LEGAL NEWS 08.09.2009

Dispensing justice, speedily

Administration of justice in Germany does not deal with punishment of the guilty alone. It also means acquittal of the innocent.

Mohan Murti

The wheel of justice, or the dharmachakra, is the logo of the Supreme Court of India, which depicts the 3rd Century BC lion capital built by Emperor Ashoka, with an inscription from the ancient and sacred Rig Veda, yadho dharmasthadho jayah, meaning “victory is where justice reigns.” The logo was adopted on January 28, 1950, when the court was first set up in the Chamber of Princes, within the Parliament building in New Del hi, just two days after India became a republic.

The dharma, or justice, that is inscribed in the Supreme Court’s logo has long been brutally suppressed due to inefficient administration. And the delays in providing justice can be attributed to specific institutional and governmental ineptitude. Their causes are also in some way deeply entrenched in India’s the social order. The dharmachakra is thus seen over the Supreme Court building but hitherto not felt by the society over which it supposedly reigns. This paints a graphic picture of India’s collapsing justice system, of which the courts are but one part and the Administration, the other arm.

Endemic delays in justice system

Over 30 million cases are pending in courts across India. The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had declared just a few weeks ago that clearing the backlog of cases is the biggest challenge for the judiciary, and that India has the largest number of pending cases in the world.

Vacancies in the judiciary are the other big problem. Three thousand posts of judges are lying vacant due to delays in recruitment. While the issue of declaration of assets by the Supreme Court and the higher court judges has been made clear, the controversial issue of corruption in the judiciary remains.

I recall my father mentioning that when he enrolled as a lawyer in the Madras High Court, some 55 years ago, his first case was a matter of the partitioning of some land between its co-owners. While he was studying the case, it became evident that the case was kept pending for about 35 years, during which time the original parties had died.

Curiously, he found out that the delay was mainly from adjournments for various reasons, some on the request of the lawyers for both the plaintiff and the defendants, and quite a few because the court probably thought that the case could not to be heard on a particular day. Meanwhile, the legal counsels to the case were collecting their fee. This practice continues even today.

Let me now share the forms of innovations in legal education and the judicial traditions in Germany. The administration of justice in Germany does not deal with the punishment of the guilty alone. It also means acquittal of the innocent. Fairness and speed are equally important in the administration of justice. Speed, in the German eye, serves the best interests of the accused, the survivors and society, at large.

Even as the German Constitutional Court has been shaping post-War Germany, German jurisprudence has spread to impact Europe and much of the world.

Legal Education

The education of judges and prosecutors in Germany is still ensured by a uniform educational system. At the same time, the education of all legal professionals is still strictly orientated to service as a judge. It is not a matter of pure chance that the requirements for the qualification of each legal profession are defined in the German Law on the Judiciary. Anyone who has qualified for the position of a judge is automatically qualified for any other legal profession.

The education consists of an arduous and demanding course of study at a university, taking at least three and a half to four years and concluding with the First State Examination — entirely administered by the Judiciary — not the University!

The subsequent two years of practical training include several compulsory stages, which must be completed at civil and criminal courts or the department of public prosecutions, at administrative authorities and at the offices of freelance lawyers. Further stages are optional. The Second State Examination grants one the qualification to hold judicial office, that is, as a judge, notary public, etc.

The Judges

The newly employed judges or public prosecutors have a special status as probationers. During this time, which generally lasts at least three years, they normally enjoy full judicial independence in the cases they are assigned.

All judges are offered post-graduate training courses by their respective courts and specifically by the High Courts and the Ministries of Justice in the State. A post-graduate training institution for the general use of all States and the Federation is the German Judges’ Academy in Trier, which now has a branch in Wustrau, near Berlin.

Judges in Germany are public officers. They are bound by the Right to Information law and a duty to perform. They have their feet firmly on the ground. Their loyalty, pledge is to the law — unlike in India, where a Supreme Court Judge made a speech restating his primary allegiance to his religion. India needs to demystify the profession of judges and their unbefitting attitude.

Alternative Regulations

The quest for another means to settle a dispute, other than by judicial ruling, is traditionally embodied in the German Code of Civil Procedure. In civil proceedings, the judges of each instance are obliged to work towards an amicable settlement. This also applies to the other procedural codes, like labour and tax.

Even the criminal procedure has elements of settlement — a criminal case may be discontinued in the event of negligible guilt, on the occasion that certain conditions are imposed on the defendant. Europe, and especially Germany, has shown that rights are made real not just by the enactment of laws but by their implementation.

Implementation depends on institutions: police, prosecutors, courts. In the European eye, if these do not function at all, or other than as envisaged under the laws, then grand declarations of rights remain meaningless and people’s lives are made miserable.

(The author is former Europe Director, CII, and lives in Cologne, Germany.

