LEGAL NEWS 4-5/8/2009

SC moves HC against CIC order

Dhananjay Mahapatra , TNN 5 August 2009, 03:07am IST

NEW DELHI: Even before the Delhi High Court could decide its appeal against an order of Central Information Commission (CIC) to make public assets of judges, the Supreme Court on Tuesday again moved the HC challenging another CIC order to make public how the CJI dealt with a complaint against a sitting judge of Allahabad HC.

If parliamentarians are up in arms against law minister Veerappa Moily for proposing in the Judges Assets Bill to keep information about the wealth of judges out of the RTI Act, this SC petition could be an argument in support of the apprehension that there could be harassment of a judge at the hands of a litigant. This is what the SC is projecting in its petition before the Delhi HC.

After Allahabad HC dismissed his case, the sore litigant P K Dalmia sent several complaints to the CJI against the judge who decided the case against him. Then, he approached the SC seeking to know the fate of his complaints and whether any action had been taken.

The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Supreme Court refused to entertain Dalmia’s request on the ground that the information sought was not available with the registry and that the information was not held by or under the control of any public authority.

This was the identical reason given by the SC while refusing S C Agrawal’s plea to make public the assets declared by judges under the existing in-house mechanism.

The Judges Assets Bill, which could not be introduced in Parliament on Monday following widespread opposition, proposes to make CJI declare his assets to the President, other SC judges to CJI and similar provision for HC judges. The MPs had specifically demanded that the assets be brought under the purview of RTI.

Dalmia then approached the CIC, which on July 16 held that “the Chief Justice of India and Registry are one and the same institution and information available with the CJI would be deemed to be available with the Supreme Court of India”. The SC said the CIC’s reasoning was erroneous as CJI was not a public authority under the definition of RTI Act and hence CJI could not be equated with the Supreme Court Registry.

“The information sought for was not in the public domain and hence could not be accessed under the RTI Act,” the SC said in its petition before the Delhi HC.




Ban on old vehicles: Supreme Court declines stay

J. Venkatesan

SLP filed by bus syndicate posted for hearing on August 10

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to stay, at this stage, the operation of the Calcutta High Court orders directing implementation of State government notification to phase out transport vehicles which were 15-year-old with effect from August 1.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan, while refusing to stay the order during ‘mention’ time, posted the special leave petition (SLP) filed by the Bengal Bus Syndicate and others for hearing on August 10.

By a notification dated July 17, 2008, the State government ordered that 15-year-old or older transport vehicles (taxis, stage carriage vehicles, omni buses, trucks, mini trucks and goods carriages, including three-wheelers and auto rickshaws) should not be allowed to operate and that the Motor Vehicles Department should not renew their permit after expiry of the stipulated time.

The High Court, by its orders dated July 18, 2008 and March 17, 2009, directed implementation of the notification. The SLP is directed against these orders.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the State government had no power to fix the age limit of vehicles as 15 years, as such power was vested only with the Central government.

Moreover, operators were not given an opportunity and not heard by the High Court, he said pleading for a stay.

To a question from the CJI on whether the vehicles were being run from August 1, counsel said, “We are complying with the High Court order and not operating our vehicles.” The CJI then said, “No stay. We will hear it on August 10.”

The SLP seeking to quash the impugned orders pointed out that even if 15-year-old transport vehicles were prohibited from plying in Kolkata, there was no mechanism to prevent older transport vehicles coming from other States into the city. Hence, the reason for prohibiting such vehicles was not clear.

The SLP further said vehicles older than 15 years could be allowed to ply if they maintain the Mass Emission Standards for vehicles as prescribed in the relevant law.





Maha govt need not give 26/11 report to HC, says SC


TNN 5 August 2009, 03:06am IST

NEW DELHI: In a huge relief to Maharashtra government which is working on an anti-terror shield and operational mechanism for Mumbai, the Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed a Bombay High Court order asking that the Ram Pradhan committee report on 26/11 attack and remedial measures be placed before it.

Agreeing with senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohtagi, who appeared for the state, on the danger in making public such sensitive information which has not yet been placed before the assembly, the SC stayed the HC’s July 23 order asking for the Pradhan committee report, an affidavit from the chief secretary on steps taken to prevent attacks and presence of ATS chief before it on Aug 6. In fact, a Bench comprising CJI K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan appeared critical of the HC’s approach towards the issue brought before it through six PILs.

“Why should details of such a sensitive report be given to the HC? As the court itself has asked for it in a sealed cover, what purpose will it serve? Why should such security measures be disclosed to the public? Can the court prevent such attacks or the alleged impending threat? What is the expertise of the HC in these matters? And what directions can the HC give to the ATS,” were the volley of questions which the CJI fired at senior advocate Lalit Bhasin, who appeared for one of the PIL petitioners and sought to defend the HC order.





Kicking daughter-in-law or divorce threat not cruelty: SC

PTI 5 August 2009, 09:52am IST

NEW DELHI: A husband and his relatives cannot be prosecuted for “cruelty” towards wife merely because the mother-in-law or other family members had kicked her or for that matter threatened her with divorce, the Supreme Court has held.

Similarly, if a mother-in-law gives constant sermons to the daughter-in-law or allegedly treated her shabbily by giving her used dress suits, it does not invite prosecution under Section 498A of the IPC, a bench of Justices S B Sinha and Cyriac Joseph said.

However, if the mother-in-law takes away the gifts given to the couple at the time of the marriage, it amounts to “breach of trust” as specified under Section 406 IPC, the apex court said while dealing with an appeal filed by South Africa-based NRI husband and in-laws in a matrimonial dispute case.

“Allegations that appellant No 2 (mother-in-law) kicked the respondent (daughter-in-law) with her leg and told her that her mother is a liar may make out some other offences but not the one punishable under Section 498A.

“Similarly her allegations that the appellant No 2 poisoned the ears of her son against the respondent; she gave two used lady suits of her daughter to the complainant (daughter-in-law) and has been giving perpetual sermons to the complainant could not be said to be offences punishable under Section 498 A”, it said.

The bench said “even threatening that her son may be divorced for the second time could not bring out the offence under Section 498A of the IPC”.

Under Section 498-A “Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman subject such a woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three-years and shall also be liable to fine.”

In this case, the daughter-in-law Monica had filed cases of cruelty and breach of trust against her South-Africa based husband Vikas Sharma, his parents Bhaskarlal and Vimla. Monica was Vikas’ second wife as he had divorced his first wife through whom he had two children.

Differences between Vikas and Monica surfaced and after several rounds of talks for reconciliation, she filed cases under Section 498-A(cruelty) and 406 (breach of trust)against the husband and in–law.

Among various allegations the woman had levelled were that her mother-in-law had kicked her, called her mother a liar and threatened her with a divorce from her son besides, taking away all the gifts, including cash, received at the time of the couple’s marriage.

A Patiala trial court issued summons against the husband and in-laws. The Delhi High Court dismissed the appeal filed by the husband and in-laws challenging the trial court’s decision to issue summons against them. Aggrieved, they moved the apex court.

The apex court, which went extensively into the details of the dispute between the couple and the complainant, said the allegations do not in any manner warrant prosecution of the accused under Section 498A.

On the contrary, the apex court said the daughter-in-law on the one hand was trying to coerce the accused and and on the other hand was trying for reconciliation with the family.

“These litigations, if a holistic view is taken, depict a sad state of affairs, namely, that the respondent(daughter-in-law), on the one hand, intends to take all coercive measures to secure the presence of her husband and the appellants in India in various cases filed by her, and on the other hand, she had been repeatedly making attempts of conciliation,” the bench observed.

The apex court however, said the only allegation against the mother-in-law that can be taken cognizance of was that she had taken all the gifts/cash given by the invitees guests.

“Technically, this allegation would attract the definition of breach of trust within the meaning of Section 405 of the IPC,” the bench said. While Section 405 defines “breach of trust”, section 406 IPC prescribes the penalty prescribed for the offence.

Hence, it permitted prosecution of the mother-in-law while exonerating the husband and father-in-law.





Give me 50 yrs in jail, but not death: Hanif

Kartikeya , TNN 5 August 2009, 03:24am IST

MUMBAI: Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam has made a strong plea for death for all three convicts in the Mumbai twin blasts case of August 25, 2003 — Hanif Syed, his wife Fehmida Syed and Ashrat Ansari.

However, it seems Hanif Syed (52), the man found guilty of killing 52 people in twin blasts case, has understood the value of life. During arguments in court on Tuesday, over whether he should be hanged or given life imprisonment for his role in the terror attack, his lawyer said that Syed was ready to spend the rest of his days behind bars without ever asking for release on parole, provided he was not given the death sentence.

‘‘The state has said that life imprisonment in terror-related cases will extend up to 50 years. This means that my client will never breathe the air of freedom in this life. Moreover, the Supreme Court commuted a death sentence of a convict to life in jail when he submitted that he would never claim premature release on parole or furlough from jail.

These facts should be considered in Syed’s case as well and he should be given life imprisonment instead of death,’’ argued defence advocate Khan Abdul Wahab Khan.

Khan also said Syed had shown ‘‘full faith in the Indian judicial system’’ and never misbehaved in jail.

‘‘There is not a single adverse remark against him from the jail authorities,’’ the court was told.

Nikam, however, pushed for the death sentence. He added that Fehmida Syed should be granted no mercy simply because she was a woman. ‘‘It was not murder, but a massacre of 52 innocent people.

The bombs were planted to fulfil the agenda of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the trio deserves nothing less than capital punishment,’’ Nikam told judge M R Puranik.

The defence lawyers though made fervent submissions that Fehmida be spared the noose. ‘‘She was led into the offence by her husband. Being a Muslim woman and deeply religious, she could not refuse her husband’s diktat. She is uneducated and financially dependent on him,’’ said advocate Sudeep Pasbola.

In reply, Nikam said, ‘‘Considerations of mercy towards the fair sex are for humans and not animals.
A lion and lioness are equally violent and so is true for Hanif and Fehmida. She was not a passive conspirator. She helped in choosing the targets.’’ He also added that the terror attack on the Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar was not an ‘‘emotional outburst’’ against communal riots in Gujarat, but a well planned ‘‘commando operation’’.

Syed, Fehmida and Ansari had planted two powerful bombs at the Gateway and Zaveri Bazaar in 2003 that left 52 people dead and 184 injured. Nikam told the court that investigations have shown that the trio was planning even more terror attacks. Judge Puranik will now take up the matter on August 6 when he is likely to pass the sentence.





Parliament passes landmark Right to Education Bill

PTI 4 August 2009, 08:09pm IST

NEW DELHI: Children would get the fundamental right to free and compulsory education with the passage of a bill, hailed as “historic”, by Parliament on Tuesday.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008, seeks to provide education to children aged between 6 to 14 years.

The Bill, one of the flagship programmes in the 100-day agenda of the UPA government, also earmarks 25 per cent seats to weaker sections in private schools.

While the Rajya Sabha okayed the bill earlier, the Lok Sabha putting its seal of approval on Tuesday, with HRD minister Kapil Sibal describing it as “harbinger of a new era” for children to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

He said the bill is a “historic opportunity” for providing better future to children of the country as there was never such a landmark legislation in the last 62 years since independence.

“We as a nation cannot afford our children not going to schools,” he asserted, noting that the measure details the obligations of the Centre and the states for providing free and compulsory education to children.




2003 Mumbai blasts: Sentencing deferred till August 6

AGENCIES 4 August 2009, 01:31pm IST

MUMBAI: Special POTA Judge M R Puranik on Tuesday deferred the sentencing of Ashrat Ansari, Hanif Sayed Anees and his wife Fehmida Sayed till August 6 in the 2003 Mumbai blasts case.

Special Judge M R Puranik had last week convicted Ashrat Ansari (32), Hanif Sayed Anees (46) and his wife Fehmida Sayed (43) for their role in carrying out the blasts in which 52 persons were killed and 100 injured.

The convicts face life imprisonment or death penalty, and special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam has said he would ask for stringent punishment.

This is for the first time that a married couple has been found guilty under POTA for carrying out bomb explosions, Nikam said.

The trio was convicted under sections of IPC for conspiracy, murder and attempt to murder. They were also found guilty under sections of POTA, Explosives Act, Explosive Substances Act and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.

The convicts were also involved in placing an unexploded bomb in a bus at suburban SEEPZ on December 2, 2002, and another explosive device in a bus at Ghatkopar on July 28, 2003 in which two persons were killed due to the explosion.

However, Pakistan-based terror outfit LeT, to which the three were linked, decided to conduct high intensity explosions, and hence powerful bombs were planted at two taxis in Zaveri Bazaar and Gateway of India on August 25, 2003.

The twin blasts were the first time that the LeT had carried out involving a family, and the couple travelled to the designated locations to place bombs.




CBI shuts graft case against former income tax officer

S Ahmed Ali , TNN 5 August 2009, 01:47am IST

MUMBAI: The CBI has closed the corruption case registered against S K Sharma, former director general (investigation) of income tax due to lack of evidence. The special court recently accepted the closure report.

In 2007, Sharma was accused of abusing his official position by obtaining illegal gratification from directors of two private companies in Pune and Mumbai through assistant commissioner income tax, Gopal Sharma, and a chartered accountant, Chandan Parmar.

Special judge S P Kulkarni said the telephonic conversation, of which transcripts were produced before the court by the CBI, were not sufficient to show any commission of the offence by Sharma. Sharma, an IAS officer of 1970 batch, made headlines in 2005 when he raided several prominent educational institutions where there were irregularities in the admission process and which had accepted large sums in donations. The CBI had then alleged that Sharma took around Rs 35 lakh and Rs 25 lakh from two directors of construction companies to dispose of their cases and prevent a raid on tax evasion charges.

There was no evidence to show any amount was transferred to the accused or that the subordinate officers had helped and abetted the accused as alleged, the court said. The opinion given by the investigation officer is based on the material evidence collected by him during the course of investigations and this investigation proved to be a futile excercise, the court said.

Sharma said, “I was framed by people against whom I had initiated action. Now my reputation will be restored.”





Ribhu case: Accused sent to police custody

TNN 5 August 2009, 03:41am IST

NEW DELHI: A trial court on Tuesday remanded three of four accused in kidnapping and subsequent killing of Ribhu Chawla in five days’ police custody.

Metropolitan magistrate Gaurav Rao has remanded prime accused Kunal Bhandari alias Rocky and his accomplices Rishab Chauhan and Gaurav in police custody till August 9. The three accused were produced before the court after being in judicial custody since their arrest on July 29.

Police custody was sought on the ground that police were yet to recover the money allegedly paid as ransom by the family of deceased Ribu Chawla, 17, who was a Class XI student of K R Mangalam School in Vikaspuri.

The court issued production warrant against Sukhwinder for August 6, as he could not be produced before it because of ill-health. He was also in judicial custody since his arrest.

Police had earlier not sought their custodial remand as they wanted to conduct identification parade of the accused.

The four accused, including two-time body building champion Rocky, were arrested two days after they allegedly killed Ribhu after kidnapping him in the evening of July 27. According to police, Rocky, a two-time ‘Mr Delhi’, had allegedly plotted the kidnapping and murder of the victim to pay off his debts with the money received as ransom.

Police have already recovered Rs 8 lakh and the Wagon-R allegedly used in the kidnapping. Police also claimed to have recovered the nylon rope allegedly used to strangulate the victim.





HC fines UD ministry in property rights case

TNN 5 August 2009, 03:38am IST

NEW DELHI: Coming to the rescue of a woman who ran pillar to post for a decade for conversion of the lease hold right of her property, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the ministry of urban development to consider her application at the earliest.

Slapping a fine of Rs 10,000 on the ministry for failing to take a decision for a long period, Justice Sanjiv Khanna directed the government to consider her application for free hold of the property 43-A, Prithviraj Road at the earliest. The present market value of the property is estimated to be in crores.

Filing a petition before the court, Monica Burman submitted that in September, 1999 she had applied for the conversion of lease hold right of the property and deposited Rs 25,33,000 towards the conversion cost. However, the ministry failed to take a decision till 2006 and she approached the HC in 2007.

The HC rejected the government counsel’s plea that a decision could not be taken on the property as the same was marked for a group housing complex. As per the petitioner, the property consists of a bungalow and there is no group housing complex at the site.





No more govt hand in police transfers?

TNN 5 August 2009, 02:37am IST

BANGALORE: Police personnel who are transferred frequently can heave a big sigh of relief. The government has heeded a Supreme Court directive to set up a Police Personnel Board (PPB) to decide all transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of officers below the rank of deputy superintendent.

Hitherto, the state home department directly handled such issues in this category.

Sources said the cabinet on Tuesday agreed to empower the board, comprising IGPs in each of the six ranges, to look into transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters.

According to the SC directive, issued in October 2006, a State Security Commission is to be set up so that state governments don’t put undue pressure on the police. This will ensure that deputy SPs and station house officers have a minimum tenure of two years.

“Already, 24 states have implemented the directive. Karnataka has acted quite belatedly,” admitted a minister.





Outstretched police turn abusive: report

TNN 5 August 2009, 02:45am IST

BANGALORE: A UK-based Human Rights Watch, calls for an overhaul of the Indian police system “to make it more human rights friendly”. It has brought out a first-of-its-kind report that documents the stressful and abysmal working conditions of the police beginning from the constable.

The 118 page report — `Broken System: Dysfunction, Abuse and Impunity in the Indian Police’ — was released by the NGO on Tuesday at a seminar on human rights at St Joseph’s College. It documents a range of alleged human rights violations by the police and also states that “police are outstretched and outmatched by criminal elements and are unable to cope with increasing demands and public expectations.”

The report is based on interviews with more than 80 police officers of varying ranks, 60 victims of police abuses, and discussions with experts and civil society activists.

While the NGO states that police who commit or order torture need to be dealt with by law like any average citizen, it also states “abysmal conditions of police officers contribute to violations”.

“Low-ranking officers often work in difficult conditions. They are required to be on call 24 hours a day, every day. Instead of shifts, many work long hours, sometimes live in tents or filthy barracks. Many are separated from their families for long stretches of time. They often lack necessary equipment, including vehicles, mobile phones, investigative tools and even paper on which to record complaints and make notes.”

The NGO has said conditions and incentives for police officers need to change. They should be given resources, training, equipment and encouragement to act professionally and ethically.




6 months jail for ex-MLA in rail roko case

TNN 5 August 2009, 02:20am IST

VIJAYAWADA: A local court convicted a former TDP MLA and six others for detaining a passenger train in Guntur district and sentenced them to six months imprisonment. Railways court magistrate R Venkateswara Sarma while delivering the judgment found fault with Mummaneni Venkata Subbaiah, ex-MLA of Repalle constituency in Guntur, and six political workers for detaining a Guntur-bound passenger train at Repalli railway station on October 24, 2007.

The convicts had detained the train demanding minimum support price for paddy as per the call given by an all-party committee. Subbaiah was also fined Rs 500. The convicts paid the fine and filed a bail petition requesting the court for setting aside the conviction.

The railway police has booked cases against the TDP leader and others for conducting a rail roko in violation of the railway safety rules. Subbaiah was a two-time legislator from Repalle between 1994 and 2004.




SC strikes down case against Surendrababu

TNN 5 August 2009, 02:21am IST

HYDERABAD/VIJAYAWADA: Octopus IG Nimmagadda Surendrababu got a breather on Tuesday when the Supreme Court struck down charges of murder against the senior IPS officer in the Budda Santhan encounter case.

Quashing the charges, the court ruled that Surendrababu, then commissioner of police in Vijayawada, had no role in the encounter killing of rowdy-sheeter K Srinivasa Rao alias Budda Santhan on July 14, 2002, at the Governorpet police station. The court relieved the senior cop of the charges following a report by the CBI. Surendrababu had earlier moved the apex court seeking quashing of the case against him.

The encounter of Santhan created ripples not only in the police circles but also in the judiciary as he was shot dead by the Governorpet police when he was in judicial custody. Taking a serious note of the incident, the metropolitan court asked the city police to book a criminal case against five police officials, including Surendrababu, under sections 302, 201, 149, 120(B) read with 34 of the IPC.

