LEGAL NEWS 02.10.2009

HC sets up body to examine noise level at helipads

http://www.ptinews.com/news/310418_HC-sets-up-body-to-examine-noise-level-at-helipads

STAFF WRITER 12:10 HRS IST

Mumbai, Oct 2 (PTI) A committee has been set up by the Bombay High Court to examine noise levels at helipads in Mumbai and submit its report to it.

The issue of noise pollution caused by traffic at helipads came up during the hearing of a PIL filed by city-based Awaz Foundation.

At an earlier hearing, the petitioners had pointed out newspaper reports saying that Municipal Corporation was going to allow helipads atop rooftops of buildings in the city.

That prompted the court to ask, “what would happen to the noise levels if choppers begin to land regularly in city areas?”

Yesterday, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and A M Khanwilkar ordered that a committee be set up, which will have representatives from municipal corporation, pollution control board and other concerned authorities.

Gujarat HC rejects ADC Bank’s election schedule

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/gujarat-hc-rejects-adc-banks-election-schedule/524028/

Express News Service

Posted: Friday , Oct 02, 2009 at 0107 hrs Ahmedabad:

Gujarat High Court has rejected the election schedule of the Ahmedabad District Co-operative Bank Ltd. The order came following a petition filed by petitioners Khokhra Mehmedavad Seva Sahakari Mandali Ltd, Dev Ashish Co-op

Housing Society Ltd and Karuna Co-op Housing Society Ltd.

A division bench of Justice R M Doshit and Justice S D Patel has directed the respondent bank to delimit its constituencies in accordance with Rule 3(a) of Gujarat Specified Co-operative Societies Election to Committees Rules within three months. The court has also directed the bank to start the election process afresh once the constituencies are delimited as per the court order.

The bank is also told to include areas of Chandkheda and Motera also in it as they were merged into the Ahmedabad limits in 2008. The court has also ordered the bank to scrutinise all the 730 self-help groups that are allegedly made members at the last moment. Importantly, the court has struck down the criteria set by respondents under By law 8 (1) of the bank, which made the eligibility to vote difficult.

The ruling comes as a major blow to the group affiliated to the Bharatiya Janata Party and led by Home Minister Amit Shah seeking to gain absolute control over the affairs of the bank. Advocate Saurabh Amin appeared for the petitioners.

Needle of suspicion points to Raja

http://www.dailypioneer.com/186291/Needle-of-suspicion-points-to-Raja.html

J Gopikrishnan | New Delhi

Petitioner duo who sought bail in Chennai close to Telecom Minister

The father-son duo that tried to influence a Madras High Court judge through a Union Minister for a favourable verdict in a criminal case, was close to Telecom Minister A Raja.

Justice R Reghupathy created a sensation on Monday evening in open court in Chennai when he alleged that a Union Minister had tried to influence him for grant of anticipatory bail to a doctor and his son in a forged marksheet case filed by the CBI. The judge said the Union Minister called him twice for granting anticipatory bail to Krishnamoorthy and son S Kiruba Sridhar, facing a CBI inquiry for malpractices in medical college exams of Pondicherry University.

While the judge did not name the Minister who had tried to put pressure on him, documents available with The Pioneer show Dr C Krishnamoorthy enjoys close proximity with Telecom Minister A Raja.

Krishnamoorthy is a close associate of Raja and belongs to the Minister’s hometown, Peramballur. He is the owner of the building which housed a law firm run by Raja before he became a Minister. Krishnamoorthy is also the managing director of a Coimbatore-based real estate company, Kovai Shelters Promotors India Pvt Ltd, formed on January 19, 2007. As per the documents available with the Registrar of Companies, Raja’s nephew Dr R Sridhar and nieces R Anandabhuvaneswari and R Santhanalakshmi are directors in this company and jointly hold 45 per cent shares in Kovai Shelters.

The Pioneer had on January 12, 2009, reported that Raja’s nephew, a Class-I officer in the Ministry of Environment and Forests, violated the service conduct rules by remaining on the board of a private firm without informing the Government. Sridhar had secured the Government job by providing false experience certificates. Applications for this post were invited during Raja’s tenure in the Environment Ministry. The mandatory five-year experience certificate was falsely issued to Sridhar by his research guide Dr L Kannan, who was later elevated as the Vice-Chancellor of Thiruvalluvar University.

