LEGAL NEWS 27.08.2009

Shopian: HC reserves order, CBI unwilling to take up case

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/shopian-hc-reserves-order-cbi-unwilling-to-take-up-case/507831/0

Express News Service Posted: Thursday , Aug 27, 2009 at 1202 hrs Srinagar/New Delhi:

Even as the J-K High Court is yet to make up its mind regarding handing over the Shopian double murder case to the CBI, the investigating agency has conveyed its reluctance to the state government. The HC, which was to take on call on continuing with the police investigation or handing the case to the CBI, on Wednesday reserved its order in the Shopian investigation.

CBI Spokesperson Harsh Bhal told reporters that the CBI would need the cooperation of witnesses, the help of the general public and the relatives of the deceased in the case. “In view of this, it will be difficult for CBI to take over investigations. CBI has conveyed its views to the Jammu and Kashmir Government,” he said.

While sources said that a team of the Central agency would visit the Valley on Friday, CBI officials were at pains to clarify that the visit entailed a mere assessment of the situation and that the CBI would not like to interfere in the state police investigations unless the case is transferred to it.

Meanwhile, the hearing in the J-K HC spanned the entire day with Kashmir Bar Association President Mian Qayoom mounting a strong attack on the alleged partisan conduct of the Agency. “We all know what the CBI did in the sex scandal. It saved the very people who it had to book for their involvement in the sex scandal,” Qayoom said. He pleaded for continuation of the investigation under the state police as the latter, he said, could be held accountable. “With the court monitoring the case, police officers investigating the case could be pulled up for their work. The same cannot be done in case of CBI,” he said.

The division bench of Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice Yaqoob Mir did not appear to favour the transfer of the case either. When Government counsel Ishaq Qadiri made a case for transferring the case to CBI in the interest of an expeditious investigation, Chief Justice Ghosh told him that the Government should in that case concede that the police had failed to do their job.

Justice Ghosh also expressed his displeasure over the destruction of evidence in the case and said there was nothing left for the Central agency to investigate. “For what purpose do you want to be referred to CBI when crucial evidence has been lost?” he said.

While Justice Ghosh said that the J-K Police’s Special Investigation Team seems to have done nothing so far, he, nevertheless, asked the government whether the SIT was being permitted to do “what it wanted to do”.

HC nixes legal challenge on airport levies

http://www.livemint.com/2009/08/26224752/HC-nixes-legal-challenge-on-ai.html?h=B

The decision reaffirmed the rights of the private operators to recover part of their costs through special levies

Manish Ranjan

New Delhi: In a potentially trend-setting ruling, the Delhi high court on Wednesday dismissed a petition challenging the right of the two private operators managing airports in Mumbai and Delhi to impose special levies on departing passengers.

A division bench comprising chief justice A.P. Shah and justice Manmohan, who uses one name, held that allowing the petition would frustrate the government policy of involving the private sector in developing infrastructure through public-private partnerships (PPP).

Extra burden: Passengers at the Indira Gandhi International Airport that is operated by DIAL. The special levies were imposed to part-finance the cost of modernizing airports and raise funds for development. S Burmaula / Hindustan Times

The decision reaffirmed the rights of the private operators to recover part of their costs through special levies.

The petition was filed by Resources of Aviation Redressal Association, a non-governmental organization, and challenged the imposition of an airport development fee (ADF) by Delhi International Airport Pvt. Ltd (DIAL) and Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd (Mial).

The Delhi and Mumbai airports are run by consortiums headed by infrastructure companies GMR Infrastructure Ltd and GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd, respectively. The special levies were imposed to part-finance the cost of modernizing the airports and raise funds for future development.

Mint could not immediately ascertain whether the petitioner intends to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court.

The public interest litigation challenged the fee—a Rs200 cess on domestic passengers and Rs1,300 on international travellers levied since 1 March this year—saying it placed an “undue burden on travelling public”. It also argued that in return for the payment, the passengers were not being offered any extra facility or value by the concessionaires.

It also challenged the government’s decision to delegate the power of collecting the fee to private operators.

However, the court said that because both DIAL and Mial managed the airport under a statutory lease from the government, both have the same right as state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) to levy such a fee.

According to the court, the Airports Authority of India Act, 1994, vests AAI with the powers to devolve its rights to impose and collect special levies to private operators. This, the bench said, was made possible through an amendment effected in the Act in 2003.

On 20 August, the division bench had reserved the order for 25 August after hearing arguments by the government and the two airport operators. The order was eventually delivered on Wednesday.

Analysts said that a decision upholding the petition could potentially have raised questions on the PPP model of financing infrastructure. “The issue should have been, what is the level of such charges. After all, just because they can charge does not mean they can charge what they want,” said Amrit Pandurangi, an executive director at audit and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

DIAL welcomed the ruling. “The ADF is levied for a limited period to modernize and develop the airport and provide modern, passenger-friendly facilities. DIAL remains committed to transform IGI Airport into a transport hub that India will be proud of,” DIAL spokesman Aniruddha Chatterjee said in an emailed statement.

Mial has no immediate comment to offer, a spokesman said.

A senior official at a low-cost airline, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said the ruling may embolden airport operators to increase charges.

“It would become a precedent now. In the wake of this, the airports can now say they can increase the charge (development fee) further because they are already empowered,” this official said.

Passenger traffic has already declined because of the impact of an economic slowdown, and the special charges levied by airports may be an additional disincentive for passengers to travel by air. “Naturally there is an effect on demand because it’s going to go from the consumer’s pocket. So it affects passenger demand,” said the airline official.

Rahul Chandran and Tarun Shukla contributed to this story.

Cops get clean chit from HC

http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/cops-get-clean-chit-from-hc/507657/

Express News Service

Posted: Aug 27, 2009 at 0033 hrs IST

New Delhi The Delhi High Court on Wednesday chose to stand by the National Human Rights Commission’s (NHRC) clean chit to the Delhi Police in last year’s encounter at Batla House that killed two alleged militants and left a police officer dead.

A Division Bench led by Chief Justice A P Shah dismissed a petition seeking a magisterial inquiry into the encounter, despite repeated “prods” from civil rights lawyer Prashant Bhushan to re-consider.

On July 22 the NHRC had concluded in its final report that there had been no violation of human rights from the police side in the encounter on September 19, 2008.

Criticising the apex human rights body’s report, Advocate Bhushan argued that NHRC had not even done the “basic things required of them” while investigating the circumstances of the encounter. “They (NHRC team) did not even go to the place… to Batla House,” Bhushan told the court. “They did not check if there was any escape route as claimed by the police; they did not verify if shots could be fired at angles the police say they were fired at.”

“Has the police version (of the encounter) ever been put to any serious scrutiny (in the NHRC’s findings)?” Advocate Bhushan asked.

But the court stood by its decision that the report was filed by a statutory authority, such as NHRC, and deserved due respect.

Bhushan then said, “Is the court saying that since NHRC conducted an inquiry, what can the High Court do now under Article 226 (writ power of High Courts under the Constitution)? Would the court have accepted had NHRC given a short report saying ‘we trust the police; we accept the police version (and) we cannot do anything in this case’?”

To this, the Chief Justice replied: “It is not so sacrosanct that they (NHRC) write anything and we accept it — NHRC has prestige; this was a fact-finding probe.”

Justice Manmohan seconded with a remark that there are “several circumstances quoted in the report which points out that the encounter was not fake”.

The NHRC’s 30-page report said the police action was “fully protected by law and there is no need for further inquiry in the case”.

HC asks govt to explain school fee hike cap

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/jaipur/HC-asks-govt-to-explain-school-fee-hike-cap/articleshow/4938904.cms

Abhinav Sharma, TNN 27 August 2009, 03:13am IST

JAIPUR: A division bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Bhalla and Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari on Wednesday issued a showcause notice to the state government, asking what authority it had to regulate the fee structure of private unaided schools.

The notices were issued to the state government on four separate petitions filed by the private unaided schools and one unaided school run by minorities. Counsel for this school, R B Mathur, said, “We have specifically challenged the provisions of the Rajasthan Non Governmental Institutions Act, 1989, by which the government has been empowered to make rules regulating the fee structures. However, there is no provision in the Act that authorises the state government to regulate the fee as such but the Act still provides for the rules to be framed in this regard.”

HC raps puja organiser over illegal construction

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/kolkata-/HC-raps-puja-organiser-over-illegal-construction/articleshow/4938831.cms

TNN 27 August 2009, 02:50am IST

KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court has made it clear that it will not tolerate any violation of the guidelines regarding community puja pandals in public places.

The court on Wednesday directed a community puja organiser at Kasba in south Kolkata to demolish within 24 hours a portion of the pandal erected illegally, violating West Bengal Fire Service rules. If the organisers fail to do so, the court will direct the police to carry out its order and report to the court, it ruled.

The order came after a writ petition was moved by Ishita Chakraborty, an advocate and a resident of R K Chatterjee Lane in Kasba. She alleged that members of local club Adhibasibrinda, who organise a Durga puja on R K Chatterjee Lane, have erected the pandal very close to her residence. She complained that the organisers had violated the West Bengal Fire Services rule, which specifies that in case of erecting a temporary structure, a minimum gap of 20 feet should be kept between the structure and a residential house.

Chakraborty pointed out that the organisers had kept less than one foot space between her house and the pandal.

During the hearing, state counsel Asim Chatterjee and Suman Ghosh submitted that the organisers had not obtained permission from any of the authorities for organising the puja. The club argued in court that Chakraborty opposed the puja organisers on personal grudge. But the court refused to entertain club’s plea and observed that it would only consider whether the rule was adhered to or not.

HC seeks govt plan to tackle road mishaps

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/mumbai/HC-seeks-govt-plan-to-tackle-road-mishaps/articleshow/4938483.cms

Shibu Thomas, TNN 27 August 2009, 01:21am IST

MUMBAI: A week after the World Health Organisation (WHO) red-flagged India for the rising number of road fatalities, the Bombay high court on Wednesday sought a “comprehensive” plan of action to tackle the problem. “More people die in Maharashtra in road accidents than swine flu and it is high time the government took the issue seriously,” said a division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice Mridula Bhatkar, adding, “People are dying for want of timely medical aid.”