Without mincing words, the magistrate said it was a clear case of murder by the officials when the accused was in judicial custody. Assistant commissioner D Rami Reddy, Governorpet SI G Srinivas, additional SI Babu Rao and sentry Nancharaiah were the other cops who were listed as accused in the private case filed by Santhan’s aunt B Rama Devi.

Police arrested Santhan along with his associate R Muralikrishna at Ravulapalem in East Godavari four days before his killing in the police station. Santhan was an accused in the murder case of a TDP leader. While police argued that Santhan was shot dead after he tried to fire at the SI by grabbing the weapon from the constable, the court observed that the interrogation of the accused who was in judicial custody without permission of the court was itself illegal and that it established the `highhandedness’ of the police.

Sources said it would be interesting to watch the case against the other cops in the backdrop of apex court’s exoneration of Surendrababu. Among the other accused, Ramireddy has retired, while other police officials are working at different places.




Ramoji Rao’s case postponed to Sept 17

TNN 5 August 2009, 02:24am IST

HYDERABAD: Media baron Ch Ramoji Rao, who is facing a criminal case connected to the alleged collection of deposits in an unlawful manner for his Margadarsi Financiers, appeared before the first additional chief metropolitan magistrate court at Nampally on Tuesday.

He was handed over five volumes of documents pertaining to the case and was also told that he would be examined in this case by the magistrate. Ramoji’s counsel sought six weeks of time to go through the documents. Accordingly, the court granted the time and posted the case to September 17.






Mob attacks man for moving HC to remove temple

TNN 5 August 2009, 03:33am IST

AHMEDABAD: Controversy over a temple led to trouble in Sola area here on Monday night, with a riotous mob vandalising a bungalow near Bhuyangdev cross-roads and assaulting its owner Jagdish Patel because he had moved the Gujarat High Court for the removal of a temple near his house.

Anticipating demolition by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, following the High Court order, the mob went berserk, even attacking the policemen who rushed to the spot. The pandemonium continued from 10 pm to 2 am and the police had to resort to lathicharge and burst 18 tear gas shells to bring the situation under control.

Tempers ran high even on Tuesday, with a large number of devotees continuing to surround the temple. Patel, who fled his house with his wife and son on Monday, has not been able to get back home.

Patel, a resident of Shakuntal bungalows, tried to get a four-feet-high temple removed from near his house. After failing to move the municipal authorities, Patel moved the Gujarat High Court, which had ruled in his favour on May 1.

The excitement had been building up ever since the order was passed, with people, including women in the neighbourhood, keeping a vigil at the temple all night.

Following this episode, SRP jawans were posted at the spot to keep matters under control. Five persons were injured in the stone pelting. A complaint was later registered at Ghatlodia police station and five persons were arrested for rioting.




Dowry death case: Husband gets life term

TNN 5 August 2009, 03:31am IST

AHMEDABAD: A city sessions court on Tuesday sentenced an NSUI member to life imprisonment in connection with a dowry death. His parents were also awarded 10-year jail term for abetting suicide.

As per the case details, Niraj Shukla from Bapunagar and Deepa Bajpai tied knots on December 13, 2006. After the marriage, Deepa complained to her parents and brothers about her in-laws’ demand for dowry. And five months after the marriage on May 3, 2007, Deepa committed suicide by setting herself on fire.

Later, her family members lodged a complaint against Shukla, his mother Ramaben, who is a teacher, and his father Dev Narayan blaming them of harassing Deepa, which forced her to commit suicide. The Shukla family, on the other hand, claimed that Deepa’s death was an accident and the fire took place because of shot-circuit.

However, during police investigations, FSL reports revealed that kerosene was used in the incident. After hearing the case, additional sessions judge, BU Joshi held that the girl’s in-laws were responsible for the death because the incident happened in just five months of marriage.

The court awarded life imprisonment to Shukla, and sentenced Ramaben and Dev Narayan to 10 years jail.




HC orders IO to complete probe within three weeks

TNN 4 August 2009, 10:23pm IST

ALLAHABAD: In a writ petition seeking CBI probe into the suicide case of PCF officer Syed Ghayas Ahmad, the high court, on Tuesday, directed the investigation officer (IO) to complete the investigation within three weeks. According to the writ petition, the reason for the suicide was alleged to be mental torture and harassment by the top PCF officers including MD, AMD and others.

A bench comprising Justice Ravindra Singh and Justice YC Gupta has fixed August 28, 2009 as the next date of hearing in the case.

It might be recalled that Ahmad had committed suicide on April 4, 2009 and thereafter an FIR to this effect was registered with Kareli police under Section 306 of IPC and Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act against three top officials of PCF.

The allegation in the petition was that the accused persons till date neither surrendered nor they have been arrested by the police.





AU scraps eligibility criterion for LLB courses

TNN 4 August 2009, 10:25pm IST

ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad University has given in to students’ pressure and has decided to scrap the criterion of minimum 40 per cent marks in the Law Admission Test (LAT)-09 for admission to LLB courses. The courses are run by the AU and two constituent colleges — CMP Degree College and Allahabad Degree College.

Taking the decision “in welfare of students” and to facilitate the filling of dozens of LLB seats lying vacant, AU vice-chancellor Prof Rajen Harshe has given the nod to a resolution passed by the Faculty Board and Board of Studies of Law Department seeking relaxation in the admission criterion.

An emergency meeting of the Faculty Board and Board of Studies of Law Department was convened by Dean (Law) Prof LR Singh on late Monday evening following the self-immolation bid incident earlier in the day. The members of took a sympathetic view of the students’ demand. It was a general observation in the meeting that negative marking introduced in Law Admission Test might have led to poor performance of students and resulted in very few students qualifying for admission.

Members also expressed concern over dozens of seats lying vacant in the two constituent colleges in wake of lack of qualifiers as per present admission criterion, and were unanimous over the relaxation in minimum 40 per cent LAT marks criterion in order to fill seats and facilitate the admission of students in law course.

“It would be unfair on our part if we do not fill all the seats,” said V-C Prof Harshe while confirming the development. “We have taken the decision in the interest of students and also to ensure that the large number of seats do not go vacant. We want to ensure proper training and imparting of knowledge to our students and would be making all efforts in this regard,” he added.

It may be recalled that the AU, following a clause mentioned in the varsity ordinance, had made it mandatory that only those candidates who have scored more than 40 per cent marks in LAT would be admitted at AU and the two constituents colleges. Following this decision, many seats were left vacant in the LLB courses.

Later, a group of student leaders started an agitation demanding removal of the 40 per cent marks eligibility. In the sequence, a student leader of AU on Monday attempted self-immolation on the issue but was apprehended by the police.




HC notice to Govt, DM, others

TNN 4 August 2009, 10:24pm IST

ALLAHABAD: A division bench of the Allahabad High Court comprising Justice SK Singh and Justice Ashok Srivastava issued notices to the Union of India, state of UP, director, woman welfare, UP and district magistrate of Allahabad, in a public interest litigation filed by Padma Singh of Stree Adhikar Sangthan.

According to the petitioner, a team of eight law students of different universities, led by Mayuri Mehrotra, Matasha Sarkar and Smriti did an extensive fact-finding in Allahabad and found that `sexual harassment complaint committees’ are not formed or not functioning properly in most of the universities, educational institutions, Central and state government offices.

The petitioner stated that the Supreme Court, in the Vishaka case, has laid down that the every institution and office must observe the guidelines of Vishaka case judgment and form a complaint committee against sexual harassment. The committee should be headed by a woman and not less than half of its member should be women. The committee should submit its annual report.

The fact-finding team found that places like LIC, income tax office, State Bank of India, CBSE office, CDA pension office, IIIT-A, IERT and ITI-Naini have not formed such committees. It was stated in the PIL that in compliance of the Supreme Court judgment in Vishaka case, the state government had issued a GO on January 15, 2002, directing that every offices of the government must constitute such committee by February 5, 2002.




Panchkula court acquits two

Rajinder Nagarkoti, TNN 5 August 2009, 04:36am IST

PANCHKULA: Two year after the alleged murder of 23-year-old woman in Rajiv Colony in Panchkula, a local court acquitted two accused, including her brother-in-law and sister-in-law as no substantial evidence proof could be found against them.

Though district and sessions judge SP Singh on Tuesday held her husband guilty under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for abetment of suicide, he reserved order on the sentencing for August 7. Anita Kumari, a resident of Rajiv Colony in Sector 17, Panchkula, died after receiving 100% at her residence on the night of July 19, 2007. The prosecution claimed that her husband, Surinder with the help of her brother-in-law Tejpal and sister-in-law Maya Devi allegedly murdered her.

Defense counsels and her husband, Surinder, who is a labourer, claimed that it was an accident.

Her husband said that she was boiling milk for children at around 10 pm in the hutment. There was a bottle of kerosene lying near the stove, which somehow caught fire burning her completely. In the incident, Surinder was also admitted to General Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, with 3% burns.

But on the other side the family of the deceased in Kanpur had claimed that Anita was burnt by her-in-laws. On the complaint of family members, Panchkula police on July 20, 2007, registered a case of murder against husband and in-laws. The deceased was survived by a one-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son.





‘Probe temple marrying off runaway couples’

Ajay Sura, TNN 5 August 2009, 04:30am IST

CHANDIGARH: Days after TOI reported on the exodus of persecuted couples fleeing orthodox families and rabid caste panchayats in Haryana and Punjab spinning off into great business for Chandigarh’s myriad temples and gurdwaras, where they come to tie the knot hurriedly and surreptitiously, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered a probe into the functioning of a religious institution that was heavily into this.

In his order, Justice Mahesh Grover has directed the Chandigarh police to take the entire record of Manav Jagriti Mission, at Sector 22 here, in its possession and conduct a through inquiry while verifying the source of their funds. It has also directed cops to look into the Mission’s accounts and records of certificates issued to runaway couples.

Justice Grover wants the police to place the report before the high court on August 19. The HC took notice of the business of issuing marriage certificates to couples on the run during a recent hearing wherein one such couple had appealed for protection. The judge, who was hearing a petition filed by a Karnal-based couple that was issued a marriage certificate by the temple trust headed by Varinder Goyat, has also called in pujari Laxman Prasad, who had performed the ritual.

TOI had earlier reported how cashing in on the peculiar trend, business-savvy pundits and granthis are now furiously typing out SMSes advertising their services, facilities, rates and even discounts. The messages, in dozens and from a host of religious institutions, say they are open to quick and concrete solemnization of all kind of unions – inter-caste, inter-religion, NRI, yes, that too is a category, and “any other type’’.

And going beyond performing just the Anand Karaj for the Sikhs or Saptapadi for the Hindus, these places are also open to providing bridal make-up, wedding clothes, photographs and videos – all for a price, of course, starting from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000.

What SMSes say

Respected advocates, contact for love marriage (inter-caste) or inter-religion. Mandir marriage, gurudwara marriage, with certificate of marriage. If required, contact Swami Dayanand Vedic Social Welfare Organization (regd). Contact number – 9815451221.

Contact for

ceremonies – love marriage, inter-cast marriage, inter-religion in mandir or Anand Karaj at gurudwara with certificate of marriage. Manav Sanskar Jagriti Mission, sec-22. Contact number – 9988413137






Rape on wheels 2002: Victim’s flip-flop confounds all

Supriya Bhardwaj, TNN 5 August 2009, 04:18am IST

CHANDIGARH: The flip-flop by a victim of 2002’s sensational rape-on-wheels case has created confusion and left the legal fraternity puzzled whether or not to frame charges, and which, against the accused even as the court has now fixed August 10 for the proceedings.

The latest turnaround came when the victim recently moved court to undo what she earlier said about a local businessman not raping her. While initially she did claim he raped her, but during probe she had alleged it was the others accused in the case who actually violated her. Admitting that the victim had changed her stand thrice, public prosecutor Manu Kakkar, said, ‘Though we will go by the chargesheet submitted by senior cops, the confusion has been created by the latest application filed by the victim. We have scientific evidence, her statement under Section 164 of CrPC and assertions made other witnesses which indicate a conspiracy among accused to frame the businessman.’

Stating the businessman should be summoned to face trial, the victim?s counsel while clarifying her stand, added, ‘The protest petition submitted by us clearly states she was raped by the businessman and not others.’

An FIR was registered on the complaint of a Shimla resident who alleged that a local businessman had raped her on August 14, 2002, and dumped her near a fuel station in Sector 33. But screaming conspiracy, the businessman, pleading for a fair probe, knocked on the doors of high court, which then stayed proceedings of the trial in city’s district courts.

What followed was an intensive probe which revealed that the entire incident was allegedly the brainchild of an IAS officer from Haryana who wanted to frame his friend-turned-foe businessman in the rape case. After a thorough investigation, a chargesheet was submitted against Baldev, Ram Lal and Surinder and conspiracy charges against the IAS officer. It was alleged that the three accused took the woman to a Panchkula hotel and gave her a drink laced with some intoxicant. Later, Surinder allegedly raped her in the hotel room. Recently, the stay had been vacated and trial court fixed the case for framing of charges.





HC reserves verdict on engg quota issue

TNN 5 August 2009, 04:17am IST

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has reserved its verdict on the issue of reservation of seats in the engineering colleges of Chandigarh under the defence quota. The verdict is likely to be pronounced on Wednesday.

Justice MM Kumar reserved the orders after hearing both the petitioners and the Chandigarh administration.

The matter echoed before the Punjab when two candidates Avneet Hira and Arshdeep Sandhu, daughters of Brigadier NPS Hira and Col S Sandhu, respectively, moved a petition challenging the decision of admission committee clubbing the UT pool quota and all-India quota for the wards of military and paramilitary personnel for admission to engineering colleges.

The petitioners had contended that contrary to the instructions, the admission brochure of the PEC mentioned that in the category of wards of military and paramilitary personnel, the condition of passing plus two and tenth standard examination from the same state/UT has been waived off and made the defence quota open for all.

However, when some of the candidates objected to it, the UT administration clarified through a letter on July 15, that their letter in the brochure was misprinted and reservation of seats in the category of wards of defence shall be calculated separately for UT pool quota and all-India quota.

The petitioners alleged that despite the clarification of Chandigarh administration, admission authorities are bent upon proceeding to admit students on the basis that there is no quota at all, thereby acting in violation of the clear instructions of the administration, which they are bound to comply with.

However, while replying the petitioners’ contentions, the UT administration had informed the HC that the clubbing of the quota was done erroneously but they cannot change it at present because it has been published in the prospectus. The UT submitted that

they would separate the quota from the next academic year because the prospectus cannot be changed at this juncture.





Minor maid’s tormentors’ move high court

TNN 5 August 2009, 05:01am IST

PANAJI: The three family members accused of allegedly assaulting their minor maid filed three separate petitions before the high court of Bombay at Goa on Tuesday against the order of the children’s court.

On August 1, president of the children’s court B P Deshpande had rejected the anticipatory bail applications filed by Minaxi Pednekar, Tina Pednekar and Audumber Pednekar, the three accused in the case.

The court had also directed them to surrender to the authorities while admitting a revision petition filed by the prosecution against the conditional bail granted to the main accused, Audumber Pednekar.

Audumber in his petition challenged the children’s court’s order cancelling the bail granted to him.

He also said that the children’s court had erred in canceling the bail as “the opinion of the medical board was only supplementary to the original hurt certificate and therefore could not form the basis of cancellation of bail”.

The petitions filed by the accused will come up for hearing on Wednesday before a single bench of Justice N A Britto.

The case had come to light after Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN), an NGO, had registered a complaint with the Porvorim police against the trio for employing a minor girl as domestic help and brutally assaulting her with cable wires and hot steel spoons.

Child rights commission to raid premises

PANAJI: The Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights will soon start verification of minors employed by people and conduct raids on their premises. Taking serious note of households and business establishments employing minors as maids, the commission has warned people not to employ minors below the age of 14. The commission also said that if the children are below 18 years of age, they should be registered with the Directororate of Women and Child Development.





LIC staffers oppose amendment to LIC Act

TNN 4 August 2009, 09:40pm IST

DHARWAD: LIC employees, working in all offices coming under Dharwad division (Dharwad, Haveri, Gadag and Karwar districts), staged a strike from 11.30 am to 1.30 pm, protesting against the introduction of LIC Act (Amendment) Bill (2009). The central government had introduced the Bill in the Lok Sabha on July 31.

The strike was in response to the call given by All-India Insurance Employees’ Association. The employees said that the Bill seeks to hike the government’s capital to Rs 100 crore from the existing Rs 5 crore, which further would lead to disinvestment of its shares as per the recommendations of Malhotra Committee report submitted in 1994.

The Bill further seeks to reduce the policyholders’ share to 90% of the surplus value from the existing 95%, which would reduce the bonus payable to the policyholders. It also provides for withdrawal of sovereign guarantee on policies issued by the LIC.

These measures will weaken the nation’s wealthiest financial institution, which has a total assets of over Rs 9 lakh crore. If the Bill is passed, the nation’s economy will be affected and people at large will stand to lose, the employees complained.

B N Poojary, general secretary of Insurance Employees’ Union, addressed the agitating employees.




Women fined for frivolous petition

Abhinav Sharma, TNN 5 August 2009, 03:05am IST

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan High Court has imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 each on two women who fraudulently claimed in the court that their husbands had been illegally detained by the SHO of Beawar who was demanding Rs 10,000 as bribe for their release.

The order was passed after the additional chief judicial magistrate, Beawar, who conducted an investigation on the direction of the high court, absolved the SHO of the allegations and instead found that that the husbands of the petitioners and their relatives were noted criminals in police record.

The fine was imposed by a division bench comprising acting Chief Justice R C Gandhi and Justice Mahesh Bhagwati on Monday. The court also reverted its earlier order passed on June 29, 2009 on the issue.

According to sources, two habeas corpus petitions were filed by Sushila and Sharawn, both sisters, for the release of their husbands on the ground that the police had arrested them and demanded Rs 10,000 for their release.

Looking into the gravity of the allegations, the Bench on June 29 directed that the SHO Beawar Naresh Sharma be attached to the police lines and ordered a magistrate inquiry. The court also made some strong observations saying: “The conduct of the Station House Officer is full of doubts. He did not behave like a police officer… The police arrested them to collect money by misusing the public authority..”

However, when the magistrate conducted the inquiry, it was found that the story given by the two women was false. Not only the police did not make any arrest, instead it was surfaced that the two men and a few of their relatives had a criminal background.

Realising that the court had been misled by the two women, the bench observed: “The petitions have been filed just to pressurize the police so that they may not harass them as 17 cases are pending investigation.” The Bench further said that the story was projected in believable manner, which resulted in the previous order.

The bench, while dismissing the habeas corpus petitions, imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 each on the two women and directed that the SHO Beawar be given his original posting instead of police lines.





HC admits plea against Bangla film

TNN 5 August 2009, 06:08am IST

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court on Tuesday admitted a writ petition by Bollywood producer Vipul Shah against the makers of the Bengali blockbuster Poran Jay Joliya Re. In his petition, Shah has accused Sri Venkatesh Films of lifting the storyline of his 2007 blockbuster Namastey London.

Justice Nadira Patherya directed the makers of the Bengali film to furnish the statement of accounts relating to ticket sales to the court on Wednesday morning, when the matter comes up for hearing. The latter were also directed not to create and fresh third party rights till then.

Counsel S N Mukherjee and Ranjan Bachawat moved the petition ex-parte on Shah’s behalf. Lawyers for Sri Venkatesh Films submitted to the court that though they had moved a caveat in the matter, they had not been informed of the petition. Shah’s counsel contended that the caveat was for any petition by a company and not one filed by their client, who owns the rights of the Hindi movie.

Lawyers for the producers of the Bengali film said later that they are yet to go through the entire petition. “From what we have already read, it seems that the petitioner does not seek compensation but wants a stay on screening of the Bengali flick that is doing extremely well at theatres. One reason for the petition could be that the Bengali film is doing far better than the Hindi one,” one of them said.

Poran Jay Joliya Re was released this year and stars Dev and Subhashree. The 2007 Hindi flick had starrred Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif. Shah had recently stated in public that producers of the Bengali film had lifted the plot, scenes, frames and even costumes from Namastey London without seeking a by-your-leave’ from him. The Bengali film’s producers had also admitted that there are similarities between the two. Shah had then apparently got his friends and advisers to prepare a report on the Bengali film after watching it a number of times.

