LEGAL NEWS 08.07.2009

Bill on judges’ assets to keep info confidential

8 Jul 2009, 0337 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The bill drafted by the law ministry for disclosure of assets by judges has little to do with judicial accountability.

On the contrary, it seeks to keep the information confidential and anybody who leaks it would be subject to prosecution and liable to imprisonment up to three years.

This is what a TV channel reported on Tuesday on the Bill that law minister Veerappa Moily had promised to introduce in the current session of Parliament as the beginning of a series of judicial reforms.

Prashant Bhushan of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms (CJAR) told TOI, “This is not a Bill for disclosure of assets but one for preventing disclosure of assets by making it a penal offence.”

All that the Bill reportedly does is to provide a statutory basis to the 1997 resolution adopted by all the Supreme Court judges to disclose their assets to the CJI from time to time. The Bill accordingly stipulates that the high court and Supreme Court judges should file declarations of their assets to their respective chief justices. The hitch is, that it proceeds to say that the declarations would be kept confidential and anybody who leaks them would be prosecuted
and punished with imprisonment up to three years.

This means that the declarations of assets by judges would be outside the ambit of RTI. The Bill is thus in tune with the reservations expressed by CJI K G Balakrishnan to the idea of making those declarations public.






Shiney denied bail, in judicial custody till July 16

8 Jul 2009, 1234 hrs IST, AGENCIES    

MUMBAI: A Mumbai sessions court on Wednesday rejected the bail plea of actor Shiney Ahuja. The actor will remain in judicial custody till July 16.

The court observed that it is a serious offence and a prima facie case has been made out against the actor. The court also refused to accept the defence arguments that the victim’s story of alleged rape is “doubtful and concocted.”

The incarcerated actor had pleaded for bail but the police opposed it saying the accused might intimidate her if he is released.

“The victim’s story of the alleged rape seems highly doubtful and concocted…If she had resisted, then the actor would have had more injuries on his body. But Ahuja has only two scratches on his hand,” his lawyer Shrikant Shivade said.

According to him, there was ample opportunity for the girl to run away from the room or she could have kicked him or even scratched his face.

“It is common knowledge that rape cases are easy to concoct, hard to prove and even harder to defend. The prima facie case has itself become a little doubtful,” Shivade said.

The prosecution opposed the actor’s bail saying that medical and forensic reports of the accused as well as the victim had been reported positive. “Circumstances and evidence point out that it is a case of rape and not consensual sex”.

The DNA test report of Ahuja confirmed that he had sexual relations with the victim. Earlier, medical reports had suggested that Ahuja’s maid was raped.

The actor has been charged under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 376 with rape, along with wrongful restraint and intimidation.

The police arrested Ahuja on June 15 after preliminary medical tests on the girl confirmed sexual assault.

Mumbai police claimed the actor had admitted to making a mistake by having consensual sex with the maid who has levelled allegations of rape against him.





Mhada seeks legal opinion

8 Jul 2009, 0216 hrs IST, TNN

MUMBAI: Mhada is seeking legal opinion on whether Slumdog Millionaire child stars Azhar and Rubina are eligible to take possession of the flats allotted to them.

While Azhar has moved into the flat in Santa Cruz provided by the Jai Ho Trust, it is looking for a place for Rubina and her family.

The two children were allotted 225 sq ft flats each in a Mhada colony at Malwani by the chief minister Ashok Chavan, after their huts, situated along the railway line in Bandra, were demolished by the civic authorities. But the two families had declined to take possession of the Mhada flats citing that Malwani was far off from where they used to live earlier.

Mumbai Congress president Kripashankar Singh said the party has completed all formalities for taking possession of the flats. “We wanted to hand over the keys to the families. But Mhada said as the Jai Ho Trust has also bought them flats, it will not provide them homes,” he said.

Singh said the legal opinion is expected in a day, adding Mhada has not cancelled the allotment yet.

Singh said according to the Trust secretary Neerja Matoo, the flat Azhar has moved in belongs to the Trust and not to Azhar or his family.

“The Mhada allotment is in his name and Mumbai Congress is just a custodian till he turns 18, whereas the trust has kept the flat in its name and will hand it over to him when he is an adult,” Singh said.

He added that if the allotment is cancelled, Mumbai Congress will give the money it spent for possession of the flat to the children’s bank account.






Plot to `kill’ Varun lawyer: Crime branch to grill trio

8 Jul 2009, 0240 hrs IST, Vijay V Singh , TNN

MUMBAI: A crime branch team left for Delhi to interrogate three of the six accused arrested for “planning” to kill BJP MP Varun Gandhi’s advocate.

Officers of the Delhi police informed their Mumbai counterparts about the arrest and told them to provide details of the accused. JCP (crime) Rakesh Maria said, “We have sent a team to question the accused about their Mumbai connection and collect related information. We can comment about their underworld links only after this is done.”

The Delhi police’s special cell arrested Jogeshwari-based Mirza Muktar Husain, Dilshad Hasan Sayyad and Nafizul Ansari last Friday. Meghwadi police officers are going through their records on the Delhi special cell’s request.

A crime branch officer said Ansari was arrested in January 2008 along with two others and sophisticated weapons were recovered from them. He was booked under MCOCA. Ansari and a hired shooter had killed the watchman of a hotel in Churchgate.

The city police will interrogate Ansari about his association with Chhota Shakeel and his involvement in crimes after his release from jail a few months ago.






HC says no to plan for redevpt of Tardeo agiary

8 Jul 2009, 0206 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN

MUMBAI: In a major victory for the Parsi community in the city, the Bombay high court recently dismissed an application seeking to commercially exploit a portion of the Kappawala Agiary (fire temple) at Tardeo.

Justice Nishita Mhatre upheld the order of the charity commissioner, which had denied permission to the Seth Shapurji Sorabji Kappawal Charitable Trust to demolish the agiary annexe building and construct a seven-storey highrise.

The community considers the Kappawala Agiary as very important as the last Zoroastrian saint, Dastur Jamshed Ervad Sohrab Kukadaru (1831-1900), was a priest in this fire temple. The fire in this agiary was consecrated in 1857 (the year of the Sepoy Mutiny) and the magnificent building was built in 1941 when the fire was shifted from Fort to Tardeo. The heritage committee declared the building a Grade II-A protected structure in 2008.

“The agiary has a sacred well and the proposed multi-storeyed building would have come up in close quarters of this sacred space,” said Anahita Desai of the World Alliance for Parsi Irani Zarthostis (WAPIZ), who along with temple trustee Behram Billimoria, spearheaded the opposition to the redevelopment plans. “The sanctity of the holy place would have been compromised. It is the duty of the agiary trustees to protect the temple, and they cannot be seen to allow it to be commercially exploited,” Desai added.

