs to be ironed out.” Mumbai-based women’s right activist and lawyer Flavia Agnes said, “The whole debate is unnecessary and dated and adultery sould be deleted as an offence. Making wives and single women criminally liable for adultery would be a retrograde step at cross purposes with the Domestic Violence Act and will only make life miserable for women who may have gotten into the illicit relation as a victim of circumstance or inducement.” The law: IPC section 497: Whoever has consensual sexual intercourse with a wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, is guilty of adultery Punishment: maximum five years’ jail or fine or both The wife can’t be punished for adultery, not even as an abettor. The man who is guilty of adultery may or may not be married. The amendment recomended: “Whoever has sexual intercourse with the spouse of any other person guilty of adultery.”

Fake GCs father sent to judicial custody
14 Dec 2008, 0025 hrs IST, TNN
DEHRADUN: Major Shobharam Yadav, father of Sanjeev Yadav, who was arrested earlier this week for allegedly joining the Indian Military Academy with fake documents, has been sent to 14 days’ judicial custody . He was presented before the ACJM’s court under tight security here on Friday after which he was sent to judicial custody. The Gentleman Cadet had been handed over to the police by the IMA authorities on December 9 after his fake identity was detected just days before the passing-out parade. Sanjeev was sent to judicial remand for five days till December 15. Sanjeev had come to the IMA in 2005 as Sanjeev Yadav from Meerut after clearing the Service Selection Board (SSB). He was later expelled on disciplinary grounds from the Academy. Earlier this week, the IMA authorities discovered that Sanjeev had again been training at the Academy since July 2008 under the fake identity of Deepak who is his younger brother. Police interrogated Maj Shobharam Yadav and found that he had misinformed the police during the verification of the GC during his second tenure at the Academy. He had hidden the facts about his son from the police.

Lawyers, citizens take PIL route to reform govt after 26/11
Mumbai (PTI): It seems that citizens’ weapon of choice for battling the terror is PIL.
At the last count, six Public Interest Litigations (PILs) have been filed so far, urging the courts to force the government to reform the security set-up; and punish those whose lapses helped the terrorists.
The petitioners include a body of law firms, a woman who lost her son and daughter-in-law in the attacks, and even a former top law officer of the country.
How can a handful of terrorists enter Mumbai so easily and cause mayhem, asks petition filed in the Supreme Court by Soli Sorabjee, former Advocate General of India.
“Current level of training as well as weaponary possessed by police is antiquated and unable to cope with weaponary of the terrorists,” Sorabjee’s petition says, seeking direction to the government to provide modern weapons and equipments to police.
Though reluctant initially, the apex court issued notice to Central Government in this PIL.
Bombay High Court came literally within the ‘striking distance’ of terrorists on November 26. All the places where terrrorists struck are within the radius of two kilometers from the High Court building in South Mumbai.
Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) has filed PIL in the Bombay High Court, asking why ‘Quick Response Team’ of Mumbai police could not do much when attacks began.
Another PIL, filed by advocate V P Patil, seeks action against M K Narayanan, National Security Advisor, blaming him for “negligence”.

Law Minister at the wheel in CBI’s U-turn on Mulayam case
Posted: Dec 14, 2008 at 0235 hrs IST
NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation’s U-turn withdrawing its interim application in the Mulayam Singh Yadav disproportionate assets case this week came after Solicitor General Goolam E Vahanvati criticised the manner in which the agency calculated his assets and clubbed them with those of his relatives.
Vahanvati’s six-page opinion, “accepted” in writing by Law Minister H R Bharadwaj and effectively demolishing the CBI case, came days after an intervention by Mulayam’s daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav (wife of son Akhilesh Yadav).
In a letter on October 27 this year, she wrote to Prithviraj Chauhan, Minister of State for Personnel & Training — the DoPT is the CBI’s administrative Ministry — asking him to take “appropriate steps in the interest of justice.”
In her letter, a copy of which has been obtained by The Sunday Express, Dimple Yadav says that “all loans and properties are reflected, disclosed and were very much part of the assessment probe before income tax authorities. No irregularity was ever found by any authorities in regard to the income and assets of our entire family, leave alone Mulayam Singh Yadav.”
“The only advance received by Akhilesh Yadav (Rs 1.25 crore) and (his brother) Prateek Yadav (Rs 1 crore) from the Lisa builders Pvt Limited towards the sale of property at village Kamta Lucknow. Subsequently, sale deed was executed,” she wrote.
The CBI is said to have pegged the value of the “disproportionate assets” of the Yadav family at around Rs 2 crore. Vahanvati is said to have questioned the assessment of the agency that Mulayam owned several “benami” properties.
Citing several Supreme Court judgments, he also opposed the lumping together of assets of members of the Yadav family into one DA case when his sons and daughter-in-law are individual income tax assessees.
The case goes back to 2005 when a PIL was filed in the apex court by lawyer Vishwanath Chaturvedi in which he claimed that 18 registered and benami properties were owned by Mulayam, 11 by his son Akhilesh Yadav; six by Dimple Yadav and two by his second son Prateek.
These included a bungalow in New Delhi and several properties in Lucknow and Etawah as well agricultural land owned by the Yadav family, their fixed deposits and other investments, all adding up to hundreds of crores.
However, Mulayam, in his affidavit, denied the petitioner’s claims.
For example, he said that four plots in Gomti Nagar in Etawah belonged to people with whom he had no relationship; a property in Ramana Dilkhusha mohalla of Lucknow purchased for Rs 1.65 crore was bought for the party and was reflected in its balance sheet. And the Chaudhary Charan Singh Post Graduate College in Etawah was worth Rs 100 crore and managed by a society owned by Mulayam’s brother.
In March 2007, Justice A R Lakshmanan asked the CBI to file a status report on the allegation and to submit it to the “Union of India.” A review petition filed by Akhilesh Yadav is still pending in the apex court.
However, in October 2007, in a rare move, the CBI filed an interim application in which it pointed out that the agency has always had a free hand in registration of cases and has never been required to make a “reference” to the Central Government.
What appeared to be in October 2007 as an assertion of the CBI’s independence, ended up a year later with the DA case being yet another instance of the agency being forced to make a U-turn on the basis of legal opinion of one the Government’s seniormost law officers.
Early this month, the CBI asked the Supreme Court’s permission to withdraw its earlier application to register a corruption case against Yadav and his relatives.
It told the court: “After the filing of the application there have been further developments. Representations were received from the respondents and legal advice was sought. In view of the legal advice and directions of the Union of India, the interlocutory application filed by CBI may be allowed to be withdrawn.”
Compare that with its affidavit on October 26, 2007 where the CBI had said that it had completed the preliminary enquiry to ascertain whether the Yadav family owned assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.
The CBI had then said that it would file a regular case if verifications/enquires indicated commission of offence.
Surprisingly, CBI’s latest affidavit seeking withdrawal of the case makes no mention of its verifications or enquiries.

Harried petitioners find PIL offers no cure
14 Dec 2008, 0208 hrs IST, TNN
Ahmedabad: Handing out false assurances seems to be the easiest way to avoid court’s strictures in the face of public interest litigations (PIL) going by what several government departments have been doing. Once the PIL is disposed of, it’s back to business, with assurances forgotten. Trustee of Ganjshahid Bataushahid Dargah Masjid Jalil Qureshi and Kabrastan Trust had approached Gujarat High Court by filing a PIL complaining that AMC did not pay heed to their repeated representations regarding encroachment on the graveyard land. When this PIL came up for hearing before Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi on September 24, AMC filed an affidavit admitting to there being illegal constructions on the land. The AMC assured the court that it had served notices to encroachers and would take harsh steps to restrain them. With this assurance, the court disposed of the PIL. However, three months later, people in charge of protecting the graveyard had to once again dash off a legal notice to municipal commissioner through advocate Neeta Bhatt reminding him of his assurances AMC had given in the court. They have also threatened to drag AMC to the court again if it failed to stop encroachment. Similarly, the AMC had promised to grow “10 times more trees” it had got cut in the old textile mill compounds in response to a PIL seeking protection for the city’s green cover. Accepting AMC’s word, Chief Justice Radhakrishnan and Justice MS Shah, had disposed of the petition. “Five months have passed, but nothing has been planted in those mill compounds. The court dismissed my PIL despite my insistence that the authorities should be made to implement what they said they would do,” said advocate Aziz Alvi. Last year, a jail inmate Shailesh Rawal had filed a complaint against jail authorities saying they were not releasing undertrial prisoners who have completed a certain period of imprisonment, with respect to the maximum possible punishment they could get for the crime. As per an amendment in law, in cases where courts cannot come to a definite conclusion after a certain period of time, undertrials should be set free. Rawal complained that jail authorities were not following it. A single judge took cognisance of the seriousness of the issue and treated it as a PIL observing that Rawal had no personal interest in it. A division bench further widened the scope of the petition by roping in legal aid societies across the state and appointing advocate Bhushan Oza as amicus curie. But, later, when jails claimed that they had no prisoners in this category, the PIL was dismissed on October 8.

Court to frame charges in Ludhiana City Centre scam case
Ludhiana: A court here will frame charges on January 10 in the multi-crore Ludhiana City Centre scam case in which former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is an accused along with 34 others.
District Sessions Judge G. K. Rai on Saturday fixed January 8 as the last date for examination of documents by the defence and for filing a reply to the application moved by a key witness, Sunil Dey, requesting the court to cancel the bail of 19 accused.
In his application, Mr. Dey alleged that he was receiving threats from the accused. The court said it would consider framing of charges against the accused on January 10 after the prosecution contended that the defence was resorting to delaying tactics by seeking more time for examination of documents.
“One full year has passed but the accused or their counsel have not completed the examination of the documents made available to them,” the prosecution said. The defence, they charged, was using it as a “tactic” to get the trial delayed.
The defence counsel, however, reiterated that the examination of documents was a fundamental right of any accused. — PTI

Law Day Address to the Nation by
Hon’ble Mr. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan Chief Justice of India
On the occasion of Eve of National Law Day, 25th November,2008[1].11.08.pdf

On the occasion of another Law Day, the 58th of the Republic, I am addressing you with an air of expectation and a sense of fulfillment – the expectation at the steady unfolding of results of judicial reforms set in motion during the last few years and fulfillment on accomplishments which the system has achieved since I addressed you on the “State of Justice” last year. Law Day is significant not only to celebrate our journey on the path of Constitutional democracy and rule of law, but also to take stock of the promises which WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, have given unto ourselves almost six decades ago. In the comity of nations, India’s justice system is appreciated and well received. Despite the problem of numbers, we have not compromised on the quality of justice delivered. We have enlarged the scope of fundamental freedoms and increased the space for democracy. We do have shortcomings and are rightly criticized for it. No institution in a democracy is above criticism. What is important is that criticisms are based on facts and performance. It is my responsibility as head of the judicial system to answer the criticisms, clarify the facts and defend the institution for enabling it to serve the litigant public better.
Let me reiterate on this occasion the commitment of every member of our judicial establishment to uphold the purity of justice and ensure its timely delivery to the millions who knock at our doors. I see it as a sign of our commitment to rule of law and of our convictions on the ability of courts to give fair and impartial justice. Yes, it might create congestion in courts and cause delay in the delivery of justice. But that is no ground to dissuade people having legitimate claims and grievances from seeking judicial time. The answer lies in improving the efficiency of the court system and expanding the infra-structure to cope with the situation. I am glad to report that efforts in this regard are yielding results which may acquire speed in the days ahead.
Let me explain few of the steps taken up in this regard so that you may appreciate the facts and continue to support the judiciary in the performance of its onerous tasks in difficult times.

The problem of Arrears and Delay:
Increasingly productivity through improved infra-structure, employment of alternative methods of settlement and adoption of better strategies of management and training have been the key elements of the drive against delay and pendency during the last few years.
For any organization, efficiency and productivity are directly linked to the infra-structure it commands. Infra-structure in terms of judiciary includes both human and physical infra-structure. On both fronts, the situation of the subordinate courts which handle 90 percent of litigation continues to be far from satisfactory. This is the responsibility of the State Governments even when the subordinate courts do devote considerable time in adjudicating cases under central laws as well. A committee appointed by the Government of India to study the impact of new legislation on the workload of the courts has recommended that the Union Government has Constitutional obligation under Entry 11 A of the Concurrent List read with Article 247 to provide adequate financial provision for implementation of Central laws through State Courts. The State Governments under the same principle are likewise obliged to meet expenditure of Courts for implementing laws on subjects in the State and Concurrent List. Hopefully the above recommendations will receive favourable consideration of the Central and State Governments and the infra-structural needs of subordinate courts will be met in the near future. Meanwhile the continuation of the Fast Track Courts which have reduced pendency of nearly 20 lakh criminal cases will accelerate the process to the advantage of litigant public.

The Central Government was approached to create more special courts for disposal of corruption cases and family disputes which cannot brook delay without causing greater damage to public interest. In several States at the instance of the respective High Courts, evening courts have been established to clear pending cases requiring priority attention. In Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, such courts have been proved to be quite effective in disposal of cases involving minor offences which are clogging our criminal justice system. Delhi has recently started evening courts initially for cases under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act, involving small amounts. I am confident that other States will follow soon by establishing evening or morning courts to deal with cases involving petty offences. If these efforts of the judiciary are supported by Governments by providing better infra-structural facilities, productivity can be further improved to bring down pendency and delay in the near future.

I do not want to burden you with the statistics of cases filed, disposed and pending at each level of the judicial structure. All I want to convey on this occasion is that while the number of fresh cases instituted has been steadily increasing year after year, the number of cases disposed of has also increased substantially as compared to previous years. It indicates that our judges, overworked as they are, have been making every effort to steadily improve productivity even in adverse circumstances. I want to assure the public that judges are conscious of the problem of arrears and are making every effort to contain the rise of pendency of cases at all levels of the judicial system. Timely justice is the right of every litigant and speedy justice is the obligation of every functionary of the judicial system.

Judicial Education and Training:
I may in this context reflect briefly two significant initiatives undertaken by the Judiciary. Judges, like any other professionals, need continuing education and training to improve professional competence to deal with new challenges thrown up by changes in society, economy, polity and technology. Taking this into account, the Supreme Court had set up the National Judicial Academy five year ago which is now offering regular courses of training designed to cater to the needs of superior court judges. Simultaneously, each High Court has set up judicial academies to train judges newly inducted in the subordinate Courts and to provide continuing education to judges in service. The National Judicial Academy has devised year-long training plans in consultation with State Academies to ensure that every judge throughout the country has opportunity once in every year to learn and improve court and case management capabilities with support of technology and professionalism.
Simultaneously an E-Committee directly under the Supreme Court was set up to devise and implement a National Policy on computerization of judicial administration in order to expedite delivery of justice in civil and criminal cases. The project is being implemented in three phases over a period of five years. At the end of the first phase, reports indicate that a cost and time effective procedure is under way providing greater transparency, expedition and accountability to the system.
Alternative Methods of Delivery of Justice:
Litigation is time consuming and relatively expensive. In a country with a vast population of poor people, justice
has to be necessarily cheap and expeditious. For this, alternatives to litigation must be produced by the justice system. Parliament has provided the statutory basis for it by the recent amendments to the Civil Procedure Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. Taking advantage of these, the judiciary has prepared a National Plan for Mediated Settlement of disputes which included training of mediators, development of mediation manuals, setting up of mediation Centres in Court Complexes and spreading awareness about it among litigants through the legal aid services. Other modes of settlement are also being encouraged and judicial officers are instructed to promote ADR as a movement especially at the first level of courts where the bulk of poor litigants seek justice.
As standards of quality of justice delivered cannot be compromised, the ADR process cannot be accelerated without preparation and without demand from litigants themselves. It is hoped that in the next few years, like other jurisdictions outside India, litigants here would also prefer settlements outside litigation through negotiated arrangements. And proportionately it would reduce the problem of delay and pendency in litigation as well.
At the end of the day what I want to report on the issue of arrears is that we are on the right track with a multi-dimensional, well-planned national programme which has started giving rich dividends. With support from the Central and State Governments and co-operation of the bar and litigant public, I am hopeful that in the next couple of years substantial reduction in the number of cases pending in courts and in the time taken for disposal of cases will happen even if the fresh filings are going to increase continuously.

Judicial Corruption to be rooted out mercilessly:
Let me now turn to another subject which is worrying the public as media reports indicate. This is about judicial corruption, a subject which was not an issue in public discourse till recently. Let me admit straightaway that corruption and impartiality cannot co-exist. Under no circumstances can judiciary tolerate corruption even in its administrative staff.
For an organization which is nearly a million strong including 16,000 odd judges, five to six lakh lawyers and another 3 to 5 lakh ministerial staff to be free from corruption is a tall order, however desirable it be. The legal profession is independent and its discipline is the responsibility of the elected Bar Councils. The public perception of judicial corruption includes corruption by the lawyers and their staff.

Similarly, a substantial section of people who consider judiciary to be corrupt attribute it to the ministerial staff of courts and related offices. It is unfortunate that judiciary has to be bear the burden for corruption of people on whom the judiciary has no or little control.
So far as the 16,000 and odd judges who constitute the Indian judiciary I am responsible for their conduct as head of the system though I do not personally have legal and administrative control over them. Nonetheless, I have a duty to explain how the judiciary is enforcing discipline among the judges to ensure that people who approach the Courts will get fair and impartial justice. I would therefore inform you the steps I have taken as head of the judiciary to ensure a corruption-free judicial system

(i) Declaration of Assets by Judges:
The Supreme Court adopted a resolution as early as 1997 to declare assets voluntarily. I have requested Chief Justices of all High Courts to adopt similar Resolutions for declaration of assets by the judges of High Courts as well.
(ii) Restatement of Values of Judicial Life:
Again the Supreme Court in 1997 unanimously adopted a Resolution restating certain time-honoured best practices for judges to follow while they hold the high office. They form a code of ethics for judges to comply in public and private lives. I felt it necessary for High Court justices also to follow similar guidelines and therefore sent it to the High Courts requesting the respective Chief Justices to circulate it among the judges of the High Courts for compliance.
(iii) Model Code of Conduct for Subordinate Judiciary:
It was observed that the conduct of certain subordinate court judges particularly during visits of High Court judges to their places of work have not been of the standard expected of them. I have therefore formulated certain norms of conduct on their part which I requested the High Courts to consider and adopt for action by subordinate judges.
(iv) Strengthening and Streamlining Vigilance Cells in High Courts:
The Vigilance Cells in High Courts is the primary mechanism available to deal with complaints against subordinate judges. The Chief Justices’ Conference discussed the strategies to strengthen the cells to instill confidence and to expedite inquiries in appropriate cases, so that dishonest judges are eliminated and honest ones are protected.
(v) In-House Inquiry Procedure invoked against High Court Judges:
On receipt of allegations, inquiry through a Committee of Senior Judges was initiated against two sitting High Court Justices, of whom one was recommended to be removed through impeachment proceedings. The finding of the inquiry committee in the other case is awaited.

(vi) Periodical Performance Evaluation and Removal of Judges and officers of Doubtful Integrity:
I have written to the Chief Justices of High Courts to utilize their authority to review the work of all judicial officers firstly on attaining the age of 50 years and then when they attain the age of 55 years and to prematurely retire those found unfit, ineffective or having doubtful integrity. I have reminded them that this is expected under the Fundamental Rules and the Service Rules can be accordingly amended so that deviant behaviour can be effectively prevented. Such review of officers and employees of the Supreme Court is being carried out when they reach the age of 50, 55, 56, 57, 58 and 59 years. Experience has proved it to be an effective remedy particularly against ministerial corruption.

Several judges of doubtful integrity are being retired under this provision.
(vii) Tightening the Selection Procedure of Superior Court Justices:
A more detailed check-list to gather adequate information on suitability of prospective candidates for judgeship has now been evolved and sent to all High Courts. The Chief Justice who initiates the recommendations for his High Court has been asked to gather the details including personal antecedents on the new Questionnaire from Advocates and judicial officers being considered for appointment and get them verified. These data with supporting documents have to be forwarded along with recommendations. This is to avoid discovering a black sheep at a later stage when very little can be done, except resorting to the impeachment process.
There are several more steps being undertaken to rid the judiciary of corrupt elements spoiling the fair name of the justice system. All that I can do is to assure the public that the judiciary will not tolerate corruption and everything will be done, whatever be the cost, to uphold the purity of justice. In doing so, we have to ensure that the independence of judiciary is not compromised and the reputation of honest judges not harmed.
Legal Aid and Access to Justice:
Another issue which concerns a vast section of people seeking justice is the ability to access equal justice under law. The Government has accorded a crucial role to the judiciary to administer the Legal Services Authority Act which has multiple objectives. Rules have been framed under the Act and appropriate bodies have been set up at various levels to reach out the message of rule of law and equality in access to justice to every nook and corner of this vast country.
The Supreme Court Legal Services Committee grants legal aid to litigants in the Supreme Court which has over 200 advocates including Senior Advocates to render aid to deserving litigants. It maintains its own website and e-mail through which assistance can be obtained from anywhere. For middle income group the Committee renders assistance at subsidized rates through eminent lawyers.
Similar arrangements are in place at the High Courts and subordinate courts. Apart from giving litigational aid including the services of lawyers to represent in court, the Legal Services Authority organizes Lok Adalats to facilitate negotiated or mediated settlement of disputes. The programmes and policies are evolved and supervised by the National Legal Services Authority presided over by a Senior Supreme Court judge. It has undertaken a series of programmes to assist different sections of needy people particularly from the weaker sections.
As part of the legal literacy mission and social justice goals, NALSA has launched several campaigns for the successful implementation of the National Rural Employment programme, Protection of rights of women, Children, Dalits and the disabled persons. Legal aid is conceived as a social movement for the legal empowerment of all sections of people for equal justice under law. In this effort a national network of legal aid centres and civil society groups is being set up which can mobilize social action for good governance under law. This is a silent revolution under way to make a success of our democracy. In a small way the judiciary is extending a helping hand in this social empowerment mission though it is outside their usual function of adjudication and settlement of disputes.
I must on this occasion record my profound gratitude to my brother judges in the Supreme Court, High Courts and Subordinate Courts for the valuable efforts they are making to render timely justice to all litigants. Their sacrifices and commitment to justice have made rule of law an abiding principle of Constitutional democracy in our Republic. Let us all take a pledge on this Law Day that we will do everything possible to uphold the values of the Constitution and render justice to the people without fear, favour or ill will.
Jai hind !

‘Law Day’ function Organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA)
New Delhi (November 26, 2008)
Address by Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Chief Justice of India

Dr. H.R. Bhardwaj, Hon. Union Minister for Law & Justice,
Esteemed Brother Judges, Mr. Milon K. Banerjee, Attorney General for India, Shri P.H. Parekh, President, Supreme Court Bar Association and his colleague, Shri K. Venkatapathy, Minister of State for Law & Justice, Respected members of the Bar,
Members of Media,
Members of the Supreme Court staff
and all those present here –
The annual ‘Law Day’ function gives us an opportunity to collectively reflect on the state of the legal system in our country. At a symbolic level, it commemorates the adoption of our Constitution 59 years ago – and in doing so it reminds us of the values and ideals enshrined in the same. While some sceptics may dismiss discussions about these constitutional values as a largely theoretical exercise, we only have to look back on the last six decades to understand the role of our courts as agents of social change.
This project of social transformation is still unfolding and in the long run it will succeed only if we acknowledge and fulfil our responsibilities as participants in the justice-delivery system and more importantly as concerned citizens. The strength of our judicial institutions is a pre-condition for a meaningful engagement with the
constitutional values. Hence, aspects such as the intertwined questions of improvements in judicial infrastructure and access to justice, the quality of justice-delivery and judicial accountability are foremost concerns for all of us.
Today, I would like to draw your attention to the progress made in recent months with regard to each of these aspects. While the emphasis may be on the roles and responsibilities of judges at different levels, I must also state that advocates and administrative staff are core stakeholders in the legal system and they too have distinct obligations to the litigating public. In this regard, it is indeed quite appropriate that the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) will be observing 2008-2009 as the ‘Year of the litigant’.
From the viewpoint of the ordinary litigant, the most prominent problem is that of undue delay in the disposal of cases and the mounting of arrears before courts at all levels. Pendency of Admission and Regular matters in the Supreme Court as on 1st November, 2008 was Twenty Nine Thousand Seven Hundred Six and Nineteen Thousand Five Hundred Fifty Seven respectively. Thus, the total pendency of cases in the Supreme Court as on 1st November, 2008 was Forty Nine Thousand Two Hundred Sixty Three cases.
Total pendency of civil cases in the High Courts as on 30th September, 2008 was Thirty Lakh Eighty One Thousand Fifty Three and that of criminal cases was Seven Lakh Fifty Four Thousand Six
Hundred Fifty Four. Thus, a total of Thirty Eight Lakh Thirty Five Thousand Seven Hundred Seven cases were pending in the High Courts on 30th September, 2008. The largest pendency of cases was in the High Court of Allahabad where Eight Lakh Eighty Seven Thousand Four Hundred Two cases were pending whereas Four Lakh Forty Six Thousand Nine Hundred Seventy Five Cases were pending in the Madras High Court as on 30th September, 2008.
So far as subordinate courts are concerned, Seventy Four Lakh Ninety Two Thousand Five Hundred Sixty One civil cases and One Crore Eighty Eight Lakh Ninety Seven Thousand Two Hundred Seventy Nine criminal cases were pending as on 30th September, 2008. Thus, a total of Two Crore Sixty Three Lakh Eighty Nine Thousand Eight Hundred Forty cases were pending in the subordinate courts as on 30th September, 2008.
As against the pendency noted above, the disposal of the cases by various courts was to the following order.
Fifty Seven Thousand Four Hundred Eighty Nine ‘Admission’ and ‘Regular’ matters were disposed of by the Supreme Court between 1st January, 2008 and 31st October, 2008 as against a total of Fifty Six Thousand Five Hundred Forty cases in the year 2006 and Sixty One Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty Seven cases in the year 2007.
Eleven Lakh Ninety Eight Thousand Five Hundred Ten cases were disposed of in the High Courts and One Crore Fourteen Lakh Twenty Two Thousand Four Hundred Eighty Six cases were disposed of in the subordinate courts during the first three quarters of the current year.
Sanctioned strength of High Court Judges was increased from 725 to 886 in November, 2007. Recommendations were made between January, 2007 to 15th November, 2008 for appointment of 149 High Court Judges out of which 123 have already been appointed. 28 Chief Justices and Judges of the High Courts were transferred from one High Court to another High Court. 12 Chief Justices of High Courts were appointed between January, 2007 and October, 2008. Recommendation has already been made for appointment of 2 more Chief Justices. 6 Supreme Court Judges were appointed between January, 2007 and August, 2008. Recommendation was made to Government of India to increase the strength of Judges in Supreme Court from 26 to 31.
It is pertinent to point out that the rate of disposal per judge in terms of absolute number of cases has been consistently increasing over the last few years. However, the perception of an immense backlog is strengthened by the fact that the rate of institution of proceedings has been growing far more than the rate of disposal. In this scenario, the solution seems obvious, which is that of appointing more judges. However, the process of creating more courts and appointing more judges at the subordinate level is one which needs backing from the executive. For its part, the judiciary has significantly increased the sanctioned number of high court judges in November 2007. However, a substantial change will come only with the expansion of the judiciary at the subordinate level, which is largely dependent on State governments when it comes to infrastructural concerns.
The much required expansion of the judiciary must also be done in a strategic way so as to tackle the backlog in categories of litigation which have been empirically identified with the mounting arrears. For instance pursuant to the Chief Justices’ conference held in April 2008, I had written to the Prime Minister about the urgent need to establish Family Courts in all districts of the country, since these Courts had been set-up only in 138 districts by that time. We also chose to highlight the need to establish 69 additional Courts for the trial of corruption cases being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Another area with a heavy backlog is that of cases pertaining to the dishonour of cheques, filed under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. One proposal in this regard is the establishment of additional magistrate’s courts to decide these cases. Measures have also been taken to ensure the timely appointment of subordinate court judges. Another set of suggestions that came up during the Chief Justices’ Conferences was that of setting up morning / evening Courts at the subordinate level and the extension of working hours at High Courts in order to further improve the rate of disposal.
While such strategies for expanding and streamlining the judicial institutions are of the utmost importance, but we must also promote the culture of resorting to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation, negotiation and conciliation. While private business players have been quick to rely on methods such as commercial arbitration, the ordinary litigant is often unaware of the advantages of arriving at ‘out-of-court’ settlements. In this regard, we have begun the implementation of the National Plan for Mediation which envisages capacity-building as well as increased awareness about mediation at the grassroots level. With the introduction of the amended Section 89 in the Code of Civil Procedure, the onus is on judges and lawyers to strengthen the functioning of Court-annexed ADR mechanisms. We have already made strides in this direction with the evolution of the Lok Adalat system. After all, in many social settings where litigating parties have long-standing relations, resorting to civil litigation is seen as a means of confrontation and harassment rather than problem-solving. On the criminal side, the introduction of provisions for ‘plea bargaining’ is another tool that can be used to tackle the caseload relating to petty offences.
At this juncture, it is pertinent to mention the role of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and the various state and district-level authorities under it. These authorities have been discharging the mandate of organising Lok Adalats at different levels and have also been conducting legal literacy camps all over the country. It is heartening to note that with the passing of each year, more and more
members of the bar are volunteering for ‘Legal Aid’ programmes and also acting as amicus curiae in pending cases. In recent months, NALSA has also undertaken some useful projects such as the workshops on reporting of court proceedings for media personnel and the initiative for strengthening the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). Some of these initiatives point to the wider social role that practicing lawyers can play outside the formal courtroom setting.
Coming to issues pertaining to the quality of justice-delivery, it is important to refer to two long-term responses that are unfolding as we speak. The first of these started with the launch of the E-Courts project in July 2007. This project envisages a five year span for wholesome computerisation in the Indian judiciary. While at present the judgments of the Supreme Court, all the High Courts and some district courts are available in a user-friendly manner through the Judgment Information System (JUDIS), the agenda is to ensure that judgments/orders of all courts and tribunals will be made freely available online. While e-filing has already been introduced in the Supreme Court in October 2006, the ultimate objective is to enable advocates, litigants and staff to track proceedings at all stages through a website. The E-Courts project also envisages the installation of computer rooms at all judicial complexes as well as the equipment needed for video-conferencing. I must also mention that the Supreme Court Registry has contracted a private company for the task of creating an online archive of all records stored in its’ record room. On the completion of this exercise, all documents and minute
details pertaining to judicial as well as non-judicial functions of the Supreme Court will be readily available. On a general level, the integration of information technology into the judicial system will enable easier access to legal materials for all parties as well as more efficient allocation of matters and case-management. Such structural changes will definitely have a positive impact on the quality of submissions made by counsels as well as decision-making by judges.
The second long-term measure in respect of improving the quality of justice-delivery is that of ‘judicial education’. While legal education at the undergraduate level has undergone a significant transformation on account of the establishment of several autonomous National Law Universities, it is the cause of ‘Continuing Legal Education’ for sitting judges which holds more immediate importance. The establishment of the National Judicial Academy (NJA) at Bhopal in 2003 was a step in this direction and the said institution has developed a robust programme for training judges in relatively newer areas of litigation and ‘case-management’ techniques. Following this example, several states have also established judicial academies to provide periodic training to judicial officers. The role of these academies is of immense importance since judges at all levels are confronting litigation dealing with new areas that they are not familiar with, such as intellectual property and international finance among others. Even though this problem will eventually cease to be one as the next generation moves into mainstream roles in the legal profession, it is still of utmost importance to equip sitting judges with the knowledge necessary to decide such cases.
Concerns with the quality of justice-delivery are necessarily linked to those of judicial accountability. In recent months, the media has widely reported on matters relating to corruption in the higher judiciary. Instead of offering a knee-jerk response, we have been attempting to tackle corruption at a systemic level. It would not be appropriate to speak of proceedings against specific individuals at this forum, but I would like to refer to some of the measures taken in recent times:

