LEGAL NEWS 23.02.2010

SC to hear PILs on Telangana issue

New Delhi:The Supreme Court today decided to hear a petition seeking laying down of guidelines for exercising powers by the government to go into the contentious issue of carving out separate state of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh.

The apex court allowed the plea for deleting the prayer in the petition challenging the validity of the government  action appointing the Justice B N Srikrishna Commission to look into the creation of new Telangana state.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and Justice B S Chauhan posted the PIL for hearing after four weeks in which it has been contended that no constitutional power can be exercised arbitrarily and at will without there being any guidelines or basis.

Mont Blanc Apologises for Gandhi Pen

Kochi | Feb 23, 2010

Swiss luxury giant Mont Blanc today tendered an unconditional apology in the Kerala High Court on the issue of sale of its high-end Mahatma Gandhi edition pens, saying it did not intend to hurt the sentiments of any citizen.

Mont Blanc Simplo GmBH also gave an undertaking before a division bench that the limited edition pens, each of which cost Rs 14 lakh, would not be sold until further orders.

The Bench comprising acting Chief Justice P R Raman and Justice C N Ramachandran Nair was hearing a PIL filed by Dijo Kappan complaining that sale of pen in the name of Gandhi violates the provisions of Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950.

The company said they were tendering an “unconditional” apology if the sentiments of any of the citizen had been hurt.

The bench directed the company to file a further affidavit incorporating the assurance given to the court.

In the counter affidavit filed by Marc Frisanco, authorised signatory of the company, it claimed that they have a long history of supporting charitable causes as well as the heritage and importance of iconic historical figures from art and culture to world leaders in different platforms.

It was further stated that they would be donating USD nine lakh to charitable institutions in India especially those recommended by Gandhi’s great grandson Tushar Gandhi.

The company submitted it had no intention of violating the provisions of the Act.

Mont Blanc said they were under the erroneous impression that permission from the central government was not required for bringing out the limited edition pens.

They had no intention of using Gandhi’s name or picture as part of the trade, it said.

The company sought a direction to the central government to regularise use of Gandhi’s name and picture on the pen.

Earlier, Mont Blanc’s request was rejected by the central government on December 20 last year.

Filed At: Feb 23, 2010 19:03 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 23, 2010 19:03 IST

The Krishna Iyer effect on the Supreme Court

DYNAMIC LAWYERING: Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer; Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., C-FF-IA, Dilkhush Industrial Estate, G. T. Karnal Road, Delhi-110033. Rs. 350.

This is a compilation of 31 essays and lectures of Justice Krishna Iyer on a range of issues, not all of them on law. Some are on contemporary concerns such as global warming, secularism, tribal rights, the rights of pensioners, PIL, animal rights, and India-Pakistan relations. Also included are opinion pieces, reflecting his inimitable style, on individuals such as E.M.S. Namboodiripad, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Mahesh Yogi, besides a few correspondences and addresses from the bar.

It is hard to select the best from the bunch, since his essays philosophise, inspire, nudge, provoke, and shake you to work towards ethical standards in life. Therefore, I have opted to cite a few select quotes from the writings which are illustrative of the sharp and incisive nature of his opinions.

Code of conduct

The book starts with his speech on the theme ‘Dynamic lawyering, juristic engineering and ethical standards’, where he exhorts lawyers to spiritualise the practice of law. In a scathing remark, he describes the practice of the Supreme Court turning down petitions under Article 32, with a direction that the petitioners approach the High Court, as shirking of duty and observes that the seeming short cut “has sterilized Article 32,” apart from needlessly multiplying work at a time when courts at both levels are choked with arrears. He advocates a constitutional amendment to provide for a Judicial Performance Commission and an Advocate Performance Commission.

In another article, Justice Iyer seeks public regulation, a Selection Commission, and a code of conduct for judges. On the critical question of appointment of judges to the higher judiciary, he observes that to be a judge one need not be a “versatile genius.” “It violates all noesis and commonsense to empower a lay collegium which has no constitutional foundation except a self-serving ruling. The court is under the Constitution and not over it.”

In the Shankar Guha Niyogi memorial lecture, he minces no words in speaking up for tribal rights. He says, the Indian Constitution is “deaf and dumb in these tribal regions. The locomotive of people’s liberation is the spirit of autonomy, more human right, less centralism, less illusions about peace through police action.”

Talking of secularism, in his Hakeem Abdul Hameed memorial lecture, he observes: “Indian secularism, without borrowing from Western nationalism or Marxian materialism, must go to its roots of comity of religions, camaraderie of faiths, [and a] beautiful blend of divine light and cross fertilization of divergent teachings which made for a vibrant fellowship of church, mosque, temple and other shrines.”


The book also has vignettes from legal history including his order granting conditional stay of the verdict of the Allahabad High Court that held Indira Gandhi’s election as void, as also his last judgment that addressed the discrimination of historically disadvantaged groups in matters of employment in the railways. ( Akhil Bharatiya Soshit Karamchari Sangh vs Union of India)

Justice Krishna Iyer introduced the concept of public interest litigation in Ratlam Municipality vs Vardichan. His landmark verdicts on criminal jurisprudence, giving a new dimension to human rights and the rule of law in the 1980s, continue to have great relevance today. As Harish Salve says, the Supreme Court of India was ‘Krishnaiyerised’ to become the ‘Supreme Court for Indians.’

