LEGAL NEWS 07.02.2009

SC to examine PIL on accident claim in UP district
Published: February 6,2009

New Delhi, Feb 6 Two years after the Uttar Pradesh Government failed to respond on the issue of providing compensation to around 400 accident victims in Sonbhadra district, the Supreme Court today decided to examine as to why no steps had been taken in this regard.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakriahnan decided to make the District Collector of Sonbhadra as party to the petition to consider a PIL in which the callous attitude of the state government has been highlighted.
The PIL filed in 2007 by Pankaj Kumar Mishra, through advocate D K Garg, had alleged that no action has been taken by the authorities on the pending 400 cases of accident claims.
Source: PTI

No negotiations with employees’ union before strike called off: Bihar tells Patna HC
Patna, Feb 06: The Bihar government on Friday told the Patna High Court that it would not negotiate with the associations of striking employees until the month-long stir was withdrawn. “There will not be any negotiations with the representatives of employees until the strike is called off,” Advocate General P K Sahi told the division bench of Acting Chief Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad and Justice Shyam Kishore Sharma. The bench is hearing a PIL seeking termination of the services of the agitating employees. The court had on January 30 issued notices to the Bihar government and the three associations of employees, who are on an indefinite strike since January seven to demand in toto implementation of the 6th Pay Commission recommendations on the PIL filed by NGO ‘Jan Chowkidar’ that had termed the strike not only “illegal, but criminal activity”. Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, advocate Arvind Kumar sought the court’s direction to the state government to bring an end to the strike and submitted newspaper clippings, which said the state annually spent a staggering Rs 16,000 crore on salary and pension to its employees when its development expenditure stood at around Rs 13,000 crore. The bench, however, took serious exception to a letter written to the acting chief justice by social activist and convenor of Jan Chowkidar Suman Lal accusing him of bias against the petitioner and ordered issuing of a show cause notice to her. “The content of the letter prima facie shows criminal contempt …. Show cause notice be issued to the petitioner, who is present in the court and has admitted to having written the letter,” Justice Prasad said. He directed Lal to file her reply by February ten and be present in court when hearing resumed. The court asked the representatives of the agitating employees to present their grievances before the three-member Pay Committee constituted by the state government for resolving the dispute. The bench wanted to know from the advocate general if the government would be able to issue its final order based on the report of the committee by March 31. When the advocate general replied in the affirmative the court suggested that the employees’ representatives should call off the stir. However, the counsel for the employees’ associations Shyama Prasad Mukherjee said his clients would not end their stir until the government entered into negotiations with them, to which the Advocate General said talks were not possible unless the strike was withdrawn. Nearly 3.5 lakh government employees owing allegiance to the Bihar State Non-gazetted Employees Federation, Bihar State Non-gazetted Employees Federation (Gope faction) and Bihar Secretariat Service Association are on an indefinite strike since January seven demanding total implementation of the 6th Pay Panel recommendations, including allowances. Bureau Report

PIL on Farmers suicides:Govt. failed to inform HC regarding ATR on Jadhav Committee recommendations.
NAGPUR:Feb 03, 2009Maharashtra Govt. once again failed place the copy Dr Narendra Jadhav Committee report before hon,ble high court in matter of PIL on vidarbha afrmers suicides filed by VJAS .This was third time that Govt. pleader has requested HC to grant one week time for submitting the copy of report ,having asked for four.week and two week time earlier now high court has given one week time and case has been fixed for hearing after two weeks.A division bench of Justices Dilip Sinha and A P Bhangale, while hearing a PIL of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari, expressed concern on the unbated farmers suicide in Vidarbha.Counsels for petitioner Firdos Mirza and Vinod Tiwari brought to the notice of court that state government had appointed Vice-Chancellor of Pune University Dr Narendra Jadhav, who had submitted his report on July 19 last year, but no action has been initiated by the respondent state government as it was expected that Maharashtra Govt. should take urgent steps to implement Dr Narendra Jadhav Committee recommendations, but most of recommendations are till unattended ,kishore tiwari , alleged in the recent application before the high court.In a plea to the Hon,blr HC, president of the Samiti Kishor Tiwari has alleged that the institutionalised corruption and redtapism in implementation of Rs 5,000 crore special package is the main cause of the government’s failure to arrest the ever growing suicides of distressed farmers in the most backward Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.Citing the efforts made by his organisation since 1999, Kishor Tiwari drew the attention of High court towards the probe report and recommendations by Dr Narendra Jadhav Committee.The Committee submitted its report to the government on July 19 ,2008 and urged Maharashtra Govt. to take immediate remedial measures to avert further suicides of the distressed farmers and their families,but after lapse of 7 months ther is relief order from Govt.A detailed survey by Government controlled Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawlamban Mission states that the farmers ‘in extreme distress’ (Column 9 of the Survey Chart) are 4,34,291 and the farmers’ families suffering from serious illness are 92,456 in six districts of Vidarbha.The detailed survey was conducted by the Mission at Amravati under the guidance of Divisional Commissioner of Amravati in 8031 Villages of six districts of Vidarbha comprising of Yavatmal, Amravati, Akola, Buldhana, Washim and Wardha in which 17,64,438 families were surveyed by the Mission.Dr Narendra Jadhav Committee recommendations are based on this report have asked to provide subsidies food to all distressed farmers and free health care to critically ill farm family members but till ther is no action hence there is ATR.Petitioner has requested high court to arrange the implemntation of Dr Narendra Jadhav Committee recommendations but administration has not been able to give copy of report to HC ,kishor tiwari informed.

Credit Card Default attracts only 49% Interest

Supreme Court on 4th of Feb has allowed MNC banks to charge hefty penal interest up to 49% on defaulted credit card payments, ending the respiteGuard your credit card IElastic with plastic 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.
Posted by Info Guru

SBI directed to pay a fine of Rs 3,000
By Ankit Sharma
Feb 6, 2009
The largest bank in India, State Bank of India has been directed by a consumer court in Ahmedabad to pay a fine of Rs 3,000 for insisting a credit cardholder to make payment for bills that were already cleared.
A credit cardholder named Prashant Mankad had made purchases worth Rs 37,000 in November, 2006 using his card. He had to pay 24 EMIs each of Rs 2,200 to the bank for this transaction. Makand had made the payment of his outstanding amount but was still receiving calls from the bank’s customer care that asked him to clear his dues.
He informed that frequent recovery calls were received due to the bank’s error from its headquarters in Ahmedabad as well as Delhi. Mankad said the customer care executives used harsh language despite of him informing of cleared his dues.
Mankad also explained the issue to the bank’s customer care but things were not solved. He then finally filed a complaint with Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, Ahmedabad. Enquiring into the matter, the court found the bank guilty and released the bank statement and outstanding amount.
At the same time the court also asked the bank to pay Rs 3,000 to the complainant for harassing him by making frantic phone calls
Earlier also SBI has been charged penalty for harassing and misguiding one of its credit cardholder.

India needs 10,000 more courts: Supreme Court
7 Feb 2009, 0216 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Setting up more courts so that people have easier access to justice may be a good idea but it would be meaningless unless 80-85% of the population had at least high school level education, the Supreme Court said on Friday. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam said establishing more courts alone would not solve the problem and cited a PIL on the death of over 4,000 tribals in road accidents in Sonebhadra district of UP where not a single victim’s family got compensation. “The Motor Accident Claims Tribunals are there but the illiterate tribals had no knowledge of how to exercise their legal rights for compensation, being ignorant about approaching the tribunals,” the Bench said responding to the suggestions on judicial reforms by counsel Prashant Bhushan on a PIL. To tackle the pendency of nearly 2.5 crore cases, there was an urgent need for an additional 10,000 courts, the CJI said. “But, establishing these courts alone will not give the desired result. To approach these courts for grievance redressal, there has to be awareness, which will come only when there is a rise in the education level among people,” he said. The CJI does not view the large number of cases in courts, popularly referred to as `docket explosion’, as a major problem before the judiciary. But he feels `docket exclusion’, meaning that needy have no knowledge of how to approach courts, could only be tackled through proper education. He agreed with Bhushan that setting up of “gram nyayalayas” (village courts) was an important step towards giving litigants easy access to courts. But, he immediately qualified this by saying, “Most important is the education level of the masses. Unless 80% to 85% of the population has high school level education, there was no hope of people coming to courts for settling their disputes.” When Bhushan said the cost of litigation had sky rocketed in recent years and suggested that legal aid committees, which give free advice to poor litigants, were not functioning properly, the Bench was quick to throw the ball back into the counsel’s court by saying that advocates like him should provide free services to litigants. However, the court sought response from the Centre within six weeks on the PIL filed by NGO `Janhit Manch’ on various suggestions for judicial reforms.

SC dismisses plea to cancel Satyam stocks transactions
Press Trust of India
Friday, February 06, 2009 (New Delhi)
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking a direction to market regulator SEBI and the Bombay Stock Exchange to cancel transactions in shares of scam-tainted Satyam Computer and Chennai-based entertainment firm Pyramid Saimira.
A Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan-headed bench dismissed as withdrawn a Public Interest Litigation filed by Mohan Lal Sharma, a practising advocate, seeking cancellation of all transactions on January 6 and 7 on the ground that innocent investors were lured by these companies on buyback announcements and thus, a fraud was committed on them.
“SEBI is already investigating the matter. You can also make a complaint to the statutory authority,” the bench observed.
According to Sharma, before the decision was taken by the board, IL&FS had sold about 246.6 lakh shares in the market at Rs 176 per share. However, the Satyam shares crashed to close at Rs 30 after Satyam Chairman Ramalinga Raju resigned from the board and confessed to Rs 7,800-crore fraud, he added.
The petition further added that Pyramid Saimira, which was in the news recently for serious fraud allegations, wherein the company was sent a forged letter of SEBI asking its co-promoter P S Saminathan to make an open offer to minority shareholders to buy 20 per cent at Rs 250 a share.
Various investors, including Sharma, had bought the shares following the receipt of the letter by the company.
However, within one hour of disclosure, the shares went down to freeze at Rs 61.15 per share, he said, adding SEBI, NSE and BSE had failed to take any action to get purchased shares cancelled.

