Legal News 05.01.2009

Don’t ever try to act smart with courts
MS Kamath
Monday, January 05, 2009 02:24 IST
Consumer courts are liberal in interpreting rules and regulations in favour of consumers, but this does not mean that the latter can take liberties for benefit. This was learnt by G Lenin in Kerala State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in The proprietor, Vahini Motors, Pallimukku Kollam vs. G Lenin.
Lenin purchased a Honda Activa from the company in 2003, and was given four coupons for free service of the car in the first year. The first service was done on October 21, 2003. When Lenin brought the car for servicing the second time on February 27, 2004, the motor company refused stating that he had brought the car too late for a second service. Lenin had to get the car serviced from another agency for Rs250.
He took the case to Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum at Kollam, which held the motor company liable for efficiency of service and awarded him a refund of Rs250 as the cost of the service, with Rs500 as compensation and additional Rs250 as legal costs.
The company went in appeal to the state commission at Kerala. It said the terms and conditions stated that second service was available only between 120 to 135 days after the car was sold or after 3,500 to 4,000 kilometres.
The company contended that Lenin had come after 135 days and hence was not entitled to the service. The last date for free service was January 21, 2004 and the consumer had come almost a month later.
It was found that the coupons did have such stipulations and that the consumer had approached the company after the validity period. The consumer could not be given benefit of doubt and the company was not bound to carry out the free service, it held. Setting aside the order of the lower court, the commission accepted the company’s appeal and said that it had no liability to the consumer.

Bank’s recovery agents forcibly seize vehicle
29 Dec 2008, 0355 hrs IST, Neha Shukla, TNN
LUCKNOW: The ICICI Bank had admitted in the high court in August last year that there would be no employment of musclemen for forcible repossession of the vehicle or the property for which the loan has been taken. But, the bank has broken its promise. In a particular case, even a stay order from district consumer disputes redressal forum did not deter the recovery agents of ICICI Bank from forcibly seizing the vehicle of a woman, Raj Kumari Gupta, who could not pay her EMIs. The woman is still to recover her vehicle which is also a source of livelihood for her. “I tried talking to bank officials but they did not listen,” she rued. Gupta had taken a loan of Rs 6,58,000 from ICICI Bank limited in July 2007 for the purchase of a truck. She was required to pay back the amount in 58 equal monthly instalments (EMIs) of Rs 15,725 each with an annual interest of 6 per cent (reducing) per annum. She paid all instalments regularly for 11 months. But, could not pay instalments when the vehicle developed a fault in July, 2008 and remained idle for two months. She requested the bank to allow some more time to pay back the due instalments. But, the vehicle was seized on four occasions by local recovery agents and she was asked to cough up Rs 10,000 to get it released each time. When the aggrieved woman approached the district consumer disputes redressal forum-I, Lucknow, it issued a stay order on December 1, instructing the bank `not to seize vehicle No. UP 31 T-1595′. The forum also fixed the next date of hearing as February 14, 2009. But, on December 11, her vehicle was seized again. The recovery agents stopped the truck mid-way and after manhandling the driver asked him to hand over the keys and papers. “My driver told them that he has a stay order and the recovery agents said they have seen such stay orders many times,” said Gupta. When her driver, Pacchu, went to Kakori police station to lodge an FIR into the matter on December 11, the police refused to lodge an FIR. “After a brief lull, such cases are on the rise again,” said Mujeeb Effendi, the lawyer representing Gupta. The consumer forum has received as many as 10 cases in the last five months where vehicles of the complainants have been forcibly seized by one or the other financing companies.

Car dealer told to pay up for harassment
Express News Service
Posted: Jan 01, 2009 at 0124 hrs IST
Chandigarh The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed Hind Motors to pay Rs 10,000 as compensation for causing mental agony and physical harassment to a customer. The forum has also directed Hind Motors, the authorised dealers of Tata Motors in the city, to pay Rs 2,000 as litigation costs.
The complainant, Ravinder Pal, said he wanted to buy an Indigo from the defence canteen in Bathinda and had made an advance payment of Rs 8,000 to Hind Motors in July 2008. He later paid Rs 3,88,459 for the car.
The complainant averred that he was driving down to Ludhiana with his family in the car when it developed a technical snag on the way. When they took the car to an authorised agent of Tata Motors the next day, all four nuts of the front wheel were found to be loose.
The complainant alleged that the vehicle was delivered to him without conducting a pre-delivery inspection, which indicated negligence and deficiency on part of Hind Motors.
In its reply, Hind Motors said the complainant had not placed on record any bills pertaining to the sale as the vehicle involved in the complaint was purchased from the defence canteen.
The forum ruled: “It shows that there was no proper pre-delivery inspection of the car in question. In such circumstances, there is a grave deficiency on part of the dealer.”

Extra bench to clear backlog of consumer disputes by Dec
Posted: 2004-10-20 00:00:00+05:30 IST
New Delhi, Oct 19: The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) is constituting an additional bench to expedite disposal of the heavy load of pending cases by the end of this year.
“The notification for the purpose has been issued and the selection process is under progress,” said Justice (retd) MB Shah, president, NCDRC.
The forum has, since its inception in 1998, cleared 27,729 cases against 35,535 filed as on September 30. Of the pending 7,806 cases, majority pertains to insurance, medical fatalities and construction.
“The consumer awareness movement is still not fully developed. More and more petitions are being filed for relief measures. But for want of infrastructure, more than 7,500 cases are still pending,” he said.
While 1,17,204 cases are still pending before different state commissions across the country, about 2,35,165 cases are yet to be disposed of at the district levels.
At the state-level, while the Delhi state redressal forum has disbursed 17,323 cases against 22,071 cases filed as on June 30, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have 30,620 and 12,262 pending cases against 40,731 and 28,577 filed cases, respectively.
At district-level, Delhi has 12,482 cases pending against 1,39,258 filed, Uttar Pradesh has settled 25,0669 cases against 32,2892 filed.
A consumer can approach any forum with a simple application giving facts. “We provide legal assistance to people who cannot afford it. Insurance policies are so complicated that a layman finds it difficult to understand the clauses. So we are there to help,” the former Supreme Court judge said.
To provide cheap, speedy and simple redressal to consumer disputes, quasi-judicial machinery is set up at each district, state and national level. A written complaint, as amended by Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2002, can be filed before the district consumer forum (compensation up to Rs 20 lakh), state commission (up to Rs 1 crore), national commission (above Rs 1 crore).

Supreme Court declines PIL on Hindus
New Delhi (PTI): The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a PIL complaining that Hindus were not getting their due rights.
The apex court said that it has become a trend for every community to complain that it is not getting the due rights.
“Muslims say the same thing. Christians say the same thing that they are not getting their rights,” a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Markandey Katju and P Sathasivam said.
Justice Katju, who made the remarks, said “who is stopping Hindus from exercising their rights”.
The PIL filed by a Delhi-resident Bal Ram Bali had raised issues related to the community.

CBI to file supplementary report on MP Subba’s citizenship
New Delhi (PTI): The CBI on Monday told the Supreme Court that it will file a supplementary report on the citizenship of Congress MP from Assam, Mani Kumar Subba, whose nationality has come under a cloud after an initial probe revealed that he obtained his birth certificate in a fraudulent manner.
Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium said there was a need to investigate what was stated in the affidavit filed by Subba on the issue of his nationality.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan granted six weeks to the CBI to file the supplementary report.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the controversial MP from Tezpur, said three certificates have been procured from Nepal and it would be appropriate for the investigating agency to look into the matter.
The PIL filed by a Noida resident, Birendra Nath Singh, in 2005 had alleged that the Lok Sabha MP and lottery baron had come to India after a murder case was registered against him in Nepal in early 1970s.
His counsel Ambhoj Kumar Sinha contended that when the CBI had come to the conclusion that Subba has fraudulently obtained the birth certificate to establish his nationality he did not deserve any sympathy.
The Bench said the prayer for probe into the MPs citizenship was granted but it cannot unseat him from Parliament.
“This prayer for disqualification (as MP) cannot be granted,” the Bench said adding that the procedure for disqualification can only be initiated according to the provision of Article 103 of the Constitution.
“You may go to President for appropriate remedy,” the Bench said.

SC notice to Govt on Jayalalithaa’s plea on Kachatheevu island
New Delhi (PTI): The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Centre on a petition filed by former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today seeking direction for retrieving the “Kachatheevu” island that was ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974.
The apex court issued notice to the Centre but questioned the AIADMK chief for raising the issue three decades after the treaty was signed between the two countries.
“After 34 years you have woken up,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said referring to the PIL in which Jayalalithaa has sought quashing of the March 23, 1976 “maritime boundary agreement” which according to her deprived the fishing rights to Indian fishermen in the Bay of Bengal and Gulf of Mannar.
The former Chief Minister has termed the treaty as unconstitutional as it involved the livelihood of thousands of fishermen in Tamil Nadu, whose fundamental rights are being violated due to action by the Sri Lankan authorities.
Tracing the history of the 285 acres of Kachatheevu uninhabited island, Jayalalithaa complained that in 1974 the then Indian Government ceded the territory to Sri Lanka through an executive agreement in violation of Article 368 of the Constitution.
Quoting the apex court judgements, she submitted the apex court had clearly held that under Article 368 it was only Parliament which can make a law to give effect to and implement an agreement.
However, in the case of Kachatheevu, she said no such law was made and instead the territory was ceded by an executive agreement.

