legal news 11.02.2009

HC reserves judgement opposing interim bail to Raj
Published: February 10,2009

Mumbai , Feb 10 The Bombay High Court today reserved its judgement on a petition filed by Maharashtra government opposing interim bail granted to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray by a court in October last year in connection with attack by MNS&aposactivists attack on North Indians appearing in railway recruitment exams.
The state government had approached the HC stating that the order passed by the Kalyan Metropolitan Magistrate&aposs court granting Raj ex-parte interim anticipatory bail was bad in law.
The Kalayn court had on October 22, 2008 granted Raj interim bail in a case registered against him by the railway police in connection with cases of assaults registered against MNS activists for attacking north Indian candidates appearing in railway recruitment exams.
The state government had argued before the high court that the orders of granting ex-parte interim anticipatory bail in another case was erroneous.”It is the right of the police to execute the warrant first after which the anticipatory bail application of the accused can be executed.
Source: PTI

SC dismisses Lanco appeal in Vizhinjam project
New Delhi (PTI): Dismissing Lanco’s appeal, the apex court on Tuesday directed the Kerala government to consider within 15 days the bids of Mumbai-based Zoom Developers for building a container trans-shipment terminal under PPP at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram district.
The apex court has thus held valid the Kerala High Court objection to the state government’s decision to award the contract to a consortium led by Lanco Kondapalli Power for developing a container trans-shipment terminal under PPP at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram district.
The High Court had also asked the state government to reconsider the bids of Mumbai-based Zoom Developers.
Lanco Kondapalli Power, the Kerala government and Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd, the nodal agency for developing a modern, all-weather deepwater seaport and container trans-shipment hub, had challenged the High Court’s ruling, which ordered that Zoom’s bids should also be considered by the Bid Evaluation Committee.
Zoom’s tender was rejected by the Committee citing a violation of provisions in the original bid document, and the tender was awarded to Lanco. Zoom had challenged its disqualification and the state government’s decision to award the contract to Lanco.

Ragging: SC for immediate suspension of guilty students
New Delhi (PTI): The Supreme Court on Thursday sent out a loud and clear message to students who rag colleagues and said that if they are prima facie found guilty they would be immediately suspended from their institution.
The apex court fastened the responsibility of acting against culprits on their respective educational institutes and said it would be “binding” on them to use an iron hand to end the menace. The court said educational institutions will have to take “urgent action” on receiving information on incidents of ragging and “if a student is prima facie found guilty of indulging in ragging he/she would be immediately suspended pending the inquiry”.
Further, it said that all educational institutions in their admission prospectus should carry instructions with regard to ragging and clearly indicate that those indulging in it could face strict action.
The directions to check ragging were based on the recommendations made by an apex court-appointed committee, headed by former CBI Director R K Raghavan, and were delivered by a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and M K Sharma, which accepted its report.
The Bench asked state governments and Union Territories to act in terms of guidelines recommended by the committee to end the menace of ragging in educational institutions across the country.

Court asks rights panel for status report on Jamia shootout
New Delhi (IANS): The Delhi High court on Wednesday asked the National Human Rights Commission for a status report on the Jamia Nagar shootout between the police and suspected terrorists as the police told the court that they had given a detailed report on the incident to the rights panel.
The high court directed the NHRC to file its status report in the case by March 4. It also asked the rights panel what enquiry has it conducted in this case so far.
Delhi Police in an affidavit informed the court that Delhi’s lieutenant governor had refused to institute a magisterial enquiry into the shootout.
Delhi Police gunned down two suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists, Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid, in a gun battle and arrested Mohammed Saif and Zeeshan for the Sep 13 serial bombings in the capital city.
Prashant Bhusan appearing as defence counsel said that the NHRC was concerned only to see if its guidelines were followed by the police in investigating the case.
Bhushan said the police were still not following the NHRC guidelines and the case was investigated by the same team which conducted the shootout at L-18, Batla House, in south Delhi on Sep 19 last year.
Counsel also questioned the role of police and asked why they had not made adequate arrangements when the team went to arrest suspected terrorists hiding there and how two of the accused managed to flee, if they had indeed done so.
Bhushan demanded an independent enquiry into the shootout.
During the hearing, the court slammed Delhi Police for leaking information and also a section of the media for carrying an “exclusive interview” of those arrested after the shootout.
“The media has freedom of expression but in matters like this, media has a responsibility and they should come out clean on the matter,” said Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah.
He said that the media must tell the truth as to how the reporter who interviewed three of the accused in the case managed to speak to them in custody.

BJP seeks change in laws on CBI’s constitution, working
Varanasi (PTI): Claiming the Supreme Court’s remarks on CBI’s handling of the assets case against Mulayam Singh Yadav reflected the agency’s loss of credibility, the BJP on Wednesday asked political parties to build a consensus on amending laws related to its constitution and working.
“The credibility of the CBI has suffered a serious setback with the Supreme Court’s comment and has revealed its real character,” former Union Minister Manohar Joshi told reporters here. The Supreme Court had rapped the CBI for its handling of the disproportionate assets case against SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Tuesday saying the agency was “acting at the behest” of the Central government.
“It proves that the CBI has become an agency of the Union Government. It is working on the behest of the Central Government, which is using it for its political ends,” the BJP leader alleged.
All the political parties must get together “to build consensus to amend the law dealing with the constitution and working of CBI so that its functioning could be made independent,” Joshi said, adding immediate action was needed in the interest of the people’s faith and the security of the democratic setup in our country.

CBI defends U-turn on Mulayam asset’s case
New Delhi (PTI): CBI Director Ashwini Kumar on Wednesday defended the U-turn of the agency in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s case saying the investigating agency was bound by the rules to consult the Government before going to any court.
“That is as per rules and procedures. Whenever we go to Supreme Court and High Court, we go through the government of India and through the Ministry of Law,” Kumar told reporters reacting to the apex Court’s observations.
The reaction from the CBI Director came a day after the Supreme Court rapped the CBI for “acting at the behest” of the Centre in the disproportionate assets case against Yadav and his family members. “We cannot file any affidavit without going through the Ministry…,” he said.
Ironically, during the tenure of Vijay Shankar, Kumar’s predecessor, the CBI, in its affidavit had said, it was willing to place the status report directly before the apex court, instead of submitting the same to the government.
The CBI had also said in its affidavit that it had quoted rules and submitted as per the practice, after a preliminary enquiry undertaken by it, which discloses commission of offence by the persons concerned, and a regular case is registered and investigation in accordance with law is undertaken.

Judges assets case: HC adjourns hearing till February 27
New Delhi (PTI): The Delhi High Court on Wednesdaydeferred hearing on a petition filed by the Supreme Court challenging Central Information Commission (CIC) order directing that information pertaining to assets of the judges should be revealed.
Justice S. Ravinder Bhat adjourned the matter for further hearing on February 27 after Solicitor General G E Vahanvati sought time to file the reply.
The Court had on January 19 stayed the order of the CIC that the office of Chief Justice of India comes within the ambit of the RTI Act and information given to CJI has to be revealed to the RTI appplicant.
The petition was filed by the CPIO of Supreme Court challenging the January 6 order of the CIC.
In the petition, the Supreme Court said that information relating to declaration of assets by the apex court judges to the CJI was not a mandatory exercise under the law.
However, a full court resolution of Supreme Court on May 7, 1997 required every judge to declare to the CJI assets including properties or any other investment in the name of their spouse and any person dependent on them.

Criminal case pending? Wait for 466 years…
New Delhi (IANS): It will take 466 years to dispose all the criminal cases pending before the Delhi High Court if the present rate of disposal continues, according to a statistical analysis in the court’s annual report.
On March 31, 2008 there were 2,324 criminal appeals pending before the division benches, from which 214 appeals were disposed of, says the annual report for 2007-08, released on Tuesday.
“Whether it is acceptable or not, the statistical observation at the present rate of disposal, assuming the filing of new cases to be the same, it would take the court approximately 466 years to wipe out the pendency of the 2,324 appeals.
“Since the assumption of a constant number of filings is patently unrealistic, the time taken to clear pendency would be even more that 466 years, if ever,” says the report.
Amongst 2,324 criminal appeals three were waiting for justice since 20 years.
According to the report, amongst the pending criminal appeals 34 cases were more than 15 years old and three of them are 20 years old.
A startling revelation was that more than half of the pending appeals were over five years old.
To clear up the pending cases, the arrears committee suggested that there should be three division benches to hear criminal appeals instead of two as at present and cases should be heard on day-to-day basis.
It is also recommended that every month one Saturday be designated for hearing old criminal appeals.
The committee also suggested that realistic costs should be imposed to prevent frivolous litigation.

HC orders govt. to pay compensation to detained journalist
Bangalore (PTI): The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday ordered the state government to pay Rs 10,000 as compensation to detained journalist B V Seetharam while partly allowing a habeas corpus writ petition by his wife challenging the detention.
In her writ petition, Rohini, Managing Director of Chitra Publications, had sought release of her husband, who is the Editor of Kannada eveninger “Karavali Ale”, published from Mangalore, contending that the detention was unlawful and violative of fundamental right.
On February 3, the court had passed an interim order directing police to release Seetharam. A division bench comprising Justice S R Bannurmath and Justice A N Venugopal while partly allowing the habeas corpus petition, ordered the government to pay Rs 10,000 within four weeks to the petitioner as costs.
However, the judges held that the prayer of the petitioner for quashing of the complaints before the trial courts against the detenue could not be gone into under the provisions of Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution nor under Section 482 of the CrPC in view of the decisions by the Supreme Court.
The Sirwa police in Udupi had arrested Seetharam on January 4 following a non-bailable warrant issued by a local court in connection with a defamation suit against him.