The court order caps a three-year battle to save the agiary land. In 2006, trustee Dara Nicholson sought permission from the charity commissioner to demolish the ground-plus-one-storey agiary annexe building occupied by lone tenant Rohinton Devlaliwala on the grounds that it was dilapidated. Devlaliwala himself won the redevelopment tender by offering to give Rs 60 lakh and a 800 sq-ft flat to the trust. The trust, in return, was to give him development rights of about 5,000 sq ft of the unutilised floor space index (FSI). The charity commissioner rejected the application in 2008 and Nicholson moved court.

In his plea, Nicholson said the building was in a dilapidated condition and posed a danger to the lives of the tenants as well as visitors to the agiary. The court did not agree.

“The charity commissioner’s order, citing structural engineer’s report, says all that the building needs is repairs. Further, any highrise coming up in the precinct of the temple will be a violation of the heritage law,” Desai said.





Couple moves HC to get out of India

8 Jul 2009, 0215 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN

MUMBAI: Seven months after they were acquitted in a drugs case, a Singapore national and her Japanese husband have moved the Bombay high court for safe passage out of India.

Zainab Yousuf (47) has another urgent reason to seek an early exit; she is suffering from breast cancer. A division bench of Justices Ranjana Desai and Rajesh Ketkar on Tuesday directed the Union government to file its response to the plea in a week.

Zainab and her husband, Tetsyo Hiryama (62), were arrested from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport by the Customs’ Air Intelligence Unit in November 2000. Officials claimed to have seized charas from one of the suitcases belonging to the couple. A special court had sentenced them to 10 years’ imprisonment. But in January 2009, the Bombay high court raised doubts on the evidence produced by the prosecution and acquitted the couple.

Their petition says the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO) has ignored their applications for an exit visa and they have been informed that the Customs department is planning to file an appeal in the Supreme Court. “This is a violation of their fundamental rights as the period to file a special leave petition has expired,” advocate Ayaz Khan, counsel for the foreign nationals, said.

The couple has urged the court to direct the FRRO to issue an exit visa to return home and ask it to pay for their lodging, boarding and medical expenses pending a decision on the matter.





Courtroom drama: Soumya case accused in blade fight

8 Jul 2009, 0001 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: In yet another incident of security lapse in a lower court, an accused in the murder case of TV journalist Soumya Viswanathan on Tuesday attacked a co-accused with a blade in a packed courtroom. Ajay Kumar assaulted Ajay Sethi with a blade while they were being escorted out of the courtroom of metropolitan magistrate Sanjeev Kumar.

Ajay while appearing in the court along with key accused Ravi Kapoor inflicted blade injury on Sethi’s cheek around 12:30 pm before being overpowered by security personnel.

Litigants, who had thronged the court premises to attend their cases, panicked and ran for cover, a court staff said. Later, the police took the victim to a nearby hospital for a medical checkup and registered a case under the IPC relating to assault.

This is the third such incident in the past one year when undertrials have attacked each other or police officers on the court premises. These undertrials, who are brought from Tihar Jail, have been found with weapons like blades in their possession.





Charges framed against Salem

8 Jul 2009, 0006 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: A trial court on Tuesday framed charges against underworld don Abu Salem for allegedly making extortion calls to two city traders seven years ago.

CMM Kaveri Baweja framed the charges relating to extortion, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy against the gangster. “On the basis of material on records, it appears that the accused had committed offences punishable under Section 120 (criminal conspiracy) read with Section 387 (extortion) of the IPC. Accused is charged separately with Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC,” the court said.

Salem was brought to the capital’s Tis Hazari courts from Bhopal amid tight security. Barricades were put up in an around the court complex while extra security personnel were deployed at all entry and exit points.

The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed a trial, after which the court adjourned the matter for July 21 for recording the statement of witnesses in the case. Salem, who was extradited from Portugal in November, 2005, has been booked along with three others for making threat calls to Puneet Khanna and Rajat Nagrath, owner of Delhi-based Allied Communication, demanding Rs one crore in 2002.

Meanwhile, Salem’s counsel Arvind Kumar Shukla moved a bail application for Salem under Section 436 (a maximum period of detention for which an undertrial can be detained) of the CrPC, claiming that Salem had already completed seven years jail term since his detention in Portugal in 2002.

Earlier, Arvind Kumar Shukla, counsel for the accused, claimed there was insufficient evidence to frame charges in the case. The prosecution on its part claimed Salem’s voice samples had matched with the intercepted calls in forensic test reports, which was a ground sufficient enough to proceed against the accused.

Salem’s counsel, who tried to raise questions regarding when and how the voice samples were collected, retracted when the court told him that these issues could be addressed during the trial.

Rajeev Mohan, public prosecutor, submitted that the court can easily go ahead with the framing of charges against Salem as the case fell within the conditions mentioned in his extradition proceedings with Portugal authorities.





Bill on judges’ assets to keep info confidential

8 Jul 2009, 0337 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The bill drafted by the law ministry for disclosure of assets by judges has little to do with judicial accountability.

On the contrary, it seeks to keep the information confidential and anybody who leaks it would be subject to prosecution and liable to imprisonment up to three years.

This is what a TV channel reported on Tuesday on the Bill that law minister Veerappa Moily had promised to introduce in the current session of Parliament as the beginning of a series of judicial reforms.

Prashant Bhushan of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms (CJAR) told TOI, “This is not a Bill for disclosure of assets but one for preventing disclosure of assets by making it a penal offence.”

All that the Bill reportedly does is to provide a statutory basis to the 1997 resolution adopted by all the Supreme Court judges to disclose their assets to the CJI from time to time. The Bill accordingly stipulates that the high court and Supreme Court judges should file declarations of their assets to their respective chief justices. The hitch is, that it proceeds to say that the declarations would be kept confidential and anybody who leaks them would be prosecuted
and punished with imprisonment up to three years.

This means that the declarations of assets by judges would be outside the ambit of RTI. The Bill is thus in tune with the reservations expressed by CJI K G Balakrishnan to the idea of making those declarations public.





HC widens scope of maintenance

8 Jul 2009, 0004 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: Giving a wider interpretation to the maintenance law

, the Delhi HC on Tuesday said maintenance amount granted to spouse should be

sufficient to lead a life with facilities which he or she was enjoying before separation.

“I am of the view that while granting maintenance under Hindu Law, the court does not have to grant mere sustenance amount as maintenance is meant to ensure that the spouse enjoys the same monetary status and facilities as he or she was enjoying prior to separation,” Justice Manmohan said.

The court passed the order on a plea by a man challenging a lower court’s order directing him to pay Rs 7,000 as maintenance to his wife.

Pradeep Sharma, contended that the maintenance amount granted by the lower court was higher and he was unable to provide it. The court, however, was not satisfied with his contention and dismissed his plea after it came to know that his annual income was more than Rs 6 lakh. “The order granting monthly maintenance at the rate of Rs 7,000 is neither in excess of the jurisdiction nor does it suffer from material irregularity,” the court said.