Rhetoric not going to deter terrorists
5 Jan 2009, 0140 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
Mumbai terror attacks may not be probed by the National Investigating Agency (NIA), for 26/11 happened before it came into being on January 1, but militants in Assam have thrown the gauntlet on the very day of its birth by setting off bombs in crowded areas of Guwahati killing five persons, that too virtually in front of tough talking home minister P Chidambaram. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi joined Chidambaram in admitting that police had specific intelligence inputs about the blasts and the miscreants responsible for it. Significantly, the home minister admitted that “Indian insurgents have safe sanctuary in Bangladesh”. The next day, Chidambaram met the press and issued a rhetorical statement — “The leaders of banned organisations, if they are listening as I speak now or read it in tomorrow’s newspapers or watch television later in the day, they must get this clear message that security forces will deal decisively with the members of these banned organisations who threaten the peace and integrity of India.” Four years ago, a warning similar to Chidambaram’s was issued by the Supreme Court. It had warned the Centre and Assam on the massive demographic and cultural problems faced by people of the state and the looming security threat to India because of an unabated stream of migrants flowing in from Bangladesh, which as per Chidambaram’s specific knowledge was a safe sanctuary for militants training guns against India. This 2005 SC judgment was published prominently by newspapers and telecast by TV channels for the benefit of those in power at the Centre and the state. Four years later, nothing has changed on the ground. Those who were in power in the state and the Centre then still hold the reins and illegal migration continues unabated. Shocked by the ground situation narrated by a PIL filed by Sarbananda Sonowal, the SC in 2005 had castigated the Centre for ignoring a virtual “external aggression” unleashed on Assam because of rapid influx of Bangladeshi migrants and the state for blinking at it and aiding their stay. After the SC quashed the IMDT Act as a faulty mechanism and asked the Centre and state to set up tribunals under the Foreigners Act for speedy detection of illegal migrants, the Centre and the state inserted a provision that prevented giving effect to the SC judgment on the ground. The SC again quashed the February 2006 Assam poll-eve notification diluting the stringent foreigner detection regime to protect them from deportation. Convinced that these migrants posed a threat to the integrity of the nation, the court said, “There is a lack of will (on the part of the Centre) in the matter of ensuring that illegal migrants are sent out of the country.” The notification was issued on February 10, 2006 to step around the 2005 judgment quashing the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act. “Though we would normally desist from commenting, when the security of the nation is the issue as highlighted in the 2005 judgment, we have to say that the bonafide of the action leaves something to be desired,” a three-judge Bench had said tersely. When such stinging rebukes and repeated warnings from the highest court of the land go unnoticed or are side-stepped by the ruling political parties, one wonders whether Chidambaram’s rhetoric will enthuse policemen to gear up to the challenge of fighting the banned organisations. We will see the results in this new year.

Power woes
Bijbehara residents threaten to file PILShabir Ali (Bijbehara) Islamabad, Jan 04: More than dozen villages of Bijbehara in district Islamabad of south Kashmir Sunday threatened to file PIL against the Power Development Department (PDD) and not to pay any tariff further for unscheduled power curtailment.Villagers of Mahind, Srigufwara, Darigund, Viddy, Hatigam, K.Kalan, Loiseer and many others alleged that the employees posted at the grid station Khiram, from where the power is supplied to their villages, have been resorting to unscheduled power cuts from past two months adding to the woes of people in general and students presently appearing in the secondary or graduate level exams in particular.“We are made to reel under darkness deliberately by the grid employees. The power tariff charged by the department is much more than the electricity supplied to us,” said the residents of Srigufwara to Rising Kashmir, adding that the higher ups of the department always turn a deaf ear when we approach them with our complaints.“Unscheduled power cuts hampers examination preparation of students that will definitely tell on their performance,” said a resident of Mahind Bashir Ahmad, adding that PDD authorities never bothered to look into the matter despite repeated pleas with higher officials. The residents demanded that the power meters be installed in their villages so that they are not over charged more than they use it.Residents of Hatigam said that they have called heads of Auqaf Committee’s of all the villages except Khiram to move court jointly and file PIL against the PDD. The residents have also decided not to pay power tariff to the department any more until and unless the department installs meters in their villages.“Filing PIL against the department will help us make our case strong. But from now we will refuse to pay tariff to the department,” residents told Rising Kashmir.

Nun identifies two Kandhamal rape suspects
5 Jan 2009, 2014 hrs IST, PTI
CUTTACK: Over four months after she was allegedly raped during communal violence in Orissa’s Kandhamal district, a Catholic nun on Monday finally identified two persons for involvement in the incident during a test identification parade, which was earlier deferred thrice. The 29-year-old nun identified two persons from a line-up of 90 during the identification parade (TIP) which was held at high-security Choudwar jail here and not in Kandhamal following a high court direction after she sought a change of venue, a senior police officer said. While ten persons had been arrested in connection with the case, 80 others were also paraded before the nun during the TIP, sources said adding that the exercise lasted for about 90 minutes. Though the TIP was to be held last Saturday, the authorities deferred the exercise till today citing “unnecessary media attention”, they said. A court in Baliguda had fixed dates for the TIP twice earlier, but the nun, who had left Orissa after the incident, failed to turn up while seeking change of venue of the exercise saying she did not want to visit Kandhamal again. The nun, who arrived at the jail escorted by crime branch sleuths and was accompanied by three other women, believed to be Church representatives, first spotted four persons from among a crowd of ten arrested men and finally zeroed in on two of them, they said. The nun was allegedly raped at K Nuagaon in strife-torn Kandhamal during the Orissa bandh on August 25 after prominent VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati was gunned down on August 23, 2008 at his Jalespota ashram.

EC to file criminal case against DMK leader Stalin
5 Jan 2009, 1952 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Monday ordered registration of a criminal case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s son M K Stalin for allegedly distributing money to people in Thirumangalam, where a byelection is scheduled on January 9. EC sources said that poll authorities have been instructed to register a case against Stalin, who is also a minister in the Tamil Nadu government, on charges of bribery. The poll authorities have also been instructed to issue a notice to the ruling DMK after television channels showed video clippings allegedly showing distribution of money by Stalin. The sources said that the EC also instructed issue of notice to AIADMK and registration of a case against Dandapany, District Joint Secretary of MGR Mantram in Coimbatore on charges of distribution of money. Meanwhile, a delegation of MPs from AIADMK, CPI and MDMK complained to the EC about the alleged distribution of money by Stalin. The delegation which included CPI leader D Raja and MDMK leader C Krishnan also drew the attention of the EC on the alleged attempts by the ruling DMK to tamper Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to its advantage in the poll. The delegation urged the EC to prevent mass replacement of EVMs as planned by the DMK and video graph all critical events during the polls.

Pakistan obliged to extradite suspects: India
5 Jan 2009, 1924 hrs IST, AGENCIES
NEW DELHI: India on Monday demanded from Pakistan extradition of perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks so that they can be brought to justice in India. It also said that it cannot believe a commando-type operation that was in evidence in Mumbai attacks could have taken place without anybody in the Pakistani establishment knowing it. “Our goals are clear. We want the perpetrators to be brought to Indian justice,” Foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon told reporters here briefing them on the material shared with Pakistan today on elements based there linked to the terrorists responsible for the Mumbai carnage. “All that we want is action and not words from Pakistan. But so far there is no evidence of it,” he said replying to questions. “We have given them material that has come up during our investigations. We hope Pakistan will investigate this material that leads to Pakistan, share the results with us and extend to us legal assistance so that we can bring the perpetrators to Indian justice,” Menon said. “The assistance from Pakistan extends up to and includes extradition,” he said. Menon said that under the SAARC convention, Pakistan was obliged to hand over Mumbai attackers to India. Maintaining that the time was not for words but for substance and action, Menon said so far India has “not seen any action at all” from Pakistan. “We would like to see real action as soon as possible,” he said in reply to a question on a time-frame for a response from Pakistan.

Delhi blasts: IM terrorist sent to 10-day police custody
5 Jan 2009, 1717 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: A suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorist, who is an accused in the Delhi serial blasts, was on Monday remanded to 10 days police custody by a city court where he was produced after being arrested from Lucknow on January 2. Mohammad Hakim, arrested by Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorism Squad, was produced before metropolitan magistrate Gaurav Rao who sent him to custodial interrogation till January 15. The alleged terrorist, a final year student of a private engineering college at Lucknow who was also carrying a prize of Rs one lakh on his head, was alleged by the police to have provided logistic supports to his co-accused in carrying out the September 13 serial blasts in the capital, besides supplying explosives to them. Seeking his custodial interrogation, ACP Sanjeev Yadav, who is the investigating officer (IO) of the blasts cases, submitted 12 other co-accused are still absconding and he was required to be taken to various places like Lucknow, Azamgarh and Mumbai for further probe. “The accused had supplied splinters and ball-bearings used in making bombs to maximise the casualties. He is to be interrogated to locate the shops from where he purchased them,” the IO said. As off now, his interrogation has substantiated the complicity of accused Ariz, Sadab Beg and Asadullah in the blasts, he told the court. Delhi police, on January 3, were granted transit remand of Hakim by a Lucknow court in connection with the case. Hakim is also wanted by Maharashtra Police in connection with a case under the Arms Act and Bombay Police Act, UP ATS had said.

MP tops overcrowding in Central jails
5 Jan 2009, 1440 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Despite the Union government allocating Rs 1,800 crore for prison modernisation across the country, several Central jails in many states are extremely overcrowded with Madhya Pradesh topping the list. According to the latest home ministry data updated till 2006, central jails in Madhya Pradesh had 17,058 inmates — 16,605 males and 453 females — against a total capacity of 8,290 prisoners. The next overcrowded central jails are in the national capital, which had a total of 11,378 prisoners against a total capacity of 4,800 inmates. Both Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, have eight central jails each. Similarly, as many as 6,056 extra prisoners were lodged in eight Central jails in Maharashtra. The data depicts the slow pace of five-year modernisation of prisons scheme by Union government being implemented in all states and union territories. The government had in 2002-03 initiated a Rs 1,800-crore scheme for modernisation of prisons with a view to de-congest the jails and improve the condition of prisons, prisoners and prison personnel. In Gujarat, where there are two Central jails, the number of inmates — 3,874– is double the total sanctioned capacity. There are 6,070 males and 270 females kept in the jails against the accommodating capacity of 2,387 males and 79 females, the data said. The condition of central jails in Northeastern states are far better as compared to other regions.

