LEGAL NEWS 25-26.08.2009

‘Marital tiff not cruelty, can’t be basis for divorce’

Shibu Thomas, TNN 26 August 2009, 08:45am IST

MUMBAI: Many a married man’s pet grouse is his quarrelsome wife. But a 47-year-old Parel resident’s attempt to get a divorce on the grounds that his wife constantly quarrelled with him, and this amounted to cruelty, was thrown out by the Bombay high court.

‘‘Normal wear and tear is expected in a matrimonial home,’’ a division bench of Justices P B Majumdar and R V More said, adding: ‘‘Quarrels between spouses over trivial matters in day-to-day married life do not amount to cruelty.’’

The judges also struck a blow for women’s rights. ‘‘It is not expected that a lady should remain like a maidservant and only prepare food and look after the children. The wife is not executing a slavery bond in favour of the husband or her in-laws,’’ the court said while dismissing a petition filed by Vithal seeking
divorce from his wife of 17 years, Rashmi.

The court also said a wife could not be expected to keep her silence and not complain at all. ‘‘It is not expected from the wife that she should not even speak a single word or cannot raise a grievance (sic) about a particular act of her husband,’’ the judges said. The judges also declaimed the practice of seeking dissolution of marriage for petty reasons. ‘‘Marriage is a sacred ceremony which is not to be taken lightly by either spouse; they cannot treat it as child’s play,’’ they held. The judges remarked that the manner in which divorce petitions were flooding the courts made them wonder about the future of marriage. ‘‘(Will) a child who is born out of the said wedlock be able to get the love and affection of father and mother in case the marriage is dissolved in a light fashion?’’ the judges asked.

Vithal married Rashmi in December 1992, and the couple had a son in August 1993. Two years later, in 1995, Vithal filed a petition for dissolution of the marriage on grounds of cruelty. He listed the instances of cruelty: Rashmi threatened to commit suicide if they did not go on a honeymoon despite the fact that his mother was in hospital; she fought with him after the birth of their son; on their son’s first birthday, she quarrelled and went to Siddhivinayak temple alone; once, after a fight, she went to the balcony and stripped; Rashmi did not cook or prepare hot water for his bath.

Vithal claimed that Rashmi was quarrelsome and did not respect or love him. She used to ask him why he had not disclosed his previous relationship, he said, adding that this amounted to cruelty.

Rashmi denied the allegations. She claimed that Vithal had a pre-marital relationship, and from the first day of their married life used to treat her badly and not provide for her. She, however, refused to give him a divorce, saying that she did not want the stigma of being a divorcee.

PM on corruption: ‘Big fish’ must not escape punishment

PTI 26 August 2009, 11:56am IST

NEW DELHI: Asking CBI and state anti- corruption officials to aggressively pursue “high level corruption”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said the perception that “big fish” escape punishment must change and they should act swiftly and without fear.

Opening a conference of CBI and state anti-corruption bureaux here, he said there was no single remedy for fighting corruption which has to be combated at many levels, one of which was making existing systems less discretionary.

“High-level corruption should be pursued aggressively. There is a pervasive feeling that while petty cases get tackled quickly, the big fish escape punishment. This has to change,” Singh said.

The Prime Minister said while quick investigation was important and necessary, it was not sufficient to bring the guilty to book.

“Trials should be conducted expeditiously and judgements delivered quickly. To begin with the aim should be to conclude the trial in two years so that punishment could be given to the offenders within a period of three years or so,” he said.

Singh said the government has recently decided to set up 71 new CBI courts and expected them to function as model courts, hold day-to-day proceedings and avoid unnecessary adjournments.

The Prime Minister said the world respects Indian democracy, its plural and secular values, independent judiciary, free press, its commitment to freedom and peace and its pursuit of equitable and inclusive growth.

“But pervasive corruption in our country tarnishes our image. It also discourages investors, who expect fair treatment and transparent dealings. As the country grows and integrates with the world economy, corruption continues to be an impediment to harnessing the best technology and resources,” he said.

Govt to move SC against Dutt’s acquittal

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 26 August 2009, 09:05am IST

NEW DELHI: In a belated move that may even intrigue many, the law ministry now plans to move Supreme Court challenging the acquittal of cinestar Sanjay Dutt two years ago of TADA charges in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

Ministry sources said the file has been sent to attorney general G E Vahanvati and solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam with a note that non-filing of appeal against Dutt’s acquittal from TADA charges could work to the advantage of other similarly placed accused in the serial blast case.

Dutt was convicted under the Arms Act but was let off on the serious charges under the anti-terror law TADA by the special court in Mumbai on July 31, 2007. Dutt quickly moved the Supreme Court challenging his conviction and has since been on bail, which was granted in August 2007.

The move to challenge acquittal from TADA charges after two years assumes significance as Dutt, who is close to Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh, was virtually given a clean chit by the government’s top law officer in 2008 when he advised against filing of such an appeal.

The 2008 opinion of the law officer had said that the evidence gathered by CBI was not enough and adequate to fasten serious charges under TADA on Dutt, whom the trial court had rightly found to have committed an offence under the Arms Act.

With the 2008 opinion coming in the way, the ministry now wants the top law officers to examine the case afresh from the point of view whether non-filing of appeal could come in the way of seeking reversal of similar trial court orders acquitting some other accused of TADA charges.

Dutt was convicted in November 2006 under the Arms Act for the illegal possession of a 9mm pistol and an AK-56 rifle but was acquitted of more serious terrorism charges under the stringent TADA law. On July 31, 2007, TADA special judge P D Kode had sentenced Dutt to six years of rigorous imprisonment under the Arms Act.

It had said the crime committed by Dutt and his friends were not “anti-social, ghastly, inhuman, immoral or pre-planned” and did not cause any harm to the general public.

Child labour offers better life: Farah Khan

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:00am IST

If such kids are in a good, safe home, they’re better off than on the streets, says choreographer and director Farah Khan

Child labour is a crime and this woman who has employed and abused a helpless 10-year-old child should be put in jail and treated in exactly the same manner in which she treated the child, there.

But let me also point out that there are two sides to this issue. The government has taken the easy way out and just simply banned child labour. But while I always make sure that I do employ people above the age of 18, the fact is that many people employ children in order to give them a better life.

If they are in a good home, a safe home and they are better off than being on the streets, where they might be forced to do all sorts of things, then the government needs to find a solution to make sure they are not treated inhumanly in the process.

The only way to stop something like this is education for all. I am too small to suggest a solution for something like this, but the whole system needs to change.

(As told to Gayatri)

I don’t have a maid below 14: Suchitra

TNN 25 August 2009, 09:48pm IST

Suchitra Krishnamoorthi is shocked at being accused of employing a minor as a maid. She says, “I was having lunch with a girlfriend when I got a few calls from journos and friends telling me I am on TV-breaking news.

Suchitra Krishnamoorthi accused of employing a girl below 14-abusing child labour laws!’ To say I am shocked and hurt is putting it mildly – I am devastated.”

The actress, painter and mother of a nine-year-old adds, “The Labour Minister has named me on TV – the television is full of images of me alongside of a nine-year-old bruised and abused little girl that was rescued a few days ago from the home of a television actress Urvashi. There is nothing more painful than that visual to me, the mother of a nine-year-old myself.”

Suchitra, the former wife of filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, writes on her blog, “Whatever the labour department has said about today me – It is a LIE. I have employed no one below the age of 14 and certainly no one by the name of Nayantri, not currently and NEVER in the past.”

She adds, “I currently employ two girls aged 18. I have registered with two maid agencies in the city who provide me maids with verification and identity.”

Denying that the labour department, police or NGO had been contact with her over the issue, she says sternly, “I demand and challenge them to come up with the proof of the heinous accusations they are hurling at me. My home and my phone line are open to them. As a law abiding citizen I have every right to ask them to furnish me with the evidence they have supposedly gathered against me. Who is this girl? What are they talking about?”

Suchitra states, “So whoever else the labour department is talking about is a figment of their imagination. I am a law abiding citizen and have spent the last few years working towards the betterment of women and children’s lives. Not only with my money but with my valuable time energy and love.”

She says, “When I first saw the news break out I thought it may be about a maid called Rajmoti I had employed over a month ago. She was 16 or 17 and sent to me by her sister Sunita who has been working in my dear friend Tanaya’s home for four years. They told me Rajmoti needed a home. She was fresh from her village that didn’t even have electricity and were keen for her to love and stay in the city for a while.”

“So wondering if the labour laws had changed from 14 to 18, and if this was what the ruckus was about, I called up her sister Sunita and asked if they had perhaps been contacted by an NGO or lodged a complaint. They were shocked and assured me that I had done them a favour by taking the girl in and there was no way they would have lodged a complaint and nor had any NGO or labour department contacted them. So it’s definitely not Rajmoti. As for this other girl Nayantari, that the labour department is accusing me of employing and abusing, I am not even aware of her existence.”

She is willing to give the benefit of doubt to the authorities concerned, “I don’t know who is behind this and why my name is being dragged into it. Maybe it’s a misunderstanding and the name has been misunderstood. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and will pause a bit before I decide what further I need to do.”

Suchitra concludes, “I am not going to let a lie and a fabricated accusation strip me of everything I stand for, have worked towards and believe in. I have faith that the truth with prevail.”

Actress Suchitra Krishnamoorthi booked for employing child labour

IANS 25 August 2009, 05:09pm IST

MUMBAI: In the wake of growing abuse of domestic servants and minors in the city, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday filed cases against Bollywood actress Suchitra Krishnamoorthi and television star Laxmi for allegedly employing child labour.

Labour Minister Nawab Malik told media persons on Tuesday afternoon that his department got information that the two actresses were employing minor girls as maids.

“Accordingly, we have initiated necessary proceedings against the two actresses. We appeal to people to come forward and give us information about such individuals who employ child labour so we can take suitable steps in the matter,” Malik said.

Suchitra is the former wife of noted director Shekhar Kapur.

The action comes barely three days after television actress Urvashi Dhanorkar was arrested Saturday for beating, burning and confining her 10-year old maid after she caught her “eating”.

Dhanorkar was bailed out hours after her arrest. Meanwhile, the victim, Rameshwari is now in a juvenile rescue home.

The Child Labour Prevention Act, 1986, was amended October 2006 to ban employment of children under 14 as domestic servants and in dhabas, restaurants, hotels and other hospitality sectors. It makes their employment a punishable offence.

Ambani gas row: Govt to adopt softer tone in SC

Dhananjay Mahapatra , TNN 26 August 2009, 12:20am IST

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday decided to shed much of its belligerence in the Supreme Court in the RIL-RNRL legal battle over sharing of KG basin gas and instead focus only on the core issue of the production sharing contract between it and RIL and the pricing of gas.

It has decided to file a clarificatory affidavit in the SC on Wednesday in its independent appeal in the gas row between Mukesh Ambani’s RIL and Anil Ambani’s RNRL, sources in the petroleum ministry said.

The move comes after the ministry realised that it had made unnecessary statements like “the memorandum of understanding and family agreement between Mukesh’s RIL and Anil’s RNRL is `null and void’ in the face of enormous national interest involved in distribution of natural gas”.

It also decided not to lay stress on its earlier statement – “…RIL and RNRL have appropriated, through the MoU, in a surreptitious and unauthorised manner, the entire gas treating the same as their personal and family property”.

Importantly, however, it has decided to stick to its core argument – the issues relating to sharing of gas between the government and RIL and the pricing would be governed by the production sharing contract (PSC) and the decisions of the empowered group of ministers (EGoM).

In its clarificatory affidavit, the ministry will also attempt to set right a technical oversight made in the appeal filed on July 18. The Centre had forgotten to seek leave of the SC to file the special leave petition (SLP), which was necessary as the Centre was not a party before the Bombay High Court but only an intervenor.

It will make clear in the affidavit that it was not at all interested in “upsetting” the 2005 family agreement between the Ambani brothers nor the MoU between RIL and RNRL.

The Centre, in its appeal filed on July 18, had sought quashing of the June 15 judgment of the Bombay HC. It had said that natural gas was meant for industrialisation of the entire country and not for the individual gains of the ventures owned by Ambanis and added, “The national economy cannot be allowed to be held hostage by the Ambanis.”

RIL had in its affidavit before the SC on July 17 virtually supported the stand of the Centre that there could not be any bilateral agreement between RIL and RNRL for supply of gas as it was subject to the decision of the Centre. However, RNRL had contested this stand and sought implementation of the Bombay HC order upholding the family agreement for sharing of gas.

Elaborating on the national interest involved in the gas production from the KG basin, the Centre had said, “The gas produced and expected to be produced from KG basin and other fields under the various PSCs is substantial. It is expected to nearly double the availability of gas in India in about one year’s time. If properly used, it will promote industrialisation of India.”

Dowry harassment case: Cops yet to trace TV actress’ spouse

TNN 26 August 2009, 01:54am IST

MUMBAI: More than a week after television actress Shaheen Ansari lodged a complaint of dowry harassment against husband Syed Gulzar alias Firoz, the Dindoshi police are still to trace his whereabouts. Firoz (30) is an automobile dealer.

“We received a tip-off on Monday that Firoz would be coming to Malad. Our officers laid a trap, but he couldn’t be found,” a senior official said. The cops are now tracking his cellphone records to find out his location.

Firoz got married to Shaheen (23) in 2008 after meeting her on the sets of a popular tele-serial four years ago. The couple lived in a rented flat on Yari Road, Andheri (W). Within two months of their marriage, Firoz allegedly started demanding large amounts of money and a new cellphone from her. Shaheen was branded with cigarette butts, beaten and taunted whenever she was unable to meet his demands, police said.

“We are questioning Firoz’s acquaintances to locate his whereabouts,” senior inspector V Kakade of the Dindoshi police said. “Shaheen does not know where Firoz is holed up. She doesn’t even know where his parents live.”

SC tells sports club to vacate VK land

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 26 August 2009, 03:05am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday drew the curtain over a 25-year-old case by ordering vacation of a large patch of prime land in posh Vasant Kunj, which was encroached upon and illegally converted into a sports club.

