legal news 30.09.09

Shopian: Bar disassociates from PIL

Srinagar: High Court Bar Association Wednesday disassociated itself from the Public Interest Litigation, moved by it in alleged rape and murder of Nelofer (22) and her sister-in-law Asiya (17), asserting nothing was expected from Central Bureau of Investigation.

Informing the High Court, monitoring the case, about the disinterest to plead the case, the KHBA President, Mian Qayoom, in his argument held that handing over the case to CBI, which took over probe from SIT on September 17, was against the directions of the High Court.

He maintained that there were no orders by the division bench, comprising of Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, to handing over the case to CBI.

“In its previous orders the court has no where permitted the government to hand over the case to the CBI. Court had only deferred the hearing and there were no orders to transfer it to other investigating agency,” he said, maintaining that it was tantamount to contempt of the court.          

Senior advocate, Mian Qayoom declared that there was no hope from CBI as, he said, the investigation agency wants to close the chapter forever.  

“They (CBI) have declared Asiya a virgin. It is what was expected from it as they just want to close the chapter,” he said.

The KHBA president, quoting a doctor of Forensic Science, also questioned the rationale behind the exhumation, stating that it was very unlike that anything would come up from autopsy after four months, as has been done incase of the Shopian victims.    

KHBA, which questioned the jurisdiction of CBI in Valley, also questioned the inclusion of Dr. Ghulam Qadir Khan, who accompanied AIIMS on behalf of Majlis-e-Mashawarat, spearheading the agitation for justice in Shopian.    

“His inclusion was against the directions of the Court as it had made mandatory for the investigation agency to select any doctor with the permission of the principal of Government medical College Srinagar,” he said.

Contending the arguments from KHBA, Advocate General Ishaq Qadiri held that the court orders were “misread” and that the government, he said, the government decision was legitimate. “The SIT was not functioning properly and it was after the court had fully agreed that the transferred the case was transferred to CBI,” he said.

 After hearing the arguments, the division bench said that the case would continue and listed it for hearing on October 13.


Posted on 30 Sep 2009 by Webmaster







Sewa files PIL opposing AMC’s move

TNN 30 September 2009, 02:21am IST

AHMEDABAD: The Swashrayi Mahila Seva Sangh of Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) has filed a PIL in Gujarat High Court opposing AMC’s decision to award contracts to collect domestic waste from door-to-door to private companies.

Members of the NGO have contended in the PIL that without providing women, who are doing the work at present, with proper alternative, the corporation can not snatch their jobs.

Moreover, they have also demanded a national-level policy on the issue of civic bodies awarding contract for collection of domestic waste and its disposal.

During a hearing on Tuesday before a division Bench headed by Chief Justice KS Radhakrishnan, it was contended by advocate Bhushan Oza on behalf of SEWA that poor women must not be dissociated from the work they have been doing traditionally. This particularly in absence of any planning that who would be the others to carry out this job.

AMC is expected to present its view on the issue on Wednesday.







Black-money: SC issues notice to Centre–SC-issues-notice-to-Centre


New Delhi, Sep 29 (PTI) The Supreme Court today sought a response from the Centre about the possibility of disclosing vital documents in connection with the issue of black money stashed in foreign banks amidst allegation that it was withholding them.

The court said government will be at liberty to decide which of the 21 documents sought by the petitioners could be declared as “classified” and which could be made public.

“If in the process of investigation, it (Centre) decides that it may not be possible disclose certain documents, it can do so,” a Bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan said issuing notice to the Centre by posting further hearing in December.

The court was hearing the PIL filed by eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani and others who have alleged government inaction in bringing back the black money from foreign banks.







Court asks CBI not to leak Shopian probe details

by IANS on September 30, 2009

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Wednesday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) not to share details of its probe into the rape and murder of two women near Shopian with the media but reveal it only to the court.

“The CBI should not reveal anything to the press about the investigations part of the Shopian case and should present status reports to the court,” a division bench of Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir observed.

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL), in which the local bar association is a party.

CBI counsel assured the bench that details of the investigation would be divulged only to the court through reports.

Nilofar Jan, 22, and her sister-in-law Asiya, Jan 17, were raped and murdered and their bodies were found near Shopian town of north Kashmir May 30. Villagers have alleged that security personnel had committed the crime.

The court strictures came after reports in a section of the media Wednesday that quoted forensic experts as saying that one of the victims died a virgin.

After the probe was handed over to the CBI, the two bodies were exhumed from the Shopian graveyard this week and forensic experts collected samples from the bodies.

Meanwhile, the bar association moved an application before the court saying it was dissociating itself from the PIL.

Bar association president Mian Qayoom said: “The CBI was selectively leaking misinformation about the Shopian case to the media to mess it up.”

The court fixed Oct 13 as the next day of hearing and observed that it would continue to monitor the investigations till the mystery was solved.








HC notice on PIL seeking to regularise PG courses

TNN 30 September 2009, 05:05am IST

CHENNAI: About a year after the Supreme Court upheld a Madras High Court order that the direct post-graduate degree programme offered by open universities cannot be considered on a par with regular PG degrees, a new public interest writ petition has been filed on the matter.

A division bench comprising justice D Murugesan and justice M Jaichandren has ordered notices on the PIL, filed by A Ramesh of Perungudi here.

In his petition, Ramesh said that the Tamil Nadu Open University had 142 study centres in the state and that lakhs of students were on its rolls. Noting that it was a government-established institution, the petitioner said the direct PG degree offered by the university is invalid as per the UGC norms.

Noting that the course was legal when the students joined it all these years, Ramesh said, adding that for the no fault of theirs it had now been rendered illegal. He said he, like many others, had completed his legal degree on the basis of the open university PG degree and that he was awaiting results.

He wanted the court to directed the authorities to regularise the open university degree, and ask the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to enrol him so that he could practice law in the state.








Cops keen to enforce HC pandal rules during Kali Puja

TNN 30 September 2009, 06:12am IST

KOLKATA: The norms set by Calcutta High Court for pandals could not be fully implemented during Durga Puja as the order was issued only a few days before the festival. Now, the cops are determined to implement the order during Kali Puja. Police commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti said a meeting would be held with puja organizers on October 9 to discuss the issue.

“We want to implement the order. Instructions are being issued to the organizers about the restrictions imposed by the court,” Chakrabarti said. On Wednesday, the police brass will hold a meeting with divisional deputy commissioners and officers-in-charge of all police stations about the new rules. Booklets on the restrictions will also be distributed among the organizers.

Police arrested 1,272 people during Durga Puja 1,119 were nabbed for disorderly conduct while the others were criminals with pending cases.







No ulterior motive in mobilising force during HC clash, says police counsel

TNN 30 September 2009, 05:02am IST

CHENNAI: Mobilisation of the police force in the Madras high court on February 19 was just a precautionary measure, and senior officials neither indulged in nor ordered any violence that day, senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan argued on Tuesday.

Commencing his submissions on behalf of 12 senior officials, Dhawan, however, extended an unconditional apology to the bench comprising Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi, and added that it was the government’s stand that those responsible for the violence would be dealt with in an appropriate manner.

Dismissing the allegations of conspiracy and malafide intention on the part of police officials to unleash violence on the court campus, the senior counsel said police would be held responsible if something happens to court. Dhawan said the court could lay down a set of guidelines for the police to follow in similar situations.

Noting that 10 of the 12 officials were transferred out of Chennai after the incident, the senior advocate said lawyers were not satisfied with the action as they wanted the officials to be humiliated’ further with punishments.

Dhawan submitted a long list of “incidents of misbehaviour” by advocates, besides the criminal cases registered against them since 2001, and said the threat perception was serious enough for the police to bring in additional reinforcements and maintain strength at 292 on the campus. Claiming that only 147 additional police personnel were brought to the campus on February 19, Dhawan asked, “are you saying 147 is too high and that they should not have been brought?”

In this regard, Dhawan wanted the court to consider two key questions: Whether the presence of police in the court premises was uninvited and what was the level of threat perception? Referring to the recent classification of court premises as high-risk targets, Dhawan said the February 17 incident wherein Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy was pelted with eggs too contributed to the escalation of threat perception.

“This is a situation which should never have happened. Punishing police officials or lawyers is not the way to solve it,” said Dhawan, adding that if the case was allowed to prolong further it would lead to further deterioration of atmosphere in courts. “Some balance has to be worked out. It must be borne in mind that there is a limit we can go in this particular case,” he added. Dhawan will continue his arguments on Wednesday.









HC asks dyeing units to obtain TNPCB approval within a month

TNN 30 September 2009, 05:01am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has asked scores of dyeing and bleaching units dotting the Amaravathi river in Karur district, to obtain statutory consent from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) within a time frame.

A division bench comprising justice SJ Mukhopadhaya and justice N Kirubakaran, passing orders on a petition filed by farmers affected by the release of untreated effluents into the river and cultivable lands, asked the unit-owners to apply for PCB consent within a month. The Board will take a decision on the matter within three months thereafter. The Board will also give sufficient publicity in the area for this initiative.

The judges further warned that if units now functioning without any PCB consent failed to file applications for consent within the stipulated time frame, the court would direct the closure of the units concerned.