Court adjourns hearing on damage suit against Hindu Jagaran leader
Cuttack (PTI): A local court here has adjourned the hearing of a Rs 50 crore damage suit against Hindu Jagaran Samukhya (HJS) leader and former IPS officer Ashok Sahu.
Cuttack district court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing to March 16 as the defence counsel sought more time to file the reply of the show-cause notice served by the court on the defendant last month.
The court had given four weeks’ time to reply to the notice and the deadline was to expire on Tuesday.
The Rs 50 crore suit was filed by Ajit Pradhan and seven others of Baticola Parish Church Council of Baliguda in strife-torn Kandhamal district alleging Sahu had made false imputations against them by forging their signatures.
Sahu had told a media conference in Bhubaneswar on October 6, 2008, that the decision to kill VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was taken in the Baliguda church. To substantiate his allegations, Sahu had distributed some documents among the media persons.
The documents, which had signatures of church members were all fake and doctored, the petitioners alleged.

Bihar information commission slaps Rs 25000 fine on DGP office
Patna (PTI): The public information officer (PIO) of the Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) office has been slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 for not providing proper information to a retired IAS officer.
State Information Commissioner P N Narayanan slapped the fine on public information officer of the DGP office on Tuesday after he failed to supply required information to retired IAS officer Gangadhar Jha, Commission sources said on Wednesday.
The Commission has directed the PIO to submit complete information to Jha by April 30, and fixed May 5 as the next date of hearing of the case.
In yet another hearing, the Commission also levied a fine of Rs 25,000 on Samastipur district mass education officer for violation of Right to Information Act.
The Commission, besides, slapping the fine also recommended departmental proceedings against the education officer for not providing relevant information to one Sunita Kumari.

Case against local body chief
Staff Reporter
CHENGAM: The Melchengam police on Tuesday filed a case against Elanguni village panchayat president Ramachandran for trying to misappropriate village panchayat fund.
Police said that Ramachandran tried to misappropriate Rs.87, 000 belonging to the local body. The case was registered based on a complaint given by village panchayat vice-president Dhanapal.
Dhanapal said in his complaint that Ramachandran issued a cheque without the signature of the vice-president in a bid to misappropriate the fund. Ramachandran was absconding, the sources said.

Tribunal told to resolve dispute in 6 months
Special Correspondent
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Monday directed the Industrial Tribunal, Chennai, to take up the industrial dispute at MRF’s Tiruvottiyur unit and pass orders, preferably in six months.
Disposing of two writ petitions filed by the company management, Justice R. Banumathi said that until the dispute was determined, the prosecution notice issued to the management should not be proceeded with. Any further proceedings against the management should be subject to the tribunal’s order.
The management filed two petitions—one seeking to quash a G.O. dated December 20, 2007, under which the government invoked the power under Section 10 (3) of the Industrial Disputes Act prohibiting the continuance of lockout from December 3, 2007, and the other challenging the order referring the dispute to the tribunal.
Following an industrial dispute between the management and the permanent workmen, the management declared a one-day lockout on November 30, 2007 and subsequently declared indefinite lockout from December 3. The permanent workmen resumed work on February 5, 2008.
Mrs. Justice Banumathi said that based upon the facts and material placed before it, the government made the reference. As had been consistently held by the Supreme Court, if the dispute was industrial and if it was expedient to make a reference , it was for the government to do so. It would not be competent for the court to hold that the reference was bad and quash the proceedings for want of jurisdiction. There was nothing to suggest that the government acted on irrelevant or extraneous considerations.
The judge said payment of wages to workmen for the pre-reference period (December 3 to 19) and post-reference period (December 20 to February 4, 2008) should be subject to the decision of the tribunal. As per the court’s interim order, the workmen were paid Rs.6,100 each. That payment of interim wages should also be subject to the decision of the tribunal.
In the meantime, the management should not recover the interim wages till the dispute was resolved.

Advocates renew boycott of courts
CHENNAI: A day after advocates resumed attending courts, the MHAA on Tuesday decided to boycott courts again from Wednesday till February 17. On February 18, the association would participate in the nation-wide boycott of courts to protest against amendments to the Cr.P.C.
The decision was taken at a special general body meeting of the association on Tuesday afternoon. In a press release, the association stated that the boycott was to seek the Centre’s immediate intervention to stop the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka. — Special Correspondent

Awareness of consumer rights must for overall development
Staff Reporter
Everyone is a consumer irrespective of his or her socio-economic position
MADURAI: Everyone, irrespective of his or her socio-economic position, was a consumer and must necessarily be aware of their rights as a consumer which was very vital to the overall development of society, said Collector P. Seetharaman.
Addressing a gathering, mostly of school and college students, on National Consumer Awareness Day here on Tuesday, he spoke on how latest developments in communication had created awareness among the public and the enactment of Right To Information Act could be seen as an outcome of this.
On communication
He also spoke on the various forms of communication used to express and spread the messages or any vital information and how it got transformed over a period of time. As an initiative to create and spread awareness of consumer protection, music, elocution, essay, quiz, painting and dance competitions were organised among students. Various Government and Corporation schools participated in the events with a lot of enthusiasm.
The Collector gave away prizes to winners of various competitions held to mark the day. Earlier in the day, representatives from various consumer protection fora spoke on different topics related to consumer awareness and Right to Information Act.
A. Ramachandran, District Revenue Officer, welcomed the gathering, A. Sudarmani Pandian, District Civil Supplies Officer, was present on the occasion.

Lawyers float new forum
Staff Reporter
MADURAI: Office-bearers of various Bar associations in 14 districts under the jurisdiction of the Madras High Court Bench have floated Southern Districts Advocates’ Forum to fight for the cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Boycott till February18
The decision was taken at a meeting held in the Madurai Bench High Court Advocates Association (MBHAA) premises here on Tuesday. MBHAA secretary M. Subash Babu said that the lawyers would boycott courts until February 18.
“We will take out a rally from the district court premises here on Monday afternoon culminating in a public meeting. Representatives of political parties, trade unions, human rights activists and other like minded persons will be invited,” he said.

Court to hear Rajus’ fresh bail plea
Special Correspondent
HYDERABAD: A fresh batch of bail petitions were filed on behalf of disgraced Satyam ex-charman B. Ramalinga Raju, his brother, B. Rama Raju, and former Chief Financial Officer Vadlamani Srinivas in a city court here on Tuesday.
The Sixth Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, D. Ramakrishna, admitted their petitions and posted them for hearing on February 12. It may be recalled that the first bail petition was rejected.
Separately, the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), filed a petition seeking permission to question and record the statements of the Raju brothers and Mr. Srinivas, as also Price Waterhouse partners S. Gopalakrishnan and Talluri Srinivas, also presently in judicial custody.
“According to the Companies Act of 1956, only an inspector can question any company official. The SFIO is not legally empowered to question the accused without sending a notice first,” the defence counsel said.
SFIO’s counsel however, contended that as an investigating agency constituted by the Government of India, it was empowered to carry on a probe under the Companies Act. Meanwhile, a six-member team with SFIO’s Additional Director, K.V. Singh has been formed to investigate India’s biggest corporate fraud. He said they would need two days to question each of the five accused. The magistrate posted the case for orders on Friday, February 13. Earlier, the Court also posted the bail of auditors Mr. S. Gopalakrishnan and T. Srinivas for orders on February 16.
In another development, the Fourth Metropolitan Sessions Judge admitted a petition seeking anticipatory bail for B. Suryanarayana Raju, the third Raju brother and connected with SRSR Advisory Services and posted it for hearing on Thursday.

HMDA favoured Satyam, say RTI activists
Staff Reporter
HYDERABAD: Two Right to Information (RTI) activists who claimed to have collected official documents pertaining to land allocations by HMDA, have alleged that 17 companies promoted by the scam-tainted Ramalinga Raju and his family members, had acquired 550 acres of land on city outskirts in violation of rules.
At a press conference here on Tuesday, the activists D. Rakesh Kumar Reddy and P. Umesh Varma alleged that 14 agro farm and three IT companies were ‘favoured’ by the HMDA and the Government not only in acquisition, but also in change of land usage from ‘agriculture’ to ‘multi-purpose’ between 2004 and 2005.
Demanding a thorough probe into the whole affair, they alleged that lands were acquired against the land ceiling norms and leased out to Maytas Properties for development of IT Special Economic Zones (SEZ) at Gopanpally, Bachupally and Gundlapochampally areas.
“According to Land Ceiling Acts, a family should own not more than 54 acres.
To circumvent this rule, multiple companies were created to get the government and Chouta Inam lands,” alleged Mr. Varma.
The change of purpose of land appeared to have been expedited in the HMDA, he charged.
C. Ramachandraiah of Citizens for Better Transport in Hyderabad (CBTH), who was present at the press conference, wanted to know the source of funds for purchase of these lands.

Bill passed on ‘Abhaya Hastam’
Special Correspondent
HYDERABAD: The Assembly on Tuesday night passed a Bill to provide legislative backing to ‘Abhaya Hastam’, a new pension scheme launched on February 6 to cover women-members of the self-help groups in the State.
The Bill, which was piloted by Rural Development Minister G. Chinna Reddy, was adopted without much debate as all Opposition members were absent by then, having been suspended for the day on the issue of Satyam scam. Mr. Chinna Reddy declared that hereafter, the members of self-help groups, aged above 60 years, need not depend on their sons for sustenance as a monthly pension would accrue to them under the scheme, ranging from Rs. 500. Two other Bills were also passed by the House. One Bill, introduced by Finance Minister K. Rosaiah, seeks to facilitate appointment of dependents of the victims of extremist and communal violence in government service on compassionate grounds.
Feature films
Commercial Taxes Minister K. Ramakrishna introduced the last Bill which seeks to amend the VAT Act to facilitate collection of VAT at different percentages on some items and allow some exemptions to feature films, based on the number of prints taken, and to hotels/restaurants.