In a 67-page judgment, a bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi directed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to take possession of the government land and demolish the super structure built on the encroached 11 acres if the trespassers did not vacate it by November 30.

The time till November 30 will be available to the proprietors of Shanti Sports Club only on the condition that they file an undertaking before the apex court within two weeks promising to clean up the encroachment and deliver vacant land to DDA.

Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Singhvi expressed displeasure over the manner in which the government land was encroached upon and the illegal possession continuing through the pendency of the litigation. The case has been pending since 2001 in the apex court and has a chequered history with the courts since mid-1980s.

The club had appealed against the HC order which had ordered vacation of the land finding it to be an encroachment. Though the DDA had moved swiftly and demolished a part of the super structure on the very next day of the HC order, the club owners were also equally agile and obtained a stay from the SC and then moved contempt petition against DDA. The SC on Tuesday dismissed both their appeals and contempt petitions.

The apex court order will pave the way for removal of all illegal constructions including six large cottages and several big bungalows built by the club, notified by DDA in 1965 for developing a housing colony. A part of the land is now being used to construct a housing project to be utilised during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

The land acquisition by the club in 1993 was allegedly unauthorized. It had set up a huge complex on it and had filed three sets of petitions in the court on behalf of its various functionaries, claiming right on the land and challenged the DDA notification.

’84 case: Trial court rejects CBI claims

TNN 26 August 2009, 03:06am IST

NEW DELHI: A trial court on Tuesday dismissed the CBI’s contention that it was not under a metropolitan magistrate’s jurisdiction to decide on the agency’s probe report giving clean chit to former Union minister Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

After almost five months of gruelling arguments with CBI questioning the jurisdiction of a magisterial court on deciding the matter, additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) Rakesh Pandit, in his order, decided to hear the closure report on September 23.

Not convinced with CBI’s arguments in which they had sought the transfer of the matter to a sessions court, ACMM Pandit said, “This court can take cognizance of the offence exclusively triable by the court of sessions and then can summon the accused who are mentioned in the chargesheet as well as those who are not mentioned therein if it appears to the court that they have also done the offence.”

CBI, which had on April 2 sought to close the case against Tytler claiming there was no sufficient evidence against him, claimed that the matter involved the offence of murder thereby making it exclusively triable by a sessions court.

The alleged role of Tytler in a case related to killing of three persons on November 1, 1984, in the aftermath of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination was reinvestigated by CBI after a court had earlier refused to accept a closure report against him in December, 2007.

The court, which is likely to take up the closure report for hearing on September 23, would now have all the powers to either accept CBI’s closure report or reject it and can even issue summons against Tytler as mentioned by it in its nine-page order.

Citing various High Court and Supreme Court’s judgment, the court referred to the CPC to conclude that “this court can take cognizance of any offence. The word `any’ has been used (in Section 190) to include even those offences which are exclusively triable by the court of sessions.”

During the arguments on the matter, the riot victims’ counsel Rebecca M John had earlier contended that a magistrate only takes cognizance of all offences, whether triable by it or not. “The metropolitan magistrate has the power and the right to accept an investigation report, or reject it, and take cognizance of the offence and can decide which accused to summon,” John argued in the court, terming as “fallacious” CBI’s plea that the magistrate did not have the power to decide on its investigation report.

The case allegedly involving Tytler relates to an incident on November 1, 1984, when a mob had set afire Gurdwara Pulbangash in north Delhi, killing three persons Badal Singh, Thakur Singh and Gurcharan Singh. The CBI had given a clean chit to Tytler in the case and sought prosecution of co-accused Suresh Kumar Panewala for the offence of murder.

Hospital told to pay Rs 17 lakh to kin over patient’s death

TNN 26 August 2009, 03:08am IST

NEW DELHI: National Consumer Commission has directed a hospital to pay Rs 17 lakh compensation to kin of a patient who lost her life during an operation due to medical negligence.

The commission, comprising members R C Jain and P D Shenoy, also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on the doctors of the hospital whose deficiency in service and negligence led to the death of Jasbir Kaur, mother of two children aged 13 and seven years, in 1996 after she was operated twice for removal of kidney stones. Kaur was admitted to Sun Flag Hospital and Research Centre in Faridabad for removal of the stones.

Her husband Joginder Singh in his complaint claimed Kaur was operated on her left kidney for removal of stones on December 9, 1996. She had stones in both her kidneys. After the procedure, her treating doctor, Rajiv Kumar Majumdar, gave a report that the patient was found to have poor tolerance of anaesthesia. While she was still recovering from her first surgery, her treating doctor advised for the second on her right kidney. The family was apprehensive but the doctor convinced them the surgery was necessary. The second surgery took place on December 16 and soon after anaesthesia was administered to the patient her condition got worse and she had a cardiac arrest.

Strongly annoyed over the manner Kaur was treated by the doctors, the commission noted that she was operated twice even when her body was not ready for it. The National Commission observed that consent of the patient was not taken for second surgery, requiring general anaesthesia. It also observed there was no emergency, compelling the treating surgeon to carry out the second surgery.

The commission expressed surprise over the manner a senior anesthesiologist had tried to defend his action, saying “poor tolerance to anaesthesia” has “nothing” to do with patient’s health after she was operated for the first time. In his defence, the surgeon said approval of the physicians and the anaesthetist was taken before second surgery.

HC stays CERC directive on access for power export

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:59am IST

BANGALORE: The government on Tuesday got some much-needed relief in dealing with the power crisis. The high court has stayed for six weeks the August 17 directive of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), asking KPTCL to grant open access for export of electricity to outside the state.

Justice Anand Byra Reddy, who heard the petition filed by the energy department, passed the interim order and issued notices to Davanagere Sugar Company, KPTCL, Bescom and Mumbai-based Reliance Energy Trading Company Limited.

“On June 6, the state made some modifications to an earlier order wherein all generators excluding those having valid power purchase agreement (PPA) were permitted to take recourse to open access. This order has been brushed aside by the CERC, ignoring the powers the state had under the provisions of the Karnataka Electricity Act,” advocate general Ashok Haranahalli told the court.

The government cited acute power shortage, resulting in partial supply to various consumers. “There are PPAs with central generating stations and with intra-state generators. If the CERC order is taken to its logical conclusion, it would imply that any generator with a valid PPA can apply for open access and this has to be permitted by KPTCL… The state will not be able to get power from the central or state-owned KPCL, leading to anarchy.. The state may have to buy power at abnormal rates no consumer can afford,” the petition stated.

HC steps in to set free 36 bonded labourers

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:26am IST

CHENNAI: A total of 36 bonded labourers working in stone crushing units in Karur and Salem districts have walked free, thanks to a timely intervention of the Madras high court, which asked the authorities to rescue these labourers and rehabilitate them.

A division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi had directed the collectors and superintendents of police of Salem and Karur districts to rescue the labourers, who included women and children, and provide them all necessary rehabilitary measures as per government rules.

The matter relates to a habeas corpus petition filed by one Lakshmanan Gounder (52), who said 36 persons had been held as bonded labourers in crushing units in Karur district. The workers, who had taken loans up to Rs 20,000 from the unit owners, were made to slog for decades together, he said, adding that in January 2005 their just demand for a small wage hike was denied by the unit-owner, who threatened the workers with death under crusher wheels.

On Monday, more than 30 labourers were produced before the division bench, which asked the authorities to trace four more — Sreerangan and his wife and Paraman and his wife — within four weeks.

It also directed the Karur superintendent of police to ensure sufficient protection to the detenues to go to the crushing units and take back their belongings. He shall also ensure safe travel of the detenues to the place of crushing units and their return to their native place at Tharamangalam, Omalur taluk in Salem district.

The judges also asked the authorities to monitor further investigation in respect of the case lodged against the crushing units and file a final report within three months.

The court wanted the Salem superintendent of police to protect the life and liberty of the detenues. District collector of Karur is directed to monitor the situation in the district and ensure that there is no bonded labour in that district. He was further directed to depute an official to monitor the situation and file a periodical report to the court registry, at least once in three months.

“We also make it clear that monitoring of other crushing units shall not be entrusted to the revenue divisional officer, who has filed the report which does not reflect the correct state of affairs,” the judges said.

They also directed Salem district collector to ensure sufficient rehabilitation measures as per the government schemes to all the 36 detenues who would settle down at Tharamangalam.

HC stays off Pondy move to pay Rs 25L to late Lt Guv’s kin

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:20am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has refused to interfere with the Puducherry government’s decision to pay Rs 25 lakh to the family of the former lieutenant-governor Govindsing Gurjar, who died in April 2009 while in office.

Gurjar was appointed lieutenant governor on July 23, 2008, and he died on April 6, 2009. In August, the chief minister announced in the assembly that the government would pay Rs 25 to the family of the deceased lieutenant governor.

A public interest writ petition was filed by the Puducherry Makkal Vizhipunarchi Eyakkam general secretary P Saravanan, who said public money should be used only for public purposes like welfare and relief measures, and not on the family of departed leaders. He wanted the court to strike down the move.

Dismissing the petition, the first bench comprising chief justice HL Gokhale and justice D Murugesan said the chief minister had made the announcement on the floor of the assembly and so “we refrain from issuing the kind of mandamus which is sought by the petitioner. It is only for this reason we will not entertain the petition.”

HC asks govt to relocate cracker shops

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:28am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has asked the Tamil Nadu government to consider locating all cracker shops in Chennai at places like Island Ground and some other appropriate places during the Diwali season.

A suggestion to this effect was made by the first bench comprising chief justice HL Gokhale and justice D Murugesan, when a public interest writ petition filed by social activist Traffic KR Ramaswamy came up for hearing on Monday.

In their orders, the judges said the Chennai Corporation and the Commissioner of Police, Chennai city, shall consider the proposal to shift these temporary cracker shops to Island Grounds or some other appropriate places. It also wanted the authorities to frame a scheme in this regard.

“They should explore the possibility of settling the issue if not during the coming festival season, but at least before the subsequent season,” the judges said.

Ramasamy, who has been filing several public interest writ petitions to get the scores of temporary cracker shops shifted to open grounds at various places in the city, said the authorities were not initiating steps to regulate the retail trade even though law mandates that they visit the place and inspect the spot before issuing temporary permits.

A couple of years ago, the High Court had directed the authorities to identify four places in four different areas in the city to enable residents of those areas to purchase crackers. The plan could not be put into action for want of time.

HC raps SBI for not allowing SC/SC staff dharna

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:12am IST

CHENNAI: The State Bank of India (SBI) was not correct in denying an unrecognised SC/ST employees organisation’s right to hold a dharna at its regional office here, though it had allowed a similar protest by some other forums earlier, the Madras High Court has said.

The bank authorities had rejected permission for the SC/ST employees welfare association and the SBI Ambedkar Trade Union, to hold a dharna/demonstration in the office premises on Rajaji Salai or within a radius of 100 metres from the office in August 1998 or any other date in future.

Justice R Mala, dismissing a petition filed by the SBI Local head office here on Monday, said the bank had permitted the State Bank Staff Union and the State Bank Officers Association to conduct demonstrations inside the bank premises. The bank had not filed any suit seeking to restrain these two organisations from conduction such protests. “It clearly shows that the CBI is treating the SC/ST union in a discriminatory manner.”

As for the SBI’s contention that it was an unrecognised union, Justice Mala said the question of recognition arises only while dealing with workmen related issues and not for holding dharna or demonstration.

Wife slams IPS officer with domestic violence case

Saeed Khan, TNN 26 August 2009, 03:02am IST

AHMEDABAD: An IPS officer holding the post of deputy inspector general in Crime Record Bureau, Kamal Kumar Ojha, 49, has left his home and shifted to the IPS mess. The police have deployed constables for last five months at Ojha’s private house to protect his wife Amita from this officer.

Ojha decided to leave his Navrangpura home months after his wife lodged a complaint against him under the Domestic Violence Act accusing him of physical violence, mental harassment, demanding dowry and threatening to kill her.

The cop has denied all allegations and defended himself by saying that his wife was inspired by the “kitty party culture”. The house was purchased by him in his wife’s name near HL Commerce College.

After some resistance by policemen against registering the complaint against a senior officer, Amita finally succeeded in registering a case against Ojha in March ’09, some 21 years after their marriage.

Amita claimed that Ojha does not hand over money for monthly expenditure to her, but gives it to his orderlies. She has also raised objection to the cop sending money to his parents and younger siblings.

This issue reached the metropolitan court No. 13 on March 30 and the magistrate ordered Ojha to pay Rs 10,000 to his wife and Rs 5,000 each for the upkeep of his son and daughter every month.

On August 20, Ojha moved an application in the Gujarat High Court against the complaint as well as the lower court’s ex-parte order. In his petition, the police officer rebutted all points raised by his wife.

Amita earns more than Rs 2.7 lakh per annum and possesses two cell phones, so does their son. They are extravagant, he contended.

After hearing Ojha’s counsel Rashmin Jani that the son is an adult and lower court was not justified in asking to pay him towards his education, Justice HN Devani on Tuesday stayed the magistrate’s order.

The court issued notice to Amita asking her to reply by September 15.

Plea demanding SIT report copy dismissed

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:49am IST

AHMEDABAD: A special court hearing post-Godhra riots case on Tuesday dismissed an application by an accused demanding a copy of the confidential report that special investigation team (SIT) submitted to Supreme Court (SC) in March this year.

Designated judge hearing the Naroda Gam massacre case, SH Vora dismissed accused Ashok Patel’s application urging the court to direct SIT to submit its report in the trial court and make a copy available to him. The contention raised in the application was that the SIT reportedly wrote in its report that social activist Teesta Setalvad and her NGO were instrumental in providing legal support to the victims.

In 2008, SIT recorded statement of one victim – Madinabanu Rafiqkhan Pathan – who claimed that the affidavit filed in the SC earlier and undersigned by victims had falsely projected her as a rape victim. This incident has been highlighted by SIT in its report submitted to the SC. And the accused should also be provided a copy so that they could defend themselves in proper manner.