The WHO report had revealed that India topped the worldwide road death chart with 1.14 lakh people dying in accidents in 2007–or 13 deaths every hour. Over 11% of the deaths were reported from Maharashtra.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by a medical practitioner. The petitioner said that lack of emergency medical aid during the Golden Hour– within one hour of the mishap–was causing loss of lives in highway accidents.

Additional solicitor general Darius Khambata and advocate Rui Roderigues, represented the Union ministry of road transport and highways and informed the court of a plan to set up trauma care centres at every 50 km of the National Highway. “The Centre has earmarked Rs 733 crore for the project during the current Five-Year Plan between 2007 and 2012,” Khambata said.

The project envisages four categories of such units: level IV trauma care centres comprising of a mobile hospital ambulance with life support facilities stationed along the highway every 50 km; level III centres set up every 110-150 km that will be equipped for initial evaluating and stabilising the victim; level II centres constituting hospitals every 300 km manned by a physician, surgeon and orthopaedic; and level I centres every 700-800 km with super speciality facilities.

Khambata said 140 hospitals near the state highways had already been identified to be upgraded with trauma care facilities.

The court asked the state to implement a pilot project and come up with a similar plan for state highways and city roads.

HC seeks response from CBI on petition filed by Buta Singh

http://www.thelatestnews.in/hc-seeks-response-from-cbi-on-petition-filed-by-buta-singh/17658.html

August 27th, 2009

The Delhi High Court sought response from the CBI on Wednesday on a petition filed by NCSC Chairman Buta Singh accusing the probe agency of illegally summoning him for interrogation in an alleged bribery case involving his son.

Singh, a former Bihar Governor and Chairman of National Commission for Schedule Caste (NCSC), contended that he holds a post of Cabinet rank and the CBI cannot question or interrogate him without taking sanction from the Centre.

“I have been issued three summons to appear before the agency on August 19, 24 and 31 without taking mandatory sanction from the Centre. I hold a cabinet rank post and the agency cannot summon me without taking permission from the government,” senior advocate K T S Tulsi, appearing for Singh, said.

Justice Geeta Mittal, after hearing his contention, issued notice to CBI and directed it to file its response by Monday, the date on which Singh has been asked to appear before the agency.

Advocate Harish Gulati, appearing for CBI, accepted the notice and said he would take instructions from the agency on whether sanction was taken or not before summoning Singh.

Singh had approached the Delhi High Court on Tuesday challenging CBI’s notice to appear before it as a witness in connection with a case of alleged bribery against his son Sarobjit Singh.

“Issuing notice by CBI is violative of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act which says that government sanction

is required to interrogate a public servant above the rank of Deputy Secretary,” Singh said in his petition.

Buta Singh’s son was arrested on 31st July by CBI for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs one crore from a Nashik-

based contractor to close an atrocity case against him pending before the Scheduled Caste Commission headed by his father.

Shylendra, Kannan become role models for SC collegium

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Politics/Nation/SC-judges-to-disclose-assets/articleshow/4938846.cms

27 Aug 2009, 0207 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Pressure from within the higher judiciary on Wednesday forced the Supreme Court collegium to concede the demand for making assets of judges public. “A decision in principle has been taken on the issue at a meeting convened by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and details on assets to be declared by judges would be put on the Supreme Court website,” according to an apex court source.

The collegium headed by CJI Balakrishnan decided to voluntarily declare the personal assets of SC judges. Justice Balakrishnan was under attack from within the higher judiciary for opposing the idea of making the assets of higher judiciary public.

Justice D V Shylendra Kumar, the Karnataka HC judge, had written in a national daily that it was a misnomer that the judges of superior courts are not ready to disclose their assets. The Chief Justice of India had no authority to speak for all judges of the superior courts. Justice Kumar had also expressed his desire to make public his assets in his article.

CJI Justice Balakrishnan had reacted angrily to Justice Kumar’s article and called him “publicity crazy”. Former CJI, Justice J S Verma, who had initiated the process for judges’ assets declaration by getting a resolution approved in a full court meeting attended by 22 SC judges in May, 1997, had also questioned Justice Balakrishnan’s reluctance on the issue. The decision of the collegium came after Justice K Kannan of Punjab & Haryana HC voluntarily made public the list of his properties.

Justice Kannan had responded to a letter from lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan to judges suggesting that they should voluntarily disclose their assets. Mr Bhushan said he had sent his letter to about 600 judges of various high courts.

He reportedly 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. In his blog, he said that Sri Lanka passed Declaration of Assets and Liability Law (Act 1 of 1975) requiring judges, among others, to declare their assets at the time of their appointments.

Many of the African countries have passed such legislation in the recent years to quell widespread allegations of corruption in high constitutional offices, he had said. Justice Kannan had said, in India, although there is no such law, SC judges have been declaring their assets since 1997 to CJI at the time of their appointment as an SC judge and thereafter every year as per a resolution passed by SC on May 7, 1997.

“The high court judges may consider adopting a similar resolution in case it does not have a system of judges declaring their assets soon after the assumption of office and regularly updating the declaration made by them,” Justice Kannan said quoting from a letter of CJI to high court chief justices.

The CJI had written: “It is essential for an independent, strong and respected judiciary and indispensable for impartial administration of justice.” He also called upon the high court judges to adopt what is known as ‘restatement of values of judicial life’ adopted by the apex court in another resolution earlier, Justice Kannan wrote in his blog.

“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? Imagine a judge enquiring 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?’”

“It may not be a daily occurrence, but consider the mischief that the right to demand the assets statement of a judge could entail,” the HC judge said. Kannan had said, the judges are not in the same league as politicians. “Politicians are elected by people; they have a right to know the financial antecedents. A corrupt politician may not be re-elected again, if the voter believes that the politician has been corrupt.”

Justice Kannan had asked: “Can anyone doubt the wisdom of the judgements of the Supreme Court in Union v Association for Democratic Reforms (2002) and PUCL v Union of India (2003), when they said that declaration of assets at the time of standing for election has become the necessity of the day because statutory provisions of controlling widespread corrupt practices have become insufficient?”

Yet another Madras HC judge had said he was not averse to declaring the assets of his and his family members though he would await a law on the issue. “At present, there is no law that we have to file such a statement nor is there a law that we don’t have to,” Justice K Chandru of Madras HC had said. However, if a law was enacted requiring judges to file official returns of earnings of themselves and their family, it would become mandatory “in which case I would do so”, Justice Chandru had said.

Former attorney-general Soli J Sorabjee said: “It is a very good decision taken by the judges. It’s better late than never.” They have heeded to the views of former chief justices and senior advocates who were also very keen to maintain the image of the judiciary, said Sorabjee.

Moily supports CJI on judges’ assets

http://birlaa.com/news/moily-supports-cji-on-judges%E2%80%99-assets/359950

August 26, 2009 By: admin Category: News

Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily virtually backed Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan on the issue of assets declaration by judges and said if judges were voluntarily disclosing their assets and ‘wanting to become heroes, it is their wish’.

Supreme Court judges to disclose their assets

http://www.ptinews.com/news/250043_SC-judges-to-disclose-their-assets

STAFF WRITER 20:52 HRS IST

New Delhi, Aug 26 (PTI) Under mounting public pressure, the judges of the Supreme Court today decided to make public their assets, an issue that had been haunting higher judiciary for quite some time.

“A decision in principle has been taken on the issue at a meeting convened by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and the details of the assets to be declared by the judges would be put on the Supreme Court website,” a top apex court source said after the two-hour deliberations.

The decision comes after months of public debate over making public the details of higher judiciary, especially the apex court judges and their families, ever since the Right to Information law triggered a clamour on the issue.

HC upholds conviction of rapist

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/jaipur/HC-upholds-conviction-of-rapist/articleshow/4938718.cms

Abhinav Sharma, TNN 27 August 2009, 03:07am IST

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of 10 years of rigorous imprisonment (RI) of one accused for raping a mentally-challenged girl.

Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma said raping a mentally challenged girl is a crime and the culprit can not go scot free under the plea that he had consensual sex.

While agreeing with the line of reasoning of the trial court, Sharma said, “A mentally challenged girl cannot be taken to have given her consent for sexual act. In the present case, the victim is also deaf and dumb. Such a person is always a minor, though she might have attained majority as per her age but her mind is always that of a minor and, therefore, any sort of consent cannot be said to have been obtained for such a heinous crime.”

The trial court after appreciating the evidence and medical reports held the accused, who happened to be neighbour of the girl, took advantage of her lonely condition and committed the crime. The court brushed aside the plea that the victim had given consent saying it is immaterial as she is mentally challenged as well as deaf and dumb.

UK minister tells how changes helped judiciary cut delays

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/chennai/UK-minister-tells-how-changes-helped-judiciary-cut-delays/articleshow/4938611.cms

A Subramani, TNN 27 August 2009, 03:57am IST

CHENNAI: Battling judicial delays and high litigation costs, the British judiciary has started “looking at new ways of doing things better”.

Addressing a gathering of judges, lawyers and bar leaders here on Wednesday, British minister for justice William Stephen Goulden Bach said historic changes were introduced to keep “our institutions in tune with the values and aspirations of the British people.”

Lord Bach said the new Supreme Court of UK will start working from October 1, replacing the House of Lords system. Court and the legislature cannot remain entwined, he said, adding that the ongoing constitutional innovation in the UK will bring school children, tourists, lawyers and scholars to courts.

To speed up the civil and criminal justice systems, the UK has embarked upon a mission to banish “excessive delay in the progress of cases” and excessive costs of a legal action, he said.

Talking about the salient features of the reforms, he said a single set of simplified rules was introduced for county courts and the high court, and innovative measures like telephone hearings and money claims online were ushered in. “Now a great deal of legal advice is available online or over the telephone. The Community Legal Advice Telephone Service took half a million calls last year. Callers are offered high quality specialist advice,” said Lord Bach.

