LEGAL NEWS 02.04.2009

Voters should get the ?None From Above? option
The rampant corruption and criminalistion of politics in India precludes that honest Indian citizens with clean image cannot get elected. No political party will reform till forced by people?s power. The time has come for action now.
CJ: Brigadier Arun..,
CURRENTLY, SUPREME COURT of India is actively considering a petition (PIL) asking for electronic voting machines to have a column, which should read ‘None From Above’. The decision, hopefully, should come well in time so that it can be implemented in the Elections-2009.Till now, a voter in India has no choice. If he wants to exercise his voting right then he has got no option but to press one of the buttons listing out candidates of various parties or independents in the fray. In other words, he has to vote for any Tom, Dick and Harry selected by a political party. If all parties field known criminals, the voters have no say. With rampant corruption and criminalisation of politics having a field day in India the political parties are also not bothered to put up persons with clean image. This, despite the fact that there is rising anger among the masses against corruption. The reason for this political apathy towards public opinion is our outdated electoral system, which is based on first past the pillar method. Today, the percentage of votes cast in favour of the candidate or against him does not count. What counts is the total number of votes.With India boasting of 64 per cent literacy rate and bulk of the population voting in the Elections-2009 falling in the age bracket of 18-30 years, the time has come for introducing radical reforms. It is necessary that electronic voting machine must have a button for negative voting. A voter should have an option to vote for ‘None From Above’. If introduced, this will motivate even those voters to vote, who do not vote in the absence of a right candidate. The Indian middle class, numbering almost fifty million, the largest in the world, falls in this category. Coupled with this, if a minimum educational qualification is also made mandatory for a candidate, the political parties will be forced to take notice. Only then they will field candidates who are capable and are acceptable to the voters. Indian democracy after 60 years of maturity must now graduate into a more evolved democracy and not remain in the rut of mobocracy as it is today.With electronic machines now counting votes in minutes, to elect the right candidate, acceptable to bulk of the population, elections in India must follow number of rounds method. Each round must eliminate candidates from the bottom end so that these votes must get recast in the account of the next acceptable candidate till a particular candidate polls at least 45 per cent votes. Only then can he be called a true representative of the people from a particular constituency.In India to get appointed in most lowly of posts, certain educational qualifications and age denomination is mandatory. It is strange that for becoming a Member of Parliament in India no such qualifications are needed. In other words, these people on whose shoulders rests the daunting responsibility of framing laws and governing one billion people of India, could be rank illiterates. Needless to say, have Indian people been really conned by our Constitution? Did our founding fathers not foresee this possibility?The answer is No. Our founding fathers were very wise but they were gentlemen. Instead of imposing and institutionalising education qualifications and other desired traits in the aspiring candidate they rightly surmised that these rules would be framed by the Parliament. They probably underestimated the character of Indian politics.

Our politicians waste no time in forgetting their different ideologies and differences when it comes to their collective perks, pay and pension. These issues get passed without any debate. However, ask any person to frame rules so that only a person with education, honesty and clean image is allowed to contest in the polls and they will balk. The spontaneous gathering of people of India on December 3, 2008 ,in all four metros of India, protesting against the lame duck and weak kneed-policy of the current UPA Government against terror, in the immediate aftermath of Mumbai attack is a burning example of what people’s power can do. The then home minister of India, Shivraj Patil and his counterpart in Maharashtra Government had to resign. It is this people’s power, which will have to exert its pressure on Indian politics in case we want India to be led by honest and capable people with crime-free image. For this, the like-minded people and NGOs will have to come to the forefront. To bank on our political class or political parties to reform themselves is asking for the moon.

Decision of mediation centre binding on all subordinate courts
2 Apr 2009, 0152 hrs IST, TNN
LUCKNOW: If a matter is decided by mediation at the direction of the high court, the terms and conditions of the decision will be binding on the subordinate courts including civil court, family court, arbitration, tribunals etc as also on the authorities such as police and administration. Rohit Ahuja filed a petition in the high court saying that his wife had lodged an FIR against him. He challenged the FIR in the high court. The high court referred the matter for settlement to the mediation centre. In the centre, the parties reached an agreement on September 22. Thereafter, the high court quashed the FIR and opened the way for settlement. Ahuja submitted that his wife had filed a divorce suit in the family court. The family court judge was not deciding the suit as per September 22 agreement. Justice D P Singh said that the settlement was binding on the family court as well and thus, directed the family court judge to decide the suit in terms of the settlement already reached. PIL against NSA on Varun: Yet another PIL has been filed in the high court challenging the imposition of NSA on BJP candidate from Pilibhit, Varun Gandhi. It is likely to come up for hearing on April 6. The PIL has been filed by a local lawyer, P C Sharma and two others. It has been said in the PIL that the state government did not have the power to impose NSA.

