LEGAL NEWS 21.03.2010

PIL helps villagers ‘breathe easy’‘breathe-easy’.html 

A Ville Parle couple’s initiative checked a drugs manufacturing factory’s practice of releasing harmful effluents into Choronde village’s atmosphere 

By Virat A Singh  

Posted On Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 02:10:00 AM 

This one is a dramatic, real-life rerun of the Julia Roberts-starrer Erin Brockovich. A Ville Parle couple took up the cause of harried villagers of three hamlets in Alibaug who were severely affected by air and water pollution caused by a chemical factory in the vicinity.

Thanks to a PIL filed by Sanjay and Roshan Sane in the Bombay High Court, Pradeep Shetye Private Limited has been halted in its deathly march of spewing harmful, untreated chemicals into the water bodies of Choronde village where it is situated. Residents of two other affected villages located nearby, Sogaon and Munavali, can also breathe easy.

Following a High Court order in January this year, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPBC) had formed a panel to inspect the factory, which manufactures drugs. In its report, the three-member committee had said Shetye Pvt. Ltd. should only be allowed to operate in a Chemical Zone. If not, the factory may cause even more harm to the surrounding environment and its inhabitants.

Giving its verdict on March 17, the High Court ruled: “Taking into consideration the report submitted by the committee, the MPCB cannot grant permission to the factory to restart operations.”

Villagers woes

Samad Koor, a villager from Chorande says, “Shetye Pvt. Ltd was set up around 30 years ago. We were told then that it will manufacture soap. But gradually, when the factory started belching out nauseous smoke, we realised something was wrong.”

Koor said the factory owner’s lie surfaced when farmers discovered the water they were using in their fields was harming their crops. 
Even drinking water drawn from wells was contaminated by the effluents, pointing out to the callous manner in which waste from the factory was being dumped. Matters came to a head when some buffaloes died after they drank the contaminated water.

Yashwant More, who worked as plant operator in the factory, alleged, “We were instructed by factory officials to collect waste effluents and release them into the nullahs only during the night. Besides, workers weren’t even provided with masks and gloves while handling harmful drugs.”

Sanes to the rescue

“When we came to Choronde to build our farmhouse, we realised the air was thick with fumes. Upon digging a little deeper, we found the villagers had remained quite for so long because of the compensation they received from the factory owner,” said Roshan Sane. She added that though the many letters she wrote to MPCB resulted in 14 closure notices between 2005 to 2008, the factory would restart every time.

Sanjay Sane said, “Shetye Pvt. Ltd has a licence to manufacture only two drugs: Mebendazol, a drug used for treating intestinal worms, and Vitamin B2. But we have information that it was also producing other drugs, which is a gross violation of FDA rules.”

Factory owner Pradeep Shetye claimed, “We will rectify the faults found by MPCB. Anyway, the HC has not mentioned that we must permanently halt production.” 

Another multi-disabled child found abandoned in city 

Ashish Tripathi, TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 02.03am IST 

LUCKNOW: Yet another multi-disabled boy, aged around 10 years, was found in the city on Saturday. The boy was in bad state when he was found abandoned by some locals in Chhitwapur locality on Station Road. The people took him to city magistrate RS Prem’s office from where he was handed over to Nirvan, a non-government-organisation running a shelter home for mentally disabled destitute.

There is no shelter home for multi-disabled destitute, be it children or adult, in UP. The state government has not paid any attention to the problem despite widespread public criticism and awareness campaigns by social organisations. The boy found on Saturday is deaf, dumb and mentally retarded. He was not able to give any hints about his whereabouts. Nirvan has appealed to people to inform anything they know about the boy on the mobile number 9411107536. “We will try to rehabilitate the boy with the help of district welfare officer Akhilesh Bajpai,” said SS Dhapola, director, Nirvan. Medically examination showed that the boy was also suffering from malnutrition, he added.

In past two months, over 30 disabled destitute, including newborns, have been found abandoned in the city. On March 15, a four-day-old blind girl was found abandoned in the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. A five-year old multi-disabled boy (deaf, dumb and mentally retarded), Rinku, was recovered from Charbagh last year. No government shelter home was ready to keep him as such babies require 24-hour attention. He was later adopted by Drishti Samajik Sansthan. As per rough estimates, there are 36,000 multi-disabled children in the state, of which 10% are said to be destitute, left to die on the streets without any care.

The awareness campaigns have been able to sensitise people about destitute but have made no impact on the state government. All this, when two public interest litigations (PIL) are pending in the high court seeking directions for the state government to make arrangements for the disabled destitute. A PIL has also been filed in the Supreme Court, which has asked state governments to inform the court about the arrangements made for destitute children. The State Human Rights Commission has also take cognizance of the fact. But so far, the state government has not taken any concrete step. Significantly, being a welfare state, it is the Constitutional duty of the government to provide a dignified life to destitute. 

Court upholds man’s life term for killing wife 

2010-03-21 15:20:00 

Upholding the life imprisonment of a man who killed his wife with a wooden rolling pin used for making rotis, the Delhi High Court said the accused was aware the attack would prove fatal. 

A division bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Suresh Kait said: ‘He who repeatedly hits his wife on the head with a ‘belan’ would certainly be (having) knowledge that his acts would result in the death of the victim.’ 

On Sep 7, 2005, Rajesh hit Kavita after a row. He was convicted for murder and dowry death and sentenced to life imprisonment. 

Dismissing Rajesh’s plea for leniency, the judges said: ‘The testimonies of three witnesses prove Rajesh killed his wife mercilessly.’ 

According to the prosecution, when witnesses went to Kavita’s house, they saw Rajesh hitting Kavita and striking her against the floor. She was crying and bleeding. 

Kavita was declared dead at the hospital. After that, Rajesh fled. 

‘The deceased was assaulted to teach her a lesson. There was no robbery. Nothing was stolen from the house,’ the court said, holding Rajesh guilty of killing his wife. 

Ranjit Bajaj moves bail plea in high court 

Rajinder Nagarkoti, TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 03.18am IST 

PANCHKULA: Not getting relief from Panchkula sessions court, Ranjit Bajaj moved a bail application in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Saturday, when Panchkula police prepared a chargesheet against him in an attempt to murder case.

Tightening the noose around an IAS couple’s only son, police have added Arms Act to the chargesheet, that will reportedly be filed in court this coming week.

With regard to Ranjit’s regular bail application, his advocate Rajan Malhotra told TOI that they had filed a petition in HC and it was expected to come up for hearing on Monday. Sources said the petitionchallenged Panchkula district and sessions court order of March 17, when Ranjit’s bail plea was dismissed on account of his criminal record and possibility of tampering with evidence.

Preparing the chargesheet against Ranjit, police sources said, “Cops will file it before additional chief judicial magistrate of Panchkula court on Monday or Tuesday.”

Confirming the development, Jangsher Singh, SHO of Chandimandir police station, said, “We have almost finalized the chargesheet against all accused, including Ranjit and his guards Malkhan Singh and Mohinder Singh.”

The SHO added that apart from sections in the FIR, they would include Arms Act in the chargesheet against Ranjit. Earlier, Panchkula police had registered a case against all accused under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation), 307 (attempt to murder), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of IPC. 

Sack Raja, Jaya tells PM,+Jaya+tells+PM&artid=lhvinIHHdUo=&SectionID=lifojHIWDUU=&MainSectionID=wIcBMLGbUJI=&SectionName=rSY%7C6QYp3kQ=&SEO

Express News Service 

First Published : 21 Mar 2010 02:55:00 AM IST 

Last Updated : 21 Mar 2010 08:45:30 AM IST 

CHENNAI: AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa on Saturday renewed her demand for sacking Union Telecom Minister A Raja with regard to the 2G-spectrum allocation in the light of the Supreme Court’s refusal to interfere in the findings of the Delhi High Court against him. 

“The interests of justice will be served only if Raja is removed from his post as Union minister. 

“Now that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has the SC’s order to back him, he should not hesitate further to sack Raja,” Jayalalithaa said in a statement here. 

The AIADMK leader further said: “Only this will give credence to Singh’s claim that he is a prime minister with zero intolerance for corrupt practices.’’ Giving a detailed account of the events that led to the case filed by telecom firm STel, the AIADMK general secretary said the company moved the court challenging the decision of the Department of Telecom in arbitrarily advancing the cut-off dates for 2G allocation. 

