Legal News 01.09.2009

Madras HC issues notice to I&B Ministry over obscenity, violence on TV Team

(1 September 2009 5:35 pm)

MUMBAI: The Madras High Court (HC) has issued notices to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, Prasar Bharati and the Central Board of Film Certification on the issue of transmission of obscenity, violence, vulgar telecasts and exhibition of indecent dramas, serials, dances and advertisements by private channels.

Hearing on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Rev Father Pancras M Raja along with three others, the first bench of chief justice HL Gokhale and justice D Murugesan, have asked the parties to file the responses by 5 October.

In the PIL, the petitioners have sought order to restrain repeated telecast of events which terrified viewers. These include the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai and the 19 February police-advocates clash in the Madras High Court premises.

According to the petitioners, youth and children were being exposed to ‘mind pollution’ by the TV programmes and advertisements telecast by the satellite cable TV networks. Contending that mind pollution was worse than all other types of pollution, the petitioners claimed that psychologists all over the world have been cautioning that exposure to media violence and sex had a damaging impact on children, minors and youth.

Gujarat may modify ban order on Jinnah book

Nikunj Soni / DNA

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 9:57 IST

Ahmedabad: The state government is likely to file a reply or submit a ‘modified notification’ in court, when hearing of the PIL challenging the ban imposed on Jaswant Singh’s book resumes in the Gujarat high court on Tuesday.

The state government had issued a notification on August 19 banning the book, ‘Jinnah-India, Partition, Independence’, written by expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh. Incidentally, Singh’s petition challenging the Gujarat government’s ban order is also to be heard in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.On Monday, a special 3-judge bench of the Gujarat high court, comprising chief justice KS Radhkrishnan, justice Akil Kureshi and justice KM Thaker, took up the PIL for final hearing, after refusing the state government’s request for two days’ time to file a reply.

“The high court can’t go beyond the content of the notification and look into the affidavit,” said chief justice Radhakrishnan. “The Supreme Court has observed that the validity of the notification is to be tested only on the bases stated in the notification and not otherwise.” The chief justice’s observation came after the additional advocate general, Tushar Mehta, sought time to file a reply.

The counsel for the petitioners, Anand Yagnik, challenged the validity of the notification, and argued that it was issued without giving reasonable grounds. He further argued that the government had banned the book without reading it and without any application of mind. He contended that the notification does not point out which portions of the book are objectionable. As a result, it was not possible for any reasonable man to determine from the notification whether something written in the book was objectionable, Yagnik said.

Tamil Nadu: Anna University VC suspended on corruption charges


Anna University Coimbatore Vice Chancellor R Radhakrishnan was placed under suspension on charges of corruption, the Tamil Nadu Government told the Madras High Court today.

When a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) came up for hearing before the first bench, comprising Chief Justice H L Gokahle and Justice Murugesan, seeking registration of corruption case against Mr Radhakrishnan, Advocate General (AG) P S Raman submitted that the Government has placed the Vice-Chancellor under suspension in view of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) registering a case against him on corruption charges.

In his counter affidavit, the AG said the Government had permitted the DVAC to register the case against Mr Radhakrishnan.

The counter filed by the Higher Education Department Deputy Secretary, said the Government accorded its sanction to the DVAC on July 30 and Mr Radhakrishnan was suspended two days ago.

The Government had asked the DVAC to register a regular case on the allegations contained in the proposal of the DVAC Director, as well as the contents of the affidavit filed by advocate S Sivapandi, who filed the PIL.

The DVAC probe was on against the accused, the AG said and prayed for the dismissal of the PIL in view of filing of case against the Vice-Chancellor.

The Bench disposed off the PIL. After recording the submissions filed by the AG.


PIL challenging MLAs pay hike dismissed

Tue, 2009-09-01 02:18 — editor

By Gopal Ethiraj, Chennai

Chennai, 01 September, (

A petition challenging the order of the government to hike salary and decision to allot land for constructing house for MLAs, has been dismissed on Monday by the Madras High Court.

When the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed the social activist ‘Traffic’ K R Ramaswamy came up for hearing before the First Bench of Chief Justice H L Gokhale and Justice D Murugesan, the Government Pleader (GP) Raja Kalifulla submitted, that the salary hike to the MLAs was announced by the government in the State Assembly.

And on the government has not yet taken any decision to allot any piece of land to MLAs; the government has closed the proposal of allotting lands to them, the GP informed the court.

Dismissing the petition, the Bench recorded the statement of the GP and said, the MLAs’ salary increase was within the permissible limit.

In his petition, ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy, had earlier submitted that the hike in the salary of MLAs announced by the Finance Minister was unwarranted.

He said legislators were expected to serve the people, recalling that in the distant past only an honorarium was paid to MLAs when they attended Assembly sessions. There was no fixed monthly salary.

He also submitted that at present MLAs were given free accommodation with modern facilities. It was not necessary to allot free land or land at a concessional price in the city, which was already facing acute shortage of space.

When several hut-dwellers were not able to get [better] accommodation, it was not fair to give additional accommodation to MLAs, most of whom owned houses in their constituencies and also in the city. He had sent a fax message to the authorities, the Finance Minister and the Chief.

Non-veg food in jails: HC gives 3 options to state

Express News Service Posted: Tuesday , Sep 01, 2009 at 0516 hrs Mumbai:

The Bombay High Court has given three options to jail authorities in the state for providing non-vegetarian food to prisoners.

The options were provided on Monday following a petition by a few convicts in the 1993 serial blasts case. They pleaded that non-vegetarian food be made available in prison canteens.

A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi has asked the jail authorities to include non-veg food in the menu once or twice a week. The bench also gave two other options: either sell non-veg food in prisons so that convicts can buy them or purchase it from outside.

“The authorities have been given a week to file their reply,” petitioners’ lawyer Aisha Ansari said.

According to the petition, as per Maharashtra Prison Manual, eatables can be sold in prison canteens. However, the convicts claimed that the Inspector General of Prisons had issued a circular in September 2008 directing that eatables should not be sold in prison canteens. Petitioners Sardar Shahavali Khan, Salim Mira Shaikh and four others are lodged in Aurangabad Central Prison.

The judges observed that if the reason for not selling eatables is because they are prisoners, it is a colonial attitude.

Ansari said this facility had been available since 1949. She contended that foods such as chicken, eggs and mutton were sold in prisons canteens and prisoners could buy them.

HC seeks date for Shopian probe completion

TNN 1 September 2009, 03:36am IST

SRINAGAR: Hearing the bail application of two police officers — then Shopian SP Javid Iqbal Matoo and DSP Rohit Baskotra, Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday directed police to give specific date within four days for the completion of investigation into Shopian rape and murder of two women.

Justice Sunil Hali directed special investigation team of Jammu and Kashmir police to inform the court within four days as when it would complete the probe so that it could take a decision on their bail plea.

The police had arrested four police officers — Matoo, Baskotra, former SHO and a sub-inspector of Shopian police officer after one man judicial commission held them responsible for destroying evidence in the case.

Judge’s revelation: HC issues notice to bar council chief

TNN 1 September 2009, 04:02am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras high court on Monday issued notices to Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry chairman RK Chandramohen and the Bar Council of India on a writ plea seeking disclosure of the name of the Union minister who had attempted to contact Justice Regupathi for a favourable order in a criminal case.

A division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi admitted the petition filed by advocate Elephant G Rajendran and asked Chandramohen, who appeared for the accused doctor-son duo in a marksheet scam case, to submit his reply within four weeks.

On Monday, a copy of the confidential report of Justice R Regupathi, explaining the details and circumstances under which he had revealed in an open court that a Union minister tried to exert pressure on him, was also furnished before the bench.

The copy was submitted in a sealed cover, when a writ petition filed by Rajendran against Chandramohen came up for further hearing. Last week, the bench had directed the registrar-general of the court to furnish a copy of the report, if any.

After perusing the report, the judges said they were satisfied that a prima facie case was made out for issuing notices to the Bar Council of India as well as Chandramohen.

“The letter circulated by the registrar-general is returned to him to be kept in safe custody for being produced as and when called for. We had the benefit of going through the letter by the judge (Justice Regupathi), and we are satisfied that prima facie case has been made for admission,” observed the judges.

During arguments, the judges told the chairman’s senior advocate Vijay Narayan that the former must explain on what capacity he was holding the statutory post. “If he does not file his reply, we will be constrained to pass a direction,” Justice Kalifulla said.

Last month, Justice Regupathi created a flutter in judicial circles when he disclosed in open court that a Union minister had tried to reach him over mobile phone and exert pressure on him to grant anticipatory bail to the doctor-son duo, accused of tampering with Pondicherry University records and forging marksheets. The scam is being investigated by the CBI now.