Election Commission meets State commissioners
By admin on February 6th, 2009
New Delhi, Feb. 4 (ANI): The full Election Commission on Wednesday discussed the preparations of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections with the Chief Electoral Officers of all the states and Union Territories.
Chief Election Commissioner N.Gopalaswami presided the meeting, which discussed the progress in the revision of electoral rolls, requirement of poll staff, Progress in issuance of photo identity cards and other measures for smooth conduct of elections.
The Commission already held detailed discussions with the national and regional parties on Tuesday.
The political parties had unanimously urged the Commission to take effective measures to combat surrogate advertisements and attempts to misuse print media.
They also said that the voting should be held in minimum phases to avoid the use of money and muscle power.
However, the commission had asked the parties to strictly avoid communal overtones in election campaign and observe the Model Code of Conduct.
The poll panel is expected to hold discussions with the state police chiefs tomorrow on the deployment of forces for poll duty and issues regarding law and order.
The final dates for the polls are yet to be decided, but the next Lok Sabha needs to be constituted by the May 1.
The elections to the Lok Sabha, the largest electoral exercise in the world involves 671 million voters. (ANI)

WCD issues notice to NCW member
Posted by Nagpal Jee on Friday, February 6, 2009, 5:00
National Commission for Women (NCW) member Nirmala Venkatesh was on Thursday (February 5) slapped with a show cause notice by the Ministry of Women and Child Development for not submitting her report on the Mangalore pub attack case.
In the notice, which was sent this evening, the ministry asked her to explain why she had not submitted her report and gone public with her opinion in the matter. Highly-placed sources in the ministry said that Venkatesh had in past “misbehaved” with some officials in the commission and had also publicly criticised Women and Child Development Minster Renuka Chaudhary.
Venkatesh had led a three-member team to Mangalore on a fact-finding mission after the attack on girls by Sri Ram Sene activists. The other members of the team comprised a lawyer and a local NGO representative. Venkatesh on Tuesday (February 3) had hit back at Renuka saying “the commission’s inquiry is final.
“The Constitution says the commission’s inquiry is final. I have done a very important probe in that and also I have submitted yesterday’s report with best observations and recommendations to the commission,” said Venkatesh. NCW chairperson Girija Vyas said Venkatesh had not submitted any report to her. Apparently unhappy over the conduct of NCW’s fact-finding team, the Ministry sent a fresh team for an on-the-spot assessment of the incident.
(With inputs from agencies)

Orissa-Andhra water row for Tribunal
J. Venkatesan
Supreme Court directs Centre to constitute it in six months
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Centre to set up a Tribunal under the Inter-State Water Disputes Act to resolve Orissa’s dispute with Andhra Pradesh over the latter’s construction of a canal project at Katragada on the river Vansadhara.
Allowing a petition from the Orissa government, a Bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Markandey Katju gave this direction and asked the Centre to set up the Tribunal in six months.
The court asked Andhra Pradesh to maintain the status quo on the construction of the Rs. 850 cr. project to irrigate 1.07 lakh acres through a reservoir at Heeramandalam.
Less for Orissa
According to Orissa, as per the agreement between the two States, while farmers in Andhra Pradesh would utilise 7 TMC of water from the river, the inhabitants of Orissa would utilise 12 TMC for drinking purposes and water tanks up-stream and down-stream of Katragada. The construction of the project by Andhra Pradesh would result in cutting down supplies to Orissa.
In his judgment Justice Kabir said: “A time-frame has now been fixed for the constitution of a Water Disputes Tribunal to settle the water dispute. It is now almost three years since the complaint was made by the State of Orissa but the Central government has not taken any action in the matter. In this scenario, the prayer made by the State of Orissa does not appear to be unreasonable since the dispute between the two States does not confine itself to the construction of the Side Channel Weir and the Flood Flow Canal, but primarily involves the unilateral decision taken by the State of Andhra Pradesh to divert the river waters to the State of Andhra Pradesh, which could possibly disturb the agreement [between the two States] to share the waters of the river equally.”
Holding that this was a water dispute within the meaning of the ISWD Act, the Bench granted relief to Orissa since its complaint was pending since 2006.
“Once the Tribunal is constituted the parties will be free to apply for further interim orders before the Tribunal,” it said.
In his concurring but separate judgment, Justice Katju said: “The English poet Coleridge in his poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ wrote: “Water, Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” This is precisely the situation of the people living in large parts of India. Despite having immense reservoirs of water in the form of the Himalayas in the North and the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal in the West, South and East of India, there are water shortages everywhere often leading to riots, road blocks and other disturbances and disputes for getting water.”
Stressing a scientific solution, Justice Katju recommended that the Central government immediately constitute a body of scientists to do research on a war footing. These scientists should be given all the financial, technical and administrative help by the Central and State governments. The help and advice of foreign scientific experts and/or Indian scientists settled abroad may also be taken, “since the solution to the problem will not only help India but also foreign countries which are facing the same problem.”

US lawmakers for H-1B hiring ban for bailout firms
7 Feb 2009, 0234 hrs IST, PTI
WASHINGTON: An amendment seeking to bar US companies, which receive federal bailout money, from hiring H-1B visa holders has been introduced in the Senate, a move likely to impact Indian IT professionals if it is approved. The amendment in the US legislature has been co-sponsored by the Republican Senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley and the Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont. Indian IT professionals, who have been the major beneficiaries of the American H-1B visa programme, could be adversely impacted if the amendment is approved by the Senate. Introducing the amendment in the Senate, Sanders said: “It is essentially saying that there would be a suspension of H-1B programme of any institution, which would be receiving TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Programme) funds for just one year.” “I firmly believe that companies going through layoffs that employ H-1B visas (holding workers) have a moral obligation to protect American workers by putting them first during these difficult times,” Sanders stressed while seeking bi-partisan support for his amendment. Sanders also quoted a recent media report that said that the American banking industry had requested for more than 21,000 visas for foreign guest workers over the last six years. “Hiring American workers for limited available jobs should be a top priority for businesses taking taxpayer money through the TARP programme,” Senator Grassley said, adding if banks are going to be getting American taxpayer money than they should be hiring American workers.

`Vada pav handcarts won’t violate SC order’
7 Feb 2009, 0306 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: Following the criticism that the BMC’s plan to provide handcarts to hawkers selling vada pavs has generated, municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak on Friday clarified that the proposal was not in violation of Supreme Court order. The scheme, on the lines of Zunka Bhakar kendras, was conceptualised by the ruling Shiv Sena in the BMC. “The Zunka Bhakar kendras were shut down because they were obstructing the footpaths. But this will be taken care of in the new scheme,” Phatak said. The BMC has proposed setting up 215 Annadatta Aahar kendras and give out 125 handcarts from May 1. “Our health officials will regularly inspect these centres to ensure that hygiene and cleanliness are maintained, even as the cost of the vada pavs is kept reasonably low compared to market rates,” Phatak said.

Explain deaths in tribal school: HC
7 Feb 2009, 0315 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Friday ordered the secretary of the tribal development department to be present in court – in person – to explain the deaths of five tribal children in a state-run ashram school in Dahanu. A division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud upbraided the state and asked the secretary to visit government-run residential schools in Thane and submit a report by February 27. The court also asked the chief judicial magistrate of Thane to visit the said `ashram’ schools. The court’s direction came on a PIL that referred to newspaper reports on the deaths of the school children. In an affidavit, the state claimed that the children had died due to reasons beyond the control of the ashram school administration. The government had paid a compensation of Rs 15,000 to the families of the children. With regard to the allegations of rape levelled by a female student against the ashram school superintendent Vinod Shirsath, the government, much to the court’s consternation, claimed it was the case of a “love affair” between the two. Assistant government pleader Pradip Patil told the court that an inquiry has been initiated against one of the head masters and two superintendents. The court asked the additional solicitor general to ensure that the central government conducts an enquiry into the safety of food supplies given to the tribal students.

Centre pips state in RTI disposal race
7 Feb 2009, 0335 hrs IST, Viju B, TNN
MUMBAI: An audit of the performance of the state’s six information commissioners reveals that they have been dealing with an average of just five Right to Information (RTI) appeals and complaints per day. The figures show that on an average, each of the six commissioners disposed a little less than 150 appeals and complaints every month, during 2008. “All the commissioners have abysmal disposal rates. If they do not hear more cases on a daily basis, people will lose faith in the RTI Act. Already, people have to wait for over a year for their appeals to come up for hearing,” said RTI activist Bhaskar Prabhu, who filed an RTI query on this issue. While the information commissioner of Nagpur, Vilas Patil, topped with 2,003 disposals, the state chief information commissioner, Suresh Joshi, came second with 1,983 disposals last year. At the bottom of the list were Navin Kumar, information commissioner of Navi Mumbai with 1,298 cases and V Kuvlekar, information commissioner of Pune, who dealt with 1,728 appeals. The total number of pending appeals till December 2008 was 15,026. According to activists, ideally, an information commissioner can deal with about 250-300 cases per month. The Central Information Commissioner (CIC), Shailesh Gandhi, for instance, has heard 670 appeals in January 2009, and his colleague, Annapurna Dixit, disposed of 330 appeals in the same period. “We hope that the state information commissioners take a cue from this and increase their disposal rates,” Prabhu said. Meanwhile, Joshi told TOI that the steep rise in pendency was due to the fact that for the initial period of one year and six months, the state had only one commissioner. “But now, we have improved our disposal rate and are slightly better than the CIC. We have disposed appeals and complaints that have been pending up to October last year. This year, we hope to reduce the gap even further,” Joshi said. RTI activists said the state information commissions should not include appeals that have been returned (without hearing) in the total number of appeals that have been heard. “The CIC does not include the appeals returned along with appeals heard,” a senior CIC official confirmed.

Assault in jail: Court seeks Tihar reply
6 Feb 2009, 2349 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: A trial court on Friday sought a reply from the Tihar jail superintendent on the allegations made by Irshad Ali that he was beaten up by inmates at the high security jail. Ali was picked up by the Delhi Police on charges of being a terrorist, but was later cleared by the CBI. The incident took place barely two days after Ali sought PM Manmohan Singh’s intervention for relief. In an application filed in the court of Additional Sessions Judge S K Gautam, Ali sought his medical examination as he was “thrashed” inside the Tihar jail by two inmates identified as Ashok and Sonu. He also demanded an inquiry into the matter to find out who was behind the attack which occurred in jail number three between 6-6.15 pm on Thursday. In his application, Ali said that he believes the incident may have been recorded on CCTV cameras in the prison, which should be preserved for inquiry purposes and demanded proper security arrangements. Taking note of his application, the court asked the jail superintendent to file a report on Monday. Labelled as a terrorist by Delhi Police’s special cell, Ali had requested the Prime Minister to take necessary steps as the police, accused by the CBI of falsely implicating him, was allegedly threatening him inside the prison to withdraw the case.