Reiterating an earlier order of the apex court, Justice Manmohan said that as the determination of maintenance is not governed by any rigid or inflexible rule, it gives wide power and discretion to the court to do justice.

Earlier, the apex court had ruled that a woman is entitled to claim maintenance from her husband if her independent income or earnings as a single woman are insufficient to maintain the standard of living she was accustomed to whilst living with her husband.

The order, passed by Justices Arijit Pasayat and Aftab Alam, gave wider interpretation to the phrase “unable to maintain herself” and said: “…it would mean the means available to the deserted wife while she was living with her husband and not the efforts made by her after the desertion.” The expression, the judges added, does not imply that the wife should be destitute before she can apply for maintenance.





Victim’s kin get Rs 6L over death due to pothole

8 Jul 2009, 0637 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The high court on Tuesday came down heavily on the Delhi government for the poor condition of city roads that reportedly led to the death of a young scooterist. Holding the government responsible for the accident, Justice Sanjeev Khanna directed the NCT government to pay compensation of Rs six lakh to the victim’s mother.

Stating that the loss of life due to negligence of state violated the right to life and liberty, Justice Khanna in the judgment said, “It’s a violation under Section 21 of the Indian Constitution. The authorities should be conscious and aware of their duty to maintain roads and ensure that the road surface does not have pits so as to cause accidents, thus resulting in injuries and even loss of life.”

Justice Khanna directed the NCT government to pay Rs 6,28,000 within eight weeks to Madhu Kaur who filed a petition seeking compensation after her 24-year-old son Harpreet, a sales executive with a private company, died in a road accident on May 4, 2006.

“It is the responsibility of road-owning agencies to ensure that the roads are maintained properly and repairs undertaken on time,” the court said and directed the government to pay the compensation amount with 10% interest if it failed to pay the compensation within the stipulated time of two months.

“Even if the authorities have entered into a third party contract for maintenance, road users should not suffer injuries, fatal or otherwise, because of lack of maintenance, proper care and repairs,” the court said.

The court order followed a petition filed by Kaur claiming Rs 50 lakh as compensation for the death of her son. Kaur said on the night of May 4, 2006, her son was riding a scooter with his brother as pillion. At 9.30pm, the scooter fell into a pit on the road near Base Hospital at Naraiana, resulting in fatal injuries to Harpreet. Kaur blamed the government and its road maintaining agency MCD for the accident.





Repeal Rent Act, minister told

8 Jul 2009, 0636 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: A delegation of the Committee for the Repeal of Delhi Rent Control Act (CRDRCA) met the Union minister of state for urban development Saugata Roy on Tuesday. It asked him to stop all JNNURM funds to Delhi as the state has not yet repealed the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 even though it is one of the mandatory reforms that states have to fulfil before they can access JNNURM funds.

The committee has alleged that Delhi is being “favoured” as the same political party is in power in the Centre and the state. Roy, according to CRDRCA president Shobha Aggarwal, has assured them that he will look into the matter.

“…Delhi Rent Act 1995 passed by both the houses of Parliament and having received assent of the President of India on August 23, 1995 has not been notified till date. Besides, the Delhi Rent (Amendment) Bill 1997 is lying in cold storage for the past 12 years,” says the petition submitted by CRDRCA to Roy. Pointing out that the delay in repealing the act is a violation of the memorandum of agreement between the Union urban development ministry and the Delhi government and despite this money has been allocated both to the Delhi government and NDMC the latter for redevelopment of Connaught Place. The petition underscored the taxpayers’ right to know why his/her money is being allocated subverting set norms. It has also asked for the withdrawal of funds so far given.

The petition demanded a vigilance inquiry into the matter.





Lawyers’ strike over service tax

8 Jul 2009, 0635 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: A day after Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee proposed getting law firms under the ambit of service tax, lawyers of all five district courts in the capital on Tuesday decided to abstain from work on July 9 as a mark of protest against the move.

“Lawyers of India will not tolerate any attempt by the government to impose service tax on the legal fraternity and shall adopt all peaceful means to oppose such uncalled for and unwarranted taxes on lawyers,” the coordination committee of all bar associations of Delhi said in a statement.

As part of the Union Budget, Mukherjee had on Monday proposed imposition of service tax on advice, consultancy, or technical assistance provided in the field of law.

The coordination committee stated that the legal profession could not be considered as trade or business. It was exempted from service tax as it could not be equated with commercial activities and services provided by others for gaining profit, the lawyers body said.

“The government seems to be labouring under the impression that the advocates’ profession is a commercial activity. The fact is that the profession is noble and meant to advance promotion of administration of justice,” Ved Prakash Sharma, chairman, BCD, said.





HC keen on inquiry against DRT presiding officer

8 Jul 2009, 0445 hrs IST, TNN

HYDERABAD: Expressing dissatisfaction over the way the presiding officer of the Hyderabad Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) is functioning, the A P High Court on Tuesday sought to know if the central government wanted to conduct any inquiry into the complaints made against the officer.

The division bench comprising chief justice Anil Ramesh Dave and justice Ramesh Ranganathan, while hearing a petition filed by M A Aleem and eight others seeking an inquiry against the presiding officer, D Gopala Krishna for `destroying the institution of DRT with his whimsical ways’, clubbed two more petitions pending against him and posted the matter for hearing to Wednesday.

G Vidyasagar, counsel for the petitioners, told the court that the presiding officer of the DRT was promoting a coterie of advocates and delivering several erroneous orders. The bench, when told by the counsel that even banks were aggrieved in some cases, sought to know whether any of the banks had registered their protest so far.

Noting that the happenings in DRT were `certainly a serious matter’, the bench said it was exercising restraint in this case despite so much of evidence forthcoming just because it did not want to open a Pandora’s box. “Several similar petitions against other presiding officers with little or no evidence would be coming in and we do not want that to happen”, the bench said.

The creation of a corpus fund and collection of money for this through an unofficial association by the Hyderabad DRT are some of the allegations pending against the officer, the petition said. “Though we have asked the DRT authorities to file a report on this, it has not been done so far”, the bench remarked. The matter would come up for hearing on Wednesday again.





Do away with dry laws: Hooch probe panels

8 Jul 2009, 0312 hrs IST, Himanshu Kaushik, TNN

AHMEDABAD: Two commissions appointed after major hooch tragedies in 1978 and 1989 recommended relaxation in prohibition laws. Justice (retd) AA Dave, who headed the commission after 1989 incident where 132 died, went to the extent of suggesting, “In order to prevent sale of poisonous liquor it is desirable that government should start distilleries manufacturing liquor from mahuva, nira from toddy trees and sell them to poor labourers at reasonable price”.

He also said the prohibition policy has to be done away with or modified. The commission stated that if the policy was removed, the state would save Rs 200 to 300 crore annually and help curb corruption.