These essays need to be read by all those who are concerned with not just the judiciary but with probity in public life. A flaw in the book is that the dates of the speeches and articles are not indicated.

Uproar in Bihar assembly over multi-crore excise scam

February 23rd, 2010 – 5:08 pm ICT by IANS

Patna, Feb 23 (IANS) The opposition created an uproar in the Bihar assembly Tuesday over the demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the multi-crore excise scam.
The opposition, on the second day of the month-long budget session of the Bihar assembly, raised slogans for a CBI probe into the scam that forced assembly speaker Udai Narayan Choudhry to adjourn the state assembly till noon.

Some opposition members neared the speker’s podium and raised slogans against the state government led by Nitish Kumar.

Opposition members announced they would march to the governor’s house to submit a memorandum demanding a CBI probe into the scam.

Last week Bihar Excise Minister Jamshed Ashraf was sacked after he alleged there was a “multi-crore scam” in his department that involved people in the chief minister’s secretariat.

Ashraf created a storm nearly two weeks ago when he spoke of a Rs.500 crore fraud in the excise department, with alleged connivance of senior bureaucrats.

He also questioned Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s “silence” on the issue, claiming he had shot off letters to him and Chief Secretary Anup Mukherjee asking for a probe into the graft. He also threatened to reveal more on a public platform in the coming days.

Last week Nitish Kumar rejected the opposition demand for a CBI probe into the scam.

Nitish Kumar brushed aside the charges by Ashraf stating that nobody could influence or purchase him.

A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Patna High Court seeking a probe by the CBI into the alleged excise scam.

SC asks EC to see if elephant statues violate poll code

23 Feb 2010, 0423 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Election Commission to decide within three months whether installation of statues of elephants by Uttar Pradesh chief minster Mayawati under her pet statue project at huge cost of public money is violative of the poll code.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B S Chauhan asked the poll panel to decide the issue by May. The state government, however, has taken the stand that the statues of elephants should not be construed as a mere election symbol of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), but it is a welcome symbol.

“We have given reply to the Election Commission that the elephants installed in parks are not the election symbol of the party as alleged, but a welcome symbol.” “Even in North Block and South Block (which has offices of key ministries) here, You have elephant statues,” said senior advocate and Mayawati’s close aide S C Mishra appearing for the state government.

The court was hearing a PIL which said that 60 statues of elephants were being installed by Uttar Pradesh government at a cost of Rs 52.20 crore at public places by utilising state funds.


SC to hear PILs on statehood

TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 02.08am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court decided on Monday to hear a petition seeking laying down of guidelines for exercising powers by the government to go into the contentious issue of carving out a separate state of Telangana from Andhra.

The SC allowed the plea for deleting the prayer in the petition challenging the validity of the government action appointing the Justice B N Srikrishna Commission to look into the creation of a new Telangana state.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan posted the PIL for hearing after four weeks. The PIL contends that no constitutional power can be exercised arbitrarily and at will.

Choudhary to continue probe in Koda scam case


Ranchi, Feb 23 (PTI) Ordering status quo, the Jharkhand High Court today directed the Income Tax department that its transferred senior official Ujjwal Choudhary will remain in his previous post and continue to probe the Madhu Koda case.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra and Justice R R Prasad, while hearing a PIL observed that Choudhary, Director (Income Tax-Investigation), should remain in Ranchi Circle in the same post.

Shortly after the court order, Choudhary told PTI, “I will continue to work to the best of my ability.”

The PIL filed by social activist Durga Oraon sought status quo in the case of Choudhary who was transfered on February 19 when he was in Chaibasa during countrywide raids at 70 places in connection with the RS 2000 crore money laundering charges against the former Jharkhand chief minister and some others.

SC moved against holding of IPL matches at night


New Delhi, Feb 23 (PTI) A PIL was today filed in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on holding of IPL cricket matches at night citing reasons ranging from security threat to waste of energy in illuminating the stadium.

“The probability of extremists’ attack is more during night hours… Power cut is very common in all parts of the country. We should, therefore, be rational in using power. In order to cater to the requirements of the cricket matches, there will be accelerated power cut in more and more areas,” the PIL filed jointly by a Kolkata-based forum and others said.

The Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samity which filed the PIL along with Howrah residents — Subhash Datta and Subhash Chandra Basu — said public money cannot be used for the commercial venture of private organisations or individuals.

High Court quashes proceeding against Manoje Nath

(BiharTimes) In an important judgement Patna High Court quashed the proceeding against senior police officer and Director General of Sports Authority, Manoje Nath on Monday.

The proceedings were initiated against him after his refusal to conduct an inquiry into the incident of seizure of liquor and arms from the RJD candidate from Jamui constituency , Vijay Prakash Yadav  during 2005 assembly elections.

The judgement delivered by a bench headed by justice S K Katriar paved the way for his elevation for the post of DGP as he would be the senior most IPS officer after the retirement of current DGP Anand Shankar on 28th February this year.

Gujarat HC sanctions scheme of arrangement between Aditya Birla Nuvo and its wholly-owned subsidiaries

Diversified conglomerate Aditya Birla Nuvo has informed that the scheme of arrangement between the holding company Aditya Birla Nuvo (ABNL) and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, viz. Madura Garments Exports, Peter England Fashions and retail and MG Lifestyle Clothing Company and their respective shareholders and creditors has been sanctioned by the Gujarat High Court (HC).