Suryanarayana’s bail plea denied
Legal Correspondent
HYDERABAD: Justice K.C. Bhanu of the A.P. High Court on Tuesday dismissed the bail petition filed by Velugubanti Suryanarayana, Executive Engineer of the Fisheries Department, now in custody in connection with the multi-crore scam.
The petitioner complained that the prosecution was not filing any chargesheet all though the investigation was through. The Judge made it clear that the petitioner could make a bail application after the statutory period is over.

Marad: pleas for CBI probe dismissed
Special Correspondent
Conspiracy angle involving external forces in the massacre
Says conspiracy angle cannot be investigated now
‘Crime Branch has already conducted a probe’
Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court, on Tuesday, dismissed pleas for an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the conspiracy angle involving external forces in the Marad massacre.
The Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice J.B. Koshy and Justice P. Bhavadasan, while dismissing the petitions filed by the People’s Forum for Natural Justice and others, said the conspiracy angle could not be investigated now as six years had passed since the massacre.
The court said the Crime Branch had conducted a thorough investigation, resulting in the conviction of 63 people. Besides, a judicial commission had given various suggestions to prevent the occurrence of such incidents.
The petitioners had alleged that the then Inspector-General of Police (Crime Branch), Mahesh Kumar Singhla, had not conducted a proper investigation into all angles of the case. He faced allegations of dereliction of duty.
The Bench observed the government could take action against the police officer if he had not discharged his duties properly.
The Union Ministry of Personnel had earlier submitted that it decided not to entrust the investigation into the conspiracy angle with the CBI.
The Ministry had submitted that the agency would not be able to conduct a meaningful investigation as all the issues relating to the case were inextricably linked.
The State government had recommended a CBI investigation as it felt that it could not get the case reinvestigated.
The agency submitted that the investigation could not be conducted into a part of the case as it would affect the main case.

Court sends cassettes for assessment
Kochi: Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate P.D. Soman on Tuesday ordered that the three video cassettes containing the narco-analysis tests conducted on the accused, two priests and a nun, in the Sister Abhaya murder case be sent to C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing), Thiruvananthapuram, for copying in compact discs and verifying the genuineness of the cassettes.
Advocate commissioner
The court appointed Sajiv T. Prabhakar as advocate commissioner to be present during the verification and copying processes at C-DAC.
The magistrate passed the order on a petition filed by the CBI.
It had requested that the contents of the cassettes be copied to CDs in the presence of an independent witness with the aid of a computer and technical expert.
The CBI had produced the cassettes before the magistrate on a direction from the court.
The direction came on a petition filed by M. Thomas, father of Abhaya, seeking a direction to the CBI to retrieve the original cassettes and to produce them before the court.

Bench: council seeks support
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Joint Action Council for the constitution of a High Court Bench here has urged the public and political parties to extend support for the hartal and boycott of courts to mark the first anniversary of the ongoing protest on Friday.
The UDF district committee will observe Friday as ‘a day of betrayal’ in protest against the attitude of the LDF government on the issue. Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy will inaugurate a dharna on Friday. —Staff Reporter

Apex court employees held
Staff Reporter
Two registry staff, a lawyer ‘took Rs. 25,000 as bribe’
An NRI doctor wanted early listing of his appeal
NEW DELHI: Two Supreme Court registry employees and a lawyer have been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on charges of demanding and accepting Rs.25,000 as bribe from a non-resident Indian doctor to facilitate early listing of a criminal appeal.
Complainant Kunal Saha is on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar here since February 6 seeking justice for all the victims of medical negligence including his wife Anuradha who died 11 years ago. Dr. Saha and his wife, a U.S.-based child psychologist, were on a visit to Kolkata in 1998 when she developed skin allergy. She underwent treatment under three doctors but her condition deteriorated and she died.
Dr. Saha then got a case registered against the doctors accusing them of causing death of his wife due to criminal negligence. The trial court convicted two of the doctors and sentenced each to three-month imprisonment, he said. The convicts appealed in the High Court that overturned the trial court’s order in 2004.
The complainant then moved the Supreme Court seeking a special leave to appeal against the High Court judgment and it was granted in 2005. “Several cases that came after mine got listed, but my appeal was not getting listed for hearing for the past four years,” said Dr. Saha.
A few days ago, one of the accused contacted Dr. Saha asking him to pay up Rs.75,000 to get his appeal listed. “On Friday night, two registry employees came to me and showed me a weekly list that included my appeal,” said Dr. Saha, adding that he was in contact with the CBI in the meantime. On Monday, Dr. Saha lodged a formal complaint with the CBI. The agency laid a trap and arrested lawyer K. M. Singh when he was allegedly accepting Rs.25,000 from the complainant in his hotel room.
Subsequently K. S. Badrinathan, a registry assistant, was arrested from outside the Supreme Court premises. A CBI team raided the house of C. Perumal, a lower-division clerk with the registry, and arrested him too. The agency purportedly seized Rs.1.67 lakh in cash and gold jewellery worth about Rs.6.25 lakh and other documents from his house.

Rocky Hill: No flats for babus sans court nod
10 Feb 2009, 0457 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande, TNN
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday said in an interim order that flats cannot be allotted to IAS officers without the permission of the court in a 12-storey, under-construction residential building at Rocky Hill in the Malabar Hill area. The court passed the order while hearing a PIL filed by a group of residents from Walkeshwar against the government and the BMC, alleging violation of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), heritage conservation and Environmental Protection Act rules in the ongoing construction. The PIL had sought a stay on the construction of the building, which would have 35 spacious flats and would come up on a plot of land valued to be at least Rs 125 crore. The court, while admitting the PIL earlier, had not stayed the construction, now nearing completion. The building was being proposed as a residential tower to house IAS officers and high court judges even though the court said it did not require such housing “presently”. But, on Monday, the court asked the government pleader about the status of the judges’ building. The advocate said the building was still in the “planning stage” as it was part of “phase two”. Advocates Pradeep Havnur and Jamshed Mistry, representing the residents, said that the violation of environmental norms and CRZ has not been addressed yet. The petitioners are three cooperative housing societies of Doongersey Road and Walkeshwar Road in the Malabar Hill area.

HC directive in graft case
11 Feb 2009, 0302 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Delhi HC on Tuesday directed a trial court to frame charges afresh against three persons caught taking bribe 12 years ago. The accused had allegedly taken a bribe of Rs 500 for issuing a pollution check certificate to a bus. Allowing the police petition challenging the lower court’s order, Justice Kailash Gambhir directed the lower court to frame charges against Arvind Kumar Sharma, Pawan Kumar and one of their associate under the Prevention of Corruption Act. “Bribery and corruption are so rampant that people are forced to grease the palm of corrupt officials. The licensing authorities working under the transport department are no exception,” Justice Gambhir noted saying such cases needed to be dealt seriously. According to the prosecution, on December 30, 1996, Pawan Kumar was caught taking bribe of Rs 500 for service which had an official fee of Rs 50. Other accused were caught after Pawan named them as his associates. Chargesheet was filed against the accused in a special court but the court later discharged them.

Sex on promise of marriage is rape: HC
Harish V Nair, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 10, 2009
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday observed that if a man has consensual sex with an adult girl on the promise of marriage but later retracts, it amounts to rape.
The court upheld the conviction of a tutor Ashok Rai, who had physical relations with a D Pharma student promising marriage but later backtracked, for rape. The girl had later committed suicide.
Disposing of Rai’s appeal against the lower court’s conviction, Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Aruna Suresh said: “We concur with the trial judge’s view that consent of the girl was obtained under a promise of marriage and that the intention of the accused from the beginning was not to marry her. The proposed matrimonial bond was nothing but a bait to obtain her consent to have physical relationship with him”.
Rai’s counsel had argued that keeping in mind that both were adults and in love, the sexual relation was with consent and could not be constituted as rape. However the bench commuted Rai’s life sentence, given by the trial court on May 1, 2008, to five years and six months, he has already spend this period in jail. The sentence was commuted considering the fact that “he (Rai) had redeemed himself in the jail”. He had taken the civil services examinations in jail and even qualified to be an IAS officer.
While reducing the sentence, the court also took into account the “participative act committed by the girl”.
On April 14, 2003 the girl was found vomiting by her family. She then told them that she had consumed poison due to shame.
Adding Rai had been sexually exploiting her and had threatened to defame her in case she objected. She said initially she was lured into the relationship by Rai’s promises of marriage but later resisted his moves. However, Rai continued raping her.
The court, however, set aside Rai’s conviction for abetment of suicide observing that there was no proof of “participative acts to facilitate the suicide”.

