LEGAL NEWS 04.10.2009

3 lakh cheque bouncing cases in Mumbai, only 23 courts
PTI 4 October 2009, 09:51am IST
MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has asked the Maharashtra government what it is going to do to ensure faster disposal of cheque bouncing cases.

In Mumbai alone, some three lakh cheque-bouncing cases are currently pending and there are only 23 special magistrate courts to deal with these cases.

The government gave this information to the Bombay High Court recently, during the hearing on a PIL about pendency of cases.

Additional government pleader Anand Patil informed the court that government has framed the rules for setting up evening courts in the state, which would help reduce the growing pendency.

But the division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice A M Khanwilkar was not happy with the plan.

Initially there would be twenty evening courts (ten in Mumbai) which would function from 1800 hours to 2000 hours.

The judges pointed out that evening court would not be dealing with cheque bouncing cases exclusively.

Further, the judges also expressed apprehension about practicability of setting up evening court without recruiting additional staff.

Govt staff can’t take part in political agitation: HC
A Subramani, TNN 4 October 2009, 06:15am IST
CHENNAI: Sounding a warning to government servants taking part in political agitations and courting arrest, the Madras High Court has upheld the dismissal of a government employee who had participated in the DMK’s anti-Hindi agitation in 1986 and was convicted for the criminal offence of burning a copy of the Constitution.

Justice K Chandru, refusing to interfere with the dismissal, ruled: “A government servant ought not to have participated in the agitation conducted by a political party, got himself arrested and convicted for burning a copy of the Constitution. He also did not inform his employer about the conviction.”

Justice Chandru was passing the order after dismissing the writ petition of a commercial tax department employee K Karunanidhi, who was dismissed from service after he was convicted of charges of burning a copy of the Constitution of India during the anti-Hindi agitation in Tamil Nadu in 1986.

As Karunanidhi, who filed the case originally, had died during the pendency of the case, it is now being pursued by his wife K Kantha.

Karunanidhi was arrested and kept in Cuddalore Central Jail between November 21, 1986 and January 22, 1987. Later, he was convicted by a Villupuram court and was sentenced to two-week imprisonment for offences punishable under the provisions of the IPC as well as the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971.

Without disclosing his conviction to authorities, Karunanidhi applied for leave for a total of 138 days. After the issue was brought to the notice of the authorities, disciplinary proceedings were initiated against him and he was dismissed from service in December 1997. Though he had moved the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal, the matter was transferred to the High Court after the abolition of the tribunal.

Among other things, his counsel CA Diwakar contended that dismissal was a punishment disproportionate to his offence.

Justice Chandru, rejecting the submissions, said that burning a copy of the Constitution was a “serious offence” and it would attract the penal provisions of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act. Pointing out that 10 MLAs too lost their jobs for committing the very same offence, the judge said that in November 1986 the assembly passed a resolution disqualifying them from holding the posts.

Citing the Supreme Court observation that the National Flag, the National Anthem and the Constitution were symbols of the sovereignty of the country, Justice Chandru said the apex court had cautioned that prolonged absence of a government servant did not deserve any indulgence.

Drop Quattrocchi case in ‘public interest’, CBI tells HC
TNN 4 October 2009, 04:07am IST
NEW DELHI: The CBI on Saturday invoked “public interest” and sought withdrawal of the Bofors payoff case against Ottavio Quattrocchi before a Delhi court — it also cited its failure to twice extradite him, for good measure.

Seeking legal burial of the case against the Italian businessman on the grounds that “continuance of his prosecution will be unjustified”, the agency said it has arrived at this conclusion after its failure on two occasions to extradite the 69-year-old businessman from Malaysia and Argentina to face trial.

The CBI, which also relied on various other factors including the Delhi HC judgments quashing charges against all other co-accused to justify its decision, claimed in the court that the application to withdraw the case has been filed in public interest.

“In any event, the attempts to secure the presence of Quattrocchi from Malaysia and Argentina have failed. I find that the Malaysian court has also touched upon the merits of the case,” additional solicitor general P P Malhotra and advocate Naveen K Matta submitted before chief metropolitan magistrate Kaveri Baweja, on behalf of the agency.

CJI seeks report from Tamil Nadu
J. Venkatesan
New Delhi: Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has called for a report from the Tamil Nadu government on the allegations against the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, P.D. Dinakaran, that he acquired large land holdings.
Justice Dinakaran is among the five judges recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court by the Supreme Court collegium. The file is pending with the Union Law Ministry in view of the recent allegations.
Highly placed sources told Hindu The that “since we wanted to verify the facts, we called for a report from the State government/District Collector.”
Justice Dinakaran has already met the CJI and denied the allegations.
Asked whether calling for the report could be called a probe, the sources said: “You can’t call it a probe. We want some details in respect of the land holdings and whether there is encroachment or not.”