Further, the company has informed that March 9, 2010 has been fixed as the record date for ascertaining the preference shareholders of Peter England Fashions, who will be entitled for preference shares of the company as per the said scheme of arrangement.

Aditya Birla Nuvo has a balanced portfolio of traditional and new age businesses under its fold, ranging from textiles to life insurance.

HC reserves order on Sajjan’s bail plea; no interim relief–no-interim-relief/583014/

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Feb 23, 2010 at 0048 hrs New Delhi:

Facing the prospect of arrest in the wake of a non-bailable warrant (NBW) issued against him, Congress leader Sajjan Kumar will have to wait for some time before the Delhi High Court decides whether or not he deserves protection from the coercive order. The court on Monday reserved its verdict on Kumar’s bail plea after the CBI said putting him behind bars would dispel the fear of witnesses, while he expressed readiness to undergo scientific tests to prove his innocence in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases.

Justice A K Pathak, however, refused to grant any immediate relief to the politician whose NBW is returnable by Tuesday before the magistrate at the lower court. “I will not do any job which is to be done by the magistrate,” Justice Pathak said, when Kumar’s advocate pleaded for interim relief by exempting him from personal appearance on Tuesday before the trial court.

The court, however, said it will try its best to pass its order on his bail plea at the earliest.

Divorced woman cannot use ex-husband’s name: HC


Posted: Friday , Feb 19, 2010 at 1729 hrs Mumbai:

Bombay High Court has held that a divorced woman cannot use her former husband’s name.

In an order passed early this week, High Court directed a woman to refrain from using husband’s name and surname.

Earlier, Principal judge of the family court in Mumbai had restrained the woman, Asha, from using her ex-husband Ramesh’s name and surname as their marriage had ended four years ago.

Court granted divorce to Asha and Ramesh (both names changed) in 2006. But when Asha filed application for maintenance, Ramesh took a stand that she was still using his name and surname, and urged the family court to restrain her from doing so.

He alleged that she was misusing his name, was posing as his wife, and putting him in embarrassing situations.

Asha, on the other hand, argued that since she had challenged divorce in the Supreme Court, where her appeal was still pending, she was still his wife.

The family court held that the marriage had come to an end and she could not use husband’s name any longer.

Asha then filed appeal in the High Court.

However, the High Court refused to interfere with family court’s order, saying that she has to abide by family court’s order, and would not use husband’s name anywhere, including her bank accounts.

Briefly Mumbai

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Feb 23, 2010 at 2352 hrs Mumbai:

HC seeks police reply on illegal detention
The HC has sought a reply from two officers with Matunga police station for detaining a person illegally for over 20 hours in August 2009. According to Abhaychandra Yadav (28), the petitioner, he was illegally detained by senior police inspector Deshmukh and police sub-inspector Arjun Sawant. Justices Ranjana Desai and Mridula Bhatkar directed Deshmukh and Sawant to file their reply in a week.

Man who kidnapped stepfather gets bail
The Bombay High Court on Monday granted bail to Mikhail Zaveri who had kidnapped his stepfather for ransom last year. The court granted bail for an amount of Rs 20,000. The court told Zaveri he should not keep any contact with his mother or stepfather while on bail.

Move to hike retirement age of SC, HC judges flounders

TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 12.50am IST

NEW DELHI: A strong push to increase the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 65 to 68 years and high court judges from 62 to 65 years seems to be floundering, with those behind the move finding it difficult to mobilize support from within the government and political parties.

Though the sentiment among the political class seems to be in favour of the move, it has not gelled into solid political backing for the constitutional amendment that would be required for the age hike.

Law minister Veerappa Moily said there was no such move. However, sources in the ruling coalition as well as in Opposition parties confirmed that efforts were on to mop up support.

Under the Constitution, raising the age limit will require amending Article 124(2) by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Government managers, it is learnt, have sounded out the Opposition, but the non-Congress parties have not warmed up to the idea till now. There are misgivings within Congress as well — one reason why its support to the move has appeared tentative to many.

The issue of timing is crucial, for Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan is due to retire in April.
While the idea may not come to fruition immediately, it is not seen without merit. For instance, it is pointed out that increase in retirement age of HC judges would solve the problem of more than 250 vacancies in high courts as sitting judges would get three more years.

Wife or husband’s attorney cannot appear in family courts : Bombay HC


Tuesday, February 23, 2010 9:24 IST

Mumbai: In a significant order, the Bombay high court has held that persons holding power of attorney cannot appear or argue for wife or husband in a matrimonial dispute in family court.

“If constituted attorneys of the parties are allowed to appear, the court would be overrun by any number of unqualified, unenrolled persons”, justice Roshan Dalvi ruled.

The order was passed last week on a petition filed by Neelam Shewale challenging a family court ruling which refused her plea to be represented by a constituted attorney.

The petitioner pleaded that she may be allowed to be represented by her constituted attorney as she is ill, does not know English, has been mentally tortured at the hands of husband and would not be able to stand the court proceeding.

The family court had also rejected an application filed by her attorney seeking permission to represent the wife as she cannot financially afford a lawyer. It was argued that in family courts, lawyers are normally not permitted and that she would be entitled to help of a person she has faith in.