But STel had to withdraw their complaint against the Telecom Minister after his department suddenly ordered the `closure of services due to security concerns’, in order to protect their business, Jayalalithaa said in her statement. 

A compromise draft was prepared and signed and the same was presented on behalf of DoT before the SC. 

But the court refused to provide any relief, the AIADMK chief said. 

Jayalalithaa further said, the Supeme Court, on March 12, had declined to interfere with the adverse findings of the Delhi High Court against DoT and Raja in the issue saying, “We make it clear that the findings reached by the High Court is not interfered with in this particular case.’’ 

Court accepts NDTV plea against child rights panel 

March 21st, 2010
New Delhi, March 21 – The Delhi High Court has said that the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has no power to stay the telecast of a TV reality show without completing an inquiry. 

Justice S. Muralidhar in an order passed last week said: ‘NCPCR cannot on its own pass any directions without first completing the inquiry. Thereafter it can make recommendations to the government for initiation of proceedings against the concerned person.’ 

The court was disposing a case filed by NDTV Imagine challenging the powers of NCPCR that stayed the telecast of its reality show ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’. The stay was later lifted by the court. 

The show went on air Sep 28 last year. The channel immediately faced the ire of NCPCR, an autonomous body that alleged that the show exploited children. 

Modelled on international reality show ‘Baby Borrowers’, ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’ is about parenting – from living the life of an eight-month pregnant woman to taking care of an infant, a toddler and a teenager for four days each. 


India: Protective Laws Fall Short for Women Charged with Witchcraft

Women News Network

Correspondent, Shuriah Niazi – Women News Network – WNN 

March 21, 2010…6:05 am

The tribal Warli have a long tradition of belief in witchcraft. This folk art depicts rural life in Maharashtra region, India 

Chhattisgarh, India: Mita Bai, 34, will never forget the morning of May 6, 2005. It was 8 a.m. in the morning when a group of three men and six women came to her house with their allegations, branding her as, “a witch.” As an attack against her broke out, she cried out for help, but no one heard or heeded her pleas. Instead, she was dragged from her home, stripped of all her clothing, and nearly hung from a tree. 

What was her crime? She was accused of bringing misfortune to others in the village as a practitioner of “Dayan Pratha,” known in rural India as the practice of witchcraft. 

Kerva village in Chhattisgarh is near a vast, deep forest. The road to the village is so remote and difficult to reach that there are no buses; only a slow four-wheel drive vehicle can negotiate the terrain. With the nearest police station 40 kilometers away, police rarely venture into to the village. 

After this incident, police visits have increased dramatically, with arrest warrants for the six women and three men. Four of the wanted individuals are still in hiding. 

In India today witchcraft allegation, persecution and violence is not diminishing. 

“Over the last fifteen years, an estimated 2,500 Indian women have been killed because they were ‘witches’,” said Rebecca Vernon, third-year law student at Cornell University and editor for the Cornell International Law Journal. 

“Witch hunts are most common among poor rural communities with little access to education and health services, and longstanding beliefs in witchcraft,” Vernon continued. “When an individual gets sick or harm befalls the community, the blame falls not upon a virus or crop disease, but upon an alleged witch.” 

A Heartbreaking Case 

Mita Bai made her way to the police station on the day she was accused of witchcraft, begging for protection. She told the police how the group came to her house demanding she leave the village and how they physically dragged her out of her home. “They beat me up with sticks and rods and tried to hang me. When I overpowered them, they hounded me out of the village,” Mita recalled. She has now taken refuge in a nearby village, weeping continually in a way that is truly heartbreaking for anyone who witnesses it. 

While Mita suffers in exile, the turmoil has also caused villagers to express their own anger.  According to them, they were only punishing Mita Bai for acts of witchcraft she had performed. “She is here to kill us,” said Manju, a 24 year old member of the community. 

Witchcraft in India is still part of the rural culture of India. Violence against women who are accused of being witches is generally present and pervasive. This violence can be so severe and dangerous, it can result in the death of women who are accused. 

“Greed for property is one motivation behind witch-killings. The struggle for gender equality is also a factor in the persecutions, as are poverty and economic inequalities,” said Dinesh Mishra, who heads Andra Shraddha Nirmulan Samiti, a non-governmental organization based in Raipur in Chhattisgarh state, which fights against the harassment of women in the region. 

Society, Religion and Witchcraft in India  

Oppression of women as “witches” can be traced back to the first social communities in India. Local women, who fulfilled the role of healer and counselor, were feared when they became too powerful for the male leadership to control. As women gained power in their community, excuses were found to “bring them down to their place.” 

“The practice (of persecution) is mostly prevalent in tribal belts,” Dinesh Mishra explained further. “The villagers blame anything they don’t understand on (the most ancient Hindu customs of) tantra .” 

The Hindu religion of India – called Sanathana Dharma (The Universal Religion) – has many beliefs and rituals. Numerous ancient practices have rituals that can be interpreted and viewed as witchcraft or paganism. Practices include the worship of nature in its various forms, as the qualities of nature are embodied as numerous gods and goddesses. 

Those who follow the most ancient of the customs can be misunderstood and summarily accused. This can cause a conflict for the very pious, as the devotion of women to ancient traditions can be mistaken for “witchcraft.” 

Today ostracism and severe violence against women accused of witchcraft is occurring at an alarming rate in the village regions of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, along with numerous other rural regions in India. 

“Women who are widowed, infertile, possess ‘ugly’ features or are old, unprotected, poor or socially ostracized are easy targets,” said professor Kanchan Mathur, from the Institute of Development Studies – India, in a recent 2009 report. 

Accused women are often blamed for any misfortune that befalls their village. Some of the misfortunes that lead to accusations may also include natural disasters, such as droughts, floods, crop loss, illness or, dramatically, the death of a village child. 

With such unjust public charges made against her, how could Mita Bai ever return to her own village to lead a normal life? 

Once a woman has been accused of witchcraft inside her own society, it is difficult for her to ever escape the stigma. She can suffer severely the rest of her life. On guard at all times, she can be hurt at any time by ongoing public humiliations that range from public beatings, forced hair shavings, and forced acts of physical torture; such as being forced to go naked in public or to perform public acts of humiliation. 

Violence against women in this case can escalate into serious actions that can lead to a woman’s death. 

People gather as five women are accused of witchcraft in a small village located in rural Northeast, India. Image: Shib Shankar Chatterjee 

Witch Hunting 

Witch hunting in India is not an ancient practice that has been left to history. It is currently still widespread in Madhya Pradesh. But it is most prevalent in the tribal-dominated areas of the state. In the districts of Rajgarh, Khargone, Badwani and Jhabua, where accusations of witchcraft are unfortunately common, many older women who are accused cannot defend themselves in any way. 

In the tribal villages, the village ‘ojhas’ (known as ‘sorcerers’) boast of their powers to detect a witch – but they will only do so “for a price.” For the ojha to declare a woman a witch, villagers simply need to cough up a goat, a bottle of liquor, or any other poultry animal to pay the ojha. 

“The people here are really innocent and uneducated… This is the way (ojhas) sorcerers take advantage of the situation,” says Indian human rights activist, Vijay Pathak. 

When women reject the sexual advances of their male neighbors, it is another cause on the list leading to allegations of witchcraft. Made to pay a heavy price because they have spurned a man, a woman can be declared a witch by an overly greedy ojha, who works closely with the accusing neighbor, causing the accused woman to be harassed, shunned from her village and worse. 

Widows who refuse to relinquish claim over their husband’s property can similarly be threatened and charged with being a witch; an act that often succeeds to compel them to let go of their claim on their husband’s land. 

Even though these are reoccurring, well-known and recognized situations in villages, most village members fail to acknowledge when a woman is falsely accused. To publically say they, “smell a rat,” is next to impossible. 

While the ojha casts their “spell” over the village, creating a sense of fear and insecurity with tales of black magic, witchcraft, and horrific acts, the “real” reasons why women are branded witches – for economic gain or sexual vengeance – are completely forgotten. 

Take another case of Bhuri Bai of Baman village in the Jhabua district.  Almost three years ago, she was brutally beaten by her neighbors of many years, before being humiliatingly paraded through the village. Bhuri’s misery began when an ojha declared her responsible for the death of a child in the village. 

