LEGAL NEWS 17.03.2009

VC seeks reply from legal institute
Pratibha ChauhanTribune News Service
Shimla, March 16Following allegations of mismanagement of funds and overcharging by the Himachal Institute of Legal Studies, vice-chancellor (VC) Prof Sunil Kumar Gupta of Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) has sought a reply from the management of the institute within a week’s time failing which action would be taken.
With parents of students studying in the institute, affiliated to HPU, here being up in arms against the management, the vice-chancellor today asked the institute to file a detailed reply, addressing each and every allegation levelled against them.
For the past time, the parents of the children studying there have alleged that the institute authorities were acting in partisan manner and favouring students close to the ruling BJP. They have alleged that the institute had become a money-minting venture where students were being tortured mentally.
“The authorities have virtually turned a blind eye to the activities of certain students who have been forcefully collecting money in the name of entertainment and even threatening students,” said a parent on condition of anonymity.
The students on being contacted alleged that students close to the ruling BJP and the RSS were being given higher marks as merit was being completely ignored.
The parents of the students enrolled at the institute in their complaint to the vice-chancellor of the HPU have alleged that students were being compelled to pay money of which no proper accounts were being maintained. They point out that what is even worse is that those who refuse to pay are being threatened that they would be failed in the practical.
The parents have alleged that there was no proper account of the Rs 55,000, which had been collected from the students for arranging a party last year. They said despite spending Rs 65,000 on admission of their children, the quality of education was not up to the mark.
The university authorities said it was only after receiving a reply from the institute that they would be in a position to comment on the situation. They, however, admitted that the parents had levelled serious allegations against the management of the institute.

Govt begins exercise to frame anti-ragging law
Rakesh LohumiTribune News Service
Shimla, March 16The medical fraternity is hopeful that the intervention of the Supreme Court in the Aman Kachru ragging murder case will help stamp out the menace of ragging from institutions of professional education in the state.
The contempt notice issued by the court to the principal and the registrar of Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College, Tanda, has shaken the medicos and they are coming out with guarded response to the development.
‘The intervention of the apex court was welcome as it will help enforce the anti-ragging guidelines and directions of the court effectively,’ says president of the Himachal Pradesh Medical Association Ajay Dutta. It is the duty of the administration to provide a ragging-free environment in educational institutions and it was answerable if such unfortunate incidents take place, he added.
Now that the apex court was seized of the matter the truth would come out and those guilty would be brought to book, general secretary of the association Jiwanand Chauhan said. He did not consider it as a simple case of ragging but of a pre-planned attack and those responsible for the murder must be handed out the serest punishment. However, he said that for effective functioning of the anti-ragging committee a suitable law should also be enacted to strengthen its hands. He was against de-recognition of the institution as it would jeopardise the future of over 400 students.
A member of the Medical Council of India (MCI), Ashwini Sood, asserted that college managements were fully responsible and accountable for implementing the Raghvan Committee recommendations. The members of the anti-ragging committee should be selected carefully and not chosen on the basis of personal equations with the principal.
Referring to the move of the government to enact an anti-ragging law he said incorporating a section in the IPC would be a better option as it would ensure uniformity and, moreover, the menace of ragging was countrywide. Meanwhile, the home department and the education department have started the exercise to frame a new anti-ragging law which the government proposes to enact at the earliest by promulgating an ordinance. Besides the lapsed anti-ragging ordinance promulgated by Shanta Kumar government in 1992, the laws enacted by Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and other a few other states are being consulted.

Raghavan panel report remains unimplemented Accused’s police remand extended, classes start today
Lalit MohanTribune News Service
Dharamsala, March 16States have been ignoring the Raghavan committee recommendations that were accepted by the Supreme Court in 2007. The major recommendation of the committee was that central regulatory bodies should take ragging situation as an important factor in accreditation of education institutions.
The committee had also recommended anti-ragging cells should have been established at central, state and college level and toll free helpline should be provided for ragging victims. Strong law against ragging with responsibility to prove not guilty lying on the perpetrator was also recommended.
The committee had also suggested that NCERT and SCERT school books should include chapter on ragging and psychological counselling on anti- ragging and human rights should be conducted at higher secondary level. Colleges should organise interactive sessions between juniors and seniors and scattered entry of freshers and senior should be allowed, the committee had recommended.
Though after acceptance by the Supreme Court the recommendations were circulated to all the states, very little was done to implement them. In Himachal hardly any of recommendations is implemented by the educational institutions.
Some of the principals of educational institutions when contacted even feigned ignorance about the Raghavan committee recommendations. The Supreme Court has now issued notice to the Chief Secretary of state to know what the government did to implement the Raghavan committee recommendations after 2007.
The Himachal government in 1992, much before the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court on ragging in 2001, has moved an ordinance against ragging. However, the ordinance never became a law as it was not passed in assembly. The ordinance later lapsed and the situation now is that there is no anti-ragging law in the state.
The parents of deceased student Aman Satya Kachroo have welcomed the move of the Supreme Court. In a message to The Tribune Rajendra Kachroo, father of Aman, has stated that is very encouraging to see that the Additional Solicitor General has taken deep interest in the matter and moved the Supreme Court on his own initiative.
Meanwhile, the police remand of two of the accused students in the case, including Mukul Sharma and Abhinav Verma, was today extended till March 19. The police authorities sought more time to extract more information from the accused in the case.
The classes in Tanda medical college start tomorrow after winter vacation. The students would report in college tomorrow after the unfortunate incident.
The principal of the college when contacted by The Tribune said two close circuit cameras had been installed in each hostel. The first-year students have been divided into groups of five each and they would be accompanied by one senior student. The college authorities have also called meeting of Parent Teachers Association (PTA) on Saturday to discussion possible anti-ragging measures.
ADM Kangra Sandeep Kumar who has been entrusted with magisterial inquiry into the incident has called all concerned, including parents of deceased Aman to dispose before him on March 20.

Sony TV drags BCCI to court
Mumbai, March 16A fresh row broke out over the issue of telecast rights of the IPL with Sony Entertainment dragging BCCI to the Bombay High Court which restrained the Cricket Board from entering into any further agreement related to the T-20 tournament.
Adding to the misery, the IPL organizers are likely to submit a revised schedule for the league tomorrow after the Home Ministry rejected the cosmetic changes in the fixtures. The ministry bluntly told them to consult the state governments while finalising the dates.
Sony had moved the High Court against BCCI’s move to enter into a contract with World Sports Group (WSG) after terminating its agreement with Sony on broadcasting rights in the country.
The court yesterday granted the injunction to Sony restraining the Board for Control of Cricket in India from entering into any further agreements related to the IPL.
When the petition came up for further hearing before Justice SJ Kathawala, the BCCI lawyer sought time to take instructions and produce the relevant documents.
The court said till the matter was heard, the BCCI shall not grant any approval to the WSG under the newly entered contract.
According to the BCCI counsel, the agreement with Sony was terminated on the evening of March 14 and the new one with WSG was signed on the morning of March 15 and the court’s injunction came only in the afternoon on that day.
Sony with Singapore-based sports marketing and management agency WSG had won the telecast rights of the IPL for ten years for approximately $1 billion.
Sony has alleged that the BCCI terminated the original contract and signed a new one with WSG without giving any notice to them.
According to the original agreement, WSG has the rights for broadcasting content related to the IPL abroad while Sony held them for India. — PTI

Aman Kachroo’s death
SC takes serious notice, rightly
THE Supreme Court has rightly sought explanation from the Himachal Pradesh government and the Principal and Registrar of Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College at Tanda in Kangra for the death of 19-year-old student Aman Kachroo allegedly due to ragging by his seniors on March 8. In a directive on Monday, a Bench consisting of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly has asked why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for Aman’s torture and cold-blooded murder. Justice Pasayat has squarely blamed the state government and the college administration for the horrendous incident which has caused national revulsion. Indeed, he has observed that financial aid should be cut off to the institutions that permit ragging. A similar incident in Andhra Pradesh the other day in which a girl student of the Bapatla Engineering College had attempted suicide after she was allegedly forced to dance in nude by her seniors shows that the menace is not confined to one state or region but is widespread. The Bench has also issued notice to the AP government.
The college authorities’ brazen indifference to Aman’s murder is particularly glaring because they have done precious little to save him from the clutches of the hoodlums even though he had complained to them about ragging. The Supreme Court had after the Raghavan Committee report ruled that no institution should neglect or ignore a complaint of ragging; it had warned that the complaint should not be suppressed or let the accused go without exemplary punishment if the guilt is proven. Despite complaints against the four accused students earlier (now in custody), no action was taken against them. This shows the negligence of the authorities and as such are culpable and unfit to run an institution which has to train doctors.
Shockingly, the Centre and most states have failed to enact an anti-ragging law so far. The Central Bill has been pending for the last three years.

HP ragging shows official apathy, ASG tells SC
R SedhuramanLegal Correspondent
New Delhi, March 16Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramanium today maintained in the Supreme Court that the death of Aman Kachroo, the first year medical student of a college in Kangra, “clearly indicates the apathy and negligence” shown by institutional authorities in implementing apex court directions for checking ragging.
The Himachal Pradesh incident and the ragging in an engineering college in Andhra Pradesh earlier this month must be viewed as “gross violation of human rights and as acts of savagery and cruelty” that must be tackled effectively, the ASG said in his 13-page application filed in the court.
Institutional sensitivity was required to take quick action and bring the guilty to book, he said in his capacity as Amicus Curiae to assist the court on the issue of ragging.
The ASG said according to Aman’s father, Rajendra Kachroo, the victim had complained to his parents about ragging after moving into the college hostel on August 16, 2008. But he was advised to try and cope with it till December 31 and later on “firmly deal with the seniors.”
According to Aman’s father, four senior boys entered Aman’s dormitory at 2 am on March 7, 2009, and proceeded to rough up 12-14 junior boys present, including Aman. The senior students, reportedly identified as Ajay Kumar Verma, Naveen Verma, Abhinav Verma and Mukul Sharma, were in an inebriated state. Ajay Kumar Verma had previously been suspended thrice for ragging.
Complaint reports filed by Aman and his fellow victims show that the said senior students allegedly slapped and assaulted the junior students present. In the process, Aman suffered a perforated eardrum and internal injuries. He was treated for his injuries and then discharged, but later succumbed to hemorrhaging and expired on the night of March 8. “It is regretted that the examining doctor did not ask Aman as to how he had been injured; neither did he undertake a detailed examination of Aman.”

‘Court ruling disproves charges against Pariyaram polls’
Special Correspondent
KANNUR: The Pariyaram Medical College Hospital Society said here on Monday that the recent ruling of the High Court Division Bench dismissing an appeal by its former chairman and Communist Marxist Party leader M.V. Raghavan was a fitting reply to the false propaganda in connection with the elections to the board.
T.K. Govindan, chairman of the governing body of the Kerala State Cooperative Hospital Complex and Centre for Advanced Medical Science, (KSCHC & CAMS) told a press conference that the court had observed that the ‘real voters’ had no difficulty in casting their votes in the election to the society held in September 2007.
Theruling had now proved wrong the charges of the United Democratic Front and a section of the media that the polls were not fair, he said.
Mr. Govindan said that the victory of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-supported Pariyaram Medical College Samrakshanan Samithi indicated the heightened sentiments of co-operative democracy against “attempts” by Mr. Raghavan and Congress leader K. Sudhakaran to take control of the institutions by issuing membership to their “family members and supporters.”
He alleged that the previous governing body was not transparent in recruitment and purchase procedures. The new director board had been successful in improving the functioning of the medical college, he said.

Human rights panel orders compensation
Special Correspondent
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala State Human Rights Commission Member A. Lakshmikutty has ordered the payment of Rs.2,500 to P.J. George, a non-resident Keralite, for delaying the issue of a valuation certificate to him by about a year.
She asked the government to make the payment and realise the amount from the salaries of the Village Officer of Alappuzha West Village and the Tahsildar. Mr. George gave the application for the certificate in November 2006. She asked the government to ensure that the certificates were not delayed.

Sentenced to life
Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: The second Fast Track Sessions Court has sentenced a worker to life on finding him guilty of murder of his 25-year-old wife in July 2005. The prime witness in the case was the 10-year-old son of the accused.
Judge Jeevan Rao Kulkarni convicted Shivaraj, a resident of Chamundi Nagar, for setting his wife Komala ablaze. Shivaraj suspected the fidelity of his wife, the police said. He came drunk to his house and had a quarrel with Komala on July 16, 2007. Later, he bolted the door and set his wife ablaze, the police said.
Hemanth, who was witness to the incident, supported the case of the prosecution.
The R.T. Nagar police had registered the case against Shivaraj and his mother Mayamma. The public prosecutor examined 35 witnesses, including the police inspector, who recorded Komala’s dying declaration. The judge acquitted Mayamma.

Mining lease list placed before court
Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: The State Government on Monday placed before the Karnataka High Court a list containing the names of 31 enterprises to whom it had given mining leases in Karnataka.
The State submitted the list after the Karnataka High Court directed it to place before it the names of companies and individual to whom it had issued mining leases.
The State list contains the names it has recommended to the Centre for grant of mining lease during the Kumaraswamy regime and Governor’s Rule.
The Additional Solicitor-General and Government advocate said the State could only recommend the names of companies for lease to the Centre and that the Centre would take a final decision.
The court was also told that mining companies would have to obtain permission or no-objection certificate from the Forest Department only if the mines came within the forests.
The Bench adjourned several cases relating to mining.

Widen roads but follow law, court tells BBMP
Staff Reporter
Division Bench passes order on BBMP memo
‘Work on 91 roads has come to a standstill’
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Monday permitted the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to go ahead with the road widening projects in Bangalore.
However, the High Court made it clear that BBMP should adhere to the provisions of the Karnataka Preservation of Tree Act and the Town and Country Planning Act.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit passed the order after the BBMP filed a memo seeking an early decision on road widening saying more than a month had elapsed after the Lok Adalat referred the case to the High Court. The BBMP also said that work on 91 roads had come to a standstill.
When the matter came up for hearing, the petitioners — Leo Saldanha, Environment Support Group and CIVIC Bangalore — said the BBMP was indiscriminately cutting trees in the name of road widening.
They said the city was losing much of its greenery because of indiscriminate felling of trees in Bangalore by the BBMP.
The petitioners termed as illegal the road widening programme as it violated the provisions of the above Acts.
The petitioners said many trees are likely to be felled over various stretches of 300 kilometres in the city.
The palike had deliberately cut trees even if they did not come in the path of widening of roads, they said.
Earlier, Additional Advocate-General Ashok Harnahalli, appearing for the BBMP, said the civic body was not able to take up any road widening work for a month.