The petitioner-association contended that dyeing and bleaching units were releasing effluents into the Amaravathi river and Amaravathi channel, besides lands in the villages of Karukkanpalayam and Chettipalayam. In January, two High Court-appointed committees – Monitoring Committee and Experts Committee — submitted their reports. They suggested various measures including establishing common effluent treatment plant and reverse osmosis facilities for the units.

Taking the rerport on file, the judges asked the PCB to go through the report and submit a time frame within which it proposed to take corrective measures.








Hosp bldg: Firm drags ex-min to HC

Swati Deshpande, TNN 30 September 2009, 02:40am IST

MUMBAI: Former Union minister A R Antulay has been dragged to the Bombay high court by a private company in a low-key, but high-stake legal battle over the construction of super-speciality hospital on a prime Worli plot.

The state had leased the land in 1981 at an annual rent of Re 1 for 99 years to a Mumbai-based public charitable trust-Konkan Unnati Mitra Mandal-which has Antulay as its president.

Milan Commercial Pvt Ltd, in a suit against Antulay and 22 others has challenged as “illegal” termination, by the trust, of a 2004 joint venture agreement that gave Asian Health Care Services Ltd the right to develop the hospital on the 7,000 sq-m plot. Milan, a 10% shareholder in Asian Health, is fighting to “redress a wrong done by the mandal and its nominee directors-AR Antulay and six others-in deliberately creating a situation to prevent Asian Health from constructing the super-speciality hospital”.

The mandal, denying that the termination of joint venture was illegal, said the suit was “misconceived on law and facts” and that it has already sought the appointment of an arbitrator.

The legal fight began last year, but has come up for a detailed hearing before the high court now. Milan’s case is that the mandal is keen on developing a large hospital and medical college in Worli. In 2004, after the charity commissioner gave Antulay’s trust the permission to develop the property with the help of Delhi-based Shristi Infrastructure Development Corporation and Kolkata-based Opulent Venture Capital, a joint venture was set up and Asian Health Care-with Antulay as its chairperson-was formed with the mandal having 50% shares.

Milan said Antulay was approached in November 2006 by the Hinduja Foundation, which expressed an interest in constructing the hospital. “Discussions with Hinduja Foundation were, however, kept concealed from the company. Antulay acted contrary to the best interest of the company,” the court was told. Later, in February 2008, the mandal terminated the joint venture and claimed that the land was never handed over to Asian Health.

Milan’s plea is that the land is shown as the fixed asset of Asian Health and it has asked the HC to allow it to be in possession of the land and to develop the hospital whose work has come to a virtual standstill because of the “delinquent directors who are nominees of the mandal”. It has challenged the third-party rights being created by Antulay’s trust which claims it entered into a MOU with two other companies last year.







HC shows the door to 799 ‘illegal’ staff of MCD library

Krishnadas Rajagopal

Posted: Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009 at 0057 hrs New Delhi:

Seven hundred and ninety-nine “illegal” employees of Hardayal Municipal Public Library, the Capital’s oldest library, have finally been shown the door after the Delhi High Court dismissed petitions filed by a section of employees.

The High Court called the mass appointment of these employees by then honorary secretary Ashok Jain “stinking, conceived in fraud and delivered in deceit”.

The decision to axe them would save the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) about Rs 7 crore annually.

Justice Sunil Gaur dismissed petitions of 96 ousted employees who claimed “individual innocence” about illegality of their selection. “Individual innocence has no place as fraud unravels everything,” he observed in a recent judgment. “The only proper course open to us is to set aside the entire selection.”

The court also directed the library to “compensate” within four months employees who possessed the required qualifications for their posts and had worked sincerely during their tenure.

There were violent protests after a High Court-ordered inquiry by retired Additional District and Sessions Judge G P Thareja in July 2009 found that Jain had fraudulently appointed 799 employees, from ages 15 to 50, towards non-existent permanent, temporary and contractual posts in the library. The appointments, between April 2006 and June 2007, were made with zero budgetary provision or sanction.

“The allocation of funds for expenditure of the library is made in the House of MCD,” Justice Gaur observed.

“There is nothing on record to show that any budget was prepared or financial sanction of MCD was taken prior to making appointments. An assessment of the financial implications of appointments indicates that there would be recurring expenditure of Rs 6 to 7 crore per year.

“There is no sanction from the Finance Department of the MCD for such expenditure.” The inquiry found that the new ‘employees’ did not get their salaries during 2006-2007 due to lack of funds.

Finance records revealed that MCD had given only the usual annual grant of Rs 1.1 crore for that fiscal, proving that no extra budgetary allocation was made.

The library, though, had hiked its annual budget demand to Rs 9 crore for the next year, 2007-2008.

Library facts
The library was set up in 1862 in Chandni Chowk and has 31 branches and over 1.5 lakh books in stock. Initially set up in the Town Hall, it was shifted to the present building and named after Lord Hardinge to commemorate his escape from a bomb attack at Chandni Chowk in 1912. In 1970, its name was changed to Hardayal Library, in honour of Lala Hardayal, who led the bomb attack on Lord Hardinge.







Fresh affidavit in Ishrat case, Centre ready for new probe


Posted: Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009 at 1657 hrs Ahmedabad:

The Centre on Wednesday filed a fresh affidavit in Gujarat High Court in the sensational Ishrat Jahan encounter case, saying it never justified the police action and indicating its readiness for an independent enquiry, a move aimed at pushing the Gujarat government on the defensive.

“The Centre is not concerned with the merits of the action taken by the Gujarat Police and anything stated in the (earlier) affidavit was not intended to support or justify the action of the state police,” the new affidavit says.

“If, on a proper consideration of the facts, it is found that an independent enquiry and investigation has to be carried out, the Centre would have no objection to this and would abide by the decision of the Court,” the affidavit filed by R V S Mani, Under Secretary (Internal Security) in the Ministry of Home Affairs, said.

Taking cover under the Union Home Ministry’s earlier affidavit that Ishrat and three others killed with her on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on July 15, 2004 had links to terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Gujarat government had sought to justify their killing in a police encounter. The Gujarat police had claimed that the four were planning major terror strikes, including a mission to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

However, Metropolitan Magistrate S P Tamang, who probed the encounter and submitted his report earlier this month, held the Ahmedabad police guilty of perpetrating the “cold blooded murder” of 19-year-old Ishrat, Javed Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, Amjad Ali alias Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani.

In his 243-page hand-written report, Tamang not only rubbished the police claim of their LeT links but also accused the then Police Commissioner K R Kaushik, Crime Branch Chief P P Pandey, his then deputy D G Vanzara, who is at present in jail in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh murder case and encounter specialist Tarun Borat of killing the four for personal interest like promotions and earning the appreciation of Chief Minister Modi.

However, rejecting Tamang’s report that it termed as “bad in law”, the Gujarat government moved the High Court, which stayed it following which Union Home Minister P Chidambaram slammed the state government saying it can’t justify the killings using the “shield” of central intelligence inputs.

“If a state government acts as though intelligence inputs are evidence or conclusive proof, I am sorry for that state government… Certainly no one suggested that based on an intelligence input you should kill someone,” Chidambaram had said.

The fresh affidavit filed by the MHA has said, “the Central Government in the said affidavit did not address any issue relating to the merits or otherwise of the police action”.

It was essentially concerned with the dealing of allegations relating to the intelligence inputs which were available with the Central Government and which are shared on a regular basis with the state Governments, it said.

“It should be clear to all that such inputs do not constitute conclusive proof and it is for the state government and the state police to act on such inputs,” the new affidavit said, adding “the Central Government is in no way concerned with such action nor does it condone or endorse any unjustified or excessive action.”

Meanwhile, reacting to the additional affidavit filed by the Centre, the Gujarat government dubbed it as a “nervous” action.

“Why is the UPA government so nervous in this matter? By filing the affidavit, it has virtually triggered a media trial instead of waiting for the decision of the Gujarat High Court which has formed a committee to investigate whether the incident was a fake encounter or not,” its spokesman Jaynarayan Vyas said.

“We would have liked if the four killed were caught alive so that we could have questioned them about the actual person behind the conspiracy of killing the Gujarat chief minister,” Vyas said.







Law to make essentials available at subsidised rates


Posted: Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009 at 1847 hrs Itanagar:

The UPA government would enact a law to make essential commodities available at a subsidised rate to six crore poor families in the country, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here on Wednesday.

“Making available 25 kg of rice or wheat at Rs 3 per kg to BPL families is the aim of the law. We have requested the state governments to ensure that the poor people get adequate food and essential commodities at a subsidised rate,” Mukherjee told reporters here.

“We are giving subsidy of Rs 131 per LPG cylinder and Rs 17 and Rs 31 per litre of diesel and kerosene oil, respectively,” Mukherjee said.

Those who were above the poverty line were compensated by the recent release of additional dearness allowance by the government and the private sector, he said.

Those not covered by the price index-based DA, he said, would be taken care of when the supply of commodities were enhanced to allow market forces to bring down the prices.

Asked about the reason for spurt in prices of essential commodities after the Lok Sabha election that has become an issue in poll-bound Arunachal Pradesh, Mukherjee attributed the rise in prices, particularly of rice and wheat, to increase in minimum support prices (MSP) effected by the UPA government to encourage farmers to produce more.







