LEGAL NEWS 09.07.2009

CJI to open Law College centenary celebrations

9 Jul 2009, 0433 hrs IST, TNN

PATNA: State’s premier Patna Law College is going to have a shot in its arm on July 11, as Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan will inaugurate the centenary celebration of the college on the day. The two-day celebrations would begin from July 10.

Two other Supreme Court (SC) judges — Justice Ashok Ganguly and Justice Aftab Alam — would also be present. Among special invitees are former CJI L M Sharma, former SC judge B P Singh as well as acting Patna High Court Chief Justice Shiv Kirti Singh, said state’s advocate general P K Shahi.

Shahi was flanked by secretaries of human resources department (HRD) and information and public relations department (IPRD), Anjani Kumar Singh and Rajesh Bhushan, respectively, as well as Law College principal Rakesh Verma. “The alumni of the college have held high positions in judiciary, administration and politics. They are being invited,” he added. The other invitees include governor, CM Nitish Kumar and former CM Lalu Prasad.

Given the current national trend, a five-year course would soon be introduced to attract students. The future plans of the college also include new building construction at a cost of Rs 97.08 lakh, change of syllabus and several other activities to be taken up in the future, Shahi said.

Yet, the inaugural day would be hectic, when CJI would also participate in the lunch party hosted by the CM, high tea by HC, and cultural programme organized by the culture department. Winners of the Moot Court Competition would also be given awards, and the CJI would return to Delhi the same day, Shahi said.





Will time tell us?

Jul 8 2009  


 Its all about the argument Indian Parliament faced yesterday between Union Minister for Railways and an MP from the Opposition benches. Intentionally, I avoid the usage of the prefix, “Honorable” as no longer the people’s representatives are honorable.

 Obviously, the argument was highly unhealthy (one cannot expect healthy arguments from the present lot is another story). Indian citizens have been watching the biases approach of all the ministers when it comes to implementation plans.

 When Scindia became the railway minister, he made it a point to route almost all the trains through Gwalior even if it meant detour and waste of public funds. Jaffer Sherif went one more step ahead and to facilitate traveling of his daughter, who studied medicine in Vellore CMC, introduced a special super-fast train between Bangalore and Chennai as to suit the college timings of his daughter. Deve Gowda when became Prime Minister, routed the Chennai – Mumbai trains through Hubli although it meant additional travel time of 3 hours and wastage of time and public money. Nitish and Laloo did a lot to Bihar despite the fact that it is the UP and Biharis who are notorious for traveling in train without proper tickets and they respect a damn for reserved berths in trains.

 If Mamata is doing a favor or bias towards West Bengal in the project implementation of Railways, it is nothing new. For a few decades, we have been observing and experiencing such traits of minister extending favor to their local state. After all, they have to do politics in that state. No longer can we expect a pan-Indian approach from the present day politicians. Mamata, is more interested in Bengal (as her goal is to become CM of the state), she will explore all the possibilities to extend a favor for the state so that she can make attempt of taking the coveted seat.

 However, the worse part of the argument is, when Anant Kumar raised a question of extending undue favoritism to West Bengal, the minister retorted, “Don’t insult Bengal”. One fails to understand from where the statement of Anantkumar who suggested a pan-indian approach implied an insult to the Bengal state. Does Mamata mean taking a pan-Indian approach is an insult to West Bengal? Adding insult to injury is, Anant Kumar, instead of raising such a question replied, “then don’t insult Karnataka..”

 Are the politicians really leading the Country to a glorious future or a disaster? Time will tell us…

 In a democracy, might is right. Or at the least, one gets such a perception after going through the recent incidents. Only in the recent past, none other than the Chief Justice of India made a statement that a Union Minister is trying to influence the High Court Judge of Chennai. The issue was raked by every body and snow balled to the effect of sacking the concerned minister.

 Surprisingly, two days back, the same Chief Justice of India is now making a statement that no minister had called the High Court judge but only a lawyer conveyed such feelings to the Judge. Whom should the people of India believe now? To protect whose interest, CJI and the HC judge are back-tracking their statements?

 This issue raises few questions:

¨       After the sensational statement, more skeletons were pulled out of the closet in which the present case was being buried.

¨       With the withdrawal of the statements, it drives the people of India to have apprehension whether the investigation will be conducted in a transparent manner and will do justice to real justice?

¨       Whistle blowers in India are being murdered and none is worried. Will the justice bring in a solution to this?

¨       If we have to accept the recent statements of the CJI and HC judge, why did they mislead the people with such sensational statements in the past?

¨       If people of such cadre and caliber make such mistakes, what can we expect from common people?

¨       How can the CJI and HC judge invoke trust among the people and prove their integrity?

¨       Will I be sued for contempt of court because I raised such questions?

 Time will tell us…..





SC slams med colleges on hiking capitation seats

9 Jul 2009, 0117 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave vent to its outrage on private medical and dental colleges subverting merit by diverting state quota seats to the management quota in order to charge stiff capitation fees from students.

“Every year, this is happening. We know how these tricks are played on students every year,” said a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal as it proposed to initiate contempt proceedings against three private medical and dental colleges in Madhya Pradesh.

The outburst against the state of affairs in private medical colleges – which many parents say charge astronomical figures like Rs 25 lakh a seat – reflects issues raised by a recent TOI-Times Now expose on a capitation fee scam in two professional institutions in Tamil Nadu.

The observation against the Madhya Pradesh colleges came after the state government and students said that despite a clear direction from the SC on May 27 to these medical and dental colleges, they had refused to admit applicants despite their figuring in the merit list of the state conducted common entrance test (CET). The private colleges had sought to hike the number of capitation seats by misappropriating the state quota.

Appearing for the students, senior advocate Indu Malhotra told the Bench that the SC had split the seats into 50:50 for the state and the management after leaving out 15% of the total seats for management to fill under NRI quota.

Senior advocate Ravishanker Prasad said the three colleges — Modern Dental College and Research Centre, Indore; R D Gardi Medical College, Ujjain and People’s College of Dental Science and Research Centre, Bhopal — had filled up all the seats taking them as management quota and left nothing for those students who had cleared CET. “This is a clear overreach of the SC’s orders,” he said.

A furious CJI asked senior advocate A M Singhvi whether his client college had scrupulously adhered to the May 27 order of the SC. Singhvi, supported by other senior advocates, tried to pacify the CJI by arguing that earlier apex court orders wanted the colleges to complete the admissions by May 25 and because of this the seats were filled up.

But the CJI wanted a clear answer. “Did you (the colleges) scrupulously adhere to the May 27 order of the Supreme Court?” The Bench then passed the order saying the three colleges were alleged to have admitted students to more than their entitlement, that is 50% of the seats.

“This is apparently in clear violation of the May 27 order of this court. All three colleges will file their specific affidavits stating whether or not they have complied with the Supreme Court’s May 27 order,” the Bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on July 16.





SC issues notice to Centre on gay sex

9 Jul 2009, 1146 hrs IST, TIMESOFINDIA.COM

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the Centre and NGO Naz Foundation on a petition challenging the Delhi High Court judgement decriminalizing gay sex.

The court has sought the reply by July 20.

Clarifying that marriage laws had not changed, the apex court refused to stay gay marriages. Any interim order for staying gay marriages or their registration would be considered after hearing the Centre and other parties concerned.

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed by astrologer SK Kaushal challenging the Delhi High Court judgement on Section 377.

While mentioning the petition, the counsel, appearing for the astrologer, said that since the high court verdict, there have been seven cases of gay marriages, and raised several questions, which, he claimed, were likely to affect the institution of marriage, reported PTI.

However, the SC Bench said, “We have not changed the definition of marriage.”

During the brief hearing, when the counsel was pointing to what he claimed was the adverse impact of the judgement decriminalising gay sex among the consenting adults, the Bench said the police had not been registering cases in such matters.

It said though the law has been in force since 1860, there have been only a handful cases under the penal provision except those of paedophile cases.

For “gay sex, to my knowledge, no body has been prosecuted,” the Bench, also comprising Justice P Sathasivam, said.