The free in-house mediation service in courts dealt with 10,000 cases last year, and the settlement rate was 72 per cent, the minister said, adding that more than 90 per cent of them were conducted over telephone. Parties save the time and cost of having to travel to court, he noted.

While simpler procedures, telephone and online legal assistance, excessive cost and mediation did the trick for civil cases, Lord Bach said criminal cases pending in magistrate courts were speeded up with few adjournments and less paper work. “Criminals are now being brought to justice more quickly. Victims and witnesses are being spared the ordeal of returning to court time and time again. Less police time is being wasted,” Lord Bach said.

Justice HL Gokhale, Chief Justice of the Madras high court, said India was proud to have a strong judiciary which is vigilant in protecting people’s rights. While welcoming radical reforms in the UK judicial system, he said there must be a right balance between continuity and the necessary changes.

While the Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA) president RC Paul Kanagaraj said the Indian judicial system was modelled after the British system, the Madras Bar Association (MBA) president R Krishnamoorthy said mounting arrears was threatening the efficacy of Indian judicial system. Women Lawyers Association (WLA) president D Prasanna proposed vote of thanks.

Madras HC: Writ petition seeking to stop payment rejected
http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?020567af-9f2e-4098-a028-8881af2bedfd

8/26/2009

The Madras High Court rejected a writ petition to restrain the Puducherry Government from paying Rs 25 lakh to the family members of former Puducherry Lt Governor Govind Singh Gurjar, who died while in harness.

“Considering the fact that the announcement was made by the Chief Minister on the floor of the Assembly, we refrain from granting the relief,” the first bench comprising Chief Justice H L Gokhale and Justice D Murugesan said yesterday.

Mr Gurjar was appointed as the Lt Governor on July 23, 2008. He was admitted to a hospital for illness on March 14, 2009. He passed away on April 6, 2009.

Following a representation from the MLAs, Chief Minister V Vaithilingam announced on the floor of the Assembly on August 6, 2009, that the Government would pay Rs 25 lakh to the kins of Mr Gurjar.

The Petitioner contended that the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund (CMRF) was meant for meeting contingencies like natural calamities, death due to road accidents and epidemic diseases.

The announcement was without authority of law and it would set a bad precedent, the petitioner contended.

UNI

Wake up and smell the new reality

http://www.dnaindia.com/opinion/comment_wake-up-and-smell-the-new-reality_1285400

Antara Dev Sen

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 21:56 IST

My heart goes out to the National Commission for Women. They try so hard, poor dears, yet they never get it right. Today, they are trying to widen the scope of the Prohibition of Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986, and set up a regulatory body, like the Film Censor Board, to screen the portrayal of women on television and in advertisements.

Personally, I would like to line up and shoot the entire cast and crew behind all the rubbish spouted by moustachioed men dressed as Rajasthani puppets flaunting a macho, rustic charm and ghoonghat-shrouded women heaving under the burden of tonnes of jewellery, layers of makeup and generations of suffering while cooking and cleaning and weeping. And I would love to wring the necks of some advertisers for their disgusting ads. But a regulatory body for media is not an easy thing — in India, freedom of expression is sacred and these ‘regulations’ could come dangerously close to censorship.

Apparently, the 1986 Act is not equipped to deal with the electronic media, Internet and mobile phones. “It also lacked proper implementation,” said NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas, “and there were hardly any convictions, hence the need for a new law.” By that logic, we would need a whole new law book. Laws are rarely implemented in India. Take rape — an easy enough crime to identify. No need to deliberate on whether it is derogatory or harmful for women. There are two rapes in India every hour. Only one in 70 rapes is reported. Of this, the conviction rate is only 27 per cent.

Besides, the new Act, Prohibition of Indecent Representation of Women and Children Act, 2008, has been in the pipeline since last year. Except that now NCW wants to bring advertisements into its ambit and also thereafter define advertisements anew. As far as I could make out, everything from a label to a notice to a smoke signal will be regarded as an ad and will be examined for sexism.

Apparently, the NCW thinks commodification of women in ads is a new trend. “It has been seen that advertisers of late are using women as an object to promote their commodities,” said Vyas. “There is no need for a woman to be there in an advertisement to promote, for instance, male perfumes, but the advertisers use their explicit pictures.” Wrong on both counts.

First, women have been commodified in advertisements for as long as I can remember, giving women’s libbers one of their strongest weapons against sexism. Second, a man’s perfume may actually have something to do with women — if we look at perfume as the man-made equivalent of pheromones in animals (including us) that, at opportune moments, act as a magnet for the opposite sex. Selling a car or a bike with a half-clad sexy woman lying on it is the traditional example. And it is still valid, after almost 40 years of finger pointing.

We have hordes of laws trying to protect women from discrimination and violence and to secure equal rights and opportunities. In spite of all those, women face considerable discrimination, deprivation and violence. And the NCW is of very little use at the time. Remember how its Nirmala Venkatesh seemed to blame the victims after the Ram Sena attacked women in that Mangalore pub? Sure, the NCW distanced itself from her and withdrew the report, but why was the report accepted in the first place?

How can a body so innocent of gender sensitivities be ruling on gender issues? In fact, it is so unaware that it has just gone back on its demand for a repeal of Section 377 and asked for a nationwide debate instead, as “the entire society was involved”. What prejudiced nonsense!

The NCW has to adapt to new realities before it attempts to regulate them.

Six years on, victim compensated for scissors in stomach

http://twocircles.net/2009aug26/six_years_victim_compensated_scissors_stomach.html

Submitted by admin4 on 26 August 2009 – 5:43pm.

By IANS,

New Delhi : A pair of scissors was left in a women’s abdomen at an Orissa hospital during a surgery. Six years later after a lot of pain and expenses, she has finally got some relief from the state government on the orders of the human rights watchdog.

According to an official of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Binapani Khatua was operated upon while delivering her first child in 2003 in Cuttack in Orissa. However, the baby died four days after.

“After that the woman complained of severe stomach pain but the doctors in the hospital put her on medication without examining her. Four years after the continuing pain, she had to undergo two more surgeries – one to remove her uterus and second to remove a pair of surgical scissors which an X-ray showed was lodged in her belly,” the NHRC official said.

“The couple spent a lot of money on the treatment leading them to a stage of bankruptcy. Keeping the woman’s woes in mind, the commission asked the state government to pay her a monetary relief of Rs.500,000 as well as take action against the erring doctors,” the official added.

The Orissa government, while complying with the recommendation, compensated the woman Aug 24 this year.

HC issues notice to Centre on non-appointment of NHRC chairman
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/hc-issues-notice-to-centrenon-appointmentnhrc-chairman/71791/on
Press Trust of India / New Delhi August 26, 2009, 14:08 IST

The Delhi High Court today sought an explanation from the Centre as to why it was not appointing chairman of National Human Rights Commission, a post lying vacant since June.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice Manmohan asked the government to file its response by September 9 when a PIL seeking its direction to appoint chairman of the Commission would be heard.

The petition filed by NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation, claimed that there are two retired Chief Justices of India eligible for the post but the government is reluctant to appoint them.

“Non-appointment of chairperson in accordance with the Act (Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993) in such a situation despite the presence of two eligible candidates is arbitrary, unreasonable and in violation of principles enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution,” advocate Prashant Bhushan said.

The post of chairman is lying vacant since June after former Chief Justice of India S Rajendra Babu demitted the office after being superannuated.The Commission is now headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court who is functioning as acting chairman of the Commission.

According to rules, the Commission is to be headed by retired Chief Justice of India.

State okays blue-print for elimination of child labour
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/state-okays-blue-print-for-eliminationchild-labour/368108/
BS Reporter / Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar August 26, 2009, 0:16 IST

The Orissa government has okayed a blue-print for an action plan on elimination of child labour in the state.

The action plan, prepared by Dr Laxmidhar Misra, special rapporteur, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), will take a final shape after incorporating the opinion of different stakeholders including the non-government organisations (NGOs), sources said.

“The government has formally approved the blue print for an action plan to eliminate child labour in the state. The draft will be recast incorporating the suggestions from different stakeholders and will be placed before the cabinet for approval”, Puspendra Singhdeo, minister of state for labour and employment, Orissa government told Business Standard.

Singhdeo today chaired a high level meeting convened to approve the blue print. Sources said, the state action plan (SAP) aims at complete elimination of the child labour in all occupations and processes by 2012 or 2014.

The universal prohibition of child labour is aimed to be achieved in tandem with the objectives set out in the programme for universal education. The action plan also stressed on rehabilitation and re-integration of all children withdrawn from work through education, nutrition, primary health care, skill training and empowerment of their families. For this, a multi-pronged approach will be adopted involving all the stakeholders. While the children in the age group of 5-8 years will be enrolled in formal schools, children in the age group of 9-13 (who have read up to a certain level) will have to pass through Transitional Education Centres (TEC) for adequate preparation before being enrolled into the formal schools.

On the other hand, the students in the age group of 14-17 age group will receive vocational skill training which will be tailored to their aptitude and interest. However, the draft will be finalised after detail consultation with departments like finance, industry, school and mass education, health among others.

A task force will be formed at the district level for rescue and release, interim rehabilitation, repatriation and full rehabilitation of child labours working in the state and also those migrated outside Orissa in search of work.

While efforts will be made for providing institutional support involving concerned departments of the government, NGOs, social partners and community, an area based approach will be taken up to make a particular village, GP or Panchayat Samiti free from child labour. This is in line with the model adopted by MVR Foundation, Hyderabad.

According to decennial census operations, the number of working children in Orissa was 7,02,293 in 1981, which declined to 4,52,394 in 1991.This further declined to 3,77,594 in 2001. As per the 55th round of National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) survey, the total number of child labour in Orissa is put at 2.4 lakh.