Public Punishments as Violence Against Women 

On the day of the boy’s funeral rites, a small piece of his flesh was said to have been found near his funeral pyre. The discovery caused swift gossip. The village ojha lost no time with the story. A case was built to cast suspicion upon Bhuri Bai as the “witch” who caused the death of the boy. These and other charges helped instigate the villagers to attack Bhuri. 

As violence escalated, in efforts to protect Bhuri Bai, her husband Keshav barely managed to save her from the deadly blows of the villagers that followed. 

Bhuri Bai is fortunate though, compared to many others who have been accused, there are countless others who have not escaped with their lives. According to the latest Jhabua district police records, over the last five years, 31 women were branded witches in the rural villages and beaten to death. 

These are not the complete numbers. Every year, many more similar cases, involving various degrees of violence against women (VAW), occur in the Jhabua district. 

What is most troubling is that such events find only a quiet mention in government records, if at all. 

The attitude of the police towards these cases is, at best, disappointing – and at worst, negligent. According to villagers, police simply encourage the parties involved to settle matters privately, without any formal legal action. 

The critical point is that women, who are accused of witchcraft in India, will often not seek any legal or police assistance. Shame, isolation and poverty feeds the wheel of no protection, no rights and no dignity for women who are usually on the bottom layer of Indian society and already without any proper legal recourse. 

The severity of deaths, due to witchcraft allegations, are caused by extreme and gruesome forms of torture, including acts of beheading, stoning, hanging, stabbing, poisoning or by being buried alive. 

Can Rural Society in India Change? 

“Witchcraft is common to the Jhabua, Dhar and Khargone districts, and women are usually treated as animals,” says India’s veteran  journalist, Rahul Kumar. “Victims are afraid to lodge a police complaint, fearing retaliation. After all, they have to live in the same village, amidst their tormentors,” he explains. 

In most cases, women are so humiliated that they cannot continue to live in their home village. In fact, the family of a mobbed woman also often ends up living like outcasts themselves. In violent episodes, and humiliating action, many relatives and extended families of women who have been accused of witchcraft are also forced to flee their homes and village regions. 

According to the most recent data, approx 137 women accused of being a “witch” have been killed in violent acts connected to accusations against them in the region (2004 – 2009). These deaths are not easy and often include great suffering through public torture and humiliation. 

It is suspected nationwide in India today that the actual number of deaths due to witchcraft allegations may be much higher than reports indicate. 

Even with reported cases coming in lower than expected, “Less than 1% of reported cases actually lead to conviction,” says the Free Legal Aid Committee, a legal consultation advocacy group that works to help women in the eastern regions of Jharkand and Bihar in India. 

45 year old Bihari Dalit woman, Lalpari Devi, is publically humiliated as she is tied to a tree and her hair is shaved. 

Are Legal Protections Available? 

While a woman accused of being a witch has a future that may not be certain, the Chhattisgarh government is trying to create laws that will stand for some type of legal protective action. 

“Nobody will dare to attack her again,“ declared one of the Chhatisgarh police officers involved in Mita Bai’s case. 

Legislation in Chhatisgarh is now making the charges of witchcraft a non-bailable offence, but it comes with an unbalanced and unfair treatment of the women who are suffering the most. It includes a “protective” prison term for the alleged “witch” of up to five years. 

This clearly flawed attempt at a solution, while trying to offer physical safety for women, could add more harm than good to women accused of witchcraft. The new law comes as legislators try to provide a buffer of safety for a women accused of being a witch as she is separated from her attackers. It also attempts to give accusers, “an alternate recourse against women besides the violence,” say local legislators. 

But the law does not recognize the need to severely punish, first, those who are attacking the accused women. Instead it outlines a program of punishment aimed at the woman and refuses to provide dignity and respect for women who have faced unjust allegations. 

Some laws in India do punish those who commit violence against women in cases of witchcraft allegations. Those who are integral in causing the problem, though, like the village ojha, who is the one who publically “names a woman a witch,” are rarely sentenced to over six months. 

Those who are accused of committing the violent act itself against a “witch” are usually sentenced to no more than one year. Those accused of murder often get reduced judgments or overturned sentences, as India’s current court system cannot adequately handle fair jurisprudence in cases involving superstition and witchcraft. 

The ineffectiveness of courtroom justice concerning cases of women who have been severely injured, damaged or killed by allegations of witchcraft does more than involve issues of superstition. It involves international human rights law. 

“The state of Jharkhand is deviating from International law obligations requiring India to address and prevent the problem of witch-hunting, which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of women,” said Cornell (Law School) International Human Rights Clinic in a January 2010 brief supporting a petition to the High Court of Judicature, at Ranchi in Jarkhand State, India. 

“The continued perpetuation of witchcraft related violence violates many international human rights that women are possessed of,” states the petition, “including their right to equality and non-discrimination, the right to life, the right to be free from cruel and inhuman treatment, the right to security, the right to adequate housing, the rights to access national tribunals, and the obligation to provide effective measures for relief.” 

“International courts mandate that this Court (High Court of Judicature, Jarkhand State, India) must take action to provide effective judicial remedies for violations of these integral human rights,” the appeal continues. 

Four states in India have approved protective anti-witchcraft laws, but they are still ineffective to protect most women accused of witchcraft. Police protections, courtroom decisions and legal representations need much more improvement. Education on the issues surrounding violence of women, superstitions and belief, along with greater understanding of equal human rights for women are essential to marking improvements. 

Bihar, was first to pass the Prevention of Witch (Dayan) Practices Act of 1999. This was followed by Jharkhand’s Anti-Witchcraft Act in 2001 along with the 2005/2006 Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan laws. 

Very recently, on March 12, 2010, the Indian Supreme Court in New Delhi refused to hear a petition called “The Witchcraft Act,” that asked for local regional cases involved with witchcraft allegations, to be allowed to enter the highest courtrooms within their regions. Witchcraft cases, if they can make it to court, are currently kept only in the lower court system without option for any higher court appeal. 

HC denies Toyota exclusivity over ‘PRIUS’ trademark

NEW DELHI: In an apparent setback to Japanese auto giant Toyota, the Delhi High Court (HC) has dismissed its petition seeking exclusivity over the ‘PRIUS’ trademark of its hybrid cars after observing that it is not monopoly of the company in India.

Dismissing the plea seeking an order to restrain Prius Auto Industries from using the similar trademark, Justice Ms Indermeet Kaur held that Toyota failed to produce evidence against the Delhi-based firm.

The court also raised question on Toyota for approaching it six years after Prius Auto Industries got its trademark registered and started its sales.

“Why Toyota slept over the matter and idled over it for a long period,” the court said, observing Prius Auto Industries has grown into a big company having bulk supply order from auto leaders such as General Motors, Hyundai and Mahindra and Mahindra.

The court also disagreed with Toyota’s plea stating that the buyer of its spare parts would get confused with the products of the Prius Auto Industries and would be deceived into believing that what so ever it was purchasing, are from the Japanese compan y.

The court said a Toyota car purchaser is of high income group and is able to understand what he is going to purchase. – PTI

Mere bickering among couples not cruelty:HC

A Subramani , TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 03.51am IST

CHENNAI: What constitutes cruelty, which is grave enough to be a ground for divorce? And, can a person who has obtained divorce remarry even before the expiry of the appeal period?

Settling the two crucial questions of law, the Madras High Court has ruled that mere bickerings between the spouses and isolated incidents would not amount to cruelty, and that second marriage of a person even before the end of the appeal period of 30 days was illegal and unauthorised.

A judgment to this effect was delivered by a division bench comprising justices R Banumathi and M M Sundresh, on a civil miscellaneous appeal filed by a woman whose husband had succeeded in a divorce proceeding and then entered into a second marriage even though the first wife’s appeal period was still alive.

The marriage of Laxmi and Raman (both names changed) was solemnised in August 1999. Three months earlier, Laxmi’s brother and Raman’s sister had got married. Owing to marital discord in his sister’s life, Raman filed for divorce, just a month after Laxmi’s father died and seven months after she had delivered a baby boy.

Among other things, he alleged that she had deserted him and left the marital home on her own, which amounted to mental cruelty. She also threatened to commit suicide, he said, adding that it too amounted to cruelty.