Siri Fort Games site: SC ropes in Correa
6 Feb 2009, 2353 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The fate of the basketball and squash courts for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, built by cutting down a large number of trees in the Siri Fort forest area, hangs in balance with the Supreme Court on Friday seeking expert view on its feasibility and environmental damage control methodology. Renowned architect Charles Correa, who had put in his papers last February as chairperson of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission refusing to be a rubber stamp for the government on clearance to various Commonwealth Games related projects, was appointed by the Superme Court to inspect the controversial sports facility for CWG in the Siri Fort forest area. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Arijit Pasayat and S H Kapadia entrusted Correa with the task of inspecting the basketball and squash court facilities and suggest alternatives or allowing the sportsfacility to remain there with minimum damage to environment. The newly-built complex was red flagged by the apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which had termed the site unsuitable and castigated the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for cutting down as many as 891 trees without taking prior clearance from the authorities and the SC. CEC had suggested demolition of the complex, but keeping in view the constraint of time given the fact that the prestigious games are just 20 months away, it had recommended imposition of Rs 5 crore fine on DDA for utilisation in afforestation activities. On Friday, the Bench accepted amicus curiae Harish Salve’s suggestion for entrusting the inspection task to 79-year-old Correa while asking him to give his report within three weeks. Correa, who studied architecture at the University of Michigan and at MIT, is known for his splendid work in designing the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at Sabarmati Ashram, Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, and the Madhya Pradesh State Assembly building.

HC pulls up firm on slow pace of work
6 Feb 2009, 2342 hrs IST, Abhinav Garg, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Delhi HC stated that weather conditions can’t be made a ground by contractors for slow progress in infrastructure related work, while tossing out a petition filed by a firm, challenging NHAI’s notice to terminate a road contract with it due to delay in work. “Every contractor who enters into a contract in India knows that there are extreme weather
conditions..,” Justice S N Dhingra pointed out, refusing to stop NHAI from ending the contract with one `Progressive Constructions Ltd.’ “A contractor can’t take shelter behind these extreme weather conditions and say that in summer the temperature shot upto 48 degrees on some days of work and it hampered progress of work or during winters it fell below 14 degree Celsius,” it added. The firm had moved HC urging the court to restrain NHAI from terminating the contract and also prohibit it from revoking the bank guarantee and other advance given for the construction of a 4-lane road on NH-28. NHAI had given November 2008 as the deadline to finish the work after entering the contract in 2005. However, the firm failed to adhere to the deadline and sought an extension from NHAI, a request which was entertained through a supplementary contract with fixed monthly targets to achieve. In December itself the firm couldn’t achieve the monthly target prompting NHAI to issue a show cause notice asking why the contract shouldn’t be cancelled at once. On its part the firm cited extreme weather conditions of December to justify the delay in completion of construction on the road and meanwhile, challenged NHAI’s decision before the High Court. But Justice Dhingra clarified that it isn’t for a court to stop an autonomous body from cancelling a contract even if he disagreed with the logic of extreme weather conditions trotted out by the firm’s lawyer. “The court can’t give direction to a party of not terminating a contract or to continue with a’s the right of a party to continue or terminate,” HC noted, adding, “Court can’t rewrite contracts for parties.”

HC raps govt on release of convicts
7 Feb 2009, 0202 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore : If you can release convicts, why can’t you release tigers from cages, asked the high court on Friday, pulling up the government for releasing life convicts without discretion. “It is nothing but lawlessness on Gandhiji’s birthday. If the government releases convicts wantonly, what are we here for? They are doing great injustice to the citizens. This trend started in 1996,” the court observed, while adjourning a petition filed by a person from Mandya, who challenged the remission of sentence to killers of his relative. Meanwhile, the government placed before the court, cabinet records pertaining to the release of 309 life convicts on the occasion of Suvarna Karnataka. As per the cabinet note and other records, it was the then CM who had instructed the officials to release male convicts who had completed eight years, and female convicts who had completed four years in jail. N B Bhat, amicus curiae appointed by the court, said that under 433A of CrPC, one should have undergone a minimum of 14 years to be eligible for remission. This interpretation has been totally misquoted in the August 14, 2006, order, he explained.

Asaram gurukul deaths: Court wants narco analysis
7 Feb 2009, 0138 hrs IST, TNN
AHMEDABAD: A city sessions court on Friday ordered CID (crime) to get narco analysis conducted at Gandhinagar FSL on two witnesses in mysterious death of two children Dipesh and Abhishek Vaghela at Asaram Gurukul in Motera. Additional sessions judge PB Desai has asked authorities to complete truth serum test on two witnesses, who are Sadhaks of the cult by March 13. Upholding chief metropolitan magistrate’s order that narco is required to crack this case, sessions court has also held that the two Gurukul officials, Pankaj Saxena and Yogesh Bhati, are not accused but witnesses. And hot debate as well as much-awaited decision by apex court is regarding whether consent of the accused’ is required to perform truth serum test. However, here lower courts in city have held that since Saxena and Bhati are not accused but mere witnesses, controversy and orders pending in higher courts don’t apply to this case. There is no accused in this case, as investigating agency has not filed a complaint against anybody even after six months of investigation. CID (crime) has been seeking narco analysis on these two after their statements in the lie detection tests differed from each other. Moreover, the investigation agency has also claimed of evidence regarding black magic being performed in the Asaram Gurukul in Motera. Advocate of Saxena and Bhati told mediapersons that they have decided to challenge order in Gujarat High Court.

PMC apathy over RTI irks activists
7 Feb 2009, 0016 hrs IST, TNN
PUNE: After repeated demands by Right to Information (RTI) activists that the Pune Municipal Corporation disclose information on its own initiative, the civic body has finally displayed information about all its departments and the duties of its officers on its website. However, RTI activists like Vivek Velankar have pointed out that only a namesake’ job has been done and incomplete disclosures have been displayed. Velankar says that only that information which is of convenience to the PMC has been disclosed, whereas information which would help citizens monitor the functioning of the civic body remains undisclosed. “For example, RTI Act section 4(1) (b) (iii) talks about the procedure followed in the decision-making process, including channels of supervision and accountability’. This is a very important clause from the citizens’ point of view as they should know the procedure involved in all PMC jobs. They should also know who is in charge of supervision and what action the supervisor will take if the procedure is not followed. Unfortunately, none of the departments have felt like declaring this information,” Velankar said. The RTI Act section 4 (1) (b) (iv) talks about the norms set by the PMC for the discharge of its functions’, said Velankar. “This seeks disclosure on the timelines followed by departments of the PMC for doing a particular job. This helps citizens keep a check on civic works. Again, no department except the dept of land and estate has mentioned any norms or the time duration for the tasks.” Velankar said that it was the inaction and apathy of the civic officials which irked the activists the most. “Everything is crystal clear. The officials have attended a number of RTI workshops, but still such things happen. It only shows that they want to keep information under wraps so that they are not questioned by citizens for being inefficient,” Velankar said. He said that there was no option left but to approach the chief information commissioner with a complaint against the PMC for the discrepancies.

Bill seeks to make bullfights part of heritage
7 Feb 2009, 0336 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: Dhirio, or the traditional Goan bullfight, might go from being illegal to being protected as part of Goan heritage’. A Bill seeking an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 was introduced in the concluding session of the stateAssembly on Friday. The Bill seeks to nullify the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act under which the organization of bullfights is illegal. Guidelines are also sought to be framed by the government for the purpose of regulating the conduct of the sport in the state. Introduced by Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, it is called The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Goa Amendment) Bill, 2009. The Bill states that dhirio is a traditional sport in Goa which needs to be protected. “Dhirio (bull-butting games) has been a traditional sport in the state of Goa for many centuries. It is widely prevalent and very popular in the state. Enthusiasts specially raise prized bulls to compete in the sport,” states the Bill. It has been said in the amendment that authorities, however, have been very strict in restricting the sport on the alleged pretext of implementing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.’ This has led to the arrest and prosecution of the owners, promoters and even the spectators of dhirios. This Bill, therefore, seeks to protect the dhirio as a part of Goan traditional heritage but mandates that the game to be organized within the framework of guidelines set by the state government. Incidentally, the amendment has been sought to be added to section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (Act no. 59 of 1960). The new provision will be included after sub-section (1). The new provision reads, “Provided nothing in this section shall apply to dhirio, which is a traditional animal sport in the state of Goa involving bulls and buffaloes, which is organized in accordance with the guidelines issued from time to time by the government of Goa,” nullifying the old Act provisions that term bullfights as being illegal. Till a decade ago, Goa’s version of a bullfight where two bulls are pitted against each other was the weekend entertainment staple for most villages. In fact, many families lived off the earnings made on appearances and bets alone. In the year 1998, animal rights’ activists succeeded in getting a Supreme Court-imposed ban on the sport they term is “cruel to animals”. Subsequently, in March, 2008, member of parliament (MP) Francisco Sardinha vowed to bring in a legislation in order to lift the ban. While no such move has been made yet, reports of bulls locking horns have become more frequent with over 120 incidents reported last year alone. Incidentally, organizers of bullfights mint anywhere from Rs five lakh to Rs 10 lakh a fight, as bull owners and spectators bet heavily on their favourite competitor.

Airlines mix-up: Lawyer gets refund for tickets 7
Feb 2009, 0300 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: UT consumer forum directed Make My to refund Rs 8,750 to Rajiv Atma Ram, a senior advocate, along with a token compensation of Rs 2,000. According to the complaint, Ram and his wife were to visit Bangalore to attend his niece’s marriage. Accordingly, they booked online air tickets through Make My for Delhi to Bangalore and return tickets in May 2007. The tickets were confirmed and their payment was made by their son through his credit card. However, when they reached Bangalore airport to catch their return flight, the airlines said no tickets were issued to them. Claiming that he had to purchase two fresh tickets, which is amounts to deficiency in services, Ram moved a complaint under Consumer Protection Act. A notice of the complaint was duly served to Make My, but it chose not to contest the complaint.

Shubham case: 12 granted bail
7 Feb 2009, 0254 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: The court of special CBI judge Jagdeep Jain granted bail to 12 accused in a multi-crore cheating and fraud case related to Shubham Hospital on Friday here. “The allegations are against Sandeep Sharma, who is the main accused in this case, that he took loan from various banks after obtaining fake certificates from the societies. The case has been fixed for framing of the charges,” said NK Nanda, one of the defense counsels. According to sources, court didn’t grant bail to two accused. Recently, the CBI had filed three separate chargesheets against 14 accused, including bank officials and lawyers, under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act along with sections related to cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy of the Indian Penal Code. The incident came to light last year when it was alleged that Sharma, who ran Panchkula-based Shubham Hospital and Diagnostic Centre, had fake medical certificates. It was also alleged that he had availed loans from four different banks on forged documents. It was claimed that bank officials granted loan to him without verifying the documents leading to a scam worth crores.

Molestation of German: Final hearing on Feb 16
7 Feb 2009, 0256 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: Though one German woman, a rape victim, recently got justice, the other one will still have to wait. A local court has fixed February 16 as the next date to hear final arguments in the molestation case, which is pending since year 1999. “Despite availing four dates for final arguments, on Friday, too, defense counsel pleaded for next date, which was granted. Officials from German Embassy were here to hear the outcome of the trial,” advocate Terminder Singh, the victim’s counsel, said. The molestation victim, a German national has been keeping a regular tab on the court’s proceedings. She had come to the city along with her boyfriend and on August 11, 1999, the duo went to RBI’s office in Sector 17 in order to get currency exchanged. Allegedly there the then deputy manager SK Sharma passed derogatory remarks on her and later even reached her hotel in Sector 28. Following this, the woman called police and got a case for outraging modesty registered against Sharma. The maximum punishment awarded in such cases is two-year.