• I have requested the Chief Justices of the various High Courts to adopt resolutions similar to the one passed by the Supreme Court (on 7th May, 1997) which pertains to the declaration of assets by judges and periodic updating of the same.

• The ‘Restatement of values of judicial life’, which was the subject-matter of another resolution passed by the Supreme Court in May 1997, has been circulated to the various High Courts. This resolution seeks to guide conduct by members of the higher judiciary in their professional and personal lives.

• By way of a letter written on 5th July, 2008 I have also requested all High Courts to adopt a ‘Model Code of Conduct’ which contains specific directions for the conduct of subordinate judicial officers, especially in the context of visits by superior judges.

• In addition to these normative measures, I must also refer to the need for strengthening the ‘Vigilance Cells’ at High Courts, which function as a forum for complaints against subordinate judges. In respect of the higher judiciary, you are all well aware of the ‘In house procedure’ that has been used for inquiring into allegations of corruption.

• At present there is a practice of reviewing the performance of a judge when the said person completes the age of 58 years, as per the decision in the All India Judges Association case. However, it is widely felt that such a performance review should also happen on the completion of the age of 50 years and 55 years respectively. Such periodic performance reviews will not only serve as a reliable basis for deciding on appointments, transfers and removal – but will also act as a strong disincentive for individuals to engage in corrupt practices.

• Measures have also been taken to tighten the selection procedure for the higher judiciary. A model questionnaire has been circulated to the various High Courts, which seeks more detailed information about advocates and judicial officers who are to be considered for elevation to the position of High Court judges. In addition to personal antecedents, the questionnaire also asks whether a person under consideration for elevation has a spouse/blood relation practicing at the same High Court.

I must on this occasion record my profound gratitude to my brother Judges in the Supreme Court, High Courts and Subordinate Courts and members of the Bar and all who are connected with our proud judicial system, for the valuable efforts they are making to render timely justice to all litigants. Their sacrifices and commitment to the cause of justice have made the ‘rule of law’ an abiding principle of Constitutional democracy in our Republic. Let us all take a pledge on this Law Day that we will do everything possible to uphold the values of the Constitution and render justice to the people without fear, favour or ill-will.
Jai Hind!

CJI attacks media coverage of terror attacks
J. Venkatesan
“Public resentment may turn into an irrational desire for retribution”
New Delhi: The live coverage of the Mumbai terrorist attacks and the subsequent events by the media, in particular television news channels, came in for critical observations from Chief Justice of India K. G. Balakrishnan here on Saturday.
Speaking at a conference on terrorism, rule of law and human rights, Justice Balakrishnan said, “The symbolic impact of terrorist attacks on the minds of ordinary citizens has also been considerably amplified by the role of pervasive media coverage. In India, the proliferation of 24-hour TV news channels and the digital medium has ensured that quite often some disturbing images and statements reach a very wide audience.”
Expressing concern at such coverage, the CJI said, “One of the ill-effects of unrestrained coverage is that of provoking anger amongst the masses. While it is fair for the media to prompt public criticism of inadequacies in the security and law-enforcement apparatus, there is also a possibility of such resentment turning into an irrational desire for retribution. Furthermore, the trauma resulting from the terrorist attacks may be used as a justification for undue curtailment of individual rights and liberties.”
“Instead of offering a considered response to the growth of terrorism, a country may resort to questionable methods such as permitting indefinite detention of terror suspects, the use of coercive interrogation techniques and the denial of the right to fair trial. Outside the criminal justice system, the fear generated by terrorist attacks may also be linked to increasing governmental surveillance over citizens and unfair restrictions on immigration,” he said.
Justice Balakrishnan said apprehension and interrogation of terror suspects must be done in a professional manner with adequate judicial scrutiny.
“This is required because in recent counter-terrorist operations there have been several reports of arbitrary arrests of individuals belonging to certain communities and the concoction of evidence.”
The CJI said that “in the absence of bilateral treaties for extradition or assistance in investigation, there is no clear legal basis for international cooperation in investigating terrorist attacks. The pursuit of terrorists alone could not be a justification for arbitrarily breaching another nation’s sovereignty. Yet another practical constraint that has been brought to the fore with the Mumbai attacks has been the question of holding governments responsible for the actions of non-state actors. While one can say that there is a moral duty on all governments to prevent and restrain the activities of militant groups on their soil, the same is easier said than done.”

The Competition Act And Its Relevance

By Roudra Bhattacharya on December 13, 2008
The Competition Act, 2002, which still hasn’t been completely enforced as yet, was devised as a replacement of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Act, 1969. This act moved away from the earlier emphasis of curbing monopolies in particular industries, to a more particular and directed approach towards promoting competition and thereby increasing the size and scope of industry. Better competition is believed to lead to higher efficiency in competing companies, thereby leading to a better allocation of given resources.

An interesting fact to note about the Competition Act is that it frowns upon the abuse of dominance by a particular company, but not dominance per se. It has also negated certain clauses which were already under the protection of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, and which had been repeated in the earlier MRTP Act. Largely based on the post-reform (1991) era, the new act is far more clear with certain well-defined punitive measures against offenders. Definitions regarding groups and mergers are now more explicit and result oriented.

There has been however some debate regarding the ambiguity and effectiveness of this new act. FICCI or the Federation of Indian Chambers for Commerce and Industry has expressed concern over the provisions regulating mergers and acquisitions in this act. It feels that such curbs might result in a slow down of the industry, particularly in the current larger world scenario. Citing the Section 5 of this Act, under which turnover thresholds are based, it states that an Indian company with a turnover of Rs. 3000 crore cannot acquire another Indian company without prior notification and approval of the Competition Commission. On the other hand, a foreign company (outside India) with turnover of more than USD 1.5 billion (or in excess of Rs. 4500 crore) may acquire a company in India with sales just short of Rs. 1500 crore without any notification to (or approval of) the Competition Commission being required. Such procedures might hamper indigenous growth, making it tougher for Indian industry looking for expansion through acquisitions.

There are also other irregularities with this act. For example, the Section 3(5) of this law excludes all IPR (Intellectual Property Right) from its applicability. Thus, companies with IPR can tend to monopolise industry. This is very relevant in the field of genome research and biotech firms. Such firms can have the sole licence to medicines developed through such research, besides other key genes of organisms they might discover. Medication derived through such research might become their own prerogative, which can affect pricing strategies. This means that the product, with the absence of competition in the industry, might be priced at an unaffordable price for most consumers.

Other concerns relate to the supreme control of the CCI, or the Competition Commission of India, the regulatory body covering the act. It is feared that the CCI will become a super regulator as other regulatory authorities will be subject to Competition Law. This means that regulation will largely centre around the CCI and the other bodies will loose strength and relevance. Leaving such control on a single authority is always a risky task.

The CCI, a committee of ten members besides a chairperson, has been designed to minimise the politicisation of appointments. A selection by a collegium will ensure the appointment of a judicial member, besides members from economics, international trade, commerce, industry, finance, etc. However, there is certain ambiguity in this attempt to make the CCI free from political intervention. Certain clauses to the act state that the government by notification may exempt a class of enterprises in the interest of national security/public interest, any agreement arising out of an international treaty/agreement, and (or) an enterprise performing a sovereign function on behalf of the government. The last bit is very disturbing as it leaves a huge scope for corruption and malpractice. The government can effectively blanket any industry/company from the purview of the CCI as it wishes, which amazingly is in stark contradiction to the so-called attempt to making the CCI free from political intervention.

The new Act, although a welcome change over the outdated MRTP Act, does come with certain flaws. Some changes like increasing the threshold limit (turnover, asset value) for it to come under the purview of the Commission were introduced in 2006. Also, the waiting period for approval has been reduced and fixed to a maximum of 210 days, to minimise wastage of time. Some Indian economists argue that this act has been a result of regular prodding by the WTO to open up our economy further. What effect the CCI has on the industry is yet to be seen, and it is felt that there are yet more measures needed to protect our indigenous industry. Once the new Act comes into full effect, only then will its relevance be fully known.
Roudra Bhattacharya