No plans to construct IAS officers’ club
2 Apr 2009, 0007 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: The UT administration on Wednesday informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it had no plans to construct an IAS officers’ club in Sector 26 and instead a butterfly park was under consideration. The HC had earlier issued notice to UT administration and ministry of environment after hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) demanding stay on the construction of IAS officers’ club on the site of 250-year-old heritage pond in Sector 26. In his petition filed by local residents, Gaurav Chhabra had asserted that there existed a heritage village pond within municipal limits of Chandigarh in Sector-26. The said pond was 250-year-old and was situated within limits of village Hamirgarh Kanchan Majra before the city of Chandigarh came into being. This heritage pond was surrounded by thick vegetation comprising about 650 trees, including 15 heritage trees and numerous other varieties of plants, and served as habitat for 83 species of living beings including migratory birds that visit the wetland during winters. The petitioner further contended, For the last many years, UT administration had been spending huge amounts on maintaining and preserving the heritage pond and green area and on developing it as an eco-tourism site. But it had now suddenly decided to uproot all the 600 trees and fill the heritage pond to make way for a club for IAS officers. Seeking intervention of the high court, the petitioner pleaded that the court should immediately restrain the administration from doing any sort of construction at the historic site. After hearing the contention of the petitioner, a notice was issued to UT administration and ministry of environment asking them to file reply on the issue.

Co-op polls only after LS polls
2 Apr 2009, 0020 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore : The high court on Wednesday stated that elections to more than 5,900 co-operative agencies in the state should wait until the Lok Sabha polls are over. “No further elections (co-operative) should be held until the Lok Sabha elections are over and until further orders from the court,” a division Bench headed by justice N Kumar observed. To continue the co-operative election process, KMF chairman H D Revanna and others had filed a writ appeal against a single Bench order. Also, the government through a notification on March 4 had stopped co-operative polls citing the approaching Lok Sabha polls. Injunction on quarrying The Green Bench headed by chief justice P D Dinakaran passed an injunction order related to illegal stone quarrying at Ravugodlu and Nittigere villages in Uttarahalli hobli. A local orgnization Bhoomitra Sangha had filed a PIL, claiming that illegal quarrying activities were being carried out on 292 acres in these villages. Quashed The HC quashed a `suspension of mining order’ passed by Bellary DCF on December 29, 2008. The Bench, however, did not quash an FIR registered by the forester against encroachment and dumping of mining waste beyond the lease area. The court also directed officials to inspect the area under guidance from the Indian Bureau of Mining. Notice The Green Bench has ordered notices to the mines and geology department on petition filed by villagers of Vaddarahalli, Pandavapura taluk, Mandya. They claimed quarrying done by Shivagiri Associates using explosives has weakened their huts. “Cracks have appeared on the walls, and people are suffering from respiratory problems. Sound pollution has increased too,” the petitioners said. Action against officials The HC has directed the PCCF and the revenue secretary to take action against officials who allowed illegal stone quarrying in Harogoppa, Yerekatte and Bannur in Shikaripura, the constituency of CM B S Yeddyuarappa. “What’s this? You say the offenders have ran away. This is a lie. We suspect some people from the government is involved,” the Bench observed. The government advocate told the court that two tractors were seized although the offenders escaped. “Private parties are quarrying without licence and using explosives too. They have encroached upon the forest,’ the petitioners’ counsel S P Kulkarni said.

DJB flayed on ‘tainted’ officials
1 Apr 2009, 2357 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court pulled up the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) on Wednesday on a PIL alleging it had appointed tainted officials and demanded its response. A division bench comprising chief Justice A P Shah and justice Sanjeev Khanna sought DJB’s response while hearing a PIL that drew its attention to appointment of one member who was allegedly shunted out by the Haryana government after being charged with corruption. The petition claimed that precisely because there is no transparent criteria for selection of officers, DJB is in such dire straits and is responsible for a variety of problems which the capital faces like bad sewerage systems in south Delhi and muddy water in taps. HC wondered why DJB could not find a good candidate and had instead put a person charged with misappropriation of funds. “How do you find him fit for office?” the court demanded to know. The petitioner said shortage of water in Vasant Kunj, leaking sewerage systems were a direct product of “adhoc working, mismanagement and favouritism in DJB” and urged HC to quash the members appointment. It also drew HC’s attention to the recent contempt order of a single judge who awarded jail terms to the top honchos of DJB because they had failed to repair a damaged sewer line in south Delhi leading to inflow of pollutants into the Yamuna.

SC postpones the hearing on Mulayam’s plea
April 1st, 2009 – 7:47 pm ICT by ANI
New Delhi, Apr 1 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday postponed the hearing on the petition filed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family members challenging the institution of an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the disproportionate assets case.
A Bench of Justices Altmas Kabir and H L Dattu delayed the hearing as the judgment of a Constitution Bench on the authenticity of the court ordering CBI probe is awaited in the first week of May.
Yadav, along with his two sons, Akhilesh Yadav and Prateek Yadav and his daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav, had filed a review petition questioning the Supreme Court’s earlier directive to the CBI to investigate the disproportionate assets case as claimed in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
The PIL was filed by Vishwanath Chaturvedi, an advocate, seeking probe into the disproportionate assets accumulated by Yadav and his family members.
The Constitution Bench has to judge the power of High Courts and the Supreme Court to order a CBI inquiry.
The petitioners argue that under the Delhi Police (Special) Establishments Act, only the Union Government can order the CBI probe with the consent of the respective state governments. (ANI)