The additional family court had granted divorce on the ground of cruelty on July 23, 2004. A copy of the order was made ready on August 19, 2004. While Laxmi preferred to appeal, her husband married another woman on October 31, 2004.

Flaying the remarriage and describing it as a malafide act aimed at denying Laxmi her statutory right of appeal, the division bench said: “It is clear that the appeal was filed within the period of 30 days as provided under Section 19 of the Family Courts Act 1984. When the alleged (second) marriage was conducted on October 31, the appeal was already presented…We are of the view that the second marriage is per se illegal and unauthorised.”

Citing a Supreme Court ruling in a similar case and the imposition of Rs 5 lakh fine of a person who had remarried before the expiry of the appeal period, the bench said: “The conduct of Raman is clearly unacceptable and it was an attempt to prevent Laxmi from getting the decree of the trial court reversed, by depriving her statutory right of an appeal.” The judges then set aside the family court order, and also directed the husband to pay Rs 1 lakh to Laxmi.

As for the cruelty aspect of the family court order, the bench said the trial court had commited a grave error, as divorce could not be granted on the ground of desertion. Noting that the term cruelty had not been defined in the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 and that it could not be put in a straight-jacket formula, the judges said courts have to be prudent and practical while adjudicating such cases.

“Mere trivial irritations, quarrels, normal wear and tear of the married life would not amount to mental cruelty…(Cruelty is) the conduct of a party be so dangerous that a spouse is unable to live with the other,” they said.

Fresh hope for OCI sportspersons after HC judgment

Aman Sood

Posted: Sunday , Mar 21, 2010 at 0049 hrs Patiala:

In a decision that could have a big impact on Indian sport, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has passed a judgment that makes it possible for an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) to represent the country in the sporting arena. From now on, according to the ruling, OCI sportsmen can be a part of the Indian national team in international competitions, including at the Olympics.

Earlier, the sports ministry had sought a ban on these players representing the country.

The fresh judgment comes in response to an application filed in the court by Sohrab Gill, a national shooter who had been banned in 2008 along with various others. Gill, in his application, had stated: “In the year 2007, I was granted an Overseas Citizenship of India by the Government of India. After the grant of the OCI, I have represented India at four international events in skeet shooting, where I am the first Indian to win an international medal in this category. Besides this, I have also won a gold medal at the national level.”

Gill had represented India in junior world events and won medals at the Asian championship in Kuwait in 2007. By the new judgment, Gill can now represent the country in the Asian Clay Championhip, starting March 27.

The counsel for the petitioner, Pavit Mattewal, had quoted a government notification issued in April 2005 that OCI card-holders should get the same chances as NRIs in economic, financial and educational sectors. “We had stated that as sport was a part of education, the same set of rules should apply there,” Mattewal told The Sunday Express.

The government started leaving out OCI players in 2008, putting on hold the international careers of many players, including Karm Kumar (British passport holder), a squash player who represented India in 2006. Tennis players Prakash Amritraj, Sunitha Rao and Neha and Shikha Uberoi are also under the ban.

The sports ministry had stated these players were barred because they were taking advantage of superior training in the country and then living abroad to play for other countries. Ministry sources said they were yet to receive the court’s orders and would wait before deciding to approach the Supreme Court.

Pharma trademark battle reaches HC

TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 03.34am IST

AHMEDABAD: The trademark row among pharmaceutical giants Pfizer Pharmaceutical (India) Pvt Ltd, Ranbaxy Fine Chemicals Ltd (RFCL), Parth Parental Pvt Ltd and Pearl Drugs Pvt Ltd has reached the Gujarat High Court.

Multinational like Pfizer and Ranbaxy had to approach the high court after two local companies, Parth and Pearl, lodged a criminal complaint with CID (crime) for alleged illegal use of their trademark Capsola. Office bearers of Pfizer and Ranbaxy have been booked under various provisions of IPC besides trademark laws. The local companies have been claiming that RFCL has stolen the trademark and handed it over to Pfizer for usage as part of the deal in which it sold its strategic business centre Vetnex to the German company.

On two separate petitions to quash the FIR, Justice AS Dave has ordered a stay on the probe against big pharma companies. Meanwhile, two civil suits are pending one in Delhi High Court and the other in Gandhinagar civil court.

Parth Parental has claimed that Capsola was a registered brand name under class 34 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act that refers to animal feed and supplement, while RFCL has got similar trademark on its name under class 5 of the Act, which is for plasters and bandages. But after Vetnex was sold to Pfizer, the trademark was used by them for the product of animal feel and supplement. CID (crime) lodged a complaint under sections 406, 471 and 120B of IPC, as well as, other trademark laws.

In its plea before the high court, RFCL has claimed that it was using the trademark as per the agreement that had taken place with Parth Parental, and it was rightful proprietor of the brand. It also cited a pending suit in the Delhi High Court, wherein the court had granted interim injunction in favour of RFCL.

On the other hand, Pfizer also filed a quashing petition claiming that the company has been unnecessarily roped in the issue. Further hearing in these cases have been kept on Tuesday.

HC pulls up cop, judge over blind woman’s arrest

A Subramani , TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 03.53am IST

CHENNAI: On a day when chief minister M Karunanidhi took over the supervision and control of the welfare of the disabled people, the Madras High Court was expressing shock and disbelief at the sufferings of a blind woman, who was jailed and denied bail illegally.

Justice S Nagamuthu, describing the case of Selvamani, who is totally blind, as unfortunate, has summoned an inspector of police to the court to offer an explanation on March 29, and has directed the Namakkal principal sessions judge also to furnish a report. He also ordered the release of the blind woman on bail, on her own bond.

Selvamani was cited as second-accused in a case, and the charge against her was that she “intended to cause injury” and that she “created nuisance.” After registering the case in 2008, the Nallipalayam police in Namakkal district filed the chargesheet in November 2008. During the investigation Selvamani was never arrested, and the police had cited her as “absconding accused.”

For some strange reason, well after the chargesheet itself has been filed, the judicial magistrate-I, Namakkal, issued a non-bailable warrant against Selvamani, and the police arrested her. Though she was totally blind, the magistrate remanded her in judicial custody and she was sent to the Salem prison.

But the worst was yet to come. In spite of the fact that she faced only minor charges and that she was entitled to bail as a matter of right under Section 436 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the principal sessions judge dismissed it saying the investigation was still on. This, when the case diary submitted to judge clearly showed that the investigation had been completed and chargesheet filed in November 2008.

Justice Nagamuthu, passing severe strictures against the district judge, said: “It is an unfortunate case where a blind woman has been denied bail in a mechanical fashion by the principal sessions judge, Namakkal. She is facing prosecution only for offences under Section 211 read with 109 IPC, which is a bailable offence. The sessions judge has no option at all to deny bail to her. It is the right of the accused to come out on bail. This court, with pains, makes a remark that the order of the sessions judge has been made in a mechanical fashion, which reflects the total non-application of mind.”

Justice Nagamuthu, concurring with the submissions of advocate PN Prakash and listing out the illegalities such as the bailable nature of the offence and the right of the accused to be granted bail in such cases, said: “It is the right of the accused to come out on bail. Denial of bail to her is illegal. It is crystal clear that the case diary was available in the hands of the sessions judge when the order was passed.”

Bombay HC directs police to let off writer Murzban Shroff

Hetal Vyas / DNA

Sunday, March 21, 2010 0:45 IST

Mumbai: Murzban Shroff, the author of ‘Breathless in Bombay’, was given a breather by the Bombay high court on Friday. Justice BR Gavai directed the Social Service (SS) branch of Mumbai police to not take any coercive action against the author, who has been dragged in to a controversy for using the word ‘ghati’ in his debut novel

In a hard hitting comment whose implication was clear, justice Gavai also asked the police to find those who were making statements much stronger than those made by Shroff in his book.
Activist Vijay Murdas had filed an FIR against Shroff in February 2009, objecting to certain dialogues in the book. The book includes 14 short stories and in one of them, ‘House of Mine’, the word ‘ghati’ was used. The story revolves around the occupants of a society facing an eviction notice from the housing board.
Justice Gavai, while granting three weeks’ time to the prosecution to file a reply, also observed that prima facie, the magistrate had failed to apply his mind while directing further investigation in the case.