HC allows jailed RJD MP Pappu Yadav to attend Parliament

New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) Controversial RJD MP Pappu Yadav, presently lodged in Tihar jail here, was today allowed by the Delhi High Court attend the coming Parliament session.Justice S Ravinder Bhat accepted a plea of the MP from Madhepura, seeking court’s permission to participate in the proceedings which start from February 12.Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, who is undergoing life imprisonment in Tihar since February 2005 was convicted by a Trial Court in Bihar for the murder of CPI(M) legislator Ajit Sarkar on June 14, 1998. PTI

Sushmita Sen car case: HC asks police to invoke MCOCA
By February 10, 2009
The Bombay HC directed Mumbai police to consider invoking MCOCA against the dealers and beneficiaries in the Sushmita Sen car import scam case.
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Detention of witness sets murder accused free
11 Feb 2009, 0147 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: The Thane police’s action of illegally detaining a prime eyewitness in a double murder case before his statement was recorded led to the release of six persons who were accused of the brutal killing. A division bench of Justices Bilal Nazki and A R Joshi acquitted the six accused giving them the “benefit of doubt”. The six–Birju Prawala, S Chandanshive, Raju Sonawane, Laxman Kharat, Sunil Kharat and Narmada Kharat–have been lodged in jail for the last seven years since their arrest in 2002. “Detention of the witness creates suspicion about his testimony,” said the judges. “It would not be proper to rely on such evidence against six persons who have been accused of a serious offence like murder.” The court ordered the accused to be set free immediately. The case related to the murder of a Thane resident Vimal Ravindra on the night of March 6, 2002; he was brutally killed with choppers under the Teen Hat Naka flyover in Thane (West). A garage mechanic who witnessed the murder was also killed. The police picked up the six accused who were pavement dwellers residing below the flyover. A sessions court held the accused guilty of murder and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The accused challenged their conviction and defence lawyers Yug Chaudhary and Arfan Sait chanced upon a document that proved to be the police’s undoing. The prime witness in the case was Baramati resident Gulab Patherkar, who testified that he had seen the killings. The lawyers pointed to documents which showed that Patherkar had been detained for two days in the Naupada police station before his statement was recorded. “Patherkar’s unauthorised detention leads to the conclusion that police had forced and coerced him to implicate the accused,” said Chaudhary. Though the police claimed that the accused had been arrested after the information provided by the police, the witness–during the recording of his evidence–let it slip that the accused had already been arrested before police recorded his statement. Additional public prosecutor Pradeep Hingorani opposed the application saying there was evidence against the accused but the court was not convinced.

Youth gets seven yrs in jail for rape
11 Feb 2009, 0239 hrs IST, Kartikeya, TNN
MUMBAI: A sessions court on Tuesday sentenced 25-year-old Sandil Kumar to seven-year imprisonment for raping his neighbour. The initial complaint was lodged only for molestation but the charges were changed to rape only after the police as well as members of an NGO convinced the victim that she should not let him get away with his crime. According to the police, Kumar first accosted his neighbour (43) around 11.30 pm on May 12, 2007, when she stepped out of her house in Deonar to have an ice cream. From there, he reportedly stalked her till her residence and assaulted her with a stick in front of a neighbour who did not interfere. The victim fell unconscious, a source said. Prosecutor Usha Makasare told the court that Kumar then dragged the unconscious victim to a secluded spot and raped her. Later, passers-by found her at a public ground in Sion and took her to the police station. Four days later, on May 16, 2007, the woman agreed to lodge a complaint against Kumar under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for rape. When the matter came to court, Makasare examined several witnesses, one of them being the neighbour who had seen Kumar assault the woman. However, he turned hostile in court. The prosecution’s case, however, was bolstered by the victim, who narrated the entire incident in court. Judge Ganedivala has sentenced Kumar to seven years’ rigorous imprisonment and has also ordered him to pay Rs 15,000, which will be given to the victim as compensation.

End Sushmita probe or give it to CBI: HC
11 Feb 2009, 0156 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: Complete the investigation or give way to a CBI probe-these are the options the HC has given the Mumbai police in the import scam involving actor Sushmita Sen’s car. Angry with the police for dragging its feet on the issue, a division bench of Justices J N Patel and Vijaya Kapse-Tahilramani asked the economic offences wing to explore the possibility of invoking stringent provisions of MCOCA in the case. The HC castigated the officers for seeking more time to finish the probe and trying to pass the buck by claiming the investigation into the scam had to be carried out at the Kolkata and Chennai ports. The court said it was for the police to decide on the involvement of the actor, as she had bought the car. According to the EOW, 48 cars entered the country illegally over the last few years using the transfer of residency (TR) scheme-wherein Indians staying abroad are allowed to bring back their cars. While five cars entered India through the Mumbai port, the others were imported using TR certificates from the Kolkata and Chennai ports. The police have already arrested city-based car dealer Haren Choksi and seven others, including RTO officials. The matter came to light when Sen moved the high court against a Rs 20-lakh fine imposed by the BMC on her imported car.

Justice costs Rs 6,327/min in Delhi HC
11 Feb 2009, 0312 hrs IST, Abhinav Garg, TNN
NEW DELHI: If you just fought a case in the Delhi High Court and felt the hearings were all too brief, here is why. With a staggering number of 3,32,141 cases that came up before the High Court during 2007-08, each case barely received five minutes of hearing (4 minutes 55 seconds, to be precise), HC’s annual report released on Tuesday reveals. And, each minute of court’s time cost a staggering Rs 6,327 to the exchequer. Even an adjournment without hearing doesn’t come cheap. All listed cases cost the court an average of Rs 1,300, even if many got adjourned immediately. The report, which was released by Chief Justice A P Shah, claims it disposed of 56,612 cases, including 47,017 that were filed in that year alone while HC worked with 32 judges, much below its sanctioned strength of 48. While pointing to the “crushing load” on the courts, the Chief Justice said at present rate of disposal, it would take 466 years for the High Court to clear its backlog of cases entirely. He, however, said, “We have been able to reduce the cases of arrears from 79,818 in 2007 to 74,599 in 2008”. The report adds that the rate of disposal of criminal cases in the year worked out to be 0.5 case per day. While such “working hours” analyses are done every year for bodies like Parliament and state legislatures, this is perhaps the first time a judicial body has come up with its figure. The time and money spent have been worked out excluding “matters handled during summer vacation (June) and on three working Saturdays during 2007-08”. In order to calculate the time judges gave for each hearing, HC factored in the total number of cases dealt by judges, sitting as a single bench or division bench, in a day (64 cases on average) with the total time available for them to hold court (315 minutes). Similarly, adopting an innovative method, HC arrived at the cost of its operation by considering its budget and the time spent on hearing cases in financial year 2007-08. The total expenditure incurred by the court last year was Rs 42.45 crore for 213 working days. “The average cost of listing each case before a judge worked out to Rs 1,297 and the average court expenditure per minute by the court was Rs 6,327 or Rs 19,93,180 for each working day,” the report said. The court’s disposal rate was faster than the rate of filing of fresh petitions, due to which the number of pending cases came down in 2007-08, it added.

HC notice to Delhi govt on plastic ban
11 Feb 2009, 1722 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to the Delhi government on a petition challenging the ban on plastics in the city. The petitioners, All India Plastic Association and Rainbow Polymer, have said that the court order specifies that the ban spares plastic bags of a certain thickness (40 micron), implying that it is not a blanket ban.

Nithari killings: First verdict likely on Thursday
11 Feb 2009, 1215 hrs IST, IANS
NEW DELHI: A special court is likely to pronounce its first verdict in the grisly Nithari killings on Thursday, more than two years after body parts of 19 children and young women who had been sexually abused and mutilated were found from a drain in the suburb of Noida. A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ghaziabad last month completed proceedings in the murder of 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar, who lived in Nithari village near the bungalow belonging to businessman Moninder Singh Pandher along with the other 18 victims. The court is now ready to deliver its verdict. According to the May 2007 chargesheet by the CBI, which took over the case from Noida police two years ago, Halder was allegedly raped and murdered about four years ago by Pandher’s domestic help Surender Koli at bungalow number D-5 (in sector 31) Noida. Halder was allegedly strangulated and then cut to pieces by Koli with two kitchen knives and an axe. The chargesheet states that Koli was suffering from necrophilia (urge to have sex with a corpse) and necrophagia (urge to eat the flesh of a body). Pandher and help Koli have been in jail since December 2006, when the horrific crime that stunned the nation with the grisly details came to light. And the families of the victims are desperately hoping that the duo will be brought to justice. Till then, however, they have to deal with what they say is rank injustice being meted out to them. “Our case was that Surender Koli had lured Rimpa Halder inside the bungalow on Feb 8, 2005, and then raped and killed her. According to the CBI findings and Koli’s voluntary statement before a Delhi metropolitan court in Jan 2007, he did the crimes and Pandher, who was in Australia then, was not a party to them,” CBI counsel J.P. Sharma submitted in the court. Last August, the court had suo motu summoned Pandher and asked him to depose in the case, during which the latter had claimed he was in Australia when Halder went missing. Defence counsel Khalid Khan, however, charged the CBI of fabricating documents and shielding Pandher. According to the 16 chargesheets submitted in court by the CBI, including in the Halder case, Koli was single-handedly responsible for 16 of the 19 murders (between February 2005 and November 2006) registered by the police. Pandher was away when the 16 cases of rapes and murders by Koli occurred, the chargesheet states.

Convicts in Tapasi Mallik murder case get bail
11 Feb 2009, 2001 hrs IST, PTI
KOLKATA: CPI(M) leader Suhrid Dutta and party activist Debu Malik undergoing life term for the murder of a woman during anti-farm land acquisition agitation in Singur were granted bail by the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday. A division bench comprising Justice Pranab Chattopadhyay and Justice Asim Roy granted the bail to the two convicts. Both would have to provide two sureties of Rs 10,000 each and not leave Singur police station area without permission of the court, the bench set as condition for granting bail to them. Tapasi Mallik, who was an active participant in the movement against land acquisition for the Tata Motors small car project at Singur, was raped and murdered before her body was set on fire in the fenced land for the plant on December 12, 2006. Suhrid and Debu Malik, a relative of Tapasi, were accused of conspiring and executing the murder along with four unknown persons who were also accused of raping her before killing her. The state CID first investigated the incident but after opposition parties alleged attempts to hush up the case, the CBI was called in by West Bengal government to investigate the death of Tapasi.