Krishnamoorthy also owns a big investment company, AGM Investments Finances Pvt Ltd. This company, formed in September 1990 by one Arun G Mehta in Chennai, was acquired by Krishnamoorthy in February 2008 along with his brother Satyanarayanan.

On Tuesday, Justice Reghupathy spilled the beans when the advocate, appearing for S Kirub Shridhar, a third-year student in a private medical college in Puducherry, and his doctor father Krishnamoorthy, complained that the judge was not granting bail to his clients on the basis of prosecution submissions.

The advocate’s remarks came after the judge said he was not inclined to grant any relief as their pleas had been rejected on June 15 itself. Annoyed, the judge said, “A Union Minister talked to me about the matter. You yourself know every thing. Unless an unconditional apology is tendered by you, I will incorporate every detail in my order.”

Justice Reghupathy said he would also write to the Prime Minister about the “pressure exerted” on him.

TRAI changes tune

http://www.dailypioneer.com/183050/TRAI-changes-tune.html

J Gopikrishnan | New Delhi

Modified opinion coincides with arrival of regulator’s new boss

Having consistently taken the position that the first-come-first-served system adopted by the Telecom Department for allotting spectrum was improper, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has suddenly turned coy and tacitly started backing the controversial process. Incidentally, the change in opinion coincides with the arrival of a new face as the regulatory panel head.

In an affidavit filed recently in the Delhi High Court, which is hearing a public interest litigation against the controversial allotment of 2G spectrum, TRAI diluted its opposition to the first-come-first-served formula. The court had asked for the regulator’s opinion on the dubious allotment of spectrum in February-end. The affidavit, which downplays the organisation’s consistent opposition to the dubious allotment, was filed after the appointment of JS Sharma as the new TRAI chairman.

A copy of the affidavit — which The Pioneer possesses — does not even mention ‘first-come-first-served’ as a basis for allotment, though the court had asked it to comment precisely on the allotment process.

Even though TRAI did say that it had suggested the auction method to determine market price of the spectrum on several occasions, it did not comment on its stand regarding the first-come-first-served system, let alone express its known unequivocal opposition to it.

Seeking to distance itself from the contentious issue, TRAI told the court, “It is respectfully submitted that the policy of allotment of telecom spectrum is an administrative matter under the jurisdiction of the Department of Telecom.” It added, “In the 2G bands, the allocation through auction may not be possible as service providers were allocated spectrum at different times of their licence and the amount of spectrum with them varies from 2×4.4MHz to 2x10MHz for GSM technology and 2×2.5MHz to 2x5MHz in CDMA technology. Therefore, to decide the cut-off after which the spectrum is auctioned, will be difficult and might raise the issue of level playing field.”

Interestingly, TRAI did not mention a word about a crucial letter written by its former chairman Nripendra Misra to Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura on January 14, 2008, in which he had vehemently criticised the spectrum allotment on first-come-first-served basis. Misra blamed the Telecom Department for “cherry picking” in adopting those recommendations that suited the department while ignoring other important ones. In that letter, the former chairman had criticised the allotment of spectrum to new players without specifying the availability of the scarce resource. Misra had on several occasions blamed the department for making claims that the 2G spectrum allocation process was conducted as per TRAI recommendations.

“It would be unfair and misleading if any decision and consequent action is initiated without identifying and implementing the linkages elsewhere in the recommendation. It was reiterated that the authority (TRAI) should be formally consulted if there is any deviation from the totality of the recommendation,” Misra pointed out in the letter.

The letter added, “The authority has emphasised that there is need to ensure availability of adequate spectrum, its efficient utilisation and making the process (of spectrum allocation) completely transparent and based on a roadmap and well-researched plan.

It is sincerely hoped that the above suggestions/observations and compliance of legal provisions would receive highest consideration as they have a long-term bearing on the telecom sector.”

Misra’s tenure ended in March and Sharma was appointed the new chairman on May 14. Sharma is a former Secretary of Telecom and, prior to this appointment, was a member of the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).