Show-cause notice to cop for approaching MHA
7 Feb 2009, 0003 hrs IST, Saurabh Prashar, TNN
CHANDIGARH: The inspector general (IG) blocked his way and the SSP, too, did not pay heed. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. The cop reached the country’s home department to show his bosses that he was ‘competent’ enough for it. However, senior UT police officials refused to accept the recommendation of an officer on special duty (OSD) with the minister of state for home affairs (MHA), Delhi, and have slapped a show-cause notice against inspector Kewal Krishan. An explanation has been sought from him to explain that in what capacity, did he approach a bureaucrat for securing a top post. Sources say in the communication, received a fortnight ago in favour of inspector Krishan, the OSD claimed, “The cop is competent and experienced. Please appoint him for the post (public dealing) whenever the next transfer orders are issued.” Though UT SSP SS Srivastva confirmed that he had received a letter from MHA, he refused to divulge any details. Sources further revealed that one of the pages in the communication was in Hindi and had been recommended by a political leader from Mirzapur, UP. Interestingly, even as the letter claimed that the cop was competent, inspector Krishan was facing two departmental inquiries. A senior official said inspector Krishan had filed his reply before SSP Srivastva seeking permission of personal appearance. However, it may be recalled that it’s not the first time that top UT police officials have received such recommendation letters in favour of competent officers. Earlier, UT police officials also took strict note when DSP (south), JS Khaira, was an inspector and had approached a senior politician for securing the post of SHO in the UT police.

GO declaring retd officers ‘ineligible’ opposed
7 Feb 2009, 0416 hrs IST, Ashish Tripathi, TNN
LUCKNOW: Even as various government employees and officers association in the state are gearing up to strike work from February 26 for salary revision as per sixth pay commission report, a state government order directing its departments not to negotiate or hold talks with organisations which have retired employees as office-bearers has created a flutter among employees. The order gives reference of the “service association regulations 1979” and states that officers should negotiate or hold talks with those organisations which have been duly recognised by the government. The government order also gives reference of an earlier order issued in November, 2002 and states that the department should only consider representations made by recognised employees associations and federations. The order also directs heads of government departments not to invite for talks those office-bearers of associations who have retired from the services. The order asks employees’ associations which are divided into various groups to hold a joint election and constitute a working committee as early as possible for negotiations with the government. Associations not following instructions will be de-recognised, it states. The state government’s move has come at a time when all the major employees, teachers and officers organisations/federations are gearing up for agitations for salary revisions as given by the central government to its employees. There were over 16 lakh state government employees, which includes teachers, officers, clerical staff, civic employees among others. Many leaders of these associations had retired long back but are clinging to the posts in the associations. “Associations should have a serving employee or an officer as office-bearers as only they can protect interests of members in a better way,” said an officer. Prominent associations having retired employees as office bearers include SP Tiwari, president, State Employees Joint Council; VP Mishra, president, State Employees Joint Council (second group); Lallan Pandey, president, State Employees Federation; Chandra Shekhar Pandey, president, Roadways Employees Association; Mool Chand Jaiswal, president, UP Treasury Association; Om Prakash Sharma, president, UP Secondary Teachers Association. Government officers said that these leaders have created a caucus and continue to occupy important positions in associations by some way or other and use their clout for personal benefit. A section of employees and teachers also felt that after retirement, employees leaders should act as a patron and voluntarily vacant post to give way to new leadership in the organisation. However, leaders vehemently denied all allegations and described the government’s order as a move to create confusion at a time when all the organisations are gearing up for agitation. VP Mishra, president, State Employees Joint Council (second group) said, “In a democratic set up, people decide who will be their representatives and not the government. We had raised the issue with senior government officers and they have assured us of taking back the order.” SP Tiwari, president, State Employees Joint Council, said that office-bearers are elected as per the constitution of the association and not as per the rules made by the government. RK Nigam, general secretary of the said council, said that all the major movements since last four decades have been led by leaders who had retired from their services. RP Mishra, secretary, UP Secondary Teachers Association, said that the rule which government is talking about is applicable on organisations formed after 1979.

HC seeks explanation on terrorist threats
7 Feb 2009, 0017 hrs IST, Abhinav Sharma, TNN
JAIPUR: A division bench of Rajasthan High Court comprising of Justice R C Gandhi and Justice M N Bhandari on Friday issued show cause notices to the state and the centre seeking an explanation as to why timely action was not taken on the alleged information available in regard with the May 13 serial blasts in Jaipur. The show cause notices were issued on a PIL filed by an NGO named Rasthriya Samta Manch that is headed by Mahaveer Prasad Todi. According to the counsel of the petitioner, Munish Kumar Sharma, it was given in the PIL that the NGO had received a CD some days before the May 13 blasts, last year that contained a scanned letter of a terrorist outfit. It was stated in the letter that they wanted certain terrorists to be released from jail and had demanded Rs 50 crore as ransom for keeping peace or else face consequences. Later, on May 12, two women and two men claiming themselves to be associates of a women terrorist outfit of India went to NGO’s office and asked for the CD to be returned. “Subsequently, the NGO representatives lodged a complaint with the police on May 12, but police did not act promptly on the information after which the May 13 bomb blasts took place last year, ” the counsel said before the court. It was further stated in the petition that recently on December 5, the NGO again received a threat letter written in Tamil posted from Perambadur, Chennai. The letter, written by one Abdul Kayyum Rangrez, secretary of Forum of Active Terrorist Organizations of India comprising of 11 terrorist outfits named in the letter, had threatened of fresh terrorist attacks using suicide bombers. The letter also said that all the terrorists active in country were asked to kill Mahaveer Prasad Todi, chairman of the NGO through a suicide bomber. The PIL has sought a direction from the court to order a CBI probe on the inaction and failure of the state police in the May 13 attacks despite having information. Further, it has been requested that the state and Central government be directed to relocate Bangladeshis and other nation’s refugees and to install close circuit cameras at religious, tourist and crowded places as well as in Vidhan Sabha and other sensitive places. The division bench has issued show cause notice to Central and state government’s home secretary, DGP Rajasthan, superintendent of police-Jaipur South, and station house officers of Shyam Nagar and Murlipura police stations of the city to file a reply within two weeks from now.

HC holds Mishra, students guilty of cheating
7 Feb 2009, 0445 hrs IST, Vaibhav Ganjapure, TNN
NAGPUR: The Nagpur bench of Bombay high court has held Sunil Mishra, one of the prime accused in Nagpur University’s infamous fake marksheet and revaluation scam and two other beneficiary students guilty of cheating. However, it acquitted kingpin Yadav Kohchade and his accomplice Ashok Jawlekar from all the cases. Scrutinier Madhukar Smarth was acquitted in one case and convicted in another. A single-judge bench of justice Ravindra Chavan quashed all the charges levelled against Mishra, Mahendra Gote and Parag Fadnavis for which they were convicted by the special court of second additional chief judicial magistrate Ashok Gattani last year. The bench provided them further respite by stating that the sentences these accused had undergone so far were sufficient and hence should be set free. While pronouncing verdict in Gote’s case, the court observed that his conviction would eclipse his career as a lawyer. The judge directed the university to return his degree and also asked Nagpur University and Bar Council of Maharashtra to take appropriate steps stating that “cancelling degrees is beyond scope of powers of learned magistrate.” In case of Gote, he failed in seven subjects while appearing in his final year law examination in 1996. He applied for revaluation and managed to pass the examination allegedly in connivance with Kohchade and Smarth using fraudulent means. In case of Fadnavis, a first year engineering student, failed in mathematics during winter 1996 exam. However allegedly conniving with Kohchade and Jawlekar, he managed to clear the subject by tampering marks. According to Kohchade’s counsel Prakash Naidu, this is third acquittal for his client in a week. On Tuesday, the high court had acquitted Kohchade in the case of beneficiary student Anil Gupta, while he was convicted in the case of Laxmikant Zade along with scrutinier Prabhakar Hejib. Their sentences were also reduced from twelve and half years to five and half years. Moreover, former dean of engineering Hemant Thakre, scrutiniers Smarth and Shyam Kalamkar along with beneficiary students Rajendra Yadav, Mohammed Ishaq and Shailesh Tupkari were absolved of all charges by the court. Kohchade would be moving to the Supreme Court against high court verdict.

HC seeks status of airport transfer
7 Feb 2009, 0232 hrs IST, TNN
NAGPUR: The Nagpur bench of Bombay high court on Friday asked the Centre and state government if the airport would be transferred before February 28 after an announcement to this effect was made by Union civil aviation minister Praful Patel on Thursday. A division bench comprising justices Dilip Sinha and Ashok Bhangale asked this question to assistant solicitor general of India SK Mishra who was appearing for the civil aviation ministry and the state government. While referring to the news report published in TOI’s Friday edition, the bench directed advocate Mishra to seek instructions from the aviation ministry on Patel’s announcement and file an affidavit. The bench also asked the state government on the status of the joint venture company (JVC) to which the Dr Ambedkar International Airport will be transferred. Earlier, Mishra informed the court that he had filed an affidavit based on information provided by civil aviation ministry’s under-secretary Oma Nand. The affidavit reiterated the ministry’s stand that though steps were being taken to transfer the airport and it was difficult to set a specific time-frame for it. Mishra, however, informed that he had not received any fresh instructions from the aviation ministry regarding Patel’s statement in the media. During the last hearing on January 14, the court had asked the state chief secretary to file an affidavit on whether the JVC had been formed and if not then by what time was it was likely to be formed. The petition was filed by Vidarbha Economic Development (VED) Council charging the Union aviation ministry of ‘deliberately delaying’ the process of airport transfer. The petitioner contended that neither had the JVC been formed nor was any progress made in this regard. The decision on the much-awaited transfer was actually taken during a meeting of the Union cabinet on January 17 last year and no progress had been made since then.