The first commission was headed by former chief justice NM Miabhoy after 101 people died after consuming hooch in Sarangpur, Ahmedabad. Both judges noted that prohibition had not been a complete success.

“But merely because prohibition is enshrined in the directive principles of the Constitution or Gandhiji recommended it, no useful purpose would be served by continuing it out of mere sentiment even when it is found that not only it does not do any substantive good but has given rise to corruption on a large scale, ” Justice Miabhoy said.

Justice Dave report also took a dig at the claims that girls were not molested because of the prohibition policy. “But to say that because drunkards do not move out, women are not molested would not be whole truth,” he said.





Fuel law blocks FM’s green push

8 Jul 2009, 0451 hrs IST, TNN

KOLKATA: Pranab Mukherjee’s proposal to abolish excise duty on bio-diesel is intended to promote green fuel. But biodiesel manufacturers in the state are worried that an existing order by the petroleum ministry to control unauthorized trade of motor spirit and high speed diesel could spoil the initiative.

Clause 3; sub-clause 5 in Regulation of Supply, Distribution & Prevention of Malpractices Order 2005, with the Amendment Order 2007 under Essential Commodities Act, states that “no person shall sell or agree to sell any petroleum product or its mixture other than motor spirit or HSD or any other fuel authorised by the central government in any form, under any name, brand or nomenclature for use as fuel in any type of automobile vehicle fitted with spark or compression ignition engines”.

State oil marketing companies led by Indian Oil Corporation has been citing this very clause for its inability to source bio-diesel from manufacturers and blend it in the fuel they dispense. “The legislation prevents sale of any other fuel than petrol to cars. Unless an amendment is done to include bio-diesel as a legitimate fuel for cars, it will be difficult to retail the blended fuel,” an oil marketing company representative said.

Once this road-block is removed, bio-diesel manufacturers are confident of a smooth drive. “Oil marketing firms weren’t keen to buy bio-diesel for blending as they did not have a tax incentive. But with companies now able to enjoy excise duty concession of Rs 2.5 per litre of diesel, they have reason to purchase bio-diesel for blending,” Coastal Energy chairman Ashok Kumar Bajoria said.

Though the Centre has laid down a bio-diesel roadmap that envisions 5-20% bio-diesel use by 2012, the country’s bio-diesel capacity of 10 lakh tonne per annum is just 2.5% of the diesel consumption of 40 million tonne per annum. Emami Biotech director Aditya V Agarwal said increased offtake would lead to rapid capacity expansion.

In Bengal, bio-diesel capacity is pegged around 800 tonne a day. “At present, we sell less than a day’s production of 300 tonne in an entire month. Once oil marketing companies start sourcing the bio-diesel from us, the demand will spur capacity growth,” he said.

Till new capacity is added though, Mukherjee has encouraged import of bio-diesel by slashing import duty from 7.5% to 2.5%. Industry sources said it would pave the way for oil marketing companies to import bio-diesel in bulk from Indonesia and Malaysia to achieve 5% blending.





Amendment is good, but how many can actually accept it?

8 Jul 2009, 0508 hrs IST, Devjyot Ghoshal, TNN

The law has changed, but not society. Despite the decriminalisation of homosexuality, the open demonstration of alternative sexuality on college campuses possibly the more liberal of spaces is still hardly tenable.

Not only are many members of the administration stuck squarely with their archaic sensibilities, the peer group, too, is barely amenable to the idea of homosexuality, past and present students feel.

“The amendment of the law is a good thing. But how many people can actually accept it? There is no change in the thought process. Today, I might be legally safe, but not socially,” Shree, former student of Gurudas college.

For years, she sat through classes watching her male homosexual classmates being targeted, trounced and teased by students and teachers alike. This fear of an averse reaction was the cause for her relative silence. “When I was in college, I could only open up to my close friends about being lesbian. Though the college can’t throw me out now because of my sexuality, I doubt if opinions will change. Few in the administration will be honest about their stand,” the 23-year-old adds.

Rather, the emergence of the homosexuality debate into the wider discourse could make it increasingly difficult for college-going queers, some feel.

“Now that our visibility has increased, the problems could increase too. If even my own parents lament the repeal of Section 377, I can’t expect the larger society to accept me as I am. If I’ve heard people saying I will beat up a homosexual if I see one in college’, then how can I come out in the open,” 18-year-old Pia of Meghnad Saha Institute of Technology said.

Her collegemate Neel, as she calls herself, continues to face catcalls and coarse comments despite ceasing to be an offender before the law. “There is open talk, but attitude hasn’t changed. Individuals and society at large need to be made aware,” she asserts.

Thus, with the enforcement of the law on campuses being integral to ending the days of discrimination, the onus is on the college administration. But few believe they can deliver.

“In spite of the sensitisation, the authorities are old-school. At best, they are indifferent and at worst, they lampoon homosexuals. Especially with the hierarchical snobbery present in many professional courses, the situation is less than congenial. People don’t have a personal commitment to the issue,” Subho, a homosexual student of Midnapore Medical college, said.

Individual opinions apart, the need for an impartial and evenhanded administration is apparent. Without it, the amended law could be left with little meaning.

“If someone comes out now, there is bound to be ragging and harassment. So far, there was hardly a way out. But now the college should be able to accept complains against these offences and do something. We need the mental support and the reassurance that we will be treated fairly,” Pia asserts.

(Some names have been changed)





Judge says Minister’s name was used to influence him

Published by editor India Jul 7, 2009

From S Murari, Chennai

Chennai, 07 July, (  Justice K Regupathi of the Madras High Court, who dropped a bombshell in open court on June 30 last that a Union Minister tried to influence him in a criminal case, has softened the blow by saying it was the petitioner who used the Minister’s name to get a favorable order.

 The judge, who rescued himself from the case relating to alleged tampering of the mark-sheet of a medico in the Puducherry University examination being investigated by the CBI, has said in a report to the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court that it was the petitioner who met him in his chamber and tried to pressurize him to grant anticipatory bail to the medico and his doctor father by claiming the Minister was interested in the case.

 Disclosing this, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan to whom a copy of the report was forwarded by the Madras High Court Chief Judge, has said “from what Justice Regupathi wrote(to the CJ of the Madrs High Court), there is nothing to suggest that the Minister had called the judge”.

 While the judge did not name the Minister, AIADMK leader J Jayalalitha alleged that it was Union IT Minister A Raja of the DMK who threatened him to grant anticipatory bail to one Dr C Krishnamurthy and his medico son Kirubha Sridhar in a case relating to tampering of mark sheets in third year MBBs examination. She said not only did Mr Raja and Dr Krishnamurthi hail from the same Perambalur district, the two were also business partners. Mr Raja denied even knowing Dr Krishnamurthi.

 Narrating the sequence of events, Chief Justice Balakrishnan said the advocate for the petitioners met the judge in his chamber and told him that a Union Minister was interested in the case. He even called the Minister on his mobile phone and asked the judge to speak to him. Justice Regupathi refused to take the call.