Spectrum Scam

  • TRAI dilutes its opposition to first-come-first-served formula in an affidavit filed in HC
  • Court is hearing public interest litigation against controversial allotment of 2G spectrum
  • Court had asked for regulator’s opinion on dubious allotment of spectrum in Feb-end
  • Affidavit does not even mention ‘first-come-first-served’ as a basis for allotment
  • TRAI tells court: “…policy of allotment of telecom spectrum is administrative matter under the jurisdiction of Department of Telecom”
  • TRAI did not mention a word about letter by its former chairman Nripendra Misra to Telecom Secretary in which he had vehemently criticised spectrum allotment on first-come-first-served basis

CVC smells foul play

http://www.dailypioneer.com/171992/CVC-smells-foul-play.html

J Gopikrishnan | New Delhi

2G spectrum allocation

The Chief Vigilance Commissioner has confirmed large-scale irregularities by the Telecom department in awarding licences for 2G spectrum services, and said it would soon fix responsibility for the lapses. In an exclusive interview to The Pioneer, CVC Pratyush Sinha said his organisation had found “gross violation” in the “non-transparent” methods adopted in licence allotments.

The Pioneer had through a series of reports recently exposed violation of rules and regulations in the 2G issue and the role allegedly played by the Telecom Ministry headed by the DMK’s A Raja.

“We have found that there were gross violations and non-transparent activities in the allocation of 2G spectrum. Basically, the violations are: Granting licences on first-come- first-serve basis; licences being issued in 2008 at prices fixed in 2001, companies such as Swan and Unitech offloading their shares at whopping prices to foreign companies soon after the licences were awarded to them,” said the CVC. He said these steps had led to heavy losses for the national exchequer.

Sinha wondered why the Telecom department had not opted for the auction route. “The Telecom department says they had adhered to the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) guidelines. We found this version totally wrong. The department had used cherry-picking or pick-and-choose theory suit to their intentions. They selectively picked TRAI recommendations that suited them,” he said.

“We had already sent our findings to the department for clarification and fixing responsibility. We are not at all satisfied with their clarification and justification on the allocation 2G spectrum,” said the CVC, adding that they were in the process of “fixing responsibility”.

The CVC also blamed the department for not insisting on a ‘lock-in period’ for the licence-holders to prevent speculative sales. In its report, the CVC blamed the department for exclusion of clauses in the licence agreement that would have prevented ‘offloading’ of shares by the company.

The controversy over 2G spectrum allocation broke out when the Telecom department gave licences to new players like Swan and Unitech in October last year. These two real estate developers bagged the licences at throwaway prices.

Swan got the licence for Rs1,537 crore for starting telecom operations in 13 circles in mid-2008. Within months, Swan offloaded its 45 per cent of the share to UAE-based Etisalat for Rs 4,500 crore, making a whopping profit. Similarly, Unitech bagged the licence for Rs 1,651 crore for operating in 22 telecom circles. It too sold 60 per cent of the shares to Norwegian company Telenor, which is currently providing telecom services in Pakistan and Bangladesh, at a high price of Rs 6,120 crore.

Delhi tops list of smoking ban violators

http://www.dailypioneer.com/206140/Delhi-tops-list-of-smoking-ban-violators.html

PNS | New Delhi

Delhiities have another ‘dubious’ distinction to their credit. Data released by the Union Health Ministry on Thursday shows that they top the list of offenders who violate the ban on smoking in public places. Authorities in the national capital have booked 11,362 people for smoking in public places thereby collecting a fine of Rs 1,26,310 from October 2, 2008 to July 31, 2009. Tamil Nadu came a close second with 10,979 violations and Rs 1,17,743 collected as fine.

Enacted to protect health of non-smokers who are exposed to passive smoking or environmental tobacco smoke, the ban on smoking in public places came into effect from October 2 last year. Smoking in public places like hospitals, restaurants, public offices, court buildings and educational institutions was made punishable. Any violation of this would lead to a fine of up to Rs 200.

Data involving 13 States shows Rajasthan had lowest number of violations — nine. While Gujarat has fined 285 people, Chandigarh penalised 1,540 and Karnataka 2,465 collecting Rs 84,090, Rs 1,15,398 and Rs 3,08,000 respectively.

Tobacco is the risk factor for six out of eight preventable causes of death. India is the second largest consumer and third largest producer of tobacco in the world. The estimates from the latest round of National Family Health Survey indicate an increasing prevalence of tobacco consumption in India, with 57 per cent males and 10.9 per cent females consuming tobacco in some form.