HC chews up lab officials over gutkha analysis
Staff Reporter
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Monday took to task officials of the State and Central laboratories for the lax and indifferent manner in which they had analysed Manikchand Gutkha, manufactured by Dhariwal Industries, for the presence of magnesium carbonate.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinarakan and Justice V.G. Sabahit expressed anguish at the manner in which the laboratory officials had treated directions of the High Court to analyse gutkha for magnesium carbonate and file a report.
It was dealing with a public interest litigation (PIL) petition by Lakshman Pachhapure seeking a direction to the authorities to ban the production and sale of gutkha in the State as it is harmful to human health.
The Government advocate said before the samples were sent to Pune, the Chief Chemist of the State had filed a report confirming the presence of magnesium carbonate.
The Bench said it was not satisfied by the report of the Pune laboratory and asked the Additional Solicitor-General Aravind Kumar to ensure that top officials of the Food Laboratory at Faridkot carried out the analysis.
When the gutkha company said it did not add magnesium carbonate and that traces of the chemical were present in the raw materials used in the manufacture of the gutkha, the Bench orally observed that it could not compromise on the health of crores of people.
The Bench asked Dhariwal Industries to stop production, sale and manufacture of gutkha. When the company sought time to look into the report of the Pune laboratory and make its submission, the Bench said it was willing to give time provided it filed a memo undertaking to stop manufacture, production and sale of gutkha.

Consumer forum offers farmers help
Staff Correspondent
It can take up cases relating to agriculture
It can order payment of compensation for lost crop Lack of publicity cited as main reason for lack of awareness
Chitradurga: Since its inception in 1992, 2,806 cases have come before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, of which 2,781 have been disposed of.
Surprisingly, the forum has received only two cases relating to crop insurance in the district, which has witnessed drought for 50 years.
It is a lesser known fact that the forum also takes up cases relating to crop insurance, crop loss owing to supply of substandard seeds and other such agricultural problems.
Statistics reveal that only 80 cases relating to farming have been registered at the forum. “The number of such cases received may be few, but the redressal ratio is 98 per cent,” said its president, G.C. Neeralagi.
He said several farmers had petitioned the forum seeking action against distributors who supplied poor quality seeds. Farmers also filed cases relating to the inadequate supply of fertilizers.
Mr. Neeralagi said the forum could not only order payment of compensation for lost crop but could also levy penalties for agony caused to farmers.
Asked why farmers had not been able to make full use of the forum, he felt the lack of publicity was the main reason.
“It is important for farmers to be made aware of such dispute redressal mechanisms. Owing to lack of awareness, farmers either don’t register any complaint or keep asking the Government for compensation. Instead of wasting time running from pillar to post for compensation, farmers should directly approach us to get their problems solved,” he said.
Mr. Neeralagi said the primary job of the forum was to accept and redress cases, while spreading awareness was the responsibility of the District Consumer Council, headed by the Deputy Commissioner.
“On the contrary, we are giving this facility publicity when the job should be done by the Department of Food and Civil Supplies,” he added.
Speaking to The Hindu, Deputy Commissioner Amlan Aditya Biswas admitted that adequate publicity was not given to the issue, but, however, said he would direct the department concerned to work on awareness creation.
“We will ensure that the information is passed on to farmers mainly during public grievances meetings,” he said.
Mr. Neeralagi said the forum could take up cases for hearing under 14 categories, such as those relating to medical negligence, education, postal services, telecom, airlines, defective household goods and appliances and road transport.

Judges answerable to citizens: Gokhale
Mohamed Imranullah S.
MADURAI: Madras High Court Chief Justice Hemant Laxman Gokhale is of the view that judges in the State are answerable to citizens and hence should decide cases on meritdespite the ongoing boycott of courts by lawyers.
He expressed his mind during an interaction with judicial officers of 13 districts here on Saturday. “The CJ said it was not appropriate for judges to draw salary without doing any work,” one of the participants, preferring anonymity, said.
The Chief Justice and his companion judges also ascertained from judicial officers the problems the latter might have to face while taking up cases in the absence of lawyers holding ‘vakalats’ (authorisation to appear on behalf of their clients).
According to the source, most of the judicial officers expressed apprehension that they might face the wrath of lawyers who could indulge in violence and create disturbances during court proceedings.
“The CJ said that any such untoward incident should first be brought to the notice of the High Court Registry. He also said that police protection could be sought, if necessary,” the participant said. Further, Mr. Justice Gokhale reportedly told the gathering that lawyers did not resume work despite an assurance given by the representatives of Bar Associations at a meeting in Chennai on March 8, a day before he was sworn in as Chief Justice.
District Judges, Munsifs and Judicial Magistrates from Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Madurai, Dindigul, Theni, Ramanathapuram, Virudhunagar, Sivaganga, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruchi and Karur participated in the interaction.
Meanwhile, M. Subash Babu, secretary of Madurai Bench High Court Advocates Association, denied reports that lawyers here would withdraw vakalats as a mark of protest against the High Court’s decision to decide cases on merits.
“As of now, around 300 lawyers, including 25 women in Madurai Bench, have planned to participate in a rally in Chennai on Thursday demanding action against police excesses on the High Court premises on February 19,” he said.

UGC to issue stringent rules
New Delhi: In the aftermath of the death of medical student Aman Kachroo because of ragging, the University Grants Commission has decided to issue stringent regulations to prevent such acts in future. The regulations are likely to be finalised by April first week, a UGC official told PTI. “The Commission has also decided to have wider consultations with other statutory bodies like the AICTE, the DCI, the NCTE, the PCI and the Medical Council of India,” the official said. The UGC would convene a meeting of these bodies along with the chairmen of State Councils of Higher Education and Education Secretaries.

Why Shiv Sena Hindustan can’t be registered as party: HC to EC
17 Mar 2009, 1823 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought a response from the Election Commission on why a political party naming ‘Shiv Sena Hindustan’ cannot be registered with it. Justice S Ravindra Bhat asked the Commission to file its affidavit explaning why it refused to register the Punjab-based political party. The court passed the order on a petition filed by the party alleging the Commission had rejected it’s plea for registration in gross violation of its discretionary powers. “The non-registration of the party name is arbitrary, capricious, gross violation of discretionary powers granted to the Commission,” advocate Ajit Nair, appearing for the party, contended. The Commission, however, defended its action saying the party name cannot be registered as it is similar to Shiv Sena which is already a recognized and registered political party. The petitioner objected to the Commission’s stand saying numerous political parties carrying similar names have been registered in the past by the EC. “The Commission has been registering parties in similar name of an existing party like Janata Dal and subsequent registration of Janata Dal Secular, Janata Dal United,” Nair said. The Court, after hearing both sides, asked the EC to file its response

Speaker’s nod must to make netas’ assets public, says CIC
17 Mar 2009, 0221 hrs IST, Himanshi Dhawan, TNN
NEW DELHI: Wealth owned by ministers and their kin can only be made public if the Speaker allows it, the Central Information Commission ruled and asked the Prime Minister’s Office to seek the Speaker’s nod for making public ministers’ assets. For those ministers who are Rajya Sabha members, the commission has advised a similar procedure with the presiding officer. The controversial issue of disclosure of minister’s assets has been hanging fire for over a year. Applicant Subhash Chandra Agarwal had asked for information related to assets owned by Union ministers and their kin. In his order, chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said the “information is not disclosable except with the permission of the Speaker”. This is with reference to the disclosure of information related to ministers who are members of the Lok Sabha. He added, “If there is any equivalent rule with regard to the Rajya Sabha, this may also be exercised.” The CIC has stipulated a time period of 30 days. According to sources, there has been precedent when the Speaker has allowed disclosure of assets of Lok Sabha members. Rules framed by the Parliament ethics committee stipulate that each member of the Lok Sabha must submit assets and liabilities in a sealed cover to the Speaker. The information is kept confidential till such time as the Speaker deems fit. It is learnt that there have been instances when MPs’ wealth has been made public under the RTI Act. So far, the government has been reluctant to part with the information. The PMO had initially forwarded the application to the cabinet secretariat asking for information to be disclosed. In his appeal, Agarwal pointed out that in a letter written on May 19, 2008, the PMO had provided details of assets and liabilities of members of the Union council of ministers to cabinet secretariat to deal with such RTI applications. However, Agarwal was later informed by the PMO that the information sought was exempt under section 8 of the RTI Act. After six months, PMO in a letter dated December 17, 2008 told Agarwal that the information sought could not be provided as it was exempt under the RTI Act provisions. The PM’s office sought exemption under clauses 8(1)(e) and 8(1)(j) which relate to immunity granted to “documents fiduciary relationship” and “Cabinet documents” under the RTI Act.

Fine cannot substitute custodial sentence in rash and negligent driving: SC
17 Mar 2009, 0302 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: Disturbed by increasing fatalities on roads, the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment ruled that in cases of rash and negligent driving resulting in deaths, courts should not adopt a lenient approach and substitute custodial sentence with fine. Fearing that the rich and mighty may get away in road rage and rash and negligent driving cases, the apex court said the provision in penal laws prescribing jail term could not be bartered away by allowing a convict to walk free after paying a hefty fine. The ruling came in a rash driving case against a bus driver. A 16-year-old had died because of the bus hitting an auto-rickshaw in which he was travelling. The trial court convicted him under Section 304A of Indian Penal Code and imposed a sentence of one year imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000. However, the Karnataka High Court allowed the driver’s appeal by increasing the fine amount in lieu of doing away with the jail term. Allowing the appeal of Karnataka government against the HC order, a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and A K Ganguly said, “This is a case where the HC has without considering the relevant aspects and even without indicating any reason, waived the custodial sentence and imposed only fine. The judgment therefore is clearly unsustainable. The HC order is set aside and that of the trial court is restored.” The Bench, perturbed by rising fatalities in road accidents, said, “As vehicle use in developing countries are increasing, road traffic injuries are expected to become the third leading cause of death and disability worldwide by 2020.” “The human toll in such accidents is tragic. Survivors and family members are affected not only by an immediate death or disability, but also lifetime psychological and physical suffering. Crashes often result in orphans, and some victims, as young as infants, spend the rest of their lives with medical help,” said Justice Pasayat, writing the judgment for the Bench. Referring to the global estimated annual cost of road crashes, pegged at $500 billion, the Bench said India needed to quickly find a solution to this menace and could take cue from the tools developed by developed countries. However, the apex court said undue sympathy to persons indulging in rash and negligent driving resulting in deaths would prove counter-productive. “Imposition of sentence without considering the effect on the social order in many cases may in reality be a futile exercise… Any liberal attitude by imposing meagre sentences or taking too sympathetic a view merely on account of lapse of time in respect of such offences will be, result-wise, counter productive in the long run and against social interest which needs to be cared for and strengthened by a string of deterrence inbuilt in the sentencing system,” it said.

RTI Act fails to revitalise admin
16 Mar 2009, 2149 hrs IST, Anshul Jaiswal and Harsh Pandey, TNN
KANPUR: When Right to Information (RTI) Act came into existence in 2005, people in India hailed it as a revolution. But, contrary to their perception their right to seek the information has been left in lurch. Thanks to laid-back attitudes of bureaucrats and department officials. They felt empowered and thought that it will revamp stinky babucracy existent in country and revitalise it with doses of honesty, integrity and transparency. But the charisma has not lived up to reputation and RTI Act has failed to yield proper results. Very few government departments within time-bound limit furnish the answers and most of the officials who have been appointed as PIOs do not consider job seriously and even some of them go to extent by misleading the public by providing improper details. Interestingly, number of people using the act is increasing each passing day standing as a testimony of growing awareness among people about the act. Running a RTI voluntary task force in the city, Dr Sunil Gupta said, “the awareness level has definitely gone up as even illiterate people coming from remote areas are using the act.” We start from the quote of the best man available on the topic, Arvind Kejriwal. Straight away, Kejriwal shot down, “success rate has gone down within four years of act because of corrupt officials who are not informing people how to use the act to their utmost benefit.” Detailing about where lies the rot, Kejriwal said,”the problem lies in the fact that government workers tend to grow loyalists and even corrupt officials are appointed by ICs.” The technical aspect for some officials remains a bottle-neck in effective realisation of the Act. DM, Anil Kumar Sagar, said, “Due to lot of paper-work involved, the work proceeds sluggishly. Computerisation will bring more clarity and speediness in the work.” So will the Act die a pre-mature death? Kejriwal said, “The solution lies in putting pressure on government to appoint corrupt officials. Unless and until government appoints honest officials as information commissioners (ICs), the act will never realise its main goal, achieving transparency in working style of government.”

Lawyers up in arms against minister
16 Mar 2009, 2245 hrs IST, TNN
ALLAHABAD: A piquant situation arose at the district collectorate here on Monday noon after two groups of lawyers came at loggerheads. The situation was normalised following intervention of senior members of the warring groups. Pointedly, a section of lawyers were up in arms against minister of state for institutional finance Nand Gopal Gupta for allegedly misbehaving with a district court lawyer. They began staging a road blockade outside the court, shouting slogans against the minister, even as the police stood as mute spectators. On hearing the slogans, another group of lawyers, owing allegiance to the minister, tried to reason out with the protesters apprising them about the reality. However, the protesters refused to budge and went ahead with the protest. They also misbehaved with high court lawyer Vikas Gupta, who happened to pass that way. Gupta was critical of the manner in which the lawyers were creating a ruckus, having scant regard for the sanctity of the bar. The protesters alleged that when the district court lawyer had gone to exchange Holi greetings with the minister at the latter’s office in the city, he was manhandled by the minister and his supporters. Members of Yuvjan Adhivakta Sangh later held a meeting at the court premises to condemn the unwarranted action of a section of lawyers. The meeting was presided by sangh president, Krishna Gopal Pandey. The members said that the lawyers were acting as puppets in the hands of political rivals of the minister. They appealed to the lawyers to maintain harmony. Talking to TOI, the minister, while rejecting allegations against him pointed out that the said lawyer has filed a civil suit against him which is pending in the court. “Is it not ridiculous to assume that he would have approached me to wish a Happy Holi?” he questioned. The suit relates to a property Nandi had purchased in 2005 when he was neither a MLA nor a minister. After the owner had sold the property, the registry formalities were completed and Nandi stepped into the political mainstream, the said lawyer began staking claim, declaring himself to be one of the rightful owners. The issue remains to be decided in the court. The minister pointed out that the lawyer was being used by his political rivals to tarnish his image.