The court was informed by Shroff’s counsel, Mihir Desai, that although the NM Joshi Marg police station had closed the case against his client by filing a ‘C’ summary report, the magistrate directed further investigation in the case last month. (The NM Marg police station had on January 20 informed the Bombay high court that “they did not find any reason to prosecute the author and there is nothing offensive in the said book.”)

Additional public prosecutor Pradeep Hingorani told the court that the case, which was earlier being investigated by the NM Joshi Marg police station, is now in the hands of the Social Service branch.

Shroff moved the HC once again after a Magistrate’s court directed further investigation in a private complaint registered against him by a social activist. While disposing the petition, the HC had observed: “He is an author and not a trouble maker.”

Shroff told DNA that the police had pointed out that the book carried a “unifying message” and contained no objectionable material. “I am confused with this development,” he said.

HC awards lifer to man for beating wife to death


New Delhi, Mar 21 (PTI) Can a ‘belan’, a wooden roller used for making chapatis, be an instrument of death? The Delhi High Court says “yes” while rejecting a man’s plea who had attacked his wife with it leading to her death.

The court sentenced the husband to life in prison after turning down his plea that he had no intention of killing her as a ‘belan’ cannot normally be an instrument for killing.

“He who repeatedly hits his wife on the head with a ‘belan’ would certainly be attributed with the knowledge of knowing that his acts would result in the death of the victim and death being a near probability, and not death being the likelihood of his acts,” a bench headed by Justice Pradeep Nandrajog observed. 

OBA urges CJI to fill up judges’ vacancies

TNN, Mar 21, 2010, 01.54am IST

LUCKNOW: Large vacancies of judges in Allahabad High Court and its Lucknow bench seem to be one of the reasons for burgeoning pendency of cases. In this view, the Oudh Bar Association (OBA) of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court has urged the chief justice of India for appointment of new judges at the earliest.

OBA president Shivakant Tiwari said that the sanctioned strength of the judges at both the benches is 160 whereas at present, there were only 78 judges. Out of them few judges are going to be retired in next few months. Therefore, it is necessary for imparting speedy justice to the people that the vacancies should be filled on a priority basis, he has written.

In a meeting of the OBA, it was also resolved to make a request to the CJI to appoint the acting chief justice Amitava Lala as the permanent chief justice of the Allahabad high court.

In another important resolution, the OBA decided to make it necessary to affix Rs 50 additional ticket on each `wakalatnama’ in order to generate more funds for lawyers’ welfare.

The OBA further decided to provide insurance cover to its lawyer by LIC. Addressing to the serious problems of potable water on the court campus raised by senior vice-president MP Singh Rana, the OBA engaged a private company to make necessary arrangements for water on the campus.

Development welcome, but not at the cost of environment: CJI

Updated on Sunday, March 21, 2010, 00:16 IST

Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh): Chief Justice of India Justice K G Balakrishnan on Saturday said that judiciary is not opposed to development without affecting environment.

Addressing a seminar on “Role of judiciary in preserving environment” here, he said the development at the cost of environment is not acceptable.

Citing benchmark decisions in the way of preserving environment, Balakrishnan said the decision of use of CNG as fuel in public transportation made mandatory in 1998, had drawn legal criticism but today everyone was aware of the benefits of the decision.

He said judiciary was very sensitive to make sure that each citizen leads a healthy life and has access to employment opportunities.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh later welcomed the Chief Justice on behalf of state.


Article 136 only a discretionary remedy, says Supreme Court

J. Venkatesan

It is permitted to be invoked in very exceptional circumstances: Bench

The Supreme Court, while deciding to examine the scope of Article 136 of the Constitution, said it was like Article 226 (writ jurisdiction of High Courts) was a discretionary remedy and the Supreme Court was not bound to interfere even if there was an error of law or fact in the order under challenge.

A Bench consisting of Justices Markandey Katju and R.M. Lodha, quoting various judgments, pointed out that Article 136 was never meant to be an ordinary forum of appeal at all. “It has become a practice of filing SLPs against all kinds of orders of the High Court or other authorities without realising the scope of Article 136.”

Exceptional circumstances

The Bench said: “The very conferment of the discretionary power defies any attempt at exhaustive definition of such power. The power is permitted to be invoked not in a routine fashion but in very exceptional circumstances as [and] when a question of law of general public importance arises or a decision sought to be impugned before the Supreme Court shocks the conscience. The Supreme Court would not under Article 136 constitute itself into a tribunal or court just settling disputes and reduce itself to a mere court of error.”

Limited time

The judges said: “After all, the Supreme Court has limited time at its disposal and it cannot be expected to hear every kind of dispute. The apex court lays down the law for the whole country and it should have more time to deliberate upon the cases it hears before rendering judgment as Mr. Justice Frankfurter observed. However, sadly the position today is that it is under such pressure because of the immense volume of cases in the court that judges do not get sufficient time to deliberate over the cases, which they deserve, and this is bound to affect the quality of our judgments.” Let notice be issued to the respondents, they said.

Alarming situation

The Bench noted the concern expressed by senior advocate K.K. Venugopal in a lecture pointing out that an alarming state of affairs “has developed in this court because this court has gradually converted itself into a mere Court of Appeal which has sought to correct every error which it finds in the judgments of the High Courts of the country as well as the vast number of tribunals. Mr. Venugopal has further observed that this court has strayed from its original character as a Constitutional Court and the apex court of the country. According to him, this is a self-inflicted injury, which is the cause of the malaise which has gradually eroded the confidence of the litigants in the apex court of the country, mainly because of its failure to hear and dispose of cases within a reasonable period of time.”

Mr. Venugopal, the Bench said, “has pointed out that in the year 1997 there were only 19,000 pending cases in this court, but now, there are over 55,000 pending cases and in a few years’ time the pendency will cross one lakh cases. In 2009, almost 70,000 cases were filed in this court, of which an overwhelming number were SLPs under Article 136. At present, all these cases have to be heard orally, whereas the U.S. Supreme Court hears only about 100 to 120 cases every year and the Canadian Supreme Court hears only 60 cases per year.”

The Bench, therefore, wanted the issue to be settled by a Constitution Bench. It issued notice to the Supreme Court Bar Association, the Bar Council of India and the Supreme Court-Advocates-on-Record Association. The Constitution Bench may also consider appointing some senior advocates of this court as amicus curiae to assist in the matter so that it can be settled after considering the views of all the parties concerned.

HC extends stay on BBMP tender

Express News Service

First Published : 20 Mar 2010 06:43:22 AM IST

Last Updated :

BANGALORE: The High Court on Friday restrained the state government and BBMP from awarding tender for civil works and collection and transportation of solid waste in the city.

While hearing a public interest litigation, a division bench headed by justice V Gopala Gowda directed the government and BBMP not to proceed with the awarding of tender worth Rs 13,000 crore for civil works and collection of garbage in the city.

The court adjourned the hearing to April 6, 2010 for final hearing of the petitions.

Till that date the authorities should not precipitate the matter, the court said.

The government has submitted that the new tender regarding collection of garbage will be given approval only after the new BBMP council is formed after the elections.

The petitioner contended that the administrator had no power to sign the tender and it should get approval from the BBMP council members.

Petition against land acquisition for NICE dismissed

The High Court has dismissed the petition challenging the acquisition of land at Gottigere village for implementation for the NICE project.

Justice Abdul Nazir dismissed the petition filed by Pattabhiraman and others.

According to a NICE release, the dismissal of the writ petition allows them to build the crucial connection between Bannerghatta Road and Hosur Road.

Further, NICE has said that “the dismissal of the writ petition puts an end to the litigation that went on for years regarding the crucial link on the peripheral road”.

The petitioner had challenged the acquisition of land on survey number 64/1 of Gottigere village for implementation of the NICE project


Chandigarh, March 20:

The framers of the Constitution in their prudent far-sighted vision did visualize the degeneration of principles of governance with the passage of time at the hands of the vested interests. Probably, that is why, to safeguard the pillars of parliamentary democracy, they did not leave any ambiguity while defining the role and jurisdiction of Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. The main concern of them was to see that there is no possibility of transgression by one wing of governance into the other by the persons guided by personal motives  Hence, they made the above division sacrosanct.