The draft blue print suggests constitution of district level, block level and Grampanchayat level implementation committees for better implementation of the programme. While the district collector will head the district level committee, the chairman of the panchayat samiti will head the block level task force. The Gram Panchayat level task force will be headed by the Sarpanch of the concerned Gram panchayat.

Sarabjit’s counsel to submit mercy plea signed by 100,000 Indians

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/Sarabjits-counsel-to-submit-mercy-plea-signed-by-100000-Indians/articleshow/4940191.cms

PTI 27 August 2009, 12:52pm IST

LAHORE: Over 100,000 Indians, including former test cricketers and chief justices, have signed a mercy petition addressed to President Asif Ali Zardari seeking clemency for Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who is on death row in a Pakistani prison.

Awais Sheikh, the counsel for Sarabjit, said he had brought back the mercy petition with more than 100,000 signatures when he returned from a recent visit to India.

“The signatories include former test cricketer Kapil Dev, Delhi’s Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Syed Amin Hashmi of the Ajmer Sharif dargah, former Chief Justices R S Mongia and Rajindar Sachar, members of Indian human rights groups, Christian and Muslim bodies, doctors, engineers, lawyers, farmers and students,” Sheikh told a news conference here.

Sheikh said he would submit the mercy petition to the President Zardari and also apprise him about the sentiments of the Indians in this regard.

“Since Sarabjit has been in prison for long, his sentence can be commuted to life imprisonment under the law,” he said. Commuting Sarabjit’s sentence will help improve relations between India and Pakistan, he added.

Bid on ex-DGP’s Life
Court acquits Manjinder Singh
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090827/punjab.htm#17

Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, August 26
Manjinder Singh charged with an attempt to murder former Director-General of Punjab Police (DGP) DS Mangat by planting a bomb on the railway overbridge was acquitted by Additional Sessions Judge MS Virdi.

Manjinder was also acquitted of charges under TADA. He was charged with planting a bomb near the Sherpur railway overbridge crossing, Ludhiana in February 1991. The then DGP was travelling in his car when the bomb had exploded. The DGP was travelling in bullet-proof car, but had received injury in his leg.

The court held it was proved on record a bomb blast had taken place. But the prosecution failed to prove the said blast was mischief of the accused.

A case under Sections 307 and 427, IPC, and Sections 3 and 4, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA), was registered at division No. 6 police station, Ludhiana. The prosecution had claimed that the accused was found to have masterminded the blast.

Earlier, the accused was declared proclaimed offender. He was arrested in this case in August 2002.

The then DGP was going from local PWD rest house to Chandigarh. SP (Security) RC Sethi, who was sitting beside him, was also injured. ASI Joban Singh sitting on the front seat of the same car had also recieved injuries. With the sudden blast, the entire convoy came to a halt and there was smoke all around, according to the prosecution.

The injured persons were shifted to Oswal Cancer Hospital. The prosecution examined 17 witnesses to prove the case, but could not do so.

However, the accused had pleaded his brother-in-law was killed by the police in a false encounter. They were pursuing the case against the police. Out of retaliation, he was falsely implicated.

HIGH COURT
Principal held guilty of contempt
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090827/punjab.htm#17

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 26
Principal of Nawanshahr-based RK Arya College SK Sachdeva and its managing committee president Prem Bhardwaj are prima facie guilty of contempt, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ruled.

Taking up a petition filed by Hardev Singh and three other senior lecturers in a case involving payment of arrears, Justice Rakesh Kumar Garg asserted the two respondents had been prima facie guilty of disobeying the court directions, but before proceeding further, it was deemed to be appropriate to grant one more opportunity to the respondents to purge contempt.The case would now come up for further hearing on September 7.

Head constables’ plea

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090827/punjab.htm#17

If allegations in a petition filed before the high court are to be believed, head constables with a battalion of Punjab Armed Police are being made to carryout the duties of constables.

In a petition against Punjab and other respondents filed by head constable Gurmeet Singh and 45 other head constables, it had been stated that they were being asked to carry out guard and sentry duties. The petitioners, attached with 9th battalion of the Punjab Armed Police at Amritsar have also sought directions for quashing the orders to this effect.

Disappearance Case
SC dismisses Centre’s SLP
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090827/j&k.htm#6

Afsana Rashid

Srinagar, August 26
The Supreme Court has not only dismissed a special leave petition (SLP), but also upheld the order of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, asking Col Kishore Malhotra to make himself available to the special investigation team (SIT) formed to investigate the disappearance of Jana’s husband, Manzoor Ahmad.

Upholding the High Court order, which had directed Col Malhotra to appear before the SSP, Srinagar, for investigation, who is the chief investigation officer of the team, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on August 24, Jana and her daughter Bilkis said at a press conference here today.

In the SLP, the Central government had challenged the High Court orders of June 5, 2008, and July 10, 2008. The High Court had directed the Budgam Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) to hold an inquiry and the CJM had indicted Col Malhotra for the disappearance of Manzoor, the mother-daughter duo said.

They said the High Court had constituted the SIT for conducting investigation. “On July 10, 2008, the court had observed that Col Malhotra, currently posted at the Brigade Headquarters, Drass, should appear before the SSP, Srinagar, the investigating officer. Instead of appearing before the SSP, Srinagar, the SLP was filed before the Supreme Court,” they said.

Jana’s husband, Manzoor Ahmad Dar, was arrested on January 19, 2002, by a contingent of 35 Rashtriya Rifles led by Col Malhotra.

Disturbed Areas Act to stay: Govt

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090827/j&k.htm#8

Srinagar, August 26
The government today ruled out withdrawal of the Disturbed Areas Act in the state, saying no such proposal was under consideration.

Answering a question raised by Nizamuddin Bhat (PDP) in the Assembly, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said: “No such proposal is under consideration of the government at the moment.” However, he said the state’s internal security was under continuous review, and action would be considered as and when the situation warranted.

Replying to Mohammad Khalil Band of the PDP, Omar said security cover was provided to persons on the basis of an assessment of threat perception.

“The details of security cover provided to or withdrawn from protected persons has a direct bearing on the security of the persons concerned,” he added.

Answering Mir Saifullah (NC), he admitted that some of the recommendations of the State Human Rights Commission were yet to be implemented.

“As many as 1008 recommendations have been received from the SHRC. Out of these, 578 cases have been disposed of by the deputy commissioners concerned and the Home Departement,” he said. The balance 430 cases were being verified.

About the filling of two vacancies in the SHRC, Omar said the government was looking into the matter. — PTI

‘Bribery’ case shifted from ACB to EOW

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938491.cms

S Ahmed Ali, TNN 27 August 2009, 01:31am IST

MUMBAI: The cheating case, in which MRA Marg police station senior inspector Sanjay Kokil got two jeweller brothers arrested by the ACB for trying to bribe him, was abruptly transferred to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) on Monday.

Kokil confirmed the transfer but refused to comment. EOW (unit 3) senior inspector three) S Gadekar said: “The case has been transferred to us in accordance with government directives. We are yet to launch investigations.”

The ACB arrested Sunil Goenka and his brother Sashi Goenka on July 3 after Kokil complained that he had been offered a bribe of Rs 10 lakh to stall the probe in a cheating case involving them and Sunil’s wife, Sheetal. Kokil `alleged’ that the Goenka brothers had approached him and asked him to turn the case around.

The case dates back to May when Mukesh Zaveri filed a complaint against his sister, Sheetal, and her husband, Sunil, and three other persons (including the legal advisor of a hospital and the locker-in-charge of the Fort branch of a nationalised bank). Mukesh `alleged’ Sheetal forged their father Bansilal Zaveri’s signature to operate the family’s bank locker and siphoned off jewellery valued at Rs 5 crore when Bansilal was admitted to a South Mumbai hospital last year. Zaveri also `alleged’ that Sunil forged Bansilal’s will before his death, declaring Sunil as the legal heir to the family property. Mukesh obtained a certificate from the hospital, saying that Bansilal was in such a condition that he could not write or sign documents, when the matter came to his notice. Following this, an FIR was registered.

Kokil questioned all the six accused and was on the verge of arresting them when Sunil’s brother, Sashi, approached him and offered a bribe to drop the case.

According to officials, the order to transfer the case to the EOW came only four days before the Bombay High Court was to decide on bail for the six accused.

Remand for one in Godhra carnage case

http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/27/stories/2009082752690100.htm

Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: The Godhra Railway Court on Wednesday granted 13-day police remand to Ibrahim Dhanna, one of the alleged masterminds of the 2002 Godhra train carnage.

Dhanna will be in the custody of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team for questioning.

Dhanna, who had been absconding since 2002, was believed to be hiding in Pakistan. He was arrested by the Rajasthan police near Barmer while coming from Pakistan by the Thar Express last week.

“Amend Cr.PC to restore complaints dismissed in default”

http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/27/stories/2009082754851100.htm

Legal Correspondent

This will reduce the burden on High Courts: Law Commission

At present to get criminal complaint restored, one has to move High Court

Give power to Magistrate to restore complaint if sufficient cause is shown for absence

New Delhi: The Law Commission of India has recommended amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code to provide for restoration of a criminal complaint dismissed in default by a court resulting in discharge or acquittal of the accused depending on the case being a warrant case or a summons case.

The Commission, headed by Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, said in its 233rd report:

“It is a well settled law that a criminal court has no power like the one which a civil court possesses under Order IX of the Code of Civil Procedure to restore a complaint dismissed in default.

“In order to get the [criminal] complaint restored, a complainant, poor or rich, has to knock the door of the High Court under Section 482 Cr.PC. If a Magistrate has the power to entertain a complaint and decide it on merits after summoning the accused, he should also have the power to restore it on good or sufficient cause being shown and re-summon the accused to face the trial on merits.”

The report said Sections 249 and 256 Cr.PC pertained to warrants and summons cases and the absence of complainant to prosecute the complaint on the day of appearance would result in dismissal of the complaint. However, non-compoundable and cognisable offences were excluded from the purview of such dismissal.

The Commission was of the view that with regard to offences “that are compoundable and non-cognisable where discretion is given to the Magistrate to discharge the accused for the absence of complainant, the Magistrate may be vested with the power to restore the complaint on the file if sufficient cause is shown by the complainant for his absence on the date of hearing.”