Under Section 13 of Family Courts Act, no party is entitled as a matter of right to be represented by a legal practitioner. However, the Court may appoint legal expert as amicus curie to assist her/him. A party has right to appear before the Family Court. No one can object to such appearance.

In this case, the wife did not desire to have an advocate. She had even refused legal aid offered to her and said she had faith only in her attorney.

The court observed that the object of Section 13 of Family Courts Act is to allow a party to represent her/his case and consequently right of lawyer to plead and appear in Court is limited but the right given to the party to appear is not extended to that party’s constituted attorney.

Hence, the general law of procedure under Order 3 Rule 1 as also the special laws contained in the Bar Councils Act and the Bombay Pleaders Act would apply even in a Family Court, justice Dalvi ruled.

The object of that provision is that only qualified persons are entitled to appear in courts and represent the case of their parties. The qualification is of the knowledge of the law and the enrollment under the Act, the judge noted.

“If constituted attorneys of all the parties are allowed to appear, the Court would be overrun by any number of unqualified, unenrolled persons. Since Civil Procedure Code would generally apply to a Family Court under Section 10 of the Act, the restraint upon appearance under Order 3 of the Code must hold good,” justice Dalvi observed.

“Consequently both the orders of the Family Court disallowing constituted attorney to appear for the wife are correct and cannot be interfered with,” the judge noted and dismissed the petition filed by the wife challenging the impugned orders.

BBMP polls: SC to HC, the ping-pong goes on,+the+ping-pong+goes+on&artid=7TnXxPVkkp8=&SectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&MainSectionID=wIcBMLGbUJI=&SectionName=UOaHCPTTmuP3XGzZRCAUTQ==&SEO=

Express News Service

First Published : 23 Feb 2010 04:36:00 AM IST

Last Updated : 23 Feb 2010 08:02:03 AM IST

BANGALORE: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the state government’s special leave petition against the Karnataka High Court order which said that BBMP polls be held before March 30. The day also saw the State Election Commission (SEC) tell the SC that it was pegging the poll date for March 14 — four days before the start of the PUC exams.

The development was yet another setback to the government which has been persistent in its bid to defer the long overdue elections. The state government’s only relief was in the SC’s observation that the government can approach the HC if it has any problems in issuing the list on reservation of wards.

The SC bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice Deepak Varma and Justice B S Chauhan at one point also suggested that the exams be deferred awhile, if it will facilitate the BBMP elections which has been pending for nearly four years now.

As per the standing order of the Karnataka High Court, the government should have sent the list on reservation of wards to the SEC by Monday. With the notification on reservation of wards itself yet to be, no list reached the SEC.

Pending the SC verdict on its SLP, the state government had on last Friday filed an application before the HC seeking relaxation of two days to notify and issue the wards list.

Interestingly, appearing for the government, senior counsel PP Rao on Monday told the SC that Friday’s application was “a mistake” and insisted on three months time — till June — to hold the polls.


Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the SEC, noted that the March 14 slot would be ideal for polls in the wake of the PUC exams beginning on March 18 and the census and GP polls down the line.

The state government snubbed it pointing out that the CBSE exams will be starting in the first week of March and the state government has no control over the central board exams. The SC bench wondered if the Karnataka government realises that it will be in contempt of the HC if polls are not held by March 30.

HC quashes proceedings against cop

Ravi Dayal, TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 04.06am IST

PATNA: In a development described as important by many in state police circles, the Patna High Court on Monday quashed the departmental proceedings initiated against Sports Authority DG Manoje Nath.

The proceedings were initiated for his refusal to investigate an incident involving seizure of liquor, cash and ammunitions from RJD’s Jamui candidate Vijay Prakash Yadav during assembly elections in 2005.

The HC ruling should be music to the ears of Nath, more so because it clears decks for his elevation to the post of DGP after current incumbent Anand Shankar retires on February 28 this year. Nath, a 1973-batch officer, happens to be the seniormost officer among the remaining three DGs after Shankar retires with J K Khanna belonging to the ’74 batch and Neelmani to the ’75 batch.

If the state government goes by the seniority, chances of Khanna and Neelmani getting to the top cop’s post would be bleak with both of them retiring in 2011 while Nath is to retire in 2012.

Allowing Nath’s petition that sought quashing of proceedings against him, a single bench presided by Justice S K Katriar also quashed the charge that he made indecent remarks in his representation to state officials following
his refusal to probe the Jamui incident.

Nath’s counsel Shrawan Kumar, Rajiv Nayan Singh and A K Dubey submitted before the court their client stayed away from the investigation into the case as desired by the then DGP, Ashish Ranjan Sinha, simply because the local police had already lodged an FIR and were investigating the case. A fresh probe by Nath would have amounted to a parallel police investigation, the counsel said and wondered why the then DGP Sinha did not appreciate the legal position taken by Nath.

The counsel further submitted that Nath had duly communicated his decision and explanation thereof to the Election Commission of India. Satisfied with his explanation, the ECI entrusted the probe to the Munger division commissioner, the counsel said and added the state government was not even competent to initiate the proceedings as any such incident happening during elections falls under the control of the ECI.

The counsel also submitted that Nath’s representation to the principal secretary to the governor regarding the “demoralising effect on police due to the utterances of the then DGP against him (Nath)” had wrongly been construed by the government to be indecent. The same was the case with Nath’s letter to the then DGP Sinha, the counsel added.