Case against Prakash Jha withdrawn
April 1st, 2009 – 4:24 pm ICT by IANS
Patna, April 1 (IANS) A public interest litigation (PIL) filed against filmmaker Prakash Jha for plots allotted to him by the Bihar government has been withdrawn.Prem Chandra Mishra, a Congress leader, Tuesday withdrew the PIL against Jha, who is contesting from the West Champaran constituency as a Lok Janshakti Party nominee in the Lok Sabha elections.
Many here see the move as a ‘helping hand’ for Jha, who is pitted against Sadhu Yadav, a Congress nominee and brother-in-law of Railways Minister Lalu Prasad.
“It was a clear cut move to help Jha get rid of tainted image ahead of Lok Sabha elections,” a Samta Party leader said.
Jha was allotted prime pieces of land in Patna and other places at very cheap rates to set up multiplexes, medical colleges and hospitals. Mishra in his PIL challenged the allotment of land owned by Bihar Industrial Area Land Development Authority.
The petition had alleged that the government allotted land to Jha without tender and at rates one-seventh of those prevailing in the market.
The Patna High Court had scrapped the allotments in December 2006 saying proper procedures were not followed. But later Jha approached the Supreme Court which asked a division bench of the high court to again look into the matter.
“Mishra withdrew the PIL to snatch an issue from Congress nominee Sadhu Yadav during the elections,” a Congress leader said.
Mishra was reportedly eyeing a Congress ticket from West Champaran.
A Rashtriya Janata Dal leader said: “Mishra is more close to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar than the Congress party in the last few months. He is likely to join the ruling Janata Dal-United after the elections to contest the next state assembly polls.”
Jha is considered close to Nitish Kumar and was seen campaigning for the chief minister in Nalanda parliamentary constituency two days ago.

Ex-MP files PIL on Mahadalits
1 Apr 2009, 0154 hrs IST, TNN
PATNA: Former Rajya Sabha member Brahmdeo Anand Paswan on Monday filed a PIL in Patna High Court through his counsel M P Gupta challenging the decision of the state government declaring 20 scheduled castes (SCs) as Mahadalits on the basis of recommendations of newly constituted Mahadalit Commission. The PIL submitted that the National Commission for Scheduled Castes had earlier given direction to the Union and state governments not to use the word Dalit for scheduled castes. But the state government had used the word Dalit, the PIL said adding that the word Dalit was derogatory. The PIL referred to a 1950 order of the president of India on scheduled castes. It stated that only the president can declare SCs under constitutional provisions. But the state government had, on its own, categorised the 20 scheduled castes as Mahadalits out of a long list of SCs in contravention of the constitutional provisions, the PIL added.

BBMP polls by August?
1 Apr 2009, 0349 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore: It’s been deadline after deadline for 28 months now. While the high court has been setting them for the government to hold the BBMP elections, the authorities continue to dither. This time, if all goes well, the polls will be held by August. There has been no elected body in the BBMP since November 2006. Each time the issue is raised in court, the government comes up with requisitions to postpone it. On Tuesday too, the high court directed the government and the State Election Commission to hold the elections within two months from June 1. The government, on its part, has sought time till November 1. The issue revolves around integrating recommendations of the Kasturirangan Committee when the elected body comes into place. The panel suggested direct elections for the posts of mayor, a professionally qualified, non-bureaucrat commissioner, and formation of a metropolitan authority. A division Bench headed by chief justice P D Dinakaran gave further time after disposing of two applications. Expressing its inability to conduct the polls in March due to the Lok Sabha elections, the government has sought time till November-end. Former city mayor P R Ramesh filed a PIL in 2006 and two contempt petitions since, alleging non-compliance.

PIL on money in Swiss banks filed in Patna HC
Shweta Singh – April 2, 2009
PATNA – A Public Interest petition seeking the court’s directive to the central government for the recovery of Indian money lying in Swiss banks, was filed in the Patna High Court.
Petitioner Jan Chowkidar, an NGO, also pleaded for a directive to probe the ownership of the money, besides punishment to those guilty of taking it out of the country and those allowing such laundering.
Petitioners Indra Sharma, Arvind Sinha and Sudha Verghese have made the Union of India, Central Vigilance Commissioner, Union finance secretary and Union home secretary as the respondent in the case.
They also put a question for adjudication : “Whether this money was taken out of India illegally and, if yes, whether the money is liable to be seized or not?”.
The petitioner also stated that a recent report of an Association of Swiss Banks had revealed that an amount ranging from $500 to $1486 billion, deposited there, had originated from India.
Reports also suggested that the money laundered illegally out of India might be to the tune of US $5.7 trillion.
The Indian chapter of Transparency International has also alleged that the money laundered out of India belongs to rich and powerful politicians, industrialists, stock brokers and that is the reason for the Central government is reluctant to take any action.
The activists have demanded recovery of the huge amount to provide medicare, education and employ poverty alleviation measures for the benefit of poor people.

HC rejects Pappu Yadav’s petition to contest LS polls
2 Apr 2009, 1315 hrs IST, PTI
PATNA: In a setback for RJD MP Pappu Yadav, the Patna High Court today rejected his petition seeking suspension of conviction in CPI(ML) leader Ajit Sarkar murder case to enable him to contest the Lok Sabha polls. A division bench comprising Justices Shiva Kirti Singh and Dharnidhar Jha, which had earlier reserved its order on March 26, disallowed him from contesting elections as he had been convicted in the Sarakar murder case. Senior Supreme Court advocate R K Anand along with Majid Memon, appearing for Pappu Yadav, had contended that the RJD MP had been convicted in Sarkar murder case on the basis of retracted confessional statement of Rajan Tiwari, a co-accused, which is not admissible under the law. Citing an apex court judgement in cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu’s case, Anand had said that if the conviction was not not stayed by the court, the RJD MP would face irreparable loss as a politician in the event of his getting acquitted by the court at a later stage. Opposing Pappu’s submissions, CBI counsel Bipin Kumar Sinha and informant counsel Vindhyachal Singh contended that Yadav’s case could not be equated with that of the cricketer’s case. A special CBI court had on February 14, 2008 sentenced Pappu Yadav, Rajan Tiwari and Anil Yadav to life imprisonment in the Ajit Sarkar murder case. Pappu had moved the Patna High Court against the verdict and got bail in January this year. RJD has yet to declare the name of its candidate from Madhepura as the HC’s order on his petition was awaited. It is believed that RJD chief Lalu Prasad will put up a candidate of Pappu’s choice in Madhepura. Pappu’s wife Ranjita Ranjan is seeking re-election from adjoining Supaul parliamentary constituency on a ticket from Ramvilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party. The court had last week refused to stay suspension of conviction of controversial RJD MP from Siwan Mohammed Shahabuddin in a kidnap-cum-suspected murder case of a CPI-ML (Liberation) activist. The court’s order debarred Shahabuddin from contesting the elections. RJD has fielded Shahabuddin’s wife Hina Shahab from Siwan Lok Sabha constituency going to poll in the first phase on April 16.