Out of this, 32.7 per cent men and 1.4 per cent women are smokers. Prevalence of bidi smoking is around 54 per cent and that of cigarette 16 per cent. The rustic bidi is more harmful than cigarettes as a person inhales greater amount of carbon monoxide while smoking a bidi. “The bidi extinguishes faster and hence a person needs to take more puffs than required for a cigarette. In the bargain the person ends up inhaling greater quantities of carbon monoxide”, Raj Kumar at the Vallabhai Patel Chest Institute said.

The Tobacco Control Report mentions 50 per cent of all cancer deaths in the country due to tobacco consumption. Moreover, 0.8 million people die due to tobacco consumption every year. Studies indicate approximately 40 per cent of the disease burden in the country to be associated with some form of tobacco or other.

HC for strict censoring of TV content

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/chennai/HC-for-strict-censoring-of-TV-content/articleshow/5079171.cms

A Subramani, TNN 2 October 2009, 03:22am IST

CHENNAI: Calling for a powerful “moral guardian for the society,” the Madras high court has favoured stringent censor mechanism to vet television programmes that contain violence, obscenity and vulgarity.

Justice R Regupathi, quashing defamation proceedings initiated against actor Vijay in various courts of Tamil Nadu, on Thursday observed: “The most dangerous trend is, there are certain channels which exclusively air music and fashion programmes with semi-nudity and adult content, and school-going children, who have free access to remotes, get to view such channels. Their character and psychology is hardened at a tender age…and it is feared that good behaviour, human values and moral standards would be stripped away forever.”

He was passing orders on the petitions filed by Vijay, producer of Sivakasi’ AM Rathinam and its director Perarasu, who sought quashing of over a dozen defamation proceedings initiated by advocates in different courts. Advocates, represented by S Prabakaran, claimed the film “scornfully ridiculed” the legal profession. During the hearing, the crew apologised for the scenes and said objectionable portions had already been deleted.

Recording the apology, the judge quashed the complaints, but with an observation: “The film industry too has social and moral responsibilities… Of late, it is irritating to note that corruptive, pointless and irresponsible messages are being conveyed through movies in the name of entertainment.”

Justice Regupathi lamented that most of the movies, documentaries, serials, music and dance programmes “televised ceaselessly” contained obscene, vulgar and violent scenes, besides promoting supernatural and superstitious beliefs. “In such a critical situation, clear and stringent censorship guidelines for TV programmes must be laid down,” he observed.

He said: “The need of the hour is, apart from scrutiny of films, there should also be a close monitoring of television programmes so as to check lapses and to instantly initiate steps against transgressors. Such a governing body should be powerful, unbiased and mindful of its role and responsibility as a moral guardian of the society.”

Noting that the media and the cinema industry derived their right to freedom of speech and expression from the Constitution, the judge said the right was subject to the reasonable restrictions set out in Article 19(2) of the Constitution to ensure that such freedom is not misused.

As for the role of the Censor board, Justice Regupathi said, “the members of the board should be alive to their responsibilities and duly perform the functions for which they are holding the office.” Regular offenders, guilty of promoting ill-will and hatred among different sections of the society, obscenity and malice towards persons practising other professions, should be legally proceeded against, the judge said.

Calling for more teeth to the existing laws, Justice Regupathi also said: “It is expected that the government of India may take suitable steps to device effective legal mechanism in respect of screening/broadcasting through cinema and television so as to make the certifying agency more effective.”

Don’t write on Raja’s private life: HC to magazine

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/chennai/Dont-write-on-Rajas-private-life-HC-to-magazine/articleshow/5079167.cms

TNN 2 October 2009, 03:18am IST

CHENNAI: The Madras high court has restrained a Tamil biweekly, Junior Vikatan, from publishing news or photographs or caricatures concerning the private life of Union information and technology minister A Raja, or that of his wife and daughter.

Passing orders on a petition filed by Raja and his wife MA Parameswari, a division bench comprising justice M Chockalingam and justice R Subbiah said: “The respondents (the biweekly’s editors and publisher) cannot be allowed to take shelter under the Doctrine of Freedom of Press, and the same cannot also be extended to publishing exclusively private affairs of the appeallants (Raja and his wife) calling it as connected to or concerned with public life.”

After Raja filed the civil suit to restrain the bi-weekly from publishing anything concerning him, a single judge had granted the interim relief. However, the injunction was vacated by another single judge recently. He judge had also imposed an exemplary cost of Rs 10,000 on the union minister.