Court issues notice to police, Tihar on Kobad Gandhy’s plea


Posted: Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009 at 1632 hrs New Delhi:

A Delhi court on Wednesday sought response from city police and Tihar jail authority on arrested CPI (Maoist) Politburo member Kobad Gandhy’s plea which seeks a direction to them to refer him to a specialised hospital for treatment.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Bansal issued notice to city police and jail authority and posted the case for tomorrow for further hearing. Gandhy, who was arrested on September 21 and sent to judicial custody till October 6, also pleaded that he should be provided a copy of the FIR lodged by police against him. Gandhy, who is in charge of spreading the banned organisation’s influence in urban areas, has been found suffering from prostrate cancer and cardiac problems.

He is currently lodged in Tihar jail. An alumni of the prestigious Doon School, Gandhy was in the top echelons of the erstwhile CPI (ML-PW) from 1981 and continued as Central Committee member in CPI (Maoist). He was elected to the CPI (Maoist) Politburo in 2007.








Delhi wins case against Maya govt, to acquire 21 acres for key Games route: UP link road

Express News Service

Posted: Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009 at 0050 hrs New Delhi:

The Delhi government has finally won its case against the Uttar Pradesh government on acquiring 21 acres on the Delhi-UP border for the UP link road.

The Delhi government had acquired the land using a special Act as the UP government was not responding to its requests.

In reply to the acquisition, the UP government filed a petition in the High Court, which was dismissed on Tuesday. The decision has given a fresh lease of life to the project as the work is slated to begin this week itself.

The development of the link road has been planned to decongest the prime junction near the Games Village. Under the project, two flyovers will be constructed and the existing six-lane road will be widened to eight lanes. While the first flyover with a single carriageway will cover the stretch at Mayur Vihar Phase-I traffic intersection, the second flyover with a dual carriageway will do away with two traffic intersections — one at Samachar Apartments and the other near DND toll road. There will be a cycle track and footpath on either side of the road.

The Rs 334-crore project is essential for the Commonwealth Games, according to the Delhi government.

The Public Works Department (PWD) plans to add two more lanes to the existing six-lane road and make it signal-free for smooth traffic flow. It needs, rather quickly, 21 acres of land running along the western stretch of this four-kilometre corridor to construct it in time for the Games.

“The UP government was not ready to give up the land till Delhi returned the favour by handing over land close to Okhla. This land is technically under the UP Revenue department but has been earmarked by the Urban Development Ministry of the Centre for construction of a freight depot,” a senior Delhi government official said.

Despite several letters shot off to the UP chief secretary, the government refused to oblige. That was when the Delhi government revoked a special Act to acquire the land. The acquisition was to begin on Tuesday.

Following approval from the DUAC and the DDA Technical Committee in June 2008, the project was eventually finalised in February 2008 after being in the pipeline since 2006.

The project deadline is April 2010.








Maya Govt ‘misled & confused’ SC on statues row, allege affidavit

Posted: Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009 at 1848 hrs New Delhi:

The Mayawati goverment in Uttar Pradesh “misled” and “confused” the Supreme Court and filed a “false” affidavit denying further construction activities at the memorials for BSP founder Kanshiram and other Dalit leaders, a fresh counter-affidavit stated on Wednesday.

In the counter-affidavit, Mithilesh Kumar, one of the petitioners on whose petition the construction was stayed by the apex court on Sepember 8, charged that the recent affidavit filed by the state government had deliberately coined new names for some of the structures to claim that they were not the subject matter of writ petitions in the Allahabad High Court.

The apex court had earlier termed “unsatisfactory” the UP government’s affidavit which, while denying any fresh constructions, also offered “most profuse apology for any transgression.”

“To mislead this hon’ble court and to create confusion, the state through its Chief Secretary has split one composite site into different projects and coined new names for them in an attempt to show that the projects with newly coined names are not covered under the writ petitions and on that basis continue construction at the disputed sites in the teeth of restrain orders,” the counter-affidavit stated.

According to it, Bhagidari Bhawan, Library, Police Chowki, are all part of the Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Sthal on which the apex court had stayed all further construction activities. It was, however, alleged the state government went ahead with the construction, inviting the wrath of a bench comprising Justices B N Aggrawal and Aftab Alam.








Court acquits three accused in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots


Posted: Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009 at 1742 hrs New Delhi:

A Delhi court acquitted three persons accused of leading a mob that lynched a man during 1984 anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Additional Sessions Judge Pinki acquitted Jagdish Singh, Sajjan Singh and Ishwar Singh, who were charged with leading a mob which allegedly killed Gurbakshish Singh outside his residence in Paschim Vihar locality on November one, 1984, during the riots that followed the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.

The police had registered an FIR almost eight years after the incident under various sections of IPC dealing with rioting, looting, arson and murder.

Father of the victim, Swaran Singh Bhatia, who was forced to leave the country after the incident, had come from Canada last year to depose in the case.

Bhatia had testified that the mob, which had besieged his house, was not stopped by the policemen who remained mute spectators during the entire episode.









26/11 trial: Kasab confessed to magistrate, wanted to inspire others


Posted: Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009 at 1515 hrs Mumbai:

A city Magistrate told the 26/11 trial court that prime accused Ajmal Amir Kasab had confessed before her voluntarily, his role in the terror attacks, saying he wanted others to draw inspiration from his confession.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Rama Vijay Sawant Vagule said Kasab was produced before her on February 17 where he said he wanted to confess.

He was given 24 hours to reconsider if he wished to confess, she said.

“On February 18, when Kasab was produced again before me, he reiterated that he wanted to confess. He showed no remorse for his crime and told me that he wanted to confess so that others may derive inspiration from his action,” Vagule told the Court.

“I also asked him whether there was any promise or force exerted upon him to confess and I also reminded him again that it was not obligatory on his part to confess and also that it would be used against him in the trial for sentencing him,” the Magistrate who deposed as a witness told Public Prosecutor Ujwal Nigam.

The Magistrate was examined as a witness because Kasab had retracted his confession saying that he had made it under police duress.

“I also conducted a physical examination on Kasab and found that he had two injuries on his wrist which he said he had sustained during firing in the attacks, the Magistrate said.

Kasab was again given 48-hours to reconsider and was produced before the Magistrate on February 20. He once again reiterated that he wanted to confess voluntarily but since the Court time was over, he was asked to come the next day.

Finally, his confession was recorded on February 21 when he was produced without handcuffs before the Magistrate, the Court was told.

“I enquired from Kasab that whether 48-hours time was sufficient and he said yes. I also enquired whether anybody from the police had met him in the last 48-hours to which he replied in the negative. He was once again reminded that the confession could go against him,” the Magistrate told Judge M L Tahiliyani.

“After questioning Kasab, I was satisfied that he was ready to confess without any force and was doing so voluntarily. His confession was then recorded by me,” she said.

Since some words were in Urdu, the confession was recorded in question-answer form, she said. All pages have signatures of Kasab and the Magistrate.

The confession of Kasab was shown to the Magistrate and she said that it was the same confession that she had recorded that day.

The move to examine the Magistrate is considered significant because Kasab had retracted his confession in the trial court saying his statement was recorded under duress and that he had not given a voluntary confession.

The Prosecution is relying on confession made by Kasab before the Magistrate and upon the guilt plea made by Kasab mid-way during the trial.

However, in the guilt plea Kasab has not accepted his entire role. For instance, he has admitted to have fired at the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus (CST) but said he was only following the instructions of Abu Ismail who was leading the team.

Kasab has also not admitted in the guilt plea that he had planted a bomb in a taxi and said it was Ismail who had done it. Besides, Kasab denied having fired at slain police officers Ashok Kamte, Hemant Karkare and Vijay Salaskar.

However, in the confession, Kasab had admitted his role in the CST attack, firing at the police officers and planting bomb in the taxi. Therefore, it is important to examine the Magistrate, Nikam had said.

Kasab had also bared the role of Lashkar-e-Taiba in his confession saying that LeT chief Hafeez Muhammed Saeed, the outfit chief of operations Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhavi and its member Abu Hamza had trained the accused in various parts of Pakistan in military exercises and intelligence training.

Kasab had said that Sayeed had told them that time had come for ‘jehad’ and their ultimate goal of capturing Jammu and Kashmir could be achieved by attacking India.

They were told to go to Mumbai and indiscriminately fire at people killing as many as they could. Mumbai was the target because it is a financial hub and attracts foreign tourists.

The attack, in which over 160 people, including some foreigners were killed, was a proxy war on India and aimed at destabilising the country, Nikam said.

Kasab is involved in seven cases– murder of crew of marine vessel ‘Kuber’, including its navigator Amarsingh Solanki, CST firing, Cama Hospital firing, gunning down three police officers, taxi bomb explosion in Vile Parle, theft of Skoda car and a policeman’s murder at Chowpatty.

Kasab’s team mates, killed by security armed forces, were involved in firing at Taj Mahal Hotel, Oberoi Hotel, Leopold Cafe, Nariman House and the taxi bomb blast at Mazgaon. Kasab has been charged with conspiracy in these cases.








Ready to tolerate other woman to save marriage: Lady to HC


Posted: Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009 at 1055 hrs Mumbai:

‘The other woman’ in husband’s life normally becomes a ground for seeking divorce, but in a poignant case, a woman told High Court recently that she was ready to tolerate husband’s affair to save her marriage.

The husband had obtained divorce from family court, alleging that the wife and her parents were treating him with cruelty. But the Bombay High Court, in the order last week, cancelled the divorce.

Deepa and Sandip (names changed) got married in 2002.