The news regarding a proposal before the House over a letter written by the Deputy Speaker, Shri Sat Pal Gosain, to withdraw cases against the politicians is fraught with latent dangers primarily losing the faith of the people whom they elected as their representatives. Nobody will relish the idea of shattering the mechanism of checking corruption by the people holding high positions in Government. Such a move, if succeeds, would further paint the politicians as untrustworthy. It will not only mean attempt of blatant transgression into the domain of judiciary but also strike at the basic fabric of law i.e. equality before law. It will create a new class of privileged corrupts enjoying immunity from being tried for all kinds crimes including corruption. While the ordinary corrupts (non-politicians) would face the Courts of law for similar crimes, the politicians could well be put off the hook of law as a result of this sinister move. This would also be a direct infringement of the basic postulates of the Indian Constitution as enshrined in its Preamble i.e. Equality before Law. It is all the more objectionable when the cases of corruption, at one stage or the other, have stood scrutiny of charges up to the Apex Court of India.

The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, under Rule 39 governing the admissibility of a Question before the House clearly sheds a light as to which matter should be discussed in the House as under:

(8)              it shall not ask for an expression of a legal opinion nor the solution of an abstract legal question of a hypothetical proposition;

(10)     it shall not ask for information on any mater which is under adjudication by a court of law having jurisdiction in any part of India;

The guidelines laid in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, for admissibility of a question before the House clearly mandate that the House should be cautious in even entertaining discussion over a matter which is pending consideration before any court of law.

Since the cases classified as political vendetta are pending consideration for the last 5-6 years in the case of Akali leaders and 3 years approximately in the case of Congress leaders before different Courts of law and have traveled long enough, the proposal to withdraw the same, under the guise of political vendetta, will tantamount to interference in the administration of justice, for the reason that the alibi of political vendetta by the accused has failed to put a cog in the wheels of justice. In my considered view, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha must not tread into the territory of the judiciary merely on the advice of the Advocate General but also must seek the opinion of the constitutional experts and eminent jurists of the country to avoid confrontation with judiciary.

The reaction of Captain Amarinder Singh expressing his views against any such move is laudable and worth emulating by the other leaders. In my personal opinion, the House certainly has the power to review its decision on expulsion of Captain Amarinder Singh for the remaining period of the present Vidhan Sabha if the House in its collective wisdom feels about the quantum of punishment being excessive in his particular case. In this process, the decision of the House can be revoked and his Membership can be restored. However, even this particular move has its own repercussions because the issue is pending before the Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. So, it is also fraught with the possibility of earning displeasure of the Supreme Court because the matter is being deliberated upon and pending adjudication before the Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

My personal opinion based on a political career of over three decades, including two terms as Member of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, especially having been adjudged as the Best Parliamentarian of the 12th Vidhan Sabha as also the Deputy Speaker of the House, is that we should wait and respect the decisions of the Courts in all such cases which pertain to the politicians and hesitate from giving any inkling of lack of faith in the system of jurisprudence of the country. It is all the more a matter of grave pondering for the Members of this august House not to earn the stigma of brazen abuse of power in assuming the role  of accused, prosecutor and a judge in utter disregard of the law of the land.


Former Deputy Speaker Punjab

PIL over Karnataka’s PDS policy

Express News Service

First Published : 20 Mar 2010 07:04:45 AM IST

Last Updated : 20 Mar 2010 10:26:22 AM IST

BANGALORE: Roopa Naik, a resident of Davanagere, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the state government’s action of distributing 25 kg of food grains to BPL families, 10 kg lesser than the quantity set by the Supreme Court.

In a hearing before the Karnataka High Court on the PIL, the state government on Friday defended its adopted policy on the public distribution system (PDS) to below-poverty- line (BPL) families.

Representing the state, Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli, submitted that the state had implemented the ‘Annapoorna Anthyodaya’ scheme for 12 lakh BPL families, identified as poorest of the poor, and had also supplied food grains through PDS to 20 lakh BPL families.

The AG argued that states set different yardsticks for the same.

“We have extended more subsidies for food grains than that fixed by the central government,” the AG argued.

Harnahalli said a system had been evolved by the state that avoided the sale of grains in the open market, in it’s distribution, where the possibility of ploughing grains into the black market was linked with the quantity of grains distributed to BPL card holders.

Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary of food and civil supplies, was present.

Hearing has been adjourned to next week.

Karnataka high court removes all hurdles to metro

Odeal D’Souza / DNA

Saturday, March 20, 2010 8:37 IST

Bangalore: The Karnataka high court on Friday dismissed a clutch of public interest litigation (PIL) petitions challenging acquisition of land by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) for Namma Metro, clearing all the hurdles in the way of the implementation of the project.

A division bench comprising justices V Gopala Gowda and N Ananda dismissed the writ petitions filed by the CMH Shops and Establishments and Residents’ Association, Indira Nagar, and by the owners of Plaza theatre on MG Road, citing various reasons.
The CMH Shops and Establishments and Residents’ Association, Indira Nagar, had filed the petition challenging the acquisition of land for the execution of the project on CMH Road.

The petitioners had challenged the alignment of the metro in the area and argued that many of them would lose their shops and residences if the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) went ahead with the project according to the present plan, and sought a stay on the work.

The petitioners also sought an alternative alignment along Old Madras Road and prayed for the appointment of an expert committee to consider the economic, social and environmental aspect of the impugned alignment.

However, the court said that the PIL was vested in private interests, rather than a public one and dismissed it. The bench observed that as a policy-maker, the state must have examined all pros and cons of shifting the project, and its correctness could not be examined under judicial power.

The owners of Plaza theatre building on MG Road had also filed a PIL praying for a realignment of the metro rail, as a metro station was scheduled to come up in place of the building.

However, the court said that the authorities had examined the decision to shift the location of the metro station on MG Road from the Parade Grounds to the Plaza theatre building based on expert opinion. The court said that the station would not be relocated from the spot decided upon and dismissed thepetition.

The court observed that the state government was under obligation to provide better, speedy and economical transport to citizens. It held that acquisition of land was not vitiated by legal mala fidesand dismissed the petitions.

The bench further said that Bangalore was witnessing rapid growth with several industries were setting shop here, and hence the requirement for various infrastructure facilities was on the rise. Transportation was a major issue affecting citizens, and the state was making all efforts to provide affordable and quick transportation facilities to all sections of the society.

The court observed that as a matter of policy the government had decided on the metro rail system as an effective mass transportation mode, and the project could not be hindered or altered on the basis of objections from a few individuals.

It said that the project involved huge sums of public money and was already 40% complete. If the ruling was granted in favour of the petitioners, it would not only mean a loss of time and investment, and would require new plans to be drawn and fresh land acquisition procedures.

With regard to some alignment changes made earlier, the court said that the changes were made only where certain practical problems were encountered, and where realignment was unavoidable.

Is santhara against the law?

Hemali Chhapia and Mansi Choksi, TOI Crest, Mar 20, 2010, 09.54am IST

The century-old practice of santhara has been in the eye of a storm since 2006 when the case of 93-year-old Keila Devi Hirawat from Jaipur had the world’s media debating whether there was any place for santhara in the modern world. Human rights activist and lawyer Nikhil Soni and his lawyer Madhav Mishra filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Rajasthan high court, claiming that santhara was a social evil and should be considered suicide under Indian law. One of the concerns raised in the petition was that it is old people who usually resort to santhara – and allowing an elderly person to suffer without medical assistance, food and water is inhuman. Jains, however, argue that it is a voluntary act of rational thinking and marks the beginning of a journey of understanding the inherently painful and flawed nature of earthly existence. For millions of Jains in India, the PIL was a direct violation of the Indian Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom.

While opponents of santhara equate the practice with suicide and argue that it’s a fundamental breach of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to life but not death, supporters say that the right to life includes a corresponding right not to live. Pana Chand Jain, former Rajasthan high court judge, wrote in The Times of India, “Sallekhana is a system of belief which Jains regard as conducive to their spiritual well-being . The preamble to the Constitution states that the Constitution secures to all its citizens liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship . Article 25 guarantees that every person in India shall have freedom of conscience and a right to profess, practice and propagate religion. Article 29 goes further and declares that any section of citizens having a distinct culture shall have a right to conserve the same. If any law comes in conflict with constitutional rights, it will have to yield.”