Takeover Code
Since the initiation of the liberalization and globalization policies in India in July 1991, an attempt is definitely being made by our policy makers to recast the institutional, organizational and legal arrangements in line with those practiced in the established market economies. In view of exploring the changing institutional framework in the context of economic reforms, the objective of this paper is to examine the recent scenario in the private corporate sector in India and to evaluate the position of corporate control mechanisms in relation to takeovers in India and other parts of the world. In the course of analysis, the article reviews the various corporate policies adopted or recommended in different countries over time and raises certain related issues pertaining to and in contrast with the situation in international markets and the international regulatory regime that might throw light on the on-going process of designing of an appropriate regulatory framework for India in the post-liberalization regime.SECTION ONE – THE CONTEXTUntil a couple of year’s back, the news that Indian companies having acquired American-European entities was very rare. However, this scenario has taken a sudden U-turn. The recent upsurge in the Indian markets, inflow of funds and the greater “India Story” has seen Indian companies both big and small going “shopping”- shopping for bigger fish in the global ocean. Indian companies are scouring the world for the best buys. But the most glaring point to take note of is that it is not only the bigger companies with deep pockets alone who are on the prowl. Medium-sized companies, many of which are relatively unknown, are venturing into forays to acquire global status by acquiring companies in the United States, Europe and South-east Asia. Buoyant Indian Economy, extra cash with Indian corporate, Government policies and newly found dynamism in Indian businessmen have all contributed to this new acquisition trend.The trend which started with the Information Technology companies and Information Technology Enabled Services has now spread to the pharmaceuticals, automobile, chemicals, health-care, gems and jewelry and heavy industries sectors, to name a few.
On account of globalization and growing cross-borders trade and liberal trade policies including free trade zones and international investment incentives and policy framework in both the developed and developing economic markets, there has been an upsurge in growth and expansion of corporate bodies world over. Takeovers have been effective machinery for balancing global economics and prompt the aforementioned phenomenon.Broad Concept and Meaning of a TakeoverThe term “takeover” implies the acquisition of control of shares in one company by another company or persons or group of related companies or persons. A company is said to be taken over when the acquiring company or the person is able to nominate the majority of members on the board of directors of the company being acquired, on account of the voting power they command at the shareholders meeting .M.A. Weinberg, one of the pioneers in treatising the law in practice relating to takeovers, has defined a takeover as:“a transaction or a series of transactions whereby a person (individual, group of individuals or company), acquires control over the assets of a company, either directly by becoming the owner of those assets or indirectly by obtaining control of the management of the company. Where shares are closely held (that is by a small number of persons), a takeover will generally be effected by agreement with the holders of the majority of the share capital of the company being acquired. Where the share are held by the public generally, the takeover may be effected (i) by agreement between the acquirer and the controllers of the acquired company, (ii) by purchase of shares on the stock exchange, or (iii) by means of a ‘takeover-bid’.”Thus, technically a takeover in business refers to one company (the acquirer, or bidder) purchasing another (the target company). When a bidder makes an offer for another, it will usually inform the board of the target beforehand. If the board feels that the value that the shareholders will get will be greatest by accepting the offer, it will recommend the bid. Otherwise it will reject it. And if the board rejects, the bid will become “hostile”. If the bidder makes the offer without informing the board beforehand, the offer is also considered hostile. If the price offered is high enough, shareholders may vote to accept the offer even if management resists converting this hostile bid into a success . Before proceeding any further, it is pertinent to broadly examine the kinds of takeovers.Takeovers – Kinds and Methods:Takeovers may be broadly classified into three kinds:i. Friendly Takeover: A friendly takeover is with the consent of the target company. In a friendly takeover, there is an agreement between the management of two companies through negotiations and the takeover bid may be with the consent of majority or all shareholders of the target company. Ideally a friendly takeover is a result of negotiations between two groups. Therefore, it is often called negotiated takeover.ii. Hostile Takeover: When an acquirer company does not offer the target company the proposal to acquire its undertaking but silently and unilaterally pursues efforts to gain control against the wishes of existing management, such acts of acquirer are known as ‘hostile takeover’. Such takeovers are hostile on the management and are thus called hostile takeover. The main consequence of a bid being considered hostile is practical rather than legal. If the board of the target co-operates, the bidder will be able to conduct extensive due diligence into the affairs of the target company. It will be able to find out exactly what it is taking on before it makes a commitment. A hostile bidder will know only the information on the company that is publicly available and will therefore be taking more of a risk. Banks are also less willing to back hostile bids with the loans that are usually needed to finance the takeover.iii. Bail Out Takeover: A “Bail-out Takeover” implies takeover of a financially sick company by a profit earning company to bail out the former is known as bail out takeover. Such takeover normally takes place in pursuance to the scheme of rehabilitation approved by the financial institution or the scheduled bank, who have lent money to the sick company. The lead financial institutions, evaluates the bids received in respect of the purchase price track record of the acquirer and his financial position. This kind of takeover is done with the approval of the Financial Institutions and banks.Modes of Takeovers :i. Staged Acquisition: Staged acquisition occurs in several stages with foreign investor initially acquiring only an equity stake, and gradually increasing their equity to 100%. Staged acquisitions allow continued involvement of previous owners where they are unwilling to sell outright, or favoured to maintain legitimacy with local consumers. The major drawbacks of this mode of takeovers are (i) shared control being a source of conflict and (ii) uncertainty over conditions of eventual full takeover.ii. Multiple Acquisition: This mode of acquisitions involves entry by acquiring several independent businesses, and subsequently integrating them. Through multiple acquisitions global players can build a nationwide strong market position in a traditionally fragmented market.iii. Indirect Acquisition: This is a mode of acquisition outside the focal market of a company that also owns an affiliate in the same emerging economy. The prime objective of the indirect acquisition may be outside the country. The affiliate may be a strategic asset motivating the acquisition, but this is rare. However, locally, the local affiliate may or may not fit with the existing local operations.iv. Brownfield Acquisition: A Brownfield acquisition is one in which the foreign investor subsequently invests more resources in the operation, such that it almost resembles a Greenfield project. Brownfield acquisitions provide access to crucial local assets under control of local firms that are in many other ways not competitive. The main drawback of this form of an acquisition is that the post-acquisition investments may exceed the price originally paid for the acquired firm.Logistics of Takeovers:Takeovers are primarily strategic in the regard that they are thought to have secondary effects that permeate beyond the mere expansion of profitability. For instance, an acquiring company may decide to purchase a company that is profitable and has a superior distribution network in new areas which the acquiring company can utilize for its own products as well.Further, a target company might be attractive because it allows the acquiring company to enter a new market without having to take on the risk, time and expense of establishing a concern de novo. An acquiring company could decide to take over a competitor not only because the competitor is profitable, but also in order to eliminate competition in its field and make it easier, in the long term, to raise prices.Also, a takeover could be a vehicle to fulfill the corporate theory that the combined company can be more profitable than the two companies would be separately due to a reduction of redundant functions.The general notion in relation to takeovers is that large companies initiate takeovers in order to improve their revenues (sales to customers) without giving sufficient regard to profit, which generally takes a hit when a company is acquired because of all the associated costs. Moreover, a premium is always paid if the target company is financiallyhealthy and not already desperate to be taken over.Thus, takeovers are used as a means to achieve crucial growth and are becoming more and more accepted as a tool for implementing business strategy, whether they involve Indian companies wanting to expand or foreign companies wishing to acquire market share in India. Some of the other motivating factors behind takeovers are the desire to acquire a competency or capability, to enter into new markets or product segments, to enter into the Indian market generally, to gain access to funding resources, and to obtain tax benefits.
Cross border acquisitions, both friendly and hostile, are increasingly international. Yet, the legal regimes governing acquisitions differ significantly, even where the purposes of relevant statutes or regulations, for example, the protection of investors, are compatible. Further, securities laws frequently are given extraterritorial effect and therefore regulatory disparities can lead to conflict and confusion.Takeovers are dynamic corporate events and all the various permutations and combinations of the moves of the relevant parties and the resulting outcomes cannot be envisaged. For the market for corporate control to perform efficiently in the sense of effective utilization and management of corporate resources that will ensure improved performance of companies after the consolidations take place, it ought to take place within the orderly framework of regulations.It is important that such critical processes like substantial acquisition of shares and takeovers, which can significantly influence corporate growth and contribute to the wealth of the economy through rational allocation and optimal utilization of resources, take place within the orderly framework of regulations. The regulations have to be so devised that they outline the principle, which could be the guiding lights for the unexpected events that could crop up later.Experience in India and in the Western Countries reveals that there are several kinds of malpractices, which arise in the context of takeovers and require regulatory counter measures. In this relation it is pertinent to study the regulatory regime in India in contrast to the regulatory regime governing takeovers world over.
Regulations Governing Takeovers in India Prior to 1991:Although prior to 1991, takeovers were restricted under Indian law, in terms of industrial licensing laws and restrictive statutory provisions, takeovers, mergers and acquisitions were not unknown. In fact, business houses like the Goenka group, or the Manu Chhabria group grew largely through acquisitions; earlier on some business houses such as the Bangur group grew mainly by taking over erstwhile Anglo-Indian firms (Bagchi (1999: 58)) .Merger and acquisition activities continued to take place in the manufacturing sector in India during the 1980s. Since 1986 onwards, both friendly takeover bids on negotiated basis and a few hostile bids too, through hectic buying of equity shares of select companies from the stock market have been reported frequently .The policy regime in the 1990s has greatly liberalized the possibility of industrial restructuring and consolidation through mergers and takeovers by removing various restrictions. With the adoption of liberalization policies in 1991, the Government omitted the relevant sections and provisions from the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (“MRTP Act”) involving pre-entry scrutiny, by the MRTP (Amendment Act), with effect from 27.9.91 . With this, the need for prior approval of the Central Government for merger and acquisition activities was abolished. The availability of flow of funds through global depository receipts (“GDRs”) and Euro-issues has reduced the problem of finance. This, together with the dismantling of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act controls in 1991, has led to a rise in the number of mergers and takeovers, actual and proposed.Regulations Governing Takeovers Post Liberalization of the Indian Economy:The policy and regulatory framework governing takeovers evolved through the 1990s. In 1992, government created the SEBI with powers vested in it to regulate the Indian capital market and to protect investors’ interests. SEBI also took over the functions of the office of the Controller of Capital Issues (“CCI”). In November 1994, with a view to regulating the takeovers, SEBI promulgated the “Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeover Regulations”. The SEBI regulations on takeovers were modeled closely along the lines of the UK City Code of Takeovers and Mergers. The Indian regulations have borrowed substantial concepts from and procedures from the UK code, e.g., the term “persons acting in concert”, the compulsory requirement of making a public offer on acquisition of a particular level of shares, the emphasis on following the spirit, rather than the letter, and so on. However, the essential difference is that the Indian takeover regulation is a law while the UK City Code is not .The 1994 Takeover Code was observed to be inadequate in handling the complexity of the situation. Hence, a committee chaired by Justice P.N. Bhagwati was appointed in November 1995 to review the 1994 Takeover Code. The committee’s report of 1996 formed the basis of a revised Takeover Code adopted by SEBI in February 1997. The revised Takeover Code provides for the acquirer to make a public offer for a minimum of 20% of the capital as soon as 10% ownership and management control has been acquired. The creeping acquisitions through stock market purchases over 2% over a year also attracted the provision of open offer. However, acquisitions by those owning more than 51% ownership do not attract the provisions of the code. The price of the public offer is to depend on the high/low price for the preceding 26 weeks or the price for preferential offers, if any. In order to ensure compliance of the public offers, the acquirers are required to deposit 50% of the value of offer in an escrow account. Furthermore, the acquirer has to disclose sources of funds. Some more amendments to the code were announced by the government in October 1998. These amendments include revision of the threshold limit for applicability of the code from 10% acquisition to 15%. The threshold limit of 2% per annum for creeping acquisitions was raised to 5% in a year. The 5% creeping acquisition limit has been made applicable even to those holding above 51%, but below 75% stock of a company.Current regulations, by making disclosures of substantial acquisitions mandatory, have sought to ensure that the equity of a firm does not covertly change hands between the acquirer and the promoters. Moreover, the right of the existing management to withhold transfer of shares under Section 22A of the SCRA, dealing with free tranferability and registration of listed securities of companies has been withdrawn in the recently introduced Depository Regulations Act, 1996, with effect from 20.9.1995. However, under Sections 250 and 409 of the Companies Act, target companies can shelter against raiders if the proposed transfer prejudicially affects the interests of the company.Buyback of shares has been recently introduced and the Takeover Code will not include companies that are planning offers under the buy-back norms. However, takeover defense mechanisms as poison pills for incumbent management as in US and UK are not allowed under the current regulations.The main objective of the regulations governing takeovers is to provide greater transparency in the acquisition of shares and the takeover of ownership and control of companies through a system based on disclosure of information. Instead of discovering that the management of the company one owns has covertly changed hands, resulting in huge gains for the promoter, a shareholder could now expect to be informed each time, and at what price a firm’s equity changed hands. Moreover, if the shareholder had less faith in the new owners, he could sell the shares without incurring a loss, since SEBI regulations stipulate that a buyer must make a public offer to buy shares at the same price at which the acquisition is made. The current regulations on takeovers in India seem to have taken a liberal view towards takeovers.Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulation, 1997.As specified hereinabove, in India, the primary regulations governing takeovers is SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 1997 , popularly known as the “Takeover Code.” These regulations seek to regulate the whole process of acquisition and takeovers, based on principles of transparency, fairness and equal opportunity for all. The Takeover Code lays down the procedures governing any attempted takeover of a company whose shares are listed on one or more recognized stock exchanges in India.The regulations imperatively try and set up a structured disclosure mechanism to ensure greater transparency. Thus one of the most important aspects of the Takeover Code is that any acquirer of more than 5%, 10%, 14%, 54% or 74% of the shares or voting rights in a company has to disclose, at every stage, the aggregate of his or her shareholding or voting rights. The disclosure must be made to the company and to the stock exchanges where shares of the target company are listed .There are various other, continual disclosure obligations; for example, the acquirer also has to disclose to the company and the relevant stock exchanges any purchase aggregating two percent or more of the share capital of the target company within two days of such purchase and must also disclose what his or her aggregate shareholding will be after the acquisition. A failure to make such disclosure will incur a penalty of Rs. 250 million or three times the amount of profits resulting from such failure, whichever is greater .Moreover, before acquiring shares or voting rights that (together with the shares or voting rights held by persons acting in concert with the acquirer) would entitle the acquirer to exercise 15% or more of the voting rights of a company, the acquirer must make a public announcement that he or she will acquire, at a minimum, an additional 20% of the equity shares of the company .Interpretational Issues:Under the Regulations, an “acquirer” means any person who, directly or indirectly, acquires or agrees to acquire shares or voting rights in the target company, or acquires or agrees to acquire control over the target company, either by himself or with any person acting in concert with the acquirer;Further, a “person acting in concert” comprises, -(1) persons who, for a common objective or purpose of substantial acquisition of shares or voting rights or gaining control over the target company, pursuant to an agreement orunderstanding (formal or informal), directly or indirectly cooperate by acquiring or agreeing to acquire shares or voting rights in the target company or control over the target company,(2) without prejudice to the generality of this definition, the following persons will be deemed to be persons acting in concert with other persons in the same category, unless the contrary is established :(i) a company, its holding company, or subsidiary or such company or company under the same management either individually or together with each other;(ii) a company with any of its directors, or any person entrusted with the management of the funds of the company;(iii) directors of companies referred to in sub-clause (i) of clause (2) and their associates;(iv)… … … … ..These definitions have been examined by SAT in the case of Modipon Ltd. vs. SEBI & Ors where it was held that since the provisions of regulation 2(1)(e)(2) defining person acting in concert being a deeming provision, must be read in conjunction of regulation 2(1)(e)(i) which states that persons acting in concert comprises of persons who for a common objective or purpose of substantial acquisition of shares or voting rights or gaining control over the target company, pursuant to an agreement or understanding (formal or informal) directly or indirectly, co-operate by acquiring or agreeing to acquire shares or voting rights in the company or control over the target company. Further, the SAT observed that a promoter as such need not be an acquirer automatically. Any person, and shareholder including the promoter will become an acquirer or a person acting in concert with the acquirer, only if he falls within the definition of these expressions provided in regulation 2(b) and 2(e). It is the conduct of the party that decides the identity. A dormant promoter or a promoter simpliciter who neither acquires nor agrees to acquire shares or voting rights or control over the target company is not anacquirer and his shareholding in the target company cannot be considered as the shareholding of the acquirer warranting exclusion from the public shareholding. Similarly, if the characteristics of a person acting in concert stated in the definition are found missing in the case of a person, it may not be proper to consider him as aperson acting in concert with the acquirer.The Bombay High Court in the case of K.K. Modi vs. SAT has also clarified as to when a person can be said to be acting as person acting in concert. The relevant observations in the judgment are as under :“As the Tribunal has rightly pointed out, there is no hard and fast rule that a promoter must always be deemed to be an acquirer or a person acting in concert with the acquirer. On the facts, it may be held that a promoter shares the common objective or purpose of substantial acquisition of shares with the acquirer. It may well be that he may not share the said common objective or purpose. If he does, he shall be deemed to be a person acting in concert with the acquirer but if he does not, he cannot be deemed to be an acquirer merely because he happens to be a promoter. Regulation 2(1)(e)(2) also makes this clear. The persons named therein are deemed to be persons acting in concert with other persons in the same category, unless the contrary is established. It, therefore, follows that even though there is a presumption that the persons described therein maybe deemed to be persons acting in concert with the acquirer, the presumption is rebuttable, and therefore, in each case, the facts have to be examined to reach a conclusion as to whether a person is or is not acting in concert with the acquirer for the purpose of substantial acquisition of shares or voting rights or gaining control over the target company. He may do so by an express agreement or understanding, and the agreement or understanding may be proved decide to increase his shareholding in the company by substantial acquisition of shares or voting rights in the company. The mere fact that one of the promoters of the company wishes to do so, is no reason to hold that the other promoters also necessarily share his objective or purpose. The other promoters may, in fact, be opposed to the acquirer acquiring further shares in the target company, and if they fail to prevent the acquirer from doing so, they may be inclined to dispose of the shares held by them. In such a situation, it cannot be said that the other promoters share the common objective or purpose of the acquirer. ” (emphasis supplied).In Phiroze Sethna Pvt. Ltd. v. SEBI the SAT has held that the term ‘acquirer’ covers not only completed acquisition but also agreement to acquire. Persons acting in concert are those who co-operate in different ways with the acquirer so that he achieves his objective of acquiring shares or voting rights or control of the target company. The facts of each case determine whether a person is or is not acting in concert with the acquirer. Their actions are the determining factor. It must be shown that they are acting in concert with the acquirer. In the same case SAT interpreted Regulation in the following terms:“It is clear from a perusal of Regulation 11(1) that for this clause to be triggered :(a) the acquirer should have made acquisition of shares or voting rights in the target company during earlier financial years to the extent of more than 15% but less than 75%;(b) the acquisition of additional shares or voting rights that triggers Regulation 11(1) during the relevant financial year should provide the acquirer more than 5% of voting rights;(c) the same acquirer should be involved, in the acquisitions of both the initial shares as well as additional shares; and(d) such acquisitions should be either by the acquirer himself or with the persons acting in concert with him.It is important that the identity of the acquirer and the persons acting in concert with him is clear to all. There should not be any ambiguity about the identity of such persons as they carry certain duties and obligations.”In Hardy Oil Pvt. Ltd. v. SEBI the SAT observed that a plain reading of Regulation 10 makes it abundantly clear that no acquirer shall acquire 15% or more shares or voting rights in a company unless he makes a public announcement to acquire shares of such company in accordance with the Regulations. The word “unless” in the opinion of the tribunal, only mandates that as and when the Regulations get triggered or become applicable, the acquirer has to make a public announcement to acquire shares of the target company in accordance with the Regulations. It does not mean that a public offer has to be made before the acquisition. The Regulations only impose an obligation on the acquirer to make a public announcement if he/it acquires the requisite percentage of shares. The word unless may have different connotations and in each case the context in which it is used will have to be looked into to find out the correct meaning. In some circumstances, the word unless may mean a condition precedent but it need not necessarily be so in every case. Having regard to the context in which it is used in Regulation 10, the tribunal were clearly of the view that it makes the acquisition conditional upon a public announcement being made and it does not mean that the public announcement has to be made before the acquisition. Such public announcement could be made before or after the acquisition.One of the meanings assigned to the word ‘unless’ in Black’s Law Dictionary (6th edition) is “a conditional promise” meaning thereby that the condition has to be met irrespective of the time frame in which the promise is to be fulfilled.Further, SAT held that if making of a public announcement was a condition precedent as contended on behalf of the appellant, then the Regulation would have read “unless such acquirer has made a public announcement” instead of “unless such acquirer makes a public announcement”. Use of the word ‘makes’ merely signifies the mandatory nature of the public announcement which could be made before or after the acquisition. Regulation 10 does not prescribe the time frame within which such an announcement is to be made. The time schedule for making such an announcement is prescribed by Regulation 14. Clause (1) of Regulation 14 provides that the public announcement referred to in Regulation 10 shall be made not later than 4 working days of entering into an agreement for acquisition of shares or voting rights. Regulation 14(1) does not refer to the date of acquisition. It only refers to the date of entering into the agreement for acquiring shares. Shares could be acquired within four days of entering into the agreement or thereafter and the period of four days for making the public announcement shall start running from the date of the agreement. It is possible that an agreement to acquire shares may be entered into today and the shares are acquired the following day. The acquirer would still have three more working days to make the public announcement because the period of four days is to start from the date of the agreement and not from the date of acquisition. It is, therefore, wrong to contend that the public announcement must always precede the acquisition of shares.Furthermore, it was observed that the explanation to Regulation 11 makes it clear that the acquisition referred to in Regulation 10 and 11 would include both direct and indirect acquisitions. If one read Regulation 14(1) in isolation it would cover both direct as well as indirect acquisition but when this clause is read along with clause (4) thereof it leaves no room for doubt that Regulation 14(1) deals only with direct acquisitions and Regulation 14(4) deals with all indirect acquisitions. The language of clause (4) of Regulation 14 is clear and it provides that in the case of indirect acquisition, a public announcement shall be made by the acquirer within 3 months of consummation of such acquisition.In the landmark case of In Re: Sterling Investment Corporation Private Limited; In Re: Shapoorji Pallonji and Company Limited; In Re: Cyrus Investments Limited the tribunal held that the acquirers plea that the violation of Regulation 10 and/or Regulation 12 was technical in nature in view of the difficulties of interpretation of the Regulations and due to a bonafide belief that they were not required to make a public offer for the shares acquired and also their contention that they had not acted deliberately in defiance of law or in conscious disregard of their obligations and had not made any gain or unfair advantage nor had they caused any loss to any one, and the default, if any, was not of a repetitive nature and thus there was no “mens rea” on their part and hence having regard to the fact that they had not committed any default in the past, no proceedings ought to have been initiated against them, would not stand good in law, since the words of Regulation 10 would not attract any contrary interpretation as inferred by the acquirers in this case.Case Studies:i. Luxottica v. SEBI:In April 1999, in a global acquisition, the Luxottica group of Italy acquired the sun-glass business of Bausch & Lomb, US, for $ 640 million. As Bausch & Lomb, US, had a 44% in Bausch & Lomb India through B&L South Asia Holdings, the control of the Indian subsidiary passed into the hands of Luxottica upon the takeover.The Luxottica group also appointed its nominees on the board of B&L India and later rechristened it as Ray Ban Sun Optics India. The board was reconstituted in October 2000. B&L India was incorporated by Montari Industries and Bausch & Lomb in 1990 to manufacturer and market soft contact lenses, eye-care solutions, frames and sunglasses.Despite a change in management control in B&L India, Luxottica failed to make the 20% mandatory open offer to shareholders. In its reply to a show-cause notice from Sebi, Luxottica clarified that there was no question of violation as the deal was not an acquisition but only a merger under rule 31 (j)(2) of the Takeover Code. In a complaint filed with SEBI last year, small shareholders alleged that the acquisition of shares by Luxottica attracts the provisions of regulations 10, 11 and 12 of the code.In January 2002, SEBI started investigation into the matter and issued a notice to Luxottica SPA of Italy for a hearing to ascertain whether there was any violation of the takeover code following its indirect acquisition of Bausch & Lomb India.In August 2002, SEBI came out with a ruling that Luxottica had violated regulation 10 and 12 of the Takeover Code and directed Luxottica to make a 20% open offer for RayBan by taking 28 April 1999 (the date of global acquisition) as the reference date. It asked the Italian company to make a public announcement within 45 days of the order and also pay a 15% interest to shareholders from April 1999 till the date of actual payment of consideration.On 29 October 2003, Luxoticca Group SPA and Rayban Indian Holdings announced an open offer to acquire 20% equity of Rayban Sun Optics India at Rs 104.3 per share. This apart, shareholders are also eligible to receive 15% interest of Rs 70.68 per share. As per an order dated 29 August 2003, the interest would be paid only to shareholders holding shares on the day of the acquisition of 28 April 1999.However, on 18 November 2003, the Supreme Court (SC) stayed the SAT order dated 29 August 2003 concerning Luxottica SPA’s open offer for shares of RayBan Sun Optics. Earlier, Luxottica had filed an appeal with the apex court on 12 September 2003 under Section 15Z of the SEBI Act against the judgment and the final order dated 29 August 2003 passed by SAT. In the mean time, SEBI has also filed its counter appeal before SC against the SAT order, which primarily relates to shareholders’ eligibility to receive interest.ii. Technip SA vs. SMS Holdings Pvt. LtdIn the above matter, eight appeals were heard together on the issue of application of SEBI (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations, 1997 to the control of South East Asia Marine Engineering and Constructions Ltd. (SEAMEC) acquired by Technip through Coflexip without making public announcement. SEBI had directed Technip to make a public announcement and also to pay interest @ 15 per cent per annum to the shareholders for the delayed public announcement. In appeal, SAT had held that the applicable law to the question as to when control of SEAMEC has been taken over by Technip was the Indian law. The view of SEBI was that the applicable law for determining the date on which Technip acquired control over Coflexip would be the French Law. In the appeal filed by Technip before the Supreme Court, it was urged that the applicable law was French law since Technip and Coflexip were both registered in France and the takeover of Coflexip by Technip also took place in France. Hon’ble Supreme Court was pleased to uphold SEBI’s order and set aside the order passed by SAT. Hon’ble Supreme Court was pleased to observe that for the purpose of determining Technip obligation under the Takeover Code, SAT should have addressed itself as SEBI had done to the question whether ISIS and Technip were acting in concert to obtaincontrol over the target company i.e., SEAMEC.
iii. Swedish Match Singapore Case:Swedish Match Singapore agreed to acquire majority shareholding in Haravon and Seed subsequent to 17th December, 1997 wherefor the public offer was made. SMS comprising of Haravon and Seed had 28.28 per cent and 10.33 per cent whereas Jatia Group comprising of AVP and Plash had 5 per cent and 15 per cent respectively whereas public / others had 41.39 per cent shares. In concert with each other the two Groups acquired shares from public.On or about 25th August, 1999 by acquiring preferential shares the Swedish Match Group obtained 52.11 per cent and Jatia Group obtained 24.11 per cent as a result whereof in Wimco the shares held by public/others came down to 23.78 per cent. Both Swedish Group and Jatia Group were exercising the joint control. By reason of Jatia Group obtaining out of the joint control by transfer of shares in favour of Swedish Match Singapore, a subsidiary of Swedish Match AB (apart of Swedish Match Group) obtained 74 per cent of shares whereas shares i.e. Haravon – 46.18 per cent, Seed – 5.93 per cent and SMS – 21.89 per cent. Thus, the extent of shares of Jatia Group came down to 2.22 per cent. Jatia Group sold their shares to public as a result whereof shares of public became 23.78 per cent. S.M.S. is a subsidiary of the Singapore Match Group. The Swedish Match is the holding company being the owner of the 100 per cent shares of SMS. It stands categorically admitted by the Appellants herein that acquisition of shares from Jatia Group in favour of SMS was done by the Swedish company as a group and not as an individual company. Factually, therefore, it is not correct to contend although in its notice dated 28-1-2002. SEBI had given indication thereof, that SMS had acquired 21.89 per cent shares of its own. Even if SMS had done so, Regulation 10 would apply as no public announcement was made therefor.SMS was a part of the Swedish Match Group and they acquired 21.89 per cent shares from Jatia Group. On or about 25th August, 1999, indisputably, Swedish Group and Jatia Group acted in concert with each other. By reason of acquisition made in September, 2000, Swedish Group, as acquirer, together with Jatia Group, had acquired more than 15 per cent but less than 75 per cent of shares. Any of those acquirers whether Swedish Match Group or Jatia Group, therefore was prohibited from acquiring by itself any additional share entitling it to exercise more than 5 per cent of the voting rights.The SAT held that Regulation 11 does not brook any other interpretation. If additional shares are acquired entitling an acquirer to exercise more than 5 per cent of the voting rights, the statutory embargo to the effect that the acquirer (in this case Swedish Match Group) must make a public announcement to acquire shares in accordance with the Regulation comes into operation. If such a meaning is not assigned, the disjunctive clauses contained in the expressions “either by himself or through or with person acting in concert with him”, may not carry a true and effective meaning.Critical Evaluation of the Regulations:There are a number of problem areas that needs immediate attention of the regulators to make the Code more meaningful in the interest of investors at large. Certain exemptions such as preferential offers and stake transfer to co-promoters have been misused by the incumbent managements and should be brought under the purview of the Code. The terms such as ‘change in control’, ‘persons acting in concert’ and promoters need to be clearly defined. Another area of concern for small investors is the provision relating to open offers mainly its size and pricing. There is an absence of simple and transparent regulations and a high degree of ad-hocism and confusion on how the changes in ownership stake at the global level affect the application of the Code. The present creeping acquisition limit of as high as 10 per cent hardly leaves any room for raiders to put the inefficient managements on their toes and should be reduced. However, special provisions should be made for professionally managed companies without any identified promoter group to protect them from hostile takeovers.SEBI should also provide for better disclosure norms governing corporate M&As. The role of financial institutions in the case of a takeover should be well defined. The provisions for bailout takeovers should not limit competition and bring maximum benefits to financially weak companies thereby benefiting the economy. The issue of disinvestment of PSUs needs to be elaborately addressed in the Code.Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of Security by a Person Resident Outside India) Regulations, 2000 :Under the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer and Issue of Security by a Person Resident Outside India) Regulations, 2000, any acquisition of shares of an Indian company by a nonresident must comply with the foreign-exchange laws. Such an acquisition may be by way of subscribing to new shares or acquiring existing shares. Foreign investments in sectors or activities subject to the RBI’s automatic route do not require any prior approval of the FIPB. Under India’s present FDI policy, any sale of shares from a resident to a nonresident (and vice versa) is permitted under the RBI’s automatic route, provided certain conditions (inter alia, those relating to pricing) are complied with.
B. UNITED STATES OF AMERICAIn the United States most large corporations are publicly owned and federal law protects investors primarily through mandated disclosure in capital raising and change of control transactions, and the prohibition of fraud and manipulation in the public securities markets . Tender offers are regulated by the SEC pursuant to the Williams Act , which amended the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) in 1968. The Williams Act was sought to effectively remedy block purchases and large rapid accumulations, which could result in changes in corporate control, were taking place secretly .The Williams Act generally deals with the disclosure obligations of bidders and was intended to equalize the protection of investors in takeover contests . The Williams Act also gives investors equal or fair rights to participate in the public tender offer.Any person who acquires a beneficial interest of five percent or more of any class of equity security subject to the annual and periodic reporting provisions of the Exchange Act (essentially, the common stock of all publicly traded issuers) must file a statement of ownership with the SEC within ten days after such acquisition . Further, the filing must state the purchaser’s future intentions with regard to the target company; that is, whether the purchaser intends to make a tender offer or engage in some other control transaction . A bidder must commence an offer within five days of a public announcement of an offer that includes the price and number of securities sought .The Williams Act and implementing SEC regulations also address certain substantive or procedural aspects of tender offers. These include making tendered shares withdrawable for a specified period of time, requiring pro rata acceptance when an offer for less than one hundred percent of shares is made, requiring that tender offers be made to all security holders, and that all offerees be paid the same price . In addition, § 14(e) of the Exchange Act contains a general tender offer antifraud provision prohibiting the use of all fraudulent, deceptive, and manipulative acts and practices in connection with a tender offer and gives the SEC authority to define, and prescribe means reasonably designed to prevent, such acts and practices as are fraudulent, deceptive, or manipulative. Pursuant to such authority, the SEC adopted Rule 14e-3 , which, among other things, prohibits anyone in the possession of insider information about an unannounced tender offer from trading on such information.The Williams Act generally facilitates tender offers, but corporate governance in the United States is left to state law. Further, corporate fiduciary duty regulation under state law is not, as a general matter, preempted by the Williams Act, so the SEC does not regulate the defenses available to a bidder . In Schreiber v. Burlington Northern, Inc., it was argued that a renegotiation by a target company of the terms of a tender offer breached the company’s fiduciary duty to its shareholders, was manipulative, and violated the antifraud provisions of the Williams Act . The United States Supreme Court rejected this argument, however, holding that the Williams Act dealt with disclosure, not unfairness in the takeover context. As a matter of state law, although directors are obliged to exercise due care and loyalty , and must obtain the highest price once a company is on the auction block , they have considerable latitude in resisting a takeover bid . Further, state statutory law can be quite protective of directors attempting to block an unwelcome bidder .
C. UNITED KINGDOMi. The City Code on Takeovers and Mergers:The rules of engagement for any proposal to obtain control of a U.K. public company are set out in the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (“Code” or “Blue Book”). The Code is administered by the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers (“Panel”). It is a developing body of general principles, rules and guidance notes published and amended from time to time by the Panel. The Code is supplemented by general and case-specific rulings issued by the Panel. There is also a wealth of non-published guidance that has precedential significance. This considerable body of materials represents the accumulation of over 35 years of Panel regulation of public takeovers in the U.K.The Panel asserts authority only in relation to change of control transactions where the target is either a U.K. public company (whether or not or wherever listed) or its equity securities have been traded during the last 10 years and in either case the company has some substantial administrative connection with the British Isles (U.K., Channel Islands and Isle of Man). The Panel has traditionally refused to accept jurisdiction merely because the target is U.K. incorporated; its concern is to regulate transactions only where the target is clearly within its control range although the scope of Code application will change upon introduction of the measures designed to implement the European Takeover Directive due in 2006. For similar control-related reasons, although not prescribed in the Code, the Panel invariably insists that an overseas bidder be represented by a U.K. regulated adviser in order that it can exercise effective jurisdiction over a participant on the bidder side.The Code is not intended to be subjected to detailed legal interpretation and is not static. It must be applied according to particular circumstances consistent with the general principles. The most important principles of the Code are:• equality of information to all bidders and all shareholders;• an offer should only be announced if the bidder is able to implement it in full (this includes a requirement to be fully financed from the outset);• during an offer period or when one is in contemplation no action can be taken by the board of the target out of the ordinary course that could frustrate any bona fide offer;• all documentation should be prepared with the highest standards of care and accuracy;• all parties must endeavour to prevent the creation of a false market; this particularly relates to indications of bid intentions; and• all shareholders (of the same class) must be treated equally.The Panel encourages consultation and is prepared to exercise discretion when applying the Code and when developing or adjusting its provisions. Consultation is discrete and generally highly interactive and rapid.Often described as a consensus driven, non legal structure, the Code and the authority of the Panel to enforce it is in effect secured by operation of the financial services regime. In particular, regulated entitles such as financial advisers are vulnerable if they allow a client to breach the Code. Furthermore, breach of the Code will have negative implications when interpreting the market abuse provisions in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (“FSMA”).Further, breach of the Code or cocking a snoop at the Panel may at the least draw a public criticism, the broad implications of which are uncertain, or result in the London market “cold-shouldering’ those in breach the Code and who refuse to be bound by Panel determinations.Finally, implementation of the European Takeover Directive will place the current structure on a statutory footing by mid 2006, which expected broadly to replicate much of the existing requirements there will be some detailed alterations to the bid process. The relationship with the Panel as statutory regulator is also likely to change over time.
ii. Other Laws:Although there is no comprehensive legislation dealing with offer process, a miscellany of laws and regulations may be applicable, the key ones being as described below.Provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1993 regulate insider dealing while the FSMA imposes market abuse rules that affect any publication or activity that could have market implications.The Companies Bill received the Royal Assent and became the Companies Act 2006 (the 2006 Act) on November 8, 2006 . The 2006 Act consolidates all previous companies legislation and will replace (with a very few minor exceptions) the Companies Act 1985 in its entirety. The provisions on shareholder communication, and in particular the electronic communications provisions, were brought into force in January 2007, at the same time as the provisions implementing the EU Takeovers Directive and the EU Transparency Directive. The remainder of the 2006 Act will be brought into force by October 2008 .The 2006 Act’s impact on the rules on financial assistance and directors’ duties are of particular interest with regard to takeovers.Financial Assistance: The 2006 Act abolishes the prohibition on the giving of financial assistance by private companies and their subsidiaries for the purpose of acquiring shares in that company. In accordance with the Second Company Law Directive (77/91/EEC) , the prohibition on giving financial assistance will be retained for public companies under the 2006 Act . [FN102] The new rules on financial assistance have been broadly welcomed.An EU Directive amending the Second Company Law Directive was formally adopted and published this year . The new Directive states that public companies will be able to provide financial assistance if certain conditions are met .Directors’ Duties: The 2006 Act codifies the common law and equitable principles that presently govern the duties owed by directors to their companies. While some of the seven codified duties set out in the 2006 Act are relatively uncontroversial, others have been criticized. Although the 2006 Act provides that the new statutory duties shall have effect in place of directors’ common law and equitable duties, regard must be had to the common law and equitable rules and principles in interpreting and applying the statutory duties.The EU Takeovers Directive was implemented in the United Kingdom on May 20, 2006 . The implementation of the Takeovers Directive has led to some substantive changes to the current regulatory system in the United Kingdom. The regulations place the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers on a statutory footing for the first time, giving the Panel powers to make rules on takeovers, introduce a new criminal offence for breach of the takeover documentation requirements, and make changes to the squeeze-out procedures on bids .
D. AUSTRALIAOwing to a number of scandals in the securities markets of Australia in the 1980s, it now has an extensive scheme of takeover regulation. It is embodied in a federal law which is implemented by each state adopting the federal legislation; this serves as a means of assuring uniformity among states . A National Companies and Securities Commission (NCSC) has authority to monitor trading in target company securities, and to administer the takeover legislation.Prescribed information must be set forth in tender offer materials, which must be registered with the NCSC and served on the target company and appropriate securities exchange before it can be used and before a tender offer can commence . The target company then must prepare and file with the NCSC a statement containing its recommendation and prescribed information, including unpublicized changes, if any, in its financial condition . Both the bidder’s materials and the target company’s materials must be transmitted to the shareholders .There are special procedures if the takeover is to be effectuated by purchases on a stock exchange . There are also detailed substantive provisions governing, among other things, the period the offer remains open, conditions to the offer, market purchases, and best price requirement . If specified percentages are acquired, then the bidder can compel the remaining shareholders to sell on the same terms , and, if the bidder acquires ninety percent, the remaining shareholders that did not tender can compel the bidder to buy their shares on the same terms, which they previously refused .
Recently, India has made a number of high profile, multi billion dollar acquisition in Europe and North America. In early 2007, Tata Steel acquired the Anglo- Dutch Steelmaker Corus and the Indian aluminium firm Hindalco acquired its U.S- Canadian rival, Novelis. India’s auto industries are also making their global presence felt. Tata motors have already acquired the South Korean firm Daewoo’s truck making unit and is not expanding itself in Latin America in partnership with Italy’s Fiat. Another company Mahindra and Mahindra, India’s largest tractor and utility vehicle maker is already selling tractors in Texas and is believed to acquire a gearbox company in Italy. Also, Indian Pharmaceutical firms have embarked on an aggressive global expansion. Last year Ranbaxy made a number of Acquisitions in Europe, United States and Africa and is now eyeing Germany’s Merk Generics. Likewise Hyderabad based Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories has already acquired the German drug maker Betapharm. Moreover, Sun Pharmaceuticals, India’s most valuable drug maker is buying Israel’s Taro Pharmaceutical Industries.The study of FICCI on India’s Inc Acquisition abroad points out eight different strategic reasons as to why are Indian companies acquiring entities globally.
HUTCH – VODAFONE:Hutchison Telecommunication International Limited (HTIL) is a leading global provider of telecommunication services. It offers services in Hong Kong and operates or is rolling out mobile telecommunication services in Macau, India, Israel, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Indonesia and Vietnam. “HTIL” is a listed company with American Depositary Shares quoted on the New York Stock Exchange and Shares listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong. Recently HTIL decided to exist Indian market and thereby sold its entire holdings in Hutch Essar Limited (HEL) to Vodafone International Holding B.V a subsidiary of Vodafone Group Plc. HTIL held 52 per cent of HEL directly, another 15 was held by Asim Ghosh, Hutchison Essar managing director and Analjit Singh, chairman of Health care group Max India and the remaining 33 per cent was held by Essar Group, an Indian conglomerate but two-thirds of its stake is in turn controlled through an offshore company for tax reasons, classifying it as foreign. HTIL thereafter entered into a Contractual settlement agreement with the Essar Group, under which the Essar Group announced proposed disposal of its interest in Hutchison Essar Limited for a cash consideration of approx US$11.1 Billion.The controversy which arose was 15% stake belonging to local partners were held indirectly by HTIL and that HTIL through a complex shareholding arrangement, has violated an Indian law that limits foreign direct investment in domestic Telecom Operators to 74 per cent.Vodafone thereby filed an application with “Foreign Investment Promotion Board” (FIPB) with regard to its foreign direct investment. FIPB gave its approval stating the Vodafone’s holding in the joint venture with Essar is 52% and did not include 15% held by local partner. However, FIPB was of the opinion minority shareholders in the new venture can only sell their stakes to Indian residents.
MITTAL – ARCELOR:Mittal Steel, owned by L N Mittal & family, has its headquarters in London and Rotterdam. It has plants in 14 countries spread across Europe, Asia, North America and Africa. Its first acquisition took place in 1989. Arcelor was founded in 20 02 by merger of Abred of Luxembourg, Arcelia of Spain and Usinor of France. Its turnover is valued at 033 billion. Its plants, joint ventures and subsidiaries are spread across 60 countries. In the year 2006, Mittal Steel made an offer to acquire Arcelor. Its original offer to Arcelor was for 017.5 billion. In May it increased the offer to 024 billion and the final offer was 026.9 billion. Mittal’s final offer was accepted. Mittal paid 040.37 a share for Arcelor nearly double the price, it was trading before the first bid was made. When Mittal made first bid, Arcelor rejected it with vengeance. It recommended to shareholders not to sell shares to Mittal as the two companies did not share the same strategic vision, business model and values. A couple of European governments did not like the idea of an Indian taking over an European company. The French foreign minister felt it would affect 28,000 jobs and that the bid was ill-prepared and hostile. However, Mittal Steel said jobs would be safeguarded. Arcelor took the matter to regulators to thwart the takeover. But the regulators did not find any anti-trust provisions being violated and asked Arcelor not to issue shares to anyone without investors’ explicit consent. To begin with, Arcelor refused to meet Mittal until a string of demands were met and simultaneously arranged a 013 billion deal with Severstal of Russia to keep Mittal away. As shareholders wrath grew over the Severstal agreement and pressures from other quarters increased, Arcelor accepted Mittal’s final bid. Arcelor had to pay 0130 million as a fine to Severstal for breaching the contract. Ultimately, L N Mittal succeeded in acquiring Arcelor. Now the combined capacity of Arcelor Mittal is 109.7 million tonnes.
TATA-CORUS:The London-based Corus Group was one of the world’s largest producers of steel and aluminum. Corus was formed in 1999 following the merger of Dutch group Koninklijke Hoogovens N.V. with the UK’s British Steel Plc. Tata Steel is the India’s largest private sector steel company. Tata Sons is the promoters of the Tata Steel with approximately 23.8% of share capital of Tata Steel. Tata steel was in look out of various acquisition opportunities including the Corus Group. Soon Tata steel started the discussions with the Board and Management of the Corus Group and made a non-binding offer to acquire 100% equity in Corus Group at 455 pence per share. Tata Steel UK, a UK resident wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of Tata Steel, was formed just for the purpose of making the Acquisition. Corus Group received competiting offers from both Tata Steel U.K and CSN Acquisition Limited. Thereby the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers announced the last day for each Tata and CSN to announce revised offers for the company shall be 30th January 2007. The final revised offer announced by Tata Steel was at price 608 pence in cash per Corus Share. However the final revised offer announced by CSN Acquisition was at price 603 pence in cash per share. The Corus directors consider the terms of the Final Tata Offer to be fair and reasonable, so far as Corus Shareholders are concerned. Given that the price of the Final Tata Offer is five pence above that of the Final CSN Offer, the Corus Directors believe that the Final Tata Offer represents the best value for Corus Shareholders. At the Court meeting and Extra-ordinary meeting shareholders approved the Scheme of arrangement between the Corus Group and Tata Steel U.K by the requisite majority. Thereby Corus announced to implement the recommended offer by Tata Steel UK Limited.