Panel finds fresh evidence of land-grabbing by Dinakaran
Manoj Mitta, TNN 4 October 2009, 04:17am IST
NEW DELHI: Even as CJI K G Balakrishnan is holding a discreet inquiry into allegations of land-grabbing by prospective SC judge P D Dinakaran, Chennai’s Forum for Judicial Accountability (FJA) has come up with more serious evidence of properties allegedly acquired by him and his immediate family members.

The highlight of the third and latest representation sent by FJA to the SC collegium on October 1 is his alleged modus operandi to acquire three prime plots in 2005 from Tamil Nadu Housing Board near the IT corridor of Chennai for his wife Vinodhini Dinakaran and daughters Amudha and Amirtha.

Violation of eligibility conditions

His parents-in-law, James Kuppuswamy and Paripoornam, were allegedly benami for his daughters. The plots that finally went to the daughters were originally applied for in the names of his parents-in-law. Since those plots of about 350 sq metres were meant for high-income group, it required the applicants to have an annual income of at least Rs 90,000. But the housing board allotted plots to Dinakaran’s parents-in-law although his father-in-law’s declared annual income was merely Rs 56,668 and his mother-in-law’s was Rs 49,200.

Transfer of land within two days of allotment

The transfer of land from parents-in-law to daughters, made through a family settlement, violated the public house scheme meant for the benefit of those without property and in need of housing. The allotment itself was in violation of the one-plot-per-family rule.

Dinakaran’s order helps his family get plots

Since his wife and parents-in-law were among the applicants for the housing board land near the IT corridor, Dinakaran should have declined to hear a case challenging the land acquisition. Yet, it was thanks to his order that the land acquisition was upheld and that in turn paved the way for the housing board to effect sales in favour of, among other allottees, his wife and parents-in-law. FJA called this a “gross abuse of office and subversion of justice”.

Another shocking property transaction brought out by FJA is the purchase by his mother-in-law of a 4.5-acre bungalow in Ooty in August just around the time Dinakaran’s name was cleared by the collegium to be elevated to the apex court from his current post of chief justice of the Karnataka high court. Though the market value of that property was Rs 8 crore and the government guideline value was Rs 3 crore, the transaction was grossly undervalued at Rs 33,75,100.

Even so, his mother-in-law, who retired as a school headmistress, and his father-in-law, who retired as a security officer, did not by their own admission have the resources to buy the Ooty and Chennai properties, FJA pointed out.

In its earlier representations, FJA had focused on the manner in which Dinankaran and his family, after he became a judge, allegedly fenced off over 300 acres of land in Kaverirajapuram village in Tiruvalluvar district (near Chennai). FJA had also sent balance sheets of the four companies through which Dinakaran and his family allegedly consolidated their hold over the fenced-off land which included 150 acres of government land meant for community use. FJA also alleged irregularities in the properties owned by Dinakaran in the localities of Anna Nagar and Shenoy Nagar in Chennai.

No lawyer wants to touch this case
Manoj Mitta, TOI Crest 3 October 2009, 01:35pm IST
It’s the kind of lapse the Supreme Court wouldn’t have allowed the government to get away with. But this time, the shoe is on the other foot. For, it’s none other than the Supreme Court itself that has defaulted for four years on a statutory obligation that makes it mandatory for the court to make disclosures regarding its powers, duties, budget, processes – almost all the things that tell you how the wheels of justice turn in the country’s apex court.

Under the four-year-old Right to Information (RTI) Act, the court was required to make these disclosures way back in October 2005. There have since been two chief justices, but neither took the trouble to make the disclosures required under section 4(1)( b), indicating a certain disregard for the law, which in any other case would have made the Supreme Court furious.

Finally, an organisation, Youth for Equality (YFE), got sufficiently agitated about this lapse and decided to file a petition – where else? – in the Supreme Court, naming the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan as the sole respondent. YFE ran into difficulties straight away. None of the advocates-on-record – the community of lawyers who can file pleadings in the court – agreed to take on the case.

Ironically, when YFE – a body of students, teachers and professionals – filed an earlier petition in the Supreme Court against reservation in educational institutions, it became something of a rallying point for the middle class, including lawyers. This time it was something of an outcast – with advocates-onrecord , at least. And with the court registry.

YFE finally decided to file the petition itself as “petitionerin-person” with the court registry. The registry got back pointing out “defects” in the petition. One of the seven issues raised was: “Petitioner-in-person to clarify why Chief Justice of India made party.” YFE replied promptly that the CJI could not be avoided as the RTI Act had designated him as the “competent authority” for the Supreme Court. Therefore, he was accountable for its failure to comply with a statutory obligation. YFE responded to all seven “defects” six months ago. There has been no word from the registry. It has neither rejected the clarifications nor listed the petition for hearing. YFE president Kaushal Kant Mishra, an orthopaedic surgeon , approached the registry last month to check the case status. He was not allowed to inspect the file. Crest asked YFE lawyer-member Gopal Sankaranarayanan why they were being obstinate about naming the CJI as the sole respondent . Why didn’t YFE break the deadlock by substituting the CJI with the registrar as the respondent ? “But the buck stops with him,” said Sankaranarayan. The CJI under RTI, he said, was not just the head of a public authority but also the designated competent authority in matters concerning the apex court. “It’s therefore a matter of principle for us,” he added.