Allahabad HC: Petition against Varun Gandhi’s detention filed
A PIL challenging detention of BJP leader Varun Gandhi under the National Security Act (NSA) was filed in the Allahabad High Court.A Lucknow Division bench will hear the arguments into the eligibility of the petition on April 2.The petition, filed by advocate Suresh Chandra Srivastava in the registry department, said the opposite parties should not misuse the provision of NSA against any citizen of India and should quash the NSA order imposed against Mr Gandhi. Challenging the NSA, the petition further said the Act was unconstitutionally invoked against Gandhi by violating Article 14, 21 and 19 (clause 1,2,3) of the Constitution. Mr Srivastava told that there was no material on record to invoke NSA besides the FIR lodged at Kotwali Pilibhit on March 28 under section 307 IPC and Section 7 of the criminal law amendment Act.The petition has also questioned how Gandhi can be a threat to national security when he belongs to the family of freedom fighters.Yesterday, Gandhi was given bail by the CJM court of Pilibhit in two cases of his hate speech but was still in jail due to NSA slapped against him.UNI

Architect Hafeez Contractor gets relief from HC
2 Apr 2009, 0547 hrs IST, Abhinav Garg , TNN
NEW DELHI: Famous architect Hafeez Contractor on Wednesday got relief from the Delhi high court after the Council of Architecture withdrew its order suspending his licence. The council gave an undertaking before the HC bench, that its bar will first grant a hearing to the noted architect in July before proceeding with any decision on his alleged misconduct. With this assurance being recorded, HC disposed of the petition filed by Contractor challenging suspension of his license. Contractor fielded eminent lawyer Soli Sorabji who argued that it was against the principles of natural justice for the Council to unilaterally take a decision of revoking his license, without granting him an opportunity to defend himself on January 23 this year. Contractor’s license was suspended for a year on March 24 when the Council — an autonomous body under the Central government conveyed through a letter that Contractor surrender his certificate of registration. The Council acted on the complaint by Delhi based architect in which he alleged that Contractor advertised his work as an architect — a professional misconduct, as architects and few other professionals are not allowed to advertise their services. The advertisement shows Contractor endorsing a computer and describes him as ‘‘India’s favourite architect.’’ The Council concluded he was guilty of ‘‘having allowed his photographs to appear in an advertisement in a very prominent manner in a national newspaper and international magazine’’ and decided to suspend his license. Sorabji informed HC that on the date when this decision was taken he had made all preparations to appear before the Council and cited record of hotel bookings confirmed in Delhi to buttress his case that he wanted to appear before the council.

HC seeks trial court records in rape case
1 Apr 2009, 2354 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday called for trial court records of a three-year-old rape case where the victim has converted to Islam to marry the accused, prompting protests by the Delhi Commission for Women. Treating a letter written to it by DCW urging legal clarity on the issue as a PIL, a division bench headed by chief justice A P Shah directed the sessions court of Karkardooma to send the files of the case by April 22, the next date of hearing. HC converted the letter into a PIL after it was brought to its attention that in such cases the lower court is at a loss on how to proceed, keeping the best interests of the victim in mind. While going through the case details HC wondered if guidelines can at all be framed as counsel for the Delhi Police Mukta Gupta maintained that it would be very difficult to evolve a straightjacket formula because facts differ from case to case. In the petition, the Commission claimed that trial courts must prevent a rape victim from marrying the perpetrator while dealing with rape cases because in most cases the victim agrees to marriage out of helplessness. In its letter addressed to the HC chief justice court, a member of the Commission said “the Commission is apprehensive that a wrong precedent would be set if the accused persons are allowed to marry the victim during the pendency of the rape cases. She was misguided by her family members,” the Commission contended and added “there are no guidelines on the issue and the trial courts are at a loss to understand when to exercise their discretion and when not to exercise the discretion.” On 24 March, the rape accused had moved a bail plea before a sessions judge on the ground that the victim had converted to Islam to marry him and the family members of both the parties have agreed for the marriage. The court, however, rejected his plea and fixed the matter for August.