The application was opposed by special public prosecutor Nigam Shukla stating that the prosecution does not rely on this report. And since it’s not a part of investigation report, accused are not entitled to get a copy of it. He also contended that the report is just supervisory notes on part of the SIT and as per 2005 SC order, it is not mandatory for the investigating agency to furnish the report. Moreover, Shukla also termed the application as premature, as the court has not framed charges against the 83 accused in this incident, wherein 11 persons lost their lives on February 28, 2002.

Released on bail, juvenile elopes with girl again

TNN 26 August 2009, 02:52am IST

AHMEDABAD: When 16-year-old Sumitra eloped with her neighbour Revchand Mali, 17, in January this year, her mother Nabhu Bhabhor filed a complaint at Sabarmati police station. But, when the girl disappeared with the boy for the second time, she approached the juvenile court.

Mali and Sumitra eloped first on January 8 this year and went to the boy’s ancestral village in Dahod. Bhabhor lodged a complaint of kidnapping and the police brought the couple back, with the help of the mother.

Upon their return, the girl made a statement that she was raped by the boy. This led the police to initiate criminal prosecution against the boy, who produced a certificate in court stating that he had not completed 18 years of age by then. He was taken to the observation home in Khanpur, where he applied for bail and was released on February 27 on the condition that he would not see the girl.

However, Sumitra disappeared once again on March 13 and Mali was also not traceable. Bhabhor went to police station again, but officials allegedly refused to register her complaint. They could not do much, because at the time of the alleged offence Mali was a juvenile and turned 18 on July 6. Bhabhor filed an application in the juvenile court in the city through advocate Samshad Pathan urging the judge to cancel Mali’s bail for breach of condition. Her application for bail cancellation was accepted by the juvenile court on Monday.

This time around, Bhabhor also accused her sister-in-law Nabhu Makholia and son Kala for handing over custody of the girl to Mali for Rs 25,000. When she threatened them of police complaint, they offered the amount to her. She wrote a letter to the DCP-Zone II requesting him to register a case against not only Mali and his family members but also against Kala and Makholia.

Varun files objection on poll plea

TNN 25 August 2009, 10:04pm IST

ALLAHABAD: BJP MP Varun Gandhi on Tuesday moved an application in the Allahabad High Court raising preliminary objection on an election petition filed against him challenging his election as MP from Pilibhit parliamentary seat.

The court will hear the petition on September 16.

Justice Srikant Tripathi, who was hearing the election petition, has also directed to hear the election petition filed against BJP national president and Ghaziabad MP Rajnath Singh on September 8.

The court, on the third election petition filed by a HC lawyer Chandra Narain Tripathi, challenging the election of BSP MP Kapilmuni Karwaria elected from Phulpur Parliamentary seat, has directed to hear it as ex-parte.

The election petition against Varun Gandhi has been filed by VM Singh, who had contested the election against Gandhi on Congress party ticket. The election petition against Raj Nath Singh has been filed by Samar Singh.

‘Bifurcation of HC would be against spirit of Constitution’

TNN 25 August 2009, 10:03pm IST

ALLAHABAD: Members of the Allahabad High Court Bar Association (HCBA) on Tuesday observed `Sankalp Diwas’ and resolved to protest unanimously any move of bifurcation of Allahabad high court.

Presiding over the meeting, HCBA president, VC Mishra while quoting the Constitution observed that bifurcation of the high court would be against the very spirit of the Constitution which envisages one high court for one state.

He pointed out that the city played a pivotal role during the freedom struggle and even the Allahabad high court through its landmark judgments delivered from time to time has strengthened dispensation of justice.

Secretary of HCBA, Veer Singh while decrying the move pointed out that it was more of a political gimmick aimed at garnering votes. He declared that any such move initiated by the government would be detrimental apart from becoming an impediment in dispensation of justice.

Meanwhile, president of Bar Association of Uttar Pradesh, Vishnu Pandey called upon politicians to desist from making such statements in public which create an air of uncertainty.

Consumer law can put cops in order

Supriya Bhardwaj, TNN 26 August 2009, 12:49am IST

CHANDIGARH: Police laxity is a term that most would be familiar with. But ‘deficiency in service’ on part of the police when it comes to maintaining law and order may also enter the common lexicon soon.

When Dadumajra Colony residents Lal Bahadur and his son Rikhi Ram complained in the UT consumer forum against an insurance company and Chandigarh Police under Section 12 of Consumer Protection Act, they set a precedent that could open new doors of litigation against cops. Their motorcycle was stolen from Sector 34 on March 29, 2008. The father-son duo had approached the insurance company, which repudiated their claim, following which they complained against it and cops in the forum.

Though the forum could have dismissed the complaint against the cops terming it ‘in limine’ (through which evidence or one of the parties can be excluded from legal proceedings), it issued a notice to the police seeking their reply. Also, in his reply, SHO of Sector-34 police station did not plead that the complaint was not maintainable and admitted that the vehicle had been stolen. The reply went, ‘Despite best efforts of police, the motorcycle could not be traced. In these circumstances, there is no deficiency in service on its part and the complaint deserves dismissal.’

On Monday, the forum, headed by its president Lakshman Sharma, said, ‘The complainants have failed to make any case of deficiency in service against UT police and complaint against (them) stands dismissed.’

Deciding the case on merit, the forum asked the insurance company to pay Rs 32,741 as claim amount along with Rs 15,000 as compensation for harassment. Advocate Deepak Aggarwal, who represented the father-son duo, said, ‘People can file cases against police force as all public authorities come under the ambit of CP Act. The tax paid by consumers is treated as a consideration.’

‘No functionary, according to Supreme Court, exercising statutory powers, can claim immunity except to the extent protected by the statute itself. Public authorities acting in violation of statutory provisions are accountable for their behaviour before authorities like commissions or courts entrusted with responsibility of maintaining the rule of law,’ added Aggarwal while citing an apex court judgment.

Member of the forum, Siddheshwar Sharma said, ‘Services provided by department of posts, passport offices, universities, municipal corporations and even administration fall under the ambit of CP Act.’

Sources said there were other similar complaints in the pipeline as well. Jagroop Singh Mahal, president of another consumer forum, said, ‘Whenever there is non-performance of duty by a public authority, including police, people complain under CP Act.’

UT SP Madhur Verma said, ‘Our job is to detect and prevent crime. We don’t charge fees to do that. However, it all depends on the court if it wants to consider our duties as a service under consumer laws.’

Court bans idol immersion in Anasagar

TNN 26 August 2009, 03:46am IST

AJMER: The chairman of district lok adalat and district and session judge A K Jain on Tuesday issued notice to district collector and municipal corporation, to ban the immersion of Ganesh idols in Anasagar Lake, as the chemicals and synthetic colous used in these statues pollute the water body.

The court has asked the district administration to submit their reply by August 28. The petitioner Suhas Bhadoria in his petition said the pilgrims who come to pay obeisance at the Ajmer dargah, are forced to take a dip in the polluted water of Anasagar Lake.

“The administration should make alternative arrangements, like building water pits, for immersing the Ganesh idols, which would not pollute the lake,” Bhadoria said.

About 400 statues are expected to be immersed this year, Rajnesh Sharma, a member of an active NGO said. The Maharashtra Mandal, which organises large scale festivities during the occasion, has decided not to submerge their idol in the Anasagar lake.

The present condition of the lake is dismal. “Last month thousands of fishes died in the lake, after the city received its first rain spell. The water channels brought in dirt from various sources, which polluted the lake and caused death of the fishes,” an official at the irrigation department said.

Environmentalist fear the immersion of idols will not just contaminate the lake but also affect the surrounding areas. “Chemicals will not only kill fishes, but will adversely affect the vegetation surrounding the lake,” Mahinder Vikram Singh, president, bird conservation society said.

Udaipur lawyers fail to garner Gehlot support

Trilok Sharma, TNN 26 August 2009, 12:29am IST

UDAIPUR: To press their demand for a Bench of Rajasthan High Court in Udaipur, a delegation of 35 lawyers from Udaipur division presented a memorandum to chief minister Ashok Gehlot in Jaipur on Tuesday.

Interestingly, Gehlot gave the delegation a patient hearing but during the 10-minute meeting he mentioned Jodhpur 15 times.

Udaipur Bar Association general secretary Hemant Joshi said, “Gehlot made it clear that he has always been with the advocates of Jodhpur and urged us to stop the agitation.”

Gehlot was of the opinion that he had earlier participated in the movement against establishing high court bench at Jaipur, so how he can support the Udaipur movement now?

In April the registrar general of high court, in a communique to the state government, had stated there was no need for a Bench in Udaipur. This has been sent as a reply to the letter of the then chief minister Vasundhara Raje, in which she had recommended stablishment of a high court bench in Udaipur.

Former president of Rajasthan Bar Council, F S Mehta said, “The decision to turn down the demand on the basis of number of pending cases is not a fair one. The high court should have considered the poor financial condition of the people in the region as well as the distance factor. At least a circuit Bench should be there in southern Rajasthan.”

The demand for a Bench in Udaipur is being raised for the past four decades. The local bar association is protesting by wearing black ribbon on their arms every 7th day of the month for the past 32 years. “Now, the Bar has decided to take up the movement aggressively,” said Bar Association president, Tribhuwan Nath Purohit. “We are boycotting routine work in protest since July 7,” he added.

Stating that the Marwar region lacks political will, Joshi said, “There is no one in this region who can voice its interest. Almost all MPs and MLAs of the region had assured us that they will be joining us in Jaipur to meet the CM, but it is very unfortunate that not a single one of them was there.”

‘Minimum 30 years of practice for KBA president post’

TNN 25 August 2009, 09:49pm IST

KANPUR: The model by-laws framed by the Kanpur Bar Association would not allow the freshers to contest for any post. Minimum active practice period for a post is of five years.

According to Ram Balak Mishra, chairman, elders committee, who was one of the members of constitution committee of KBA, for the post of president only those advocates would be eligible, who had an experience of 30 years of active practice. In reply to a question, he said that under model by-laws minimum active practice term was of 25 years but the committee had recommended to increase it to five more years therefore, it was fixed as 30 years of active practice.

There would be 21-member executive committee, including 12 executive members. There are two posts for vice-president and for senior vice-president the requirement is of active practice term of 25 years. For general secretary, candidate must have a practice term of 15 years. There would be one secretary and one treasurer and for these posts candidate must be a veteran of 10 years and 15 years respectively.

There are three posts for joint secretary and five years active practice term is mandatory for them. One of the joint secretary would look after administrative work while second would be in charge of library. The third one would be in charge of publication.

Qualification for six executive committee members would be of practising term of 15 years while remaining six must have practice term of less than 15 years. Members who have already completed two years term as member would be eligible for franchising their vote.

HC sets deadline for sleaze racket trial

Suman Chakraborti, TNN 26 August 2009, 03:16am IST

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court has directed the Bidhannagar ACJM court to complete the trial of the sensational and much-delayed Merlin Park bar-cum-restaurant sleaze racket case by September.

The court has directed that the verdict in the case involving Avtar Singh, husband of former MP and athlete Jyotirmoyee Sikdar be given by September 2009, said public prosecutor of Bidhannagar additional chief judicial magistrate court, Anjan Choudhury. He added that the trial of the much-delayed case was finally speeding up.

To recollect the sensational case, it was way back on August 15, 2004, that the sleaze racket was busted at the bar-cum-hotel and its owner, Avtar Singh, arrested. Although police had submitted the chargesheet in 2005, the trial had started only in 2008. Sources from the Bidhannagar ACJM court said the delay in transferring all the relevant documents from the Barrackpore SDJM court had caused the delay in starting the trial. “As there was no SDJM court in Bidhannagar, the chargesheet had to be submitted to the Barrackpore court. The documents then arrived in the Bidhannagar court and the court then framed the charges. This process took much time,” said a lawyer of the court.

Singh, with the help of Sikdar, had slipped into Subhas Chakraborty’s influential political circle following his wife’s Asian Games glory. Soon after, he began to place his list of demands and get them passed.

However, after Chakraborty distanced himself from Singh, he reportedly joined the rival Amitava Nandy camp. He reportedly used his new-found political influences to acquire the Nayapatti plot in ward 14 of Salt Lake, fill up a waterbody and construct the Merlin Park hotel-cum-bar. The bar got the licence in 2002. Locals had vehemently protested against opening a bar in the area as there were three schools and a temple nearby, but neither the excise department or the Bidhannagar Municipality objected to running the bar.

However, Singh’s fall from grace came on that fateful day in August 2004, when he was arrested. The arrest was linked to the power tussle within the CPM for control of the party’s North 24-Parganas district committee. The rivalry between Chakraborty and Nandy over control of the region was well known then.

Singh was even scouting for potential buyers to sell off his hotel and had fixed a Rs 1.4-crore tag on his bar that was by then running without a licence but did not manage to find anyone. Apart from the lack of licence, there was another reason for that. Singh had invested over Rs 1 crore in developing the eight-cottah wetland into a hotel. He had purchased the wetland from Dulal Mandal, a resident of Kestopur, in 1999. Singh was supposed to pay him Rs 35,000 a month for the first three years. This alone had put the value of the property at Rs 12.6 lakh in 2002.

Police had said Singh was desperate to make up for the loss, and thus, turned the property into a bar and then, into a full-fledged vice den. Notorious criminal hath-kata Dilip used to visit the bar quite often. The bar-cum-hotel was later taken over by a business group that rechristened the name of the hotel as Kings Crown.

Undertrials escape from court lockup

TNN 26 August 2009, 03:07am IST

JALPAIGURI: In the recent past, undertrials have escaped after drugging cops with sweets and soft drinks. But even a simple glass of water can do the trick, as six undertrials at the Jalpaiguri district and sessions court demonstrated on Tuesday.

Taking advantage of lax security, the six men fled in full view of hundreds of people and lawyers on the court premises. Although Kotwali police managed to nab two of them later, the other four could not be traced till evening.