Terror kills more in Northeast than in J&K
5 Jan 2009, 0247 hrs IST, Subodh Varma, TNN
NEW DELHI: The serial blasts in Guwahati on New Year’s Day were a chilling reminder to the country of a forgotten but deadly war being fought in the Brahmaputra valley and the surrounding hills. In the year just gone by, over a thousand persons were killed in terrorist related violence in the seven states of the northeast. The bulk of these deaths occurred in just two states – Assam and Manipur. Assam reported 372 fatalities while the death toll in Manipur was just shy of 500, second only to Kashmir, which recorded 539 deaths. While the country has been preoccupied with Kashmir and escalating terrorist violence elsewhere, separatist violence in northeast has crept up. Data from the South Asian Terrorism Portal (SATP) shows that the total number of deaths in this region has increased from 640 in 2006 to 1057 in 2008. These figures include a steadily increasing number of fatalities among the separatists themselves, but there is a parallel rise in deaths of innocent civilians as the terrorists take recourse to bombings like the one in Guwahati on Thursday. The number of terrorists killed has increased from 317 in 2006 to 501 in 2007 and further to 612 in 2008. But the civilian death toll too has mounted from 231 in 2006 to 405 in 2008. Casualties among security forces operating in the region have declined drastically from 92 in 2006 to 40 in 2008. An estimated 2 lakh persons are reported to be internally displaced due to ethnic strife. Northeast is no stranger to insurgencies with all its seven states having witnessed some form of armed separatism over the last six decades. In the 15 years since 1994, an estimated 16,271 persons have been killed in this volatile region. A combination of persistent economic backwardness and the presence of several dozen ethnic groups has made this region a crucible of identity politics. Nearly 20% of the 50 million people of the region are below the poverty line. Of the 635 tribal groups identified by the Anthropological Survey of India, 213 reside in the northeast. Some states have a very low or passive level of separatist activity like Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. In Mizoram, the insurgency ended in 1986 after the accord between the Union government and the Mizo National Front led by Laldenga. Meghalaya too has a relatively lower and declining level of terrorist activity although a number of separatist groups are active in extortion and other criminal activities. Tripura, which till a decade back was a hotbed of terrorist actions, appears to have overcome the menace through a determined political effort. But in three states – Assam, Manipur and Nagaland – separatist violence continues with an incendiary mix of ethnic strife. While terrorist actions in Assam still get attention, Manipur, with the second highest number of terrorist related deaths after Kashmir, has remained below the national radar. All 59 police stations in the state have reported terrorist activities, and 32 of them have been placed in the high violence category. SATP estimates that there are at least 15 major militant groups with approximately 10,000 cadre active in the state. The desperate situation is highlighted by the fact that Manipur continues to remain classified as a disturbed area since the 1970s. It has a higher police-to-population ratio than the national average and yet there is no end to violence. Assam, the biggest state in the northeast, has been the hunting ground of Ulfa despite several army operations against it, including the 2005 sweep in sanctuaries in the Bhutanese foothills. Decades of Ulfa violence has spawned rival outfits from amongst plains tribals and Muslims, leading to an ever escalating spiral of violence on innocent civilians of every community. Current estimates put active terrorist groups at 12, while inactive groups number over 20. Recent reports suggest that Ulfa has also tied up with some factions of Naga separatist groups, operating in Nagaland and Manipur.

Govt tut-tuts at pharma cos ‘bribing’ docs
5 Jan 2009, 0630 hrs IST, Rema Nagarajan, TNN
NEW DELHI: If you thought the government would crack the whip on pharmaceutical companies offering freebies to doctors for prescribing their products, think again. The department of pharmaceuticals has indeed taken note of the dubious practices reported by TOI on December 15, but in a surprisingly mild, almost apologetic tone. Joint secretary Devendra Chaudhury wrote to the various associations of drug manufacturers on December 18 citing the TOI report, but the letter suggests he would be “grateful” if the associations acted on suggestions made by the department. The department’s secretary had earlier held a meeting of the various pharma associations in Mumbai on December 16 in which he made several suggestions to the industry, the letter points out. The mild tone is despite the fact that the December 18 letter admits: “The allegations cannot be in any way treated as ethical and something that could be endorsed by society in general. This also puts the pharma industry in a bad light since the enhanced promotional expenditure of the pharmaceutical companies result in enhanced market price of the drugs, which has to be borne by the consumer.” Yet, it says the department would be “grateful if you (pharma associations) could kindly take action” on its suggestions and also take steps to “prevent such perception in the mind of the public and other bodies to obviate misuse of promotional expenditure” and to kindly “prevent allegations as well as media reports on this subject as have appeared”. The joint secretary says in the letter that “the matter being extremely sensitive and of great public importance I am constrained to write to you”. With such a mild and apologetic tone from the government it is anyone’s guess whether the pharma industry would feel the need to take any action. Both the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Associations of India (OPPI) and the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA) had released their own codes of conduct at the beginning of 2007. However, there is no single code applicable to all drug manufacturers, a fact that the letter points out. But again, this is followed up by a gentle nudge: “You may like to consider having such a code for your members”. The OPPI and IDMA codes also have detailed procedures for filing of complaints and these associations claim that they take action against companies found to indulge in unethical marketing practices. However, the government has sought no details of complaints received by them or of what action was taken on these complaints.

Law Commission wants executive to appoint judges
5 Jan 2009, 0135 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Law Commission of India, headed by retired Supreme Court judge A R Lakshmanan, appears to have taken up cudgels against two landmark judgments of the apex court by urging the government to review these. While one judgment pertains to appointment of judges to the SC and the HCs delivered by a nine-judge constitution Bench of the apex court in 1993, the other relates to a 7-judge constitution Bench quashing a constitutional provision, which had allowed direct appeals to the apex court against the decisions of Central Administrative Tribunal. In two recent reports to the law ministry, the commission quoted law minister H R Bharadwaj extensively from newspaper reports, where he had categorically said that the collegium system of appointment had failed.
The Law Commission’s report dated November 21, 2008, conveniently did not mention Bharadwaj’s subsequent statement specifically stating that the present system of appointment of judges on the recommendation of the collegium headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) was working well. It cited the examples of America, Canada, Australia and Kenya to tell the government that in these countries, the executive had the power to appoint judges and that Chief Justices of these countries were merely consulted. So, the government should request the SC to review its judgment to bring in “clarity and consistency in the process of appointment of SC and HC judges”, the commission said. The commission, on December 17, 2008, also recommended review of another judgment — delivered in 1997 by a 7-jugde constitution Bench in the L Chandra Kumar case, which had struck down a constitutional provision allowing appeals against CAT decisions directly to the SC. The Bench had said the appeals had to be filed before the HC where a division Bench would deal with it. Now, the Law Commission says this would entail a lot of expenditure to the government employees, who alone can approach CAT for their grievances and disputes against the government.

AIDS patients may get pension in Andhra
5 Jan 2009, 1600 hrs IST, PTI
HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh government has decided to distribute a monthly pension of Rs 200 to each AIDS patient undergoing anti-retroviral therapy in the state. The state government has identified around 50,000 such patients of whom about 80 per cent fell under the below poverty line category. “All such patients in the BPL category will be given the pension from this month,” state information minister A Ramanarayana Reddy said. Briefing newsmen about the Cabinet decisions, the minister said these patients were “unable to make a living in view of social stigma, discrimination and low level of income.” Hence, the pension scheme was introduced, he said adding that there would not be any restriction on the number of persons eligible to receive the sum in a family. The respective district collectors would sanction the pension, he said.

No sexual abuse complaint by Dutch girl
5 Jan 2009, 1218 hrs IST, PTI
PANAJI: Goa Police today said that the 24-year-old Dutch national was only drugged and robbed by a group of Nigerians on a beach near Anjuna village and no rape case has been registered. “We have received the complaint of drugging and robbing. The girl did not say anything about sexual abuse and hence rape case was not registered,” SP (North) Bosco George said. It is a case of robbery and police are on a look out for the group of Nigerians who allegedly committed the crime, he said. A group of six Nigerians allegedly spiked the girl’s drink before robbing her on December 31 midnight. Police sources had yesterday said that the Dutch girl had complained of rape and hence medical examination was being conducted on her. “The medical examination was conducted as she was drugged,” George said. However, the sources said that the tests were done to ascertain rape. The Dutch girl, who is holidaying with her mother in the coastal state has also failed to recognise the spot where the incident occurred. “She was drugged and hence was not in a position to know the exact place,” a police official said Incidentally, the Dutch national was drugged and robbed on December 31 midnight when the entire coastal state was on alert with a ban on beach parties and strong posse of policemen manning the beaches, especially isolated spots.

Orissa riots: SC says won’t allow minority persecution
Agencies Posted: Jan 05, 2009 at 1716 hrs IST
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it would not allow “persecution” of minorities and asked the Orissa Government to resign if it was unable to protect Christians who were targeted in recent riots that followed the assassination of a VHP leader.
“We are secular country. We cannot allow persecution of minorities,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said.
The Bench, which also comprised Justices Markandey Katju and P Sathasivam, criticised the state government for allegedly stepping in late to check the violence against the minority community after the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on August 23, 2007.
“It is the duty of the state government to protect the minority community. You (State) have done only after 50,000 people of the minority community fled to the jungles,” the Bench said when senior advocate K K Venugopal said that the Orissa government has complied with the orders of this court.
“We will not accept the persecution of minority. If the state government is unable to protect them it should resign,” Justice Katju observed and added “we have to protect the minority”.
“No minority community should be insecure in the country,” he said.
The apex court, which in October last had directed the stationing of para-military forces in the riot-hit areas till December-end in view of Christmas, asked the Orissa government not to take any unilateral decision on its withdrawal.
The Bench said any decision on withdrawal of central forces should take place in coordination with the Centre.