 When the matter came up before the court, the advocate again tried to pressurise the judge. Justice Regupathi then said: “The other day you tried to influence me by using the Minister’s name. I don’t want to hear the case. I will adjourn it”.

 If the advocate had threatened the judge in his chamber by dropping Minister’s name, he is liable for contempt and even debarred from practice. But there was no mention of it by the CJI in his interaction with a section of the media. Further, if the advocate had made a call from his mobile phone, it can be traced by the investigating agency, the CBI, from the service provider even if he has erased it from his cell.

 Most intriguing is how the two accused are still absconding when the CBI, which took over the case six months ago, has nabbed two others, a section officer of the university and a middle man.  Reports from  Puducherry say the scandal covers not just medical but even engineering examinations and it dates back to January 2008 when Jayaraman, a data entry operator in the Puducherry University’s examination department stumbled upon tampering of marks and wrote to higher-ups.

 According to a petition sent on July 3 to the CJI by the Federation of People’s Rights, Puducherry, Jayaraman found out that two University officials were behind the marks scandal and they, in the presence of police in Kalapet station, pressurised him to own up the crime. His statement under duress was recorded by police. Unable to withstand pressure, Jayaraman attempted suicide in February 2008 and was admitted to JIPMER Hospital. The Kalapet police had recorded his statement in hospital in which he again named the two officials. Jayaraman was found dead in May 2008 and Kalapet police had registered a case of murder as post-mortem report said he was strangled to death.

 The secretary to the federation, Mr G Sugumaran, has further alleged Jayaraman’s brother has filed a petition in the Madras High Cour, seeking a CBI probe into the murder case.

 Mr Sugumaran in his petition, sought a CBI enquiry into Jayaraman’s murder “as Puducherry Police failed to make any progress in this case till date”.

–          Asian Tribune –





De-notified Act to keep Chhat village houses safe

8 Jul 2009, 0142 hrs IST, TNN

MOHALI: Providing much needed respite to the residents of Chhat village, the administration here has decided to de-notify areas there from Punjab Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1964. The step was approved in a meeting chaired by principal secretary Geetika Kalka on Tuesday.

The meeting was held to discuss Punjab and Haryana High Court’s directions to the state government for removal of encroachment from areas notified under the Act, said sources.

Around 700-800 houses in Chhat were facing the threat of demolition as they were in the area where the Act was in force.

During the meeting, officials pointed out that the houses were constructed before the Act was implemented and could not therefore be demolished.

The Act also applies to Manouli village area.

District administration got revenue officials to conduct a survey and also took help of satellite images to check the precise position of houses.

On matching the survey report and satellite maps, officials found that no encroachment was there.

After deliberations, it was decided that the Act would only be applicable to area around historic monument sites where excavations are already on.

Mohali deputy commissioner Prabhjot Singh Mand said the meeting was held to see whether any encroachment was there near the monuments.





Divorced from 377, gay couple in ‘fearless’ union

8 Jul 2009, 0212 hrs IST, Shimona Kanwar, TNN

CHANDIGARH: This could just be the first real indication of a persecuted community’s sudden faith in the law safeguarding their lives — and loves — post Article 377, and the beginning of a string of same-sex marriages in the country.

In perhaps the first gay marriage after the Delhi High Court in a landmark judgment read down Article 377, a law that made even consensual sex between adult homosexuals a punishable offence, two 18-year-old men, brushing aside protests from family and jeers from society, went to a temple near their house in Chandigarh and “got hitched for life”.

As a motley crowd of gays and a few well-wishers cheered the newly married couple, Amrit held his partner Jeeta close and said their union was possible only because of the rethink on the anti-homosexual section of IPC.

“I was so delighted after the court’s verdict that we both decided to get married,” said Jeeta, who fell in love with Amrit three months ago when he stayed in the latter’s house in Kajheri, Chandigarh, as a tenant. “We had been facing discrimination in public, at the work place and at home. But things may look up for people like us now.”

But the Monday night wedding at a Shirdi temple hasn’t made Amrit’s family too happy.

While his mother still refused to accept that her son is gay, Amrit’s brother hid his face under a scarf. “Who told you that my son is like that,” the mother growled. “He is fine and is employed with a pharmaceutical factory.”

Rakesh Kumar, who works in the Integrated Counseling and Testing Centre at GMCH-32 here and was a witness to the marriage, said, “Both looked very happy and free. The reception will follow in a few days. The marriage itself was low key as people may not be ready to accept such a thing so soon.”

Amrit, already looking forward to the reception, said he felt like he had inhaled a huge gulp of oxygen. “I feel so alive,” he said. “For the reception I will be calling a few selected friends who encouraged us in this bold step. But it will be open, with no fear of anyone. There are so many like us who secretly love each other. But few have the courage to get married. Maybe this step of ours can motivate the rest of the community to break the fetters of society.”





New PSEB secy: HC sets Aug 31 deadline

8 Jul 2009, 0137 hrs IST, TNN

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday directed the Punjab School Education Board, Mohali, to appoint its secretary by August 31.

Justice Permod Kohli issued these directions while hearing an application filed by the board itself seeking extension of time for appointing the secretary. Earlier, on March 10, the court had quashed the appointment of Pavittarpal Kaur made by the state government as secretary of the board and directed the chairman of the board to make temporary arrangements and appoint the secretary on a regular basis within three months.

However on Tuesday, the counsel informed the HC that Pavittarpal Kaur had already been removed from the post of secretary in compliance with the court directions. The counsel, however, sought six months more to appoint a new secretary.

But the HC directed that the time to comply with the judgment in its entirety was being extended up to August 31, failing which the file would be placed before the court for the initiation of contempt proceedings.





Accused seeks bail in college attack case

8 Jul 2009, 0126 hrs IST, TNN

PANCHKULA: In the case relating to an April 22 clash between two groups of students at Swami Devi Dayal Group of Institutes in Barwala, accused Chiranji Lal of Samdheri village moved a bail application in the court of additional district sessions judge Sanjeev Jindal here on Tuesday. Four MBA students of the institute have also been arrested in the case.

Lal pleaded that he had no role in this clash and college students had falsely implicated him.

He added in his application that the students, who were attacked, hadn’t named him in their complaint and his alleged role has also not been mentioned in the FIR registered by Raipur Rani police, sources said.

He added that he had been behind bars for a month-and-a-half and pleaded that he should be granted bail.

Public prosecutor NK Goyal said that police had recovered the knife used in the attack from Lal’s house. He added that granting bail to the accused would hamper the probe.

The judge reserved the order on the bail application till the next hearing. Lal had moved the bail application last month as well, which was turned down.

The four arrested students are Arun Kaushik, Gagandeep Singh, Praveen Rana and Sandeep.

Lal was arrested on May 21. He is not a student of the institute.