HC issues notices to defence estate dept, others
16 Mar 2009, 2239 hrs IST, TNN
ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court has taken a serious note that property worth crores of rupees, belonging to the defence estate department (DED) in Kanpur, was sold away at throwaway prices in connivance with the officials. The court has asked the Union of India, DED and the state government to file replies within three weeks and fixed April 14 to hear the case. The order was passed by a bench comprising Justice SR Alam and Justice Sudhir Agarwal, on a petition filed by Awadh Narain Singh of Kanpur. Defence estate officer, Circle at Lucknow, has been impleaded as respondent in the petition. CB Yadav, appearing for the petitioner, had contended that the government land has been sold in connivance of the authorities of the defence estate department and the local administration, including the registration department. The court, in its order, has clarified that the counter-affidavit on behalf of the defence estate department, shall be sworn by the principal director himself and for the Cantonment Board, it shall be sworn by the chief executive officer. The court has directed to produce all the records related to the property in question. The court has also issued notices to the purchasers through chief metropolitan magistrate, Kanpur Nagar.

Chawla case: Police submits interim report
17 Mar 2009, 0055 hrs IST, TNN
JAIPUR: The city police have submitted its interim investigation report on the alleged irregularities in land allotment to the educational trusts related to election commissioner Navin Chawla in the district court here. The report, however, has not confirmed the allegations and the police have demanded another two months for further investigation. The court, on the other hand, gave the police a month’s period and submit the report by April 16.
The police submitted a three page report and demanded more time which was partially granted. As the police is unable to contradict any of the documents submitted by us, thus our point can be said to be acceptable” said advocate Yogendra Tanwar who has filed the case. “The police have also written to some other involved departments for further investigation The complainants have alleged that the Urban Development ministry and JDA have allotted land to Lala Chaman Lal Educational Trust for Boys and Bhagwan Devi Educational Trust for Girls’ in order to please the bureaucrat, during previous tenure of Ashok Gehlot government. Though Chawla and Congress have repeatedly denied the allegations, the case has been subjudice and is less likely to affect the appointment of Chawla as the chief election commissioner.

HC stays probe into number plate tender
17 Mar 2009, 0050 hrs IST, TNN
JAIPUR: The Rajasthan High Court on Monday stayed the order of an ACB court directing the DGP to order a probe into the alleged corruption in the Rs 400-crore tender for high security registration plates given to one Shimnit Utsch Inida Pvt. Ltd. Justice Raghuvendra Singh Rathore’s order came on a petition filed by the company challenging the ACB court order saying that it has been passed without looking into the fact that the validity of the tender procedure has been upheld by the high court and that a special court appointed under a particular Act of the legislature has no authority to ask for investigation in any case on an application made under Section 156 (3) of the CrPC. Senior advocate from the Supreme Court, Rajeev Dhawan argued the case on behalf of the company. The ACB court had directed the DGP to ask an officer of the rank of SP to investigate the corruption charges and role of the persons named in the complaint. A complaint was filed by one Chandrabihari Sharma on Feburary 10 alleging that there has been a huge scam in the allotment of tender to the Shinnit Utsch company by the state government and for which a huge gratification has been given to the various officials at different levels. The complaint named former transport minister Yunus Khan, personal secretary of BJP leader LK Advani, Deepak Chopra, director Manoj Patel and 10 others including former director of the company Nitin Shah who resigned from the company in 2005. It was alleged by the complainant that the number plates for the vehicles that were being provided by the company were exorbitantly priced whereas the number plates of the same specifications are available at a very low price in the market. “We will file an appeal in the Supreme Court. The court passed the order without hearing the complainant. The court was not apprised of the proper facts of the case and there is no such fetters on the power of a special judge in ordering a probe into such corruption issued,” said Ajay Kumar Jain, counsel for the complainant. The state government, meanwhile, has suspended the work licence granted to the company and the same has been challenged by the company before a single judge of the high court but no stay was granted by it.

I am not pro any caste or religion: CJ
17 Mar 2009, 0048 hrs IST, Abhinav Sharma, TNN
JAIPUR: The new chief justice of Rajasthan high Court Deepak Verma has made it clear to the Bar that he believes in work and has no respect for those who seek unnecessary adjournments and delay disposal of cases on some pretext. Justice Verma was speaking at a meeting to felicitate him on Monday. He said he wanted to be a humane judge. The chief justice a asked the Bar Association of Rajasthan and the Bar Council of Rajasthan to seriously consider opening of a training academy for new advocates on the pattern of Karnataka High Court. He called attention to the fact that the young lawyers are not paid stipend by their seniors. He pointed out that Karnataka government has started a scheme to pay sustenance allowance of Rs. 2,000 per month for a period of two years to new lawyers. He said that this practice should be followed in the state. Justice Verma practised mainly on the civil side in the district courts and high court at Jabalpur He held additional charge as welfare commissioner to help of Bhopal gas victims from 2003 till March 28 last year. Justice Verma is the fifth judge from Madhya Pradesh high court to head the state judiciary. “I will try to follow in the steps of those who has preceded me and I have a big dream for the state’s judiciary. Hope I may be able to realize it,” said Verma. He also asked the lawyers to cooperate with the bench in order to increase the working days and time of the court. He gave examples of Gujarat, Karnataka and other states that have already started evening courts. Justice Verma, who is being considered for Supreme Court judgeship, said, “Whether my one-day performance was sufficient for my felicitation or not is a million dollar question, it is too early for the bar to judge my functioning. I hope I will atleast be able to set the ball rolling, even if I do not succeed in realizing all my dreams and plans about state judiciary. Justice Verma also stress on the arrears and pendency of litigation in the court, he sought cooperation of lawyers in evolving quick disposal mechanism.

Guv administers oath to new CJ Koshy
17 Mar 2009, 0220 hrs IST, TNN
PATNA: Governor R L Bhatia on Monday administered oath to new Chief Justice (CJ), Patna High Court, Justice Jacob Benjamin Koshy at a simple function organized at Raj Bhawan. The present and former judges of Patna HC, CM Nitish Kumar, assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary, legislative council acting chairman Arun Kumar, law minister Ramnath Thakur, member, board of revenue, K D Sinha, State Farmers’ Commission chairman Ramadhar, DGP D N Gautam, ADGP (police headquarters) Neelmani, were among the other dignitaries present at the oath taking ceremony. Koshy’s family members and friends from Kerala HC were also present at the function. Born on May 13, 1947, Koshy was enrolled as advocate on October 12, 1968, and was elevated as judge of Ernakulam High Court (Kerala) on January 17, 1996. Koshy did LLM with specialisation in Mercantile Law and Law of Contract from Kerala University. He practised in Ernakulam HC, labour court, industrial tribunal and excelled in constitutional law. He was standing counsel of the Central and state governments’ undertakings and also contested cases of private sector companies. Noted for his judgements and juristic excellence, Koshy is due to retire in the middle of May, 2009.

HC reserves order on Shahabu’s plea
17 Mar 2009, 0201 hrs IST, TNN
PATNA: The Patna High Court on Monday reserved order on the petition of RJD MP from Siwan, Md Shahabuddin, seeking stay on his conviction in a case of kidnapping and murder of a CPI(ML) worker, Chhotelal Gupta. A sessions court of Siwan had awarded life term to the MP in this case. A division bench comprising Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice Sheema Ali Khan also reserved order on the bail plea of Shahabuddin in the same case. The additional public prosecutor of the state government opposed the petitions of Shahabuddin on the ground that he was involved in many criminals cases, including cases of felony.

Salem produced in special CBI court, hearing on Mar 30
17 Mar 2009, 1518 hrs IST, PTI
LUCKNOW: Under world don Abu Salem was today produced in the special CBI court here in connection with a 1993 fake passport case. After Salem was produced in the court the special judicial magistrate Saif Ahmad fixed March 30 as the next date of hearing. The CBI court had earlier issued a production warrant against Salem in the 15-year-old case, in which he along with his wife Damira Zumani and others are accused of procuring passports on the basis of fake documents from the regional passport office at Lucknow. These passports were also issued under fake names. Salem, also an accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, was brought to the state capital this morning by Mumbai police and was taken to Kaisarbagh police station and later to CBI court for hearing amidst tight security arrangements. He will be taken back to Mumbai this evening.

Stop ragging or face aid cut: court
J. Venkatesan
Directions issued on the basis of Raghavan report to end menace have not been complied with
Bench issues show-cause to medical college principal and registrar
Medical Council asked to probe doctor’s failure to properly examine Aman Kachroo
New Delhi: Time has come for cutting off financial aid to educational institutions which are not complying with the directions to put down ragging, the Supreme Court said on Monday.
Expressing serious concern over the death of Aman Kachroo, student of Dr. Rajendra Prasad Medical College, Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, due to ragging on March 8, a Bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat and A.K. Ganguly issued a show-cause to the principal and the registrar, asking why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for not complying with the court directions to prevent ragging.
Earlier, Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam made a special mention about the death of the student and sought urgent directions. He also mentioned about the suicide attempt by a girl student of Agriculture and Engineering College, Bapatla in Andhra Pradesh, after she was allegedly forced by ser seniors to dance obscenely.
Justice Pasayat observed: “It appears that the concern shown by this court has not been taken seriously by the authorities. Prima facie it is contempt of this court. The directions issued by this court on May 16, 2007 and February 11, 2009 [on the basis of the R.K. Raghavan Committee report to end the menace] have not been complied with. Time has come for cutting off financial aid to these institutions which are not complying with the directions.”
The Bench, while issuing the notice, sought the response of the principal and the registrar in two weeks on what action was taken after the ragging incident was brought to their notice.
It asked the Medical Council of India to inquire into allegations that though Aman Kachroo suffered a perforated eardrum and internal injuries, the doctor who attended on him failed to conduct any detailed examination and the victim succumbed to his injuries on March 8.
The Bench said: “It shall be stated by the MCI whether the doctor was negligent in providing treatment to Aman Kachroo and what action is proposed against the delinquent doctor if any.”
It asked the Chief Secretaries and the Directors-General of Police of Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh to file separate affidavits explaining the steps taken by them to comply with the earlier directions, and the action against the two institutions and the erring students.
Further hearing is posted to March 30.

Given HC nod, NHAI to clear NH-22 today
17 Mar 2009, 0559 hrs IST, TNN
PANCHKULA: The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday allowed the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to carry out demolitions along the

national highway in Kalka as per Supreme Court orders. The court also directed the Panchkula administration and NHAI to file status report on March 19. The Supreme Court had allowed NHAI to remove encroachments along the highway without damaging the residential premises of petitioners. Following a late evening meet with civil administration officials for security cover during the drive, the highway authority decided to start demolitions from Tuesday. There are around 250 unauthorised structures in Kalka. On January 31, the high court had ordered demolition of illegal structures on national highway-22 in Kalka following which the residents and shopkeepers had moved a special leave petition in Supreme Court. The apex court disposed off the petition on March 2, allowing demolition with a rider.

CJ gives in to Bar, changes HC roster
17 Mar 2009, 0600 hrs IST, Vishal Sharma, TNN
CHANDIGARH: In an apparent fallout of the face-off between justice Uma Nath Singh and High Court Bar Association over his “indecent behaviour towards lawyers”, chief justice Tirath Singh Thakur is said to have ordered a change in the HC roster on Monday. Though no official word was available, sources said the change in roster would be effective from Wednesday and that justice Uma Nath Singh is likely to sit with a senior judge, in all likelihood justice J S Khehar, in a division bench. “I’ve heard the news but have not been able to confirm it as I’m in the USA and will return by tomorrow evening only,” Bar association president Rupinder Khosla told TOI on Monday. There will be more changes in the roster. While justice S K Mittal will sit in a single bench (civil), justice Daya Chaudhary is likely to join justice Mehtab Singh Gill in division bench. The chief justice will remain with justice Hemant Gupta in the first division bench. At present, justice Uma Nath Singh sits as a senior judge with justice A N Jindal in a division bench and managed smooth business despite the near month-long boycott by lawyers. The Bar had refused to relent till “an acceptable solution” was found.

Life term for rapist stepfather
17 Mar 2009, 0533 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: Chander Pal, 35, who was found guilty of repeatedly raping his 17-year-old stepdaughter, was sentenced to life imprisonment in the court of justice Raj Shekhar Attri on Monday. He was also directed to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the victim. Prosecution had stated that Pal had been violating the girl since she was 12. Justice Attri gave a chance to the accused and victim to say something before the sentence was pronounced. Pal refused to give the girl the hut where he stayed. Sister Pauletta of Sector-23 based Missionaries of Charity Home (MCH) and Child Welfare Committee member Madhu P Singh accompanied the victim, who expressed her wish to stay at MCH instead of Nari Niketan. After the hearing, the victim, who was in tears, said, “I am missing my mother. Now, I will study and take care of my five-month-old baby.” Prosecution said her mother had committed suicide because Pal was involved in an extramarital affair. At that time, the victim was three years old. The trial in the case took just six hearings with the charges being framed on February 13. Pal had been booked under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

Two sentenced in murder case
17 Mar 2009, 0527 hrs IST, TNN
PANCHKULA: Court of additional district and sessions judge Sanjeev Jindal awarded 10-year imprisonment to Mansa Devi Complex (MDC) resident Sanjay Kumar, 30, on Monday for the murder of one Raju on December 31, 2007. His co-accused Subhash Kumar, 50, was awarded two-year imprisonment. Fine of Rs 5,000 each was also imposed on them. The victim was 28 years of age and worked as a painter. Police arrested the accused on January 1. Prosecution had stated that the accused and victim had been drinking and gambling on new year eve. It was stated that Raju won Rs 30 from them and that led to a scuffle. Police said Sanjay hit Raju in the head with a baton. The victim was badly hurt and the accused took him behind a hut and left him there, said cops.