The petition filed by Kaushal sought quashing of July 2 verdict of the high court legalising gay sex between consenting adults in private, which was earlier a criminal offence punishable with upto life imprisonment.

The petition contended that homosexual acts, by all standards, were “unnatural” and could not be permitted.

“No one can imagine the consequences of the unnatural acts. Even animals don’t indulge in such activities,” he said in his petition.

He said the high court judgement would result in spread of HIV virus as “it has been amply proven” that the infection was contracted through such sexual acts.

“We have to look at our own scriptures to seek guidance from them and they are against such behaviour in our society. If such abnormality is permitted, then tomorrow people might seek permission for having sex with animals,” he argued.





Two get lifer for murdering doctor, wife

9 Jul 2009, 2002 hrs IST, PTI

MUMBAI: A sessions court has today sentenced two persons to life imprisonment for murdering a doctor and his wife in 2002.

Dr Hanif Baig and his wife Zarina Baig were beaten to death at their residence in suburban Bandra on March 21, 2002 and cash, jewelery and other valuables were missing from their house. According to the police robbery was the motive for the crime.

Three days later, police detained two persons for theft. During their interrogation, Manoj Chaudhary (26) and Riyaz Qureshi (30) confessed that they had a hand in the robbery and murder at Baigs’ residence.

When the matter came up for trial in the sessions court, the prime witness for the prosecution was the couple’s son who was only nine years old at the time of the murder. His testimony was crucial as he was present at the time of the incident and the accused had threatened him with dire consequences after killing his parents.

The prosecution examined a total of 21 witnesses to built up its case.





90:10 reservation: ‘Govt didn’t follow HC’s observations’

9 Jul 2009, 0126 hrs IST, Prafulla Marpakwar , TNN

MUMBAI: A cursory glance over the Bombay high court order, which set aside the 90:10 reservation formula, indicates that the school education department, led by senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, failed to take note of the court’s observations in the percentile proposal while drafting the new system. Prima facie, it appears that neither Vikhe Patil nor the babus in his department had done adequate home work before embarking upon the new education policy.

“Had they carefully studied the court’s observations in the percentile case, they would not have proposed the 90:10 reservation proposal. Now, not only the department, but also the government has to face embarrassment,” a Congress minister said.

On August 25, 2008, the high court had set aside the percentile method for allocation of seats, resulting in inequality between SSC and non-SSC students

. In its 42-page order, the court observed that the 90:10 formula has been issued only to achieve political ambitions and to favour SSC students. “The golden rule of merit-cum-preference, which is the only acceptable principle for allotment of seats, has been violated,” Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice S C Dharmadhikari said.

The school education department has created an artificial classification when in reality, there is no distinction among students from different boards. The government resolution can barely be covered under any known canons of protective discrimination, the order stated. Further, it said, the students form a homogeneous class and were so treated for last 15 years. There appears to be no compulsive or rational basis for altering the practice, the judges said.

On the contention of school education department that the new policy was widely discussed, the court observed no record indicated that a matter of such significance was ever dealt with by the statutory board. Furthermore, after discussion with local colleges, government departments and some principals, a decision was taken to constitute a core group to examine the proposal.

On June 17, only six principals got together in absence of any appropriate authority from the government to discuss the issues relating to admissions. These principals decided to make the reservation of 90% seats in favour of SSC students, which resulted in the issuance of the GR. “This apparently is an act of undue haste by an incompetent body and in violation of the statutory provisions,” the court said.





26/11 court gets waterlogged

9 Jul 2009, 0131 hrs IST, Kartikeya, TNN

The heavy rains and consequent waterlogging on Wednesday morning did not spare the special court premises at Arthur Road jail where the trial of Pakistani gunman Ajmal Amir Kasab is being conducted.

Journalists and court officials had to wade through water to reach the courthouse inside the jail.

Only a few hours of hearing could be held and just one witness, a doctor, was cross-examined during the day. Judge M L Tahaliyani reached the courtroom at his usual time in the morning.

He was driven through the water to the courtroom.





New Era set to take battle to apex court

9 Jul 2009, 0038 hrs IST, Anahita Mukherji , TNN

MUMBAI: The management of The New Era School on Hughes Road is all set to appeal in the Supreme Court after losing a case against SSC parents in the Bombay high court on Tuesday.

An SSC school for more than 70 years, New Era was taken over by the Aditya Birla Group over a year ago. The new management introduced the International General Certificate of Secondary Education syllabus and announced plans to shift the SSC section to a new premise on D N Road. SSC students’ parents took the school to court after this.

A day after the high court directed the school to reopen on the original premises on Tuesday, school trustee Santrupt Misra announced at a press conference that the management would not reopen the school on the old premises under any circumstances.

The school management said it wanted to shift the school on the grounds that it was dilapidated despite a high court-appointed committee certifying the building safe.

“We cannot risk the lives of children. Our engineers have told us that the building is unsafe. The same parents who have gone to court against us will hold us responsible if anything happens to their children,” said Misra, adding that repair and renovation would be more time-consuming and costly compared to demolishing and reconstructing the building.

Parents have complained that the new premises on D N Road does not have a playground and opens onto the pavement. Misra said he was putting safety above convenience.

The management had earlier announced that the SSC section would be phased out one year at a time. It later said it would not close down the SSC section but shift it permanently to D N Road. Now, parents have been told that the shift will be temporary.

“We did not want to tell parents that the shift would be temporary as they would then ask us for a time-frame and, with building constructions, it’s difficult to complete work within a definite time-frame. But we have taken the D N Road premises on a three-year lease, which can be extended to a maximum of five years. After that, the children will be brought back to the old premises,” said Misra, adding that the IGCSE section would be temporarily shifted to Gwalior Tank. “While we informed the IGCSE parents that the shift was temporary, we did not do so with SSC parents because of the great deal of mistrust they had shown towards us,” he added.

The parents’ advocate described the move as “contempt of court and in very bad taste”. “The court has said that, subject to any competent authority passing an order, the school will have to reopen next Tuesday on the old premises,” advocate M M Vashi said. The parents have already filed a caveat in the Supreme Court.

The school has not yet reopened after the summer vacation. Parents believe that the institute is trying to arm-twist them into submission. “All SSC students, especially those in Class X, are undergoing a great deal of trauma. The management is playing with their lives by not abiding by the laws of the land,” said a parent.





2 decades after trial court order, HC upholds convict’s life term

9 Jul 2009, 0150 hrs IST, TNN

MUMBAI: It has taken a case two decades to reach its conclusion in Bombay high court.

A division bench of Justice B H Marlapalle and Justice S J Vazifdar last week upheld the life imprisonment of a person, who was sentenced by a trial court two decades ago, for wiping out his entire family.

The court expressed concern over the appeal, which had been left undecided for so many years and said that an “appropriate” mechanism should be adopted to prevent delay in hearing of the cases. “It is imperative for the bar and bench to work out an appropriate methodology to ensure that such appeals do not remain pending for more than three to five years in future,” the judges said.

The case dates back to June 22, 1987, when Daman resident Satish Agarwal, after suffering a huge loss in gambling, returned home and strangled to death his wife and two daughters; one of his daughters was barely eight months old.

He then reportedly attempted suicide by jumping into a river but was saved by some fishermen. The police subsequently arrested him and also discovered a suicide note penned by him in which he confessed to the crime. A sessions court held Agarwal guilty in 1989 and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

The high court, too, refused to show him any leniency and convicted him for the crime and, as he was out on bail during the pendency of the appeal, asked him to surrender to the police.





HC orders CBI probe in child ‘kidnap’ case

9 Jul 2009, 0154 hrs IST, TNN

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday asked the CBI to take over the case of a child ‘allegedly’ kidnapped by his grandfather. Expressing dissatisfaction with the probe carried out by the police as well as the state CID, a division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Rajesh Ketkar asked the CBI to file a status report in the case in a month.

The matter concerned the case filed by Bandra resident Manpreet Biji (28), whose one-year-old son was `allegedly’ taken away by her father-in-law, Tinkusingh Biji, in January 2008.

The HC in April 2009 transferred the probe to the state CID.