HC pulls up state over 60-yr jail terms for ’93 blast accused

TNN 1 September 2009, 02:21am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday pulled up the Maharashtra government for keeping it in the dark over the state’s decision to make three 1993 blast accused serve 60-year prison terms. A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi directed home secretary Chandra Iyengar to file a detailed affidavit on the issue in a week.

The matter concerns four blast convicts, Salim Mira Shaikh, Niyaz Shaikh, Shaikh Ali and Moin Qureshi, who are serving life imprisonment for their role in the blasts conspiracy. Earlier this year, the state had ordered that the four would have to spend 50 years in jail or till they attain 65 years of age. Subsequently, on August 4, 2009, the state increased the jail term to 60 years for three of them. Despite a court hearing in the matter a week later on August 11, the state did not inform the court of its fresh decision.

On Monday, the state again sought time to file an affidavit. This infuriated the court which pointed to reports about the decision that had appeared in a section of the media. Additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai told the court that the prisoners were informed of the state’s order on August 18 itself. Advocate general Ravi Kadam also told the court that there were instances previously in other cases when petitioners had leaked information before the matter came to court.

The petitioners were represented by advocate N N Gawankar who said that he had not received any information about the government order of 60-year jail term from his clients who are in jail.

Disqualified DUSU poll candidates move HC

Puneet Nicholas Yadav / DNA

Tuesday, September 1, 2009 3:27 IST

Delhi: National Students Union of India (NSUI) and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) candidates moved the Delhi high court on Monday, challenging their disqualification from the Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elections.

Candidates for the president’s post Deepak Negi (NSUI) and Rohit Chahal (ABVP), NSUI’s vice-presidential candidate Umesh Tanwar, and ABVP’s Lalit Chaudhary and Ashok Khari, running for the posts of general secretary and joint secretary, were disqualified on Friday for violating the poll code.

The varsity claimed the candidates had exceeded the election spend of Rs5,000, were using cars and holding rallies. The candidates, on the other hand, accused the university of misinterpreting the Lyngdoh panel’s suggestions.

Mysore violence: HC orders release of 25 detainees

TNN 1 September 2009, 01:40am IST

BANGALORE: The high court has directed the authorities to immediately release 25 persons kept in Belgaum’s Hindalaga prison. They were arrested following the July 2 communal violence in Mysore.

“Body warrants cannot be considered as detention order,” a division Bench headed by Justice Manjula Chellur observed on Monday. It granted an interim order on a habeas corpus petition filed by P Mohammed Sameer, state council member of Popular Front of India.

The court pulled up the authorities for filing different versions on the arrest and re-arrest of the detenues. On August 3, the court had directed the release of all the 160-odd persons who were arrested following the violence. Some of them were arrested again after the release.

A division Bench has put a rider on appointments to 40-odd first-grade college lecturer posts in government degree colleges, observing that these appointments are subject to the court’s final decision.

The HC directed issuance of notices to KPSC and the distance education council. Ravindranath and others had challenged the appointments, contending that the M Phil degree obtained by selected candidates is for one-year course as against the stipulated two years.

On August 19, the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal dismissed their petitions, saying it cannot decide on such matters, thus paving the way for appointment of 2,550 first-grade college lecturers.

A division Bench of the high court will, on Tuesday, hear a civil contempt petition in the Gottigere lake issue. Vijayaraghavan, in his petition, alleged that the court’s June 16, 1999, order in environmentalist Suresh Heblikar’s case is being violated by NICE authorities in relation to construction of the peripheral road over the lake.

Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, revenue minister Karunakara Reddy, NICE head Ashok Kheny and department secretaries are arrayed as parties in the contempt petition.

The complainant contended that the 1999 order was specific that the waterbody shouldn’t be bifurcated at any cost.

Bombay HC Judge Bilal Nazki elevated as Chief Justice of Orissa HC

Submitted by mumtaz on 31 August 2009 – 11:52pm.

By Staff Reporter,

New Delhi: Justice Bilal Nazki, senior most Judge of Bombay High Court has been elevated and appointed as new Chief Justice of Orissa High Court. Justice Nazki, who belongs to Jammu and Kashmir, has rich experience as a practicing lawyer and the Judge of three High Courts.

He has served as judge in Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Andhra Pradesh High Court and Bombay High Court.

Born on November 18, 1947 in Srinagar, Justice Nazki obtained Law Degree from Aligarh Muslim University in 1973 and joined Bar at Srinagar. He practiced in the High Court as well as in the subordinate courts. He has also appeared before the Supreme Court, and has worked as the Legal Advisor to various State Government undertakings.

He became Deputy Advocate General of Jammu and Kashmir State in 1986 and then elevated as an Additional Judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in 1995. He became permanent Judge of the High Court in 1996. He was transferred to Andhra Pradesh High Court in 1997. He also functioned as Acting Chief Justice of AP High Court twice.

He was transfered as a Judge of Bombay High Court in January 2008.

SC resolution on judges’ assets in two weeks

TNN 1 September 2009, 03:19am IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday was informed that the judges of the Supreme Court would take two weeks to sign the resolution on making their assets public.

The HC, which had reserved its order on the case pertaining to Central Information Commissioner’s order directing the apex court to reveal information pertaining to declaration of assets by apex court judges, was told that the process was being finalised.

As per the case, the Commission had held that office of CJI comes within the ambit of Right to Information Act and the apex court is bound to reveal the information. The Supreme Court had then approached Delhi high Court challenging the order which was stayed on January 19.

The apex court’s response came when Justice S Ravindra Bhatt sought its response on the issue as the development took place after he had reserved the verdict on declaration of assets. Attorney General Goolam E Vahanwati, appearing for the apex court registry, informed the court that minutes would be signed in two weeks.

The court, after hearing his submission, said it would deliver the verdict on September 2.

Last week, the apex court judges have in principle agreed to make public their assets by putting them on its website.

An end to court backlog

V Krishna Ananth

First Published : 31 Aug 2009 11:29:00 PM IST

Last Updated : 31 Aug 2009 01:38:06 AM IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s lament over the pendency of disputes — three crore cases pending before courts across the country — was indeed a brave statement. And even if it was unintentional, he gave an opportunity to the middle class to raise a discussion on the state of the judicial system. The blame game began and anxious reporters churned statistics of vacant posts at various levels of the system including the higher judiciary.

The Prime Minister also promised those assembled in the august gathering — chief ministers and the chief justices of the various High Courts — that the executive was willing to walk that extra mile to remedy the system. Appointing judges to all the vacant posts and setting up several hundred special courts would have to be done, he said. No one will quarrel with his intentions, as the huge backlog is eroding the citizen’s faith in the justice system. If it is allowed to persist, there can be very little hope for the survival of the democratic edifice.

But it is also important to ponder some truths invisible to those who do not watch the functioning of the justice delivery system from close quarters. It will help them decide whether the malady is entirely due to the inadequate number of judges, and also to test the veracity of the impression that most cases are kept pending because of repeated adjournments that lawyers are known to seek.

It is true that litigants suffer monetarily and otherwise when lawyers seek adjournments. But it is also a fact that judges who refuse repeated adjournments end up with a bad reputation.

Manmohan Singh did not, incidentally, make an issue of this, but the urbane sections, most of whom hold a poor opinion of lawyers, have taken the opportunity to blame it all on the Bar and the Bench. I must agree that this is not misplaced. But a systemic problem cannot be corrected by seeking to tackle the peripheral issues alone. Hence it is important to set out a few harsh truths that are the cause for the huge backlog, more than just the inadequate number of judges and the avarice that leads lawyers to prolong a case by repeated adjournments.

One such truth is that the government is the primary cause for a large number of cases at the outset. Let us take, for instance, the petitions filed in the various High Courts: Without going into exact numbers, it is possible to state that more than half are filed by factory workers, pavement dwellers and such ordinary people. And as is the case with writs, under Article 226 of the Constitution, the litigant approaches the High Courts only when all other attempts to obtain justice fail.

Among these are a representation by a factory worker to the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESI) for medical treatment for peripheral neuropathy, a disease contracted due to exposure to dangerous chemicals at work. The ESI Act states clearly that the worker is entitled to compensation for such occupational diseases. But the officer at the ESI dispensary does not care to do his job until a writ is obtained from the High Court. This takes at least 12 weeks and will cost the worker a few hundred rupees provided the lawyer does not take adjournments and judge is committed to the justice delivery system.