Cheque bounce: 2 traders get 2-yr jail term
7 Feb 2009, 0436 hrs IST, TNN
SURAT: Two traders were sentenced to one year of imprisonment on Friday and slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 for issuing cheques, which were not honoured. The court also ordered the traders to pay the amount of the cheques to the party concerned. According to case details, Pradeep Sharma and Dilip Sharma were arrested on a complaint of Kirit Shah, who had given a loan of Rs 4.75 lakh to three persons, Pradeep, Dilip and Mahendra Sharma. The trio had returned the money through cheques to Shah, but the cheques bounced. Following this, Shah sent court notices to the three. Mahendra opted out of court settlement by clearing his debt, but cases were registered against Pradeep and Dilip as they did not respond. Source: Sandesh

Delivery of child on road: HC notices to Govt, doctors, others
7 Feb 2009, 0447 hrs IST, TNN
ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court has issued notices to the doctors of Fatehpur and asked the government to file reply over the issue of delivery of child on the road by a poor woman. Hearing a PIL filed by Padma Singh, secretary of Stree Adhikar Sangathan, over the issue, a division bench comprising Chief Justice HL Gokhale and Justice Dilip Gupta has issued notices to respondents, the Union of India, principal secretary health, director health, district magistrate, Fatehpur, chief medical officer, Fatehpur and the Superintendent, District Mahila Hospital, Fatehpur. The court has also issued notice to Priti Sachan, Vineeta Sachan (senior staff nurses of Hardo community centre and Dr Upendra Kaur of District Mahila Hospital, Fatehpur. According to the petitioner, on getting information from various newspapers, the organisation and Human Rights Law Network had constituted a team of lawyers and social workers and sent them to gather facts regarding the incident. According to the fact-finding report, Geeta Devi, a resident of Dhankamai under Sultanpur Ghosh police station in Fatehpur and her husband Hori Lal had gone to community health centre, Hardo on January 17, 2009 for delivery. Geeta Devi sought the help of the medical staff of the Hardo community centre, but the lady doctor and staff nurses Vineeta Sachan and Priti Sachan made certain demands from the family members. When the demands were not fulfilled, they denied to provide help and turned out the woman from the health centre. Geeta and Hori Lal reached the District Women’s Hospital, Fatehpur and met doctor Upendra Kaur and requested her to provide medical aid and admit the patient. But Kaur also denied to admit her. The disappointed couple then tried to approach the Mission Hospital, but before reaching there, Geeta gave birth to a male child on the road. The newly born child died within a few minutes due to unsafe delivery and the chilly cold.

Judge stops salary of a cop
7 Feb 2009, 0432 hrs IST, TNN
KANPUR: Additional district and session judge XIII of Kanpur nagar on Thursday took the non-compliance of court order by a Sub Inspector RP Singh seriously, and ordered to SSP to stop the payment of his salary till next order. Issuing a notice under section 350 cr.p.c against the S I, the presiding judge Ghan Shaym Pathak said that S I presently posted at office of S P, Kanpur rural had been summoned several times to adduce his evidence in a case of prevention of Immoral Traffic Act (Pita) styled as State v/s Madhu Agarwal but he did not appear before the court. Warrants were also served but he did not paid any heed .Due to his act the court proceedings in the case could not be taken . Today he had to appear before the court but like previous occasions he was absent. It appears that he was overlooking the court orders. Therefore, stop the payment of his salary till further order and serve the notice issued against him and ensure his presence in the court on next date i.e February 20,2009. The annoyed judge also issued a notice under section 350 cr.p.c against Sub Inspector Amarish K Tewari for same reasons. S I Tewari had to appear before the court in a NDPs case of Sachendi police circle to adduce evidence for prosecution. The judge asked the senior police officials that it appears that police inspectors were taking the court orders lightly and they did not inclined to follow the court orders. Ensure the service of notice and his appearance in the court on February 25,2009.

Bihar RTI-on-phone project earns it top e-governance prize
7 Feb 2009, 0227 hrs IST, Vishwa Mohan, TNN
NEW DELHI: Bihar’s unique attempt to accept Right to Information (RTI) applications through phone calls — Jaankari — has been selected by the Centre for the first prize (gold) for “outstanding performance in citizen centric service delivery” under its e-Governance project for the year 2008-09. Incidentally, 11 of the total 18 National Awards for e-Governance under different categories this year have gone to NDA-ruled states with Gujarat taking the lead with five prizes, including one gold, one silver and three bronze. Announcing the annual awards, minister of state for personnel Prithviraj Chavan said: “These awards are given to recognize and promote excellence in implementation of e-governance initiatives.” Under the category of citizen-centric service delivery in which Bihar won the gold for Jaankari, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh were selected got the bronze for their e-krishi-kisan (Agricultural University, Anand) and HIMPOL (state police website), respectively. Praising the Bihar government’s citizen-centric service delivery project “Jaankari — RTI facilitation on phone”, Chavan said: “In this, you can make a phone call and the call centre person will keep all the details. The cost of the RTI application will be deducted by adding it to the phone call charges.” He said the Delhi government had also shown an interest in implementing the project. The awards to these states will be given away during the 12th National Conference on e-Governance in Goa on February 12-13. On excellence in government process re-engineering, Chhattisgarh’s department of food and civil supplies bagged the first prize while in the exemplary horizontal transfer of best practice the first prize went to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. Nagpur Municipal Corporation, the national panchayat portal of the ministry of panchayati raj and the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, Hyderabad, won awards in the category of best government websites. Tripura, Karnataka and Haryana were the other states which won awards in different categories for their efforts towards promoting e-governmence for the benefit of citizens. Chavan said as part of Centre’s initiative to streamline the official websites, the government has issued guidelines for all official portals which will help people to get required information easily. As part of the government’s e-governance plan, 27 mission mode projects would be rolled out across the country with an outlay of Rs 20,175 crore. Out of this, 16 projects have already been cleared by the Union Cabinet with an outlay of Rs 10,626 crore.

FIR mandatory in encounter cases: HC
7 Feb 2009, 0453 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: In a landmark judgment in a state where naxal activities and encounter deaths are rampant, a larger bench of the A P High Court on Friday ruled that it is mandatory for the police to register an FIR under the relevant sections of the law whenever an encounter death takes place. Thereafter, it is the magistrate, and not the police, who has to decide whether to continue the trial or to close the case after hearing the police argument. Delivered after much deliberation, the judgment was welcomed by several human rights organisations who claimed that this would put an end to the practice of the police closing encounter cases on the plea of self defence. Police officials, however, termed the verdict as disturbing as in the days of terrorism, policemen would be more worried about legal consequences of their actions rather than tackle the threat. The five-judge bench comprising Justices Goda Raghuram, V V S Rao, R Subhash Reddy, Ramesh Ranganathan and G Bhavani Prasad, pronounced the verdict after hearing a petition filed by the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee which sought the names of the police personnel who participated in an encounter on July 23, 2006, in which 8 Maoists were killed. The petitioners had sought the information in order to file a case against the police officers who were involved in the incident. “It is necessary to examine the larger issue of the powers of the police and the rights of the civilians in such cases,” the bench said in its 150-page order. The bench made it clear that the magisterial enquiry (inquest), generally done by a revenue authority immediately after such deaths, is not an alternative to the obligation to record the information in the FIR and to conduct investigation and arrest the offenders, if necessary. “The opinion on such deaths recorded by an investigation officer (IO) and forwarded to a magistrate is only an opinion of the IO and such an opinion shall be considered by the magistrate in the context of the record of the investigation together with the material and evidence collected during the course of investigation,” the bench said. The magistrate, it said, shall critically examine the entire evidence to ascertain whether the opinion of the IO is borne out by the investigation. The magistrate has the discretion to disregard the opinion and take cognizance under section 190 of CrPC, it said. On the issue of the investigating officer’s role, whether or not he should reveal to the complainants the names of the police personnel who participated in such encounters, the bench said it is not an issue before them. The bench, however, made it clear that the identity of such personnel should be disclosed to the investigation officer. This is absolute and there is no immunity whatsoever from this obligation, it said.

Raju brothers get VIP status, privacy in jail
7 Feb 2009, 0127 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: Disgraced Satyam boss B Ramalinga Raju may not be able to access his wardrobe full of designer suits and shoes, but from Saturday his stay at Hyderabad’s Chanchalguda prison will get a little better.
Raju and his brother, Rama Raju, have been living the life of ordinary inmates since their arrest on January 9 — sleeping on cold mattresses on the ground, eating watery daal and rice and sharing toilets with other prisoners. Granted special class prisoner status on Friday, the brothers will now get cots, pillows, mattresses, sheets, mosquito nets, a separate kitchen and toilet, jail sources said. The facilities go beyond bare necessities. ‘‘They can get newspapers and can smoke cigarettes or cigars if they wish to. They can also eat meat and fish everyday provided it is brought by their family members,’’ the source said. Apart from separate cots, pillows, mattresses, toilet, kitchen, there are other privileges that the Rajus can ask for. ‘‘Like if they ask for a colour TV, it is the duty of the state government to provide it,’’ one official said. The only facility they are denied is access to a telephone. A Hyderabad lower court granted special class prisoner status to the Rajus few days ago. However, the order asked the Hyderabad collector, under whose jurisdiction Chanchalguda falls, to certify that the Rajus were used to a high lifestyle and should be accorded the same while in jail. After the collector certified the lifestyle, the court issued the orders which reached the jail on Friday afternoon.

Mumbai terror ‘a crime against humanity, totally unacceptable’
N. Ram
UN Secretary-General on India-Pakistan, Sri Lanka, climate change
New Delhi: “I would not pre-judge what the Pakistan government will say. But I am convinced that the Pakistani government is also committed to addressing terrorism,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told The Hindu in an interview in New Delhi on Thursday. He was asked whether he was confident that Pakistan would heed his appeal to “fully cooperate” with the Indian government in getting to the bottom of the Mumbai terror attacks.
Mr. Ban, who was in New Delhi for a day, revealed that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had informed him the Pakistan government “was going to enact the legislation to allow them to punish those Pakistani people who engage in terrorist acts outside Pakistan.”
Condemning the Mumbai terror attacks as “totally unacceptable,” Mr. Ban underscored the importance of “addressing and eradicating terrorism…in the name of humanity.” Noting that an opportunity had been missed in the wake of 9/11, he said what happened in Mumbai should strengthen the international community’s resolve to work on “a comprehensive international convention on terrorism.”
Asked for his thoughts on what more could be done by way of international pressure or persuasion to ensure that Pakistan did the right thing, Mr. Ban responded: “In investigating and addressing terrorism, that should be done voluntarily by any member state [of the UN] even before any pressure, so-called pressure, comes. This is, after all, a crime against humanity…There should be active efforts by the whole international community regardless of where it happened.”
The UN Secretary-General reiterated his view that all issues between India and Pakistan, including Kashmir, should be “resolved harmoniously through dialogue.” He added that while the terrorist attack in Mumbai was “a very serious crime which must be punished,” it must not be allowed to become “an obstacle” to strengthening the bilateral relationship “in a comprehensive dimension between the two countries.”
Asked how much of a priority the issue of climate change was for him and the UN, Mr. Ban, who received the Sustainable Development Leadership Award 2009 at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, responded that his “top priority and target” as UN Secretary-General was to have “a balanced, comprehensive, and effective” international agreement by the end of December this year in Copenhagen. As a regime, it must also be “ratifiable” as a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.
Emphasising that “India can play a very important, crucially important role,” Mr. Ban said “that’s why I am here…Everybody is looking at India, what India will do.” With President Barack Obama and his administration “very positively engaged, unlike the previous, Bush administration,” the time was propitious. Saying that he “fully understand the challenges of India,” and specifically that when it came to greenhouse emissions in per capita terms India was not at all at the level of industrialised countries, he made this appeal: “But at this time, when this is by far the most urgent and serious existential threat for all humanity and planet Earth, the whole international community must act together. Now is the time to act. Therefore I would sincerely urge and appeal to the Indian government to really engage in in-depth negotiations.”
Asked for his reading of what was happening in the north of Sri Lanka, where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which is banned or designated as terrorist in 31 countries, is boxed in a very narrow territory with about 120,000 civilians, Mr. Ban expressed concern over the humanitarian situation and mentioned his discussions with the Sri Lankan leadership. He had asked President Mahinda Rajapaksa to ensure that there were no civilian casualties and also the security and safety of United Nations staff and humanitarian workers and had received assurances. The UN Secretary-General revealed that he was now “considering dispatching a humanitarian assessment team” to Sri Lanka.
Asked whether the failure of the UN to get Israel to stop its brutal aggression in Gaza did not demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the world body, Mr. Ban spiritedly contested the view that the UN had failed in the Middle East. He asserted that “it was the United Nations together with major leaders, powers, in the region and elsewhere that has brought this ceasefire” in Gaza. Now it was urgently mobilising humanitarian assistance. He himself had made an urgent appeal for $613 million to help people in Gaza to recover and was co-sponsoring an international donors conference.
Responding to a question on Iran, the UN Secretary-General expressed the hope that “with a new administration in the United States…the dynamics of negotiation may change.” However, “before everything, it is important for Iran to fully comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions.” He looked forward to “in-depth negotiations” on the Iran nuclear issue given the “change in the political dynamics.”