Derabassi toll plaza: HC issues show cause notice
17 Mar 2009, 0454 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: The issue of heavy toll tax collection at Derabassi flyover on Zirakpur-Ambala national highway by a private company weighed heavily on the mind of justices Uma Nath Singh and AN Jindal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday when they issued a showcause notice for contempt to RK Sondhi, ADJ, Chandigarh. While sitting in an arbitration tribunal, Sondhi had given a seven-month extension till October 2009 to the company to collect toll. The HC wanted to know reasons for giving extension even as the Union counsel had informed the court early this year that there would be no extension beyond March 14, 2009. When the division bench was told that Sondhi was duly apprised of the Centre’s stand before the HC, judges took serious note of the situation seeking an immediate explanation from Sondhi. On January 22, the judges had perused an affidavit filed by Brahm Dutt, secretary, department of road transport and highway, Union of India, and directed him to clarify as to whether the escalation in cost of project was included in the toll fee being collected from road-users.

HC warns municipalities of contempt proceedings
17 Mar 2009, 0423 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa on Monday warned seven municipal councils of contempt proceedings if they failed to comply with the court’s earlier directions with regard to garbage disposal within a week. The court was hearing the suo motu petition relating to garbage disposal in the state, at which the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) filed a detailed inspection report. The court on February 18, 2009 had directed the GSPCB to conduct an inspection of the garbage disposal facilities of Cuncolim, Curchorem, Pernem, Sanquelim, Valpoi, Sanguem and Quepem municipal councils and to submit its report to the court. Atmaram Nadkarni appearing for GSPCB told the court that after conducting the inspection, it had appeared to the board that the seven civic bodies had inadequate composting facilities, and that some of them did not segregate waste into bio and non biodegradable waste. Referring to the report, amicus curiae Norma Alvares pointed out that it appeared that the Curchorem-Cacora municipal council was burning non biodegradable garbage, while the other six municipalities had not taken steps to set up new composting stations. This was, Alvares argued, in violation of the court’s earlier orders. At this juncture the division bench comprising Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice N A Britto sought to know whether the chief officers of the seven municipalities were present as per the court’s orders. When it was brought to the notice of the bench that with the exception of the chief officer of the Valpoi municipality, the others were present in the court, the bench observed that it was obvious that the court’s orders were being taken lightly by the civic bodies. Giving the municipalities a “last opportunity” the bench directed them to comply with the directions within a week’s time failing which the court would “take action” against the chief officers, including initiating contempt proceedings against them. The matter has been fixed for further orders on March 23. Regarding biomedical waste, the GSPCB member secretary Ashok Daiwajna filed an affidavit detailing the board’s inspection of the state’s health care facilities as directed by the court on January 30, 2009. The affidavit states that the board had conducted an inspection of 144 health care facilities and found that 108 had complied with the Bio Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1988. The board issued directions to 31 health care facilities and would re-inspect the remaining five as they were under renovation. Of the 108 units which had complied with the rules, 51 had been granted authorization and the board was in the process of granting authorization to 24 others. The affidavit also states that 45 health care facilities remain to be inspected. Further, the affidavit disclosed that the GSPCB was in the process of issuing directions to the Mapusa Municipal Council for complying with the recommendations made by it after inspecting their waste disposal facilities.

Govt to await court view on casino shifting
17 Mar 2009, 0418 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: The state government has decided not to proceed with its decision to shift the floating casinos from the Mandovi until further orders from the high court. This was conveyed to the high court of Bombay at Goa on Monday by state advocate general Subodh Kantak. Kantak was replying to petitions by two more floating casinos operating on the Mandovi who approached the high court seeking relief from the government’s decision to shift them from the Mandovi to Aguada Bay. The petitions filed on Monday were by High Street Cruises and Entertainment who operate Casino Royale and Victor Hotels and Motels who run Arabian Sea. In their petitions, both casino operators claim that the government has issued them notices despite their possessing the necessary permissions to operate on the Mandovi. When the petitions came up for hearing Kantak repeated the argument he had made in the previous cases saying that the government had decided to shift the casinos as they were causing navigational problems for ore carrying barges on the river. The court fixed March 19 as the next date for hearing the matter, which will be clubbed with the petitions filed by two other casinos, the Pride of Goa and the Leela. According to the notice sent by the government to the casinos, they have to shift their vessels from the Mandovi by March 19.

HC warns municipalities of contempt proceedings
17 Mar 2009, 0423 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa on Monday warned seven municipal councils of contempt proceedings if they failed to comply with the court’s earlier directions with regard to garbage disposal within a week. The court was hearing the suo motu petition relating to garbage disposal in the state, at which the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) filed a detailed inspection report. The court on February 18, 2009 had directed the GSPCB to conduct an inspection of the garbage disposal facilities of Cuncolim, Curchorem, Pernem, Sanquelim, Valpoi, Sanguem and Quepem municipal councils and to submit its report to the court. Atmaram Nadkarni appearing for GSPCB told the court that after conducting the inspection, it had appeared to the board that the seven civic bodies had inadequate composting facilities, and that some of them did not segregate waste into bio and non biodegradable waste. Referring to the report, amicus curiae Norma Alvares pointed out that it appeared that the Curchorem-Cacora municipal council was burning non biodegradable garbage, while the other six municipalities had not taken steps to set up new composting stations. This was, Alvares argued, in violation of the court’s earlier orders. At this juncture the division bench comprising Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice N A Britto sought to know whether the chief officers of the seven municipalities were present as per the court’s orders. When it was brought to the notice of the bench that with the exception of the chief officer of the Valpoi municipality, the others were present in the court, the bench observed that it was obvious that the court’s orders were being taken lightly by the civic bodies. Giving the municipalities a “last opportunity” the bench directed them to comply with the directions within a week’s time failing which the court would “take action” against the chief officers, including initiating contempt proceedings against them. The matter has been fixed for further orders on March 23. Regarding biomedical waste, the GSPCB member secretary Ashok Daiwajna filed an affidavit detailing the board’s inspection of the state’s health care facilities as directed by the court on January 30, 2009. The affidavit states that the board had conducted an inspection of 144 health care facilities and found that 108 had complied with the Bio Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1988. The board issued directions to 31 health care facilities and would re-inspect the remaining five as they were under renovation. Of the 108 units which had complied with the rules, 51 had been granted authorization and the board was in the process of granting authorization to 24 others. The affidavit also states that 45 health care facilities remain to be inspected. Further, the affidavit disclosed that the GSPCB was in the process of issuing directions to the Mapusa Municipal Council for complying with the recommendations made by it after inspecting their waste disposal facilities.

Govt to await court view on casino shifting
17 Mar 2009, 0418 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: The state government has decided not to proceed with its decision to shift the floating casinos from the Mandovi until further orders from the high court. This was conveyed to the high court of Bombay at Goa on Monday by state advocate general Subodh Kantak. Kantak was replying to petitions by two more floating casinos operating on the Mandovi who approached the high court seeking relief from the government’s decision to shift them from the Mandovi to Aguada Bay. The petitions filed on Monday were by High Street Cruises and Entertainment who operate Casino Royale and Victor Hotels and Motels who run Arabian Sea. In their petitions, both casino operators claim that the government has issued them notices despite their possessing the necessary permissions to operate on the Mandovi. When the petitions came up for hearing Kantak repeated the argument he had made in the previous cases saying that the government had decided to shift the casinos as they were causing navigational problems for ore carrying barges on the river. The court fixed March 19 as the next date for hearing the matter, which will be clubbed with the petitions filed by two other casinos, the Pride of Goa and the Leela. According to the notice sent by the government to the casinos, they have to shift their vessels from the Mandovi by March 19.

Election symbol to Praja Rajyam: SC dismisses PIL
Published by: Noor KhanPublished: Mon, 16 Mar 2009 at 21:09 IST
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition filed by a voter on the issue of allotment of a symbol to Praja Rajyam Party, floated in Andhra Pradesh by Telugu film icon Chiranjeevi, so it can be used to fight the coming polls across the state.A bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justices V S Sirpurkar and P Sathasivam dismissed the petition as “infructous” since the Election Commission has already rejected Chiranjeevi’s plea.The petitioner S Siva Prasad had filed the PIL in the apex court pleading that no such allotment can be made to the Praja Rajyam in view of the Elections Symbols Allotment Order which stipulates that only recognized political parties can be alloted a symbol with which they can fight elections in all the places.Prasad had moved the apex court after the Andhra Pradesh High Court directed the Election Commission on February 6, 2009 to examine the plea of the Praja Rajyam Party to allot it a common symbol to contest coming assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

‘Eateries aboard casinos operating without licence’
17 Mar 2009, 0324 hrs IST, TNN
PANAJI: Stating that restaurants aboard floating casinos are operating without permission from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), opposition leader Manohar Parrikar has demanded immediate action and also the closure of these eateries. Until the matter is cleared by the government of India, sea vessels that do not have a licence under the Goa Prevention of Food and Adulteration Act should be stopped from selling any item covered under the act. This is specifically applicable to casinos selling food illegally without a proper licence.’ Parrikar’s letter stated. Kindly note that rules applicable to small time eateries along the road side are equally applicable to big establishments. Therefore, until licenses are granted and due clarification is received by you from the government of India, you should take action against casinos selling food illegally without any licence under the Goa Prevention of Food and Adulteration Act and stop them from operating their restaurants and bars,’ the opposition leader’s letter stated. The BJP leader further accused Ahmed Patel, political secretary to UPA president Sonia Gandhi, of calling on the chief minister twice and pressurizing him and home minister Ravi Naik to clear permissions to some floating casino operators. “All three of them are involved in the illegal clearing of files,” he said on Monday. Mocking the current drama of the casino operators dragging the government to court, Parrikar alleged that the entire play has been fixed. The opposition leader further criticized the cabinet for considering a note from the advocate general defining the meaning of an off-shore casino without taking the departments concerned into confidence. “This style of functioning, where the government has asked the casinos to move in an irrational manner, has been deployed by the government in other situations before,” he said. Parrikar said that this situation was engineered to suit the casino operators. “The government is hands-in-glove with the casino operators,” he said. He further alleged that some floating casinos were operating even without the NOC from the captain of ports, while others had their NOCs expired. “The NOC of Casino Royale expired on February 18. Why is the captain of ports not throwing these casinos out?” Parrikar asked.

Industrialists file PIL for repair of national highway
Posted: Mar 17, 2009 at 0149 hrs IST
Solan Peeved over the alleged indifference of the Haryana state government and the Centre towards the bad condition of the Pinjore-Baddi stretch of National Highway 21A, the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh Industries’ Association (BBNIA) and Laghu Udyog Bharti (LUB) have filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, urging the court to direct officials concerned to repair the highway.
BBNIA president Rajender Guleria and LUB president M P Sharmam in a civil writ petitionm have urged the court to direct the Government of Haryana and the officials concerned to repair the entire stretch of road from Pinjore to Maranwala-Baddi. Earlier, the BBNIA had taken up the issue with the both the governments, to little consequence though.
The members of the Association have also urged the officials to construct a Baddi-Kona-Chandigarh link road via Jayanti Majri and a Basolan-Prempura-Nayagram-Chandigarh link road to avoid traffic jams at Pinjore.
They have also demanded necessary directions from the Union government to the Punjab and Haryana governments to expedite construction work of Chandigarh-Siswan-Baddi road, which would help reduce commuting time.
A deputation of the association had also met Director General (Road Development) few months ago and had apprised him that owing to poor condition of the road, thousands of commuters, including industrial workers of over 5,000 industries of Baddi industrial belt, were facing great inconvenience. “Since the announcement of industrial package for Himachal Pradesh, the Baddi industrial belt has witnessed arrival of large scale industries. Due to this, vehicular traffic on the highway has increased manifold, leading to long traffic jams at Pinjore,” said Guleria.
The petitioners have also urged the court to issue needed directions to convert the road into four or six lanes on account of the heavy traffic density, which was examined by the officials some months ago.

Contempt notice to ADJ for ‘disobeying’ HC orders
Express News Service
Posted: Mar 17, 2009 at 0216 hrs IST
Chandigarh The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued showcause notices to R K Sondhi, Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADJ), Chandigarh, asking him to explain as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him. The ADJ has been asked to remain present in court on Tuesday at 10 am.
The directions were passed by a Division Bench, comprising Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice Augustine George Masih, regarding a PIL on construction work on various national highways. On January 22, the court had made it clear that no further extension will be given to the toll plaza located at Dera Bassi after the expiry of the operator’s term on March 14.
It was brought to the notice of the High Court today that the Court of ADJ R K Sondhi had stayed the orders of the Union of India according to which the term of toll plaza was to expire. Producing a receipt of the toll plaza to prove his statement, the petitioner submitted that the ADJ had stayed the orders despite the HC directions. Taking a strong note, the court issued a contempt notice to Sondhi.
Superintending Engineer (Ministry of Roads, Transport Highways) A K Nagpal and Sunil Pahalwan, General Manager, M/s Valecha Engineering, were present in court today.
Meanwhile, the Bench also expressed disapproval on litigation being affected owing to the High Court Bar Association’s ongoing boycott of Justice Uma Nath Singh. The Bench referred to Rule 16 of Chapter 6 Part B of Rules & Orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which reads: “Strike by advocates would be considered interference with administration of justice and advocates participating in a strike may be barred from practice.”
The advocates are boycotting the judge’s court since February 19 after advocate M K Tiwari complained that Justice Uma Nath had insulted him in court.
“Even the law officers deputed to this court are abstaining from appearance. Needless to say that the expenses on government litigation as well as payment of fee and retainer to government advocates are made from the public exchequer and any adjournment in government cases on the ground of boycott would amount to legalising such boycotts, which would be contrary to the mandate of the judgments of the Supreme Court,” the Bench held.
The court also directed Cabinet Secretary/Law Secretary to the Government of India and Chief Secretaries to Punjab and Haryana to ensure representation in government cases.
Justice Uma Nath to sit as junior judge, boycott to end on March 18In a significant development, aimed at putting an end to the ongoing boycott, the roster of the High Court has been changed. According to the new roster, in effect from March 18, Justice Uma Nath Singh will sit as a junior judge with Justice J S Khehar, who is the first Puisne Judge (senior-most after the Chief Justice).
Welcoming the development, President of the High Court Bar Association Rupinder S Khosla said: “Since it is an honourable solution devised by the Chief Justice, the Bar will end its boycott on March 18.”
Earlier, the Bar had passed a resolution demanding that Justice Uma Nath been made a junior judge in a Division Bench or run a single Bench in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. As per the new roster, there will be eight Division Benches, 21 single civil Benches and 11 single criminal Benches.