Child stable, AIIMS tells HC in Bisoi case
1 Apr 2009, 2352 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The fate of a toddler patient at AIIMS continues to hang in balance after AIIMS authorities on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that the condition of a one month-old child admitted under the supervision of a doctor who was suspended thereafter, is stable and had not been neglected by the hospital. This is the allegation of the mother. In an affidavit submitted to the court, AIIMS maintained that the baby suffering from a heart ailment infact didn’t require any surgery for the next three months. “Switch surgery in the present case of baby may not be an appropriate decision as child is doing well and is without any symptom which needs immediate surgical intervention,” the affidavit proclaims. HC had demanded a response from AIIMS on Monday after receiving a letter from the mother of the child alleging Dr Bisoi’s suspension had deprived him of expert medical attention putting his life in jeopardy. HC had then asked AIIMS if a via media could be found so that Bisoi while remaining suspended could treat the child. AIIMS pleaded its inability to call back the suspended cardio-thoracic surgeon, A K Bisoi for conducting a complex surgery on the child, saying it would amount to revoking the suspension order, which in turn would invite administrative complications. The premier hospital further argued the names of two other surgeons who could perform the child’s operation when required. A division bench headed by chief justice Ajit Prakash Shah and justice Sanjeev Khanna went through the contents of the affidavit and slated the matter for hearing on Thursday. The court had on Tuesday pulled up AIIMS for its callous attitude in treating patients and asked the hospital administration to avoid internal fighting after it took cognizance of a letter from the mother of a month-old child, accusing AIIMS doctors of callousness in treating her baby. In the letter, Rekha (the petitioner) told the court that her baby was suffering from heart ailment and was admitted to AIIMS under the supervision of Bisoi. However, the baby was neglected after Bisoi was suspended by the health minister on March 9, she alleged.

Cabbies slam meter testing by private parties; HC asks govt to file reply…/442119/

Kolkata: Refusing to pass any interim order, the Calcutta High Court today directed the state Government to file an affidavit on a notification it issued in February, 2009 for testing the meters used by taxis plying in the city. Various taxi associations had filed writ petitions in the High Court last week alleging the transport department had authorised a private company to test meters against a service charge.
On Wednesday, a counsel for the taxi association pleaded that the transport department cannot authorise any private agency to check the meters and so the notification issued by the department should be set aside.
The counsel for the state, advocate Subrata Mukhopadhyay, said the transport department has installed a sophisticated machine at Salt Lake for testing taxi meters and the test would be conducted by the department. No private agency was hired to do it, he said.
Mukhopadhyay told the court it was the general public who had to pay more because of defective meters and so the transport department had decided to stop such malpractice. The machine installed at Salt Lake would seal the meter after testing and it could not be tampered thereafter by any means. The machine has not yet tested any meter though, said Mukhopadhyay.
The counsel of the taxi associations moved the plea that the taxi owners would have to pay Rs 300 twice a year for obtaining a certificate saying the meter was fine. Earlier, meters could be tested free of cost. After the hearing, Justice Jayanta Biswas asked the state government to file an affidavit. The case will come up for hearing after seven weeks.

HC halts road construction on Alibaug beach
2 Apr 2009, 0300 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has ordered the stopping of construction of a road on Nandgaon beach in Alibaug. A division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice R G Ketkar on Wednesday ordered a ban on sand mining and directed authorities to remove debris from the beach. The court also asked the collector of Raigad to remain present in court on the next date of hearing scheduled for April 8. The judges were hearing a PIL filed by the Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG). According to the NGO, the road was being constructed right on the beach between the high tide line (HTL) and low tide line (LTL). A compound wall was also being erected, `alleged’ the petitioner. Advocate Rohan Rajadhyaksha, counsel for BEAG, pointed out to the rampant illegal sand mining activities. The court has asked the state to place its stand on record in a week.

HC decision on rejected nominations today
2 Apr 2009, 0216 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: The A P High Court on Wednesday reserved its orders on several petitions filed by various candidates of political parties and also independents who challenged the rejection of their nominations in the current electoral process by the election commission. Three BJP candidates from Warnagal district alone filed three separate petitions saying that the EC has rejected their nominations even for minor technical errors while ignoring similar errors committed by the ruling party. Anantha Udaybhaskar, a Congress rebel from Rampachodavaram of East Godavari questioned the rejection of his nomination by the EC on the ground that he does not belong to an ST caste. “The matter is still under examination by the HC and even before a decision is out from the HC, the EC rejected my nomination in an illegal way,” he said. K Sarada Reddy of Musheerabad constituency, who is contesting on behalf of United Women Front, is aggrieved by the EC decision because the same authorities had approved her candidature during scrutiny but later rejected the same saying that she did not sign on a form. K Ravinder Rao of Parakala in Warangal district who is contesting from Lok Satta filed his petition challenging the EC’s rejection of his nomination. One of the ten proposers did not sign on his papers and he says that it can be ignored. The counsel for EC S Niranjan Reddy told the court that once the election process is set in motion, the courts cannot interfere in this process. The division bench comprising Justice V Eswaraiah and PV Sanjay Kumar said it would deliver its order on Thursday.