Court acquits former GSL employee
11 Feb 2009, 0103 hrs IST, TNN
MARGAO: Babu Thomas, former employee of Goa Shipyard Limited, accused under Sec 7 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 161 and 165 of the IPC, was acquitted by the court of the special judge, Nutan Sardessai, in Margao recently. The reason stated by the court was that Section 17 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, states that no police officer below the rank of a deputy superintendent of police (DySP) shall investigate any offence punishable under the act with out the order of a Judicial Magistrate First Class or make any arrest without a warrant, while in this case a police inspector had conducted the investigation and arrest without adhering to the provisions of the Act. The case dates back to September 14, 1994, where the accused while working as the manager (personnel and administration) of Goa Shipyard, Vasco, and being a public servant had demanded and accepted Rs 20,000 from the complainant. He was charged under Section 7 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 161 and 165 of the IPC. The court set him free of all charges giving benefit of doubt.

Sobti served HC notice
11 Feb 2009, 0319 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court issued a notice to Punjab University vice-chancellor RC Sobti on Tuesday. Acting on an application submitted by Rajesh Kochhar to restrain the respondent from going ahead with an interview slated for March 4, 2009, for the selection of professor and head of Rajiv Gandhi chair for contemporary studies, PU, Justice Tej Pratap Singh Mann issued a notice for Febuarary 27.
Kochhar, former professor of Indian Institute of Science (IIS), Bangluru, and National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research (NIPER), Mohali, has claimed the post and a writ petition is already pending before the high court. The Rajiv Gandhi chair is being set up with the funding of UGC, which is establishing it in 10 universities across the country.

CBI court to MC: Protect files about Dadwal
11 Feb 2009, 0400 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: Special CBI judge Jagdeep Jain on Tuesday directed UT municipal corporation commissioner to protect documents and files related to suspended sub-divisional engineer AK Dadwal’s corruption case. Dadwal had alleged that the contractor who complained against him had been trying to tamper with records lying in MC’s Sector-17 office. “The court directed the commissioner that he should keep records related to Dadwal’s case intact and no private individual should be allowed to look at them. We want to use those documents for defence in the case,” said Dadwal’s counsel NK Nanda. The SDE has been accused of seeking Rs 20,000 as bribe through another person in June 2008. Dadwal had earlier leveled allegations that he was being harassed through this case for getting his statement recorded before vigilance court in a corruption case involving some senior engineering department officials. In November, he had also moved a civil suit that sought mandatory injunction and directions for MC officials to get his subsistence allowance released.

HC upholds govt amendment in panchayat laws
11 Feb 2009, 0024 hrs IST, TNN
LUCKNOW: The high court has up held Mayawati government’s amendments brought in the UP Panchayat Laws immediately after coming into power, wherein it had removed the posts of pramukhs and upadhyakshas in panchayat institutions. The petitioners are planning to file special leave peti tion (SLP) in the Supreme Court against this order. The bench of Justice Pradeep Kant and Justice Vedpal dismissed bunch of writ petitions, which had challenged the amendments, in corporated by an Act passed in 2007. The government had abolished the above posts in kshetra pan chayat and zilla panchayat. It also ushered in an amendment by which, the time of bringing no-con fidence motion against pramukh and adhyaksha was reduced from two years to one. Besides, it was also provided that they could be re moved by a simple majority. Mamta Kanojia and scores of other affected petitioners moved petition in the HC pleading that the amendments had destroyed the de mocratic character of panchayats and permitted gross intrusion of state executive. It was said that the move was to oust all the elected pradhans, pramukhs and adhyak shas of panchayats as most of them did not belong to the ruling BSP. The judges ruled out that the amendments did not violate any constitutional provisions nor were they arbitrary.

Lucknow lawyers attack HuJI chief
11 Feb 2009, 1444 hrs IST, Pervez Siddiqui, TNN
LUCKNOW. Waliullah, the head of HuJI in India, was on Wednesday attacked in the Lucknow High Court premises by a group of about 200 advocates, and was forced to take refuge in a judge’s chamber. Police protection had been given to Waliullah while he was in the court premises. Waliullah is in jail for anti-national activities. He was acquitted by a lower court in the Varanasi court blast case but the government appealed against the lower court’s judgment.

Sending Wrong Case Diaries
10 Feb 2009, 2354 hrs IST, Ravi Dayal, TNN
PATNA: The Patna High Court on Tuesday issued a showcause notice to the Bhagalpur SP asking why not a sentence of two-day simple imprisonment be awarded to him for creating hurdles in the judicial process by supplying wrong case diaries in a criminal case. A single bench presided over by Justice D D Jha directed the district judge of Bhagalpur to communicate the high court order to the SP. Justice Jha maintained that the SP should reply to the showcause himself by being present in the court on the next date of hearing. The order was passed during the hearing of a criminal miscellaneous case filed by one Md Sajid seeking bail in a murder case lodged with Ishaqchak police station in Bhagalpur town. Earlier in November 2008, when the high court had asked for the case diary, the Bhagalpur police administration sent the diary of another criminal case registered with Bhagalpur Kotwali police station. Following this, the high court issued a directive to the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) of Bhagalpur to seek an explanation from the SP. The SP assured the CJM that a correct case diary would be sent to the high court. But surprisingly even the second time, the case diary produced before the high court related to a different criminal case registered under the Arms Act. Taking cognizance of the hindrance to the judicial process, the HC issued the showcause to the Bhagalpur SP. Justice Jha made it clear that while filing a reply to the court’s notice, the SP must not consult a government counsel, but a private one.

Supreme Court asks Kerala to accept Zoom’s Vizhinjam port tender
Feb 10th, 2009 By Sindh Today
New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 10 (IANS) The Kerala government Tuesday suffered a setback as the Supreme Court upheld the Kerala High Court’s verdict asking it to consider Zoom Developers’ tender quotation for the Rs.53.48 billion Vizhinjam port project.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had, through a tender, awarded the port project to a consortium of the Hyderabad-based Lanco Kondapalli Power Ltd, Malaysia-based Pembinaan Redzai Sdn Bhd and Lanco Infrastructure Ltd and for technical reasons did not consider the proposal of Zoom, which then went to court.
Following the firm’s petition, a division bench of the high court last year asked the state government to consider the Zoom proposal too. The state refused to do so and challenged the ruling in the Supreme Court.
A division bench of the Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Kerala government to make all arrangements in 15 days to facilitate Zoom to submit its tender.
The Congress-led opposition in the state had raised the port tender issue in the assembly in November and demanded a a judicial inquiry.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy told reporter in Thiruvananthapuram that the LDF government owes an explanation why it challenged the high court ruling when it was clear that it had messed up the tendering process.
“Zoom Developers in its quotation had said it would pay the government after 10 years a sum of Rs.447 crore (Rs.4.47 billion) if they were given the contract, and instead the project was given to Lanco, which has offered just Rs.115 crore (Rs.1.15 billion). Kerala would have lost Rs.332 crore had the courts not intervened,” said Chandy.
State Ports Minister M. Vijayakumar told reporters the government would look into the verdict and decide further course of action.
“This is not a setback for the government. There is a lobby here working against the Vizhinjam port,” he said .
Chandy, however, said if there is a lobby it is in the government itself.
Senior opposition legislator P.C. George, who was the first to allege corruption in the contract, demanded the immediate resignation of Vijayakumar.
“He should resign, otherwise (Chief Minister V.S.) Achuthanandan should oust him at the earliest,” George told reporters.
The project is being developed under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme and will be handed over to the state government after 30 years.
A major advantage of the Vizhinjam port is that it needs no dredging. The natural depth is 24 meters, one of the deepest in the world.
Another advantage is that the proposed port lies very close to a busy international shipping route. It is to be built on an area of 150 acres and there will be no displacement of fishermen. The port will be able to handle 4.1 million containers annually.
The port, once ready, would create 5,000 direct and 150,000 indirect jobs.

Two get 4 years RI for dealing in fake stamps
11 Feb 2009, 0003 hrs IST, TNN
PATNA: Court of Additional District and Sessions Judge VI Ashok Kumar Pathak on Tuesday sentenced four year rigorous imprisonment (RI) and Rs 1,000 penalty to two accused — Hemchandra Jha and Dinesh Kumar — both residents of Kadamkuan locality of the town, in a case of forgery. The court found the two guilty of running a racket of printing and selling fake judicial and non-judicial stamps. The two were arrested by the CBI in course of raids made on the Janata Offset Press and residences of these two persons in Kadamkuan locality on April 24, 2004. The CBI sleuths seized a huge number of fake judicial and non-judicial stamps as well as the printing machine used for printing the fake stamps.

HC refuses to stay arrest of accused
11 Feb 2009, 2012 hrs IST, TNN
ALLAHABAD: A division bench of the Allahabad high court has declined to stay the arrest of Braj Mohan Garg, brother of prime accused in the Seema Chaudhari rape case, Ram Mohan Garg. Ram Mohan is the former chairman of UP fisheries development corporation. The bench comprising Justices Shiv Shankar and VK Verma dismissed the petition of Braj Mohan Garg in connection with an FIR lodged against him at a police station in Aligarh. The allegation against Braj Mohan was that he had snatched the mobile, along with Rs 10,000, from Naseem, a close friend of Seema Chaudhari. It may be recalled that Seema had lodged an FIR against RM Garg stating that she was raped by him and an obscene CD of her was prepared by the accused using her mobile. This mobile, she alleged, was later snatched from Naseem by Braj Mohan. Seema had lodged the FIR on January 1, 2009 and thereafter Ram Mohan was arrested by the police and sent to jail. The court dismissed the petition after hearing the additional government advocate for the prosecution.