HC allows KMC to snap defaulters’ water
17 Mar 2009, 0314 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has regained the power to disconnect the water supply lines of citizens not paying property tax for more than a year. A Calcutta High Court division Bench on Monday set aside a single Bench order that restrained KMC from taking such stringent action for collecting property tax arrears. While allowing the appeal filed by KMC, the Bench of Justice Asim Banerjee and Justice Prasenjit Mondal observed that the civic body could enforce Section 275(1)(aa) of the KMC Act that empowers it to stop supplying water to property tax defaulters. Mayor Bikash Bhattacharya said the civic body would now start snapping off supply lines as a penal action to realise outstanding property tax. “We’ll conduct raids mainly on owners of commercial establishments and households who have not paid tax for three years,” he said on Monday. Municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay said he was yet to get a copy of the verdict. He, however, felt that a section of tax defaulters was really posing a threat to KMC as it was becoming increasingly difficult for the latter to offer the best possible services to the citizens of Kolkata without realizing outstanding dues. Snapping of water supply was successfully used as a weapon by former mayor Subrata Mukherjee in 2002, when the civic body conducted a number of raids on several commercial establishments and stopped supplying water to realise unpaid taxes. That yielded results as KMC mopped up more than Rs 50 crore that year. In response to a writ petition filed in 2001 by Nilambar Finvest Pvt Ltd and two others of Kolkata to challenge a KMC notice, Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya had declared in 2002 the particular provision in KMC Act was unconstitutional. The civic body had to stop disconnecting water supply lines to collect tax arrears. KMC then appealed against that order before a division Bench. While advocate Anindya Mitra, counsel for the petitioner, argued that every citizen had the fundamental right to have water, KMC counsel Ashok Das Adhikary said the KMC Act had empowered it to snap supply lines to collect dues that have not been paid for more than a year.

What are the rights of a litigant?
17 Mar 2009, 0319 hrs IST, A Subramani, TNN
CHENNAI: A series of agitations and court boycotts by practicing lawyers in Tamil Nadu since the third week of January 2009 have brought quality judicial work to a standstill. Litigants, who include those in jail and under preventive detention, are unable to get their pending matters heard and disposed of by courts. The gravity of the situation can be gauged by the fact that the Madras High Court has had only 10 full working days so far this year. With the striking lawyers’ decision to intensity agitation in coming days and the prospects of resumption of court work remaining bleak, what are the lawful options open to bonafide litigants? Who is a litigant? What are the obligations of an advocate to his clients? And what should a litigant who has either already filed a case or is waiting to file a case do during these unusual times? Litigant You become a litigant once you engage the services of an advocate, who files his vakalatnama or memo of appearance which authorises him to represent you in a court or tribunal. He sets the ball rolling when he files your signed affidavits and gets those papers numbered by the court registry. Lawyers’ obligations A lawyer’s duty towards his client is well-codified in the Bar Council of India (BCI) Rules as well as the Advocates Act of 1961, besides, of course, various orders of the Supreme Court. As per the standards of professional conduct and etiquette explained in detail in the BCI Rules, an advocate should not ordinarily withdraw from engagements, once accepted, without sufficient cause and unless reasonable and sufficient notice is given to the client. If he chooses to withdraw, he shall refund “such part of the fee as has not been earned”. Therefore, it is incumbent upon advocates to quantify the unrepresented portion of the case and refund the proportionate amount of fee he had taken from his client. The rules also specifically bar abrupt and unreasonable withdrawal of advocates from the accepted cases. Litigants’ options A litigant is entitled to file and argue his own case at all times, more so during troubled times like this. First, if your case is taken up for hearing and your counsel is not representing you in court, you can step forward and demand audience. While there exists a legal bar for you to argue a matter filed by your advocate, it is up to the presiding officers to make your submissions even in such cases. Two, even if your counsel had withdrawn his vakalatnama, courts are mandated to individually intimate the development to you and give you an opportunity to “make alternative arrangements”. Three, if you are unhappy with the manner and quality of legal assistance provided by your advocate, you are free to complain to the state Bar Council, which is a statutory body empowered to initiate disciplinary proceedings and to suspend the licence to practice in deserving cases. Four, as legal service is also covered by the Consumer Protection Act, you can approach the jurisdictional Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum for compensation for deficient service.

Stoppage of judicial work in TN has no parallel in country: Jurists
17 Mar 2009, 0306 hrs IST, A Subramani, TNN
CHENNAI: An entire state suffering total cessation of judicial work for 20 continuous working days has no parallel in the country, say senior jurists in the city. Although not willing to be quoted in these charged times, they said lawyers revoking vakalatnamas’ (memos of appearance) and pulling out of cases halfway through reflected a systemic breakdown. “Lawyers are officers of the court and they take a monopoly licence to protect the Constitution as well as the interests of their clients fearlessly. Their latest form of agitation is due to the fact that the Bar Councils are working under the guild supervision’ method and the office-bearers of this statutory body are elected from the same profession,” said a former advocate-general. Justice BN Srikrishna, who was asked by the Supreme Court to go into the February 19 violence on the Madras HC campus, did address this very problem in his interim report. Calling for amendments to the Advocates Act of 1961, the former judge called for a radical change in the composition of bar councils. Besides recommending a code of conduct for advocates, he said courts, along with the bar councils, needed to have powers to debar lawyers. Another senior advocate, flaying the state government for its hands-off approach in the aftermath of the February 19 violence on the high court campus, said: “The government is an important stake-holder, and it is unfortunate that it is adopting a wait-and-watch attitude instead of unveiling a package acceptable to all.” A judicial officer said it was not uncommon for certain pockets in the state to see frequent work disruptions, but this is the first time Tamil Nadu has witnessed a concerted and prolonged boycott across all courts. “In 2007, the district courts in Madurai lost 42 days in boycotts. While other districts lost about 25 days, the high court lost 14 days. In 2008, while the subordinate courts lost between 35 and 40 days to local boycotts, the Madras high court witnessed 18 days of boycotts.” The 2007 incident was sparked off when advocate R Shanmugasundaram, who went on to become a Rajya Sabha member of the DMK, was subjected to a murderous attack. “We lifted the boycott only after criminal proceedings were initiated against the suspects,” said a senior counsel for the central government. The present round of agitations is comparable only to the 1981 Ayyathurai incident-related strike, said a jurist, adding that stir led to unprecedented steps like imposition of prohibitory orders inside the high court premises and cancellation of the association’s right to host lawyers’ meetings on campus. “The strike did not end even when judges started dismissing the cases,” he said, adding that the transfer of the then commissioner of police and appointment of an inquiry commission alone led to resumption of normal work.

RTI activists take to streets for speedy disposal of cases
17 Mar 2009, 0327 hrs IST, TNN
CHENNAI: A group of organisations working for the right to information took out a demonstration in the city on Monday demanding speedy disposal of cases pending with the State Information Commission. Activists from eight organisations including Anti-corruption Movement, Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group and Makkal Sakthi Iyakkam staged the agitation, saying that the Commission was taking at least nine months to take up appeals for hearing. It was also not strictly adhering to the provisions of the Right To Information Act to impose penalty on officials who refuse to disclose information to RTI applicants, they charged. The number of hearings conducted by the Commission was about 1,000 last year and the disposal rate came to an average of only 19 cases per month by each of the seven commissioners. As of February this year, the Commission was hearing only appeals that were filed in June 2008, the organisations said. In their joint representation sent to the Commission, the organisations charged that the Commission was not strictly adhering to the penal provision in the RTI Act against officials who failed to provide information to RTI applicants. Officials who don’t provide information within the stipulated time of 30 days are liable to pay a fine of Rs 250 per day up to a maximum of Rs 25,000. “Penalties are imposed in only a few cases. If the Commission does not impose penalties, the public authorities would have no reason to be afraid of the Commission, thus rendering the Act ineffective,” the representation said. The Commission had no data on number of appeals received, heard and disposed of, the organisations said. Transparency International, Tamil Nadu Lanjam Kodathor Iyakkam, Fifth Pillar India, Corporate Accountability Desk and Association for India’s Development were the other organisations in the group took part in the protest.

SC dismisses PIL
17 Mar 2009, 0220 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by a voter on the issue of allotment of a symbol to Prajarajyam party so that it can be used to fight in the coming polls. A bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, justices V S sirpurkar and P Sathasivam dismissed the petition as infructous since the Election Commission has already rejected Chiranjeevi’s plea. The petitioner S Siva Prasad had filed the PIL in the apex court pleading that no such allotment can be made to the Prajarajyam in view of the election symbols allotment order which stipulates that only recognized political parties can be alloted a symbol. Prasad had moved the apex court after the Andhra Pradesh high court directed the election commission on February 6 2009 to examine the plea of the Prajarajyam party to allot it a common symbol to contest coming assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Pti

HC notice to Maytas Infra, stays case on Vedanta
17 Mar 2009, 0302 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD:Justice K C Bhanu of the AP High Court on Monday stayed all the criminal proceedings launched by Punjagutta police in Hyderabad against Vedanta Aluminium Limited. It can be recalled Maytas Infra company had filed a criminal complaint against the company following its alleged unilateral invoking of bank guarantee worth Rs 47 crore furnished by Maytas Infra to Vedanta Aluminium. The judge, while hearing the petition filed by Vedanta which justified the invoking of bank guarantee, gave notice to Maytas Infra asking it to file its reply and stayed the criminal proceedings for a period of six weeks. Vedanta wanted a township for its employees to be built by Maytas Infra at a cost of Rs 232 crore at Jharsiguda in Orissa. According to it, Maytas failed in fulfilling the work and hence as per the contractual obligations revoked the bank guarantee because it had already paid mobilisation advances to Maytas Infra.

Politicians in criminal cases: the saga goes on 8 Criminal Cases 17 Mar 2009, 0222 hrs IST, Mahesh Buddi, TNN
HYDERABAD: Police slapped cases against seven city legislators for indulging in violent and criminal incidents during the term of the present Assembly. In all, eight criminal cases were registered against the MLAs. Not surprisingly, charge sheets have been filed only in three cases, while only two of them reached trial stage. Cases were registered against the MLAs for participating in protests in the Old City against a Danish cartoonist’s caricature of the Prophet in February 2006, communal clashes at Madannapet in April 2007, attack on Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen at Press Club in August 2007, attack on medicos of Niloufer hospital in December 2007, attack on CPI (M) MP, Madhu by Congress workers in Chikkadpally in May 2008, firing into the air by Karwan MLA when GHMC officials demolished an illegal construction in Abids in July 2008. Apart from Karwan MLA Afsar Khan, cases were also registered againstChandrayangutta MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi, Asif Nagar MLA Mouzam Khan, Yakutpura MLA Mumtaz Khan, Charminar MLA Syed Ahmed Pasha Quadri, Himayatnagar MLA G Kishan Reddy and Maharajgunj MLA M Mukesh Goud. In rioting incidents during the protest against cartoons of the Prophet by a Danish newspaper on February 17, 2006, several cases, including rioting, unlawful assembly, damage to property cases were registered against Chandrayangutta MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi, Charminar MLA Pasha Quadri and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi. Nearly two years after registration of the case, trial has begun recently. According to DCP (South Zone) Atul Singh, the public representatives had appeared before court once and trial began recently. Rioting, house trespass, voluntarily causing hurt and damage to property cases were registered against Afsar Khan, Mouzam Khan, Quadri and Akbaruddin Owaisi for attacking Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen at Press Club in August 2007. According to Punjagutta inspector of police M Malla Reddy, a charge sheet was filed in January 2008 and recently summons have been served on the legislators and other accused to appear before court. However, a charge sheet is yet to be filed in the criminal intimidation case registered against Akbaruddin Owaisi for allegedly threatening Taslima. The state government has transferred the case on attack on junior doctors of Niloufer by Afsar Khan and others to CID. According to IG (CID-GOW) M Punna Rao, the charge sheet has been filed and trial has commenced. The sensational case of Afsar Khan firing in the air during a tiff with the GHMC officials at Abids has reached a dead end. According to DCP Central Zone P Hari Kumar, GHMC officials had withdrawn their complaint against the MLA. “GHMC officials have withdrawn their complaint. The MLA has also surrendered his weapon. The APFSL report confirmed that the bullets were fired from his weapon. The MLA said he fired in self defence,” Hari Kumar said. So, the case has been put in cold storage. During bypoll in the Musheerabad Assembly constituency, Congress and CPI (M) activists lodged complaints against each other after an alleged attack on CPI (M) MP P Madhu. Cases were registered against Madhu and BC welfare minister Mukesh Goud, but the case has been closed with both parties withdrawing their complaints. “Both the complainants withdrew their respective complaints and the case is closed,” Chikkadpally inspector of police D Vasanth Rao said. The Narayanguda police registered an assault case under section 323 of the IPC against Himayatnagar MLA G Kishan Reddy for allegedly manhandling a car driver, Yella Reddy, at Old MLA Quarters in Hyderguda on February 27, 2008. Cases were also registered against Yakutpura MLA Mumtaz Khan and Charminar MLA Pasha Quadri in April 2007 for allegedly inciting a mob which led to stone pelting in Madannapet. But these cases were closed due to `lack of evidence’.