Investigating and addressing terrorism should be done voluntarily: Ban Ki-moon
N. Ram
`If India and Pakistan cooperate fully, there can be much greater synergy.’
Ban Ki-moon responds to questions on the Mumbai terror attacks, India-Pakistan relations, Afghanistan, Gaza, Iran, and climate change. The United Nations Secretary-General, who was in New Delhi for a day on Thursday following his visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan, gave this half-an-hour interview to The Hindu in his suite at the Ashok Hotel.
You have just had discussions with the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan. You have called on Pakistan to have a “full investigation” into the Mumbai terror attacks and to “fully cooperate” with the Indian government in this matter. “Fully cooperate,” I take it, means two things: bringing those responsible [for the Mumbai attacks] to justice; and eliminating the terror infrastructure in Pakistan so that future attacks can be ruled out. Are you confident that both will happen given what has happened?
I would not pre-judge at this time what the Pakistani government will say. But I am convinced that the Pakistani government is also committed to addressing terrorism. Prime Minister [Yousuf Raza] Gilani told me that his government was going to enact the legislation to allow them to punish those Pakistani people who engage in terrorist acts outside Pakistan. It seems that there is no such law by which they can punish those people, as we have seen in the Mumbai terrorist attack.
The United Nations Security Council has adopted a battery of resolutions against terrorism, requiring a number of actions by state parties. Are you satisfied with the response of the concerned state parties to the terror attacks in Mumbai? And have you had a chance to look at the evidence provided by the Indian and other governments [that the Mumbai terror attacks originated in Pakistan]?
First of all, it was just totally unacceptable — the terrorist attack [in Mumbai] on the citizens of India and foreigners. Terrorism under whatever reasons and grievances cannot be justified. That should be addressed in the name of humanity and eradicated in the name of humanity. The United Nations has been leading this effort to address and eradicate and fight against international terrorism. Since the early 1960s, member states have had 13 international conventions on different aspects of terrorism. Now they have been discussing the way to adopt a comprehensive convention against international terrorism. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach there because of some technical — but it seems to be a very sensitive — issue on the definition of terrorism and the scope of terrorism. But I think at this time the political will among the international community is important. When I was working in the office of the President of the [UN] General Assembly eight years ago, 2001-2002 — that was the year 9/11 happened — that was the most appropriate time for the international community to reach a deal on this issue. But we missed the opportunity. Now, as we have seen in Mumbai, this really gives us some resolve, strengthens our resolve to work on this comprehensive international convention against terrorism. I would once again urge this and I will work towards that end.
The question is being asked here — and let me mention that our newspaper has taken a sober stand in this crisis and said, ‘don’t be hawkish, this issue has to be resolved through dialogue’ and so on — but there are many voices in India which raise the following question. Why should an aggrieved India, not just the government but also the people of India, have faith in Pakistan’s investigative and judicial systems when Pakistan itself is expressing its lack of confidence in these systems by asking the UN to inquire into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto? You made an announcement in Islamabad that there would be a three-member inquiry commission and Dawn newspaper has speculated that it will be headed by the Chilean Ambassador to the UN, Heraldo Munoz. But the point is their systems are very fragile.
We’ve been discussing the terms of reference and the scope and nature of this Bhutto assassination inquiry commission. This is not going to be the same commission as was established by the mandate [Resolution 1595] of the Security Council on the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister [Rafik] Hariri. This is a fact-finding commission, it’s not a criminal investigation. That was the understanding between the United Nations and the Pakistani government after extensive consultation on this matter. I have written to the President of the Security Council who has taken note of my intention to establish this one. I will not at this time say anything about the exact composition but it will be made known very shortly. He [Ambassador Munoz] is one of the candidates.
The Indian government has made it clear that it relies a good deal on what the Indian press calls “international pressure” to ensure that Pakistan does the right thing to get to the bottom of the Mumbai terror. What are the instruments available in this regard? Diplomats will talk about “persuasion” but whatever it is, there is an international factor here, including the United Nations. Do you think something more could be done? Some people even talked about smart sanctions like a travel ban, freezing of assets and so on. What’s your thinking on this?
In investigating and addressing terrorism, that should be done voluntarily by any member state [of the UN] even before any pressure, so-called pressure, comes. This is, after all, a crime against humanity. It is not some small crime, which may happen anywhere around the world. Terrorism, terrorist activities should be addressed in the name of humanity and there should be active efforts by the whole international community regardless of where it happened. The whole international community should fully cooperate.
During your visit to Pakistan, you called on Pakistan and India to address and resolve longstanding issues, including Kashmir, peacefully through dialogue. You expressed hope that the composite dialogue will be resumed.
There is some disquiet in India — I’m not referring to your statement in Pakistan — about this tendency on the part of some western leaders to bring in Kashmir in the context of resolving the issue of cross-border terrorism between Pakistan and India. There is sensitivity here about speaking about cross-border terrorism and Kashmir as proximate issues.
I’m aware of all the historical and political background of the Kashmir issue. That’s one of the longstanding issues in the world. Therefore what I can tell you at this time is that this issue should also be resolved harmoniously through dialogue. Now it was very encouraging that India and Pakistan have initiated a composite dialogue. There were many high-profile exchanges between the two countries. That I hope will continue and proceed. When you are having such serious problems in addressing the terrorist attack in Mumbai, that is a particular case, though it is a very serious crime which must be punished. But that should not be an obstacle in strengthening your [relationship] in a comprehensive dimension between the two countries. India, Pakistan — they are the largest countries, democratic countries, and countries of great potentialities. If the two countries have full cooperation, there can be much greater synergy.
You have just made what the press calls a “surprise visit” to Afghanistan where you declared that Afghanistan would be a priority area for the UN in 2009 and pledged strong UN support to help deliver peace and stabilise democracy, especially in the context of the elections due in August 2009. But everyone knows the security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating in the face of a resurgent Taliban. So how do you propose to go about helping deliver peace, democracy, and development in what looks like a very grim situation?
That is exactly the source of deep concern for me as a Secretary-General and for the international community. That with such massive support — political, economic, and military support — the security situation has been deteriorating. Now there should be a political consensus, a political process. This is exactly what I urged President [Hamid] Karzai, to further engage in inclusive political dialogue. The military option can be a very effective tool. But that cannot be the sole option. A military option should always be complemented by a political solution. Afghanistan is going through a very crucial period this year. Now depending upon how they, and how the international community, do, it may be very crucial. They may be standing at a crossroads. They are going to have a presidential election this year, on August 20. That can be a very important occasion to bring Afghanistan into a fuller democracy and a participatory democracy. The United Nations stands ready to provide technical assistance to make this election a fair and democratic and objective one.
UN reports have noted the high number of civilian casualties caused by the U.S. and allied international forces in Afghanistan. But now President [Barack] Obama is promising a surge of new troops. The military compone nt seems to be getting greater weightage in Afghanistan. Doesn’t that concern you?
Civilian casualties have been a concern for me for long, particularly since 2007 when I became the Secretary-General. I have raised this issue with the ISAF [International Security Assistance Forces] commander and also the Secretary-General of NATO and I have of course discussed it with senior American authorities — not to have any civilian casualties. In the course of military operations, it may be the case that civilians become victimised. But what we have seen has been very tragic and therefore it is absolutely necessary that the military commanders, when engaging in military operations, must ensure that they avoid civilian casualties. For that I have urged the strengthening of these civil-military coordination systems. My Special Representative [for Afghanistan], Mr. Kai Eide, is now coordinating with all international actors, including ISAF.
Sri Lanka
Closer home (to where our newspaper is based), in Sri Lanka, you have one combatant, which is banned or designated as terrorist in 31 countries, boxed in a very narrow territory with about 120,000 civilians. What is your reading of this? You must have got many reports.
Again, the situation in Sri Lanka has been a source of concern and I discussed this recently with Sri Lankan leaders. Even today I am going to speak with President [Mahinda] Rajapaksa [They spoke over the telephone and the Sri Lankan President assured Mr. Ban that “military operations to defeat terrorism in Sri Lanka would be carried out without harassment to the civilian population” in the north]. First of all, evaluating this situation and expressing my concern about the humanitarian situation, the civilian casualties. About ten days ago, before my departure, I received the Special Envoy of President Rajapaksa in New York and we discussed this issue. I have asked, through our Special Envoy to President Rajapaksa and his government to ensure that there should be no civilian casualties. There should be full guarantee of the security and safety of United Nations staff and humanitarian workers. And I was assured by President Rajapaksa that he would ensure this. There are very serious humanitarian concerns. I am considering dispatching a humanitarian assessment team.
What do you say to a young Palestinian in Gaza who feels the failure of the United Nations to get the Israelis to stop their aggression proves the ineffectiveness of the world body? Or is it expecting too much of the U.N.?
I won’t agree to the so-called failure of the United Nations. This Middle East situation has been there for six decades. It is the United Nations that has been leading this Middle East peace process during the last six decades. Largely because of the lack of political will on the part of the parties concerned, peace has not been established. Genuine peace. During the last six decades, we have seen many wars. It is almost unprecedented in history. So that’s very tragic and unfortunate.
Now, if we talk about this Gazan situation, it was the United Nations together with major leaders, powers, in the region and elsewhere that has brought this ceasefire. And I travelled to many countries, I met so many leaders in the region and outside the region to bring about this ceasefire. I think the United Nations played a pivotal role this time, a key role. Now Egypt has also been playing a key role and there are many other leaders (I don’t mention their names because there are so many). It is not one country or individual leaders. It has been a joint diplomatic effort.
This ceasefire is very fragile, as we have already seen through several cases of exchanging rockets and bombings. This ceasefire must be turned into a durable and sustainable one. That’s what I am doing. The United Nations is now mobilising humanitarian assistance, immediate and only recovery assistance. I have appealed Monday last week for urgent humanitarian assistance, made an urgent appeal for $ 613 million [to help people affected by Israel’s three-week military offensive in the Gaza Strip], and there is going to be an international donors conference in the first week of March in Cairo. I am going to be the co-sponsor of this international conference. Now I know the frustrations and challenges to the pride of Palestinian people in Gaza, particularly young people who have been victimised, women and children. I’d like to give them some hope, a sense of hope. They have the full support of the international community, the United Nations. We are working very hard to help them overcome this humanitarian suffering and also meet their long-term socio-economic rehabilitation.
President Obama has promised a new approach to Iran but the clock of UNSC sanctions continues to tick. Do you think suspending or holding sanctions in abeyance till Washington and Tehran get a chance to have a better relationship and resume a bilateral dialogue could be one way to proceed?
With a new administration in the United States, there is hope that the dynamics of negotiation may change. That is what I would also hope and expect. Before everything, it is important for Iran to fully comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions. That is, first and foremost, important. [As for] the rest of the issues, I hope with the change of administration and change in the political dynamics, there will be very in-depth negotiations so that we can be free from those nuclear concerns.
Climate Change
On climate change. First, congratulations on your award [the Sustainable Development Leadership Award 2009, presented at the Delhi Sustainable Summit on February 5]. You’ve said climate change was a priority for the United Nations. There are many priorities. How high, how important a priority is this?
My top priority and target is to have an international agreement by the end of December this year in Copenhagen. An international agreement that is comprehensive and balanced and effective. A ratifiable one that will be a successor regime of the Kyoto Protocol. India can play a very important, crucially important role. That’s why I am here. I am going to meet with senior Indian government officials. Everybody is looking at India, what India will do. Now President Obama and his administration are very positively engaged, unlike the previous, Bush administration. This is a very good sign. While I fully understand the challenges of India, when it comes to greenhouse emissions in per capita terms the level of these greenhouse gas emissions by India, Indian industry is far less than those [the levels] of industrialised countries. But at this time, when this is by far the most urgent and serious existential threat for all humanity and planet Earth, the whole international community must act together. Now is the time to act. Therefore I would sincerely urge and appeal to the Indian government to really engage in in-depth negotiations. This year we have only ten months left.