Likewise, there are instances of a poor Dalit, allotted a small piece of land as part of a government scheme to provide housing sites to the community, having to file a writ petition to enjoy possession of the land. Even after the writ is issued, the revenue officials do not do their job. The poor man is then forced to file a contempt petition. And only then does the officer concerned wake up to explain that the land meant for the project has been encroached upon! In this instance, the entire process took a decade because the government pleader representing the respondent had to wait several months for instructions from the department concerned at every stage when the case came up. The fault thus lies with the bureaucracy rather than the Bar and the Bench.

This is not all. Things get clearer if the details of the various stages of a writ petition are provided. Briefly, writ petitions arise either out of a judgment by a lower court or an order of the government (a writ of certiorirarified mandamus) or out of sheer inaction by the government official (writ of mandamus) seeking a direction that the concerned officer do his/her job. It is filed either by the citizen or by the government itself. And where it is filed by a citizen the government pleader takes some time to discuss the case with the officer concerned and file a counter statement. When the case is settled, the loser prefers a writ appeal.

Where the government is the appellant, it has its own advocate. The citizen, however, has to raise the resources to engage a lawyer at the appeal stage. Even if the appeal is decided against the state, the battery of government advocates in the Supreme Court will take care of the process to file a Special Leave Petition (SLP). The citizen, however, has to raise more money to defend himself in the Supreme Court. And if the SLP is dismissed, the officer who decided to fight the case, spending a huge sum of taxpayer’s money as fees, is not held responsible in any way.  The losers are the citizens who have to go through all the pain and the taxpayer whose money is spent by the government in pursuit of “justice”. The fact is that in most cases, the government’s pursuit of justice is against its own citizens and their rights!

The Prime Minister’s concern and his lament over the case backlog are justified. But the remedy lies in making the bureaucrats and their political masters responsible for their decisions. It is possible to amend the rules: Where a government officer is held responsible for an illegality against the citizen, make sure that he/she pays for the action or inaction. And where law officer in a particular department advised the government to prefer a writ appeal or an SLP,  he/she must be made to pay the costs if it is dismissed. This will be a sure deterrent against indiscriminate appeals and help reduce the backlog in a big way.

As for the Prime Minister’s lament about the number of undertrials languishing for long years in jail, it is sad that he is unaware of the law of the land, as laid down by the Supreme Court in the Hussainara Khatoon vs State of Bihar (AIR 1979 SC 1369) that undertrial prisoners shall not be detained in jail even for a day longer than the maximum term of imprisonment that could have been awarded on conviction. There are several other judgments that have put the onus of a speedy trial on the prosecution.

In other words, if undertrials languish in jail, the responsibility lies with the executive and not the judicial system

Brar retires, benefits withheld

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Harcharanjit Kaur Brar will not get the retiral benefits, at least for the time being.

As she retired on attaining the age of superannuation today, the Punjab and Haryana High Court made it clear that her retiral benefits will not be released till the next hearing in a contempt case.

The petitioner, Saristi Pal, through counsel GS Bal had earlier alleged non-compliance of the high court order dated November 27, 2008.

Elaborating, Bal had asserted that the petitioner and nine others had filed a writ petition for the grant of pensionary benefits by taking into account their entire service, including service rendered against aided post.

The petition was disposed of with a direction to the respondents to decide the legal notice within six months.

As the matter came up, it was brought to the Bench’s notice that “the respondents were adopting a pick and choose method in implementing the orders of this court as similar benefits had been given to many of the other similarly situated employees, whereas the petitioners had been denied the same.”

Justice Rakesh Kumar Garg asserted: “It is also brought to the notice of this court that the respondent is retiring today on attaining the age of superannuation. Punjab is directed not to release the retiral benefits of the respondent till the next date of hearing”.

The case will now come up on September 17.

Inspector gets life term for rape

Tribune News Service

Karnal, August 31
District and Sessions Judge, Karnal, Vinod Jain today sentenced Inspector Jai Singh to life imprisonment for raping a married woman in the police station at Nissing on June 25 last year.

The rape case was registered against Jai Singh on a complaint of the victim, who had a love marriage with a resident of Dachar village against the wishes of her parents and had approached the high court for providing security to her so that she could meet her family members in the presence of the police.

The victim, hailing from Indri village, alleged that when she came to the police station to meet her parents on June 25 last year, Inspector Jai Singh allegedly reaped her. On her complaint, the then SP, AS Chawla, and the DSP had reached the spot and got a rape case registered against the accused. He was immediately arrested and placed under suspension.

The DNA test conducted by the State Forensic Science Laboratory, Madhuban, and the medical examination report also confirmed rape.

The prosecution produced 19 witnesses in the court and the Judge sentenced him to life imprisonment and also ordered him to pay a fine of Rs 20,000.

HC dismisses plea against transfer order

DS Chauhan

Jammu, August 31
Justice Nissar Ahmad Kakroo of the J&K High Court has dismissed the writ petition of Mohd. Sadiq, who challenged his transfer. He stated that transfer of a government employee from one place to another was a rule and an administrative exigency but the cancellation of the order was an exception.

Sadiq, working as principal of Government Higher Secondary School, Mankote, was transferred and posted as Deputy Chief Education Officer, Mendhar, vide the government order dated June 18. However, the order was modified on June 24 and he was transferred to Mankote as such.

The petitioner challenged the order of modification on the ground that once the transfer order was acted upon and implemented, it cannot be cancelled in abeyance.

The state justified the modification of the order of transfer owing to good performance of Abdul Hamid Fani as deputy chief education officer followed by demand of public representatives.

Justice Nissar Ahmad Kakroo disagreeing with the contentions of the petitioner’s counsel said: “It transpires that order of modification of transfer on public demand, certainly does not punish the petitioner and the consequence of modification being petitioner’s continuation as principal does not entail his dislodgement. Moreover, a transfer will not be vitiated by itself because it is made on the recommendation of an MLA. There can be no hard and fast rule that every transfer at the instance of an MP or MLA would be vitiated. It all depends on facts and circumstances of an individual case. Thus, situations are conceivable where order of transfer may be mala fide and politically motivated. In such case, the court can refuse interference.”

Shed for lawyers

Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 31
Ajay Khajuria, Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur, inaugurated a shed for lawyers constructed at a cost of Rs 2.75 lakh by the Public Works Department, on the premises of the District Court Complex today.

Janak Raj Kotwal, District and Sessions Judge, Yashpal Kotwal, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Arvind Khajuria, District Mobile Magistrate, Vinod Kumar, munsif, Surinder Khajuria and Anil Vijay, president and secretary of the Bar Association, Udhampur, and other advocates were present on the occasion.

Surinder Khajuria appreciated the gesture of the district administration in improving the working conditions of advocates.

One-year jail for ex-health director

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 31
The Anti-Corruption Court, Jammu, today sentenced Dr Mohan Prakash Gupta, former Director of Health Services, to one-year imprisonment, besides imposing a fine of Rs 10,000.

Acting upon a written complaint lodged by the Under Secretary, Health and Medical Education Department, Srinagar, the Vigilance had registered a case under FIR number 39/98 against Dr Gupta for making 58 illegal appointments in the department. Subsequently, the Vigilance had investigated the case.

The Under Secretary, in his complaint, had alleged that Gupta while being posted as Director Health Services had made 58 illegal appointments to various posts of Class-IV and non-gazetted categories in violation of rules and procedures.

All these appointments were made on the date of his superannuation, i.e. March 31, 1998.

During the investigations, the Vigilance substantiated the allegations and accordingly a charge-sheet was produced in the court on August 25, 2008.

After the completion of trial, the Special Judge today held the accused guilty and convicted the accused under Section 5(2)of the J&K Prevention of Corruption Act.

Buta agrees to CBI questioning

New Delhi, August 31
Buta Singh, Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, today informed the Delhi High Court about his willingness to be questioned by the CBI in connection with the bribery case involving his son.

Buta Singh, former Bihar Governor, agreed to do so after the CBI clarified that he was required to be questioned as a witness and not as an accused in the bribery case.

He said he would be available to the CBI on September 10 at 11 am at his office and the probe agency officials could come and question him.

Justice Geeta Mittal, after recording the statement given by Buta Singh’s counsel, disposed of the matter and asked the investigating agency to question Buta Singh on the dates given by him.

The high court had on August 26 sought response from the CBI on a petition filed by Buta Singh, who had accused the probe agency of illegally summoning him for interrogation in the bribery case.

He had contended that he held a post of Cabinet rank and the CBI could not question or interrogate him without taking sanction from the Centre.

On August 25, he approached the Delhi High Court challenging CBI’s notice to appear before it in connection with a bribery case registered  against his son.

His son was arrested on July 31 by the CBI for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 1 crore from a Nashik-based contractor to close an atrocity case against him pending before the commission headed by his father. — PTI

SC stays age bar on law courses


New Delhi, Aug. 31: The Supreme Court has stayed a Bar Council rule that set age limits on students of legal courses.