HC to take up record number of bail pleas today
17 Mar 2009, 0425 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore : To speedily dispose of pending criminal cases, the High Court will take up a record number of petitions on Tuesday, especially bail matters. Six judges, including Chief Justice P D Dinakaran and other senior judges, will take up 50-70 cases each from 4 pm to 4.45 pm. This is a first such instance in the High Court. Gutkha ban hearing A division Bench directed impleading of the Central Food Laboratory, Pune, in a PIL seeking a ban on manufacturing and sale of RMD gutkha by Dhariwal Industries. The court was not happy with the lab report wordings, particularly when, under Rule 62, the very presence of any harmful substance is not permitted. Channel asked to give cassettes A division Bench directed a Kannada TV channel beaming the teleserial `Muktha Muktha’ to furnish cassettes/CDs containing sequences relating to the judiciary. City advocate G R Mohan filed a criminal contempt petition against the channel owner and director T N Seetharam. Stay on resort continued While continuing the earlier stay order on cutting of trees and defacing land leased out to a private party to develop a resort in Chikmagalur, a division Bench directed the principal secretary to file a report on the status of 34 acres of land. On April 24, 2008, the HC had directed the forest department and Chikmagalur DC to ensure there was no further construction on the 34 acres of gomal land in Arishinakuppe village, close to Bhadra Tiger Reserve area, in the Western Ghat belt. The court also directed them to ensure that no trees were cut and land was not dug up. The land was allegedly leased out for 30-year period to Brigade Hospitality Pvt Limited to form a hill resort and spa. Counsel for petitioner D V Girish and other petitioners told the court the lease was clandestinely given on January 1, 2004, and the company had started digging, and felled around 250 trees, in violation of the conditions of the lease agreement. PIL admitted The High Court admitted a PIL filed by advocate S Vasudeva, seeking action based on the report given by the Lok Ayukta on illegal mining. Meanwhile, the Green bench hearing mining cases fixed March 30 as the date to continue day-to-day hearings, to speedily dispose of the cases. Injunction order A division bench issued an injunction order in respect of laying a railway track by a mining company in reserve forest areas in Challakere, in Chitradurga district. The court ordered notices to KSPCB and others on a PIL filed by Animal and Environmental Welfare Association, which claimed that the 7-km railway track would be laid between Bedarabommanahalli Amruthapura station, of which 1 km passes through reserve forest, and permission was not obtained for this.

Lawyers beat up litigant
17 Mar 2009, 0424 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore : First, he was beaten black and blue by lawyers, and, even as he underwent treatment in hospital, a dalit atrocity case was filed against him. The incident took place at the city civil and sessions court on Monday afternoon, when Jeevan Kumar (22) and his father Nanjappa of Kengeri satellite town were returning after a hearing in a case about their land. Jeevan had parked his vehicle near the DC’s office and tried to take it out of the parking lot. He noticed three advocates chatting nearby, obstructing his way. Jeevan asked them to give way, but they just stared at him and continued talking. When Jeevan requested them again, the advocates ignored him. This triggered a verbal altercation, and one advocate hit Jeevan on the head, though he was wearing a helmet. Soon, other advocates joined the melee and beat up Jeevan. Nanjappa, who tried to intervene, was also beaten up. From the DC’s office, the advocates took him to the police outpost in front of the court complex. Throughout, they beat and kicked Jeevan, who was rolling on the ground. They continued their abuse inside the police outpost, as the ASI and constables present watched mutely. The cops sent out a wireless message and the situation came under control only after additional forces reached the spot. By this time, Jeevan was exhausted and lying on the ground, with injuries on his face, head and legs. About Rs 5,000, a gold bracelet and chain were missing. He was rushed to Victoria Hospital. Around 5 pm, the police brought Jeevan back to Halsoorgate police station. To his surprise, three advocates — Kaliah, Venkatesh and Srinivas — had filed a dalit atrocity case against him, saying he had called Kaliah by caste and insulted him, as Kaliah belonged to the SC community. Jeevan too lodged a complaint about the assault and loss of money and gold articles. Halasoorgate ACP Gachinakatti said he was looking into both cases.

Duo use pepper spray on lawyer
16 Mar 2009, 2320 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: In a bizarre incident on Rohini court complex, a woman and her boyfriend sprayed pepper spray in a lawyer’s eyes on Monday. The victim, Hirendra Sharma, was appearing in a recovery suit for his mother. The respondent, Jyoti Rajput, had come along with her boyfriend Amit Gupta and four family members for the hearing. After the arguments got over, Jyoti and her boyfriend allegedly used abusive language and threatened to kill Sharma. Sharma threatened to lodge a complaint against them and while he was going to the police station in the Rohini court, Jyoti and Amit sprayed pepper spray in his eyes. The duo were caught on the spot by the police while others fled from the spot. A complaint has been registered against the accused persons. Talking to Times city, Sharma said, “I fell unconcious for 2-3 hours after the incident. Infact, two more lawyers sustained injuries while trying to save me.”

HC upholds life for man who got wife killed
16 Mar 2009, 2317 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Upholding the verdict of a trial court, the Delhi HC on Monday awarded life sentence to a south Delhi property dealer for getting his wife murdered eight years ago. The court also convicted the hired shooter and awarded him life sentence. A division Bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Aruna Suresh awarded life sentence to Vijay Pal who had hired Vinod Kumar to murder his wife in 2001. The Bench relied upon the statement given by the brother of deceased, Rajni, in which he stated that he had heard Vijay speaking with the killer over phone, plotting the murder. The brother claimed to have heard Vijay telling someone that he would start from his in-laws’ house within an hour and asked the caller to be ready. He also expected the caller to complete the work “today itself.” It was alleged by the prosecution that Vijay wanted to get rid of his wife as she was suffering from some health problems. Rajni died after being shot twice in her head and chest by Vinod on the night of August 13, 2001 when she was coming from her parents’ place in Ashok Vihar to her matrimonial home in south Delhi.

Salem case: Court no to prosecution plea
17 Mar 2009, 0225 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: The designated Tada court on Monday rejected the prosecution’s plea to re-examine 684 witnesses in the trial against gangster Abu Salem for his alleged role in the 1993 serial blasts.
The defence had taken objection to it saying that the trial could be inordinately delayed if so many witnesses were re-examined.

Lawyer gets notice for Kasab case
17 Mar 2009, 0256 hrs IST, Prafulla Marpakwar, TNN
MUMBAI: Amravati-based lawyer Mahesh Deshmukh is in trouble for planning to take up the case of Ajmal Kasab, the sole terrorist captured alive in the 26/11 carnage, as the Bar Council of Maharashtra has served him a showcause notice for professional misconduct. A senior bar council member on Monday confirmed the report. “We are invoking the provisions of the Advocates Act for initiating disciplinary action against Deshmukh,” he told TOI. Under the Act, he said, soliciting clients is an offence, as such Deshmukh was liable for disciplinary action. Deshmukh denied the charge, saying as he has offered his services to Kasab, there was no violation of the Advocates Act.

ATS clean chit to IM leaves Crime Branch red-faced
17 Mar 2009, 0152 hrs IST, Mateen Hafeez, TNN
MUMBAI: The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) is likely to discharge Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founder Sadiq Shaikh in the July 11, 2006 train blasts case, indicating that no evidence was found to link the outfit with the terror attack. The move may, however, leave the city crime branch red-faced. In September and October last year, Mumbai crime branch arrested 21 people, who, it said were IM members and stated that during interrogations, Sadiq revealed his involvement in the blasts. This revelation came as a shock to the ATS since it had already arrested 13 suspected SIMI members in the train blasts case and filed a 11,000-page chargesheet against them. It is learnt that the ATS, which questioned Sadiq for over two weeks, was not convinced with the crime branch’s theory. An ATS officer said that Sadiq (31) was giving contradictory statements — sometimes he said his group was involved and at other times he said he gave this statement under pressure. “We arrested him on February 28 in the train blast case and questioned him. However, there is no evidence to link him with the train blasts. We will soon file a report in court asking for Sadiq to be discharged in this case,” an ATS officer said. A news channel had recently aired a CD containing Sadiq’s confessional statement about the train blast. However, the ATS has rubished all these claims, giving Sadiq a clean chit. TOI had earlier reported that during a polygraph test Sadiq told the forensic experts that he had lied about the outfit’s involvement in the train blasts. This brought a new twist to the tale as Sadiq, till then, had told the Mumbai crime branch, the Ahmedabad police and the Delhi police that he and his accomplices engineered the explosions. The state forensic science laboratory on Saturday sent a brain mapping and polygraph test report to the ATS saying as per the tests he was not involved in the train blasts and that he had lied during the interrogations conducted by other agencies. The crime branch had claimed that the bombs for the blasts were manufactured in a Sewree flat and the RDX was procured by a wanted accused, Riyaz Bhatkal. But the ATS is sticking to its old theory that the bombs were assembled at a 100 sq ft flat in Govandi and not at Sewree. The ATS said that the RDX was procured by a Pakistani Ehsanullah, who had illegally entered India along with 10 other Pakistani accomplices.

LDA board’s no to relocating police outpost
17 Mar 2009, 0350 hrs IST, TNN
LUCKNOW: The police chowki on the bandha situated on the left bank of Gomti close to Ambedkar Udyan would not be relocated. The decision was taken by the board of Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) which met on Monday. The board upheld its earlier decision after the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court asked the authority to reconsider it on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Nishatganj residents’ welfare association in September 2008. The matter was put forth at the meeting presided over by divisional commissioner Prashant Trivedi and the decision was taken on the basis of the fact that the state government is already getting a railway overhead bridge (ROB) on the road parallel to it for connecting Gomtinagar with Gomtinagar extension. The board officials said that the state government has already sanctioned Rs 50 crore for the project. The officials observed that the road does not lead to any residential colony so there was no question of the road being opened for any traffic. Moreover, it has also been observed that the said road on which the police chowki is situated would be meant only for the visitors coming to Ambedkar Udyan. The road would also be used as a parking for the VIP visitors to the Udyan. Meanwhile, the LDA has claimed of completing the ongoing construction of Gandhi Setu by April 30, which incidentally happens to be the polling day in Lucknow.

Gujarat HC appoints amicus curie to inquire safety of undertrials
Ahmedabad, March 16: Raising doubts about the safety of undertrials in prisons in the wake of murder of a prisoner, the Gujarat High Court on Monday appointed an amicus curie to inquire if its directions issued in 2005 are being implemented in the Sabarmati Central Jail. The order was passed by the division bench comprising of Chief Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi which had initiated suo motu proceeding against the state of Gujarat and the Sabarmati Jail Superintendent following murder of an undertrial inside the prison early this month. An undertrial Suresh Kakadia was allegedly stabbed to death by one Mahendra Vala, a life convict inside the prison on March 1. Raising concern over safety of under-trials in prisons, the court observed that this was a serious incident which requires serious introspection. The court appointed Shalin Mehta as amicus curie in the case and asked him to visit the prison and prepare a report on whether the directions issued by Justice Jayant Patel in 2005 regarding safety of undertrials are being followed properly. In reply to the Court notice issued on March 5, the government today filed an affidavit giving details of the incident. The matter has been posted for further hearing on March 23. In 2005 Justice Jayant Patel had directed the state government to take required steps to improve safety measures in Sabarmati Jail, following a similar incident. The court initiated suo motu proceeding following media reports about the incident. As per details, a convict Mahendra Vala had allegedly stabbed an undertrial Suresh Kakadia using a metal spike weapon which was designed by sharpening a thin metal rod. It further said that incident had occured during lunch time. While issuing notice to the state government and the jail superintendent on March 5, the court has asked them to file a report as to how the incident had occurred and who is responsible for safeguarding life of the undertrial prisoners. Court had asked the respondents to explain as to how undertrials and convict prisoners had taken lunch together, and whether there are separate barracks for them. Bureau Report

Par comm for immediate settlement of standoff bt HC & lawyers
Published by: Noor KhanPublished: Mon, 16 Mar 2009 at 21:16 IST
New Delhi, Mar 16 : As the standoff between the Madras High Court and the striking advocates paralysed the functioning of courts, a Parliamentary Committee today favoured immediate settlement of the issue.”There should be immediate arrangement for settlement of the issue by the concerned authorities,” E M Sudarshana Natchiappan, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice said.The Committee had received petitions from the Madras High Court lawyers seeking its intervention in the matter.Since the matter was “very sensitive” and related to the state government and the administration of justice, the Committee cannot directly intervene, Natchiappan said.However, he said, the Committee could “sensitise” the authorities to arrive at an amicable settlement so that such events could be prevented in future.Work in city courts, including the Madras High Court, has remained virtually paralysed because of the state-wide boycott of courts by lawyers in protest against the February 19 police action in the high court premises.The lawyers are demanding action against police personnel responsible for the alleged excesses in the court premises.

Madras HC resumes without lawyers
3/16/2009 10:06:09 PM
With lawyers refusing to resume work, the common man in Chennai has been been forced to bear the brunt,and now, with the Madras High Court returning to work without the protesting lawyers pending cases continue to pile. Madras High Court has seen just ten working days in the past month. And, as cases continue to pile up, and advocates stay away from the court, the chief justice has taken a stand that judges will dispense cases purely on merit. 67-year-old Jyotindra K Gandhi has been trying to get an injunction on the demolition of his shop. He said, “My lawyer has made his papers but he is not filing it, not letting me file it also. What will I do?” Elizabeth John another victim of this stalemate said, “Me and my husband are old, still we are coming to the court everyday.” It’s not just the litigants, but is another disturbing fallout of the stalemate. The number of inmates lodged in prisons across Tamil Nadu has increased by at least 10 per cent and the criminal justice system of the state is in tatters. The lawyers have refused to return to work demanding action against top police officers for this bloody faceoff nearly a month back. But, with both the Supreme Court and the Madras High court chief justice taking a dim view of their request, the conflict has just deepened. S Prabhakaran, President, TN Lawyers Assocation, said, “The chief justice has no business issuing orders to other judges to dispose matters.” R Vaigeyi, Senior Counsel, reacted, “Lawyers are very clear, as long as the court is under the control of the government, we will not go back.” The High Court is trying to finish off as many cases as possible of the 4,30,000 pending cases, tackling the issue head on appearing to be the only solution out of the deadlock for the judiciary.