No survelliance for those acquitted: HC

9 Jul 2009, 0512 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday pulled up the Delhi police for not being extra cautious before labelling a person as a historysheeter as it could lead to “adverse consequence” in the person’s life.

The court’s observations came while hearing the plea of a man who was acquitted in a criminal case few year ago but still was being bothered by the police as his number was under surveillance.

Directing the police to strike off the name of a person who had been under police surveillance for the last five years despite being acquitted in cases, Justice S Muralidhar said the police cannot keep a person under surveillance after his or her acquittal.

Justice Muralidhar said the police should take extra caution before labelling a person as historysheeter and to put his name in surveillance register as it has “grave adverse” consequences. “These decisions affecting the life and liberty of citizens must satisfy the constitutional mandate of Article 21 (read with Article 14),” the court said.

The court passed the order on a plea by one Deepak Solanki seeking direction to police to quash the historysheet opened in his name as it was causing hardships because of frequent visits by the police to his house. The court, after going through all records, found there was no evidence against Solanki.





Centre withdraws petition against DMRC chief

9 Jul 2009, 0513 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The Centre has withdrawn its petition against DMRC chief E Sreedharan in the Delhi High Court challenging a single bench order directing it to grant pension of Rs 4,000 which it had illegally deducted from his salary when he was the head of Konkan Railway Corporation.

Within two months of filing the appeal, the government withdrew the petition on the second hearing of the case after a bench headed by chief justice A P Shah expressed displeasure over the Centre’s stand which had justified its action on the ground that the amount was deducted as he was re-employed after the retirement from Indian Railways.

Shreedharan, after retiring from railways in 1990, had joined Konkan Railway for five years. But the government, without informing him, had stopped his pension of Rs 4,000 on the ground that he was re-employed by the government under the Central government and therefore he was not entitled to get pension.

Following a single bench order, which directed the centre to pay the amount, it paid about Rs 10 lakh to Sreedharan last month. The centre, however, went to file an appeal against the single bench order. Shreedharans lawyer Tarun Johri said that the deduction meant that at one point, after all other deductions like income tax, provident fund, house rent allowance and car conveyance, he got Rs 1,080 per month. “The payment came with a rider. Although, the centre gave the money to Sreedharan, but it was subjected to the time that the centre could file an appeal against the single bench order,” said counsel Johri.

A division bench of chief justice A.P. Shah and justice Manmohan, while hearing the case were not satisfied by the contentions of the government and pulled up the centre for the step. The court also threatened to impose heavy costs on the official who gave the idea of filing an appeal.

As per the case, after retiring from the Indian Railways in 1990, Sreedharan joined Konkan Railway on a pay scale of Rs 9,000-10,000 for a period of five years. The Konkan Railway, however, deducted Rs 4,000 from his salary without his permission contending that it was a re-employment under the central government and he could not draw pension and salary from two government departments at the same time.





Two lawyers held for attacking judge

9 Jul 2009, 1619 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: Two lawyers were on Thursday arrested in connection with the alleged manhandling of a judge at a district court in the capital following a verbal duel during the hearing in a matrimonial dispute case.

Vikas Gupta and Rekha Sharma were arrested for allegedly attacking Additional District Judge (ADJ) Pankaj Gupta, who was presiding over the court dealing with the cases under the Hindu Marriage Act at Rohini district courts, a senior police official said.

He was allegedly slapped and manhandled by a group of lawyers on Wednesday.

Sources said the lawyers were agitated over a bailable warrant issued against a litigant by the ADJ.

A case of rioting, damage to public property, hurt and obstructing a government servant from discharging duty has been registered.





189 schools didn’t abide by freeship norms: Govt to HC

9 Jul 2009, 0512 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The Delhi government on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that 189 private schools have failed to provide 15% freeship quota to economically backward children despite repeated directions from the court. Submitting a detailed status report before the division bench of Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice Manmohan, the Directorate of Education said that action was being taken against the schools which have not complied with the order.

“Out of 394 schools, 189 schools including Air Force Bal Bharati, Lodhi Road, DPS, Mathura Road, and Tagore International, East of Kailash, have failed to comply with the Court’s order for 15% freeship quota,” the report said.

The department also said 183 schools have complied with the order and 22 schools, including Modern School on Barakhamba Road, Spring Dales, Pusa Road, and Sanskriti School, Chanakyapuri, have failed to provide any information as to whether they have complied with the condition or not.

“Separate steps are being taken by the deputy director of concerned district to issue them to show cause notice and take action against them for violating directions of director of education,” the department informed the court.

Pursuant to the High Court’s 2008 order directing schools to comply with it from academic year 2009-2010, the department has sought the schools’ response.

The court was hearing a PIL, filed by social jurists through counsel Ashok Aggarwal, seeking direction to the government for action against those private unaided schools, which have obtained land at a throw away price from the government with a condition that they will provide freeship quota to the poor children, for not following the lease condition.





HC relief for DU prof

9 Jul 2009, 0514 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: Delhi High Court has struck down a Delhi University order, in a case of alleged sexual harassment, which barred professor Bidyut Chakrabarty from holding any administrative post for three years. The court ruled that the inquiry into the allegations was conducted without giving an opportunity to Chakrabarty to produce and cross-examine witnesses in his defence which was against the basic principles of natural justice.

A division bench, comprising Justice A K Sikri and Justice V K Jain, however, made it clear that it would be open to the respondents (Delhi University) to resume the inquiry. “It will be open to the respondents to resume the inquiry held against the petitioner from an appropriate stage, conclude it in the light of the observations made and the view taken in this order and thereafter take appropriate disciplinary action against him in accordance with law,” the court said.

The HC’s order came on a petition by Chakrabarty seeking quashing of two office memorandums as well as the inquiry report. In addition, he had also sought quashing of an order of the university whereby another teacher was appointed head of the department of political science and an ordinance of the university under which the apex committee was appointed.

The apex committee had constituted the inquiry committee following a complaint of sexual harassment by a woman official in the department against Chakrabarty, then head of department of political science, in 2007. Chakrabarty was also holding directorship of Gandhi Bhawan.

The university had issued the memorandums warning him and debarring him from all administrative posts and supervisory duties for a period of three years following submission of a report by the inquiry committee. The committee had found that prima facie a case of sexual harassment was made out against Chakrabarty. Meanwhile, the university also appointed another teacher as head of department.

Chakrabarty had approached the high court seeking quashing of these orders and pleading for reinstatement. While the HC set aside the order debarring him, it refused to entertain the pleas of quashing of the order relating to the appointment of another teacher and of an ordinance under which the apex committee was appointed.

“We are not inclined to quash the notification whereby Professor Achin Vinayak was appointed as head of department of political science and dean of the faculty of social sciences as we feel that such appointments are prerogative of the university and the petitioner cannot challenge the same….Since we have read the requirements of complying with fundamental principles of natural justice as implicit in the inquiry procedure, we need not strike down the relevant provisions of Ordinance XV-D of the University of Delhi,” the court said.





Trial court judge roughed up

9 Jul 2009, 0515 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: A trial court judge was on Wednesday allegedly roughed up by a group of lawyers at the Rohini district court complex following an argument. The incident has sparked strong protest from the judicial officers’ association which demanded security and action against the culprits. A case of rioting, damage of public property, hurt and obstructing a government servant from discharging his duty has been registered at Rohini police station.

Additional district judge Pankaj Gupta, who presides over the court dealing with cases under the Hindu Marriage Act at Rohini district courts, was allegedly slapped and manhandled by a group of lawyers, Delhi Judicial Officers’ Association said in a press release.

“One lawyer started obstructing judicial functioning when the judge was making an inquiry with regard to a fictitious petition. The judge called upon the lawyer not to interfere in his inquiry. The enraged lawyer went out and came back with a group of lawyers, who thrashed the court staff and then beat the judge,” the Association alleged.

The Bar leaders, however, denied the allegation. B S Rana, chairperson of Bar Council of Delhi, said, “According to my information, the judge was not assaulted. It was merely a verbal altercation.”