Sandeep filed suit for divorce in the family court last year. He argued that Deepa’s parents wanted him to become a ‘Ghar-jamai’, and live with them.

He also argued that Deepa was too suspicious. Deepa, on the other hand, argued that he was having an affair with another woman, and that was why he wanted divorce.

The family court upheld Sandeep’s case in May this year, saying that suspecting the husband’s character in this way amounted to cruelty, and granted him divorce.

Deepa filed appeal in the Bombay High Court, seeking to quash the divorce.

Her lawyer told the court that in order to save the marital relationship, and for the sake of minor daughter, “she was ready to tolerate husband’s relationship” with the other woman.

The High Court, while reversing the divorce order, accepted that Deepa had enough evidence to prove husband’s extra-marital affair.

In the given circumstances, it was natural for the wife to make inquiries about husband and to become suspicious the High Court held; adding that this did not amount to cruelty.

Before Family court granted divorce, Deepa had also filed a complaint of assault against her in-laws under Domestic Violence Act. Sandeep had argued that this complaint was false, and this too amounted to cruelty on her part.

But High Court said that filing a criminal case – which was prima facie genuine – would not amount to cruelty.

The division bench led by Justice P B Majmudar restored the marriage.








Moily defends Govt decision to drop case against Quattrocchi


Posted: Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009 at 1530 hrs London:

Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily has backed the Centre’s decision to drop the case against Ottavio Quattrocchi admitting that there was nothing left to do in the case.

“The case is going on since very long…If Quattrocchi could be brought back or any conviction could be held… and the case could be pursued with a positive result. All this has been examined. But ultimately it was found that nothing was positive…,” Moily was quoted as saying by the TV channels.

Pointing out to a court ruling in 2002 which termed the case as “a waste of time”, Moily said the then ruling BJP-led NDA coalition had not filed any appeal in the case during its tenure.

The Law Minister also lauded the “positive role” of the CBI in the case, an issue which the opposition alleges that the UPA government had misused the intelligence agency.

“There was no appeal at all filed during the NDA regime. Thereafter, the case went to the CBI which has taken all together 22 years… They have been playing a positive role,” he said.

Rejecting opposition’s charges of protecting Quattrocchi, he said, “it is not a question of protecting. We are not interested, we are least interested in Quattrocchi…”

“The Attorney General, the Solicitor General and our law officers and also the CBI, everybody feels that there is no basis for proceeding. There is no point in proceeding just to satisfy the opposition.”







HC relief for JNU seat aspirant

TNN 29 September 2009, 11:44pm IST

NEW DELHI: Delhi High Court has directed the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to admit a student whose qualifying exam results were delayed. Nikhil Jain moved the HC after he was denied admission in JNU.

Nikhil had cleared the JNU entrance test in April 2008 and deposited the fee. But since one of the papers of the qualifying examination was pending, he requested the university to defer his admission to the winter session. The university had accepted his plea, but when Jain approached it after clearing the qualifying examination, he was denied admission.

Coming to the rescue of Jain, Justice Anil Kumar ruled in his favour and directed the JNU administration to grant admission to the petitioner in MA (political science) course from 2009-10.

The JNU counsel had argued that the student had appeared in one of the supplementary papers for the qualifying exam after August 14, 2008, and was thus not eligible for admission. Jain, however, placed on record the certificate from the principal of Sri Aurobindo College stating that he had appeared in all the BA third year exams before August 14, 2008, though the result of the supplementary examination was declared after that date.

“The plea of the university that the petitioner had appeared in the qualifying examination of the graduation course after August 14, 2008, is based on their own assumption. Merely because the petitioner was placed in the supplementary for one paper of the BA course, it could not be assumed by the respondent that the petitioner had not appeared in the papers of qualifying examination prior to the due date,” the judge noted while allowing Jain’s plea.

“If a candidate is placed in the supplementary in one of the papers, it cannot be stated that the candidate has failed in the qualifying examination. The decision to cancel the deferred admission on the assumption that the petitioner did not appear in all the papers of qualifying examination prior to the due date is irrational and not based on sound reason rather no reason has been disclosed,” the court said.








HC orders status quo on Sirsaim Communidade land

HC orders status quo on Sirsaim Communidade land
The persons who were allotted plots by the Communidade of Sirsaim have now got themselves into deep trouble. A Division Bench of Bombay High Court at Goa on Tuesday directed authorities concerned to maintain status quo in respect of construction in plots allotted “illegally” by Sirsaim Communidade.
Altogether, the ex-managing committee of Sirsaim Communide which remained in office for about ten years – allotted 306 plots in sixteen survey numbers, without the approval of the government.
The Court has also directed the administrator to submit a status report on constructions done in plots allotted illegally by Sirsaim Communidade.
North Goa Collector Mihir Vardhan, in his inquiry report submitted to the High Court, had reported that financial fraud running into crores of rupees has been committed by the old managing committee of Sirsaim Communidade.
The counsel for the Administrator, S R Rivonkar submitted that the report has clearly revealed plots were allotted illegally. As per the Collector’s report, in some of the plots, houses have already been constructed, while in other cases, constructions are in progress.
He urged the court to issue an appropriate order under the light of the collector’s report indicting old managing committee headed by Agnelo Fernandes.
The Division Bench of Justices S B Deshmukh and N A Britto was hearing a petition filed by Rantnakar Parab and others.
The petitioners were nominated by the government on managing committee of Sirsaim Communidade after new committee that came to be elected for a triennium 2007-2010 did not take charge and old committee continued in the office.
The managing committee headed by Fernandes was first elected for a triennium 1998-2001 and later for 2001-2004.
For the next triennium 2004-2007, a new committee was elected however it did not take the charge and old committee continued to hold sway.
In March 2008, the government approved the proposal to dissolve the managing committee elected for triennium 2007-2010 (for not taking the charge) and nominated a new committee under Article 41 of the Code of Communidade.
However, this decision of the government was challenged by old managing committee of Agnelo Fernandes and obtained stay on the operation of the government.
Aggrieved by this situation, Parab approached the High Court. The ex-managing committee had raised its objections as to allegations in the petition but in the meantime pursuant to today’s court order, the parties concerned will have to maintain status quo.
While the “fraud” committed by Sirsaim Communidade runs into crores of
rupees, the government, as reported by Herald, so far has managed to recover only Rs 10.95 lakhs from fraudulent committee.
“It is evident from findings and analysis, the extend of financial fraud is running into crores of rupees. The figures indicated are only approximate.
It is necessary that the erring committee members disclose all the facts and figures about all the illegal transactions carried out, to the court in order to uncover the exact extend of misappropriation or diversion of money. 
The Rs 10.95 lakh recovered from them constitutes only the
tip of iceberg” observed District Collector in his report. The matter would be next heard on November 5.








Banks may have to return funds meant for disabled

Dhananjay Mahapatra , TNN 30 September 2009, 03:20am IST

NEW DELHI: Banks pursuing defaulting borrowers is common. But, in the Supreme Court on Tuesday the borrowers turned the tables on all nationalised banks, which to start with may have to pay Rs 50 lakh each.

It’s the doggedness of the Association of Borrowers of Karnataka which appears to have paid off in taking to task the financial institutions and banks, who have been pocketing an estimated Rs 724 crore annually by rounding up interest tax collections since 1993.

Petitioner association’s counsel Kiran Suri drew the attention of a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan to a 2004 judgment of the SC directing the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to recover this money, now totalling nearly Rs 10,000 crore, to create a corpus for utilisation in implementation of the Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999.

She said the SC had realised that the recovery process would take time and had hence directed the nationalised banks to pay Rs 50 lakh each which would constitute the initial funds for the implementation of the Act.

When additional solicitor general Indira Jaising conceded that it was not for the government to collect the money due from the banks, the Bench issued notice to 27 nationalised banks seeking their response as to why they have not complied with the 2004 verdict of the apex court.

In 2004, the SC had directed: “Despite the progressive stance of the court and the initiatives taken by the government, the implementation of the Disabilities Act is far from being satisfactory. The disabled are victims of discrimination in spite of beneficial provisions of the Act.”

“We are therefore of the opinion that in the larger interest a fund for the aforementioned purpose be created with the amount at the hands of the Union of India and the appellants and other concerned banks, which may be managed by the CAG,” it had said.

“We would request the CAG to effect recoveries of all the excess amount realised by the Union of India by way of interest tax and interest by the banks and other financial institutions and create the corpus of such fund therefrom. The appellants and other concerned banks are also hereby directed to contribute to the extent of Rs 50 lakh each in the said fund,” the SC had said in its 2004 judgment.

The CJI-headed Bench said at least the banks should have paid up Rs 50 lakh to start with. “Now individual banks have to be pursued and the money due from them have to be extracted,” the Bench observed.








SC temporarily suspends HC order

Spl Correspondent
 NEW DELHI, Sept 29 – In a major relief to the officiating and former chief executive officers of Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), Preetom Saikia and Ashish Bhutani, respectively, besides a builder Guna Tamuly Phukan, the Supreme Court today temporarily suspended Gauhati High Court’s detention orders. The trio heaved a sigh of relief, when a three-member Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India, K G Balakrishnan responding to their petition decided to give them temporary relief until the next date of hearing.

The case is likely to come up for further hearing for admittance and issue of notices after the ensuing vacations. The complainant of the case had not filed any caveat in the apex court and Assam Government too was absent, as it was not issued any notice.