The students had allegedly attacked third-year student Amit Kadiyan and BTech second-year student Amit Bhola using sharp-edged weapons at the college’s main gate.

Institute’s other students had held a protest after the attack demanding proper security arrangements.

Panchkula police had also arrested the institute’s chairman Roshan Lal

Jindal for harbouring offenders. Later, he was granted bail.





Haryana to issue ordinance on PNDT Act

8 Jul 2009, 0221 hrs IST, Ajay Sura, TNN

CHANDIGARH: At long last, Haryana has decided either to bring forth an ordinance or issue a fresh notification to notify the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act with retrospective effect from 1997. Till date, the government has failed to notify the provisions of the Act in its official gazette.

Taking cognizance of TOI report on June 23, on how PNDT cases were falling flat because of the government failure to usher in the law, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had demanded information on the status of notification for PNDT Act in the state.

Following the court orders, the director health, Haryana, Narbir Singh appeared before the bench on Tuesday. Speaking on his behalf, additional advocate general (AAG) Randhir Singh said the government had only recently found out that the notification had not been published in gazette because of a technical glitch. To make amends, he added, it would either issue a fresh notification or an ordinance to give the Act a retrospective effect in the state from October 24, 1997. He also told the court that so far the state has convicted 13 people under the Act and that it was the first one in the country to do so.

After recording the submissions, the bench headed by chief justice Tirath Singh Thakur disposed off a long pending PIL, seeking action against some doctors of Haryana and Punjab involved in illegal female foeticide.

Coming down heavily on the Haryana government, it said the government appeared apathetic to the implementation of such an important legislation. It also directed the government to implement the Act at the earliest “to ensure that no person involved in such inhumane acts walks free”.

The bench ordered strict action against the four doctors indicted in the Gurgaon commissioner’s inquiry of a case in February 2009 wherein the accused, during their posting in the district, were found guilty for not taking any action against a quack of Pataudi village in Gurgaon district involved in foeticide activities.

The directions have been issued in the wake of a PIL filed by Gaurav Goyal, a local lawyer who apprised the court of a raid on hospital run by a quack, seven months after a complaint about foeticide cases. The raid by these doctors in June 2007 had revealed around 250 fetuses in a hospital tank. The HC had ordered an inquiry by the commissioner and found that these four doctors had ignored a big racket in their jurisdiction despite complaints.





Lawyers resent tax proposal

8 Jul 2009, 0357 hrs IST, TNN

PATNA: Advocates of the Patna civil court held a meeting on Tuesday under the banner of All India Lawyers’ Union to lodge their protest against the Union Budget provision to make professional service tax essential for practising advocates.

The advocates said the provision introduced by Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will break down the constitutional framework of the country. They said the basic principle of democracy in our country is fair and balanced justice without any fear and pressure. But the Centre’s move will deprive people of justice as it will force lawyers to hike their fees and people cannot engage costly lawyers.

The lawyers said the provision will make justice inaccessible for the poor and appealed to the Union government to withdraw the provision of service tax for advocates.

The meet resolved to paralyse court functioning if the Union government fails to withdraw the provision.





RTI Manch activists protest functioning of SIC

8 Jul 2009, 0418 hrs IST, TNN

PATNA: With their mouths tied with black bands, activists of Bihar Right To Information Manch marched to the office of the State Information Commission (SIC) and staged a dharna their with charter of demands. Later, they submitted their memorandum to the information commissioners.

Manch convener Parveen Amanullah alleged that the spirit of the RTI Act has been gagged by the officials and people were running out of patience after not getting justice. She alleged that the legal procedures and the provisions of the Act were being thrown to the wind by the SIC and the petitioners were being harassed and process delayed with various unnecessary notices.

The memorandum said that notices are served and reply sought from the petitioners on three points, but hearing is done on only one point. The cases are disposed of without satisfactory action and replies. It demanded that information officers providing wrong replies should be punished.

Amanullah hoped that the SIC would take care of their grievances and not force the Manch to take the matter to the governor or hit the street in protest against the functioning of the SIC.





Kids of jail inmates, no longer prisoners of fate

8 Jul 2009, 0332 hrs IST, Vaidehi More, TNN

AMRAVATI: Pramila, a resident of Shendurjana Toli, a small hamlet in Amravati district, was despondent when her husband was sentenced to life in 2004. A mother of four, she was driven away by her in-laws after her husband was jailed. Now living with her parents, she ekes out a living by working as farm hand where she gets flimsy wages from Rs 20 to 40 per day.

But hope came in the form of officials of an NGO Voluntary action for rehabilitation and Development (Varhad) who handed her a cheque worth Rs 5,100, a princely sum for the poor widow. The money was part of a government scheme for children of jailed persons. And it was Varhad which was instrumental in getting such kids included in the Balsangopan Yojana.

Life for the children whose parent is in jail is equally torturous. Like abandoned children, child labourers, and kids of prostitutes, government aids kids of jailed persons. The families of jail inmates are often ostracised or treated badly by society. In such condition, it’s an ordeal for a parent to bring up a child. But inclusion of these children in foster care scheme has proven to be a boon for parents. Under this scheme, each child gets a monthly aid of Rs 425. The scheme has given lease of life to many children and secured their future.

Now, Pramila, who has got aid for two of her children, says she will spend some money on education of her children and will save the remaining amount. She also had given consent for sending her two children at residential school where she would not have to pay a single penny.

Roshani and Shraddha are unfortunate sisters as they lost their parents in early childhood. Their mother set herself afire in 1999 and their father was jailed for abetting the suicide. Fortunately, both girls were adopted by their paternal uncle but his financial condition is also not sound as he is a farm labourer. This scheme has supported him.

Talking to TOI, chief executive officer of Varhad, Ravindra Vaidya said that children of prisoners were a neglected group. “We felt that to protect the childhood of these children, they must covered under this scheme. After the strenuous effort of two years, government included these children in foster care scheme.” Around 280 children of prisoners in Amravati division have taken advantage of the scheme.





Law varsity to go hi-tech

7 Jul 2009, 2253 hrs IST, Vincent D’Souza, TNN

HUBLI: The newly set up Karnataka State Law University Law School will go hi-tech from its very first academic year. While laptops and combo cards


will replace the traditional textbooks and identification cards, AC classrooms, LCD projectors and digital boards, e-library, LPO centre, and others will give the campus a world-class touch.

KSLU vice-chancellor J S Patil told TOI that each of their student will use laptops in classrooms which are uploaded with the syllabus of particular courses, along with related study materials. The desks will have provisions to charge laptops. The text will also be taught through audio facility using 20 different voices and accents. The V-C said State Bank of India, which has opened its branch on the campus, has agreed to provide loans to students for laptops.

The multi-purpose combo card will act as an identification-cum-punching card using which the students can enter the classrooms and access the library any time. Patil maintained that it will be the first law school in the country with such features. He plans to network all 85 law colleges affiliated to the university. Special lectures by eminent jurists will be beamed live in all colleges in real time.