Raj HC stays construction of road to airport int terminal
Published by: Noor KhanPublished: Mon, 16 Mar 2009 at 22:29 IST
Jaipur, Mar 16 : The Rajasthan High Court today stayed the construction of an access road to the international terminal of the Sanganer airport here.A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Deepak Verma and Justice R C Gandhi stayed the construction of the access road from the Jawahar Circle to the main entrance of the terminal on a special appeal filed by a person Dhanna, whose land was acquired for it.Dhanna has challenged an order of a single judge bench which had earlier dimissed his writ petition against the acquisition of his land.Jaipur Development Authority counsel A K Gupta told court that a ‘kuccha’ (unmetalled) road has already been laid down.After hearing the JDA counsel, the Bench directed the authority to maintain status quo till the disposal of the appeal.

HC sets aside DHD (J) leader’s detention order
GUWAHATI, March 16 – The Division Bench of the Gauhati High Court comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice BP Katakey today set aside the order of detention dated 16.10.2008 of Thousen alias Paiprang Dimasa under Section 3 (2) read with 3 (3) of the National Security Act, 1980 passed by the District Magistrate, NC Hills, Haflong. Subrata Thousen, self-style publicity secretary of DHD (Joel) faction was initially arrested on 18.6.08 in connection with Diphu Police Case No. 113/08 U/S 120 (B)/121/121 (A)/`122/302 of Indian Panel Code and thereafter he was shown to be arrested in a number of cases of different Police Stations under NC Hills district and Karbi Anglong district.The detection order dated 16.10.08 was challenged before the High Court by filing a writ petition (crl) No. 39/08 and after hearing the case the Court by judgement and order today set aside the order of detention passed under National Security Act, 1980 with a direction to release the detenue forthwith if he is not otherwise wanted in any other cases.The petitioner was represented before the Court by advocates Bijan Mahajan, Arshad Choudhury, Nayanjyoti Das and Pranob Kumar Das while PS Deka, Govt advocate represented the State Government before the Court.

Pyramid Saimira to challenge I-T dept in court on Monday
New Delhi (PTI): Leading theatre chain Pyramid Saimira will move court on Monday against the Income-Tax department’s decision to attach the company’s over Rs 240 crore bank accounts for alleged non-payment of tax.
“We will file a case against the Income-Tax department at the Madras High Court on Monday,” a company source told PTI.
On Friday, the tax department in Chennai had attached the bank accounts of Pyramid Saimira as the company had allegedly not paid the complete self-assessment tax.
As far as Pyramid Saimira Theatre Ltd is concerned, there are no tax dues as of now, company Chairman and Managing Director P S Saminathan said in a statement.
The company has filed a revised return wherein it has claimed a refund, he said, adding there is no tax demand on the company based on a completed assessment.
“We feel this continued attachment by the I-T department is not in accordance with law and further their purported demand was for (Rs) 26 crore and for that they have attached Rs 165 crore of investment/(Rs) 50 crore of normal trade receivables and (Rs) 30 crore of theatre receivables, totalling Rs 245 crore,” Mr.Saminathan said.
He also complained that the tax department’s move has crippled the company’s normal operations.

HC quashes lifer of 2 murder accused
Challenges trail court’s mandate to decide criminal cases Rashid Paul Srinagar, March 15: A division bench of the State High Court has set aside life sentence of two elderly men by a trial court on the ground that the trial court dealing bank matters lacked mandate to hear criminal cases.
Justices H Imtiyaz Hussain and Sunil Hali declared the conviction order by Additional District Judge (Bank cases) Baramulla null and void. The accused Alam Din Dana, 85, and Mangra Chichi, 75, of Sarkali Kupwara were convicted by the Bank court for life imprisonment and a fine under sections 302 and 34 of RPC in 2006.After an appeal by the accused, the bench declared that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. “The proceedings conducted before the trial court are without jurisdiction and cannot sustain,” it said and directed the Principal Sessions Judge Baramulla to rehear the case and pass the judgment in accordance with law.Assailing the trial court judgment, advocate Imtiyaz Sofi, the lawyer for the accused, said the conviction and sentence was “bad in law”. Under Section 9 of CRPC, to try the cases of criminal nature it should have been a court of sessions.The trial court was in fact a civil court with the designation of Additional District Judge (Bank Cases). It was temporarily shifted to Baramulla until the creation of a regular Additional District and Sessions Court at the place, Sofi said.According to the police challan, Alam Din had killed his son-in-law and nephew Neki in 1991. The accused planned to marry his daughter Noor Jehan with Chechi and colluded with Chechi to eliminate Alam Din.The police further reordered that the duo after strangulating the victim threw his body in Sarkali stream. Noor Jehan, who was part of the plan, turned an approver and confessed before the magistrate of the deal of her father and Chechi.However, immediately after filing of the charge Noor Jehan died and the court made her confession statements as the ground for conviction. The trial court judgment is deficient of the provisions of law as Noor Jehan, the approver witness, could not be cross examined by the defending counsel, advocate Sofi said.The police challan was initially filed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Kupwara wherefrom it was committed to the court of sessions Kupwara in 1992. The case was later transferred to Sessions Court Baramulla for disposal which in turn reassigned it to the Additional District Judge (Bank cases).

IPC should be amended to deal with ragging: Former HC CJ

Published by: Noor KhanPublished: Sun, 15 Mar 2009 at 23:22 IST
Shimla, Mar 15 : The Indian Penal Code should be amended and more deterrent provisions included to deal with the menace of ragging, former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Justice Vijender Jain said here today.”There is a need to amend the IPC to effectively deal with cases of ragging in professional and educational institutions,” Jain, who is the president of Asia Pacific Jurists International Association (APJIA), told reporters here.There should be a foolproof mechanism at the state and Central level to curb the menace of ragging and no leniency should be shown to those who engage in it, he said.He expressed sadness at the recent incident of ragging in a medical college in Himachal Pradesh, which allegedly led to the death of Aman Kachroo, a first-year student.Justice Jain also said that corruption in the judiciary could erode faith in it.

The government has to provide basic amenities
MS Kamath
Monday, March 16, 2009 3:14 IST
Mumbai: The life of a person is dependent on water, electricity and other basic facilities from the government, municipality and other statutory bodies. These services are often inadequate in quality and quantity which the authority conveniently brushes aside. Worse still, lack of funds and environmental conditions are blamed for the situation. An order from the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in Brij Mohan vs. sub-divisional engineer and others will soon change these perceptions.
Brij Mohan was a resident of Nupur Bedi Village. The water supplied to the village was contaminated with sand and silt. As a result, his mother and some people in the village fell ill. Repeated complaints to the authority fell on deaf ears.
Sick of the attitude of the sub-divisional engineer handling the water department, the consumer dragged the public authority to the local District Forum alleging deficiency of service. The forum ordered the water to be tested by the senior chemist of the district. Based on the report, the Forum dismissed the complaint. Brij Mohan went in appeal to the State Commission, but here too the appeal was dismissed.
Mohan took the matter to the National Commission. The National Commission compared the test report of the water in the village with the standards laid down by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on potable water. It noticed that the standards of the water supplied did not meet these parameters.
Taking serious note of the fact that the water was not fit for human consumption, the National Commission said that it could not be the case of the respondent authority that they had no duty to supply drinking water which was not potable to the consumers of the village. The commission ordered the authority to pay a sum of Rs 10,000 as compensation along with Rs 5,000 as costs of litigation.

Marking of only 40 silence zones upsets Bandra locals
16 Mar 2009, 0531 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: It took the BMC only a few days to demarcate over 1,000 silence zones across the city, but it seems to be taking much longer for the civic authorities to implement them. Take for instance Azad Maidan, which was notified as a silence zone, but since the past one week the ground has been abuzz with political activities and protest rallies. According to civic officials, implementation is not their responsibility. “Monitoring of noise levels,” they said, “has to be carried out by the police. Moreover, if more zones are to be identified, the state government will have to pitch in.” R A Rajeev, additional municipal commissioner said, “The police have the required manpower and machinery to keep the noise levels in check. Our job was only limited to notifying these zones, now it is the responsibility of the police.” People are quick to point out another drawback of the entire exercise. For example, residents of Khar and Bandra who are largely unhappy that only 40 zones have been marked in their areas. According to them, at least 40 more deserve to be on the recently released list of silence zones. They have written a letter to municipal authorities raising this concern. Many more letters are pouring in to civic offices. “We are paying due attention to each complaint and request,” added Rajeev. The list, according to Khar residents, completely excludes entire categories of institutions including all religious places, most schools according to the defined `educational institutions’, government offices such as `courts.’ Not a single institution under the `any other area’ category has been notified despite numerous requests by people. Social activist Sumaira Abdulali, who filed the PIL in court in response to which the high court gave the order to demarcate silent zones, said that she herself had written to the BMC several times requesting the civic body to mark certain zones as silent in the area. However, nothing was done on that front. “Despite my letters, not a single institution named in the H West Ward figures on the list. The civic body has largely taken a proactive stand in welcoming people’ inputs in this exercise,” added Abdulali. Places that have been left out in the H West Ward include Bandra Masjid, Jari Mari temple at S V Road opposite Bandra Talao, St Andrew’s Church, Carmel Church, two mosques at Perry Cross Road and Chimbai among other areas. Similarly, among the areas left out in H East Ward are the Gandhinagar, which includes a municipal school and a temple near the MIG Club ground, Guru Nanak hospital and several masjids at Bharat Nagar, Bandra court, Hanuman Mandir, Chetana college, the collector’s office and others. “Not only these areas, but also those such as the Bombay Hockey Association at Churchgate have been left out. This is despite the listing of clear conditions in the lease agreement of the BMC, saying that neighbouring residents would not be disturbed and the presence of a Jain temple near the institution,” said Abdulali.

Go for surprise checks to see exam centres get power: HC
Express News Service
Posted: Mar 16, 2009 at 0500 hrs IST
Mumbai The state government informed the Bombay High Court on Friday that around 1,400 examination centres in Maharashtra are unaffected by load shedding.
The court is hearing a PIL filed by Navi Mumbai-based social activist Vishnu Gawli, complaining that students appearing for class 10th and 12th examinations have to write their papers without the benefit of lights and fans due to frequent power-cuts.
But on Friday, the SSC Board lawyer told the High Court that there are 1,389 exam centres which do not use any electrical appliances.
“Does this mean that there is no electricity in these areas?” asked stunned Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar. But the counsel had no further information on this. On the last occasion, the court had ordered the SSC board to provide generator sets to all examination centres.
According to affidavit filed by Tukaram Supe, board’s secretary, 287 examination centres have gen-sets or inverters.
As many as 2,608 centres are not affected by load shedding, either because there is no power cut in the respective areas, or the centres are airy enough and have natural light, the affidavit states. So, there are 1,255 centres hit by power cuts, of which 463 have rented generator sets, it said.
Gawli, the petitioner, however told the court there were hundreds of centres in rural Maharashtra where power cuts are rampant and the affidavit does not reflect the true facts.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Kumar and Dhananjay Chandrachud then set up a committee of Education Secretary, Managing Director of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) and a board representative.
The court has also directed the Education Department to issue a circular stating if the schools don’t comply with HC order in this regard, action will be taken against them. The court also said there should be surprise checks to ensure that power supply is being provided to exam centres.The hearing has been adjourned for two weeks.

Committee formed to felicitate ‘PIL man’
Parimal Dabhi
Posted: Mar 16, 2009 at 0050 hrs IST
Ahmedabad Girish Patel is famous for his PILs, which saved many lives
Celebrating the movement of human rights and civil liberty in Gujarat, a group of social workers, academicians, trade union activists and lawyers is planning to felicitate Girish Patel, a senior advocate of the Gujarat High Court, for his contribution towards the cause.
Patel, said sources, is known to have used the tool of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) ever since it came into practice in Indian Judiciary, to initiate many human rights movements.
The group has now formed the “Girishbhai Patel Sanman Samiti” and is planning to release three books at an event in May.
One of the books will contain Patel’s views on various issues including those on important PILs. The other two books will be a compilation of his ‘Letters to the Editors’ and articles on Patel written by 25 eminent personalities.
This could perhaps be the first incident in the state where a lawyer is being felicitated for his attempts to guard the rights of the underprivileged through the use of PILs.
Patel has till date filed more than 200 PILs in the Gujarat High Court on issues such as education, shelter, water, livelihood, health, atrocities on Dalits, tribals, women & children, and civil and political rights.
Manishi Jani, a member of the Sanman Samiti said: “Gujarat has witnessed many movements since its inception . Whether it is the movement for bonded labour or for human rights of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes or the Nav Nirman Andolan, Girishbhai has played a key role in all of these.”
Girish Patel, a native of Nadiad, is the son of a sanitary inspector. Patel did his LLM from Harvard University in the United States. Initially, Patel was the professor at the then New Law College in Ahmedabad. Later, he was selected as member of the Gujarat State Law Commission in 1972. After serving the commission for three years, he started practising law in the Gujarat High Court from 1975.
Patel says: “Right from childhood, I had a soft corner for the down-trodden and wanted to do something for them. So, I made it a principle not to fight any case against Dalits, tribals, labourers and women.”
He added: “The introduction of the PIL in judiciary in 1980 gave me the greatest satisfaction and an opportunity to work for things I liked.”
Patel has filed most of his PILs under the banner of the “Lok Adhikar Sangh.” He describes PILs as a means by which the voice of the poor reaches the Gujarat High Court.
Top five PILs
Girish Patel considers the following PILs filed by him to be the most important as they have directly or indirectly affected the lives of more than 10 lakh people.
* With the help of a number of PILs and Habeas Corpus Writs, Patel helped release around 300 bonded labourers from Vadodara and Bharuch. Rich farmers of Sabarkantha district used to bring these tribal labourers to their farms. Patel fought the legal battle on behalf of the Rajpipla Social Service Society.
* Patel helped a woman who was gangraped during her pregnancy by uppercaste people in a village in Surendranagar district. Instead of helping the woman, the police allegedly harassed her and forced her to leave the village. Reading the woman’s plight in a local newspaper, Patel filed a PIL and made sure that the accused policemen got their due. The woman, later, got elected as the village Sarpanch. At present, she runs a small business in the same village and owns two cars.
* After reading an article in a fortnightly about the sub-human conditions in which around 1.5 lakh sugarcane workers lived in south Gujarat, Patel filed a PIL in the High Court which helped increase the minimum daily wages of the workers. He, however, says that more could have been done for the workers, had the people’s movement continued.
* A committee formed at the order of the Gujarat High Court found that the textile processing industry in Surat, in which around 1.8 lakh workers were working, was lawless. The committee was formed following a PIL filed by Girish Patel. “The committee suggested means to bring a change in the industry and some of them were also implemented. But, a lot could have been done,” says Patel.
* Concern for the health of the textile mill workers in Ahmedabad made Patel file a PIL against the “Rokdi System” adopted by the mill-owners. Under the system, the mill-owners used to employ the workers during holidays and recess time, which could have harmful impact on their health. Following the PIL, the system was discontinued at many mills.