Lifting well on justice

Editorial Posted On Monday, September 07, 2009

Three cheers to Delhi High Court judge Ravindra Bhatt. In a brilliant judgment he turned turtle the belief that ‘Your Lordship’s” were infallible and asserted that all power, including judicial power, is accountable to the highest law of the land – the Constitution. Thus, in one fell stroke he not only brought the Justices down from their high judicial pedestal on level with the “little man” but also ushered in a new chapter of accountability in the judiciary thereby hoping to restore the faith of the public in the judiciary.
In his 72-page judgment Bhatt said: “All powers, and judicial power being no exception, is held accountable in a modern Constitution. Holders of power are expected to live by the standards they set, interpret or enforce, at least to the extent their office demands. Judging is not a job, it is a way of life. Wherever I enter the court room, I do so with the deep sense that, as I sit at trial, I stand on trial.”
The landmark order was pursuant the Supreme Court appeal to the Delhi High Court against the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) order that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) should make public judges’ assets, following a request by an activist under the Right To Information Act. Justice Bhatt was all for  transparency and accountability in higher judiciary, by stating that the CJI was a “public authority” under the RTI and had to make public the information on assets declared to him by judges.
“Declaration of assets by SC judges is information under Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act.” The Act, he emphasized was “enacted to arm citizens with the mechanism to scrutinize Government and public processes and ensure transparency.” It would be “highly anomalous to say that judges have no obligation to disclose their personal assets as standards of disclosure for the legislators, parliamentarians and administrators were set by a Supreme Court order.”
Describing his “humbling experience” and transparency as a “powerful beacon”, Justice Bhatt disagreed with the CJI Balakrishanan’s contention that the Apex Court’s 1997 resolution of giving “personal information” was “voluntary and confidential”, a mere moral duty and not a legal obligation inviting sanctions in case of non-compliance. He was firm in his view that in the exercise of the legitimate jurisdiction to impact people’s lives, property, liberties and individual freedoms, judges have an obligation to disclose their personal assets to someone or an authority. “The judge, the verdict aid, was a casual law-maker, just filling in the gaps,” he added.
Rejecting the Apex Court’s stand that the CJI held the asset declarations in a fiduciary (held in trust) capacity and disclosing it would amount to breach of trust, the High Court held that the argument was without substance, and said the CJI does not hold such declarations in a fiduciary capacity or relationship. However, Bhat made a concession. He suggested that the CJI could evolve some uniform standards and modalities for declaration of assets by judges to bring in clarity.
Be that as it may, some legal luminaries still harbour reservations, given that the disclosure might embolden ‘dissatisfied’ and unscrupulous lawyers-litigants to abuse and raise questions about the judges’ wealth and compromise the independence of the judiciary.
Imagine a judge enquiring into allegations of disproportionate wealth of a ‘corrupt’ neta or babu wherein during the proceedings, the petitioner could ask the judge, “Before questioning me about my wealth, first explain how you obtained yours?” Also picture: A litigant accuses a judge of passing a judgment for monetary considerations and claims that the assets declared are forged and under valued. What then? Is the judge going to concentrate on the cases before him or explain his integrity?
However, many commend Justice Bhatt’s order. They argue that transparency and accountability is the only way forward given allegations of the enormous increase in corruption and misconduct of judges due to the lack of accountability, specially in the lower level of judiciary. No doubt that there could be frivolous petitions. Some to even pressurise the judiciary. But those would be successful only if the judiciary has something to hide!
Arguably, if wealth has been acquired honestly why would a litigant resort to such low tactics and why should any member of the judiciary have fear? After all, aren’t judges expected to dispense justice without fear or favour? Can fear of threats become the raison d atre for lack of transparency. Remember, the judiciary, like Caesar’s wife, must not only be above suspicion, but must also be seen to be so.
In fact, in many countries personal disclosures are mandatory. The American ‘Ethics of Government Act of 1978’ requires that federal judges disclose the source and amount of personal and financial information other than that earned as employees of the US government each year. They must also reveal from where and whom, description and value of gifts for which the aggregate value was more than a certain minimal amount received from a source other than a relative. South Korea, Latvia and Mongolia have similar legal provisions making it mandatory for wealth declaration.
To access information in the US, a person has to submit a written application to access a copy of the declaration of assets while in Mongolia, the information is published in the government news magazine and placed on the internet. In addition to examination by a public ethics committee, South Korea mandates that property declarations be published in a public bulletin within a month of submission.
South Africa enacted a law in 2008 that requires judges to submit their ‘registrable interests’ to a custodian that is responsible for auditing the declarations. In Philippines, wealth declaration cannot be used for commercial purposes though inspection is allowed and contents can be published in media while in Russia, the information must be published within a week.
Sadly, the Indian judiciary enjoys the opaqueness of the iron curtain. As former Chief Justice Bharucha remarked judges are mere mortals given to temptations. According to him 20% of the judiciary was reportedly ‘corrupt’. Recall, the UP crisis in 2007 when the nation reeled under news that a Supreme Court judge, High Court and District judges had received benefits from siphoned off employee funds. What to speak of last year’s corruption case of mistaken identity that rocked the Punjab & Haryana High Court. Wherein Rs 15 lakhs was paid to the wrong judge! Instead of Nirmal Yadav to Nirmaljit Kaur for a land deal. The CBI recommended prosecution but nothing came of it.
In 2002 too, the then Chief Justice Sahariya report deprecated the conduct of Mehtab Singh Gill. And again in April 2006 the State Vigilance Department Court taped a conversation between the judge and some citizens. Earlier, three judges were taken off work. One was asked to proceed on leave before retirement, the second was absolved and the third was Gill again. The result? Zilch. In 2003 Delhi Court judge Shamit Mukherjee resigned over his alleged complicity in a DDA scam.
Questionably, not only judges, it is high time that the Executive must also be brought under the public scanner. All IAS and IPS too should come forward to declare details, either in their departments or in a national directory specially created for the purpose. We can no longer pretend that corruption does not exist. It does.
In sum, the judges cannot hide behind the iron curtain and demand immunity. After all, immunity leads to impunity. They need to remember that the Lady of Justice is blindfolded but her scales of justice are equal for all. Et tu Your Lordships? —- INFA
By Poonam I Kaushish

Jharkhand: PIL filed against former CM Arjun Munda


A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking CBI inquiry against former Chief Minister and Jamshedpur MP Arjun Munda has been filed accusing him of amassing property disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The PIL filed by one Shankar Chourasia stated that the former Chief Minister had ‘misused’ his official position and collected property at the cost of poor tribals and other indigenous groups of the state.

The petitioner alleged that about 44 Memoranda of Understanding were inked with various industrial houses during the tenure of Mr Munda.

The former CM was given crores of rupees through middleman Amarpreet Singh Kale in order to facilitate the execution of the MoU, the petitioner alleged.

The petitioner further alleged that the affidavits filed by Munda in 2004 and 2009 elections were not true as he did not disclose the properties on the the name of his spouse correctly.

‘The total cash and bank deposit shown in 2004 was Rs 3,40,595, but surprisingly, it increased to the tune of Rs 78,11,476 in 2009 which was almost twenty times more,’ the petitioner averred.

The petitioner also said the former CM and his spouse had stake in Birsa Munda transport company and KYS group of companies.


Centre to prevent licensed arms from going to terrorists

Mail Today Bureau New Delhi,  September 8, 2009

The Centre on Monday submitted before the Supreme Court that it was in talks with state governments to plug loopholes in the procedure for grant of arms licences to prevent sale of arms to criminals and terrorists.

The submission was made by solicitor general Gopal Subramanium during the hearing of a PIL highlighting involvement of defence officers in the sale of prohibited and non- prohibited bore weapons to civilians, including those with criminal antecedents, in some districts of Rajasthan.

” The Centre is looking into the matter… We are in talks with state governments to ensure checks and balances in the procedure for grant of licences,” Subramanium said.

Earlier, advocate Arvind Kumar Sharma, who had filed the petition, said that investigation by both the state government and army had showed that some people had illegally purchased arms.

He pointed out that the defence ministry had submitted in an affidavit before the court that some army officers were involved. The state government, on the other hand, had admitted that rules were flouted by some licencing authorities.

Sharma said the criminals from other states were coming to Rajasthan to purchase arms being sold by army officers. Investigations had showed that a person from Punjab was granted licence by authorities in Rajasthan.

The state government said that it had registered an FIR and had written to the Punjab government.

Sharma, however, alleged that so far, no action had been taken and one of the suspects was currently posted as a collector in another district.

The court adjourned the matter to October 9 after the state government said that it would file an affidavit giving the factual position and details.

On its part, the defence ministry had said in its affidavit that a court of inquiry ordered by HQ South Western Command had been finalised and necessary follow up action was being initiated against those found to be involved.

Such sale was mainly done in Bikaner and Sri Ganganagar districts of the state, the ministry said in response to the PIL.

Courtesy: Mail Today

Madras HC bench posts PIL against Indian team’s Lanka tour for Sep 9


The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has posted to September 9 the next hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to stay the participation of Indian cricket team in the Tri-nation series beginning in Sri Lanka today.

The PIL by a practicing advocate Jel Paul Antony contended that the participation of the Indian team should be stayed in protest against the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka by that country’s government in the guise of eliminating terrorism.

A Division Bench of the court comprising Justices P Murugesan and C S Karnan adjourned the case, after the advocate of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the government counsel submitted that they did not get instructions from the respective departments and the Board and the High Court Bench did not have the jurisdiction to stay the team’s participation.

The counsel for the petitioner also objected the adjournment of the case stating that the Indian team was leaving for Sri Lanka soon after the conclusion of the Corporate tournament today, in some members of the national team were participating.