Those providing legal advice to Shah said it makes no sense to seek compensation in such matters. “The idea is not to earn money but to discourage regional filmmakers from copying Hindi movies and passing them off as their own work. Such films normally do well and producers would not think twice before paying a few lakhs as compensation. However, this would send out a wrong message to others that they can get away with plagiarism by paying a small fee. We would rather seek a ban on the film,” one of them said.





SC refuses to stay Kolkata clean air drive

TNN 5 August 2009, 05:29am IST

KOLKATA: Breathe easy. The refreshingly clean air that you’ve experienced over the past couple of days is no flash in the pan. It is here to stay. The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the Calcutta High Court order banning polluting vehicles from plying in Kolkata and its suburbs, ending speculation on whether smoke-belching buses, taxis and autorickshaws would be back on the streets from Wednesday.

Though the apex court will hear the matter again on August 10, the writing is on the wall: there will be no compromise on citizens’ right to clean air as per Articles 21, 47, 48A and 51A(g) of the Constitution.

People in Kolkata cheered the development. With much of city transport off the roads, lakhs have been braving long queues in the heat and rain, determined not to let transporters take them for a ride.

“I am glad the Supreme Court has not reversed the decision. It’s been great to have the foul air cleaned up,” said Sudipto Bhattacharya of Saviours and Friends for Environment (SAFE), an NGO.

Subhas Datta, environment activist and a key party in the auto emission case at Calcutta HC, believes the apex court is unlikely to reverse the high court judgment. “In 1998, it was the Supreme Court that ordered the ban on 15-year-old commercial vehicles in Delhi. Moreover, the SC has time and again emphasized that environment will take precedence over all else,” he pointed out.

Till now, operators have been pinning their hopes on the Supreme Court for a reprieve. But with the court refusing a stay, autorickshaw and taxi owners are beginning to acknowledge the inevitable.

Feroze Khan, an auto driver on the Park Street-Topsia route, finally admitted that a switch to LPG was the only option. “I went to the public vehicles department to make enquiries. There’s no point sticking to a stand that looks increasingly futile,” he said.

Bus operators, however, continue to resist the change and insist they will wait till the matter is disposed of by the Supreme Court. Deepak Sarkar, who owns a bus that is facing the scrap hammer, is in no hurry. “Until the matter is settled in court, we will not go in for new buses,” he said.

The forum of transporters has moved the Supreme Court, pleading that they be made a party to the pollution case and given a chance to put forth their argument.




State information commission to be e-enabled

TNN 5 August 2009, 06:42am IST LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh state information commission (UPSIC) may soon be an e-enabled organisation. The commission is one of 19 state information commissions to get funds under the centrally sponsored scheme for IT enablement. The first instalment of Rs 14 lakh of total Rs 21 lakh has reached the commission and needed efforts might begin. The central government is out to strengthen state information commissions and the RTI Act.

Apart, under the move to make RTI a stronger Act, Public Authorities (PAs) might have to disclose little more than their functions and duties. The department of personnel and training (DoPT) has started examining if few more categories of the information can be added to the list given in Section 4(1) of the Act which all PAs are required to publish suo motu.

There are 17 categories of information which are to be mandatorily published by each PA under the said section which include facts like norms set for discharge of functions, directory of officials and employees, budgetary allocation and powers of officers besides other informations.

The official release by DoPT states that this will help in enabling greater pro-active disclosures by public authorities. “There have been several recommendations by information commissioners and others to introduce few amendments in the Act,” said sources. The DoPT’s move might be in the same direction.

DoPT has also initiated action on a proposal to review the second schedule of the RTI Act, 2005 which contains the name of security and intelligence organisations exempt from the purview of the RTI. There are 18 such organisations which enjoy impunity under the Act. The organisations include, IB, RAW, CBI, directorate of revenue intelligence, central economic intelligence bureau, directorate of enforcement, narcotics control bureau, aviation research centre, special frontier force, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, NSG, Assam Rifles, special service bureau and the crime branch-CID-CB, besides others. Once changes get implemented these organisation might come under the RTI fold.

Besides, government under its centrally sponsored scheme has proposed to impart training to various stake-holders through administrative training institutes and create awareness through department of posts, directorate of audio visual publicity (DAVP) and NCERT.





Stay on UPTU admissions till Sept 3

TNN 5 August 2009, 06:48am IST

LUCKNOW: The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday directed the Uttar Pradesh Technical University (UPTU) to inform in writing to students that their counselling would be the subject matter of a PIL which has challenged the 50% quota for SC/ST and OBC students in private engineering colleges of the state. The court also extended the stay on the admission process till September 3.

Besides, the court has summoned UPTU registrar and principal secretary, technical education to appear before it on August 6 and explain why the state government is adamant on implementing the said quota, for which it had issued an order on July 22.




Cops face HC rap in Yogita case again

Soumittra S Bose, TNN 5 August 2009, 07:04am IST

NAGPUR: “Framing of charge is the court job and not police officers.” These strong words from Justice Dilip Sinha in the high court echoed the mood of the proceedings in Yogita Thakre case that made its reappearance in the court on Tuesday. The arguments in the case will continue on Wednesday. Justices Sinha and Prasanna Varale of the Nagpur bench trashed the city police for shifting their focus of investigation into the mysterious death of the seven-year-old girl whose body was found in one of the cars parked at the home of state BJP president Nitin Gadkari at Mahal on May 19.

The bench, which took up the case in the post-lunch session, pulled up police department for altering the investigation from that of murder and destroying of evidence under sections of 302 and 201 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) respectively to culpable homicide not amounting to murder under section 304 of IPC. Plaintiff’s counsel Anjan De highlighted the crucial issues in the case so far. He mentioned that the police conducted the spot panchnama after a delay of around seven hours. They also kept varying their versions about which car was involved. De also pointed out that the case of murder was registered after around 13 days on June 1. “Under what provision of law is a police officer entitled to change section under which crime has been registered,” asked Sinha.




HC stays mayor, deputy mayor poll

Sanjeev Kumar Verma & Ravi Dayal, TNN 5 August 2009, 03:19am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court’s order on Tuesday staying the election of Patna mayor and deputy mayor spelt an anti-climax of sorts for Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) ward councillors readying for the poll scheduled for Wednesday.

A single bench presided by Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi, while staying the election, gave four weeks’ time to the state government and PMC to file counter affidavits to the writ petitions of former mayor Sanjay Kumar and former deputy mayor Santosh Mehta. The duo have challenged their removal through a no-confidence motion in the PMC.

Referring to a Supreme Court ruling, petitioners’ counsel Y V Giri submitted before the court that such an election cannot be held when the no-confidence motion that necessitated the election is under challenge. The petitioners were removed from their posts through a no-confidence motion for which rules have not been framed under the PMC Act, he added.

Ward councillor Amrita Singh, in her petition, said since the State Election Commission has fixed the date of election, it should be held. Giri, however, countered her saying if a new mayor and a deputy mayor are elected on Wednesday, the writ petitions of his clients would become infructuous.

The run-up to the scheduled election on Wednesday had witnessed hectic parleys with rival camps holding several rounds of meetings to decide candidates. The United Parshad Morcha, a group of councillors which played a major role in ousting Kumar and Mehta on July 14, had opted for voting to select its candidates on Monday.

Afzal Imam, councillor of ward number 52, got the majority votes of Morcha members and he was to contest for the post of mayor as the Morcha nominee. Vinay Kumar Pappu, who represents ward number 28, was to be the Morcha nominee for the post of deputy mayor. Pappu had been the deputy mayor earlier.

Afzal and Pappu later said they would study the HC order and take legal opinion to decide the Morcha’s future course of action.

Those owing allegiance to Loktantrik Parshad Morcha, of which former mayor Kumar and former deputy mayor Mehta are members, were apparently relieved when the news about HC directive came just before their scheduled meeting to select their candidates for Wednesday’s poll.





Govt officials fined

TNN 5 August 2009, 03:24am IST

PATNA: The State Information Commission (SIC) on Tuesday imposed fine on two government officials found on the wrong side of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Those fined are the public information officers (PIOs) of Samastipur collectorate and Nurses Registration Council.

The erring collectorate PIO would have to cough up fine at the rate of Rs 250 per day effective from July 13 this year, and that of the council at the same rate effective from July 3. In both cases the upper limit of the fine amount would be Rs 25,000.






Mankar gets bail in land-grabbing case

TNN 5 August 2009, 05:46am IST

PUNE: Additional sessions judge B A Shaikh on Tuesday granted bail to suspended Congress vice-president and PMC corporator Deepak Mankar in an alleged land-grabbing case in Shivajinagar.

Mankar was released on a personal bond of Rs 15,000. He was directed to give attendance at the Shivajinagar police station on every Sunday between 10 am and 11 am.

Mankar was also warned not to tamper with the evidence. He was directed to make himself available to the investigating officer whenever he is called for questioning.

He was released in a case registered by Pooja Prabhu for allegedly grabbing her property near the Shivajinagar police station. Lawyer Harshad Nimbalkar appeared on behalf of Mankar.

This is the third case in which Mankar has been released on bail. His other bail application in an alleged dacoity case registered with the Khadak police station is pending before the sessions court for hearing.





Special court seals documents produced by CBI

TNN 5 August 2009, 05:35am IST

PUNE: A special court on Tuesday sealed several documents produced by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the fake stamp paper scam as the defence lawyers accused the agency of producing them without seeking permission from the judge.

The CBI refuted the allegations, but the situation compelled judge P R Bora to seek a clarification from CBI special public prosecutors Raja Thakare and Avdhut Chimalkar on the ambiguous situation.

The judge has deferred the examination of panch witness of photo copy operator Umesh Jhanjekar of Shukruwar Peth till Wednesday. The court is conducting trial against 19 suspects including top police officials and politicians.

The judge had earlier recorded the evidence of first witness Nitin Kareer, secretary to the chief minister and former inspector general of registration, during the last hearing.

The prosecution was suppose to record the evidence of IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalwar on Tuesday, but he did not turn up before the court. The prosecution had obtained permission for examining Jhanjekar from the court as the disbanded Special Investigating Team (SIT), Pune, had sealed several documents of witness Kiran Thakkar in his presence.

Thakare started examining Jhanjekar as he and his friend Yogesh Khaire had acted as a panch witness on a request made by the SIT when they had visited their office at the State Reserve Police Headquarters, Group II at Ramtekdi for delivering photo copies of documents on March 21, 2003.

Thakare furnished documents before Jhanjekar for enabling him to identify whether he had endorsed his signatures on the documents.

After Jhanjekar identified the documents, the issue created a furore as the defence lawyers Vidhyadhar Koshe, Milind Pawar, M Roopendra sought reasons from the CBI for furnishing documents directly before the court.

After the court sought reasons on the confusion created, Thakare said the documents were obtained after seeking permission of the Bundgarden police station as the massive property seized in the scam which was kept in a godown at Swargate was in their custody.

Thakare tried to put a rest to the controversy generated by saying that the issue of obtaining property directly from the police had been brought to the notice of the court from time to time.

He explained that the panchanama report no where stated that the agency had seized the documents, but Koshe sought to know whether the court had delegated any powers to the police for handing over the documents to the CBI directly.

Former legislator Anil Gote and assistant commissioner of police Mohammed Mulani and lawyer Rashid Kulkarni who are co-suspects in the case also expressed their disappointment over the issue.

The judge recorded the objections of the lawyers and took the documents into his custody on a request made by them even as Thakare sought time to seek instructions from the CBI investigating officer over the issue.

Reprieve for Mopalwar

The CBI has put the recording of evidence of IAS officer Radheshyam Mopalkar on hold as a Mumbai court has made him a suspect in a similar fake stamp paper scam case. Mopalwar has obtained a stay from the Bombay high court on the order passed by the Mumbai court. Though the Mumbai case has nothing to do with the scam case pending before the special court here, the CBI has decided not to examine him at this stage.





RTI records should be available anytime

TNN 5 August 2009, 05:29am IST

PUNE: President of the RTI Forum of Senior Citizens for Instant Information, Shriram Pande, has demanded that access to civic records should be given to citizens not just on Mondays but on all the days, as prescribed by the Right to Information Act, 2005.

In a letter to municipal commissioner Mahesh Zagade, Pande has said that section 4 of the RTI Act clearly states that all government records should suo-moto be declared by the government authorities and be made available for citizens.

“The information should be easily available anytime. There is no limit to which days access should be given. Why is the Pune Municipal Corporation patting its own back for throwing open its records on every Monday for two hours? In fact, they are starting a bad precedence by limiting the access to people,” Pande said, speaking to TOI.

He explained that, according to section 4, all important policy decisions taken by PMC have to be made available to citizens and their views are also to be considered.

“The PMC should first make the information available everyday and also prepare a chart about the work of every department and the timings that officials can be met. Secondly, it must declare all information on its website,” Pande said.

The RTI inspection, which could not be carried out on Monday due to a strike by municipal employees, was held on Tuesday, when citizens were allowed to access records from various departments.





HC allows ‘Miss Kerala’ beauty contest; forms panel

PTI 4 August 2009, 07:43pm IST

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday permitted holding of the ‘Miss Kerala’ beauty contest here but set up a five-member committee to oversee the event.

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice S R Bannurmath and Justice Kurian Joseph, passed the order on a petition complaining that there would be obscenity and violation of rules in the beauty pageant.

The bench held that observers were being appointed in view of the apprehension that rules may not be followed strictly. The observers have been directed to file a report within a week.

The petitioner T K Ibrahim had sought a ban on the contest here. Twenty one girls will vie for the ‘Miss Kerala’ crown tomorrow, which has participants from US, Bangalore and Mumbai.

The contest is being jointly organized by Impresario Event Management and Fast moving consumers goods major ITC owned Vivel.





Implement Forest Rights Act: Tribals

TNN 4 August 2009, 10:57pm IST

VADODARA: Tribal residents of northern parts of Vadodara district participated in a protest programme on Tuesday at Chhotaudepur to demand proper implementation of Forest Rights Act. The programme was part of the state-wide agitation by tribals, various NGOs and rights groups.

The tribals had assembled in large numbers at Chhotaudepur for the rally that included cultural programmes. Later, they submitted a memorandum to the sub-divisional magistrate at Chhotaudepur.

Activists spearheading the agitation claimed that as many as 6,000 persons took part in the programme. “The programme has been a major success. The officials also heard out the representatives in detail and promised to resolve the issue,” said Rajesh Mishra, an activist.

On Monday, similar programmes were held at Rajpipla, Dharampur, Ahwa and other places in the tribal heartland of the state. The programmes will continue till August 10. Activists said the future course of action would be decided keeping in mind the approach of the government.





Prez probe may be Cong’s only way to oust Buta

TNN 4 August 2009, 01:44pm IST

NEW DELHI: Congress may go for a presidential probe to eject Buta Singh from National Commission for SCs if the latter insists on staying on in the wake of CBI case against his son for alleged bribery. Sources said Congress was ready to give Singh time to resign from the constitutional post but would have to take a firm decision if he stuck to his death-before-resignation stand.

Insiders said the beleaguered NCSC chairman had approached the party for “sympathy” in view of the controversy he finds himself embroiled in but got a cold shoulder. Congress wants Singh to quit the constitutional post on his own but is ready to move further if the drama drags. A leader said the party was weighing the option of a presidential reference for a Supreme Court probe to see Singh’s back.

As per the Act governing NCSC, the chairman can be removed only through an inquiry by the apex court on a reference from the President. The nodal ministry for NCSC — social justice ministry — will have to take the initiative in this regard.

Though the extreme action would show a zealous intent in the UPA government to get rid of the
Congress veteran, the leadership is of the view that he be given some time to reconcile to the CBI case. It is felt that the initial combativeness was more a reaction to the difficult situation that Singh finds himself in and he needs to be given time to take a rational view. Congress maintained a silence on the issue.

While senior leaders have tried to distance themselves from Singh by citing his expulsion from Congress during LS polls, insiders realise that it may not work with popular perception. It will make it difficult for the Centre if the Opposition tries to use the alleged bribery case to embarrass the Centre.




SC stays HC order on Pradhan Committee report on 26/11

PTI 4 August 2009, 03:54pm IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the Bombay High Court order directing Maharashtra government to place before it the report of Pradhan Committee which probed government’s response to 26/11 terror attacks.

The apex court also stayed the High Court order directing the Anti Terrorism Squad(ATS) chief to be personally present before it on August 6.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan also stayed the order asking the chief secretary of Maharashtra to file an affidavit on whether or not sufficient equipment and bulletproof jackets were provided to the ATS.

The Maharashtra government had sought stay on the July 23 order of the High Court. The matter has been listed for further hearing on August 21.




SC refuses to stay HC order shifting Andrabi from Jammu to Srinagar

TNN 5 August 2009, 01:42am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to interfere with a J&K High Court order directing shifting of Dukhtaran-e-Millat founder Asiya Andrabi from the district prison in Jammu to a jail in Srinagar.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan brushed aside arguments of the Omar Abdullah government that Andrabi was an irksome militant known for her anti-India activities and her presence in the Valley could spark further trouble.

Appearing for the state, senior advocate Amarendra Saran and standing counsel Anis Suhrawardy attempted to present before the Bench a picture of impending trouble because of the HC order directing Andrabi’s detention in Srinagar rather than in Jammu. She has already been taken to Srinagar in compliance with the HC order.

Andrabi’s counsel Kamini Jaiswal said she had two children and argued that she should be kept in a prison where she could meet her family members. Jaiswal also trashed the state’s reasoning — that jails in Srinagar and Baramulla were overcrowded — to keep her in Jammu.

Posting the matter for hearing on August 17 without passing any interim order, the Bench told Saran that as Andrabi would be behind bars, there was no reason for the state to apprehend trouble from her.

In its appeal against the HC’s July 20 order, the state said, “Andrabi was married to one Dr Ashaq Hussain Faktoo, a terrorist, who was convicted and awarded life imprisonment by the Supreme Court on January 30, 2003.”

Arguing that Andrabi’s “activities had been anti-national”, the Abdullah government recalled that on March 6 this year, she had stated that the attack on Sri Lankan players in Pakistan had been “organised by the Indian and Israeli intelligence agencies to disintegrate and destabilise Pakistan”. She had also said that the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai and 03/03 attacks in Lahore were both done by “hired elements trying to malign the image of Pakistan.”




Union minister Virbhadra Singh booked for corruption

IANS 4 August 2009, 03:12pm IST

SHIMLA: Union steel minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh have been booked for corruption by police in Himachal Pradesh, officials said on Tuesday. The complaint against them was on the basis of a CD released in May 2008.

“Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh were booked on Monday night by the state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau under relevant sections of the IPC (Indian Penal Code),” inspector general of police (vigilance) SR Mardi said.

Mardi said they were booked on the basis of an audio CD released by Virbhadra Singh’s political adversary Vijai Singh Mankotia last year. In the CD, Virbhadra Singh was heard referring to some monetary transactions on phone with former IAS officer Mahinder Lal, who is dead. The CD also contained recordings of his wife, a former MP from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh.

The state is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in the opposition at the centre.

Former Congress minister Mankotia, who had demanded the registration of the case against Virbhadra Singh and others, had released the CD before the Hamirpur parliamentary by-election in May 2008.

The police also sent the CD and their voice samples for voice analysis at the Chandigarh-based Central Forensic Science Laboratory.

Despite repeated attempts to contact him, Virbhadra Singh was unavailable for comment.

A five-time former chief minister, Virbhadra Singh belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Bushehr state. He is popularly known as “Raja Saab”.

During the parliamentary elections this year, the Congress won one of the four seats in Himachal Pradesh, with Virbhadra Singh winning in Mandi by a margin of 13,000 votes.




Maharashtra govt invokes Epidemic Act to check swine flu

PTI 4 August 2009, 03:22pm IST

MUMBAI: Maharashtra government on Tuesday invoked the Epidemic Act in Pune and Satara districts to check the spread of swine flu, a day after a 14-year-old Pune school girl died of the deadly influenza virus.

“The Act has been invoked to prevent spread of this air-borne A(H1N1) virus in the two districts (Pune and Panchgani) where 127 cases have been reported,” a senior official in Maharashtra Health Directorate, Dr Pradeep Awate said from Pune.