The judges’ body said it would seek an appointment with the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court to express “the insecurity felt by judicial officers and to request for appropriate remedial measures to avoid recurrence of such incident.”





Three get life term for killing NSUI activist outside college

9 Jul 2009, 1931 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court has awarded rigorous life imprisonment to three persons for killing a man, a member of Congress-backed student organisation NSUI, and injuring another outside a college here nearly 21 years ago.

“Despite all the odds and difficulty, the prosecution has successfully established on record the guilt of the accused,” Additional Sessions Judge M K Nagpal said.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh each on convicts, Bijender Singh, Dipender Singh and Randhir Singh, all hailing from South Delhi, as the charges of murder and attempt to murder under the IPC were established.

The proceedings against another accused Joginder Pal Singh was stalled as he absconded during the trial and was declared a proclaimed offender.

Yadram, an activist of National Students Union Of India, was stabbed to death on the afternoon of August 31, 1988 when he along with Rajinder Singh, another victim who survived after being stabbed, had gone to meet victorious student leader Kapoor Singh Dagar of Aurbindo College.

The victims, who were invited by Dagar to join his victory celebrations, had gone to the college in South Delhi and inquired about the whereabouts of Dagar from the accused, the alleged supporters of a losing candidate.

The accused assaulted the victims. Later, the fight turned ugly as the accused stabbed them.

Yadram died in hospital while Rajinder survived and lodged the case against the accused.





HC stays APMC licence cancellation to Metro Cash and Carry

9 Jul 2009, 0429 hrs IST, TNN

BANGALORE: The high court on Wednesday stayed an order issued by authorities suspending APMC licence granted to Metro Cash and Carry Ltd.

“Authorities issued the APMC licence in May. Even before racks were fitted in the store, they issued a show cause notice, stating we’re not doing business,” the petitioner’s counsel said.

“After that, they charged Metro Cash and Carry Ltd of doing business with 12 unregistered persons. The authorities even told the company to explain within 48 hours why it was doing business with the persons,” the counsel told the court.

“After the company replied to the query, the authorities suddenly issued a 30-day suspension notice.”





Take politicians out of wakf board, HC told

9 Jul 2009, 0202 hrs IST, TNN

HYDERABAD: Muslim clergy in the state through its association of AP Sajjada Nasheens, Mutavallis and Khidmat Gizaran of wakfs on Wednesday told the AP High Court that it wanted a Muslim wakf board and not a Congress or TDP wakf board in the state. It also asked the court to scrap Section 14 of the Wakf Act which empowers the government to fill the board with MPs and MLAs.

Appearing for the petitioner association, senior counsel K Pratap Reddy told the court that since all the activities related to wakf are religious in nature, the government has no power to meddle with the religious independence of the Muslims under the Constitution. It can do so only on grounds of public order and morality. Under the guise of public order, you cannot take over the managements of all the wakfs, he said.

In fact, the counsel said, the Muslim personal law remains secular in matters such as marriage, divorce, succession, etc., and is religious only in matters related to wakf. Rulers had never spread the Islam’s great message of equality and it is only the Mutavallis that spread this and now the Wakf Act is seeking to marginalise them from the wakf board, the counsel lamented.

If the Mutavallis are accused of mismanagement in isolated cases, then the board can act, Pratap Reddy said.

Appearing for the central government, additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran told the court that all that is done by the wakf board cannot be termed religious. If it runs an educational institute, it is education and not religion, he said. Mutavallis are managers of wakf properties and their functions are not religious ones, he said. Mere possibility of misuse cannot be a ground in itself for quashing the provisions of any law, he said. Moreover, the high courts of Karnataka, Gujarat and Madras have already upheld Section 14 of the Wakf Act, he said.

It can be recalled, the AP state government earlier allotted huge wakf properties in Greater Hyderabad to Lanco and other commercial establishments.The division bench comprising Justice Gulam Mohammad and Justice Vilas V Afzalpurkar which is hearing the case posted the matter to July 13 for further hearing.






Films can’t depict professions in poor light: HC

9 Jul 2009, 0345 hrs IST, TNN

CHENNAI: Film-makers are not justified in depicting various professions in poor light and then claiming that it was only fictional and imaginary, observed Justice R Regupathi, who hit the headlines last week when he revealed in the open court that a Union minister was attempting to influence him in a forgery case.

“There are good things and bad things in every profession. But you depict only the bad things,” he said, when a petition filed jointly by actor Vijay, producer A M Ratnam and director Perarasu seeking to quash a defamation case against them came up for hearing before him on Wednesday. The defamation proceedings were initiated by advocates, who felt offended by the depiction of advocates and the legal profession in the film Sivakasi’.

“A lot of advocates sacrificed their lives and resources for the nation. Even today a majority of politicians in the country are advocates. You cannot show them in poor light, as there is a limit to entertainment. Should not we punish those who made money by making such films?” asked Justice Regupathi.

Tamil Nadu Advocates Association (TNAA) president S Prabakaran, claiming that there could be an ulterior motive to such portrayal of advocates, said the film makers did not respond to letters requesting them to delete the offending portions in the film. “We sent to notices to the Censor Board as well, but there was no response,” he said.

Counsel for the film crew, however, said the offending portions of the film were deleted as soon as objections were raised in legal circles. The Censor Board did not think the release of the film would harm the sentiments of any section of the society, he said, adding that defamation proceedings would be justified only if direct imputations were made against people.

Justice Regupathi, making it clear that he was not issuing any directions in the matter, said Prabakaran could implead the Censor Board and ascertain details such as who were the members of the board and what was the duty cast on them. He then adjourned the hearing to July 16.





He helped govt discover state’s own 1966 RTI circular

9 Jul 2009, 0459 hrs IST, TNN

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat did not need an RTI Act to prove its commitment towards a transparent and citizen-friendly administration, according to Prabhudas Vaghela of Amreli. The man was responsible in helping Gujarat’s babus excavate two landmark notifications that made it mandatory in 1966 and 1979 that information sought in revenue matters should be given within seven to 15 days of the application, as against 30 days limit prescribed under the RTI Act.

Vaghela wanted to teach babus that when foundation of the state was laid in 1960, founders had envisioned a people-friendly administration. Vaghela, after filing at least four pleas for a copy of certifications pertaining to his land in Amreli under RTI Act, was denied the same by local collectorate officials.

“When officials denied me a copy of my land records, I wanted to remind the revenue department what their own department had envisioned about a people friendly administration 40 years ago. I then gifted them a copy of the 1979 notification which mandated that information pertaining to revenue records be provided within seven days. It was an eye opener for the department,” says Vaghela.

State information commission had ruled that Vaghela had done a service by helping fish out a copy of the circular, which according to local collectorate officials, was not in existence. Secondly, the circulars provided detailed procedure and imposed obligations on designated officers for providing information within the stipulated time. Further this circular was circulated to all talati-cum-mantri, mamalatdars and collectors of Gujarat.Quoting Vaghela’s example, salt pan workers filed another application demanding a circular dated August 16, 1966, under Regulation 137 (2) of Gujarat Land Revenue Regulations. It said that information be provided within seven days of application to citizens. “SIC had then imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 on public information officer for delay caused in replies and providing information,” adds Vaghela.





HC sets up panel to chase city’s troubles

9 Jul 2009, 0501 hrs IST, TNN

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court, on Wednesday, appointed a committee to look into issues like illegal constructions, traffic snarls on city roads, Building Use (BU) permission and violation of fire safety norms in high-rise buildings.

The committee has been asked to submit its report within three months, along with suggestions and findings on how far the HC order has been implemented.

A PIL was filed by advocate Amit Panchal who complained that the civic bodies in the city -AMC and AUDA- have not implemented various orders by HC, directing authorities to remove illegal constructions, particularly from roads. The plea also asked for vigilance in giving BU permission and issuing clearance after checking fire safety systems in buildings and contended that the authorities have not complied with directions issued time to time.

A division Bench of Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi, which was hearing the PIL, and which sought reports from AMC and AUDA on work being done by authorities. Not satisfied with ‘action taken’ report submitted by the civic bodies, the Bench set up a committee headed by retired judge of HC, Justice KM Mehta.