The prisoners who escaped Tazirul Haque, Rebati Roy, Tapan Saha, Sujan Shil, Chandan Saha and Niren Tamang had apparently asked the policemen guarding the lockup for some water. When the guard opened the gate to get it, the six fled.

“The four men jumped over the boundary wall and fled. The constable chasing them was too slow,” said a law clerk at the court.

Police later caught Niren and Chandan while they were trying to catch a bus. Police pickets were set up at all exit points to prevent the others from escaping. tnn

Rein in the moral brigade: SHRC chief

TNN 25 August 2009, 09:37pm IST

MANGALORE: The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has served a double whammy on the B S Yeddyurappa-led BJP government. Instances of what SHRC perceives is human rights violation in the form of increasing acts of moral policing perpetrated by fringe right-wing elements in the coastal part of the state, the SHRC has served a notice to the government directing it to rein in such forces lest they engulf the entire coastal belt.

This notice follows close on the heels of another notice served on the state government asking it to submit a report on the violation of religious and other rights guaranteed by the Constitution with specific reference to the headscarf row that has surfaced in educational institutions in Dakshina Kannada. Interestingly, the SHRC has taken suo moto cognisance of media reports in both cases to shoot off letters to the government seeking its reply.

SHRC chairman S R Nayak, who has consistently maintained that the government is not interested in empowering this statutory body, either by way of giving it requisite manpower or infrastructure facilities, told reporters here on Monday that the ugly head of moral policing should be nipped. Nayak directed the chief secretary, IGP (WR) and DC to submit reports on the issue within a month.

Replacement for Bipin

Nayak lambasted the state government for not posting an officer to replace Bipin Gopakrishna who has moved out of the commission on his promotion as additional director general of police on July 10. Bipin was serving the commission as an IGP. Nayak said neighbouring Tamil Nadu has posted an officer of the rank of DGP to serve on its commission and wondered why Bipin could not continue with the SHRC.

Nayak surmised that this could be partly because the state government is afraid that an empowered SHRC would expose state-sponsored atrocities that includes custodial torture and deaths and this could prove to be a major source of embarrassment to the authorities. “This is perhaps whey the state government is not willing to give us the staff and facilities needed and not acting on our repeated requests,” he said.

Referring to an instance of custodial death in R T Nagar police station and custodial torture at Amrutha Halli police station limits in Bangalore, Nayak said he has written to the state government asking them to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. “It is now up to the state government to do so to ensure fairness of investigations into these heinous cases of human rights violation,” Nayak added.

Court orders probe against IAS officer, top cops

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:05am IST

PUNE: A magistrate’s court here has ordered an inquiry under the Atrocities Act against IAS officer Makarand Khetmalis, deputy commissioner of police (crime) Anil Kumbhare and four others for allegedly making castiest remarks against an instrumentation engineer, Mahendra Adsule (31), of Pimpri.

The four others include the then assistant commissioners of police Vinod Satav of the crime branch, Pune, and Subhash Dange of the Swargate division, assistant police inspector Krantikumar Patil of the crime branch and constable S M Nalavade of Yerawada jail.

Judicial magistrate first class Umeshchandra More ordered an inquiry on August 21 under section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure acting on a private case filed by lawyer Sushilkumar Pise on behalf of Adsule.

The court requested the city police commissioner to appoint an officer of the rank of deputy superintendent of police to conduct an inquiry under rule 7 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1995.

In the complaint filed before the court, Adsule has alleged that the police had falsely implicated him in a criminal case at Khetmalis’ behest, who he said had a grudge against him over a personal matter.

Pise told the court that the policemen had misused their authority and had made casteist remarks against his client. In June 2008, they had sent Adsule to jail under the pretext of taking preventive action, he alleged.

CBI allowed to re-examine Thakkar

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:29am IST

PUNE: Amidst protests from defence lawyers opposing permission granted to re-examine a witness, the special court here on Tuesday permitted the CBI to examine cellphone operator Kiran Thakkar on material points in the fake stamp paper scam.

Special judge P R Bora, who is conducting the trial against 19 suspects, including top police officers, politicians and others, granted permission to the CBI in view of a Supreme Court ruling.

The contention of defence lawyers Vidhyadhar Koshe and Milind Pawar is that such permission cannot be granted as Thakkar’s evidence cannot be recorded again on factual matrix’. They charged the prosecution of trying to plug lacunas in the case.

Calming down the lawyers, the judge said the objections being raised by them had been considered by the apex court and that it had allowed the CBI to record Thakkar’s evidence.

In the last hearing held on August 18, Thakkar had said that the disbanded officials of the special investigation team (SIT), Pune, had collected diaries from his stall and residence in Mumbai.

During the proceedings on Tuesday, Thakkar told the CBI’s special public prosecutors Raja Thakare and Avdhut Chimalkar that the SIT had seized the diaries after the panchanama had been prepared. Thakkar could not recollect the dates when the SIT had visited him, but he admitted that the SIT officials had taken him to his office in Pune along with the diaries for the first time when he was grilled by Koshe.

Thakkar refuted Koshe’s suggestion that he was deposing falsely before the court to cover up the false panchanama, which was prepared by the SIT in respect of the seized diaries. Thakkar admitted that the SIT had seized the diaries after one-and-a-half-month of questioning him on seven to eight occasions when he was grilled by Pawar.

Another witness, Balasaheb Damodar Kapkar, a porter with the Jitendra Transport in Nashik, during his deposition gave details of the paper rolls collected from Bacchav Paper Mills in Nashik, which was delivered to Indian Trading Corporation, Bhiwandi, a firm run by co-suspect Madhukar Kulte on behalf of Abdul Karim Telgi. When Koshe asked Kapkar whether he had any personal knowledge of the people to whom he was delivering the goods, the witness replied in the negative. Kapkar could not furnish any evidence to prove that he was working as a porter when he was grilled by Pawar, but he claimed to be a member of the hamal panchayat in Nashik.

Special judge P R Bora on Tuesday shot down the plea of Kiran Thakkar when he sought his intervention in getting the outstanding bill amount of over Rs 3 lakh from Abdul Karim Telgi. Thakkar made the plea after he had completed recording his evidence. The judge told Thakkar that this was not the forum to raise such issues. Thakkar used to recharge the sim cards of Telgi and his gang members before 2002.

FDA to probe complaint of ‘overcharged’ angioplasty

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:36am IST

PUNE: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Pune division has ordered an inquiry against the Ruby hall clinic to probe allegations of overcharging’ the medical bills of a patient who had undergone a heart operation at the hospital last year.

“We have initiated an inquiry against the Ruby hall clinic against the complaint of Dattatray Zende, a cardiac patient, who had undergone angioplasty operation at the hospital in November. If the hospital is found to have overcharged the patient, we will take appropriate action against the hospital under the Drug and Price Control Order 1985,” P K Pawar, assistant commissioner (drugs) of FDA, told TOI on Tuesday.

Zende has also furnished his complaint with the Akhil Bharatiya Grahak Panchayat. Confirming this, founder president of the organisation Bindu Madhav Joshi told TOI, “Outrageously overcharging a patient on medical bills is a vicious practise, which is deeply rooted among private hospitals. We have taken up Zende’s case and will do whatever we can.”

Sujata Malik, medical director of the Ruby hall clinic, said, “We are ready to furnish all answers to the FDA during the inquiry. This is just an allegation.”

Meanwhile, Zende said, “I was outrageously overcharged on all medical bills by the Ruby hall clinic. For the two surgical stents used in the angioplasty operation, I was charged Rs 1.72 lakh. But when I enquired about the prices in the market later, I came to know that their prices collectively is not more than Rs 90,000. Even on other medical bills, including clot-busting injections, I have been charged more than the actual price in the market.”

He said, “The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has issued clear instructions to all pharmaceutical companies to display the prices of their surgical products and medicines on the websites, but this is not happening.”

5 sentenced to life for murder

TNN 26 August 2009, 12:50am IST

PUNE: Additional sessions judge R Y Shaikh on Tuesday sentenced five persons to life imprisonment and fined them Rs 4,600 each for murdering plumber Nitin Toradmal (25) of Thergaon at Supertech hospital in Pimpri in 2006.

The men convicted are Sandeep Gaware (19), Ramesh Barkhade (26), Umesh Barkhade (20), Sachin Gaware (22) and Pankaj Gaware (25), all residents of Thergaon.

Six other suspects, Vishal Barge, Mahesh Barne, Nliesh Barne, Shivaji Balwadkar, Sandeep Dighe and Girish Balgude were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Additional public prosecutor Vijay Phargade said a mob of 25 to 30 people armed with sharp weapons and sticks had severely attacked Toradmal and three others when they went to meet their ailing friend Ravi Bhilare at a hospital on February 7, 2006. Bhilare had been injured in a cricket dispute.

Phargade said the impact of the assault was such that Toradmal had died instantly and Avinash Barne, Yuvraj Chavan and Suresh Barne had sustained injuries.

The mob had damaged the glass of the intensive care unit and had also beaten up the hospital staff, Phargade stated.

The Nigdi police had taken action against 14 suspects, including three minors in the case on a complaint registered by Avinash Barve of Thergaon.

Phargade had examined 13 witnesses.

The prosecution had relied on the evidence of eye-witnesses, the weapons recovered, medical evidence and the chemical analyser’s report to prove men guilty.

42 convicted in fodder scam

TNN 25 August 2009, 09:50pm IST

RANCHI: A special CBI court on Tuesday convicted 42 accused in the infamous multi-crore fodder scam and granted bail to 11 others. Two of the accused persons were acquitted.

The case (RC 56A/96) is related to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 13.79 crore from the Gumla treasury. The court of special judge Asfaque Hussain Ansari held all the 42 accused persons guilty and pronounced sentence to 11 of the convicted persons.

All the 11 convicts, who were pronounced sentence on Tuesday, were awarded three-year rigorous imprisonment and fines ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 50 lakh. Since the imprisonment was pronounced for a maximum period of three years, all of them were granted bail by the court.

Two of the accused persons, Sunil Kumar Sinha and Ajay Verma, were acquitted by the court for lack of evidence against the charges levelled against them. Special public prosecutor S K Lal said that two of the accused persons, out of the total 44, were acquitted on Tuesday.

Those who were convicted and granted bail include Kumar Virat, Madhu Mehta, Surekh Devi, Naresh Kumar Agarwal, Naveen Kumar, Sudhir Ranjan, Sushil Kumar Sinha, Sanjay Uppal, S N Sinha, Dr Ram Raj Ram and Rajesh Mehta.

“The remaining 31 accused would be sentenced on Wednesday. This was the 33rd fodder scam case to be disposed of by the special CBI court,” Lal said.

A total of 53 fodder scam cases are being tried at the Ranchi special CBI court. All the cases are related to fraudulent withdrawals from Ranchi, Gumla, Simdega, Hazaribag, Dumka, Godda, Chaibasa and Palamu district treasuries.

Lawyers strike work again

25 August 2009, 10:47pm IST

SURAT: Court proceedings remained disrupted on Tuesday, as the lawyers have gone on an indefinite strike following no action by the chief justice of Gujarat High Court on their demand to transfer district and sessions judge R P Dholaria.

Hundreds of litigants and undertrials at Surat sub jail were left in the lurch with the striking lawyers abstaining from legal proceedings on Tuesday. Many litigants, who come from far-off places in the district, have suffered the most in the last two days as they have to return with the lawyers striking work.

Striking lawyers said the chief justice of Gujarat High Court had promised to take action in connection with the transfer of the district judge by August 23. Since the high court is yet to take any decision, the lawyers decided to go ahead with the indefinite strike.

Sources said the lawyers have been summoned by the unit judge of the high court on August 26.

“We have decided to stay from work for indefinite period with our demand to transfer the district judge. We have been summoned by the unit judge on August 26, but we have decided to continue our agitation,” said Ashit Mehta, senior member, Surat district Bar Association (SDBA).

India preparing cases; Swiss banks for specific evidence

PTI 25 August 2009, 04:49pm IST

NEW DELHI: Negotiating with Switzerland for treaty for unearthing black money stashed there, India will take up specific cases with swiss banks, who today said there must be concrete suspicion or evidence of wrongdoing for them to help.

Highly placed sources said that government is in the process of compiling the details and is expected to approach the Swiss authorities with specific cases.

Notwithstanding a revision in the Double Taxation Agreement between India and Switzerland, the Swiss Banks have made it clear that even under the new treaty fishing expeditions would not be allowed.

“I believe that India has lodged a request to revise its Double Taxation Agreement with Switzerland… (but) even under the new agreement and according to Organisation of Economic cooperation and Development Model Tax convention… there must be concrete suspicions and evidence of wrongdoing (for sharing the accounts details),” a top official of Swiss Bankers Association told PTI from Basel.

Government sources here said that India is already negotiating with Swiss government for revising double taxation avoidance treaty. The present treaty between the two nations was signed in 1995.

SBA’s Head of International Communications James Nason said “the privacy of clients innocent of any wrongdoing should remain protected and any unjustified snooping be firmly prohibited.”

C stays deportation of model Ujjwala Raut’s husband

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 25 August 2009, 05:03pm IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the deportation of Craig Maxwel Sterry, husband of international supermodel Ujjwala Raut till September 14.

The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court will decide on his petition by that time.

Locked in a bitter public spat over his crumbling marriage with Ujjwala Raut, the British national has last week moved the Supreme Court challenging the Centre’s decision to cancel his PIO card.

Within a couple of days of the Goa Bench of Bombay High Court refusing to stay the August 10 order cancelling his PIO card, Sterry was in the Supreme Court accusing the Centre of succumbing to pressure exerted by his “influential” wife, who had moved a divorce petition against him in 2008 before a family court in Mumbai.

“My wife being an extremely influential and powerful person has tried to create havoc in my life by initiating false complaints. Ujjwala Raut, in connivance with the respondents, has been lobbying for the cancellation of PIO card which was issued to me on October 11, 2006,” said model-turned-entrepreneur Sterry, who had married Raut, billed as India’s biggest international model, in New York in 2002.