A total of 150 cases of swine flu have been reported in entire Maharashtra so far since April when the epidemic broke out in Mexico and US, he said.

“We are asking all the patients to get admitted in government hospitals and people should not go to private hospitals. Also, the private hospitals should not take any suspected patients as they do not have any right to do tests unless they take permission from the government,” he said.

If the private hospitals do not follow these mandatory steps, severe action will be taken against them, Awate said.

Incidentally, Jahangir is the first private hospital that treated a swine flu case outside the three civic hospitals that have become the main referral centres for the last one month in Pune and have not reported any fatality so far.

Reedal Shaikh, a class IX student of St Anne’s High School in Pune, died at the Jahangir Hospital, making her India’s first swine flu fatality.

Awate said, though there is a panic like situation in Pune, “We are asking people not to worry but just follow the government instructions to help prevent the spread of the disease.”

Earlier, Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan said there was negligence on part of the private hospital which treated the 14-year-old girl.

“This incident is really unfortunate. I feel there was total negligence on the part of those who admitted her to the hospital and negligence on part of the hospital,” Chavan, who discussed the issue with senior health officials here, said.

The victim was admitted to Pune’s Jahangir hospital a week ago with symptoms of swine flu.

Chavan asked people not to fall prey to any rumours but to co-operate with the health officials.





Seven NRIs sent to judicial custody in UK for killing kabaddi star

PTI 5 August 2009, 05:04am IST

LONDON: Seven people of Indian origin have been remanded to judicial custody in the UK in connection with the killing of prominent kabaddi player Suvinder Singh Batth outside a pub he owned in Bilston in the West Midlands.

Batth, 47, was shot dead outside his pub called Gavin’s Sports Bar last week. The seven people charged with his murder were remanded to judicial custody during a hearing at the Wolverhampton magistrates court.

Kabaddi enthusiasts paid tributes to Batth as his family grappled with the loss.

One fan wrote online: “What a tragedy. Great player of the game, but more so, he was well known for being one of the truly great characters. RIP.”

Another fan said: “He was one of the best stoppers in England over the years. He went toe-to-toe with much heavier men and was a big crowd favourite. ‘He was a real character who will be a big loss for all the Kabaddi world.”

Batth’s pub was named after his son, Gavin, who reportedly cradled his dying father as he waited for police and ambulance crews to arrive at the scene.

Batth’s daughter Danny, 20, said: “He was a loving, caring man who was so generous to us all. We all loved him so much. We just can’t believe this.”




Judge adjourns Sudanese woman’s ‘trouser trial’

AFP 4 August 2009, 02:43pm IST

KHARTOUM: The trial of a Sudanese woman journalist who faces 40 lashes for wearing trousers was adjourned on Tuesday as police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of demonstrators outside the Khartoum court.

The judge decided to delay the trial to September to determine whether Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein, who also works with the United Nations, has legal immunity, defence lawyer Jalal al-Sayyid said.

Hussein, who is in her 30s, has been charged with public indecency after she was arrested last month along with 12 other women who were wearing trousers at a Khartoum restaurant.

Hussein has said that she wants to be tried, in defiance of a law that decrees whipping for wearers of ‘indecent’ clothes, and told a hearing last week that she wished to waive her UN immunity.

But in an apparent disagreement within her defence team, a lawyer argued that she had immunity and asked the judge to ignore Hussein’s wishes, Sayyid said.

The judge will defer the issue to the Sudanese foreign ministry ahead of her next court date on September 7, he said.

Police dispersed hundreds of women and activists from Sudanese opposition political parties who demonstrated in support of Hussein outside the court house after they tried blocking a road, an AFP correspondent reported.

On emerging from the court, which was closed to reporters, Hussein again insisted she wanted to be tried and said she had resigned from her job in the UN’s media office in Sudan.

“The court should not have delayed the trial,” she told journalists.

Ten women have already been whipped for the same offence — including Christians — and Hussein has said she will fight a guilty verdict and the law itself.

“I’m ready for anything to happen. I’m absolutely not afraid of the verdict,” she told AFP in an interview on Monday.

“If I’m sentenced to be whipped, or to anything else, I will appeal. I will see it through to the end, to the constitutional court if necessary.

“And if the constitutional court says the law is constitutional, I’m ready to be whipped not 40 but 40,000 times,” said Hussein, who also works for the left-wing Al-Sahafa newspaper.

Hussein said she wants to fight to get rid of the law, saying it “is both against the constitution and sharia (Islamic law).”

“If some people refer to the sharia to justify flagellating women because of what they wear, then let them show me which Koranic verses or hadith (sayings of the Prophet Mohammed) say so. I haven’t found them,” she said.

Police have also cracked down on another woman journalist, Amal Habbani, who published an article in Ajrass al-Horreya newspaper (Bells of Freedom) entitled: “Lubna, a case of subduing a woman’s body.”

Unlike many other Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf, women have a prominent place in Sudanese public life. Nevertheless, human rights organisations say some of the country’s laws discriminate against women.





CAG points out Rs1846 cr irregularities in state-owned firms

PTI 4 August 2009, 03:18pm IST

NEW DELHI: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out financial irregularities of Rs1846.5 crore in public sector firms in its 2009-10 report, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said on Tuesday.

Replying to questions in Rajya Sabha, he said CAG in its audit observations has pointed out financial irregularities of Rs1404.32 crore in 2008 and Rs4547.63 crore in 2007.

Deshmukh said CAG has also pointed out reasons for deficiencies in the accounts of Public Sector Units (PSU’s).

He said in order to effectively monitor and expedite the follow up action on CAG report, each administrative ministry or department has also set up a monitoring cell.

On CAG observations, the minister said the concerned administrative ministry or department is required to submit Action Taken Notes (ATN’s) to CAG for their vetting.

“Submission of the ATNs by respective ministry/department is a continuous process,” he added.




Comment: Equal Before Law

5 August 2009, 12:00am IST

The opposition has done the right thing by forcing the government to defer the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill. The Bill, which seeks to extend the principle of accountability and transparency to the higher judiciary, falls short of its intent in the present form.

The Bill makes it mandatory for judges to disclose their assets before a designated authority, but doesn’t allow the disclosure to be made public. A contentious clause in the Bill prevents any citizen, court or authority from questioning the disclosures. It says “no judge shall be subjected to any inquiry or query in relation to the contents of the declaration by any person”. The opposition has objected to this provision and termed it a violation of the Constitution. The objection is valid. What the clause does is to treat the judiciary as a privileged class with special rights that no other group of citizens enjoys. No other category of public servants enjoys such immunity from public scrutiny. It has been pointed out, and rightly so, that the clause violates the republican principle that all citizens are equal before the law.

The judiciary’s demand for exemption stems from the fear that disgruntled parties could misuse the disclosure and embarrass judges if it is available in the public domain. Such fears may be valid but not reasonable enough to justify the judges’ claim for exemption from public scrutiny. Laws that cover other categories of people in public life, like elected representatives, don’t make any exemption for similar fears and mandates that they disclose their assets before the public. Penalties and harsher strictures could be thought of to prevent spurious litigation and other forms of harassment.

There has been a concerted effort in recent times to enforce the highest norms of accountability and transparency in public life. Laws like the Right to Information Act and Representation of the People Act have helped a great deal to address corruption in public life and improve governance.

The judiciary has been supportive of these initiatives. It has, in many cases, intervened to make sure that laws intended to do so are foolproof. It must adhere to the highest norms of probity it has set for other public institutions and not become an exception to the trend. The government must incorporate the suggestions of the opposition, address the fears of the judiciary and reintroduce a foolproof Bill in Parliament as early as possible.





Sankararaman’s wife, daughter change earlier statements

Staff Reporter

Trail of witnesses who have turned hostile lengthens

PUDUCHERRY: Two main prosecution witnesses in the Sankararaman murder case on Tuesday contradicted their earlier statements during cross-examination by defence counsel.

Sankararaman’s wife Padma, the first prosecution witness, and daughter Uma Maitreyi, the second prosecution witness, told the Principal District and Sessions court here that they had identified the accused based only on photographs provided by the police and had not seen them during the attack on Sankararaman. They also told the court that the signature in the documents seized from their house was not that of Sankararaman.

During cross-examination by counsel K. S Dinakaran, both contradicted their statements made earlier to Special Public Prosecutor N. Devadass. Two other witnesses, Anand Kumar Sharma (Sankararaman’s son) and N. S Ganesh (accountant in the temple) were also cross-examined.

On April 2, 2009, during examination by the Public Prosecutor, the fifth prosecution witness K. Durai Kannu contradicted the statement he had made before the police and the Kancheepuram District Magistrate. After he deviated from his statement, Mr. Devadass had informed Principal District and Sessions Judge D. Krishnaraja that he was treating the witness as hostile. Another prosecution witness, Kumar, was also treated as hostile after he contradicted his statement during examination by the Special Public Prosecutor.

On Wednesday, the cross-examination of five other witnesses, K. Durai Kannu, Gajapathay, Atchudan, Kumar and Kuppuswamy, will be taken up. The Public Prosecutor will also cross-examine K. Durai Kannu.

Sankararaman, manager of the Sri Varadarajaswami temple at Kancheepuram, was murdered on September 3, 2004. On January 21, 2005, a special investigation team of the Tamil Nadu Police filed a charge-sheet in a Kancheepuram court naming 24 persons as the accused in the case, including the five men who surrendered claiming that they had murdered Sankararaman and six others who arranged the proxy surrender. The case was later transferred to Puducherry.





Resistance ends, a fundamental right comes into being news analysis

Anita Joshua

Law in place after 6 years, two governments and half-a-dozen drafts

NEW DELHI: At long last, the Fundamental Right to Education, enacted in December 2002, can be operationalised with Parliament on Tuesday passing The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill (RTE). It took six-and-half years, two governments and half-a-dozen drafts to put in place this enabling legislation without which the Fundamental Right to Education could not be notified.

Given the stiff resistance this Bill attracted on various counts and from different quarters, both within and outside the government, a sense of disbelief pervaded the Department of School Education and Literacy in the Union Human Resource Development Ministry when the draft legislation finally got the Lok Sabha’s nod on Tuesday evening.

Essentially, the RTE details how the Fundamental Right will be implemented. As per the enabling legislation, every child in the six-to-14 age group will have a right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till Class VIII.

Reservation of seats

One of the most contentious provisions of the Bill is the clause which makes it mandatory for unaided schools to reserve 25 per cent of their seats at the entry level, the junior most class in any school, for students from the disadvantaged sections in the neighbourhood. The expenses borne by these schools on such students will be reimbursed by the government on the basis of what it spends per child in its own schools.

No school can collect capitation fee and subject children or their parents to any form of screening. In case a school collects capitation fee, it can be fined up to 10 times of that amount. And, if tests or interviews are conducted, a school can be fined Rs. 25,000 for the first violation and Rs. 50,000 for every subsequent contravention.

Schools cannot deny admission to a child for lack of age proof and no child can be detained or expelled till the completion of elementary education. Physical punishment and mental harassment will attract disciplinary action under service rules.

As the purpose of this legislation is to set a certain benchmark for school education, the Bill details punitive action for running unrecognised schools and also provides for derecognition of institutions which do not meet the standards. These standards in terms of the qualifications of teachers and their duties, and pupil-teacher ratio have been specified. This comes with a diktat that prohibits teachers from taking private tuitions and schools from deploying them for non-educational purposes other than decennial population census, disaster relief and election duty.





Debt Recovery Tribunal not a civil court, says Supreme Court

J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has held that the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) cannot be construed as a civil court. Therefore, the Supreme Court or the High Court has no power to transfer a suit pending in a civil court situated in one State to a DRT in another State.

A Bench of Justices S.B. Sinha and A.K. Ganguly gave this ruling while dealing with a dispute arising out of petitions filed by banks, financial institutions and debtors within the purview of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993. The instant case arose out of an appeal against an order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court transferring a suit to the DRT in Mumbai.

Writing the judgment, Mr. Justice Sinha said the Tribunal was constituted with a specific purpose and it had a limited jurisdiction. “No independent proceedings can be initiated before it by a debtor. A debtor, under the common law of contract, as also in terms of the loan agreement, may have an independent right. No forum has been created for endorsement of that right. The civil court will continue to have jurisdiction.”

The Bench made it clear that the claim petition by the bank or the financial institution must relate to a lending/borrowing transaction between a bank or the financial institution and the borrower.

It said: “The civil court indisputably has the jurisdiction to try a suit. If the suit is vexatious or otherwise not maintainable, action can be taken in respect thereof in terms of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). But if all the suits filed in the civil courts, whether inextricably connected with the application filed before the DRT by the banks and financial institutions are transferred, the same would amount to ousting the jurisdiction of the civil courts indirectly.”






Parliament approves SC/ST reservation Bill

J. Balaji

Bill seeks to extend the reservation beyond January 25, 2010

Rajya Sabha passed the Bill on Monday

NEW DELHI: Parliament has adopted the Constitution (109th amendment) Bill, 2009, for providing reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies for another 10 years, with the Lok Sabha approving it by division of votes on Tuesday.

The Rajya Sabha passed the Bill on Monday. The Bill was adopted with an amendment by the government.

When the Bill was taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha and put to vote later, 375 members voted in its favour. One member opposed it and another abstained from voting.

The Bill seeks to extend the reservation beyond January 25, 2010, when the time period of 60 years under Article 334 of the Constitution lapses, and also to extend the nomination of Anglo-Indians to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies by another 10 years.

Law and Justice Minister M. Veerappa Moily, who moved the Bill, said of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, SCs had 79 and STs 41.

“Change of heart”

Similarly, of the 3,961 seats in the Legislative Assemblies, SCs had been reserved 543 seats and STs 527.

Urging the House to adopt the Bill, Mr. Moily said there should be a “change of heart” in society towards SCs and STs.

“We need to travel more distance to ensure they join the mainstream. We must practice inclusive politics and not exclusive politics…fragmented politics,” he said.





Bombay High Court directive stayed

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the Bombay High Court order directing the Chief Secretary, Maharashtra government to submit in sealed cover the report of Pradhan Committee which probed `26/11 terror attacks’ in Mumbai.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice B.S. Chauhan also stayed the order asking the Chief of Anti-Terrorism Squad K. P. Raghuvanshi to present in the court during the next date of hearing on August 6.

Appearing for Maharashtra, senior counsel Harish Salve said, the State was aggrieved against the order dated July 23.

He said in view of the sensitivity involved the report was not placed even in the Assembly, but the High Court in a PIL had directed that the report be placed in a sealed cover and that the Chief Secretary should file an affidavit.

When Mr. Salve said, “such information can’t be put on affidavit,” the CJI wondered “what is the use of giving details when the High Court itself says give the report in a sealed cover. What is the advantage? Can the court prevent it {terrorist act}? Why should all such information be provided to the court, is it to have discussions in television channels.”

Mr. Salve said, “we all know about the impending danger and the threat perception. But these secret issues can’t be disclosed to the court.” He recalled the live telecast in the news channels of the 26/11 security operations which was reportedly used to guide the terrorists.”

It would result in insecurity and create panic among the public.





No relaxing of labour laws: Kharge

Sujay Mehdudia

NEW DELHI: Asserting that there was no question of relaxing labour laws or making them “liberal,” Union Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday asked the State governments to strictly implement such laws to protect the interests of workers, particularly in the wake of global economic slowdown.

Mr. Kharge said implementation of these laws was good for employers and employees.

He was replying to a call-attention notice by D. Raja (CPI) on the situation from retrenchment and job losses.

To a suggestion by Independent member and industrialist Rahul Bajaj, Mr. Kharge dismissed the idea of relaxing labour laws.

Mr. Bajaj’s suggestion was strongly opposed by Brinda Karat (CPI-M) who pointed out a conflict of interest.


The survey conducted by the Ministry on the impact of slowdown on job losses has shown that in the January-March period there was a slight improvement in the employment situation.

In the April-June quarter, there was some decline but again in July there was improvement.

Earlier, Mr. Raja charged the government with underestimating the grave situation that had emerged due to global meltdown and recession. He said the response was not adequate to meet the challenges of job creation.

Noting that many sectors had been affected due to the slowdown resulting in lay offs, he suggested a host of measures to tackle the situation.





High Court orders retrospective induction into civil service post

Special Correspondent

Petitioner is to be in the IPS, or other services, in Tamil Nadu

“The petitioner should be treated as an OBC candidate even at the time of his selection”

Authorities could even create a supernumerary post as all these years he was denied his due

CHENNAI: Chastising the authorities for their slumberous attitude, the Madras High Court has directed the Union government and the Union Public Service Commission to induct a person into the Indian Police Service in the Tamil Nadu cadre, or in another all India service, on the basis of his selection in Civil Services Examination 2001, with all consequential benefits.

The petitioner should be treated as an OBC candidate for the process.

For the allotment of the cadre, the authorities could even create a supernumerary post, since all these years the petitioner had been deprived of his due, a Division Bench, comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and T.S. Sivagnanam, said while allowing his petition.

The petitioner, J. Loganathan, submitted that he belonged to the Kannadiyar community, declared OBC in Tamil Nadu. He cleared the Civil Services Examination 2001, but his claim that he belonged to an OBC was not accepted by the Union government. It did so on the ground that as per the notification, the community had been declared OBC only in Coimbatore, Periyar and the Nilgiris districts. The petitioner belonged to Cuddalore district.

The Bench said the petitioner’s contention that his caste had been declared OBC throughout the State was not in dispute.

The State government, realising the errors in the Union government’s OBC list, had addressed the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) in March 1994 pointing out the discrepancies. But, no action had been taken by the Commission.

The officials of the Commission and the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment at the relevant point of time “have slept over the matter for years together, waiting for somebody to bell the cat again.”

The Bench added: “This case would narrate as to how the slumberous attitude exhibited on the part of the governmental authorities in rectifying the mistakes committed by them, would dig a deep pit in the career of an individual and spoil his prospects and opportunities.”

Referring to the authorities’ stand that no retrospective effect could be given to the amended list published by the NCBC in January 2004, the Bench said an extraordinary situation like the present one would call for an extraordinary remedy.

Courts were not handcuffed from dealing with such situations in an appropriate manner to cure an illegality perpetrated on a citizen.





High Court stays proceedings on charge memo to head constable

K.T. Sangameswaran

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has granted interim stay of further proceedings on a charge memo issued by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Salem Range, to a head constable.

Flimsy allegations

M. Ravi, counsel for the petitioner R. Sengodan, submitting that the charge memo contained vague and flimsy allegations, contended that the only charge against the head constable was that he had not arrested the accused after registering a case under sections 341, 323 and 324 of the IPC.

Further, he had not registered the case under the proper penal provision.

Counsel said that in each and every case, the accused need not be arrested.

The Police Inspector concerned had obtained further material for altering the offence to one under section 307 of the IPC. So the petitioner was not at fault. Government advocate, P. Muthukumar, sought time to file a counter.

Justice K.N. Basha said it was needless to state that it was not necessary for the police to arrest the accused in every case.

It all depended on the facts and circumstances of the case.

The investigating officer, after completion of the probe and on the basis of the collection of evidence, ought to have added another section, i.e. 307 IPC. On that ground, the petitioner could not be found fault with.

Since the order of interim stay had been passed, the case of the petitioner should be considered for promotion in accordance with the law.

The pendency of any departmental proceedings should not be considered as a ground for denying the petitioner a promotion, the court said.





Court orders attachment of KSRTC bus

Staff Reporter

KRISHNAGIRI: An inter-state bus plying between Bangalore to Tirukovilur has been impounded by the district court in Krishnagiri on Tuesday.

The bus was impounded for non-payment of compensation to the accident victim R. Sundar, a mini lorry driver from Mallipatti village, near Singarapettai, in Krishnagiri district.

Sundar met with an accident near Bachaneri cross road on Dharwad-Belgaum National Highway No: 4 on July 29, 2004. The parents of the victim filed a case in this connection. Additional District Judge Kumaraguru directed Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to pay Rs. 5,26,723 to the victim’s family on November 28, 2005.

KSRTC filed an appeal in the High Court challening the district court ruling. After hearing the argument, the High Court ordered KSRTC to pay Rs. 4,16,273 as compensation to the victim’s family within 6 weeks.

But the KSRTC did not pay the compensation.