When provisions had been provided in the Cr.PC to restore a suit which had been dismissed on the ground of absence of plaintiff, similar provisions should be provided in the Code also for restoration of criminal complaints dismissed in default.

By adding provisions in the Cr.PC for restoration of complaints, the burden on High Courts could be lessened.

The report said, “A meritorious complaint cannot be allowed to be thwarted only on the ground that the complainant was unable to remain present, though there existed good and sufficient cause for such absence.” The Commission, accordingly, recommended appropriate amendments to Sections 249 and 256 of the Cr.PC enabling restoration of criminal complaints.

Court vacates stay on no-trust verdict against Ponnur civic chief

http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/27/stories/2009082751780300.htm

Staff Reporter

PONNUR (GUNTUR DT): Curtains on the four-year tenure of Ponnur Municipal Chairperson Nallamothu Ruth Rani may well come to an end, following the Andhra Pradesh High Court order on Wednesday lifting the stay on announcing the verdict of the no-confidence motion that was against the Chairperson on October 30, 2008.

The High Court directed the district Collector to announce the verdict. The Chairperson refused to react to the verdict and said she had not received the copy of the judgment.

The Chairperson was voted out in the no-confidence motion tabled at the special meeting held at Ponnur after 21 out of 31 councillors voted against her.

The then Tenali Revenue Divisional Officer withheld the announcement of the result following a High Court stay order.

Ironically, the Chairperson and the 10 councillors supporting her stayed away from the session amid tight security, paving the way for a unanimous verdict on the no-confidence motion.

Ponnur TDP MLA D. Narendra Kumar spearheaded the campaign against the Chairperson and managed to wean away Congress councillors. The MLA had already stated that they would now support the candidature of Gumpula Prasanna, councillor from Ward 22 as the next chairperson.

The Ponnur Municipality, which was bagged by the Congress in the 2005 polls was mired in internal squabbles.

A novice to active politics, practising physician Nallamothu Ruth Rani was nominated Chairperson following the direction of the Pradesh Congress Committee.

Efforts to pull her down began almost a year ago with a dissident group in Congress openly joining hands with the TDP.

High Court quashes mining lease granted to company

http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/27/stories/2009082760160600.htm

Staff Reporter

Reddy Veeranna challenged the grant of mining lease to Vibutigudda Mining Company

State has not considered other applications and that there were procedural violations: petitioner

BANGALORE: In a significant judgment, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday quashed a mining lease given by the State Government to a private company and directed the State to consider all applications for before granting the fresh lease.

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran and Justice V.G. Sabhahit, passed the order on a petition by Reddy Veeranna who had challenged the grant of mining lease in Sandur taluk of Bellary district to Vibutigudda Mining Company.

Vibutigudda Mining Company had been granted the lease under the March 15, 2003 notification. It commenced mining in 2007. Mr. Reddy Veeranna had challenged the decision, saying that the State had not considered other applications and that there were procedural violations. The Bench accepted the contention of Mr. Reddy Veeranna and set aside the grant of mining lease to Vibutigudda Mining Company. It asked the State to consider all applications for mining lease and pass orders in accordance with the mineral policy of the State. In another case, the same Bench set aside a single judge order quashing transfer of mining lease renewed in favour of Ramgad Minerals Private Limited in Bellary district.

The row between Perk Inn International and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) over the acquisition of land was sorted out on Wednesday when both the parties filed a memo stating that the issue had been amicably resolved.

NHAI had acquired lands belonging to Perk Inn in Konena Agrahara in Begur hobli for construction of an elevated highway on Hosur Road. Perk Inn had claimed that one of the loops for the elevated structure would come in the way of access to its land.

Both NHAI and Perk said the issue had been sorted out amicably.

SHRC seeks disciplinary action against DCP

http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/27/stories/2009082761500400.htm

Staff Reporter

Bangalore: The Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has directed the State Government to hand over the illegal detention case reported in the Amruthahalli police station to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Suresh, a resident of Pille Gowdara Thota at Ward 7 in Doddaballapur, was allegedly detained between July 26 and 29, 2009, at the police station.

His wife, Vasanthamma, later filed a complaint with the SHRC, which in its August 22 order, sought disciplinary action against Deputy Commissioner of Police (North East) Basavaraja Malagathi and other police officials.

The commission recommended the suspension of Amruthahalli police inspector M.S. Ashok, sub-inspector Kempe Gowda, assistant sub-inspector Chandrashekar and a compensation of Rs. 50,000 to the victim.

Arrested

Suresh, who the police describe as a receiver of stolen property, was formally arrested by the Kothanur police on July 30.

Mining scam: notices issued to Centre, State and CBI

http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/27/stories/2009082753730300.htm

Correspondent

Vigilance has so far arrested eight persons

All the arrested have been released on bail

CUTTACK: While ruling BJD government in the State is unfazed at repeated demands by opposition Congress and BJP for a CBI enquiry into the multi-crore mining scam, a social activist has approached the Orissa High Court for judicial intervention into the sensational issue that has been rocking the State for quite a while.

The Berhampur-based activist Subrat Chandra Tripathy in a PIL has urged the HC to order for a CBI probe into the Rs 110-crore Keonjhar mining scam saying that the ongoing vigilance enquiry into the matter would not reach a logical conclusion.

The vigilance wing of police is currently probing the scam and had arrested eight persons, including some mines and forest officials along with a mines owner in this connection. All the arrested persons in the meanwhile have been released on bails reportedly due to weak charges levelled against them by the prosecution (Vigilance).

Terming the recent exposure as “tip of an iceberg”, the petitioner claims that the mining scam in the state is deep-rooted. .The petitioner urged the HC to direct the CBI to probe into the entire gamut of illegal mining leases ordered in the State and take appropriate legal action against the culprits who have brought losses to the State exchequer. Adjudicating over the PIL, the bench of Acting Chief Justice I M Quddusi and Justice Kumari Sanju Panda on Tuesday issued notices to the CBI and to the Union and State Government as well to file their counters. The matter has been posted for hearing on October 14.

Firm gets HC nod on salt price

http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/27/stories/2009082753620300.htm

Staff Reporter

BERHAMPUR: The Jayashree Chemicals Limited in Ganjam district could manage to get an intervention of the Orissa High Court so that it may not be compelled by the administration to buy local salt at a rate higher than the market price.

Speaking to The Hindu, vice-president (administration) of the company S.S.Kalia said the Orissa High Court had stayed the proceedings of the order passed by the Revenue Divisional Commissioner , southern division, regarding the fixation of price and amount of salt to be procured by the company from the salt producers of Ganjam district. Mr Kalia said they had to approach the court of law when the administration compelled them to procure local salt at Rs. 1,250 per tonne, which according to them was quite higher than the regular market price.

The RDC Satyabrata Sahu had written to Ganjam district collector V.K. Pandian to direct the JCL to procure 25,000 tonnes of salt from local producers at the price of Rs. 1,250 per tonne. He had taken this decision due to demand of the local salt producers who had also threatened to take up agitation.

The JCL, which produces caustic soda and happens to be part of the S.K.Bangur group was not ready to accept this price and mandatory procurement.

Doing the right thing

http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/27/stories/2009082752180800.htm

It is a matter of satisfaction that the pressure of democratic public opinion has made the highest court in the land do the right thing: decide, ‘in principle,’ to disclose the assets of Supreme Court judges on the court’s official website. The opposition within sections of the higher judiciary to mandatory public disclosure of judges’ assets – a measure to promote judicial transparency and check judicial corruption – threatened to weaken public confidence in the judicial system. Although Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan declared that High Court judges were free voluntarily to declare their assets and that a consensus on the issue was being evolved in the Supreme Court, his reservations about mandatory public disclosure were hardly a secret. Even something as innocuous as a Central Information Commission order asking whether Supreme Court and High Court judges were declaring their assets to their Chief Justices in accordance with the judicial code of conduct was stonewalled. The Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of challenging the CIC’s order in the Delhi High Court. It was such resistance to assets disclosure that led the central government to introduce the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill in Parliament with a self-defeating clause. Fortunately, politicians cutting across party lines forced the Bill’s withdrawal after objecting to Clause 6, which stated that any declaration by a judge to his or her Chief Justice would not be public and that no judge would be subject to “any query or inquiry” in relation to its contents. Is a Bill necessary now? The answer is yes because what the Supreme Court judges have decided on is voluntary public disclosure of assets. If some members of the higher judiciary hold out, what can be the remedy other than a uniform law?

Mandatory public disclosure of judges’ assets is not a radical idea. In the United States, the Ethics in Government Act 1978 makes it mandatory for certain classes of federal officials — including federal judges — to make public financial disclosures. The Act reformed a disclosure system for federal officials that used to be based on internal reporting within each agency or department. Many other countries, including Sri Lanka, require judges to make periodic declarations of their assets. Two High Court judges have already made voluntary disclosures, one of them in response to a letter urging such disclosure by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reform, a public-spirited organisation that has done sustained work on such issues. Many judges who have nothing to hide evidently feel inhibited by the absence of a framework that mandates the accurate and public disclosure of assets. The judiciary that endorsed the Election Commission’s bid to introduce transparency and accountability and mandate the public declaration of assets of candidates to elected office cannot apply a different standard to its own functioning. Now that the Supreme Court judges have decided to do the wise thing, High Court judges must waste no time in following their lead.

Legislating against hunger

http://www.hindu.com/2009/08/27/stories/2009082752220800.htm

Zoya Hasan

The time has come for a comprehensive right-to-food law to tackle the deprivation and food insecurity that haunts India.

Over the last decade or so, a series of developments have drawn attention to the problem of food security. These are the persistence of hunger in many parts of the country being juxtaposed with food surpluses and stocks; the adverse impact of globalisation on agriculture and rising food prices resulting in widespread food insecurity; media reports of starvation deaths, hunger and malnutrition and, finally, the Supreme Court rulings in response to public interest litigation.