LEGAL NEWS 13.12.2008

Friday, December 12, 2008 7:27:50 PM (IST)
B’lore: Police Not to Allow Rallies with More Than 15,000 Participants
Daijiworld Media Network – Bangalore (SP)
Bangalore, Dec 12: Rudely jolted to realize the extent to which rallies and mammoth gatherings in the city can play havoc with the normal lives of the already harassed citizens of the city as evidenced by the last month’s JD(S) rally at the anointment ceremony of H D Kumaraswamy as the state unit chief of the party, city police commissioner Shankar Bidari filed a report in the state High Court on Thursday December 11, saying that the department has decided not to allow any rallies or processions in which more than 15,000 people are expected to participate.
The High Court is hearing a public interest litigation(PIL) filed by a city-based NGO named Janagraha, which wants to put severe strictures on holding political rallies in the city. In his report, the police commissioner said, that as an interim measure and till the final verdict in the said PIL is pronounced, and taking cognizance of serious observations made by the Chief Justice, the police have decided not allow public meetings in which more than 15,000 people are expected to take part.
The policemen in drafting the said rules, have invoked provisions of section 31 of Karnataka Police Act 1963. Draft rules were filed in the High Court on November 26, and the same were revised based on observations made by the division bench of the High Court. The revised rules have now been submitted to the High Court, the commissioner said.
The report also makes it compulsory for the organizers of the rallies to obtain prior permission apart from furnishing indemnity bonds before holding them. The organizers will then be held responsible for any loss caused to the public property during such rallies.

Bombay HC directs Goa govt to file written reply on PIL on Dec 15
The Bombay High Court at Goa directed the state government to file its written reply on December 15, on a public interest litigation (PIL) by social activist Adv Aires Rodriges, challenging the appointment of Nilkant Harlankar and Francisco Silveira as parliamentary secretaries.The PIL also challenged conferring cabinet status to EDC chairman Agnelo Fernandes, deputy chairman of state Planning Board Wilfred D Souza and Commissioner of NRI Affairs Eduardo Faleiro.While disposing the government’s application seeking extension of period that expired on December 5, a division bench of Justices A P Deshpande and N A Britto allowed all the other respondents to file their written reply by December 15. The bench allowed Adv Rodriges to file his rejoinders by December 18. The matter will be posted for judgement thereafter.Adv Rodriges also submitted that there was an urgency in the matter, as the said appointments are a huge unnecessary burden on the state exchequer.A division bench of the High Court, consisting of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Nelson Britto, had on March 19 reserved the judgement after hearing the final arguments on the matter.The arguments on the PIL were initially heard by the High Court bench of Justices R M S Khandeparkar and R S Mohite on August 22, 2007. The bench had then reserved the matter for judgement.However, on August 24, the court, without passing any orders, 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 of cabinet ministers in the state of Assam is pending before the Supreme Court.Adv Rodriges then moved the apex court by filing a petition under Article 139-A(1) of the Constitution seeking transfer of the PIL for hearing along with the Assam case on appointment of parliamentary secretaries pending before the Supreme Court, as both the cases involved the same question of law and of general public importance.However, on October 12 last year, a division bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices S H Kapadia and B Sudershan Reddy, directed that the Bombay High Court at Goa should hear and decide the PIL.UNI

SC notices to centre for proper training to security forces
The Supreme Court issued notices to the Union Government on a PIL seeking directions to the government to impart proper training and also to equip the security forces with modern weapons to tackle the terrorist attacks such as 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam issued notices on the petition of senior counsel Soli J Sorabjee, Attorney-General of India during the NDA regime, who contended that security forces are ill equipped to handle terror attacks and the country’s intelligence set up has virtually collapsed due to total lack of mutual coordination among various intelligence agencies in the country.The petitioner has also demanded that the Union Government should be directed to station well trained anti-terror commandos in every police district in the country or at least in every urban conglomeration in the country.UNI

voice and data – does netiquette cross cultures?
December 12, 2008
The Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has fined Vodafone Essar a sum of Rs 20,000 for activating a ‘cheap and vulgar’ caller tune on lawyer Neena Chakravorty’s mobile phone, without her consent. Chakravorty stated that a vulgar caller tune was activated on her phone in Dec 2007, shattering her professional personality. ~ Voice and Data, December 4th 2008
This is a good example of how every element of our communication style reflects on ourselves and our reputation, and critically, how this may differ from culture to culture. What might be merely amusing – a funky ring tone – elsewhere, could “shatter your professional personality” somewhere else.
ps. is it still called netiquette if we move into the mobile realms?

By Vaibhav Aggarwal Dec 12, 2008
Finance firm, Cholamandalam DBS has been directed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum to compensate the customer for deducting EMI twice from his bank account.
Chandigarh based, Chander Mohan filed a complaint under Consumer Protection Act against the finance company when he found that his bank account was debited two times in a month for an EMI payment. The complainant had applied for a personal loan of Rs 35000 from Cholamandalam DBS, out of which Rs 31,623 was released by the company on April 30th, 2007. He had thereby selected ECS clearance from his bank account maintained with the Central Bank of India for the repayment mode. He was asked to pay an EMI of Rs 1,894.
As per the term and conditions Cholamandalam was authorized to draw EMI from his bank account only once in a month but in the month of July 2008, it allegedly deducted the EMI twice. Following this the complainant had moved to the forum.
The forum sent a legal notice to the finance firm to present their report on the issue but there were no response and therefore the case proceeded ex parte.
While giving the verdict, forum said: “Based on records in the passbook maintained with the Central Bank of India, it is clear that two EMIs were drawn from the complainant’s account in one month. We find that company had adopted unfair trade practices.”
The forum has directed the company to pay s 2,100 as compensation for harassing the customer.

One more episode in the Vodafone chase
D. Murali
Chennai: In the Vodafone case that was keenly watched for the past several months, almost since August of last year, the curtain is yet to set, says Mr Pranav Sayta, Tax Partner and Tax Leader Transaction Tax, Ernst & Young. The ‘action’, if one may term it that, is set to move on to the Supreme Court of India, he adds, during the course of a recent email interaction with Business Line.
“The observations of the Bombay High Court do throw up the importance of proper tax risk management. Foreign investors should appropriately plan for and manage the tax risks while structuring, global mergers and acquisitions,” advises Mr Sayta.
Excerpts from the interview.
First, a background of the case.
To cut the chase, shares of CGP Investments, a Cayman Islands entity were transferred by Hutchison Telecommunications (HTIL), another Cayman Islands entity, to Vodafone International Holdings BV, a Netherlands entity (Vodafone NL) for $11.1 billion (approximately). Vodafone International Holdings B.V. is an indirectly wholly-owned subsidiary of Vodafone.
CGP Investments, through a chain of intermediary entities (including Mauritius entities) indirectly held 67 per cent stake in Vodafone Essar Ltd (VEL), an Indian company, engaged in cellular services.
The Indian tax authorities issued show cause notices to both the buyer Vodafone NL and VEL to show cause why it should not be treated as an ‘assessee in default’ for failure to withhold tax at source when making payment to the seller HTIL and VEL for being treated as a ‘representative assessee’. The tax demand ran into $2 billion (approximately).
The show cause notices were challenged by Vodafone NL and VEL, in a writ petition before the Bombay High Court. The writ petition of Vodafone NL now stands dismissed by the Bombay High Court (HC). The stay granted to Vodafone NL earlier has been extended by eight weeks and it is expected that Vodafone NL will move the Supreme Court. Interestingly, the HC has dismissed the writ petition by Vodafone NL alone and the writ petition of VEL is still pending before the Bombay High Court.
On the impact of the HC ruling.
It is a well accepted view, based on international tax norms, that while gain arising to a non-resident from transfer of shares in an Indian company is liable to tax in India (subject to tax treaty provisions as in some tax treaties the gain is subject to tax not in the country of source but in the country of residence), the gain arising to a non-resident from transfer outside India of shares of a foreign company to another non-resident would normally not be chargeable to tax in India, even if the underlying value is derived from assets belonging to the Indian subsidiary of the company whose shares are transferred.
A company, it must be noted, is a separate and distinct legal entity. Now the larger question that arises is, whether in the case of an Indian company indirectly held by a parent through an overseas company or special purpose vehicle (SPV), such parent company can be regarded as the owner of an asset located in India. Can transfer of shares of the overseas company or a SPV to a buyer abroad be regarded as transfer of an asset located in India? If one were to say yes, it could result in large ramifications for multinationals having widespread global operations.
Of course, based on this decision, the tax incidence if any in India arising out of the Hutch Vodafone transaction is now to be determined by the Indian tax authorities. In this context it may interesting to note the observations of the Supreme Court, in the case of Union of India vs Azadi Bachao Andolan (263 ITR 706) : An act which is otherwise valid in law cannot be treated as non est on the basis of the underlying motive.
In my view, if the shares in an Indian company are sold directly by holding companies situated in favourable tax jurisdictions such as Mauritius, Singapore, or Cyprus, then subject to treaty fulfilment (such as the LOB clause in the India-Singapore tax treaty), such capital gains cannot be brought to tax in India, as the tax treaty does not provide for its tax incidence in the country of source (i.e. India).
On the issues before the Bombay High Court.
Broadly, the Bombay High Court (HC) had to examine whether the show cause notice issued by the tax authorities was tenable in law (whether Vodafone NL could be held liable under Section 201 of the Income-Tax Act, 1961, for not withholding tax, and whether the provisions of Section 195 relating to withholding tax obligations could have extra territorial implications). It also had to examine, whether the transaction, per se (the transfer of shares of CGP Investments by HTIL to Vodafone NL) resulted in ‘taxable’ income, in India.
The HC held that prima facie the said transaction would be subject to Indian tax law, since the dominant purpose of the transaction was to acquire the controlling interest in an Indian company. Hence, the notice issued by the Indian tax authorities cannot be termed extraneous or irrelevant or erroneous on its face so as to require it to be quashed under the writ jurisdiction of the HC. However, the HC has ruled that whether the transaction was taxable in India or not must be investigated by the Indian tax authorities.
It is important to note that the HC has not given its verdict on the chargeability of the transaction to tax in India. However, it has upheld the issue of the show cause notice. In addition, while dismissing the writ petition, the High Court made some prima facie observations regarding chargeability to tax of the transaction
On the key observations made by the court.
The HC has inferred that the subject matter of the transaction between Vodafone NL and HTIL is nothing but transfer of interests, tangible and intangible, in Indian companies of the Hutch Group, in favour of Vodafone NL and not an acquisition of shares of CGP Investments.
In this context, perhaps, it is essential to take a step back and examine the chronicle sequence of events. HEL, a joint venture company of the Hutch Group (foreign investor) with the Essar Group (Indian partner), was engaged in the business of cellular services. HEL obtained a telecom licence to provide cellular services in different circles in India from November 1994. On February 11, 2007, Vodafone NL entered into an agreement with Hutch Group for acquisition of its Indian interests in HTIL. Through filings with the stock exchange and other statutory authorities in the US and Hong Kong (jurisdiction of the parent company of Vodafone NL), it was made known to shareholders of HTIL that it was selling its controlling interest in HEL for $11.1 billion (approximately) and the transaction was expected to realise an estimated before tax gain of $9.6 billion (approximately).
Vodafone NL also applied to Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and sought approval for indirect acquisition of 52 per cent stock in the Indian entity, HEL. In May 2007, approval was granted by FIPB stipulating that there should be compliance and observance of applicable laws and regulations in India including Indian tax laws. Thereafter payments were made by Vodafone NL to HTIL for acquisition of shares of CGP Investments.
The HC observed that with the signing of the agreement by Vodafone NL in February 2007 to acquire the interests in India, a nexus to a source of income in India was clearly established, even before the actual payment in May 2007. Thus, prima facie, HTIL, by reason of this transaction, has earned income liable for capital gains tax in India as the income was earned towards sole consideration of transfer, to Vodafone NL, of its India business/ economic interests as a group.
The High Court also emphasised that representations made before FIPB, shareholders, regulatory authorities in US and Hong Kong made it clear that the Hutch Group was transferring its interest in the Indian Company.
In its order the HC states: “In the instant case, the subject matter of transfer as contracted between the parties is not actually the shares of a Cayman Island Company, but the assets situated in India”.
Moreover, while Vodafone NL has admitted acquiring cumulatively 67 per cent controlling interest in HEL, it has failed to produce the original agreement dated February 11, 2007, and other related agreements/ documents either to the HC or to the Indian tax authorities, in spite of repeated demands made by the latter. In the absence of these agreements, the HC observed that it would be impossible to ascertain the true nature of the transaction. Thus the High Court observed that it was left with no option but to draw an adverse inference against Vodafone NL since there was withholding of best evidence, even assuming that the onus of proof does not lie on Vodafone NL.
On the principle of the ‘Effects Doctrine’ brought out by the HC in its order.
In its judgment, the HC accepted the American principle of ‘Effects Doctrine’ put forth by the Indian tax authorities. This principle states that “Any country may impose liabilities, even upon persons not within its allegiance, for conduct outside its borders that has consequences within its borders which the country represents.” Reliance was also placed on certain Supreme Court decisions on applying this principle to hold that even though an agreement is executed outside India, if it has an impact in India, India would have the jurisdiction to impose tax liabilities.

UN chief asks Human Rights Council not to ignore worst abusers
New York, (PTI) : United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Geneva-based Human Rights Council to rise above “partisan posturing and regional divides” and review record of every state with regard to rights abuses.
The call during special session held by the Council to commemorate 60th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights assumes significance in the context of human rights groups accusing the Council of ignoring “worst abusers” while concentrating its “wrath” on Israel and some western countries.
Because the worst abusers have majority, they come to the rescue of one another and thus make work of the Council farce, it had contended.
“We have come a long way since the Declaration’s adoption. But the reality is that we have not lived up to its vision at least not yet,” Ban told the Council.
“Abject poverty, shameful discrimination and horrific violence continue to plague millions of people. As we mark this milestone, we must also acknowledge the savage inhumanity that too many people in our world must endure. There is no time to rest,” he said.
The Council, he asserted, can have a tremendous impact. “But you, its members, must rise above partisan posturing and regional divides. One way to do this is with continued vigilance in carrying out the Universal Periodic Review, which assesses the human rights records of all States. The Council must address human rights abuses wherever they occur,” he added.
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the UN system made up of 47 states tasked with promotion and protection of human rights around the world.

Three-judge panel submits report to CJI
New Delhi (PTI): A three-judge Committee formed to probe the ‘cash-at-judge door’ scam in Chandigarh has submitted its report to Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan.
A Committee comprising Justice Hemant Lakshman Gokhle (Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court), Justice K S Radhakrishnan (Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court) and Justice Madan B Lokur (Delhi High Court) submitted the report after holding the inquiry for three-and half months.
The scam came to light in August this year when Rs. 15 lakh was taken by the clerk of a senior Haryana law officer to the residence of a judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court Justice Nirmaljit Singh Kaur.
Later it turned out that the money was meant for another judge.
Justice Nirmal Yadav of the Punjab and Haryana High Court later recused from judicial work after her name surfaced during the interrogation of the three accused in connection with the case. She is now now on leave.
Subsequently, Punjab Governor S F R Rodrigues, who is also Chandigarh Administrator General, recommended a CBI probe into the scam after consultations with High Court Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur.
The CJI had constituted the committee comprising two chief justices and a judge of the High Court as he felt that deeper probe was needed into the alleged scam.
The CJI, on the basis of the report, can ask the judge concerned to resign or withdraw judicial work and recommend to Prime Minister and President for the impeachment.
On August 13, the clerk of the then Additional Advocate General of Haryana Sanjiv Bansal, had delivered Rs 15 lakh at the residence of Justice Nirmaljit Kaur, who had immediately informed the Chandigarh Police.

UN confirms Afghan mass grave site disturbed
Kabul (AP): The UN confirmed a mass grave in northern Afghanistan was disturbed, raising the possibility that evidence supporting allegations of a massacre seven years ago may have been removed.
The Dasht-e-Leili grave site holds as many as 2,000 bodies of Taliban prisoners who died in transit after surrendering during one of the regime’s last stands in November 2001, according to a State Department report from 2002.
McClatchy Newspapers first reported the tampering with the grave site on Thursday.
“We can confirm that the site at Dasht-e-Leili has been disturbed,” said Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the U.N. Mission in Afghanistan. He declined to say how or when the site had changed, saying that details would be available in an upcoming report.
Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights, which discovered the Dasht-e-Leili site in 2002 and has performed autopsies on some of the bodies, said its researchers found two large pits at the site, both about 100 feet by 50 feet, in July that appeared to have been dug this year.
“These are real holes appearing to have been professionally dug, and signs of heavy machinery were observed,” the group’s deputy director, Susannah Sirkin, said.
Witnesses have claimed that forces with the US-allied Northern Alliance placed the prisoners in sealed cargo containers over the two-day voyage to Sheberghan Prison, suffocating them and then burying them en masse using bulldozers to move the bodies, according to the State Department report.

Case against GHMC
Staff Reporter
HYDERABAD: The Sultan Bazar police on Friday registered a criminal case against the GHMC officials responsible for demolishing the wall of a temple at Koti that led to a series of violent incidents.
Section 295 (injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult religion or any class) of Indian Penal Code was invoked against the GHMC in the wall demolition case.
Seven more cases, six pertaining to damaging APSRTC buses by mobs of youths protesting the wall demolition and another in connection with the stabbing of a youth by an unidentified person near Sultan Bazar, were also registered by the police.

POTA-like law to deal with terror opposed
Special Correspondent
There are enough legislation to counter terrorism: activist
‘RTI, NREGA activists should work together’
‘NREGA is the only scheme mandated with social auditing’
PANAJI: Aruna Roy, social activist and a crusader of citizens’ right to information movement, on Friday opposed any moves to bring back any POTA-like legislation to counter terrorism on the ground it could result in restrictions on democratic rights available to the people.
Delivering a keynote address at a two-day national convention on right to information (RTI) here, Ms. Roy asserted, “You have enough laws to deal with terrorism. We don’t need to further restrict the democratic space. If democratic space goes, right to information goes.”
Emphasising the need for RTI activists and those working for National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to join hands in the battle for greater accountability and transparency in government programmes and fund utilisation, Ms. Roy urged the activists associated with RTI to fully back and support NREGA.
Describing NREGA as a “huge thing in itself”, Ms. Roy said, “It needs support from RTI activists because it is the only government programme which mandates right to information as a part of it.”
“The programme is mandated with social auditing which is part and parcel of RTI. This has helped expose corruption in a big way,” said the Magsaysay award-winning activist.
She referred to the success of social audit campaign under NREGA in Andhra Pradesh which was instrumental in “recovering crores of rupees of the State siphoned off in the name of the poor.”
She paid glowing tributes to former Prime Minister late V.P. Singh. Describing him as a “humble and extraordinary statesman ever committed to the cause of the socially deprived”, she recalled his immense contributions to struggles of all kinds of rights of the people, his support to many movements as well as his political and active support to RTI activists in getting some of the crucial provisions of the Act implemented.
She recalled how Mr. Singh called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and successfully prevailed upon the latter to refrain from deleting the penalty provision meant for erring bureaucrats in the RTI Act.
Nearly 20 delegates from 14 States are participating in the convention jointly organised by the Media Information and Communication Centre of India (MICCI), the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES-India) and the International Centre Goa.
The convention is culmination of the MICCI’s initiative to hold series of seminars on RTI in the country, said Nandini Sahai, Director MICCI.

Gowda for amending Anti-defection law
Staff Correspondent
‘It is to prevent its misuse by politicians’
Raichur: The former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda on Friday said that there was a need to amend the Anti-defection law to prevent its misuse by politicians.
Addressing presspersons here, he said that politicians had been changing their political affiliation by exploiting the loopholes in the Anti-defection law. There would be no value for the people’s verdict if steps were not taken to strengthen the law.
He said that his party would raise the issue during the next Lok Sabha session and include it in its manifesto for the next elections.
Mr. Gowda said that the “misrule” by the United Progressive Alliance Government had affected the country’s economic development. The “anti-people” policies adopted by the UPA Government and the NDA Government had necessitated the formation of a third front, he added.
Condemning the terror attack in Mumbai, he said that mere condemnation would not serve any purpose. The Centre should not spare the terrorist organisations that were responsible for the act. His party would extend all support to the UPA Government in this direction.
Expressing the hope that his party would emerge victorious in the byelection to the Assembly from the eight segments, he said that his party did not refuse to have talks with the Congress on formation of a secular force to face the byelection.
The former Prime Minister said that the people of the Deodurga constituency were aware that it was his initiative that helped in launching the work on the Narayanpura Right Bank Canal of the Upper Krishna Project.

Petition seeks to restrain church bodies
Kochi: The Kerala High Court was approached by Sr. Abhaya’s father seeking a directive to the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council, the Archdiocese of Kottayam, Knanaya Bishop Council and the Jagratha Samithi of the Kottayam Diocese to desist from attacking the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and making comments on the investigation in the murder case.
In his petition, Mr. Thomas said immediately after the arrest of the two priests and a nun, a pastoral letter of Archbishop Mar Mathew Moolakkat was read out in all churches under the dioceses on November 23. The letter accused the CBI of not probing the allegations against the narco-analysis test. It alleged that the arrest was made without conducting an investigation against those who had exerted pressure in the case.

Judiciary should protect rights: jurist
Special Correspondent
J.S. Verma inaugurates AILU State conference
KANNUR: The former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma has said the judiciary in the country, comprising both the Bench and the Bar, has to ensure that it does not fail as an institution entrusted to protect the rights of the people.
Inaugurating the State conference of the All India Lawyers’ Union (AILU) here on Friday, Mr. Verma, who had also served as chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, said the institutional devaluation in the country was eroding credibility in public life.
“We are passing through a time in which our country’s institutions are being devalued. The country’s judiciary is no exemption,” he said calling for accountability and transparency in the functioning of the judiciary. Observing that the Mumbai terror attack was a clear case of institutional failure of law enforcement agencies, he said the country had failed to avert the attack because of corruption.
Root out corruption
Stating that the judiciary should never be in the list of the institutions that were corrupt, the former CJI said the judiciary was the custodian of law and constitutional guarantees. The judiciary was responsible for administration of justice in accordance with law, he said adding that justice was the sum total of institutionalised morality added to law. Human dignity, justice, liberty, fraternity and national security were core values, he said.
Every interpretation of law should conform to these values which formed the Constitutional philosophy. Each lawyer and judge should cherish these values and identify himself or herself with the victim of injustice.
“Judges are not dropped from heaven, they come from lawyers,” he said calling for transparency in the selection of judges. He stressed the need for an effective mechanism to get rid of judges of doubtful repute. A judge should primarily be a person of character, he said.
Stating that transparency, openness and accountability were important in the functioning of the judiciary, Mr. Verma said judges should declare their assets to uphold their moral authority. A judge did not belong to any party, he said and cautioned against outside intrusion that would erode the judiciary’s independence.
Stating that the Bar and the bench were equal partners in the administration of justice, Mr. Verma called upon them to shun sycophancy.
AILU State president Varkala Radhakrishnan, MP, presided over the function. Organising committee chairman M.V. Jayarajan, K.P. Raghava Poduval and Vinod C. Cherian were present.

Notice issued to government, DGP, CBI
Plea for CBI probe into supply of cadavers to private medical colleges
Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday issued notice to the State government, Director-General of Police and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on a writ petition seeking a CBI probe into the supply of cadavers to private medical colleges in the State.
The notice was issued by the Bench comprising Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice A.K. Basheer on a petition filed by the Kochi-based organisation Proper Channel.
The petition also sought a directive to the government to formulate immediate procedures to regulate supply of cadavers to medical colleges to ensure that they were using them for providing quality education.
The petitioner alleged that medical colleges could procure cadavers for its educational purposes only according to the provisions of the Kerala Anatomy Act.
However, none of these medical colleges procured them in a legal manner. However, the government medical colleges followed a strict and transparent policy to obtain cadavers as per the Act.
The petitioner said that there was a mystery about the procurement of cadavers by the private medical colleges. As per the Health and Family Welfare Department, private medical colleges were permitted to obtain unidentified cadavers from the local police. However, according to the information provided under the Right to Information Act, police stations had not given any cadavers to these medical colleges.
A Bench comprising Justice P.R. Raman and Justice T.R. Ramachandran Nair on Friday directed the Ombudsman for the Travancore and Cochin Devaswom Boards to inquire into certain points in connection with performing ‘Ashtabhishekam’ at Sabarimala. The directives came on a petition seeking to restart the Ashtabhishekam which was stopped by the board.
Directive issued
Justice R. Basant has directed the Additional Director-General of Police (Crimes) to monitor the investigation into the case in which two limbs of a person were recovered at Adimali in Idukki district. The directive came on a petition filed by Thankappan seeking CBI probe. The court ordered that bimonthly reports be filed before the court.

Kochi: A CBI Special court here has convicted K. Thankachan, former Chief Manager, State Bank of Travancore, Kollam, J. Rajmoham Pillai of Pace International Limited, Kollam, and two others in a corruption case. The accused were sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.2 lakh each for entering into a criminal conspiracy to cheat the bank. Three letters of credit to the tune of Rs.6.26 crore were opened in 1997 favouring Klen and Marshalls Manufacturers and Exporters, Mumbai, and bogus way bills were enclosed to show the movement and receipt of goods. — Special Correspondent

‘Economic rights disregarded’
Staff Reporter
Thrissur: Economic rights of the people have largely been disregarded in the country, P. Parameswaran, director of Bharatiya Vichara Kendra, has said.
He was addressing a discussion on ‘Global financial crisis and India’ organised by the Swadeshi Jagran Manch here on Friday. “Economic rights have not received as much attention as political rights did. Finding employment is a socio-economic right. It is as important as the right to vote. Global financial crisis has taught us that rampant industrialisation is not the solution to economic problems. The solution lies mainly in development of lakhs of villages in the country,” he added.
S. Gurumurthy, joint convener of the Manch, alleged that the U.S. government had concealed the financial crisis from its people and the rest of the world for nearly one-and-a-half years.