The judge ordered attachment of the bus and as per his order the bus was attached and taken to the District Court premises by the court officials.





Disqualification of municipal chief set aside

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has set aside an order of the Principal District Judge (PDJ), Cuddalore, issued in March this year, disqualifying V.K. Murugan (PMK) from the post of Chairman of the Vriddhachalam Municipality.

Justice S. Palanivelu set aside the order while allowing a petition from Mr. Murugan challenging the lower court order. Mr. Murugan was disqualified under the District Municipalities Act on the ground that while he was holding the post of Chairman of the local body, his wife and father held subsisting contracts in the municipality.

Mr. Justice Palanivelu observed that the wife and father of the petitioner were issued letters of termination of contracts much before the petitioner became the Chairman. The letters were accepted and cancellation orders passed by the municipality. Thus, the contract had come to an end. Just because they received cheques for the works done during the previous terms after he became Chairman, the same could not be held against the petitioner.





CBI case against former Chennai Port Trust chief

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday registered a case against former Chairman of the Chennai Port Trust, K. Suresh, Deputy Conservator M.K. Sinha and a private company on charges of corruption.

The accusation is that they entered into a criminal conspiracy with the intention of cheating, causing a loss of Rs.20 crore to the port trust.

According to CBI sources, the Anti-Corruption Branch of the agency had received information that Mr. Suresh and Mr. Sinha, abusing their official position, allotted a berth in the port for a ‘dead’ ship, the MV SAN GIORGIO, to dock in 2007.

They knew that the ship had no crew or valid documents.

It had been abandoned by its owners in an inoperable condition, which was against norms. This caused a loss of Rs.20 crore in the form of non-payment of additional berth hire charges, demurrage and related expenses. The ship had set sail from South Africa and had gone to Tuticorin before reaching Chennai.

Searches were conducted on office and residential premises of the accused. Documents pertaining to movable and immovable properties, gold jewellery and huge bank balance totally worth about Rs.2.36 crore and $6,443 were seized. Four bank lockers of the accused would be opened on Wednesday.

Mr. Suresh is a 1982 batch IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre. He was Chairman of the Chennai Port Trust from 2004 to July 2009. Cases under the provisions of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, had been registered against the accused, the sources said.





Anticipatory bail granted

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has granted anticipatory bail to two persons, who apprehended arrest in a case relating to alleged offences, including obscene acts and songs, and under the legislation to prevent harassment of women.

In their petition, K.B. Rajiv (24) of Annanagar and R. Jagadish Navin Kumar (29) of Jaffarkhanpet here stated that the prosecution case against them was that on July 24 a woman and her husband were dancing in the discotheque of a hotel here and they (petitioners) had teased her. It was also alleged that abusive language was used against her.

The petitioners submitted that they were innocent and a false complaint had been given against them.

Justice R. Regupathi, while granting anticipatory bail, imposed conditions, including execution of a bond for Rs.10,000 with one surety.





Judgement on teachers’ transfer stayed

Legal Correspondent

HYDERABAD: A Division Bench of the A.P. High Court comprising Justice V.Eswariah and Justice P.Swarup Reddy on Tuesday stayed the operation of the judgment of the AP Administrative Tribunal (APAT) which had adversely affected the schedule of transfers and promotions of teachers in the State.

Some of the teachers filed original applications in the APAT complaining against the action of the officers in refusing to consider the cases of such teachers for promotions and transfers who resisted the implementation of G.O. 610 . They said that they are continuing to be in the present postings because of orders of the courts and they can not be denied the benefit of promotions , seniority and then transfers.

The APAT had directed the government to consider the cases of these applicants for promotions and transfers as per their seniority.

The government filed writ petitions in the High Court challenging the orders of APAT. The government contended that the whole process of promotions and transfers is jeopardized in the light of these orders of the APAT.

The Bench felt that the balance convenience lies with the promotions to go on irrespective of the APAT order and suspended the judgment of the APAT.





Plea for High Court Benches in Andhra, Rayalaseema

Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: The demand for setting up High Court Benches in the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions as also a Supreme Court Bench in Hyderabad was raised in the Legislative Council on Tuesday.

M.V.S.Sarma (PDF) and K.Nageshwar (Graduates constituency) said while States like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh had High Court Benches, Andhra Pradesh was the only State without additional HC Benches and this had been resulting in hardships for litigants and law officers of those regions.

Law Minister M.V.Ramana Rao clarified that when last year a resolution made in the House for HC Benches in Andhra and Rayalaseema regions was sent to High Court, the Full Bench rejected it and asked the government not to send such resolutions in future. When Chairman A. Chakrapani also cited existence of more than two High Court Benches in different States, the Minister said the government would appeal to the High Court to reconsider the issue again.





HC clears committee to manage Mahishamardhini temple

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Monday said that it did not find anything wrong with the selection of nine members to manage the Mahishamardhini temple at Neelavara in Udupi district.

Justice Ajit Gunjal passed the order on the petitions filed by Santosh Kumar Hegde and several others questioning the decision of the Muzrai Department to include six names recommended by Home Minister V.S. Acharya in the management committee of the temple.

The petitioners said they had filed a writ petition last year challenging the decision of the Department of Hindu and Religious Endowment to select nine names recommended by the Minister to the managing committee.

They said the single judge had come down heavily on such recommendations and asked the Muzrai Department to select names as per the Act.

They said the department had ignored the earlier High Court direction by choosing to go by the recommendations of the Minister. They urged the court to quash the selection.

The Government advocate submitted that the selection was based on merit and the recommendation was only incidental.





Traffic offences: 10,661 cases booked in Mysore in July

Staff Correspondent

4,365 cases booked against those riding

two-wheelers without helmet

75 people booked for drunken driving during

a drive from July 19 to 31

MYSORE: The Mysore traffic police have booked 10,661 cases for various traffic-related offences in July and collected fine amounting to Rs. 14,20,100 from the offenders. Also, some of the offenders were produced in court and penalty amounting to Rs. 1,94,450 was collected from them, said a press release from the office of Commissioner of Police.

The maximum number of cases (4,365) were booked for riding two-wheelers without helmet.

The police had booked 212 cases for violation of traffic rules, 469 cases for over-speeding, 130 cases for drunken driving, 491 cases for riding without driving licences and 212 cases for using mobile phones while driving/riding.

The release said that 4,782 cases were booked for various traffic offences.

The police had booked cases against 96 people for riding two-wheelers with more than two persons in the pillion, during a special drive conducted in the limits of Udaigiri, Mandi Mohalla, Devaraja Mohalla and N.R. Mohalla police stations from July 19 to 31.

Also, cases were booked against 75 people for drunken driving during the drive. Of them, 62 offenders were produced in court and fine amounting to Rs. 41,400 was collected, the release added.





Bar association disowns advocate

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Thiruvananthapuram Bar Association has disowned advocate Anil Kumar who was arrested by the Attingal police on Tuesday in connection with a criminal offence. In a statement, association secretary S.R. Jayakumar said the advocate was expelled from the association for a similar offence in 2006. — Staff Reporter





Concern over changes in Rubber Act

Staff Reporter

KOCHI: Some of the amendments to the provisions of the Rubber Act presented before Parliament, if passed, will harm the rubber sector, especially small growers, exporters, processors and traders, said N. Radhakrishnan, president of Cochin Rubber Merchants’ Association here in a communication.

The provision to empower the Rubber Board to implement quality standards, to mark, label and pack rubber produced or processed in India, imported into India and exported from India will harm the growers. This is because 30 per cent of the sheet rubber produced is below the quality standards prescribed by the board.

The communication said visual grading of rubber has been in vogue for the past 100 years. The Rubber Board should specify what the marketable grades are and the quality involved in different grades of rubber before the passage of the proposed amendments to the Act, he said.





Video conferencing for U.S. witnesses opposed

Staff Reporter

26/11: Kazmi cites concerns about perjury and contempt of court

Mumbai: The defence in the 26/11 case has opposed the deposition of three American witnesses through video conferencing, citing concerns about perjury and contempt of court.

The prosecution wants to examine five witnesses from the United States of America, including two FBI agents and three citizens.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam has not asked for video conferencing. However, advocate Abbas Kazmi’s objection is to the eventuality of the video conferencing method being used to record testimonies of the three witnesses. Mr. Kazmi said the remote method would be a hurdle if the witnesses commit perjury or contempt of court.

It would also be a shortcoming if the defence wants to implead a witness as an accused, because there is no extradition treaty between India and the U.S. To bring forth the drawbacks in the method, he cited from the Supreme Court judgment in the P.C. Singhi vs. Dr. Praful Desai case (2003), which allowed for video conferencing to record evidence.

Mr. Kazmi quoted, “There may be difficulties if he [witness] commits contempt of court or perjures himself. As a matter of prudence, evidence by video recording in open court should be only if the witness is in a country which has an extradition treaty with India and under whose laws contempt of court and perjury are also punishable.”

Unlike in the Supreme Court case, the three witnesses in question are not experts, Mr. Kazmi told the court. They are “material” witnesses “touching the core of the case.” In the light of these hurdles, he said, “I strongly oppose video conferencing.”

Mr. Nikam argued that producing the witnesses in person would be an expensive, time-consuming affair leading to undue delay.





Two police officers acquitted

Patiala: A CBI court here acquitted two police officers for lack of evidence in a fake encounter case in 1990.

Retired Superintendent of Police Mohinder Singh Sidhu and DSP Kishan Singh were acquitted on Monday in the case relating to the disappearance of one Sukhwinder Singh alias Neeta of Chavinda Devi village in Amritsar district on August 27, 1990. Sidhu, was then the Station House Officer (SHO) and Kishan Singh an Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) of Kathunangal police station in the district. The victim’s brother Bhupinder Singh, in a letter to the Chief Justice of India and other government officials, alleged the duo killed Neeta in a fake encounter.





Forest rights & implementation issues

Meena Menon

Maharashtra’s efforts to enforce the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act have brought forth many sticky issues.

It is an Act that drives wildlife conservationists to tears and land rights activists to despair. In Maharashtra, of the 2.66 lakh claims submitted under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act, only 1,512 have received final approval. Cases challenging the Act passed in 2006 are pending in the Supreme Court and Adivasis are still on the road, demanding that the Act be implemented.

Villagers of Pathali in the Adivasi-dominated Nandurbar district of Maharashtra had to come all the way to Mumbai to demand a village-level committee as a first step to decide the issue of forest rights. Pathali has been in the centre of a storm with villagers of neighbouring Goramba attacking them repeatedly, resulting in the death of a woman. There are about 350 families in Pathali. People like Madya Vadvi have lived by cultivating the nearby forestland since 1971-72. The fight between the two villages is not new, though it has intensified after the Act was passed. The rivals are staking claim to their land, Vadvi points out.

These are some of the sticky issues that have come to the fore after the passage of the Act. Maharashtra has 13,822 village level committees. Compared to other States, the implementation on the Act is slow.

According to data on the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry’s website, till June 30, 2009 Andhra Pradesh had distributed 67,855 title deeds, Chhattisgarh 1,02,800; Gujarat 1,997; Madhya Pradesh 24,571; Orissa 30,794; Rajasthan 1,778; Tripura 66,573; and West Bengal 5,249. Maharashtra lagged behind with 15 title deeds distributed and 1,384 ready for distribution.

The Centre is according priority to it. In her joint address to Parliament in June, President Pratibha Patil indicated that the new government would monitor the implementation of the Act and ensure that all title deeds were distributed by the end of 2009.

According to official figures, of the 2,66,441 claims in Maharashtra, 34, 924 have reached the sub-divisional level, which is the second stage, and 3,348 are at the final District Collector-level committee stage. A.K. Jha, Commissioner, Tribal Research and Training Institute (TRTI), which is the nodal agency for the implementation of the Act, defends the work done in the State. “We are providing the link between the people in the villages and the government with inputs that ensure smooth and accurate processing of cases. We are giving the funding, training and a robust system of implementing the Act and support for capacity-building and creating awareness,” says Mr. Jha, who is an Indian Forest Service officer.

The high number of claim applications shows that people are aware of the Act, he says. Although it was passed in 2006, it was implemented from December 31, 2007 and the rules were framed in 2008. He says it takes time to mobilise people in more than 13,000 villages spread across the State’s forest areas. Over 50 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had been associated with the process. According to him, the village-level committee is independent.

“The land will remain as forest land and its status is not going to change to revenue land just because forest rights are recognised. The mandate of the Act is to recognise forest rights, and after it is done the entry in the record of rights is going to be the mandate of the Collector and the Revenue Department as per the provisions of the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code,” he clarifies.

According to Mr. Jha, the Act goes beyond recognising individual forest rights to forest land. It also intends to empower the community and grants the right to protect forests, wildlife and biodiversity. “That I feel is the real purpose and ultimate mandate of the Act.”

However, there are complaints of growing interference by the Forest Department. Pradip Prabhu of the Campaign for Survival and Dignity says the law clearly talks about ownership and it is not a usufruct right (which is the right to enjoy the use and advantages of another’s property short of destruction or wastage of its substance). There are efforts to resist the grant of actual rights under the Act. Activists feel that Maharashtra could well have the worst record of implementing the Act. Since 2002, forest-dwellers have not been evicted in any part of the country except here, Mr. Prabhu says.

Apart from conservation groups, retired forest officials have opposed the Act in some States. Conservationists like Kishore Rithe are dismayed that such an Act should have been enacted in the first place. Mr. Rithe, who is based in Amravati and has worked extensively in the forests of Melghat, has been observing the gradual destruction of the area. After the passage of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, the diversion of forest land for non-forest use had become difficult. However, the new Act reverses that. “Encroachments have increased tremendously after 2005 and people are just grabbing land,” he said. “Initially, in January 2009, there were only 10,000 claims in Maharashtra and 357 had gone up to the district-level committees. This number has shot up now, and this is because people have made false claims,” he points out.

“The country has lost its best forests in central India because of this Act, and once people clear forest land and start cultivating, we can’t bring those forests back. As a conservationist, I feel this country should admit that by introducing this law we have made a mistake. Forests need to be protected — that’s the basic issue,” he explains.

However, leaders of mass movements in Nandurbar, like Kishore Dhamale of the Satyashodhak Communist Party, are firm that the first right should go to the people who have cultivated the land for years.

“Instead of giving the Adivasis their rights, the government has given forest land to private companies to build wind farms,” he says. He is sceptical about claims that title deeds have been handed over to people in the State. He said in this feudal structure, people were not interested in Adivasis getting land rights since that would mean empowering a major chunk of the labour force.

The government too admits that in villages where there are both Adivasis and non-Adivasis, local leaders are not too keen to hold meetings or set up committees. According to P.S. Meena, Secretary, Maharashtra government, tribal development, the main bottleneck was that gram sabha sessions were not being held on time. The department, therefore, had given specific directions for special meetings. There was a three-tier process to complete the allocation of rights, and about 300 Global Positioning System (GPS) sets had been provided to map the land. He dismisses the complaints against the Forest Department and says the NGOs should act as facilitators and not oppose every step.

Mr. Meena estimates that about 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh hectares would be distributed eventually. He has on the anvil an Integrated Forest Development Project for landless Adivasis, with Rs. 20 crore allotted for it. The idea is to come up with proposals involving 1,000 ha or more of forest land which need to be regenerated, and dovetail programmes under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme with forest development activity.

While the TRTI and the government are trying to aid conservation measures through the Act, the primary issue is one of rights. The antagonism between conservationists and those getting land rights has to be addressed, too, and the misconception that this is a free-for-all land distribution programme must be cleared. It is nobody’s argument that forests must be destroyed. It is incumbent on the government to protect them — while ensuring that the people get their rightful entitlements.





Subhiksha petitions HC for compromise with lenders

August 05, 2009

Subhiksha Trading Services, the retail chain which stopped all operations when it ran out of cash, has filed a petition at the high court in Chennai, seeking a compromise with its creditors.

Through its subsidiary company, Cash and Carry Whole Sale Traders Private Ltd, it filed a ‘scheme of compromise’ petition, under Section 391 of the Companies Act.

The earlier deadline given for a Corporate Debt Restructuring scheme was July 31.

According a senior counsel who is close to the development, Cash and Carry has requested for a meeting with secured and unsecured creditors to work out the compromise. C&C was a firm promoted by R Subramanian, promoter and managing director of Subhiksha [ Images ]. Subramanian was not available for a comment and he did not respond to an e-mail sent by Business Standard.

The counsel added the petition was filed under the Companies Act provision which talks about the power to compromise or make arrangements with creditors and members and also between a company and its creditors or any class of them.

Under the relevant rules, if 75 per cent of creditors agree to a compromise, the other 25 per cent have to also agree.

T E Narasimhan in Chennai






“Confidentiality clause must be removed”

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: There was just a hint from the Congress here on Monday that it would be willing to try and evolve a political consensus on the deferred Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill before it was introduced, after the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left insisted that the Bill would be meaningless unless the controversial confidentiality clause was removed.

The political ruckus was all about a Bill that would, when passed, make it mandatory for judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court to declare their movable and immovable assets. On that there seemed to be a political consensus. What was controversial was that the Left and the Right did not see the need for a confidentiality clause that would keep the declaration of assets away from public gaze and defeat the very purpose of accountability and transparency.

Right to information

Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley, who led the charge in the Rajya Sabha, leading to the Bill being deferred, later told journalists that the Supreme Court had itself cited Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution dealing with the right to information to uphold declaration of assets by all candidates contesting the Assembly and Parliamentary polls. “Since the Supreme Court based its decision on the right to information, why should this not apply to other public functionaries and to the judiciary? Clause 6 of the Bill that seeks to keep the information on assets declared by judges confidential, offends the Supreme Court’s own interpretation of Article 19 (1) (a),” Mr. Jaitley said. “We will support the Bill minus Clause 6,” he added.

The BJP leader also found fault with the government for not consulting political parties across the spectrum on such a sensitive subject dealing with the judiciary. What was applicable to representatives of the people must surely be made applicable to the judiciary, he said.

With several Congress members of the Rajya Sabha, including Jayanti Natarajan and Rajiv Shukla, inclined to agree with the Left and Right opposition, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said: “The government does not have a closed mind … Some issues were raised and an attempt will be made to arrive at a consensus before the Bill is re-introduced. There are legitimate concerns — fairness of disclosures and proper safeguards for judges so that trigger happy [litigants] do not subvert the judiciary.”

“Special case”

The Congress also suggested that judiciary was a “special case” that deserved “special handling” and care needed to be taken to ensure that “independence of the judiciary is not eroded, diluted or compromised.”

The BJP, of course, debunked that argument, pointing out that public disclosure of assets or bringing the disclosures under the Right to Information Act could in no way “dilute” the independence of the judiciary. If disclosures of assets by Ministers and MPs had not led to frivolous litigation, why should this happen on disclosure of assets by the judiciary? Finally, it pointed out that any disclosure that was kept confidential would be meaningless. In fact, public disclosure of assets could only strengthen the credibility of the judiciary.





Govt puts off judges’ assets bill

TNN 4 August 2009, 01:19am IST

NEW DELHI: Politicians have long been on the receiving end of judiciary’s insistence on transparency. On Monday, it was their turn to wave the same principle at judges in the Rajya Sabha.

Members in the upper House cutting across party affiliations joined hands to force the government to defer the introduction of the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill on the ground that the bill exempted judges from making public their assets and provided immunity against an inquiry.

The protest, which was joined by at least two members from Congress – Jayanthi Natarajan and Rajeev Shukla – forced the government to put off the introduction after the Opposition demanded that the bill be referred to Parliament’s standing committee and threatened to press for a vote.

The government has decided to hold talks to evolve a consensus and bring back the legislation in the winter session.

While the retreat highlighted the ruling coalition’s lack of strength in the upper House while underlining the need for it to take the consensus route on potentially contentious issues, Congress MPs – those who did not come out to oppose – appeared to be indulgent of the protest.

In fact, to many, the protest had the shades of a retaliation by the political class which has frequenly been forced by the insistent judiciary to submit to the requirements of a clean public life. But the argument for level playing field in matters of transparency was very strong, and the MPs backed that up by invoking verdicts of the Supreme Court.

Even before law minister Veerappa Moily could introduce the bill, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley objected to it, specially clause 6 of the bill that does not allow declaration of assets and liabilities to be made public or be questioned by any citizen, court or authority.