The committee will comprise five members -secretary of urban development department, AMC commissioner, AUDA chairman, joint commissioner of police (traffic) and CEPT’s assistant director, professor Shivanand Swami.

The court noticed, “This court has alerted the corporation on several occasions about illegal construction going at various places in city and nearby places and also highlighted the necessity of taking remedial measures like regulating traffic, stop unauthorized encroachment on public roads among other. However, no proper measures were taken. Many instructions given by court are yet to be implemented.” The court also observed, several buildings come up without building permit. The modus operandi is to start construction without BU permission and then go for regularisation. “This practice has to be deprecated,” the order said.





Expert panel, then HC to rule on tree-cutting

9 Jul 2009, 0259 hrs IST, TNN

PUNE: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday issued a revised interim order, imposing a series of restrictions on the permission granted by the Pune Tree Authority (PTA) of the Pune Municipal Corporation to fell trees in the city.

The high court said that the PTA cannot go ahead with granting permission to cut trees without first seeking the opinion of an expert panel and then the HC itself, following which a public hearing would be held.

Speaking to TOI, PMC’s legal counsel Sadhana Mahashabde said that in the case of tree-cutting permission for private development, the developer will have to approach the high court for approval after going through the regular process of PTA permission and seeking opinion of the expert panel.

Acting on a PIL filed by Pune-based environmentalist Deepak Vahikar regarding the felling of 1,522 trees by the PMC, the high court, on May 6, issued an order restricting the PMC from going ahead with tree-cutting in totality.

The PMC had then applied to the high court to modify the order. While hearing the application on Wednesday, the court expressed concern over the ecological imbalance and climate change, Mahashabde said.

“As per the court order, the PMC will continue to follow the earlier procedure for granting permission to cut trees. However, it has also been asked to set up an expert panel of botanists. If this panel says that permission to cut a tree may be granted, the matter will then go to the high court for further permission,” Mahashabde said.

The PMC counsel explained that for public development works, the civic body was required to seek the approval of the high court to cut trees. She, however, said that the PMC has been granted permission to trim trees or cut “dangerous” ones. She said that permission to cut trees on Paud road has already been granted to the civic body





HC squashes eviction order agains tenant

9 Jul 2009, 0548 hrs IST, TNN

PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa set aside a “perverse” order passed by its subordinate authorities evicting a tenant from a flat.

In 1987, a landlady, Iria da Costa, had filed an application before the rent controller praying for eviction of a tenant from a flat belonging to her on the second floor of a building in Mapusa.

Da Costa also stated that she owned another flat on the first floor of the same building that was gifted to her daughter in 1983 at the time of her marriage.

Saying that she had no other accommodation left in the city, da Costa sought an order for eviction of the tenant. After the rent controller ordered in her (landlady) favour, the tenant subsequently approached the administrative tribunal.

The tribunal upheld the order of eviction saying that the landlady was staying in her sister’s house and that da Costa had gifted one of her flats on the first floor of the building to her daughter.

The tribunal also noted that the landlady was not occupying any residence of her own and ordered the tenant’s eviction from the second floor flat.

Thereafter, the tenant approached the high court where the aggrieved party’s lawyer pointed out that the landlady, even after gifting the first floor flat in 1983 to her daughter, had executed a lease deed of that flat with another tenant in 1985.

“This shows that the landlady continued to be the owner of the flat on the first floor. This flat was vacated by the tenant in 1991. Since then, the flat has been locked and the landlady is in possession of it,” the lawyer argued.

“Her case that she had gifted the flat to her adopted daughter at the time of marriage, is a fact that cannot be easily accepted since the landlady had continued to be the owner of the same and, not only that, dealt with it as her own. The landlady also did not produce any document of transfer. She admitted that no gift deed was executed in favour of the said daughter,” the high court observed.

The court further held that the tenant herein had proved that the landlady had premises of her own and that too on the first floor of the same building. The court later observed, “The conclusion arrived at by the authorities is not only erroneous but also perverse.”





Justifications not part of info under RTI: HC

9 Jul 2009, 0550 hrs IST, Gauree Malkarnekar, TNN

PANAJI: An order of the high court of Bombay at Goa, stating that the definition for information under the Right to Information Act cannot include answers to the question “why”, which would be the same thing as asking the reason for a justification, has been circulated to Central ministries and departments.

Bringing relief to public information authorities, the high court of Bombay at Goa held: “The public information authorities cannot expect to communicate to citizens the reason why a certain thing was done or not done in the sense of justification because the citizen makes a requisition about information. Justifications are matter within the domain of adjudicating authorities and cannot properly be classified as information.”

The judgment was circulated by office memorandum dated June 1, 2009 to all ministries, departments and state information commissions of the government of India by the Centre’s department of personnel and training. The judgment has also been circulated in the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha, and offices of the President and Prime Minister.

The judgment, dated April 3, 2008, came in favour of Goa’s director of education Celsa Pinto, who had challenged an order dated July 27, 2007 passed by the Goa Information Commission holding her responsible for furnishing “incorrect, incomplete or misleading information”.

Education department’s legal officer Avinash Nasnodkar said that the judgment appears to have brought relief to several government officials across the country. “Several copies of the judgment were picked up from us by all government offices in Goa and the judgment has now been circulated all over the country by the central government. At times officials are harassed using the RTI act for wrong purposes. They are expected to have an answer to anything and everything. At least now they will not be challenged or penalised for not justifying things they have no control over.”

The judgment states that section 2 (f) of the RTI Act defines information to mean “any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advises, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force.”

The case pertained to information sought by Milan Natekar, a government servant, seeking to know from the education director, in this case also the public information officer, “why the librarian from the engineering college was not considered for promotion for the post of curator in the Central library when it had fallen vacant due to retirement” of the person holding the position.

Initially, the director had replied “N.A.” to all questions posed by Natekar, and when the latter sought clarifications, the director replied that the abbreviation stood for “not available”. To the question as to why the post of librarian was not filled up, the director stated: “I don’t know”. Natekar then approached the Goa Information Commission (GIC).

Ruling in the matter, the GIC held that the education director was guilty of furnishing incomplete, misleading and false information and imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000 which was “liable to be deducted from her salary from the month of August 2007”.

Nasnodkar and advocate J A Lobo challenged the commission’s order in the high court. Lobo argued that GIC wrongly held that the director provided incomplete and misleading information.

The court held that, “it is not possible to comprehend how the commission has come to this conclusion” and that it saw nothing wrong in the director’s reply that she does not know the information because “PIO cannot manufacture the information”.

The court also held that “it is not possible to accept the reasoning of the commission. There is no substance in the observation that merely because the director said not available’ and later on corrected her statement and said that she does not know and the petitioner provided incomplete and incorrect information.

“In this view of the matter, the order of the commission appears to suffer from a serious error of law apparent on record and results in the miscarriage of justice,” the court held.





Court suspends Bhardwaj’s sentence

9 Jul 2009, 0021 hrs IST, TNN

Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday suspended the sentence of three years’ rigorous imprisonment awarded to former Chandigarh judicial magistrate, Surender Singh Bhardwaj by special CBI court under Prevention of Corruption Act.

While ordering this, justice Lakshmi Narain Mittal also directed that the petitioner, if arrested, would be released on bail to the satisfaction of chief judicial magistrate. Bhardwaj’s appeal against his conviction already stands admitted though no date has yet been fixed for its regular hearing.

Bhardwaj was convicted and fined Rs 50,000 on May 16 this year by special CBI judge cum additional district and sessions judge, Jagdeep Jain.

Bhardwaj, 43, landed in CBI’s net on May 10, 2003, when he was caught accepting Rs 7 lakh at his Sector-22 residence here. The complaint was forwarded to CBI by GS Samra, who is at present cooling his heels in a Punjab jail. It was alleged that Bhardwaj had accepted this amount on behalf of the then district and sessions, Jalandhar, RM Gupta, in order to get an order passed related to bail application in Samra’s favour.