Despite reports of hunger and rampant malnourishment, the government has not paid enough attention to ensuring food security. In the last few years civil society campaigns, public interest litigation and directions issued by the courts have converted the benefits of nutrition-related schemes into legal entitlements. As a consequence, food security is emerging as a significant policy area for public intervention and public demands stressing a rights-based approach to ensure it. The central idea of the right-to-food campaign that started in 2001 is simply this: the right to food is one of the basic economic and social rights to achieve substantive democracy, and without it political democracy is incomplete. It is directly linked to the right to life, a fundamental human right enshrined in the Constitution and conceivably all human rights conceptions.

The essential demands of the campaign have to be seen in the context of the nutritional emergency in India and the need to address the structural roots of hunger. India’s track record, as far as the commitment to tackling hunger and malnutrition is concerned, is among the worst. The National Family Health Survey (2006) showed that the child under-nutrition rate in India is 46 per cent. This figure is almost double that of sub-Saharan Africa, which is economically poorer than India. In the Global Hunger Index (2008), India ranks 66th among the 88 countries surveyed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). It comes below Sudan, Nigeria and Cameroon, and slightly above Bangladesh. The recent rise in food prices has possibly made matters worse in terms of people’s access to food. The blame for this nutritional emergency has to be shared by the persistence of widespread poverty, poor implementation of government programmes (especially Integrated Child Development Services and the Public Distribution System), and various other factors that interact in many ways to produce this dismal result.

Few countries in the world can claim to have achieved total food security. Even fewer of them have introduced legislation to guarantee it. Implementing this right requires not only equitable and sustainable food systems and increases in agricultural productivity but the purchasing power to buy the necessary food. This, in turn, requires means of livelihood security such as the right to work and social security. Since those at risk of hunger are poor and also socially powerless, discriminated and marginalised, an enabling legal entitlement can weaken the power of entrenched interests arraigned against them, and empower the intended beneficiaries by assigning the responsibility and culpability of the government since the primary responsibility for guaranteeing these entitlements rests with the state.

The Congress’ 2009 election manifesto promised to enact a law to facilitate access to sufficient food for all, particularly the most vulnerable and deprived sections of society. The party is keen to implement this promise, which has much to do with the widely held view that the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) played an important part in the Congress’ election victory. Not surprisingly, making access to food a fundamental right is likely to become the centrepiece of the United Progressive Alliance’s second innings. Politically the main challenge is to ensure that the Right to Food law is not limited to the fulfillment of the Congress election promise of 25 kg of grain a month at Rs. 3 a kg for Below Poverty Line families: this would amount to whittling down the people’s access to food in the guise of the new law. However, Sonia Gandhi’s very first letter to the Prime Minister on the food security issue after the installation of the UPA government raises the hope that the proposed legislation will offer a more comprehensive guarantee of food security for the poor.

The draft of the Right to Food (Guarantee of Safety and Security) Bill has been widely criticised for its excessive focus on freezing the number of the poorest-of-the-poor who need guaranteed food entitlements. Since then there has been a big debate on the scale and scope of the proposed law.

Three conceptual issues are critical to the provision of an effective food security law. These pertain to how much to give, at what prices, and to whom. On the first issue, there is a consensus that the entitlement under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana which stands at 35 kg of foodgrains per poor household, which is anyway below national nutritional norms, should not be cut.

On the second issue, the rate of Rs. 3 a kg for rice and wheat that the Congress has promised is higher than the existing price of foodgrains available to BPL households in several major States and this would mean paying more for less foodgrains. The entitlements should not be cut to 25 kg, and BPL families receiving wheat at Rs. 2 should obviously continue to do so.

Of the three issues, the criterion for identifying beneficiaries and coverage under the food security law is the most crucial. Taking a minimalist view, the Food Ministry proposes to find a way to limit this list to BPL households, at a level decided by the Centre, and without giving much flexibility to the States to expand the list. However, BPL estimates vary sharply because of the different methods used to determine the beneficiaries. While the Planning Commission estimates that there are just over 62 million BPL families, State governments claim the existence of nearly double that number. Adding to this debate, a recent report by a Supreme Court-appointed panel on food security says the number of food-insecure people is larger than the figures of people officially declared as being poor.

Limiting access to the public distribution system in terms of food to BPL families is at variance with the current political expectations from a law that must ensure food for all to combat widespread malnourishment and hunger. Narrow targeting of food security on the basis of income poverty is likely to exclude a large part of the vulnerable population. The key to an inclusive approach to food security is a guarantee of universal access rather than getting bogged down in ascertaining the target group. For this it is necessary to delink food security from poverty which would help avoid the mistakes inherent in targeting: unfair exclusion of the really poor and the gratuitous inclusion of the non-poor. Above all, a law to make access to food a fundamental right for all must not be hindered by the question of additional fund allocation or subsidy.

Recent campaigns for the right to food, education, work, and information have brought issues of deprivation and livelihood centrestage as never before. Some of these campaigns have produced substantial results in the form of the NREGA and the Right to Information Act. The time has now come to put in place a comprehensive right-to-food legislation that can begin to tackle the colossal deprivation and food insecurity that continues to haunt the country. A food security law will be effective only if it is based on universal access and ensures that the nutritional requirements of every citizen are met.

This also means that the entitlement must be individual and not household-based. Based on individual entitlements, such a law would be able to avoid the difficulties faced by many of the rural development programmes, including the NREGS, which are only nominally rights-based and are heavily dependent on the benevolence and discretion of the implementing government. Such a law will not only give an impetus to the UPA’s paradigm of inclusive politics but underline the important point that the right to food, to health, to education, and to employment are interdependent and incomplete without one another.

(Zoya Hasan is a Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi)

Nitish Kumar urges PM to ensure clearance of Bihar corruption bill

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/Nitish-Kumar-urges-PM-to-ensure-clearance-of-Bihar-corruption-bill/articleshow/4940300.cms

PTI 27 August 2009, 01:18pm IST

PATNA: After the Prime Minister’s advice to catch the “big fish” to weed out corruption, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday urged Manmohan Singh to ensure early assent to a Bihar bill for dealing with corrupt public servants.

Asserting that it is “high time” for the Centre to step up measures to weed out corruption from the system, Kumar said, the Prime Minister must intervene to ensure clearance of the bill already passed by the two Houses of the state legislature.

The Prime Minister had on Wednesday asked CBI and state anti-corruption officials to aggressively pursue “high level corruption” saying the perception that “big fish” escape punishment must change and they should act swiftly and without fear.

The Bihar bill, which provides for confiscation of assets of public servants accumulated by them beyond their known sources of income, has been pending with the Centre for over five months.

Kumar said he had raised the issue with union law minister M Veerappa Moily during their recent meeting.

“I can at least boast that Bihar is setting an example by drafting a bill to crackdown on corrupt officials,” the chief minister said.

The state government has also planned speedy trial in cases related to corruption, he added.

No bail for trading firm director who made fake bills

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938485.cms

TNN 27 August 2009, 01:22am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday dismissed the anticipatory bail application of a director of a trading company charged with preparing fake bills for the purpose of Value Added Tax to the tune of Rs 718 crore. Justice A P Deshpande rejected the application of Kishankumar Gupta who is the director of KKG Traders and 26 other companies.

The fake bills had resulted in loss of state revenue of over Rs 28.72 crore, said public prosecutor P A Pol, who added that this scam was just the tip of the iceberg. According to the police, Gupta would prepare fake bills and tax invoices which he used to issue to traders without buying/selling/manufacturing any goods. These invoices were used to claim tax rebates. “These kind of economic offences create turmoil in the state treasury and requires in-depth investigation,” the state said in an affidavit filed to oppose Gupta’s bail plea.

Bribery’ case shifted from ACB to EOW

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938491.cms

S Ahmed Ali, TNN 27 August 2009, 01:31am IST

MUMBAI: The cheating case, in which MRA Marg police station senior inspector Sanjay Kokil got two jeweller brothers arrested by the ACB for trying to bribe him, was abruptly transferred to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) on Monday.

Kokil confirmed the transfer but refused to comment. EOW (unit 3) senior inspector three) S Gadekar said: “The case has been transferred to us in accordance with government directives. We are yet to launch investigations.”

The ACB arrested Sunil Goenka and his brother Sashi Goenka on July 3 after Kokil complained that he had been offered a bribe of Rs 10 lakh to stall the probe in a cheating case involving them and Sunil’s wife, Sheetal. Kokil `alleged’ that the Goenka brothers had approached him and asked him to turn the case around.

The case dates back to May when Mukesh Zaveri filed a complaint against his sister, Sheetal, and her husband, Sunil, and three other persons (including the legal advisor of a hospital and the locker-in-charge of the Fort branch of a nationalised bank). Mukesh `alleged’ Sheetal forged their father Bansilal Zaveri’s signature to operate the family’s bank locker and siphoned off jewellery valued at Rs 5 crore when Bansilal was admitted to a South Mumbai hospital last year. Zaveri also `alleged’ that Sunil forged Bansilal’s will before his death, declaring Sunil as the legal heir to the family property. Mukesh obtained a certificate from the hospital, saying that Bansilal was in such a condition that he could not write or sign documents, when the matter came to his notice. Following this, an FIR was registered.

Kokil questioned all the six accused and was on the verge of arresting them when Sunil’s brother, Sashi, approached him and offered a bribe to drop the case.

According to officials, the order to transfer the case to the EOW came only four days before the Bombay High Court was to decide on bail for the six accused.

Actor was `unaware’ of mom’s case

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938498.cms

Bharati Dubey , TNN 27 August 2009, 01:38am IST

MUMBAI: There was no FIR against actress-singer Suchitra Krishnamoorthy as announced by labour minister Nawab Malik on Tuesday. However, an FIR was registered against the actor’s mother, Sulochana Krishnamoorthy, by activist Sagar Kamble in 2007.