Seeking a stay of the order cancelling his PIO card, Sterry through counsel Devadatt Kamat, sought protection from the apex court against any coercive step by the Centre and Goa government to deport him back to Britain.

“Ever since the birth of baby Ksha in 2005, things started getting sour in the relationship between the petitioners and Raut. The petitioner has been single handedly looking after Ksha throughout as his wife was busy with her modelling assignments,” the petition stated.

Sterry had recently sent out a letter containing graphic details of an ugly and violent scuffle between him and Raut at their Goa home, which was sorted out with the intervention of police. He had also given his version of how and why the marriage crumbled, obviously blaming Raut for it.

Raut, who has walked the ramp for the world’s leading designers like Ungaro, Cavalli, Gucci and Paul Smith, contested Sterry’s version and had said, “If Maxwell is alleging abuse and intimidation, why is he sending you (media) letters? Why is he not resorting to court procedures, which is how things should be.”

Man gets 7-yr RI for raping minor

PTI 25 August 2009, 04:56pm IST

DEHRADUN: A person has been sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment by a court here for kidnapping and raping a minor girl.
Additional District Judge (fourth) Narendra Dutt, while holding Uday Kumar of Sultanpur in UP guilty for the crime yesterday, also slapped a fine of Rs 7,000 on him, police said.

The incident took place on August 23, 2002 when Kumar took away the girl to his house in Sultanpur, they said.

Police raided the house and recovered the girl and handed her over to her family. Subsequently, Kumar was arrested.

In the court, the girl gave the statement that Kumar took her to Agra, Delhi, Lucknow and Sultanpur and raped her for four months before she was recovered by the police.

SC asks Centre to ensure safety of CAT members

TNN 26 August 2009, 01:22am IST

NEW DELHI: Concerned about the safety of members of the Central Administrative Tribunal, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to ensure that minimum courtesy be extended to them and they were not abused or manhandled by litigants or lumpen elements.

Dealing with an incident involving assault of a Bangalore Bench CAT member in Jharkhand by none other than a top police officer, a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan laid the general guideline that the Centre and the states would be responsible for providing adequate security to CAT members.

It asked the Centre and the states to provide adequate security to the Tribunal members within eight weeks.

The apex court had taken suo motu notice of a woman IPS officer of IG rank allegedly assaulting the judicial member of the CAT and had issued notices in March last year to the Centre and Jharkhand.

A letter received by the court had narrated how the IG-rank official, Nirmal Choudhary, ordered eight armed police personnel in uniform to assault CAT judicial member B V Rao on February 21, 2008, at Ranchi. Rao was on an official visit to Ranchi from Bangalore when the incident took place.

On the basis of the FIR lodged by Rao against Choudhary, the eight armed police personnel have already been suspended. Later, Choudhary had tendered an unconditional apology and cited unsoundness of mind for her irrational behaviour.

NTPC to file SLP in SC for gas at contracted price from RIL

PTI 25 August 2009, 01:04pm IST

NEW DELHI: State-run NTPC will file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court this week for procuring gas from Reliance Industries‘ KG-D6 at the contracted price of USD 2.34 per mmBtu.

“We will file SLP (in the Supreme Court) within the next 6-7 days,” Power Secretary H S Brahma told reporters here.

NTPC is fighting a case in the Bombay High Court to get gas from RIL at a committed price of USD 2.34 per mmBtu

BSNL decision to disqualify NSN right: Independent panel

PTI 25 August 2009, 05:26pm IST

NEW DELHI: BSNL’s decision to disqualify telecom equipment major Nokia-Siemens from participating in its Rs 32,000-crore GSM expansion project is held right by an independent panel of two former Chief Election Commissioners.

Two former CECs — B B Tandon and T S Krishnamurthy — were mandated to investigate the BSNL decision in the face of protest registered by Nokia-Siemens Network (NSN). The panel appointed by BSNL was duly approved by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC).

“BSNL’s selection of other vendors is right… The panel did not find merit in NSN’s argument,” a senior BSNL official told PTI on a condition of anonymity.

NSN did not respond on what would be their next step. The complaint was referred to the panel after NSN, which was disqualified on technical grounds, alleged that the state-run telecom major’s recent 93-million GSM lines tender was conducted in a non-transparent manner.

BSNL had chosen the bids by Ericsson and Huawei, while rejecting the offers made by three other vendors — Nokia Siemens, ZTE and Alcatel Lucent. However, BSNL has not placed the Advanced Purchase Orders (APOs) with the respective vendors so far.

Ericsson has emerged the lowest bidder for North and Eastern regions while Huawei was selected for the Southern region. BSNL is yet to decide on Western part and it may go to the PSU ITI under reservation category.

Q&A: ‘Manipur has become a lawless state’

26 August 2009, 12:00am IST

The recent report of Human Rights Watch on India focuses on the impunity enjoyed by the police. Meenakshi Ganguly , the organisation’s Asia representative, spoke to Jyoti Punwani :

What’s been your experience with the government?
Unlike other abusive states, the Indian state is simply uncaring and takes the ‘band aid’ approach ignoring the problem till it erupts. There is a culture of impunity and of covering up. In Manipur, for example, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act has created a force, which believes it is not accountable.

In 2004, Manorama Devi was picked up by the Assam Rifles and found dead five hours later. The prime minister promised justice, and a repeal of the law. But nothing’s happened. For a Manipuri, what does this mean? That the prime minister does not even remember his promise. Manipur has become a lawless state. In Kashmir, people defied boycott calls and voted; Kashmiri Muslims are still defensive about the Pandits. In Manipur, there’s no such space. The state has lost its legitimacy because it can neither provide justice nor safety to its citizens. People are forced to seek the protection of militant groups.

Militants don’t care much for human rights either.
In our Kashmir report, we did a section on human rights abuse by the militants. By and large, people find it difficult to criticise the armed groups in Kashmir and Manipur, both out of fear and loyalty. But it helps that we are an international organisation. Using us, people can get their view of the militants’ brutalities across. But then there’s a Shopian and a Sanjit encounter and we’re back to square one. Both the CMs of Kashmir and Manipur initially accepted the police version of these cases, despite knowing the record of their forces. There needs to be a strong political message to the forces that they will be held accountable. That will only happen if those responsible are prosecuted.

Is that possible?
I’m hopeful. When we released our Kashmir report, the army called me for a four-hour meeting. While there was initial disagreement, in the end our allegations were accepted as fair. It’s not as if abuse is inevitable. When a Rashtriya Rifles camp is set up, the commander is like a zamindar. If you have a professional commander, there are rarely any protests. The goodwill towards the uniform increases dramatically.

Now the Rashtriya Rifles are to counter the Naxalites in Chhattisgarh.
In Chhattisgarh, the state is completely responsible for the Naxalites having gained so much ground. What sort of government unleashes a vigilante group like the Salwa Judum? At least 80,000 adivasis were forced to live in camps, their lives destroyed. But the state’s only response is we must deal with the Naxalites. They have no intelligence network, how will they get information about the Naxalites? Civilians are bound to suffer. But we must acknowledge that the Naxalites too have used civilians forcibly as cooks and porters, and to extract information.

Notice to Maya over arson in Joshi’s house

TNN 26 August 2009, 04:27am IST

LUCKNOW: Rejecting objections of advocate-general Jyotindra Mishra, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday issued notice to chief minister Mayawati in connection with riot and arson at the residence of state Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

The bench also issued notice to CB-CID, governor’s principal secretary, Union government and CBI on the writ filed by Joshi seeking CBI probe into the case.

The division bench, comprising Justice Abdul Mateen and Justice Ashwani Kumar Singh, also directed the state government to submit a progress report on the CB-CID probe into the case. Joshi had claimed that in a bid to save face, the CB-CID had booked five innocents in the case.

Directing the respondents to file counter-affidavit in the matter, the bench fixed October 13 as the next date of hearing.

In the petition, Joshi had stated that while addressing a public meeting on July 15 in Moradabad, she had exhorted the SC/ST women to refuse compensation provided by chief minister under the SC/ST Act.

Joshi further said that she had asked the women to “throw the money on the face of CM Mayawati and tell her that if ever she happens to be a victim of rape then we shall pay Rs 1 crore.”

Though she did not mean to insult Mayawati, an FIR was registered against her under the SC/ST Act in Moradabad on the same day, said Joshi.

Immediately after the FIR was lodged, on the command of the chief minister BSP politicians/MLAs in Lucknow along with anti-social elements and under the protection of senior officials indulged in riot and arson at her residence, she added.

Pendency of cases a worry for PM, CJI

Press Trust Of India /  August 17, 2009, 1:03 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishanan on Sunday voiced concern over huge pendency of cases and judicial vacancies, but skipped the controversial issues of corruption in judiciary and declaration of assets by higher court judges.

Singh said despite its strengths, “India has to suffer the scourge of the world’s largest backlog of cases and timelines, which generate surprise globally and concern at home. In this war on arrears, the apex court has to discharge a vital role.

“The government will not be found wanting at any level in this joint effort. We promise to match each step of the judiciary with two of our own. We will not hesitate to walk the extra mile at every opportunity,” he said.

The Prime Minister and the CJI were speaking at a conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices of High Courts in New Delhi which comes in the midst of a national debate on instances of judicial corruption and raging controversy over declaration of assets by judges of higher judiciary.

Echoing similar sentiments, Balakrishnan said the “chronic shortage” of judicial officers was hindering efforts to overcome the backlog of cases. There are structural obstacles which discourage talented law graduates from joining the judicial services and over 17 per cent posts of judicial officers remained vacant in the subordinate judiciary, he said.

“There has undoubtedly been a chronic shortage of judicial officers, especially at subordinate level and there are also some structural obstacles which discourage talented law graduates from joining judicial services,” the CJI said. Referring to vacancies in high courts and subordinate courts, Singh said meritorious individuals should be appointed timely to judicial posts and vacancies should be filled up “without any loss of time”.

“The existing vacancies in high courts are quite high in number and need to be filled up urgently. I would urge the chief justices of high courts to initiate proposals for quickly filling up these posts.” Referring to the ambitious gram nyayalaya project, he said the legislation for village courts has been enacted in January this year, but is yet to be enforced by the states.

“I would urge that the state governments initiate immediate action to operationalise the Gram Nyayalayas Act in their states. Once the Act is fully implemented, we will have more than 5,000 courts at the intermediate panchayat level. These will bring justice to the doorsteps of the common people,” he said.

Singh said while there could be differing views on the adequacy of the assistance being provided, “this should not hold us from speedily bringing the Act into force”. Concerned over a large number of undertrials languishing in jails, he said, “Many such undertrials have been in jail for periods longer than they would have served had they been sentenced. There have been pronouncements of the high courts and the Supreme Court on this issue but still the number of undertrials in jails continues to be very large.”

The Elusive Consensus

Judges are not any different from others. At least that is what I think. That being so, why should there be a controversy about Their Lordships declaring their assets?

The Chief Justice of India indicated yesterday that a consensus is being reached on this. This is after the Karnataka High Court Judge, Justice Shailendra Kumar, chose to question the authority of the CJI to speak for all judges. Insisting on his right to speak on behalf of judges, the CJI said that the remarks of a Karnataka High Court judge cannot bring “embarrassment” to the judiciary. The CJI described Justice Kumar as “publicity crazy” and said such a thing was not good for a judge.

Well, as the basic issue remains unsolved, Justice Shailendra Kumar and Justice K. Kannan of the Punjab and Haryana High Court have declared their assets. The latter disclosed his assets by sending the details to Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court lawyer and convener of the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform. He was responding to a letter from Mr. Bhushan to all the judges in January suggesting that they voluntarily disclose their assets. Justice Kannan has declared that he has Rs 1.03 lakh in bank deposits, investment of Rs 3.87 lakh and Rs 10.59 lakh as deposits in his wife’s name. Congratulations, Mr. Justice Kannan.

Justice Kannan says,” Normally, it may not even sound civil to ask your own brother, sister or even a close friend about his or her financial details without offending his or her sensibilities and evoking a sense of embarrassment. Let us assume that the attitude is never like a peeping Tom’s voyeuristic proclivities- in this case, however, not in a prurient form, to purvey what is in a judge’s wallet but rationalize it on the ground that the person who is entrusted with the task of judging other’s conduct is beyond reproach. Ask this question, what do you do after getting the details? Should a judge be answering everyone how he has got the wealth that he has declared?”

Expressing unhappiness over the ongoing debate on judges’ assets declaration issue, former Chief Justice of India J S Verma says that CJI K G Balakrishnan should cut short the “unsavoury” debate on the issue by making public his own assets, claiming that most of the judges are ready for it.

In India, Judges are not elected as are done in U.S.A. They cannot be removed by people.

Justice Kannan adds:” What do you do with corrupt judges?…….. A judge that is corrupt cannot be tried by his own brother judge or an ordinary magistrate, as any other public servant is tried, can he be? ……If the existing mechanism is perceived as not being successful in preventing corruption in the judiciary, let us evolve better procedures for their recruitment and removal. That will give us answer to who shall access the records of assets of judges.”

Politicians have their own grudge. This is what JD(U) president Sharad Yadav has to say: “Be it judiciary or bureaucracy or media, no one is accountable in this country except political leaders, MPs and MLAs. Every one should be made accountable.”

Even while a consensus seems elusive, I will end with yet another quote from Justice Kannan. “Pompeia was perhaps a terribly wronged woman. In 62 BC she hosted the festival of the Bona Dea (“good goddess”), to which no man was permitted to attend. However a young patrician named Publius Clodius Pulcher managed to gain admittance disguised as a woman, apparently for the purpose of seducing Pompeia. He was caught and prosecuted for sacrilege. Caesar gave no evidence against Clodius at his trial, and he was acquitted. Nevertheless, Caesar divorced Pompeia, saying that “my wife ought not to be even under suspicion.”


Aug 25th, 2009

Should judges declare their assets?