Anjuman for public hanging of Ajmal
Vidya Subrahmaniam
NEW DELHI: The Anjuman Minhaj-e-Rasool has passed a resolution demanding the public hanging of Mohammad Ajmal ‘Kasab,’ the Pakistani national caught alive during the November 26 Mumbai terror attacks.
The resolution was passed at a meeting of the Anjuman’s National Council of Advisers on February 4 and 5 in Ajmer.
At a press conference in Ajmer on Thursday, Anjuman chairman Maulana Syed Athar Hussain Dehlavi said there was no place for terrorism in Islam and in the teachings of the Holy Prophet. The Anjuman strongly condemned terrorism and wanted Ajmal hanged in full view of the public. There was no sanction in Islam for the activities of groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
“Muslims are patriotic”
The Maulana described the Indian Muslim as a patriotic citizen, who was ready to lay down his life for the country. He appealed to Muslim youth not to be swayed by emotion, and affirmed that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India. Reading out from the resolution, the Maulana demanded that the government immediately withdraw its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, which described the keeping of beard as a non-obligatory practice in Islam.
Key issues
He said the meeting discussed three specific issues related to Indian Muslims — identity, security and equity — and noted that the Indian Muslims were not a minority but formed the second largest majority in India.
The Maulana regretted that despite this, political parties were treating the community casually. He was also critical of the Muslim leadership, blaming it for the current plight of the community.

Court upholds land acquisition for subway
Special Correspondent
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed appeals against an order of a single judge, who dismissed writ petitions challenging acquisition of lands for construction of a subway near the Korukkupet level crossing on Thyagappa Chetty Street and Kannan Street.
In its judgment on three appeals, the First Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice S.J.Mukhopadhaya and Justice V.Dhanapalan, said that it found no infirmity in the single Judge’s order.
The acquisition was for a public purpose. Considering the objective of the project – avoid traffic congestion – the authorities had invoked the urgency clause under Section 17 (1) of the Land Acquisition Act, which was pursuant to compliance of the procedure contemplated under Section 4 (1).
K.Rajesh and two others questioned the invoking of the urgency provision under the Act to acquire the lands. Another contention was that in view of the construction of railway overbridge at Meenambal Nagar gate, traffic had to be diverted through the level-crossing on Thyagappa Chetty Street, which was more than five km. Therefore, the authorities should not have invoked the urgency clause.
The single Judge dismissed the petitions holding that the petitioners had not made out any case for quashing Section 4 (1) notification and also notices under Sections 9 (1) and 10. Challenging this, the appeals were filed.
The Bench said the competent authority could invoke the urgency provision under Section 17 on the land in question, whereupon an enquiry under Section 5 A, inviting objections, was not necessary.
What was required under the provision was that the competent authority make a declaration under Section 6 in respect of the land any time after the date of publication of the notification.

Petition challenging CPI (M) candidate’s election dismissed
Special Correspondent
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by the MDMK candidate, challenging the election of CPI (M) nominee N. Nanmaran from the Madurai East Assembly constituency in the May 2006 election. The petition had alleged non-compliance with Rule 54-A of the Conduct of Election Rules (Counting of votes received by post).
M. Boominathan contended that even before the counting of votes polled through postal ballot, votes polled through electronic voting machines were counted and announcement was made regarding the number of votes secured by each candidate. His election agent objected, but the Returning Officer went ahead.
He prayed for a direction to order recounting of the postal ballots, declare the election of Mr.Nanmaran null and void and declare him the returned candidate.
Mr. Nanmaran denied the averments made by Mr. Boominathan.
Burden of proof
Justice D. Murugesan said as the burden of proof lay on the election petitioner, without there being any substantial evidence in the form of written objection either to the Returning Officer or to the Election Commission, he was not inclined to interfere with the election solely on the ground of averments made in the petition as well as the oral evidence.

Free legal service for HIV positive people
Staff Reporter
COIMBATORE: Free legal service will be provided to people living with HIV/AIDS in the district.
M.Somesh, president of the Coimbatore Network for Positive People (CNP+), told The Hindu that seeking legal help was one of the greatest challenges faced by people living with HIV/AIDS.
The Human Rights Law Network, Chennai, along with CNP+ and a few lawyers from Coimbatore, will organise a meeting on February 8 at the Divyodaya Hall to discuss the legal issues concerning HIV positive people. Stigma and discrimination in society especially at the workplace, family, and health sector would be emphasised.
“Free legal service would be offered to all HIV positive people in the district on a continuous basis through this initiative,” Mr.Somesh added.
There had been a lot of positive changes in the medical sector in their attitude towards treating people living with HIV/AIDS owing to consistent advocacy programmes undertaken by the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) and other non-governmental organisations.
However, the public health centres (PHC) and the taluk hospitals did not undertake delivery of women with HIV/AIDS. Though TANSACS had appointed voluntary testing and counselling centres and laboratory technicians in all the 38 PHCs, the institutions still referred the delivery cases to the Government Hospital.
“For an HIV positive person in Valparai, it would take at least five hours to travel to Coimbatore, which is extremely difficult and unsafe for a pregnant woman. In order to avoid this difficulty, the PHCs and taluk hospitals should undertake delivery cases of HIV positive people too,” Mr.Somesh said. For details, contact Mr. Somesh at 9443281947 or 0422-2596855.

Lawyers’ misbehaviour will undermine public faith in judiciary: HC
Mohamed Imranullah S.
MADURAI: Any conscious misbehaviour on the part of lawyers would create havoc in the society besides undermining the faith of people in the judiciary to a great extent, the Madras High Court has said.
Justice R. Regupathi made the observations while quashing two cases registered against 11 lawyers for hurling egg shells filled with acid inside the court hall of a sub-judge at Kuzhithurai in Kanyakumari district on April 1, 2003.
“Be it inside the court halls or outside thereof, either in relation with the clients or even with any member of the public, the approach of a lawyer should disseminate the refined qualities embedded in him,” the Judge said.
Members of the Bar were torchbearers of law wedded to the “honourable” profession with a vast reservoir of wisdom, strength and courage. The pivotal function of the legal profession was to promote administration of justice.
The objective could be fulfilled only when advocates “obligate themselves to observe scrupulously those norms which make them worthy of confidence of the community in them as a vehicle of social justice,” he added.
Pointing out that the 2003 incident had taken place due to a clash between two groups of lawyers who disputed the integrity of the sub-judge, Mr. Justice Regupathy said that he was much chagrined over the “sad” event.
“People indulging in such unwanted activities must understand that they are putting spokes in the wheels of administration of justice at the cost of majesty of justice, leading to erosion of well cherished values of legal profession,” he said.
The Judge also recorded the submission made by Tamil Nadu Advocates Association president S. Prabhakaran that the lawyers concerned would unconditionally withdraw all allegations and derogatory averments made against the sub-judge. “Considering the fact that the cases have been pending for long and because harmony is restored between two groups of advocates… I am of the considered view that the FIRs may be quashed treating them as exceptional cases,” he said.

Additional Labour Court inaugurated
Special Correspondent
VELLORE: The Judge, Fast Track Court and Principal District Judge, Vellore (in-charge), S. Panneerselvam, inaugurated the Additional Labour Court at the court hall of the Principal Labour Court in the Integrated Courts Complex here on Friday.