Lawyers strike work to condole colleague’s death
11 Feb 2009, 0417 hrs IST, TNN
KANPUR: Men in black coat in Kanpur Nagar and dehat district court on Monday abstained themselves from judicial work to condole the death of one of their colleague. The two premier associations, Kanpur Bar Association and The Lawyers Association hung a banner about strike as soon as they come to know about the death of an advocate. Both the associations have informed the judiciary that they would observe whole-day strike in case of death of an advocate to lodge their protest against a high court order. The High Court of Allahabad in December last had issued a directive to district courts to close the courts for condolence of an advocate after 3.30 pm. On the other hand, the advocates were demanding that courts should close after lunch to condole the death of an advocate, as it was being observed earlier as customary. They had met with chief justice last month and had urged their demand and had also informed that they would observe whole day strike if old system was not implemented.

Mulayam case: SC raps CBI for being Centre’s pet
11 Feb 2009, 0403 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday came down heavily on Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for seeking to drop its probe into the corruption case against SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. “So you (CBI) were acting at the behest of law ministry. The central government was of view that you should withdraw the case and you apply for withdrawal. What you are saying is rather unusual. It is rather incomprehensible,” a Bench comprising Justices Altmas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph said in one of the sharpest-ever indictments of the country’s top probe agency which claims to be autonomous. If the remark was trenchant, the Bench twisted the knife. “If the advice of the Centre and the law ministry is the ground for CBI to seek withdawal of the application, then God help us.” The tongue lashing came after CBI’s counsel, additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran, conceded that it was the UPA government which had goaded the agency to withdraw its application to prosecute Mulayam and his kin. The high-wattage hearing was marked by a twist introduced by Harish Salve, counsel for the Samajwadi chieftain. The senior lawyer pressed to put on record a CD of purported account by Vishwanath Chaturvedi of Congress – the petitioner against Mulayam – of how the CBI inquiry into the disproportionate assets case against the SP leader and his clan was a political plot. The Bench allowed the CD to be filed within three weeks to be played in the chambers, while it posted the matter for further hearing on March 31. The CD gambit, the latest addition to a lengthening list of ‘sting’ cases involving SP leaders, was the lastest of turns in the case of Byzantine proportions, widely considered to be revolving around the changes in Congress-SP dymamic. SP, which blamed CBI’s interest in the material possessions of the Yadav clan on its former feud with Congress, is keen on using its new leverage with the UPA government to seek closure of the case before the Lok Sabha polls. The government, it is widely felt, is also willing, leading the CBI to change its stand on the probe and align it with Congress’s fresh equations with SP. However, the SC, which ordered the inquiry in the first place, is not amused by the U-turn. The judicial spanner has resulted in frustration in the SP camp, leading to strain in its ties with Congress and speculation about the kind of fallout it may have on their alliance in UP. In the court, the reprimand from the Bench led solicitor general G E Vahanvati to swiftly seek to disengage the Centre from the case which is seen as an endorsement of the widely held view about the misuse of CBI and other agencies by the regimes of the day for partisan purposes. “The Centre is in no way concerned with which way the court decides the matter,” argued Vahanvati although he qualified that by saying that the CBI should look into the representations received from the Yadav clan that their assets were inflated to engineer a disproportionate assets case against them. “All the Centre told the CBI is to take into account the representations and make inquiry. The Centre does not want to take any decision on the matter. The CBI has to check facts and report back to the Supreme Court and not to the Centre,” said the SG. The highly complex politico-legal game began after a Bench comprising Justices A R Lakshmanan and Kabir on March 1, 2007, ordered CBI probe into the assets of Yadavs on the PIL of Congressman Chaturvedi. Surprisingly, the Bench asked the agency to submit status report to the Centre for appropriate action. Chaturvedi’s counsel K T S Tulsi criticised the CBI for throwing to the winds its independence and toeing the government line. He pleaded with the court to take a look at the status report of CBI and pass appropriate orders. Salve said he agreed with Tulsi on CBI’s role in tarnishing the image of the Yadavs and said his clients had no faith in the agency’s ability to conduct an impartial probe. “Let there be a high-level judicial probe into the matter as also scrutiny of the CBI’s role in it,” he said. Salve, supported by Akhilesh Yadav’s counsel Mukul Rohtagi, drove home to the Bench, which initially resisted the idea of bringing on record such a CD, the crucial nature of the conversation relating to the judge of the Supreme Court and its impact on the petitions filed by Yadavs seeking review of the March 1, 2007 judgment.

Chargesheet against Amarinder
11 Feb 2009, 0000 hrs IST, Ramaninder K Bhatia, TNN
CHANDIGARH: Two days after it grilled former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, the vigilance bureau on Tuesday filed a chargesheet against him and 15 others in the Amritsar land deal scam. The chargesheet says the then minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh and Amarinder gave undue favours to builders by wrongfully exempting 32 acres from the original 188 acres of the Amritsar Improvement Trust scheme. The chargesheet, a 50-page document, was filed in the court of Mohali special judge R K Garg who has summoned all the 16 accused on March 4. Indicted by an earlier nine-member House committee in the case, the Congress leader was `expelled’ from the assembly last September. The panel had directed the bureau to carry forward the case to its logical conclusion. However, Amarinder challenged his expulsion in the court and the case is now in the Supreme Court. Accused of cheating and forgery, the Congress leader has also been booked under various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act.

Union minister Mahavir Prasad booked in murder case
11 Feb 2009, 1028 hrs IST, PTI
GORAKHPUR: In a major embarrassment to the government at the Centre, Union minister Mahavir Prasad has been booked for alleged conspiracy in a murder case, a senior police officer said on Wednesday. The case was registered on the direction of the Allahabad High Court under section 120 B IPC (conspiracy) against the Union minister for micro, small and medium Industries in Gagha police station here on Tuesday night, senior superintendent of police Aditya Mishra said. Two other accused, village head of Ujjarpar, Rajesh Singh and one Gauri Shankar have been booked under sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of public peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and the SC/ST Act. According to police, a woman called Subhavati of village Ujjarpar, the native village of the minister, had move a local court for lodging the cases against the accused. She had alleged that the village head and Gauri Shankar were involved in the murder of her husband on January 28 and charged the minister with helping the accused. She moved the High Court after the local CJM’s court rejected her plea. Police said the case was registered on the direction of the high court. Earlier, the police had registered the case as a road accident. No arrest has so far been made in this connection, the SSP said. In Delhi, Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari said “currently, it seems as the Allahabad High Court has passed an order but we have not seen the order and if an FIR has been registered, we don’t have a copy of the FIR at the moment.” After scrutinizing the order, the FIR and talking to the minister, “we will come to an appropriate conclusion and respond to it,” he said. “It is inappropriate to come to any conclusion before scrutinizing the documents,” Tiwari said. Police said that the Union minister was among the three accused that included Gauri Shankar Gupta, a relative of Prasad. “What we plan to do is to carry out fair and completely impartial investigations so that we can ascertain whether the facts lead to the case being chargesheeted as the murder or again as that of an accident,” Mishra said. “That is our task ahead in the next few days and I am sure within 7-10 days we will be able to clear up the confusion,” he said.

SC refers Amarinder issue to Constitutional Bench
11 Feb 2009, 1145 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday referred to a Constitution Bench the issue of expulsion of former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh by the State Legislative Assembly. A three-judge bench of Justices B N Agrawal, G S Singhwi and Aftab Alam said that the issue needs to be resolved by a Constitution Bench as it involved substantive question of Constitutional law relating to expulsion of a member. In an unprecedented move on September 10 last year, the Punjab Assembly had expelled Singh from the House after holding him guilty of corrupt practices in the Amritsar land scandal. The scam relates to grant of exemption on 32.5 acres of land in a prime area by Singh as Chief Minister to certain land developers allegedly in violation of the rules.

SC notice to Centre, states on new pay panel
11 Feb 2009, 0000 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: If the Chief Justice of India and judges of the Supreme Court and high courts got a three-fold salary hike, should the lowly paid trial court judges be left out? The Supreme Court does not think so. On Tuesday, it issued notices to the Centre and the states seeking their response on an application seeking a suitable upward revision of salaries of judges of the lower judiciary. A Bench comprising CJI K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathaisvam and J M Panchal asked the governments to respond to an application filed by All India Judges Association. The association through counsel ATM Sampath pleaded that the first judicial pay commission headed by Justice Shetty had recommended that whenever there was an upward revision of salaries of HC judges, the salaries of lower court judges should also be proportionately revised. It sought a direction from the court to the Centre to “forthwith appoint a committee of one or more persons to look into the matter” relating to the pay-scales of the presiding officers of the lower judiciary. After getting respectable salaries for himself, SC and HC judges, the CJI had on January 7 talked to TOI expressing concern over the low salaries of the lower court judges. “Their monthly take home is even lower than their counterparts in the executive,” he had said. “The only way out is appointment of a fresh National Judicial Pay Commission. It could be done through a judicial direction by the Supreme Court which got the first NJPC’s recommendations implemented through judicial fiat, though it took nearly five years,” he had said. The first NJPC headed by Justice Jagannatha Shetty was constituted on March 21, 1996, and it gave its recommendations in November 1999. It had recommended a salary hike that entitled a civil judge (junior division) a starting salary of Rs 11,775, civil judge (senior division) Rs 15,200, district judge (entry level) Rs 20,800 and district judge (super-time scale) Rs 23,850. But, this was recommended keeping in view the then salaries of the HC judges which was fixed at Rs 26,000 and that of an HC CJ Rs 30,000, SC judges Rs 30,000 and CJI Rs 33,000. The salary structure for the higher judiciary recently got changed with the government agreeing to revise the salary of HC judges to Rs 80,000, HC CJ Rs 90,000, SC judges Rs 90,000 and CJI Rs 1 lakh.