It would be a major embarrassment in case the court decided that the team should not play in Sri Lanka. He also disagreed with the government counsel’s contention that Madurai HC bench did not have the jurisdiction to deal with the case, as there was no cause of action.

He contended that any court in the country could be approached with such a prayer.

He also submitted that even the former Chief Justice of Sri Lanka had condemned the human rights violations and torture of Tamil refugees in the camps there and asked what other proof was needed.

The petitioner also submitted some photographs as proof of the torture of Tamils in the Sri Lankan camps.

The counsel for the petitioner said India had supported the Palestinian and Bangladesh freedom struggles. Moreover, India is a signatory of United Nations Charter to protect human rights.

‘What was happening in Lanka was worse than what happened to Blacks in South Africa when apartheid was practiced,’ he said.

If the government sends the cricket team to Sri Lanka, the world community would not respect India, he submitted.


CSSMU inaction against errant teacher might draw court’s contempt

TNN 8 September 2009, 05:02am IST

LUCKNOW: Inaction of Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University (CSMMU) administration against 11 teachers found prima facie guilty of indulging in private practice (PP) may amount to contempt of court. The HC, while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), had on January 3, 2008, directed the university to conduct an inquiry and take action against teachers doing PP despite a ban. But even 18 months after, no action has been taken, though the varsity has `concrete’ evidences against 11 teachers accused of violating the ban.

The case of Dr AK Sachan, an associate professor in pharmacology department, has made the issue even more serious. Dr Sachan is said to be the managing director of a private hospital whose ultra sound machine was sealed by the health officials last year in a raid after finding certain anomalies. He filed a petition in the court for relief. However, the HC bench took cognizance of the fact that how can Sachan while being a faculty member in CSMMU is also involved in running a private hospital, which amounts to PP.

The HC while hearing Dr Sachan’s petition last week had directed him to explain as to why departmental action not be ordered against him for indulging in PP. On Monday, Dr Sachan moved an application in the HC requesting to allow him withdraw the petition. But the bench comprising Justice Pradeep Kant and Justice Rituraj Awasthi turned down the application and directed Dr Sachan to appear in person on September 10. Court took cognizance of Dr Sachan’s status but surprisingly, the CSMMU authorities have overlooked the matter so far.

The ban was imposed following complaints that teachers devoted more time for PP and coerced patients to come at their private clinics. A PIL was filed in 2007 seeking strict implementation of the ban. The HC took a tough stand. But teachers reacted by threatening to resign en masse. Later, on court’s order, Commissioner Lucknow identified around 50 errant teachers through local intelligence units. In response, teachers launched an agitation demanding better salaries. The state government succumbed and doubled their salaries.

Besides salary hike, PP option was also given but for that teachers had to enter into a contract and forego service benefits. Some opted for contract but many out of over 300 teachers are still indulging in PP while enjoying regular services. This, said a senior professor, was unfair for those who honestly opted for contract and others who left PP. “Such teachers are also giving a message to students that with money power one can flout any norm with impunity, he said. Teachers, however, say that they have been falsely implicated.

Vice-chancellor Saroj Chooramani Gopal refused to talk on the issue. But sources said that she was forced to defer action due to arm-twisting by a few teachers through their contacts in bureaucracy, politics and CSMMU executive council members. Earlier also efforts to improve patient care and quality of teaching in CSMMU was opposed in a similar way by a section of teachers who went all out to scuttle moves to increase work hours and reduce number of holidays as well as introduction of promotion policy as prescribed in the CSMMU Act.

When contacted, Dr Sachan said that he opened the private hospital in 1991 and got appointment in CSMMU in 2002. “Thereafter, I am not taking any money from the hospital, but since the initial registration of land and building was in my name, it continues even today,” he said.

PIL on closing down potassium cholrate factory

TNN 8 September 2009, 03:08am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has ordered notices to the state and central government authorities, on a public interest writ petition to close down the polluting potassium chlorate industries in Karaikal.

The first bench comprising chief justice HL Gokhale and justice M Jaichandren issued the notices, on a PIL filed by social activist Traffic KR Ramaswamy, who said many of these industrial units were polluting the environment and were also involved in the diversion of subsidised potash supplied to farmers. The bench has posted the matter to September 14 for further hearing.

According to Ramaswamy, many of these industries, in collusion with local distributing agencies, procured the subsidised potash meant for farmers at Rs 4.5 a kilo, and used them for the manufacture of potassium chlorate. Charging the units with making unlawful monetary gains, the petitioner said the central government subsidy of about Rs 4,000 crore meant for farmers was being diverted to industries.

Naming two units in the Karaikal region, Ramaswamy said authorities were remaining mute spectators to these units though they were causing huge environmental pollution. “These units are converting potash into potassium chloride and further oxidise that into potassium chlorate. In this process, heavy chlorine gas is emitted, polluting crops and plantations in a radius of about five kilometres,” he said.

SC notice to BSNL on Trai’s plea
Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 07, 2009, 20:28 IST

The Supreme Court today issued notice to state-run telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) on a petition by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which had objected the PSU’s charging higher tariff from subscribers by way of reducing the pulse rate of each call.

BSNL had earlier got a favourable judgement from telecom tribunal TDSAT in this regard and the same was challenged by Trai.

A Bench headed by Justice B Sudershan Reddy sought reply from BSNL as to why it should be allowed to go ahead with the tariff increase.

Challenging the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal’s order that quashed TRAI’s directions on the traiff increase, the petitioner said that the judgement had a major impact on consumers as they were forced to pay higher charges as a result of change in the pulse rate from 180 seconds to 45 seconds in each call within six months of the date of their enrollment under the respective tariff plan.

Trai senior counsel Harish Salve and Sanjay Kapur said BSNL had enriched itself duly without any notice to unwary consumers about the reclassification of calls and the consumers, who had not completed six months in their tariff plans, have been forced to pay higher charges.

High Court restrains any kind of strike: Jet–Jet


Mumbai, Sep 8 (PTI) Stung by more than half of its pilots taking mass sick leave that forced cancellation of about 190 flights by 1400 hrs, Jet Airways today termed the agitation as illegal and secured a restrain order from Bombay High Court against any strike.

“The Bombay High Court has passed an order restraining any kind of strike,” Jet CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer told PTI on phone and added that all possible efforts were being taken to save passengers from inconvenience and restore normalcy.

As many as 156 domestic and 32 international flights were cancelled by 1400 hrs, he said, adding that the airline operates a total of 380 flights a day including 80 overseas.

“We were assured by the National Aviators Guild last night that there would be no strike and we went by this assurance.

Not responsible for HC violence, says senior cop in court

TNN 8 September 2009, 02:54am IST

CHENNAI: Law should catch up with police personnel who had indulged in “individual acts of violence,” M Ramasubramani who was the joint commissioner of police here when violence rocked the Madras high court on February 19 has said in his reply to court.

Ramasubramani, whose suspension was recommended by a full bench of the court, served his counter-affidavit on Monday, stating: “As regards the excesses committed by individual policemen, I am not justifying it at all, and law should catch up with them. My respectful submission is that I cannot be held vicariously liable for individual acts of violence.”