The council has set 20 years as the upper age limit for entrants to the five-year integrated LLB course and 30 years for enrolling in the three-year degree version.

The Bar Council of India, the apex regulatory body for legal education, had introduced the rule last September to check the declining standards of legal education by getting in younger people. The only concession was a five-year relaxation for reserved category students.

The rule has been challenged in at least 11 high courts on many grounds. Critics say keeping out those interested in studying the subject is not the way to reduce overcrowding. The rule will also restrict lateral entry of professionals from other fields, they say.

Many doctors, engineers, CAs and others take up the law courses later in life to deal with cases related to their areas of specialisation.

The age limit is arbitrary and unreasonable, the critics say. It is also against the principle of equality (Article 14 of the Constitution) and the right to pursue any trade, occupation or profession of choice under Article 19.

The council believes setting an age limit will improve the quality of lawyers and help deal with the challenges posed by liberalisation of the profession.

It had earlier tried to prevent those above 45 from enrolling as lawyers but courts spiked the rule.

Fire in High Court destroys judges’ chambers, library

Staff Reporter

Over 100 firemen fight the blaze that began around 4.30 a.m.

HYDERABAD: Fire broke out in the Andhra Pradesh High Court building, a heritage structure, destroying the chambers of five judges, a library housing valuable books and a mini-conference hall in the early hours of Monday.

More than 100 firemen had to sweat it out for over three hours using 15 fire tenders to douse the flames that began around 4.30 a.m. Though the blaze was put out by 7 a.m., smoke continued to billow out till evening prompting Fire Service officials to continue fire-fighting operations and deploy teams of firemen at the spot to face any eventuality.

Building examined

The police and the Fire Service officials said they were yet to ascertain the reasons for the fire. The A.P. Forensic Science Laboratory Director, O. Narasimha Murthy, and the CLUES team of Hyderabad Police, led by Suresh, thoroughly examined the damaged High Court building looking out for evidence to confirm the source of the fire.

The team collected some samples and would examine the building on Tuesday also for leads.

Investigators suspect that the fire started in the second floor and spread to the first floor. “This is to be corroborated with evidence because normally flames tend to go upwards,” the police said. It is being probed from both the ‘sabotage and short circuit’ angles. The entire open space on the court premises is usually parked with vehicles of clients and advocates.

It would have taken longer to douse the flames if the fire started during the day since manoeuvring the fire tenders amid the parked vehicles would be difficult.

The Fire Services Director General, Aruna Bahuguna, told reporters that the fire control room received the alert of the fire accident at 4.51 a.m. Within minutes, the Moghalupura fire station staff rushed to the spot through the Musi river side gate. “As the flames were spreading, we alerted our higher-ups for assistance pressing into service 14 more fire tenders including the snorkel,” Fire Officer M.S. Sharieff said.

Extensive damage

Chambers of four judges on the second floor, chamber of a judge and that of Registrar General, mini conference hall and the library on the first floor were extensively damaged.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy spoke to the Chief Justice, Anil Ramesh Dave, over phone and offered all assistance to refurbish the court building. Earlier, the Advocate General apprised Dr. Reddy about the fire accident.

Monday and Tuesday were declared holidays for the High Court. However, urgent matters like stay of arrest would be taken up, the authorities announced. Work would resume from Wednesday.

Governor N.D. Tiwari, Ministers Sabita Indra Reddy (Home), M. V. Ramana Rao (Law), and D. Nagender (Health) and DGP S.S.P. Yadav visited the High Court premises.

“Role for legal camps in socio-economic uplift”

Staff Reporter
PUDUKOTTAI: A legal awareness camp was organised jointly by the Taluk Legal Services Committee, Aranthangi and Manmelkudi People Social Service Sangam at Singavanam village in the district recently.

Speaking on the occasion V.P. Velusamy, chairman, Taluk Legal Services Committee and District Munsif, Aranthangi, said that legal awareness camps organised at the village level played a great role in the socio-economic uplift of the common people. The Constitution guaranteed free legal services to the needy for their uplift at all levels.

T. Panneerselvam, Judicial Magistrate, Aranthangi spoke about the functions of the Taluk Legal Services Committee. A majority of the problems could be settled by way of conciliation or mediation, he observed.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Kottaipattinam M. Baskar, Bar president M. Shanmugasundaram, secretary P.S. Sivaraju, advocates and local body representatives spoke on the occasion.

A good number of members from women self-help groups and general public participated in the camp during which petitions containing grievances were received.

State seeks amendment to Article 174

Special Correspondent

Bangalore: The State Government, which has planned to hold legislature sessions for a period of at least 60 days in a calendar year, has requested the Centre to amend Article 174 of the Constitution to ensure minimum number of days of legislature session in a year.

In his address at the Parliamentary Minister’s conference in New Delhi on Monday, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs S. Suresh Kumar said the use of computer technology in holding the legislature session would be of great help to legislators as well as to laymen keen to know how this set-up functioned.

“We have planned to make the legislature of our State more tech-savvy by launching a dedicated website which would give complete details of members, questions they have asked, assurances they have got from the Government, committees, committee meetings, amendments, Bills, Acts, research undertaken and the like.”

Mr. Suresh Kumar said this meeting “is an opportunity to interact and to move forward in our effort to make our parliamentary system more meaningful. We all should be realistic and at the same time committed to bring in at least a little welcome change.”

Contempt plea filed

BANGALORE: A resident of Bangalore, who owns land at Gottigere, has filed a contempt petition against Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyruppa, Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy, Chief Secretary Sudhakar Rao and several others, including officials of NICE on the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project.

Apex court admits Pinarayi’s writ plea

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday admitted a writ petition filed by Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan challenging the Kerala Governor’s order granting sanction to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to prosecute him for certain alleged offences in the SNC-Lavalin case.

Mr. Vijayan is accused of wrongfully awarding a contract to the Canadian company for the renovation of some hydroelectric plants in the State when he was Power Minister in 1997. The CBI had filed a charge sheet against him.

A Bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice B. Sudershan Reddy, while admitting the petition, issued notice to the Kerala Home Secretary and the CBI and said “the matter requires examination.”

Senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for Mr. Vijayan, submitted that the question raised in the proceedings was whether the Governor had any discretionary power to act on his own to grant sanction for the prosecution of a former Minister independently, without the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. The Cabinet took a decision that it was not necessary to grant sanction for prosecution. But the Governor, wrongly assuming that he had powers to grant sanction on his own, granted sanction for prosecution.

He argued that in the Samsher Singh case, a seven-Judge Constitution Bench had in 1974 held that the Governor had no discretionary powers to act on his own. Again in 2004, a five-Judge Constitution Bench had said that the ‘doctrine of bias’ would not be applicable in a case where a collective decision was required to be taken in relation to a former Minister. The question of bias would apply only if the Council of Ministers was to take a decision in respect of the Chief Minister or a Minister.

Judge’s poser

Mr. Justice Raveendran asked Mr. Nariman: “Why a sitting Minister? What is the position if the person happens to be the secretary of a party and who controls the entire Ministry. Will the question of bias won’t apply even then.” Mr. Nariman said: “I don’t think that a secretary of a political party controls the Council of Ministers. The court will have to examine some new theory, if necessary by a larger Bench.”

Counsel Shanthi Bhushan, appearing for T.P. Nandakumar, journalist, opposed the petition as an intervener and said the decision taken by the Governor in exercise of his powers under Article 163 of the Constitution could not be called in question.

Counsel E.M. Anam, appearing for the People’s Council for Civil Rights, represented by its president T. Asaf Ali, also opposed the petition as an intervener.

Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the State of Kerala, said “this case has far-reaching portents in a federal system which requires examination.”

High Court rejects American couple’s adoption plea

Staff Reporter

Real intention appears to be exploitation: Judge

“Already three kids, where’s the need for more?”

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday imposed a cost of Rs.20,000 on an American couple who had approached it against an order of a District Judge here rejecting their petition for adoption of a 10-year-old orphaned boy, holding that the “appeal filed by them is nothing but an abuse of the process of law”.

Justice V. B. Gupta also passed severe strictures against the couple’s efforts for adopting the child, observing that “the real intention of the appellants, Craig Allen Coates and Cynthia Ann Coates, in adopting the child who is suffering from mental delays appears to be to exploit him as a domestic help for the husband who has been suffering from cerebral palsy since birth”.

In his judgment, Justice Gupta also emphasised the fact that the appellants already had three children and where was the need to further expand their family.