Setting aside the exemplary cost, the division bench said: “It is a matter of surprise to note that the single judge has awarded exemplary costs of Rs 10,000 while dismissing the application.” They described it was unwarranted and unjustified.

The judges concurred with the submissions of senior counsel VT Gopalan and advocate P Wilson, and said a scrutiny of the magazines indicated that there were instances in which the privacy of Raja was invaded, and added that some of the photographs would “seriously damage the image of Raja in the minds of the readers of the magazine.”

Referring to the publication of the photograph of Raja’s wife, the judges said, “It is not the case of the respondents that she is a public figure or she is in a public domain. Hence it has got to be termed that the publications made against her were infringement of her right to privacy, which is guaranteed by the Constitution.”

HC stays SHRC recommendation against cops

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/bangalore/HC-stays-SHRC-recommendation-against-cops/articleshow/5078949.cms

TNN 2 October 2009, 01:44am IST

BANGALORE: The high court on Thursday stayed for three weeks a recommendation sent by the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), asking the government to take action against five police officials.

The five include a DCP and two ACPs, and the case is one of alleged custodial torture. Vacation judge H Billappa passed the order on a petition filed by DCP Basavaraja Malagatti, ACPs T C Chandrashekar and Ramachandrappa, PI M S Ashoka and SI Kempegowda.

“They were issued a notice on August 20 and the recommendation was sent on August 22 without offering them an opportunity to have a say. They were not even allowed to engage a counsel, and were asked to pay Rs 50,000 to the complainant’s family. The SHRC had recommended a CBI inquiry beyond its scope,” the counsel for the petitioners told the court.

Based on Vasanthamma’s complaint that her husband was ill-treated at Amrutahalli police station, the SHRC had recommended suspension of Ashoka, Kempegowda and Chandrashekar, and disciplinary action against Ramachndrappa and Malagatti.

Cheque bouncing cases clogging wheels of justice

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/Cheque-bouncing-cases-clogging-wheels-of-justice/articleshow/5078371.cms

TNN 2 October 2009, 02:29am IST

NEW DELHI: Over 30 lakh cheque bouncing cases are clogging the wheels of justice which have already been slowed down by the weight of 2.7 crore cases pending in the trial courts, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.

A solution is difficult to find, said a Bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi. “It is easy to point fingers at the apparent slow pace of justice, but are there enough judges? It’s difficult to select even 20 good judges from a total of 3,000 applicants,” said Justice Singhvi citing his experience as a member of the selection panel.

“Will those who point fingers at judiciary care to find out the financial implications of recruiting more number of judges and the willingness of the states to invest more in judiciary,” the Bench asked. It said the competent among the lawyers were refusing to become judges.

The recruitment of judges may depend on the willingness of the state governments to create more posts and invest handsomely in the judiciary, but law minister Veerappa Moily is of the view that the pendency of cheque bouncing cases needs to be tackled expeditiously.

“We have a proposal to extend the jurisdiction of the fast track courts, which at present decide only sessions cases, to cheque bouncing cases,” he told TOI recently.

SC to contest HC order on judges’ assets disclosure

http://www.dailypioneer.com/206300/SC-to-contest-HC-order-on-judges’-assets-disclosure.html

Abraham Thomas | New Delhi

In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court has decided to challenge the Delhi High Court’s decision directing it to disclose information on judges’ assets under the Right to Information Act.

The apex court judges had already unanimously resolved to make public their assets and the SC’s move to challenge the High Court order is primarily to settle constitutional questions relating to “institutional integrity of the court”, “independence of judiciary” and “office of the Chief Justice of India”.

The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Supreme Court would file an appeal by Monday in the Delhi High Court, which would be heard by a Division Bench comprising a minimum of two judges.

Justice S Ravindra Bhatt, in his decision of September 2, had directed the Supreme Court to provide information about judges’ assets available with the Chief Justice of India to an RTI applicant, Subhash Chand Agarwal, “within one month”. With the period having expired on Wednesday, Agarwal had written to the Supreme Court seeking compliance of the HC order. In response, Agarwal was informed that the appeal against the said order was in the course of being filed in the Delhi HC.

According to sources in the Supreme Court, the appeal has taken strong objection to the manner in which the single judge examined aspects of “essential ethical behaviour of judges” and the binding nature of the May 7, 1997, full court resolution (under which judges decided to declare their assets to the Chief Justice of India), stating that it was never an issue to be decided before the court.