Adopting a conciliatory stand and narrating the sequence of events that culminated in the injuries to scores of people and grave damage to vehicles and court halls on February 19, Ramasubramani said: “At the outset, I wish to place on record my sincere apologies to this honourable court, to the judges, to the innocent lawyers, to the court staff, to the press and the public, who fell victim in the unsavoury incident that took place on February 19.”

The joint commissioner of police, who is at present deputy inspector-general of police (Tiruchi range), submitted that he did not know the exact time of arrival of the then commissioner of police, and added that the peace-loving majority of advocates had failed to rein in a “minuscule group of lawyers.” He said advocates kept provoking police with obscene words and gestures and that he was not disclosing the names of advocates in order to save them from embarrassment.

Ramasubramani said he cannot now be subjected to examine whether the lathicharge was justified, and added that it was a tense situation where “provocation was continuous and sustained.”

The court ought not to have directed the government to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him and place him under suspension, the official said. Ramasubramani, reiterating that the high court police station was burnt down by advocates, said the inquiries by the CBI and the government-appointed Dr Sundaradevan IAS committee would reveal the truth.

A division bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi is scheduled to take up the hearing of the case on Wednesday.

HC stays govt funds for church repairs

TNN 8 September 2009, 05:12am IST

A two-member bench of the AP High Court on Monday directed the authorities to maintain status quo on government funds for building or repairing churches. The bench of Chief Justice Anil R Dave and Justice C V Nagarjuna Reddy was hearing a writ petition filed by Tripuraneni Hanuman Chowdary complaining that the state government was engaging itself in the promotion of a religion contrary to court injunctions. He listed 49 GOs, placing 150 Christian institutions as beneficiaries of state aid. The petitioner argued that there were no legislative sanction for the said expenditures and thus illegal. Listing various GOs between December 2001 and March 2009, he said the state was promoting Christian related activities in the guise of SC/ST welfare. He said the state was getting involved in a systematic manner for promoting church-related activities.

The petitioner had earlier filed a writ challenging the action of the government in granting funds for Christian pilgrimage. A two-member bench by an order dated July 22 had suspended the GO granting such allowances.

HC poser to authorities on work in ridge area

Nitin Sethi, TNN 8 September 2009, 04:20am IST

NEW DELHI: In what is bound to become a carefully watched case in Delhi, the High Court has asked the authorities to give reasons why it should not stop all development and construction activity in the Ridge area.

The court’s question to the Delhi Development Authority, the defence ministry, the Delhi and Union governments has come as a response to the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) reporting that unchecked construction in the Ridge area is depleting groundwater at an alarming rate.

Irked by the poor response from the concerned authorities, the court had even threatened that it would take an ex-parte decision.

Any orders along the lines the court has suggested would impact a large swath of South and South-West Delhi beginning from the Masoodpur and Mahipalpur area stretching through Vasant Kunj, Vasant Vihar to the airport and defence land beyond that to the West.

The petitioners in the case had filed a PIL stating that due to indiscriminate construction in the water recharge area around Nelson Mandela Marg, the groundwater reserve was fast depleting.

The CGWA pointed out that it was responsible for regulating extraction the groundwater through borewells and tubewells especially in the South-West district which has been declared as critical.

But the petitioners contended that CGWA was not fulfilling its entire set of functions by not regulating the construction that was eating away the recharge area for the district.

CGWA filed a report with the court stating that “Long term water level behaviour at village Bhatti has indicated that during years 1996 to 2003 ground water levels have witnessed sharp water level decline of 17 metres.” The authority, however, mentioned that the closure of mining had helped recover two metres of that from 2003-04.

The CGWA report recommended that infrastructure activity in the hilly area should be kept in check so that ecological balances are duly maintained. The report said, “Any construction and other activities in the Ridge areas of Aravallis will lead to choking/sealing of joints (in the earth structure below) resulting in reduced recharge.”

The report also pointed out that a dense network of tubewells exists in the region that people require for domestic use.

The Vasant Kunj malls too had earlier come under scrutiny for violating environmental regulations. These had been later cleared post-facto.

But the current case could open a greater can of worms with the role of the groundwater authority as well as DDA being questioned in the case. At the same time, with massive projects and construction on in the South-West disctrict and substantial presence of the Army in the belt, the court case is bound to make the government sit up.

After repeated hearings, the Delhi government has finally informed the court that it would consult CGWA and get back with its reply by the next hearing.

HC stays proposed action of PU against teachers

B K Mishra, TNN 8 September 2009, 03:28am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court (HC) on Monday stayed the proposed action of Patna University (PU) against its 134 teachers whose services were regularised under different absorption statutes.

Hearing writ petitions filed by three teachers of PU namely Dharmashila Prasad of Magadh Mahila College and Pramod Kumar Poddar and Vinay Kumar Kanth of B N College, Justice Mridula Mishra of Patna HC asked the university to refrain from taking any coercive action against the petitioners and other similarly placed teachers pending the final judgement. PU was asked to file a counter affidavit within two weeks.

PU had issued show cause notices to as many as 134 teachers in July this year asking them to explain as to why the period of their services rendered before their absorption be not curtailed and the date of their first appointment and subsequent promotions be not shifted.

The teachers did submit their replies to the show cause notices served on them, but remained apprehensive of the punitive measures being contemplated by the authorities. Hence they approached the HC seeking justice.

Appearing on behalf of the petitioners, advocate Binod Kumar Kanth pleaded that PU teachers were governed by a separate Act hence they should not be tagged with the teachers of other universities. He argued that the services of PU teachers were regularised strictly as per the provisions of the absorption statues and their initial appointments were made in a regular manner. He also cited the judgement of a constitution bench of the Supreme Court holding that once regularised and held legal, the cases of absorption need not be reopened. Advocate Ajay Sinha appeared on behalf of the university.

Meanwhile, hailing the interim judgement of Patna HC, Federation of University Teachers’ Associations of Bihar working president K B Sinha asked the vice-chancellors of all the universities not to act on the dictates of the bureaucrats and take lessons from the judgement. He said that unwarranted expenditure being incurred by the universities on litigation should be realised from the VCs.

CBI gets HC nod to book govt officials in ashram deaths

Shibu Thomas, TNN 8 September 2009, 02:06am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has given the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the go-ahead to book persons, including government officials, responsible for providing sub-standard food to tribal children in state-run ashram schools. The court also ordered the government to fix responsibility and initiate action against officers who provided bug-infested food to the children in such special schools.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation on the condition of schools and the death of five children in one such school in Dahanu.

The CBI submitted a confidential report to the court detailing how the food was infested with bugs.

Additional solicitor-general Darius Khambata informed the court: “except at two places, foodgrains in all other godowns were not fit for human consumption.” The court was also told that four students had died of snake bites at different ashram schools in the state.

The court said that the CBI was free to file additional charge sheets if required against persons whose negligence caused the death of the children.

HC fiat to Maria in Shakeel gang members’ case

TNN 8 September 2009, 02:15am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday gave the Mumbai cops two days to undo the damage they caused by informing the media of the arrest of alleged Chhota Shakeel gang members for plotting to kill two lawyers representing Malegaon blast accused Sadhvi Pragya Thakur but failed to mention it in the remand copy against them.