Seminar on Human Rights challenges
NEW DELHI: A two-day seminar on “Human rights challenges in contemporary world” organised by the Centre for Promotion of Human Rights Teaching and Research ended at Jawaharlal Nehru University here on Thursday.
Organised to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the seminar was inaugurated by veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, who underlined the need for sensitivity on the part of citizens for promotion and protection of human rights.

Government direction for tobacco ban
Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Government on Friday directed health and medical education officials to ensure strict ban on smoking at public places, official spokesman said.
The State Government, in exercise of powers conferred under Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003, has authorised officers to compound the offence, he said.
While the health directors have been authorised to deal with the offence at public places, medical superintendents and hospital administrators have been nominated as penal authorities at government and private hospitals.

SCI Judgements
Friday, December 12, 2008
Maharashtra State Judges Association & Ors. v. The Registrar General, High Court, High Court of Judicature at Bombay & Anr. WRIT PETITION (C) NO. 211 OF 2007 under Article 32 of the Constitution decided by K. G. BALAKRISHNAN CJI, R. V. RAVEENDRAN & J. M. PANCHAL, JJ. on DECEMBER 11, 2008
The following issues were involved in this case:
“The Maharashtra State Judges Association and some District Judges, have sought the following directions to the respondents:(i) to make an uniform single cadre of District Judges by merging theposts of District Judges, Addl. District Judges, City Civil Court Judges, 2Chief Judge and Addl. Chief Judges of Small Cause Court, with effect from13.11.1991 or alternatively with effect from 31.3.1994 (or furtheralternatively from 1.7.1996) with inter-se seniority being determined withreference to the date of entry into service in the said posts.(ii) to withdraw the Maharashtra Judicial Service (Seniority) Rules 2007(for short the `Rules’) and make rules in regard to seniority, in conformitywith the decision of this Court, by having a single uniform cadre of DistrictJudges (by merging the aforesaid multiple categories of posts) with effectfrom 13.11.1991 or 31.3.1994 or 1.7.1996; or in the alternative, to quash thesaid Rules in particular the proviso to Rule 4(1) of the said Rules.(iii) to withdraw the draft gradation list of District Judges circulated on30.3.2007 and make the said list as on 13.11.1991, or 31.3.1994 or 1.7.1996on the basis of entry of the Judicial Officers in the cadre as DistrictJudges/Addl. District Judges/City Civil Court Judges/Chief Judge and Addl.Chief Judges of Small Court.”
Punj Lloyd Limited v. Corporate Risks India Pvt. Ltd. CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1026 OF 2007 decided by TarunChatterjee & Harjit Singh Bedi, JJ. on December 11, 2008 involved the question as to whether the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission “was justified in dismissing the complaint in limine on the ground that the case involved disputes and questions which were contentious before issuing any notice to the respondent and without even prima facie going into the merits of the case.”
State of Bihar & Ors. v. Pandey Jagdishwar Prasad CIVIL APPEAL NO.7237 OF 2008 decided by TARUN CHATTERJEE & AFTAB ALAM, JJ. on DECEMBER 11, 2008 wherein it was held:
It has been held in a catena of judicial pronouncements that even if by mistake, higher pay scale was given to the employee, without there being misrepresentation or fraud, no recovery can be effected from the retiral dues in the monetary benefit available to the employee.
Posted by Badrinath at 10:21 AM

HC stays MSRDC tender condition on toll agents
13 Dec 2008, 0441 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande, TNN
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday stayed a tender condition introduced by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for appointing toll agents in the city. The court was hearing a petition filed by Sahkar Agencies, the highest bidder, which had challenged the agency’s decision to disqualify it after introducing a last minute eligibility clause. Terming the disqualification as illegal, the petitioner, represented by counsels Aspi Chinoy and Joquim Reis, had accused the MSRDC of favouring an existing cartel. Two months ago, the MSRDC invited tenders for the management and collection of toll at five entry points to the city. The toll stations are at Vashi on the Sion Panvel highway, Airoli Bridge, Mulund on the Eastern Express Highway, Mulund/Thane on the LBS Road and Dahisar on the Western Express Highway. The bid condition was a year’s experience of toll collection. A total of four parties had bid for the project, along with the existing agency-MEP Toll Roads Private Limited which has been managing the collection at all the five points in Mumbai for the last six years without any bidding process being followed. It was only on the directions of the high court in response to a petition that bids were invited this year. Elsewhere in the state, similar bids were invited and the eligibility criteria included experience in collection of octroi. For Mumbai too, bidders were told that experience in octroi collection would be considered valid. Just three days before the bids were to be opened on November 4, the MSRDC issued a letter saying experience in octroi collection will not be considered valid, Sahkar Agencies told the court. The petitioner has alleged that the `new qualification’ was introduced only to eliminate competition and help the existing contractors – MEP, bag the contract at the old 2002 rates. Sahkar Agencies have pleaded before the court that all bids be considered valid. Pointing out that MEP’s appointment would translate into huge losses for the state exchequer, counsels for the Sahkar Agencies told the court that its bid offer was Rs 112 crore per month while MEP’s was only Rs 78.3 crore. The MSRDC, through advocate general Ravi Kadam, defended its stand while Iqbal Chagla, appearing on behalf of MEP, refuted the petitioner’s charge of bias. After hearing the lawyers, a bench of Justices F I Rebello and R S Mohite on Friday stayed the November 1, 2008 letter and directed that Sahkar be considered as a responsive bidder and the bidding process be continued on that basis.

HC notice to GSPCB over mining lease
13 Dec 2008, 0430 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa has issued a notice to the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) in a petition challenging the validity of a mining lease for a iron and manganese ore mine at Caurem, Rivona. A Division Bench comprising Justice A P Deshpande and Justice N A Britto were hearing a public interest litigation filed by Goa Foundation, a non-governmental organization, alleging that the mines owned by one Salim Shaikh continue to operate without renewal of the mining lease. The petitioners advocate Norma Alvares informed the court that the mining lease had been granted to the mine owner in 1988 and had expired in 1998. The validity of a mining lease is only of 10 years and the mine owner has continued to extract ore without renewing the lease, she pointed out. The advocate general, Subodh Kantak, argued that as per a 1994 amendment to the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, the minimum lease period has been increased to 20 years. The court has adjourned the matter for further hearing to January.

Disallow passengers from sitting on roof of train: HC
13 Dec 2008, 0250 hrs IST, TNN
LUCKNOW: The High Court on Friday ordered the railway authorities to make sure that passengers donot sit on the roof of the bogey while travelling and ensure that the compartments are not over-crowded thereby endangering the life of the passengers. The court ordered the railway department officials to take immediate steps to ensure safety and security of its passengers. It declared the safety and security of the passengers as a fundamental right of the constitution of India. Allowing an appeal, the court directed the railways to give Rs 4 lakh with interest as the compensation to the family members of one Mohd Naim, who died in an accident on April 26, 1998. He had purchased a sleeper class ticket for Lakhimpur Kheri. Since there was huge crowd in the compartment and the gate was open, he adjusted himself at the door. All of sudden, there was a jerk and he fell down. His body was digged for more than 100 metres. Only underwear remained at his body at the time of police inquest. Naim’s mother Akhtari moved the railways tribunal for compensation but it declined because the ticket was not recovered from Naim. It was also said that he fell down because of his own fault. The HC set aside the tribunal’s order and ordered for four lakh compensation. The bench comprising Justice DP Singh and Satish Chandra expressed annoyance on selling more tickets than the seats. The court directed that if the passenger does not get accommodation after purchasing ticket, he shall be refunded the money. The court said that people travelling by air-conditioned coach, sleeper class or general compartment, are precious to their family and the nation as well. So without any discrimination, all the passengers must be provided proper safety and security. The HC directed the railways to use mechanic device and depute proper staff to ensure that the doors of the compartment are shut, when the train moves.

HC pulls up officials on hawkers issue
13 Dec 2008, 0240 hrs IST, TNN
CHENNAI: The Madras high court on Friday pulled up the commissioners of Chennai corporation and police for their failure to extend meaningful support to the court-appointed hawkers committee. The first bench comprising chief justice A K Ganguly and justice K Chandru, viewing the complaints of the committee chairman justice A Ramamurthy, said: “We are distressed to find that the authorities like the Chennai corporation commissioner and city police commissioner are not acting in a manner as to help the commissioner, who has been appointed by this court, to implement the scheme in relation to hawkers. We do not approve of such attitude and direct both the commissioners to strictly follow the directions given by the chairman.” The officials were also asked to file an affidavit indicating compliance of the court’s order, by December 19. The court had constituted the committee in 2006 to identify hawkers in various parts of the city and to rehabilitate them in exclusive hawkers’ zones in different regions. Justice Ramamurthy, the panel’s chairman, in a report to the court last month, said though he had sent representations and reports to various authorities, there was no proper response. He said the committee could not do any meaningful work due to the inaction on the part of the officials. Referring to the Allikulam complex, Anna Salai and Tiruvanmiyur hawker clusters, he said the hawkers were reluctant to occupy the alternative sites mainly due to the “pellmell condition” there. He said the police commissioner did not have time even to respond to the committee’s letters. The first bench expressed shock over the attitude of the officials. It then listed the recommendations of the committee, and asked the authorities to comply with the requirements expeditiously. Justice Ramamurthy had sought appointment of an officer exclusively to maintain the Allikulam complex and collect licence fee from hawkers. He said zonal officers of the corporation and the jurisdictional assistant commissioner of police should be held responsible if they were unable to evict hawkers from unauthorised places. The committee wanted fish vendors to be evicted from Vannanthturai market, to be accommodated behind Besant Nagar bus terminus. The corporation must be asked to complete construction of the Palavayal market at Ayana-varam and the multi-storeyed complex in Pondy Bazaar within a stipulated time, he said.

No power for unauthorised buildings: HC
13 Dec 2008, 0235 hrs IST, A Subramani, TNN
CHENNAI: An ingenious legal escape route, adopted by scores of commercial establishments to obtain electricity connections for their unauthorised structures, has finally been plugged. Putting an end to a string of rulings that helped multi-storeyed and special buildings to circumvent earlier judgments, the Madras high court on Friday set aside a single judge’s order directing the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) not to insist on a completion certificate (CC) or no objection certificate (NOC) to provide power connection to a mall in T Nagar. Already more than 600 buildings, most of them commercial establishments, have obtained similar orders from courts and consequently obtained electricity connections.

HC order to shut down tanneries
Statesman News Service KOLKATA, Dec 12 : The Division Bench of Mr SS Nijjar, Chief Justice and Mr Justice Sanjeeb Banerjee of Calcutta High Court today directed the state government to carry out a Supreme Court order of closing down tanneries operating in Tiljala, Topsia and Park Circus by Wednesday next. The state government will have to report the matter to the court on Thursday. The commissioner of police, Kolkata and the superintendent of police, South-24-Parganas were directed to assist the state government carrying out the order. The state government was further directed to sever the power connection of those domestic consumers whose lines are being used by these tanneries. Drawing electricity from domestic consumers, these tanneries were operating in contravention of an order of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in an order on 30 September, 1997, had directed these tanneries be shut down and shifted to Bantala. The Green Bench of the Calcutta High Court was further directed to monitor the order. The Division Bench appointed Mr Jaideep Kar as special officer last week following a PIL that the tanneries were operating in defiance of a Supreme Court order. The Division Bench passed this order after receiving the report of the special officer. Mr Maqbul Ahmed, who had moved the PIL, had annexed a letter of the chairman of the West Bengal Pollution Board to the chief secretary that the Supreme Court order was being violated. Mr Balai Roy, advocate-general submitted that the state government had had stopped the power and water supplies to these tanneries. But these tanneries had taken conection from some local domestic consumers.

HC fiat to FDA on imported cigarette packs
12 Dec 2008, 0349 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: A crackdown on imported cigarettes, which do not carry statutory health warnings, may be in order. Hearing a public interest litigation by NGO Crusade Against Tobacco, the Bombay high court on Thursday ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as customs officials to ensure that such cigarette packs were seized and confiscated. A division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Sharad Bobde also asked FDA’s zonal commissioners to file affidavits on the steps they had taken against foreign-made cigarette packs which violated rules. According to the petitioners, there are 85 types of foreign-made cigarettes that enter the country, either legally or are smuggled in, which do not have a statutory health warning as required under Indian law. Rules say every cigarette pack has to display a warning declaring: “Smoking is injurious to health.” The imported cigarettes also do not have details of the date of manufacture or the MRP. Government pleader Dharyasheel Nalawade submitted an affidavit of the public health department, informing the court that a 11-member Maharashtra State Anti-Tobacco Cell had been formed in 2004 to oversee the implementation of tobacco rules. The government had also empowered food inspectors of the FDA confiscate such products; 1,296 cases were registered in the last three years. Besides, police officers of the rank of sub-inspectors were empowered to initiate proceedings. Customs officials, in an affidavit, said cigarettes were allowed to be imported subject to a no-objection certificate from the port health officer and compliance with statutory warning stickers. It also added that 29 cases of seizure had been effected by the department in the past five years, a figure that the court found difficult to believe. The court also came down on the authorities, passing the buck for the implementation of the rules. “The shifting of blame between the state and customs officials has to come to an end,” said the judges.

Kapil pleads HC for pension from BCCI
Press Trust Of India
Posted on Dec 12, 2008 at 14:51
New Delhi: Former India captain Kapil Dev on Friday pleaded before the Delhi High Court that the BCCI should be directed to release pensions to him and other players who joined the rival Indian Cricket League (ICL).
Kapil accused the cricketing body of adopting delaying tactics in the legal proceedings after the BCCI sought adjournment in the matter.
The cricketer appeared before the Registrar (High Court) for being cross examined by the BCCI on the allegations levelled by him against the Board for allegedly taking punitive action against him and his ICL colleagues.
The Board, however, sought adjournment saying that due to recent terror attack in Mumbai and the then prevailing uncertainty over the England tour, it could not find sufficient time to prepare for the cross-examination of the cricketer.
Kapil, on his part, alleged that it was the delaying tactics of the Board which was more concerned about the England tour than the plight of former cricketers who served the nation.
“BCCI is not concerned about cricketers who served the nation but shows more concern about the ongoing series between India and England,” Kapil claimed.
“I just seek that pension of my colleagues be released. They are suffering due to Board’s action,” he alleged, adding, “The Board keeps taking dates in the matter and the proceeding is being delayed due to it.”
The BCCI, however, refuted the allegations and contended that this was the first time that an adjournment has been sought in the matter.
The Registrar, after heated arguments of advocates appearing for both Essel Sports Pvt Ltd, promoter of ICL, and BCCI adjourned the cross-examination of six witnesses, including Kapil Dev and former BCCI selector Kiran More.
The court fixed the cross-examinations for Kapil and others on January 16.

New anti-terror law on the anvil, says Bharadwaj
13 Dec 2008, 1513 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Government is mulling a new anti-terror law to more effectively deal with the scourge. The law ministry has sent a proposal to the home ministry and would very soon declare the contents of the law which will have “reasonable restrictions,” Union law minister H R Bhardwaj told reporters here on Saturday. The minister was non-commital on being asked whether the new legislation will come up before the ongoing session of Parliament, saying it has to be first cleared by the cabinet. Earlier, addressing the International Conference of Jurists on Terrorism, Rule of Law and Human Rights, Bhardwaj said time had come for a “really very effective” legislation to combat the menace in the aftermath of the Mumbai mayhem last month. “We would arm ourselves with laws specifically aimed at terrorist and disruptive elements. The government would very soon declare the contents of the law,” he said. The minister said the country never thought that it will face terrorism to such an extent. “But now the time has come for really very effective laws,” he said. Bhardwaj, however, hastened to add that the proposed law would not in any way infringe on Article 21 (Right to Liberty).”The law will be there with reasonable restrictions.”

HC thwarts cops’ attempt to mislead court with tampered report
Express News Service
Posted: Dec 14, 2008 at 2308 hrs IST
Chandigarh Several Ludhiana Police officers are in the dock for attempting to mislead the Punjab and Haryana High Court by tampering with the inquiry report of a criminal case.
The officers, including the Ludhiana Senior Superintendent of Police, allegedly prepared a backdated report and submitted it in the High Court in connection with a contempt petition filed against the SSP.
The petition had demanded that directions be issued to the Ludhiana Police to take action on a criminal complaint filed in 2007. The petitioners had alleged that a few men had fired gunshots at them and fled. “We identified the accused but no action was taken by the police,” stated the petition.
Aggrieved, they moved the High Court demanding contempt proceedings against the police officers.
On issuance of notices, the SSP produced a xerox copy of an undated inquiry report. Suspecting foul play, the High Court summoned the records. The original report was found to have two separate dates on it, written in different ink.
Raising his eyebrows, Justice Permod Kohli observed: “It appears that these two dates — September 2 under seal of SSP Ludhiana and August 31 under the stamp — have been inserted later. This is a very serious matter as the police seem to have tried to mislead this court. I direct the registrar to forward the documents to the Government Forensic Science Laboratory, Sector 36, Chandigarh, for examination.”
The laboratory has been ordered to file a compliance report within four weeks.
Park Plaza demolition: High Court stays MC’s showcause notice In a sigh of relief for Hotel Majestic Park Plaza, a unit of M/s Majestic Hotels Limited, Ferozepur Road, Ludhiana, the Punjab and Haryana High Court stayed a showcause notice issued by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation on December 5. The MC had asked the hotel to explain why it should not be sealed within three days as the hotel was not complying with the parking laws. Aggrieved of the showcause notice, M/s Majestic Hotels Limited had moved the High Court. The petition came up for hearing on Friday before a Division Bench comprising Justice K S Grewal and Justice Jitender Chauhan. After hearing the preliminary submissions of the counsel, the Bench issued notices to the Ludhiana Municipal Council for January 29. In Thursday’s General House meeting, Congress councillors had also staged a dharna criticising the “pick-and-choose policy” adopted by the Municipal Corporation. The MC authorities, however, maintained that hotel had violated parking bylaws and added that action will be taken against other erring hotels as well.On December 9, the Building Branch of the Municipal Corporation had demolished illegal constructions in a service lane outside Hotel Park Plaza. This land was allegedly being used as a parking lot by the hotel.

Man seeks child’s DNA test
13 Dec 2008, 0305 hrs IST, TNN
VELLORE: The birth of a baby, five months after a couple tied the knot, has threatened to break their marriage. The angry father, 30-year-old Venkatesan, is insisting the boy be put through a DNA test. According to police, Venkatesan of Guruvarajapalayam got married to 20-year- old Sathya on April 16. On September 8, Sathya gave birth to a baby boy. Shocked, Venkatesan sent his wife to her parents’ home and refused to accept her and the baby despite her pleas. Sathya told the cops that their engagement cermony was held four months before the marriage and that Venkatesan had stayed at her home sharing an intimate relationship with her before the nuptials. The husband, however, refused to buy her argument. When police suggested that the DNA test could be performed to ascertain the truth, Venkatesan agreed readily. He said he would accept his wife and baby boy if the DNA tests proved he was the father of the baby. Sathya has filed a complaint with the all-women police station in Vellore. In her petition, she complained that her husband was threatening to assault her if she came home with the baby. The police have filed a case against him for cruelty, criminal intimidation and criminal breach of trust. The police will have to wait for the baby to complete three months before taking him and his parents for a DNA test in Chennai after obtaining a request letter from a magistrate to conduct the test, officials said.

Judiciary will show no leniency to polluters of environment: SC
13 Dec 2008, 0318 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: The judiciary will show no leniency to those polluting environment or adversely affecting public health and aquatic life, said the Supreme Court on Friday in a hard-hitting judgment, while giving the green light to the prosecution of a carpet firm official after more than 20 years. “The message must go to all concerned persons, whether small or big, that the courts will share parliamentary concern and legislative intent of the Environment Protection Act to check escalating pollution level and restore the balance in our environment,” said a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam. Lapse of long period could not be the reason to absolve offenders from the trial, said the Bench and allowed an appeal by the UP Pollution Control Board challenging an Allahabad High Court order quashing its complaint against the firm and the managing officials. Despite repeated reminders for construction of an effluent treatment plant, Modi Carpets at Rae Bareli continued to dischare untreated industrial waste into river Sai and the board lodged a complaint with the trial court in 1984. The management of the firm approached the HC, which stayed the proceedings in 1985 and then in 2004 quashed the board’s complaint. Writing the judgment for the Bench allowing prosecution of the joint managing director of the firm, Justice Sathasivam said: “In a matter of this nature, particularly when it affects public health if it is ultimately proved, courts cannot afford to deal lightly with cases involving pollution of air and water.” Those discharging noxious polluting effluents into streams, rivers or any other water body inflict public health at large and should be dealt with strictly de hors (instead of dwelling into) the technical objection, he said. “Since escalating pollution level of our environment affects the life and health of human beings as well as animals, the courts should not deal with the prosecution for offences under the pollution and environmental laws in a casual or routine manner,” the apex court said faulting the HC order quashing the complaint against the top manager of the carpet firm.

MPs seek ‘judicial accountability’
As reported in on 12 December 2008:DNA – India – MPs seek ‘judicial accountability’ – Daily News & Analysis
NEW DELHI: Members in the Rajya Sabha on Friday pitched for judicial reforms, seeking “accountability” of judges and application of the Right to Information Act to all wings of the judiciary.Participating in a debate on a private member’s resolution on judicial reforms, members cutting across party lines sought speedy disposal of cases, reappraisal of the appointment procedure of judges and filling up of vacancies.Calling for more High Court and Supreme Court benches, they said that the RTI Act should be applicable to all wings of the judiciary. At present, only the administrative branch is subjected to the RTI. Moving the resolution, Vijay Darda (Congress) said that 1.5 crore cases were pending in different courts.”Sixty per cent of the judges in High Courts are appointed through a system in which favouritism and corruption can take place. Such discretion should not be more than 10 per cent in any case,” he said.D. Raja (CPI) said it was disturbing to see “corruption” in judiciary. “There has to be a judicial accountability,” he said. Abhishek Singhvi (Congress) demanded application of the RTI Act to all sections of the judiciary. Rama Jois (BJP) favoured the same, saying that it would increase efficiency and help in fast disposal of cases.Singhvi favoured increase in remuneration at lower level of judiciary, which clears most of the cases. “The lower judiciary is in a bad shape,” he said, adding that the judges-to-people ratio was abysmal. For one million people, there were 11 judges, when there should be a minimum of 50, he said. Rajniti Prasad (RJD) said “nepotism” should be curbed in judiciary, while S S Ahluwalia (BJP) demanded frequent adjournments be stopped. He asked why the same court fee is charged from the poor as well as the rich corporates.Shantaram Naik (Congress) alleged that public interest litigations (PILs) are being admitted without guidelines and court-appointed committees are taking over the functions of government departments.

Mayawati gives one concession, takes two reliefs from SC
13 Dec 2008, 0319 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Give one and take two. That was precisely the strategy of the Mayawati government in the Supreme Court on Friday when it came to having its say on the affairs of the controversy-marred 101-acre Smriti Upvan, named in memory of martyrs of the 1999 Kargil conflict between India and Pakistan. The repeated stalling of the government’s plan, first to rename the park as Manyavar Kanshiram Ji Smriti Upvan and later, to carve out 20 acres from the sprawling park for development purposes, irked the Mayawati regime no end and it decided to challenge all the interim orders of the HC before the SC. It succeeded to a large extent by conceding before a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and P Sathasivam that it would not insist on changing the name of the park. After the concession, the Bench stayed two other interim orders giving a virtual free hand to the state to undertake even permanent constructions inside the park, although it would be at its risk. The Bench, while staying the HC order stopping all constructions of permanent nature within the greens, said any alteration of the land development plan and subsequent constructions would be subject to the outcome of the PILs on the issue pending before the HC. The Mayawati government was present in full strength being represented by senior advocates Harish Salve, Satish Chandra Mishra and additional advocate general Shail K Dwivedi. Salve minced no words in describing the spate of litigations on Smriti Upvan as a “some kind of battle taken up by the HC to stop the executive from doing its job in town-planning”. “Surely the state government is legally empowered to change the town planning and demarcate a portion of a particular land for another public purpose,” he said. This argument invited strong objection from senior advocate Rajiv Datta, who appeared for the petitioner who has filed the PILs before the HC. He said it would not be legally prudent to allow the state government to undertake permanent constructions in the park as the apex court in its earlier order had only permitted temporary constructions. However, the Bench issued notice to the PIL petitioner and stayed the interim orders of the HC dated October 14 and November 19 on the undertaking of the Mayawati government not to change the name of the park.

SC transfers Sikh riots related case against Tytler to Delhi
13 Dec 2008, 0325 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday transferred a defamation complaint case against former Union minister Jagdish Tytler from Ludhiana to the Patiala House courts in Delhi. The transfer of the defamation case filed by senior advocate H S Phoolka against Tytler was transferred by a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam, which took note of the politician’s apprehension that he might not get a fair trial in the Punjab city because of the prevailing hostile atmosphere againsty him there. The defamation case was filed by Phoolka after Tytler in a TV interview, given after the Nanavati Commission inquiring into the 1984 Sikh riots issued notice to him, accused the senior advocate of procuring false witnesses to blackmail him. Tytler, unsuccessful before the Punjab and Haryana High Court to get the case transferred to any court in Haryana, had moved the SC in appeal and reiterated his request. On the consent of Phoolka, the SC transferred the case to Delhi instead of Haryana. Meanwhile, Phoolka has filed another application in the SC seeking action against Tytler for filing a false affidavit alleging that a large group of Sikh activists at the Ludhiana court had virtually prevented his lawyer from entering the court room. Phoolka’s counsel Shanti Bhushan contended that it was a false claim as there was no gathering of people against him in the trial court and that the demonstrations took place away from the court complex.