The Okhla police had found the child abandoned and handed him over to the Welfare Home for Children. The Welfare Home is a registered society licensed by the Delhi Government to keep and maintain abandoned, orphaned and destitute children. The child had been declared abandoned and is certified as legally free for adoption by the Child Welfare Committee. The Coordinating Voluntary Adoption Resource Agency and Central Adoption Resource Authority have been given clearance for inter-country adoption of the child.

In their appeal, the couple argued that the trial court had wrongly dismissed their petition even though the Union Government had granted a No Objection Certificate to them for adopting the child.

Dismissing their contention, the Court said: “The impugned judgment of the District Judge is based on sound legal principles as it deals in detail with legal and moral principles.”

The judges’ assets imbroglio

Anil Divan

When its judges decided in principle to put their assets on the website, public perception prevailed and the Supreme Court enhanced its own reputation.

The controversy relating to the disclosure of judges’ assets has achieved, for the moment, a happy resolution. A vigorous debate among the public, former judges, leaders of the Bar, Bar Associations, High Court judges and last but not the least the Chief Justice of India — is a sign of a vibrant democracy. The method and content of the disclosure are still opaque and may require further debate.

The contest was a thrilling and educative exercise, for every citizen. The media, particularly the electronic media, were a force-multiplier and reached many households across India. The debate will always remain a landmark and turning point in Indian legal history and will be the stuff shared by law teachers with generations of law students and citizens.

Let us briefly recount the highlights of the controversy. The first shot was fired when an application was made by one S.C. Agrawal under the Right to Information Act (RTI) seeking information “whether judges declared their assets as per the May 7, 1997 Resolution” — a resolution unanimously passed by Supreme Court judges. The demand was not for a disclosure of assets.

The redoubtable public interest crusader, Prashant Bhushan, representing Agrawal, succeeded before the CIC. This was a landmark order upholding the right of the citizen to information, in furtherance of the principles of judicial accountability.

The Chief Justice of India reacted: “We do not agree with what [the] CIC has said — we might appeal against it in Court” (Hindustan Times, 11.01.09).

Former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma, who was instrumental in getting the 1997 Resolution passed unanimously, publicly opined that the assets of the Supreme Court judges were very much in the public domain (The Indian Express, 19.01.09).

Justice Ravindra Bhat of the Delhi High Court stayed the CIC’s decision on 19.01.2009 in a writ petition filed by the CPIO of the Supreme Court and appointed F.S. Nariman as “Amicus Curiae” who declined since he had very clear views — publicly expressed — that judges must disclose their assets.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said: “Judges of the higher judiciary should also be subjected to accountability on issues like declaration of assets …” and added “he had allowed access to information about MPs’ assets to anyone who sought it.” (The Indian Express, 22.01.09)

Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee cryptically said: “Whether legally bound or not, in the fitness of things, judges should declare their assets.” (The Times of India, 23.01.09)

The argument of the Supreme Court Registry that the resolution was purely voluntary and confidential and did not require any disclosure under any legal provision did not cut much ice, either with the Bar or the public. The Delhi High Court Bar Association resolved to support the CIC order. (The Hindu, 25.01.09).

After a brief summer interlude, on August 3, 2009, the introduction of the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill, 2009 in the Rajya Sabha brought the controversy to the centre-stage. The Bill contained Clause 6 prohibiting the disclosure to the public or in any other manner except in court proceedings where an offence is alleged or in proceedings involving misbehaviour. The battle-lines were drawn. The Bill supported the Supreme Court judges.

A stormy debate followed and Arun Jaitley, himself a leading lawyer, contended that the clause violated Article 19(1)(a). Ram Jethmalani said: “what this Bill does is, it creates a suspicion in the public mind that the judiciary is seeking favours from the executive — Now, this privileged position, which the judges are seeking from the executive makes them totally subservient to the executive.” Some members of the ruling party joined the criticism. The passing of the Bill was deferred. Parliamentary support was not forthcoming.

The parliamentary debate triggered strong articles from former Chief Justice J.S. Verma and F.S. Nariman. Justice Krishna Iyer also threw his considerable weight in favour of disclosure. Justice Shylendra Kumar (Karnataka High Court) wrote an article supporting disclosure and, inter alia, stated “The Chief Justice of India does not have the authority to speak for all other judges” (The Indian Express, 22.08.09). Justice Kannan of the Madras High Court voluntarily disclosed his assets. Senior Advocate K.K. Venugopal is reported to have said: “I agree with the judge of the Karnataka High Court that all judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts should make a complete disclosure of their assets.” (The Indian Express, 23.08.09)

The Chief Justice responded to Justice Kumar’s article by saying “he wants publicity and such a thing is not good for a judge. Judges should not be publicity-crazy.” (The Indian Express, 24.08.09) The stand of Justice Shylendra Kumar received wide support.

On August 27, 2009, The Hindu reported that the judges of the Supreme Court had decided in principle to put their assets on the website, but regarding the modalities — in what manner or form — no decision was taken. Transparency triumphed. Public opinion prevailed. The entire nation was happy that the Supreme Court had enhanced its own reputation by agreeing with the public perception. The decision received laudatory notices in many editorials.

The remark by the Chief Justice about the Karnataka judge, that he was “publicity crazy,” was an off-the-cuff remark — an impulsive reaction in an unguarded moment. The Chief Justice, in an exclusive interview, is reported to have gracefully said about the Karnataka judge: “He is young and has a good chance to make it to the Supreme Court on the basis of merit once he attains the required seniority — why alone an elevation to the SC, he has a good chance of becoming the CJI” (The Times of India, 29.08.09).

Exchanges between judges in public are not unknown in other jurisdictions. Earl Warren and Felix Frankfurter’s exchange in the U.S. Supreme Court has been recounted by Bernard Schwartz. Justice Frankfurter while dissenting observed in open court that the majority opinion was an “indefensible example of judicial nitpicking” and “excessively finicky appellate review.” Chief Justice Warren angrily retorted “that was not the dissenting opinion that was filed … As I understand the purpose of reporting an opinion in a courtroom is to inform the public and is not for the purpose of degrading this court.”

Lord Atkin is admired for his powerful dissent in Liversidge vs. Anderson where he stated about his colleagues: “I view with apprehension the attitude of judges who, on a mere question of construction when face to face with claims involving the liberty of the subject, show themselves more executive-minded than the executive.” The majority, including Lord Maugham and Lord Wright, were not amused. They refused to talk to him. Lord Maugham wrote a letter to the London Times criticising Lord Atkin and defending his own judgment. Maugham was widely criticised for this unprecedented “lapse.”

In the State of Rajasthan vs Union of India, acting President B.D. Jatti saw Chief Justice M.H. Beg before he wrote his judgment. Justice Goswami records in his judgment: “I part with the records with a cold shudder. The Chief Justice was good enough to tell us that the acting President saw him during the time we were considering judgment after having already announced the order and there was mention of this pending matter during the conversation.” Chief Justice Beg issued a press statement giving his views.

The current controversy has broken fresh ground. For the first time, the Supreme Court became a litigant before a High Court; for the first time, a High Court judge spoke up against the view of the Supreme Court judges — not in their judicial capacity because that is not permissible — but on a public issue with ethical dimensions; for the first time, former judges, in an effort to preserve the institutional integrity and respect of the Supreme Court, vigorously entered the fray; and for the first time, the media boldly took a critical stand against the apex judiciary.

In cricketing terms, the Supreme Court team has been bowled out against the citizens’ team which prevailed. The opening fast bowling combination of Verma and Nariman created the momentum — the Rajya Sabha debate carried it forward and the final six came from a High Court judge. Meanwhile, the media rating almost touched 20-20 levels.

But there are no winners and no losers in this friendly contest — because both sides believed that they were protecting the independence of the judiciary. The only winner is Indian democracy. Have we graduated from the most populous democracy to a more robust democracy?

(Anil Divan is a Senior Advocate.

Allahabad HC dismisses Karan Johar’s petition

Agencies Posted: Tuesday , Sep 01, 2009 at 1950 hrs Lucknow:

The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by filmmaker Karan Johar seeking quashing of a complaint against him which objected to playing of national anthem in his movie.

Dismissing the petition, the Lucknow Bench of the Court directed Johar to appear before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lucknow, in person on September 14.

On July 16, Justice D V Sharma directed the Bollywood director to appear before the High Court on July 20 along with original film ‘Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham’ in connection with the complaint.

The complaint was filed under various provisions of the Prevention of Insult to the National Honour Act, 1971.

Johar’s counsel informed the Court that the filmmaker could not appear before it due to health reasons.

The lawyer also cited security reasons for non-appearance saying being a celebrity, Johar needed proper security.

The High Court later reserved its judgement.

In 2002, Pratap Chandra filed a complaint against the director alleging that the scene involving playing of the national anthem had violated provisions of the Act.