SC dismisses Sterlite’s plea in excise matter
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed Sterlite Industries’ plea seeking a stay on the Madras High Court judgement that asked the company to deposit additional excise duty of Rs 15 crore.
A bench headed by Justice D K Jain dismissed the Sterlite’s plea. However, it gave the company four weeks’ time to deposit the money.
According to the company, the orders of the High court and the sectoral tribunal suffer from a “non-application of mind” with respect to the prima facie case and undue hardship.
The Madras High Court, while refusing to waive the pre-deposit duty of Rs 15 crore, had remanded the matter for reassessing the duty payable in accordance with the Finance Ministry’s circular dated February 13, 2003.
Matters where calculation or recalculation is to be made for assessing the value of the goods captively consumed, irrespective of the year of assessment, must be done “in the appropriate manner as per the circular”, the High Court had held.
According to the Central Board of Excise and Customs circular, valuing goods captively consumed irrespective of the year of assessment is to be done through the Cost and Accounting Standards 4.
The Excise Department had issued 17 show-cause notices to Sterlite for recovery of differential duty of more than Rs 86 crore on account of the alleged undervaluation of copper anode between May 1997 and June 2000. – PTI

Who’ll clear backlog of Slum Rehabilitation Authority cases?
5 Jan 2009, 0426 hrs IST, SUKHADA TATKE, TNN
MUMBAI: Will the high court-appointed committee to clear the backlog of Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) cases be of any help? Apparently not, as the panel has not been given legal powers, say experts. They also point out that the committee is no different from the one set up last year which could dispose of only 42 cases. The SRA project has been mired in controversy ever since it was launched 10 years ago to provide free houses to slumdwellers in Mumbai. There have been widespread allegations that builders have hijacked the scheme in connivance with the authorities. The committee is supposed to perform quasi-judicial functions. It determines not only the rights and duties of slumdwellers and builders but even other commercial transactions which have far-reaching consequences. The very purpose of setting up the panel was to ensure that officers of senior rank sit jointly to speedily handle complaints. However, as things stood, there was a growing feeling at the ground level that the panel-comprising bureaucrats-was toothless and without statutory powers. Information obtained through two RTI applications seem to suggest this. As soon as the first committee was set up in July, an RTI query to the state demanding the exact nature of statutory powers and duties went unanswered. “There is absolutely no notification or amendment in the Slum Act. In the application, I also asked if people had the right to go into appeal if the order was not satisfactory, if principles of natural justice were being followed, if the committee would have any right to call developers and concerned officers when necessary. But there were no information on this,” said advocate Shakil Ahmed who has been working on numerous cases involving corruption in SRA schemes. “The committee has been given no powers. After making an order, the person seeking justice has to go back to the competent authority-be it the collector or ward officer or Mhada-depending on whose land it is. After going through the rigmarole of going all the way to the high-level committee, it is back to square one,” he added. This is also seen from the reply to the RTI that Simpreet Singh of the National Alliance for People’s Movements filed. “I had asked how many orders had been passed by the committee since it was set up. I was shocked to see that only four had been passed, and that too, against the people who had appealed,” he said. Chandrashekhar Prabhu, housing activist and former Mhada chairperson, said cases should be disposed of irrespective of the powers of the committee. “The committee members need to hear cases and give opinions as soon as possible. Their job is to give justice to those who have come to them, at least by giving them a hearing.” When the scheme was introduced, promises were made to provide 8 lakh houses to 40 lakh people in five years. Thirteen years down the line, activists have rubbished the claims. According to information they have obtained and compiled from the SRA website, the number of occupancy has reached only 32,000 with only 206 projects completed. There are about 300-400 projects in the pipeline reaching out to 1.39 lakh people approximately. But this figure, they fear, is also inflated. Others feel that the setting up of the committee may end up denying people the right to seek justice in courts. “It will cripple the poor further and justice will be delayed,” said advocate Pritpal Singh.

SC admits Pepsico’s plea seeking tax exemption in Kerala
New Delhi (PTI): The Supreme court on Monday admitted a petition filed by Pepsico India Holding challenging the Kerala High Court judgement that denied sales tax exemption to the soft drinks major.
A bench headed by Justice S B Sinha while admitting the plea posted the matter for final hearing on March 3. It also directed the state government not to take any coercive measure till then. Earlier, the court had ordered a status quo till today.
The Kerala Government had issued notification in 1993 giving sales tax exemption to new small-, medium- and large-scale industrial units for seven years from the date of starting commercial production.
However, the state government withdrew the exemption except for those that had taken steps to set up industrial units prior to January 1, 2000, or which had commenced commercial production on or before December 31, 2001.
According to Pepsico, the High Court had upheld the Deputy Commissioner of Commercial Tax’s order though it started production much before the scheduled date.
It further contended that the High Court failed to appreciate its genuine exemption claim.
The company said that sales tax exemption is given as an incentive for promoting industrialisation, and economic growth and development, and that any subsequent notification should further the objective.
The soft drinks major said it had acquired more than 50 acres on lease for 90 years for Rs 2.77 crore from the government for setting up a plant for manufacturing aerated and non-aerated beverages and other food products and their packaging material.

SC admits pleas on Vizhinjam Port project
NEW DELHI: Admitting three petitions filed by a consortium lead by Hyderabad-based Lanco Kondapalli Power Ltd, the Kerala Government and others, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the parties to maintain status quo with regard to the Rs 6,000-crore Vizhin jam harbour project coming up in Kerala.
The Kerala High Court had put a temporary objection to all tender activities related to the project and had also raised an objection to the Kerala Cabinet’s decision to approve the tender submitted by a consortium led by Lanco Kondapalli Power Ltd for de veloping the international container trans-shipment terminal.
The project is proposed to come up under public-private partnership at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram district.
Besides, it had also asked the state government to reconsider the bids of Mumbai-based Zoom Developers.
A bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat, while admitting the petitions, posted the matter for hearing on January 28. It also ordered status quo on the project till then.
Lanco Kondapalli Power Ltd, the state government and Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd, the nodal agency for developing a modern, all-weather deepwater seaport and container trans-shipment hub, on Monday challenged the High Court’s ruling.
The High Court had ordered that financial and technical bids of Zoom Developers should also be considered by the Bid Evaluation Committee.
Zoom’s tender was rejected by the Committee headed by the Kerala Chief Secretary, citing a violation of provisions in the original bid document, and the tender was awarded to Lanco Kondapalli.
Zoom had challenged its disqualification and the state government’s decision to award the contract to Lanco Kondapalli. – PTI

SC verdict important in Afzal Guru case: Gopinath Munde…/406849/
Agencies Posted: Jan 05, 2009 at 1249 hrs IST
Pune: BJP leader Gopinath Munde lambasted former Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil for his remarks on the death sentence of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, saying it was important to give effect to the Supreme Court verdict in the case.
He said Afzal Guru’s case cannot be compared with other pending mercy petitions, referring to Patil’s statement that it was unseemly to single him out and make haste in hanging him when some 35 files were still pending.
Commenting on Patil’s statement that the Afzal issue was being “politicised” and there was no bravery in hanging him, Munde said the death sentence to the terrorist mastermind had been pronounced by the country’s apex court and not by any political party.
Munde, who was addressing a ‘Brahmin Mahasabha’ convention in Pune on Sunday night, also said that it was a pity that former Union Minister was not able to comprehend the nature of crime for which Afzal was convicted.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena working President Uddhav Thackeray, who was also present at the convention, criticised Patil.
Citing policy adopted by the Britishers, Thackeray said the colonial rulers lost no time in hanging Indian revolutionaries who gave their lives for the country’s freedom but in free India those who undermine her sovereignty were being spared despite the apex court’s verdict.

Legal proceedings at sessions court stalled
5 Jan 2009, 0407 hrs IST, Nitin Yeshwantrao & Kartikeya, TNN
THANE: All legal proceedings at the Thane sessions court were stalled on Saturday after lawyers practising there decided not to participate in the legal proceedings. The Thane District Courts Bar Association, a body which has 1,800 lawyers as its members, is opposed to the “unilateral decision to grant a sessions court in neighbouring Bhiwandi township”. Lawyers affiliated to the association have gone on a strike that will continue till January 12. This comes at a time when attempts are being made to bring justice to the doorstep of the litigant by setting up new courts. The decision to build a sessions court in Bhiwandi was taken last month by Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar after more than 800 lawyers practicising in the magistrate’s court there abstained from work for 10 days. The lawyers had argued that many cases related to capital offences in Bhiwandi had long been pending before the Thane sessions court and the appointment of a sessions judge in the area would save petitioners’ time and money. The chief justice of the Bombay high court agreed to Bhiwandi lawyers’ demand. The strike by Thane lawyers has put petitioners in the district in a tight spot with lawyers refusing to represent them till the decision to set up a sessions court in Bhiwandi is scrapped. As a result of the strike, all civil and criminal disputes or stay orders of the lower courts are likely to be delayed. However, the lawyers are sticking to their guns. “We will come to the court but will not argue any case till our demand is accepted. We do not get pleasure by putting people to such hardship,” said Gajanan Chavan, president of the association. “Initially, we had planned only a day-long boycott. But we decided to extend it given the strong resentment among our members against setting up of a sessions court in Bhiwandi. All of us have collectively decided to extend our protest till January 12.” In 2007, new sessions courts were set up at Kurla and Dindoshi so that litigants from these areas do not have to travel all the way to south Mumbai’s Fort area for every hearing. In fact, there have been demands that the Supreme Court set up benches in other cities so that people are not forced to travel to Delhi all the time. Lawyers in Thane have their own reasons to protest against the setting up of a new court in Bhiwandi. “There is no infrastructure in Bhiwandi for a sessions court, while Thane has an existing set-up,” said Chavan. “In 1997, the then chief justice had promised us that any decision to set up a court in Bhiwandi would be taken after consultation with Thane lawyers. However, the decision was taken without taking us into confidence.”

HC upholds election of AIADMK MLA
Monday, January 05th, 2009 AT 1:01 PM
CHENNAI: Madras High Court today upheld the election of AIADMK MLA R Chinnasamy, contested from Singanallur Assembly constituency in Coimbatore District in 2006.
Dismissing the election petition filed by defeated CPI(M) candidate Sounder Rajan, Justice C Naggapan said the petitioner failed to prove his charges made against the elected candidate.
Chinnasamy, contested as an AIADMK candidate in Singanallur constituency, defeated his nearest rival Sounder Rajan in the margin of merely 14 votes.
In his petition, Rajan submitted that the counting officials misused their official power and counted most of the postal ballots in favour of Chinnasamy.
In his order the judge rejected his plea.