M J Antony: The judiciary’s cyber holes

Lack of coordination makes court websites less user-friendly
M J Antony / New Delhi February 11, 2009, 0:51 IST

Lack of coordination in designing and developing makes court websites less user-friendly.
It is nearly ten years since the judiciary became tech-savvy. Considering that it is a conservative institution which loves dusty paper files, and is apprehensive of change and speed, it was somewhat of a revolution. The Supreme Court has gone quite ahead in the electronic field. Its judgements are on the web usually within two days. They can be accessed by the names of the parties, the judges on the bench, the subject, the Act and part of the text. The archives are also available. Recently, summaries of its judgements have also been offered.
The status of the cases can similarly be searched from anywhere in the world. There is a provision even to file petitions sitting at home. The Supreme Court site is simple and accessible to anyone familiar with the internet. The Chief Justice has promised to complete the electronic revolution in two years.
However, the lack of coordination among the courts shows in their websites. Though the high courts have a good model like that of the Supreme Court, each follows its own whimsical style. There is no common pattern, for instance, in the search options. Even different benches of the same high court do not follow the same model. For instance, the Jodhpur bench of the Rajasthan high court has 12 search options, and is far ahead of the rest of the high courts in the country. However, the Jaipur bench has only eight options.
The Bombay High Court has still fewer options. One can search its judgements only if one knows the case number or the coram of judges. Thus its use is limited to the parties in the case. If one wants to read an important decision of the high court in a matter affecting the public, one would be helpless. The Calcutta High Court decisions can be searched by the case number, judge’s name and the date. The Allahabad and Madras high courts offer four options, but their decisions cannot be searched by date.
The Gujarat High Court website has one of the most comprehensive, and scary, disclaimer any court can devise. It says in part: “The contents in this site do not constitute advice and should not be relied upon in making any decision. Neither the high court of Gujarat nor the National Informatics Centre, is responsible for any damages arising from the use of the content of this site. No queries will be entertained regarding the validity of information by the high court staff. At present, the site is running on a test basis, where the information may not be accurate.” The Sikkim high court has not opened its innings, while the Guwahati high court has no judgement to offer though it has just concluded its diamond jubilee celebrations.
The nearly 600 district courts are also far behind schedule. Only some 12 of them maintain a useful site. Thus, their orders and other information about them are not available at all.
The progress of the tribunals is also tardy and uneven. Tribunals and regulators are playing a greater role in the economic and legal fields and one expects more promptness in assisting the public. The last reported judgement of the National Consumer Redressal Commission was of November last year.
If you look for the latest in intellectual property case law, you would be deeply disappointed. Though the board was set up in 2005, its website has apparently stopped uploading its judgements after the inaugural year. After a gap of three years, someone thought of the website and uploaded a cryptic order in January 2008. It was as short as it can be: No one appeared in the case; so the case is dismissed as abandoned.
The Central Administrative Tribunal has a site which is simple, but only the main bench at New Delhi is user-friendly. The main bench is fast in reporting its judgements, and so far it has uploaded nearly 50 judgements of the current year. But while trying to open and read the judgements of other benches like that of Allahabad, Mumbai or Kerala one meets various script problems.
There is a long way to go if the mid-2010 target is to be met. Video trial of accused persons lodged in jails is only in their preliminary stages, though Bihar has gone far ahead in this. Digitilisation of libraries is far behind, though the Bombay High Court last month achieved this stupendous task. Last Sunday, a private bank disposed of 13,000 cheque-bouncing cases in Delhi in an online Lok Adalat. The Central Information Commission, with which the Supreme Court is now in a legal battle, had asked the court to consider computerising all its records four years ago, as mandated under the Right to Information Act. One could say that the keyword in computerisation of the judiciary is transparency.

HC directs Centre to appoint chairman of green panel

New Delhi, Feb 11 (PTI) A statutory body created for deciding cases related to environment may get a chairman eight years after its creation as the Delhi High Court today rapped the Centre, slapped a cost of Rs 20,000 for not complying with its earlier order and gave it 12 weeks to appoint its head.National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) has remained headless since its creation in July 2000.A bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar imposed a cost of Rs 20,000 for not complying with its 2005 order directing the government to appoint a chairman of the Commission which was constituted to deal with cases relating to environment.”The present case tests the limits of the scope of this court’s power in exercising its extraordinary jurisdiction. The court cannot be expected to remain a mute witness to the unfortunate rendering of a statutory body ineffective by an unwilling executive,” a bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar said.”Union of India has not only not obeyed the mandamus issued by it by this court but continues to defy it by refusing to correct what appear to be obvious anomalies in the NEAA rules,” the court said.It pointed out that retired judges of the apex court had refused to accept the post as the chairman was not given the salary on par with sitting Supreme Court judges like heads of other tribunals. PTI

HC helps Norwegian of Indian origin enter country
11 Feb 2009, 1228 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: A Norwegian of Indian origin, who had allegedly been harassed by immigration authorities as his name was earlier in the “Look Out List”, will now have a smooth entry into the country as the Delhi High Court has directed the government to take corrective steps. Accepting the submission of the counsel appearing for the Ministry of External Affairs that the name of Gurcharan Singh, was removed from the “black list

” on January 13, Justice S Ravindra Bhat directed the authorities to allow him to enter the country. “The petitioner can henceforth be allowed entry on the basis of the latest order on January 13, 2009, removing his name from the black list,” said Justice Bhat. In his petition, Singh submitted before the court that despite being a holder of Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card, every time he entered into country, the immigration authorities “invariably” detained him for several hours. Filing various supporting documents before the court, Singh submitted that the Immigration officials detained him for hours at airport for the only reason that his name was earlier in the “Look Out List”. The Court accepted the Centre’s affidavit and the letters written by the Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informing that he was detained at the airport as his name was figuring in the black list but was later allowed to enter on finding that he was carrying a PIO card. “Look Out List” is maintained by the MEA and is sent to all airports to control the entry of unwanted elements in the country.

HC admits petition against land acquisition by Centre for private oil company
Express News Service
Posted: Feb 11, 2009 at 0215 hrs IST
Ahmedabad The Gujarat High Court, on Tuesday, admitted a writ petition challenging the Union government’s decision to acquire the user right in land for transport of petroleum for the benefit of Bharat-Oman Refinery Limited.
A division bench comprising Justice M S Shah and Justice H N Devani, however, directed the respondents to file an affidavit dealing with the question of just compensation to be paid to the petitioners and explain why sub clause (1) of Section 10 of the Petroleum and Mineral Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act, 1962, should not be declared as ultra vires.
The notices were issued on a petition by Pratapsinh Naranji Jadeja and other agriculturists of Jamnagar district. The next hearing in the case is scheduled on March 23.
The petitioners submitted that by using the provisions of the Act, the Government of India acquired user right in their land for the Bharat-Oman Refinery Limited in 1997, but they came to know about it in 2007 only.
Appearing on behalf of the petitioners, senior advocate Girish Patel contended that as the owner of the land had been paid only one-tenth of the market value of the land, it was not acquisition but really confiscation of the land without just compensation. Moreover, acquisition is not for the purpose of the government but for the benefit of a private company.
Patel contended that either the government should acquire the entire piece of land required for transport of petroleum, or should give full compensation.
Or, Patel contended, the government should ask Bharat-Oman Refinery Limited to pay annual rent for the use of the land instead of one-time payment, as the acquisition was but a lease in favour of the refinery.

Patan DIET-PTC gangrape judgement on March 6
11 Feb 2009, 0201 hrs IST, TNN
Ahmedabad: The sensitive Patan DIET-PTC multiple gangrape case concluded on Tuesday with the final arguments being made by the prosecution and six accused teachers. The trial proceeding has continued for six months before a fast track court in Patan. The special judge SC Srivastav has reserved her judgement in this case to be pronounced on March 6, said the special public prosecutor Naina Bhatt. Twenty-five witnesses, out of total 78 shown in the chargesheet, were examined during the trial besides scrutiny of heaps of documents that include FSL analysis and daily attendance reports of the staff members and students in the Patan DIET-PTC. The proceedings had begun with a painful note for the rape victim who collapsed in the courtroom. The girl ultimately identified all six teachers Manish Parmar, Mahendra Prajapati, Ashwin Parmar, Kiran Patel, Suresh Patel and Atul Patel on July 28 last and then the trial began. In the next week, she faced nearly 2,000 questions from six defence lawyers, but stood by what she had maintained in her police complaint. The major points raised by the accused during trial began with the claim that there should be separate trial for each of the incidents alleged in the FIR. The issue even reached the high court, but they didn’t succeed. Another argument the defence put forth was the delay in filing complaint by the victim girl, as the incidents reported had occurred between November 2007 to February 2008, and the FIR was lodged on February 4 last year. Claiming innocence, all six teachers blamed the rector Bhartiben Patel for laying a trap and inciting the girl to lodge a false complaint against them. The accused also relied upon lack of medical evidence, contradictions in statements of former DIET principal KT Porania and Bhartiben. The teachers even argued that they were not public servants and the victim girl could not be treated as a student in their custody. However, the prosecutor strongly opposed these arguments and supported them with the citations from higher courts. “The examination and cross-examination by all six accused took a lot of time. The weakest point on part of the victim was the delay in registering complaint, but let’s see how the court takes the matter in this regard,” the prosecutor said.