A 12-year-old girl, Naranthi, was rescued from her house and sent back to her native place. She is now studying at a school in Orissa. Kamble told TOI: “We were tipped off by a maid that a 12-year-old girl WAS working at the actor’s house in Oshiwara. We informed the police and the girl was rescued from the house.”

But Suchitra, who met Malik on Wednesday, clarified that she did not even know about the case till Tuesday. “My parents were so embarrassed that they did not tell me about it. My mother had given shelter to the child for a few days after another maid requested her. But, after she had a tiff with her massage woman, the latter probably went and complained to the police,” she said.

Asked what Malik said about being wrongly accused in the case, Suchitra said: “He said in front of the entire media that I was falsely accused in the case. In fact, I was even asked if I could help them by being part of their campaign against child labour.”

Malik said: “The NGO clearly told us that it was Suchitra’s house but the case was registered against her mother as the house was registered under her name.”

Labour secretary Kavita Gupta said the Sulochana Krishnamoorthy case was closed as the girl was rescued and taken to her native place.

Assault at sessions court may be due to gang rivalry

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938641.cms

S Ahmed Ali , TNN 27 August 2009, 01:41am IST

MUMBAI: Gang wars may have declined, but inter-gang rivalries still persist. Ganesh Suryavanshi, a close associate of Deepak Valekar of the Pandav Putra gang, has allegedly assaulted rival Sunil Ghate, an alleged member of the Arun Gawli gang, on the premises of the sessions court.

Officials said the incident occurred on August 21, when Ghate came to attend a hearing before the special MCOCA court of R G Awchat. Suryavanshi and his nine associates were brought to the court for a hearing at the same time. “As Ghate was coming upstairs, Suryavanshi’s group cornered him, abused him and punched him until the police escort team overpowered them,” said an police officer who witnessed the incident from afar.

Ghate verbally complained to Justice Awchat. Expressing surprise that such an assault could take place in the presence of the police, the judge ordered a probe. Sources said there was no immediate cause for the fight, but police suspect that the reason may be bitter past inter-gang rivalry. Deepak Valekar alias Pandav Putra was a former member of Arun Gawli’s gang who broke off in late 2000 and started his own gang.

Both Ghate and Suryvanshi have been booked under MCOCA. Ghate was released on bail after police failed to prove his involvement in the murder of Sena corporator Kamlakar Jamsandekar, for which he was booked along with Arun Gawli, Suryvanshi and his boss Pandav Putra.

Court orders state to act on acquitted persons in prison

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938666.cms

Shibu Thomas, TNN 27 August 2009, 01:50am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay HC on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to verify the number of persons languishing in jail despite acquittal by a trial court, as they could not come up with the bail amount when their case went into appeal. A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi also asked the public prosecutor to check the details of a man after it was revealed that he was lodged in the central prison for over five years under such circumstances. “It’s a sad state of affairs,” said the judges.

TOI in its edition dated August 17, 2009 had reported the case of the 35-year-old man who was in prison for over five years despite being acquitted of the criminal charges against him. The court had directed the state to pay the man Rs 10,000 as compensation. “There might be more such unfortunate persons languishing in jail who have been acquitted by the courts, but because of the pendency of appeals against their acquittals, and because of their failure to furnish sureties, they may remain in jail for no fault on their part,” the judges had said during a previous hearing in the case.

An accused is supposed to be released from jail as soon as he or she is acquitted by the trial court. Under Section 390 of the CrPC, when the state appeals in the HC, a warrant is issued for the re-arrest of the accused. The trial court then has the discretion to either send the accused back to jail or release him or her on bail while the state’s appeal is pending in the HC.

Poor prisoners who can’t afford the bail amount remain in jail, sometimes for up to six years, the court had remarked. “If a prisoner is in custody for six years after acquittal, then there is something seriously wrong in the system and it’s high time for the authorities to look into the matter,” the court had then said. Public Prosecutor P A Pol told the HC that across Maharashtra there was only one prisoner who was still in jail since April 2003 despite being acquitted, as he could not pay the bail amount. The court has, however, asked the prosecutor to verify the statistics from his officers.

Advocate Yug Choudhary, who was appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) said that there was a need to frame guidelines on the issue.

‘Allegations against judge amount to contempt’

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938532.cms

TNN 27 August 2009, 12:18am IST

BANGALORE: The Iskcon tussle took a new turn on Wednesday with advocate general Ashok Haranahalli according consent to prosecute Jai Chaitanya Das, Madhu Pandita Das and Chanchalapati Das, all belonging to Iskcon, Bangalore, on criminal contempt charges.

Iskcon, Mumbai, filed an application seeking the AG’s consent to prosecute, based on allegations by Iskcon, Bangalore, that Justice K L Manjunath, heading the Bench hearing the appeal, is biased.

“The sequence of events and the nature of allegations prima facie constitute contempt. If such things are allowed, it will bring the judiciary to disrepute and the parties will make unfounded allegations against Judges with the object of getting the matter posted before a judge of their choice. The allegations against Justice K L Manjunath are nothing but interference with administration of justice and tend to lower the authority of court,” the advocate general opined. He, however, refused to give consent for contempt proceedings against other office-bearers and the lawyers representing Iskcon, Bangalore.

The division bench headed by Justice Manjunath is hearing an appeal filed by Iskcon, Mumbai, challenging the April 17 verdict of a lower court that the property at Hare Krishna Hills in Rajajinagar belongs to Iskcon, Bangalore. The appellants have argued that there is only one Iskcon and the Bangalore unit is a branch.

Corruption case against Anna Univ VC

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938613.cms

TNN 27 August 2009, 03:58am IST

CHENNAI: The fate of the vice-chancellor of Anna University-Coimbatore, R Radhakrishnan, continues to hang in the balance, with the state government informing the Madras high court that it would make clear its stand on the corruption case against the VC or his possible suspension, on August 31.

Though the Anna University-Coimbatore Act does not have any provision for suspending the vice-chancellor, the government does have the power to place him under suspension, said advocate-general P S Raman, when the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday before the first bench, comprising chief justice HL Gokhale and justice D Murugesan. As per Section 15 of the Tamil Nadu General Clauses Act, the authority having the power to pass an order also has the power to rescind it.

N R Chandran, senior counsel for the petitioner Sivapandi, said that as a criminal case was pending against the VC, his further continuation in office would vitiate the inquiry. He should be prevented from working, either by government order or by court order, he said.

The bench, which heard the matter in the morning, asked Vijay Narayan, senior counsel for the VC, to inform the court by afternoon whether he would resign his post in view of the registration of the case.

Vijay Narayan later told the court that the VC would rather await the government’s decision on the matter.

To this, advocate-general Raman said that the government would need time to take a decision on the matter, and added that he had to verify if sufficient material was available with the government to suspend the VC. The matter was then adjourned to August 31 for further proceedings.

7-year-old behind bars: PSHRC seeks report by Sept 30

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938601.cms

TNN 27 August 2009, 04:17am IST

MOHALI: Taking suo motu cognizance of a seven-year-old boy being allegedly locked behind bars, Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), on Wednesday, directed the state government to submit its report on this through SSP, Mohali, by September 30.

The commission issued directions after the issue was highlighted in the media. According to reports, the child was kept behind the bars in violation of guidelines issued by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). Cops claimed that boy along with his friends had stolen a mobile from a house. Senior police officials, however, denied that boy was ever kept in lock-up.

Seeking report from the state government through SSP Mohali by the next date, the commission adjourned the matter to September 30. A copy of this order has also been sent to ADGP/IVC-cum-Human Rights and SSP Mohali for information and strict compliance.

Meanwhile, SSP Mohali, Jatinder Singh Aulkah has already directed the DSP, City-II, Swarandeep Singh to conduct an inquiry into the matter. The latter said that a probe is being conducted to check whether the boy was kept behind the bars at Phase-XI police station as reported. On Tuesday, Global Human Rights Council chairman Arvind Thakur had alleged that minor was put behind the bars at Phase-XI police station in violation of the norms.

Legal fraternity happy with CM

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938092.cms

TNN 26 August 2009, 11:14pm IST

DHARWAD: The legal fraternity in north Karnataka is elated over the initiative taken by chief minister B S Yeddyurappa in convincing the central government of the need to convert high court Circuit Benches in Dharwad and Gulbarga into permanent benches.

Yeddyurappa, in a letter to Union law minister M Veerappa Moily, has urged to take up the matter with higher echelons in judiciary. President of High Court Circuit Bench Advocates’ Association, B D Hiremath, told `The Times of India’ on Wednesday that the CM’s request to appoint 15 more judges to high court was laudable. Hiremath recalled that advocates in north Karnataka had been fighting for the establishment of high court’s permanent Bench in the region to ensure dispensation of speedy justice “but had to reconcile and agree for the Circuit Benches”.

Going by the number of cases being filed in Dharwad and Gulbarga Benches and looking at the fact that the judges have to visit Dharwad and Gulbarga in batches, it is pertinent that both the Benches should be converted into permanent ones and more judges be appointed. “This will help clients, judges and lawyers and enable speedy dispensation of justice,” Hiremath said.

Echoing the same sentiment, Dharad Bar Association president V D Kamareddy said both Dharwad and Gulbarga Benches have necessary infrastructure. “Just by appointing more judges and issuing a notification converting the two Circuit Benches into permanent ones would benefit the clients to a great extent,” he added.

Yeddyurappa had written to Moily, requesting him to increase the number of judges in high court from the present 41 to 56. He has also appealed to set up Supreme Courts Bench in Bangalore.

Bar association demands judge’s transfer

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938801.cms

TNN 27 August 2009, 02:29am IST

LUCKNOW: Opposing refusals of bail pleas in bailable offences by judicial magistrate II Abid Shamim, the Central Bar Association (CBA) of civil court on Wednesday resolved to boycott his court till he is transferred.

The decision was taken in an emergency general body meeting of CBA convened on Wednesday. The meeting had to be called following judge Abid’s adamant attitude to reject the bail application of an accused, who surrendered before him in bailable offences. One Jai Prakash was issued non-bailable warrant (NBW) about 10 years back in connection to a case relating with Bazaarkhala police station under Sections 323 and 504 of IPC.