Government advocate Prabhakar Tekriwal opposed Nath’s petition, submitting the state government rightly initiated the proceedings against him.

HC reprieve for Modi in flag dishonour case

Abhinav Sharma, TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 04.01am IST

JAIPUR: Rajasthan High Court on Monday stayed the investigation into the alleged dishonour of the national flag during the India -Pakistan match of IPL-1 held at SMS stadium on November 18, 2007, allegedly by some Pakistani guests of IPL chief Lalit Modi.

The order was passed by Justice Karni Singh Rathore while modifying an interim order passed earlier which directed the police not to take any coercive steps against Modi. The direction came on a criminal miscellaneous petition filed by Modi challenging the order of a city court directing registration of FIR and investigation into the case.
According to complainant Kamlesh Sharma, liquor was served in the VIP lounge of the SMS stadium and the national flag was used as a ta-ble cover on those tables where wine was served to the Pakistani visi-tors at the behest of Lalit Modi.

Earlier, the trial court had asked the circle officer of Ashok Nagar to file the final report of the investigations within one month. However, instead of filing any conclusive report, the police informed the court that a notice has been issued to Modi but he did not respond. A photograph has been taken to Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, but the persons could not been identified so far.

HC notice to collector of Dausa in hostage case

TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 03.52am IST

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan High Court on Monday issued show cause notices to Dausa collector Lal Chand Aswal, Rajasthan DGP, principal secretary DOP, principal secretary home and station house officer of Dausa police station in a case of beating and keeping hostage a class IV employee.

A class IV government employee, on February 15, filed a petition in Rajasthan High Court stating that Dausa collector Lal Chand Aswal kept him hostage and beat him up when the petitioner refused to do domestic work at his Jaipur residence. The high court has asked investigation officer of the case in Dausa district to present the case diary in the court on February 22.

The complainant’s counsellor A K Jain said Gopal Lal Meharawal who was appointed as class IV employee at Sikrai tehsil in Dausa district and was deputed at the residence of district collector, Dausa for household work. He was asked by Dausa collector Lal Chand Aswal to do household work at his Jaipur residence.

When Meharawal refused to do so, Aswal allegedly took him to Jaipur forcefully and kept him hostage there.

Aswal also allegedly beat him up. Meharawal said that he managed to flee from the house and tried to lodge an FIR with Dausa police, but they refused to do so. On this, he approached a local court in Dausa which directed the police to lodge the first information report. Despite that, no investigation was conducted in the matter.

The complainant’s counsellor, Jain, told TOI that show cause notices have been issued in the matter. “The high court, commenting on the fact that investigation in the matter was finished by the Dausa police station on the same day when it was reported, has issued the notices. The highcourt observed that the matter was not properly investigated by the police,” said Jain.

CJI: Separate HC can be in UT

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 22
Haryana’s demand for a separate high court in the existing building at Chandigarh has received a fillip with Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan categorically stating that it could be “anywhere” and that every state had the constitutional right to have its own high court.

The Chief Justice made it clear he was not averse to the idea of Haryana having its own high court and “the building does not matter, it can be anywhere.”

He was talking to the media at a party organised by Additional Solicitor-General Mohan Jain in honour of Attorney-General Goolam E Vahanvati. Haryana’s Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was present at the function too.

The assertion is significant as Haryana has been demanding a separate high court and that too at Chandigarh in the existing Punjab and Haryana High Court building. The CJI, for the first time, has commented on the location of the high court.

Hooda reiterated his stand by saying: “It is our legitimate right to have a separate high court for Haryana.”

The Chief Minister said he wanted the high court to be located at Chandigarh as the city was Haryana’s capital too. “Once the decision to carve out a separate high court is taken, funds will be released immediately for the upgradation of infrastructure,” he said. “The only question is of jurisdiction, but we are confident very soon all issues will be settled and Haryana will have its separate high court.”

Hooda has all along been saying Chandigarh is the capital of both Punjab and Haryana and same laws hold good for both states. Only recently, Hooda had asserted they had “full right” over the union territory. If Punjab was ready to pull out of Chandigarh, they would have no problem in establishing their high court at some other place in Haryana, he had argued.

Hooda believes Haryana needs adequate representation in the apex court as so far not a single judge from the state has been elevated to the same ever since the state was established in 1966.

As of now, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has 46 judges. If Haryana has its way, judges from the state could be shifted from the existing High Court to the newly carved out one. The move is expected to increase the state’s representation in the judiciary. It will also bring down the pendency of cases, particularly in Haryana, as approximately 70 per cent of the litigation is from Punjab.

Additional Solicitor-General Mohan Jain does not see any problem in the co-existence of two high courts at the same place. Hosting the function to honour the Attorney-General, Jain remarked: “If two Chief Ministers, two Speakers and two Governors can stay side by side in the same city, I see no harm in having two high courts at the same place”.

Haryana’s former Advocate-General, Jain said a substantial number of advocates from Haryana had been crusading for a separate high court in Chandigarh.

Top court sceptical on demands on Telangana

Tuesday, 23 February 2010 02:22

New Delhi, Feb. 22: The Supreme Court on Monday showed skepticism over the various kinds of relief sought in different petitions on the Telangana issue being filed on regular intervals and directed three petitioners to strike down all frivolous prayers from their joint petition before it could be considered for hearing.