The then Judicial Magistrate in his order issued on April 17, 2002 had summoned the director on May 17 that year.

Johar had challenged the CJM’s order in the High Court.

Not so softly

The Indian Express Posted: Tuesday , Sep 01, 2009 at 0322 hrs

Certain disclosures are inconvenient and dangerous; they hurt so many vested and entrenched interests. S/he who dares to report corruption or violations of the law within an organisation is thus soon pounced upon and, in whistleblower jargon, “mobbed”, after having his/her identity revealed somehow and thereby anonymity and safety compromised. Why else was Satyendra Dubey murdered? Why else, as reported in this newspaper, do chargesheets, suspensions, censures and “departmental inquiries” spell the fate of so many public sector whistleblowers, now compelled to visit the courts to defend their honour, to have their injustices redressed, to retain the law’s focus on their acts of courage which exposed so much amiss? Nevertheless, while these unfortunate individuals did not imagine the 2004 whistleblowers resolution to be so ineffective, or that their identities and reports to the Central Vigilance Commission might be leaked, persecution of whistleblowers is a global phenomenon. The global record on whistleblower protection is also inconsistent.

The bottomline however is this: a country with undeniably sound democratic credentials cannot persist in this lack of institutional transparency and empowering laws. Last week, the prime minister spoke about the need to tackle corruption immediately and effectively. That, and institutional transparency, will not come about if those who make confidential disclosures about wrongdoings in public organisations are not protected — in theory and practice. Thus formal legislation protecting them, replacing the 2004 resolution, could provide a solution. That the government has finalised the draft of the Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Informers) Bill 2009 is undoubtedly a step forward, but ministers have significantly been excluded from its purview; nor is there any provision for corporate whistleblowers yet.

Ignoring frivolous or false cases, and excluding matters sub-judice or encroaching on strategic interests, protecting whistleblowers is a means of protecting citizens and the public interest. Provisions thereof would also be in keeping with the president’s promise of a public data policy in June and the RTI Act, which is transforming India in many ways. Whistleblowers expose what escapes the public eye but needs to be acted upon. They cannot perform this essential, and thankless, role without adequate legal cover.

Their identities disclosed, facing probes and cases, whistleblowers do rounds of courts

Ritu Sarin Posted: Monday , Aug 31, 2009 at 0436 hrs New Delhi:

Chargesheets, censures, departmental inquiries, suspensions. That wasn’t what these government employees — some very senior, others relatively junior — imagined when they reported corruption in their departments using the secrecy route ensured by the 2004 whistleblowers resolution.

But a list of cases compiled by The Indian Express shows this has been the fate of whistleblowers belonging to departments as diverse as the Railways, PSU banks, Ministry of Defence and Department of Telecommunications — they have been forced to go to court, challenging their “victimisation”.

A scrutiny of their court records and correspondence with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which is meant to register and follow up all complaints of whistleblowers, makes it evident why the 2004 resolution needs to be replaced with a formal legislation on protection of whistleblowers.

Department of Telecommunications Divisional Engineer Azam Siddiqui filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court after the BSNL challenged the reprieve he got from the Central Administrative Tribunal. “All my troubles and insecurities began after I exposed a Rs 100-crore scam at the BSNL exchange in Allahabad. Since then, I have been chargesheeted while juniors are being promoted,” he said.

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who is appearing in court on behalf of four such whistleblowers, said the Supreme Court’s handling of the whistleblower’s plea could prove to be a benchmark.

“I have also been interacting with the CVC on this issue. It is very clear to me that the whistleblowers resolution has failed to achieve the objective with which it was drafted… In some cases, the identity of the whistleblower has ben disclosed to the CVO of the department,” he claimed.

In two recent instances, the CVC made strange written requests to departments. When whistleblowers made the CVC and the departments concerned respondents in the case, the CVC requested them to ask their lawyers to defend them as well.

One such case is that of Abhijit Ghosh, a General Manager with the Central Bank of India who has been suspended for almost a year now and was served three chargesheets earlier. Incidentally, Ghosh himself did a five-year stint in the CVC. In 2008, he filed a complaint under the whistleblowers resolution against the Chairman and Managing Director of the Bank. While no action has been taken on the complaint, the CVC requested the bank’s counsel to appear “on behalf” of them in the ongoing hearings at the Delhi High Court.

A similar petition has been filed by Sudhir Chopra, a Joint Director in Defence Estates, who began his complaint spree on illegal land requisitioning in 2000. When the whistleblowers resolution was given to the CVC, he converted his complaint to that of a whistleblower.

While the CAT gave him relief by quashing a penalty order served on him, he has appealed to the Delhi High Court to quash the departmental inquiry as well. “There is no question about it. Instead of my whistleblowing act being applauded, I feel victimized. My juniors are being promoted while I am running to courts to get the inquiry order vacated,” Chopra said.

S K Nagarwal, a Civil Engineer in the Railways who “blew the whistle” on corruption in the Eklakhi-Balurghat line, alleges that despite CBI cases being lodged after his complaints, copies of his complaint to the CVC were distributed to the contractors involved.

“First, my identity was compromised. And after repeated transfers, I was served chargesheets with frivolous allegations. The inquiries are still on. In my view, the CVC, which is meant to protect whistleblowers, is doing just the opposite,” Nagarwal said.

SC refuses directions on Mayawati park row

PTI 1 September 2009, 07:00pm IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to pass any directions against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for allegedly defying its orders and constructing certain structures for proposed Kanshi Ram Research Institute but said it would examine the charge if the petitioner submits concrete details.

“We cannot rely on newspaper reports. You give us the details and we will examine the issue. Give us specific details. You can also file a contempt petition if you feel that demolitions have been carried out,” a bench of Justices B N Aggrawal and Aftab Alam said.

The apex court granted the petitioner Mithilesh Kumar a week’s time to submit the details and listed the matter in the mentioning list for next Tuesday.

The apex court passed the direction after Kumar complained that Mayawati government was going ahead with the demolitions of various green belt area in Lucknow city for construction of the BSP founder’s memorial adjoining the Ambedkar Sthal park.

He also alleged that despite the apex court restraining the state on February 27 from carrying out further demolitions, the government was going ahead with the same and also errecting new structures.

However, the petitioner could not furnish any specific details except newspaper clippings, after which the bench directed the petitioner’s counsel C D Singh to furnish further details.

Juvenile released after 10 yrs in jail

Kartikeya, TNN 1 September 2009, 02:48am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has ordered the release of a man locked up in jail for the last ten years after it found merit in his plea that he was a juvenile when he was charged with murder in 1995.

Police records and other documents said that Vishwas Narayan Patil was only 17 when he was charged with murder along with three other family members. This is what seems to have convinced Justices Roshan Dalvi and B H Marlapalle to order his release. Patil had continued serving out a full life sentence since his conviction by a sessions court in 1999.

Under the Juvenile Justice Act, underage offenders are tried only by special juvenile courts and are detained for no more than three years in remand homes as a punishment for their crimes. They are not kept in regular prisons.

In 2008, Patil filed a petition from jail before Justices Roshan Dalvi and B H Marlapalle pleading that he was a juvenile when he committed the crime on January 29, 1995. After his arrest, he was tried as the fourth accused in the case by a sessions court in Sangli and sentenced to life behind bars in December 1999. Patil’s appeal against the conviction was turned down by the HC in 2004.

When the plea of juvenility was made, the HC sought a reply from the state in July 2009 on whether there was any truth in Patil’s claim that he was born on January 5, 1978. Public prosecutor P A Pol then informed the court that the investigating officer in the case had recorded that Patil was only 17 when the murder took place. The charge-sheet also mentioned the same age.

The judges observed that the prosecution itself had admitted that Patil was a juvenile on the date of murder. They said that no further inquiry was needed and ordered him to be released immediately. They did note that Patil had by now “suffered a sentence of more than ten years.”

SC seeks list of affected parties in forest land issue

Somit Sen, TNN 1 September 2009, 02:07am IST

MUMBAI: The Supreme Court, which is hearing the forest land case, on Monday directed all petitioners to submit a `category-wise list’ of affected citizens/builders in Mumbai before September 30.

Petitioner Prakash Padikkal said he would compile a list of 4.5 lakh residents of forest land in the eastern suburbs, whereas the other petitioners would submit a list of builders and developers whose projects are affected by the Maharashtra Private Forest Acquisition Act, 1975. “We will have to give supporting evidence for every case. It will be a mammoth task,” Padikkal stated. He said the court was likely to pass an order based on submissions in the four categories.

The categories were recently defined by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which was appointed by the apex court to make recommendations in the case. For flats constructed before June 22, 2005, the CEC recommended dereservation by paying a Net Present Value (NPV), estimated between Rs 8 to Rs 12 per square feet. The second category involved builders whose constructions were completed before June 22, 2005, but were waiting for the occupation certificates.

The panel members suggested that they be charged five times the NPV. In the third category, the CEC suggested that those builders who had taken up factories and commercial establishments for redevelopment as residential complexes, the court may grant them permission after charging them ten times the NPV. And the fourth category involved those builders whose construction plan was pending for approval and only land was acquired. The CEC had suggested that they be granted relief by charging them 20 times the NPV.

During Monday’s hearing in the apex court, the state government filed an affidavit, in which it agreed to the CEC’s suggestion of charging affected parties as per the NPV. “The state counsel, however, said that all cases be referred to the green bench (also called the forest bench) of the Supreme Court. This was opposed by us,” Padikkal said. He stated that if the matter was referred to the green bench, it would further delay the case by a few years.

High court nod for varsity to amend revaluation rules

TNN 1 September 2009, 02:31am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday granted Mumbai University liberty to amend its rules in connection with revaluation of exam papers to ensure a speedy process. The order came after a statement was made by university counsel Rui Roderigues that the university was planning to disband an existing expert committee in the present two-tier revaluation process so that the process could be expedited.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar said that the court expected the university to amend the rules expeditiously. This would mean that students may soon get their revaluated marks faster now.

The court disposed of a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) based on a representation made by a few students from Government Law College. Later, two other students also approached the court to point out that according to rules, the revaluation marks are only considered if they are 10% more or less than the original marks.

The court was told that early in 2000, the revaluation system was scrapped and reintroduced after court intervention. A two-tier system took shape. Students had complained that often revaluation results were declared after much delay and usually after the exam for the following term was over.

Haryana DGP kin case: Doctor seeks bail

TNN 1 September 2009, 02:33am IST

PANCHKULA: A doctor from Morni, booked for threatening the kin of Haryana DGP RS Dalal, moved an anticipatory bail plea on Monday. While Panchkula police was still on the trail of Dr Ashok, two of his servants had already been granted bail by court.

Police had booked the trio for trespassing and threatening Mohini Pratap of Bahadurgarh. Dalal’s relative, she filed a complaint on August 27 with Chandimandir police station, stating that Ashok, Kulvinder and Sunil had installed a water tank on her land.

She alleged that on last Thursday, when she had gone about fencing her plot, the doctor and his servants misbehaved with her. Soon, police registered a case under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 452 (house trespass) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.

Accused free in Army hospital rape trial

Rajinder Nagarkoti, TNN 1 September 2009, 03:00am IST

PANCHKULA: Delivering its judgment in the trial regarding the rape of an airman’s wife on Command Hospital (CH) premises, the court of district and sessions judge SP Singh acquitted the accused – Hautam Singh and Iftikhar Khan on Monday. The alleged rape had occurred on November 22, 2008.

Police were not able to produce much technical or medical evidence to corroborate the allegations against the two men who were posted as nursing assistants in the hospital’s neurosurgery ward.

Amit Dudeja, one of the defence counsels, said, “We argued before the court that the accused were being falsely implicated. The statement of the complainant that she did not know the accused was wrong. We had records that showed that she had made telephone calls to the accused from her mobile phone before the alleged rape.”

He said the medical report showed that there were no injury marks on the complainant’s body. Dudeja added that the police could not provide evidence that accused had filmed the alleged incident.

Deposing before the judicial magistrate on November 24, 2008, the victim, whose statement was recorded under Section 164 of CrPC, had said that she fainted while she was being raped and that when she regained consciousness half-an-hour later, her violators, had fled the spot.

She had told the police that on the day of the alleged incident, she had gone to CH for physiotherapy. She had stated that later, she went to meet a patient on the second floor of the hospital. She had added that then she went towards the neurosurgery ward at about noon where Hautam Singh was standing and asked him about Dr JR Sharma.

The complainant had told cops that Hautam then caught hold of her hand and dragged her into the canteen, where he shut her mouth with his hand and raped her. Later, Khan also molested her, the complainant had said. She had stated that she had then escaped from the hospital and reached home.

The complainant had said that at around 4pm on the day Hautam had called her and told her to keep quiet about the incident or they would circulate the clip of the rape that a man named Raj had recorded.

She had stated that she only informed her husband of the incident on the next morning, who told his commanding officer with an FIR being lodged.

She had added that her husband also received treatment at the hospital after his accident in Ramgarh on February 8, 2008.

The court granted bail to the two accused on Monday. Panchkula SP Amitabh Dhillon stated that he had not received a copy of the order and would be able to comment on the issue after getting it.

Man convicted for violating minor

TNN 1 September 2009, 03:05am IST

CHANDIGARH: Finding him guilty of raping a 16-year-old, court of additional district and sessions judge RS Attri handed seven-year imprisonment to Sukhpal and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on him. Cops said that in July 2008, the 34-year-old had visited the victim?s school and taken her to his house in Hallomajra where he had allegedly raped her for three days.

He had used the promise of marriage as a lure, said sources. The girl’s parents had lodged a complaint with the police while looking for her. Police had found the victim at Sukhpal’s residence on July 30, 2008.

Jodhpur lawyers issue ultimatum

TNN 1 September 2009, 05:07am IST

JODHPUR: Some lawyers of Jodhpur has issued an ultimatum to Rajasthan High Court chief justice Jagdish Bhalla to come here for discussion over the split of main bench of HC, Jodhpur.

In a message faxed to Bhalla, the lawyers have set September 2 as deadline for resolving the matter. Spokesperson of the action committee formed to spearhead the movement, Nathu Singh Rathore, said, “We have not received any assurance or invitation for talks. We will hold rallies on September 1 and 2 followed by one-hour traffic jam. If we do not get any response from Bhalla by September 2, we will hold “mahapadav” at the high court premises on September 3. It will be attended by advocates of all bar associations of western Rajasthan and other organisations. If this fails to evoke any response, we will hold more demonstrations on September 4. We may disrupt convocation of National Law University on September 5 which will be attended by chief justice of India K G Balakrishnan,” Rathore said.

The advocates were irked by the absence of Bhalla who was supposed to be in Jodhpur on August 31. Rathore said after the shifting of permanent bench of court at Jaipur, it was decided that chief justice will be present in Jodhpur for 15 days. Since Bhalla did not turn up today, it shows sheer apathy towards our cause, he claimed.

Victoria order violated again

TNN 1 September 2009, 04:25am IST

KOLKATA: Despite the Calcutta High Court order, several buses and other vehicles were parked on the roads in front of Victoria Memorial during the Left Front rally on Monday, violating the court’s order that no vehicles should be parked in its vicinity.

Several buses and Matador vans, which brought Left supporters to the rally, were seen parked behind Victoria on both sides of Hospital Road and Queen’s Way. Environment activist Subhas Datta said this was a blatant violation of the HC order.

“Many buses and other vehicles with red flags on it were parked on both sides of the roads behind Victoria, which is a prohibited zone. It is the duty of the police to look into the matter,” he said.

The HC had ruled on September 28, 2007, that vehicles should not be parked near the Victoria Memorial. Datta said a red-mark zone was identified surrounding the memorial, including the area around the AJC Bose Road flyover adjacent to Victoria, the stretch till Birla Planetarium and the road leading to the Race Course.

The court had also said that no open ovens would be allowed on the Brigade Parade ground and had directed the police to not grant permission to hold any meetings or rallies within 3 km of the memorial.

Datta, who had earlier filed petitions in the HC for such violations earlier, said he would not move court this time. “On previous occasions, I had taken photographs and submitted them in court. But it becomes difficult to establish the matter. Police should take up the case,” he said. Another gross violation of the order had taken place during a DYFI rally on December 20, 2008 when several buses were parked on the Maidan and food was cooked in the open, leaving it in a mess.

Joint commissioner of police (traffic) Ranvir Kumar admitted that no vehicles are supposed to be parked on the roads surrounding Victoria. “We will certainly prosecute the culprits if such violations have occurred,” he said.

Cheque issued by court returned

TNN 1 September 2009, 01:27am IST

PUNE: The treasury branch of the State Bank of India here has returned a cheque for Rs 40,000 issued by a magistrate court as payment of maintenance to a woman national cricket player in a case under the Domestic Violence Act.

The cheque was returned as the litigant’s bank did not get the cheque passed from the treasury office before presenting it for clearance.

The court had issued the cheque to the cricketer on August 19. She, in turn, deposited the cheque with a nationalised bank on August 24, which in turn sent it to SBI for clearance.

As per the rules, any cheque issued by the government or judiciary has to pass through the treasury branch before it is honoured. Since the nationalised bank in question circumvented the procedure, SBI returned the cheque.