No exit visa, Israeli moves HC
5 Jan 2009, 2329 hrs IST, Abhinav Garg , TNN
NEW DELHI: An Israeli national convicted for a drug related offence in the Capital, who has served his prison term and has been released from Tihar, has approached Delhi High Court (HC) because he isn’t being permitted to return to his native place. Dvir Tomar, originally a resident of Western Galil, Israel, has questioned the logic of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) to deny him an exit visa required to leave the country because NCB plans to file an appeal against his release before the Supreme Court (SC). In his petition filed through counsel Neeraj Chaudhari, Tomar says his basic rights are being violated as NCD refuses to issue him a No Objection Certificate (NOC) that will enable him to obtain a visa, just because it mulls over moving in an appeal. HC, while considering his plea, has directed Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to issue him a temporary residence visa in India till the time NCB files its appeal. Tomar was arrested by NCB sleuths for illegal possession and smuggling of drugs in 2001 and his trial resulted in a conviction four years later, with a trial court awarding him a sentence of 10 years and imposing a fine of Rs 1000. He then filed an appeal before HC which remained pending. Since the convict had already spent more than seven years in jail, he sought release on period undergone, a plea which was granted by HC, provided he submits a fine of Rs 2 lakh. Keen to rejoin his family after a gap of seven years, Tomar sought an exit visa from FRRO but was sent to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to obtain an NOC because he had remained in India sans a valid visa all these years while in jail. According to his petition, frantic shuttling between offices of FRRO and MHA revealed that NCB had intimated its decision of going in appeal against the HC release order and asked that NOC shouldn’t be issued to Tomar.

Judiciary asserts its primacy
Legal Correspondent
New Delhi: The just-concluded year witnessed a major stand-off between the judiciary and the executive over appointment of judges to the Supreme Court. In the end, the court collegium asserted its primacy, rejecting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s request that three names it recommended for elevation be reconsidered.
Following the court’s decision, President Pratibha Patil appointed Justices A.K. Ganguly, R.M. Lodha and H.L. Dattu Supreme Court judges.
The Supreme Court upheld the appointment of Justice Ashok Kumar as judge of the Madras High Court, who was later shifted to the Andhra Pradesh High Court as permanent judge. It held that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) was not bound to consult other judges in the collegium while appointing an additional judge as permanent judge.
To weed out corrupt elements in the subordinate judiciary, the CJI asked the Chief Justices of the High Courts to periodically review the performance of district judges, assess their character and integrity and, if found unsuitable, to compulsorily retire them.
In the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam, the CJI permitted the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the allegation that Rs. 15 lakh in cash was deposited at the residence of a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The CJI also ordered an in-house probe by a committee of three-judges and he is examining its report.
The apex court expanded the scope of Article 21 (right to life and liberty), saying a person’s reputation is a facet of his ‘right to life’ and to protect this right, illegal preventive detention orders could be quashed even at the pre-execution stage through habeas corpus petitions.
“If a person against whom a preventive detention order has been passed can show to the court that the order is clearly illegal, why should he be compelled to go to jail? To tell such a person that although the detention order is illegal he must yet go to jail and he will be released later is a meaningless and futile exercise. If the person is sent to jail then, even if he is subsequently released, his reputation may be irreparably tarnished. The liberty of a person is a precious fundamental right under Article 21 and should not be transgressed.”
Despite an earlier ruling that public interest litigation should not be used to settle political scores, political issues cropped up before the apex court. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati moved the court to restrain the CBI from prosecuting her in a disproportionate assets case. According to her, after the Bahujan Samaj Party withdrew support to the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, the CBI said it had evidence to prosecute her in the disproportionate assets case of 2003.
However, after the Samajwadi Party extended support to the UPA government in the July 22 confidence vote, the CBI, on the Centre’s advice, filed an affidavit seeking to withdraw an application against the party chief, Mulayam Singh, in a disproportionate assets case in which it earlier found evidence to proceed against him.
The Centre and the CBI also came out in support of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi, opposing the Bihar government’s stand on filing an appeal against their acquittal by a trial court in a disproportionate assets case resulting from the multi-crore fodder scam.
Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin came up before the court and the Centre asserted that there was no bar on her holding a constitutional post though she acquired citizenship through naturalisation and not by birth.
Setback to Anbumani
Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss suffered a setback when the court quashed his decision to bring in a law aimed at removing cardio thoracic surgeon P. Venugopal as director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. The court criticised the manner in which the law was enacted to target an individual.
The CJI took the initiative to conduct three Lok Adalats to settle disputes over motor vehicle accident claims, family matters and land acquisition.
Workshops were held in Delhi, Kochi and Mumbai to train journalists in court reporting.

Four minor girls rescued
5 Jan 2009, 2351 hrs IST
NEW DELHI: Four minor girls were rescued and a woman and the owner of a placement agency were arrested by the Delhi Police from Amar Colony in two separate incidents on Monday. All the rescued girls hail from Sikkim. The police had, on Sunday, received information regarding the kidnap of three minor girls, around 12 years of age, from Sikkim who were suspected to be kept in the Garhi area of East of Kailash. Following this, a team zeroed in on a house in Parkash Mohalla, Garhi, where the three girls were found confined by one woman Srijana Subba Rai. A case of kidnapping of these three girls was found registered in Sikkim. In the other incident, another 12-year-old girl, a resident of Hoorgown, Sikkim, was rescued from a house in Amrit Puri Garhi `B’, East of Kailash. The police arrested one Parlad Singh who is the owner of a placement agency Sky Group of Companies. The police later informed the Sikkim police and also the parents of the rescued girls. Meanwhile, the girls have been sent to a child home.

Smoking ban: poor execution in State
Afshan Yasmeen
Health Department pulled up for being inept in its approach
Bangalore: Three months after the much-hyped ban on smoking in public was introduced in the country, health officials in Karnataka have managed to collect only a paltry Rs. 63,000 as penalty from violators.
Does this mean that not many are violating the ban, or is this because of poor compliance of rules by officials? The Union Health Ministry recently pulled up Karnataka Health Department officials for their inept approach to implementing the ban. The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the nodal agency to implement the ban in city limits, has not penalised anyone so far.
The proposal to cancel the licence of traders who do not implement the ban strictly in their shops and establishments also remains on paper. BBMP Chief Health Officer L.T. Gayatri said the problems that arose in the aftermath of the National Pulse Polio programme had delayed the process of setting up the task force for monitoring and implementing the ban. “It will be set up shortly,” she said.
While a few violators were being caught in railway stations and bus stations, heads of various hospitals in the city claimed they had succeeded in sensitising the people about the ban. “We are focusing on the awareness aspect now. We have taken up 50 schools and are sensitising students to the ill-effects of tobacco,” said G.T. Subash, Director and Dean of Bangalore Medical College and Research Centre who also heads the Anti-Tobacco Cell for Bangalore District. The State Anti-Tobacco Cell has so far raided eight clubs and hotels in the last three months and penalised just seven persons for violating the Act.
Why such a dismal record? S. Prakash, who heads the cell, said there were several hitches in implementing the ban. Citing an example, he said: “One of the exit points of an IT company in Whitefield, Bangalore, opens out into a road in a residential area. Smokers step out through this door to enjoy their puff. Though residents of the area have complained to the company authorities, they are helpless as smoking on the road is not a violation according to the Act.”
Responding to the Union Health Ministry’s recent evaluation that Karnataka had shown little eagerness in implementing the ban when it came to issuing notices to violators, Dr. Prakash said: “We have set up district anti-tobacco cells and have authorised them to print notices and collect fines. According to reports sent to us by these cells, they have taken up a rigorous awareness campaign to educate the people.”

Why suppress a dying declaration made before magistrate, asks Supreme Court
J. Venkatesan
Between two inconsistent statements, take one favourable to accused
State cannot suppress any vital document from court
Sessions judge, Bombay High Court failed to consider issue in proper perspective
New Delhi: Fairness in investigation and trial is a human right of an accused. The state cannot suppress any vital document from court just because it would support the case of the accused, the Supreme Court has held.
“The prosecution must also be fair to the accused. The court, while appreciating evidence on the basis of different dying declarations, is required to take into consideration inconsistencies between two statements and must accept the one that is favourable to the accused,” said a Bench consisting of Justices S.B. Sinha and Cyriac Joseph. The Bench acquitted a convict, who was awarded life imprisonment by a lower court on the basis of a second dying declaration made by Janabai, blaming her husband Samadhan Dhudaka Koli, and completely ignoring her earlier statement before a magistrate that her saree caught fire in an accident. The second declaration was made before the police.
Writing the judgment, Justice Sinha pointed out that a dying declaration made before a judicial magistrate had a higher evidentiary value. The Bench said Janabai, in her first dying declaration, attributed her burns to an accident. “She categorically stated that she had not been burnt by anybody from the house nor did she do so herself. She stated that her brother-in-law, mother-in-law and neighbours came there and extinguished the fire putting a blanket on her.”
The Bench said: “The judicial magistrate is presumed to know how to record a dying declaration. He is a neutral person. Why the prosecution suppressed the dying declaration recorded by the judicial magistrate is not known.”
Koli was awarded life imprisonment by a sessions court, which rejected his application to bring on record Janabai’s first declaration that was in his favour. This sentence was confirmed by the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court. Allowing Koli’s appeal against this judgment, the Supreme Court said: “The sessions judge as also the High Court, in our opinion, committed a serious illegality in refusing to consider the said question in its proper perspective. The prosecution did not explain why the said [first] declaration was not brought before the court. Evidently, there are a few inconsistent and contradictory dying declarations.”
“Consistency in the dying declaration, therefore, is a very relevant factor. Such a relevant factor cannot be ignored. When a contradictory and inconsistent stand is taken by the deceased herself in different dying declarations, they should not be accepted on their face value. In any event, as a rule of prudence, corroboration must be sought from other evidence brought on record,” the Bench said and directed that Koli be set at liberty forthwith.

