LEGAL NEWS 03-04.01.2009

Court notice to Pinarayi as CPM march begins
2 Feb 2009, 1836 hrs IST, Joe A Scaria , ET Bureau
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The pre-election script for Kerala CPM went awry on Monday, with its state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan being issued a notice by the Kerala High Court regarding a corruption case pertaining to the days when he was the state power minister.

The court decision to send him a notice could have hardly been more ill-timed for the CPM strongman in Kerala, coming as it did on the day he was setting off on the `Nava Kerala March’ from Kasaragod in the north to the state capital in the south.

The development comes at a time when state chief minister V S Achuthanandan and Vijayan are seen to be in a war of wits within the party, and cadres supporting either camp are engaged in putting up or pulling down posters of the two leaders along the route of the march. The chief minister has hinted that he may not participate in the march.

Mr Vijayan is embroiled in what is termed as the Lavalin scam being investigated by the CBI. The case pertains to a contract worth Rs 374 crore given to the Canadian company SNC Lavalin when Vijayan was the power minister, which, reportedly did not lead not much benefit for the hydro-electric projects concerned as per the comptroller and auditor general’s report.

When a public interest litigation petition was filed seeking to declare that previous sanction was not required to launch proceedings against Vijayan and others, the court decided to issue notice to those accused to hear their part.

While Vijayan begins his march in the backdrop of the court notice that in turn pertains to a corruption case, political focus in Kerala is riveted on the intra-party equations within the state CPM. In a larger context, the development is also considered to have a significant impact on the forthcoming Lok Sabha election polls, in which the ruling Left Democratic Front led by the CPM will be striving to match its score of 18 seats out of 20 that it won in the last Lok Sabha poll.

RNRL may appeal against High Court order on RIL gas sale
Published: February 2,2009

Mumbai , Feb 2 Anil Ambani group firm RNRL is likely to move the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court&aposs interim order that allowed Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries to sell gas to third parties.
According to sources in the legal circle, RNRL may very soon file a petition with the Supreme Court.
When contacted, RNRL spokesperson told PTI,”We are considering all options.”
The High Court, while reserving judgment on a case brought by RNRL, on Friday last allowed RIL to sell gas produced from its KG basin fields to third parties subject to the utilisation list finalised by the government.
RNRL&aposs main contention was that RIL should supply gas to it on the terms that the Mukesh Ambani-run firm had agreed with NTPC – at USD 2.34 per mmBtu
Although there was no indication from the court when the final judgment would be pronounced, RIL counsel Harish Salve had said the verdict could come by March-end.
The court allowed RIL to sell gas”at a uniform price of USD 4.20 to all parties including Public Sector Undertakings and to others in the order of priority as stipulated by the government in the approved gas utilisation policy.”
RIL can enter into contracts with other parties for a term of up to five years.

Source: PTI

Sri Lankan Tamils issue: Lawyers burn effigies of Rajapaksa
Chennai (PTI): A group of advocates today burnt effigies of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa here, protesting the “killings” of civilian Tamils in the ongoing war in the island nation.
The advocates raised slogans against the Sri Lankan Government near the Egmore Metropolitan Court premises here, and demanded an end to the conflict between the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE to save the Tamils, police said.
Lawyers affiliated to the Madras High Court Advocates Association and Tamil Nadu Advocates Association are on a boycott of the courts since January 30 over the Sri Lankan issue.
Some students of the Dr B R Ambedkar Government Law College, located in the Madras High Court premises, were taken into custody when they tried to stage a demonstration in front of the college premises and later released.
The students urged the Sri Lankan Government to bring an immediate ceasefire to protect the lives of civilian Tamils. They observed one-day fast after they were released, police said.
Meanwhile, All College Students Federation urged the Tamil Nadu Government to reopen colleges as it would help students to appear for their examinations.
The government on Saturday ordered indefinite closure of colleges and student hostels in the state in the wake of students’ unrest on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.
In a release, the federation also urged the students to participate in the strike on February 4 called by Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement protesting “killings of Tamils”.

Apex court to hear SEBI plea to quiz Satyam chief
The Supreme Court will Tuesday hear the market regulator’s plea to allow it to interrogate Satyam Computer Services’ tainted chief B. Ramalinga Raju about the Rs.70-billion accounting fraud in the firm.
New Delhi, Delhi, India, 2009-02-02 21:45:02

The Supreme Court will Tuesday hear the market regulator’s plea to allow it to interrogate Satyam Computer Services’ tainted chief B. Ramalinga Raju about the Rs.70-billion accounting fraud in the firm.
Appearing for the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Solicitor General Goolam E. Vahanvati apprised a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan of the market regulator’s lawsuit filed in the apex court registry and sought an early and urgent hearing on it.
The bench, which also included Justice P. Satahsivam, acceded to the request to hear the lawsuit Tuesday.
The SEBI has moved the Supreme Court against a lower court order, which on Jan 23 dismissed its plea to help it access Satyam founder and former chief B. Ramalinga Raju and his brother B. Rama Raju in Hyderabad jail.
The two are in judicial custody since Jan 9 following their surrender to the Andhra Pradesh police for their alleged role in the accounting fraud of the firm that led to devaluation of its market capital from Rs.15 billion to Rs.2 billion in less than a month.
The Hyderabad magisterial court dismissed SEBI’s plea, saying that the market regulator was not an investigative agency empowered to interrogate suspects in criminal cases.
Against the magisterial court’s order, the SEBI approached the Andhra Pradesh High Court, which, however, has slated the plea for hearing on Feb 9, frustrating the SEBI that wants to conduct a quick probe into the scam.
Suspecting that the Raju brothers might be misusing their custody with the police to obfuscate their role in the crime, the SEBI’s lawsuit said, ‘It appears that while being in custody, the Raju brothers are organising tampering with documents and destruction of firm’s records.’
The SEBI has sought the Supreme Court’s direction to the jail superintendent to allow its investigators to interrogate the Raju brothers, pointing out: ‘SEBI is a statutory body, constituted under the SEBI Act, 1992, to regulate the securities market and protect investors.’
Terming the Satyam fraud as ‘most serious financial scam in the country’s corporate history and having large-scale national and international ramifications’, the SEBI lawsuit said: ‘It is a specialised agency having necessary competence and expertise to probe frauds in securities transactions.’
Submitting that ‘a case of this magnitude has not arisen in the Indian corporate history till now’, it said: ‘As an expert body, it is the SEBI’s statutory duty to conduct a comprehensive and meaningful probe into the scam.’
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HC ropes in Censor board to sort out ‘Slumdog’ row
3 Feb 2009, 0631 hrs IST, TNN
AHMEDABAD : Controversy over the title of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire’ ultimately roped in the Central Board of Film Certification (DBFC), the censor board of India.

Gujarat High Court on Monday allowed the petitioner NGO Dastak to make the censor board a respondent in its PIL against the film.

However, the High Court didn’t initiate any process in the case and just asked the petitioner to serve an advance copy of the petition to the censor board, if the petitioner has an objection to the film’s title. A division bench of Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi kept February 9 as the date for further hearing in this case.

The NGO filed the PIL on the day the film’s released claiming the title was “offensive” to Indians. “We Indians are not slumdogs,” stated its member Meena Jagtap in the petition adding that the organisation doesn’t have objection towards the content of the film.

The PIL has been filed against the Hollywood film company Fox Searchlight and the music company T-series. Earlier, a similar PIL raising same contention was filed by a Patna resident.

Dastak has urged the court to restrain the film’s exhibition in cinema halls, television and CDs. Besides this, a stay has also been sought on the marketing and advertising of the film in Indian market. Dastak has requested HC to direct the film company to get certification once again after changing the film’s name.

HC allows telecast of Oscar nominated films’ clippings
Published: February 2,2009

Mumbai , Feb 2 The Bombay High Court today allowed Star TV to telecast Oscars awards distribution ceremony even though the clippings of the nominated films might contain some&aposA category&aposcontent.
The High Court, in response to a PIL, had banned broadcasting of the films which have A (only for adults) certificate, or no certification at all, from the censor board two years ago.
Star TV, that will be telecasting the Oscars awards distribution ceremony on February 22, feared that it might run afoul of this ban as during the ceremony uncensored clippings of nominated films are shown.
Some of the clippings might have&aposadult&aposcontent, Star feared; and hence moved High Court today.
Advocate M M Vashi, who had argued for Pratibha Naithani, the original PIL petitioner, stated that he had no objection to Star&aposs plea.
“The court then allowed Star to telecast the clippings of the nominated films,” Vashi told PTI.
Naithani, a city-based activist and professor at St Xavier&aposs College here, had filed a PIL alleging that cable operators as well as TV channels were showing films that did not have certification from Central Board for Film Certification and very often had sexual content.

Source: PTI

Fresh probe into Yeddyurappa’s wife’s death
Maya Sharma
Monday, February 02, 2009, (Bangalore)
There is fresh tension for Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa as a Shimoga court on Monday asked police to look once again at the circumstances surrounding the death of his wife in 2004. This follows a PIL filed in the court by a Shimoga-based lawyer.

Mythra Devi, the wife of Yeddyurappa, was found dead in a water tank at the family home in Shimoga district back in 2004. The unnatural death was investigated and the case was closed.

A Shimoga lawyer, R Sheshadri, has called it a murder. “According to me, this is a clear case of murder and suppression of the facts, fabrication of evidence, misleading the police by giving the false information, not only by Yeddyurappa himself but also by his daughter, two sons and servants,” said R Sheshadri.

“It is a conspiracy to wash the evidence available to find out the cause of the death,” he added.

The court felt that there was enough reason for the police to look at the issue once again.

“I don’t want to react for anything,” said B S Yeddyurappa, Chief Minister, Karnataka.

It has been a difficult time for Yeddyurappa with criticism of the government’s handling of the attack on women in Mangalore. This allegation of violence against a woman in her own home will be personally difficult to handle as well.

PF scam: CBI questions judges
4 Feb 2009, 1326 hrs IST, TIMESOFINDIA.COM

NEW DELHI: A Supreme Court judge, three Allahabad High Court judges and one Uttarakhand High Court judge have been questioned by CBI in connection with the Ghaziabad PF scam.

The investigating agency asked them if they had any links with Ashutosh Asthana, the main accused in the scam. The judges denied even knowing Asthana.

Asthana during his interrogation had named 36 judges, who he claimed were beneficiaries of the scam.

Earlier this year, the CBI had unearthed shocking details of how hard-earned provident fund savings of class III and IV employees of Ghaziabad courts were illegally spent on furniture, crockery, mobiles, gadgets, laptops, rail tickets, taxi fares and other luxury items for judges.

These details figured in CBI’s status report compiled after preliminary investigations into the Rs 23-crore PF scam, which involved questioning of a Supreme Court judge named by the prime accused, Ashutosh Asthana.

The report shows that the district judges, who were heading the Ghaziabad judiciary during the scam period, not only made expensive purchases from the scam money, they also spent it on photography and video-recording of family functions and marriages.

“About 500 strips of negatives of the photographs, one CD and two mini-video cassettes said to be related to functions of various members of the judiciary were recovered,” CBI sources told TOI quoting from the status report, which is being compiled on the basis of the SC’s September 23, 2008, order.

It is not that these judges could not have afforded a mobile phone. But, as it came free, seldom did they flinch in accepting freebies provided by Asthana, courtesy the PF money of unsuspecting employees, the CBI found. “As per Asthana, he had provided about 60-70 mobile handsets to various members of judiciary,” the agency said.

The prime accused, who as the treasury officer was responsible for safeguarding the PF funds of employees, allegedly did not think twice about using that money to procure expensive furniture, crockery and utensils. Asthana also used the money to pay for transporting these goods to the residences of the judges.

“Several invoices containing entries on trucks/vehicles provided in the last six years have about 35 entries related to Asthana, in which goods were sent to various judges of higher and subordinate judiciary,” the CBI claimed. The trucks had an unbelievably smooth passage through states before reaching their destinations mainly because they carried judicial certificates.

“Four original certificates, said to be issued by the chief judicial magistrate, Ghaziabad, certifying that the truck numbers mentioned in the certificate were carrying articles of members of judiciary, which were given to the truck driver for smooth passage of goods through several states, have also been recovered,” it said.

CBI also claimed to have recovered 28 bills of sale of crockery to Asthana and monogram of the District Judge, Ghaziabad, for the year 2006-07. It has also found that Asthana allegedly picked up 43 taxi bills of judges and paid it from the PF money.

“About 540 assorted slips, bills, pieces of papers, sketches etc have been recovered from a carpenter. These relate to purchase of various raw materials for furniture items during last seven years,” CBI said. The carpenter who made the furniture appears to have impressed the judges with his skill, for he was called to residences of judges with fresh orders and he answered these calls travelling with rail tickets purchased from the PF money.

The agency suspects this carpenter was summoned to judges’ residences far away from Ghaziabad -in Lucknow and Allahabad – as many as 17 times and his train tickets were allegedly bought from the PF money.

The preliminary findings reflect the judges’ weakness for electronic goods, especially mobile phones. “As many as 45 original bills have been seized from a Ghaziabad showroom denoting sale of many expensive electronic gadgets and appliances to various members of judiciary,” the status report reveals.

After a preliminary probe that tracked Asthana’s mobile call details, the CBI chanced upon purchase of four laptops, miscellaneous computer peripherals including monitors, CPUs, cameras and printers.

The probe was entrusted to CBI by the apex court after the UP police, which first investigated the matter, chickened out terming the task of investigating 35 judges as daunting.

SC does a U-turn, says bandhs OK in democracy
4 Feb 2009, 0825 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: Supreme Court on Tuesday termed bandhs as legitimate means of expressing people’s feelings in a democracy, reversing a trend judiciary has followed since 1997 when it had come down hard upon political parties for causing inconvenience to the public by forcing shutdowns.

The volte face, which will be celebrated by a political class which had chaffed at judiciary’s opposition to chakka jams, came when the court refused to ban the Chennai bandh called for Wednesday to protest against the killings of civilians in Sri Lanka’s military campaign against LTTE.

The stark change of stand looked even more so because of the fact that the fresh position was outlined by a Bench headed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan. In 1997, the CJI was part of the Kerala High Court Bench which gave the landmark anti-bandh judgment. The judgment was upheld by the Supreme Court, setting the stage for similar rulings from other HCs.

The court scheduled a hearing on the petition against the bandh only for February 16.

On Tuesday, the Bench headed by CJI and comprising Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal observed that in a democratic country, everyone had the right to express their feelings: a remark that would be lapped up by political parties who never acquiesced to judiciary’s stand against bandhs.

The Bench was unmoved when Ajit Puduserry, appearing for petitioner J Satish Kumar, invoked the 1997 verdict of the Supreme Court.

Pudussery argued that the bandh call given by an umbrella organisation of political parties — Sri Lankan Tamils’ Protection Movement — was a violation of the order that the apex court gave upholding the Kerala HC’s slamming of bandhs.

The line did not work. “What has this court to do with stopping strikes? India is a democratic state where everyone has a right to express their feelings,” retorted the Bench.

The clock, clearly, has come full circle. In the 1997 judgment, the HC had said, “No political party or organisation can claim that it is entitled to paralyse industry and commerce in the entire state or nation and is entitled to prevent the citizens not in sympathy with its viewpoint from exercising their fundamental right or from performing their duties for their own benefits or for the benefit of the state or the nation.”

It added, “Such a claim would be unreasonable and could not be accepted as a legitimate exercise of a fundamental right by a political party or those comprising it.” The order had met with thunderous applause from millions across the country.

CJI part of bench that barred bandhs in 1997

NEW DELHI: Reversing a trend judiciary has followed since 1997 when it had come down hard on forced shutdowns, the Supreme Court on Tuesday termed bandhs as a legitimate means of expressing people’s feelings in a democracy.

In 1997, the CJI was part of the Kerala HC bench which gave the landmark anti-bandh judgment. The judgment was upheld by the Supreme Court, setting the stage for similar rulings from other HCs. The court scheduled a hearing on the petition against the bandh only for February 16.

On Tuesday, the bench headed by CJI and comprising Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal observed that in a democratic country, everyone had the right to express their feelings: a remark that would be lapped up by political parties who never acquiesced to judiciary’s stand against bandhs.

The bench was unmoved when Ajit Puduserry, appearing for petitioner J Satish Kumar, invoked the 1997 verdict of the Supreme Court.

MMS probe leads cops to Malwani lodge
4 Feb 2009, 0521 hrs IST, Nitasha Natu , TNN
MUMBAI: The Kandivli police, probing the obscene MMS case, will question employees of the Malwani lodge where the video clip has been shot.

As reported earlier, two 19-year-old college students were arrested on January 24, a month after they kidnapped a classmate, spiked her drink and took her to a lodge where she was stripped and shot on video. They then circulated the clip among friends.