Jaitley said the provision along with the one providing judges immunity against inquiry was against the spirit of Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. He cited the Supreme Court order asking citizens contesting elections not only to declare their assets, liabilities, educational background and criminal antecedents but also that it could be made public. “The law was laid down by the Supreme Court and the law was based on the understanding of Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution of India, and, on the strength of freedom of expression which they said, also includes the right to information as far as people are concerned,” he said.

Jaitley asked how there could be two sets of interpretation of Article 19 (1)(a). He also objected to government circulating the draft bill to the judiciary. He said Parliament had the sole right to make laws and other bodies, howsoever competent, could not be allowed to interfere.

Brinda Karat (CPM) said the bill violated the basic feature of Constitution which was equality of all citizens before law. The bill, she said, put judges above the basic feature and therefore was ultra vires of the Constitution. She also pointed out that the bill violated the Right to Information Act that was already part of statute books.

Jayanthi Natarajan (Congress) objected to section 6 of the bill and demanded that it be referred to the standing committee.

Ram Jethmalani (nominated) said under the Keshvanand doctrine, this bill was totally ultra vires. The independence of judiciary was the basic feature of our Constitution, he said. “What this bill does is, it creates a suspicion in the public mind that the judiciary is seeking favours from the executive,” he said.

When Moily insisted on making the introductory remarks, Sitaram Yechury (CPM) pointed out that the question was about the introduction of the bill itself. Deputy chairperson K Rehman Khan cited two Rajya Sabha rulings on a bill being ultra vires and power of the House on introduction of a bill. “It is for the House to decide,” he said.

Yechury protested again and said the issue of introduction had to be sorted out first. He did not agree that all concerns could be addressed in the standing committee, saying the government was free not to accept the panel’s recommendations. Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) demanded division resulting in the government agreeing to defer introduction of the bill.




Former CJI opposes law to make judges’ assets public

Rakesh Bhatnagar / DNA

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 3:39 IST

New Delhi: Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) VN Khare, who had dealt sternly with tainted judges, doesn’t see reason to enact a law to make assets and liabilities of superior court judges public under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

“If such a law is enacted, judges would fear taking up controversial cases. After all one party has to lose and the other, win. The loser could misuse RTI to harass the judges concerned,” the strong proponent of RTI said.

“I don’t see any justification for CJI (KG) Balakrishnan to say that high court and supreme court (SC) judges would make their assets and liabilities public, provided a suitable law is enacted. Judges need protection.”

Judges could be asked to make their finances known to any authority, such as the President or the Speaker or even MPs, but the details shouldn’t be allowed to be misused by disgruntled litigants or busybodies, the former CJI said.

Failure on the part of judges to file statements before the deadline could be viewed as serious misconduct and invite action under the law. However, another former CJI MN Venkatachaliah doesn’t agree. He said since judges had been declared “public servants” by the apex court, there was no justification for extending immunity to them.

The Delhi high court bench headed by justice S Ravindra Bhat which examined the issue of assets disclosure raised by SC judges had observed that judges should not be likened with lawmakers in the context of disclosing assets as the information could be misused if made public.

Former CJI JS Verma doesn’t agree with the law ministry that judges’ assets do not fall in the public domain.”Only if they (judges) have something to conceal, they would want secrecy,” Verma, who headed the bench that allowed prosecution of several leading politicians accused of hawala transactions, quipped.

The government is under pressure from the civil society and a section of the legal fraternity to end its pro-judiciary stance and make judges amenable to RTI. The debate started with the central information commission’s order asking the SC registrar to inform an applicant whether judges had disclosed their assets to the CJI. The applicant hadn’t sought details.

The SC moved HC against this order. Leading lawyers and noted constitutional experts, such as Fali S Nariman, Shanti Bhushan, Anil Divan, former justice Rajinder Sachar and Ram Jethmalani, signed a memorandum demanding that the assets of judges be made public under the proposed Judges Assets Bill.

“Unless the declaration of assets by judges or other public servants is made known to the people, such a declaration will not serve any purpose,” they said.





Set up panel to study 100-yr-old water pipelines: Bombay HC

As reported at on August 3, 2009

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has ordered setting up of a committee to look into the safety of the over a century old water pipelines in the city and give a detailed plan of action for the system.

The order passed after hearing a PIL filed by an NGO, Janhit Manch, for removal of encroachment in and around Mumbai’s water supply pipelines read, “It is an admitted fact that the pipes carrying water from the source to Mumbai citizens are more than 100 years’ old…

“We are not sure, from the security point of view, whether these pipes are safe, particularly considering the present security environment of the country.”

The order dated July 29 further said, “We are also not sure whether the water, which is carried for the citizens of Mumbai, is hygienically safe, because throughout the route of these pipes, there are hutments built unauthorizedly by people.”

The High Court then directed appointment of a committee to be headed by the Chief Secretary of the state which would look into the safety of these water pipes.

Director General of Police, Municipal Commissioner, Mumbai Municipal Corporation, and Finance Secretary of the government of Maharashtra have been asked to be a part of the committee.

Bhagwanji Rayani of Janhit Manch had filed the PIL for removal of slum encroachment in and around Mumbai’s water supply system following frequent media reports of puncturing the pipelines and stealing water for domestic and commercial purposes.

He also filed an RTI with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in this regard.

As per the RTI reply, the total length of main pipes supplying water to Mumbai is 160 km and its diameter varies from 24″ to 108″ passing from Mulund, Sion, Dharavi and Mahim.

“No replacement of any trunk main has been ever done. Instead, the hydraulic department in charge of maintenance of water pipe lines attends to repairs/patching, leakages and bursts,” the reply from the deputy hydraulic engineer read.

Security of the water pipes are provided from Khindipada gate of Bhandup Complex up to Maroshi gate. There is no security after Maroshi gate at Marol and from Marol and from Mulund to Dinshaw bridge, Bhandup.

The BMC also held involvement of various agencies in activity, resistance from anti-social elements, various provisions in the Slum Act i.e. rehabilitation etc, responsible for unsuccessful demolition of hutments there.





Civic body hurting city interests?

Manvinder Singh, TNN 2 August 2009, 10:34pm IST

LUDHIANA: In the last two years, the municipal corporation (MC) has given consent to more than 200 applicants for a change in land use (CLU) despite the fact that a hearing on the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in this regard was pending in the court since 2007. This move was taken by the municipal corporation officials allegedly to appease their political bosses and influential contractors.

According to information, since the year 2007, the city residents have submitted 273 applications under CLU for converting residential premises into commercial ones. Out of these, 160 cases received the consent of state government, whereas MC forwarded another 40 such cases for government?s approval, decision on which was still being awaited. Only in 73 cases of CLU, the MC had raised objections.

However, highly placed sources in the civic body revealed that the MC was ignoring rules and regulations, just to appease its political bosses and influential contractors. And, in most of the cases prescribed norms for inviting objections by the residents were allegedly not followed resulting in sheer chaos in residential areas.

Sources revealed at many places influential building owners in connivance with MC officers had constructed commercial buildings without even obtaining permission from the civic body. The buildings passed in absence of site plans are posing problems for residents as the parking area has been reduced considerably creating law and order problem due to traffic congestion.

Meanwhile, commenting on it, Rajesh Inderpal, who has filed the PIL in the court said though court has stayed the CLU exercise in city on Friday, the MC officers in connivance with influential building owners have already done much damage to the city by encroaching upon the residential zones. He claimed the officers of the civic body were responsible for the entire mess.

Another petitioner, Sham Singh Harika said neither the MC had followed rules nor taken objections of public seriously due to which the situation had worsened.

When asked his opinion, municipal town planner Ramesh Chhabra denied commenting on the matter asserting the matter was sub-judice.





By Mohammad Shahanshah Ansari, IDMV, 2nd August 2009
In a great development for PIL lodged in Supreme Court by Akhil Maharastra Khatik Samaj(AMKS) for inclusion of Dalit Muslims in scheduled caste category, counsel court comprising Hon’ble the chief justice, Hon’ble Mr. Justice P. Sathasivam has ordered union of India to file counter affidavit to the writ petition 13 of 2008 within the granted period of 4 weeks. Respondent(s) Additional Solicitor General Mr Mohan Parasaran from Union of India appeared before the Supreme Court to reply to the PIL on 31st July 2009, while Adv. Mr. Mushtaq Ahmed was present from the petitioner’s side. The petition was filed by AMKS on 25th January 2008 seeking inclusion of Dalit Muslims in the Scheduled Caste category. It is happening for the first time in last full one year that someone from union of India has responded to this petition. It is a positive path breaking achievement for this case.

While speaking to IDMV Mr. Shamsuddin Shaikh, Chariman of Akhil Maharastra Khatik Samaj told that they are fighting for Dalit Muslim rights for more than a decade and have now filed this petition in hope of seeking justice from the Hon’ble Supreme Court. It is note worthy that from 1935 to 1950 all Dalits belong to any religion were provided with reservations. However, In January 26, 1950 when constitution of India came into force an order was passed by then president of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad limiting the reservation to only Hindu Dalits, clearly prohibiting the provision of article 341 which states that all scheduled case should be provided with reservation. The Presidential Order 1950 denies inclusion of Dalits of any community other than Hindu in the Scheduled Castes category. The third paragraph of the order says, “notwithstanding anything contained in para 2, no person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the Scheduled Castes.” This part of the order runs contrary to the provisions of Articles 14 (equality before the law), 15 (prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion) and 25 (freedom to profess and practice any religion) of the same Constitution.

The situation clearly calls for the amendment of the constitution of India, only then the Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians can be included among the scheduled castes. If it happens so, it would not be the first time. The relevant part of the Constitution containing the order has been already been amended twice: first in 1956 and second in 1990. Through these amendments, Sikhs and Buddhists respectively were included in the Scheduled Caste category and thus they were allowed to avail the benefits of reservation. Hence Dalit muslims should also be provided with the benefit of reservations and other privileges as scheduled castes as the presidential order of 1950 is unconstitutional. The only reason why Dalit belonging to other communities are progressing is due to reservation where as the condition of Dalit Muslims is turning worse day by day in the lack of same. Atrocities against Dalit Muslim is continuing even today.

Dalit Muslims deserve scheduled caste reservation as they are not only engaged in the same profession as Dalit Hindus but also undergo the same social discrimination as their counterpart Dalit Hindus. The status of Dalit Muslims which include Nutt, Bakkho, Khatik, Bhatiyara, Kunjra, Dhunia, Kalal, Dafali, Halakhor, Dhobi, Gorkan, Meershikar, Rangrz, Darji, Mochis, Mukris and Garudis etc. is turning worse day by day.

Mr. Mushtaq Ahmed, advocate in Supreme Court in the above case while speaking to IDMV pointed towards Ranganath Mishra Commission Report which has also recommended SC status for Dalit Muslims. Keeping this recommendation in consideration Central Govt. should amend the self contrasting constitution and implement this recommendation without any further delay in interest of lakhs of discriminated and deprived people.

We at IDMV hope that Union of India will take the objective of this case seriously and understand the suffering of all those 35 dalit muslim castes among Muslims who are in no better condition than other Dalits and grant schedule caste status to this marginalised section of society.





Sec 377 misused… Delhi HC verdict well argued: Moily—-Delhi-HC-verdict-well-argued–Moily/497334

Express news service

Posted: Monday , Aug 03, 2009 at 0540 hrs New Delhi:

In what could be another indicator of fresh thinking within the UPA government on the issue of changing the anti-gay law in the country, Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily today admitted that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which bars same-gender sexual relations, had been misused in the past.

He said the law should not become an instrument of exploitation of homosexuals by authorities in future.

Asked why the Central government had not sought a stay on the Delhi High Court judgment that struck down portions of the Section 377 that criminalised same-gender, consensual sex, Moily said it would have been “preposterous”, as it was an important question of law in relation to Constitutional rights of liberty and privacy.

Speaking to Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate, Moily said, “There would be occasions when the government would not seek to reverse a judgment…This (Section 377) is one such provision that has a tendency of misuse and exploitation and has been misused…One thing must go to the credit of the Delhi High Court judgment. It is well-documented, well-researched, well-argued.”





‘269 posts of HC judges vacant’

Kartikeya, TNN 3 August 2009, 02:36am IST

MUMBAI: The Union government has written to state chief ministers and high court chief justices from time to time, impressing upon them the need to give representation to women from the Bar who are suitable for appointment as high court judges.

Experts do say that with time, the situation may improve. Some 269 posts of high court judges are currently lying vacant and some of these are sure to be filled by competent women.

Moreover, the situation is believed to be much better in subordinate courts where the proportion of women judges is healthier than in the higher judiciary. Some of these judges will also be elevated to high courts in the coming years.

‘‘Most importantly, many more girls are now studying law than ever before. With time they will shine in the legal profession and be recognized for their work. And then you’ll see as many ladyships as lordships,’’ Chandiramani said.

Anna Chandy from Kerala became India’s first woman judge in 1937. Her promotion to the Kerala high court in 1959 made her the first woman judge to make it to a high court.




Just 45 women as HC judges, not one in SC

Kartikeya, TNN 3 August 2009, 01:20am IST

MUMBAI: The Supreme Court and various high courts regularly hear petitions lamenting that a particular section of society is inadequately represented in service or in education. Ironically, one field in which women are grossly under-represented in India is the higher judiciary itself — of 617 high court judges in the country, only 45 are women. And currently, there isn’t a single woman judge in the Supreme Court.

The strongest contingent of women judges in India is in the Bombay High Court, which has seven of them on the bench (roughly a tenth of the total number of judges).

In contrast, six of the country’s 21 high courts — Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Sikkim and Uttarakhand — have no women judges at all.

‘‘The statistics don’t surprise me. Women face gender discrimination in all walks of society,’’ said Neelima Chandiramani, principal of K C Law College. ‘‘Mumbai, though, has always been better than other parts of the country for women in the legal profession. Here you see more women practising at the Bar than anywhere else. Thus it has a pool from which women are elevated to the high court.’’

The Supreme Court itself has seen only three women justices in the 59 years since it was set up. The last woman judge in the Supreme Court, Ruma Pal, retired in 2006.

A parliamentary committee report tabled in October 2008 said that women, among other weaker sections of society, were ‘‘inadequately represented’’ in high courts and the Supreme Court. However, the government also says its hands are tied by the Constitution on the issue.

Appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and high courts is made under Article 124 and 217 of the Constitution of India, respectively, which do not provide for reservation for any caste or class of persons.





State directed to pay relief for ‘fake’ encounter death

J. Balaji

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission has asked the Tamil Nadu government to pay a relief of Rs. 3 lakh to the family of Suresh alias Sura of Vyasarpadi here, who it found was killed by the police in a fake encounter on Ibrahim Street, Clive Battery, in Chennai on the night of November 18, 2002. The government should send the compliance report with proof of payment to the NHRC within eight weeks.

Suresh’s mother in her complaint to the NHRC alleged that her son was picked up from the house on November 13, 2002, and killed in a fake encounter. But the police said Suresh was a habitual offender involved in many criminal cases. On the night of the incident, when they tried to stop his motorcycle, he did not heed their signals. Instead, he attacked a Sub-Inspector with a knife and threw a bomb at the police.

The Additional District Magistrate (Additional Collector) who probed the incident, observed that the police had tried to exaggerate the injuries sustained by the Sub-Inspector and there was no proof of any bomb blast at the spot. He concluded that the police had fired at Suresh with an intention to kill him.

The NHRC then issued a show cause notice to the Tamil Nadu government. The government submitted that departmental action against the delinquent cops had been initiated and that it was considering sanctioning Rs.1 lakh as relief to the family.

The Commission observed that Suresh might have had criminal antecedents, but that could not be a justification to eliminate him. His dependants deserved to be adequately compensated in financial terms. The NHRC hiked the relief to Rs.3 lakh.

The then Chennai Police Commissioner, K. Vijay Kumar, had said a special patrol team was conducting a vehicle check when the accused sped away on a motorcycle. Following a wireless message, two Sub-Inspectors gave chase and cornered him near the Clive Battery junction. “On seeing the police personnel, he threw a country bomb and then attacked them with a knife. One of the personnel suffered cut injuries and has been admitted to hospital,” Mr. Vijay Kumar had claimed.





NCW seeks report on Friendship Day rape

Jaidev Hemmady Posted: Wednesday, Aug 05, 2009 at 0557 hrs Mumbai:

Four persons accused of raping a 15-year-old near Thane were on Tuesday remanded to police custody till August 12. According to sources, the police are now trying to verify the sequence of events, involvement (if any) of accomplices of the accused and also if the gangrape was planned and whether the accused shot any video of the incident.

The victim had gone to celebrate Friendship Day with one of her friends and three other youths on Saturday evening. The five had got into a Maruti Esteem belonging to her friend. She was allegedly gangraped by the four youths inside the car and was later dropped near her residence on Sunday morning. The victim subsequently committed suicide at her residence.

The police were able to trace the accused after the victim’s friend Sandra (name changed) told them she had seen the victim leave in a blue Esteem with Ryan D’Souza and three others.

The police claim the victim’s parents found about the rape only after a medical examination on the body.

Senior Police Inspector Pradeep Mane from the Nalasopara police station said, “The victim, who used to stay with her mother and elder brother at Nalasopara west, had a relationship with one Ryan D’Souza, 21, who supports himself by doing odd jobs for some band. On Saturday, Ryan, who was with his friends, asked the victim and Sandra to join them for a ride. However, Sandra refused to join them.” Others who have been arrested are Rajkumar Yadav (19), Amol Sejav (22) and Ravindra Shinvar alias Prem (21).

The National Commission for Women, meanwhile, has called for a report from the Thane Police Commissioner regarding the gangrape.

(With ENS, Delhi)





Let the Games go on

Ramaswamy R. Iyer Posted: Tuesday , Aug 04, 2009 at 0510 hrs

The Supreme Court’s judgment upholding the location of the Commonwealth Games and rejecting the objections does not come as a surprise. What surprises is the form that the judgment has taken.

The high court took a very long time over the PIL on this issue, and must take a part of the blame for making a decision difficult in the end. However, after prolonged hearings during which all the relevant points were argued and a good deal of documentation submitted, the high court, instead of pronouncing a final judgment, ordered the establishment of an expert committee to examine the proposed constructions, for impact on river ecology and compliance with the conditions of environmental clearance. The DDA and a cluster of government departments and ministries appealed to the Supreme Court against that order.

What were the options before the Supreme Court? It could have upheld the high court’s order; or it could have allowed the expert committee to be set up, but ordered that this should not affect the work on the Games, and that remedial measures, if any, recommended by the committee should be implemented after the Games; or it could have simply set aside the order for the establishment of a committee. In the last case, the high court would have had to proceed without the report of a committee and pronounce final judgment. Of course, an appeal could then have been made to

the Supreme Court against the (putative) final judgment of the high court.

What the Supreme Court actually did was to go beyond the question of a committee and into the merits of the matter, set aside the high court judgment in toto, and give a clearance for the construction work on the site for the Commonwealth Games to proceed. Why did it do this? One presumes that the governing consideration was the urgency of the matter. If that were the case, the Supreme Court could have said “This matter has become very urgent and will brook no further delay. The time for argument is over. We are therefore bringing finality to the case by rejecting objections and allowing construction to proceed”.

However, that is not what the learned judges have done. They have said that the area in question is not riverbed or floodplain. That question had been gone into at great and learned length by both the judges (Justice Sikri and Justice Rekha Sharma) in the high court judgment. Their treatment of the subject was persuasive. However, the Supreme Court brushes it aside and comes to its own conclusion. The expert opinion it relies on is that of government bodies which cannot be expected to be objective and which tend to provide convenient opinions to the powers that be.

The basis for saying that the area is not in the floodplain of the Yamuna is that it now stands protected by the embankment built to protect the Akshardham temple complex. This was the argument in the high court, and it had been dismissed as fallacious. The high court had questioned the manner in which NEERI and the ministry of environment and forests had changed their positions. It is that disingenuous and discredited argument that the Supreme Court has accepted as an expert finding.