HC questions ADMA’s competence
2 Apr 2009, 0247 hrs IST, TNN
JAIPUR: The Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday expressed concern that the Amber Development and Management Authority, a body devoid of any technical expertise, is carrying out restoration work at Amber Fort. A division bench comprising Justice Ashok Parihar and Justice G S Saraf also directed the state government to file a detailed affidavit within two weeks specifying as how the Amber Development and Management Authority was handed over the charge of Amber Fort despite having a complete specialized department of archaeology. The government has also been directed to file details of the funds allocated for the restoration work and the sources from where these funds came to the Amber authority. The government has also been asked to provide the details of the funds which have been utilized so far in the name of restoration. It was stated by state authorities in the court during the course of argument that the entire restoration work is to the tune of nearly Rs 33 crore, out of which Rs 12 crore has already been spent on restoring old heritage. The order came on a report filed by amicus curiae Abhinav Sharma who alleged that the ADMA is a big source of corruption. He alleged big shots of the BJP regime were behind the creation of the authority. Taking a serious note of the submissions made by the amicus curiae, Justice Parihar wanted to know from the director, archeology as to who is the competent authority to look after restoration work in the fort. B L Gupta, director, archeology, who was earlier asked to remain present in the court on Wednesday, told the court that he is merely an administrative officer and only the superintendent, Amber, can give export opinion. However, Zafarullah Khan, superintendent, Amber Palace Museum, also failed to answer the queries of the bench. Annoyed by vague statements made by Khan who also denied the report and photographs tabled by the amicus curiae, the court commented that even as a lay man, the members of the bench understand that restoration does not mean a total change of the interiors like putting air conditioners, music system, bar, pantry, resketching the paintings etc.

HC orders setting up of neuro care unit
Kochi, Thursday 02 April 2009: The Kerala High Court ordered the State government should take immediate steps for establishing a neuro care unit in the Ernakulam General hospital to manage those who require the aid of neuro surgeons.
Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan issued the order on a writ petition filed by the Kerala Federation of Women Lawyers. Such a basic unit has to be established with provision for neuro surgeon and attendant personnel at the earliest. A report in this regard shall also be made available before the Court within four months, the order said.
The petition highlighted the lack of proper facilities in the hospital regarding the management of patients who require aid of neuro surgeons and attendant personnel. The need for facilities which are highlighted in the writ petition is the collective need of all those who reside in Kochi city, the court said.
The Director of the Health Services, in consultation with the competent heads of departments dealing with neuro surgery in the Kottayam and Alappuzha medical colleges, shall have a modus operandi for raising the quality of providing first aid and initial management of the suspected injuries to the nervous system of patients.
It could be done by having a particular unit of the Ernakulam General Hospital link up for service utilities with the neuro surgery department of the Kottayam and Alappuzha medical colleges, the order said.

Govt probing assets owned by ex-CJI Sabharwal’s family
1 Apr 2009, 0000 hrs IST, Himanshi Dhawan, TNN
NEW DELHI: Months after eminent citizens levelled allegations of misuse of public office against former Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal, the government has admitted that it is investigating the judge’s family. In reply to an RTI application, the Centre said the CBI was investigating the Noida plot allotted in the name of Sabharwal’s daughter-in-law Sheeba while the income tax department was inquiring into a south Delhi property purchased by sons Nitin and Chetan. The investigations have been undertaken in response to a complaint sent to the CBI in November 2007 by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms which includes as its patrons Justice V R Krishna Iyer, Justice H Suresh and former law minister Shanti Bhushan. The organisation had, on the basis of documents gathered from various government departments, alleged that even as Sabharwal presided over the controversial orders of sealing of commercial properties in Delhi’s residential areas, his sons were involved in the business of establishing malls and commercial complexes. In effect, it meant that Sabharwal’s family benefited from the former CJI’s orders on sealing. In response to an RTI application seeking details of the CBI’s probe, CPIO G Verma said the information sought relates to the “plot allotted by Noida to Sheeba Sabharwal, daughter-in-law of Y K Sabharwal, former CJI, which is being looked into by CBI’s anti-corruption unit…” while the matter relating to “purchase of B-9, Maharani Bagh property by Chetan and Nitin Sabharwal, sons of Y K Sabharwal, and investments made by them in M/s Pawan Impex (P) Ltd” was being looked into by the income tax department. It was alleged by the Campaign that purchase of the Maharani Bagh property for a consideration of Rs 15.43 crore could not be explained prima facie by Sabharwal or his sons’ legitimate sources of income. CPIO Verma, however, refused to disclose file notings of the investigation on the plea that under section 8 of the RTI Act, information that had no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual should not be disclosed. Such “personal information” can only be given if the appellate authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information.

GTB case: Audit firm takes ICAI to court
K.R. Srivats
New Delhi, April 1 Audit firm Price Waterhouse has taken the audit profession regulator, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), to court. A writ petition has been filed by Price Waterhouse in the Bombay High Court challenging a particular regulation of the institute, in the context of the disciplinary proceedings against the audit firm in the Global Trust Bank (GTB) case.
“Yes, we have received a notice this evening. They (Price Waterhouse) have taken a legal recourse,” Mr Amarjit Chopra, Vice-President of ICAI, confirmed to Business Line, when contacted on Wednesday. He, however, declined to elaborate. The ICAI President, Mr Uttam Prakash Aggarwal, could not be reached as he was out of the country.