Jains believe that santhara cannot be considered suicide – they say it is something that one does with full knowledge and intent, unlike suicide which is viewed as emotional and hasty. Vimal Sagarji maharajsaheb, a Jain monk, offers a different view when he says that there is a thin line between santhara and suicide. “In most cases, Jains have successfully elevated themselves after embracing santhara , he says. “But in certain instances, people have faced immense mental and physical test while observing santhara and have not easily felt peace with themselves. So, whether santhara is suicide or a holy practice to attain moksha, I feel, is for the person embracing santhara to answer for himself.”

Another bone of contention is the prolonged nature of santhara, with supporters arguing that the individual is given enough time to reflect on his or her life. They say that the individual has the freedom to change his or her mind through the fast. However, this claim is shouted out by opponents who argue that undoing the santhara may incur social ostracism within the community.

Legal experts too are divided on this issue. Advocate Mahesh Jethmalani says that if deprivation of food and water eventually leads to death, it is considered suicide. “Even Sati is ordained by the Hindu scriptures, but it is banned because it clashed with criminal law. There is a constitutional right which guarantees the freedom to practice the religion of your choice. But that cannot hold before criminal law. That’s the law of the land.”

On the other hand, advocate Sanjay Jain says that santhara is merely a practice of giving up food. “No one can force you to eat,” he says. Articles 25 and 26 of the Indian Constitution protect all religious practices , unless otherwise prohibited by law. “The Indian government passed an act banning Sati. That has not been done for santhara,” Jain argues to counter Jethmalani’s views.

Classical status to Telugu: CM thanks PM

Express News Service

First Published : 20 Mar 2010 08:15:58 AM IST

Last Updated : 20 Mar 2010 11:41:06 AM IST

HYDERABAD: Chief Minister K Rosaiah today expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Central ministers for according the classical language status to Telugu.

Making a statement in the State Assembly, the chief minister said that the Central Government, in response to the request of the State Government and MPs, directed the Director of Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore and the Chairman of the University Grants Commission to take immediate suitable steps for according the status to Telugu. “With this the long-cherished dream of the Telugu people has come true. The Telugu Talli is endowed with a ‘classical’ garland,’’ he remarked and thanked all members of the Assembly, MPs from the State and Telugu language experts for their cooperation in the endeavour.

Former chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy had introduced a proposal in the Assembly on February 22, 2006 requesting the Centre to accord Classical Language status to Telugu, and a resolution was passed unanimously.

In response, the Centre had issued a notification on October 31, 2008 according the Classical Language status to Telugu but it was subject to disposal of the PIL (public interest litigation) pending before the Madras High Court.

Recently, Minister for Culture J Geeta Reddy held a high-level meeting with Telugu language experts to discuss the matter and appealed to the MPs from the State to write letters to the prime minister and the Union law minister for an resolution of the matter, Rosaiah recalled and assured that his government was ready to provide all means and assistance for the purpose.

Expensive PIL for Mayawati


Posted: Friday , Mar 19, 2010 at 1042 hrs Allahabad:

A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court asking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the expenses by the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on March 15 to mark the 25th anniversary of the party.

The PIL has been filed by three lawyers, who alleged that about Rs 175 crore was spent in the rally and around Rs 25 crore on the garland that was presented to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP supreme Mayawati.

The PIL is expected to come up for hearing on Monday.

Bahujan Samaj Party rival Samajwadi Party (SP) meanwhile, has demanded registration of an FIR against Mayawati for publicly accepting the garland made of currency notes.

Mujahid Kidwai, the secretary of Samajwadi Party has said the currency garland has made a mockery of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)”s mandatory guidelines on the country”s currency.

Despite being criticised over the currency garland controversy, Mayawati had on Wednesday defied the authorities by appearing again with a second currency garland.

She was severely criticized both inside and outside Parliament as the currency garland controversy sparked demands for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the source of money used to make the garland reportedly worth Rs 5 crore.

Income tax officials have reportedly been ordered to investigate the source from which the cash garland that was presented to Mayawati on Monday materialized.

The probe was ordered after proceedings in Parliament were suspended on Tuesday over the issue.

The Samajwadi Party and the Congress both have demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the matter, questioning the source from where the money had come.

Congress leader Digvijay Singh has accused Mayawati of misusing public money, and said that she is not the daughter of a Dalit, but the daughter of wealth.

Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev has also criticized her of doing business through politics.

The multi-crore garland was just a small part of the extravagant Rs 200 crore celebrations that marked the BSP”s 25th anniversary, and its founder Kanshi Ram”s birthday, with a massive rally in Lucknow.

Official vehicles cannot display designations: HC

TNN, Mar 20, 2010, 05.48am IST

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday said official vehicles in Chandigarh would not carry designations of officials. It added that these would not be parked along roadsides but stationed in office compounds.

At the same time, ‘no parking’ signs will be installed outside malls where tow trucks of the police are to be stationed.

The orders issued by Justice Rajive Bhalla on the contempt of court petition filed by advocate Ajit Singh are apparently aimed at ensuring smooth flow of traffic and removing bottlenecks encountered earlier.

Justice Bhalla also asked UT police to apprize the court regarding use of close circuit television cameras (CCTV) installed on traffic rotaries, besides details of challans being issued on the basis of this footage.

He further directed that parking needs to be regulated in the Industrial Area, particularly in front of the Centra Mall.

The petitioner also alleged that Chandigarh police had collected Rs 6 crore by way of fine money from traffic challans, but the same had not been used towards improving traffic and allied safety measures.

In this context, it was stated that CCTV cameras were not functioning properly nor the city had suitable signboards.

The directions were issued in context of traffic in cities of Chandigarh, Amritsar and Gurgaon.

In Amritsar, the court ordered against plying of handcarts in congested areas of the city. Justice Bhalla also asked Punjab government to provide details of liquor vends in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s palace at Amritsar, besides ordering that no vehicles be parked on roads in Gurgaon and that these be parked inside buildings of the municipal corporation, Gurgaon, HUDA etc.

HC orders Paramount to ground half its fleet

ENS Economic Bureau

Posted: Saturday , Mar 20, 2010 at 0142 hrs New Delhi:

Paramount Airways has been asked to ground half of its fleet strength of six aircraft by the Delhi High Court on Friday. In a major setback for the Chennai-based airline, the court declined its plea to maintain a status quo on the three Embraer planes till the next hearing schedueld for Monday. The airline had said immediate grounding of the aircraft will create problems for their passengers.

When contacted, an official spokesperson of Paramount Airways said, “We will reroute all the passengers who have booked for the next two to three days to Kingfisher and Jet Airways and we will also combine the routes to a maximum level with our remaining fleets. We don’t see any major impact on our operations as the Delhi HC will announce its final verdict on Monday. We will run the remaining two fleet at an optimum level to ensure smooth run.” The case is about an order of civil aviation regulator DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) which grounded three aircraft of Paramount out of its total fleet strength of five, owing to a leasing dispute with UK based GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS).

Paramount had approached the high court challenging the DGCA’s earlier decision. The Paramount spokesperson said the airline “is flying as usual and as per schedule.” He claimed Paramount had no dues to GECAS or any other party. He also said Paramount has not been ordered by any court to ground its aircraft. Paramount is involved in a dispute with the UK-based GE Capital Aviation Services for the last 10 months. The dispute had arisen as Paramount asked for a reimbursement of the maintenance reserves created on various checks carried out. The lack of response from GECAS led to the dispute. GECAS in its capacity of a leasing company was looking to deregister the aircraft due to the dispute and DGCA in turn ordered grounding of three of Paramount’s fleets.

HC rejects plea for extension of 3G bid time

20 Mar 2010, 0238 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: Giving a go ahead to the government for auction of the 3G spectrum (radio frequency) starting on April 9, the Delhi High Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking extension of time for submitting bids. A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice M B Lokur and Justice Mukta Gupta held that the Department of Telecom (DoT) has followed norms and maintained transparency while inviting bids for 3G spectrum.

March 19 is the last date for submission of the forms to participate in the 3G auction. The bench did not agree that 25 days’ time given for submitting the bids in the Notice for Inviting the Application of February 25 was very less and small operators would be deprived.

“Transparency is there. The government has already put all the information regarding the auction on its website in October last year,” the bench said. It also added that the auction was in nature of commercial transaction and all the norms are followed.

The court also observed that the petitioner Umesh Joshi was not even an interested party as he was not going to bid for the 3G spectrum. After that it imposed a cost of Rs 15,000 on Joshi and said that if he failed to submit it then action would be taken against him.