It is a curious argument. If areas protected by embankments technically cease to be floodplains, it is possible to narrow the floodplains progressively by building embankments closer and closer to the river. The culmination of this process would be two walls very close to the river on either side; we can then say that the river has no floodplain. Did the Supreme Court consider this reductio ad absurdum?

Besides, the important point is not whether the area in question is riverbed or floodplain or neither. Though the high court had discussed the riverbed/floodplain issues, its order does not talk about these. It refers only to the impact that the proposed constructions will have on the ecology of the river. It is to determine this that it orders the setting up of an expert committee. The Supreme Court’s ex cathedra pronouncement that the area is not riverbed or floodplain commits two errors: it sets aside the high court’s order on the basis of a wrong understanding of the order; and it leaves the crucial question of impact unanswered.

What the judgment reveals is a certain way of thinking prevalent not merely in government but in society in general, and now evidently in the judiciary as well. The Commonwealth games are important; the Yamuna is not. The environment minister can take the Yamuna off his agenda.

The writer is a former civil servant.





PIL demands setting up of committees for checking sexual harassment at work place

Published: August 3,2009

Allahabad , Aug 03 The Allahabad High Court today sought a reply from the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government on a public interest litigation demanding setting up of committees for checking sexual harassment at work place.

The order was passed by a Division Bench comprising Justice S K Singh and Justice Ashok Srivastava on the PIL of“ Stree Adhikar Sangathan”, a women’s rights organization.

The PIL pointed out that the Supreme Court has ordered that all work places, including offices of central and state governments as well as educational institutions, shall have”committees against sexual harassment at work”.

The petitioners had further claimed that after surveying a number of offices, they found that the order of the apex court in this regard was not being complied with as no such committees have been formed anywhere.

The PIL demanded such a committee must always be headed by a woman and that it be ensured that not less than half of its members were female.

The court fixed September 7, 2009, as the next date of hearing in the case. PTI CORR NAC





Court dismisses green zone PIL at BTC

TNN 3 August 2009, 11:56pm IST

Bangalore : The Karnataka High Court on Monday dismissed a PIL seeking a direction to the authorities to maintain the 70-odd acres of Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) as a `green zone’.

“It hasn’t been given yet. This (PIL) is like naming an unborn baby without knowing whether it is male or female. Where is the government order? We cannot act on presumptions and assumptions. The government advocate states that as of today they have not taken any decision,” the division Bench headed by Chief Justice P D Dinakaran said while dismissing the PIL and reserving the liberty of petitioners to approach the court when the need arises.

“Shall we extend the high court there? We have no space for quarters and even a canteen. Now, we have to go near Hosur for space. We’ll keep this building as a heritage building. Is that okay?” the Bench remarked in a lighter vein.

The PIL was filed by seven eminent personalities who wanted it to be maintained as a lung space/ open space and form it once the club is shifted after the lease expires on Dec. 31, 2009.

Jnanpith awardees U R Ananthamurthy and Girish Karnad, environmentalist Suresh Heblikar, litterateur K Marulasiddappa, theatre personality G K Govinda Rao, painter S G Vasudev and writer Ammu Joseph jointly filed this PIL. It seeks to restrain the authorities from entering into any fresh contract or lease with any builder or developer for building a 200-250-storey building in this area.

“The government first wanted it to be a 200-250 storey building. Now, it has scaled it down to 100-150 storeys based on the statement made by the chief minister as a guest editor of TOI. It is said they have already signed a contract with a Singapore-based company. The documents are not available,” counsel for petitioners told the court while seeking an interim order.

The government advocate quickly added that there was no final decision in the matter and there is no secret deal as alleged by the petitioners.

Court permission

On July 13, the high court had given the state government liberty to take appropriate action in the shifting of the race course. The division Bench headed by Chief Justice Dinakaran told the authorities to act “strictly in accordance with law” in the matter. The cabinet took a decision to allot land to the BTC at Chikkajala near Yelahanka.




Indian police encourages abuses: Human Rights Watch

PTI 4 August 2009, 09:42pm IST

LONDON: India is modernizing fast but its police still indulges in widespread human rights violations, a prominent human rights group claimed on Tuesday as it pressed the government to overhaul a “failing system”.

Let’s blame the damned cops for everything

The US-based group Human Rights Watch said “India is modernising rapidly, but the police continue to use their old methods: abuse and threats.”

“India’s policing system facilitates and even encourages abuses,” the 118-page report said.

It said there has been little change in attitudes, training or equipment since the police was formed in colonial times with the aim to control the population.

The report said the government must take major steps to overhaul a failing system.

Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch said, “it’s time for the government to stop talking about reform and fix the system.”

The authorities require a major overhaul – otherwise the beatings, torture and illegal killings will continue to stain India’s democracy, he said.

According to the report, there was no immediate response from the Indian authorities.




Parliament passes landmark Right to Education Bill

PTI 4 August 2009, 08:09pm IST

NEW DELHI: Children would get the fundamental right to free and compulsory education with the passage of a bill, hailed as “historic”, by Parliament on Tuesday.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2008, seeks to provide education to children aged between 6 to 14 years.

The Bill, one of the flagship programmes in the 100-day agenda of the UPA government, also earmarks 25 per cent seats to weaker sections in private schools.

While the Rajya Sabha okayed the bill earlier, the Lok Sabha putting its seal of approval on Tuesday, with HRD minister Kapil Sibal describing it as “harbinger of a new era” for children to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

He said the bill is a “historic opportunity” for providing better future to children of the country as there was never such a landmark legislation in the last 62 years since independence.

“We as a nation cannot afford our children not going to schools,” he asserted, noting that the measure details the obligations of the Centre and the states for providing free and compulsory education to children.




LOL news: Husbands want freedom on 15th Aug


By IANS 04 Aug 09   

On India’s Independence Day Aug 15, a group of men will meet in Shimla and chalk out a plan for “equal rights” and “freedom” — from “harassment” by their wives.
“On Independence Day we will raise the issue of freedom and dignity of harassed husbands. More than 100 men, representatives of 30,000 other harassed husbands from across the country, will converge at a day-long meeting to come up with strategies to take on their wives,” Anil Kumar, president of the Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF), said.

Bangalore-based NGO SIFF, along with another Bangalore based NGO, CRISP (Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting), in partnership with Maharashtra’s Purush Suraksha Sanstha and Uttar Pradesh’s Pathi Paramesh Kendra have organised the event.

Law biased against men?

“All the four groups are working for equal rights for men and women in India. We feel that in many instances, the Indian law is biased when it comes to husbands, as it often favours the wives. Be it in the case of custody of children for divorced couples or false allegations of domestic violence and dowry harassment, the law generally takes the side of women, without listening to the side of men,” said Kumar.

“However, we would like to clarify one thing. We’re no women haters. This is about equal rights of both men and women,” said Kumar Jahgirdar, founder of CRISP.

In order to prove that harassment of husbands was prevalent, Kumar cited the latest report of SIFF on suicide rate of men across India.

“Around 1.2 lakh (120,000) harassed husbands in India have committed suicide in last four years,” SIFF’s president claimed. The suicide figures were collected by SIFF from the National Crime Records Bureau.

“This is an alarming number. Our fight is against such wives and for justice to the harassed husbands. In fact, husbands committing suicide because of harassment is double the number of wives committing suicide in the country,” the founder of CRISP said.

Some of the demands to be raised at the Shimla convention by the husbands’ group include a separate men’s welfare ministry on the lines of the women and child welfare ministry, equal taxation for men and women, change in inheritance laws, amendment to the domestic violence prevention law, and mandatory joint custody of children for divorced couples.

Not drawing a line

“We’re meeting at Shimla, not to draw a gender dividing line. We want to discuss a social issue and find solutions as the country is seeing a large number of divorcees,” said Virag Dhulia, a senior member of SIFF.

“We’ll also demand pre-litigation counselling before grant of divorce, an end to police brutalities and judicial reforms to help address the social issues.”

According to data available with SIFF and CRISP, on an average 20-25 cases of divorce are filed every day in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

A total of 9,000 divorce cases were filed in Delhi, 7,500 in Mumbai and 5,000 cases in Bangalore in 2008.





No third degree against criminals: SC

TNN 4 August 2009, 04:11am IST

NEW DELHI: Taking serious note of recurring deaths in police custody across the country, the Supreme Court has sent out a warning to investigating officers not to use force or third-degree methods against tough nuts among the hardest of criminals.

“The police and investigating agencies cannot torture any criminal despite his bad criminal record,” said a Bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Mukundakam Sharma last week.

It gave this ruling while dismissing an appeal filed by one Mohammad Yasin accusing the Delhi Police of the custodial death of his brother Yunus aka Anees within hours of his arrest by the Okhla police on August 4, 1999. He had sought a direction from the SC for registration of a murder case against the SHO of the Okhla police station.

Going minutely through the police and medical records of Yunus, who was a known bad character in the area, the Bench said as the accused had “heart weight of 460 grams, myocardial fibrosis and coronary atherosclerosis”, he ran a high risk of sudden death with or without provocation.

The Bench gave a clean chit to the police saying the board of three doctors had given a clear and categorical finding that the cause of death was due to ventricular arrhythmias consequent to old compromised heart in a person.

“In view of the report of the Board of Doctors and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate inquiry, it is difficult to reach at any other conclusion except that Mohammad Yunus died because of his serious heart disease,” the Bench said.





Suresh Nanda moves HC over passport

TNN 4 August 2009, 04:14am IST

NEW DELHI: Arms dealer Suresh Nanda, father of BMW hit-and-run case convict Sanjeev Nanda, on Monday moved the Delhi High Court seeking a direction for release of his passport seized by the government three years ago. His passport was seized by CBI in connection with his alleged involvement in receiving a kickback in the Rs 1,150 crore Barak missile deal.

Filing a petition, Nanda, son of formal Navy Chief S M Nanda, alleged that government was harassing him by not releasing the passport which had been in its custody for more than two-and-half-years and his business abroad was suffering.

The HC has summoned the records from the concerned court to produce before it by September 28, 2009 in connection with his application. Nanda’s passport was seized in 2006 by CBI which is investigating the Barak missile deal. He was later allowed by a trial court to go abroad but restrained by Delhi High Court.

Nanda had then approached the Supreme Court which had on January 24 last year held the seizure of passport by the investigating agency as illegal and the law also did not authorize it to take such an action and CBI was directed to return the travel document.

“It appears that the passport cannot be impounded except by passport authority. Retaining passport by CBI is not in accordance with law as there is no order from passport authority,” the Apex Court had said.

The CBI then released his passport but it was soon seized by the passport authority which has been holding his travel document since February last year.

In its FIR over the controversial deal, the CBI has named former Defence Minister George Fernandes and some public servants.




Interim bail for RK Sharma

TNN 4 August 2009, 04:14am IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday granted interim bail to R K Sharma, former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who is serving life term for the murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar, to enable him to visit his elder daughter and newly-born grandson.

A division bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Ajit Bharioke granted bail to Sharma, who is currently lodged in Tihar Jail, for two months after furnishing a bond of Rs 20,000 and a surety of like amount.

The HC also directed him to comply with the rules of the bail and surrender to the jail authorities on completion of the interim bail.

While granting him bail, the HC took on record, his good conduct in the jail for the past three years. However, the court dismissed his plea for regular bail. Sharma had approached the court stating that he wanted to see his grandson, who was born to his elder daughter recently.

Earlier, in January this year, the prosecution had alleged that Sharma had forged the documents to seek bail on medical grounds. Sharma had sought bail on medical grounds last year from the Delhi High Court and said he should be allowed to visit Mohali where he had already undergone a surgery.

Shivani Bhatnagar, principal correspondent of the Indian Express, was found murdered in her flat in east Delhi on Jan 23, 1999. She was at home alone with her infant son, when the murder took place. Two others held guilty in the case are Sri Bhagwan and Satya Prakash.





HC dismisses media baron’s petition

TNN 4 August 2009, 06:56am IST

HYDERABAD: Justice K C Bhanu of the AP High Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by media baron Ramoji Rao who sought an order from the court exempting him from the need to be physically present before a trial court in Nampally which is hearing the case of illegal collection of deposits by his Margadarsi Financiers.

Aggrieved by the rejection of the trial court to grant him personal exemption, Ramoji Rao had approached the HC. The judge while dismissing his petition, said that the lower court’s order does not suffer from any infirmities and hence saw no reason to interfere with it.

Arguing for the authorised officer investigating the Margadarsi Financiers case, senior counsel S S Prasad told the court it is a case of illegal collection of deposits to a tune of Rs 2600 crore in contravention to the section 45-S of the RBI Act and the penalty for this offence would be double the amount so collected apart from a two-year jail term. It is this magnitude that prevailed on the mind of the magistrate and rightly so, the senior counsel said.

Senior counsel C Padmanabha Reddy who defended Ramoji Rao told that in view of the security threat Rao is facing, they are seeking to dispense with the personal appearance.

Stating that no material was shown to the court to prove that there exists a threat to Ramoji, the judge dismissed the petition. Now Ramoji has to appear before the Nampally court on Tuesday where the Margadarsi case is slated to come up.




Jaya questions validity of probe in gifts case

TNN 4 August 2009, 03:00am IST

CHENNAI: Former chief minister Jayalalithaa has questioned the legal validity of a CBI probe against her in the gifts case — 13 years after the Tamil Nadu government gave its consent for a CBI probe.

According to the anti-corruption wing of the CBI, Jayalalithaa accepted 89 demand drafts worth Rs 2 crore from 57 persons in 1992, when she was the chief minister. Probe revealed that 12 names who had drawn the DD in favour of Jayalalithaa were fictitious.

Jayalalithaa’s then cabinet colleagues KA Sengottaiyan and Azhagu Thirunavukkarasu too were cited as accused. While the former had presented DDs worth Rs 22.5 lakh, the latter gave DDs for Rs 22.5 lakh. They were charged with abetting the commission of the crime punishable under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

On Monday, Jayalalithaa’s counsel A Navaneethakrishnan and LP Shanmugasundaram filed a petition before the principal special judge for CBI cases Mohammed Issath Ali, stating that the CBI had no jurisdiction to investigate offences punishable under Section 11 of the PC Act.

Noting that a copy of the state government order giving consent to the CBI to probe the matter had not been furnished in court, Navaneethakrishnan said that notification was an essential document in the case. “Unless that notification copy is furnished to Jayalalithaa, she will be put to hardship and loss,” he submitted.

The judge has adjourned the matter to August 19 for further proceedings.



HC-appointed civic panel meets

TNN 4 August 2009, 12:04am IST

Ahmedabad: The first meeting of the high court-appointed committee on civic affairs headed by retired justice Kamal Mehta took place recently. The committee would examine issues related to illegal construction, parking, drainage, quality of roads and fire safety in buildings.

The committee involves urban development principal secretary Gauri Kumar, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) commissioner IP Gautam, CEPT University assistant director Shivanand Swami, joint commissioner of police, traffic Atul Karwal and Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) chairman.

Some of the key issues that HC division bench of Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi pointed out were that the committee was to resolve the age-old problem of buildings being constructed without building use permission. The second issue is absence of fire safety features and equipment in many buildings. Another major reform process that the HC wanted the committee to devise was a process where the traffic police is called in for suggestions while earmarking commercial areas at the planning stage.





Accused sent to four-day remand, another in judicial custody

TNN 4 August 2009, 06:06am IST

AHMEDABAD: A magisterial court on Monday granted four days’ police remand for accused Chirag Thakkar from Vadodara in the hooch tragedy. His uncle Jayesh Thakkar is being interrogated by police in connection with the supply of methyl alcohol to main accused Vinod Dagri, who mixed the poisonous chemical in country liquor. The investigating agency, city crime branch, nabbed chemical suppliers in this connection.

Crime branch has accused Thakkar of hiding 30 barrels containing methyl alcohol after his uncle was arrested last week. Police claimed on basis of phone call records that as soon as Jayesh was nabbed, his wife called up Chirag and instructed him to shift the stock of methyl alcohol worth Rs 2.93 lakh from their godown.

Crime branch sought Chirag’s custodial interrogation for 14 days in order to find out others involved in supplying poisonous chemical to breweries and chemical theft. They expected some more names to surface during Chirag’s examination.

After hearing crime branch officers, metropolitan magistrate GM Patel granted Chirag’s remand for four days. Meanwhile, another accused in this case Harishanker Kahar alias Hari Om was sent to judicial custody by the same magisterial court.





Govt lawyers allege bias in pay scale

TNN 4 August 2009, 02:54am IST

PANCHKULA: To protest the alleged disparity in pay scales of officers belonging to prosecution department, many government advocates held a meeting on Sunday. It was decided that around 700 lawyers all over Haryana would wear black badges to lodge their stir.

The bar association would be requested to participate in this protest and a date would be intimated to district attorneys of the district headquarters soon.

President of Haryana attorneys’ association Surinder Bairagi said, ‘The pay revision committee has discriminated among the professional classes. Doctors, engineers and architects have been placed at much higher pay packages than government advocates.’

He added, ‘A memorandum of demands was presented to the Pay Anomalies Committee but the same had not been considered till date.’ Another member of the body Govinder said, ‘Though the state has constituted a criminal justice system to protect the rights of innocent and punish the guilty, the prosecution that is an important part of this has been neglected in term of salaries and other facilities.’





Bill makes addition to Agriculture Tenancy Act

TNN 4 August 2009, 01:23am IST

PANAJI: The agricultural tenancy (amendment) bill, 2009, which was introduced in the current legislative assembly on Friday by Aldona MLA Dayanand Narvekar, seeks to make an addition to Section 49(1) of the Agriculture Tenancy Act, 1964.

The additional clause, to be added after section 49(1), reads, “Explanation:- For the purpose of this section interim order’ shall not include injunction order and such orders shall be subject to appeal and revision.”

This addition is sought to be made because, due to the absence of this vital provision in the Goa, Daman and Diu Agricultural Tenancy Act, 1964, the parties, specially the tenants, are put to enormous difficulties. The provision for preferring a revision application under the section 50(1) is very limited and once the collector or deputy collector exercises that power, one way or the other in the revision application (first revision application) preferred to him, there is no right to an aggrieved party to prefer a second revision application before the administrative tribunal under section 50(2) as is held by the Administrative Tribunal in number of second revision applications preferred before it and dismissed the same at the admission stage itself based on the judgements of the high court and the Supreme court.

The amendment bill seeks to rectify the above deficiency and no financial implications are envisaged in this amendment.

In addition to the above bill, other bills introduced in the legislative assembly on Friday include the Goa Mundkars (Protection from Eviction)(Amendment) Bill, 2009, the Goa Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill, 2009 and the Goa Land Use (Regulation) (Amendment) Bill, 2009.




Inspect Anjuna VP’s waste composting facilities: HC

TNN 4 August 2009, 04:40am IST

PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa on Monday directed the Goa State Pollution Control Board to carry out a fresh inspection of Anjuna village panchayat’s garbage composting facilities within four weeks and file an inspection report before the court.

The court also directed all the village panchayats to collect plastic waste from all the wards in their respective villages every Monday “to help people develop the habit of segregating waste and make it convenient to store plastic waste”.

A division bench comprising Justice S B Deshmukh and Justice U D Salvi passed the order while hearing a suo motu petition regarding garbage disposal in the state.

During the hearing, amicus curiae Norma Alvares told the court that several village panchayats had indicated temporary sites for composting wet waste. The GSPCB must inspect these sites to ascertain that they are satisfactory and also functioning, she suggested.

She also pointed out that Anjuna village panchayat had not made any arrangements for wet garbage disposal from residences. “The panchayat has directed hotels and commercial establishments to take care of their own waste and also appointed a private agency to dispose their waste at a site which should be inspected,” she said.

At this point, the court directed the GSPCB to carry out a fresh investigation of the Anjuna Panchayat’s garbage site to verify the claims made by the sarpanch in an earlier affidavit.

Meanwhile, the bench directed the Goa State Legal Services Authority to pay an amount of Rs 50,000 to the amicus curiae towards her professional fees. The court noted that Alvares had assisted the court in garbage related petitions for the last two years.





River Princess: Govt puts ball in HC court

TNN 4 August 2009, 04:37am IST

PANAJI: Revenue minister Jose Philip D’Souza on Monday told the House that the fate over the removal of the M V River Princess, responsible for eating up an entire beach at Sinquerim, depended on the Goa bench of the Bombay high court.