HC reserves judgement on PIL challenging proposed Ganga Expressway
Published: April 2,2009

Allahabad , April 1 The Allahabad High Court today reserved its judgement on a Public Interest Litigation challenging the proposed construction of Ganga Expressway connecting the eastern and western borders of Uttar Pradesh.
The judgement on the PIL filed by” Ganga Raksha Samiti”was reserved by a Division Bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhusan and Justice Arun Tandon after hearing detailed arguments from the counsels of the petitioner, the state government and the JP group which has bagged the contract for the proposed project.
The PIL had opposed the proposed construction of the nearly 1000-km highway saying it would lead to numerous environmental hazards and displacement of thousands of families whose land would have to be acquired for the project.
While advocate Arun Kumar Gupta had argued the case on behalf of the petitioners, the state government was represented by Additional Advocate General Zafar Nayyar and Chief Standing Counsel M C Chaturvedi and the JP group by R N Trivedi. PTI CORR NAC

HC reserves judgement on jailed SP leader’s plea for parole
Published: April 1,2009

Allahabad , April 01 The Allahabad High Court today reserved its judgement on a petition filed by former Samajwadi Party MLA Kamlesh Pathak, now detained under National Security Act, seeking parole in order to file his nomination papers from Auraiya Lok Sabha seat.
The judgement was reserved by a Division Bench comprising Justice R K Rastogi and A K Roopanwal.
Earlier, the court had on March 23 last directed the petitioner to move an application before the Uttar Pradesh government but the same was turned down by the state government on March 30 saying he could file his nomination papers from the jail itself.
Pathak was detained under NSA under an order of the District Magistrate of Auraiya of January 28 this year for his alleged involvement in a violent agitation by Samajwadi Party activists protesting the killing of PWD engineer Manoj Gupta by a mob allegedly led by ruling BSP MLA Shekhar Tiwari.
Source: PTI

Gulmarg land scam: Kashmir HC reserves judgement
Majid Jahangir
Posted online: April 01, 2009 at 1227
The three accused were allegedly involved in the Gulmarg land scam in which state land worth crores of rupees was illegally transferred, misusing the provisions of Roshni Act.

Srinagar The J-K High Court on Tuesday reserved judgment against the three accused allegedly involved in the Gulmarg land scam in which state land worth crores of rupees was ‘illegally transferred in the world famous tourist spot by senior J-K officials after misusing the provisions of Roshni Act. ‘
The High Court after hearing the arguments, will now decide whether J-K’s largest anti corruption body State Vigilance Organisation Kashmir should continue the investigation against the trio involved in the racket or not. The three accused have been identified as Abdul Hamid Dar of Chandilora Tangmarg, Nazir Ahmed Mir of Baramulla, Manzoor Ahmed Khan of Lal Bazaar and they had filed a petition in the High court challenging the registration of case and proceedings against them.
The SVO had registered a case against three accused and seven top officers including former Divisional Commissioner Kashmir for violating the provisions of Roshni Act which was introduced during the previous Ghulam Nabi Azad led J-K coalition to give ownership rights of Government land occupied by farmers across the state.
A case under the prevention of corruption Act was slapped by SVO on March 7 against Mehboob Iqbal, then Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Khan, District Collector, Garib Singh, then Tehsildar, Tangmarg, Farooq Ahmed Lone, then Chief Executive Officer, Gulmarg Development Authority, Farooq Ahmed Shah, then Additional Deputy Commissioner (now retired), Sarmad Hafiz, Joint Director, Tourism Department, Rafi Ahmad, then Assistant Commissioner, Revenue, Baramulla and Ghulam Mohi-u-Din Shah, Naib Tehsildar, Kunzar for misuse of official position for illegal transfer of State land at Gulmarg.
The three private accused are also named in the SVO case.
Both the sides pleaded their point before the High Court judge Hakeem Imtiyaaz. The SVO also submitted a detailed status report and case dairies of the Vigilance investigation into the case so far.
Noted lawyer and counsel of the three accused, Zaffar Ahmed Shah pleaded before the court that the ownership of the land has not been provided to his clients. “There is also no entry in the revenue records,” he argued before the court and pleaded before the judge that the case against them should be quashed.
However, the public prosecutor Nissar Hussain Shah argued before the court the trio were equally responsible in the crime.
After hearing the two sides for around two hours, the High Court judge Hakeem Imtiyaaz reserved the judgment in the case.