SC announces free legal aid for terror victims
Posted on : 13 December 2008 by Kalpana
Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan directed the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority to provide free legal aid to dependants of all those affected in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks.It is for the first time that the Supreme Court has come forward to help the families of the terror victims by giving them legal assistance to overcome the aftermath of the attacks. It has communicated to the Ministry of Law and Justice to amend section 12 of the Legal Service Authorities Act, 1987, to include senior citizens, dependant families of armed forces personnel and paramilitary forces.The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), headed by the Chief Justice and Supreme Court Judge Arjit Pasayat, has announced to give free legal help to any person who was a victim of terrorist and extremist violence or riots.G M Akbar Ali, member secretary of NALSA, said they will appoint a sitting or retired judge at the State Legal Service Authority in Mumbai. The victims would also be provided with help of a panel of lawyers. Help from psychiatrists counselors and social activists actively involved in the rehabilitation of the victims, will also be taken up.In a meeting held by NALSA in the Supreme Court, Mr Balakrishnan and Justice Pasayat, along with other members, had decided to impart legal aid to the families of all those who lost their lives in the attacks.Adarsh Kumar, under secretary and public information officer of NALSA said following the attacks, many security personnel and others had lost their lives. NALSA will provide all sorts of help for them to get compensation, medical treatment, death certificates, Legal heir certificates, identity of missing people, insurance claims, workman compensation, recovering of movable and immovable properties and other benefit schemes from state or central governments, he added.UNI

PIL restraining television media on terror attacks filed in Supreme Court
Posted on : 13 December 2008 by Y.Prakash
A public interest writ petition has been filed yesterday by one Shekar G Devasa, an Advocate practicing in Supreme Court of India restraining the television media from facilitating or relaying communication from suspected or apprehended terrorists to their viewers in India forthwith and the same is likely to come up for admission in the course of next week. It is submitted in the writ petition that of the 404 television channels licensed to operate in India, a number of News and Current Affairs channels have engaged in conduct that is detrimental to the nation’s fight against terror. With respect to the recent Mumbai attacks, they have put assaulting terrorists on air to freely express their views and to state what motivated them to do so, have declared exclusivity in unraveling more sinister bids upon the country by relaying the confessions of ‘arrested terrorist’, have themselves connected several ongoing investigations, formed their own ‘television conclusions’ and have consulted banned terrorist outfits to support ‘television conclusions’, have aired inflammatory speeches of leaders of banned terrorist outfits and have freely offered airtime to suspected terrorists to declare their innocence and have performed many more acts that portray and magnify terrorists’ actions even while according minimal role to the institution of our Government.The present Writ Petition is filed under Article 32 of the Constitution for the protection of a fundamental and paramount right of citizens to public peace, to compel the Government, in the light of a failure of its duty to restrain the media, to restrain the television media from relaying or disseminating messages and communication from suspected terrorists.The writ petition is filed through K.V.Dhananjay, Advocate.
Source : lawyersclubindia –

High court quashes appointment of consumer panel chairman
Posted on : 13 December 2008 by Aravinthan Ganesan
Chennai: The Madras high court has quashed the appointment of Justice N Kannadasan, a former additional judge of the court, as chairman of the Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.Due consultation process, involving the state government and the chief justice of the Madras high court, had not taken place prior to Justice Kannadasan’s selection, a division bench said. “Consultation is required to be meaningful and not merely a lip service,” the bench said.Justice Kannadasan was appointed additional judge of the court in November 2003, but his initial two-year tenure was neither extended nor confirmed after November 2005. Unless additional judge is made permanent or his service is extended by the supreme court, he will cease to be a judge.Nearly a year after Kannadasan ceased to be a judge, the state government appointed him additional advocate-general. Earlier this year, the High Court included his name in the list of retired/former judges, leaving him eligible for being considered for appointment to the post of presiding officer/chairman of commissions and tribunals. On July 26, 2008 he was appointed chairman of the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.A ‘quo warranto’ petition was filed against him by some advocates, seeking to show-cause under what authority he held the post. Other petitions challenged the validity of the government order appointing him as a retired judge. While the petitioners claimed that the services of Justice Kannadasan were not confirmed on grounds of unsuitability and that he was found wanting in intellectual and moral requirements to be a judge, the former judge said the petitions were motivated. The state government said he was selected because he alone could have served the entire period of five years as the chairman.A division bench comprising Justice Prafulla Kumar Misra and Justice A Kulasekaran, holding that the consultation process was not in accordance with law, said the proposal to appoint a chairman to the panel should have emanated from the chief justice and not the state government. Also, the proper course is for a chief justice to recommend the name of a sitting or a retired judge. The chief justice has failed to discharge an “onerous duty”, the bench said, adding that the present selection had become vulnerable due to non-consideration of vital facts that led to the non-confirmation of Justice Kannadasan in 2005.
Source : Times of India –

Cases under RTI Act
Posted on : 12 December 2008 by Y.Prakash
Since its inception, the Central Information Commission has received 24145 complaints and appeals upto 30.09.2008. 8670 cases were pending for disposal as on 30.09.2008 for reasons like shortage of Information Commissioners vis-à-vis the workload. All cases of appeals and complaints to the Commission involve delay or denial of information. Information about number of show cause notices issued for imposition of penalties is not maintained. Penalties have, however, been imposed in 211 cases.In seven cases financial penalty was withdrawn after imposition. Government has recently appointed four more Information Commissioners in the Commission with a view to step up the disposal of cases as well as for effective implementation of RTI Act. This information was given by the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Shri Prithviraj Chavan in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

Amendments to the Disability Laws
Posted on : 12 December 2008 by Y.Prakash
The Government has taken various steps towards amending the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. The National Consultation for amending the Act was initiated in June, 2006 with the first consultation meeting at Patna with State Governments, experts NGOs and stakeholders. The second meeting was held in July, 2006 at Chennai and thereafter there were demands from stakeholders that the consultation process may be kept in abeyance till India signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This demand was accepted and the consultation process was again resumed after India signed the UNCRPD on 30th March, 2007. The last two consultation meetings were held at Delhi and Goa in August and November, 2007 respectively. The suggestions received during the consultation meetings as well as provisions of the UNCRPD are being considered for amendment of the Act. This information was given by the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today.

Parliament Passes Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) Bill 2008
Posted on : 12 December 2008 by Y.Prakash
Parliament has passed the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) Bill 2008. Lok Sabha today gave its assent to the Bill which was earlier passed by the Rajya Sabha. Replying to the debate on the Bill in the Lok Sabha, Shri Prem Chand Gupta, Minister for Corporate Affairs, expressed the hope that the first ever LLP in the country would be registered by the first day of the new Financial Year i.e. 1.4.2009. In this context he informed the Hose that concept LLP Rules have already been placed on the website of the Ministry. Shri Gupta also assured the House that registration of LLPs will also be a paperless affair as it will also be covered under MCA-21 e-governance program of the Ministry. Regarding taxation, Shri Gupta said that as the matter relates to the Finance Ministry, this concern will be taken care of by that Ministry, but he assured the House that Indian LLPs will in no way be put to any disadvantage and our LLPs will have a level playing field with other similar bodies outside the country. LLP is a new corporate form that enables professional expertise and entrepreneurial initiative to combine, organize and operate in an innovative and efficient manner. For a long time, a need has been felt to provide for a business format that would combine the flexibility of a partnership and the advantages of limited liability of a company at a low compliance cost. The Limited Liability Partnership format is an alternative corporate business vehicle that provides the benefits of limited liability of a company but allows its members the flexibility of organizing their internal management on the basis of a mutually arrived agreement, as is the case in a partnership firm. This format would be quite useful for small and medium enterprises in general and for the enterprises in services sector in particular. Internationally, LLPs are the preferred vehicle of business particularly for service industry or for activities involving professionals. In our country, several expert groups have examined the need for such a concept since 1972 and recommended from time to time, the enactment of a law that would enable the setting up and functioning of the LLPs. These include the Abid Hussain Committee 1997, the Naresh Chandra Committee on Private Companies and Partnerships 2003 and the Irani Committee for new Company Law, 2005. As proposed in the Bill, LLP shall be a body corporate and a legal entity separate from its partners. It will have perpetual succession. While the LLP will be a separate legal entity, liable to the full extent of its assets, the liability of the partners would be limited to their agreed contribution in the LLP. Further, no partner would be liable on account of the independent or unauthorized actions of other partners, thus allowing individual partners to be shielded from joint liability created by another partner’s wrongful business decisions or misconduct. Today, the world is in the grip of an unprecedented financial crisis, which is adversely affecting economies of most of the countries, including our own. In such a situation, availability of LLP as an alternative business vehicle to our trade and industry will be an important step. Service industry has grown considerably in India and it accounts for nearly half of our GDP. We believe that the LLPs would further contribute to the growth of the service industry in the future. An earlier version of the LLP Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha around 2 years ago on 15th December, 2006 and was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance. The Standing Committee submitted its report on 27th November, 2007. Taking into consideration the suggestions of the August Committee, the revised Bill, namely the Limited Liability Partnership Bill, 2008 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 21st October, 2008. The House passed it on 24th October, 2008. The salient features of the LLP Bill, 2008 are as under:- (i) The LLP will be an alternative corporate business vehicle that would give the benefits of limited liability but would allow its members the flexibility of organizing their internal structure as a partnership based on an agreement. (ii) The proposed Bill does not restrict the benefit of LLP structure to certain classes of professionals only and would be available for use by any enterprise which fulfills the requirements of the Act. (iii) While the LLP will be a separate legal entity, liable to the full extent of its assets, the liability of the partners would be limited to their agreed contribution in the LLP. Further, no partner would be liable on account of the independent or un-authorized actions of other partners, thus allowing individual partners to be shielded from joint liability created by another partner’s wrongful business decisions or misconduct. (iv) LLP shall be a body corporate and a legal entity separate from its partners. It will have perpetual succession. Indian Partnership Act, 1932 shall not be applicable to LLPs and there shall not be any upper limit on number of partners in an LLP unlike a ordinary partnership firm where the maximum number of partners can not exceed 20. (iv) An LLP shall be under obligation to maintain annual accounts reflecting true and fair view of its state of affairs. Since tax matters of all entities in India are addressed in the Income Tax Act, 1961, the taxation of LLPs shall be addressed in that Act. (v) Provisions have been made in the Bill for corporate actions like mergers, amalgamations etc. (vii) While enabling provisions in respect of winding up and dissolutions of LLPs have been made in the Bill, detailed provisions in this regard would be provided by way of rules under the Act.

Law Commission Report on Indian Succession Act
Posted on : 12 December 2008 by Y.Prakash
The Law Commission of India in its 209th Report (July 2008) on “Proposal for omission of section 213 from the Indian Succession Act, 1925” has observed that there is discrimination in respect of wills made by Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jainas or Parsis, where the will is made within the territories of the ordinary original civil jurisdiction of the High Courts of Judicature at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay and where such wills are made outside those territories, in so far as they relate to immovable properties situated within those territories. Therefore, the Commission is of the opinion that section 213 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 is liable to be struck down as being violative of article 15 of the Constitution of India and the Commission has, accordingly, recommended to repeal section of 213 altogether from the statute. The said Report has been circulated to the State Governments for their comments. This information was given by Shri H.R.Bhardwaj, Minister of Law and Justice, in the Lok Sabha today in a written reply to a question by Shrimati Maneka Gandhi.

Permanent Court of Arbitration in India
Posted on : 12 December 2008 by Y.Prakash
The Government has signed an agreement with Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), the Hague to open its regional facility in India. The main terms and conditions of the agreement are: (i) India shall be a host country for the PCA in order to facilitate the work of the PCA in the peaceful resolution of international disputes through arbitration, mediation, conciliation and fact finding commissions of inquiry and in providing other appropriate assistance to governments, inter-governmental organizations, and other entities. (ii) The Government of India shall also facilitate PCA’s securing office, secretarial services, etc. The PCA its officials and adjudicators shall enjoy the same privileges and immunities as those accorded to the officials of the United Nations in India in conformity with Article V of the U.N. Convention. However, the Secretary General of the PCA shall take every precaution to ensure that there is no abuse of the privileges and immunities and in case of abuse or violation of residence obligations according to the laws of Republic of India, the Government may require the individuals concerned to leave the country according to applicable diplomatic procedure. (iii) The Republic of India shall not incur any international responsibility for the acts or omissions of the PCA or its officials. (iv) In case any dispute is not settled by negotiations, the same shall be settled by final and binding arbitration in accordance with the PCA Optional Rules. (v) The appointing authority for arbitrators shall be the President of the International Court of Justice. (vi) The agreement signed between the Government and PCA may also be terminated by their mutual consent or by either Party by giving notice to the other party at least one year in advance of the effective date of termination. The establishment of the Regional Facility in New Delhi would be beneficial to India. It would provide a forum for international arbitrations concerning disputes arising in the region, both in disputes between two States and in disputes between a State and non-State entity, such as foreign companies which have made investments in the region. Besides, the costs of international arbitration will be reduced which would also encourage more frequent recourse to arbitration as a means of settling disputes. It would also enable more legal experts from India to participate in arbitrations conducted under the auspices of the Regional Facility and to acquire expertise in this field which would also have beneficial effect on domestic arbitration. This information was given by Shri H.R.Bhardwaj, Minister of Law and Justice, in the Lok Sabha today in a written reply to a question by Shri Chandra Bhushan Singh.

Warrant against Abu Salem
12 Dec 2008, 1949 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Friday issued a production warrant against underworld don Abu Salem after the Mumbai police failed to produce him in an extortion case. The warrant was issued by the court directing the Arthur Road Jail authorities in Mumbai to produce Salem before it on January 16. Salem, who last appeared here on November 26, has been lodged in the Mumbai jail after being extradited from Portugal in 2005. During his last production here, the court had provided a copy of chargesheet to him and directed the Mumbai police to produce him in connection with the case on Friday. Besides Salem, three other accused C P Rai, Sadiq Ali and Istiyaq Ahmed have been booked for making threat calls to Rajat Nagrath owner of Allied Communication at East of Kailash here demanding Rs one crore in 2002. Another court, which is hearing Ashok Gupta extortion case registered under stringent law MCOCA against Salem, also adjourned the hearing for December 16. The don is facing trial in eight cases including the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and two murder cases.

PIL against Narayan Rane for his statement on terror attack
A city-based advocate has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeking a direction from the High Court to rebel Congress leader and former Maharashtra revenue minister Narayan Rane to disclose names of the politicians, who he claimed had provided financial assistance and logistic support to the terrorists involved in the 26/11 strikes on the metropolis.Advocate Amin Solkar has filed the PIL, which will come up for hearing on december 18, when the court will also hear two more petitions on the terror attack.In the PIL, Solkar has said while addressing media persons, Rane had indicated that he will reveal the names of certain leaders who had provided financial and logistical support to the Pakistani terrorists at an appropriate time.Solkar said withholding information on the commissioning of an offence from police or a magistrate is a crime under section 39 of the Criminal Procedure code. Concealment of sensitive information relating to a grave offence, itself amounts to an offence by Mr Rane, he said. UNI

PIL suggests tech war on terror
13 Dec 2008, 0502 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande, TNN
MUMBAI: A PIL filed in Bombay High Court on Friday suggested the use of technology to thwart future terror attacks. Filed by cyber guru Vijay Mukhi and Sarla Parekh, who lost her only son and daugher-in-law to the terrorists’ bullets at Taj Mahal hotel, the petition outlined 12 concrete e-security measures for Mumbai to prevent future attacks. Given that terrorists are increasingly found to be tech-savvy, technology needs to be used to counter such threats, the PIL said. Some measures suggested include e-surveillance, GPS, mobile phone forensics, virtual cyber police, computer forensic CCTVs at public places, encryption codes.Other measures internet and e-Mail surveillance; generate real-time passwords for Voice Over Internet Protocol or the police will have no idea what the conversation is; create software that can read or download everything present in the memory of a mobile phone; break encryption and create one’s own algorithms. The petition said that faced with serious terror threats many western countries have implemented state-of-art technology. The US, after 9/11, used technology extensively to prevent further terror attacks, the petition said. Anticipating a likely government response of budgetary constraints, the petitioners mentioned the 12-point e-security agenda would cost the city only RS 50 crore to initiate. The PIL has asked the court to appoint an expert committee that would be empowered to implement the recommendations in a timebound manner.

Govt gets more time to file submissions
13 Dec 2008, 0424 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa on Friday granted the state government further time till December 15 for filing its written submissions in the public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the appointment of parliamentary secretaries and conferring of cabinet status. The court was hearing a PIL filed by Aires Rodrigues challenging the appointments of MLAs Nilkanth Harlankar and Francisco Silveira as parliamentary secretaries and conferring of cabinet status on EDC chairman and MLA Agnelo Fernandes, deputy chairman of Goa Planning Board Wilfred de Souza and commissioner of NRI affairs Eduardo Faleiro. The court had on November 21 granted two weeks time to all the parties for filing their written submissions. However, on Friday, the state government approached the court with an application seeking extension of time. The court granted time to the government on an assurance by advocate general Subodh Kantak that the government will file submissions by December 15.

Court asks PGI to prepare list of its demands from govt
Express News Service
Posted: Dec 14, 2008 at 0017 hrs IST
Chandigarh The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the PGI to file an affidavit listing what all it requires for smooth and proper functioning.
The directions were passed by a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Jasbir Singh on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the World Human Rights Protection Council, located in Sector 10-A.
The petitioner had sought directions to the UT Administration and the PGI to fix the responsibility in the case of Rakesh, a patient who died in Manimajra while being taken to Solan in an ambulance on September 13.
The petitioner sought appropriate action against persons responsible for the death.
On the last date of hearing, the High Court had directed PGI to submit a report against the PIL. The status report was filed today, wherein the hospital refuted the allegations of medical negligence. The hospital’s counsel submitted that Rakesh was stable when he was referred to Solan.
Countering the stand taken by the PGI, Ranjan Lakhanpal, the petitioner and chairman of the NGO, submitted that the patient died within an hour of being referred to another hospital.
The Bench then asked the counsel appearing for the PGI to explain how Rakesh’s condition could be stable when he died within an hour of being taken to another hospital.
The PGI authorities then took the plea that it was short of beds and staff.
Thereafter, the Bench asked the PGI to file an affidavit listing the deficiencies in the hospital and the requirements which need to be fulfilled by the government.
The Chandigarh Administration has also been issued notices on the PIL.

PIL against GSIDC plots dismissed
13 Dec 2008, 0404 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa on Friday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the plots developed by Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC) for 20 Point Programme at Nagoa, Verna. A Division Bench comprising Justice A P Deshpande and Justice N A Britto were hearing a public interest litigation filed by Franky Monteiro and two others stating that land acquired by GSIDC cannot be used for any public purpose except for setting up an industrial estate. The petitioners had alleged that minister for power Alex Sequeira, from Loutolim constituency, wanted to allot plots under the 20 point programme to influence voters as the last assembly elections were due. The allotments were done without following the due process of law, they pointed out. The government had acquired 36 lakh sq m of land adjoining the Verna Industrial Estate for handing over to the Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC). Subsequently, the government had allotted one lakh square metres of the land to the GSIDC for development of plots under the 20 point programme. While dismissing the petition, the court held that the land acquired for one public purpose can be used by the government for any other public purpose including housing schemes for the weaker sections of society.

BMC ready to keep an eye on dangerous waters
13 Dec 2008, 0359 hrs IST, SUKHADA TATKE, TNN
MUMBAI: After a delay of almost two years, the BMC has finally chalked out its `Baywatch’ model to ensure safety at five of the major beaches – Juhu, Marve, Madh, Aaksa and Gorai – in the city. NGO Janhit Manch filed a PIL in the Bombay high court in early 2006, after several beach deaths sparked off debates on inadequate security measures near the sea and the steps that were required to be taken. After that, a year ago, the state passed a government resolution (GR) on implementing safety norms for beaches, complete with life guards, search lights, watch towers and patrolling. Following the GR, the court disposed of the PIL in September last year. However, almost a year has gony by since the GR was passed but nothing seemed to have changed, said experts. The new model includes deploying trained life guards on every beach, installing watch towers and having life and rescue boats, essential equipments such as binoculars, life-saving kits and communication systems ready for emergency. Moreover, people will not be allowed to go beyond a point on the beach between 6 pm and 10 pm. “Every year, there are 10 people who drown in the city. Some spots at Juhu and Aaksa beaches, though not near the sea shore, are very dangerous. For this, we have to stop people from going on to the beach, especially in the evening,” added Gajbhiye. “There was a delay in implementing the security measures, but now they will be in place within six months. Two bidders__Drushti Special Response Services and Causeway Marine India Pvt Ltd__have applied for the project. Drushti, which has already made a small presentation, are into a similar project for beaches in Goa,” said additional municipal commissioner Kishore Gajbhiye. “After the bidders submit their project report, one of them will be finalised.” The entire project, which is estimated to cost the BMC Rs 1 crore-Rs 1.5 crore per year, was planned after inputs from national experts. The civic body will pay the amount required initially and will also be in charge of maintenance and then the company will take them forward.

PIL suggests tech war on terror
13 Dec 2008, 0502 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande, TNN
MUMBAI: A PIL filed in Bombay High Court on Friday suggested the use of technology to thwart future terror attacks. Filed by cyber guru Vijay Mukhi and Sarla Parekh, who lost her only son and daugher-in-law to the terrorists’ bullets at Taj Mahal hotel, the petition outlined 12 concrete e-security measures for Mumbai to prevent future attacks. Given that terrorists are increasingly found to be tech-savvy, technology needs to be used to counter such threats, the PIL said. Some measures suggested include e-surveillance, GPS, mobile phone forensics, virtual cyber police, computer forensic CCTVs at public places, encryption codes.Other measures internet and e-Mail surveillance; generate real-time passwords for Voice Over Internet Protocol or the police will have no idea what the conversation is; create software that can read or download everything present in the memory of a mobile phone; break encryption and create one’s own algorithms. The petition said that faced with serious terror threats many western countries have implemented state-of-art technology. The US, after 9/11, used technology extensively to prevent further terror attacks, the petition said. Anticipating a likely government response of budgetary constraints, the petitioners mentioned the 12-point e-security agenda would cost the city only RS 50 crore to initiate. The PIL has asked the court to appoint an expert committee that would be empowered to implement the recommendations in a time bound manner.

NCW finalising two draft bills on domestic workers’ welfare
New Delhi, Dec 12: National Commission for Women is finalising two draft bills for regulating the functioning of placement agencies to provide social security and other benefits to the domestic workers including tribal women, Lok Sabha was informed on Friday. The NCW “is in process of finalising two draft bills for regulating the functioning of placement agencies and for providing social security and other benefits to the domestic workers including tribal women,” Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Rameshwar Oraon said in a written reply to a question. He said the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has too constituted a working group to study the situation and suggest “preventive measures” if tribal women employed as domestic workers in big cities are also subjected to exploitation. Minister was replying to a question about the “remedial measures” being taken by the government to deal with the reports of exploitation of tribal women who are engaged as domestic workers. Oraon, however, denied having received any report about “alarming number of cases of exploitation of tribal women belonging to southern states” of the country. Bureau Report

Uttar Pradesh tops in crimes against women: minister
Friday, December 12, 2008
New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) The national capital is second only to Uttar Pradesh in crime against women cases, Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury informed the Lok Sabha Friday.
Renuka Chowdhury, citing data provided by the National Commission for Women (NCW), said the total number of such cases in Delhi in 2008 stood at 724.
The NCW put the total number of cases, including rape, torture for dowry and harassment against women, in Uttar Pradesh at 2,381. It is the highest in the country in 2008.
Chowdhury told the Lok Sabha Friday that there has been an increase in the number of cases of crime against women over the last three years in the country.
‘The data available with the NCW indicates an increase in the number of complaints received on dowry, rape and harassment against women,’ Chowdhury said.
Across the country in 2006, the total number of such cases was 2,155 which increased to 4,218 the following year. This further went up to 4,712 in 2008.
In Delhi, the cases of crime against women were recorded at 343 in 2006, 539 in 2007, and 724 in 2008.
Chowdhury added: ‘The increase in the number of complaints may be due to increased awareness.’
The NCW, according to the minister, has proposed amendments to the Dowry Prohibition Act and laws relating to rape to make these more stringent.
‘A legislation against sexual harassment of women at workplaces is also on the anvil,’ she said.
Posted by Business Daily at 6:21 AM

LEGAL NEWS 12.12.2008

SC reserves judgment on HC power for CBI probe
Statesman News Service NEW DELHI, Dec. 11: The Supreme Court today reserved its judgment with regard to the powers of the High Court ordering a CBI inquiry without the consent of the state government concerned. A five-judge Constitution Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr KG Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran, Mr DK Jain, Mr P Sathasivam and Mr JM Panchal, reserved their judgment on a batch of petitions after hearing the counsel for the parties. The petitioners, including state of West Bengal, Mr G Janardhan Reddy and others have contended that the High Court cannot order a CBI inquiry unless and until the state government agrees, which the state should decide on the basis of its assessment of the situation. Solicitor General Mr GE Vahanvati, appearing for the Union government, however, argued that while under Article 226 of the Constitution, the High Court has the powers to direct any independent investigating agency, including the CBI, to ensure free and fair investigation in a case even without the consent of the state government, the SC can entertain petitions for CBI investigation under Article 32 of the Constitution only in case of violation of Fundamental rights of a citizen.

HC adjourn’s hearing on appeal against Raj’s bail order
12 Dec 2008, 0343 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court adjourned the hearing on the state government’s appeal against Raj Thackeray’s anticipatory bail order to next Thursday.
Raj’s legal team comprising Sayaji Nangre sought time as their main counsel was unwell. However, the case in which traders have demanded action against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) men who threatened shopkeepers over Marathi signboards, could not come up for hearing on Thursday.
As directed by the court, several senior police officers including DCPs were present. State’s special counsel A V Gangal came prepared with affidavits citing the steps the government has taken against the arrested MNS men.

Warrant against Abu Salem
12 Dec 2008, 1949 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Friday issued a production warrant against underworld don Abu Salem after the Mumbai police failed to produce him in an extortion case. The warrant was issued by the court directing the Arthur Road Jail authorities in Mumbai to produce Salem before it on January 16. Salem, who last appeared here on November 26, has been lodged in the Mumbai jail after being extradited from Portugal in 2005. During his last production here, the court had provided a copy of chargesheet to him and directed the Mumbai police to produce him in connection with the case on Friday. Besides Salem, three other accused C P Rai, Sadiq Ali and Istiyaq Ahmed have been booked for making threat calls to Rajat Nagrath owner of Allied Communication at East of Kailash here demanding Rs one crore in 2002. Another court, which is hearing Ashok Gupta extortion case registered under stringent law MCOCA against Salem, also adjourned the hearing for December 16. The don is facing trial in eight cases including the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and two murder cases.

SC notice to Centre to equip police
12 Dec 2008, 1936 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on a PIL seeking direction for equipping police and security forces with modern weapons and devices to combat and counter terror attacks like the one in Mumbai. A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan sought response from the Ministry of Home Affairs on the petition filed by former Attorney General (AG) Soli J Sorabjee alleging that the terrorist attacks in Mumbai have exposed that weapons used by police are no match to the arms and ammunition carried by the terrorists. Earlier, the Bench, which also includes Justice P Sathasivam, was of the view that arming police personnel with sophisticated weapons like AK 47 at public places would only scare people. “Police should be equipped with modern weapons but at the sensitive places. In public places like the railway stations arming police with AK 47 would only scare people,” the Bench observed during the brief hearing when the PIL was mentioned. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for Sorabjee, finally convinced the Bench to issue the notice. After Rohatgi narrated incidents of the November 26 Mumbai terror attacks, particularly with reference to shooting at Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus, where the ill-equipped police failed to counter the offensive of the terrorists, the Bench agreed to issue notice asking the Centre to respond within a week so that the matter could

Mumbai police get Fahim Ansari’s custody
12 Dec 2008, 1920 hrs IST, IANS
LUCKNOW: The Mumbai police on Friday got custody of suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba activist Fahim Ansari, who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police for an attack on a paramilitary camp in Rampur town. He is to be taken to Mumbai for questioning about the Mumbai terror attacks, an official said. Ansari was remanded to the custody of the Mumbai police by Rampur Additional Sessions Judge Jai Sheel Pathak. Fahim is already charged with orchestrating a terror attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Rampur with grenades and other weapons in the early hours of Jan 1, 2008. Seven paramilitary troopers and one civilian were killed in the attack. Fahim was still being kept in the district jail as the two-member Mumbai police team was ill-equipped to keep the terrorist under their custody. Rampur is about 300 km from here. “The two-member team comprising an inspector and a constable were also detailed to seek remand of Ansari’s accomplice Sabauddin, who was lodged in the Lucknow district jail. But it was practically not feasible for them to take the risk of either carting Ansari to Lucknow or escorting Sabauddin to Bareilly,” Brij Lal, Uttar Pradesh additional director general of police, said. On whether the Uttar Pradesh police were required to provide them armed escort, Brij Lal said: “Sure enough we will extend whatever assistance they want. All that we can do is to escort them up to the embarkation airport, but it would certainly not be a wise proposition to allow their movement between Lucknow and Bareilly.” Lal said: “The Mumbai police must send two larger teams so that one could carry Ansari from Rampur to Delhi from where they could fly off to Mumbai, while the other could escort Sabauddin from Lucknow.” He said: “The Mumbai team has conveyed these details to its bosses whose response is awaited.” The police suspect Fahim’s involvement in the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attack in which at least 164 people were killed. Earlier, the Mumbai metropolitan magistrate had ordered the Mumbai Anti Terrorism Squad to bring Fahim Ansari to Mumbai. Road maps of Mumbai, with important buildings marked, were seized from Ansari, when he was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police earlier this year. The hand-drawn rough maps were part of the documents in Fahim Ansari’s case file in the Rampur court.