“The two have been booked under stringent provisions of the IT Act. We are trying to ascertain the purpose of the filming-whether the clip was meant for sale or not,” said an officer. “During interrogation, the boys claimed they shot the video `for fun’ and were not aware as to how it got circulated.”

When the girl’s sister learnt about the clip, she was shocked because the accused were well-acquainted with the victim and her family.

“The boys are residents of Borsapada in Kandivli. One of them recently got a Class-IV job in the BMC and shifted to Dahisar. They don’t have a criminal record,” said an officer.

When the cops checked the boys’ mobiles, they found the clips deleted. An assistant commissioner has been asked to further probe the case. The boys are currently in judicial custody.

FBI’s probe right is questioned
4 Feb 2009, 0421 hrs IST, TNN
Alleged LeT operative Faheem Ansari has questioned the right of America’s FBI to interrogate him while he is in the custody of the Mumbai police’s crime branch. Ansari’s lawyer Ejaz Naqvi said nowhere in CrPC or any other Indian law, FBI is mentioned as an agency that could interrogate suspects. The court issued a notice to the crime branch and asked it to file a reply by February 9.

Gangster sent back to UP jail

A special Tada court sent gangster Babloo Srivastava back to a jail in UP after a remand application
submitted by the police failed to mention the grounds on which it was seeking his custody. Srivastava, who has been sentenced to life in a murder case in Kanpur, was wanted in the city in connection with the kidnapping of a builder in 1994.

Senior education official may face criminal action
4 Feb 2009, 0511 hrs IST, Prafulla Marpakwar , TNN
MUMBAI: After a delay of over three months, the school education department on Monday sought the permission of the general administration department headed by chief minister Ashok Chavan to initiate criminal proceedings against deputy director (education) Sheila Tiwari and her subordinates.

Though school education secretary Sanjay Kumar declined to comment, a senior education department official on Tuesday confirmed that the department had sought permission from the GAD to launch criminal proceedings against Tiwari.

“We require the permission of the GAD to initiate criminal proceedings against an official. We have invoked the provisions of law to launch the same against Tiwari,” the official said.

The main charge against Tiwari is that in her capacity as deputy director, she approved the appointment of 13 teachers, belonging to the open category, in an aided college.

She did this despite the fact that the posts were reserved for backward class candidates. Under the reservation rules for SCs, STs and nomadic tribes, if open category candidates are appointed against reserved posts, then it’s an offence. “If a competent authority violates the rules, then the official is liable for punishment, which may extend to 90 days or a fine of Rs 5,000,” the official said.

Following a complaint by the Backward Class Teachers’ Association, then education minister Vasant Purke appointed Mumbai education board chairman Shridhar Salunke to probe the appointments approved by Tiwari for Raigad’s Sudhagad Education Society.

In his report submitted on November 1, 2008, Salunke confirmed that Tiwari had approved the appointment of teachers belonging to the open category even though the posts were for backward class candidates.

Salunke held three officials-Sheila Tiwari, assistant director Waman Mhatre and education officer S K Rathod-responsible. On November 7, Purke urged then CM Vilasrao Deshmukh to shunt her out.

While no action was taken against Tiwari, Rathod was suspended and Mhatre moved out. Even as the education department waited for approval from the CM, it moved two proposals-one for Tiwari’s transfer and the other for cancellation of the appointments.

There has been no response from Tiwari so far. Earlier, she had said she was not directly responsible for the appointment of teachers in aided institutions and was not guilty of approving illegal appointments.

BMC moves to punish officer for RTI delay
4 Feb 2009, 0544 hrs IST, Viju B, TNN
MUMBAI: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s city engineer has issued a show cause notice to a public information officer – in this case, the deputy chief engineer (planning and development) – asking why his increment for next year should not be withheld.
The order comes after state information commissioner Suresh Joshi levied a fine Rs 25,000 on the officer for not despatching a Right To Information (RTI) application to the department concerned in time. The state information commissioner had also urged the municipal commissioner to investigate the delay and to take action as necessary.

The case came up for hearing at the state information commission after RTI applicant S K Nangia complained that both the urban development department and the BMC denied him a copy of the report on a state committee’s investigation into the collapse of Laxmi Chhaya building in Borivli.

“I had wanted details of this report as it was of immense public interest. Thirty people lost their lives, and there was extensive damage to the property due to the building collapse,’’ Nangia said.

The public information officer of the city engineer’s office told Nangia his application had been forwarded to the urban development department, since the latter had the report. The urban development department in turn told him that the files had been forwarded to the municipal commissioner’s office, which in turn had forwarded them to the city engineer’s office.

“The shuttling of files went on for quite some time. So, I had to file a complaint with the state information commission,’’ Nangia said. Six months went by before he received the information he had sought. The state information commission has noted that this was in violation of the norms of the RTI Act.

“The manner in which the UD department dealt with the application was appalling. Since the department had received the report, its public information officer should clearly have provided the information. Also, even if the public information officer of the city engineer’s office didn’t have the information, he should have sent the application to the department concerned within five days. The public information officer of the city engineer’s office has therefore failed to discharge his responsibility and is liable for action,’’ Joshi said.

Joshi has also ordered a similar inquiry by the commissioner of industries, as that department’s public information officer and appellate authority have also violated RTI norms. RTI activists have welcomed both orders. “We hope that the babus will now be more careful about denying information to RTI applicants,’’ said RTI activist Bhaskar Prabhu.

Lawyers’ stir puts brakes on traffic
4 Feb 2009, 0200 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: As over 700 lawyers of the five district courts in the Capital hit the streets with a car rally on Tuesday to protest the proposed CrPC ammendments, all work in the courts came to a halt. The rally also affected lives of people outside the courts as movement of traffic was thrown completely out of gear at India Gate as the lawyers took one round after another of the rotary to register their protest.

The car rally started from Tis Hazari courts around 2 pm and lasted nearly three hours. As they started taking rounds in cars, two wheelers and on foot, the traffic police diverted vehicles from all radial roads leading to India Gate. This led to massive jams on all sides, as the rotary serves as a major throughfare in the city.

“I was stuck near Pandara Park for almost an hour. The road leading to India Gate was blocked. One would expect more responsible behaviour from educated people like lawyers,” said Sushil Gupta, a businessman headed for ITO. The traffic police said the situation normalised by evening, as the rally finished around 5 pm.

Inside the courts, all listed matters were adjourned as lawyers did not appear before the presiding officers, the bar leaders said, adding that they were also getting large-scale support from litigants.

The lawyers were prostesting against the proposed CrPC amendments, which allow police not to arrest accused in offences punishable up to seven years in jail. The rally was a part of the nationwide strike held for the day in all the district courts. “Lawyers from Kashmir to Kanyakumari have abstained from appearing in the courts. We will intensify our agitation until the revocation of the amendments,” said Rajiv Khosla, spokesperson od the coordination committee of the bar assoication.

A Federation of Bar Associations had also been formed to spearhead the “unified protest.” Khosla said they would repeat the strike on February 18. “We plan to take our protest to parliament. Representatives from other bar associations across the country have also sent their particiaption in the next strike. We are also in talks with UPA and NDA leaders for a reasonable solution to the problem,” he said.

FIR not essential to claim insurance
4 Feb 2009, 0205 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Insurance companies can’t reject claims of those insured only because an FIR is not lodged in cases of theft or fire. With this hard-hitting decision, the state consumer commission came down on insurance companies and said even a report with the police is enough for companies to honour claims.

The commission gave the judgment while asking the New India Assurance Company to pay a consumer Rs 27 lakh who lost goods in a fire and had simply informed the police about it.

Commission president Justice J D Kapoor observed that “A report with the police, without being it converted into an FIR, is sufficient for getting the insurance claim. It is a misconceived notion that unless the insured files an FIR, he is not entitled to any claim.”

In the case at hand, a handloom unit owned by one Rinku Sharma was destroyed in a fire in 2003. The unit, located in the industrial area of Panipat in Haryana, was covered under a fire insurance policy of Rs 50 lakh from New India Insurance Company.

Along with the fire brigade, the local police was informed of the incident. A claim was filed with the insurance company and a surveyor even inspected the premises and took photographs. As many as three surveyors were appointed one after the other. But the insurance company rejected the plea claiming that no FIR was filed in the incident and a report was not sufficient. It further claimed that no clear cut cause of the fire could be established.

While questioning the grounds of rejection, Justice Kapoor said that in the case, the report was lodged on the day the fire broke out, but the police did not convert it into an FIR. But this did not mean that the insurance company could reject the claim of the consumer.

Lokayukta order on bus purchase stayed by HC
4 Feb 2009, 0205 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday stayed an order of Lokayukta, in which it had summoned records related to purchase of 625 low floor buses by the city government. The records had been sought on a complaint filed by BJP leader Vijay Jolly alleging misuse of funds in the purchase process.

Justice Ravindra S Bhat stayed the Lokayukta order on an application moved by the Delhi government. In its submission, the government questioned the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta to entertain the petition and alleged Jolly of hiding facts in his complaint.

Jolly, in his complaint filed last year had claimed that the city government spent Rs 25 lakhs extra on each of the 625 low floor buses. He had cited the purchase of similar vehicles by Chennai administration. Drawing comparisons, Jolly had alleged that the city administration had siphoned off funds, urging Lokayukta to initiate inquiry. Seeing merit in his allegations, Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin had asked Delhi’s transport secretary to produce records related to the purchase.

Appearing for the government, advocate Najmi Waziri argued before HC that the facts presented by Jolly before Lokayukta were not complete. “Chennai government had actually purchased `semi low floor buses’ and not, as Jolly had claimed, low floor buses, ” Waziri submitted.

“Since both vehicles were of a different nature so there was disparity in amount spent by respective administrations. This fact was presented before Lokayukta, despite that it had proceeded with summoning orders. Low floor buses bought by Delhi administration is one of the best buses in the world,” Waziri contended before HC, seeking stay on the order and an action against Jolly for “filing a false and frivolous case.”

HC, while staying the Lokayukta order, also asked it to explain how it deemed it fit to exercise jurisdiction in the matter and sought its response by February 11. The matter is slated to come up for hearing before the Lokayukta on February 16.

Lok Ayukta hadicapped by few powers and fewer personnel
4 Feb 2009, 0033 hrs IST, A T Subrahmanya, TNN
BANGALORE: It’s a riot, no less, everyday at the Lok Ayukta’s office — they are the raiders of the corrupt, trapping greasy officials, conducting inquiries and giving a ear to people’s grievances. People come to the office, located next to MS Building, from all corners of the state.

With just 724 personnel across the state and 23,000 cases of maladministration pending before the Lok Ayukta, the task of curbing corruption is, indeed, tough.

The Lok Ayukta has four wings — police wing headed by an officer of the ADGP rank, technical audit cell headed by a chief engineer, inquiry wing with an additional registrar-inquiry and several judges of the rank of deputy registrar-inquiry, and finally, administrative wing with additional registrar-administration.

“Lok Ayukta already has about 16 inquiries, apart from the regular work of ensuring good governance and redressing grievances by the people. Besides, the Lok Ayukta also conducts raids and lays traps to catch corrupt officials red-handed,” Lok Ayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde told The Times of India.

In 2008 alone, 94 raids were conducted and 266 traps laid. “But each case consumes a lot of time for investigation, before filing charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act and disproportionate assets. By the time the officers prepare the chargesheet, more cases get piled up,” Hegde explained.

On his part, the Lok Ayukta made a request for 290 additional personnel for the police wing two years ago. But the state government chose to sanction only 114 till date.

Lok Ayukta ADGP Roop Kumar Dutta said most of the cases registered during the last year are either waiting for government sanction or have been charged.


The police wing has about 190 personnel in total, headed by ADGP Roop Kumar Dutta, while the administration wing has about 350 personnel working throughout the state.

Around 250 personnel from the administration wing are stationed in Bangalore, while around 100 staff are stationed throughout the state. Each district has a Lok Ayukta SP, while Bangalore alone has about 60 personnel. Apart from administration, the other three wings have people on deputation.

“We need 20 per cent more for better functioning,” Hegde said.


In 1966, the Morarji Desai Commission recommended an ombudsman-like agency in the state and central governments for grievance redressal. While states would have Lok Ayukta, the central government would have Lok Pal. But nowhere was it implemented, as the recommendations had no backing by politicians or bureaucrats.

But in 1983, Ramakrishna Hegde, who came to the power in Karnataka, was the first chief minister to press for an institution like Lok Ayukta in the state. Though it took about two years, the Bill was passed on January 16, 1986.

Though the Lok Ayukta had suo motu powers when established, the power was withdrawn within six months. The institution has two separate heads — Lok Ayukta for the class-I officers and Upa Lok Ayukta for officers below class-I.

For about 15 years, people knew little about the Lok Ayukta. It was only in 2001 that the Lok Ayukta came to the fore as an anti-corruption institution, when Justice N Venkatachala took up a campaign against the corrupt.


The Lok Ayukta helpline 1800-42-55-320, which was opened in February 2008, is now flooded with 25-30 calls daily, with complaints ranging from no admission to hospitals to complaints not being lodged in police stations. The Lok Ayukta personnel at the helpline, who has access to phone numbers and other details, then intervenes to solve the problem.

Hegde said earlier, people would come to see him from all corners of the state and wait outside his office to speak to him. “Then I began to tour districts and gave them my number to contact me. The whole day I was flooded with calls,” he added.

The helpline was then set up to address the grievances of people who are either ignorant or afraid to approach the right authority for their problems.

Quote unquote

Exasperated over repeated pleas before the state government to give it suo motu powers, Justice Hegde said: “I have stopped asking for suo motu powers. Even when I was a lawyer, I did not repeat arguments twice.”

Sampangi gets bail
4 Feb 2009, 0102 hrs IST, TNN
BANGALORE : KGF MLA Y Sampangi, who was trapped on Jan. 29 by Lok Ayukta Justice Santosh Hegde while taking a bribe for settling a land dispute in his constituency, was granted bail on Tuesday.

The sessions special court judge R M Shettar, while granting bail on Rs 25,000 surety, directed Sampangi to appear before the investigating officer every Friday for the next four weeks. The judge also said there should be no attempt to tamper with the evidence.

Justice Santhosh Hegde said he was waiting for the order copy. “Once we go through the order copy, we will decide if we have to go for an appeal against the order,” he added.

Govt gives undertaking in HC on Kodanadu estate
4 Feb 2009, 0322 hrs IST, TNN
CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government, which renewed its attempts to take over a portion of the Kodanad tea estate associated with former chief minister Jayalalithaa, has told the Madras High Court that it would not go ahead with the acquisition works till February 12.

An undertaking to this effect was given by government pleader J Raja Kalifulla before Justice K Suguna, who is hearing a writ petition filed by the Kodanad estate management against a government order dated January 10 to acquire about two acres of the estate land for a public road.

The January 10 order invoked the urgency clause and sought to acquire .87.5 hectares of land for providing a public road to the residents of Anna Nagar, Kothagiri and Kodanadu villages. The Kothagiri tahsildar first informed the management that revenue officials would visit the estate for survey on January 20, and later said the land measurements would be taken on February 3.

Advocate A Navaneethakrishnan submitted that the order was not sustainable as it was not traceable to any of the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act. As the estate had been permitting the villagers to use the pathway, as per the directions of the Supreme Court, there was no urgency or compelling necessity for the state government to resort to the acquisition proceedings, Navaneethakrishnan said.

The government pleader, however, said only a preliminary step was contemplated and that it should not be allowed to be scuttled.

Justice Suguna, pointing out that the public notification of acquisition proceedings under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act was the first step before the authorities embarked on the acquisition proceedings, said the action of the authorities was not backed by any express legal provision.

Accepting the undertaking of the government pleader, the judge then adjourned the matter to February 12 for further hearing.

Paint Fading in one year is manufacturing defect
02 FEB
If the paint starts peeling off an expensive car within a short time, it would be deemed as a manufacturing defect, National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission decided.

Consumer court slaps Rs 3K fine on SBI
3 Feb 2009, 0629 hrs IST, TNN
AHMEDABAD : A consumer court in the city has slapped fine of Rs 3,000 on State Bank of India for making frantic calls to a credit card holder. Credit card holder Prashant Mankad, who is a lawyer had made purchases worth Rs 37,000 in November, 2006. Mankad had to make payment in 24 equal monthly instalments each of Rs 2,200.

However, despite paying the outstanding amount, he got frequent recovery calls due to bank’s error from its headquarters in city as well as Delhi. Customer care executives used harsh language over phone. He brought the issue to the notice of bank’s customer care, but things were not sorted out.

Finally, he filed a complaint before Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Ahmedabad, and court quashed and set aside bank’s statement as well as outstanding amount after holding that Mankad’s calculation was correct. Bank was also asked to pay Rs 3,000 to Mankad for causing mental harassment that led him to file the complaint.