In his reply on the demands for grants, D’Souza said that the government is determined to remove the vessel. “There are two options available – to continue the contract with Jaisu Shipping subject to stringent terms and conditions or to float fresh international tenders to refloat the vessel. Before any of these two actions are taken, it is necessary that the high court gives permission,” he said.

“This is because there is a stay on the removal of the vessel, and Jaisu Shipping has been fighting against the decision of the government to cancel the contract. Unless the high court issues directives to the government to remove the grounded vessel, it will not be possible for the Goa State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) and the advisory committee constituted to take further action in the matter,” the revenue minister said.

“In the event of Jaisu Shipping continuing with the contract, the government will set up a monitoring mechanism to ensure that the work is completed before March 2010. And in the event of floating fresh tenders, the government will take steps to ensure that the new company appointed will complete the task before the arrival of the monsoon in 2010,” D’Souza added.

It maybe pointed out here that the government realized that the presence of the vessel had caused environmental changes, including beach erosion and diversion of currents and flow of sea water, and decided to declare the River Princess as a state disaster, which was accordingly notified on March 30 this year.

Meanwhile, tourism minister Francisco Xavier Pacheco in his written reply to a starred question by opposition MLAs Francis D’Souza and Dilip Parulekar stated that GSDMA has recommended to the high court that Jaisu Shipping should be allowed to complete the work of re-floating and towing away of the River Princess without fail by March 31, 2010.

In trying to resolve the vexed issue of the River Princess, Pacheco has stated that the GSDMA has also made several other suggestions to the high court. It has stated that the government will withdraw the termination notice issued to Jaisu Shipping and that company will in turn withdraw the arbitration proceedings filed against the government, said the tourism minister.






Leela Ventures drags govt to court over NOC

TNN 4 August 2009, 04:34am IST

PANAJI: Leela Ventures Pvt Ltd, one of the casino operators, has now approached the high court of Bombay at Goa saying that the Captain of Ports (CoP) had failed to arrive at a decision on an application for renewal of their NOCs to berth their vessel, The Leela’, in the Mandovi river.

The petition came up for hearing on Monday before a division bench of Justice S B Deshmukh and Justice U D Salvi.

Senior Advocate Rafiq Dada, appearing on behalf of the petitioners, told the court that the CoP had not taken a decision on their application citing pendency of cases — with regards to casinos — in the high court.

“Pendency of cases should not come in CoP’s way while deciding on the application,” Dada pointed out. Advocate general Subodh Kantak on the other hand argued that the petitioner’s prayer, stating that the CoP be issued a mandamus (a writ of mandamus or simply mandamus, which means “we command” in Latin, is the name of one of the prerogative writs in the common law, and is “issued by a superior court to compel a lower court or a government officer to perform mandatory or purely ministerial duties correctly”), cannot be granted as their application would have to be decided on its own merit by the authorities.

While admitting that the application for renewal of NOCs was pending before the CoP, the AG suggested that the court grant two weeks time to the authorities to consider the application and arrive at a decision.

At this point, the petitioners told the court that the suggestion made by the AG was reasonable and prayed that the court grant a fixed time frame for deciding on the application.

While adjourning the matter to August 18, the court told the state government to take a decision before the next date of hearing.

Of the six casino vessels currently operating in the Mandovi, the NOCs of five — Pride of Goa, The Leela, Casino Royale, San Domino and Caravela — had expired earlier this year. However, the NOC of Arabian Sea King will expire in October this year.





One cleared of murder charges

TNN 4 August 2009, 04:30am IST

MARGAO: Additional sessions judge Desmond D’Costa on Monday acquitted one Govind Khutkar of murder charges.
The accused was cleared of the charges after the judge in his order stated that there was lack of evidence in the case. In all, 15 witnesses were examined.

According to the Sanguem police, the accused, a resident of Dharbandora, Sanguem, had assaulted one Amita Vaghekar when she was returning home after fetching water from a stream on July 8, 2007.

Investigating officer Manjunath Dessai said that the accused had struck the deceased with a bamboo on her head causing grievous injuries. She ultimately succumbed to her injuries at Goa Medical College, Bambolim, few hours after the incident.

The police said that the accused had also threatened the mother of the deceased, Gomati Vaghekar, with dire consequences.





One gets bail in Porvorim abduction case

TNN 4 August 2009, 04:42am IST

PANAJI: The high court of Bombay at Goa recently observed that the police had filed a chargesheet in the Pradeep Mishra abduction case without proper investigation.

The court made the observations while dealing with a bail application filed by Royston Gomes, arrested by the Porvorim police on March 21, 2009, for his alleged involvement in kidnapping Mishra in a Maruti van.

The court granted condition bail to Gomes upon execution of a bond of Rs 10,000 with one surety in the like amount.

Justice N A Britto observed that although more than four months had passed after the incident, very little appeared to have been done by the investigating officers.

On March 20, 2009, one Vinod called up co-accused Ashpak Bhai over a mobile phone and thereafter handed it over to Pradeep Mishra, a resident of Porvorim. Subsequently, Ashpak Bhai demanded a ransom of Rs one lakh from Mishra.

“The least the investigating officer could have done was first try and attach Vinod’s mobile, find out in whose name it was registered, and then confirm whether any call was made by Vinod to a person named Ashpak Bhai,” the judge remarked.

It appears that the chargesheet was filed without proper investigations. The submission that investigations are in progress cannot be accepted, the judge noted.





HC quashes trial court’s order, nails driver

TNN 4 August 2009, 04:35am IST

PANAJI: In a case of rash and negligent driving, the high court of Bombay at Goa held that a trial court cannot accept the accused’s claim that the accident occurred due to mechanical failure when there was expert opinion indicating negligence on the driver’s part.

In a recent order, the high court set aside a magistrate’s 2008 order acquitting KTC bus driver Menino Dias, who was charged for driving the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner.

Subsequently, the state government challenged the acquittal order in the high court.

The high court directed the accused to pay compensation of Rs 1,000 to each of the five injured passengers.

The court, while fining him an additional Rs 1,500, held him guilty under Sections 279 (rash driving) and 337 (causing hurt ) of IPC.

It may be recalled that after Dias rammed the bus into a tree near Zuari bridge, Agassaim, in August 2005, the vehicle turned turtle thereby injuring several passengers.





Shahabu gets bail in murder case

TNN 4 August 2009, 06:29am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court on Monday granted bail to former Siwan MP Mohd Shahabuddin in a case of double murder registered with Hussainganj police station in Siwan district in 2002.

A single bench presided by Justice K K Mandal granted bail to Shahabuddin on his counsel Y V Giri’s plea that his client was falsely implicated in the case for hatching a criminal conspiracy and that the main accused in the case had already been granted bail earlier.

The court directed Shahabuddin to appear before the trial court on every day of the trial of the case. The court also warned that Shahabuddin must not tamper with the evidence of the case.

The FIR was registered by one Ramakant Pathak in which he alleged that his son and servant were murdered on March 13, 2002, and that Shahabuddin had hatched the plot for this.

Additional public prosecutor Shyameshwar Dayal opposed the bail petition on the ground that police have gathered evidences which point to a criminal conspiracy hatched by Shahabuddin.

The former RJD MP is facing trials in other criminal cases in which he has not been granted bail. Monday’s relief won’t ensure the release of Shahabuddin who has been languishing in jail since November 7, 2005.





HC seeks info on Naxal rehab policy

TNN 4 August 2009, 06:27am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court on Monday directed the state government to give reply to a letter petition converted into public interest litigation (PIL) which has sought direction to the state government to provide employment opportunities to Naxalites and bring them into mainstream.

A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Shivakirti Singh and Justice Anjana Prakash passed the order on the PIL of P K Das who submitted that the state government had announced such a move but failed to provide Naxalites an opportunity to shun violence and lead a normal life.

The court gave four weeks’ time to the government to file a counter affidavit to the PIL.




HC to hear plea against ATKT scheme on Aug 6

TNN 4 August 2009, 03:22am IST

PUNE: A public interest litigation filed by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) against the allowed-to-keep-term (ATKT) scheme for Std X failures in two subjects, will come up for hearing before the Bombay high court on August 6.

Apart from ABVP, the other two co-petitioners are Narendra Pathak and Shekhar Chandratre, while the secretary to the department of school education and secretary to the Maharashtra state board for secondary and higher secondary education have been named as respondents in the PIL (18268 of 2009), which was admitted for motion hearing on July 31.

Among other things, the petitioners have charged that the state government’s move to extend the ATKT benefit was not only hasty and announced at the eleventh hour but also arbitrary and discriminatory in nature. They have urged the court to declare the ATKT scheme as illegal. The petitioners have further prayed for a stay on the ATKT admission process announced by the government.





HC allows ‘Miss Kerala’ beauty contest; forms panel

PTI 4 August 2009, 07:43pm IST

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday permitted holding of the ‘Miss Kerala’ beauty contest here but set up a five-member committee to oversee the event.
A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice S R Bannurmath and Justice Kurian Joseph, passed the order on a petition complaining that there would be obscenity and violation of rules in the beauty pageant.

The bench held that observers were being appointed in view of the apprehension that rules may not be followed strictly. The observers have been directed to file a report within a week.

The petitioner T K Ibrahim had sought a ban on the contest here. Twenty one girls will vie for the ‘Miss Kerala’ crown tomorrow, which has participants from US, Bangalore and Mumbai.

The contest is being jointly organized by Impresario Event Management and Fast moving consumers goods major ITC owned Vivel.





Despite anti-child marriage law, grey areas remain: Centre

TNN 4 August 2009, 02:08am IST

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that enactment of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, has `somewhat’ cleared the statutory confusion over the marriageable age of a girl and a boy, but certain grey areas remain because of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The 2006 Act provides stringent penal measures for those aiding and abetting child marriage and gives the right to a child couple to nullify their marriage within two years of they becoming adults.

Petitioner National Commission for Women and its Delhi chapter through their counsel Aparna Bhat and P Ramesh argued before a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and A K Ganguly that though the new law has taken care of the situation to some extent, concerns still remained because of the confusion created by various other laws.

Additional solicitor general Indira Jaising, appearing for the Centre, said though the 2006 Act has take care of a lot of anamolies “but some outstanding issues remain”. The government would like to file an appropriate affidavit, she added.

Bhat said section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, while defining the offence of rape, says it is not an offence if a man cohabits with his minor wife, thus virtually legalising child marriage. But, under the 2006 Act, a man marrying a girl below the age of 18 years would be punished and the marriage would be declared null and void, she added drawing a contrast.

The confusion over the marriageable age of girls and boys came up for consideration before the SC after NCW moved a petition challenging the judgments of two high courts – Delhi and Andhra Pradesh – declaring minors, who had eloped after falling in love, to be husband and wife. The SC had stayed the rulings, which were based on the logic that the girls, who were in love, were marginally short of the marriageable age.

Bhat said that if this anamoly was not removed, then 13 or 14-year-old girls would be married off and the courts would have to legitimise them.





Riots: HC refuses unconditional release of 84 Muslim youths

Johnson TA  Posted: Tuesday , Aug 04, 2009 at 0545 hrs Bangalore:

The Karnataka High Court on Monday refused to order unconditional release of 84 Muslim youths, operating under the banner of the Popular Front of India, who were detained by the Mysore police and sent to judicial custody by an executive magistrate in connection with protests over the July 2 communal violence in Mysore.

After studying a confidential report filed by the Mysore police and affidavits filed by the police and the executive magistrate explaining their action, a division bench of the High Court said the police could free the detainees if they execute bail bonds and if they are not wanted in any other cases. Executive Magistrate Geeta Krishna, in an affidavit explaining the decision to remand the youths to judicial custody, said that only those who failed to execute bail bonds were sent to judicial custody and that as many as 51 people arrested in the case were released on bail.

The High Court bench comprising Justice V Gopal Gowda and Justice K Bhaktavatsalam were hearing a habeas corpus plea filed by parents of five of the youths detained for a protest soon after the communal violence in Mysore. The youths were protesting the earlier arrest of 40 others.

The five youths, whose parents filed the habeas corpus plea, can be released provided they are not wanted in any other cases, the court said. The police, however, also produced in its affidavit a list of 40 people against whom body warrants were issued in connection with other cases and indicated that they included the five on behalf of whom petitions were filed.

All the youths claim to be associated with the Popular Front of India, a semi-political organisation working with the Muslim community in south India. The police in its confidential report to the court indicated that the organisation was involved in printing and publishing material that could incite violence.





HC to hear plea against ATKT scheme on Aug 6

TNN 4 August 2009, 03:22am IST

PUNE: A public interest litigation filed by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) against the allowed-to-keep-term (ATKT) scheme for Std X failures in two subjects, will come up for hearing before the Bombay high court on August 6.

Apart from ABVP, the other two co-petitioners are Narendra Pathak and Shekhar Chandratre, while the secretary to the department of school education and secretary to the Maharashtra state board for secondary and higher secondary education have been named as respondents in the PIL (18268 of 2009), which was admitted for motion hearing on July 31.

Among other things, the petitioners have charged that the state government’s move to extend the ATKT benefit was not only hasty and announced at the eleventh hour but also arbitrary and discriminatory in nature. They have urged the court to declare the ATKT scheme as illegal. The petitioners have further prayed for a stay on the ATKT admission process announced by the government.





HC quashes trial court’s order, nails driver

TNN 4 August 2009, 04:35am IST

PANAJI: In a case of rash and negligent driving, the high court of Bombay at Goa held that a trial court cannot accept the accused’s claim that the accident occurred due to mechanical failure when there was expert opinion indicating negligence on the driver’s part.

In a recent order, the high court set aside a magistrate’s 2008 order acquitting KTC bus driver Menino Dias, who was charged for driving the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner.

Subsequently, the state government challenged the acquittal order in the high court.

The high court directed the accused to pay compensation of Rs 1,000 to each of the five injured passengers.

The court, while fining him an additional Rs 1,500, held him guilty under Sections 279 (rash driving) and 337 (causing hurt ) of IPC.

It may be recalled that after Dias rammed the bus into a tree near Zuari bridge, Agassaim, in August 2005, the vehicle turned turtle thereby injuring several passengers.





HC asks Vadodara officials, ex-mayor to remain present in dargah demolition case

Express News Service

Posted: Aug 04, 2009 at 0014 hrs IST

Vadodara/Ahmedabad The Gujarat High Court has issued notices to three Vadodara officials and former city Mayor Sunil Solanki to remain present in court during the final hearing on the matter related to the demolition of a dargah by the civic authorities in 2006. The act led to communal violence resulting in six deaths in May 2006.

The other officials include the then Vadodara Police Commissioner Deepak Swaroop, Municipal Commissioner Rohit Pathak, and Chairman of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) Standing Committee Dinesh Choksi.

The HC order has come in the wake of a petition by one Mohammed Arif Shaikh from Vadodara who has demanded filing of criminal complaint against the four office bearers under provisions of Section 153 (A) of the Indian Penal Code.

He said the collective act by the four of demolishing the dargah had spread communal hatred among the people of two communities in the city.

Shaikh’s counsel Mukul Sinha said: “It is mandatory to get the state government’s sanction to book any person under provisions of Section 153 (A) of the IPC. In this case, the state government did not give us the permission. So, we challenged the state government’s decision of denying permission to book the four under Section 153 (A). The court has now issued them notices and kept the final hearing on August 21.”

Solanki admitted that he has received the notice and will remain present in the court on August 21.

“The notice is about the dargaah demolition and the petitioner has asked for initiating a criminal procedure in the case. We have been asked to remain present in the court on August 21 and I will do so.”

Elsewhere, Dinesh Choksi, who still occupies the post of VMC Standing Committee Chairman, denied having received any such notice.

“I was busy in my work the entire day but I have not received any communication from the High Court. Once I receive it I will take further decision,” Choksi added.

Petitioner Arif Shaikh, meanwhile, said: “We hade been arguing about the criminal procedure against these people because their action led to a communal backlash.”




HC dismisses contempt plea against Pilibhit officials

TNN 3 August 2009, 11:13pm IST

ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court has dismissed a contempt petition and discharged the contempt notices issued against the district magistrate, superintendent of police, additional SP and SHO of Pilibhit, on a reference sent to the high court by the district judge of Pilibhit.

The district judge, on the request of the District Court Bar Association, had sent reference to the HC for initiation of contempt proceedings against the Pilibhit district and police administration officials for “making the working of the district court non-functional when the bail application of Varun Gandhi was to be heard”. The district judge had sent reference to the HC on the representation made by the Bar Association in this regard.

The bench comprising Justice Amar Saran and Justice DR Azad passed the order after hearing additional advocate general Zafar Naiyar for the state. On May 18, the HC, after perusal of report of the district judge on March 30, had issued notices to DM Ajay Chauhan, SP Sri Prakash, ASP DK Chaudhary and SHO RC Verma, asking them to show cause why proceedings for criminal contempt be not initiated against them. The officers were present in the court on earlier occasion on July 8.

Dismissing the contempt petition, the Judges observed, “We also find the conduct of the lawyers in immediately shooting letters to the district judge, complaining against the measures taken by the administration for restricting the entry to the courts on that date as a grave obstruction in the administration of justice, a little surprising, when we see that for the smallest reasons, real or supposed, and for the most trivial causes, the lawyers readily resort to strikes which results in complete paralysis of the functioning of the courts. This cause litigants to return in dismay and their cases keep hanging for long periods of time, attracting the ire of the Supreme Court and this Court time and again.”

“In contrast, on March 30 the courts do appear to have functioned, though the functioning might not have been total because of the measures taken by the administration. But we must not forget the Catch-22 situation with which the administration had confronted. If they had not taken the measures they took, there could well have been an attack or a skirmish in the court premises and danger to life and property, for which they would have been taken to task, and if they took action as they have done, they are now facing charges of contempt. They seem to have acted for preventing damage to the court premises and for maintaining the law and order, when tempers of the contending parties ran so high. They have also tendered unconditional apology. This court thinks that their actions were little excessive,” the judges maintained.

The court, however, cautioned the officers that whenever such a volatile situation arises or is likely to arise, they must take extreme care and precaution and instruct the police and other officials to act with restraint and to ensure that the access of the litigants and persons connected with the Courts are not interfered with and the public is not denied right to seek justice in the courts of law.




HC-appointed civic panel meets

TNN 4 August 2009, 12:04am IST

Ahmedabad: The first meeting of the high court-appointed committee on civic affairs headed by retired justice Kamal Mehta took place recently. The committee would examine issues related to illegal construction, parking, drainage, quality of roads and fire safety in buildings.

The committee involves urban development principal secretary Gauri Kumar, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) commissioner IP Gautam, CEPT University assistant director Shivanand Swami, joint commissioner of police, traffic Atul Karwal and Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) chairman.

Some of the key issues that HC division bench of Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi pointed out were that the committee was to resolve the age-old problem of buildings being constructed without building use permission. The second issue is absence of fire safety features and equipment in many buildings. Another major reform process that the HC wanted the committee to devise was a process where the traffic police is called in for suggestions while earmarking commercial areas at the planning stage.





Centre may not challenge Delhi HC verdict on homosexuality

Submitted by admin3 on 3 August 2009 – 10:19pm.


New Delhi: Upholding the Delhi High Court verdict that homosexuality is no crime, Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily yesterday said, “The court has decided the case on the basis of adequate studies, documents and arguments.”

The verdict delivered recently deeply upset Indian ethos. There were loud voices of protests from almost all religions of the land. They demanded that article 377 of IPC, outlawing homosexuality, should not be tampered. Mr. Moily had said to amend the law before the HC verdict that says homosexuality is no crime.

Disregarding religious opinions, the law minister also expressed apprehension, “Article 377 may be misused in future. So, the law should not be allowed to become a means of harassment by officers.” Advocating the cause of eunuchs, a local organization in Delhi has been complaining about police behaviour.

“Article has been misused earlier too”, Mr. Moily admitted in an interview beamed at CNN-IBN TV channel. He further said, “We have a Constitution, yet laws running parallel to the Constitution have come into existence. There are many among such laws that do not pass the test of the Constitution.”

When asked during the interview, why the government did not appeal Supreme Court to issue stay orders against the HC verdict, the law minister replied, “Doing so would amount to violating right to freedom enshrined in the Constitution.”




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