Purohit remanded to judicial custody till Dec 23
12 Dec 2008, 1713 hrs IST, PTI
NASHIK: Lt Col Prasad Purohit, an accused in Malegaon blast case, was on Friday remanded to judicial custody till December 23 for allegedly helping a friend in getting an arms license using fake documents. Purohit, who was in judicial custody here till December 12 in the case, was on Friday produced in a local court and remanded to judicial custody till December 23. Purohit was produced before judge Mrs V V Joshi, Purohit’s counsel, Avinash Bhide said. The case was registered by a Pune resident Shirish Datey against Purohit in Nashik on November 16, claiming that Purohit had procured an arm licence for him (Datey) on the fake documents. Datey claimed that in the fake documents Purohit showed him as a resident of the military camp in Devlali. According to Bhide, Purohit had been granted bail in this case by Nashik judge on November 29 on a personal bond of Rs 15,000, but since, Purohit is already in MCOCA custody we have not submitted bail order to the jailer. Eleven persons have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the September 29 Malegaon blast in which six persons were killed and over 100 injured.

The lawyer who refused to represent Kasab
12 Dec 2008, 0214 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande , TNN
MUMBAI: Advocate Dinesh Mota took his regular 8.15am fast local to CST. But, unlike other days, he had boarded the train a little reluctantly. A thousand thoughts were crossing his mind; he had after all been assigned a cross-border client who no top lawyer was willing to touch and neither was he. As a member of the state’s legal aid panel of lawyers, Mota a practitioner of criminal law for 24 years said he got a shock when he received a call on Wednesday evening. Speaking exclusively to TOI, the lawyer who refused to represent lone surviving Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Kasab admitted: “I was scared. In fact, I was prepared to bunk going to court on Thursday. But my wife, Nina, pushed me and encouraged me to go and personally say `no’ before the magistrate.” The 48-year-old Mota, a regular lawyer leading a life of nearly fixed routine, said: “Yesterday evening (Wednesday) I was told to be ready for Thursday to appear for Kasab. I don’t mind saying that I was shivering in my pants when I heard that. My heart began beating fast and my tension suddenly rose right from the core of my heart. The matter on deciding a lawyer was going on for the last few days.” Mota, who was born in Bhandup, studied law in Karnataka and went back to a rental house in Bhandup. He lives there with his wife and mother and he took the matter home. “I was under great stress but my wife (who gives private tuitions) and my mother supported my decision not to appear for him. He (Kasab) killed my family members. I am a Mumbaikar and all the victims are like my family. Why would I ever represent him? But, since I am on the legal aid committee, a refusal could mean losing my sanad (licence to practice law). But my wife said it wouldn’t matter if we had no money and my mother, too, stood by me asking me not to worry,” he told TOI. So it was at 11am that Mota, with his family’s support firmly behind him, walked into the first-floor courtroom of additional chief metropolitan magistrate N N Shrimangale at Esplanade and said: “I will not appear as legal aid for Kasab even at the risk of my `sanad’ (licence to work as a legal aid lawyer) being cancelled.” He later said: “I felt so relieved that I don’t recall the magistrate’s exact words but he was kind enough not to urge me to change my mind. I was ready for whatever action against me.” “This was the first time I faced this kind of situation in my 10 years as a legal aid advocate. I refused to appear for some 1993 blast accused but I appeared for Tariq Parveen. I have been asked to appear as legal aid lawyer for several cases of arms recovery, even murder cases and recently in a case of false alarm raised in a jail fight between inmates. But, in one murder case, I failed to rescue the accused as there was direct evidence against him,” he said.

‘Step up corporate involvement in abolishing child labour’
12 Dec 2008, 0227 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Urging industry to clean up its supply chain and ensure no use of child labour, women and child development minister Renuka Choudhury on Thursday said that corporate involvement in the eradication of child labour has to be stepped up. “Industries employ children shockingly. We will ask industries to ensure that no child labour is used at any stage of manufacturing and also issue a logo to them in this regard,” Choudhary said. Addressing the National Convention on Right to Education and Abolition of Child Labour the minister said, that the industry “must have a larger sense of responsibility.” “We are scheduled to hold an international round table meeting with leading manufacturing companies in this regard very soon,” she said. Choudhary also felt the need to enact a separate law to prohibit exploitation of children and plug loopholes in existing legislations. She sought stringent punishment for the adult offenders who deliberately use children as drug runners, couriers, for trafficking and pimping so that they get away with a lighter punishment. The minister favoured a change in the “legal framework” that prohibits child labour in the country, saying it must have a “clarity on the definition of child labour”. Choudhary felt that the definition of a child should include “all children up to 18 years of age” in consonance with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, underlining that the children of this age group are far more vulnerable. There should not be any difference between “hazardous and non-hazardous work” for the purpose of the implementation of the Prevention of Child Labour Act, she stressed and sought “prohibition on all sorts of child labour”.

HC questions state over Roy’s appointment
11 Dec 2008, 2243 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: As arguments opposing A N Roy’s appointment as the state director general of police continued on Thursday on largely legal points, the high court posed two questions to the Maharashtra government. “We want to know following which notification has the state created four posts of director generals instead of just one DGP? What are the rules other than the Maharashtra Service ones applicable for the appointment of the DGP?,” a bench of chief justice Swatanter Kumar and justice Sharad Bobde asked advocate general Ravi Kadam. The hearing on Roy’s appointment as DGP which created a controversy and that was challenged by DGP S Chakravarty, resulting in the central administrative tribunal quashing the February 2008 appointment will now continue on Monday. The bone of contention is over the interpretation of a Supreme Court judgment which laid down guidelines on such appointments.
The HC now has the key task of interpreting the SC judgment to lay down norms for future appointments in the state.

‘Mistakes’ behind CBI letting Mulayam off
12 Dec 2008, 0239 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: If you believe the Supreme Court judgment of March 1 last year directing a CBI probe into the alleged disproportionate assets of Mulayam Singh Yadav and his kin, then the SP leader’s son, Akhilesh Yadav, was “completely involved in full-time political activities” in 1977 when he was barely four years old. This mistake along with other glaring legal lacunae in the judgment formed the basis of the legal advice to the Centre to drop proceedings on the preliminary investigation report submitted by the CBI. The opinion stated: “There seems to be an error in the approach with regard to the assets of Akhilesh Yadav. In the first place, it is to be noted that in the judgment, it is stated that Akhilesh Yadav was involved in full-time political activities since the year 1977. In the status report (of CBI), it is stated that Akhilesh Yadav was born on July 1, 1973, and, therefore, it is difficult to understand how Akhilesh Yadav could be involved in full scale political activities since the age of four.” The opinion also felt that the judgment authored by Justice A R Lakshmanan, who has since retired as Supreme Court judge and taken over as chairperson of the Law Commission, was contrary to a 1992 ruling of a three-judge SC Bench. It was unable to comprehend the circumstances under which the CBI probe was ordered, especially when “there is no allegation in the PIL that the assets of the other family members are benami. At least nothing is reflected in the judgment that the properties held by the members of the family were benami properties of Mulayam Singh Yadav.” Immediately after the March 1, 2007, judgment directing a preliminary probe into the assets of Mulayam and other family members, Akhilesh had moved a petition seeking review of the judgment, which is still pending. Yadav Junior had submitted a compact disc containing recorded concersations between petitioner Vishwanath Chaturvedi and a reporter and requested the apex court to examine it since it purportedly cast aspersions on the author of the judgment. When this review petition came for hearing before a Bench headed by Justice Lakhsmanan on March 16, a fortnight after the judgment was delivered, he recused from hearing the plea with tears in his eyes, claiming that he had received an anonymous letter at his residence casting aspersions on his integrity, which he termed as “shocking”. Two months after his retirement as a Supreme Court judge on March 22, Justice Lakshmanan was appointed chairperson of the Law Commission on May 22, 2007.

Kasab’s police custody extended to Dec 24
12 Dec 2008, 0250 hrs IST, Kartikeya, TNN
MUMBAI: The police custody of arrested terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Kasab was extended to December 24 by a magistrate on Thursday. Kasab wasn’t produced in court because of security reasons and it was the magistrate who went to the police lock-up to hear the remand plea. Kasab is the lone Pakistani terrorist to have been caught alive during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Kasab’s custody in a case pertaining to the CST firing ended on Thursday, but the Crime Branch booked him in a dozen cases. It, therefore, pleaded with the magistrate to give it his custody in another case pertaining to the killing of Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare and other police officials near Cama and Albless Hospital. “When asked by the magistrate if he had any complaint against the police, Kasab said he had none,” public prosecutor Eknath Dhumal, who was present during the proceedings, said. Kasab himself has no legal representative and there was no defence lawyer at the scene. After the brief submission, the magistrate granted cops 14 days to question Kasab in connection with the murder of Karkare, additional commissioner of police Ashok Kamte, inspector Vijay Salaskar and three other policemen.

Case against Kerala health minister
12 Dec 2008, 0258 hrs IST, TNN
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala police on Thursday registered a case against state health minister P K Sreemathi and five others including two members of the Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan’s personal staff in connection with the infamous Kiliroor sex scandal involving the death of a girl. Besides Sreemathi, those named in the FIR registered by the cantonment police here are the CM’s political secretary K N Balagopal, CM’s personal secretary S Rajendran, two sons of two ministers in the state cabinet and the alleged kingpin Latha Nair. The case pertains to the alleged suppression of a file relating to the investigation of the case in the CM’s office. The FIR was registered after an order of a judicial first class magistrate. The court was acting on a petition filed by city resident N Nagaraj who alleged that they connived to suppress the file. The case which involved sexual abuse of a minor by some influential persons who promised her roles in TV serials. The girl died in the Kottayam Medical College hospital in November 2004. Achuthanandan, who was then the opposition leader, claimed the hospital superintendent told him that the girl’s condition worsened after the visit of a VIP. Bringing the guilty to book was one of Achuthanandan’s electoral promises. Human rights groups say this did not happen as some powerful men were involved in the scandal. Only a few days ago, IAS officer Suresh Kumar who led the Munanr demolition operations had accused the CM’s personal staff of delaying and suppressing a critical file related to the Kiliroor scandal.

Spell out plan to shift tabelas in a week, HC tells govt
12 Dec 2008, 0343 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: It’s time for buffaloes to bid adieu to the city. Decks have been cleared to shift the 2,000-odd tabelas spread across the suburbs to Dahanu. The Bombay high court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra government to come up with a plan in a week on how it would go about relocating the tabelas. The shifting of the tabelas__when it eventually happens__may unlock land in the city for development, including the Aarey Milk Colony which is spread over 3,000 acres. There are 300 tabelas in Aarey Colony, in addition to the 1,700 spread around the city, housing 51,000-odd buffaloes. Hearing a petition filed by NGO Janhit Manch, a division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Sharad Bobde, indicated that the tabela owners may have no option but to move out. This followed a report submitted by the court appointed commissioners’ advocates Amit Sale and Shekhar Jagtap after a site visit to Dapchari in Dahanu where 2,677 hectares of land have been earmarked for a dairy project. The report said that infrastructure facilities in the form of a power station, internal roads, green cover, waste disposal facilities, a school and a health centre have been put in place. Further, there was ample water resources, including the Kurje dam and a water tank with five lakh litre capacity. The team also visited Kaman and Devdhal villages in Vasai, which the tabela owners prefer for rehabilitation. The tabela owners do not want to move to Dahanu, claiming that the site is 143 km away from the city. The court commissiones, in their report, revealed that the Vasai sites were unsuitable as the exisiting tabelas there were disposing their waste in natural water resources and polluting the area. According to the petitioners, the tabelas were occupying premium land in the city meant for housing and civic amenities. A damning report by the Maharashtra Control Board in December 2005 revealed that waste generated from the tabelas was causing massive pollution in the surrounding areas. It added that overall the situation was very bad due to dung and washing activity as guidelines of the MPCB were not being followed by the tabela owners.

Road accidents hitting Indian economy
12 Dec 2008, 0300 hrs IST, Kounteya Sinha, TNN
NEW DELHI: Road accidents are severally eating into India’s economy. According to the Planning Commission, the social cost of road accidents in India stands at Rs 55,000 crore annually. This constitutes 3% of the country’s GDP. In 2006, Indian roads saw 1.05 lakh accident deaths — 290 deaths everyday. Of this, the provisional number of persons killed due to drunk driving stood at 8,313 and those killed due to defects in road conditions was estimated at 2,024. According to K H Muniyappa, MoS in the ministry of shipping, road transport and highways, the cost of road injuries is usually estimated at 1% of the gross national product in low income countries, 1.5% in middle income countries and 2% in high income countries. According to WHO’s estimates, the direct economic cost of global road crashes has been estimated at $518 billion with the cost in low income countries put at $65 billion. Muniyappa said: “Deaths attributed to road accidents depend on a host of factors, including the number of motor vehicles, road length, road geometry, location, time of occurrence, human and behavioural factors and enforcement of traffic regulations.” According to figures available with the government on the total number of registered vehicles, Chennai during 2006-07 had 25.1 lakh vehicles plying on its roads while Delhi had 48.5 lakh vehicles. The corresponding figure in 2000-2001 stood at 12.5 lakh for Chennai and 36 lakh for Delhi. Muniyappa said the annual average growth in the number of motor vehicles in Chennai and Delhi was 16.7% and 5.59%, respectively. A recent WHO report called “Youth and Road Safety” said that road accidents were killing more 15-19-year-olds than any disease in the world, including AIDS and cancer. Over 1,000 young people, most of them between 10 and 24 years, were dying every day due to bike and car crashes. Annually 1.2 million people died in road accidents, 40% of whom are under 25, while millions more were seriously injured or disabled for life. With Africa and South-East Asia recording more than half of the fatalities, the report had made recommendations to countries worst affected, including India. These included: promoting road safety among children from a very young age; encouraging the wearing of helmets and strapping of seat belts, especially in developing countries, which account for 85% of road accidents; separating motorized traffic from other users, such as animal-drawn carts and kid bikes; increasing roundabouts to reduce traffic speed; and improving police effort to enforce road safety laws. In 2002, the report said, 1.2 million people in different age groups died on the road and between 20 million and 50 million were injured. People under the age of 25 years accounted for 383,046 of these fatalities. Among teenagers aged 15-19, it was the biggest single source of death and it ranked second among children aged five to nine and adults aged 20-24. The report said traumatic brain injury was the leading cause of traffic related deaths.

HC raps state for not recording film data
12 Dec 2008, 0354 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: The state government claimed that “intelligence inputs” had led it to ban the movie, Deshdrohi, but it came under flak from the Bombay high court on Thursday for failing to produce any record collected by its officers. Assistant government pleader Niranjan Pandit told the court that there was no written record as all directions in the case were communicated orally. “We are surprised,” a division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Sharad Bobde said. “It is expected (that the government maintains records), particularly in a case that affects the personal civil rights of a party and puts restraints on the fundamental right to engage in an occupation of one’s choice.” The court added, “How can the agencies work in such a casual manner? Show us any law that says police can do anything without maintaining records.” The court was hearing a petition by Kamal Khan, whose Deshdrohi__on migrants in Mumbai was banned by the state government. The court has asked the assistant commissioner of police monitoring the case to file an affidavit on what exactly happened and why no records were maintained.

MP high court sends notice to Speaker
12 Dec 2008, 0307 hrs IST, TNN
JABALPUR: Madhya Pradesh high court has served notices on the Speaker of the outgoing assembly Iswardas Rohani, director-general of police and others on a petition demanding a probe by an independent agency into the brutal assault of a Congress leader and his supporters, allegedly at the behest of Rohani on polling day on November 27. The court on Wednesday also directed the SP to provide adequate security to the petitioners Congress leader Alok Mishra and his associate Alok Chansoria following their apprehension of further attacks on them. One of the petitioners, Alok Mishra, who contested and lost the assembly elections against Rohani on a Congress ticket from Jabalpur Cantonment, alleged that he and his supporters were brutally assaulted on polling day when they raised objections about the certain corrupt practices at polling booths No 106 and 107 in the Sadar area. The police personnel deputed there did not take cognizance of their objection, as they were allegedly in league with Rohani, who won the election on a BJP ticket. The petitioners alleged that the police lodged the First Information Report (FIR) against the accused, including Rohani, his son and others under bailable sections instead of non-bailable sections. The petitioners alleged that when they moved an application seeking protection, the police rejected it apparently under the influence of Rohani. They prayed that security cover be provided to them and a probe by an independent agency be initiated. Finding merit in the submissions, the Bench of Chief Justice AK Patnaik and Justice Ajit Singh served notices on the respondents directing them to file their affidavits before the matter could be taken up for next hearing. Advocate Shashank Shekhar appeared in the court on behalf of the petitioners.

Parallel justice: Amicus curiae to help HC
12 Dec 2008, 0301 hrs IST, PTI
HYDERABAD: The A P High Court on Thursday appointed senior counsel C Padmanabha Reddy as amicus curae to assist it in solving the legal impasse arising from the two contradictory judgments given by two Benches of the high court in the Hymad Pasha case. In one of the judgments Pasha had been acquitted of the charge of murdering his wife while the other upheld his conviction. Padmanahba Reddy, a criminal lawyer, was appointed after the state government through its public prosecutor filed a criminal miscellaneous petition in the high court on Thursday praying it to either recall the judgment delivered by the second Division Bench that acquitted the accused or declare its judgment as `non-est’ (invalid) as a Division Bench had already decided this case and confirmed the life conviction on Hymad Pasha. Interestingly, the public prosecutor’s petition reveals the fact that both the Division Benches had admitted this case separately by June 2006 itself and the hearing has been going on simultaneously from then. While one Bench delivered its order on March 7, 2008, convicting Hymad, the other Bench delivered its judgment on September 29, 2008, acquitting the same man. Both the Benches were unaware that the case was being heard simultaneously by them. The public prosecutor in his petition cited three reasons for annulling the second judgment. First, that there is no provision in the Criminal Procedure Code (for the high court) to review or recall its own judgment once it has been delivered on merits after hearing both the parties. Second, that “Once the matter is decided as in this case in an earlier appeal, the court becomes `functus-officio’ and therefore, cannot decide again. Thirdly, the PP said that since the first judgment was delivered, the hearing of the second appeal was void, and any judgment delivered by the second Bench was `non-est.’ On these three grounds, the PP submitted that the high court has got inherent power to recall the second judgment or declare it invalid. By the evening, the high court appointed Padmanabha Reddy as amicus curae.

Tighter norms to check illegal quarrying: Khanduri
12 Dec 2008, 0308 hrs IST, TNN
NAINITAL: Uttarakhand government will formulate strict norms to check illegal quarrying and stone-crushing along different riversides of Uttarakhand’s tarai areas, chief minister BC Khanduri said on Thursday. Khanduri was addressing a public meeting after laying the foundation-stone of Uttarakhand’s first stadium, proposed to be state-of-the-art, at Golapar area in Haldwani town. He admitted that illegal quarrying and stone-crushing along riversides and trade was flourishing, with the alleged connivance of senior authorities concerned and politicians. Those responsible for encouraging illegal quarrying and stone-crushing in ecologically sensitive riversides, including in low-lying areas of Haldwani and Ramnagar, he said, were playing with the ecology and environment of the region. In this context, he referred to the bridge across river Gola which had collapsed a couple of months ago apparently due to massive illegal mining along river sides. Keeping in view the seriousness of the incident, he said he had ordered a high-level probe into circumstances leading to the incident. Once those responsible were identified, he said, those responsible would be punished. “We want to rebuild the bridge soon but this will start only after the probe report,” said Khanduri. On the demand to declare Kumaon University a Central university, CM said he had recently met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and HRD minister Arjun Singh and urged them to do the needful. State government had also decided to table a proposal to this effect before the state assembly during the coming assembly session. The Golapar stadium would cost Rs 50 crore. While Rs 25 crore would be sanctioned by Sports Authority of India, the remaining sum has already been sanctioned by the state government. Uttarakhand Infrastructure Development Corporation, which has been entrusted with the task to build this stadium, has already received clearance from forest department for building this project. Construction would begin soon. he said. The stadium would be built in an area of about 40 acre. He also announced construction of a bridge across river Dabka and widening of different roads in the entire Haldwani block. Later, talking to newspersons, Khanduri ruled out possibility of recommending the Preeti Sharma gangrape and murder case to the CBI, saying he was not fully aware of the details. The CM’s speech was marred by anti-government slogans raised by the agitators who were demanding a CBI probe into the Sharma case.

HC acquits murder convicts
12 Dec 2008, 0141 hrs IST, TNN
PATNA: The Patna High Court on Thursday acquitted a convict facing capital punishment of the charges of kidnapping and murdering a man in Samastipur. The HC also acquitted another convict who had been awarded life term in the case. A division bench comprising Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice Abhijeet Sinha ordered the release of Raghubar Rai and Biral Rai after it allowed their criminal appeals challenging the trial court judgment awarding capital punishment to Raghubar and life term to Biral. The duo were accused of kidnapping and murdering Nand Kumar Thakur in an FIR lodged with the Kalyanpur police station in Samastipur district on November 15, 2004. According to the prosecution, Raghubar and Biral took Thakur to Kalyanpur from where he did not return. Later, his beheaded body was found. Defence counsel Khursheed Alam submitted before the HC that his clients were falsely implicated in the case as they did not know where did Thakur go from Kalyanpur.

SC dismisses Maharashtra Judges Association plea for seniority
12 Dec 2008, 0232 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the Maharashtra State Judges Association’s plea seeking a unfirom single cadre of district judges by merging the posts of DJs, ADJs, city civil judges, chief judges and additional chief judges of trial courts with effect either from November 13, 1991, or from March 31, 1994. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal also did not find any merit in MSJA’s plea for withdrawal of the Maharashtra Judicial Service (Seniority) Rules, 2007. The Bench refused to accept the petitioner’s contention that the failure to have a uniform cadre of district judges with effect from March 31, 1994, amounts to disobedience of the apex court’s earlier orders. It said the integration/unification of the multiple categories into three cadres was done from July 1, 1996, the date of applicability of the Justice Shetty Commission recommendations on pay reforms for judicial officers. It also rejected the petitioner’s plea on inter-se seniority among the judges saying: “Those in the category of additional district judges and additional chief judges of small cause court have not made any legal right to be placed above those recruited to the higher post of district judge or city civil judge between July 1996 and March 2003.

Age no bar for a person to be a competent witness: SC
12 Dec 2008, 0156 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: What is the age when a person becomes entitled to be treated as a competent witness? None as such, says the Supreme Court. The judgment came from the apex court in a murder case, in which the trial court and the Allahabad High Court had discarded an eye-witness in a 12-year-old girl saying she was not reliable as she did not understand the meaning of the expression `oath’, among other things. Disapproving the hyper-technical approach, a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and Mukundakam Sharma said the trial court would have done well to go through the Indian Evidence Act, which did not prescribe any particular age as a determinative factor to treat a witness to be a competent one. “On the contrary, Section 118 of the Evidence Act envisages that all persons shall be competent to testify, unless the court considers that they are prevented from understanding the questions put to them or from giving rational answers to these questions because of tender years, extreme old age, disease whether of mind or any other cause of same kind,” said Justice Sharma, writing the judgment for the Bench. He said even a child of tender age could be allowed to testify if he or she had the intellectual capability to understand the questions and give rational answers thereto. “The evidence of a child witness is not required to be rejected per se, but the court as a rule of prudence considers such evidence with close scrutiny and only on being convinced about the quality thereof and reliability can record conviction, based thereon,” the Bench said.

Sorabjee moves SC, seeks better training for cops
12 Dec 2008, 0153 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: Overwhelmed by the audacious terror strike in the heart of Mumbai, former attorney general Soli J Sorabjee gave vent to the public angst by moving the Supreme Court with a PIL for a direction to the Centre to equip and train the police making them capable of tackling terrorists and creating an atmosphere where citizens’ right to life is protected. It is rare that a former law officer moves the court with a PIL. It is still rarer for a former AG to take recourse to a public interest litigation and that too when the government and opposition have struck a rare unanimity in tackling terror with an iron hand. But, Mumbaikar Sorabjee has a point to make. How could the terrorists have infiltrated into Mumbai so easily? “This discloses several deficiencies and lapses in existing systems and counter-terrorism measures and also in the manner in which they were implemented,” he said. His PIL is not for pointing a finger or accusing any individual, political party or even the system. He clarified: “The purpose of the PIL is not to blame or censure any person, party or organisation but to compel the Centre and the states to adopt and undertake measures which may prevent recurrence of Mumbai-like terrorist incidents or in any event enable the police and security forces to better counter and combat terrorist activities and thereby save loss of, or injury to, human lives and destruction of properties.” Terming `right to life’ as the heart and soul of all fundamental rights enjoyed by a person, the former AG said: “It is apparent that the current level of training as well as the weaponry possessed by the police is antiquated and unable to cope with the arms and technology employed by the terrorists and other anti-national elements.” There was a crying need for filling in all these lacunae, he pleaded. Giving details of major terror strikes in India since the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai culminating in 26/11, Sorabjee said the series of terrorist acts amounted to virtual waging of war on the sovereignty and integrity of the country needing urgent centralisation of intelligence and its proper and timely sharing. Suggesting the setting up of anti-terror units in every police district or in every major urban conglomerate, the former AG said the duty hours of policemen needed to be streamlined so as not to overstretch them to exhaustion levels, which tells upon their efficiency level. Finally, he suggested appointment of an expert committee for supervising the implementation of the anti-terror machinery and mechanism put in place by the governments.

HC poser to govt on extra charge for smart card
12 Dec 2008, 0639 hrs IST, Abhinav Garg, TNN
new delhi : Is the Capital’s transport department fleecing customers in the name of its Smart Card optical licenses? Delhi High Court on Wednesday grilled the State government at length on this issue and asked it to explain by way of an affidavit, why citizens should pay more for this card. In a prolonged hearing on the PIL filed by `Bhrashtachar Unmulan Sangathan’, a division bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar, threw sharp questions at lawyers representing the State government and transport department, asking them why an extra sum of Rs 170 was charged from a vehicle owner if she wanted a Smart Card optical license. The two judges recorded their concern with the questions raised by the PIL and made it clear that in case Delhiites were being charged extra, it will take a strong stand on this. “You can’t recover costs from a citizen. It is a matter of concern if a citizen is asked to pay,” the judges remarked when counsel for State government claimed that modernisation of license issuing process and related RTO’s had left them poorer by a few crores. It justified the extra charge in court, saying every Smart Card now consists of an optical strip which stores all relevant data of the vehicle driver, like past accidents, traffic offences etc. “Tracing, criminalisation and accident records, all three are maintained on this optical chip which we plan to directly connect to all RTO offices as part of our upgradation plan,” government lawyers informed HC. However, the court found merit in arguments by Sunil Fernandes, lawyer for the petitioners that a common vehicle owner pays extra for a smart card in the belief that it is computerised, capable of recording all such information required by the department. “As it is we are being charged a sum of Rs 200 to avail of a smart card. Why this Rs 170 more?,” Fernandes contended before HC, smelling a scam to benefit private players who issue Optical Cards. Both the judges allowed Fernandes to delve deep into the technicalities of the card system to attempt to understand if the citizen was indeed being given a short thrift, as alleged in the PIL. The lawyer maintained that a smart card as it contains a microchip which can store all driver and vehicle related information, making an optical strip redundant.