All the three indicted by the Gauhati High Court, hired top-notch lawyers to defend them in the case that has created ripples in Assam. Attorney General, Goolam E Vahanvati, Soli Sorabjee and Mukul Rohtagi represented Bhutani and Saikia besides the builder.

Their counsel made an urgent mentioning before the CJI, seeking relief.

Bhutani and Saikia’s counsel, the Attorney General contended that a demolition drive had been undertaken by the GMDA following the High Court’s Order. Saikia, on the other hand, pleaded that he was not with GMDA, when the High Court’s order was issued and had joined as CEO later.

Last week, a Division Bench of the Gauhati High Court of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Amitava Roy in a contempt case held Bhutani, Saikia and a city-based builder Phukan, guilty of wilful and deliberate violation of the orders passed by it, sentencing each with simple imprisonment of two weeks. The Court also imposed a fine of Rs. 25,000 to each of the three.

The contempt proceeding has been registered on May 18, 2007 on the basis of a representation to the Chief Justice by Ashok Medhi, a resident of Dighalipukhuri East, alleging deliberate violation of its earlier orders passed in response to a Writ Petition.

The Court had on September 21, 2006 directed the builder to demolish the construction, which is made at sixth floor of the apartment situated at F C Road, Uzan Bazaar, Guwahati, within a stipulated period and also directed GMDA to make periodical inspection to ensure demolition of the construction and to submit status report to the High Court.

Subsequently on December 7, 2006, the writ petition was listed before the court and the court among others took into consideration the affidavit filed by the GMDA professing that the inspection of the work of dismantling of the sixth floor was carried out by it in terms of the order. The inspection report was laid before the court.

However, the Court acting on the basis of the representation initiated contempt proceedings and appointed an Advocate Commission for inspection of the building and to submit a report.

The Advocate Commission reported existence of some portion of the roof of the sixth floor including water tanks. The report accompanied by photographs of the building, apparently showed existence of structures on the sixth floor of the building.

On the basis of the Report, the court held that its orders were wilfully disobeyed.







Who watches the watchmen?

29 September 2009, 11:57am IST
It has been a long, hard summer for the judiciary and there is no respite on the horizon. From a heated debate about the declaration of judges’ assets, it has stumbled directly into an ugly controversy regarding the elevation of P D Dinakar. As reported in The Hindu on September 16, a letter of complaint by several lawyers from the Chennai Bar has made allegations against him relating to “land grabbing and other irregularities”.

Cue the claims and counter-claims . The report reveals that eminent lawyers like Fali S Nariman and Shanti Bhushan have weighed in on the complainants’ side. Dinakaran himself has denied the allegations of course, saying, as quoted by Nagendar Sharma and Satya Prakash in Hindustan Times on September 17, “I come from a rich agrarian family… My legal career is an open book and I do not need to indulge in such wrongdoings”.

The Dravida Kazagham and certain advocates of the Madras High Court have mounted a more unusual defence on his behalf. A September 23 Financial Express report reveals that that they “have counter-charged that he was a victim of a vilification campaign, for being ‘a South Indian and a Dalit’.”

The most interesting aspect of the entire affair is the way it has gone beyond a specific allegation of corruption to re-examine judicial accountability as a whole. As Vinay Sitapati points out in the Indian Express on September 21, “a collegium of the five senior-most Supreme Court judges shortlist nominees themselves, then decide among these names. There is no political oversight – either executive or legislative – nor is there a forum for the public to air grievances”.

Nariman has been particularly vocal, raising several important issues in an interview with Shekhar Gupta carried in the Indian Express on September 21. Among the more troubling points he makes is that “the greatest problem with our courts, high courts particularly, is the problem of caste. If you are a lawyer belonging to a particular caste appearing before a judge of such and such caste, you will either lose or win depending upon your caste”. He goes on to push the idea of a judicial ombudsman as a check built into the system to “inquire into the complaints against High Court judges and Supreme Court judges. Keep it to himself, quietly consult the Chief Justice, take his views and move in a particular direction”. There are opponents to this point of view, such as former CJI J S Verma. Ajmer Singh reports in Mail Today on September 22 that Verma believes an ombudsman would challenge the CJI’s authority, and instead recommends a “national judicial commission, headed by the vice- president and with members from the executive and judiciary”. While the collegium debates what to do about Dinakaran, the only consensus seems to be that there are serious lacunae in the Indian judicial system.







KPT land scam: Shipping Ministry, Trust get High Court notice

Hiral Dave

Posted: Sep 29, 2009 at 0109 hrs IST

Rajkot Two years after a multi-crore land scam rocked the Kandla Port Trust (KPT) in Gandhidham, the Delhi High Court recently issued notices to the Ministry of Shipping and the KPT in this regard. The notices are returnable by October 9.

Taking cognisance of a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), the court, on September 9, also asked the KPT not to execute or renew any lease on the land in question further. The Trust, the biggest public sector port in India, handles 70 million metric tonnes cargo annually.

At the heart of the controversy is nearly 16,000 acres owned by the KPT. It was leased out to a few salt companies at throw away prices four decades ago.

“The scam has cost the KPT several crores. The land had been exploited for 40 years for salt production, which is not even a port-related activity. According to the Shipping ministry rules, the land can be used only for port related activities,” said Pranav Sachdeva, a senior lawyer on behalf of CPIL.

Even as the lease period expired in 2004, the companies allegedly continue to use the land, causing the KPT a loss of Rs 200 crore each year, which, incidentally, is even more than the Trust’s turnover of Rs 180 crore. The PIL says the land was leased out to 26 companies, which are owned by a group of some six families.

The KPT has been charging only Rs 145 per acre/per annum, even though rules say the lease should be 6 per cent of the cost of the land. The current price of this land in bank documents filed seeking loans by these companies was put at Rs 1.78 lakh per acre.

This means the annual lease amount should be at least Rs 7,000 per acre/per annum. This suggests the KPT has been incurring a loss to the tune of Rs 6,855 per acre/per annum

In 2007, the then deputy chairman and chief vigilance officer of KPT, Manoranjan Kumar, had unearthed the scam, and brought it to the notice of the Shipping ministry and the chief vigilance commission. Later, the ministry asked four officials —Manoranjan, the then chairman A Janardan Rao, financial advisor A Krishnan and chief accounts officer A Gadakar — to proceed on leave. After this, neither the ministry nor the CVC took any action. Manoranjan, who was on leave without pay, then moved the Central Administration Tribunal (CAT) in March. The CAT ordered the Shipping ministry to pay him compensation, besides berating the CVC for not shielding an honest officer.

The next hearing on the petition by a team of senior lawyers led by Prashant Bhushan is on October 14. The petitioners have requested a probe by a Special Investigation Team.






NHRC team may probe Vadodara arrests

Maulik Buch / DNA

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 9:13 IST

Vadodara: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is likely to send a team to the city to probe the arrests, and alleged torture, of five youths on the charges of planning to bomb visarjan yatra (immersion procession) of Ganesh Puja early this month, by the local police.

This was stated at a media briefing in New Delhi, organised by social activist Shabnam Hashmi and her associates. After the arrests, the city police had claimed that it had recovered country-made rocket launchers, bombs and explosives from the youths.

The family members of the arrested accused have demanded independent investigations by the NHRC and National Minorities Commission. They have alleged that the youths were illegally detained and forced to confess their involvement in the case.

Shabnam Hashmi told DNA that the NHRC has agreed to send a team to Gujarat soon to investigate the matter. According to sources, the team is expected to come to Vadodara within a week.

The Vadodara police had announced to have seized desi rocket launchers, sutli bombs and explosives from Hathikhana on September 7. The arrests were said to have been made on the basis of information received in course of investigations into a case of bomb explosion that had taken place at Hathikhana on October 8 last year.

The police claimed that one Zahir Abbas Amruddin Sheikh was picked up by them in connection with the bomb explosion. During interrogation, the police got clues about arms and ammunition. Further investigations revealed the involvement of Usmangani alias Nawab Abdul Gaffar Ansari, Amin Razzak Shah, Iqbal alias Ikku Majidbhai Shaikh and Mustaq Ismail Shaikh in the plan to bomb the visarjan yatra.

The police arrested them and took them on 12-day judicial remand for detailed investigations. Currently, the youths are in judicial custody. According to a release by the NGO, Anhad, a team comprising of social activist Shabnam Hashmi, Harsh Mander, Rahul Rastrapal and others met the family members of the accused, who claimed that the youths had no criminal record.

They were allegedly picked up by people in civvies, sometimes using force and sometimes under false pretext. They were taken blindfold to a farm and subjected to torture. The family members said they were not informed about the whereabouts of the youths. They searched for the youths in various police stations and hospitals.

Then, a local leader took a delegation to the ACP, Rakesh Sharma. It was then that they were told that the youths were safe and in police custody, though even then it was not divulged where they had been kept or why they were picked up.

According to the families of the youths, in late evening the same day, some parents were asked to meet their sons at the police station. They saw them from a distance and were not allowed to talk to them. It was visible from their appearance that they were badly tortured; some of them could not even walk on their own. The police took them on varying periods of police remand, followed by judicial custody.

While the youths were allegedly threatened with dire consequences if they told the judge about torture, the families were asked not to contact anyone; else, more cases would be slapped on the youths.