Social welfare takes a backseat in Maharashtra
Rahi Gaikwad
Dip in spending and State grant, says CAG report
28,793 village panchayats received no funds for agriculture, social welfare in 2004-05
Report highlights loopholes in implementation of schemes
Mumbai: The first separate audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) on the local bodies in Maharashtra indicates that the focus on social welfare schemes in the State is blurring.
According to the report for the year ended March 31, 2006, the 28,793 village panchayats (VPs) received no funds for schemes related to irrigation, agriculture and social welfare in 2004-05.
At the district level too, these three areas point to a dismal record. “At the ZP [zilla parishad] level … the expenditure incurred on agriculture was not only the least compared to other components, but also showed a decline in 2004-05 when compared to 2003-04. While the expenditure on education showed an 8.33 per cent decrease over the previous year, the expenditure on public works showed an increase of 8.42 per cent.”
Urban bodies
In case of urban bodies, no expenditure was incurred on the Dalit Basti Sudhar Yojana in the Nashik Municipal Corporation and the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
In the 33 districts, the expenditure on administration, public works, irrigation and others increased in 2004-05 compared to 2003-04. However, the expenditure on health and sanitation, education, agriculture and social welfare decreased. In fact, there is an overall fall in revenue expenditure at the district-level. The ZP spending has dipped from Rs. 6,124 crore in 2003-04 to Rs. 6,095 crore in 2004-05.
One reason for the fall in spending on local schemes could be poor State allocation.
The report states: The Second State Finance Commission has recommended that 40 per cent of State revenues should be allocated to the Panchayati Raj Institutions [PRIs] … The allocation to PRIs showed a declining trend and was less than 10 per cent of the total budget during the three-year period from 2002-03 to 2004-05.
Contracted spending
Apart from the contracted spending, a range of factors listed in the report highlight many loopholes in the implementation of schemes. These include misappropriation of funds, unspent grants, loss of revenue, wasteful expenditure and discrepancies in bookkeeping to the tune of crores of rupees. They indicate that “the internal control mechanism in the zilla parishads was weak.”
For instance, a test check of 11 ZPs shows that Rs. 213.25-crore grants went unspent in the periods between 1992-93 and 2004-05. Another check of 18 ZPs found that there are 3,617 cases of misappropriation involving Rs. 32.12 crore pending as on March 2006.

Public hearing on property tax issues
5 Jan 2009, 0148 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore : Here’s more relief for property owners. There will be a public hearing on property tax at the zonal offices very soon, assures the BBMP. “We first want people to have access to the notification before this. Once they are informed, we could have fruitful interaction” BBMP deputy commissioner (resources) U A Vasanth Rao told TOI. The AROs at the range levels have also been briefed about the tax system. Those yet to access the commisioner’s draft notification can now either approach them or the citizen service centres for any assistance in calculating property tax, he said. The online tax calculator, designed in collaboration with the NIC, will also be available on the BBMP website from Monday evening.

Avoid court boycotts, SC judge tells lawyers
Staff Reporter
Avanashi: In order to sustain the confidence of the people reposed on judiciary, lawyers should avoid court boycotts, said Justice P. Sathasivam, Judge of the Supreme Court on Saturday.
He was speaking at a function organised to inaugurate the District Munsif Court for Avanashi constructed with the funding from the advocates. Hitherto the court and criminal court were functioning together.
Justice Sathasivam said the image of the judiciary in disposing civil cases should change, as people are afraid of approaching courts because of the inordinate delay in disposing the same.
Lok adalats
He also pointed out that there had been an increasing trend in terms of the number of cases relating to section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act in industrial and commercial cities and towns.
He said that Coimbatore had accounted for a large number of disposal of cases through lok adalats conducted under the Alternative Disputes Redressal System.
The modernisation has helped litigant population in accessing judgment copies and case status.
More than individuals, even Governments were increasingly filing litigations and Justice Sathasivam said that Government Departments should have legal experts to decide on whether to go in for a litigation or not. Judges of the Madras High Court, Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and F.M. Ibrahim Kalifullah, Collector V. Palanikumar, Principal District Sessions Judge G. Chockalingam and Chief Judicial Magistrate A.R. Balasubramanian took part in the function.

Free legal awareness camp in Pudukottai
Staff Reporter
PUDUKOTTAI: A free legal awareness camp was organised under the auspices of the District Legal Aid Services Authority; the Alankudi Taluk Legal Services Committee and the Keeramangalam Central JCI at Keeramangalam near Alankudi recently.
The Principal District and Sessions Judge, K. Jayasankaran, in his address, said that one of the objectives of the free legal aid services was to bring down the number of cases pending before various courts. He pointed out that most of the cases pertained to road accidents and explained the steps for seeking legal remedy for the same.
The Judge of the Fast Track Court, P.Ayyasamy and the Judicial Magistrate Karnan spoke.

‘Police out of touch’
4 Jan 2009, 0004 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore : The police department — from top to bottom — needs reforms and this has become top priority in the aftermath of serial terror attacks in the country, according to home minister V S Acharya. At the 52nd All-India Police Duty Meet held at KSRP 3rd batallion campus on Saturday, he said Karnataka is among a few states that are using funds for modernization of the police force properly. “Cops who are busy with day-to-day policing have little time to devote to current affairs. Most are unaware of emerging technologies and laws being implemented. With criminals using technology to their advantage, police should go through periodic refresher courses to update their skills,” he explained. The event saw cultural performances by folk artistes from different districts. The meet will be held till January 10. The karnataka state police, government of Karnataka, and all India police sports control board, ministry of home Affairs, government of India, are jointly hosting the event. This is the third time, Karnataka had hosted the meet and last time was in 2002. According to the police officials the event is a significant event in the calendar of police sports meets. The meet aims at striving for professional excellence in policing. About 31 units representing from the state police forces and central police forces of the country will be taking part in the professional competitions such as Anti-Sabotage Check, Computer Awareness, Dog Competition, Police Photography, Scientific-Aids to Investigation and Videography, and Prime Ministers medal for live saving at the meet. The Meet will witness large-scale participation of police personnel from different parts of the country. Officials said that elaborate arrangements have been made for the smooth functioning of the meet. Apart from the usual competitions there are some special competitions also. Technical papers, elocution and drawing/cartoon and a seminar “PoliceTECH 2.0” and an exposition “Secure 2.0” are also being planned. The theme of the special competitions and seminar and exposition would be the role of ICT in effective policing.

Notices to newspapers, TV channel for identifying juveniles
Staff Reporter
They revealed name of a 16-year-old boy in a report about a forcible sex change
Act prohibits media from disclosing the particulars of those under 18 years
BANGALORE: The Child Welfare Committee has issued notices to several newspapers and a television channel for allegedly violating the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act by revealing the name of a 16-year-old boy in a report about a forcible sex change operation and his rescue from transsexuals.
The CWC’s action came after a complaint by the Alternative Law Forum (ALF) against the report that appeared in November.
The forum also objected to the publication of the boy’s photograph.
This, according to the ALF, was in violation of Section 21 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act.
This Section prohibits newspapers, magazines and the visual media from disclosing the name and other particulars besides publishing photographs of those under 18 years.
Anybody violating the Section is liable to pay a penalty of up to Rs. 25,000.
Notices have been issued to Deccan Herald, Prajavani, The New Indian Express, Kannada Prabha, Udayavani, Samyukta Karnataka, Eenadu and TV9 Kannada news channel.
“We sent out notices asking the media to explain whether they were aware of the provisions of Act. If such violations continue, we will be forced to take legal action,” said CWC Chairperson Vasudeva Sharma.
A Prajavani representative appeared before the CWC on Thursday. The representative said the report was published on the basis of information given by the police.
He said the newspaper henceforth would not publish anything that violated the provisions of the Act. The CWC is awaiting the response of other newspapers and the television channel.
Not the first time
The city police have been issuing press notes naming the minors involved in the offence and also releasing their photographs. Recently a press note was issued from the west division police naming two minors involved in a case of theft. They also released the photographs.
“We cannot hold the police responsible for this. They can issue press notes giving the names. The media should be aware of the provisions of the Act and should take care not to disclose the identity of the minor,” ALF’s Arathi Mundkur told The Hindu.

SHRC notice to Manivannan
BANGALORE: The Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Saturday issued a notice to Deputy Commissioner of Mysore district P. Manivannan for his failure to submit a report in relation to a complaint by Sahana Acharya who had said eligible persons were being denied ration cards and old age pension.
SHRC members P.R. Reddi and B. Parthasarthy observed that Mr. Manivannan had failed to submit a complete report as directed by the commission in May 2008. — Staff Reporter

Adalat on January 30
Kozhikode: An adalat of the Kerala Coir Workers Welfare Board will be held here on January 30. It is meant to redress the grievances of the members of the board. Those who have complaints should contact the regional office or head office of the board before January 20 with relevant documents.

Haryana sets up video studios in jails
New district jails at Faridabad, Jhajjar and Yamunanagar are near completion
‘Proposal of restructuring of jails department has been sent to the Government’
Chandigarh: The Haryana Government has sanctioned Rs.4.52 crore for installation of Video Conferencing System in jails and courts to eliminate the possibility of escape of dangerous undertrial from police custody in transit from jails to courts and vice-versa.
As many as 25 video studios in jails and 39 in various courts of the State are being established under the project.
While disclosing this here on Sunday, a spokesman of the Jails Department said that a proposal of restructuring of jails department had already been sent to the Government. New district jails at Faridabad, Jhajjar and Yamunanagar with a total capacity of 3673 prisoners were near completion and were likely to start functioning by March, 2009.
A sum of Rs.71.85 crore had been spent by the Haryana Police Housing Corporation for the construction of these jails. He said that there was a plan to construct a new district jail at Rohtak and 86 acres of land had been acquired for this purpose. It would be completed in two phases. In the first phase, the capacity would be of 1000 prisoners and the capacity of second phase would be 1500 prisoners. An Administrative approval for Rs.43.52 crore had been accorded by the Government for the construction of this jail. The spokesman said that new district jails at Panipat and Rewari with a capacity of 500 prisoners each would also be constructed and the process for acquisition of land for construction of new jails at Panchkula, Fatehabad and Nuh in Mewat district was in pipeline, he added.- PTI

NBW against BSP legislator
Lucknow: In yet another embarrassment for the ruling BSP in Uttar Pradesh, a local fast track court has issued a non-bailable warrant against its MLA Dhananjay Singh, an accused in the murder of the state’s former Director General of Medical Health Bachchi Lal.
Fast track Judge Narendra Bahadur Yadav issued the NBW after rejecting an application by the BSP legislator seeking exemption from it.
January 12 has been fixed as the next date of hearing in the case.