August 25th, 2009

According to our constitution the law is same for everyone and we are all equals. But you and me know better than that and I guess it is not entirely so in practice. Some privileged lot is more equal than the others. The current debate between a section of judiciary on one hand and the legislature and the general public on the other is a pointer to this fact wherein no less a person than the Chief Justice Of India Mr KG Balakrishnan has indicated that he is not keen on this. Although he possibly cannot say anything publicly about his position but all the vague statements that he has made so far seem to suggest that he does not want judges to come under the ambit of any law wherein they have to declare their assets. In fact when one of the judges of a High Court volunteered to declare his assets the CGI has even gone to the extent of calling this judge ‘a publicity seeker’.

Isn’t the law same for all of us?

It all started off in February 2009 when the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform (CJAR) issued an Open Letter to Judges of all the High Courts and the Supreme Court to publicly declare their assets. In this letter they suggested that judges of High Court and Supreme Court should voluntarily declare their assets. Here is the relevant extract.

“By doing so, they would be setting an example of transparency in the country which would then be emulated by other public servants in the country. Such voluntary disclosure of assets by Judges (without resort to the RTI Act) would be applauded as an act of statesmanship by the people of this country, at a time when people have become cynical about the integrity of public servants. It would greatly advance the cause of transparency and probity in public life which is the basis of the Supreme Courts judgments.”

As you guys would be aware that the govt did plan to introduce a bill in Parliament wherein the judges would be bound to declare their assets but it was scuttled at the last minute because the judiciary (read CJI) did not want such information to be available in public domain. Pertinent to mention here that people like ex-CJI of India Mr JS Verma, Soli Sorabjee and Fali S Nariman have all endorsed this demand for declaration. As for us, we all have heard so many cases of corruption amongst the judiciary that we now more or less demand that judges declare their assets. But there are quite a few people like Justice K Kannan of Punjab and Haryana High Court who have put forward their arguments against this disclosure. These are-

1. The judges of Supreme Court are already declaring their assets to CJI. The judges of High Court can also do the same. If the CJI is satisfied with this arrangement, asking for these details to be available to public in general is like saying that CJI is not doing his job.

2. What do you do after getting the details? Should a judge be answering everyone how he has got the wealth that he has declared? Imagine a judge inquiring into allegations of disproportionate wealth case of a bureaucrat. In the course of the proceedings, what if the litigant asks the judge, ‘how did you obtain your wealth, before asking me to explain my riches?’

3. A corrupt judge will never really disclose his ill-gotten wealth. Instead it may give an opportunity to certain aggrieved people to be vindictive against an honest judge.

Well, perfectly valid arguments I’d say. But is it enough? I don’t think so. Here are a few more arguments in favor of the disclosure which have not been talked of so far.

1. If they declare their assets the judges can be held accountable for disproportionate income even long after they have retired implying that if a judge does one act of corruption he can be prosecuted at any time in his life, if that act ever comes to light.

2. It would be like impinging upon the powers of CJI who currently enjoys this priviledge of asking for these details.

3. The CJI himself will also come under this ambit unlike it is now (no offence meant to the CJI).

Frankly, non disclosure of the assets is a reflection of our colonial mindset wherein the Judiciary was considered above board. They could do no wrong. But in recent times given the number of cases of impropriety that have come to light it is now a need of the hour that judges be made accountable for their actions and their assets. Union Law and Justice minister Veerappa Moily has said that he is looking into the matter and plans to introduce another ’suitable’ bill in the next session of Parliament. Well, I’ll reserve my comments till such time I see that bill but I really hope he does justice to the word ’suitable’.

Well, those are my views. What are yours? Do you feel that in todays time it is okay to keep the judges above this law or should they be treated like all the other public servants? Tell me. I’m waiting………………Sush Jaitly

Will NTPC knock on apex court’s doors?

Raj Kumar Sahu

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 (New Delhi)

While the two Ambani brothers slug it out in court, over the price of gas, it’s state-led National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) that seems to be caught between a rock and hard place.

NTPC may want to win cheaper gas to serve its shareholders

, but the trouble is that its largest shareholder is the government, which it seems, is in no mood to escalate the fight.

As the gas pricing dispute between the estranged Ambani brothers nears its Supreme Court date, the panel deciding the government’s stand on the dispute met for one final time and said the Petroleum Ministry will file a revised special leave petition on the dispute soon.

M Veerappa Moily, Law Minister, said, “It was an informal meeting and the Petroleum Ministry will file the revised SLP soon.”

Now, what remains unclear is whether at this crucial meeting the government has allowed state-owned NTPC, which is also battling Reliance Industries for cheaper gas, to take its appeal to the next and the ultimate authority, the Supreme Court.

“It’s on NTPC whether to file SLP or not,” Moily said.

But NDTV learnt from sources that NTPC may not approach the Supreme Court at all and that its fight for gas that was negotiated at a cheaper price, will be part of the modified petition that the Oil Ministry will file.
That should help protect NTPC’s interest, though it may not raise the pitch on this battle.

Well, NDTV also learns that an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) may be formed for allocating any production beyond 40 mmscmd from Krishna Godavari Basin’s D-6 block.

However, earlier members of the panel maintained that it is only for overseeing the government’s stand in the gas dispute. It took four meetings of this panel to accept that there are disputes between ministries and now, as the panel met for the last time the focus shifts to the Supreme Court hearing.
But before that it would be interesting to see if the Petroleum Ministry makes any changes at all before filing the SLP again.

Staff of aided minority educational institutions can file writ pleas, rules HC

Employees of government-aided minority educational institutions are entitled to approach the High Court against disciplinary proceedings initiated against them and there is no embargo on invoking the writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Allowing a writ appeal filed in the Madurai Bench against the dismissal of the Principal of American College here, a Division Bench comprising Justices V. Ramasubramanian and D. Hariparanthaman said: “Disciplinary proceedings initiated against such employees cannot be said to be beyond the pale of judicial review under Article 226.”

The Bench held that none of the Supreme Court decisions emphasising the right of minority educational institutions to appoint persons of their choice as Principal/Headmaster could be applied in cases of termination/dismissal from service as these cases involved infringement of right to livelihood guaranteed under Article 21.

Writing the judgment, Mr. Justice Ramasubramanian said: “A candidate seeking appointment or promotion to the post of Principal/Headmaster does not have a vested right except a right to be considered. In contrast, a person appointed as Principal/Headmaster gets certain rights vested in him by virtue of such appointment.”

T. Chinnaraj Joseph Jaikumar had filed the present case against his dismissal from the post of Principal of American College. Citing the Supreme Court ruling in the T.M.A. Pai Foundation case (2002), the college management claimed that the Principal, being an employee of a minority institution, was not entitled to file a writ petition.

Rejecting the contention, the Division Bench said special tribunals had not been constituted, as suggested by the apex court, to redress grievances of employees subjected to punishment. “Therefore, as on date, employees of minority institutions, especially those receiving grant-in-aid of the State, cannot be shut out from this court.”

Further, “The suggestion was to create special tribunals as an alternative to other forums. It was not a suggestion to create a forum to replace the writ jurisdiction… After the Supreme Court decision in L. Chandrakumar’s case (1997), even orders of administrative tribunals, constituted as alternative to writ jurisdiction, became vulnerable to writ jurisdiction,” the judges pointed out.

The Bench rejected the contention that the College was administered by the ‘Governing Council of American College,’ a society registered in June 1934 and that a writ against a society was not maintainable. It said the court was empowered to issue directions to any person or authority when an element of public duty was cast upon them.

The Supreme Court in Anadi Mukta Sadguru’s case (1989) held that even a trust was amenable to writ jurisdiction. It was held therein that when public money was paid as government aid, the aided institutions discharge public functions and they become subject to the rules and regulations.

Pinarayi’s plea now in criminal writ section

Express News Service

First Published : 25 Aug 2009 01:07:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 25 Aug 2009 09:42:42 AM IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The petition filed by CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in the Supreme Court challenging the Governor’s order sanctioning his prosecution in the SNC-Lavalin case has been transferred to the criminal writ section. Earlier, the petition had been included in the public interest litigation category.

The inclusion of a personal complaint in the PIL has raised many eyebrows and invited criticism from several quarters. On Monday, the Supreme Court Registrar directed to transfer the petition to section 10, which handles criminal writ petitions.

The petition filed by Parekh and Company on behalf of Pinarayi was caught in legal wrangles from day one. The Supreme Court Registry returned the first petition filed by Pinarayi as neither the Governor nor the CBI was included in the list of respondents. Later, he corrected the petition and added the CBI as a respondent. The petition was then included in the PIL category against norms. The SC will consider the petition on August 31.

Contempt case: Coast Guard DG apologises

TNN 25 August 2009, 05:26am IST

CHENNAI: The director general of the Indian Coast Guard, Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, appeared before the Madras high court on Monday and apologised for the authorities’ failure to comply with an order of the court and his own inability to come to court on two earlier occasions.

Noting that the coast guard had intensified its activities after the November 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai, Anil Chopra said he could not attend to court work as he was preoccupied with the national duty.

A division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi, accepting his apologies and letting him go in a few minutes, counselled the official: “National interest requires preference. You must also see that court orders are complied with. We are sure you will make all the endeavour to comply with court orders.”

The matter relates to the travails of Mohammed Abbas Mohideen, who joined the coast guard as assistant commandant (technical) in August 1989. Following a tiff with his superior officers over taking possession of a Thai vessel which had strayed into Indian waters in 1994, “malicious charges” were framed against Mohideen and he was dismissed from service by a coast guard court in 1995.

He filed a writ petition and a single judge ruled in his favour. The coast guard top brass then preferred a writ appeal. Dismissing the appeal in February 2009, a division bench of Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice S Tamilvanan passed strictures against the commanding officer who had framed the charges against Abbas Mohideen and concluded that the whole proceedings had been vitiated by bias and malafide attitude.

While setting aside the dismissal order, the bench had directed the coast guard to reinstate Abbas Mohideen and accord him the due service and promotional benefits. Had it been implemented in letter and spirit, he would have been made a deputy commandant with effect from December 1995 and commandant with effect from August 2002.

Though he was reinstated in May 2009, he was not given pay, allowances and arrears he was entitled to. Assailing the “lethargic attitude” of the officials in complying with court orders, Abbas Mohideen initiated the contempt proceedings, which led to the personal appearance of the coast guard director general in court on Monday.

Besides recording the submissions of the coast guard that the court orders would be given effect to, the judges told the counsel to help Abbas Mohideen meet the director general to express his grievances.

Allow ousted college head to continue, says HC

TNN 25 August 2009, 05:40am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras high court has held that Dr T Chinnaraj Joseph Jayakumar, the ousted principal of The American College in Madurai, is entitled to continue in the post, and directed the higher education authorities to hand over the college administration to him.

A division bench comprising Justice V Ramasubramanian and Justice D Hariparanthaman, setting aside the proceedings initiated against the principal, asked the regional director of collegiate education to hand over charge of the administration to him.

Allowing the writ appeal from Dr Chinnaraj, the bench said that the whole proceedings initiated against him, culminating in the order of dismissal, was illegal. The bench also held that he was entitled to continue as principal with all consequential benefits without having to go to a civil court.

It all started when Dr Chinnaraj applied for leave from April 9, 2008 and May 2, 2008 for his trip abroad. He, however, on April 8 withdrew his decision and called off his tour due to “recent developments.”

The Bench observed: “It is possible at times, due to irony of fate, for an insignificant event to get flared up into a huge controversy, is amply demonstrated by the batch of cases on hand.” Police complaints followed by certain untoward incidents occurred. “The Gurukshetra (abode of teachers) became Kurukshetra (battle field), the bench observed.

HC says Siddha doctors need to show proof of qualification

TNN 25 August 2009, 05:32am IST

CHENNAI: The city-based Thiruvancore Raja Vaidhya Salai, whose founder P Vijayakumar was arrested on July 16 for cheating and breach of trust, cannot be reopened unless authentication documents issued by competent authorities are furnished, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Justice KN Basha, granting conditional bail to the siddha practitioner on Monday, said: “Vijayakumar shall not practice as he was practising earlier either in siddha or ayurvedic. He should not run the nursing home — Thiruvancore Raja Vaidhya Salai — either by himself or through his relatives or his men, unless and until he produces authenticated documents viz the certificates issued by the Medical Council regarding his qualification and registration before the investigating officer.”

The city police arrested Vijayakumar on July 19 after complaints were received from patients from Dubai and Bangalore alleging that they had been induced to part with huge amounts, ranging from Rs 6.3 lakh to Rs 22 lakh.

His senior counsel, seeking bail, contended that the complaint had been lodged with ulterior motive and that there was no complaint whatsoever from anyone for the past 15 years.

Opposing bail for him, government advocate (criminal side) said a total of 20 cases had been registered against the doctor‘ and that he had obtained bail in three cases so far. He is not a competent medical practitioner, as he has not obtained any certificates from the Medical Council, it was submitted.

Justice Basha, pointing out that Vijayakumar was in jail since July 16, the entire allegations against him are borne out by records and documents. Recording an undertaking given on behalf of Vijayakumar, the judge asked him to give two demand drafts, each for a sum of Rs 2 lakh, to two of the complainants. He must furnish a property security for Rs 50 lakh, and execute a personal bond for Rs 50,000, besides two sureties for a like sum each. He must appear before the police daily at 10.30 for a period of four weeks.

Karnataka HC judge declares assets

Express News Service

First Published : 25 Aug 2009 07:17:36 AM IST

Last Updated : 25 Aug 2009 07:54:12 AM IST

BANGALORE: Karnataka High Court judge Justice D V Shylendra Kumar declared his assets and liabilities and submitted them before the Registrar General of the High Court on Monday.

Justice Kumar had advocated that judges of the Supreme Court and High Court must declare their assets and liabilities to the public and had, recently written a two-part article in The New Indian Express about it.

While submitting details of his assets and liabilities, Justice Kumar told the Registrar General of the High Court that the information should be made available to the public, sources in the High Court said. The Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court is yet to decide whether or not to allow the information to be made available on the website.