K. Srinivas Reddy, Vasireddy Venkata Krishna Rao and Mrs K. Pushpalatha filed the joint petition. They raised several issues on the Telangana controversy, including those related to various aspects of Justice B.N. Srikrishna Commission set up by the Centre.

While directing them to amend their petition and confine it to legal and constitutional questions, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan also raised doubts about the kind of relief sought by advocate Bondada Purushottam Yadav in a separate petition. He had sought to restrain the Union government from taking any further action on the pronouncements of home minister P. Chidambaram made on December 9 and 23, 2009 respectively relating to initiation of the process for creation of separate state.

“How can such a relief be given?,” the CJI told Mr Yadav during a brief hearing when he prayed for restraining the Centre from acting on the pronouncements of Mr Chidambaram.


Review scribe’s threat perception’

Nandita Sengupta, TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 01.19am IST

NEW DELHI: He was allegedly kidnapped by the police, forced to write a suicide note and survived only because he told them he had already met the state DGP and written to the Chief Minister anticipating such an event. Earlier this month, the National Human Rights Commission directed UP government to pay Amar Ujala’s Lakhimpur Kheri-based journalist Samiuddin a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for illegal detention by police in 2005.
And on Monday, the Press Council recommended a six-monthly review for five years of threat-perception to Samiuddin. It also recommended barring the allegedly complicit superintendent of police (SP) from postings where she can interfere with press freedom.
“It’s a rare case that called for serious attention. Samiuddin’s a journalist from a small town. Our committee found that he was indeed badly persecuted. We took particular notice especially because a senior police officer, the SP herself, was taking interest in his harassment,” said Justice G N Ray, chairman, Press Council of India.
NHRC directed that UP government reply on status of the journalist’s complaint within six weeks. It also directed state chief secretary to send compliance report within six weeks. “This case is a stark example of not only total apathy but outright antagonism towards a person whose right to life was seriously endangered by the acts of the concerned police authorities,” said the Commission.
Police allegedly targeted Neelu and six others for focusing on police high-handedness, political nexus and corruption. On February 9, 2005, Samiuddin, better known as Neelu, says he was kidnapped and taken to the town’s outskirts. He was allegedly made to write a suicide note. They took off his belt and strapped it around his neck, he says.
Keeping his nerve, Neelu told them that in anticipation of just such an event, he had already written to the state DGP, the chief minister, Press Council of India and NHRC. The police, says Neelu, got onto their phones, after which they took him to their lock-up where he was forced to sign several papers, blank and written-out sheets.
On her part, N. Padmaja, then SP at Lakhimpur Kheri now posted in PAC, Sitapur, says she read about the compensation in the papers, “I have nothing to say. I saw the order in the newspaper. I don’t want to respond,” she told TOI over phone.
Neelu had met the state DGP on February 5, saying that the SP in Lakhimpur Kheri was threatening him. “It’s not as if we were doing any out-of-the-way reporting. There was no campaign or anything,” says Neelu. The reports were on foodgrain scam, showing poor people as dead for land-grabbing purposes and an arms licence scam, he says. In the last, authorities assured fee-waiver for arms license if applicants adopted the ‘parivar yojna’ programme. Rich applicants forced poor farmers into sterilisation. The last straw was the report of police who stormed a college and beat up students and teachers in the college in August 2004 at the behest of local politicians, claims Neelu.
Since his complaints, the CID has cleared him on cases framed against him for possessing animal skin and body parts. But the police officers involved were let off lightly, says Neelu — only their annual increments stopped. The SP was simply transferred.
For Neelu, the vindications are the first step. He waits to know why local police are not heeding his application to file an FIR against Lakhimpur Kheri’s then SP for kidnapping and attempt to murder. “It took 20 years for a case to be filed against Rathore in the Ruchika Girhotra case. I’m waiting,” says Neelu.

Probing questions

Volume 27 – Issue 05 :: Feb. 27-Mar. 12, 2010

The Supreme Court directive to the Special Investigation Team adds a qualitative dimension to the Gujarat riots cases.

On February 10, the Supreme Court directed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating the 2002 communal riots cases in Gujarat to respond to allegations that it had withheld vital evidence regarding the involvement of senior politicians and top bureaucrats in the riots. The SIT has to file its response before the next hearing in the case, scheduled for March 15.

The development highlights once again the tortuous course of the probe into one of the worst communal carnages in independent India. In fact, the intervention of the Supreme Court led to the setting up of the SIT under R.K. Raghavan, a former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

But even that happened in March 2008, nearly six years after the bloodbath in the State. This was followed by the May 2009 order stipulating trials under the supervision of the SIT. Barely a year later, a new chapter has been added to the investigations.

The February 10 directive of the Supreme Court has come in the wake of petitions filed by a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and social activists such as Devendra Bhai Pathak and Teesta Setalvad of Citizens for Justice and Peace. They expressed serious concern about the manner in which the trials were proceeding and alleged serious lapses in the progress of the SIT investigation itself. The petitioners alleged that the SIT refused to look into key aspects of further investigation, especially those dealing with mala fide intentions and complicity of state actors. The petitions stated that police witnesses, working directly with the SIT, had turned hostile, much to the shock of the trial court, and that the SIT did not ensure adequate safety for the witnesses. The petitions also pointed out that several people, including Chief Minister Narendra Modi, had not been questioned by the SIT.