Police plan new helpline for elderly
4 Jan 2009, 0340 hrs IST, A Selvaraj, TNN
CHENNAI: In the wake of recent attacks on senior citizens, with the murder of elderly couples in Ashok Nagar and Saidapet standing out, the Chennai city police have decided to extend all possible to the elderly. For one, in addition to the existing helpline (number 1253) that has been functioning for the past four years, a new toll-free number to be provided by BSNL is likely to be introduced soon.
“This new helpline will function from the control room in the city police commissioner’s office. It will also coordinate with two vehicles that will attend to complaints from senior citizens”, city police commissioner K Radhakrishnan said. “We will upgrade the present system to ensure full protection to senior citizens. A considerable percentage of the city’s total population comprises of senior citizens. We will have to identify those living alone without dependents. It is a laborious process. We plan to enlist the the help of a few NGOs,” Radhakrishnan said. It is estimated that one of out every seven people above the age of 60 in Tamil Nadu lives alone. The elderly constitute 11 percent (3.5 lakh) of Chennai’s population, well above the national average of 6.8. Many of them live alone, with their children working abroad. “We receive at least 50 to 60 calls a day. Only three or four calls are genuine. Calls are usually from people, about senior citizens lying unconscious or having fainted on the roadside. We also help the elderly get admitted in government hospitals,” an armed reserve woman police constable told the Times Of India.

Cyber crime still an enigma for cops
5 Jan 2009, 0142 hrs IST, TNN
Ahmedabad : Cyber crimes present an enigma for most city police officials. State government had earmarked a specialised cyber crimes cell and allotted it to city crime branch for detection of online crimes. But, new amendments in Information Technology Act have added to troubles of police. “Earlier an officer of the rank of ACP was to be investigating officer because cyber crime require expertise. Now, amendments ensure that even a police inspector can fulfill this role. Without proper training, this move is bound to have a detrimental impact on cyber policing,” said a senior police official. In police force, where most officials are not conversant with latest technology, one has to look forward to recently-proposed cyber crime cell, that will work under guidance of city crime branch. “We are past our prime. This is not an age when we can work with laptops and PDAs. I even fumble with my latest mobile phone. It is time to educate the newly-recruited brigade of constables, so that they can do wonders when they rise up in hierarchy,” said an assistant commissioner of police on the condition of anonymity. Even senior officials are stumped when it comes to handle crime of cyber world. “What would you do if a person comes to you and says that he was harassed on a website based in US? Cyber space is beyond physical boundaries. The solution lies in co-operation between nations to curb the menace,” said an IPS officer. In such an environment, city cyber cell is still under construction hopefully a single window for all online crimes. Usha Rada, assistant commissioner of police, who had worked on several cyber crimes in 2008, told TOI that the cell will start functioning in two months. “We have strength of 13 personnel, including an ACP, an inspector, a sub-inspector (technical) and 10 constables and lok rakshaks. Staff will be trained in IT Act, 2000 and its application and latest developments on cyber space. We expect detection of more crimes with the use of latest software and technology,” she said. However, on the flip side, sources from crime branch said that officials are not willing to undergo required training and constables do not possess requisite technical skills to understand complex programming in various cases. Last year saw a number of cases, including data theft, hacking and phishing, impersonating on social networking sites, terror threat emails, conspiracy and even SMS spoofing. Most cases are under investigation and no conviction has been reported till the end of 2008.

Why anti-cyber crime laws need teeth
5 Jan 2009, 0137 hrs IST, Parth Shastri , TNN
Ahmedabad : People accused in such cases have no cause to worry. For, such offences have now become bailable and even if convicted, the guilty will get much shorter jail terms. The reason: Latest amendments on cyber laws in the Information and Technology Act, 2000 have clearly gone soft on such cyber criminals while guns are trained on cyber terrorists. The amendment to the Information and Technology Act, 2000, that was passed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha last month, has drawn flak from legal eagles. Gujarat has seen more than 60 incidents of cyber crime, most of which have been pushed to the backburner. Investigations have remained inconclusive. “Cyber laws going soft on these cases will only embolden online fraudsters,” said a senior official of city police. Pavan Duggal, a cyber law expert from Delhi who practices in Supreme Court, was in town on Saturday to deliver a lecture on cyber crime in AMA. Duggal pointed out various startling facts about the use and misuse of the IT Act by investigating agencies. “However, the amendments leave some loopholes to plug,” said Duggal. On one hand, the Act clamps life term on a cyber terrorist’ but is soft on phishing, hacking, defamation and cyber stalking. “It is a surprise that both the Houses passed the bill without any discussion on December 22 and 23. The bill now agrees to convert previously unbailable offences to bailable ones in most of the cases, most notably in hacking, phishing and cyber stalking. In the case of data theft and defamation, the bill now suggests three years of imprisonment, which was earlier for five years,” said Duggal. “The logic of the non-bailable factor was that it was a deterrent and ensured that the accused is not able to tamper with the data of evidence against him. However, the first thing the criminal would do is to wipe out all probable traces,” said Duggal.

Narco-analysis must be banned
The Pioneer
Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
I have gone through the sworn affidavit of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. If what she has stated on oath is true, undoubtedly the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad is violating her human rights. She is just an accused/suspect. No human being loses his/her inalienable rights, which inhere in him/her only by virtue of his/her being a human being. Right to freedom from torture is such an inalienable human right.
Apart from the political influence on them, the police in India work in a legal frame-work which is a legacy of colonialism. That is why we see our police often become torturers and violate inviolable rights of the citizens. The institution of police and other law enforcement establishments are in dire need of drastic reformation. Many colonial laws also should be drastically amended.
Other than these, I think the following issues also need national attention:
First, India should ratify the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and should pass a legislation incorporating the provisions of the convention and providing adequate compensation to victims which is reimbursable from the violator/s.
Second, India should withdraw all reservations on the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Also, India should ratify/accede to the Statute of International Criminal Court.
Third, terror offences should be dealt with under a special legislation which would provide, inter alia, an autonomous commission comprising sitting/retired Supreme Court and High Court judges, human rights activists of unimpeachable credentials and such other persons. There should be a force specially trained in investigation of complex offences committed anywhere in India and the law should provide for procedure of investigation which will ensure respect for the human rights of the accused/suspects.
Fourth, there must be no narco-analysis. Human rights activists have been demanding this for far too long.Let Central guidelines be formulated and adopted by Parliament to ensure the above.
In the interim, the State and national human rights commissions must regularly prepare and publicise status reports on the findings and actions taken on complaints of human rights violations.
at 7:14 PM

‘Govt should legalize auto fleet’
5 Jan 2009, 0215 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: Automobile and environment experts want the government to legalize the entire autorickshaw fleet of the city to combat pollution. If a large number illegal autos are not able to switch over to LPG mode because they will not receive incentives, they will keep polluting the air and there would be virtually no check on the fleet of illegal autos. This deprivation will lead to fresh social unrest, felt experts. There are approximately 40,000 illegal autos in the city. The problem is that around 25,000 of them have some documents, such as registration numbers, tax tokens, insurance and PUC papers, but the rest do not have any papers. These are known only by their chassis number. According to transport department officers, these autos would not get any financial sops provided by the government, banks and three-wheeler manufacturers. “So, these autos will eventually run disguised as green autos and continue to pollute the air,” said automobile expert Prof P K Bose, who’s also the director of National Institute of Technology, Silchar and Agartala. “If a large number of autos still run on kata tel and pollute the city’s ambient air, the entire purpose of autos switching over to LPG mode will be defeated. Since these illegal autos have become the majority on most auto routes, doing away with these autos is a near-impossible proposition. They will come back on the roads to pollute, maybe after a short hibernation,” said auto emission consultant S M Ghosh. “There is no point entering into the legal and illegal muddle. To the eyes of an environment-conscious person, what is most important is whether auto pollution has substantially reduced or not. If only a section switches over to LPG mode while the others keep on polluting, it is of no use. So, the government must think of switching the entire auto fleet to LPG mode. Only that would bring about the desired effect,” said environment crusader Subhas Dutta. Transport economist Ardhendu Shekar Gupta also called for legalizing the fleet. “Legalization of the fleet would ease the problem. There will be less friction in the switchover process because autos are the livelihood of a large number of people. The current resistance is largely because a large section of auto operators find themselves ostracized by the government in the switchover process,” he said. “Suppose 70,000 or 80,000 autos were legalized. The government should make it clear that not a single auto beyond this limit would be allowed to ply. Once you set the upper limit, the illegal plying of autos would automatically stop. Besides, the government would have a complete database on the city’s auto fleet, and there would be better monitoring on these autos,” Gupta added.

NHRC notice to Orissa govt on Hindu groups’ bandh on X’mas day
Thursday, December 18th, 2008 AT 11:12 PM
New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today issued a notice to Orissa government, asking it to explain how it proposes to deal with a bandh called by the Sangh Parivar in the state on Christmas day.
The Commission asked the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police of Orissa to explain in three days what steps the state has taken for protection of minorities during the Christmas season.
The notice was issued after Congress leader Margaret Alva wrote a letter to NHRC, in which she expressed apprehension that violence may erupt in Orissa in the wake of the bandh call given to press for arrest of killers of VHP leader Laxmananda Saraswati in Kandhamal district of Orissa.
His killings triggered widespread backlash in which churches and Christians were attacked in the district, and areas adjoining it.