Lawyer briefs Raju ahead of Sebi interrogation
4 Feb 2009, 0114 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: The ex-chairman of Satyam Computers, B Ramalinga Raju, had a briefing from his advocates in the Chanchalguda jail on Tuesday ahead of his forthcoming interrogation by Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) officials.

Raju, who is learnt to have been given cryptic answers to his interrogators from the CID when he was given to police custody for five days, will face the investigators of Sebi for three days from February 4.

According to prison sources, Ramalinga Raju was visited by his advocate S Bharat Kumar in the morning and by another colleague of his in the afternoon on Tuesday after news trickled in that the Supreme Court had allowed a Sebi petition to question Ramalinga Raju and his brother B Rama Raju, ex-managing director of Satyam, in the fraud.

Bharat Kumar told TOI that he had no permission to be present during the Sebi questioning unlike during the CID interrogation of Ramalinga Raju.

According to Chanchalguda jail superintendent M Chandrashekar, the jail manual has laid down a procedure only for the questioning of an accused by the police in the jail. In Ramalinga Raju’s case, his interrogators will come from Sebi and not the police.

If the police were interrogating him, according to the jail manual, it would have to be done in the presence of a prison officer. That would mean he would have to be questioned in the jail officer’s cabin.

But now that Ramalinga Raju’s interrogation by the Sebi was permitted by the Supreme Court, jail officials said it would be done as per the court’s orders.

“We will facilitate the questioning in whatever manner we are asked to do,” Chandrasekhar said. He said if a separate room has to be provided for the purpose, it will be done so.

“No third party will be allowed into the barrack where the accused has been lodged during questioning,” he said. Though in prison for last several days, Ramalinga Raju still preferred to confine himself to his barrack and is not mingling with other prisoners, sources said.

Clear Ranganathan St encroachments: HC
4 Feb 2009, 0326 hrs IST, TNN
CHENNAI: Ranganathan Street is once again in news for the wrong reasons. Taking upon itself the task of clearing encroachments on the street, the Madras high court has directed the Chennai corporation and the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), the regulatory bodies, to nominate officials to carry out the task and file a joint report in the court before March 2.

Passing further orders on a public interest writ petition filed by social activist Traffic K R Ramasamy on Tuesday, the first bench asked the corporation commissioner and CMDA member-secretary to nominate officials by February 10, so as to execute the removals. The authorities should make an on-the-spot inspection of Ranganathan Street, Madley Road and Natesan Street from February 17 and submit a joint report in the court by March 2.

The bench, comprising the Acting Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhaya and Justice V Dhanapalan, also stipulated that Ramasamy should also accompany and assist the members. The matter has now been adjourned to March 3.

Ramasamy filed the petition in the wake of a fire accident at Saravana Stores on September last, stating that fire and rescue services could not reach the building in time, due to the encroachments on the street.

As per the Corporation records, Ranganathan Street should be 31-feet wide. However, the road space has shrunk over the years, with the traders encroaching indiscriminately.

Extension of frontage of buildings by traders and signboards protruding into the street poses problem for the free flow of pedestrians. A few days ago, civic authorities started demolishing unauthorised structures on the street as per a high court order.

But, on Tuesday, Ramasamy told the judges that officials had left much of the encroachments on the street untouched. Obstructions on Ranganathan Street were caused not by hawkers, but by traders, he said.

In a counter affidavit, Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni stated that two officials in the engineering department were suspended following the irregularities, pending disciplinary proceedings. He said D D Anand, junior engineer and V Mani, assistant executive engineer, were facing disciplinary action for their failure to prevent the unauthorised construction of Saravana Stores on Ranganathan Street.

Ahmedabad serial blasts: Five more chargesheets filed
4 Feb 2009, 1225 hrs IST, PTI
AHMEDABAD: The city police have filed five more chargesheets in connection with last year’s serial blasts here, which claimed the lives of 57 people.

All the chargesheets have more than 1,000 pages each and blame Indian Mujahideen (IM) and SIMI operatives for the explosions, Crime branch officials said.

The documents give details of how the different IM modules worked in coordination to successfully execute the terror attack.

“Roles of Gujarat, Mumbai, Delhi and Karnataka IM modules, who worked in tandem to carry out the attack, as well as that of each individual in the modules have been described in detail in the documents,” the officials said.

The chargesheets filed in the designated court here related to blasts at Sarkhej, Maninagar (two cases), Kalupur and Vatva areas, the officials said.

“There were 21 blasts in different parts of the city on July 26, 2008. The Crime branch has treated each blast as a separate case and has been filing chargesheets in each case,” they said, adding chargesheets in the remaining cases would be filed soon.

The documents have named 54 accused and 47 absconders in the Sarkhej case, including alleged masterminds of the blasts Amir Raza Khan, Riyaz Bhatkal and Iqbal Bhatkal, 44 accused and 48 absconders in the Maninagar case and 43 accused and 45 absconders in the Vatva and Kalupur cases.

Microsoft centre for IIT law school
4 Feb 2009, 0350 hrs IST, Pallavi Guha, TNN
KHARAGPUR: The Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur launched the Microsoft centre of excellence in intellectual property (IP) law on Tuesday. While IIT-Kharagpur is the only such institute to offer legal studies, its law school is the only one to provide a dedicated course on IP laws.

Microsoft director (public policy) Ankhi Das said: “IITKharagpur is possibly the sole institution in India having the unique convergence of both technological and legal aspects of IP. So, we have decided to associate with them.”

IIT-Kharagpur dean of sponsored research and industrial consultancy PP Chakrabarti said: “Most research scholars are too busy to apply for patenting . This is where IP law professionals come in. This school is committed to promoting techno-legal education and this partnership with Microsoft will help us take it forward.”

The partnership, initially for three years, will involve a funding of Rs 66 lakh and cover areas of outstanding research.

“This centre of excellence will initiate more research work apart from foundation courses on IP laws,” said S Tripathy, head of the law school.

“After completing engineering , I decided to study IP law to understand the legal language of technical issues. This centre will help take our projects ahead,” said Priyanshu Rajiv, a student.

Parents of dead student move court
4 Feb 2009, 0349 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: Parents of Iftesham Chowdhury, who died last November, allegedly after being slapped by a teacher, moved Calcutta High Court, demanding Rs 50 lakh as compensation from the school.

Iftesham’s father Masiar Rahaman Chowdhury and mother Najneen also sought a CBI probe into how and why the teacher was granted bail on the day she was arrested.

The eight-year-old girl was a Class-II student of Vidyabharati School, Mominpur. On November 27, yoga teacher Anita Das slapped her in the class. Iftesham fell down and her head hit the wall.

In the next class, she complained of headache and collapsed. She was admitted to Calcutta Hospital. Next day, the girl died. The postmortem report said cerebral hematoma was the cause of her death.

Police charged the teacher under Section 304 IPC for causing death by rash and negligent act. On December 6, 2008, Das surrendered before the Alipur chief judicial magistrate and was granted bail. Lawyer Tapas Bhanja pleaded for Iftesham’s parents.

Seat-belt drive: 2,249 cases registered in two days
4 Feb 2009, 0350 hrs IST, TNN
PUNE: The city traffic police have initiated a massive drive to make seat-belts compulsory while driving four-wheelers from February 1. In just first two days of the drive, the traffic police have registered 2,249 cases and have collected Rs 2.29 lakh as fine. An offender is charged Rs 100 as fine for not following the seat-belt rule.

Inspector Vijaykumar Palsule of the traffic branch said, as per the supreme court guidelines, four-wheel light motor vehicles, manufactured after 1994, need seat-belts for drivers. However, very few people in the city are in the habit of wearing seat-belts while driving. “On the third day after we initiated the action, however, we have observed that 70 per cent commuters have started wearing seat-belts,” Palsule said. The drive will continue, he added.

All 28 traffic police divisions in the city are instructed to take action against offenders of the seat-belt rule. In the last two days, most cases were registered in the jurisdiction of Vishrambaug, Deccan Gymkhana, Shivajinagar, Pune Cantonment and Hinjewadi divisions, Palsule said.

Seafaring community hopes for action as SC raps Centre
4 Feb 2009, 0022 hrs IST, KALYANI SARDESAI, TNN
PUNE: Even as the Supreme Court raps the Centre for its inaction to put in place a set of guidelines for safeguarding the interests of the Indian seafarers aboard foreign vessels, especially against the spurt of highjacks by the Somalian pirates, the city’s seafaring community which consists of over 500 families is hopeful of change.

The court had said that it had received no satisfactory report on the steps taken to streamline the recruitment system of seamen and investigation into hijacking incidents, despite its September 24, 2008 directive at the height of the drama over the hijacking of MV Stolt Valor.

The remarks from the bench of Justices R V Raveendran and Aftab Alam was the result of a petition filed by the relatives of Indian seafarers who had been serving on ships Jupiter 6′, MV Rezzak’ and Stolt Valor’. Their counsel pointed out that laxity on the part of the government in taking prompt action in such incidents could endanger many more lives.

The bench told the Centre: “You have not taken enough action. Why are you not participating in investigations properly? What action has been taken against manning agents? Why do they not report such cases in time? You should voluntarily do something. You are carrying out an order casually. Do lives of Indians have no value?”

Speaking to TOI, Commodore Rajan Vir, president of the Indian Maritime Foundation, said: “Well, it’s a fact that the government does not care much for the safety of seafarers. Matters are not helped by the fact that our capital is in Delhi far away from the sea. Indians are not a sea-minded people, despite being a major maritime country with a coastline spanning 7,500 kms. For the authorities based in Delhi, the sea is a distant entity,” he said, adding, “In fact, I would liken this attitude with that of the Mughals, who believed that the sea frontier would take care of itself. Foreign traders came in, invaded the country and yet the lesson went unlearnt.”

Vikram Sangra, a chief officer with a container outfit, emphasises the need for well-defined regulations. “There are a lot of provisions for Indian registered ships but not the foreign registered ones. But, the fact is there are lots of Indians on-board foreign ships as well. Shipping laws need to elaborate on this score. But it will happen only when the directorate general of shipping proposes the change,” he said. Sangra has been on as many as three ships in the Somalian waters. “I still remember August 19, 2008. I was on the bridge, keeping watch. In those few hours, as many as two ships were hijacked. And there was only one coalition warship in the vicinity,” he recounts the scary episode.

Sagar Kurelkar, a captain with a tanker outfit, said oil tankers primarily take two routes both equally vulnerable to pirate attacks in order to carry oil from the Gulf countries to America. “The first is via the Cape of Good Hope, the other is through the Strait of Babel-mandap (which leads to the Red Sea and the Suez). On both routes, you have to pass the Somalian coast. Despite keeping several hundred nautical miles off the coast, the attacks continue,” he says. He suggests that merchant vessels are provided escort ships by the countries importing and exporting the cargo.

Homeopaths want govt to amend Act
4 Feb 2009, 0602 hrs IST, Preetu Nair , TNN
PANAJI: Faced with frequent criticism of cross practice, homeopaths and ayurveds in the state are now demanding that the state government amend the Goa Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy Council Act, 2001 and grant them permission to practice allopathy.

It may be recalled that the National Integrated Medical Association (Goa state) had written a letter to health minister Vishwajit Rane to “protect the rights of Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM) graduates to practice modern medicine”. The letter read, “The definition mentioned in the Goa Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy Council Act, 2001 is to be replaced by the definition of ISM which is notified by the Central Council of Indian Medicine. Section 39 of the said Act should be amended to protect the right of ISM graduates to practice modern medicine”. The letter was sent on January 1 this year.

Referring to a Supreme Court order in 1998 which said, “The position with regard to medical practitioners of Indian medicine holding a degree in integrated courses is on the same plane in as much as if any state Act recognizes their qualification as sufficient for registration in the state medical register, the prohibition contained in section 15 (2) of the 1956 Act will not apply”, the ISM graduates have demanded that the state government amend the Goa Indian System of Medicine and Homeopathy Council Act, 2001.

Signed by NIMA chairman Vinayak Prabhudessai, the letter also reads that the state has got a right to have a notification of its own concerning the rights of ISM practitioners. It also says that in Maharashtra, the government has allowed ayurvedic practitioners enrolled in the state registrar of practitioners of Indian medicine to practice the allopathic system of medicine.

However, government sources said that no decision regard has been taken yet.

HC will decide Rohit’s bail status on March 2
4 Feb 2009, 0611 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: On March 2 the high court of Bombay at Goa will hear the arguments of the accused and the prosecution in the alleged rape of a German minor girl by education minister Atanasio “Babush” Monserrate’s son Rohit, and take a final decision on whether the bail issued to the accused by the children’s court should be cancelled and if the case should be handed over to the CBI.

Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar had taken suo motu cognizance of the complaint filed by the German girl’s mother in October, 2008 accusing Rohit of raping her daughter.

On Monday, the division bench adjourned the case to the first Monday in March after advocate general Subodh Kantak told the court that the police have filed a chargesheet against Rohit under IPC sections 376, 354 and 293 and Section 8 of the Goa Children’s Act and the police submitted the same to
the court.

Lawyers to lose Rs 1.5cr per month
4 Feb 2009, 0011 hrs IST, Ajay Sura, TNN
CHANDIGARH: Even as the Centre is yet to notify the Criminal Procedure Code (amendment) Act, 2008, lawyers in the Tricity are already feeling the heat. Opposed to the change that empowers the police to grant bail to an accused, throwing out the age-old practice of people hiring counsels to fight their cases, the legal fraternity is already counting its losses.

When the law is implemented, criminal lawyers will be the most affected, losing out hefty amounts in the form of fees they charge to bail out their clients. With a majority of cases pertaining to theft, hurt, cheating, snatching, forgery, harassment for dowry etc being heard for granting of bail, a district court lawyer – who normally charges anything between Rs 2,000 and 20,000 depending on the case and expertise, now stands to lose all.

“Lawyers of Tricity’s district courts will suffer a loss of almost Rs 1.5 crore every month,” said an advocate. The figure is arrived at considering that in Chandigarh, there are around 800 practitioners, Panchkula – some 500, and 200 in Mohali.

Voicing his dissent, president, District Bar Association (DBA), Chandigarh, NK Nanda said, “The amendment will support criminals and increase corruption in the police system.” Echoing the thought, Manjeet Singh Chauhan, president, DBA Mohali, said, “Apart from our monetary loss, society will be the worst sufferer, particularly the poor.”

Warning of a loss of judicial sanctity, Panchkula DBA president Ajay Chaudhary said, “You can expect criminals to hold society to ransom.”

Meanwhile, bar associations of north India have announced a complete strike and protest march to oppose the move on February 18.

Lawyers strike work in Tricity district courts
4 Feb 2009, 0010 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: Protesting against provisions of sections 41 and 309 of the Criminal Procedure Code (amendment) Act, 2008, which give police discretionary rights in arresting the accused in an offence punishable up to seven years in prison, lawyers in Tricity’s district courts struck work on Tuesday.

The daylong agitation – in continuation of nationwide protests by district court lawyers across the country warning of a law and order problem due to the amendment – was complete in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, with not a single legal adviser appearing in court. Even as work in the Punjab and Haryana High Court was not affected, advocates wore red badges to express their solidarity.

In Chandigarh, lawyers spent the entire day inside a tent installed in the court complex. With resentment also rising among a majority of new entrants in the legal world who aspire to be criminal lawyers, young Mohit Sareen said, “The amendment is not in public interest and the police system that is already corrupt will become more corrupt.”

CJM turns down plea against narco test
3 Feb 2009, 2115 hrs IST, TNN
LUCKNOW: Chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Suresh Chandra on Monday turned down the demand of the accused MLA, Abhai Singh, to not conduct his narco analysis/brain mapping test in a double murder case. The court directed him to appear before the medical board on February 5 for the said purpose.

The judge ordered him to co-operate in the matter or be ready to face legal action. The judge passed the order keeping in view the fact that the high court had already rejected Singh’s plea for not forcing him for narco test.

On Monday, Singh filed an application before the court saying that he has already been granted bail in the murder case. He is in jail in connection with another case. So he cannot be put in police custody in the instant case. The court rejected the application and said that the investigation was still on in the case.

Petition for election symbol: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL), seeking elephant as election symbol for BSP in the states of Assam and Sikkim also, has been moved in the high court on Monday. The PIL will come up for hearing in the court on February 4.

The petitioner, Vinod Shanker Mishra, has pleaded that before gaining national party status, the BSP had elected elephant as election symbol in Uttar Pradesh. The Election Commission of India (ECI) allotted the same symbol to Assam Gana Parishad in Assam and Sikkim Sangram Parishad in Sikkim. According to the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968, the ECI can allot the same symbol to different parties having state status. The national party is allotted a symbol which is used across the nation.

The petitioner’s lawyer, Ashok Pandey argued that since BSP has been granted status of a national party and granted elephant as its election symbol, the Assam Gana Parishad and Sikkim Sangram Parishad should be allotted different symbols.