The High Court had held, “The assumption was, and continues to be, that holders of these offices are women and men of impeccable credentials and maintain the highest standards of probity in their professional and personal lives…. Therefore, if they consciously decide to create self-regulatory norms, their adherence is guaranteed.” Under this assumption, the High Court judge considered the assets’ information held by the Chief Justice of India in public capacity and not in fiduciary capacity, directing him to disclose the same.

The appeal has further maintained that the judge committed an error in ruling that the information on assets was “held” and “under the control of” the Chief Justice of India. Stating that for information to be held or to be under the control of an authority it required an element of “sanction”, the CPIO sought to argue that the information being disclosed to the CJI as a result of a voluntary disclosure by judges, he held no authority over it and hence no right was created over such information, sources said.

The court reiterated its argument that information on assets is not held in public domain, for there is a danger in holding it as “information” under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act. This danger was presented by suggesting that several informations were available with the judges of the Supreme Court, for instance draft judgments, notes, collegium decisions etc, which could not be placed in public domain. It further indicated that till there was no law permitting them, there would be no right available with any RTI applicant to seek information privy only to the judges.

Keeping with the only leeway given by the High Court – that the RTI applicant must demonstrate a right to any information being sought, sources added that the Supreme Court CPIO was open to make available the information sought by Agarwal, subject to the above condition.

Judicial officers back CJ Dinakaran

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/bangalore/Judicial-officers-back-CJ-Dinakaran/articleshow/5078948.cms

TNN 2 October 2009, 01:43am IST

BANGALORE: Expressing solidarity with Chief Justice P D Dinakaran, the Karnataka State Judicial Officers Association has termed the recent reports against him an onslaught on the independence of judiciary.

At a special general body meeting on Wednesday, the judicial officers decided to appeal to the Supreme Court to deal with matters of this kind and prevent recurrence of such incidents. Only then can people’s confidence in the judiciary be maintained, they said.

Stating that Justice Dinakaran had an unblemished 13-year service to his credit, the association felt the onslaught was taking place because he is due to be elevated to the apex court.

“The resolution passed by Advocates Association on September 17 that the chief justice should refrain from presiding over the court, is uncalled for and unconstitutional… It is an interference of the greatest magnitude in the independent judiciary,” the judicial officers’ association stated, urging advocates to withdraw the resolution.

BASELESS REPORTS

They said media reports on 50 to 60 per cent of judges being corrupt are baseless. “The reports also claimed that delay in disposal of cases is only on account of laxity of the judiciary. Such statements are highly derogatory and members of the association deprecate the same. The judiciary’s image is tarnished on account of this,” they noted.

“False allegations are being made against judges at all levels without any basis and the courts are often boycotted. The functioning of the judiciary was interfered with only on the basis of reports appearing in the press without verifying the truth…”

Association president Veeranna G Tiagdi has been authorized to submit the resolution to the Supreme Court secretary general, with a request to place it before the Chief Justice of India.

The Bar Council is meeting on Friday to discuss the issue.

A year on, smoking ban appears ineffective

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/chennai/A-year-on-smoking-ban-appears-ineffective/articleshow/5079145.cms

TNN 2 October 2009, 02:37am IST

CHENNAI: The much-hyped ban on smoking in public places was introduced exactly a year ago but the butt is yet to be stubbed. Many continue to puff away in offices, cinemas, railway stations and, in Tamil Nadu, even on the campus of the state secretariat. And the fines collected reflect the lackadaisical attitude of the governments, say healthcare experts.

Tamil Nadu remains on top, having fined 10,979 people and collected Rs 12.6 lakh in fines, but health authorities admit that smoking in public places is still rampant. While Rs 1 lakh was collected in Delhi, it was Rs 3 lakh in Chandigarh, Rs 1.1 lakh in Karnataka and Rs 1.4 lakh in Andhra Pradesh.

“We are only in the initial stages. We only wanted to create awareness. The rule is not meant to just fine people but to make them understand that smoking is harmful. With assistance from pictorial warnings we hope to see a difference,” said a senior health ministry official from New Delhi.