Much as the CJI is legally and morally responsible for administrative lapses of the Supreme Court, it is debatable whether YFE was justified in naming him the sole respondent. For, as RTI lawyer Divyajyoti Jaipuriar pointed out, “The function of the competent authority is to frame rules for the implementation of RTI. He is not supposed to be directly involved in the measures taken to comply with the law.”

However, the technicality over who should have been named the respondent does not detract from the importance of the issue raised by the petition. Section 4(1)( b) is a key aspect of the RTI scheme. The provision makes it mandatory for every public authority – the Supreme Court included – to disclose suo motu (on its own) details about the powers and duties of its functionaries, its decision-making process, the nature of documents under its control, its budget, disbursements and so on.

This was required of every public authority within 120 days of RTI becoming law. The deadline was, accordingly, October 12, 2005. The law also made it clear that the public authority concerned would update the information from time to time.

The Supreme Court has not put up on its website – one of the mandated methods to make information public – as many as 15 categories of information concerning its functioning. It has put up just one category of information – the names and contact details of the information officer and the first appellate authority under RTI. It’s a far cry from the elaborate columns

containing all 16 categories of information on the websites of other public authorities.

Those courts that put all 16 categories of information in the prescribed format on their websites include the Bombay, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan high courts. The Andhra high court has come out with a 22-page manual complying with the proactive disclosures specified in section 4(1)( b).

What could be the justification for the Supreme Court then to withhold information that would lend high transparency to its functioning ? Should the Supreme Court not lead by example? The RTI explains the rationale behind proactive disclosures thus: “It shall be a constant endeavour of every public authority…to provide as much information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communication, including internet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information.” Would the

apex court disagree with this?

The Delhi high court, while ruling that the CJI’s office came under the ambit of RTI, said: “Judges are under attack and revealing assets and other information may increase the reputation of judges.” The failure to make proactive disclosure under section 4(1)( b) is actually more than a matter of reputation. “The omission of this statutory duty is in line with the hostility betrayed by Justice Balakrishnan to all matters relating to RTI, putting the Supreme Court way behind other institutions in transparency,” advocate-activist Prashant Bhushan said.

There is much for the Supreme Court – and the CJI himself – to explain, if and when YFE’s petition is taken up. The wiser option is to make the petition redundant by taking preemptive action and putting out all the mandated information.

Incomplete Disclosures


Andhra Pradesh High Court Bombay High Court Karnataka High Court Madhya Pradesh High Court Rajasthan High Court


Supreme Court Delhi High Court Madras High Court Calcutta High Court Punjab & Haryana High Court

KSBC also a divided house News Service
First Published : 03 Oct 2009 04:02:47 AM IST
Last Updated : 03 Oct 2009 11:08:13 AM IST

BANGALORE: Karnataka State Bar Council (KSBC) has ‘unanimously’ resolved to request Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan, to consider allegations made against Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinakaran and take an appropriate decision at the earliest.
KSBC held a meeting on Friday and discussed the issue at length. It finally resolved to leave the issue to the CJI and the collegium of the Supreme Court to take an appropriate decision.
“We have resolved that the Supreme Court should evolve a machinery to examine allegations against members of the higher judiciary without compromising on the independence of the judiciary,” R Abdul Reyaz Khan, chairman of KSBC, told reporters after the meeting.
“The CJI is yet to look into the allegations. But media reports have caused great embarrassment to the judiciary,” the resolution of the KSBC said.
“The allegations are under consideration by the collegium.
The correctness of these allegations have to be expeditiously examined and a decision should be taken so that public confidence in the institution is not shaken.
So, KSBC will have to repose faith in the collegium of the Supreme Court and CJI,” the resolution said.
KSBC has also blamed and condemned media reports.
But it has kept mum over the recent resolution by the Bangalore Advocates Association asking the CJ not to sit in the first court until he is cleared of the charges.
“We have no power to pass a resolution asking the CJ not to preside over the judicial proceedings,” Reyaz said.
“I am not in favour of the KSBC resolution. I stick to my stand that the Chief Justice should not sit in the first court until he is cleared of the charges,” Y R Sadashiva Reddy, former chairman of KSBC told reporters after the meeting.


One Response

  1. Neat thoughts here and I enjoy your take on things. One thing I’ve witnessed is what we think about is 100% what we become. We create our own reality.

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