SIC orders action against principal secy

9 Jul 2009, 0336 hrs IST, TNN

LUCKNOW: The State Information Commission (SIC) took a strict stand against the principal secretary of public enterprises department, Sunanda Prasad and ordered disciplinary action against her for not taking the provisions of the Right to Information (RTI) Act seriously.

The order passed by information commissioner, Gyanendra Sharma, in one of the recent judgments stated that the official invited disciplinary action against her for interfering in the work of the public information officer (PIO) of her department, for not taking her role of first appeals authority seriously and for violating the provisions of the Act. This is for the first time that commission has ordered disciplinary action against an IAS officer of the rank of principal secretary.

The case pertains to an RTI query made by an applicant, Rajeshwar Prasad, to the PIO of the department on January 21, 2007, about the appointment and pay scale of one of the employees of the department, Neerja Krishna. After applicant approached the commission, the department was asked to submit the entire details (files) on the action taken by the department on the query of the applicant.

“The findings are shocking, the Act is three-years old in the state but even most of the higher level officials are ignorant about its existence…moreover, senior officials want to fail the system by way of which the Act is to be implemented,” is the observation made by the commissioner in the order.





HC orders revaluation of I PU answerscripts

9 Jul 2009, 2240 hrs IST, TNN

MYSORE: As directed by the high court, the education department has ordered reevaluation of answer scripts of the students who failed to clear I PU exams at Mahajana’s PU College.

The students of the college had moved HC, alleging irregularities in valuation. The revaluation will be completed before July 15.

The court has asked the deputy director of pre university, Mysore, to appoint examiners and conduct reevaluation. The official has been told to report to the court irregularities, if any, in valuation of papers by the college management and principal K Shankar.

The college management and the principal have been directed to provide all subject answer papers of the main exams to DDPU.

DDPU Chandramma told The Times of India that a team of evaluators has been appointed from outside the institution.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (Praveen Shetty faction) city president K Madesh told reporters that over 116 students have moved the high court seeking justice. However, the court passed the order for the first batch of 40 students on July 7.

Responding to a query, he stated that the orders for other two petitions of students group have been reserved for July 15.

Madesh said in all, 400 PU students who wrote exams failed to clear them in March. Then over 100 students passed in the supplementary exams conducted recently.





Tax consultant to pay compensation

8 Jul 2009, 2254 hrs IST, TNN

MANGALORE: The Dakshina Kannada District Consumers Dispute Redressal Forum has ordered the sales tax consultant, Prakash Bhat, to pay compensation for deficiency in service.

Krishnamoorthy, the complainant and partner Hotel Ganesh Prasad, on KS Rao Road, filed a case before the forum against Bhat in which he said that he had entrusted the work of filing the sales tax returns for the year 2006-07 to Bhat. As Bhat did not manage the given work properly, he had to pay fines to the department of sales tax. Krishnamoorthy demanded compensation from Bhat for deficiency in services.

But Bhat argued before the forum that he had not taken any work from Krishnamoorthy and said he had kept his payment pending. However, the forum found that Bhat’s license to work as sales tax consultant was cancelled in 2005-06 and he kept Krishnamoorthy in the dark about the cancellation of his license and thus the deficiency in services was proved. The forum directed Bhat to pay Rs 14,000 as compensation to Krishnamoorthy within 30 days, along with Rs 1,000 towards case-related expenses. Advocate KSN Rajesh argued on behalf of the complainant.





Court orders for arrest of S-I

8 Jul 2009, 2252 hrs IST, TNN

KANPUR: Taking a case of non-compliance of court order seriously, chief judicial magistrate (CJM) TP Singh on Wednesday asked SSP Kanpur Nagar to arrest sub-inspector Hardwari Lal Verma, presently posted at Anwarganj police station, and produce him before the court on July 14.

Sending a reminder to the SSP, the presiding judge said a letter to him was also sent on a previous date. SI Hardwari Lal Verma was an accused in a dacoity case in Akbarpur police station and a case under section 395 IPC was filed against him in 2001. The trial began in 2002 and since then seven years had passed and not much progress made.

The court had issued a non-bailable warrant against him on August 6, 2004 but he could not be arrested.

Sentenced: The fast track court number III of Kanpur Nagar on Wednesday convicted three persons under NDPS Act and punished them with six years’ rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 5,000.

The sentenced persons were identified as Saroj Kumar Verma, Ravi Kumar and Brijendra Singh, all residents of village Kasigawan, under Bidhnoo police circle.

According to case file, station officer of Govind Nagar police station Tejendra Pal Singh had arrested them near Parag Milk Board on July 18,2000 and had recovered 210 grams heroine from their possession.

In another judgment, special judge, dacoit infested area of Kanpur Dehat, Rakesh Kumar convicted two persons, Babu Thekedar alias Nasir and Anwar, a resident of Mangalpur, for kidnapping a youth and sentenced them to eight years’ rigorous imprisonment, along with a fine of Rs 5,000 each.

According to case file, the accused had kidnapped one Mazid, a resident of Paharganj area of Akbarpur tehsil, on April 9.1999. Mazid was a beetle shop owner.





PIL against SAIL chairman, BSL MD

9 Jul 2009, 0507 hrs IST, TNN

RANCHI: A PIL was filed by one Surendra Sao of Bokaro in Jharkhand High Court demanding a CBI inquiry against SAIL chairman, BSL MD and former Union steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan in connection with the expenses incurred during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the state last year. The PM had come to lay the foundation stone of BSL’s modernization and expansion programme.

Sao has challenged the Rs 1.92 crore expenditure incurred by BSL during the visit of the Prime Minister on April 22, 2008. The estimated expense to be incurred by BSL in this programme was around Rs 11,000 crore.

The petition was filed on basis of information collected through RTI from SAIL. The report of alleged misuse of money during the Prime Minister’s visit to the state was first published in TOI.





Plea in HC for DA probe against Sahay

9 Jul 2009, 0507 hrs IST, TNN

RANCHI: An interlocutory petition was filed by one Bhuneshwar Tiwari in the Jharkhand High Court on Wednesday demanding a probe into the assets of Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay which was allegedly amassed through unknown sources of income.

The interlocutory petition was filed in the PIL that is being heard by the high court wherein the complainant, Durga Oraon, demanded inquiry into property amassed by former Jharkhand ministers Bandhu Tirkey, Bhanu Pratap Sahi, Kamlesh Singh, Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai.

Along with his petition Tiwari submitted documents related to sale and purchase of land and other moveable and immovable property made by Sahay during his tenure as minister in the Union Cabinet.

According to Tiwari, the high court has fixed the hearing of the petition for July 14. Tiwari claimed that he submitted sufficient document to nail the minister who allegedly misused his office to accumulate huge wealth by adopting unfair means.

Earlier, the state vigilance bureau filed an FIR against former state agriculture minister Nalin Soren and department’s director Nestar Minz at the local vigilance police station on Tuesday.

The case was lodged on directive of the local vigilance court on a complaint petition filed by one Vineet Kashyap early this year in which the latter alleged that minister and director had amassed wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income.

DSP SC Jha has been appointed as investigating officer of the case.





Security agencies may be brought under RTI Act

9 Jul 2009, 0256 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: The government is set to review the list of agencies that have been exempted from disclosure under RTI to assess if they can be brought under the purview of the Act.

Organisations like Intelligence Bureau, Research & Analysis Wing, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Narcotics Control Bureau and Central Reserve Police Force are among 18 central agencies that have been exempted under the RTI Act. Only matters related to allegations of corruption or violation of human rights pertaining to these agencies can be disclosed under the legislation.

In a statement to Parliament on Wednesday, Prithviraj Chavan, minister of state in charge of DoPT, said, “It is proposed to review the number of organisations in the second schedule to the Right to Information Act, 2005 and make rule for more disclosure of information by public authorities.”

States too can exempt agencies working in intelligence or security spheres.

The minister also said the government proposed to “strengthen” the Act by making changes in the law to provide for disclosure by government in all non- strategic areas.

The government has received representations expressing doubts about the proposed amendments. “Non-government organisations and social activists will be consulted on the proposed amendments,” he said, adding, “No timeframe can be fixed for completion of the process.”