When Rahul Rashtrapal, Dushyantbhai, Sachin Pandya and Shabnam Hashmi went to the Vadodara jail and met two of the youths, Zaheer and Iqbal, on September 25, the two narrated in detail how they were tortured.






From London to ‘torture’ chamber


New Delhi, Sept. 29: Families of five Muslim men picked up for an alleged plot to bomb Vadodara have accused Gujarat police of illegal detention and torture.

One of them, a tailor who returned from London a month ago, was given electric shocks all over his body and couldn’t walk when relatives met him at a police station, his family claimed.

The allegations come close on the heels of a magistrate’s report that said state police killed a 19-year-old college girl in a staged encounter five years ago, though Gujarat High Court later stayed the report.

The five men — all from Fatehpura Hathikhana, a lower-middle-class, Muslim-dominated area in Vadodara city — were picked up days before Ganesh Visarjan on September 3 and the Gujarat bypolls a week later, and booked under the arms act and the explosives act.

Their families have moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), alleging that all five had been kept in illegal custody for several days and tortured before being produced in court. None of them had a police record.

The minority panel has sent a team of officials to Vadodara to probe the allegations.

Tailor Iqbal Hussain, 40, was whisked away by four men, allegedly cops. Zahir Abbas, 22, was picked up the same day and detained for four days.

“He had just come back from offering namaz on September 2 when a man came and said he was wanted downstairs. He went outside and as soon as he crossed the road, he was manhandled by at least 20-25 men who pushed him into a waiting car. For four days we didn’t know anything about his whereabouts,” said Zahir’s mother Rehmat Abbas.

“It was on September 6 that we finally met him. He couldn’t speak. He just told me, ‘Amma, mere liye duwa karo (Mother, pray for me). His lips had swollen and he had to be carried by two policemen.”

Mustaq Ismail Shaeikh, 34, was picked up on September 1, Amin Razak Shah, 39, on September 2, and Usmangani Ansari, 35, on September 3.

All the arrests were shown to be on September 6, a day before Vadodara police commissioner Rakesh Asthana told a media conference that the five were part of a group that had planned to bomb areas in the city during Ganesh Visarjan.

The commissioner said the five were arrested with rocket launchers and sutli bombs, but none of these was on display.

Shabnam Hashmi, a social activist who met Iqbal and Zahir in jail, said the duo told her they were taken to a farmhouse outside the city and tortured. “Iqbal said two men stood on his thighs, legs stretched wide, and beat him up brutally. He was given electric shocks from the waist down.

“Zahir said he was stripped naked and given electric shocks all over his body. They were beaten up with lathis and forced to sign confessional statements.”

The families of the five later travelled to Delhi to take their grievances to the NHRC and NMC.

“We got threat calls asking us not to go to Delhi. We thought of not going but changed our mind,” said Usmangani’s brother Ghansar.








– Advocate Nibedita Roye answers your queries


Q: In June 2008, we rented out the ground floor of our house as per a registered leave and licence agreement for 11months and 29 days, with two months’ notice period on either side. Our agreement period ended in May, 2009. When asked about renewal, the tenant said that he’d vacate the house in a month or two. However, till date he has not vacated the premises. He has also stopped paying his rent since August, citing monetary difficulties. How can we get the premises vacated?

Rajat Dutta, Calcutta

A:A: You can send your licencee a notice to quit on grounds that the licence period as stipulated in the agreement has terminated. Thereafter, you may file a suit for eviction against him as per the provisions of the Transfer Of Property Act, 1882.

Q:My tenant is a 90-year-old man whose wife has expired. His son lives with him. After my tenant dies, if I issue a rent receipt in his son’s name, will that mean that I have accepted him as a tenant? Can I file an eviction suit against the son immediately?

Debashish Ghosh, Calcutta

A: Whether you recognise your tenant’s son as a tenant or not, according to the provisions of The West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act 1997, he will inherit the tenancy of his father since he has been residing with him and can remain on the premises for five years from the time of his father’s demise. Hence, you cannot immediately file an eviction suit.

Q:My sister, who has no children, has bought a flat in a co-operative housing society in West Bengal.She has made my son the only nominee for membership to the housing society, despite the fact that her husband and other legal heirs are alive. I would like to know if the nominee will have undisputed ownership of the flat after her demise or will her legal heirs have to forgo their claim to the said property?

Keka Mitra, Calcutta

A: According to the West Bengal Co-operative Societies Rules, 1984, a member of a co-operative society may nominate, in writing, any person belonging to his family to whom the share shall be transferred upon his death. But if the member has no such family he may nominate any other person. The term “family” includes sons and daughters. Since your sister has no children she can nominate your son. But since her husband is alive he may challenge the nomination. However, it may not stand in a court of law since the co-operative society has accepted her nomination.

Please send your legal queries with your name and address to Legal FAQs, The Telegraph (Features), 6 Prafulla Sarkar Street, Calcutta 700001. Or email us at









Despite the Supreme Court guidelines on safety regulations for schools, few institutions have implemented them. Devlina Ganguly reports

A needless tragedy occurred in Delhi recently when five girls were killed and 27 others seriously injured in a stampede at their school. Heavy rains had flooded the premises of the school and a rumour went around that there was a short circuit somewhere. Panic-stricken children rushed down the narrow staircase in order to get out, and five lives were lost in the ensuing stampede.

Of course, this is not the first time that such a tragedy has occurred in an Indian school because of a poor crisis management system. In July 2004 a fire swept through a school in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, killing 93 children. The building caught fire while students were sitting in their thatched-roof classrooms. What made matters worse was that the school had only one small exit.

The country does, however, have laws that make it mandatory for schools to implement proper safety regulations. For instance, the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, lays down that a school building has to be an “all-weather” one (which will withstand extremes of weather) and that there should be “barrier-free access” to the school.

What’s more, in a significant ruling in April 2009, the Supreme Court ordered all government and private schools to instal fire-extinguishing equipment within six months. The apex court also ordered all schools to adhere to the safety measures prescribed in the National Building Code of India in 2005. The code provides detailed instructions on how to construct fire-safe buildings. Tables and drawings set standards for schools in particular, including the number and types of fire extinguishers, the quantity of water necessary for a proper fire fighting system and other safety measures.

The ruling came in response to a writ petition filed in the Supreme Court in the aftermath of the Kumbakonam tragedy in 2004. The petition had sought that the state should ensure that a government-certified engineer visits each school at least once in two years and issues a ‘stability certificate’ if the building is found to be in good condition. It also demanded that schools should restrict the number of students they admit in accordance with the facilities available.

At that time the apex court had observed, “Flagrant violation of school safety regulations continues in the entire country even four decades after the government pledged to enforce them when a private school building in Madurai caved in, killing 35 school girls and injuring 137.”

As the stampede in the Delhi school shows, little has changed since then. Following the incident, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Delhi government and other state governments for their utter disregard for the safety of students. “Most schools do not have emergency exits,” a two-judge bench said.

One of the guidelines set down by the Supreme Court in April this year was that every school should carry out a structural evaluation periodically. However, Malini Bhagat, principal, Mahadevi Birla Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Calcutta, says, “Till date, no external authority has come to inspect our school. We have our own internal body that advises us on the safety guidelines.”

The Supreme Court had also ordered that regular fire drills be conducted in schools so that students know what to do in case of a fire. But experts point out that even this is not being followed in most schools. Says Shireen Vakil Miller, director, advocacy and policy, Save the Children, an organisation that fights for children’s rights in India, “With the exception of some elite private schools, most schools have not undertaken proper safety measures for children. For instance, how often are children required to do fire drills in schools? This should be a mandatory exercise once a term.”

In the UK, for instance, safety measures in schools are mandatory and the principal is required to inform the board of governors about fire drills, how long they took, and other relevant details.

But in our country, despite the Supreme Court guidelines and the safety norms laid down in the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, there’s been very little effort to implement them. Says Shanta Sinha, chairperson, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), “The commission has not taken up the issue of safety in schools in terms of physical infrastructure as a policy matter. We tackle the issue only on a case by case basis. But we will certainly have to frame some rules. As of now, though, there is no comprehensive policy on the issue.” According to the Right to Education Act, NCPCR is the body entrusted with the responsibility of monitoring the rights of children in schools across the country.

Some say that the need of the hour is to make a new law that clearly spells out safety norms for schools and also punitive measures for those who flout them. Says Joy Sengupta, advocate, Calcutta High Court, “The judiciary has its limitations. The judges can only interpret existing laws, they can’t make new ones. In this case, the legislature has to make some new laws whereby the guidelines will have to be followed by all schools. They should also be penalised if they flout the guidelines. At present, erring schools can only be hauled up for contempt of court.”

Clearly, it is time the state took stringent action to ensure that at least the Supreme Court guidelines on safety standards in schools are maintained. Otherwise, more young lives may be lost all because we were too callous to keep them safe.






Social activist flays Gujarat Police


New Delhi, Sept 29 (PTI) Social activist Shabnam Hashmi today accused Gujarat police of “illegally detaining” several Muslim youths in Baroda early this month ahead of the bypolls in the state on charges of plotting terror attacks during Ganesh immersion and demanded action against them.

She maintained five youths were picked up between September 1 and 3 “randomly” by plainclothes policemen on charges of “planning to bomb the Ganesh Visarjan Yatra” and were “brutally tortured in farm houses” on the outskirts of Baroda.