Wild allegations against spouse is cruelty: HC

Shibu Thomas , TNN, Mar 20, 2010, 04.20am IST

MUMBAI: Making wild and baseless allegations in court against your spouse and in-laws amount to cruelty, Bombay high court has ruled while upholding a trial court’s order dissolving the marriage of a Mumbai couple in their 30s.

Following an application for divorce filed by Mazgaon resident Jitesh Agarwal, his wife Geeta had alleged that there was a bizarre custom in her in-laws’ family where they shared each other’s wives. Geeta claimed that she was persistently told to have illicit relations with her husband’s brother and brother-in-law and there was even an attempt to outrage her modesty.

“The allegations levelled by Geeta against the husband and other members of the family at various places and at every stage are absolutely baseless, irresponsible, wanton and scandalous and they were made for the reasons best known to her,” said a division bench of Justice D B Bhosale and Justice R Y Ganoo.

“The expression — treating the other party with cruelty (in the Hindu Marriage Act) — is wide enough to cover cruel treatment (even after the filing of the petition) by making wild and serious allegations which, according to the accused spouse, are false and scandalous. A (divorce) decree could be passed based on such allegations.”

Geeta’s lawyers claimed that as Jitesh had not amended his petition to include her allegations as cruel, a divorce could not be granted on that ground. The HC judges, however, did not agree. “If these allegations were true, neither the appellant nor her father would have kept quiet for such a long time,” said the division bench even as it said the family court was right in granting divorce on the ground of cruelty.

The court added that Geeta’s behaviour even before she lodged criminal complaints against her husband would amount to cruelty. “(Geeta’s conduct) shows that she had made Jitesh and his family’s lives miserable. The manner in which she used to lodge criminal complaints one after another against Jitesh undoubtedly would constitute mental cruelty,” said the HC.

(Names of the couple have been changed to protect their identities)

HC upholds takeover of Gottigere land for BMIC

TNN, Mar 20, 2010, 06.33am IST

BANGALORE: Clearing the path for NICE to build the connecting road between Bannerghatta Road and Hosur Road, Karnataka High Court has upheld the acquisition of land in the contentious Gottigere village, Bangalore South, for the implementation of Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor project (BMIC).

Justice S Abdul Nazir on Friday dismissed the petition filed by one Pattabhiraman and others in this regard challenging acquisition of about 3 acres land in the village.

The petitioner contended that the authorities had not considered his objections and alignment of the peripheral road was not made available to him. However, the authorities claimed that Outward Development Plan (ODP) which spelt out the alignment was a public document and was available in the public domain.

With this verdict, the path is clear for NICE company to build the connecting route between Bannerghatta Road and Hosur Road. It also allows commuters to travel from Electronic City, Hosur Road (NH7) towards Tumkur Road (NH4). The decision also allows thousands of inter-state trucks plying on these National Highways to avoid entering into the Bangalore City and they can directly travel passing Bannerghatta Road, Kanakapura Road, Mysore Road and Magadi Road without troubling the city traffic.

Overseas Indian citizens can play for country: Punjab HC

Eklavya Atray / DNA

Saturday, March 20, 2010 0:25 IST

New Delhi: The Punjab high court (HC) has given relief to OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) players banned from playing for the country because they do not have Indian passports. The court said an OCI can represent India at international sport events.

The judgment came in response to a plea by Sohrab Gill, a national shooter who was banned in 2008 with others.
Punjab advocate general HS Mattewal quoted a government notification issued on April 11, 2005, that OCI cardholders should get the same chances as NRIs in economic, financial and educational sectors and an OCI can play for the country.
Gill, who is an OCI since 2007, has represented India in junior world events and won medals at the Asian Championship in Kuwait in 2007. “I am happy to represent my country again,” he said.

The government started throwing out OCI players from federations in 2008, which ended many promising careers.A perfect example was Karm Kumar (British passport), a squash player who represented India at the Asian juniors in 2006. In 2007, SRFI (Squash Racket Federation of India) barred him from competing in international events.

In 2008, Kumar filed a case against the federation. He did this after SRFI sent notices that players should have Indian passports if they want to play for their country. “We’ve got this [HC judgment] after two years. The sad part is that Karm and other players have lost their form,” Rahul, Karm’s father, said.

“If my son has an OCI card, but is not allowed to play for his country because he does not have an Indian passport, what does
the word ‘citizen’ in OCI mean?”

The sports ministry said it barred foreign players because they were taking advantage of superior training methods here and leaving India to play for other countries. Kumar countered: “More than 150 Indian squash players have left to play for other countries. But what about those who wanted to play for India but were not allowed?”

HC adjourns case of mom killing son

Rebecca Samervel, TNN, Mar 20, 2010, 06.31am IST

MUMBAI: The high court on Friday was informed that the narco-analysis test conducted on a woman, accused of killing her own minor son after he caught her in a compromising position with her alleged lover, was inconclusive.

The HC was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Pawankumar, father of the boy. Earlier, the court had directed the Kalina forensic lab to conduct a narco-analysis test on Janakdulari Prajapati and her alleged lover Nanhe alias Satyanarayan Harijan.

Pawankumar Prajapati and his wife Janakdulari had lodged a complaint in June 2008 alleging that their son Ajaykumar was missing. Cops later arrested Harijan and Janakdulari in the case. Later, in lie-detector and brainmapping tests, Harijan confessed to having the killed the boy with Janakdularis help. The case has been adjourned.

21 girls missing from Midnapore rehab home, HC seeks report–HC-seeks-report/593387

Express News Service

Posted: Saturday , Mar 20, 2010 at 0347 hrs Kolkata:

With as many as 21 girls reported missing from the state-run Vidyasagar Girls Home in West Midnapore, the Calcutta High Court has asked the state government and the rehab home to file a report on the matter.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mohit S Shah and Justice Pianki Chandra Ghosh passed the orders in response to a PIL. The Division Bench also wanted to know the number of girls currently lodged in the home.

N S Nigam, district magistrate of West Midnapore, said that the Vidayasagar Girls Home is run by the social welfare department of the state government for juveniles.

According to the district administration of West Midnapore, 21 girls were taken to Vidayasagar Girls Home for shelter after court orders.

These girls, allegedly victims of illegal trafficking, had been rescued from hotels in Haldia a week ago and transferred to the home on court orders, said Nigam.

He added that even as the home is meant for juveniles, the 21 girls including adults were accommodated there in compliance with court orders.

Sixteen of the girls were reported missing from the home a week ago and five others were reported missing later.

Manoj Verma, SP West Midnapore has started investigation in the matter, Nigam said, adding that 14 other girls are currently lodged in the Vidyasagar Girls Home.

Nigam, meanwhile, met officials of the social welfare department on Friday.

HC’S green signal to metro on CMH road


Express News Service

First Published : 20 Mar 2010 06:47:38 AM IST

Last Updated : 20 Mar 2010 10:24:07 AM IST

BANGALORE: BMRCL can heave a sigh of relief as the Karnataka High Court on Friday upheld the alignment of Namma Metro on CMH Road and also the public importance of the project by dismissing a batch of petitions challenging the project.

A division bench comprising Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice N Anand dismissed the batch of petitions challenging the very purpose of the project.

During the project, certain practical problems were seen. Therefore some changes in the project, including in the alignment, were necessary, the bench observed.

People had to suffer on account of the poor transport system. Since the Metro project involves the public interest, it cannot be hindered at this stage. The project costs Rs 6,000 crore. Rs 1,100 crore had been spent and 40 per cent of the work had already been completed, HC said.

In its 127-page judgment, the bench upheld the legal procedures of BMRCL under the Mysore Tramways Act, 1906 and observed that the contention of the petitioners — CMH Shop and Establishments and Residents Association, KV Ramakrishna, NS Ram Mohan and several others — is not maintainable.

On charges of BMRCL deviating from the original alignment, the bench said courts cannot go into the correctness of such issues.

The petitioners argued that KIADB had no power to acquire land for Metro, the purpose of the KIADB Act being restricted to industrial purpose. The court said the Metro project impacts industrial areas. So, there was nothing wrong in lands acquired for the Metro under KIADB Act, the court said.

There was no fraud in the change of alignment in the project on MG Road by shifting the MG Road station near Plaza theatre, the court stated.


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