Jurisdiction of CJ under Arbitration Act
Posted on : 14 March 2009 by ravidevaraj
SECTION 16 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (`the Act’) does not take away the jurisdiction of the Chief Justice of India or his designate, if need be, to decide the question of the `existence’ of the arbitration agreement.Merely because the new Act permits the Arbitrator to decide this question, it does not necessarily follow that at the stage of Section 11 the Chief Justice of India or his designate cannot decide a question as to the existence of the arbitration clause.In cases where to start with there is a dispute raised at the stage of the application under Section 11 that there is no arbitration clause at all, then it will be absurd to refer the very issue to an arbitrator without deciding whether there is an arbit ration clause at all between the parties to start with.In this case, the parties used in the relevant clause, the word `may’ not without reason. Under the preceding Clause 4 parties desired that in case of disputes, the Civil Courts at Bombay are to be approached by way of a suit. Then follows Clause 5 with the words `it is also agreed’ that the dispute `may’ be referred to arbitration implying that parties need not necessarily go to the Civil Court by way of suit but can also go before an arbitrator.Reading Clause 4 and Clause 5 together, it is not the intention of the parties that arbitration is to be the sole remedy. It appears that the parties agreed that they can `also’ go to arbitration in case the aggrieved party does not wish to go to a Civil Court by way of a suit. But in that event, obviously, fresh consent to go to arbitration is necessary.So decided Mr. justice M. Jagannadha Rao of the Supreme Court as designate of the Chief Justice an application filed under sub-clauses (2), (6), (10) and (12) of Section 11 of the Act.Deciding that there was no arbitration agreement the application for appointment of arbitrators was dismissed.However, the honourable judge stated that in case a civil suit is filed, it will be for the petitioner to seek an early disposal of the case, and he has no reason to doubt that the civil court will treat the request of the petitioner for early disposal w ith due consideration. That was in Wellington Associates Ltd vs. Mr. Kirit Mehta (Arbitration Petition No, 9 of 1999 decided on April 4, 2000).The brief facts are that the petitioner-company having its registered office in Mauritius entered into two agreements with the promoter and managing director of CMM Ltd, Mumbai, (`respondent’) to subscribe to a private placement of two lots of 85,000 equ ity shares each of CMM Ltd. Each share was of face value of Rs. 10, and the shares were to be acquired at a premium of Rs. 20 per share.The respondent agreed to compulsorily purchase back the shares after the expiry of one year in the following manner (i) under the first agreement, 85,000 with an assured return at the rate of 35 per cent per annum and (ii) under the second agreement, 85, 000 with an assured return at the rate of 29 per cent per annum. It was also agreed that upon default, the respondent would be liable to penal interest at three per cent per annum from the date of subscription till actual date of payment.Another company, namely, Sigma Credit and Capital Services Pvt Ltd, wrote to the petitioner that it had taken up the deal of CMM Ltd. It ensured, inter alia, that the agreements would be fully complied with by the CMM Ltd. It further undertook to buy-bac k the 85,000 NRI shares of CMM Ltd at the end of 12 months from the date of investment, at the rate of 25 per cent per annum in case the respondent failed to meet the commitment of buy-back.Pursuant to the above agreement, the petitioner paid Rs. 51 lakhs to the respondent on October 9, 1995 and 1,70,000 shares were allotted to the petitioner. As regards buy-back, by October 8, 1996, the respondent did not buy back the shares, nor did the S igma Credit and Capital Services Pvt Ltd buy-back the shares.The detailed judgment by Mr. Justice Rao was based on the following reasoning:I Section 33 of the Indian Arbitration Act, 1940 vested jurisdiction only in the court to decide whether there was in `existence’ an arbitration clause or not.I In Renusagar Power Co Ltd vs. General Electric Co AIR 1985 SC 1156, it was stated that ordinarily an arbitrator has no authority to clothe himself with power to decide the question of his own jurisdiction. This disability has been removed by Section 16 of the new Act.I The provision in Section 16 is only an enabling one which, unlike Section 33 in the old Act of 1940, permits the arbitral tribunal to decide a question relating to the `existence’, of the arbitration clause.I Section 16 does not exclude the jurisdiction of the Chief Justice of India or his designate in this behalf if a question as to the existence of the arbitration clause is raised by the respondent in his reply to the petition filed under Section 11.I Even if the Chief Justice of India or his designate under Section 11(12) is to be treated as an administrative authority, when the said authority is approached seeking appointment of an arbitrator/arbitral tribunal under Section 11, and a question is raised that there is, to start with, no arbitration clause at all between the parties, the Chief Justice of India or his designate has to decide the said question.I Where the matter has gone to the arbitrator without the intervention of an application under Section 11, if the question as to the existence of the arbitration clause is raised before the arbitral tribunal, the arbitral tribunal has power to decide the question.I Similarly, where the arbitration clause is not in issue at the time of section 11 application but a point is raised before the arbitral tribunal that the said clause or the contract in which it is contained has ceased to be in force, then also the arbi trator can decide whether the arbitration clause has ceased to be in force.

Pace of work speeding up in MP’s consumer courts
Posted on : 13 March 2009 by Y.Prakash
The pace of work in Madhya Pradesh’s consumer courts is accelerating as a direct consequence of awareness among the state;s denizens.While the state-level Commission for Consumer Protection has ensured justice in 28,654 of 31,466 cases registered so far — a healthy 91.06 per cent — district fora sorted out 1,23,946 of 1,33,279 cases — 92.65 per cent.In the market, consumers have become alert vis-à-vis prices of products, quality and other useful aspects resulting in a rapid rise in the number of those moving consumer courts.Official sources said the Commission received 2,970 complaints in 2006, 3,101 in 2007 and 3,250 last year. The number of solved cases were 2,780, 2,706 and 3,201 respectively.The district fora received 10,850, 12,008 and 12,267 complaints in the years under review and the number of cases solved were 9,597, 10,398 and 11,006. Rapid disbursal of cases also boosted customers morale.Most of the cases sorted out related to insurance, power, housing, banking, railways, post, telecommunication and medical services.Consumers interests will be discussed at an open forum during a state-level programme here on Sunday, which is World Consumer Day. A Customers Awareness Programme will be organised on March 18 and 19 in the Bhopal Haat.The event, accompanied by an exhibition, will accord special importance to power and cement cases as such consumers are high in number. Stalls will highlight adulteration and weights and measures-related irregularities plus how to avoid falling victim to them.Consumer protection is a form of government regulation which protects consumers interests. For instance, a regime may require businesses to disclose detailed information regarding products — particularly in areas where safety or public health is an issue, such as food.Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights and to formation of consumer organisations that aid consumers make better choices in the market.Consumer interests can also be protected by promoting competition in markets which directly and indirectly serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency. Consumer protection can also be asserted via non-government organisations and individuals as consumer activism.Consumer protection law or consumer law is considered an area of public law that regulates private law relationships between individual consumers and the businesses that sell those goods and services.It also covers a range of topics, including product liability, privacy rights, unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentation and other consumer or business interaction.Such laws deal with credit repair, debt repair, product safety, service contracts, bill collector regulation, pricing, utility turnoffs, consolidation, personal loans that may lead to bankruptcy and much more.

Statement of person on deathbed has its own sanctity: SC
Posted on : 13 March 2009 by Y.Prakash
The dying declaration of a person should normally be relied upon by courts as rarely does a person on his deathbed speaks falsehood, the Supreme Court has held.”The situation in which a person is on the deathbed is so solemn and serene, when he is dying that the grave position in which he is placed, is the reason in law to accept the veracity of his statement”.”It is for this reason that the requirement of oath and cross-examination are dispensed with. Besides, should the dying declaration be excluded, it will result in the miscarriage of justice because the victim being generally the only eyewitness in a serious crime, the exclusion of the statement would leave the court without a scrap of evidence,” the apex court observed.However, the court has to be on guard that the statement of the deceased was not as a result of either tutoring, or prompting or a product of imagination, a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Asok Kumar Ganguly of the apex court said.The Bench passed the observation while dismissing an appeal filed by Satish Ambanna Bansode who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for killing his wife Satyawwa by setting her ablaze on 5th October, 1999 in Mahrashtra’s Sangli district.

CJI warns of misuse of traditional knowledge
Posted on : 13 March 2009 by PIRAVI PERUMAL. M
Alerting Indians to misuse of their traditional knowledge, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan has called for a national registry to comprehensively list what needs protecting.”India des not even possess a complete catalogue or a full knowledge of the many different expressions of traditional knowledge it possess,” Justice Balakrishnan noted at a seminar on Safeguarding Indian Traditional Knowledge late evening.The CJI stressed having a “National Registry” so as to obtain “a fairly comprehensive knowledge” of what has to be protected.He suggested steps to prevent erosion of traditions, stimulate innovation and creativity based on such knowledge and protect traditional innovators’ dignity and moral rights.He also suggested adopting a legal scheme which allows a community to offer traditional knowledge for public use and receive equitable remuneration or benefits in case of private commercial use.Noting how meetings on protecting traditional knowledge are seldom attended by its possessors– healers, village elders, Justice Balakrishnan stressed setting up a body “representing the community concerned.” “Interestingly, whenever an intellectual gathering or academic deliberation regarding these issues des occur, it des not include the participation of the very people whose knowledge we are striving to protect– traditional practitioners, cultural healers, village elders and the like.”It is important, therefore, that the rhetoric and discourse for protecting and safeguarding traditional knowledge be cast in terms of the indigenous peoples’ world views and not only from the perspective of intellectuals and academics.” He reminded that such people see their very existence as linked to such knowledge, and for them practice and protection of traditional knowledge is more an assertion of self-determination than anything else.”The foremost need, therefore, is to establish a body representing the community concerned and the relevant sectors of civil society to balance the competing interests of access and control of traditional knowledge.” The event was organised by Asia Pacific Jurist Association presided over by Punjab and Haryana Chief Justice Vijender Jain, who emphasised reinforcing “our indigenous entitlements” through the framework of law.Justice Jain said the matter touches not only products and knowledge, but the cultural lineage as well as socio-economic aspects of the generations that nurtured and carried them to the present status.”If we condemn our past, we are likely to doom our future as well. If we fail to protect them, our inheritance is being lost and the essence and beauty of our culture get trampled upon.” Speakers included two experts, Dr Suman Sahai of Gene Campaign, and Dr Philippe Cullet of the International Environmental Law Research Centre in Switzerland.According to Dr Sahai, global treaties on indigenous knowledge are often “not binding.” For instance, the International Labour Organisation’s convention 169, which talks a lot about legal standards for indigenous rights, “fails to protect the intellectual property rights of indigenous people.”

Give protection to witnesses, at least in heinous crimes: SC
Posted on : 11 March 2009 by Y.Prakash
New Delhi, Mar 10 (UNI) Being forced to acquit a alleged murderer due to lack of evidence, the Supreme Court has ruled that criminal justice system in the country would be at crossroads unless and until witnesses were given protection to enable them to depose freely against the mighty criminals, at least in heinous crimes. A bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and Mukundkam Sharma, while upholding the acquittal of Mangilal, which was recorded by the Bombay High Court noted, ”The accused persons with money and muscle power can trample any witness who dared to depose against them. The victor will be injustice and it will be a slur on the criminal justice system if it so happens”.

HC asks Delhi to publicise school scheme for poor
Posted on : 11 March 2009 by Jithendra
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has asked the Government of Delhi to give adequate publicity to a scheme under which students from poor families can get admission into schools for free.The court was hearing a public interest petition filed by Social Jurist, an NGO, seeking direction from the court to 384 unaided recognised private schools in Delhi, reports IANS. These schools were allotted public land on concessional rates on the condition that they should also admit students from economically weaker sections (EWS). “The government is directed to give adequate publicity to the reservation for EWS category on its website, newspapers, Doordarshan and other (television) channels as well as in cinema halls by way of slides,” a division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Sanjeev Khanna said this week. “We are informed that the admission process for the academic session 2009-10 is in process and is likely to be completed by April and an assurance has been given on behalf of the respective schools that the interim order of this court for reservation admitting to 15 per cent of EWS students could be maintained and complied with in letter and spirit,” the court said. The government informed the court that 10,262 children were admitted under the freeship quota in the academic year 2008-09. Ashok Aggarwal, counsel for Social Jurist, submitted before the court that there were complaints that some schools do not issue admission forms to parents of children from poor families. The court directed the lawyer to approach the director of education for such cases and said the department would take appropriate action under the law. It also directed all schools to submit their statement to the director of education by the first week of May showing the number of students admitted under the EWS category. The next hearing in the case has been set for July 8

Court to pronounce judgement in Ramabai Nagar firing case
Published: March 16,2009
Mumbai , Mar 16 The sessions court here is likely to pronounce on March 30 its judgement in the sensational Ramabai Nagar firing case, in which State Reserve police officer Manohar Kadam is the main accused.
The case dates back to 1997 and Kadam is charged with ordering an indiscriminate firing on a Dalit mob which was protesting against the alleged desecration of an Ambedkar statue on July 11, 1997.
The firing had left ten dead and over 25 injured.
Following the incident, the state government had appointed a commission under Justice S D Gundewar in November 1997 to investigate the incident. It completed its inquiry by August 1998 and submitted a report which indicted Kadam.
Based on the report, the state sanctioned Kadam&aposs prosecution in August 2001 and an FIR was lodged against him.
During the trial, Kadam had denied the allegations and claimed that it was necessary for him to order firing on the mob to control the situation.
The Sewree sessions court is likely to pass the judgement in this case on March 30.
Source: PTI


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