Justice Kumar, who had enrolled as an advocate on June 30, 1976 and practised at the Madras and Karnataka High Courts, had, to his credit, made several judgments with public importance and social concern.

Last year, while dealing with a petition regarding licence issue of iron ore mining in Bellary district, he had personally visited the spot and then pronounced the judgment. It was considered a unique judgment in which he had banned mining in forest areas. However, later the division bench of the High Court reversed his judgment.

When contacted, Registrar General of the High Court R B Budhihal refused to comment on Justice Kumar’s declarations.

Meanwhile, former judges of the Supreme Court and High Court are rallying behind Justice Kumar, who had come out openly against apprehensions expressed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on judges declaring assets.

Karnataka Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde said all judges should declare their assets as “they too are public servants’’.

Hegde, who declared his assets soon after being nominated for the Karnataka Lokayukta, said he “did not find any difference between a judge of a lower court and a superior court. In fact those in the higher position should declare their assets and become more transparent’’.

“A public servant should have the right to ask another public servant’s details. Leaving out judges would send wrong signals.

I am for more transparency in the judiciary, executive and legislature,’’ he said, wondering why Parliament had not approved the Lok Pal Bill yet.

Former Karnataka HC Judge Chandrashekharaiah echoed his opinion. “Every judge should declare his or her assets as the public have a right to know. Why should judges be given special privileges?” he asked.

“Because someone has apprehensions about misuse of the provisions of the RTI Act, we cannot drop it. Let there be some provisions to punish those misusing or found misusing the Act,” he said.


Karnataka HC judge Justice D V Shylendra Kumar’s recent twopart article in The New Indian Express on the issue of judges making their assets public, has stirred up a hornet’s nest.

“Make details of my assets and liabilities available to the public at large,” Justice Kumar directed the Registrar General of the High Court.

HC issues suo motu notice to check illegal growth of colonies in Zirakpur

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Aug 25, 2009 at 0522 hrs Chandigarh:

In order to check the mushrooming of illegal colonies in Zirakpur, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the Chief Administrator, Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA), and Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab, to file their replies on a suo motu notice issued by a Single member Bench of the High Court.

The notice was issued by Justice A N Jindal on a news item in an English daily on July 30.

The news item highlighted that a man was electrocuted in a bid to save his inverter from rainwater entering his house due to the non-effective sewage system. Justice Jindal observed that there appears to be a situation of chaos and danger to the health of residents of Zirakpur, which is known as the gateway to the capital of Punjab and Haryana.

“It is the entry point of the three states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, but the Punjab has neglected this area for development. A large number of unauthorised colonies are mushrooming in Zirakpur in an unplanned manner. The real estate developers of the area promise to provide roads, sewage and 24-hour drinking water and electricity supply, but after allotting the flats/plots, they fail to honour their word. The illegal encroachments on the Patiala-Zirakpur highway can be easily spotted. The fault does not lie with the developers but PUDA, which grants permission to the developers to construct flats or carve out colonies after charging hefty amounts for developing the approaching roads, but does nothing at its end,” Justice Jindal said.

Noida land scam: HC stays arrest of four officials

Esha Roy

Posted: Aug 25, 2009 at 0334 hrs IST

Allahabad In a setback to the Uttar Pradesh government, the Allahabad High Court on Monday stayed the arrest of four government officials, who along with 11 others were charged in the multi-crore Noida hotel land scam.

The Division Bench comprising Justices Ravindra Singh YC Gupta has directed the state government not to take any coercive action against the officials.

The next hearing in the case is on September 16. The court has granted a fortnight to the state government to file a counter-affidavit on the petition, said senior advocate Gopal Chaturvedi, appearing on behalf of the petitioners.

The state government had suspended the 15 officials on August 10 and later lodged an FIR against them for their alleged involvement in the allocation of plots in Noida for construction of five-star hotels.

According to the FIR, the government incurred a loss of Rs 4721.14 crore in the allotment.

Of the 15 officials, four— Noida chairman Rakesh Bahadur, Divisional Commissioner of Meerut Dev Dutt, the then Chief Executive Officer of Noida Sanjeev Saran and the then Chief Project Engineer LK Gupta — filed a criminal writ on August 18 in the Allahabad High Court seeking quashing of FIR and a stay on the arrest.

HC order to DM on road to bridge

TNN 25 August 2009, 04:02am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court on Monday directed the Begusarai DM to acquire land for an approach road to the rail-road bridge over the Ganga river between Munger and Begusarai, which is nearing completion.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice P K Misra and Justice Anjana Prakash passed the order on the PIL of lawyer Abhay Shankar Singh, who submitted that though the bridge is almost complete, the administration has not taken any step for providing an approach road to it.

The court disposed of the PIL with a directive to the DM to provide land for the approach road near Sahebpur Kamal in the district.

CJI now seeks consensus among superior court judges on the issue

2 HC judges, including Kumar, declare assets

New Delhi/Bangalore, Aug 25, DH News Service:
Days after differing with the Chief Justice of India over the assets’ disclosure issue, Karnataka High Court judge D V Shylendra Kumar on Monday declared his assets and liabilities before the court’s Registrar General.
Joining Justice Kumar in the midst of a divisive debate over the declaration of assets by the judges of superior courts under the Right to Information (RTI) Act during the day was Punjab and Haryana High Court judge K Kannan, who too declared his assets.

Justice Kannan sent a copy of the declaration to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court. A senior judge of the Madras High Court was expected to follow Justice Kannan’s footsteps.

The move by Justices Kumar and Kannan came in the immediate backdrop of the former’s public articulation that the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts should volunteer to declare their assets within the purview of the RTI Act. He has gone further and questioned the views aired by Chief Justice of India  K G Balakrishnan.

Justice Kannan provided details of assets owned by him and his wife. But he clarified he had not intended to defy the CJI on the issue of judges declaring their assets.

“I am neither taking on the Chief Justice of India nor are my views different from his on the subject of declaration of assets by the judges of Supreme Court and High Courts. I have been misunderstood,” Justice Kannan said.

Reacting to the declaration of assets by the high court judges earlier during the day, Justice Balakrishnan said in the evening that he had no problem if individual judges declared their assets.

‘‘I do not have any problem if individual judges declare their assets, but we have taken a stand before the Delhi High Court,’’ Justice Balakrishnan said, speaking to reporters after a function here on the Supreme Court premises.

However, the CJI said though every high court judge was free to declare his/her assets, the apex court needed to reach a consensus on the issue. “We are trying to evolve a consensus on the issue,” the CJI said.

On Saturday, Justice Balakrishnan had termed as “publicity crazy” the views expressed by Justice Kumar  that the CJI had no “authority to speak for all other judges of the superior courts of this country” on the assets’ declaration issue.

Contentious issue

The issue of assets’ declaration by superior court judges had become a contentious issue ever since the Supreme Court  rushed to the Delhi High Court seeking an injunction against the Central Information Commission’s queries to the CJI early in January. The CJI had initially suggested that the RTI did not apply to the apex court, implying that the judges were not required to make public disclosure of their assets.
Questions were also raised if the superior court judges were “public servants” as defined under RTI, though way back in 1991 the Supreme Court had ruled that the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts were public servants.

The Centre has hardly helped to clarify the situation as it virtually upheld the CJI’s position in a suggestion. It proposed in the aborted Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill earlier this month that the declarations by the judges need not be disclosed but only required to be submitted with the President. Justice Kumar, in his public articulation last week, sought to clarify the situation. “It’s a misnomer to think that the judges of the superior courts are not ready to disclose their assets,” he said.

1997: Superior court judges are public servants, rules SC

1997: Conference of CJs declares judges should voluntarily declare their assets

Jan 2009: Central Information Commission writes to CJI on assets declaration

Jan 2009: Apex court gets Delhi HC injunction against assets’ declaration

July 2009: CJI opposes making public declaration of assets by judges; Justice Kumar questions this view

HC turns down BJP MP’s plea

TNN 24 August 2009, 10:52pm IST

ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court, on Monday, refused to stay the arrest of BJP MP Rama Kant Yadav against whom an FIR was lodged under Section 302, 307 of IPC for opening fire on the members of Ulema Council in which one person died. The allegation against the MP was that he shot dead one Abdul Rehman and injured three members of the Council.

Passing the order, a division bench comprising Justice Ravindra Singh and Justice YC Gupta said that the petitioner may surrender in the court concerned.

The allegation in the FIR was that the members of Ulema Council and its national president Aamir Rashadi were going to Azamgarh. The convoy of MP was behind the Council’s fleet of vehicles. The MP’s convey requested for the pass to overtake the Council’s vehicles but due to non-offering of the pass, the two groups clashed resulting into the death of one person and injuries to three others.

The FIR regarding the incident was registered with Phulpur police on August 12. The MP had challenged the validity of the FIR and sought relief to quash it.

Coast Guard Director General tenders apology in HC


Chennai, Aug 24 (PTI) Director General of Coast Guard Vice Admiral Anil Chopra today tendered an apology in the Madras High court for not appearing before it in connection with a contempt application.

Chopra told the court that he was on ‘national duty’ following the November 26 last strike by terrorists in Mumbai and was unable to appear in the court.

A contempt petition was filed against Coast Guard after it failed to implement a court order on the reinstatement of an officer, who was dismissed from service for failing to discharge his duty in a proper manner in 1995.

Chopra, who was told to appear in the court in connection with the contempt application, had failed to do so.

One judge can’t cause embarrassment to judiciary: CJI


Posted: Monday , Aug 24, 2009 at 1744 hrs New Delhi:

Insisting on his right to speak on behalf of judges, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Monday said that the remarks of a Karnataka High Court judge cannot bring “embarrassment” to the judiciary.

“How can the remarks of a single judge cause embarrassment. It (judiciary) is a big institution,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function in the Supreme Court.

He was asked whether the judiciary does not feel embarrassed over the remarks of Justice Shailendra Kumar, who had questioned the authority of the CJI to speak for all judges of superior courts on the issue of declaration of assets.

Justice Balakrishnan asked “how can a single judge cause embarrassment to such a big institution”.

He also said he had made some general comments (about judges) and maintained “I think I have got that right”.

Yesterday, the CJI described Justice Kumar as “publicity crazy” and such a thing was good not good for a judge.

Justice Balakrishnan said there was a need to reach consensus on the issue of declaration of assets by judges.


Joshi’s writ demanding CBI probe to be heard tomorrow


Lucknow, Aug 24(PTI) Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi has filed a writ petition in the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court seeking direction for a CBI probe into arson at her residence.

The writ petition, which was filed on Aug 22 will come up for hearing tomorrow.

On July 15, few BSP workers led by some leaders allegedly set Joshi’s house on fire after which a case was registered by the police.

Though the state government had ordered a CB-CID probe into the incident, Congress had been demanding a CBI inquiry.

The party had also launched a state-wide agitation to protest against the incident and press for its demand of a CBI probe.

Mathrubhumi – English News – Pinarayi’s writ shifted from PIL section

New Delhi: The writ petition filed by CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan challenging the decision of the Governor in the Lavlin case, has been shifted from public interest litigations section to criminal writ sections.

SIKKIM: Hearing on NH 31-A writ petition in Supreme Court today

Posted by barunroy on August 24, 2009


DARJEELING: The hearing on the writ petition concerning the forceful closure of the National Highway 31 A by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) will take place in the Supreme Court on August 24.

Top GJM leaders Amar Lama and Anmole Prasad today headed to New Delhi to attend the scheduled hearing tomorrow.

While talking with the reporters today, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri said that in the year 2005, OP Bhandari, the former OSD of the Chief Minister of Sikkim had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court on the problems faced by the Sikkimese people due to regular National Highway bandh.

In the petition, Mr. Bhandari had stated that Sikkim should be kept aloof from the bandh purview of National Highway 31A.

“At a time of filing the writ petition, Mr Bhandari had made Gorkha Rashtriya Mukti Morcha as the respondents. Last year, the writ petition was admitted making GJM, Jan Jagran Manch, Jan Chetna and Amra Bengali as the respondents,” GJM general secretary added.

Speaking to SIKKIM EXPRESS over phone today, Mr. Bhandari said, “I have filed the petition keeping in view the interest of the Sikkimese people”.

At the same time, the GJM general secretary informed of starting an awareness campaign by three of its members in the North East region of India from today. “The team will put its best effort in making all the Gorkhali residing in NE states about the importance of Gorkhaland,” he said.

Regulate indecent depiction in media: NCW

Aarti Dhar

Dominating Kalyani or ‘Dadi Sa’ of television serial Balika Vadu or Ammaji of ‘Na Aana Is Desh Meri Lado’ portraying women in a negative role, or for that matter scantily clad women in clips advertising men’s products may require the government’s approval before being aired or published if the recommendation for a Central authority to regulate representation of women is approved by Parliament.

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has made this suggestion in a fresh draft of the Prohibition of Indecent Representation of Women and Children Act, 2008, an amendment to the existing Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

The NCW has, however, stressed on “an obligation to create and maintain a self-regulatory mechanism.”

NCW chairperson Girija Vyas told journalists here on Monday that the recommendations had been sent to Centre.

“The existing Act does not have enough powers to deal with the electronic media, internet and mobile phones. It also lacked proper implementation and there were hardly any convictions, hence the need for a new law.” The proposed Central authority would be headed by the Member Secretary, NCW, with representatives from the Advertising Standards Council of India, Press Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and one member experienced in working on women’s issue to be nominated by the women’s panel.

The authority would receive complaints, appeals and grievances or take suo motu notice with powers to requisition tapes of any programmes or advertisements of publication .

It would recommend to the Centre, guidelines or norms or amendments to laws and be vested with the powers of a civil court. Dr. Vyas said. “It is equally important that women refuse to be portrayed as commodities and in a derogatory manner. Women should act as role models.”

Widening the scope of the Act, the definition of “advertisement” will now include any notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document, laser, light, sound, electronic or any other media.