Many doctors aren’t willing to agree particularly after the Tobacco Atlas Catalogue, released by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation last year, rang more than one alarm bell. The study showed that women who smoke have their lifespan shortened by eight years, at least six million children aged between four and 14 work in the beedi industry. The report says India is the second highest consumer of tobacco with the highest number of young smokers.

Tamil Nadu Director for Public Health Dr S Elango said a squad whose members would inspect public places had been set up. “We still have a long way to go. But we have made a good beginning. The state believes that when smoking is curbed it not only discourages people from smoking, it also preserves the right of a non-smoker. More than anything else, we encourage the rights of a non-smoker. It’s important considering that we have huge problem of non-communicable diseases,” he said.

People like Adyar Cancer Institute chairman Dr V Shantha have been urging steps to break the marketing network of tobacco giants. “Curbing people from smoking can prevent several diseases, including cancer.”

Data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy show a 75% increase in the production of cigarettes in India since 2004.

The direct and indirect cost of tobacco use in India is estimated to be at least Rs 350 billion. At least 83% of the deaths in the world due to tobacco are in low and middle income countries. Four countries China, Brazil, India and the US produce at least two-thirds of the cigarettes sold across the world. While global tobacco production has doubled since the 1960s, low and middle resource countries show a 300% increase in tobacco consumption. Meanwhile, tobacco consumption dropped by more than 50% in high-income countries. In 2006, world tobacco production totalled nearly 7 million metric tonnes with 85% of the toxic leaf grown in middle income resource countries.

2002 riots case: Ode killings may see 2 trials

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/ahmedabad/2002-riots-case-Ode-killings-may-see-2-trials/articleshow/5078990.cms

TNN 2 October 2009, 01:12am IST

AHMEDABAD: More than seven years later, the 2002 massacre at Ode village in Anand district in which 24 persons were killed, may now have two separate trials. This might add one more trial to the current nine on-going cases of Special Investigation Team (SIT).

The Gujarat High Court has cleared way for separate prosecution of witnesses by rejecting a petition by the accused who opposed the non-bailable warrants issued against them.

The police apparently made a mistake in this post-Godhra case by filing one FIR for two incidents one of Jampliwala building in Ode where 23 persons were burnt alive on March 1, and the other where an elderly man was killed in his vehicle on the outskirts of the village on March 2.

The investigating officer (IO) lodged an FIR for 23 killings the next day itself but learnt about the murder of the elderly man on March 5. The IO filed two chargesheets one against 51 persons for March 1 offence and the other against 33 for killing the man, which was technically wrong.

But, this was pointed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT when it began investigation in 2008. After further probe, SIT amended the chargesheets and dropped 17 out of 33 accused persons from chargesheet filed for the killing of the man. The chief judicial magistrate, Umreth issued non-bailable warrant against 16 accused persons.

The accused opposed the warrant on grounds that SIT could not arrest them twice in a single offence. They claimed that both the chargesheets were submitted to sessions court, Nadiad as one case, and they were released on bail by the court in 2002.

The lower courts’ decision that 16 accused should surrender to court for the committal process of charge sheet B has been upheld by Justice HN Devani. The high court judge refused the accused’s request to stay SIT and lower courts from initiating procedure against them to move the apex court.

Mobile court launched in Hazaribag

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/city/ranchi/Mobile-court-launched-in-Hazaribag/articleshow/5078181.cms

TNN 1 October 2009, 11:30pm IST

HAZARIBAG: On the directive of the Jharkhand State Legal Services Authority, the district unit legal services authority on Thursday launched a month-long campaign Nyay Aapke Dwar Par (Justice at your doorstep) to provide quick justice to people, especially those living in rural areas.

Earlier in the day, district and sessions judge Sheo Narayan Singh flagged off a van which would hold “lok adalat-cum-legal awareness camps” in the rural areas of the district.

The first mobile court was held at Barhi. A large number of villagers attended the camp. Barhi subdivisional judicial magistrate Vijay Kumar apprised the villagers of the benefits of the mobile courts. He said that the mobile adalats would provide justice to people free of cost.

Chief judicial magistrate-cum-secretary of the district legal services authority, Hazaribag, informed people that the mobile lok adalats would take up cases relating to payments under NREGA programmes, minimum wages Act, revenue, forest and excise. He said that the mobile lok adalats would also settle petty criminal cases.

On the very first day, the mobile court settled as many as 31 cases, including both civil and criminal offences, Pandey said.

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