Court order to implement retirement schemes: The high court has directed the UP Avas Evam Vikas Parishad to implement pension, family pension and gratuity schemes for its employees. The order was passed by the bench of Justice UK Dhaon and Justice BA Zaidi on the writ petition of Preetam Singh.

The petitioner’s lawyer, UN Mishra submitted that the financial status of the parishad is excellent and it is capable of paying pension to its employees.

Chawla to be next poll panel head: Centre
– Law minister says chief election commissioner first among equals, enjoys no primacy
New Delhi, Feb. 2: Navin Chawla will be the next chief election commissioner in keeping with the long-established convention of “appointing the senior-most election commissioner as the CEC”, the government said today.
Chawla will be at the helm of the Election Commission, overseeing the 2009 general elections, as soon as outgoing CEC N. Gopalaswami retires on April 20 despite the latter’s recommendation that Chawla be sacked over his alleged “partisan” conduct as election commissioner.
Law minister H.R. Bharadwaj said so in as many words on the sidelines of a conference of law secretaries and state registrar generals at the Vigyan Bhavan here. “I will advise the President (through the Council of Ministers) to appoint the senior-most election commissioner as the chief election commissioner,” Bharadwaj said.
His ministry, which forwards proposals for appointing and dismissing election commissioners, will process Chawla’s appointment papers soon, he said. The government will also begin the process of appointing a third election commissioner to fill the vacancy that will be created by Gopalaswami’s retirement, he said.
“The government will not hesitate in processing papers for appointment of the next CEC and as per convention the senior-most gets it,” Bharadwaj said.
Bharadwaj added that the government would stick by the affidavit given to the Supreme Court in which it had shrugged off allegations against Chawla.
Replying to a court notice on an NDA petition seeking Chawla’s removal, the government had told the court on July 24, 2006: “The allegations do not make out any case of illegality and/or impropriety which would warrant the initiation of further steps by the government to seek the removal of Chawla.”
Today, the law minister said: “As you know, once an affidavit is filed in court, it cannot be withdrawn. I have personally found nothing against him. What is the relevance of the Emergency now?” The minister was referring to allegations that Chawla was party to misdeeds committed during the Emergency.
Bharadwaj, however, said his ministry was “examining” Gopalaswami’s recommendation and would send a “reply” to the Election Commission in a “day or two”. “Chawla is the senior-most member of the Election Commission. We have received a letter from his colleague against him. The law ministry is examining it and will send a reply to the EC in a day or two.”
Article 324, which was cited by Gopalaswami in an earlier affidavit to assert his power to seek the removal of a colleague, only offers constitutional protection to the CEC against arbitrary removal by the government of the day, the minister said. It confines itself to stating that he can be removed by “impeachment”, Bharadwaj said.
“It is intended to protect the independence of the Election Commission. It does not give the CEC the power to punish other election commissioners,” he said. “The CEC has no primacy. All are equals. Like the CJI (Chief Justice of India), the CEC is the first among equals.”
He can write to the law ministry but his recommendation is not binding on the government, Bharadwaj said. “Even Soli Sorabjee, who was attorney-general during the NDA regime has said so,” Bharadwaj pointed out.
He said the process of removal of any election commissioner would have to be first initiated by the government. “Even in such a case where the government has sought the CEC’s opinion on removal of the election commissioner, his opinion is not binding.”

Minister slams bribery in judiciary
Legal Correspondent
Nobody has power to get case registered against a sitting judge, he says
New Delhi: Union Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj on Monday asserted that the in-house procedure evolved in 1997 to probe cases of judicial misconduct and corruption had failed to yield the desired results, and sought a review of the mechanism.
Mr. Bhardwaj told journalists that corruption in judiciary was a serious disease, which the in-house mechanism had failed to cure.
Asked to comment on Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan’s nod for interrogation by the CBI of judicial officers and certain High Court judges allegedly involved in the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam, he said, “nobody, including the CJI, has the power to get a case registered against a sitting judge for a CBI or police probe in a misconduct matter.”
On the CBI’s move to question a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High court in the cash-on-door scam, he said: “I have no hesitation to say that police is not an answer to investigate the judiciary. Unless you denude a judge of his office of judge, you cannot prosecute him. Do you want a High Court judge to appear before a magistrate? Ordering police investigation against a sitting judge was bad in law. The judiciary should do serious thinking on how to remedy its own disease. It is one of the finest pillars of the government and the state and on it depends the rule of law.”
Mr. Bhardwaj said: “The CBI and the police have no power to prosecute a sitting judge. The Constitution has a provision that a judge’s misconduct has to be inquired into under the provisions of the Judges Inquiry Act. You must amend the Constitution, if you want to bring in a change in the system. Nobody has the power to register a case against a judge. You first impeach the judge and then prosecute him as a normal person.”
To a query whether the government proposed to pass the Judges Inquiry Bill, he said as the coming Parliament session would be a brief one it would not be possible to pass the Bill now. It could be passed in the next session. “The government cannot thrust anything on the judiciary as we firmly believe that the judiciary should remain independent.”
Asking the judiciary to ponder itself over the ills it was facing, he said: “How can the judiciary be protected from the serious disease, which is slowly eating into the vitals of the institution. It is for them to give a serious thought. Let there be a collective decision that insulates judiciary from all types of corruption. It is a new problem which needs to be examined.
“I wanted to give the in-house mechanism a statutory backing by which there is a permanent administrative headquarters in the Supreme Court and the aggrieved party can lodge a complaint and the CJI and his colleagues will have to decide the complaint.”
On the CJI’s recommendation to impeach Calcutta High Court Judge Soumitra Sen, he said: “the CJI’s inquiry has no role in the impeachment of a judge. An impeachment move against a judge has to be initiated by MPs and then the Speaker or the presiding officer sets up a peers committee — comprising a sitting judge, a retired judge and a jurist — to re-investigate the charges again. I am examining the issue and will soon take a decision.”

HC to govt: Appoint female doctors
3 Feb 2009, 2248 hrs IST, TNN
LUCKNOW: The high court has directed the state government to take steps for appointing female doctors at primary health centres (PHCs) and community health centres (CHCs) in rural areas of the state. The court also directed the government to make fresh appointments of doctors and post them in these centres.

The order was passed by a division bench comprising Justices Pradeep Kant and Ved Pal on a public interest litigation filed by Asha Srivastava. The petition stated that women have to face serious problems in rural areas as female doctors are often not available in health centres.
As a result, women patients fall into the trap of private hospitals which charge exorbitant fees from them. Further, the petition said that, there are 3,820 government hospitals in rural areas but only 32 female doctors have been appointed in these hospitals.

Varsity scam: HC acquits key accused
4 Feb 2009, 0208 hrs IST, Vaibhav Ganjapure, TNN
NAGPUR: The prosecution in the Nagpur University’s infamous marksheet and revaluation scandal suffered a huge setback when the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court set aside lower court conviction of seven in the case including three key accused.

Three key accused let off by the HC are former dean of engineering faculty Hemant Thakre, scrutiniers Madhukar Smarth and Shyam Kalamkar. Their convictions were quashed along with those of four beneficiary students. The court also directed the university to return their degrees of the students.

The court said the prosecution had failed to prove the charges. This verdict continues the trend of acquittals seen in the scam-related cases since the removal of R P Joshi as special public prosecutor. The four beneficiary students acquitted are Rajendra Yadav, Anil Gupta, Mohammed Ishaq and Shailesh Tupkari.

Additionally, the scam kingpin Yadav Kohchade and scrutinier Prabhakar Hejib were convicted in only one case and their sentences were also reduced from twelve and half years to five and half years.

The verdict from single-judge bench of Justice R C Chavan on appeals of beneficiary students and others. Only one student Laxmikant Zade, along with Kohchade and Hejib, was found guilty. The HC has absolved Ishaq of all charges but held Kohchade guilty while reducing his sentenced to five and half years.

Court rejects Mamu’s remand plea
3 Feb 2009, 2249 hrs IST, TNN
VADODARA: A city court on Tuesday rejected three-day remand application of Rafiq Pathan alias Mamu made by Raopura police station officials. Pathan is accused of stealing three vehicles from the city, which he and his associates used in the murder of a Surat-based businessman in 2004.

Sources in police said the court ordered Mamu to be sent back to Surat jail for the time being.
Mamu, who is allegedly a Dawood aide, had shot Vipul Bhalala an electronics goods showroom owner in Varachcha, Surat in 2004 had surrendered in Surat a fortnight ago.

During interrogation, he confessed to having stolen three bikes from Vadodara, following which Raopura, Fatehgunj and Sayajigunj police station officials areas from where bikes were stolen filed cases of stealing against Mamu.

Raopura police had registered a complaint of motorcycle theft. Investigations led police to associates Mehboob Pathan and Imran Sindhi, Mamu’s associates and contract killers, who were later arrested. As a chargesheet had been filed against both and they were already presented before court, the court on Tuesday rejected his remand plea. Meanwhile, Vadodara police are pinning their hopes on a transfer warrant application they have filed to interrogate Mamu.

HC rap for district courts
3 Feb 2009, 0606 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Strong words of criticism against functioning of lower judiciary in the Capital have emanated from the Delhi High Court.

A division bench comprising Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Aruna Suresh on Monday, passed scathing strictures against the way trials are being held in the district courts of Delhi, specifically, the manner in which witnesses are being examined. It has asked the district judge to circulate HC’s concern, recorded in a verdict to all sessions judges and those from Higher judicial Service.

“While hearing criminal appeals, we have noticed a good number of disturbing features pertaining to sessions trial. The instant case has compelled us to pen down our experiences which, needless to state, are not reflective of a healthy and a vibrant criminal justice delivery mechanism,” the HC bench noted while remanding the case of a man convicted by a lower court for murdering a woman, back to lower court for trial. The court granted bail to the accused while he faces a fresh trial.

A dismayed bench noted how witnesses were being declared hostile by sessions judges even with “minor decrepencies in a statement.”

“We have been noticing that a witness of the prosecution suffers a temporary memory loss and isn’t answering a question put to him by a prosecutor. The witness is immediately declared hostile.”

HC cited other cases where “witness wrongly names an accused and is immediately declared hostile even when statement is otherwise fully supportive of the prosecution.”

The bench said witnesses are not being properly cross examined and judges are not giving proper hearing to objections raised by accused. This led to the impression that “judges who recorded the evidence were not alive to what was happening in the court,” HC observed lamenting how certain instances showed a lack of understanding of “elementary law.”

In the rape trial on which HC’s observations came, the judges were astonished to see that statement of a child witness were recorded by the sessions judge without the court putting any questions to him to ascertain if he has grasped the questions being asked from him.

HC seeks expenditure details on Nilgiris elephant corridor
3 Feb 2009, 0334 hrs IST, TNN
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has called for the details of government expenditure on acquisition of revenue lands for creation/resumption of elephant corridor in the Nilgiris.

The first bench comprising the acting chief justice S J Mukhopadhaya and Justice V Dhanapalan gave the direction on a public interest writ petition filed by advocate Elephant G Rajendran, on Monday.

If the district collector of the Nilgiris fails to furnish the status report showing the steps taken to remove all encroachments from revenue land, as stipulated in the first bench order dated Septemer 30, 2008, the court would issue summons to him on February 19 when the matter comes up for hearing next.

According to Rajendran, some persons had encroached upon a land effectively obstructing the elephant corridor between Silent Valley and Bandipur. He said a revenue land mass of about 60 meter lying near Mayar Pallam and Valaithottam, leading to obstruction of passage of elephants besides man-animal conflicts. Even recently, two elephants died due to electrocution caused by illegal high-voltage wire fence erected by encroachers.

On September 30, 2008, the High Court had directed the district collector to remove all encroachments from the revenue land identified for development of elephant corridor.

On Monday, Rajendran filed a memorandum pointing out that despite the lapse of four months, no appreciable actrion had been taken by the district collector, prompting the bench to call for expenditure details by February 19.

B Chandra Kumar is new HC judge
3 Feb 2009, 0421 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: B Chandra Kumar, currently working with Hyderabad city civil court as its chief judge, has been appointed as a judge of AP High Court. The news of his appointment has reached the HC on Monday officially.

Chandra Kumar, the son of a freedom fighter, B Ramachandar of Adilabad had completed his law degree from Osmania University in 1973 and had practised law in Adilabad upto 1988. After practising in the high court from 1988 to 1993, he was appointed as district judge in 1993.

He served as principal district and sessions judge, Nellore before coming to city civil court as its chief judge.

Tenancy cases: Govt locks horns with HC
3 Feb 2009, 0452 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: The state government is at loggerheads with Calcutta High Court over ways to sort out tenancy cases, which are pending adjudication for years. And, in the process, the state is mulling an ordinance against what the high court has observed.

In a recent order, the Calcutta High Court has challenged the powers of the small causes court and the tenancy tribunal, that are empowered by the West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act to hear out disputes related to tenancy cases, along with the City Civil Court.

The high court held that the tenancy tribunal and the small causes court were not the appropriate bodies to judge these cases. Instead, the City Civil Court was the right forum and parties preferring an appeal could move high court straightaway.

The state government, on the other hand, is not ready to come to terms with the high court order. For, hundreds of cases, lying in the City Civil Court for five years, are standing in the way of justice, said an official.

So, the state government is weighing the option of promulgating an ordinance reinforcing the powers of tribunal and small causes court to hear tenancy cases.

Polluting units: HC asks Board to submit report
3 Feb 2009, 0140 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: Refusing to lower the ante on pollution caused by various meat-producing units in Dera Bassi, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday granted two weeks time to the Central Pollution Control Board to submit a detailed report after conducting inspection of such units, including those of Punjab Meats Limited, and disclose whether these met various anti-pollution parameters or not.

The directions by division bench of chief justice Tirath Singh Thakur and justice Hemant Gupta came in the wake of hearing on a host of petitions, including the one filed by Village Environment Bachao Welfare Committee. Incidentally, during the previous hearings also, the HC had asked the chairman of the Central pollution board to conduct an inspection of these meat producing units but it wasn’t carried out. The judges wondered if there was a motive behind non-inspection or it was a case of plain laxity.

Also, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) had told the HC during previous hearing that it had framed a draft policy introducing significant changes in its functioning but the judges were not convinced.

The said policy stipulated that instead of a year, the PPCB (while granting clearance to operate) would give units only three months to check the adequacy of their pollution control devices.

Counsel for PPCB, AR Takkar, had stated that its officers would strictly follow the instructions and if any officer was found uilty in this regard, action would be taken against him.

HC tells CBI to disclose proof in Jalgaon murder
3 Feb 2009, 0251 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court, hearing a petition seeking a fair probe into the murder of Jalgaon Congress leader Vishram Patil, was informed by the petitioner’s lawyer that there was significant evidence in the matter which the CBI ought to disclose. The court asked the CBI to disclose the additional evidence.

The case shot to prominence after the victim’s widow alleged that President Pratibha Patil’s brother, G N Patil, was linked to the conspiracy and moved the HC for a detailed CBI probe.

The widow’s lawyer, Mahesh Jethmalani, on Monday said there was “fresh evidence which the CBI had suppressed from the chargesheet and which it ought to produce before the HC”. He said there were two disclosure statements of main assailants Raju Mali and Raju Sonawane on a panchnama where they said they met three persons, including the President’s brother, before they committed the murder.

Jethmalani also asked for narco-analysis reports of Sonawane, conducted in December 2006 as well as his taped interrogation to be produced in court. He added that G N Patil was using a different mobile, not in his name, for a few days leading up to the murder. The matter will continue to be heard on February 24.

HC curbs on change in land use of DLF greens
3 Feb 2009, 0556 hrs IST, Sumi Sukanya & Dipak Kumar Dash, TNN
GURGAON: Coming to the rescue of parks and green areas in residential pockets of DLF, the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently ordered that no green area as shown in the sanction plan shall be converted for any other use.

However, the order allows director of town and country planning (DTCP), the licensing authority, to let authorities such as NHAI use the green belts and spaces along the national highways for widening of such roads.

Pronouncing the judgment on a PIL filed by DLF Qutub Enclave Colony Association, the HC said the plans, as sanctioned on December 9, 2008, shall remain frozen for the land use and no inter-change of community sites shall be permitted.

Disposing of the case on the basis of an undertaking filed by the director of DTCP on December 16, 2008, the court directed that in cases where the site originally was reserved to be a green area but was converted to another use by revision of the plan, the DTCP would consider feasibility of restoring the area as a green area. However, this would be subject to condition that no third party besides government and developer interest in respect of that area had been created by the developer.

In its order the court directed that DTCP would entertain the complaints from the petitioners or from other citizens regarding the violations of the sanctioned plans for Phases I to IV, DLF and take appropriate action for removal of such violations after proper verification.

The residents association had filed a PIL against the Haryana government and others in 2001. In its appeal, the association had sought court intervention for supervision and restraining the government and private developer from converting parks into commercial and residential development. It also pleaded with the court to direct the government to remove unauthorized structures that have come up on sites earmarked for parks in the originally approved layout plan of the colony.