What’s more, the nationalised bank deducted Rs 100 as charges from the cricketer’s account as the cheque was returned without clearance.

The woman’s lawyer, Anita Kataria, made a complaint to the court in this regard on Monday.

Speaking to TOI, the court’s assistant superintendent K K Biwal said the court has now sent an advisory to the treasury to clear the litigant’s cheque.

The cricketer had filed a case against her husband seeking relief under the DVA. Following judicial magistrate first class Umeshchandra More’s order, the husband deposited Rs 40,000 in the court on August 8.

Accused in Rita Bahuguna Joshi house arson case get bail

TNN 1 September 2009, 03:39am IST

LUCKNOW: CB-CID magistrate Abid Shamim on Monday ordered release of five accused who are in jail in connection with arson and riot at the house of UP Congress Committee chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, on personal bond and a surety of Rs 20,000.

Guddu Yadav, Shiv Kumar Singh, Indu Singh alias Pappu, Zamir Khan, Surajjit Kumar Tiwari had been booked by the CB-CID for indulging in arson and riot on July 15. A servant of Joshi lodged an FIR in this connection alleging involvement of some BSP leaders/politicians and police officers. After a nation-wide outrage over the case, the state government handed over the probe to the CB-CID. It arrested the said accused and put them behind bars.

On Monday, arguing on behalf of the accused, advocate GN Shukla said that there was no evidence against the accused. Till date, the CB-CID had not been able to collect even an iota of evidence against them. Therefore, the remand of the accused should not be extended any more and they should be set at liberty forthwith, pleaded Shukla.

Hearing the application to refuse the remand of the accused, the court did not find prima-facie evidence against them and hence also did not find it proper to keep them in jail any longer. The court accordingly ordered release of all the accused on a personal bond and single surety. The court directed the accused to cooperate in the investigation.

SC does U-turn on Lyngdoh report

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN 1 September 2009, 03:23am IST

NEW DELHI: Adopting the Lyngdoh committee’s stringent recommendations, the apex court had four years ago laid down guidelines to limit the role of money and muscle power in elections to student bodies in colleges and universities. But things appear to have come full circle in the Supreme Court.

On Monday, the apex court said the earlier intervention in students’ union elections were unwarranted and resolved to set right the error on Friday.

After the retirement of Justice Arijit Pasayat, who headed a Bench which had strictly implemented these guidelines, the issue came up before a Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and A K Ganguly on Monday and its views were diametrically opposite to the court’s earlier proactive approach.

The Bench headed by Justice Katju said, “We don’t agree with the appointment of the Lyngdoh committee. Can the court do anything it likes? There are certain principles to be followed in exercise of writ jurisdiction. We do not feel the Supreme Court should interfere in everything.”

Terming students’ unions as private bodies, the Bench virtually castigated the earlier approach of the apex court when it said, “No writ lies against a private body except the writ of habeas corpus. A students’ union is not a statutory body. How does a writ lie in connection with its election?”

It brushed aside the argument of Kerala University’s counsel that its appeal against the HC order had become infructuous and posted the matter for Friday to lay down guidelines for entertaining such matters in future.

“The law is above Supreme Court and the Supreme Court is not above law. Let the matters be listed on Friday. We will lay down guidelines that the Supreme Court cannot interfere in private body elections such as that of students’ union,” the Bench said making its intentions clear.

In 2005, on the directions of the SC, the HRD ministry had set up a committee headed by former chief election commissioner J M Lyngdoh to curb the play of money and muscle power as well as politicisation of students’ body elections. The development had come close on the heels of the lynching of Professor H S Sabharwal by a mob during students’ body elections to a Ujjain college in Madhya Pradesh.

The main recommendations of the Lyngdoh committee which were ordered to be implemented by the apex court included:

* Ban on students having previous crime record from contesting elections
* Upper limit of election expenses per candidate pegged at Rs 5,000
* No funding by political parties
* Minimum 75% attendance for all wanting to contest
* Age-limit for undergraduate students 25 years and for PG and research students 28 years
* No outsider can campaign inside campus
* All candidates jointly responsible for cleaning the polling area

SC wants 3% job quota for visually challenged and hearing impaired

TNN 1 September 2009, 04:56am IST

NEW DELHI: Visually challenged, hearing impaired and physically handicapped persons can soon expect the Centre to advertise a large number of vacancies for jobs in various departments of the government.

For, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre what was holding it back from identifying and filling posts reserved under the Persons with Disabilities Act, which was enacted in 1995 mandating a job quota of 1% each for visually challenged, hearing impaired and physically handicapped.

Though it did no agree with the petitioner’s counsel Mukul Rohtagi that 3% of the total cadre strength of each department should be filled with these three categories of handicapped persons, the Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said it had no quarrel with the proposition that they should have got 3% of the vacancies declared since 1996, when rules under the Act were framed.

However, it expressed displeasure over the fact that the government had not acted in accordance with the mandate of the Act in identifying posts in each department and giving 3% reservation to the categories mentioned in the Act.

Appearing for the Centre, additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran informed the Bench that the identification of the posts in each department was being done and they would be advertised shortly.

The Bench asked the Centre to file a comprehensive status report within four weeks detailing the steps taken to identify the posts and the measures taken to fill them.

Subverse: Shhh! It’s a secret

Jug Suraiya2 September 2009, 12:00am IST

Should the Right to Information Act be renamed the Right to Ignorance Act? Despite the introduction of the RTI Act, India continues to be an information-poor and, consequently, ignorance-rich country. The official policy seems to be that public ignorance is sarkari bliss. Thanks to the Official Secrets’ Act (one of the less desirable relics of British rule, under the colonial regime largely used to suppress nationalist sentiment and activity) India remains to paraphrase the words of Winston Churchill describing the Soviet Union a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in a secret.

Just how secretive our sarkar is can be gauged by its reluctance, verging on paranoia, about giving the public access to classified documents which have passed their official expiry date and could now legitimately be allowed to surface. Though the Public Record Rules of 1997 state that official documents of a sensitive nature are to be made public after 25 years, in practice this is far from the case.

According to a TOI report, instead of being housed in the national archives, where researchers could have access to them, declassified documents are sent into the custody of the Prime Minister’s Office, which according to the latest tally is sitting on 28,685 so-called ‘secret files’.

The PMO is meant to declassify and make public these files as per the rules laid down in a manual of ‘departmental security’ (some might feel that ‘depart mental’ would be an apter term) issued by the home ministry. And what exactly does this manual say about de-secretifying secrets? Sorry, but that’s also a secret.

In short, not only is the public voters and taxpayers who respectively elect and financially support the government not permitted to know about the inner functions of its own sarkar but it isn’t permitted even to know just why this knowledge is being denied. This would be fine if India were a totalitarian state, like China. Or a thinly veiled military dictatorship, like Pakistan.

But India is supposed to be a democracy. And not just any common or garden democracy, but one that claims to be the most populous in the world. Can such a democracy or for that matter, any democracy worth the name call itself a democracy if it persistently denies its citizens access to information relevant to governance and policy formation?

Informed choice is the bedrock of democracy. Without the wherewithal of information, and without the ability to make a choice on the basis of that information, democracy becomes a mockracy: a mockery of itself. For knowledge is power, and lack of knowledge is dispossession of power.

In this context, successive governments have done little or nothing to empower the common citizen. Instead, they have chosen to empower themselves, at the expense of the citizen, by holding on tight to information which for undefined reasons of ‘security’ continues to be a secret long after its ‘don’t-use-by-date’ as a secret has lapsed.

Of the 28,000-plus ‘secret’ files buried in the bowels of the PMO, only one was released into the public domain in 2005, two in 2006, 37 in 2007, 25 in 2008 and zero in the current year. Why does the sarkar suffer from this chronic constipation of secrecy, which is so injurious to the health of our democracy? When it comes to taking out hugely expensive ads in the media ads paid for by the taxpayer lauding its own real or imaginary achievements, the sarkar at both the central and state levels is positively prodigal in its largesse of bestowing information (or misinformation?) on the public. So why is it so niggardly about doling out supposedly ‘secret’ information which is well past its due date?

Hush! Don’t ask such a question. Don’t you know that the answer to that is itself a secret?


3 Responses

  1. sir I have not received reply what Iam expecting. I need judgement in favour of officials who have been caught red handedly and remanded in jail due to vengence by some X. Thanking you.

  2. Kindly help me to viwe the judgements delivered on dvac cases wherein officials trapped red handedly and in particoular crimenal cases dismissed on the ground of trust worthiness of complainent. Thanking You

    • It is a research work. If you are advocate do it. exact reference can be known only after knowing the facts of the case. there are plenty cases dismissed on the stated ground.

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