The government has also conducted a study through an independent organisation to assess the key issues and constraints in implementation of the RTI Act. “The study recommended measures for improving awareness on right to information, improving convenience in filing information requests, improving efficiency of the information commissions, enhancing accountability and clarity of various stakeholders,” Chavan said.

NGOs are, however, opposed to this saying that the Act should not be tinkered with.





MD can be prosecuted if company’s cheque bounces: SC

9 Jul 2009, 0254 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN

NEW DELHI: This Supreme Court judgment will make companies become more careful about the health of their bank accounts before issuing a cheque.

For, the SC on Monday ruled that in case a cheque issued by the company is dishonoured, then its managing director, being in-charge of the day-to-day affairs, could be liable for prosecution.

Dealing with a cheque bouncing case relating to one issued by a company, a Bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and Dr Mukundakam Sharma had to fall back on the Companies Act and read it along with Section 141(1) of the Negotiable Instruments Act to arrive at the conclusion.

Under Section 141, if a cheque issued by a company is dishonoured, then apart from the company, “every person, who at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of and was responsible to the company for the conduct of the business of the company” shall be liable.

The Bench, reading the Companies Act provisions along with Section 141, said “a managing director is prima facie in charge of and responsible for the company’s business and affairs and can be prosecuted for offences by the company”.

However, it clarified that “insofar as other directors are concerned, they can be prosecuted only if they were in charge of and responsible for the conduct of the company’s business”. There may be many directors and secretaries, who were not in charge of the business of the company at all, it said.

But, the Bench knew that unscrupulous elements could take advantage of the ruling and try roping in as many officials of the company as possible in a cheque bouncing case.

It said if a company had 100 branches and the cheque issued by one of the branch was dishonoured, then the officers of all the 100 branches could not be made accused by simply making an allegation that they were in charge of and were responsible to the company for the conduct of its business.

“As the trauma, harassment and hardship of a criminal proceeding in such cases may be more serious than the ultimate punishment, it is not proper to subject all and sundry to be impleaded as accused in a compaint against a company, even when the requirements of section 138 read with section 141 of the Act are not fulfilled,” the Bench said.





6 yrs’ RI for molesting, extorting Japan tourist

9 Jul 2009, 0325 hrs IST, TNN

GAYA: A local court on Wednesday awarded rigorous imprisonment (RI) to three criminals after pronouncing them guilty of molesting a tourist from Japan and extorting money from her four months ago.

Additional public prosecutor Ram Swarath Singh, who appeared for the state, said Mat Sukita, the 32-year-old Japanese tourist, arrived at Gaya railway station on March 18, 2009 and was accosted by three persons posing as tourist guides. Instead of taking her to her destination

Bodh Gaya, the fake guides took her to a house and molested her. She was kept in illegal confinement and was forced to withdraw Rs 35,000 from an ATM to pay her tormentors.

After several days of captivity, Sukita managed to flee to Varanasi from where she approached Gaya SP M R Naik. Showing rare promptness, the Gaya police completed the investigation into the case and secured the conviction of the offenders within four months.

Additional district and sessions judge K N Rai awarded six years’ RI and a fine of Rs 1000 to Mujahid alias Kaka, alleged to be the kingpin of the gang of trio. Raja and Shamim, the other two accused, were awarded three-and-a-half years’ RI and a fine of Rs 500 each.





Malegaon blast case: Sadhvi Pragya’s bail plea rejected

9 Jul 2009, 1948 hrs IST, PTI

MUMBAI: A bail plea by sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, one of the prime accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, was rejected today by a special court which refused to accept her argument that the prosecution had failed to follow certain provisions of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).

In her bail plea filed in January, Thakur had said that the prosecution failed to file its charge sheet in the case within the stipulated 90-day period and thus she is entitled to bail.

Under the provisions of MCOCA, the period to file the chargesheet can be extended to 180 days if the prosecution files a brief of the progress report in the investigation before the court within 90 days and seeks extension to file the charge sheet.

“When the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) filed its progress report in the case, Thakur had spent 95 days in custody and thus she was entitled to bail. Although the ATS has shown Thakur’s arrest date as October 23, she was taken into custody on October 10 and thus was illegally detained for 13 days,” Thakur’s lawyer Ganesh Sovani argued.

Special public prosecutor Rohini Salian, however, opposed the bail plea stating that the ATS had filed the report on the 89th day since Thakur’s arrest on October 23 and had thus not violated any provision.





26% posts of HC judges lying vacant

9 Jul 2009, 1759 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: About 26% posts of High Court judges are lying vacant across the country, according to Ministry of Law and Justice.

The highest number of posts of judges are vacant in Allahabad High Court which is functioning with only 55 per cent of its approved strength, Union Minister for Law and Justice M Veerappa Moily said in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha.

According to the statement, 234 posts out of approved strength of 886 of High Court judges are vacant across the country.

Out of total approved strength of 160, there are only 88 judges in the Allahabad High Court and remaining 72 posts are lying vacant.

“High Courts of Allahabad, Andhra Pradesh, Bombay, Kolkata, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala and Punjab and Haryana are yet to initiate proposals for filling up all the posts that were vacant in 2007,” Moily said.

At present, proposals for appointment of 42 judges in various High Courts are under consideration of the government, he said.

Seventy vacant posts of judges were filled through fresh appointments during the period of January 1 to June 30 this year, he added.





Govt plans 71 courts to try CBI cases

9 Jul 2009, 0222 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: With a number of CBI cases pending in different courts for long, the government on Wednesday said that efforts were on to set up 71 additional special courts exclusively for trial of cases of the investigating agency in various states.

In a written reply to Lok Sabha, minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions, Prithviraj Chavan, said: “Appointment of competent and experienced Special Public Prosecutors and filling up of vacancies, including that of investigating officers, are some of the steps being taken by the government to expedite disposal of CBI cases in courts.”

He said: “The number of CBI cases pending trial is increasing every year. It is, therefore, the endeavour of the government to set up 71 additional special courts exclusively for trial of CBI cases in various states.”

The minister said that CBI, in a nation-wide drive against corruption in June 2009, registered 69 cases against public functionaries including one case of alleged corruption in the Railway Recruitment Board, Allahabad.

He said several measures have already been taken to strengthen the CBI, which include modernization and upgradation of the agency’s infrastructure and capacity building of its officers and staff.





Maya govt gets SC nod for eco park without statues or monuments

9 Jul 2009, 0235 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: After being asked to respond to a PIL questioning her government’s fetish for statues of herself and those of dalit icons, the Mayawati regime on Wednesday promised the Supreme Court that the high-tech ecological park in Lucknow would have none.

The promise recorded, a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam had no hesitation in vacating an Allahabad High Court interim order staying the demolition of Lucknow Jail to make way for the preparations on ground for setting up the eco park.

The decks for the demolition of Lucknow jail that would clear 195 acres of land for utilisation of the eco park came after counsel for the state, senior advocate K K Venugopal apprised the court about the construction of a new jail with modern facilities on the outskirts of the state capital.

On Tuesday, another Bench of the apex court headed by Justice B N Agrawal had declined to grant stay on demolition of other buildings adjacent to the jail on the technical ground that they were not included in the petitioner’s prayer. And it had refused to pass fresh orders against demolition of the jail structure on the ground that the HC’s stay was already in operation.

The entire area being cleared would have, in addition to the eco park, Manyavar Kanshi Ram Sthal and Dr Ambedkar Sthal. The installation of statues of Mayawati and elephants, which is the election symbol of the ruling BSP, at various places in the state was questioned in the PIL. The state had told the court that no one questions statues of other leaders being erected, but when it came to dalit icons, many people have problems.

Appearing for the state, senior advocate S C Mishra and additional advocate general S K Dwivedi pointed out to the court that the existing jail was overcrowded as it was housing 3,632 inmates against a capacity of 2,010 prisoners. They said the nearly complete new jail with better facilities would have a capacity of 4,660 prisoners.





Madras HC issues notice to state, Centre to produce NSA dete

By : Nirav Pankaj Shah on 09 July 2009

The Madras High Court has issued notice to the State and Union Governments on a habeas corpus petition, seeking the production of a person detained under the National Security Act (NSA), before the court and set him at liberty.