Slums along water pipelines: Bombay HC wants status report
Mumbai, Feb 11: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to file a status report on slums along pipelines which carry water into the city. Hydraulic Engineer of the MCGM will have to file the report within four weeks, division bench of Justices J N Patel and V K Tahilramani directed. The court’s direction came in response to a PIL filed by Janhit Manch, a city-based NGO. The PIL had drawn the court’s attention to a media report which said that slums along the pipelines – in some places on the pipelines – could be a security threat, but MCGM had a very small security staff to deal with this issue. During the hearing, Justice Patel commented that government’s policies were actually encouraging increase in encroachment. “Simply announce that Mumbai is open for everybody,” court said, referring to government’s tendency to extend the deadline for rehabilitation of slums. “One of my colleagues said that instead of asking for flats for judges, one should seek a room in slums at Cuffe Parade…where builders are paying Rs one crore for a shanty,” Justice Patel said. No slums in the sensitive areas, such as pipelines, should be declared as eligible for legal protection, the judge remarked. Bureau Report

Remove banners, Bombay HC directs BMC again
Mumbai, Feb 11: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to remove illegal banners. This the fourth PIL in the last few years urging the court to direct removal of banners from city roads, according to MCGM officials. The present petition has been filed by one Rupali Jawalkar. “What is your policy on banners?” asked the court. To which MCGM’s lawyer K K Singhvi said,” Our policy is to remove them.” The division bench of Justices J N Patel and V K Tahilramani directed the MCGM to remove banners in the city “in a phased manner” asking superintendent (Licenses) to file a status report on removal efforts in six weeks. Justice Patel, before passing the order, noted that banners of political parties can be seen even in front of Mantralaya (state secretariat). “Some of these banners are dangerous, if they fall down, there would be an accident,” said Justice Patel. Bureau Report

Skeletons tumble out;CBI report flashed
Thiruvananthapuram, Wednesday, February 11, 2009: As the Kerala High Court is all set to hear the two PIL seeking a declaration on whether sanction is necessary to prosecute CPI(M) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan and two others arraigned as accused by the CBI in the SNC-Lavalin case. Pinarayi Vijayan is in neck-deep trouble as a private channel has flashed the investigative report of SNC Lavalin case. The report says, the Cabinet was wrongly apprised regarding the deal. Pinarayi Vijayan concealed major deal conditions from the Party. Also it says, Pinarayi Vijayan was part of criminal conspiracy. CBI also says that the CPM State Secretary gave unclear and conflicting answers to most of the queries of CBI during interrogation, it also found that the Pinarayi Vijayan had ignored the E Balanandan Committee report and expert opinions of KSEB and finance secretaries. Also the condition to fund the Malabar cancer center through a institution called Technicalia was missing from the deal.

A public interest litigation in the supreme court wants cases involving influential people to be fast-tracked so that they can be brought to book sooner. V. Kumara Swamy examines both sides of the argument
Justice delayed, it is often said, is justice denied. But while the long wait for justice is immensely frustrating — and financially taxing — for the common man, there is a general perception that the rich would rather have it that way. Many feel that wealthy and influential people accused of a crime use the system to their advantage, and that trials that go on for years allow them to enjoy their freedom when speedy justice could well have put them behind bars.
It is to counter this trend that a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court suggests the setting up of fast track courts to decide cases involving ‘influential persons’. Recently, a Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam, asked the central government to respond to the PIL, although it did note that it would be “very difficult” to define an “influential person”.
“Influential people in India invariably dodge the judicial system. They have mastered the art of delaying their cases. This is paralysing our system of criminal justice,” says V.K. Ohri, a Supreme Court advocate and the one who filed the PIL.
Citing the names of scores of politicians and other influential people against whom cases have been pending for decades, the PIL says that the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) should define ‘influential persons’ and lay down a procedure for speedy investigation and trial of their cases.
The PIL says that the term “influential persons” should include district level office bearers of political parties and above, persons equivalent in rank to sub-divisional magistrates and above, magistrates of the 1st class, including civil judges and above, the elected panch and sarpanch of village panchayats and office bearers of NGOs that have a turnover of more than Rs 5 crore. Although it leaves out big industrialists, the list could well be expanded, adds the petitioner.
Nor is he the only one to raise such demands. At a seminar organised by the legal and legislative cell of the BJP on August 30, 2008, L.K. Advani, leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, said, “We are willing to consider any effective mechanism for the fast track disposal of cases involving major economic offences and corruption cases against politicians and civil servants. This is necessary to strengthen the people’s faith in the political and judicial system,” he said.
The PIL in the Supreme Court calls for changes to Chapters 18 and 19 of the CrPC (these empower the high courts to set up special courts) so as to lay down rules for the trial of “influential persons”. The petition says that a court should not be adjourned for more than seven days and evidence should be recorded as far as possible on a day-to-day basis.
But many legal experts feel that the very rationale of the PIL is flawed. Jagdeep Chhokar, member of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which works towards “strengthening democracy and governance” in the country, reasons, “A corrupt and influential person will try to buy his way out of a case even in a fast track court.” Chhokar adds that the system should not be “tweaked” to work in favour of one section of the people.
Others point out that since this “one section of the people” are in any case singled out for special treatment, fast track courts for them would be a kind of poetic justice. I.K. Chhugani, a resident of Mumbai who filed a similar petition in the Mumbai High Court last year, says wryly, “VIPs in our country get priority everywhere — from traffic signals to plot allotment. So let the cases involving them get priority too. No citizen would mind that.”
Prashant Bhushan, the Supreme Court lawyer who is arguing on behalf of Ohri, also asserts that fast track courts do not “favour” the rich. “It is the poor who gain from faster justice. An influential person, in fact, doesn’t want his case to be decided too quickly.”
Those who support the PIL point out that it would not be too much of a problem to set up these courts as fast track courts on terror, rape and serious crimes are already up and running. Says Pinky Anand, a Supreme Court advocate, “When the regular system is unable to cope with certain types of cases, I see no reason why they cannot be fast-tracked.”
Citing the recent Satyam scam, Anand says that a special court to try economic offences could have ensured a faster trial of those accused. “The world is looking at India now. If we had a faster justice mechanism, it would have improved India’s image in the eyes of the rest of the world,” she says.
Of course, fast track courts have their share of problems too. “They are not really the panacea to all the ills plaguing our system, as many people seem to think. Corruption is as rampant in fast track courts as it is in the lower judiciary,” says Chhokar.
Questions are also raised about the quality of judgements coming out of these courts. Says Nasir Ali Naqvi, chairman, Bar Council of Rajasthan, a state where fast track courts happen to be known for their quick disposal of cases, “The quality of judgement in many cases is very poor. As a result they do not stand a chance during an appeal in a higher court. Besides, higher courts function at a normal pace and the cases usually go on for ages anyway, so the purpose of quick justice is, in a way, defeated.”
But Bhushan reveals that they have taken care to address this issue. “We are asking for fast trials at all levels of our legal system when it comes to ‘influential persons’.”
Despite the many arguments in favour of constituting fast track courts for powerful people, it is not very likely that the government will adopt such a measure. If for nothing else, for the simple reason that it smacks too much of “special treatment” for the rich and famous. “I would like every trial to be completed expeditiously, irrespective of whether it belongs to a common man or an influential person,” says Congress MP Sachin Pilot.
That politically correct statement will, in all likelihood, be the government’s response to the PIL as well.

Confusion prevails on who is DG Doordarshan
Published: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 at 21:47 IST
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New Delhi, Feb 11 : Twenty four hours after Doordarshan witnessed the presence of two Director Generals, confusion still prevails as to who is the DG of the public broadcaster.The Appointments Committee of Cabinet had cleared the name of Aruna Sharma, Joint Secretary in National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), for DD’s Director General post. The ministry also directed Prasar Bharati to appoint Sharma on the said post, through an order dated February 9, 2008.However, DD sources claimed that they received the order in the evening of February 9, and therefore it could only be implemented on the morning of February 10 when Sharma took charge as DG (DD).They said as Sharma had not been given the order by Prasar Bharati officials to join till the morning of February 10, her assumption of charge was not accepted and the acting DG of DD, Noreen Naqvi was asked to continue. Thus, DD for a brief period of time on February 10, had two DGs.When contacted, Sharma said she was very much with DD though certain things were being sorted out. She refused to comment further on the matter.Interestingly a deputy DG in DD, Ashok Jailkhani had earlier filed a case in CAT contending that he was not called for the interview for the post of DG even though a subordinate of his was invited for it. With the matter still subjudice, CAT directed the ministry to maintain status quo, that is let Naqvi continue as acting DG of DD.

NHRC asks Orissa to pay to victim of medical negligence
Published: February 11,2009

New Delhi, Feb 11 National Human Rights Commission has recommended that the Orissa government should pay a monetary relief of Rs 5 lakh to a victim of medical negligence four years ago which made her unable to bear children.
The Commission has also asked the state government to submit a report on the action taken.
NHRC has recommended a monitory relief of Rs 5 lakh to Binapani Khatua in Orissa in a case of medical negligence due to which she suffered physical pain for four years and now cannot bear children,”a NHRC release said.
The Commission had started the proceeding in the case relating to the victim in June last year acting on a complaint of an NGO — Director Collective Initiative for Social Solidarity (CISS).
The victim from Radharampur village of Cuttack district was admitted in Attagarh hospital four years ago for delivery of her first issue. After an operation, a male child was born to her but he died after four days.
The complainant later alleged that a scissor was left inside the abdomen of Khatua during the operation by the surgeon concerned due to which the victim suffered terrible abdomen pain. It finally led to removal of her uterus.
An x-ray of the victim had found a surgical scissor was lodged in her belly.
Source: PTI


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