Speaking to Times City, R S Rathee, president of Qutab Enclave Residents Welfare Association, said, “There is nothing to celebrate since the court did not direct DTCP to remove the violations, which have already happened on a large scale. Now almost no space is left.”

HC threatens to stay ST allotments
3 Feb 2009, 0608 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday indicated it might stay the DDA housing scheme vis-a-vis Scheduled Tribe (ST) allotments if the civic agency failed to convince why it threw open the doors of the scheme for the ST category across the country.

Though not staying the allotment of flats under the DDA’s recent draw mired in allegation of rigging, a division bench comprising Chief justice A P Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna said they were inclined to stay the process. And gave DDA a last chance to seek instructions from the LG on the issue and make the government’s stand clear while fixing February 9 as the next date of hearing.

The high court was hearing a petition filed last month by one Prem Chand through his lawyer K V Dhananjay questioning the logic of DDA permitting applicants under the ST category from other states to participate in the draw.

The petitioner had sought an immediate stay from the court on allotment of the flats till completion of investigation into the alleged irregularities. According to the petitioner, under the DDA Act the housing body is not entitled to accept the applications filed by the people who were residents of states other than Delhi as it itself is a `local authority.’

Dhananjay argued DDA’s stretched the law to extend the scheme to all ST’s across India and pointed out how it wouldn’t benefit even Scheduled Tribes of Delhi domicile because the number of flats available was extremely small compared to those who applied.

HC saw merit in this argument and asked DDA to seek instructions to render a satisfactory explanation or else face the possibility of seeing the draw process for ST’s stayed, as sought by Dhananjay as an interim relief.

In December last year, after DDA held the draw for allotment of 5000 flats under the housing scheme a complaint was registered claiming irregularities in the draw. The Economic Offence Wing of Delhi Police’s Crime Branch is probing the case. So far, seven persons, including Laxmi Narayan Meena a former SBI employee and a resident of Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu, have been arrested in this connection.

HC seeks details on Raj’s bail
3 Feb 2009, 0243 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday sought details of proceedings of a Kalyan court on the day MNS chief Raj Thackeray was released on temporary bail in October last year.

The court, headed by Justice R P Sondur-Baldota, was hearing an application by the state government seeking cancellation of the bail granted by the Kalyan sessions court.

On October 22, 2008, while hearing Thackeray’s anticipatory bail plea in connection with a case registered with the Kalyan Government Railway Police, the judge stayed the transfer warrant (transferring his custody to the GRP)till further hearing leading to the MNS chief’s release. The state has claimed that the judge erred in delivering the order.

The prosecution’s case was that a magistrate had already granted him bail in a rioting case at Manpada police station and ordered him to be transferred to the custody of the Kalyan GRP in another case. Subsequently, the magistrate recalled his transfer order, claiming it was a clerical mistake.

The prosecution said the anticipatory bail application had become infructuous since the magistrate had already handed over Thackeray’s custody to the GRP. The sessions court, therefore, had no jurisdiction to stay an arrest, the state said.

Court summons to city BJP corporator
3 Feb 2009, 2224 hrs IST, TNN
VADODARA: A city criminal court on Tuesday ordered police to issue summons to BJP corporator Sana Thakore of Makarpura area for threatening a labourer’s family. Thakore and his men threatened them to vacate their hutment in Makarpura GIDC.

According to sources in court, Thakore and his men have been pressurising Manish Kataria and his family to vacate their house near General Mechanical factory in Makarpura GIDC estate.

On December 26, 2008, when Kataria had gone out with his brother to bazaar, Thakore accompanied by his men allegedly barged into his house. Not finding Kataria there, he terrorised his sleeping mother and told her he would burn her alive. When the woman called city police control room, Thakore and his men fled.

However, Makarpura police station officials allegedly took no action against Thakore despite receiving a written complaint. Meanwhile, the municipal councillor allegedly continued to threaten the family. Fed up of threats, Kataria moved criminal court on Tuesday and got the summons order.

Bar members protest against amendment of CrPC
4 Feb 2009, 1741 hrs IST, TNN
BIJAPUR: The Bar Association members here on Tuesday, observed total strike protesting the amendment of Sections 41 and 309 of the CrPC and Section 2(c) of the limited liability partnership act by the Parliament.

The advocates went around the city in a bike rally and submitted the memorandum to the law and parliamentary secretary, through the deputy commissioner.

The memorandum stated, “The amendment of the Act is anti-public and anti-society and it will seriously affect the efficiency of legal administration, of which the police and the law courts are the two limbs.”

Bar president Azad Patel, office bearers D G Biradar, S S Durgad, Ashok Binjageri, senior advocates P S Tankasali, S N Math, S N Sollapatti, A B Patil, S P Dixit, Nagathan, Talikoti and many others participated in the rally.

HC tells builder to pay money to buyers
4 Feb 2009, 1845 hrs IST, TNN
ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court has started tightening the noose on the erring builder of the illegally constructed Lila Kunj apartment,

situated at Beli Road here. The bench comprising Justices Amitava Lala and Arun Tandon on Tuesday directed the builder to pay margin money to the buyers of the flats in the Lila Kunj apartment by March 2 through cheques. The court in its order said that it will pass the necessary order for the balance amount on the next hearing in the case.

The bench passed the order on a writ petition filed by Anand Kumar Pandey and several others, who have sought quashing of the notices given to them by the Allahabad Development Authority (ADA) for the demolition of the illegally constructed flats of the apartment.

The bench passed the order after hearing both the sides on the issue of compensation to the allottees of the apartment. An affidavit was filed by the residents of the apartment stating that they had vacated the flats in compliance of the high court order. ADA had also filed an affidavit and produced a joint inspection report prepared by the district administration and the ADA officers on the present position of the apartment. It was mentioned in the affidavit that residents had vacated their flats and that demolition work has been started.

The court after hearing the arguments directed the builder, RK Ojha, to pay the margin money to buyers of the flats and fixed March 2 for the next hearing in the case.

The builder’s counsel tried to convince the judges about the various problems being faced by his client but the court refused to accept the plea. The bench said the builder cannot go back on the undertaking given by him in the court on the payment of compensation.

Law and order reviewed
4 Feb 2009, 1921 hrs IST, TNN
VARANASI: Law and order in the city was reviewed by the principal secretary (home) Fatesh Bahadur and director general of police Vikram Singh, on Tuesday. This was done with the aim of the forthcoming parliamentary polls, said the DGP to reporters before leaving the city for Lucknow.

Its our duty to ensure that weaker section is not deprived of their voting rights, he said. Fielding of candidates with muscle power by political parties will not affect the morale of police. A proposal had been sought from the SSPs and SPs to ensure that permanent outposts were created at the needed places, he added.

He expressed his unawareness towards the changes made in the structure of state police by the government. He said that the decisions of government were taken in the interest of people. He said that his duty was to ensure the proper implementation of the decisions of government.

IG zone, Gurudarshan Singh, DIGs of three ranges, DMs, SSPs and SPs of 10 districts were present at the meeting.

Judiciary may crack whip on protesting advocates
3 Feb 2009, 0335 hrs IST, A Subramani, TNN
CHENNAI: The higher judiciary, miffed at Friday’s unpleasant events when protesting advocates booed judges and manhandled law officers, may crack the whip to discipline the legal fraternity.

As a prelude to its efforts, a committee of judges had a meeting with bar leaders and sought their suggestions to ensure that the court does not see such nasty scenes again. “They wanted our suggestions, in order to discuss them in the Full Court meeting of all judges on Tuesday,” said a participant, adding that some of the bar leaders expressed regret for Friday’s incidents.

It may be remembered that protesting advocates dragged out advocates and law officers on Friday, bringing the court proceedings to a halt. Advocates, who had already declared indefinite boycott of court proceedings, were taking out the rally demanding immediate halt to the war on Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Monday also witnessed rallies, fast programmes and road blockades at the High Court premises as well as near the Dr Ambedkar Government Law College nearby. The rally, however, was calm and incident-free, as most of the court halls were empty and attendance of advocates too was thin.

Earlier, an emergency meeting was held by the Madras High Court Advocates Association president R C Paul Kanagaraj, following which a relay fast, in which 50 advocates plan to take part each day, commenced. When over a dozen law students were picked up after they too sat on fast, advocates blocked road at Broadway for a while demanding the immediate release of students. Immediately after release, the students resumed their fast.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu Advocates Association president S Prabakaran sent a representation to the U.S. president Barack Obama, seeking his intervention to prevention a humanitarian catastrophe in Sri Lanka. He said the island-government had been blocking humantarian and medical aid to civilians in northern Sri Lanka, and added that neutral observers and independent media had been denied entry to that region.

Sebi gets SC nod to interrogate Raju
4 Feb 2009, 0251 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court permitted the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on Tuesday to interrogate former Satyam chairman B Ramalinga Raju and his brother, Rama Raju, in connection with the Rs 7,800 crore fraud. ( Watch )

Sebi’s investigator, Sunil Kumar, will interrogate the two brothers at the Hyderabad jail over the next three days.

Frustrated by the perplexing refusal of a trial court in Andhra Pradesh to let the Securities and Exchange Board of India question Raju, the stock market regulator on Monday moved the Supreme Court to gain access to the alleged mastermind of the country’s biggest-ever corporate fraud.

Appearing for Sebi on Monday, solicitor general G E Vahanvati told a bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam that there was an urgent need to question Raju and his brother B Rama Raju, the former managing director of Satyam.

Significantly, while the plea was primarily against the trial court’s refusal to let Sebi interrogate Raju, it appeared to reflect widespread apprehension that the regulator might not get the required cooperation from the Andhra Pradesh police to enable it to question the politically influential promoters of Satyam.

With Sebi repeatedly being denied access to Raju, there’s a growing sense that the state government is actually seeking to protect Raju. There’s even a strong theory–reported by this paper–that Raju surrendered before the police to pre-empt prosecution by US investors and regulatory agencies as well as federal Indian authorities such as Sebi.

In its petition, Sebi recalled it had promptly appointed an investigator and had issued summons to Raju to appear before it in Hyderabad on January 9, two days after he confessed to having cooked the company’s books. “Instead of appearing before the investigator, his lawyers took an adjournment until January 10 and he curiously surrendered before the police on January 9 evening, from which date the accused has not been available for inquiry by Sebi,” it said.

TN govt takes control of Chidambaram temple

Tuesday, 03 February , 2009, 14:26
Last Updated: Tuesday, 03 February , 2009, 14:27
Chidambaram (Tamil Nadu): Within 24 hours of the Madras High Court ordering that the Tamil Nadu government takeover the management of the 1,200-year-old Nataraja temple in Chidambaram town, K. Krishna Kumar began formally administering the shrine as its new executive officer Tuesday.

“All devotees will be able to offer prayers inside the temple uninterrupted. We have served the government’s order, taken over the administration of the temple from the Dikshitars (priests) and are now in control,” Krishna Kumar told IANS.

“The Dikshitars have indicated that they will challenge the order after obtaining a copy of the judgement. We will follow the orders of the court,” added Krishna Kumar, who is also the deputy commissioner of the state government’s Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department.

C. Navathandava Dikshitar, who heads a body of the priests, said: “The government took control without the judgement copy on the basis of a faxed order. As we are law abiding citizens, officials have been allowed entry and are running the administration. However, we will be challenging the orders shortly.”

“Our control goes back over 1,000 years and was sanctioned by divinity. Politicians with ulterior motives have now managed to wrest control of our historic temple and are attempting to snatch our livelihood,” he added.

Security beefed up in major TN temples following terror alert

Security at the shrine in Chidambaram, about 250 km south of Chennai, has been tightened to provide adequate protection to the devotees.

“Some 200 personnel have been pressed into duty to prevent untoward incidents. So far everything is peaceful and there are no signs of any trouble,” said Superintendent of Police Pradeep Kumar.

The court’s pronouncement was made after a 21-year-long litigation by U. Arumughasamy, a non-Brahmin Hindu holy man seeking permission to offer worship at the temple. To facilitate it, he prayed that the temple be administered by the government to accord equality to devotees.

The government alleged that the Dikshitars were mismanaging the temple. It cited absence of proper vouchers for expenses and prevention of the usage of Tamil in the sanctum sanctorum against the tenets of natural justice.

SC puts brakes on TN bull fights

The Dikshitars had opposed the petition, claiming it to be interference into the rights of a minority sect with hereditary rights to control the temple and had obtained a stay against a government order issued in 1987 to facilitate the takeover.

Worship in the temple has been an emotional issue for centuries. Legend has it that Lord Shiva had chastised the Dikshitars for the prevention of the entry of a Hindu Dalit devotee Nandanar into the temple.

Temple ‘purified’ after Dalit minister’s visit

While temple accounts say that the devotee “merged with divinity” upon his entry into the shrine, rationalists aver that he was killed and burnt by the priests and the story of his uniting with the deity were floated to hide the fact.

In recent times, there has been a dispute following hindrance to the worship of another Hindu god Vishnu who also has a shrine inside the complex besides a fracas over recital of Tamil hymns in praise of Lord Shiva.

Kerala temple in limelight for ‘reactive’ power

A section of the Dikshitars had opposed both the attempts, citing conventional practices leading to protests and brief arrests.

While the Nataraja temple is one of the five holiest symbols of the Shaivite faith, the Vishnu shrine inside its premises is also equally revered by the followers of Lord Vishnu.

HC stays land acquisition for Annupur thermal power project
Published: February 3,2009

Madhya Pradesh High Court stayed the land acquisition for setting up a 2000 MW thermal power station in Anuppur district following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the acquisition.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice A K Patnaik and Justice Ajeet Singh yesterday stayed the land acquisition and also served notices on the state government and Anuppur Collector, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Jaithari Janpad Panchayat President, Ramlal Gond.
In the PIL, the petitioner stated that the state government had issued notification on December 17 last year for acquiring the land but had not mentioned the area on which the 2000 MW thermal power station of Major Ware Power and Infrastructure, New Delhi, will come up in Anupur.
As the notification had not mentioned the area, the farmers will not be able to file their objections under stipulated time if their land is acquired for the project under section 5 (a) of the Land Acquisition Act, the petition said.

Source: PTI

Gowda’s BMIC letter in Lok Ayukta’s court
3 Feb 2009, 0617 hrs IST, TNN
BANGALORE: The decade-old BMIC row took a new turn on Monday with the Karnataka high court asking the Lok Ayukta to inquire into the allegations made by former prime minister Deve Gowda in his letter and the booklet addressed to the judiciary regarding anomalies in the multi-billion-road project.

The division Bench headed by the Chief Justice also passed a gag order asking the parties not to air anything in public either in media or by writing letters to judges about the issue anymore.

“Though embarrassed to receive such a letter about a matter pending before court, we treated it as a PIL to put an end to the whole issue. We don’t allow this court to become a political platform though this letter has given a way for that. Stop politicizing the issue. Nobody is above law. This kind of writing letters to judges and going to press about the issue should stop,” the Bench observed.

Earlier, Surendra Desai, counsel for Gowda, told the court that he would like to file an affidavit to come with more details. “The January 8 letter and the booklet enclosed with it were elaborate. The timing was inappropriate. We have taken conscious decision to treat the letter as PIL — it is a positive decision. We are not an investigative agency and don’t intend to do so either. So we want to place that before an appropriate agency. We don’t believe in any commission or committee probing the matter,” the Bench said.

Opposing the move, NICE counsel Jayakumar S Patil told the court that the decision of the court to treat the letter as PIL has been challenged before the apex court and it is coming up for hearing on February 6. He then requested for 4 weeks time to file objections to the letter.

The court first thought of CoD and then suggestion came from advocate general Udaya Holla and others about Lok Ayukta. After getting consent from government and counsel representing Gowda, the court entrusted the inquiry to Lok Ayukta. The Bench dismissed the PIL filed by a state DSS leader challenging the alignment of 41-km peripheral road and the decision of the state government to permit NICE company to collect toll from vehicles from December.

Govt employees strike continues
3 Feb 2009, 0359 hrs IST, TNN
PATNA: Undeterred by a PIL filed against them in Patna High Court, striking government employees continued with their indefinite strike which entered the 26th day on Monday.

“We are yet to receive the court notice but as soon as it is served, we would prepare a detailed reply for its submission before the honourable court,” said Rambali Singh, general secretary of the Gope faction of Bihar State Non-Gazetted Employees Federation (BSNGEF).

Apart from the Gope faction, BSNGEF and Bihar Secretariat Services Association are the two other prominent unions which have given the indefinite strike call over the differences with the government on the modalities of implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations in Bihar.

Singh said trade unions too had extended their support to the striking employees. “Members of the trade union sponsoring committee have written a joint letter to the chief minister urging him to look into the demands of the striking employees,” he added.

Members of the Bihar Krishi Sewa Sangh, who too are on an indefinite strike from January 17 in support of their demand for declaring the agriculture service as premier service, on Monday held a meeting here to decide their future course of action.

“We have decided to organise a Kisan Panchayat on February 17 to explain our side to the farmers who have been suffering due to the strike call given by us,” Sangh general secretary Aditya Narayan Rai said.

Members of the Bihar Krishi Snatak Sewa Sangh, who joined this strike on January 21, too were present in Monday’s meeting.

Meanwhile, CPI(ML) leaders held a meeting on Monday to assess the preparations being made by the party cadre in support of the joint Bihar Bandh call on February 4 given by the party along with the two other Left parties, CPM and CPI.

Party state secretary Nandkishore Prasad directed the party workers to work hard for making the bandh call a grand success.

Oscars to be aired despite ‘A’ content
3 Feb 2009, 0336 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday allowed Star TV to telecast the Oscar awards ceremony even if some of the clippings of the nominated films contained some ‘A’ certified content.

Star TV moved HC on Monday for its nod since there was an order passed earlier in 2004 in a PIL preventing TV broadcasters from airing adult content on their the cable channels.

The channel’s counsel, Virendra Tulzapurkar, moved court to rule out any likely contempt proceeding if some uncensored adult-rated visual clips from the award ceremony were to aired in the February 22 telecast.

Mukesh Vashi, counsel for a local city activist, whose PIL led to the ban on adult cable content in the city, didn’t object to the plea made by Star TV.

SC puts states on notice over population control
3 Feb 2009, 0250 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: Appalled by the indifference of state governments to the implementation of the national population policy to tackle the problem posed by rapid population growth that put dwindling food stocks under strain, the Supreme Court on Monday put their chief secretaries on notice.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam in a terse order asked the apex court Registry to send reminders to the chief secretaries of 15 states, including Maharashtra
, Delhi, Karnataka, Rajasthan, UP, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Andhra Pradsh and Orissa. Only Kerala and Jharkhand have responded to the SC’s earlier notice.

Appearing for petitioner NGO `Azadi Bachao Andolan’, counsel Sanjay Parekh said that even states facing an acute problem due to demographic explosion have chosen to keep silent, and termed this as “worrisome”. The court gave the chief secretaries 6 weeks to ensure responses from respective states.

The PIL, pending for the last five years, has sought implementation of the ambitious National Population Policy-2000 strategising a gradual reduction in the population growth rate.

During the hearing in SC on November 10 last year, it was pointed out that NPP implementation has taken a massive hit as India is saddled with five crore more hungry mouths than it was envisaged.

The NPP-2000, which set the national socio-demographic goals for the year 2010, said if its strategies were implemented, India’s population, which is projected to be 116 crore by 2010, could be capped at 110 crore.

However, the population in the year 2008 is already 113 crore, as per the figures given out by National Commission on Population. This is five crore more than the average projection of population figure for the year 2008.

More importantly, it means there would be five crore more mouths to feed at a time when the government has banned export of non-basmati rice to avoid a famine-like situation, as has been admitted by the Centre in the Supreme Court.

Pursuant to the framing of NPP-2000, the National Commission on Population was constituted on May 11, 2000, but strangely, it took five years to hold its first meeting in July 2005. The court on Monday also sought a response from the Commission.

The PIL informed that India became the first country in the world in 1952 to launch a National Programme on Family Planning `to stabilise the population at a level consistent with the requirement of national economy’.

In 1976, a statement on the `National Population Policy (NPP)’ was given in Parliament linking population control to poverty reduction. But, it took another 24 years for the government to formulate and announce NPP-2000, the PIL said.

Access to Justice & Emerging jurisprudence in PIL cases
Aditi Gopalakrishnan and Pranav Sachdeva

[Both our guest bloggers are students of Campus Law Centre, Delhi University. Aditi (II year)and Pranav (III year) are also members of CLC’s seminar and discussion committee. We admire their enthusiasm in reporting this important lecture for us]

Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India delivered a lecture on ‘Access to justice and emerging jurisprudence in PIL cases’ at the Campus Law Centre, Delhi Law Faculty on Saturday, Jan.31. During the discussion, he dealt with many pertinent questions relating to the court’s changing attitude to public interest cases. He started by explaining how access to courts in India is already difficult at the threshold itself because the procedures are complex and cannot be negotiated by an individual entity without the help of a lawyer. There is also paucity of legal aid of decent quality which can contend with this system.

The real focus of the lecture, however, was the court’s attitude to such litigation which is in the interest of the public but may not necessarily be espoused by the same person whose interests are affected. The Supreme Court in the 1970s and 1980s enlarged the principle of locus standi in bringing a petition by holding that as long as a cause of action affects members of the public, any such member can bring the petition irrespective of whether his/her rights are affected or not. A corollary of such an enlarged principle was that the scope of Article 21 which guarantees the ‘right to life’ has also been expanded including within it the right to food, safe water, sanitation, shelter, education etc.

However, post-1990s or economic liberalization, human rights or the ‘right to life’ have been largely ignored when pitted against ‘development’ concerns (development here implying all those concerns which result in economic growth). In recent cases, in the cases where human rights are pitted against environment rights, the Court clearly favours the environment lobby. However, in a case where environment concerns are dichotomous with a growth-oriented concern, then the interests of such an enterprise takes precedence.

To sum up, the ‘development’ agenda clearly trumps environment issues, which in turn, trumps human rights placing human rights at the bottom of the pyramid of priority for the Court. To illustrate, he gave the examples of the slum clearances ordered by the Court in Yamuna Pushta and the lack of rehabilitation of people in Madhya Pradesh who were dislocated as a consequence of the Sardar Sarovar decision. The Sardar Sarovar dam decision itself was incredible for its complete disregard to logic because the Environment Assessment Impact (EIA) was ordered to proceed concurrently with the building of the dam!

He also cited the diversion of forest land for Sterlite’s bauxite mining project and land acquisition for Korean steel giant Posco’s 12-million tonne steel plant in mineral-rich Orissa as an example of the completely cavalier attitude that the Supreme Court exhibits towards actual development or environment issues. The Supreme Court order allows Sterlite, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UK-based Vedanta Resources Inc, to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hill in Kalahandi district at the risk of extreme damage to the environment.

According to Mr. Bhushan, one of the main reasons for the callous approach of the Supreme Court to such public interest cases is that the judiciary is self-appointed and self-perpetuating. An independent statutory body that constitutes a search committee for judges to be appointed to the Supreme Court would go a long way in making the Benches more liberal and sensitive towards human rights issues.

He also cited the Gram Nyayalaya Act passed by the Parliament as a positive move towards increasing access to the justice system. He also made a distinction between PILs that are rejected by courts in the absence of locus standi from those that are vexatious in nature. “Sometimes, a cause of action may be brought by someone on behalf of, or for someone else who does not want to approach the court himself/herself at all which are summarily rejected by the Court. However, the Bench must consider whether the cause contains a legitimate, justiciable issue and this must be the priority when deciding such cases. It appears that greater degree of sensitivity towards human rights cases is essential for creating access to courts in India and this calls for a more active and compassionate judicial system”, he observed.

After his talk, during his interaction with students Mr. Bhushan touched on a variety of subjects. He said it is easy for persons like the Ansal brothers to get bail, but the cases of poor are never taken up for quick hearing. The case of Binayak Sen is a stark example of how rights of commoners are being short-changed in this country. For almost 20 months, the soft-spoken doctor has been kept in jail on flimsy charges. Even as the case is unravelling, he has been denied bail right up to the Supreme Court, he said.

Responding to a question on who should appoint the judges, Mr. Bhushan said that India needs a full-time statutory body. Neither government (as was pre-1993) nor judges themselves (as is post 1993) should be the sole-appointing authority. His proposal for composition of national judicial commission is two judges, two government appointees and one person from civil society.
Posted by V.Venkatesan at 12:02 PM

Law Minister Criticizes the Move of Chief Justice of India
by Santosh Kumar Agarwal February 03, 2009

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Monday the 2nd Feb’09, Union Law Minister H.K. Bharadwaj, for the first time in an open criticism of Chief Justice of India (CJI) K.G.Balakrishnan’s move to refer at least two cases of sitting judges of High Courts to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), said that sitting judges can only be prosecuted after they (judges) are removed from their office by impeachment.

Mr. Bharadwaj was answering questions from journalists who were referring to the nod given by the CJI to CBI to pursue two cases of corruptions of sitting judges. One of the cases relates to Provident Fund (PF) Scam wherein crores of rupees were siphoned off from Ghaziabad Treasury to purchase gifts for judges and in the other involving Rs.1500000 meant for one judge was delivered to the doorstep of another judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In the PF Scam case, CBI has already submitted a report to the CJI and in the second case the CJI is believed to have given permission to the CBI to file an FIR against the sitting Punjab and Haryana High Court judge.

Elaborating the issue raised by the journalists, Mr. Bhardwaj said that CBI and police has no power to prosecute a sitting judge and they can be inquired for ‘misconduct’, only as per the constitutional provision of Judges Inquiry Act. Would it be proper to make a sitting judge of a high court to appear before a Magistrate, he asked? He categorically said that investigation against a sitting judge is ‘Bad in Law’ and cannot be resorted to unless the judge is denuded of his position and then prosecuted as a normal person.

On the issue of CJI’s recommendation to impeach Calcutta High Court Judge Soumitra Sen, the law minister said that CJI’s inquiry has no role in the impeachment of a judge. An impeachment motion against a sitting judge has to be initiated by Members of Parliament and then the Speaker (or the presiding officer) of the house sets up a peers committee- comprising a sitting judge, a retired judge and a jurist- to reinvestigate the charges again.

He assured the journalists that he is examining the issue and would soon take a decision in this matter (of CJI initiating investigation proceedings).

BMIC project: SC expresses displeasure over Deve Gowda’s letter
New Delhi (PTI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed displeasure over a letter sent by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda to the judges of the Karnataka High Court alleging corruption in the Bangalore-Mysore highway project and termed as contemptuous a book on the subject circulated along with it.
“It is unfortunate that such a letter has been written,” a three-judge Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat said.
The Bench was unhappy that Deve Gowda’s letter also accompanied a book titled “Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) Project: A Case Study in Fraud and Collusion to Defeat Ends of Justice”, published by his party, the Janata Dal(S).
“We have not read the book but this itself is contemptuous,” the Bench, also comprising Justices V S Sirpurkar and A K Ganguly said.
“Our judgements may be wrong and may be criticised but cannot be influenced,” it said.
The Bench was hearing a bunch of petitions relating to the BMIC project including the petition filed by NICE challenging the High Court order to treat Deve Gowda’s letter as PIL.
After treating the letter as PIL, the High Court on Monday referred to Lokayukta to probe allegations of corruption levelled by Deve Gowda in connection with the BMIC project.

Can jailed terrorists write exams, HC asks police…/419181/
Agencies Posted: Feb 04, 2009 at 1418 hrs IST
The Delhi High Court asked the city police to explore the possibility whether a suspected terrorist allegedly involved in Delhi serial blasts could be allowed to write his examination paper from the jail.
Justice Reva Khetrapal passed the order on a plea of Saquib Nisar, second year MBA student of the Sikkim Manipal University, requesting that he should be granted interim bail to appear in examination.
The Court asked the police to file its response tomorrow when the matter will be taken up for further hearing.
Saquib Nisar, who has been in custody since he was arrested on September 20, 2008, pleaded that he should be granted bail to appear in MBA third semester examination which is to begin from February 7 in Delhi.
“The gravity of the allegations cannot and should not bar the right of any accused to pursue his studies,” Saquib’s counsel, Vikas Padora pleaded before the Court.
The Court had earlier issued notice to city police on Saquib’s plea on January 30. The police have already filed chargesheet against Saquib Nissar and other accused – Mohd Saif, Zeeshan Ahmed, Zia-ur Rehman and Mohd Shakeel in the September 13 serial blasts.
They have been accused of waging war against the nation under the Indian Penal Code. According to the police, all the accused who have been named in the chargesheet were also involved in the serial blasts in Jaipur and Ahmedabad.
They had visited Ahmedabad before the July 26 serial blasts under fake names which came to light during the investigations and was later confirmed by examining the railway tickets and reservation chart, the police said in the chargesheet.

BRIEF: HC stays Lokayukta order
Tue. February 03, 2009; Posted: 07:19 PM
NEW DELHI, Feb 04, 2009 (Hindustan Times – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) The Delhi High Court stayed a Lokayukta order asking the Delhi Government to produce records pertaining to the purchase of 625 low-floor buses from Tata Motors.
In October, former BJP MLA Vijay Jolly had moved Lokayukta, alleging each of the bus had been purchased at an inflated price of over Rs 25 lakh and this had caused a loss of Rs.153.36 crore to the public exchequer. He’d said similar buses in Chennai had cost less. In response, Lokayukta Justice Manmohan Sarin had issued a notice to the Government.
Government counsel Najmi Waziri told the HC the Lokayukta had acted beyond his jurisdiction. The counsel also the comparison with Chennai buses were wrong as these were semi-low floor and not low-floor buses like Delhi.

Terming CBI probe as motivated is challenging HC: VS
4 Feb 2009, 0311 hrs IST, ET Bureau
NEW DELHI: The strife within CPM over the SNC-Lavalin scam is clearly headed for a no-holds-barred showdown. Chief minister V S Achuthanandan on Tuesday indulged in open defiance of his party line when he said that questioning the CBI probe would amount to challenging the court.

Addressing a press conference
on Tuesday evening at the Kerala House, just a couple of km away from his party headquarters, the chief minister kept open the option of stepping down, stuck to his, “I will not go against the Constitution” line and refused to accept the polit bureau’s position that the CBI probe was politically motivated.

“The Kerala High Court division bench directed the CBI to probe the Lavalin case. The high court ordered, set the timeline and monitored the case. The court also made observations about it. If I say anything about it, it will amount to questioning or challenging court. As I was sworn in to protect the Constitution, I cannot criticise the court,” Mr Achuthanandan said.

When a reporter asked if he was not a party man, Mr Achuthanandan repeated that he was a chief minister who had taken oath under the Constitution. To a question that other ministers in his cabinet, who had also taken oath under the same Constitution, and the polit bureau had dubbed the case as politically motivated, he replied: “Ask them”.

After the press conference, Mr Achuthanandan went to the AKG Bhavan to meet CPM general secretary Prakash Karat.
The next flashpoint in the crisis within the CPM would be the polit bureau meeting, which is likely to be held on February 14. Though the chief minister has a ray of hope that the full polit bureau may rethink on its stand on backing state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, who has been named the ninth accused in the CBI report, the odds are weighing heavily against him. Both Mr Achuthanandan and Mr Vijayan are members of the polit bureau.

At the press conference, the chief minister did not rule out quitting. Asked if he would resign, the chief minister said: “I will let you know.”

Faced with a barrage of queries on the controversial issue, the chief minister repeatedly said the he was holding a press conference on Kerala’s plan outlay and not on the Lavalin probe. However, this was the first time he had so bluntly rejected the party leadership’s stand on the matter. The CPM has been alleging that the Congress-led UDF was behind the CBI probe and that the investigating agency was being used as an instrument for political purposes.

Mr Achuthanandan said his reasons for staying away from the “nava Kerala yatra” had been conveyed to the polit bureau. “I took an independent stand. I will not share it with the media,” he said. To a question that he was being dubbed a coward, Mr Achuthanandan said it was a deliberate campaign. “If someone thinks I am a coward, I have no problem. The people of Kerala know,” he said.

Delhi High Court comes to rescue of tribal youth
New Delhi (PTI): In a shocking case, a tribal youth from Jharkhand with a bullet stuck in his brain for the last two months, was refused admission at AIIMS which shunted him from one department to another before relenting after a terse Delhi High Court order.
On December 6, 21-year-old Shivlal Soren, a resident of Kathikund rpt Kathikund village in Jharkhand was shot by the police during the demonstration. He was later arrested by the Jharkhand police which brought him to Delhi on January 31 for treatment after trying unsuccessfully at a local hospital.
But coming to Delhi did not see an end to his problems. At AIIMS, he was asked to go from the Trauma Centre to Eye Casualty and then to Neurosurgery department.
Taking up his case, an NGO filed a petition in the High Court which on Tuesday ordered the Medical Superintendent of AIIMS to provide him immediate treatment at the institute.
Shivlal was admitted to the AIIMS Trauma Centre but his woes are far from being over. He is dependent on Rs 35 per day grant from Jharkhand government for his daily meals. For the time being, he has been accommodated close to the hospital by the NGO.
AIIMS denied reports that Shivlal was refused admission. “Once a patient comes to the OPD, he is referred to other departments for various tests,” AIIMS Medical Superintendent D K Sharma said.
The bullet entered through his left eye and settled in his brain. This has affected his vision. Any attempt to remove it could be life threatening,” said Dr.Deepak Aggarwal, associate professor of neurosurgery at AIIMS treating Soren.

Supreme Court comes down heavily on custodial violence
New Delhi (PTI): Warning that custodial deaths if left unchecked would lead to anarchy and barbarism, the Supreme Court has called for stern measures to combat the menace as otherwise the people’s confidence in the country’s criminal justice system will be destroyed.
“Unless stern measures are taken to check the malady of the very fence eating the crops, the foundations of the criminal justice delivery system would be shaken and civilisation itself would risk the consequence of heading towards total decay resulting in anarchy and authoritarianism reminiscent of barbarism,” a bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Asok Kumar Ganguly observed.
The apex court passed the observation while dealing with the plea for compensation filed by Dalbir Singh, an agriculturist whose 17-year old son was allegedly killed in police custody in Noida in Uttar Pradesh.
“Police excesses and the maltreatment of detainees/undertrial prisoners or suspects tarnishes the image of any civilised nation and encourages the men in ‘Khaki’ to consider themselves to be above the law and sometimes even to become a law unto themselves,” the bench said.
According to the apex court custodial deaths violated Article 21 of the Constitution which provides for “Right to Life and Liberty.”

Supreme Court issues notice to salt manufacturers
New Delhi (PTI): The Supreme Court has issued notice to salt manufacturers’ body and others on the Centre’s plea seeking transfer of petitions challenging a government notification that banned sale and consumption of non-iodised salt (common salt).
A bench headed by Justice S B Sinha sought reply from the Gujarat Foundation for Development Alternatives and Gandhi Irwin Salt Manufacturers Association, the petitioners who had challenged before the Gujarat High Court the notification – GSR 670 E of November 17, 2005 – restricting selling of common salt, unless it was iodised, for human consumption.
The notification issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has come into effect from May 2006. There are similar other petitions also pending before the apex court.
Stating that the petitions involved substantial questions of law of public importance, the Centre said it took the necessary action to impose restriction on production, sale and use of non-iodised salt gradually under it National Goiter Control Programme in Anedmic Goiter areas of 15 states and three Union Territories.
Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran said the transfer of petitions was necessary to avoid conflicting decisions as various petitions on the issue were pending before different high courts of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai High Court, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.
He also said the National Human Rights Commission in its report in April 2005 had also recommended universal iodisation of salt without any relaxation in the ban on sale of non-iodised salt.

Lawyers attack roadside cycle shop
Chennai (PTI): Around 25 advocates of the Madras High Court were taken into custody after they allegedly attacked a roadside cycle shop near the court premises here as it remained open during the strike called by some parties to express solidarity with the Sri Lankan tamils.
According to police, some cycles in the shop were damaged in the violence.
The advocates earlier staged a demonstration inside the court premises, they said.
In another incident, around 20 students, who tried to stage a demonstration in defiance of a ban on the arterial Anna Salai in the city, were also taken into custody, police said.

SEBI allowed to question Raju brothers
J. Venkatesan
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to interrogate in prison B. Ramalinga Raju and B. Rama Raju, the former chairman and the managing director respectively of Satyam Computer Services Ltd., in connection with the financial scam involving the company.
A Bench, comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice J.M. Panchal, passed this order on SEBI’s special leave petition after hearing Solicitor-General G.E. Vahanvati for the SEBI and Bharati Reddy, counsel for Andhra Pradesh, supporting the SEBI’s stand.
“We would never be able to go to the root of the matter” if the two brothers were not interrogated immediately, Mr. Vahanvati submitted. Every day important documents were going out.
“We should be permitted to interrogate the two brothers in prison for three days.”
Mr. Vahanvati said the SEBI had appointed A. Sunil Kumar, General Manager of SEBI, to investigate the matter.
In its brief order the Bench permitted Mr. Sunil Kumar to conduct the interrogation of the two brothers at Central Prison, Chanchal Guda, Hyderabad, for three days from February 4.
The Bench asked Mr. Sunil Kumar to give the name of the accompanying official to the prison authorities before conducting the interrogation.

RAW official arrested on graft charge
Staff Reporter
NEW DELHI: A Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) official has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs.1 lakh from a Chennai-based exporter for obtaining an export licence. He was produced in a court on Tuesday that remanded him to three days’ police custody.
A. S. Narayan Rao, an official of the director rank, is a scientist in the RAW’s technical wing. He is said to be a member of a committee that granted export licences to companies dealing in “sensitive” items, including defence-related equipment.
The Chennai-based manufacturer of telecom gadgets after obtaining an order, applied for an export licence. He recently lodged a complaint with the CBI saying that the scientist was demanding Rs.8 lakh to help him get clearance for the licence.
Based on the complaint, the CBI laid a trap at a hotel in Karol Bagh where Dr. Rao allegedly asked the exporter to pay Rs.1 lakh as the first instalment on Monday evening. They arrested the RAW official soon after he allegedly accepted the amount. He has been booked under relevant provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Dr. Rao, however, pleaded innocence. He said he was framed as he raised objections against the complainant’s application.

Encroachments: court orders spot inspection at T. Nagar
Special Correspondent
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday said a two-member committee consisting of officers of the Chennai Corporation and the CMDA should make a spot inspection at T.Nagar from February 17 in the matter relating to removal of encroachments.
The First Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice S.J.Mukhopadhaya and Justice V.Dhanapalan passed further orders on a public interest litigation petition filed by K.R.Ramaswamy alias ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy.
It said the Corporation Commissioner and the CMDA Member-Secretary should nominate an officer each. The committee will make spot inspection of the areas in question. The petitioner may assist the committee.
A joint report should be submitted to the court on March 2. The matter has been posted for March 3.
In his petition, Mr.Ramaswamy had said that if only an earlier High Court order had been acted upon, encroachments on Ranganathan Street would have been removed and the fire accident in Saravana Stores on September 1 last year could have been averted.
In the August 2006 order, a Division Bench directed the Corporation to take steps to remove encroachments on all busy streets such as Ranganathan Street, Natesan Street, Madley Road, etc., but no progress had been shown, the petition said.

“Article 324(5) not a sword in CEC’s hands”
Anita Joshua
NEW DELHI: Union Minister for Science & Technology Kapil Sibal on Tuesday asserted that the Chief Election Commissioner does not have the power to suo motu recommend removal of an Election Commissioner. Critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for trying to discredit the Election Commission, he said it was in line with the principal opposition party’s policy to attack institutions which do not toe the party line.
Briefing journalists on the government’s understanding of Article 324 (5) of the Constitution which has come into question after CEC N. Gopalaswami recommended removal of Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, Mr. Sibal said: “This provision is a protection guaranteed to the Election Commissioners and not a sword in the hands of the CEC.”
Time and again clarifying that he was only explaining the legal position and not commenting on the CEC’s recommendation, Mr. Sibal said Article 324(5) seeks to protect Election Commissioners from arbitrary action by the government. But, he added, this power cannot be exercised by the CEC suo motu and can be invoked only if the government seeks the removal of an Election Commissioner.
Further, according to the Minister, the CEC enjoys co-equal powers with the other two Election Commissioners. The CEC cannot force his decision on the Commission where the majority view prevails. And the CEC is not a disciplinary authority.
As to whether the controversy would impact the Lok Sabha elections, Mr. Sibal was confident that the process would not be affected because the present Commission has conducted several elections in the past without one political party raising a finger. “If this could happen earlier when differences persisted between the Election Commissioners, why should it be any different now?”

We have the expertise, SEBI tells court
Legal Correspondent
NEW DELHI: The Securities and Exchange Board of India in its Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court in the Satyam case, said that it approached the Andhra Pradesh High Court for a direction to permit it to interrogate the Raju brothers, who were in judicial custody. But the High Court refused permission and posted the matter for February 9. In view of the urgency, the SEBI was constrained to move the apex court.
The fraud in Satyam was the worst in the history of the country. In less than one month, the market capitalisation fell from Rs.15,000 crore to Rs. 2,000 crore.
Domestic investors of the company were devastated and foreign investors’ confidence was shaken, the SLP said.
The market regulator pointed out that it was a specialised agency, which had the competence and expertise to investigate matters pertaining to frauds in transactions in securities.
The finding of the trial court that the SEBI was not an investigative agency and that there was no provision in law under which it could interrogate the two respondents was contrary to law. The High Court ought to have interfered with the trial court’s findings. But it had not.

Have Cr.PC amendments helped pub culprits get bail, asks Renuka
Aarti Dhar
NEW DELHI: Union Women and Child Development Ministry will enquire whether the recent amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC) had helped the Mangalore pub culprits get bail easily.
“It is a fact that granting bail depends on the Sections under which the arrest has been made and there is inherent porosity in the law but it also needs to be seen whether the recent amendments made it easier for the culprits to get bail,” Minister of State (Independent charge) for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhry said at the All India Editors Conference on Social Issues, organised by the Press Information Bureau (PIB).
The amendments were passed in the 14th session of the Lok Sabha in December but yet to be notified. The changes envisage arrests only if necessary. The law is aimed at reducing the number of under trials in jail. Ms. Chowdhury had opposed the amendments. “It needs to be seen how the amendments impact the women, particularly in the context of the Mangalore pub incident,” Ms. Chowdhury said.
Asked about the details of her Ministry’s report on the Mangalore assault case, she said the formal report was yet to be submitted to her though she had been briefed about it.
But the Minister made it clear that she would also take note of the National Commission of Women (NCW) member Nirmala Venkatesh’s report that blamed the pub owner for the assault on young women. The Commission chairperson Girija Vyas had on Monday sought to distance herself from the report saying that the panel was yet to take a view on it, particularly since the member had revealed it before submitting it to the Commission.
The Minister said she had sent her team only because the NCW team was taking time to give a report, and not because we did not agree with the NCW member’s report.
“Whether the Commission accepts the report or not is a different matter but I will still take cognisance of it,” she said. It would be discussed after Ms. Vyas returned from Jaipur on Thursday.

Apex court refuses to stay today’s strike
J. Venkatesan
NEWDELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to pass any order on a public interest petition seeking stay of the general strike called by certain political parties in Tamil Nadu for Wednesday.
When counsel Ajit Pudussery prayed for stay of the strike on the ground it was illegal, Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan heading a three-judge Bench orally observed, “what this court can do. Everybody has got a right to express their feelings. Let it be listed {for hearing} in the normal course on February 16.” Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice J.M. Panchal were the other judges on the Bench. The petitioner, Jayaneethi Saravana Sathish Kumar of Chennai said “the intention of the callers of the bandh on February 4 is to ensure that no activity either public or private is carried on that day.
It is also clear from their further statements, sometimes made, that the newspapers, hospitals and the milk supply is excluded from the bandh. It is no doubt true that while calling for a bandh it is not also announced that any citizen not participating in the bandh will be physically prevented or attacked. But experience has shown that when any attempt is made either to ply vehicles on the day of the bandh or to attend to one’s own work, or to open one’s shop to carry on trade, it has resulted in the person concerned being threatened with consequences if he took out his vehicle, if he went for his work or if he kept his shop open.”
He said “the leaders of the political parties who call for the bandh cannot escape by saying that they are not directly telling the citizens not to do these things under threat but if some of the participants in the bandh indulge in such activities, they cannot be held responsible.”
He said in 2007 the Supreme Court had declared as illegal a bandh called by certain political parties and the contempt matter was still pending in the court.
In these circumstances he sought a direction for declaring the strike illegal and to restrain the parties from going ahead from the bandh on February 4.

36 lawyers arrested
Staff Reporter
Tirupur: Thirty-six lawyers were arrested here on Tuesday after they attempted to block trains to condemn the killings of innocent Tamils in Sri Lanka.
The advocates, led by A. Vivekanandan and P. Gopal, demanded that the Central Government should immediately intervene in the matter and try to put pressure on Sri Lankan President to stop the ‘genocide’ taking place in the island nation.
The protesters also pointed out that it was the responsibility of the Indian Government to safeguard the rights of the Tamils living in Sri Lanka and ensure that those who were trapped in the war zone in the troubled island nation were rescued at the earliest.

Kodanad Estate: government’s undertaking to High Court
Special Correspondent
CHENNAI: The State government on Tuesday undertook before the Madras High Court that no further steps would be taken in pursuance of an order to measure and carve out land in Kodanad Estate for acquisition to form a road, till February 12.
Justice K. Suguna passed the interim order on a petition filed by the Kodanad Estate in Kothagiri taluk of the Nilgiris district.
In his petition filed by counsel A. Navaneethakrishnan and S. Venkateshan, the petitioner, the estate manager, S.Natarajan, challenged the proceedings dated January 10 this year informing the estate that there was a proposal to acquire the estate land invoking the “urgency clause” for providing a road for the residents of Annanagar and Kothagiri and in view of the proposal the Kothagiri Tahsildar proposed to measure and carve out about 0.87 hectares in five survey numbers of Kodanad village.
The estate submitted a written objection to the Tahsildar. The Tahsildar’s proceedings were not sustainable in law and were liable to be quashed.
The petitioner submitted that there was no legal provision which enabled the Tahsildar to measure to carve out land when there was only an acquisition proposal. The proceedings were malafide. The petitioner prayed the court to call for the relevant records and quash the same.
When the matter came up, the Government Pleader, Raja Kalifullah, took notice. He undertook that no further steps would be taken with reference to the land in pursuance of the impugned order till February 12.

HC registrar promoted
MADURAI: N. Vijayakumar, Assistant Registrar (Administration) of the Madras High Court Bench, here has been promoted as Deputy Registrar (Administration). He will continue to serve in Madurai as per orders issued by the Registrar General.

Former SBI official gets seven-year-RI for fraud
Special Correspondent
Judge imposes Rs. 15 lakh fine too
MADURAI: The II Additional District/Sessions and Special Judge for CBI cases C.V. Karthikeyan sentenced a former State Bank of India official to undergo seven year rigorous imprisonment and pay Rs 15 lakh fine for abusing his position as public servant.
According to prosecution, A. Jeyachandran who was working with the SBI, Sivakasi Town branch, had opened an account in the name of a fireworks company at the branch in the name of his family members, including his wife K. Mariammal.
With the aid of two accomplices K. Parameswaran and K. P. Senthilkumar, Jeyachandran misappropriated the money handed over to him by depositors for crediting in their respective accounts.
Signatures forged
He withdrew money from the customers’ accounts by forging their signatures on cheques/withdrawal slips at regular intervals, it came to light during an investigation.
Sometimes, Jeyachandran handed over money to the account holders without withdrawing from their respective accounts. He also credited the amounts in the customers’ accounts without their knowledge.
Jeyachandran had cheated the bank to the tune of Rs 27,71,326. Based on his confession, the CBI police registered cases of conspiracy and cheating and filed the charge-sheet.
The Judge convicted Jeyachandran to undergo seven year rigorous imprisonment and imposed a Rs 15 lakh fine. In case of default, the judge directed him to undergo additional two-year jail term.
The judge also observed that out of the fine amount of Rs 15 lakh, the bank would be entitled to Rs 5 lakh and acquitted the three accused.

Advocates stage protest opposing amendments to Cr.P.C
Amendment to Section 41 of CrPC on economic offences opposed
Changes to Section 309 ‘takes away the right of accused in defending himself’
HYDERABAD: Members of the AP committee of the All-India Lawyers’ Union on Tuesday observed protest day across the State by sporting black badges, expressing opposition against certain Criminal Procedure Code amendments passed on December 23 last year in the Lok Sabha.
The union is opposed to the amendment (which come into force once they are notified) to Section 41 of Cr.P.C on economic offences as ‘it is totally not in the interest of curbing the crime itself’, according to K. Pardhasaradhi, secretary.
He claimed that the wealthy would make use of the lacuna in the section to escape punishment and that the poor only would be arrested in the name of ‘notice of appearance before the police officer’. Police would also enjoy vast powers under the section. The union, he stated, was also opposed ‘in toto’ to the amended Section 309 of CrPC ‘which takes away the right of the accused in defending himself, affects human rights and is against the principles of natural justice’. The union wanted a few amendments reviewed.
Mr. Pardhasaradhi said the union would decide its future course of action after holding a meeting here on February 6, the south zone meeting on February 21 in Palghat and at all-India level on March 7 in New Delhi. The south zone meeting would be attended by members from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

Nod to withdraw cases against LDF leaders High Court round-up
Special Correspondent
KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday granted sanction for withdrawing the criminal cases filed against leaders of the CPI(M) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in connection with the dharnas and processions held during the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) regime.
Justice Sasidharan Nambiar delivered the judgement while setting aside a magistrate court order refusing sanction sought by the Assistant Public Prosecutor to withdraw the cases. The verdict came on criminal revision petitions filed by the State government. The leaders against whom the police registered cases included Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac and Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran. Cases was registered against over 300 LDF leaders.
Plea against Kodiyeri
A quo warranto writ petition seeking to remove Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was filed in the court. The petition was filed by Raju Puzhankara. According to him, Mr. Balakrishnan had violated the oath of office and secrecy taken by him as a Minister when he disclosed at a public meeting in January 21 in Thiruvananthapuram that request seeking sanction had been received for prosecuting CPI (M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin case. His action amounted to breach of the oath. So, he had no authority to continue as Minister.
Hearing adjourned
A Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice J.B. Koshy and Justice V. Giri adjourned the hearing on a writ petition filed by the B.Sc. Nursing Students’ Association against the government decision to abolish the conduct of common entrance examination for admission to the B.Pharm., B.Sc. (MLT), and Bachelor of Physiotherapy courses.