A Division Bench comprising Justices S J Mukhopadhaya and Raja Elango, while admitting a petition yesterday, ordered notice to the State and Centre returnable within two weeks.

In his petition, R Ambedhgar of Krishnapuram in Perambalur district submitted that on coming to know that lorry loads of weapons were proceeding towards Kochi to be transported to Sri Lanka, his brother R Lakshmanan and others gathered near the Neelambur by-pass road in Coimbatore on May 2 to stage a demonstration against the supply of weapons.

The public stopped the army vehicles and there was a commotion.

Lakshmanan was arrested in connection with the incident and remanded to judicial custody. On June 4, he was detained under NSA by the Coimbatore District Collector. 

The petitioner said no material was placed before the detaining authority to show that the detenu indulged in any activity to attract penal provision or acted in a manner prejudicial to public order. The Collector had passed the detention order mechanically.

He sought a direction to the State Public Secretary, the Union Home Secretary and the District Collector, Coimbatore, cited as respondents, to call for the records relating to the detention order, quash the same, direct the authorities to produce the detenu, now lodged in Central Prison, Coimbatore, before the court and set him at liberty. 





SC reprimands UP govt for criticising Allahabad HC

By : Nirav Pankaj Shah on 09 July 2009

The Supreme Court today pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government for making allegations of bias against the Allahabad High Court.

A bench comprising Justices B N Aggarwal and G S Singhvi reacted sharply to the allegations made by Satish Chandra Mishra, former minister and close aide of Chief Minister Mayawati, when he tried to assert before the court that the High Court was passing orders against the state government.

The Judges said, “Such allegations should not be made against the High court. Passing orders against a party des not show animus or bias.” The Supreme Court was hearing an application, seeking to restrain the Mayawati government from demolishing the jail premises in Lucknow for construction of the Kanshi Ram and B R Ambedkar park in Gomti Nagar area of the state capital.

The apex court, refused to grant an interim stay against the demolition of jail as the High court has already passed an order of status quo in May, directing the government neither to demolish jail premises nor to reconstruct anything.

Mr Mishra, however, submitted before the court that new jail has already been constructed in Lucknow at a cost of Rs 300 crore and prisoners were being shifted to the new jail. The old jail was over crowded and not big enough to accommodate the increasing number of undertrails and other accused.

The apex court adjourned the hearing of the matter and directed that the matter will come up for hearing in the normal course.

Earlier, counsel for the petitioner pleaded for a blanket stay against all demolitions and constructions in Lucknow till the final disposal of the petition pending in the Supreme Court.

The Mayawati government was also seeking the transfer of all the petitions pending in the High Court to the Supreme Court for speedy disposal of all the petitions filled against the state government.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi also appeared for the state government.

The apex court refused to pass any blanket order as the application contained prayer only against the demolition of the jail in Lucknow. 





SC asks CBI for status report on Aarushi murder probe

By : Nirav Pankaj Shah on 09 July 2009

The Supreme Court today directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to file a status report giving details of the investigation carried out in the sensational Aarushi-Hemraj murder case.

A bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyrus Joseph issued the direction when Solicitor General of India, Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the CBI, informed the court that the investigating agency will file a comprehensive status report in the case.

The apex court was hearing a PIL filed by Dr Surat Singh, an advocate, seeking directions to the government, to lay down some guidelines for media as well as for the police to ensure that the reputation of the victims and their families are not destroyed due to irresponsible reporting as well as disclosure of the details of investigation by the police to the media.

A student of ninth standard of Delhi Public School, Noida, Aarushi Talwar and the family servant Hemraj, were found brutally murdered at their Noida residence on May 15 last year.

The Noida police, as well as the CBI, have not been able to crack the case even after more than one year.

Dr Rajesh Talwar, father of Aarushi was arrested in the case, but was granted bail when CBI failed to collect evidence against him. The two servants, who were arrested, were also granted bail on the same grounds. 





SC stays court procedings on Union Law Seceretary’s extension

By : Nirav Pankaj Shah on 09 July 2009

The Supreme Court stayed till further orders all proceedings pending in Bombay High Court challenging the extension granted to Union Law Secretary T K Viswanathan on his superannuation.

A bench, comprising Chief Justices K G Balakrishnan and P Sathasivam, passed the order, when the matter was mentioned by Attorney general G E Vahanvati and Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium mentioned the matter for urgent hearing.





Gujarat HC Judge declines to hear probe plea against Modi an

By : Nirav Pankaj Shah on 08 July 2009 Email this | Print this

A Judge of the Gujarat High Court declined to hear a petition, challenging the probe by Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) against Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others, allegedly involved in the post-Godhra riots of 2002.

Justice Harshaben Devani wrote “not before me” when the petition came up for hearing before her. 

The reasons are yet be ascertained as to why the judge declined to hear the petition.

The petition were filed by Kalu Madival, ex-MLA of Lunavada in Panchmahal district. Incidentally, his name figures among the 62 persons involved in post-Godhra riots of 2002. Madival had filed a petition in the High Court, challenging the probe by the SIT.

Mrs Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri, who was killed in the riots, had complained that proper investigation was not carried out in the Gulbarg society massacre, in which she lost her husband. 

Ms Maya Kodnani, a former Cabinet colleague of Mr Modi, and a senior VHP leader Dr Jaideep Patel were arrested for their reported involvement in the riots in Naroda area of the city. Ms Kodnani had to quit the Cabinet on the issue.

Several hundred people were killed and property worth several crores of rupees was damaged in the anti-Muslim riots across Gujarat following the train carnage, killing 59 Karsevaks returning from Ayodhya at Godhra station on February 27, 2002. 





Akal Takht, SGPC disapprove Delhi HC judgement on homosexuality

Press Trust Of India

Chandigarh, July 02, 2009

The Akal Takht, the highest temporal body of Sikhs, and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) managing key Sikh shrines, today disapproved of the Delhi High Court judgement which legalised gay sex among consenting adults.

“This is against the law of nature and the Gurmukh Sedant (sikh principles). We will appeal to the Sikhs not to follow
this unnatural thing (gay sex),” Akal Takht head Jathedar Gyani Gurbachan Singh told PTI on phone.

He said not even in animals and birds such a practice was found.

“When this (gay sex) is not there in the species which are far inferior to us, why as humans should we adopt something
which goes against nature?. The creator of this universe created male and female but having the system (legalising
homosexuality) will be the first step towards destruction of this world,” he said.





HC sets up panel to chase city’s troubles

9 Jul 2009, 0501 hrs IST, TNN

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court, on Wednesday, appointed a committee to look into issues like illegal constructions, traffic snarls on city roads, Building Use (BU) permission and violation of fire safety norms in high-rise buildings.

The committee has been asked to submit its report within three months, along with suggestions and findings on how far the HC order has been implemented.

A PIL was filed by advocate Amit Panchal who complained that the civic bodies in the city -AMC and AUDA- have not implemented various orders by HC, directing authorities to remove illegal constructions, particularly from roads. The plea also asked for vigilance in giving BU permission and issuing clearance after checking fire safety systems in buildings and contended that the authorities have not complied with directions issued time to time.

A division Bench of Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi, which was hearing the PIL, and which sought reports from AMC and AUDA on work being done by authorities. Not satisfied with ‘action taken’ report submitted by the civic bodies, the Bench set up a committee headed by retired judge of HC, Justice KM Mehta.

The committee will comprise five members -secretary of urban development department, AMC commissioner, AUDA chairman, joint commissioner of police (traffic) and CEPT’s assistant director, professor Shivanand Swami.

The court noticed, “This court has alerted the corporation on several occasions about illegal construction going at various places in city and nearby places and also highlighted the necessity of taking remedial measures like regulating traffic, stop unauthorized encroachment on public roads among other. However, no proper measures were taken. Many instructions given by court are yet to be implemented.” The court also observed, several buildings come up without building permit. The modus operandi is to start construction without BU permission and then go for regularisation. “This practice has to be deprecated,” the order said.


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