Affidavits, which run into 3,000 pages and include those of several riot victims, filed along with the applications of the NGOs and separately, give crucial and detailed information on the handling of the communally charged situation after the Godhra train burning incident. They relate essentially to nine cases being probed by the SIT and cover a variety of facts such as the phone records of policemen and the key perpetrators, locations of officers and statements of witnesses.

The documents emphasise the tacit involvement of top police officers in the carnage and the fact that most of them hold prominent positions in the Gujarat government now. The petitions and the affidavits also assert that the build-up of arsenal, men and arms for the post-Godhra riots has not been investigated sufficiently.

The build-up, according to the petitioners, was exposed in Tehelka’s Operation Kalank and the affidavits of police officers R.B. Sreekumar and Rahul Sharma. The petitions also alleged that the SIT failed to investigate thoroughly the documentary evidence, including phone call records, mobile van records, control room registers, station diary entries and fire brigade registers. A scrutiny of these would have indicated the extent of “pre-planning” that went into the post-Godhra violence, the petitions stated.

Highlighting SIT’s lapse

They pointed to the failure to take adequate steps to prevent threats to witnesses and also highlighted the SIT’s lapse in not seeking the cancellation of bail of influential accused persons, who remain free during the trials.

Thematically, the affidavits relate to eight cases concerning incidents and personalities. According to Devendra Bhai Pathak, in the cases relating to the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam incidents, in which more than 110 persons were brutally murdered and many women and girls were raped, the SIT has not recorded the statements of 129 witnesses.

Additionally, witnesses referred to the active involvement of Inspector K.K. Mysorewala (now a Superintendent of Police) in ordering police firing on Muslims after discussions with former Minister Mayaben Kodnani, but he has not been arraigned. Incidentally, Maya Kodnani was arrested following investigations by the SIT in the early phases. According to witnesses, Mysorewala is said to have told those seeking protection that there were “instructions/orders from higher authorities not to protect you. There is no order to save Muslims… you have to die today.”

An analysis of calls from Mysorewala’s phone, as reflected in Pathak’s petition and the affidavits, shows that he received a call from Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Jaydeep Patel, who is accused in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam cases. The timing of the call, as recorded, was when the massacre was at its worst, says the petition. Witnesses also recount Special Reserve Police (SRP) officer K.P. Parekh as telling the hapless victims that no one would save them as they had orders from higher authorities to kill them. Parekh has not yet been arraigned.

The infamous case of Babu Bajrangi has also been brought up in the petitions. Pathak’s petition says 15 witnesses named Bajrangi as the leader of a mob that slaughtered 95 people and cut open the abdomen of Kauserbanu and killed her foetus. The SIT has not sought the cancellation of his bail, and he has been allowed to travel abroad. According to the petitioners, 53 witnesses named Suresh Langda Richard Chara as the person who led a mob to kill, rape and burn Muslims. Chara roams free and the SIT has not arraigned him either.

In spite of cries for help, as is evident from the hours and hours of recorded phone records, no help came to the Gulberg Society, where 70 Muslims were burned or hacked to death over a period of 11 hours. Congress Member of Parliament Ahsan Jaffri was one of them. The petitioners said the SIT had failed totally to “inquire/investigate into the circumstances in which repeated calls for police assistance went unheeded”. In this case the SIT has arraigned 25 persons, including Inspector K.G. Erda of the Meghaninagar Police Station, who was in the area at the time of the carnage. The petitions state that Erda’s phone records show that during the hours of the carnage on February 27 and 28, 2002, he made several calls to the police control room, Police Commissioner P.C. Pandey, Joint Commissioner M.K. Tandon and Deputy Commissioner of Police P.B. Gondia.

While the SIT has interrogated Tandon, it has taken little action, say the petitioners. In fact, Tandon admitted to the Nanavati Commission that he was informed that Ahsan Jaffri was in danger. Pandey, the records show, had even visited Jaffri and told him that police protection would be provided. Phone records prove that both Tandon and Pandey were in touch with the police officers in the riot-hit areas. Yet, Jaffri was killed. The petitions point out that there were records to show that Jaffri made nearly 200 calls for assistance. Some of these were to the police control room. At the time, Cabinet Ministers Ashok Bhatt and I.K. Jadeja were in the control room, but no one helped Jaffri.

The case of Shivanand Jha, Assistance Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, is even stranger. He was in charge of the control room at that time and the needle of suspicion should point to him. But he is a key member of the SIT.

There has been no further investigation by the SIT in the Godhra trial too. The petitioners say the SIT has accepted the investigation carried out by a clearly biased Gujarat Police. The affidavits delve largely into the actions of senior policemen. Many pages are dedicated to location details and phone calls made by the victims. Ahmedabad Police Commissioner Pandey was given a clean chit by the SIT in April last year as he claimed that he was in charge of the bodies of those who died in the Godhra train fire and was unaware of the actual situation in the city. Phone call records indicate that he was very much in touch with police personnel in all the riot-hit areas during the worst hours of the massacre.

Activists such as Teesta Setalvad have said there should be a re-investigation into his partisan role. They wonder why the Police Commissioner was handling dead bodies when the city was burning. Similarly, Tandon’s actions on that day have not been questioned. He visited Naroda Patiya after speaking to Pandey. Once there, he found the crowd restive and so was compelled to order a curfew, at 12.29 p.m. Yet he left the area at 12.33 p.m. without ensuring that it was implemented. Naroda went up in flames soon after.