Making parties think about child rights
P. Sujatha Varma
Activists working overtime to ensure children’s issues figure in political manifestos
Over 150 NGOs discuss ways at State-level workshop held recently
Members plan to kick off letters’ campaign to manifesto panellists
VIJAYAWADA: Drafters of political manifestos have a tough task ahead if forces advocating child rights have their way.
With elections round the corner, parties are busy drafting their political manifestos oblivious of the emergence of a breed working at a frenzied pace to ensure that issues related to child rights get adequate representation in declaration of party principles and policies.
Sizable population
“Children comprise 40 per cent of the population and there is no reason why their issues should not be recognised by representatives of people,” says Prasad Gode, executive secretary of the Child Rights Advocacy Foundation (CRAF), an independent resource support organisation spurring action in favour of children in need of help. A State-level workshop held a couple of days ago and attended by representatives of close to 150 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working directly or indirectly for child rights, adopted a decisive stand on the children’s issue.
Even while recalling the manifestos of major political parties in the last elections, the members explored various means to lobby with the political manifesto committees the inclusion of child rights.
Their demands include allocation of a day in Assembly sessions for discussing issues related to children, constitution of a children’s cell by every party in addition to a separate ministry for children’s welfare. “The existing Women and Child Welfare Department focuses mostly on women’s issues, leaving the younger segment high and dry. We need an exclusive wing to tackle issues of children,” Mr. Prasad averred.
He said though Shanta Sinha, chairperson of the National Commission for Child Rights, hailed from Andhra Pradesh, there was no State-level commission for children on the lines of Delhi and Karnataka. The meeting also mooted implementation of the State action plan for children, drafted a couple of years back. The other demands include allotment of a five-acre land in every major panchayat for children’s playground, effective implementation of ‘Sanchayika’, a Central Government scheme introduced to inculcate the habit of saving among children and expansion of the Childline facility across the State. The meeting was organised in coordination with the Central Government’s Waada na todo abhiyan, a national campaign for reaching the millennium goal and the Indian Alliance for Child Rights with the support of organisations like Help, Ankuram, Seeds and Sanghamitra. The members also plan to kick off a ‘letters’ campaign’ under which the manifesto committee members of political parties will be flooded with letters seeking inclusion of child-related issues in the declaration of policies. “We will also sensitise the public on the need to vote for candidates who are willing to take up children’s cause,” says Mr. Prasad.

Court reserves orders on NICE road
Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Friday reserved for orders a batch of petitions challenging the alignment of a peripheral road near Gottigere lake near Bannerghatta, Bangalore.
The peripheral road is part of the Bangalore-Mysore Expressway project being undertaken by Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise (NICE). The project envisages construction of an elevated expressway apart from several townships, link and peripheral roads.
One of the peripheral roads connects the Expressway from Gottigere side. Residents of Gottigere had challenged the change in the alignment and moved the High Court against what they claimed was violation in the frame work agreement (FWA) by NICE.
The petitioners had contended that Gottigere never figured in the original FWA and that the alignment was on a different route. They alleged that NICE had “superimposed” its peripheral road on the one being constructed by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA).
A Division Bench comprising the Chief Justice, P.D. Dinakaran, and Justice V. G. Sabbahit reserved orders on the petition.

Court suspends order on gutka
Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Friday suspended an earlier order it had issued on January 22 directing Dhariwal Industries Ltd. from “producing, selling, distributing or marketing gutka manufactured by it”.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit passed the order after Dhariwal Industries filed an interlocutory application (IA) urging the court to vacate the stay it had granted on the production, manufacture, sale and distribution of gutka.
The Bench on January 22 accepted the arguments of Raju Lakman Pachapure of Kolhapur, Maharashtra, and asked the gutka company to cease production.

Court reserves order
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Friday reserved for orders a habeas corpus petition challenging the illegal detention of B.V. Seetaram, chairman and managing director of Chitra Publications Limited, Mangalore.
Seetaram’s wife, S. Rohini, had filed the habeas corpus petition claiming that her husband was being kept in illegal detention even after he was granted bail. — Staff Report

Court seeks to ensure benefits for workers
Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Friday stressed the need for tapering off the outstanding amounts due to creditors of companies which are in liquidation to ensure better financial package for their employees.
Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan while dealing with a company case said that stupendous accounts due to secured creditors should not lead to penury of employees. After the secured creditors were ensured their payment, what the workers got was only mere pittance. So the secured creditors had to trim down the total accruals due to them, if labour, industries, banking, financial and others institutions were to meaningfully and congenially coexist.
The government should take note of the case. The workers of every company which came to the court following the proceedings initiated by the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) had to take whatever was left over after spreading out the amounts in favour of the creditors, the court observed.
Though the company law provided protective measures for wages and other dues, the unfortunate thing was that unless there was a meaningful resolution of the total outstanding dues to secured creditors, the financial benefits for workers would remain meagre.
The court directed the Labour secretary to hold a highest level conference for tapering off the amount of the creditors of the Alappuzha- based Pearlite Wire Products (P) Ltd which was into a liquidation process. The court asked the government to inform it about the decisions arrived at the conference within three months.
Petition filed
A petition was filed in the High Court contending that it was not essential to hear the contentions of Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and two other accused in the SNC Lavalin case on the question whether sanction was needed for their prosecution. The petition filed by Shaijan C. George, a High Court lawyer, said that by making the accused as respondents in the case, they were being compelled to make appearance and answer the question raised by the petitioner. This amounted to “testimonial compulsion”.
He said that the question to be decided included whether a court could declare that no sanction was required when the investigation agency opted for sanction; whether it was just and proper to drag the accused in a criminal charge to some other proceedings by a third party, etc.

Court declines to stay convictions
Special Correspondent
Kochi: The Ernakulam Principal Sessions Court on Friday declined to stay the convictions awarded to K.G. Prem Shanker, Additional Director-General of Police (Human Rights), and three other police officers in the case relating to assaulting a Kannur-based journalist, late Maniyeri Madhavan, in 1988.
The court, however, stayed the Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate Court’s order sentencing them to six months simple imprisonment.
The prosecution charges were that the police personnel had registered a case against Madhavan who was the editor, printer and publisher of Sudinam, an evening daily published from Kannur, to take revenge on him for publishing news stories against the police, particularly Prem Shanker, the then Kannur Superintendent of Police.
The CBI further charged that the accused hatched a criminal conspiracy and took Madhavan and his trainee-reporter into custody and physically assaulted them and damaged the Madhavan’s printing press on the night of February 12, 1988.

New judges sworn in
Special Correspondent
Kochi: Newly appointed High Court judges P. Bhavadasan, S.S. Satheesachandran, M.L. Joseph Francis and P.S. Gopinathan were sworn in on Friday.
Acting Chief Justice J.B. Koshy administered the oath of office to the new judges.
Advocate-General C.P. Sudhakara Prasad and Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association president M.P. Ashok Kumar spoke.
The association accorded a reception to the new judges in the evening.

Petitioner fined for “legal misadventure”
Staff Reporter
High Court dismisses plea against eviction
Imposes a cost of Rs.1 lakh on the petitioner
Gross abuse of the process of law: court
NEW DELHI: Dismissing a petition against eviction from a residential premises in the Capital ordered by a local court, the Delhi High Court has imposed a cost of Rs.1 lakh on the petitioner saying that he was guilty of a gross abuse of the process of law.
Dismissing the petition, Justice Manmohan directed the petitioner to pay the cost to the respondent in the matter.
“It was not only gross abuse of the process of law but also legal misadventure embarked upon by the petitioner to somehow retain possession of the premises even after competent courts had passed a decree of possession and damages, that too after a bitterly contested litigation spanning nearly 50 years,” the Court observed.
The lower court had passed the judgment in 2007.
The petitioner had challenged the lower court order on the ground that the decree and judgment sought to be enforced was a nullity and it was without jurisdiction by virtue of Sections 14 and 15 of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958. However, Mr. Justice Manmohan ruled that since the petitioner had not claimed a tenancy right over the premises in the civil suit for possession filed by the respondent, she was barred from contending that she was a tenant on the premises.
“The entire edifice of the petitioner’s argument was built on the foundation that she was a tenant in the premises, and once I have reached the conclusion that she was not a tenant, the entire edifice built by her collapses….” the Court said.
As it happens, the petitioner (Nirmala Devi) as well as the respondent (Mohini Devi) died during the long drawn out legal proceedings over the years. Since there are other persons who were parties to the matter from both sides, the judgment will apply to them.

High Court notice to DPS Rohini
Staff Reporter
“Not following Ganguly panel guidelines approved by the court for admissions”
School adopted different criteria: petitioner
School directed to file reply by February 24
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Friday issued a notice to Delhi Public School, Rohini, here alleging that it was not following the Ganguly Committee guidelines approved by the Court for admission to pre-nursery and nursery classes in the Capital’s public schools.
Issuing the notice, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat directed the school to file a reply to the petition by February 24.
The petitioner, Tarun Diwan, submitted that he had applied for his daughter’s admission to nursery class for the next academic session.
He alleged that his daughter, who stays just 500 metres from the school premises, was treated at par with applicants who stay about 20 km away from the institution.
The petitioner further alleged that the school authorities had adopted quite a different criterion for awarding marks for location of the children’s residence from school. He submitted that the school authorities had no power to go against the Court guidelines on any count.
The petitioner also submitted that the school authorities did not publish the break-up of marks obtained by his daughter or by the successful kids, which was arbitrary.
He urged the Court to summon records of admissions granted by the school to the nursery section.

Supreme Court stays order
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Karnataka High Court judgment that quashed Bangalore International Airport Limited’s decision to award duty-free shops contract to Nuance Group AG of Switzerland and Shopper’s Stop.
A bench headed by Justice K.G. Balakrishnan asked the parties to maintain status quo till February 16, the notified date of hearing.


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    Kindly bear the Inconvenience with me

  3. Dear Mr. Kamal,

    I just visited your blog, and I appreciate your effort to spread awareness among the public about legal issues in India. I appreciate your diligence in giving a disclaimer and also providing links to each and every post to the best of your knowledge.

    I wanted to inform you about a couple of links you have posted that are now dead. Two of your sources had actually plagiarized my articles and posted them on their own blogs without acknowledgment of my authorship. Upon notifying the website owners those posts were promptly removed.

    Here are the links you have posted, followed by the original link.

    Your links:


    Original link:

    Please make the corrections in your blog.

    Thanks for your cooperation.

    Uma Challa
    All India Forgotten Women (Regd.)

  4. Dear Mr. Jaganmani,

    I think you would have entered a contract with company to serve in it and that would have required H1 B Visa for you and company would have spent money on you too. So in case you violate the contract you will be needed to compensate for the loss incurred to company. However, no one can fortify your certificates. You can cause legal actions against the company and contest the claims of company.

  5. Dear Sir,

    Myself Jaganmani from chennai. i am a software professional.

    My company applied for H1 B visa, for that they got my original certificates. My Application got selected in the LOT. Till now, my visa is not stamped. The company is not returning my original certificates. Its asking me to pay Rs. 1.5 Lacs to return my original certificates. Please help me in this regard.

    Please tell me how i can proceed further and get my original certificates. If any legalised terms are there, Please provide me the information on the same.

    Jaganmani Natesan

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