“The intention of the police was to create a sensation before the by-elections in the state,” Hashmi, flanked by victims’ family members, claimed.

The youths were charged with possessing bombs and rocket launchers, she alleged.

Hashmi said the National Commission for Minorities, to whom the victims approached apart from NHRC, has agreed to send a team to Gujarat to look into the matter.






A new institution in the making

G. Mahadevan

The proposed Centre for Disability Studies is expected to develop new educational technologies for different categories of the differently-abled persons.

In order to focus academic and social attention on the challenges faced by differently-abled persons, the Department of Education has drawn up a proposal to institute a Centre of Excellence for Disability Studies.

Education Minister M. A. Baby chaired the first meeting of a high-level committee constituted to explore the idea of setting up such a Centre.

Now, the government is likely to constitute a core committee that would draw up a detailed project for setting up the centre and for offering graduate, postgraduate, and research programmes in disability studies. The core committee is also expected to give the government an idea of the budgetary support required for instituting the centre and other means of mobilising funds for the Centre sustained operations.

Those who were present at the meeting include Dr. G. N. Karna member, NHRC Core Group on Disability and Chairman, Working Group on Disability for 11th Five Year Plan (Planning Commission), Dr. G. Lokanadha Reddy Dean, School of Education and Human Resource Development, Dravidian University, Kuppam and K. N. Panikkar the Vice-Chairman of the Kerala State Higher Education Council.

“The centre shall focus on studies pertaining to the social, cultural, political, economic and psychological studies of the differently abled.

The centre should also provide the government with necessary academic and documentary support for policy formulation and for designing specific programmes for the disabled,” the concept note for the Centre prepared by the government reads.

The government initially wanted to name the new centre as one for the ‘study of the differently-abled’. At the committee meeting however, Dr. Karna told Mr. Baby that the appropriate name would be a centre for disability studies. Officials who participated in the committee’s meeting in Thiruvananthapuram told The Hindu-EducationPlus that the government does not see the proposed centre as just an academic body. “There are plans to have a resource and information centre, a rehabilitation centre, counselling centre and capacity building centre at the proposed centre of excellence. So in addition to attracting the best of talents for disability studies, the centre would also be a platform for reaching the fruits of such study and research to persons with disabilities,” an official present at the meeting explained.

According to the concept note, the Centre is expected to develop new educational technologies for different categories of the differently-abled persons in both the vocational and general education streams.

“The Centre could work in close collaboration with the newly-formed Centre for Engineering Research,” the concept note says.

The Centre, proposed to be set up under the LBS, would also be the nodal agency for developing curricula for disability studies and would also provide academic backup to various social inclusion programmes of the government.

If the government’s plans materialise, public universities in the State would have a major role to play in disability studies.

The proposed Resource and Information Centre would, in all probability, have a presence in all universities in the State. There would also be such a centre in one institution affiliated to a university in every district in Kerala.

Inter-disciplinary centres for disability studies would initially be established in one or two universities in the State.

Moreover, there would also be an inter-university centre for disability studies which will coordinate academic activities in this discipline. Undergraduate and postgraduate students would be allowed to take one or two credits pertaining to disability studies from such centre.







Tough law in the offing to check practice of capitation fee


If an educational institute indulges in malpractices like failure to deliver on its promises and charges capitation fee it will face the prospect of closure, according to a tough law being prepared by the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry.

Seeking to bring an end to the illegal practice in technical professional colleges, the ministry has prepared a draft legislation which prescribes cancellation of registration of an institute for charging capitation fee.

“Capitation fee will be covered under the legislation prepared by the ministry to curb educational malpractices.

Institutions will be under the pain of loosing their recognition if they resort to such malpractices,” HRD Minister Kapil Sibal told PTI.

The anti-malpractice law is being prepared in view of large number of complaints against institutes indulging in malpractices like not providing the kind of education and other facilities as promised in their prospectus.

A government-appointed committee recently said these institutes have a free run as regulatory bodies have failed to check the illegal practice, partly due to a reluctance to sort out the problem.

The committee on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education, headed by Prof Yashpal, also said that private professional institutes were charging up to Rs. 40 lakh from a student as capitation fee.

“If an institute promises something and delivers something else, that will amount to malpractice and the institute will face cancellation of recognition.”

Mr. Sibal said the major reason for capitation fee is that there is a mismatch between demand and supply in professional education. The government is opening new institutes and expanding the education system to sort out the problem.

“If there is a balance between demand and supply, there will not be any capitation fee. When there are more colleges, people will not go to the colleges charging capitation fee.

Capitation fee is given when the children have no merit and parents have money,” he said.

The government will make accreditation mandatory for institutes to ensure quality. The IITs, which were reluctant to the idea, are now willing for accreditation, he said.

When pointed out that poor students were unable to afford the high fee in professional colleges, he said government will help them with loans.

“Professional education has to be costly. The cost is high because you need high quality equipment. Being a poor country, in principle we do not accept that the child whose parents cannot afford full fee is denied admission to a professional course,” he said.

The state has to devise a system that no child should be denied admission for lack of paternal resource. So there will a funding scheme under which the institute gets a fee to maintain quality and the child gets the money to pay to the institute without having to worry about his or her parents, Mr. Sibal said.

However, he said, the cost of higher education in the country is less expensive than that in any other country.

“The fee in St Stephens today is Rs. 18 per month…

Children have to pay Rs. 5,000 a month in a school. Paying Rs. 18 in colleges is not right. If you want to go to higher education, you have to pay some amount of money,” he said.

He said the government wants to conduct an all India exam after class 12 for admission into universities.

“It will apply to medical, engineering colleges and also commerce stream as there is no diversity in these subjects.

This will happen in two to three years time,” he said.






Travel firm fined for negligence

Staff Reporter

The Coimbatore District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (CDCRF) has fined Thomas Cook India Limited Rs. 60,000 for deficiency in service causing mental agony to a traveller and his family members. The company has been asked to pay Rs 1,000 too towards cost of litigation.

Orders were issued by the Forum president, S.A. Sree Ramulu, and Member K. Rathinam.

European tour

Arunkumar Bhavani and five members of his family in his petition said that he had approached the firm to make travel arrangements for a tour of Europe and furnished the passports for all the six.

The passports of two children, Saloni and Anmol, were carrying photographs taken when they were aged five and three.But the passports were valid till 2008. The travel firm stated that it was not a problem and promised to process the applications and arrange for visa.

Mr. Bhavani remitted Rs. 4,29,600 and the remaining was to be paid on May 30, 2007. With hardly five days left for the travel, the firm told the applicant that visa could not be processed for the two children.

Mr. Bhavani told the firm that new passports could not be procured in five days time and it was difficult to reschedule the travel programme. The travel firm deducted Rs. 1,59,600 towards processing charges and refunded only the remaining amount. This was contested by the petitioner.

The petitioner contended that he had written to the travel firm stating that as he could not postpone the travel, he had expressed his willingness to travel next year and had asked the travel firm to retain few thousands of rupees as advance money and refund the remaining balance rather than deducting the processing charges and refunding the money to him.

For which, there was no response from the travel firm, the petitioner said.

The firm contended that they only process the visa applications and never offer any consultation or help in obtaining the visa.

The decision to grant visa or deny was a prerogative of the consulate concerned and stated that there was no deficiency in service on the part of the travel firm.


As against the normal processing charge of Rs. 55,000 a passenger for cancellation of trips within a short time span before the commencement of the journey, the travel firm said that only Rs, 26,000 was deducted a passenger.


The forum concluded that failure to respond to the letter from the petitioner was also a deficiency in service and non-application of mind about the mismatch of the photographs in the passport despite being pointed out by the applicant was again carelessness amounting to deficiency in service.

The forum directed the travel firm to refund Rs. 1,59,000 deducted from the applicant along with 12 per cent interest from the date of filing of the petition – December 18, 2007 – till the date of settlement, Rs. 60,000 towards mental agony caused to the consumer and Rs. 1,000 towards the cost of litigation.

Two months

The settlement has to be effected within two months failing which the petitioner was at liberty to execute the orders under section 25 and 27 of the Consumer Protection Act, the order said.





26/11 accused Kasab confessed voluntarily: Magistrate

PTI 30 September 2009, 03:25pm IST MUMBAI: A city Magistrate on Wednesday told the 26/11 trial court that prime accused Ajmal Amir Kasab had confessed about his role in the terror attacks voluntarily before her, saying he wanted others to draw inspiration from his confession.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Rama Vijay Sawant Vagule said Kasab was produced before her on February 17 where he said he wanted to confess.

He was given 24 hours to reconsider if he wished to confess, she said.

“On February 18, when Kasab was produced again before me, he reiterated that he wanted to confess. He showed no remorse for his crime and told me that he wanted to confess so that others may derive inspiration from his action,” Vagule told the Court.

“I also conducted a physical examination on Kasab and found that he had two injuries on his wrist which he said he had sustained during firing in the attacks, the Magistrate said.

Kasab was again given 48-hours to reconsider and was produced before the Magistrate on February 20. He once again reiterated that he wanted to confess voluntarily but since the Court time was over, he was asked to come the next day.

Finally, his confession was recorded on February 21 when he was produced without handcuffs before the Magistrate, the Court was told.