A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice A R Joshi came down heavily on the police and asked them if such misleading leaks in the media was a new strategy to pressure and “browbeat the court”.

The court was hearing a petition filed by one of the accused, Kamil, who sought a clarification from the police. The petition pointed out that in documents submitted to court seeking police custody, the agency had mentioned that they had been booked for attempting to commit dacoity. In an affidavit, joint commissioner of police Rakesh Maria had earlier told the court that the press had prior information about the alleged murder plot. The court refused to accept this explanation, charging the police with trampling upon the rights of the accused.

Minister Sudhakar’s case adjourned to Tuesday: HC asks for case diary

TNN 8 September 2009, 01:00am IST

BANGALORE: The high court has adjourned to Tuesday a criminal petition filed by social welfare minister N Sudhakar. The HC also told the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to produce the case diary or station house diary before the court.

Pressure is mounting on Sudhakar to resign. Also, the deadline given by chief minister B S Yeddyurappa will expire on Tuesday.

On September 1, CBI had submitted a chargesheet in a special court relating to a bank fraud case against Sudhakar.

Defeated BJP candidate N R Lakshmikanth from Hiriyur, which Sudhakar represents, has sought to implead himself and three other persons in the case.

“Do you want to implead yourself as accused or prosecutor?” asked Justice Subhash Adi. The court told Lakshmikanth to file an affidavit if he wants to get himself impleaded.

HC stays summons


Patna, Sept. 7: In a major reprieve, Patna High Court today stayed a lower court’s summons issued to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar in connection with the murder of a Congress activist during the 1991 Lok Sabha polls to the Barh seat.

Opposition RJD and LJP had demanded that the chief minister step down after the court of Barh chief judicial magistrate summoned Nitish on September 9 for being a “party” to the 18-year-old murder of one Sitaram Singh near a polling booth at Pandarak in Barh.

The chief minister rejected the Opposition’s demand and his party, the JD(U), declared the summons as illegal because a prosecution had “exonerated” the chief minister long ago.

Justice Sima Ali Khan today ordered a stay on the summons in response to a writ petition filed by Yogendra Prasad Yadav, who also stands chargesheeted in the case and had prayed that the HC stay the lower court’s order.

Even before this, the bench of Justice Ajay Kumar Tripathi had stayed proceedings in the case that came up at Barh court on April 24, 2009. Sima Ali Khan declared the CJM’s summon as unwarranted and uncalled for as the bench of Tripathi had already stayed the proceedings.

After issuing the stay order, Khan referred the case to the bench of Tripathi, who will fix the next date of hearing. Much after the prosecution gave its clean chit to Nitish, a relative of the deceased, Ashok Kumar Singh, challenged the prosecution’s exoneration in the CJM court.

JD(U) state party chief Lallan Singh and national spokesman Shivanand Tiwary suspected that Ashok had challenged the prosecution’s exoneration with a malicious design at the behest of RJD boss Lalu Prasad and LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan.

Delhi HC asks revenue dept to reply on Microsoft plea

fe Bureaus
Posted: Tuesday, Sep 08, 2009 at 0016 hrs IST
Updated: Tuesday, Sep 08, 2009 at 0016 hrs IST

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday instructed the revenue department to file its reply on the writ petition of Microsoft India challenging a duty demand of Rs 260 crore by the revenue department for violation of service tax norms. The division bench of the Court headed by Justice A K Sirki and Justice Valmiki J Mehta has also directed that the matter be listed for September 22.

While Microsoft India was unavailable for comment till the time of going to press, it is expected to have a significant impact on companies involved in the export of services, especially in the IT sector.

In July this year, an appellate tribunal of the department had ordered Microsoft India to deposit Rs 70 crore for hearing its appeal against the revenue department.

The tribunal in its decision had noted that the place of performance of a service is decisive for determining the event of taxability as well as the incidence of tax. It also questioned a CBEC circular clarifying under the Export of Services of Rules, the location of the service receiver is more relevant than the place of performance. Further the circular clarified that the phrase ‘used outside India’ should be understood to mean that the benefit of service accrues outside India.

The case dates back to 2008, when the Central Board of Excise and Customs had slapped a demand notice of Rs 126 crore on Microsoft India, along with an equal fine and interest. It had claimed that Microsoft India’s Gurgaon unit had carried out marketing services for Microsoft Singapore from 2005 onwards.

“It will be interesting to see what the High Court decides. The CBEC circular has called for the ‘beneficial enjoyment of services,’ which is an internationally practice. One hopes that under the goods and services tax regime, this provision would be followed,” said Pratik Jain, executive director, KPMG.

The revenue department claimed that the Microsoft India was carrying out marketing events and other promotional activities for the Singapore subsidiary.

Shah’s lawyers file writ petition
Rising Kashmir News
Jammu, Sep 07: A team of lawyers represented by senior advocate, Pran Nath Bhat filed a writ petition in Jammu High Court against the state government wherein they have requested that they be acquainted with all the accusations leveled against JKDFP chief, Shabir Ahmad Shah so that these could be accordingly defended against.
Meanwhile, another team of lawyers represented by advocate Vikas has approached District Court Udhampur to acquire bail in favour of Shah against the accusations of his instigating and provoking masses against Indian state, and mobilizing their opinion in favour of freedom struggle.
JKDFP spokesperson has said that for last one year now the ailing party chief is being kept under “unlawful and unjustifiable” detention on one excuse or the other showing scant consideration for his ill health.

Northeast Echoes


Playing with the judiciary

Gauhati High Court’s recent directive that former Jharkhand MP Sukhdeo Paswan should pay Rs 1 lakh for wasting the court’s time on a public interest litigation (PIL) against Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, which has fizzled out, is an eye-opener.

The nadir to which politics has sunk merits no debate, but that politicians would even use the judiciary to settle political scores is a very serious matter. As practitioners of democracy, we encounter hypocrisies from politicians that leave us gasping. But the moral high ground adopted by one politician to crucify another only leaves us more bewildered, especially when the litigant has in a cavalier fashion decided to withdraw the case.

The controversy here is not about Biswa Sarma, but on the petitioner who used the route of a PIL which is actually a redressal mechanism afforded by the judiciary to enable citizens to correct injustices in governance.

Political games

That the petitioner then did a complete turn-around and withdrew his petition on the plea that there were “unknown facts” regarding the core issues raised in the PIL after filing the affidavit and counter-affidavit filed by Sarma, smacks of hypocrisy. We come to the oft-quoted adage that in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies. But while politicians can change their “bedfellows”, they have no right to make an ass of the law.

In March this year, Paswan, the MP who represented Araria, Bihar, for five terms had quit the BJP because he was not given a ticket. He was later given a ticket from the Samajwadi Party (SP). The SP is known for its proximity to the Congress.

It is no surprise, therefore, that Paswan’s enthusiasm to pursue the PIL against Biswa Sarma dwindled.

When he first filed the PIL in December 2007, he was an ardent follower of the BJP, which is in alliance with the AGP in Assam. At the time Paswan was probably the AGP stooge out to embarrass Biswa Sarma. Now that Paswan has lost the elections he has also probably lost interest in the PIL, which costs both time and money to pursue because lawyers don’t come cheap. This is one plausible reason why the former MP withdrew the case, apart of course from the fact that he and Biswa Sarma could soon be supping from the same political table. This is why politicians make dangerous litigants.

It is, therefore, in the fitness of things that the Gauhati High Court has passed an order asking the next petitioner against Biswa Sarma, AGP legislator Padma Hazarika, to deposit court fees amounting to Rs 1 lakh before they admit the petition.

Going scot free

The Tada cases against Biswa Sarma, which were lodged at Chandmari and Panbazar police stations, are on the face of it very serious. The allegations of extortion at the behest of Ulfa are not to be taken lightly because they point to a link between the Congressman and a notorious militant group that is responsible for bleeding Assam and continues to do so even today.

The stories about the missing case diaries reveal the rot and stench in the police department. And the fact that the police officer, who claimed to have misplaced Biswa Sarma’s case diaries, was let off is an insult to our collective intelligence.

With such a horrible history behind it, how can the police department of Assam claim any credibility? Does this not indicate that the police too are up for sale to the highest bidder, mainly politicians?

It is easy for the health minister to now take a moral high ground and say that he has been penalised enough and that his cases should be quashed once and for all. Without the case diaries and confessional statements how can any prosecuting agency pin him down?

This makes us wonder why the small fries are kept in jail for petty crimes and why the big fish escape big offences. Isn’t this one reason why militancy finds acceptance among the repressed?

We are to blame

Without being moralistic and also with the pragmatism that one is forced to adopt, while using prisms to view the practitioners of politics, one can only aver that politicians get away with the worst of crimes because we patronise them once they are in power.

In other words, we connive with them. No one, not even the so-called Christian states, ostracises a politician even when he is blatantly corrupt and perversely immoral.

So politicians feel they have a blank cheque to misuse public funds and also that they are allowed to bend and break the laws that govern ordinary mortals.

As a people we are as much to blame for our acquiescent behaviour vis-à-vis politicians with a colourful past. Why is it so easy to forgive and forget the sins of politicians even while we murmur with disgust at the degeneration of morals all around us?

It is a pity that the law, too, should adopt different yardsticks for different people. How can anyone trust such a distorted criminal justice system? And if citizens lose faith in the entire judicial process and use their own kangaroo courts to deliver summary justice, would the system have the moral authority to clamp down on them?

Personally one is aggrieved that the police could misplace highly incriminating documents against highly placed accused persons. In whose payroll are they anyway? Politicians, or the public exchequer?

(The writer can be contacted at

Bans binned

The Indian Express

Posted: Monday, Sep 07, 2009 at 0235 hrs

The logical end of censorship, Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once claimed, “is when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.” In banning Jaswant Singh’s magnum opus Jinnah: India, Partition-Independence, the Gujarat government was certainly following the first half of this dictum: it banned a book that virtually everybody in the political class is ploughing through. This, even though the Gujarat government had obviously not read the book, a discrepancy which the Gujarat High Court pointed out in its order overturning the ban.

That the decision to ban Jaswant Singh’s book — a decision that ran concurrently with the BJP’s decision to expel its author — was politically motivated is a no-brainer. The ostensible reasons were either absurd (that the book would cause communal violence) or cynical opportunism (that derogatory references to Sardar Patel were made). In fact, the book’s references to Patel, for historians to nit-pick over, were clearly harmless, as the book’s consequences elsewhere show. The Gujarat High Court rightly pointed out that the Gujarat government’s notification did not make even the pretence of an argument. In such a situation, the notification was a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech and expression.

A party that glorifies these fundamental rights when it comes to books by Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasreen demeans itself when it advocates censorship when convenient. The bogie of Sardar Patel was especially repugnant, the hope that some political harvest could be gained in the land of his birth. Not all of the BJP thought the same way:  Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa refused to ban the book. But it seems that the Gujarat government has learnt neither from his example, nor the high court’s pronouncement: it might issue another notification, with fresh grounds for a ban. If that is indeed its intention, the state government should rethink. And it is hoped that political leaderships across party and state lines will read this as a sign that capricious bans are out.

PM shocked over low conviction rate of cases under SC/ST Act
Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 7, 2009, 13:02 IST

Expressing shock over less than 30 per cent conviction rate for cases of atrocities against SCs and STs, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today asked state governments to give more attention to the issue and said court cases related to such matters should be “pursued on priority”.

“Reports of atrocities against SCs, STs and senior citizens continue to appear with disturbing regularity. I have in fact written to the Chief Ministers of all states recently to enforce the provisions of the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

It is shocking that conviction rate for cases of atrocities against SCs and STs is less than 30 per cent against the average of 42 per cent for all cognisable offences under IPC. The state governments need to give more attention to this issue,” he said inaugurating a conference of state ministers of welfare and social justice here.

Singh told them to conduct meetings of state and district level vigilance committees on a regular basis and said that court cases should be pursued on priority.

Focussing on the need to change the general mindset towards disadvantaged groups, the Prime Minister said such people should be made equal partners in the developmental processes.

“We propose to amend the Persons with Disabilities Act in consultation with states so as to bring it in line with the UN Convention (on Rights of Persons with Disabilities),” he said.

Referring to the drought like situation prevailing in many parts of the country, Singh said, “the experience has been that weaker sections tend to be the worst affected by such natural calamities.

“We, therefore, need to step up monitoring and implementation of welfare schemes like NREGA, Annapurna and Old Age Pension Scheme, which target the weaker sections.”

He said the government plans to take up a new scheme from this year on a pilot basis namely, ‘Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana’ for integrated development of 1,000 villages, each having more than 50 per cent SC population.

The scheme aims at implementation of various development projects in these villages, with an additional fund of Rs 10 lakh per village to meet those requirements that cannot be met from existing schemes, he said, adding that if the pilot scheme is successful, then it could be expanded.

On the mobility problems faced by disabled persons, the Prime Minister said educational and healthcare institutions, government offices and banks, should be made more accessible.

“Small steps like ramps… Actually go a long way in this direction,” he said.

Singh called on the Ministry of Communications and IT to promote development of user friendly software in all Indian languages.

“Our websites need to be more user friendly for disabled people and I am happy that the ministry for social justice has made a beginning in this regard. The National Institute of Design should be urged to encourage the design of everyday appliances and instruments that cater to people with various disabilities,” he said.

With the economy emerging from its slowdown phase, the Prime Minister urged the corporate sector to “respond handsomely” to the scheme to promote employment of disabled persons in the private sector.

Referring to the self-employment scheme for rehabilitation of manual scavengers, a programme run by the ministry for social justice, he said, “I am told that more than half of the identified beneficiaries under the scheme are yet to be rehabilitated.

“States should be more proactive in implementing scholarships and hostel schemes for SCs, STs and OBCs.”

He said disability certificates should be issued within a month of the date of application. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said focus of 11th Plan is on inclusive growth and both the Centre and the states should work together to achieve the objective of helping socially disadvantaged groups.

“In the Planning Commission, we have been implementing the SC sub-plan and are engaged with other ministries to ensure its implementation,” he said.

Noting that the compliance of states was “not satisfactory”, he said the Commission has written to Chief Ministers that their annual plans would be cleared only if they implement the SC sub-plan properly.

Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik said effectiveness of ongoing schemes must be enhanced and there should be a strategic partnership with civil society, industry and the government to provide social justice.

HC judge emphasises need for awareness on gender issues

Kartikeya, TNN 7 September 2009, 01:11am IST

MUMBAI: Giving a host of examples where practices discriminatory towards women have been struck down by the judiciary, justice Roshan Dalvi of the Bombay high court said more effort was needed before our society becomes sensitive towards problems faced by women.

Dalvi, who is amongst a handful of women in the country who sit on the bench in a high court, was speaking to students of K C Law College on Saturday. “It may be a while before we are able to enforce a uniform civil code but the judiciary, with the help of peripheral laws, has been protecting the rights of women from all communities,” Dalvi said. She added that gender-biased and stereotypical perceptions of women in society had been an impediment in allowing them to realise their true potential. “If a woman wants to work till late at night in a bar then a government order to stop her from doing so is discriminatory,” Dalvi said. She added that a similar rule had been rightly rejected by the Delhi high court.

“The HSNC Board which runs the college is celebrating its 60 years and we are organising several lectures by legal luminaries. It gives students a peek into how judges think on thought-provoking topics,” said principal Neelima Chandiramani.

Dalvi said during rape trials, it would be welcome if efforts could be made to ensure that both the prosecutor and the judge were women. “When I heard testimonies of rape victims, I realised that it helped when even the typist in the courtroom was a woman. It put the victim more at ease while narrating her trauma,” she said. The Criminal Procedure Code does call for women officials in rape matters but the provision is not always implemented due to lack of women lawyers and judges.

HC quashes case of suicide abetment

Shibu Thomas, TNN 7 September 2009, 01:09am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court recently quashed charges of abetment of suicide slapped against Akola municipal commissioner, following the death of the corporation’s chief accountant. Around four years ago, Sanjay Rathi, the chief accountant, had left a suicide note saying he was taking his life as commissioner Sanjay Kakde had forced him to do some alleged irregularities. Justice R Y Ganoo observed that Kakde could not be held responsible for Rathi’s death.

“(Kakde) cannot be held responsible for (Rathi’s) frame of mind, which ultimately ended in the commission of suicide,” said Justice Ganoo.

The judge added that even if the suicide note was accepted as the truth, still, just because Kakde had forced Rathi to sign certain documents, “at the most it would amount to certain irregularities committed by Kakde in discharge of his office.” That may still not amount to abetment of suicide, said the court.

Rathi’s body was found on December 16, 2005, lying on the railway tracks at Akola. During investigations, the police recovered a suicide note addressed to the secretary, accounts and finance department, Mantralaya. Rathi in his letter claimed that Kakde had pressurised him to sign and pass various bills though he did not approve of it.

Apprehensive of the fact that irregularities may be discovered and he would be prosecuted, Rathi wrote in the note that he was committing suicide. Kakde’s advocate contended that charging the municipal commissioner with abetment of suicide was “far fetched”, even if the allegations of irregularities were taken to be correct.

The prosecution lawyer on his part claimed that the suicide note was “clinching evidence” against the Akola civic chief. He also said that the commissioner had put so much pressure on Rathi that the latter reached a state of mind that suicide was the only answer. The high court judge, however, did not agree with this contention.

The defence advocate also pointed out to the statement of a witness who claimed that he had seen Rathi trying to cross the tracks and being run over by a train.

The judge said that there could be two possibilities-that either Rathi committed suicide or that he met with an accident. This would give Kakde the benefit of circumstances, the court said, while quashing the FIR and the charge sheet filed against the commissioner.

HC seeks cop inquiry into lecturer’s death

TNN 7 September 2009, 12:37am IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has asked the Maharashtra director-general of police to select an officer for conducting an inquiry into an 18-year-old case of the death of a woman lecturer at a college in Sangamner.

A petition filed in the high court `alleges’ that state agriculture minister Balasaheb Thorat was involved in the death.

According to a division bench of Justice B H Marlapalle and Justice Roshan Dalvi, the inquiry was needed to find out whether the death because of burn injuries was “accidental, suicidal, or homicidal.”

Vijaya Deshmukh was a lecturer at Amrutvahini engineering college in Sangamner, run by Thorat. She died on February 1, 1991 from burn injuries, but no police investigation was carried out to find out if it was a murder or an accident, claims the petition.

Petition in HC wants closure of StanChart’s India operations
Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 06, 2009, 15:55 IST

The Delhi High Court has issued notice to Standard Chartered Bank on a petition, which alleged non-payment Rs 1.5 lakh by the foreign bank as directed by the DRT and sought winding up of the lender’s India operations.

A single member bench of Justice S K Mishra has directed the foreign bank to file its reply within four weeks on a petition filed by three persons in a property case.

The petition followed StanChart’s alleged failure to pay a cost of Rs 1.5 lakh to the persons as per the judgement of the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) in New Delhi.

The DRT in its ruling on May 15 quashed two notices of the Bank on taking possession of the two properties located in Nizamuddin West in New Delhi under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act. The DRT also asked the bank to pay Rs 1.5 lakh along with 18 per cent interest to the persons.

However, according to the petition filed by advocate Gajendra Giri, the bank neither paid the amount nor returned the property papers of his client D S Sawhney’s home.

“Standard Chartered Bank has illegally withheld property documents despite the fact that nothing is due against the said property and thus bank has cheated them and is illegally withholding the documents nor it paid the cost amount as directed by the DRT,” contended the petitioner.

Giri contended that as per sections 45 A, 45 B of the Banking Regulation Act and the Companies Act, if a banking company fails to pay debt or refuses to pay any lawful demand “within two working days” then the High Court has the power to order winding up of the bank.

HC asks daily to pay Rs 5 lakh for calling trader 420


Shillong, Sept 6 (PTI) The Gauhati High Court has asked a Meghalaya-based English daily to pay Rs 5 lakh as damage to a businessman who was dubbed as “Char sau bees” (420) in one of its reports six years back.

A Shillong Bench of the Court headed by Justice T Vaiphei and Justice Hrishikesh Roy observed, “The news item published under the heading Char sau bees makes serious allegations on the conduct of the plaintiff.”

Dismissing a contention by the lawyers, representing the Daily, that the comments were mere ‘banter’, the Court said, “the item cannot be brushed aside as something written in lighter vein in the category of banter or humour … as the news item extracts the provisions of Section 420 of IPC and makes a demand for punishing the plaintiff for conspiracy and cheating.

Government abides by legal advice on swearing-in of Ministers

N. Rahul

Experts take two scenarios into consideration while making suggestion

HYDERABAD: Wide-ranging consultations were held with legal experts like Attorney General Ghulam E. Vahanvati and his predecessor K. Parasaran before the Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh recommended that “it would be the right thing” for all 34 Ministers of the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy Cabinet to take the oath of office if they were to continue.

Advocate General D.V. Sitaram Murthy made this recommendation to Chief Secretary P. Ramakanth Reddy late on Saturday night after two days of hectic parleys with former Lok Sabha Secretary General and an expert on constitutional law Subhash C. Kashyap besides Mr. Vahanvati, Mr. Parasaran and Advocate General of Maharashtra Ravi Kadam.

Right thing

At the height of the controversy over whether the Cabinet should be sworn in at all or there was no need for it, the legal experts believed that the swearing-in would indeed be the right thing to do though there were no consistent conventions in the event of the death or resignation of Prime Ministers or Chief Ministers in harness.

Jawaharlal Nehru’s Council of Ministers was continued by his successor Gulzarilal Nanda without a fresh swearing-in when the former died. Similarly, Brahmananda Reddy continued with the Cabinet of Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy when the latter resigned. However, Rajiv Gandhi’s appointment as Prime Minister was followed by the swearing-in of his Cabinet after a few days and so was the case when Ashok Chavan took over as Maharashtra Chief Minister recently.

Argument on analogy

The legal experts looked at two scenarios in taking a view whether or not the Council of Ministers stood dissolved after YSR’s death. One, they discussed that the term of the Council would extend till a new one was constituted as the Governor only appointed the Chief Minister. There was no requirement for the swearing-in as it was already under oath and could continue to function. This was endorsed by the Supreme Court in a judgement in 1971.

Second, they discussed that the Council was necessarily to be sworn in under Article 164 (3) of the Constitution as the Chief Minister holds office till resignation or death. In the present case, when Mr. Rosaiah submitted a letter to the Governor to continue the old team, they based their argument on analogy that the Governor appoints the Council on the advice of the Chief Minister. Then, Mr. Rosaiah’s letter had to be considered as an advice to the Governor to appoint his Council of Ministers which required a fresh oath, Mr. Sitaram Murthy told The Hindu.

Accordingly, Mr. Rosaiah held consultations with the Chief Secretary on Sunday morning and requested the Governor at 11 a.m. to administer the oath to the old team.

NCW asks for report from Maya govt on women’s sale

Aasim Khan / CNN-IBN

Published on Mon, Sep 07, 2009 at 21:37, Updated on Mon, Sep 07, 2009 at 22:08

NATIONAL SHAME: National Commission for Women has asked UP government to send a report.

New Delhi: A day after CNN-IBN exposed how farmers in Bundelkhand were selling their wives on stamp paper, the news has had an impact in New Delhi.

The story that showed the plight of women who were forced into flesh trade in the draught-hit region of Uttar Pradesh has now caught the attention of the National Commission for Women.

Kalicharan is a poor debt ridden farmer of Bundelkhand, who was forced to sell his wife to ensure his own survival for a few more days.

Now after CNN-IBN exposed the plight of people like Kalicharan help is starting to pour in.

Taking note of the reports the National Commission for Women has decided to take action.

“We have taken a note of the CNN-IBN report and have set up a committee to investigate. I have written a letter to the Uttar Pradesh government to find out the details,” NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas said.

In their letter to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary the NCW has demanded a full report from Uttar Pradesh administration within 48 hours.

NCW has also demanded action against the police officials who tried to silence the farmers as shown in the Network18 report.

The commission has also decided to send a special investigation team to find out the facts of the matter in case the state government does not reply adequately.

It is not just the NCW but the Congress, too, which has take note of the report.

The party which has been working on Bundelkhand overtime through frequent visits of Rahul Gandhi is also dispatching a three-member team to Jhansi on Tuesday as the issue begins to dominate national political radar

“Your channel has done a great service by bringing this story. Once again it has shown how the poor are treated,” said Communist Party of India-Marxist MP and Politburo member Brinda Karat.

Already under fire for building her own statues the expose is a proving to be a real test for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati.

So far Uttar Pradesh government has avoided answering the questions, but with the NCW serving it a 48-hour deadline, time to prove her critics wrong is running out for Mayawati.

Girija Vyas against Sach Ka Saamna

TNN 6 September 2009, 05:01am IST

JAIPUR: Following complaints, the National Commission for Women has decided to serve notice to the producers of the controversial reality show ” Sach Ka Saamna.”

“We have been receiving regular complaints from aggrieved women as their husbands began questioning their character after watching the programme on TV and have decided to serve notice to the producers of the programme,” Girija Vyas, chairperson of the NCW, told reporters here.

Vyas also appealed to the people “not to participate in the programme as private life is something personal and not for the public. It is against the social values and ethos of our society,” she said.

“I am also of the opinion that there must be difference between one’s personal and public life,” she added.

Such revelation of truth not only affects the life of the participants but also that of viewers as there were reports of some of the participants family life in tatters, she said. The contents of the show which delves into the personal and sexual adventures of contestants have been described as degrading to “Indian culture” by parliamentarians and social activists.

Subsequently, the ministry for information and broadcasting had also sent a notice to the channel. Vyas added the NCW had proposed certain amendments to the Prohibition of Indecent Representation of Women and Children Act. She said perturbed over indecent representation of women on television the NCW had favoured changes in the law to bring the electronics media in its ambit.

She disclosed that such a recommendation was sent to the ministry of women and child development. She said to widen the scope of the act and its applicability the definition of advertisement’ is also proposed to be amended. Advertisement would include any notice, circular , label, wrapper, or other document besides visible representation made by means of any light including laser, light and fibre optic or any other media, she said.

“Indecent representation of women means depiction of women as a sexual object’. It includes depiction in any manner of the figure of woman, her form or body or any part there of in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent, derogatory, or denigrating women,” she added.

A new clause has been proposed to be included to extend the applicability of the act to the visual media and computer including internet, Vyas said.

The penal provision includes imprisonment for a term not less than two months which may extend to two years. In case of second or subsequent conviction the punishment may be for six months extend up to five years, she said.

Vyas said considering the large number of complaints of domestic violence and dowry cases received from NRI women, the commission plans to set up an NRI cell to deal with such cases.

NCW seeks amendment to indecent representation of women Act

Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: The National Commission for Women (NCW) has sought an amendment in the Prohibition of Indecent Representation of Women and Children Act 1986, incorporating more stringent punishment for its violation. The Commission wants a definition of the electronic media and fresh interpretation of the term “advertisement”, among other things to widen the purview of the Act.

“The existing Act has many drawbacks and is not comprehensive,” said Girija Vyas, chairperson of the NCW, talking to media persons here over the weekend. “The NCW has sent a draft bill to the ministry proposing certain amendments in the Act to make punishment for those who violating it more stringent and also to make it applicable to television channels,” she said.

Dr. Vyas said the Commission was perturbed over continuing indecent representation of women on television. The depiction of women as a sexual object should be stopped by law. The definition of indecent representation of woman would include the depiction in any manner of the figure of a woman, her form, her body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent, derogatory or denigrating, she pointed out.

“The amendment proposed by us includes extension of the applicability of the Act to the visual media and the computer, including internet and satellite related communication. A separate chapter on provisions relating to prohibition and penalties has also been proposed,” Dr.Vyas noted.

Terming the existing provisions for penalties in the case of violation of the Act, Dr.Vyas said the amendment would make the punishment for a term not less than two months, which may extend to two years. In the case of second or subsequent conviction the punishment might be six months which could extend to five years along with a fine of not less than Rs.10, 000 which might extend to Rs.5 lakhs, she observed.

Dr.Vyas said the Centre should set up an authority to govern and regulate the manner in which the women are represented in any document, published, broadcast or telecast. The Authority shall be headed by member secretary, NCW and should have representatives from Advertising Standards Council of India, Press Council of India, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and a member experienced in working on women’s issues, she pointed out.


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