HC slams welfare dept for not providing basic facilities to foreign detainees
12 Dec 2008, 0639 hrs IST, TNN
new delhi : The Delhi High Court has slammed the social welfare department of the city government for its failure to provide basic facilities to foreign nationals housed in deportation camps in the capital. A division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S Muralidhar, recently directed a senior officer, who appeared before the court pursuant to its earlier order, to appoint a superintendent for the camp within a week and ensure proper supply of drinking water, medicine and telephone facilities to the inmates of the camp. Taking exception to the government’s failure to appoint even a superintendent for the centre till now, the court recalled how six superintendents were arrested earlier on the charges of corruption. “This should have been an eye opener for you to put a person whose track record is good,” the bench quipped, while coming down heavily on the department after its officer made a submission that the department was not authorised to provide mineral or reverse osmosis water as demanded by the foreign nationals. But HC made it clear that supply of RO water should be the minimum standard of basic facilities. “This is remarkable. You only have the explanation that since other homes (indicating beggars home) do not provide RO water to inmates, you will not provide here either. Supply of RO water to the inmates of all homes including this camp should be the minimum basic standard,” the court observed. HC was dealing with a complaint letter sent by a foreign national pointing towards the poor facilities at the camp. In his complaint, the foreigner said that not even minimum basic amenities had been provided leaving many detainees facing serious health conditions.

SC reserves verdict on courts’ power to order CBI probe
11 Dec 2008, 1839 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on the validity of the powers of High Courts and apex court to order CBI probes in sensitive cases. A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan would decide whether the probe by the central agency could be ordered on getting the nod of the concerned state government or the higher courts on their own can direct such probe when the case is brought before them. The Centre has supported the view that there was no restriction on High Courts and apex court to order a CBI probe into sensitive cases having national and international ramification under Articles 226 and 32 of the Constitution. Solicitor General G E Vahanvati stressed that such power has been with the courts to protect the fundamental rights of citizens. He had submitted that though the apex court judgements in the past had said that courts should exercise the power to order CBI probe “sparingly”, “there is no restriction, particularly in cases of sensitive nature and those having national and international ramification”. “To show that there is a restriction on powers of courts it has to be shown that there is such an expression. That is not there under Article 226 and 32,” he said before the Bench, also comprising Justices R V Raveendran, D K Jain, P Sathasivam and J M Panchal. West Bengal government had contended that vesting of such power with the apex court or High Courts would affect the federal structure of the Constitution, which has been opposed by the Centre.

Acquittal by trial court carries a lot of weight: SC
11 Dec 2008, 0001 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: In the long and tortuous three-tier litigation system in India, what is the value of a trial court order acquitting an accused when the state has the option of appealing against it before the high court and then in the Supreme Court? Quite a lot, answered the Supreme Court through a recent judgment. The clean chit given by the trial court provides a “double presumption” of innocence in favour of the accused, said a three-judge Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat. “First, the presumption of innocence is available to him (the accused) under the fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that every person shall be presumed to be innocent unless he is proved guilty by a competent court of law. Secondly, the accused having secured his acquittal, the presumption of his innocence is further reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the trial court,” said Justice Pasayat, writing the judgment for the Bench. But, this was not to bar the appellate courts — the HC or the SC — from reappreciating the evidence and, if necessary, quashing the acquittal if evidence was found sufficient for the purpose, the Bench said. “An appellate court has full power to review, reappreciate and reconsider the evidence upon which the order of acquittal is founded,” it said. After such reappreciation, if there were two possible views — one favouring the acquittal as had already been recorded by the trial court and the other pointing towards his guilt — then the appellate court should go with the trial court’s finding. “If two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence on record, the appellate court should not disturb the finding of the acquittal recorded by the trial court,” the Bench said.

Terrorism violation of human rights, says Speaker
Statesman News Service NEW DELHI, Dec. 11: Terrorism, a natural enemy of global peace, results in grave violation of human rights and thus, needs to be dealt with firmly and effectively if democracies across the globe have to flourish, according to the Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr Somnath Chatterjee. Launching an online facility for registration of complaints with the National Human Rights Commission at a function organised by the NHRC to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights here yesterday, Mr Chatterjee lauded the efforts of the Indian agency of human rights in spreading awareness among various sections of society and in supporting the country’s apex court which has been remitting to the NHRC certain complex issues having serious human rights implications. Mr Chatterjee also released along with the minister of communications, Mr A Raja, a postal stamp to commemorate Human Rights Day.

U.N. slaps sanctions on Jamat-ud-Dawah
United Nations: Acceding to India’s demand, the United Nations Security Council on Thursday imposed sanctions on the Pakistan-based Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD) after declaring it a terrorist outfit.
The Council branded four of the organisation’s top leaders — the founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the suspected Mumbai attacks mastermind Zakir-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Haji Muhammad Ashraf and Zaki-ur-Bahaziq — terrorists.
Lakhvi is the LeT’s operational chief, while Ashraf and Bahaziq, an India-born Saudi, collect funds for the JuD. Saeed formed the outfit in 2002 after the Lashkar was banned.
India had made a strong plea in the Council for sanctions on the JuD, contending along with the U.S. that the outfit is a front for the LeT, which was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the U.S. in 2001 and proscribed by the U.N. in 2005 for its affiliation with the al-Qaeda. The LeT, banned in Pakistan since 2002, is also outlawed by the European Union.
“Freeze assets”
The Council also asked member-states to freeze the assets of the 4 LeT men and imposed a travel ban and arms embargo on them.
The U.S. said it was pleased that the Security Council Committee decided to move forward on these high-priority designations. “These actions will limit the ability of known terrorists to travel, acquire weapons, plan, carry out, or raise funds for new attacks.”
India had sought a ban on the JuD after the LeT was suspected to be behind the terror attacks in Mumbai on November 26.
The decision was taken by a Council’s committee which put the JuD and the four individuals on the Consolidated List of persons and entities connected with the al-Qaeda and Taliban.
The ban came a day after Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed made a powerful case during a debate on terrorism in the Council for imposing sanctions on the JuD and Saeed. — PTI

16,632 farmer suicides in 2007
P. Sainath
Broad trends remain dismal; Maharashtra crosses 4,000-mark
MUMBAI: Suicides by farmers of Maharashtra crossed the 4,000-mark in 2007, for the third time in four years, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
As many as 4,238 farmers of the State took their lives that year, the latest for which data are available, accounting for a fourth of 16,632 farmer suicides in the country.
The national total represents a slight fall, from 17,060 in 2006, but the broad trends of the past decade seem unshaken.
Farmer suicides in the country since 1997 is now 1,82,936.
Worst-affected States
Yet again, the five worst-affected States — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh — account for two-thirds of all such suicides in the country. Together, they saw 11,026 in 2007.
Of these, Maharashtra alone accounted for over 38 per cent. Of the “Big five,” Andhra Pradesh saw a decline of 810 suicides against its 2006 total.
Karnataka saw a rise of 415 over the same period. Madhya Pradesh (1,375) posted a decline of 112. But Chhattisgarh’s 1593 means an increase of 110 over 2006.
Maharashtra registered a fall of 215. But Karnataka (2,135) and Andhra Pradesh (1,797) — the next two worst-hit States — together account for less than Maharashtra’s 4000-plus.
Causes untouched
A one-year dip of 221 occurred in 2005 in the western State only to be followed by an all-time high of 4,453 suicides in 2006. This trend shows no turn-around and remains dismal.
Maharashtra’s 2007 figure of 4,238 follows one-and-half years of farm ‘relief packages’ worth around Rs. 5,000 crore and a prime ministerial visit in mid-2006 to the distressed Vidharbha region. Between 2005 and 2007, the State also saw a plethora of official reports, studies, and commissions of inquiry aimed at tackling the problem.
However, the 12,617 farmer suicides of these years are the worst-ever for any three-year period since the State began recording such data in 1995. Indeed, farmer suicides in Maharashtra since that year crossed the 40,000-mark. The structural causes of that crisis seem untouched.
Nationally, farmer suicides during 2002-2007 were worse than for the years 1997-2001. NCRB data are available for the whole country for 1997-2007.
Distressingly higher
In the five years till 2001, there were 15,747 farmer suicides a year on average. For the six years from 2002, that annual average has risen to 17,366.
The increase is distressingly higher in the main crisis States.

Held under Goondas Act
Staff Reporter
KRISHNAGIRI: A habitual offender was held under the Goondas Act in Krishnagiri district on Thursday. The Collector V.K. Shanmugam signed an order of detention under the Goondas Act, said the police.
According to the police, Mallesh Ravi of Alasunatham in Hosur Block was arrested in November and lodged in the Salem central jail for attacking and robbing Basuvaraj of Palavanahalli. There were two pending cases of murder against him. There were also seven pending cases of robbery in Tamilnadu and 12 cases of robbery in Bennergatta and Anaikal areas in Bangalore against him.
In view of these, the District Superintendent of Police Anisha Hussein recommended to the Collector that Ravi be detained under the Goondas Act. He has been detained under the Preventive Detention of Tamilnadu Act 14 of 1982 and lodged in the Salem Central Jail. He will be served the Goondas Act detention order at the jail, Mr. K. Radhakrishnan, added.

Commission for child rights protection soon: Minister
Staff Reporter
Bangalore: Minister for Women and Child Welfare P.M. Narendra Swamy on Wednesday said the State Government would soon set up a commission for protection of child rights. He was inaugurating a function to mark the World Human Rights Day organised by the Nidumamidi Mahasamsthana. The Minister said the proposal was planned long ago and it would be implemented soon.

SC categorisation Bill to be introduced in LS’
Special Correspondent
Modalities discussed with SC panel chief, says YSR
Usha Mehra panel proposals to be sent to Centre
YSR asks Krishna Madiga to call off protest
KURNOOL: Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy said on Thursday that the Bill on categorisation of Scheduled Castes in Andhra Pradesh would be introduced in the current session of Parliament.
Talking to reporters here on Thursday after participating in several local programmes including Tungabhadra Pushkaram here, Dr. Reddy said he had discussed the modalities of the Bill with Chairman of SC Commission Buta Singh.
According to Dr. Reddy, Mr. Singh promised to accept the recommendations of Usha Mehra panel and forward them to the Centre with certain remarks.
He asked MRPS leader Manda Krishna Madiga to call off his stir considering the swift developments on the categorisation issue. The fruits of the long struggle by Mr. Krishna Madiga for categorisation were not too far, he said.
Inaugurates varsity
Earlier, after inaugurating Rayalaseema University, he promised Rs. 50 crore for the development of the university. He promised a building for girls hostel. He also inaugurated an indoor stadium on the campus constructed with Rs. 10 lakh donated by former MLA and industrialist T.G. Venkatesh.
Many eyebrows were raised over the absence of Mr. Venkatesh at the inauguration of the stadium.
He was reportedly hurt with the police not allowing a rally of sportspersons to the stadium. Soon after landing at APSP campus, Dr. Reddy drove to the Tungabhadra Ghat at Sankalbagh and offered prayers.
He visited the TTD replica temple and offered prayers.
Later, he unveiled the statues of former Chief Minister Damodaram Sanjivaiah at Congress Office Circle, Babu Jagjivan Ram at Five Road junction.
Dr. Reddy inaugurated the multi-storeyed housing complex on the outskirts of the city and laid foundation for Rs. 36 crore drinking water scheme and Rs. 240 crore flood wall construction scheme.
Dr. Reddy spent nearly 30 minutes at the residence of MP Kotla Suryaprakasa Reddy and had lunch with Ministers and MLAs.
Curbs irk public
Bandh like conditions prevailed on the city streets in connection with the visit of Chief Minister to the Pushkaram Ghat. The police closed all main roads to the public and forced shop keepers to down shutters. Even roadside eateries were closed. Pilgrims were seen murmuring that they had lost one day out of 12 days of Pushkaram because of the VIP visit.

Showroom asked to replace faulty washing machine Consumer notes
Staff Reporter
HYDERABAD: An electronic goods showroom has been ordered by a consumer court to replace a defective washing machine or pay back its value along with fine and court fee , after the showroom ignored the customer’s request for its replacement.
The showroom, Digital Shoppe at Habsiguda, had sold a washing machine costing Rs.12,600 to YSS Prasad of Warasiguda in March last. When the machine was not functioning properly, the service engineers felt it was irreparable and recommended for its replacement.
However, the showroom did not replaced it.
Aggrieved over the delay, Mr. Prasad moved the Rangareddy District Consumers Forum.
The showroom representatives did not attend the forum meetings and ultimately an ex-parte order for refund of the cost with a compensation of Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 1,500 towards court costs was given.
Order challenged
This order was challenged in the State Commission by the showroom and the company with the claim they did not know that the service engineers had recommended for a replacement.
They claimed that they had attended the Hyderabad District Forum instead of the R.R. District Forum during the hearing by mistake. But, they could not produce any proof to substantiate their claims.
The State Commission observed that sending service technicians indicated there was some problem with the machine.
No job card
The showroom did not maintain any job card to show that the machine was perfect. Hence, the customer’s demand for replacement was justified. It upheld District Forum’s judgment and gave four weeks time to comply with the order.

Awards for RTI stakeholders
Special Correspondent
HYDERABAD: Social Audit Council on Information Right (SACIR) and Centre for Media Studies (CMS) announced awards for the outstanding contributions made by different stakeholders in implementation of Right to Information Act (RTI).
At a press conference here on Thursday to give details of a programme to review implementation of RTI Act on December 13 at Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram, SACIR convenors V. Gopala Rao, N. Bhaskar Rao, V.Venkateswara Rao, V.B.J. Chelikani and others said Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhiji will be the chief guest at the meeting. Chief Information Commissioner C.D. Arha and other State Information Commissioners will participate.
Shivaprasad, Ranga Reddy district (urban area); Siddi Ramulu and Yadagiri, GHMC, Kukatpally circle (pro-active discloser); Chief Electoral Officer, Andhra Pradesh (pro-active discloser by public authority); Srinivas Madhav (best book publication and research on RTI) and K. Yashoda, Eenadu, Tirupati (reporting in news media on RTI) are among the winners.

High Court modifies order on Shiradi Ghat road
Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Thursday modified its order of October 20, 2008 directing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the bad road condition of the Shiradi Ghat section of the Bangalore-Mangalore road.
A Division Bench comprising the Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit passed the order modifying the earlier order after the State filed an application in this regard.
Appearing for the State, Advocate-General Uday Holla urged the court to modify the order, saying that there was an immediate need to repair the road before the rain started.
He said the State also wanted more time to ensure that repairs were carried out on the road. He said the court had earlier given 30 days to the State to call for fresh tenders and three months to carry out rectification and repair work on the ghat section. It said it needed three more months.
The State also wanted the court to permit it to carry out repairs on several portions of the ghat section. The petitioner, B. Krishna Bhat, said if the State was allowed to repair the road, it could obliterate any evidence of bad construction. This is turn could hamper the CBI from investigating the road scam thoroughly.
The Bench, in its order, asked the CBI to first record the condition of the road to be repaired. The authorities then could be allowed to go ahead with the repair of the road.

‘Constitution permits religious conversions’
Staff Correspondent
Davangere: Maruthi Mahanpade, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader, has alleged that Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa had been taking ‘unconstitutional steps’ and that Mr. Yeddyurappa had repeatedly been saying that he would not allow religious conversions in the State.
Speaking to presspersons here on Thursday, Mr. Maruthi stated that when the Constitution allows religious conversions how can Mr. Yeddyurappa repeatedly say that he would not permit conversions.
Mr. Maruthi also demanded that all those responsible for the attacks should be arrested immediately.
Taking strong exception to “indirect imposition of restriction” on using beef, he stated that over 30 municipalities in the State had banned the use of beef and many civic bodies had closed down slaughter houses in their jurisdictions at the behest of the Government under the pretext of maintaining cleanliness. Ban on the use of beef amounted to infringement of people’s right to eat food of their liking, he said.

Rights panel serves notice over building workers’ death
Special Correspondent
Part of the building collapsed on October 23
Firm urged to provide adequate safety to workers
Bangalore: The Karnataka State Human Rights Commission has taken note of the second accident at the site of Prestige-Shantiniketan Township at Whitefield here on Monday, in which two workers were killed, and served notices on the government authorities.
S.R. Nayak, chairperson of the commission, said that notices were served to Principal Secretary, Urban Development, and the BBMP Commissioner asking whether the earlier direction of the commission on stopping work at the site after the first accident “was complied with or not”. He said it should be investigated as to how a second accident within a span of two months could take place, claiming more lives, had the work indeed been stopped at the site as per their clear directions after the first accident.
It may be recalled that on October 23, the 16-storeyed structure had collapsed in which four workers were injured. The decomposed body of one of the workers, Munna Kattuva from Orrissa, was found after 15 days under the debris. The second accident on Monday occurred when mud caved in on them. They were constructing the approach to the underground parking lot.
In the meanwhile, Construction Workers’ Welfare Action Committee has demanded that the State Government should pass orders requiring all developers and constructors to submit a detailed safety plan before they can take up any construction work, has said.
A team from the committee, which visited the construction and one was injured on Monday when mud caved in, said that safety norms should be put in place under the Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996, the International Labour Organisation’s Safety and Health in Construction Convention No 167 and the provisions for safety in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike Building Byelaws 2003 (Section 26).
Members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Janawadi Mahila Sanghatane (JMS) staged a demonstration at the construction site. The demonstrators urged Labour Minister B.N. Bachche Gowda, who inspected the construction site on Tuesday, to direct the company to provide adequate safety to construction workers.

Legislators’ Forum for Child Rights to be formed
Special Correspondent
BANGALORE: A group of legislators in Karnataka, who are perceived to be “child-friendly”, will soon come together and form a pressure group to prevail upon the State Government to ensure meaningful enforcement of child rights in the State.
The group of legislators, who will be functioning under the aegis of “Legislators’ Forum for Child Rights”, are expected to carry out tours and conduct studies on the prevailing condition of children in different parts of the State and various strata of society before making recommendations to the State Government.
A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of legislators convened by Child Rights Trust, a voluntary organisation engaged in child rights here on Thursday.
Chairman of the Legislative Council Veeranna Mathikatti said a formal meeting of the Legislators’ Forum for Child Rights will be convened and the future course of action will be charted out.
Earlier, UNICEF representative for Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Michelle Saint Lot set the tone for the deliberations by appealing to the legislators to ensure that child rights issues not only figure in the election manifestoes of their respective parties, but also set targets and goals to be achieved within a prescribed deadline.
Mr. Michelle offered financial assistance from UNICEF for the legislators to carry out tours and studies to ascertain the factual position on rights of children across the State.
Former Minister Motamma said laws on child welfare enacted by the State legislature were far better than the ones in other States. Ms. Motamma said parents have to be held responsible for the plight of children.

Court seeks report on BSP worker’s death
Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court has asked the State Government to place before it a status report on the investigation by the Corps of Detectives (CoD) into the murder of a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) worker.
Justice Jawed Rahim passed the order after the State Public Prosecutor (SPP) informed the court that the CoD had taken over the case.
The court was hearing a petition by Roopli Bai seeking a CBI investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of her husband, Nagaraja Nayak. Roopli Bai, a native of Kodihalli village in Kanakapura taluk of Bangalore district, had alleged that the police had not filed a case against the people who had murdered her husband.
She said after her husband’s murder, she had gone to the Kodihalli police to register a complaint. She alleged that though she had named several persons in the murder, the police had not entered them in the FIR and instead entered names of their choice. She said she was “forced” by the police to sign the complaint in which the persons she had accused of murder did not figure.
The SPP said the matter had already been referred to CoD for re-investigation. He said if there are other culprits involved in the murder, cases would be booked against them and an additional charge sheet filed.

Commercial Tax Officer trapped by Lokayukta
Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: The Lokayukta police trapped a Commercial Tax Officer of Bijapur on Thursday while he was allegedly accepting Rs. 5 lakh for release of a truck containing machineries.Subramanya, Project Incharge of KMMI Pvt Ltd., Koppal, had booked machineries from Rayapura, Chattisgarh. Commercial Tax Officer B.M. Padmanabha stopped the truck at the checkpost on Wednesday and demanded Rs. 5 lakh for releasing the truck.

Writ petition to strike down Act admitted
KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Thursday admitted a writ petition seeking to strike down as unconstitutional the Kerala Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act.
The petition filed by K.P. Santhosh of Ettumanoor was admitted by Justice V. Giri.
According to the petition, the Act had not received the consent of the President as required under Article 254(2) of the Constitution. Besides, the constitutional scheme of enacting a law for preventive detention clearly showed that a law of preventive detention for a period exceeding three months should be made by Parliament under Article 22(7) of the Constitution. The State legislature cannot enact such a law. The petitioner said that such a law could be made only during grave crisis, as normally the Criminal Procedure Code was applicable. The petitioner pointed out that the Act did not contain a provision for hearing the person arrested under the Act before he was declared as a known goonda.
Film screening
Acting on a petition, the court ordered that the two films, Mizhikal Sakshi and Raman, be screened in the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK-2008) beginning Friday in Thiruvananthapuram.
The court also ordered that promotion of the films could be undertaken. The court directed that the day of screening be decided after holding discussions between the organisers and the persons associated with the films.
The interim direction came on a writ petition filed by Ashok R. Nath, director, Mizhikal Sakshi and Rehmathulla, director of Raman. They alleged that no norms and regulation had been laid down for selection of films for the festival.
Plea dismissed
A Bench comprising Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice K.M. Joseph dismissed a writ petition filed by Pepsico Indian Holdings Pvt. Ltd. challenging the action of the government in refusing to give sales tax exemptions to products manufactured at its unit at Palakkad.
The company sought tax exemption to the tune of Rs.70 crore. The government refused tax exemption as per an order issued in 1993 on the ground that the company had not placed firm orders for each and every plant and machinery it proposed to set up. As per the government order, exemption was granted to new industrial units for seven years from the date of commencement of production.
One of the condition for tax exemption was that a substantial portion of machinery should be acquired before the cut-off date of January 1, 2000.

Babli issue: Naidu, Narayana arrested in Delhi
Special Correspondent
Do not play with Telugus’ self-respect, Telugu Desam president warns Centre Opposition leaders of Andhra Pradesh march towards Prime Minister’s office Dharna at Jantar Mantar protesting construction of project by Maharashtra
NEW DELHI: TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, CPI State secretary K. Narayana, TRS MP B. Vinod Kumar, MPs, MLAs, senior leaders and hundreds of cadres from the three parties were arrested by the police here on Thursday when they defied prohibitory orders and marched towards Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office seeking his intervention in the Babli row with Maharashtra.
Earlier, the leaders, along with cadres who came here in a special train from Hyderabad, staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar to urge the Centre to prevent Maharashtra from going ahead with the construction of the project and 11 other barrages across the Godavari. The project would badly affect irrigation on 18 lakh acres in six districts of Telangana region, they said.
All the arrested were released in the night. Notable among them were: MPs K. Yerran Naidu, E. Dayakara Rao (both TDP), S. Sudhakar Reddy (CPI), and MLAs Kadiyam Srihari, N. Janardhana Reddy, V. Narendra Reddy, D. Umamaheswara Rao, K. Atcham Naidu (all TDP) and Ch. Venkat Reddy (CPI).
Earlier, speaking at the dharna site, Mr. Naidu warned that the issue was a challenge to the “self-respect and prestige” of Telugus and if the Prime Minister, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy failed to take action, the Congress would get thrown into pieces in the State in the ensuing Assembly/Lok Sabha polls. He advised the Centre not to play with the “Telugu power” and recalled that it was TDP founder N.T. Rama Rao who first showed that power in Delhi earlier.
Mr. Naidu specifically blasted his bête-noire Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy asking him to prevent the construction if he really had courage and strength. “Otherwise, you are not fit to rule the State even for a minute.”
He also wondered why the Congress MPs and Central Ministers from the State were “sleeping” over the issue. Should they not quit from the Parliament and ministry and topple the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) when the fellow Telugus were in distress? he questioned.
Even in the Almatti dam issue with Karnataka, it was TDP which “saved AP’s interest” taking up the issue first; due to the party’s stir at least 100 tmc of Krishna water was prevented from getting utilised by Karnataka.
Mr. K. Narayana said Dr. Singh and the Chief Minister should feel ashamed for making the opposition parties stage dharna here instead of themselves solving the issue. Mr. Vinod Kumar criticised Dr. Reddy for describing the issue a minor one.

Police officials unhappy over non-disposal of proceedings
150 SIs, 100 inspectors face charges of misconduct for violation of rules
CUTTACK: It’s not that mid-rung police officials in the State are only overburdened or fatigued due to workload, but many of them are demoralised for their promotional avenues have stopped as they are facing never-ending disciplinary proceedings initiated against them on flimsy grounds.
According to reliable sources, at least 150 officers in the rank of sub-inspector and over 100 inspectors in the Police Department are now facing charges of misconduct for violation of Orissa Government Servant Conduct Rules-1959.
What is appalling that in many such cases, the charge memos are either not filed or the enquiries are not leading to any logical conclusion thereby depriving promotional benefits to the unfortunate officials.
“Many such officers have retired in the meantime without availing due promotions while several disheartened lots are waiting for their superannuation knowing that they would retire in the same rank”, said an office-bearer of Orissa Police Association (OPA).
Promotion stalled
The officers facing such dilemmas are passing through severe mental agony and are not in a position to perform their duties properly , the police leader said.
A retired police official pointed out that while he was in-charge of a police station, he disposed of some unclaimed seized vehicles following an order of auction from the local SDJM court. “But I was charged of committing gross misconduct and dereliction of duty.
My promotional avenues were stalled and I retired after working in the same rank for over 10 years”, the retired officer said.
Surprisingly for the same charge, another official, who was in-charge of the malkhana of the police station during the same period, was also implicated and he too is still continuing to face the magic; serving in the same rank for the past 10 years.
“How can two officials face similar charge for the same offence”, the officer questioned saying that it was not his responsibility to observe the basic procedure of auction sale as he was simply obeying the orders of his superior.
Requesting to recall the charge-sheet framed against him and to drop the disciplinary proceeding thereof, the officer presently working in Crime Branch Department has made several petitions to the DGP, Home Secretary, Chief Minister and to the Governor but to no avail.

Release of Oriya writer demanded
Special Correspondent
100 writers, journalists and human rights activists stage protest
He published a book on communal riot
in Kandhamal
Kumar and two others were arrested on Monday
BHUBANESWAR: About 100 writers, journalists and human rights activists of the State staged a dharna here on Thursday to protest against arrest of the publisher of a book on the recent communal violence in Kandhamal district .
The activists and writers demanded for the unconditional release of the publisher of the book, Lenin Kumar, and two employees of the printing press where the book was published.
The city police had arrested Mr. Kumar and two others on Sunday taking exception to some pages of the book titled “Dharma Naanre Kandhamalare Raktanadee” (Bloodshed in Kandhamal in the name of religion’.
The pages of the book to which the police had taken exception pertained to a secret letter of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, according to Biswapriya Kanungo, human rights activist and counsel for Mr. Kumar.
Mr. Kumar, who is the editor of Oriya quarterly ‘Nisan’, owns Nisan Publication that published the book on the communal riot in Kandhamal.
Those who took part in the protest sit-in outside the Raj Bhavan held placards and banners condemning Mr. Kumar’s arrest and blaming the police for muzzling the right to dissent.
They also submitted a memorandum at the Raj Bhavan seeking release of Mr. Kumar and two employees of the city-based Sovan Printing Press.
Mr. Kumar and the two others, who had been arrested under Sections 153A, 295A and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, were remanded to judicial custody by a local court on Monday.
The police had swung into action and booked Mr. Kumar in the wake of the appearance of Maoist posters in different localities of the Capital city.
The posters, which bore the name of Communist Party of India (Maoist), warned people against joining organisations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
The police had seized some posters and registered a case, but no one has been arrested in this connection so far.

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