TRS all set to join TDP-left combine
5 Jan 2009, 0231 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: Ending a long suspense, the TRS is set to join the TDP-left alliance and make it a `Mahakutami.’ According to party sources, the muhurat is set for an announcement on the alliance at 10 am on January 21 by party president K Chandrasekhar Rao. It is said that Rao had several rounds of deliberations with party leaders and party ideologue Prof K Jayashankar. He would hold a meeting of the state executive and district-level leaders before making the announcement, and explain to them about the need to ally with the TDP-left combine. Once the announcement is made, the TRS would adopt a harsh line against the Congress party and chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. It will take up several programmes to highlight the manner in which Reddy and the Congress have become hurdles in achieving separate statehood. “Defeat the backstabber,” is going to be the main slogan, a senior leader said. Asked to comment on the party’s stand on the alliance, senior leader T Harish Rao said that it would go with a party which would support the separate state. “We are in the process of obtaining the opinion from various sections of the party and a decision would be announced very soon,” he said. “Seat adjustment with any party would not be a problem. We will go with a winning combination as we too want to defeat the Congress party in the state,” he said. Referring to the state government’s failure in repatriating non-local sub inspectors and circle inspectors from Hyderabad as per the GO 610, Harish Rao demanded that the government file a counter before the AP Administrative Tribunal, which suspended the GO 160 meant to transfer non-local police officials to their parent districts.
The government had failed to file a counter in the Tribunal and the affected persons went to the high court seeking a direction to the government to file the counter before the Tribunal, he said. He demanded that till the non-locals were repatriated, the government should stop effecting promotions in the police department in the Hyderabad zone.

Accident victims wait 6-7 yrs to get compensation
5 Jan 2009, 0000 hrs IST, A Subramani, TNN
CHENNAI: Six to seven years that’s how long a motor accident victim has to wait to receive compensation. And if the insurance company prefers an appeal, add another three to five years to the waiting time. Poor infrastructure, lack of stenographers/typists at the claims tribunals and cumbersome procedures are the main reasons for the delay. The six Motor Accidents Claims Tribunals (MACT) in Chennai receive about 4,500 claim petitions annually, and the high court has said that each of these courts must dispose of 80 cases every month. The monthly disposal should not drop below 60, it has said. While the tribunals manage to meet the monthly requirement, litigants get copies of the judgment only two or three months later. Without the certified copies, advocates and litigants cannot file execution petitions before the competent forums to get the order enforced. Though insurance companies are liable to pay interest for the period of the delay as well, it hardly serves the purpose in the case of families whose sole breadwinner is has been killed or maimed, says advocate V S Suresh. Barring the chief judge of the small causes court, other judges take down depositions or write down operative portions of their orders, a bench clerk said. A numbered claims petition is taken up for first hearing only four months later. “A petition I filed in December 2008 is slated to come up for hearing next in April 2009,” said Suresh. Though the order 8 rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) makes it clear that a written statement or counter should be filed within a maximum period of 90 days, a counter for a claim is filed only about 12 months later, said advocate Siva Rajasekaran. At times the period extends up to 18 months, he adds. In case of non-filing of counters within the stipulated period, judges record the evidence of the victim ex parte and direct the insurance company to deposit half the claim amount in court, says Suresh. Even successful claimants are frustrated when courts, exercising abundant caution, direct them to deposit the compensation money in a nationalised bank for a period of not less than three years. “The three-year lock-in period weighs heavy on claimants who have already spent about six or seven years in the tribunal,” Suresh explains. Courts usually permit claimants to withdraw interest on their deposits, and even allow them to access a portion of the compensation sum for educational, medical and family exigencies. However, if accident claims are settled in lok adalats under Section 20(1)(a) and (b) of the Legal Services Act 1987, claimants get cheques on the spot with no strings attached.

Laws fail the acid test as attacks rise
4 Jan 2009, 0157 hrs IST, Neelam Raaj, TNN
As 2008 drew to a close, so did 22-year-old Swapnika’s life. A spurned lover had thrown acid at her as the final-year engineering student returned home from college in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh. She died on December 31. Blinded and burnt, her 21-day ordeal ended in hospital. Swapnika is one of many. Each year, a number of women are killed, maimed, blinded or scarred for life in acid attacks across the country. But they don’t even become a national statistic to mourn. The National Crime Records Bureau doesn’t collect data on acid attack victims. But piece the picture together from newspaper reports and the gravity of the problem is clear. Just days after the attack that disfigured Swapnika and eventually took her life, acid was thrown at a girl in Delhi as she stepped out of a metro station. She escaped with minor burns but not everyone is so lucky. In August, a 20-year-old Kolkata tailor threw acid at teenaged sisters because their mother had refused to let him marry the younger one. Both girls were fearfully disfigured. Activists who work with survivors of acid attacks lament the lack of laws to regulate the sale of concentrated acid. “A 10-year-old can walk into a shop and buy a litre of highly concentrated acid over the counter for less than 20 rupees,” says Sheila Ramanathan who heads the Human Rights Law Network in Bangalore. Ramanthan points out that Bangladesh has an Acid Control Act, which regulates the sale of acid and also the way it is produced, stored and transported. But in India, acid is carelessly allowed to become a deadly weapon. “Prevention is the only way to stop these attacks. There is no other quick-fix as the scars that are left behind are permanent,” says Sanjana, who works with the Campaign and Struggle Against Acid Attacks on Women (CSAAAW). A Bangalore-based coalition, CSAAW has compiled a list of 65 cases in Karnataka alone between 1999 and 2008. “These are just the victims we have met. There are scores of others and not just in Karnataka,” says Sanjana, who has made a documentary film on the subject called ‘Suttaru Sollapavadaru’ (Burnt, but not defeated). It’s a myth that women are attacked with acid only after they reject sexual advances. Sanjana says “it’s a form of gender violence and often women who exercise their independence are targeted. When we talked to survivors, we found that women of all castes, classes and religions were being attacked by husbands, lovers, employers, jealous colleagues and even landlords.” The CSAAAW famously helped Hasina Hussain get justice after her former boss Joseph Rodrigues poured 1.5 litres of sulphuric acid on her when she quit her job in his financially unstable firm in 1999. The acid melted her face, fused her shoulder and neck, burnt a hole in her head, merged her fingers and blinded her for life. In 2006, the Karnataka high court sentenced Rodrigues to life imprisonment. It was a landmark case, now the source of hope to many who survive acid attacks. But experts say the existing laws are sorely inadequate. In the absence of a specific law, acid attacks come under the purview of Section 326 of the IPC, which deals with voluntarily inflicting grievous physical injuries with a weapon. But it is a bailable law and carries a maximum punishment of seven years in prison. Consequently, the victim is left to face life scarred and disfigured forever but her attacker is granted bail and can hope for a trial delayed for decades. But that could change. The National Commission for Women (NCW) has prepared a draft of the Prevention of Offences (by Acids) Act, 2008. The Bill, which has been sent for approval to the Union ministry of women and child development, specifically deals with acid attacks. It includes schemes to treat and rehabilitate victims. “The NCW’s proposed amendments to the IPC will make acid attacks a cognizable, non-bailable offence, which will attract a prison term of not less than 10 years,” says Samarender Chatterjee, member-secretary, NCW. Activists welcome the proposed law but say the focus should be controlling the sale of acid rather than punishing the perpetrators. “It is a band-aid solution. For an acid attack victim, no amount of money for plastic surgery or punishment for the accused can wipe the pain and trauma away,” says Sanjana.

‘Spousal violence a major risk factor’
5 Jan 2009, 0256 hrs IST, Preetu Nair, TNN
PANAJI: Spousal violence is an independent risk factor for two adverse health problems sexually transmitted infections and attempted suicide in Goan women, reveals a latest study on the effect of spousal violence on women’s health. Besides, there is also an association between violence and a range of self-reported gynecological complaints, low Body Mass Index and depressive disorders in women. The study, “Effect of spousal violence on women’s health: Findings from the Stree Arogya Shodh in Goa,” which was conducted by an NGO Sangath and published recently in a medical journal, is based on a population-based longitudinal study of women’s health in Goa and aimed at exploring the relationship between psychosocial factors and reproductive and sexual health. The study, which is a population-based cohort study of women living in the catchment area of a primary health center in north Goa, is a community-based study of common health problems affecting women aged between 18 to 50 years, conducted over a period of four years. The overall aim of the study was to describe the burden and determinants of common health problems in women of reproductive age and in doing so to test the hypothesis that social and psychological factors increased the risk of reproductive and sexual health problems. About 2494 of 3000 randomly selected women were recruited, of whom 1750 married women were included for the study. While out of the 1750 married women, 290 (16.6%) women reported lifetime spousal violence; recent violence was reported by 230 (13%) and the cross-sectional data showed an association between violence and a range of self-reported gynecological complaints, low Body Mass Index, depressive disorder and attempted suicide. The longitudinal analyses confirmed these associations only for STI and attempted suicide. Majority of them were literate homemakers. Each participant was assessed at baseline with a structured interview for the assessment of exposure to spousal violence (verbal, physical, sexual) over two time periods: lifetime and recent in the past three months. The interview collected data on gynecological complaints and the revised clinical interview schedule was used for the diagnosis of depressive disorder. Laboratory tests for anemia and sexually transmitted infections (STI) were carried out. Longitudinal data was collected after six and 12 months on these outcomes. In addition, baseline measures for nutritional status and menstrual health were also obtained. Lifetime exposure to any type of violence was associated with increased risk of a range of self-reported gynecological complaints at baseline, though associations were not consistent with all outcomes. Thus, for example, dysmenorrhea was only associated with lifetime sexual violence and verbal and sexual violence (lifetime and recent) were associated with non-menstrual lower abdominal pain and abnormal vaginal discharge, the report states. It further notes that all types of violence, either lifetime or in the past three months, were found to be strongly associated with depressive disorder and attempted suicide; these associations remained strong after adjustment for confounders. In addition, both verbal and physical violence (lifetime and recent) were found to increase the risk of low BMI, the report added.


3 Responses

  1. thank u for your information

  2. Interesting Read! Very detailed blog.
    Thanks for sharing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: