LEGAL NEWS 05.02.2009

Mergers & Acquisition should contribute to bottom line
By Raghunath Ravi on February 4th, 2009With the current depressed global economic condition, business enterprises have been seriously considering various innovative measures to mitigate the negative effect on the profitability as well as for improving their ability to survive. In India, even before the effect of global meltdown was beginning to be felt, few corporate entities had announced certain proposals which were radical and incredible. The announcement that – Jet Airways and Kingfisher would bring together their resources to maximize their bottomline – while retaining their identity as separate entities is one such move. This has become a necessity or a compulsion without options or choice. While the exact details of the arrangement are not publicized – there are certain questions that need to be addressed on the effects of such arrangement on consumers. For, it is the consumer who will ultimately be affected or stand to benefit as a result of the arrangement between the two airline companies. The lack of vision and commercial sense on the part of the said two private airlines have led them to the decision to combine their resources – a solution for the survival of both the airlines – While business cycle may have adverse effects – most of the problems are ‘man made’ – uneconomic sectors with flight schedules of both the airlines within a short gap of the other airlines for the same sector, high levels of remuneration for the executives and disproportionate ad-spend – all contributed for the truncated bottomline.Perhaps the sharing of the resources practiced by the banks for their ATMs and the telecom companies – which proved to be very effective in cost cutting – considering the capital required for these facilities – are prohibitively expensive for any bank/telecom provider to incur on its own, has made the airline companies to consider ‘pooling together’ of their resources However, in the case of airline companies it is not just their infrastructure facilities which may be pooled together – the human resources engaged in ground-support services, manning the booking /reservation and the security checking services which will have a greater role in determining the level of satisfaction for the passenger, will be deciding factors in ultimately gauging the effectiveness of the arrangement. Another question is whether the arrangement will come under scanner by MRTP/Competition Commission of India in ensuring that the rules of the game are not flouted and the poor consumer is not taken for a ride by these airlines with the monolith their business together would grow into!

E-ticket error costs tour operator Rs 20,000

Wednesday, February 04, 2009New Delhi: Planning to book electronic tickets through a tour operator? Think again as a small mistake in the spelling of a name can give you a nightmare.This is what happened to Delhi-resident Shubh Chand Jain. On reaching the Palam Domestic Airport he had to face undue delay as tour operator Trip Travel Pvt Ltd had spelt his daughter’s name incorrectly while booking for him five Jet Airways tickets for to and fro air journey from New Delhi to Raipur.Consequently, when Jain went to board the flight, the airline’s ground officials refused his daughter permission to board till National Airport Authority of India officials intervened to resolve the matter.While returning, the same problem surfaced and as a result his flight got delayed.On filing a complaint, a two member bench of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has ordered the tour operator to pay him Rs 10,000 compensation for deficiency in service.

SC permits banks to charge up to 49% interest on card payment defaults
Tuesday, February 3, 2009New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed MNC banks to charge hefty interest up to 49% on defaulted credit card payments, ending the respite that lakhs of card holders have had since September last year when the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission capped the penalty at 30%.The SC stayed the apex consumer forum’s directive to banks not to charge more than 30% interest on defaulted payments on credit card purchases. The SC had last year refused to heed the appeal of banks against the NCDRC’s order. A Bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal, G S Singhvi and Aftab Alam on Tuesday suspended the relief to card holders on a plea by a coalition of foreign banks — Citibank, HSBC, American Express and Standard Chartered — that their business was suffering immensely because of the “unwarranted’’ cap on the quantum of penal interest.Ironically, the plea of banks may have been allowed because of a lapse by the very same NGO ‘Awaz’ that was instrumental in getting the NCDRC order pegging the penal interest at 30% last year.Though the bench had issued notice to the NGO four months ago, it has yet not put in its response, possibly helping the court to see merit in the argument of the banks that no penal interest rate, they were only following the guidelines issued by the RBI.The banks teamed up to apprise the apex court of their compulsions to charge between 36% to 49% interest on defaulted payments on credit cards. “No bank as a credit card issuer would charge undue interest rate as, apart from the regulatory framework that applies, the market would not sustain the same by reason of competitive force,’’ Citibank said. In its application, filed through counsel Rupinder Suri, it said facility of credit cards could be availed of without any interest for a certain stipulated period and it was only after the expiry of that period that penal interest was levied on default of payments.“The credit card holder is aware of the same at the time of applying for it. It is also relevant to note that credit card transactions de facto constitute unsecured credit availed of,’’ the bank said justifying the high interest rate permitted by RBI on defaulted payments.The July 7, 2007 order of NCDRC had ruled that “charging of interest rates in excess of 30% per annum from credit card holders by banks for the former’s failure to make full payment on the due date or paying the minimum amount due, is unfair trade practices.’’It had also said that penal interest could be levied only once for the period of default and should not be capitalised while terming the practice of computing interest on monthly basis as “unfair trade practice’’.The banks justified the high interest rate on default payments by credit card holders by listing as many as 27 factors that included even the SMS alerts it sends to the card holders.Even the cost of acquiring a new customer, that is the cost of calls made randomly by authorised call centres urging people to take credit cards, is also taken into account for realisation through charging of penal interest from an defaulting card holder.“The National Commission has failed to appreciate that the rate of interest on defaulted or partial payments of credit card dues is determined by taking into consideration various factors, including the risks of default, and therefore, this commission may not determine the issue as to whether the interest at the rates of 36% to 49% per annum is excessive,’’ the banks said. Higher charge despite lower cost of fundPrabhakar Sinha TNNNew Delhi: Though cost of fund is falling, banks continue to charge very high interest rates—up to 51% per annum – on outstanding credit card amount. At present, banks are charging interest on outstanding amount at the range of Rs 2.5%-3.5% per month, which works out to be 34.5%-51% per annum.In 2008, when interest rates were firming up, banks had increased the rate by around half a percentage point per month or by around 10 percentage point per annum.In the last couple of months, cost of fund has declined. At present, banks are raising funds at around 8% from depositors. Even if the default rate of around 15% in the credit card segment is taken into account, the present interest rate (35% to 51%) is very high. In the developed market interest rate burden is around 15%-20%.However, banks claim that cost of servicing a customer is high, as they don’t charge the interest rate during the first 50 days of a credit card purchase. But industry watchers say this is not correct. If you have even Re 1 outstanding left on the card in the previous payment cycle, the interest will be charged from the day one on the entire amount. So, you end up paying the high interest rate on the amount spent by the card from the day one.CMD of a public sector bank said if RBI can ask banks to reduce lending rate, it can also tell them to lower the interest rates on credit card. Posted by Sandeep Bhavsar at 6:30 PM

MOU signed for BHEL- KEL joint venture
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 05:03 NewsKEL, a fully owned undertaking of the Government of Kerala, has four production units spread across the State.Power equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals on 03-02-2009 signed an MOU with Kerala Electrical & Allied Engineering Company Ltd for forming a joint venture which will focus on core sectors and supply products to engineering giants — Siemens and General Electric.The MoU was signed here by KEL MD B Jyothikumar and BHEL MD K Ravi Kumar in the presence of Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Santosh Mohan Dev and Minister of State for Power Jairam Ramesh.The MoU envisages delinking of the Kasaragod unit of KEL to form a separate company.BHEL is expected to invest about Rs 25 crore in this JV company, KEL said in a statement.After the MoU, the valuation of the assets of KEL, Kasargod will be done by a reputed financial institution to be selected by mutual agreeent between KEL and BHEL.KEL’s product includes high frequency alternators, frequency convertors, special alternators and power packs for missile projects.” BHEL will provide necessary technical and managerial support to the joint venture,” BHEL CMD K Ravi Kumar told reporters here after signing a memorandum of understanding with Kerala government-run KEL in the presence of Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Santosh Mohan Dev. The JV will cater to core sectors such as transportation, renewable energy and some other industries by manufacturing a specific range of products, Ravi said, ading it would also manufacture products for railways and other industries.” This 50:50 joint venture company with KEL would supply wind electricity generators to General Electric and Siemens,” Ravi said. Some of the equipment for this JV company would be manufactured at our unit in Bhopal, he said without divulging further details regarding the joint venture.Oil rigs and locomotives are likely to be manufactured at KEL Kasaragod unit in Kerala. The turnover of this JV company is expected to touch Rs 60 crore by the end of next financial year. “I am sure that the alliance between BHEL and KEL will bring out the best products which can help Indian Railways and Industry and be a vehicle of growth for both organisations,”Dev said.

Defaulting credit cards will attract 49% interest now

Wednesday, February 4, 2009NEW DELHI: Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed MNC banks to charge hefty penal interest up to 49% on defaulted credit card payments, ending the respite that lakhs of card holders have had since September last year when the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission capped the penalty at 30%.The SC stayed the apex consumer forum’s directive to banks not to charge more than 30% interest on defaulted payments on credit card purchases. The SC had last year refused to heed the appeal of banks against the NCDRC’s order.A Bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal, G S Singhvi and Aftab Alam suspended on Tuesday the relief to card holders on a plea by a coalition of foreign banks — Citibank, HSBC, American Express and Standard Chartered — that their business was suffering immensely because of the “unwarranted” cap on the quantum of penal interest.Ironically, the plea of banks may have been allowed because of a lapse by the very same NGO `Awaz’ that was instrumental in getting the NCDRC order pegging the penal interest at 30% last year.Though the Bench had issued notice to the NGO four months ago, it has yet not put in its response, possibly helping the court to see merit in the argument of the banks that no penal interest rate, they were only following the guidelines issued by the statutory regulator, Reserve Bank of India (RBI).The banks teamed up to apprise the apex court of their compulsions to charge between 36% to 49% interest on defaulted payments on credit cards. “No bank as a credit card issuer would charge undue interest rate as, apart from the regulatory framework that applies, the market would not sustain the same by reason of competitive force,” Citibank said.In its application, filed through counsel Rupinder Suri, it said facility of credit cards could be availed without any interest for a certain stipulated period and it was only after the expiry of that period that penal interest was levied on default of payments.“The credit card holder is aware of the same at the time of applying for it. It is also relevant to note that credit card transactions de-facto constitute unsecured credit availed of,” the bank said justifying the high interest rate permitted by RBI on defaulted payments.The July 7, 2007 order of NCDRC had ruled that “charging of interest rates in excess of 30% per annum from credit card holders by banks for the former’s failure to make full payment on the due date or paying the minimum amount due, is unfair trade practices.”It had also said that penal interest could be levied only once for the period of default and should not be capitalised while terming the practice of computing interest on monthly basis as “unfair trade practice”.The banks justified the high interest rate on default payments by credit card holders by listing as many as 27 factors that included even the SMS alerts it sends to the card holders.Even the cost of acquiring a new customer, that is the cost of calls made randomly by authorised call centres urging people to take credit cards, is also taken into account for realisation through charging of penal interest from a defaulting card holder.“The National Commission has failed to appreciate that the rate of interest on defaulted or partial payments of credit card dues is determined by taking into consideration various factors, including the risks of default, and therefore, this commission may not determine the issue as to whether the interest at the rates of 36% to 49% per annum is excessive,” the banks said.Source:
Posted by Mahendra Mahara at 2:32 AM

Citifinancial pulled up for unfair trade practices –

News Updates:A consumer court Tuesday criticised Citifinancial Consumer Finance for adopting “highly unfair trade practices” as it had recovered double the loan amount from a consumer.The Delhi State Consumer Redressal Commission headed by Justice J.D. Kapoor found Citifinancial Consumer Finance guilty of extracting exactly double the loan amount the company had given to the consumer.Sandeep Kumar Sharma, a resident of the IGNOU Housing Complex in Maidangarhi, applied for a personal loan of Rs.22,000 and Citifinancial sanctioned it in January 2007. He was assured that he will pay a monthly installment of Rs.1,125 for 24 months.However, Sharma later realised he had been asked to pay 36 monthly installments. He filed a complaint in a district consumer court which asked the financial company to take monthly installments of Rs.1,125 for only 24 months and compensate the consumer for Rs.8,000.The company appealed against the order in the state consumer court that found it guilty of adopting unfair trade practice.“The financial company had wanted to recover Rs.40,500 against the loan of Rs.22,000. There cannot be any worse kind of exploitation of a poor man who is in need of money,” it said.“We do not find any merit in the appeal and dismiss the same. The order shall be complied with within one month from the date of receipt of this order,” Justice Kapoor said.

PIL okay if public money involved: SC

R. SedhuramanLegal Correspondent
New Delhi, February 4The Supreme Court today made it clear that every citizen had the right to file a PIL in corruption cases if public money was involved and no locus standi was required. A Bench comprising Justices RV Raveendran and Markandey Katju made the observation while disposing of a petition by Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, challenging an order of Bombay High Court which had asked a trial court to take into account the police investigation report also. A metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai had dropped Praful Patel from trial after he pleaded that he had disassociated himself in 1999 from Auto Ridders Finance Ltd, accused of diverting funds worth Rs 50 crore that had been invested in the company by UTI. M Furuquan and others had filed a PIL in Bombay High Court, challenging the trial court dropping the name of Patel, who was director of the company. The apex court said since Patel was neither tried nor acquitted in the case, he should not have come to it. It directed him to go back to the High Court and make his contentions. Rejecting the contention of Patel’s counsel Ashok Desai that the PIL petitioner had no locus standi and that PIL provision was being misused for publicity, vendetta and vengeance, the Bench asked if his client was innocent why was he afraid of facing the judiciary. If the public can’t raise its voice against corruption, who else would fight the menace, the judges wondered. Just because Patel had subsequently become a minister, he could not try to avoid judicial proceedings, they said.

Ashram deaths case: Petitioner protests against father joining as party

5 Feb 2009, 0354 hrs IST, TNNAhmedabad : Praful Vaghela’s plea to become a party in the petition going on in Gujarat High Court met with strong objection from original petitioner, PH Parmar. Vaghela has applied for joining him as a party in this application claiming that investigating agency has failed to make any breakthrough in the case, hence probe be handed over to CBI.Parmar (7 expressed reservation against Vaghela’s move to join case alleging that deceased kids’ parents had succumbed to political pressure after launching a protest fast against tardy pace of investigations, in July.“I have full sympathy for Vaghela family, but when they were getting support from all corners of society, they withdrew from struggle and made peace with political leaders. It was under political pressure, Vaghelas had agreed to the decision of handing over investigation to CID (crime),” Parmar argued before a division Bench hearing PIL seeking thorough investigation in to mysterious deaths of Dipesh and Abhishek, who were studying at the Asaram Gurukul in Motera.“I will contest this case alone come what may, and not allow anybody to weaken it,” Parmar claimed. “I don’t mind him filing a separate application, but I have an objection to join anybody else in this application,” he added.Parmar had also vehemently opposed constitution of Justice DK Trivedi commission to probe the case. Earlier, an NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch had joined in this case as a party and sought compensation for damage caused during rioting on the day of protest. JSM had also sought court’s direction to police to lodge criminal complaints against followers of Asaram Bapu that were involved in rioting.Division Bench of Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi kept further hearing on the issue on February 10, and directed investigating agency to apprise court about recent status of investigation.

HC seeks report from MCD on PIL against misuse of farm houses

Published: February 4,2009New Delhi, Feb 4 The Delhi High Court today sought a detailed report from the city government and MCD on a petition alleging that farm houses in the city have been misused and the civic agency failed to comply with the court&aposs previous order.A Division Bench of Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna asked the MCD to file a status report on a PIL seeking direction for compliance with the court&aposs 2007 direction. Earlier, the court had directed that farm houses would not be utilised for commercial activities like holding marriages. The Court sought a detailed report from MCD by March 18 on a PIL filed by one Kailash Sharma, a resident of Chhattarpur area, who alleged that due to misuse of the farm houses several villagers were affected. Filing a petition, he alleged several farm houses in Chhattarpur area were violating the directions issued by the court and most of the times the farm houses were being utilised for commercial activities. Now, the court fixed March 18 as the date for further hearing of the matter.Source: PTI

HC slams NDMC for banning cycle rickshaws in parts of capital

Delhi New Delhi, Feb 04: Taking exception to the “unrealistic” approach taken by the New Delhi Municipal Council in banning cycle rickshaws in parts of the city, the Delhi High Court slammed the civic body for not fixing any limit as to the number of cars a person can possess.“We find the guidelines are unrealistic. Why are you so enthusiastic in banning cycle rickshaws? Why do not you issue guidelines limiting the number of cars a person can have in the city?” observed a Division Bench of Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna on a PIL filed by ‘Manushi’, an NGO.The NGO submitted that the measure has taken away the livelihood of poor people.“It seems the total number of cars in Delhi are more than the combined number of cars in three metros- Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata,” noted the Bench and said that in view of the increasing pollution in the world, people in several countries including China and Holland have adopted bicycles and cycle rickshaws as a mode of transport as they are pollution free.Appearing for the petitioner NGO, counsel Prashant Bhushan submitted that the guidelines issued by NDMC were violative of Fundamental Rights under Article 14 (Right to livelihood) of the rickshaw pullers in the city.Bureau Report

PIL objects to land allotment to ex-CM Deshmukh’s institute

Published: February 4,2009Mumbai , Feb 4 The Bombay High Court today issued a notice to an educational institute seeking clarification about a plot acquired by it near Pune in 2006 during the regime of Vilasrao Deshmukh.Significantly, as per a PIL filed by one Pramod Ghadge, Deshmukh himself was the institute&aposs chairman then. The land at Thergaon – measuring 12,073 sq metre — was originally acquired by Pimpri-Chinchwad New Town Planning Development Authority (PCNTPDA). It was allotted to the institute in February 2006 by PCNTPDA for Rs 89,88,795, for building a school. According to Ghadge, the land is worth Rs 5 crore, but it was allotted without calling for tenders, at below the market price. “All members of PCNTPDA are government appointees and Vilasrao Deshmukh (who was then chief minister) exerted political pressure on them,”the PIL says. It also says there are 12 schools in the area, and a new school was not needed.Source: PTI

Hiranandiani faces 2,000cr penalty

By: Our CorrespondentHranandani faces a penalty of Rs 2,000 crore recommended by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) for its alleged violations in an old agreement pertaining to the Powai Area Development Scheme. A division bench of the Bombay High Court is currently hearing a PIL filed by aggrieved citizens against the developer. According to sources, MMRDA commissioner has submitted a detailed report to the state urban development department last week. The penalty of Rs 1, 993 crore was arrived at by taking into consideration three kinds of alleged violations by the Hiranandanis. The first, according to the MMRDA report, was the differential areas of the flats. While permission was granted for only 40 to 80 sq m flats, the developer built sprawling apartments of 200 to 400 sq m. The penalty proposed on this has been pegged at Rs 946 crore by the MMRDA. Secondly, the authority has recommended a further penalty of Rs 597 crore on the developer for building commercial complexes when no such permission was granted under the agreement. This figure was calculated by taking 1.5 times the current ready reckoner rate and multiplying it by the total commercial built-up area of 1.19 lakh sq m. Thirdly, the MMRDA also wants to levy a ‘penal premium’ of Rs 448 crore on the builder for using transfer of development rights (TDR). Moreover, an inquiry revealed that instead of the specific 50%, just 15% of the built-up area was used for low-income housing. It is learnt that Hiranandani will challenge all the three charges. The builder is believed to have produced a housing department circular allowing 10% commercial space on this land. Hiranandani also said TDR can be used on Urban Land Ceiling (Regulation) Act (Ulcra) land and rules can be relaxed to build larger sized flats. He is also expected to challenge MMRDA’s decision to levy penalty based on current ready reckoner rates. Last year, Hiranandani paid penalty of Rs 3 crore. The MMRDA chief has also recommended that all concessions extended to the builder and the complex be withdrawn and the land be taken back as is where is. In December, the HC gave an interim order restraining the builder from selling or creating third-party rights in amalgamated flats in Powai. In order to develop a 230-acre chunk of real estate at Powai, builder Niranjan Hiranandani had got an exemption under the now-abolished (Ulcra). Half the flats were to measure 40 sq m (430 sq ft) in size, and the remainder, 80 sq m (860 sq ft). Hiranandani had entered a tripartite agreement with the MMRDA and the state government to develop the property. An inquiry initiated by the MMRDA commissioner with the help of the civic administration last year revealed that out of the 5.74 lakh sq m of built-up area that was allowed on this land, the developer had used just 76,120 sq m or 15% for low-income housing. A large majority of apartments was amalgamated and sold as luxury pads of 2,000 to 4,000 sq ft. During the inquiry, the developer had stated that he had got permission from the MMRDA in 1989 to amalgamate some flats. However, Hiranandani’s counsel said in the Bombay HC that the flats were sold as units of 40 and 80 sq m, but were later amalgamated to form larger apartments.

BMIC project:SC expresses displeasure over Deve Gowda’s letter

Published: Wed, 04 Feb 2009 at 17:18 ISTNew Delhi, Feb 4 : The Supreme Court today 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 called 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 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.

Now, tiger outwits wildlife team

Wednesday, February 04, 2009Now, tiger outwits wildlife team3 Feb 2009, 2051 hrs IST, TNNLUCKNOW: The clever tiger has managed to hoodwink even the expert team from the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI). So much so that the WTI team which was assisting the operation at Faizabad has been called back only to be replaced with a much-experienced cadre from the agency.In fact, there might be an even more experienced team coming in if this one fails too. “It is a difficult operation to trap the tiger but we are not willing to allow ourselves more time now since this is a clever tiger,” said Ashok Kumar, vice-president, WTI.The biggest impediment in the operation is tracking the tiger and the major technical difficulty is the continuous human interference in the area. Even the officials from the spot shared that cordoning off the forest area was not possible.The tiger has currently been located at Kumarganj tehsil of Faizabad. It is hiding in the forest near Kamakhya temple along the banks of Gomti. The efforts are still directed towards trapping the tiger alive but the final call will be of the department.Shooting down the tiger is not easy for the forest department after the high court intervened in the matter. The PIL was filed by three NGOs of Lakhimpur Kheri requesting the court to save the tiger after the department trained its guns at the feline branding it a man-eater.“To shoot it down, the department will have to specifically show that it is a man-eater,” said the counsel Anurag Narain. The tiger has killed three men in its two-month stay in the state. The hearing into the PIL will come up again on Wednesday.It was mentioned in the PIL that the encroachment on the forest land is huge and that massive afforestation has to be carried out to make the forests suitable for wildlife.
Posted by TigerAngel at 7:10

AMPF scam: CBI files fresh report

5 Feb 2009, 0411 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNNNEW DELHI: The CBI on Wednesday submitted a fresh status report to the Supreme Court detailing the prima facie evidence it has gathered to indicate the key role played by a few among the 35 judicial officers and High Court judges in the Rs 23 crore Ghaziabad PF scam.The report, submitted in a sealed cover by solicitor general G E Vahanvati to a three-judge Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat, comes soon after the CBI’s first status report which detailed the manner in which the PF money of class III and IV employees of the Ghaziabad judiciary was siphoned off and splurged by judicial officers.Tasked with the onerous job of investigating 35 judicial officers and judges in the higher judiciary, including one in the apex court, CBI has been proceeding systematically, yet cautiously, so as not to hook any judge who was not a willing participant in the scam.In its last report, it had mentioned that it had questioned the SC judge after obtaining permission from the Chief Justice of India. The CBI feels that though the SC judge denied any wrongdoing, the `folly’ could be categorised as “an indiscretion” without criminal intent.The status report submitted to the court on Wednesday said several HC judges and judicial officers were probed. The agency also detailed the manner in which it had proceeded with the investigation so far.In the first status report, the CBI had found details of how the hard-earned provident fund money of class III and IV employees of Ghaziabad courts was siphoned off and spent on furniture, crockery, mobiles, electronic gadgets and appliances, laptops, rail tickets and taxi fares for judges.District judges heading the Ghaziabad judiciary during the scam period had made it a `way of life’ to pilfer money from the PF accounts to fund their extravagant needs and even for photography and video-recording of their family functions.

SC rejects Praful plea in UTI scam

5 Feb 2009, 0215 hrs IST, TNNNEW DELHI: Civil aviation minister Praful Patel faces possible CBI probe as SC on Wednesday dismissed his plea for a clean chit in the Rs 50 crore loan irregularity related to the 1993-95 UTI scam.A Bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and Markandey Katju said all those who are in public life must come clean, even if the allegations according to them were baseless.Appearing for Patel, senior advocate Ashok Desai said a PIL had sought probe against Patel just because he was a public figure, despite it being clear that he was not on the board of directors of the firm Autorider when the loan irregularities happened in 2004. He said the minister had resigned from the board in 1999. But, Justice Katju said, “If he is honest then why is he afraid of a probe? In matters of corruption, locus standi of PIL petitioners is immaterial. And if he has done something before becoming minister, it should be investigated.”The Bench dismissed Patel’s petition, on which it had in September 2006 granted stay on the Bombay HC and a trial court order allowing CBI to probe the case on the basis of the PIL filed by M Furuquan, who had challenged deletion of the minister’s name from the list of accused.The scam involves a loan of Rs 50 crore from UTI to Autorider Finance Pvt Ltd. Patel was the chairman of the company at the time, but had resigned before UTI filed the complaint alleging that the money was used by the directors.

CJI suggests separate jails for terrorists

Thursday,5 February 2009 14:11 hrs IST New Delhi: Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan Thursday suggested that there should be separate jails for terrorists with additional security. Justice Balakrishnan made this suggestion while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for jail reforms, in view of the increasing incidents of jail-breaks by terrorists and gangsters involved in heinous crimes.The petition also prayed to the Court to implement the recommendation of jail reform to improve the living conditions in jails and also to provide vocational training to prisoners in order to improve their lot, besides bringing them in mainstream of society.The apex court later adjourned the hearing telling counsel for petitioner D.K. Garg to make suitable amendment in the petition

In a first, SC judge grilled in graft case
Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan TimesEmail AuthorNew Delhi, February 05, 2009For the first time, a sitting Supreme Court judge has been questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the multi-crore Ghaziabad provident fund scam. The agency has also examined four high court judges alleged to have benefited from the scandal.The CBI questioned Justice Tarun Chatterjee recently after it got permission from the Chief Justice of India (CJI) KG Balakrishnan to put its queries to the Supreme Court judge in January.No case has been registered against him and the questioning was on the basis of a confessional statement by the prime accused in the case, said a CBI official, not willing to be named.Justice Chatterjee could not be reached for his comments. Staff at his Delhi residence said the judge had gone to Kolkata. His family members in Kolkata said: “He would not speak on this matter.”Sources close to Justice Chatterjee said: “There is no irregularity on his part. If he had ordered anything to be purchased from the Ghaziabad treasury, he paid for all the purchases and he has documentary evidence to prove this.” The CBI has also grilled Justices Sushil Harkoli, Tarun Aggarwal and R.N. Mishra of the Allahabad High Court and justice J.C.S. Rawat of the Uttarakhand High Court. The CJI has already cleared the transfer of these four judges, and a final decision from the government is expected soon. The CBI, in its confidential status report filed in the Supreme Court, is understood to have stressed on “solid positive evidence” against the judges allegedly named in the scam.The case came to light in June last year with the confessional statement of Ashutosh Asthana, the chief administrative officer of Ghaziabad district court.

Dogs having a field day at SC!

04 February, 2009New Delhi, February 3 2009From stray dogs to pedigree varieties that sashay at dog shows, the canine family seems to be having a field day of late, that too at the Supreme Court.Within days of an NGO obtaining an SC stay on the Mumbai civic body chasing and killing stray dogs that are a nuisance, a dog farm today approached the apex court and obtained permission for fielding its dogs at the prestigious shows conducted by the Kennel Club of India.A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan today allowed the petitioners, KS Nagaraj Shetty and N Kaplana Shetty of Karnataka, to exhibit their dogs till February 16 at the dog shows of Kennel Club.One R Gopinath, claiming to be a dog lover who attends the club’s dog shows, had secured an interim injunction from a Chennai court against the petitioners, expressing the fear that the appellants’ dogs might cause “irreparable injury”.The Shettys, owners of Agrani Kennels, obtained a stay from the Madras High Court, which however vacated it later. The Shettys then came to the apex court.When senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi made a mention about the petition, the CJI, perhaps with the street dogs case fresh in his mind, made a remark: “I thought, we deal with law here,” prompting the courtroom to burst into laughter.According to the petition, the dogs of Agrani Kennels have won the “Dog of the Year” award for three consecutive years, from 2004-2007.Source:- Posted by Deepak Miglani at 23:38

Why didn’t any Satyam staff resign in anger or shame?

Thursday, February 05, 2009I have not bothered to blog on Satyam fiasco. Corporate India is the favourite child of our media, when the favourite child misbehaves our media can celebrate that too. Corporate Ethics and Governance issues have been forever written about ever since this news broke in the last week of December. For a moment forgetting the one person being fraud, why haven’t any of the 40,000 odd employees quit in anger or disgust. How can they continue to work for a company whose faith has been destroyed beyond repair? Does the ethics of a company mean anything to the employees at all? I know it must be difficult to quit if you have post dated cheques with different agencies and if there is no immediate chances of employment, but, can people working for this company absolve themselves of the fraud? I don’t know whether there were reports on this that I have missed out on. Everyone from the state government to the new directors are asking the employees to not lose heart, but, has anyone done so and actually made a statement by quitting the firm?Would these people, 40 years from now be proud to tell their grand children that they actually worked for Satyam when this fiasco happened and continued to work despite knowing they have been cheated.Some Andhra based employees actually see in Raju’s admission a silver lining, we read that some of them held placards to greet him on Sankaranthi outside the jail where he is lodged. Their feudal loyalty is very sincere and needs to be appreciated. But, what about the rest of their employees? Tried google with ‘i am ashamed to work for Satyam’ or ‘I quit satyam’ and all you get is the quitting of Independent directors at the early stages of this fiasco. Many employees have been applying elsewhere due to the insecurity they feel in this company now, that too has become difficult after rival companies denied to take them, we read. Our society consists of youth who commit suicide for failure of love affair every other day, a youth immolated himself recently in Chennai to show solidarity with the Sri Lankan tamils, we have people inflicting different forms of physical and mental pains on themselves for various causes all over the country, how come none of the 40,000+ was willing to cause the pain of joblessness than continue working for such a corporate? or are they willing inflicting the pain of working there as living out their shame? Doesn’t our sense of being wronged against any longer evince any action from us? Do we as a society accept fraud so much that even when it is committed in our name, we do not want to stand up and say we will not accept it? I am sure Satyam employees are wonderful human beings with high ethical and moral lives, but, the fact that 40,000 of them can subsume it for the sake of continued monetary security / gains does show our society in a very poor light.

Bombay HC quashes A N Roy’s appointment as Maharashtra DGP

5 Feb 2009, 1202 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande, TNNMUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Thursday upheld the order of the Central Administrative Tribunal, which had last October quashed the appointment of IPS officer A N Roy as Maharashtra’s director general of police.The high court held that the Supreme Court’s judgment in Prakash Singh’s case, which laid down the guidelines for such appointments, had been violated.The court said that the state had not applied its mind and given no cogent reasons for Roy’s appointment last February.S Chakravarty, a DGP-rank officer in the state, had challenged Roy’s appointment on the grounds that the state had violated Supreme Court guidelines on selecting the DGP for the state from among the three seniormost officers, in which Roy’s name did not figure.The high court, on the state’s request, has stayed its judgment for two weeks to enable an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Spell out stand on mangroves in two weeks, HC tells state

5 Feb 2009, 0059 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNNMUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to spell out its stand on the issue of notifying around 25,000 hectares of mangrove land on Maharashtra’s coastline as “forests”. A division bench of Justices J N Patel and Rajendra Savant directed the additional chief secretary (forests) and secretary (environment) to file an affidavit in the matter within two weeks.The court was hearing a PIL filed by the NGO Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG), seeking the conservation of mangrove plots in the state. The court in October 2005 had ordered the state to ban dumping in mangrove plots and cutting of mangrove trees.According to the court’s directions, the state conducted a satellite mapping of the coastline to identify mangrove land. Around 5,557 hectares of mangrove plots in and around Mumbai was notified as “protected forests”. At present, the court is hearing the issue of 550 hectares of mangrove land in the city, that the government and various public agencies have sought for development works.During the hearing, advocate Gautam Patel, counsel for BEAG, complained that the government was yet to act on notifying mangrove areas in the rest of Maharashtra. Those constitute a substantial chunk–around 25,000 hectares. Assistant government pleader Niranjan Pandit told the court that the state had to first identify mangrove plots which are owned by the government and those that are private property. The court, however, sought a time frame for completing the exercise.In a related development, the court issued notice to the Konkan divisional commissioner after BEAG counsel drew the attention about the alleged destruction of mangroves on a 50-acre plot in Malvani. The advocate said the mangroves were destroyed on November 27, 2008, when the authorities were battling terrorists in the city.The court also issued a notice to the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) on an application by the NGO. BEAG claimed that mangroves were being destroyed near Jesal Park, RNP Park and other areas in Bhayander (East). The MBMC too was dumping garbage in mangrove rich areas, they added.

Former I-T commissioner acquitted in graft case

5 Feb 2009, 0203 hrs IST, TNNMUMBAI: A special court has acquitted former income tax commissioner Ashok Purwar in a sensational corruption case for lack of sufficient evidence against him. Purwar was charged with taking money from a government contractor in 2001 to pass an order in his favour.According to the CBI, the complainant Kripashankar Chaturvedi’s chartered accountant, Pradeep Banka, demanded money on Purwar’s behalf in 2001 to get favourable orders passed. The initial demand was alleged to be Rs 20 lakh but after negotiations it was reduced to Rs 8,50,000.The chargesheet against Purwar said that he called Chaturvedi and said that Banka had given him only Rs 6,50,000 and if the remaining amount was not coughed up he would “spoil his case”.Chaturvedi complained to the CBI that he went to Purwar’s office at Piramal Chambers with Rs 50,000 on June 22, 2001. Purwar was then allegedly caught in a trap laid by CBI while accepting the bribe amount.At that time the CBI said that Purwar had even tried throwing the graft money out of the window to escape arrest when the raid took place.Purwar was booked under Prevention of Corruption Act and the prosecution examined several witnesses, including the complainant, Chaturvedi, to build up its case. However, Purwar maintained in court that he was innocent and had not taken any bribe from him.The telephonic conversation between Purwar and Chaturvedi where the alleged dealing for bribe took place had also been produced as evidence by the CBI. When the trial before special judge Vijay Sikchi was to begin, Purwar had moved the Bombay high court against the admissibility of telephonic conversation as evidence.

Junking taxis: HC reserves judgment

5 Feb 2009, 0208 hrs IST, TNNMUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday reserved its judgment on a petition challenging a government notification to phase out taxis that were more than 25 years old.A division bench of the high court asked the government to submit letters from car manufacturers on the issue of warranty of CNG-fitted vehicles by February 9.Taxi unions say the government order is a violation of their fundamental right to livelihood under the Constitution.

Lavasa case: HC tells govt to reply
5 Feb 2009, 0302 hrs IST, TNNMUMBAI: The Bombay high court has asked the state government to respond to allegations that the Lavasa Corporation was allotted 10,000 acres by the Krishna Valley Development Corporation instead of being routed through the Maharashtra Water Conservation Corporation.The court has asked the government to file an affidavit in two weeks. The court is hearing a petition alleging irregularities.

Why pick only on rickshaws? HC asks MCD

5 Feb 2009, 0225 hrs IST, TNNNEW DELHI: No restriction on number of cars plying on Delhi roads but strict regulation of rickshaws? The Delhi High Court on Wednesday frowned upon this policy of the government, pointing out it is the private car/SUV which cause pollution not the rickshaw often the sole means of survival for poor migrants.“Why shouldn’t cars be regulated too?” a division bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice Sanjeev Khanna demanded to know while hearing a PIL filed on behalf of rickshaw-pullers challenging MCD’s decision to ban rickshaws in parts of the city.HC slammed MCD for adopting such a policy where rickshaws are restricted but private vehicles aren’t. “We find the guidelines are unrealistic. Why are you so enthusiastic in banning cycle rickshaws? Why don’t you issue guidelines limiting the number of cars a person can have in the city?” HC wondered on a PIL filed by `Manushi’, an NGO. The NGO submitted that the ban has taken away the livelihood of poor people. The PIL also alleged banning rickshaws gave greater discretionary powers to the traffic police to extort money in the name of issuing licences.While hearing the NGO, HC noted, “It seems the total number of cars in Delhi is more than the combined number of cars in three metros Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.”It court added that in view of the rising pollution level in the world, several countries are encouraging bicycles and rickshaws as a mode of transport as they are pollution-free.The NGO submitted that the guidelines issued by MCD were violative of Fundamental Rights under Article 14 (Right to livelihood) of the rickshaw pullers in the city. Alleging that government policy was unconstitutional and arbitrary, it said a ceiling of 99,000 licences compels most of the six lakh rickshaw-pullers to ply illegally and makes them vulnerable to exploitation.Taking serious view of such a policy, HC has decided to hear the PIL at length and has posted the matter for February 19.

Court seeks response on Saquib exam plea

5 Feb 2009, 0224 hrs IST, TNNNEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the city police to explore the possibility if a suspected terrorist allegedly involved in the latest Delhi serial blasts could be allowed to write his examination paper from jail premises itself.Justice Reva Khetrapal sought the opinion of cops while hearing a plea of Saquib Nisar, who claims to be a second year MBA student of the Sikkim Manipal University, requesting that he should be granted interim bail to appear in the examination to be held this month.The Court asked the police to file its response on Thursday 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 in his petition filed last week 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 pleaded before the Court, saying his client had a fundamental right to higher education and achieve his dream of attaining an MBA degree.Earlier HC had 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.

Illegal sand mining: Cops earn Rs 1,000 per load

5 Feb 2009, 0517 hrs IST, TNNBangalore : Guess how much mamool illegal sand mining fetches the police? Rs 1,000 per load! This is how the inferior quality sand is mined and transported without any hitch. This was admitted to the Lok Ayukta by the people who were arrested for illegal sand mining on Wednesday. After raiding houses of the corrupt, the Lok Ayukta has now cracked the whip on illegal sand mining. The Lok Ayukta police raided eight places in revenue lands near Devanahalli on Nandi Hills Road.As many as 50 officers who had formed seven teams raided Cikkagollahalli, Gollahalli, Karehalli, Mayasandra, Miskanahalli, Thailagiri, Byadarahalli and Goodrich and found sand mining in about 5-6 sq km of the area. The police have seized 18 loaded sand lorries, five tractors, five earth movers, 34 hi-power motor pumps and arrested a tractor owner, lorry owner and a driver.According to Lok Ayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde, illegal sand mining is rampant in places like Haveri, Talakad and Maddur. “These lands were given by the government to the farmers who in turn have leased it out to sand mining which is illegal. The sand is also of inferior quality. Since the demand for sand is higher now, the low quality sand from these areas priced at Rs 5,000 per load is being transported,” Hegde explained.He cited last year’s instance where two boys died in the pits created for sand mining. After the sand filtering, the land becomes muddy and becomes a virtual quicksand __ the two boys slipped into the pits and died.Shockingly, the arrested have admitted to the Lok Ayukta that the police get Rs 1,000 per load and Rs 1,000 is given to the land owner. They end up selling the sand Rs 5,000 per load.“Mining was going on in 5-6 sq km and it is not possible that the departments concerned like police, mining and geology, revenue department and Bescom do not know about it. We are interrogating the officers and if we find evidence of dereliction of duty, we will take action against them,” Hegde said.The city requires about 500 to 600 loads of sand per day. Hegde has also written to the mines and geology department secretary a year ago to legalize certain eco-friendly places for sand mining to curb the illegal mining.Hegde said: “Not much has been done in this regard. In places like Talakad where we raided, the mining is shut for a few days but starts after 10 days.”

Court comes down heavily on Gowda & family

5 Feb 2009, 0514 hrs IST, TNNBangalore : With the Supreme Court making strong observations against former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda on Wednesday in regard to the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project, it seems it’s time for Gowda and his family to keep off this subject forever.Agitated over the fact that he’d sent a letter and book on BMIC to Karnataka High Court judges, the SC observed that Gowda was free to write any number of letters, books and could also hold seminars on BMIC, but should not question the court’s integrity on the issue.The rap from SC follows a stricture passed by the Karnataka HC a couple of days ago in regard to BMIC. Ever since the state government started taking head-on the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE), promoters of BMIC, Gowda and family have been rapped on five occasions by Karnataka HC and Supreme Court on this issue. It was either former CM H D Kumaraswamy or the JD(S) partnered coalition governments which were at the receiving end.

SC lets govt proceed with BMIC

5 Feb 2009, 0506 hrs IST, TNNNew Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday was at a loss to understand the element of public interest involved in the letters based on a book published by JD(S). When in power, the JD(S)-led coalition government had tried its best to stall the BMIC project even after its clearance by the apex court.Now, the HC has posted hearing on JD(S) chief Deve Gowda’s letter to Monday while allowing the government to carry on with the project. The court posted other related matters for the second week of April.The court also refused to issue notice on petition filed by writer U R Ananthamurthy, who alleged a fraud in land allotment to NICE much in excess of its need. “This was to help the private party to commercially exploit the land and gain massive profit,” he had alleged.Soon after coming to power, the BJP government distanced itself from the controversy. Appearing for the state, solicitor-general G E Vahanvati informed the Bench that the government was all for implementation of the project.

PRP moves HC for common symbol

5 Feb 2009, 0314 hrs IST, TNNHYDERABAD: The Prajarajyam Party filed a petition in the A P High Court on Wednesday seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India to allot Rail Engine as party’s common symbol for the purpose of contesting in the ensuing general elections in the state.Allu Aravind, the party’s general secretary filed this petition finding fault with the decision of the commission which rejected its plea to allot a common symbol earlier. He cited the example of TRS political party which was given a common symbol by the elction commission in 2004 and sought a similar treatment for PRP also.In a country where majority of the voters are either illiterate or semi-literate, the essentiality of a common symbol to all the candidates of a political party irrespective of whether it is recognised or registered, is indispensable, Aravind said in his petition.In fact the number of members who joined our party within a short span of time ever since its launch is more than 50 lakh and the cream of leadership from various political parties too have joined us and this is definitely more than the 6 per cent votes required for allotting a common symbol, he said. Maintaining that there is no rationale in the stand taken by the EC, the PRP general secretary wanted the court to declare the rejection order of EC as illegal because it is vitiated by patent errors of law and jurisdiction.

Petition filed by student to reopen colleges

4 Feb 2009, 2352 hrs IST, TNNCHENNAI: A law student has moved the Madras high court for a direction to the state government to immediately reopen all colleges and educational institutions which were ordered to be indefinitely closed since January 31.The petition, filed by advocates S Duraisamy and V Elangovan on behalf of K A Prabakaran, a fourth-year degree student at the Government Dr Ambedkar Law College here, said the government issued a notification on January 31, stating that it had been decided to close all colleges for an indefinite period due to “student unrest” on campuses.Pointing out that the authorities had not given any details about the unrest, the student said that instead of initiating measures to tackle campus problems, if any, the authorities chose to close down institutions.Law colleges in the state had been reopened after Pongal vacation, he said, adding that portions were yet to be completed in many colleges. “As hostels too have been closed, students who had just come after the vacation was finding it difficult to travel back again to their hometowns,” he said.The petitioner also contended that when authorities of educational institutions had not lodged any complaint about student unrest, the government should not have decided to close down all colleges. Pointing out that no untoward incident had occurred in the state warranting closure of colleges, Prabakaran said the decision had put the student community to hardship.

Muslim Coop Bank gets stay from HC

5 Feb 2009, 0321 hrs IST, TNNPUNE: The appointment of an administrator on city-based Muslim co-operative bank (MCB) by the state co-operation commissionerate would bring no change in the bank’s day-to-day functioning, as the board of directors of the MCB have already received a stay order on the appointment from the Bombay High court.State co-operation commissioner Krishna Lavekar said, “The board of directors have already secured a stay order hence for one month they will be at the helm of affairs. The board has one month to appeal against the decision.”When asked if the administrator was appointed following any financial irregularities, Lavekar maintained that the decision was merely based on technical grounds.The state co-operation commissioner had appointed an administrator on the MCB on February 2 because the bond submitted by the board accepting responsibility for every decision taken by it was not as per provisions in the law. The commissionerate has asked every member of the board to submit the bond individually instead of the collective bond submitted by them.P A Inamdar, director and former chairman of the bank said, “The appointment of the administrator is on technical grounds. The MCB had got the stay order in December anticipating the decision of the co-operation department may go against them. The stay-order will be effective for one month.”Inamdar wondered why a collective bond was not acceptable when the decisions are taken collectively by the board. He further said, “We will appeal first to the state co-operation minister Harshvardhan Patil and if required approach the Bombay high court to challenge the order to submit the bond individually.”The bank has 20 branches in the state with deposits of Rs 300 crore and 25,000 members.

HC orders sealing of records before JRCS

5 Feb 2009, 0338 hrs IST, TNNCHANDIGARH: Punjab and Haryana High Court, entertaining a writ petition filed by Private Teachers Cooperative Group Housing Society, Chandigarh, on Wednesday directed sealing of records of appeals filed by its 5 defaulter members, pending before joint registrar, cooperative societies, UT, Chandigarh, to be produced in the court on the next date of hearing.After hearing the counsel for petitioner-society, justice Ajai Lamba directed Anupam Gupta, senior standing counsel, Chandigarh Administration, to seal records of pending appeals before the JRCS and produce them in the court on the next date.The HC also directed maintenance of status quo regarding possession of flats, while issuing notice of motion for March 6. The petitioner, having 28 members, had challenged an ex-parte stay order on the expulsion of its five defaulter members, Ranju Singh and others, granted by JRCS, Chandigarh.The grievance of the petitioner before the high court was that stay orders dated December 10, 2008 by JRCS was granted during the pendency of appeals of the five defaulters before him. Further, the JRCS had first passed ex-parte stay orders on December 10, 2008 even while the appeals were to come up before him on December 16, 2008.But the shocking and surprising aspect of the matter was that there was no order of stay in the appeal files of JRCS, nor any application for grant of stay was furnished to the society till date, nor any proceedings had been drawn for grant of stay. Thereafter, when the society appeared before him on December 16, 2008 and learnt about the stay, it moved an application for vacation of stay, which was simply adjourned by him, without adjudicating the same.The petitioner contended that the JRCS, being appellate authority, had no power to grant stay to thedefaulter members, in proceedings whose details were not even known to the society and thus denyingthe opportunity of hearing to the society.The society on its part had duly followed all rules and had issued a number of notices to the defaulter members to pay dues, including a giving a final opportunity, by which time also the payment was not made.

HC directs varsity, board to show evaluated answer scripts

Kolkata, Feb 5 (PTI) In a significant decision, the Calcutta High Court today directed that all examinees, including those of the CBSE and the Calcutta University, be allowed access to their evaluated answer sheets.A division bench comprising Chief Justice S S Nijjar and Justice Dipankar Dutta dismissed an appeal by the University and four other writ petitions that pleaded against showing evaluated answer scripts, citing several constraints.The bench upheld Justice Sanjib Banerjee’s order of March 2008 that an examinee was entitled to see his evaluated answer sheet under Article 19 of Constitution that guarantees Right to Expression and the Right to Information Act.Justice Banerjee had observed that denial of inspection of answer scripts to an examinee would mean denial of their constitutional rights and the consequence of giving such information was immaterial.The Information Act also provides a right to receive information, he had observed.The division bench, while upholding the order, directed authorities of various boards to give access of their evaluated answer sheets to those students, whose applications were pending, within four weeks. PTI

HC rejects NCDEX petition on reducing charges

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed the petition filed by National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX) over slashing of transaction rates by the exchange. Faced with a sharp drop in turnover since July, NCDEX last month created two slabs for exchange rates — before 5 pm and after 5 pm. But Forward Market Commission (FMC) had taken exception to the new rate regime. “High Court today dismissed the NCDEX petition, so it will have to keep the new rates in abeyance. But FMC has been asked to dispose of NCDEX’s application within two weeks,” said Avinash Rana, who represented the government in the case. NCDEX had announced uniform charges of Rs 3 for every lakh of the total value of all trades in all commodities from 10 am to 5 pm and five paise in the second session from 5 pm to 11 pm. The rates in the second slab were reduced drastically, in an attempt to attract trade in the metals. But the Forward Market Commission took exception to this reduction, saying it might affect the business of two other commodity exchanges adversely. FMC last month also ordered NCDEX to keep the new structure in abeyance, following which NCDEX had moved the High Court against the market commission. – PTI

HC notice to TRAI on spectrum allocation policy

New Delhi, Feb 5 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today issued notice to telecom regulator TRAI seeking its response on a petition challenging government’s recent policy on spectrum allocation, including the first-come-first-serve norm.A Bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice Sanjeev Khanna expressed objections over the recent allocation of spectrum to non-telecom companies.“We have read that the companies (non-telecom) were sold for thousands of crores after they were allocated spectrum by the government,” the court said.The court made the observation while hearing two PILs challenging the policy followed by the government for allocating spectrum in 1996, including the recent first-come-first-serve policy. PTI

Bombay HC orders removal of Maharashtra DGP

Thursday, 05 February , 2009, 13:42Last Updated: Thursday, 05 February , 2009, 14:03 Mumbai: In a major embarrassment for the state government, the Bombay High Court on Thursday ordered the removal of Maharashtra Director General of Police (DGP) A N Roy and said that a police chief must be appointed within four weeks. A division bench consisting of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice A S Bobde also came down heavily on the government over Roy’s appointment. The judges observed that there should be “objectivity and transparency’ to the appointments in such important posts and ordered Roy’s removal. Mumbai Police file case against terror ‘witness’ The high court order came almost four months after the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) had nullified Roy’s appointment following a complaint that he had superseded three other officers for the post. Roy’s appointment (on February 29, 200 was challenged in September 2008 by his colleague S Chakraborthy, the DGP-Home Guards & Civil Defence. The CAT ruling by Jog Singh and Sudhakar Mishra had directed the state government to appoint a new DGP within a month’s time. The order was challenged by the state government in the Bombay High Court, which upheld the CAT order.

Police not forwarding Accident information reports : HC

Madurai, Feb 3 : Madurai bench of Madras High Court today said the police is not forwarding the Accident Information Reports (AIR) to the accident tribunals within the stipulated 30 days period.Disposing a writ petition filed by a motor accident victim from Tiruchirapalli, lawyers M Vallinayagam and S Srinivasaraghavan, who were appointed by Justice K Venkataraman, as amici curiae to assist him, said “the Judicial Magistrate court receives the documents only after the charge sheet is laid in the criminal case against the vehicle driver.” Justice Venkataraman directed the Tiruchirapalli police commissioner to be present in the court on February nine.Police officials were obligated to furnish AIR copies to the injured, legal heirs (if the victim died), insurance company, motor vehicles accident claim tribunal, President of the legal services authority and to the vehicle owner.Motor Vehicles Act Sec 158(6) and 160 of 1989, and rule 150 of the Central Motor Vehicles rules and rule 4A of the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Accident Claims Tribunal rules mandated police officers to make available the AIR containing particulars of victims, legal heirs, injuries and other details.Even the Supreme Court had directed to strictly comply with the legal provisions regarding submission of AIR, which would help to restrict false insurance claims.Appropriate directions to the authorities for strict adherence of the statutory mandate would enable the victims of road accidents as well as legal heirs to seek justice.The case had been posted to February nine for futher hearing. – Agencies Feb 04, 2009

HC summons senior official on PIL over children homes issue

Published on February 5, 2009 by admin News4u-News Desk,New Delhi, Expressing anguish over the city government’s failure to take proper care of children who stay in children’s homes run by it in the capital, the Delhi High Court today summoned the Women and Child Development Secretary.Asking the Secretary for an explanation, a Division Bench of Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna also directed the Director of Nirmal Chhaya, the children’s home run by government to be personally present in court.Coming down heavily on the NCT government counsel, the court said, “One should be ashamed of such a system and you are defending the officers”.“It is shocking. Any home in other states function in a better way than yours. Your Secretary is answerable if the children are in such a state,” the Bench noted.The Bench was hearing PIL filed by Harsh Vimani seeking direction to the government for proper management of homes meant for children.The petitioner alleged that in August 2007 four children died in different homes run by the government due to malnutrition.

Harbhajan, Mona Singh summoned by Chandigarh court

5 Feb 2009, 1455 hrs IST, Supriya Bhardwaj, TNNCHANDIGARH: A local court issued summons to Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh and television actress Mona Singh on Thursday after hearing the arguments on a petition filed for hurting religious sentiments. ( Watch )“After hearing the arguments on the petition, the magistrate issued summons of Harbhajan, Mona and authorities of channel, on which the program was aired, for April 27,” informed advocate Arvind Thakur, whohad moved the complaint along with members from the local unit of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).The complaint was filed in October 2008 under sections 298 (uttering words etc with a deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code.The entire controversy started after the duo performed on a popular Hindi flick song dressed as Ravana and Sita in the show-Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena. Besides criminal case, the civil suit seeking permanent injunction to restrain Harbhajan, Mona and Colors from showing, acting, directing any such kind of show is still pending in the city’s district courts.To finish the row the spin-bowler Harbhajan met with the complainants and had tendered apology when he was in town in connection with a cricket match with Australia in October 2008. When asked that the cricketer had already apologized for his act, Thakur replied, “Harbhajan was asked to submit a written apology in the court.But he failed to do so and that’s why we didn’t withdraw our complaint against him.”

Law students gherao vice chancellor

4 Feb 2009, 2226 hrs IST, TNNLUCKNOW: The second campus of the Lucknow University (LU) on Sitapur Road witnessed unruly behaviour by students on Wednesday. The law students who had flunked the examination gheraoed vice-chancellor (V-C) AS Brar, who visited the campus.The agitating students from LLB 3-year and 5-year courses were not satisfied with the results of the fifth semester which were declared on the day. The V-C, in order to quell the agitation, sought the attendance of the agitating students who had failed the examinations.None of the students had more than 30% attendance for the year. In the LLB exams, the examination centres were swapped. The law examinations have been hailed as a fair deal this time as swapping of centres had put a check on unscrupulous practices during the examination. “The results show that students have got the marks according to the effort that they had put in,” said the V-C.

Haryana: Headmaster charged with sexual assault

The chief secretary, government of Haryana, has granted a payment of rupees one lakh to a girl student of VIII standard, whose human rights were violated. It has been alleged that the school headmaster tried to outrage her modesty..CJ: Ashok Shankaram , 1 day ago THE RECOMMENDATION of payment of rupees one lakh to a girl student of VIII standard, whose human rights were violated in her school, was granted by the chief secretary, government of Haryana, and an acknowledgment of payment also was sent to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on January 19, 2009. Feeds from NHRC further revealed that the girl in question was studying in class VIII in a government middle school (co-education), Anandpur, district Rewari, Haryana, where the headmaster, Samay Singh, tried to outrage her modesty. Sube Singh, son of Surjan Singh, a resident of Anandpur, Haryana, wrote a letter to the NHRC alleging sexual abuse of his grand daughter. In the complaint, Singh also alleged that the police of Bawal had registered an FIR No 23/07 on February 14, 2007, U/s 294/506 IPC, but these section were not appropriate in this criminal case, hence no action were taken against the culprit. Promptly acting on the complaint, the commission then directed DG (investigation), NHRC, to get the matter investigated by a team of NHRC investigation division and submit a report within two weeks.The superintendent of police, Rewari, then directed deputy SP to closely monitor the investigation and also asked for a report from the Director of School Education whether any departmental action could be initiated. Following the directions, the superintendent of police, Rewari, intimated filing of charge sheet in the court U/s 354/506 IPC (assault or force a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty and criminal intimidation) on March 19, 2007. A departmental inquiry was also carried on, as prima facie, violation of human rights of the victim girl was established. While considering the case in its totality during the proceeding, the NHRC issued a show-cause notice to the chief secretary, government of Haryana, as to why the interim relief be not paid to the victim girl for violation of her human rights. Apathetic approach of machinery meant to serve the people was reflected in the reply by the authorities to the commission stating that as Samay Singh is facing trial in the court for allegedly committing criminal offence and therefore, an award of interim relief before the completion of the trail might create awkward situation. Authorities prayed for adjournment sine-die. Feeds from NHRC revealed that denial of their request resulted in a compelling situation and payment of interim relief on January 19, 2009, to the girl. Thanks to the NHRC, which has given a new ray of hope to the victims of sexual abuse.

CEC Gopalaswamy And Allegation Against Navin Chawla

Wednesday, February 4, 2009From the allegation of Gopalaswamy against Navin Chawla, one could assume whatever, but one fact would remain in head of people and that is that Gopalaswamy questioned the integrity of would be Chief Election Commissioner. Gopalaswamy as a person has always commanded a great respect among administrative officer for his integrity and efficiency. He has held various positions such as Union Home Secretary, Culture Secretary, Secretary General in the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). His honesty could be understood from the fact that once in the mid-1970’s he was a municipal Commissioner of Surat, at that time a Congress leader had approached him with a bribe of Rs 5,000 and he rang up chief minister to complain against his party leader and police to arrest him for an attempt to bribe.Now his allegations against his colleague Navin Chawla have dented the credibility of the Election Commission but he is not responsible for that. If something is wrong in some institution that should be pointed out at right time. Strangely enough, the Election Commission has been working efficiently and has been respected for its dynamism and its commissioners have been bestowed with great respect. Gopalaswamy has sited several instances of wrongdoing on the part of Chawla in his 90-page recommendation to the president seeking the sacking of Chawla. This includes regular leaking of election dates and showing partiality to the Congress. However, it could not be denied that these may be mere allegations or contain some truth. But, the question mark put on would be CEC has tarnished the reputation of the Election Commission at a time when the country is getting ready for Lok Sabha polls. All indications from government side show that there would not be any change in the policy of maintaining waiting EC to become CEC, and Chawla again is meant to become next CEC on April 20. This would be a mistake. With serious allegations against him, appointing Chawla would erode the impartiality of the EC. The best course of action would possibly be to appoint the other election commissioner who has a clean image and honest record. Analysts are of the opinion that these kind shifting and maneuvering could be used only for short span and should be avoided as much it is possible.Possible SolutionVoices have come for the reformation of Election Commission. One report says that the Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by Congress leader Veerappa Moily, has suggested that the CEC and his colleagues be selected by a collegium. The collegium would comprise five members, including the leader of the opposition. Currently, the president appoints the CEC on the advice of the council of ministers giving scope for appointing persons who are biased towards the ruling party, and here is a major drawback in appointment system of ECs. But in statutory bodies, such as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the appointment of chairpersons and members are made by broad-based committees. Using a system where a bipartisan body selects the election commissioners, it would reduce the chances of a politically-biased appointment.Also, if the selection criterion is widened up and people from law and academics are asked to become Election Commissioner then a large of choices would be available for appointment. In fact, appointment of lawyers and academicians would have a huge benefit in terms of knowledge and technical know-how. These people are suitable for these kinds of jobs. The Administrative Reforms Committee (ARC), however, said: “A collegium headed by the PM with Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Law Minister and Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha as members should make recommendations for the consideration of the President for appointment of the CEC and Election Commissioners. In its concluding remarks the ARC headed by Veerappa Moily said that given the far reaching importance and critical role of the EC in the working of our democracy, it would certainly be appropriate if a similar collegium is constituted for selection of the CEC and the Election Commissioners. Posted by lawyerjourno at 4:26

AMHC to hear PIL opposing NGEs’ strike tomorrow

5 Feb 2009, 0440 hrs IST, TNNPATNA: The PIL of Jan Chowkidar challenging the ongoing strike of non-gazetted employees in Bihar would be taken up for hearing by the Patna High Court on Friday. The PIL is being heard by the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad and Shyam Kishore Sharma.Earlier, appearing on behalf of the state government, advocate general P K Shahi informed the court that the state government had already announced implementation of recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission for its employees and had also set up a pay committee to address anomalies.Petitioner’s counsel Arvind Kumar pleaded against the strike. The court, however, refused to issue any directive to the striking employees and just observed that if they call off the strike on their own people of the state would be happy.The unions of striking employees was represented by senior advocates Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and Vinod Kumar Kanth. They asked the court to give some time as the notices to their clients were served on Tuesday only

HC orders FIR against RPF men
4 Feb 2009, 2007 hrs IST, TNNALLAHABAD: A division bench of the high court on Wednesday directed for the registration of an FIR against inspector-incharge and a constable of Railway Protection Police (RPF), city station, Rambagh, who had allegedly beaten up high court lawyers on Tuesday.The bench comprising Chief Justice HL Gokhale and Justice Dilip Gupta passed the order on a PIL filed by Digvijai Tiwari, an advocate of the high court, who was allegedly handcuffed by the RPF personnel at the Rambagh station on Tuesday.The court after hearing the petitioner’s counsel, CL Pandey, directed for the medical examination of lawyers, who were injured by the RPF personnel. The bench also directed for the production of the medical examination report in the court on February 6 next.Digvijai had filed a PIL seeking immediate lodging of an FIR against RPF inspector MK Singh and constable PS Maurya, who allegedly handcuffed him.The allegation against the RPF men were that they had handcuffed a high court lawyer when the latter went to protect his client, who had been detained at the station by the RPF. When other lawyers came to rescue Digvijai, they too were allegedly beaten up at the station.

Two-year-old girl raped in Mumbai’s suburb

Press Trust of India Wednesday, February 04, 2009, (Mumbai)A two-year-old girl was raped and later dumped in a gutter in a north-west suburb here, police said on Wednesday.The incident took place on Monday night.The girl along with her family members was sleeping on a pavement near the suburban Vile Parle railway station when she was taken away by some unknown person, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone IX) Niket Kaushik said adding, late in the night the kid’s mother noticed that she was missing.A few hours later, the girl was spotted in a gutter near the highway and after being rescued by the fire-brigade was taken to a local hospital, Kaushik said.The girl’s parents were then called to the hospital, he said.“On medical examination it was learnt that the child had been raped,” the DCP said, adding further investigations were on in the case.

Techies denied permission to hold rally protesting pub attacks

Published: Wed, 04 Feb 2009 at 20:37 IST New Delhi, Feb 4 : In what could create a fresh controversy, a group of young IT professionals in Karnataka, who wanted to hold a rally protesting the Mangalore pub attacks, has been refused permission by authorities prompting them to take up the matter with the Women and Child Development Ministry (WCD).The software professionals wanted to hold a rally on February 7, highly-placed sources in the ministry told PTI.After they were denied permission, they approached the WCD Ministry, which has taken note of the matter and asked them to file a written complaint with the central as well as the state Governments, the sources said.Separate probes by the Union government and the National Commission for Women (NCW) into the Mangalore pub case, in which girls were assaulted, have yielded contradictory findings over the security provided at the premises.Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has struck to his stand ruling out a ban on the Shri Ram Sene whose activists were behind the attack that sparked a national outrage.Giving a clean chit to the pub owners, an independent team of WCD Ministry in its report submitted to the government said it was only Shri Ram Sene which was responsible for the “heinous” incident.An NCW team led by one of its members Nirmala Venkatesh had earlier blamed the pub owners for not ensuring enough security for girls that resulted in the attack.

“Let us remain within the Constitution”

New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee joined the debate on the Election Commission on Wednesday, virtually criticising Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami’s recommendation to remove Election Commissioner Navin Chawla.“Every institution today is trying to sort of either create problems for itself or denigrate itself. Instead of doing our respective work, we are trying to find out how to score points over each other,” he told reporters. Mr. Chatterjee said he had been of the view always that there was a ‘Laxman Rekha’ (delineating line) for every institution. “Let us remain within that as the Constitution provides. Let us all try to do our work honestly and sincerely. Let us get rid of corruption first. These are issues to be tackled, not fight among ourselves,” he said. Did he disapprove of Mr. Gopalaswami’s action? Such things cannot be sorted out through the media, he said — PTI

Special teams to be formed to eradicate child labour

Staff Reporter Tirupur: The National Child Labour Project (NCLP) will constitute special teams in each of the 21 village panchayats under Tirupur block and in (Tirupur) Corporation to eradicate child labour in the region before 2010 end, according to D. Vijayakumar, project director, NCLP.He told this to The Hindu after conducting a child labour monitoring system organised by NCLP here recently. Mr Vijayakumar said that the special teams would comprise representatives of NCLP, Continuing Education Programme and self-help groups, government officials, presidents of respective village panchayats. The teams would carry out door-to-door campaign to enthuse the non-school going and drop out children to enroll themselves in mainstream education.Mr. Vijayakumar said that steps were being taken to rehabilitate the 600 child workers enumerated recently.

Court makes injunction absolute in hockey association case

Special Correspondent Justice P.R. Shivakumar passes the order on TNHA pleas CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has made absolute till disposal of the suit, an injunction restraining A. Chelladurai Abdulla from interfering in the affairs of the Tamil Nadu Hockey Association (TNHA). The court also made another interim injunction that restrained Mr. Abdulla from holding the improperly convened meeting of the dubiously claimed executive committee of the association in October last year at Coimbatore and from making any claims interfering in the affairs of the TNHA to any authorities, absolute.Justice P.R. Shivakumar passed the order on applications filed by the TNHA, represented by its honorary secretary, K. Jothi Kumaran, in a civil suit against Mr. Abdulla. No material The Judge said since no order had been passed so far by the Registrar of Societies to remove the name of the applicant association from the list of registered societies, Mr. Abdulla’s contention that the TNHA (applicant association) had become defunct and hence the applications as well as the suit in the name of the association were not maintainable, could not be accepted. No material had been placed for the court’s perusal that the applicant association had become defunct. The Judge agreed with the applicant’s counsel that Mr.Abdulla should not be allowed to contend that he was the secretary of the association while at the same time taking a plea that the said association was defunct.Mr. Justice Shivakumar said that the defendant could not have any right to pose himself to be the secretary of the applicant association and claim a right to represent it before sports authorities of State and Central governments, the Indian Olympic Association and the Indian Hockey Federation.As regards the applications alleging disobedience of the ad-injunction order, the court ordered the personal appearance of Mr.Abdulla on February 19.

Social workers to be in juvenile board

Staff Reporter TIRUNELVELI: The Department of Social Defence has planned to appoint two social worker members in the Juvenile Justice Board in the district.According to Collector G. Prakash two members are to be appointed in the Board on honorarium basis from this category of whom, one should be a woman. Applicants should have been actively involved in health, education or welfare activities pertaining to children for at least seven years. The age of the applicant should not be less than 35 years and not completed 65 years. The existing social worker members are also eligible for appointment for the second term.Any person to be appointed as social worker member of the Board should possess a Bachelor’s degree of a recognised university and preference will be given to persons having a degree in any one of the branches of Social Sciences such as Criminology, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, Economics, Home Science, Education, Political Science, studies pertaining to women, Rural Development, Law or Medicine.Application forms can be downloaded from and the filled-in applications should be sent to The Commissionerate of Social Defence, 300, Purasaiwalkam High Road, Kellys, Chennai – 600 010 on or before February 25. For more information, aspirants may contact the Field Officer in the Department of Social Defence, Chennai at 044 – 26426421 Extn. – 116.

Case against actress

Staff Reporter HYDERABAD: The S.R. Nagar police on Wednesday registered a case against film actress and Telugu Desam Party leader, Kavitha, under the Prevention of Atrocities against SC/ST Act following a complaint lodged by her maids. Baby and Durga, working as domestic helps in her house, approached the police on Thursday and alleged that the actress had abused them in the name of their caste. The two women hail from West Godavari district. Cases registered under this Act are investigated by an officer of the rank of DSP in the districts or ACP in the city. Punjagutta ACP Subbarami Reddy, said it was too early to make any arrests. Statements of the two women would be recorded and evidence gathered before arresting any person.

CITU alleges violation of labour laws by Brandix

Staff Reporter VISAKHAPATNAM: The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), affiliated to Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Wednesday alleged violation of labour laws and sexual harassment of women workers at Brandix India Apparel City, Achyutapuram.CITU district vice-president Dhanalaxmi and district secretary P. Mani told reporters that they had also lodged a complaint at Achyutapuram police station listing out specific cases of sexual harassment. They said the management, which got 1,000 acres on lease at Re. 1 per year with a promise to provide 60,000 jobs in three years, had been exploiting the women workers by not giving them minimum wages and fringe benefits.Ms. Dhanalaxmi and Ms. Mani alleged that they employed only 3,500 instead of the promised 60,000 women and due to heavy work pressure, 700 workers were quitting every year. They said instead of one hour break for lunch, the workers were being forced to take just 20 minutes break and asked to work for an extra two hours if they failed to meet the hourly targets set for them without payment of overtime charges.The CITU leaders said the company, which was accorded Special Economic Zone status, was also not giving minimum wages of Rs.4,600 for skilled and Rs.3,800 per month for unskilled workers. The jobless women, who underwent training by Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation and other agencies on fashion technology were not being offered jobs. They were being asked to undergo fresh training at Pendurthy by the management on payment of a stipend of Rs.1200 a month and later taken on payrolls.

RTI Act not implemented by most civic bodies: study

Staff Reporter They are also not giving mandatory information free of cost Information disclosed by the CMCs is sketchyStaff are trained for preparing the manualsBangalore: A majority of the City Municipal Councils (CMCs) in the State have not effectively implemented the provision of the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 dealing with mandatory disclosure of information to be made by public authorities on their own.A study conducted by the Consumer Rights Education and Awareness Trust (CREAT) found that the information disclosed by the CMCs was sketchy and did not serve the intention of the legislation.Categories Public authorities, including the CMCs, are required to disclose information, which is broadly classified into 17 categories under Section 4(1) (b) of the RTI Act, to the public through notice boards, newspapers, announcements, media broadcasts, the Internet or any other means, including inspection of their offices. The study pointed out that none of the CMCs have given proactive disclosures the seriousness they deserve. Mandatory disclosures Some of the 17 mandatory disclosures to be made by the public authorities include powers and duties of its officers and employees; procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging functions; the budget allocated to each of its agencies, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditure and reports on disbursement made; particulars of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it; among others.No training The study found that none of the staff or officers are trained for preparing the manuals. Pointing out that many employees are not even aware of the RTI Act in general and the manual in particular, the study has suggested the need to educate the staff by including the RTI Act, particularly Section 4(1) (b), in their training curriculum. The CREST report also stated that the mandatory information was not made available free of cost by many CMCs as per the Act.

High Court quashes APMC notices to traders on land

Staff Reporter BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday quashed notices issued by the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees in Hassan and Chitradurga to traders saying that the plot of land allotted to them to construct shops would stand forfeited as they had not constructed them within the stipulated time.The traders had moved the court after the APMC issued notices to them saying that they had forfeited the right to the plot allotted to them on the APMC premises. The APMC noted that though the sites had been allotted several years ago, the traders had not constructed the buildings.On their part, the traders contended that they had not been heard by the APMC before the notices were issued and urged the court to stay the notices.Justice N.K. Patil quashed the notices and directed the APMC to give them an opportunity of being heard before passing orders.Jamma Malai Justice Anand Byrareddy of the High Court on Wednesday adjourned further hearing of a petition by former Minister T. John and others challenging the orders of the Deputy Commissioner of Kodagu district.The Deputy Commissioner had passed the orders cancelling the entry of names in the RTC (revenue record) after the High Court had called for a report on the alleged irregularities relating to lease of Jamma Malai lands.When the matter came up, the court was told that the Advocate-General would like to submit the State’s stance in court. The court adjourned further hearing of the petition.

Abhaya murder case: CBI submits report high court round-up

Special Correspondent Says steps taken to expedite investigation process Court refuses to accept plea against churches Says the church is not a party to the caseKochi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday submitted a report in a sealed cover before a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on the progress of the investigation into the Sister Abhaya murder case.The CBI filed the report before the bench comprising Justice K. Balakrishnan Nair and Justice K. Surendra Mohan when the case relating to the monitoring of the investigation was taken up.The counsel for the CBI submitted that the investigation was progressing and steps had been taken to expedite it. The court did not accept the plea of the counsel for Thomas, father of Sister Abhaya, for a direction to the churches to desist from making comments on the investigation. The court said the churches had not been parties to the case. The court adjourned to March 31 the case.Contempt petition Meanwhile, the Bench has initiated suo motu criminal contempt of court proceedings against M.S. Ravi, printer and publisher, M.S. Mani, Editor-in-chief, Deepu Ravi, Managing Director, and M.S. Madhusoodanan, Editor, of Kerala Kaumudi daily for publishing a front-page editorial regarding the conduct of Justice K. Hema who heard the bail application of the accused in the Sister Abhaya murder case.The editorial was published on December 18, 2008. The court, while initiating the proceedings, issued notice to all the respondents. The newspaper had been charged with making contumacious, baseless and denigrating statements against the functioning of a Single Judge and the Acting Chief Justice of the court. The editorial had interfered with the due course of justice. It was alleged that the editorial gave an impression that Justice Hema was being influenced by a retired judge of the Supreme Court to help the accused in Abhaya case and it conveyed the impression that Acting Chief Justice J.B. Koshy had rejected the CBI’s application to transfer the bail application to another bench on communal grounds.The bench had dropped a contempt of court proceedings initiated earlier against the newspaper on the ground that the full court consisting of all judges had not given their consent for initiating the proceedings. The full court, which met last week, decided to initiate the proceedings against the newspaper afresh.

Court sets deadline for tendering process

Staff Reporter New buses to phase out Bluelines from the Capital’s roads NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the Delhi Government to complete within four months the tendering process for selection of transport entities for operating private buses in the Capital under the new policy for phasing out Blueline buses from the city roads.A Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice A. P. Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna gave the direction while hearing a two-year-old matter pertaining to accidents caused by Blueline buses in the Capital.Earlier, Delhi Government Standing Counsel Mukta Gupta submitted that the tendering process was on for awarding contracts to private transport companies to run buses on the city roads.She said as of now there were 3,800 Blueline buses, 1,400 mini buses and 3,100 DTC buses plying in the Capital.She submitted that 650 low-floor buses fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) were already in operation and 2,500 more would be added to the fleet within one year.The Bench also pulled up the Government for no let-up in accidents involving the killer Blueline buses, asking when it would take appropriate action to check it.On a direction by the Court, the Government had in 2007 submitted to it a plan to phase out the Blueline buses by June 2009 and bring in their place a new-look passenger-friendly public transport system with all the buses fitted with electronic gadgets for safe driving and tracking devices. Under the new transport policy, private buses will be operated by corporate and cooperative bodies under the integrated management of a Delhi Government company. The two entities will run buses on all existing routes that will be grouped in different clusters, and each operator will not be allotted more than one cluster.The performance of these buses will be measured on the parameters of rates and types of accidents, adherence to the speed limit measured by the location data, halts at specified stops and their time to be monitored by the location control system. Violation of any of the parameters will attract a financial penalty on the operating company and the fine will be deducted from the payments due to them.

Blow to Salwa Judum; SC says Govt can’t arm people in Naxal-hit areas

New Delhi, Feb 05: The government cannot arm common men or those associated with Salwa Judum, a people’s movement to combat Naxalism in Chhatisgarh, to curb the unlawful activities of Naxalites, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.“We do not underestimate the enormity of the problem (Naxalism). But state should not encourage the common man by arming them to fight Naxalites,” a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam observed.The Bench said that “arming common men will create a dangerous situation…unless legal powers are vested, you can’t arm people.”The Bench expressed its concern that such has been the law and order situation in the Naxal affected areas that the common people are virtually in a dilemma on how to tackle the problem facing them.“Common men are under dilemma whether to support the government or Naxalites,” the Bench observed when senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for Chhatisgarh, said that “Naxalites are running a government within the government”.The court made the observations while perusing the action taken report (ATR) filed by the Chhatisgarh government on the recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in its report.The NHRC had probed the alleged human rights violation by Salwa Judum in Chhatisgarh and had pointed to incidents of burning and killing on which FIRs were not registered and cases of high-handedness of the Special Police Officers, civilians armed with weapons to fight Naxals.The Bench was of the view that instead of arming common men, the state governments should properly utilise the funds granted to them under schemes sponsored by the Centre for the economic upliftment of the villagers and tribals.“Huge amounts are being allocated under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). The state governments should utilise it properly to economically empower them (villagers and tribals) and to improve the infrastructure,” it said, adding that “arming common men was not a remedy to counter Naxalism”.Senior advocate T R Andhyarujina, appearing for those on whose petition the apex court had ordered an NHRC probe, said the “state is not permitted to create a private body”.Denying that common people were armed to counter outlaws in Chhatisgarh, another senior advocate Ranjit Kumar appearing for it, said “that is not happening”.He said “Salwa Judum is dying out. We are strengthening our police force”. Kumar said Salwa Judum came into existence as a means to counter the activities of Naxalites.His submission was supported by his senior colleague Venugopal who said “Salwa Judum has practically disappeared” but the activities of outlaws are alarming and continuing uninterrupted and was evident with the recent incident in Maharashtra where 15 policemen became their victims.He said the law and order situation in Naxal affected areas cannot be treated in a simple way.“The law and order situation is not normal. It is an extreme situation (in Naxal infested areas),” the senior advocate said.However, the court repeatedly reminded the Chhatisgarh government that Salwa Judum was getting its support and this fact has found mention in the NHRC report.This was refuted by Venugopal who said arms like country made weapons were procured by Salwa Judum in illegal manner like Naxalites.The Bench, however, said it was difficult to accept that logic. “It is difficult to accept your submission. Our view was that Salwa Judum was getting arms from the state government,” it said.Meanwhile, the court adjourned the matter for four weeks asking the petitioners to file their reply to the ATR placed by the Chhatisgarh government in which it elaborated on steps taken on the recommendation of the NHRC.The court asked the state government to supply the copies of the FIR annexed by it in the ATR to the petitioners.The Chhatisgarh government in its report said pursuant to the NHRC recommendation it has registered FIRs against the Special Police Officers who have been found guilty of misconduct. Schools which were used for stationing the security forces have also been vacated.Further, relief work has been undertaken in 206 villages and now around 35,000 people are in relief camps.The state government had assured the Supreme Court that further action would be taken on the recommendation of the NHRC.In an exhaustive report supported by documents, NHRC had inquired into alleged human rights violations by activists of Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh even as the Centre had approved the state government’s stand.Bureau Report

A thousand Nitharis?
So where have all the children gone? Akash Bisht, Hardnews Sunita and her husband, Gangaram, live in a one-room thatched house with their two children in the slums of Neb Sarai in south Delhi. Life used to be abjectly poor; still, it was a happy family with three children. Until one of them, 14-year-old Rajesh, went missing in June 2007. Since then, the parents have searched every possible corner of the city and knocked on every possible door that gave them any hope. Says Sunita: “Raju comes in my dreams. I see him crying, yearning to be with us. I always assure him that we will find him soon. And I wake up with horror and despair.” She works as a housemaid in the nearby kothis while Gangaram is jobless. He used to sell vegetables – the police took away his cart after the Delhi bomb blasts. Her son, who had a speaking disability, delivered water bottles at the cinema complex of PVR Saket on his rickshaw. On June 14, 2007, as usual, Rajesh went to deliver the water bottles. He never returned. “Earlier, I used to work in five houses but ever since my son went missing I work in only two. Most of my time goes in search of my son. I will find him soon, one baba told me so.” She has moved from one corner to another, police stations, NGOs, local leaders. Nothing has moved. A baba told her that Rajesh is alive. Sunita visits the baba frequently; she pays Rs 2,000 of her hard-earned savings to this fake godman. She had also served him chicken and liquor on numerous occasions to please the gods. “Baba once asked me to go to Kolkata in search of Rajesh. I searched all over, but no miracle occurred.” She says the ‘hawaldar’ at the Neb Sarai police station abused her. “He refused to lodge a complaint and threatened to put me and my husband in jail. He hit me with his lathi.” Rajesh’s is not an isolated case. Delhi is full of such tragic tales. Between December 2007 and 2008, 12,206 children went missing in Delhi. After the Nithari mass murders and rapes of children, a report by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Action Research on Trafficking has shown that in any given year, on an average 44,000 children are reported missing all over India. Of them, 11,000 children remain untraced. The NHRC report mentions that studies conducted by official agencies and NGOs prove that several girls and boys run away from home attracted by the lure of big cities. Vulnerable, they fall prey to false promises and eventually end up as sex workers or bonded labourers/domestic help at dhabas, hotels, restaurants, tea shops and the unorganised sector, many of them hazardous, badly paid, in sub-human conditions, and without any social or physical protection. “Many of these children become victims of the organised begging/pick-pocketing/drug peddling racket. Most are trafficked and trapped in a vicious circle, and further abused, physically or sexually. Many of these children come from indigent families who either do not have access to authorities or whose complaints are not treated with due diligence,” the report notes. “My son Vikas went missing in 2001. We searched for years with no help from the police. Now I have lost all hope. I don’t believe I will find him ever again,” says Kamli, also living in the Neb Sarai slums. Various NGOs claim that there is an organised trafficking network in Sangam Vihar in south Delhi and Ghaziabad in UP. Two missing children came back to their house in Sangam Vihar and informed their parents that they were forcibly kept at a house in Ghaziabad. They gave the details of the location; the police claimed that they have rescued seven more children from there. “This is not an isolated incident. Several such stories have been narrated by the children who escaped from these places but no action has been taken on their tip off. Parents of missing children have sometimes identified ‘dubious’ individuals, but nothing tangible has been done,” points out Krinna Shah, employed with Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) in Delhi, which works for children rights. “Everyone knows how the police treat the poor. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. There are many cases that are not even reported even when parents have given the names of the suspect. The police attitude is that of laxity and indifference. For them, missing children are not a priority,” says Reena Banerjee, secretary, Nav Shristi, an NGO. She says that the police are always reluctant to share information on the number and status of missing children. She filed an RTI application seeking information on missing children in 10 districts of Delhi. Only seven police stations replied while the rest kept delaying it; one of them demanded Rs 12,565 for the information. “After all, we are asking for routine information under the RTI Act – not something related to national security,” quips Banerjee. This cold blooded insensitivity is entrenched in the establishment. Activists claim that the figures on missing children are not comprehensive and numerous such cases go unreported. However, it is hoped, that a serious guideline by the Allahabad High Court might help. A historic judgement by Justice Amar Saran came after Vishnu Dayal Sharma moved the court after his son Krishna Gopal went missing on February 22, 2005. The court noted: “There are so many poor and resourceless persons who are not politically important (since they may not be a vote bank, disunited migrants as they are), they lack the wherewithal to approach the high court and have been routinely visiting police stations when their son, daughter or near and dear ones go missing. They are cruelly rebuffed by the police which are engaged in other important matters and do not want to inflate their crime record. They unfortunately lack the wealth to set the police machinery in motion in matters which was the foremost duty of the police to investigate.” The court, after hearing Sharma’s plea, sought crucial details from the UP government on the number of missing children. The UP report disclosed that from 2000 to April 2008, there were 7,659 cases. The police claimed that 5,965 children have either been found; but the fate of the rest remains in the dark. The court asked both the state and central government to work in tandem to solve the cases of missing children. After this direction, the police and judiciary have begun to act. The UP police claimed that they have pasted two sets of posters of missing children, as per the court order. One has phone numbers of an authorised body and other with contact information of the parents. How this has helped remains a conjecture. In this historic judgement, the court directed the state to set up a computerised data bank of all school-going children in the age group of 6-14 years, which could include: the digitalised photographs of the child (for which purpose a budget of Rs 12.7 crore has been earmarked for 2007-2008 and a budget of Rs 5 crore for 2008-2009); the class in which the child is studying; the name of his school; the place of schooling. This information could further be updated every year to indicate: whether the child was promoted at the end of the year; whether he/she has dropped out from the school and in the event of change of school or location; what is the new school and location. The principals or other authorities can be asked to ensure that data with respect to each child were loaded on the computer. However, there are major loopholes. Says PC Sharma, member, NHRC, and chairman of the committee that brought out the report on missing children: “There is no coordinated effort from the police as no FIR is filed and only an entry is made in the general diary which is routinely ignored. There is no central coordination agency; how many children go missing and are traced back remains a mystery. The system is yet to evolve to meet the challenges. At present, the issue remains a neglected, low-priority intervention area for everyone other than those who have lost their children.” He feels that missing children should be a top priority because the majority are condemned to end up being trafficked for sexual abuse, as bonded labour, or among other sub-human and degrading ‘occupations’. Krinna says: “I remember the incident when a Bangalore couple saw the picture of their missing son in a TV programme which mentioned that the concerned people should contact the police at the earliest. When these parents went to meet the authorities they said that they had no clue of where the picture came from. This is like the same story repeated ad nauseum. This is pathetic.” After the sinister blood-letting and sexual perversion inside that rich man’s house in Nithari, one had thought missing children will become a national issue. Perhaps it’s because most of them are stunningly poor. So no one cares. Neither the governments, nor the police, nor the courts. Except the mother and the father, who wait, with despair and – no hope. BOX; Slaves of the Ringmaster The circus is a rage among children in India. Even adults go for it in small towns. Hundreds of people throng the visiting circus oblivious of the fact that many underage children who are performing (or women) are reportedly kept in abysmal circumstances, brutally beaten, sexually assaulted, kept like slaves and underpaid. Most, especially girls, are trafficked from the poorest areas of Nepal by agents of circus owners with the temptation of a better life. In some cases, children are sold by their poor parents on training contracts at a stipend of Rs 100 per month for 10 years. Once trafficked, they are sent to different circus outfits across the country so that they remain untraced. Hundreds of children are trafficked every year by a nexus of circus owners, traffickers, police and local politicians. In a rescue operation in June 2008, Childline with the Esther Benjamin Memorial Foundation (EBMF), Nepal, and other NGOs, successfully rescued 20 children from the Rajmahal Circus in Akola, Maharashtra. “The team met six girls rescued by EBMF and Childline from the Rajmahal Circus in Raipur in August last year. The girls said that there were more children below 18 years in the circus and the work conditions were exploitative. During their training they are beaten with wet ropes. These children reach the circus via agents. Sometimes, there are training bonds signed between the parents and the circus owner wherein the circus owner pays Rs 5000 – 7000 to the parents,” informs Komal Ganotra of Childline. Childline activists revealed that children, especially girls, reported cases of sexual abuse and rape. Some children who tried to run away were stripped and beaten on their private parts. On the role of the police, Philip Homes, Founder/Director of EBMF, said in an email interview with Hardnews, “While rescuing children in January last year from the New Raj Kamal Circus at Hatta near Gorakhpur, the local head of the police was uncooperative and acted illegally. I witnessed circus personnel being transported up and down the road on the back of police motor bikes and meetings between the circus staff and police within the police compound that we were excluded from. You can see the film of that rescue – including of the uncooperative police officer – on YouTube (” Since 2004, EBMF has rescued 350 children and women. “Our survey of 2002 found 230 children under the age of 14 in 30 circuses. The data was collected through ‘undercover research’. We need to repeat our research; but I guess the figure now could be 50-100. That still leaves the issue of older girls – over 14 – who were trafficked as children and are still working as bondedlabour. Some of these are technically children if you accept the UN classification of a child under the age of 18,” said Homes.

NHRC team to look into pollution caused by slaughter house

New Delhi (PTI): The National Human Rights Commission will send a team to Meerut for an on-the-spot inquiry about allegations that over 15 lakh people are facing serious health hazards due to stench and pollution created by an illegally-run slaughter house there. Acting on a complaint filed by lawyer Ajay K Agrawal in this regard, the Commission has directed its Director General (Investigation) Sunil Krishna to depute a team of NHRC officers for the enquiry and collection of the facts related to this issue within two week. The NHRC has also asked for the comments of Magistrate, Meerut, on the matter within two weeks. Agrawal has alleged that people are suffering from serious skin diseases, lungs infection and heart ailments by inhaling the polluted air in and around the city stemming from the slaughter house where thousands of buffaloes are butchered and their meat further processed. Agrawal has alleged that there are around 500 unlicensed Bhattis (ovens) at this slaughter house in which bones of animals are boiled and processed to obtain fat. The fat is used for making of ghee, he alleged.

NHRC questioned Delhi police on Batla House shootout

The NHRC called for the ATR on the magisterial probe decision by Lt. Governor, within six weeks of its order of December 22, 2008. It took cognizance and raised doubts about the police version in the Batla House encounter of September 19, 2008..CJ: Ashok Shankaram THE NATIONAL Human Rights Commission (NHRC) called for the action taken report (ATR) on the magisterial probe decision by Lt. Governor, within six weeks of its order of December 22, 2008. Thanks to the NHRC for taking cognizance on a real cause, raising doubts about the police version in well-known Batla House encounter of September 19, 2008, in Jamia Nagar, New Delhi, in which two persons identified as Mohd. Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid were killed. After the Batla House shootout, NHRC asked for the fact finding feedback from Delhi Police followed by an interim report by additional commissioner of police [ACP] (vigilance), on November 19, 2008. The report of ACP (vigilance) Delhi reveals that FIR No.208/2008 was registered at police station, Jamia Nagar, regarding the incident.The case was initially investigated by the local police and on December 1, 2008, the investigation was transferred to the crime branch, which is a specialised and an independent agency. It has been further explained in the report, that on the request of the crime branch, a team of CSFL had inspected the place of occurrence, on December 13, 2008. The ACP (vigilance), Delhi further communicated, “…the issue regarding the magisterial probe in the events relating to the incident dated 19.09.2008 has been referred to Lt. Governor, Delhi”. Repeating that, on September 19, 2008, both of the above men killed in a shootout at Flat No.108 of L-18, Batla House, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi. The police authorities claimed that both killed were involved in the serial bomb blasts, which had taken place a few days earlier in Delhi. It is also claimed that police has raided the questioned flat, the place of shootout, on secret information and the persons hiding in the flat had fired at the police party, as soon as it entered the flat, and thus compelled the police for firing in self defence. One police officer Mohan Chand Sharma succumbed to his injuries during the shootout. It was a well-debated shootout case that lined up in a queue almost all political parties, except the Samajvadi Party (SP), that came forward demanding investigation in the shootout case. It would not be out of place to inform the readers that months later SP also withdrew its proposed demand for investigation in Batla House shootout case.‘

A change in the selection procedure for the appointment of CEC and ECs is necessary’

Posted: Feb 05, 2009 at 0221 hrs IST The second letter to the President of India by CEC N. Gopalaswami on January 16th 2009, deals with the selection procedure of the CEC and ECs. The text of the letter is reproduced below: The appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners is governed by the provisions of Article 324 of the Constitution. As there is no separate law nor any prescribed procedure, in the scheme of things currently in force, the CEC and ECs are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. I have given my anxious thought to this issue of the procedure of selection of CECs and ECs. I have carefully perused debates in the Constituent Assembly where Pandit Hirday Nath Kunzru and Prof. Shibban Lal Saksena spoke eloquently on the need to appoint a person as CEC or EC who commands confidence of a majority of both Houses of Parliament. In principle, one could say that the person appointed should be such as to be acceptable and should have the confidence of a cross section of the Parliament or the political spectrum. In the last 60 years after independence, our polity has undergone a lot of changes and from the days of one party dominance we are passing through an era of coalition governments. Any alternative arrangement has to keep this fact in view. Presently, the appointments to the post of the Central Vigilance Commissioner and that of the chairman and the member of the National Human Rights Commission are made by constituting a committee which is bipartisan. In the case of appointment of the CVC, the leader of the opposition in the House of the People is a member of the selection committee. In the case of the appointment to the NHRC, the leader of the opposition of both Houses of Parliament are members of the selection committee with the committee being presided over by the prime minister. The following is the composition of the committee for the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioner : (i) The Prime Minister – chairperson, (ii) The Minister of Home Affairs – member, (iii) The Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People – member. The committee for the appointment of chairman and members of NHRC consists of the following: (i) The Prime Minister – chairperson (ii) Speaker of the House of the People – member (iii) Minister in-charge of the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Government of India – member (iv) Leader of the opposition in the House of People – member (v) Leader of the opposition in the Council of States – member (vi) Deputy chairman of the Council of States – member. Based on the recommendation of the committee, the appointments are then made by the President by warrant under her hand and seal. It would be in the fitness of things to incorporate a similar procedure in respect of the appointment of the CEC and ECs where the credibility and independence of the Commission is of paramount importance and the body is entrusted with the responsibility to deliver free and fair elections which is the very bedrock of democracy. Over the years the Commission has been able to win the confidence of the political parties and the voters with its impartiality and neutrality and has come to be recognised as one of the most successful election management bodies in the world. It appears that in order to nurture and strengthen this confidence of the public and the political parties, a change in the selection procedure for the appointment of CEC and ECs is necessary keeping in view the changed political scenario in the country with its multiparty focus. It would add prestige to the Commission if the Commissioners are chosen through a procedure in which the President has the benefit of getting a recommendation from a committee that will reflect a bipartisan consensus. Therefore, it is suggested for your kind consideration that a committee having the following composition could be entrusted the responsibility of making this selection : (a) The Prime Minister – chairperson, (b) Speaker of the House of the People – member, (c) Deputy Chairman of the Council of States – member, (d) Leaders of the opposition in two Houses – members, (e) Minister in-charge in the Ministry of Law & Justice – member Based on the recommendations of this committee, the appointment of the CEC and Election Commissioner could be made by warrant under the hand and seal of the Hon’ble President. Such a broad-based Committee in my considered view will greatly add to the perceived sense of impartiality, neutrality and credibility thereby further strengthening the faith of the public in the institutional framework of the Election Commission. I am therefore, submitting this proposal seeking your Excellency’s invaluable guidance to the government on the above lines


Thursday, February 5, 2009The row in Election Commission of India (ECI) has taken a political tune as all the major political parties are playing their own lyrics orchestrated by political music. The inside bickering in ECI is not new and has been occurring time and again. The first major controversy arose during T.N. Seshan’s regime when Seshan and Krishnamurti, one of the then EC locked their horns in order to establish their own hegemony and run their own writs.The present row originated owing to the letter which the CEC, has written to the President of India recommending the removal of Navin Chawala, the EC for his alleged acts of commission and omission under article 324 (5) of Indian Constitution. This letter sparked off a major political controversy because the BJP has come openly in rescue of N. Gopalswami, whereas; Congress and other UPA constituents have pledged their support to Navin Chawala. This controversy has incited a debate also in legal luminaries and judicial domain. The issue which has again come to fore is that whether or not the CEC can suo motto initiate inquiry and recommend the removal of the other ECs? The question has become vexed also because the provisions of the Constitution in this regard are somewhat translucent on this issue. Article 324 of the Indian constitution provides for the superintendence, direction and control of election to be vested in the Election commission. Clause 5 of this Article provides for ‘the Subject to the provisions of any law made by the Parliament, the conditions of service and tenure of office of the Election Commissioners and the Regional Commissioners shall be such as the President may by rule determine:Provided that the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be removed from his office except in like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court and the conditions of service of the Chief Election Commissioner shall not be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment:Provided further that any other Election Commissioner or a Regional Commissioner shall not be removed from office except on the recommendation of the Chief Election Commissioner.The above provision makes it amply clear that the ECs can be removed by the President, the appointing authority, but the CEC can only be removed by a process of impeachment similar to that of a Supreme Court Judge. The message is clear; the father of constitution has conferred on adequate amount of independence on the ECI and also has guaranteed protection to it against any undue political and executive interference. It is also a fact that the CEC and ECs are equal, CEC being the first among the equals, this however do not bring all the ECs at par with the CEC.It seems that the principle of check and balance as well as superiority and subordination blended with administrative hierarchical concept has been enshrined in the above provisions of the constitution. The Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) of 1973 can be taken into account to explain above principle. Section 20 of this code provides for appointment of Executive Magistrates and the District Magistrates. It speaks of the principle that District Magistrate is also an executive magistrate and all executive magistrates are equal, but the district magistrate is first among the equals. Further section 21, 22 and 23 make it clear that the executive magistrates,including the SDM, who is also an executive magistrate are subordinate to the district magistrate. Some may take it as an absurd comparison, but the principle of the same administrative hierarchical concept has been applied in the Election Commission also.Now coming to the question which remained unanswered is that whether the CEC can recommend suo-motu to the President the removal of ECs without the Presidential Reference? The Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court has ruled in the famous T.N. Seshan Vs Union of India in 1995 {5 SC, 337;(1995)4 SCC 611} that if power were to be exercisable by the CEC as per his whim and caprice, the CEC himself would become an instrument of oppression and would destroy the independence of the ECs if they are required to function under the threat of the CEC recommending their removal. This judgment is said to be landmark vis-a-vis the functioning of the ECI. The Supreme Court was of the opinion that the in-dependence of ECI is more important than the supremacy of CEC. In fact the fathers of our Constitution had rightly infused a large amount of independence and sanctity in the ECI which is also a custodian of the Constitution. Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the father of Indian Constitution, had said in the constituent assembly that the removal of CEC should be done only through a process of impeachment. The idea was the same, to confer independence to the Commission. But unfortunately over a period of time certain amount of aberration has crept into this constitutional body and has turned it into a hub of hobnobbing and bickering.So far as the grounds for inquiry against Navin Chawla and subsequent recommendation to his removal is concerned, the matter goes back to 2006 when L.K.Advani along with 204 other MPs submitted a petition to the President of India seeking removal of Navin Chawla for his alleged acts of commission and omission during emergency and his alleged proximity to the ruling Congress Party. The same petition was forwarded to the CEC for necessary action. It is in this context the CEC asked explanation from Navin Chawla and after being ‘unsatisfied’ from the Chawla’s answer, CEC made this recommendation to the President. The entire legal fraternity divided over this issue. One school of opinion says that the CEC can recommend removal of any EC suo-motu, whereas other opines that the CEC can only act when he is sought to do so by the president. Coming to the issue of taking action on the recommendation, some stalwarts say that the recommendation is binding on the government, whereas many other do not subscribe to this view and suggest that the government has every right to reject the recommendation.But it seems that if the CEC is not empowered to make a suo-motu recommendation, and can act only on the presidential reference, then how can the independence of Election Commission and its insulation from government’s interference be kept intact? It appears that misreading in between the lines is being done by many of us. If the CEC is supposed to act only when he is asked to do so, then why is this provision made in the constitution stating therein that the ECs can be removed only the recommendation of the CEC?We are non-deliberately skipping the core issue that, why after all such bickering and quarrelling are taking place in this august institution of sublime importance? The very practice of appointing very senior bureaucrats to the post CEC and EC just after their retirement is the crux of all the problems. The senior most bubus sitting at the helm of affairs can hardly remain apolitical and in a bid to get some post retirement placement, they start lobbying in the power lobby. Many of them get reward and those who are left start criticising the government in hope of winning over the sympathy of parties in apposition so that they can be compensated when these parties return to power. N. Gopalswamy had served as home secretary under Advani, similarly Chawla had been secretary to Lt. Governor during emergency. Gopalswamy was made EC just after his retirement by the NDA government, whereas Chawla was handpicked and rewarded by the Congress. Naturally their loyalties shall be put to a litmus test.M.S.Gill has been made Rajya Sabha MP after his retirement as CEC, he was subsequently made a state minister in the union cabinet. This step is going to have profound impact on the functioning of EC, as every outgoing EC or CEC would be lured by such rewards which they may get if they pursue the interest of parties in power.Remedies: – Mr. B.B. Tandon the then CEC had made certain recommendations with regard to the long overdue reforms in the EC. These recommendations are eating dust in the labyrinth of power and politics. Here are some suggestions which can be incorporated while taking steps in cleansing and reforming the commission.1. Rules can be framed that no bureaucrat shall be appointed, nominated or given any office within three years after their retirement. 2. Bureaucrats and judges should not be allowed to join any political party or fight election within three years after th.eir retirement. 3. The selection and appointment procedures for the high offices like EC, NHRC, CIC, other commissions etc. should be made transparent and institutionalised so that the possibility of hand picking is diminished to a zero level4. A national panel may be prepared for such appointment so that principle of equality and openness is followed. 5. Law can also be framed so that no one is appointed to any constitutional post twice. This would help minimise the chances of doing favour of disfavour by these persons Posted by Om Prakash Yadav at 1:38 AM


4 Responses

  1. Thaks for selecting my blog.
    om prakash yadav

  2. Respected Pandey sahab,
    thanking you for your effort in making people read articles on legal matters. I express my gratitude for selecting my blog on your blog. I have been writting on various issues including economy, legal and other social matters. thanks a lot, it is very helpful.
    Om Prakash Yadav, Patna

  3. Dear Mr.Kamal Kumar Pandey,
    I have been a frequent reader of your blog and have found it truly interesting.
    Is there a provision for community blog through your blog site by which the community at large can discuss any legal issues or do we need to contact you personally every time?
    Thanks and Best Regards,

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