Women’s panel asks Noida old-age home to reimburse ex-resident

Pragya Kaushika

Posted: Tuesday , Aug 25, 2009 at 0112 hrs Noida:

The National Commission for Women has come to the aid of a 66-year-old woman who was allegedly thrown out by an old-age home in Noida’s Sector-55.

Asha Rani spent around eight months at the Anand Niketan Vridha Sewa Ashram before she was thrown out on March 2.

In a verdict against the ashram and one of its trustees, Neelima Mishra, NCW member Yasmin Abrar ordered the trust to pay Rs 60,000 to Rani, who had deposited Rs 1 lakh with the ashram for her stay, besides Rs 8,000 as entry fees.

When contacted, Abrar said the ashram told the Commission that Rs 30,000 had been deducted by the Income Tax department. The ashram also said Rani’s room had been kept locked in her absence and had not been rented out. “They were quoting a much higher figure as expenses but when I intervened, they agreed to charge only Rs 10,000 as expenses,” Abrar said.

“I am glad that at least some justice has been delivered. The old age home had locked my belongings in the room I was staying in and for the past five months I have been living without my things. They have been returned to me now, after the NCW ordered the old age home to do so,” Rani said.

Rani was thrown out of her home in Azadpur by her two sons and daughter-in-laws two years ago. “My husband refused to leave any property in my name and my sons thought I was a burden. My relatives helped me in finding this old-age home, where I was harassed, after I was forced to leave home. Now, I am living in an ashram in Haridwar,” Rani said.

At the ashram in Noida, Rani was allegedly denied food and the company of other residents for trying to be “friendly and social”. Sunita Khurana, Rani’s niece, said Rani told her over the phone that the old age home had stopped her supply of food from the mess and that others at the home had been warned against talking to her. She was asked to leave the home.

“We appointed a tiffinwala for her but we were not allowed inside the old-age home to meet her,” Sunita has alleged.

Women’s panel to tackle abandoned NRI wives’ complaints

( Aug 24 2009 )

With a rise in cases of Indian women being deserted by their husbands on foreign shores, the National Commission for Women (NCW) Monday announced setting up of an NRI Cell on Aug 27 to tend to such complaints and counsel the victims. “Parliament has designated NCW as the coordinating agency at the national level to receive and process all the complaints related to Indian women deserted by their overseas Indian husbands. We have decided to launch a NRI cell to counsel the women in this regard,” NCW chairperson Girija Vyas told reporters in New Delhi.
According to official data, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has so far received 42 complaints of women being abandoned by their NRI husbands. In 2008, the ministry reported 55 such cases.

NCW Announces Special Cells For Violence Against Women In Delhi

Last Updated: 25-08-2009 09:35:20 IST

The National Commission for Women has plans for launching special cells which will put a check on the increasing number of violence cases against women in the capital city of India, New Delhi.

The Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Delhi Police have been roped in by the NCW for the project, which they plan to launch by the end of 2009. The project will be administered and sponsored by the Tata Institute and funded entirely by the NCW.

“The cell will provide services in policy assistance on criminal complaints, placements, referral to family service agencies, counselling, legal aid and generating awareness on violence against women,” NCW chairperson Girija Viyas told reporters in New Delhi on Monday.

According to Vyas, NCW came up the idea of launching these special cells after the NCW’s pilot project “Save the Home – Save the Family” became a huge success.

“The project has been a great success and in a year we received 12,895 complaints of domestic violence. Of these, action was taken in 7,509 and 1,077 complaints have been sorted out,” she said.

Vyas added that police personnel will be trained and sensitized by the NCW so that they have the potential to deal with any form of violence against women.

‘Maya using public money to honour Kanshi Ram’s will’

Dhananjay Mahapatra , TNN 25 August 2009, 02:48am IST

NEW DELHI: The UP government’s Dalit card argument that chief minister Mayawati’s statues were installed in parks to honour BSP founder Kanshi Ram’s last wishes virtually boomeranged as the PIL petitioners wanted to know from the Supreme Court whether public money could be spent to honour a private person’s will.

The state in its response to the PIL, which questioned crores of rupees being spent from the exchequer to install the CM’s statues, had said that Kanshi Ram in his will had said that Maya’s statues should be installed alongside his own. The petitioners, argued before a Bench that the gist of the state’s argument was that it was implementing the will of Kanshi Ram.

“Should the state pay for implementation of a private person’s will,” they asked. But senior advocate Harish Salve said, “The issue raised in the PIL is not justiciable in a court of law. The budgetary allocations were passed by the assembly and there is no hint of the sanctioned money being misused. There had been no violation of any law or fundamental rights of the petitioners. How is this PIL maintainable,” he said.

PIL against DGP and ADGP for fund embezzlement

TNN 25 August 2009, 06:34am IST

RANCHI: A PIL has been filed at Jharkhand High Court against director general of police (DGP) V D Ram, additional director general of police (ADGP) Rajiv Kumar and a dozen others for embezzlement from the Secret Services (SS) funds.

The PIL filed by advocate Ram Subag Singh alleged that DGP V D Ram and ADGP Rajiv Kumar have embezzled funds drawn from the state treasuries at Project Bhavan and Doranda.

The petitioner has alleged Ram withdrew Rs 5.6 crores from the SS fund and spent it within 15 days. Similarly, Kumar withdrew Rs 2.5 crores from the SS fund. The petitioner further alleged that the secretaries of the Union and the state governments and 11 other respondents are also parties to the alleged embezzlement.

In this regard, a letter of the Comptroller and Accountant General dated June 2, 2009 said that non-observance of provisions of Special Branch (SB) manual and the Bihar Financial Rules (BFR) have taken place. Further, Rule 300 of Bihar Treasury Code, Volume I, as per the law has not been observed nor the corresponding administrative audit has taken place.

The petition quoted deputy accountant general, M Roy Malakar, in a letter dated June 17, 2009 in which he doubted that “In view of the huge amounts involved and the inordinate delay in submission of the requisite documents, the possibility of fraud, embezzlement and misappropriation of government funds cannot be ruled out.”

The petitioner prayed for a CBI inquiry and removal of the DGP and the ADGP from their posts suspecting that they are could influence the investigation while holding their posts.

Incidentally, two similar PILs had been filed by Om Prakash and Raju Kumar against DGP and ADGP on July 17 and July 23, for embezzlement in the SS funds meant for Naxal operations and spy networks.

PIL challenges ban on Jaswant book

TNN 25 August 2009, 06:17am IST

AHMEDABAD: Five days after the state government banned Jaswant Singh’s controversial book ‘Jinnah-India, Partition, Independence’, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in Gujarat High Court on Monday, challenging it. This PIL may come up for hearing before a larger Bench headed by the chief justice later this week.

Raising the issue of fundamental rights of citizens to access the book, citybased activists Prakash Shah and Manishi Jani have challenged the notification issued by the government forfeiting and prohibiting publication, sale and circulation of the book under section 95 of the CrPC.

They have termed this as a “colourable exercise by Narendra Modi government with political considerations in view of the approaching by-elections.” They have dubbed this as “an example of defective exercise of power” as the notification does not provide concrete grounds for banning the book.

“The justification for ban such as “national interest”, “misleading to the public”, “tranquility of the public”, “against the interest of the state” are extraneous to the provisions of section 95,” stated the petition adding that it’s not enough merely to reproduce the language of various sections, but the government should specify reasons.

In fact, the petitioners have argued that the reason that government fears communal instigation with denigration of Sardar Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru doesn’t stand at all because the two leaders do not form a class that could be incited for rioting as per section 153 B of IPC.

Maintaining that they do not share the political ideology of expelled BJP leader, the petitioners have demanded revocation of ban on Singh’s book by stating that it’s a historical work and Singh has dealt with the subject purely from historical point of view and avoided offensive and abusive language. The petition demands an immediate stay on the government’s decision and urges the court to allow the book to be made available for reading in Gujarat.

Petition not to consider coach for Dronacharya award dismissed

Published by: Noor Khan
Published: Mon, 24 Aug 2009 at 20:12 IST

F Prev Next L

// Kochi: A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) praying not to consider Kabaddi coach J Udaykumar for the Dronacharya award on the alleged ground of molestation and corruption was today dismissed by the Kerala High Court with a cost of Rs 50,000.

Dismissing a petition by former coach Shibu K Paul of Kottayam, a division bench, comprising Chief Justice S R Bannurmath and Justice A K Basheer, termed as baseless and vague, Paul’s contention that there were serious allegations of molestation and corruption against Udaykumar and so he should not be considered for the award.

The Bench said the PIL was filed out of jealousy and vendetta against Udaykumar and directed Paul to pay a cost of Rs 50,000 to him.

Udaykumar’s name did not figure in the final list of awardees as it was dropped on disciplinary grounds.

Bombay HC reserves judgement on PIL challenging ATKT facility

Updated on Tuesday, August 25, 2009, 16:12 IST

Mumbai, Aug 25: The Bombay High Court today reserved its judgement on a PIL challenging ATKT facility for Standard XI.

The Court also stayed the ammendment to the SSC board rules which introduced the Allowed To Keep Term (ATKT) facility for Standard XI for the first time.

According to the amendment, students, who have failed in one or two subjects in the Standard X exams would be allowed to take admissions to Standard XI provided they clear the pending subjects by March next year.

Bureau Report

Noida hotel plots: officers get High Court relief, no arrests

Express News Service Posted: Tuesday , Aug 25, 2009 at 0110 hrs Allahabad:

The Allahabad High Court on Monday granted a stay on the arrest of four officers, including three IAS officers, charged with irregularities in what the Mayawati government alleges is a multi-crore scam in allotment of hotel plots in Noida.

The four, along with 11 others, were suspended on August 10 for alleged involvement in land allocation for construction of five-star hotels in 2006.

Giving them relief, the Division Bench of Justices Ravindra Singh and Y C Gupta directed the Uttar Pradesh government against taking any coercive action against the four. The Bench also granted a fortnight’s time to the government to file a counter-affidavit on the petition, Gopal Chaturvedi, senior advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioners, said.

The court will next hear the case on September 16.

The four officers had filed a criminal writ on August 18 in Allahabad High Court: they sought quashing of the FIR filed by the state government and a stay on their arrest.

The FIR was lodged with the Noida Sector-20 police station on August 12 — it says the state exchequer suffered a loss of over Rs 4,721 crore from the auction.

The petitioners are then Noida Authority chairman Rakesh Bahadur, Meerut Divisional Commissioner Dev Dutt, then Chief Executive Officer of Noida Authority Sanjeev Saran, and then chief project engineer LK Gupta.

State moves high court over dropping of MCOCA

Shibu Thomas, TNN 25 August 2009, 04:19am IST

MUMBAI: The state government has moved the Bombay high court to challenge the dropping of all charges under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against 11 Malegaon blast accused, including former armyman Lt Col Prasad Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.

A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi on Monday declined to entertain a request by the prosecution to stay the MCOCA court order. The judges, however, asked a Nashik sessions court not to commence trial in the case till September 8.

The state’s principal argument is that the special MCOCA judge erred in not appreciating the prosecution’s case. The petition said the state had followed all requirements mandatory under MCOCA, including the existence of two charge sheets as well as permission from appropriate authorities.

A special court’s decision last month to drop MCOCA charges in the case came as a blow to the Anti-Terrorism Squad. The deletion of the stringent anti-gangster law’s provisions meant the accused would have to only face the provisions of the Indian Penal Code. MCOCA admits confessions made by the accused to the police but this is not possible under IPC. Bail provisions are also tougher under MCOCA.

A blast in Malegaon on September 29, 2008 killed six persons. A bike used in the blasts was allegedly traced to Pragya, whose trail led to other accused.

(With inputs from Mateen Hafeez)

Second judge ready to reveals assets

MR Venkatesh, Hindustan Times

Email Author

Chennai, August 24, 2009

First Published: 19:57 IST(24/8/2009)

Last Updated: 23:49 IST(24/8/2009)

wo days after a Punjab and Haryana High Court judge voluntarily made his family’s assets public, a Madras High Court judge, Justice K Chandru on Monday came forward to make his wealth details public.

Justice Chandru told Hindustan Times that in accordance with an internal resolution adopted by the High Court judges, he had already given details of his personal assets to the chief justice.

“I have even said it can be put on the Madras High Court website,” but it has to be authorisd by the chief justice since it is not a private website, Justice K Chandru said.

Justice Chandru is the third judge to speak out on the issue within four days, in a move seen as a chain reaction triggered by Karnataka high court judge, DV Shylendra Kumar, in a newspaper article last week.

Justice Kumar had written that it was incorrect to assume that majority of judges were opposed to declare their assets and the Chief Justice of India (CJI) was not authorized to speak on behalf of all the judges.

CJI KG Balakrishnan had reacted angrily to Justice Kumar’s outburst, and had called him “publicity crazy” on Sunday.

Favouring a consensus among all the judges on the issue, Justice Chandru said, “this could be meaningfully done only if there is consensus among all the 600 Judges of higher Indian Judiciary.”

Referring to the declaration by Justice K.Kannan of Punjab and Haryana high court, he said not all judges are avid bloggers, “nor do I have a personal blog myself,” Justice Chandru, known for his fearless and progressive judgements, said.

The chief justice could release the information about the assets of individual judges, but “unless it is a statutory return”, even the he could well within the law say that the details could be had from individual Judges who are willing to furnish it, he said.

“Ultimately, this issue will go around in circles unless there is a consensus among all the judges (of the higher judiciary),” Justice Chandru said.

IIT-Delhi professors go on mass casual leave demanding pay hike


August 25th, 2009

NEW DELHI – Faculty members of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in Delhi went on mass casual leave on Tuesday protesting disparities in pay.

Earlier, professors at IIT-Madras went on a mass causal leave on Friday, while their colleagues in IIT-Bombay boycotted classes on Monday.

Professors alleged that the Ministry has completely ignored the Mehra Committee recommendations which recommended hikes in pay scale of apex technical educational institutions.

On Friday, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal had said he will discuss the issues raised by IIT professors with officials. (ANI)

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4 Responses

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