Discussions are on with global television network providers for a dedicated TV channel on the lines of IGNOU. The website of the university will be connected to TV once the system is ready, he said.

Admissions to begin soon

Varsity special officer Shruti A Shurpali said the admission process will begin from the last week of July while the classes will commence on August 17. The classes will be held on the premises of NS Infotech, a software company abutting the campus, as the university is still to have its own classrooms.

Khadi in law colleges!

The law colleges affiliated to Karnataka State Law University will look desi on Mondays. According to the new dress code, the students and staff of the affiliated colleges will wear khadi and sing National Anthem before the classes on Mondays, KSLU V-C J S Patil said.

“The decision taken to this effect at a law college principals’ conference in May has been been accepted by all. However, the respective colleges are free to choose the colour of the dress,” he said.

The students and staff of KSLUs Law School have chosen sky blue kurta and white pyjama. Women will wear chudidhar. Patil said this is in line with the university’s punchline `Indian roots and global heights’.





Nithari case hearing begins at HC

7 Jul 2009, 2234 hrs IST, TNN

ALLAHABAD: The hearing of the sensational Nithari murder case of Noida, began on Tuesday in Allahabad High Court.

The criminal appeal against conviction was filed by the two accused of Nithari case, namely Mahendra Singh Pandher and Surinder Kohli was taken up for the first time in the Allahabad HC before a division bench, consisting of Justice Imtiyaz Murtaza and Justice KN Pandey.

Both the appellants accused had been awarded capital punishment by the special judge, Ghaziabad. The court will now hear this case on July 13, 2009. Both the accused have requested the court to set aside the conviction and sentence and acquit them.

It might be recalled that Mahendra Singh Pandher and Surinder Kohli were convicted and sentenced for capital punishment by the special judge, Ghaziabad by a detailed judgment on February 13, 2009.





CJI: no Union Minister spoke to Reghupathi

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan on Monday made it clear that no Union Minister directly spoke to Justice R. Reghupathi of the Madras High Court according to the report sent by the judge through the Chief Justice of the High Court, H.L. Gokhale.

Speaking to The Hindu, Justice Balakrishnan said: “I received a copy of the report given by Justice Reghupathi to the High Court Chief Justice. I have seen the letter and it is clear the Minister did not talk to the judge.”

(Last week the CJI reacted strongly to the news about the reported phone talk between the judge and a Union Minister saying “if the Minister had spoken to the judge, then it would amount to interference with judiciary.”)

Explaining the sequence of events, the CJI said: “The advocate for the petitioners seeking anticipatory bail went to the judge’s chamber and told the judge that a Union Minister was interested in the case and would like to speak to him. It seems the advocate suddenly took out his mobile phone and made a call to the Minister and wanted the judge to speak to him saying the Minister is interested in the case. Justice Reghupathi refused to take the phone call and did not speak to the Minister. Justice Reghupathi told the advocate that the matter would have to be argued on merits and he cannot pressure like this.”The CJI said when the case was taken up subsequently the advocate again tried to pressure the judge and Justice Reghupathi told the lawyer “the other day you tried to influence me by using the Minister’s name. I don’t want to hear the case. I will adjourn it.” From what Justice Reghupathi wrote “I can say there is nothing to suggest that the Minister had called the judge,” the CJI said.





HC stalls mayor’s arrest

7 Jul 2009, 2232 hrs IST, TNN

ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad HC stayed the arrest of Kaushlendra Singh, Mayor, Varanasi in connection with an FIR lodged against him with police station- Sigra, Varanasi on July 1, 2009.

The allegation against the Mayor was that he had used abusive language against Bhonu Ram, Nazir of Nagar Nigam Varanasi and had used caste name. The FIR was registered under the SC/ST Act.

This order was passed by a division bench, consisting of Justice Ravindra Singh and Justice NA Moonis on a writ petition filed by mayor, Varanasi. The contention of the counsel, appearing for the mayor was that he had been falsely implicated in this case.





Court orders FIR lodged against former minister

8 Jul 2009, 0633 hrs IST, TNN

RANCHI: A vigilance court in the Jharkhand capital on Tuesday ordered an FIR lodged against former agriculture minister Nalin Soren and former agriculture director Nestar Minz for their alleged corrupt practices in the department. Special vigilance judge Binoy Kant Khan asked the vigilance department to probe the charges of siphoning off public money amounting to Rs 46.10 crore meant for poor farmers to their individual bank accounts.

Mentioning some of the farmers’ schemes, a petitioner said that under Akasmik Fasal Yojana, an order of Rs 5 crore was placed to procure of HPS-III paddy seeds at a time when scientists were working on the seeds at a laboratory.

The petitioner further alleged that under Sabji Bij Utpadan Yojana scheme, Rs 50 lakh was sanctioned to purchase the seeds. Nalin Soren is the seventh former minister against whom an FIR has been ordered in the past six months.





Court adjourns hearing on Ekka bail plea

8 Jul 2009, 0630 hrs IST, TNN

RANCHI: Hearing on anticipatory bail petition moved by former minister Enos Ekka was adjourned by the vigilance court for Thursday after vigilance department sought time to file an affidavit.

Part hearing on the bail petition took place in the court of special judge Binoy Kant Khan. Counsel for Ekka argued that he was being falsely implicated by the vigilance department and the allegation that his client had not cooperated in the investigation was false given that he provided all details sought by the authorities concerned.

Counsel for the vigilance department countered the allegation and gave the details of the properties of Ekka and explained to the court how he has not cooperated in the investigation.

The counsel said investigations we in progress and each day new details regarding Ekka’s assets were surfacing. Hearing the arguments, the court asked the vigilance counsel to file the detailed breakup of the details of the assets by Thursday and adjourned the hearing.

Ekka filed an anticipatory bail petition on July 2, following a non-bailable warrant of arrest against him in the DA case. Ekka has been traceless since the NBW was issued and efforts by the vigilance sleuths to arrest him have failed so far.





Centre appeals against HC order on strays

8 Jul 2009, 0315 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The Centre has finally shown that its heart too bleeds for the street dogs of Mumbai. After keeping quiet for eight months, it approached the Supreme Court on Tuesday formally challenging a Bombay HC’s order in December last year allowing the municipal authorities to eliminate the strays.

The appeal by the Animal Welfare Division of the ministry of environment and forests was a mere formality since the SC had in January this year stayed the HC order on the plea of various NGOs.

Attorney general G E Vahanvati apprised a Bench comprising CJI K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal that the Centre’s plea needed to be tagged along with the pending appeals. The Bench had no hesitation in so ordering.





Punjab Police refuse to vacate rented house; HC intervenes

Express News Service Posted: Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 0327 hrs Chandigarh:

Around 25 years ago, the Punjab Police rented a house of one Harbilas Gangar in Mohali. The house, which was to be the official residence of the Superintendent of Police, Mohali, was later turned into an ‘office’.