Filing an application, the accused Jai Prakash surrendered before judge Abid on Wednesday. His lawyer, Nirmal Pandey, moved bail application pleading that since the offences levelled against the accused were of bailable category, he should be released on bail. The judge proposed to reject the bail plea and sent the accused to jail. The lawyer tried to convince the judge to grant a bail in the bailable offences. The judge was unmoved. At this the lawyer complained to the office bearers of CBA. Its president, Saroj Kumar Shukla, also tried to convince the judge to grant Jai Prakash bail as the offences were bailable and he was ready to give sureties.

After resistance, the judge cancelled the surrender of the accused. Reprimanding the conduct of the judge the CBA decided to boycott his court until he is transferred or mends his conduct and view.

CBA president, Saroj Kumar Shukla told TOI that the judge had been in the habit of refusing bail in bailable offences. He told that the judge had earlier also rejected the bail plea of Surya Pratap in a case under section 325 of IPC relating with Madiaon police station. This offence is bailable. Additional sessions judge, Ranjana Pandeya, however, granted him bail on the same day on the ground that the offence was bailable. The president lamented that judge Abid did not possess the basic knowledge of law.

HC rebuff to state govt over NU land

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938855.cms

Vaibhav Ganjapure, TNN 27 August 2009, 02:14am IST

NAGPUR: In a strong rebuff to the Maharashtra government on its dilly-dallying tactics over returning Nagpur University’s 70-acre land, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has categorically asked the additional government pleader whether there is any political pressure on the issue.

The court directed assistant government pleader (AGP) Bharti Dangre to file a detailed affidavit on the steps taken to hand over university’s land under dispute since the last many years.

Earlier, the judges came down heavily on the government for its failure to remove encroachments even after issuance of several directions. The court stated that it was the responsibility of the state government to give encroachmentfree land to the university.

Earlier, the government told the court that after taking over land in 1971, many encroachers occupied the land and also filed many injunctions in district courts, getting a stay on their removal.

While 39 acres of land is free, 21 acres was encroached. The court then asked the AGP whether the authorities were waiting for the entire land to get encroached.

Notice to state, NMC on poor roads

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938853.cms

TNN 27 August 2009, 02:13am IST

NAGPUR: Citizens seem to have finally stood up against Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s lethargic attitude in not maintaining city roads, streetlights and markets, among others. Two alert citizens have approached the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court praying for punitive action against erring civic officials whose negligence is causing innumerable hardships to the people and threatening their safety.

The court issued notices to the respondents – state secretary of Urban Development Department, Mumbai, and NMC commissioner – on Wednesday before adjourning the hearing for two weeks. Anil Kilor was the counsel for the petitioner.

According to petitioners Manohar Khorgade and Gajanan Zade, the NMC is solely responsible for maintaining roads, streetlights, markets and other public utility places in the city. It is their obligatory duty under section 57 of City of Nagpur Corporation Act 1948. As per the law, NMC should also remove obstructions causing problems to the citizens, they said.

Status quo on handing over of APMC land to hsg society

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938856.cms

TNN 27 August 2009, 02:15am IST

NAGPUR: The Bombay high court’s Nagpur bench on Wednesday granted a status quo on transferring the land meant for Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) to a housing society. The court has restrained the tehsildar from handing over to the society the four-acre piece of land worth Rs 23 crore till September 2.

The court’s directives came while hearing a petition filed by founder chairman of APMC Dwarkaprasad Kakani who claimed that the land reserved for APMC was given to Gajmukh Cooperative Housing Society which has in its members’ list many bigwigs and a minister of state.

The petitioner alleged that the land with a market value of Rs 12,500 per sq mt was allotted to Gajmukh Society through a sale deed made in 1986. The land originally belongs to Sakore family which had entered into an agreement with the respondent society to purchase it.

However, the APMC had objected to the deal. When the land was still in dispute, the society managed to obtain orders from the then chief minister on April 30, 2007 directing that the land should be handed over to the society.

Man gets 2 life terms for sexual abuse, murder of boy

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938215.cms

26 August 2009, 10:59pm IST

PORBANDAR: In a landmark judgment, a Porbandar district and sessions court sentenced a man on Wednesday to two life imprisonment terms for having unnatural sex with a boy and killing him. However, he will serve both sentences together.

According to case details, district and sessions court judge AD Mogle sentenced Santosh Makwana for sexual abuse and murder of his seven-year-old cousin Ashwin Punja.

Judge Mogle, taking note of the seriousness of the crime, pronounced the sentences under sections 307 and 377 of Indian Penal Code.

The crime occurred one-and-a-half years ago at Ranakandorana village near Porbandar on May 7, 2008. Villagers found the mutilated body of the boy, who had been missing for a while, on the banks of Maniyar river. The face and body of the boy was crushed with stones.

Police and forensic investigators found Santosh guilty. He had taken the boy to the river for a bath and committed the sexual act there. Later, scared that the boy would reveal this to others, he brutally murdered him.

Ironically, when the boy was missing, Santosh had looked for him with other family members. The case was solved by the then police inspector of Ranavav police station Jaideepsinh Sarvaiya.

source: sandesh

HC asks govt to inform about probe into DA case

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938573.cms

Manohar Lal, TNN 27 August 2009, 12:21am IST

RANCHI: The Jharkhand High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to inform the court how much time it would take to complete the probe into the disproportionate assets (DA) case against six former ministers.

Hearing a public interest litigation filed by one Durga Oraon, a division Bench of Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Misra and Justice Pradeep Kumar said the mere fact that the vigilance department was investigating the case does not mean that it will continue indefinitely.

The petitioner in his PIL has demanded a CBI probe into the case of disproportionate assets of former ministers and action under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Oraon had named seven former ministers. They are Chander Prakash Choudhary, Dulal Bhuiyan, Bhanu Pratap Sahi, Bandhu Tirkey, Kamlesh Singh, Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai.

Oraon’s counsel Ritu Kumar said despite the case being lodged against former ministers Enos Ekka and Harinarayan Rai on November 24, 2008, the state provided VIP security to former ministers till they surrendered in court on August 17 this year.

Kumar said the investigation should be handed over to the CBI as his client had no confidence in the vigilance department. The court also asked advocate-general P K Prasad to explain how long the vigilance department would take to file the chargesheet as well as the progress of investigation.

Counsel for former chief minister Madhu Koda said his matter should be adjourned sine die as vigilance has not found any evidence of disproportionate assets. He argued that no parallel investigation could take place.

The court also took strong exception to the 10 interlocutory applications filed in connection with the case and rejected the application filed against Union minister Subodh Kant Sahay, former chief minister Arjun Munda, Shibu Soren and his former officer on special duty M L Paul in the DA case.

The court also asked the petitioners to file separate PILs for these cases.

CCI gets tough, issues notice to Kingfisher-Jet

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938687.cms

Saurabh Sinha, TNN 27 August 2009, 12:51am IST

NEW DELHI: Government watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) has issued notices to the biggest domestic private airlines — Jet and Kingfisher — over the allegedly monopolistic alliance the two entered into last year. Asserting that ‘‘prima facie a case exists’’, CCI has sought details of Vijay Mallya and Naresh Goyal’s operational tie-up that could prevent a level playing field for other carriers.

According to latest DGCA figures, Jet, JetLite and Kingfisher have nearly 50% market share of domestic air traffic. ‘‘It has been alleged that the alliance may result in cartelisation, which may have an appreciable adverse affect on competition… It has further been alleged that the two airlines have a bulk market share as well as airport slots, undermining the ability of other players to compete on a level playing field and are abusing their dominant positions by coordinating increase in passengers fares, increase in fuel surcharge, charging fuel surcharge at a fixed rate irrespective of distance,’’ the CCI notice says.

The airlines have been asked to submit details of the agreement reached last year along with minutes of the meetings held between Goyal and Mallya, failing which the airlines could be fined. A Jet spokesperson said: ‘‘We have received a communication from CCI. They have for some information and we are in the process of providing the same.’’ The Kingfisher spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission is also looking into a similar complaint about the Jet-Kingfisher alliance and the next hearing is slated soon.

NTPC forces govt to rewrite SC petition

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4938699.cms

Sanjay Dutta, TNN 27 August 2009, 12:53am IST

NEW DELHI: Government’s law officers have been forced to rewrite a Supreme Court petition, being prepared for state-run generation utility NTPC, after a dissatisfied company chairman R S Sharma threatened to walk out of a briefing session, according to top government sources.

The briefing session was called on Tuesday evening to finalise NTPC’s petition for making it an ‘interlocutor’ in the gas row between Mukesh Ambani’s RIL and Anil Ambani’s RNRL. Sources said Sharma lodged strong protest against the draft petition, saying it did not safeguard NTPC’s concerns on the issue of protecting future gas supplies from RIL.

As an interlocutor in the RIL-RNRL case, NTPC will have some say in the matter but will not be a party or respondent. The briefing was being held after an informal ministerial panel under finance minister Pranab Mukherjee decided that the oil ministry will revise or amend its affidavits and petition, field as an intervenor in the RIL-RNRL case, to bring NTPC’s concerns on board.

NTPC is fighting RIL in the Bombay High Court over a deal to supply Andhra offshore gas for $2.34 per unit price obtained through a global tender in 2003. Both attorney general and solicitor general have advised NTPC to move SC, saying the outcome of the RIL-RNRL case will have a bearing on its own.

The two cases have become intertwined since the Reliance demerger MoU envisages RIL supplying gas to RNRL at the same price offered to NTPC. The petroleum ministry has, however, intervened in the RIL-RNRL case with the stand that Andhra offshore gas has to be sold at $4.20 price set in 2007 by a ministerial panel and can be distributed only according to the utilisation policy. Meanwhile, the SC has deferred the September 1 hearing on the

RIL-RNRL case as well as on the oil ministry’s intervention. The hearing is likely to be rescheduled for September 4 or 5.

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