The petitioners believe that the singular lack of investigation has to be viewed in the context of the fact that the main investigation officers of the SIT – Geeta Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia – are all Gujarat-cadre officers who were subordinate and answerable to Pandey until recently.

They are also in the service and under the control of the Gujarat government, which for obvious reasons has resisted any form of investigation into the riots. Johri’s role in the Sohrabuddin encounter case was criticised recently by the Supreme Court itself. In the context of all this, Teesta Setalvad and many other activists have demanded the reconstitution of the SIT.

On the overall treatment of the victims, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had filed a petition against the Gujarat government, pointing out that the government was hostile towards them. The manner in which evidence was being recorded and the questionable trial court procedures were also in focus. For instance, the NHRC says that in the Gulberg Society trial it has been noticed that there is a significant change in the manner in which the court is treating the witnesses after four or five crucial witnesses deposed.

In the case of Saeed Khan Pathan, while he was attempting to explain how he was being threatened by the accused, the court refused to record his explanation. Even after his lawyer made a detailed application saying his explanation should be recorded in its entirety, the judge refused to oblige. Three Muslims visiting from the United Kingdom in 2002 were hacked to death by a group of people near Pratij in Gujarat. Two eyewitnesses have turned hostile in this case, too. The petitioners have sought better security measures after a car with shaded windows drove dangerously close to one of them within the court premises.

It remains to be seen how the SIT will respond to the Supreme Court directive. Speaking to Frontline on the phone, its Chairman, R.K. Raghavan, said that the response would be filed before the March 15 hearing. He added that the SIT had responded to many of the issues raised by the petitioners in the note it had given to the amicus curiae.

“Now, the court wants to take a look at our responses directly. It will be placed before the court in a sealed cover. It is up to the court to decide whether to make it public or not,” Raghavan said. Hemantika Wahi, counsel for the Gujarat government, told Frontline that the State government would have no role in preparing the response and it was wholly up to the SIT to draft the response.

Clearly, the court directive has added a qualitative dimension to the Gujarat carnage cases. Whether this will ultimately result in justice for the victims depends on several factors, including the SIT response.

Tribunal quashes court of inquiry against Lt-Gen

TNN, Feb 23, 2010, 02.12am IST

NEW DELHI: In an interim relief for Lt-Gen Avadhesh Prakash, the seniormost of the four indicted generals in the alleged Sukna land scam, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on Monday ordered the re-opening of the court of inquiry (CoI) into the case to allow the recently-retired officer to cross-examine six of the witnesses.

AFT principal Bench, comprising Justice A K Mathur (retd) and Lt-Gen S S Dhillon (retd), said Lt-Gen Prakash should first be given the depositions of the six witnesses and then be allowed to cross-examine them ‘‘in order to meet the principles of natural justice’’.

Lt-Gen Prakash had not got the opportunity to cross-examine the six — Lt-Gen P K Rath, Lt-Gen Ramesh Halgali, Major-Gen P C Sen (the other three generals indicted in the case), Col N K Dabas, Lt-Col Jiji Varghese and Naib Subedar Surjit Singh — since they had deposed before him during the CoI.

It was only after Lt-Gen Prakash deposed as the 19th witness that the CoI take ‘‘cognizance against him’’ and then indicted him. Rule 180 under the Army Act lays down that an accused has the right to be present when some other personnel depose against him during a CoI.

NCW writes to Health Ministry on emergency contraceptive pills


Taking up the issue of emergency contraceptive pills, the National Commission for Women has written to the Health Ministry and the Medical Council of India seeking their opinion on the matter.

The NCW said in a statement on Monday that it has been brought to the notice of the Commission that wide-scale advertisement campaign in favour of the oral pills known as an emergency contraceptive pill, is being carried out by pharmaceutical companies.

“These pills are gaining popularity among young girls, despite repeated warning from doctors against its use,” it said.

With concern, it is seen that the drug is being projected as an after saviour of unsafe sex. The advertisements of these wonder pills are quite misleading and its side effects as well as efficacy are not at all being disclosed. It is being projected as an alternative to the safe sex method and thus may lead to an everlasting impact on the younger generation and in turn lead to government and the society losing its battle as far as AIDS and STDs are concerned besides putting the women through grave emotional and physical trauma and everlasting effect of hormonal imbalance, the statement said.

The commission said that the pills have been designed for women over 25 and accordingly it is felt that it may have dangerous side effects on teenagers and on women using it too regularly.

The commission has written to the MCI and the Health Ministry seeking their views in the matter.


3 Responses

  1. Sir , I want to know the sanctity of a staement made by a Union Minister in the House of Parliament particulerly with reference to the statement made by Mr . Chidambaram on 9th dec 2009 in the House that the process of formation Telangana is on …

    please let me know that previlege of such statement made by him and also whther the Govt is bound by such statement ?

  2. Outstanding. I wasn’t expecting such an outstanding article. I stumbled on your website on Yahoo. I just wanted to say that you have a brilliant post on this blog. I have enjoyed looking over your article. I’ll be subscribing to your RSS feed in FeedDemon. I can’t wait to see your next article!

  3. hi kamal
    i m pakistani and i want indian nationality i want to live in india after my marriage my marriage is in october this year and i really want to live in inda please help me i m so worried.i heard the current situation is very bad between both countries. please help me.

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