Defamation case against VS dismissed
KOCHI: Ernakulam Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Cherian Kuriakose on Tuesday dismissed a defamation case filed by Congress leader K. Sudhakaran against Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan. Mr. Sudhakaran, former Forest Minster, had complained that allegations made by the then Leader of the Opposition Mr. Achuthanandan had lowered his reputation. At two press conferences in 2003, Mr. Achuthanandan had said the former Minster had indulged in corruption in auctioning forest wood. — Special Correspondent

Four new additional judges for High Court
NEW DELHI: President Pratibha Patil has appointed four judicial officers as the new additional judges of the Kerala High Court for two years with effect from the date they assume charge. They are Parameswaran Bhavadasan, Soudamini Amma Sankaranarayana Pilla Satheesachandran, Madathiparambil Lonappan Joseph Francis and Pullukatte Sanku Gopinathan.
— Special Correspondent

Haryana pays Rs. 1 lakh to sexual abuse victim
J. Balaji
NEW DELHI: A Class VIII girl student who was alleged to have been sexually abused by a school headmaster in a village in Rewari district of Haryana has been given an interim relief of Rs.1 lakh by the State Government on orders from the National Human Rights Commission.
The Commission received the compliance report and proof of payment on January 19. It had ordered the Haryana Government for payment within four weeks after it found that prima facie violation of human rights of the girl had been established.
When the Commission had issued a show-cause notice to the Haryana Chief Secretary to explain why an interim relief not be recommended to the victim, the Commissioner and Director-General of School Education of the State had replied that the accused headmaster Samay Singh had already been facing trial in court on criminal charges and therefore award of an interim relief before completion of the trial might create an awkward situation. They also sought indefinite adjournment of the matter. However, the Commission rejected their plea and ordered payment.
Earlier, following a complaint from the victim’s grandfather about the incident, which took place on February 11, 2007, and his allegation that the police had not registered the case under appropriate sections of law and no action had been taken against the accused, the Commission had sent an investigating team to the spot. The district Superintendent of Police too was directed to closely monitor the probe.
Later, the Superintendent of Rewari Police informed the Commission that the charge-sheet had been filed against the accused under Indian Penal Code sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 506 (criminal intimidation) in the court. Besides, the accused was also facing a departmental inquiry.

Court pulls up trial court for declaring witnesses hostile
Feb 2nd, 2009 By Sindh Today
New Delhi, Feb 2 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Monday expressed concern over trial courts in the capital terming witnesses hostile whenever minor differences are found in their statements, saying it was a disturbing feature of the criminal justice system.
A division bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Aruna Suresh said trial courts should refrain from this.
“While hearing criminal appeals, we have noticed a good number of disturbing features pertaining to sessions trial. The instant case has compelled us to pen down our experiences which, needless to state, are not reflective of a healthy and a vibrant criminal justice delivery mechanism,” the court said.
“We have been noticing cases where the witness wrongly names an accused and is immediately declared hostile, who is otherwise fully supportive of the prosecution. This has to be avoided for the reason that once a witness is declared hostile the defence immediately pounces on the argument that the witness lacks credibility,” the court said.
The court made the observations while hearing an appeal filed by a rape convict challenging the order of a trial court.

Action likely against corpn staff on sexual harassment charges
3 Feb 2009, 0327 hrs IST, Ajitha Karthikeyan, TNN
CHENNAI: In what will be a first such case, the Chennai Corporation is likely to take action against one of its employees on charges of sexual harassment following an intervention from the National Commission for Women (NCW).

A women’s committee, formed by the corporation to look into such complaints, has submitted a report that there is prima facie case against 57-year-old Thanickachalam, a conservancy supervisor accused of verbally abusing women workers. The inquiry was held in the presence of NCW member Nirmala Venkatesh last week.

Santhosamma (50), a sanitary worker who petitioned the NCW, alleged that Thanikachalam was constantly using foul language against her. “He kept abusing me even for minor mistakes. So, one day, I hit him with a broomstick. I was suspended for two months but no action was taken against him,” she said.

Corporation commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni told TOI that the women’s committee, headed by district family welfare officer Dr Vijaya, had conducted the inquiry into Santhosamma’s complaint and given its report. “We’ll definitely take action and will not be lenient to any such criminal activities,” he said.

This is not the first time that Thanickachalam is facing such a charge. Rama Devi (39), another sanitary worker, petitioned officials in 2006 seeking action against him, then a conservancy inspector. But the corporation did little about taking action against her tormentor.

Taking a serious view of it, the NCW, which conducted an inquiry into the allegations in 2006 and recommended the suspension of Thanikachalam, said it would take up the matter at “a higher level” if he was not punished.

“The officials are of the view that sexual harassment means only physical abuse. What about verbal abuses? The committee has recommended counselling for him and increment cut for me. Is this justice?” Ramadevi asked.

Denying the charges against him, Thanickachalam said the women were instigated by unionists to make false allegations against him as he was against their “illegal” activities. “I’ve been sincere in my works and even received congratulatory certificate from the previous commissioner for discharging my duties without even a single complaint in the last 25 years,” he added.

Judge accused of rape: NHRC moves SC
3 Feb 2009, 0248 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday took the rare step of moving the Supreme Court to accuse the West Bengal government of “miring investigations in technical wrangles” to virtually shield a judicial officer facing rape charges since 2004.

“Though an FIR under Section 376 of IPC was registered against a judge in the district court at Police Station Ranaghat on June 11, 2004, the state is unwilling to take the investigation to its logical conclusion,” said senior advocate U U Lalit arguing for NHRC.

This is the second petition by the apex human rights body in the Supreme Court. Its first petition filed in 2003 seeking justice for the victims of the post-Godhra riots is still pending in the apex court.

Though the first petition on post-Godhra riots was received well by the apex court, Lalit found the going tough in convincing a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam, which while issuing notice to the West Bengal government, did express its lurking doubts about the victim’s delayed complaint against the judicial officer.

“Why did she not go to a government hospital for a medical check-up after the alleged rape incident? Why should a victim go before the Bar Association to make a complaint and that too after many days of the incident?” Thses were some of the questions bluntly put to the NHRC counsel by the Bench.

It then expressed its doubt: “Is it a strategy to fix the judicial officer with a cooked up case?” Lalit sensed the Bench’s mood and stoically argued that the human rights body was not interested in persecution of any one least of all a judicial officer.

But, why would the state, despite the public prosecutor’s declaration that a rape case was made out, attempt to delay the investigations, Lalit asked and said it would be in the best interest of all that the probe was taken to its logical conclusion.

The NHRC’s petition, filed through advocate Anitha Shenoy, has sought expeditious conclusion of the probe into the rape charges and a direction to the state “to support and facilitate the officials concerned to appeal against an order of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Ranaghat, rejecting the plea for collection of samples — body fluid and hair — from the accused judicial officer for the purpose of investigation”.

Police atrocity in UP, beat up a minor girl
New Delhi, Tue, 03 Feb 2009 M Shamsur Rabb Khan
In what could be termed as sheer brutality and severe human rights violation, two police officials of the Uttar Pradesh police have been caught on camera beating a 6-year-old girl in Etawah. What was the girl’s crime? She was accused of theft and was handed over to the police by residents of the area, who charged her of stealing Rs.
250. Once in the police hands, she was given instant justice, while the police officials behave like law into themselves. Like merciless butchers, the officials roughed her up in the cruelest manner, pulling her hair and ears hard enough for a 6-year-old to bear.
The instances of taking law into their hands are many: in June 2007, in Agra court premises, lawyers, the guardians of legal procedures, beat the 22-year-old Vinod, who had come to the court to sort out a dispute with a relative, ganged up and beat up the boy mercilessly for more than an hour after tying him to a tree. They reportedly shaved a part of his head and even spat on his face. All was coming live on TV. While the poor boy was being slapped from all around, people watched silently.
The law and order has always been a big problem for the state, it is the police atrocities that have fetched a bad name to UP. Going by the statistics, UP has witnessed the highest number of alleged police atrocities and human rights violations with 21,899 cases registered in 2006-07 as against 31,096 countrywide followed by Delhi with 2192 cases. Bihar comes at number four after Haryana. In all these years, neither Mulayam Singh Yadav nor Mayawati has been able to inculcate change in the attitude and treatment of the UP police. No reform process has been initiated either.
Custodial deaths” and encounter deaths masks the harsh reality of what happens at the ground level in Uttar Pradesh police department. Police abuse of authority is so prevalent in UP that the Allahabad High Court responded in outrage in a 2001 opinion: “A large number of petitions are coming up before this court with allegations against the Police that they are behaving like bandits, thieves, rapist and petty criminals…The police are supposed to protect the people and not to rape, black mail or loot them…it is high time that the police also start behaving in a civilised manner.”
The National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) Annual Report for 2000-01 supports the Allahabad High Court’s concern. The statistics indicates that for several years UP has topped the list of states in the numbers of custodial deaths and extrajudicial executions. Since 1993 UP has dominated the list of custodial deaths and rape with a total of 940 reported cases so far. During 2000-01, the state topped the list of fake encounter deaths with 68 cases out of the 109 reported to the NHRC from across the country.

The problem of police brutality in UP has a wide range of causes. The caste-based society, the political environment, and administrative set up have given ample power and discretion delegated to the UP police. In a state where Mayawati rules, instances of atrocities against Dalits are frequent due to traditional caste feeling in administration, particularly the police. Furthermore, systemic and endemic corruption in the police and within the political and judicial agencies exacerbates the problem and ensures that such crimes go unpunished.

Though the authorities sacked the sub-inspector and suspend the inspector, who beat the girl, much remains to be done, if the image of the UP police is to be changed from a bad cop to good cop.

NHRC to reduce mortality rate among mothers, infants
2 Feb 2009, 2120 hrs IST, TNN
HAVERI: The district health officer (DHO) Iswar Malode said, “In order to bring down mortality rate among pregnant women and new born babies in Haveri district, the national rural health campaign (NRHC) has been implemented and will continue till 2018.

He was speaking at an NRHC workshop, which was organized for the media. The programme was jointly organized by the information and health department. The aim of the department is to provide basic medical facilities in rural areas in the district.

“Currently, there are 178 deaths per 1000 mothers and 80 deaths among every 1000 new born babies in the district. We have to bring the ratio to 126:40 respectively by 2018,” DHO said.

The government has released Rs 10,000 each to the gram panchayats through the sanitation committees, while each primary health centre is allotted Rs 75,000 and each community health centre and taluk level hospitals Rs 2.5 lakh.

“The Suraksha ambulance, providing mobile medical service with a team of expert doctors, will run on the village roads from April 1,” he added.

District surgeon Dr S N Marekkanavar, who inaugurated the workshop said, “The health department needs to focus more rural and slum areas. The government has plans to provide accreditation to private maternity hospitals, so they can provide quality medical service.

Dr B S Goudar, Dr D B Mulimani, Dr M L Patil, Dr M Jayanna, Dr Venkatesh Naik spoke on various topics of health awareness. District information officer C P Mayachari, press club president Gangadhar Hugar district health education officer N M Patil were among those present.

Pub attack probe: NCW member takes on minister
New Delhi/Bangalore (PTI): A slighted National Commission for Woman (NCW) member on took pot shots at Union Minister Renuka Chowdhary for sending a second team to probe the Mangalore pub incident in which girls were attacked despite the Commission having investigated the matter.
“Who is she (Renuka) to be satisfied (with our report) or not. Let her do her work,” said Nirmala Venkatesh, who led the first team. Venkatesh had blamed the pub owners for not ensuring enough security for the girls.
“The Commission’s inquiry is final. The Constitution says the commission’s inquiry is final. I have done a very important probe in that and also I have submitted yesterday’s report with best observations and recommendations to the Commission”, Venkatesh said in Bangalore taking on Chowdhury, who is the Minister for Women and Child Development.
“The NCW has the full right to have its own probe.”
The Women and Child Development Ministry had instituted a separate team led by Joint Secretary Kiran Chaddha to probe the incident. The team has come back only today and will submit a report after which the ministry would take a viewpoint, said Chowdhary in New Delhi.
Asked why the ministry had deemed it necessary to send a separate team, Chowdhary said since the Commission team had not submitted its report within five days she decided to send an independent team of the ministry taking into account the urgency of the matter.
The minister, however, said she would take into account the report of both the teams before arriving at a conclusion. “In quite a few incidents, we have sent independent enquiry teams just so that we can compare facts and we comment so that they are not misled by any one single report”.
The minister also said she was examining whether the accused in the incident got away due to the new amendments in the CrPC Act.
The Women and Child Development Ministry had instituted a separate team led by Joint Secretary Kiran Chaddha after the NCW team led by member Nirmala Venkatesh had blamed the pub owners for not ensuring enough security for the girls.
Meanwhile, Venkatesh on Tuesday said, “the commission’s inquiry is final. The constitution says the commission’s inquiry is final. I have done a very important probe in that and also I have submitted yesterday’s report with best observations and recommendations to the commission”.
Commission has the full right to have its own probe, she added.
NCW chairperson Girija Vyas had also distanced herself from the report by Venkatesh, saying she had not submitted any report to her.

Govt report on pub attack trashes NCW findings
Published on Tue, Feb 03, 2009 at 22:09, Updated on Tue, Feb 03, 2009 at 23:20
Mangalore: Shocking pictures of women being beaten up outside a famous pub in Mangalore by men allegedly owing allegiance to Hindu hardliner group Ram Sene shocked the nation and kicked off a debate on moral policing.
Adding fuel to fire were comments by the National Commission for Women who called for the cancellation of the pub’s license. “We visited the pub. There was no security in the pub, no guards and we have recommended the cancellation of pub license,” said NCW’s Nirmala Venkatesh.
The comments clearly embarrassed the Centre and so it sent an independent team to Mangalore.
The findings of the Government team are damning. CNN-IBN has access to those and learns that locals have raised questions about the way NCW conducted the probe. The report also says that a fear-psychosis prevails among youngsters in the city and with Valentine’s Day coming up, the panic is palpable.
“The report has to come out and my officers and on the job,” said Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Choudhary who sent the team to Mangalore.
Contrary to the statements by the NCW, the Centre’s team found that there was adequate security at the pub.
Two bouncers were present at the time of incident. The victims claim that two of the attackers carried knives and that some of the recruits of the Ram Sene were drivers and clearners.
The only saving grace for the state government was that the police arrived at the venue within10 minutes of the incident.
The team also found that club rules were also being applied at the pub of allowing only couple entry in the pub.
But Renuka’s comments and her move for a probe have not gone down well with Venkatesh, who is upset with the second enquiry.
“Who is she to be satisfied? There cannot be a second enquiry by the Centre,” she said.

Elements like pub attackers are ‘threat to national security’: Renuka
Feb 3rd, 2009 By Sindh Today Category: India
New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury Tuesday said elements like those who attacked women in a Mangalore pub were ‘threat to national security’.
Chowdhury also lashed out at the Karnataka government over the attack by a self-styled moral brigade on some women in the pub, as a two-member team from her ministry, which conducted the probe into the incident, submitted its report Tuesday.
‘The matter is not just limited to attack on women in a pub but should be seen as breakdown of law and order machinery in the state where some anti-social elements can take law into their hands. It is high time the state government should pull up socks’.
Around 40 members of Sri Rama Sene (army of god Rama) barged into a Mangalore pub Jan 24 and bashed up several young men and women in the name of moral policing.
‘We need to see how these men were allowed to do such things and what empowers them. All such elements are risk to national security and we are really going to do something,’ Chowdhury said.
About the investigation conducted by the ministry team, Chowdhury said: ‘I received the report. The team that visited Mangalore has informally briefed me about it, but I would be able to comment on it after I go through the report.’
The ministry sent the team led by joint secretary Kiran Chadha to probe the incident after the three-member committee of the National Commission for Women (NCW) failed to submit the report on time.
‘Even after five days of investigation, the NCW did not pass on the report to me, and realizing the urgency of the issue I sent a separate team Sunday,’ Chowdhury said.
A three-member NCW team, led by Nirmala Venkatesh, visited the pub and said that the licence of the pub should be cancelled as it was illegally allowing live band performances and lacked proper security.
Venkatesh’s comment was, however, contradicted by the commission’s chairperson Girija Vyas.
Commenting on posters being put up by some organiations in Srinagar warning couples not be seen together, Chowdhury said: ‘It is like Talbanisation of India and such matters should be dealt strictly.’


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