“I enquired from Kasab that whether 48-hours time was sufficient and he said yes. I also enquired whether anybody from the police had met him in the last 48-hours to which he replied in the negative. He was once again reminded that the confession could go against him,” the Magistrate told Judge M L Tahiliyani.

“After questioning Kasab, I was satisfied that he was ready to confess without any force and was doing so voluntarily. His confession was then recorded by me,” she said.

Since some words were in Urdu, the confession was recorded in question-answer form, she said. All pages have signatures of Kasab and the Magistrate.

The confession of Kasab was shown to the Magistrate and she said that it was the same confession that she had recorded that day.






Encounter cop wants magistrate report annulled

TNN 30 September 2009, 02:22am IST

AHMEDABAD: One of 21 policemen held responsible for the killings of Ishrat Jahan and three others in magistrate SP Tamang’s inquiry report has appealed to Gujarat High Court to nullify the report.

Superintendent of police GL Singhal of city crime branch who was DySP then and is now promoted to IPS cadre, filed a petition demanding Tamang’s report be declared null and void.

Justice KS Jhaveri had immediately stayed execution of the report on the ground that the process of initiating the inquiry into the case was like over-reaching the high court’s order for probe.

Metropolitan magistrate Tamang submitted his inquiry report into the encounter killings of Ishrat, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana on June 15, 2004 near Kotarpur waterworks. He initiated the probe on orders of chief metropolitan magistrate issued on August 12.

The high court also constituted a special investigation team on the next day of the encounter. The magistrate, meanwhile, came out with the report clearly stating that the alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives were shot in cold-blood. Former director general of police KR Kaushik, DG Vanzara, DSP NK Amin, inspector Tarun Barot and Singhal are among those whom Tamang has blamed for the killings.

The HC stayed execution on the report but had refused to entertain similar application by Singhal on September 9.








KTC bus driver gets 6-month jail term

TNN 30 September 2009, 04:30am IST

PANAJI: A JMFC court convicted and sentenced a KTC bus driver to six months imprisonment for causing an accident that injured 14 passengers at Four Pillars near St Cruz on January 11, 2006.

Panaji police had filed a chargesheet against Jeromine Fernandes — who was driving a bus with 30 passengers in it along the Panaji-Vasco route — for driving in a rash and negligent manner.

During the trial, six passengers who sustained injuries said that the accused was speeding when he rammed into a pillar. Three of the passengers told the court that they had even pleaded with the driver not to drive fast.

Assistant public prosecutor S Mandrekar pointed out that the passengers’ evidence clearly brought out that the accused was driving the bus at “high speed”. He was unable to control the bus while negotiating the turn and rammed into the pillar causing injuries to the passengers, the APP said.

The defence contended that the accident took place after a tyre of the bus burst. The condition of the bus was bad, hence the accused cannot be held responsible for the accident, the defence counsel said.

Whize holding the accused guilty, judge Edgar P Fernandes observed, “The evidence brings out that the accused drove the vehicle at very high and uncontrollable speed even after being requested by the passengers not to do so.”







Mickky arrested, released on bail

TNN 30 September 2009, 04:38am IST

PANAJI: Tourism minister Francisco “Mickky” Pacheco was arrested by the crime branch on Tuesday in connection with a case of extortion and criminal intimidation filed against him by the management of a casino in a South Goa hotel.

However, he was released 15 minutes later upon payment of a bail amount of Rs 5,000. The incident occurred on the night of May 31 and the crime branch registered the case on September 16. Crime branch sources said Pacheco arrived at their office in Dona Paula at 10am, was arrested at 11am and released on bail a quarter of an hour later.






Family sentenced to 10 years imprisonment

TNN 30 September 2009, 06:36am IST

KANPUR: The additional district and session judge of Kanpur Nagar Surendra Pal Singh on Tuesday sentenced six persons of a family, including a father and his four sons, to 10 years rigorous imprisonment in a kidnapping and rape case. The judge also imposed a fine of Rs.10 000 on each accused.

Those sentenced were identified as Shiv Bachan Singh, Shiv Singh, Shiv Karan Singh, Charan Singh — all sons of accused Subedar, and Rani Devi, wife of Shiv Singh. The accused belong to Barra 2 in Kanpur Nagar.

According to the prosecution, advocate Anika Yadav, a resident of Govind Nagar, in an FIR lodged had stated that the accused, armed with country-made pistols and guns, had barged into her house on August 17, 2001. They had assaulted her family members and kidnapped her younger sister Prastuti Singh. The police had registered a case under sections 147/148/452/323/366 IPC against the accused.

The police managed to recover Prastuti after 19 days on September 6, 2001. The victim had told the police that the accused had kept her hostage in the house of one Ram Lotan. She was asked to marry Shiv karan and when she refused the accused tortured her. Shiv Karan even raped her. Prartuti’s statement was recorded four days after she had been recovered by the police.

After going through the entire evidence and arguments the judge found the accused guilty and sentenced them.







Law-&-order rider in biz pact

Swati Sengupta, TNN 30 September 2009, 06:09am IST

KOLKATA: If you want to set up industry in Bengal, you must be aware of the prevailing “law-and-order” and “political” situation. In case the project fizzles out because of this, you must take responsibility. The government is in no way to blame.

Singed by the Singur fiasco, the government is currently scripting an extraordinary clause that will incorporate words to this effect. According to sources, the clause will be part of the pact between West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), the nodal agency for promotion of industry in the state, and Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd (BAPL), the conglomerate that will develop a Rs 10,000-crore airport city over 3,500 acres in Burdwan’s Andal.

The first tranche of land 450 acres is to be handed over to BAPL around mid-October and officials are now preparing the details of the agreement. The land is to be given on a long-term lease.

According to a senior official, it becomes difficult to get the land back in case a project does not materialize. “If  a political stir over land stalls projects, companies blame us. As private firms have a knowledge of the situation in the state and a stake in the project, they, too, must share some responsibility,” he said.

Contracts with private companies usually have a “force majeure”, which frees both parties from any liability or obligation when events beyond their control stall a project.

But it is not intended to excuse negligence or non-performance by a party. A clause mentioning political or law-and-order problems is usually never mentioned in contracts.

Though officials refuse to spell out the reasons for incorporating the clause, it is

evident that the state government has acted on the Singur experience that saw Tata Motors pull out after Trinamool Congress’s agitation demanding return of land to “unwilling” farmers.

During a recent visit to the city, Ratan Tata made it clear that Tata Motors was not keen to sit on the Singur land and was willing to return it if compensated for the investment made on the ground.

But he did not quantify the compensation amount. Nor did he come clear on whether Tata Motors would renew the lease for the land next year. The company has paid the annual lease rental till March 2010 and had entered into a 90-year agreement with the government.

While BAPL officials did not want to comment on the clause, officials in the state commerce and industries department said BAPL authorities have no objections to it “because they are extremely serious about the project” and “the aerotropolis will certainly come up”.

Union minister and Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy felt the new clause would not project the state as industry-friendly but refused to take responsibility for the current stalemate, which has made industries requiring land shy away from Bengal.








16 cases referred from courts to PHCMC

Ravi Dayal , TNN 30 September 2009, 03:23am IST

PATNA: The Patna High Court Mediation Centre (PHCMC) has received as many as 15 matters from various courts to settle the disputes out of court with the help of impartial mediators. Even the Supreme Court has sent a matrimonial dispute to the PHCMC.

A senior lawyer and trained mediator at the PHCMC, Rajeeva Roy, said though figures may suggest that the efforts for mediation, an important tool for alternative disputes redressal mechanism (ADRM), are still at their infancy, mediation as a movement has the potential to check the explosion of cases in courts.

All cases, referred to the PHCMC, came under Section 89 of the Civil Procedure Code and were mostly matrimonial in nature. Roy said property and land disputes, matrimonial cases, dowry torture cases, matters relating to cheque dishonour, civil disputes of any type and compound criminal offences for which short sentences are provided, can all be solved through out-of-court mediation. Due to this, precious time of the courts would be saved and utilized in hearing cases of a more serious nature, he added.

The Bihar Legal Services Authority (BLSA), headed by Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, and the PHCMC, comprising five HC judges, are running the PHCMC situated on the high court premises with suitable infrastructure. At present, there are 10 trained mediators in the state, including the lawyers, Roy, Chakradhari Sharan Singh and judicial officers of the rank of additional district judge, sub-judge and judicial magistrate.

PHCMC has two specially designed chambers for mediation, the matters of which are kept confidential. The Supreme Court Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee (SCMCPC) has been sending master mediators to various states to create awareness about the importance of mediation as well as train the mediators.

Recently, two master mediators of SCMCPC took part in the mediation awareness conference organized by PHCMC and BLSA. At the conference, Justice Singh had announced the move to open around a dozen mediation centres at the district level in the first phase.

The opening of mediation centres in all the districts and training of an army of mediators would start the mediation movement in right earnest, Roy pointed out. While the hearing of cases at the pre-mediation stage has helped in the out-of-court settlement of a huge number of cases in the United States, it has worked in wonders in China.

He added that in India the mediation centre at Delhi’s Tis Hazari Court has done appreciably well, thus reducing the backlog of cases in courts.

The essence of mediation lies in facilitation of mediation by the impartial mediator, who promotes amicable settlement by facilitating communication and understanding between the parties in dispute within a given time frame, said Roy.


One Response

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