When Gangar noticed that an office was being run from the house in Phase IV, he wrote to the Punjab Police and the Director General of Police (DGP), Punjab, seeking directions to get the house vacated.

In 1998, the Principal Secretary, Department of Home, Punjab, directed the DGP to vacate the house and hand over the possession back to Gangar.

However, 11 years on and the house still remained with the Mohali police, despite Gangar running from pillar to post.

Then on February 5 this year, Gangar sent a legal notice to the Principal Secretary and DGP, seeking directions to vacate the house.

In the notice, Gangar said despite assurance that the Mohali police would vacate the house, it hasn’t been done till date.





23 key Babri files missing, UP tells HC

Express News Service

Posted: Jul 08, 2009 at 0302 hrs IST

Lucknow As many as 23 files and not just seven as reported, relating to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, were missing in the Uttar Pradesh Government’s records, according to an affidavit submitted by Chief Secretary Atul Gupta to the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday.

According to official records, the files were last taken away by an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the state Home Department’s Communalism Control Cell way back in the nineties. The official later died in an accident.

The Bench had directed the government to produce seven documents on an application of the Sunni Wakf Board, the main Muslim party to the dispute.

The application was moved way back in 2002.

The Bench, consisting of Justices Rafat Alam, Sudhir Agrawal and D V Sharma, asked the government to explain by Friday what action it had taken. When the government failed to produce the documents despite repeated directions, the Court summoned the Chief Secretary.

Gupta submitted an affidavit along with a letter from the Home Secretary informing the Principal Secretary (General Administration) that 23 files kept at the Communalism Control Cell of the state Home Department were missing.

With the letter, dated June 6, the Home Secretary also sent a list of the missing files with their brief description.

The letter said, according to official records, the missing files and the register of the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute files were taken away by former review officer in the Home Department, Subhash Bhan Sadh, after he was appointed OSD in the Communalism Control Cell.

The Chief Secretary informed the Bench that Sadh later died in an accident.

On Tuesday, the state government moved an application requesting the Court to ask the Sunni Wakf Board to furnish information regarding the source they had come to know of the documents.

“The court has given two days to file objections against the application,” said Board’s advocate Zafaryab Jilani. Additional Advocate General J N Mathur appeared on behalf of the government.

The litigation dates to December, 1949.

Lost in transit
* A telegram sent by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister G B Pant on January 15, 1950.
* Documents regarding action taken for the attachment of Babri Masjid in December, 1949.
* A letter by Faizabad Deputy Commissioner K K Nayyar to Chief Secretary Bhagwan Sahai on July 20, 1949.
* A letter written by Bhagwan Sahai to K K Nayyar on September 30, 1949.
* Two letters written by Faizabad Divisional Commissioner to the chief secretary on July 20 and September 3, 1949.
* Two letters written by the deputy commissioner to the chief secretary on December 26 and 27, 1949.




Implement tea e-auction, Kerala HC tells Tea Board


George Joseph / Kochi July 08, 2009, 0:32 IST

A single bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the Tea Board to implement e-auctions in tea trading at Kochi by implementing recommendations and findings of the report of the advocates’ commission appointed by the court.

Justice V Giri, the single judge, also directed the board to rectify various lapses in the new trading system based on the report of the commission. The judge also instructed Tea Buyers Association (TBA), the petitioner in the case, to approach the court if there are any practical difficulties in the conduct of the system after the implementation of e-auction.

The court had earlier appointed a commission of advocates to study the issue and submit a report. The commission had submitted its report and the single judge ordered TBA and Tea Board to file their counter arguments on the findings of the report.

Tea Board had implemented e-auction in Kochi trading, five to six weeks back which evoked strong resistance from traders. The auction created a lot of hassles for buyers and sellers and the trading was affected for 2-3 days.

Technical problems with the software used for e-auction, developed by NSE-IT, had affected the smooth conduct of the trading. The traders said that the implementation of the new system was to help big players and would create a lot of problem for medium and small traders. The court, then, directed to continue with the public outcry system for trading and appointed the commission.





Two docs move court over use of EVMS

8 Jul 2009, 0247 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN

MUMBAI: Two city doctors have filed a public interest litigation challenging the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) for polls in the country. The PIL refers to the reports of irregularities during elections in the United States as well as a ban on EVMs in Germany to support its claims.

The PIL, filed by former University of Mumbai senate member Tushar Jagtap, and Dr Jitendra Jadhav, is scheduled to come up for hearing in the Bombay high court on Thursday.

“EVMs do not instil confidence in voters,” the petition said. “They do not generate any proof or way of knowing that the candidate, the voter has voted for, is the candidate they want to vote for,” it added. The PIL contended that the EVM was not a fool-proof means for casting votes. “The voters have to trust and rely on officials without any proof that their vote has been recorded correctly and included in the final tally.”

“Even a simple malfunction of wiring can cause votes to be cast wrongly which can be crucial in closely-contested elections,” it said.

The petitioners referred to the example of Western countries which were trying to implement safety procedures. The PIL has submitted a judgment of the supreme court in Germany, which ruled that e-voting was unconstitutional because the average citizen could not be expected to understand the exact steps involved in the recording and tallying of votes.

During the US presidential elections when George Bush was elected, officials found that in a suburb at Columbus, Ohio, nearly 3,900 additional votes were added erroneously. A 2005 report of the US Government Accountability Office confirmed errors in EVMs and recommended paper trails that could be audited in any recount. Even the Lok Sabha used paper slips to record the votes of MPs, said the PIL.





PIL against religious sermons to voters admitted

Published: July 7,2009

Kochi , July 7 The Kerala High Court today admitted a PIL seeking a declaration that the acts of religious leaders exhorting their followers to vote or not to vote for any particular candidate or a political party were bad in law.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice S R Bannurmath and Justice Kurian Joseph admitted the PIL filed by Dr S Ganapathy of Kollam and ordered notices to state and Central Election Commissions, Nair Service Society, Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, Kerala Catholic Bishops Council and Jamat-e-Islami.

The petitioner contended that going by the provisions contained in statutes, interference by communal or religious leaders in the election process by making statements directly or indirectly asking their followers to vote or not to vote for any candidate or political party was prohibited.

Respondents — NSS, SNDP, KCBC and Jamat — had canvassed for particular candidates in the last Lok Sabha poll, he said. The petitioner also sought action against the candidates for whom communal and religious leaders canvassed.

Before admitting the petition, the court heard the election commission&aposs counsel. The commission in a statement informed the court that as per Section 123(3) of the Representation of People&aposs Act, any appeal with the consent of a candidate or his agent to vote or refrain from voting on the grounds of religion, caste, community, was a corrupt practice. But the commission had no power to take action. Only a court or election tribunal can take action against such acts.

Source: PTI



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