‘Encounter’ at Batla House: Unanswered Questions: Report is online
Submitted by admin on 1 April 2009 – 7:13pm.
By team
Batla House encounter, which saw two Muslim youth and one police officer killed is now a six months old news. Encounter, true or fake, in the national capital should have lead to investigation and scrutiny, but still questions remain unanswered. A group of Jamia teachers has compiled pubic information to try to piece together the incident. After selling all their printed copies, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Group has made a pdf version available to to put it online. Download link is given at the bottom of this page. Read and discuss.
The report by Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Group has profile of those killed and arrested in the Batla House operation, contradictions in police version regarding the encounter operation, information about dreaded terrorists, bullet proof jacket, injuries and bullets to the suspected terrorists, evidences, escape routes and fired rounds, besides contradictions in the mastermind theory and instances of violations of NHRC guidelines for an encounter.
The teachers’ group has demanded a judicial probe headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, transfer of investigations from the Delhi Police to CBI, exemplary punishment to police officers guilty of implicating innocent Muslim youth in false cases of terrorism and adequate compensation and jobs to those acquitted in the terror-related cases.
Some of the questions raised in the report are as follows:
1) Did the police have prior information about the presence of dreaded ‘terrorists’ in L-18 when they raided the flat? So far, conflicting versions have been provided by the police. In one version, they claim ignorance of such confirmed information, pleading that they went in only for a routine recee and were ambushed (then how did the Police Commissioner within hours declare Atif and Sajid to be the mastermind behind all blasts since 2005, when Sajid would have been 14-years-old); and in another, they claim to have put Atif under surveillance since 26th July 2008 (so how did these boys manage to plant bombs all over the city right under the Delhi Police’s nose?)
2) Were the Police men wearing Bullet proof vests (BPV) or not? In some statements, the Delhi Police said that they avoided wearing the BPVs in order not to alert the ‘terrorists’; in yet other statement they claim that their officer escaped all injury while firing upon an armed Sajid because he was wearing a BPV.
3) What explains the injury marks on the bodies of the deceased boys? Atif’s back was sloughed off and Sajid had bullet wounds on his head as though bullets had been pumped into his head while he was made to kneel―all of which raises doubts about the genuineness of the ‘shootout’.
4) The Police claim that Sajid was an expert bomb maker who used quartz clocks, detonators, ammonium nitrate, yet none of the ‘recoveries’ which even the police have purportedly made, comprise any of the above material that could be used for making Sajid’s ‘signature’ bombs. So what made Dadwal and his force conclude that Sajid was the one behind the blasts in Delhi and elsewhere?
5) Why is there such rigid resistance to any independent probe on the part of the government and the Delhi Police? So much so that the Lieutenant Governor has even rejected a magisterial enquiry, which is mandatory as per NHRC guidelines on encounter killings.
6) Why are post-mortem reports of all the three killed not being made public? Is there something to hide?
The report also carries brief profiles of the accused in the case, including the two students killed. The fact that most of them were students enrolled in educational institutions, whether Jamia or elsewhere, or working gives the impression that they were regular young men in search of better opportunities in life. None of their actions puts them under suspicion: they enrolled as students, bought SIM cards in their name, signed a rent lease deed, duly verified by the police (copy in report), provided genuine address details etc. Moreover, the day after the blasts in Delhi, there were several arrests and detentions in the Jamia Nagar area, which was common knowledge. It is highly unlikely that actual terrorists would make no attempt to move away from a neighborhood which was obviously under the police scanner to a safer hideout.
Testimonies of eyewitnesses at the Jan Sunwai (12 Oct 2008, Batla House) have also been included in the report. Neighbours testified that they found nothing strange or suspicious about the boys and resented the fact that no senior local resident was taken into confidence or to crosscheck any information about suspected terrorists. The manner in which the police operated raised suspicions about their real motives. Further, they also said that while the operation was on, the policemen could be seen throwing pots etc on to the 4th floor flat of L-18, and that they heard gun shots of only one kind. This naturally raises the misgiving that the police was trying to create an impression of cross fire and struggle, where none existed.
Get your copy:*’Encounter’ at Batla House: Unanswered Questions*
*A Report by Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity group*
60 pp., Rs 35, February 2009.
For Copies contact:Adil Mehdi, Dept of English, JMI (9990923027)indianlit@yahoo.comAhmed Sohaib , Centre for Comparative Religions, JMI (9899462042)sohaibnirvan@gmail.comGhazi Shahnawaz, Dept. of Psychology, JMI (9868221506)
Download the pdf version:

IGL appeals tribunal over city gas project

Ajay Modi / New Delhi April 01, 2009, 0:41 IST
Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL), which bid for the city gas distribution project in Sonepat and Meerut, has approached the appellate tribunal for electricity (APTEL) against the net worth criterion laid down by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) for the project. Besides handling matters related to electricity, APTEL also deals with cases relating to the gas distribution industry.
IGL is the only supplier of compressed natural gas (CNG) in the national capital.
“The current net worth norm deducts Rs 400 crore for our Delhi project from our total net worth. This leaves us with a net worth of only Rs 300 crore, though our current net worth is Rs 700 crore. Consequently, it limits our ability to bid for more city gas projects,” said Rajesh Vedvyas, managing director, IGL, while confirming the development. Vedvyas added that the Delhi project was 10 years old and the company had already invested Rs 750 crore in it. “There is no need to reserve Rs 400 crore for the Delhi project from our net worth,” he said.
The PNGRB had invited bids for six cities in the first round of the city gas distribution project. Seven cities would be offered in the second round. The net worth norm would prevent IGL from bidding for a large number of cities.IGL is also working towards expanding its gas retail network to other cities of the national capital region (NCR), namely Noida (including Greater Noida), Gurgaon and Faridabad. The company plans to lay a natural gas pipeline grid in these cities to set up CNG stations and provide piped natural gas (PNG) to domestic, commercial and industrial sectors.
APTEL has fixed April 5 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Tribunal upholds dual tech in mobiles
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Email Author
New Delhi, March 31, 2009
Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications got a booster from the telecom industry tribunal on Tuesday as it upheld a ruling on a petition from the association of entrenched GSM technology-based mobile phone service players –who may go to Supreme Court against the verdict.
The decision allows dual technologies which means CDMA-based entrants like the Tatas and Reliance can diversify using GSM technology.
The Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) upheld a decision by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and enables Reliance and Tata Tele to get GSM spectrum.
The tribunal said that dual technology is clearly allowed in the licence conditions and the National Telecom Policy (NTP) framed in 1999. The tribunal also said the GSM operators do not have any vested right to receive spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz. GSM operators claim they have a vested right on spectrum up to 15 MHz.
“We are disappointed with the judgement. We believe that spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz is legitimately ours as per the rules and regulations,” said TV Ramachandran, director-general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which had made the plea.
“We are still reading the judgement and have not yet decided whether we will go to the Supreme Court against the verdict,” Ramachandran told the Hindustan Times.
The tribunal also said that state-owned MTNL and BSNL should not be given special treatment in getting additional spectrum. “We hold that there is nothing irregular in grant of 4.4 MHz as start- up spectrum to respondent (RCom),” the tribunal said.


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