LEGAL NEWS 23.03.2010

Title :       Fight Against Cartels-unlocking Of Issues By The Competition Commission Of India (cci)

http://articles.manupatra.com/PopOpenArticle.aspx?ID=2bc2689b-b597-407a-9e99-7e5360c65601&txtsearch=Mr.%20G.r.%20Bhatia

Author : Mr. G.r. Bhatia

G.R. Bhatia

It has been increasingly recognised that fair competition in markets is benign for the consumer, business and economy. Therefore, the competition laws worldwide including the Indian Competition Act, 2002 (the “Act”) inter alia, seeks to promote and sustain competition in markets. In “cartel arrangement or agreements,” the rivals agree not to compete on price, production/supply, and customers or in bids etc. These being palpably anti competitive and malevolent, are condemned globally and frowned upon by the competition agencies.

India has recently put in place a modernised competition regime and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has commenced its enforcement inter alia, to combat cartels. Undoubtedly, the CCI is better equipped than the erstwhile MRTP Commission to detect and punish cartels as the Act :

• defines “cartel” and thus, ambiguity as to its scope does not subsist anymore;

• does not entitle the charged party to claim and avail of the benefit of all or any of escape valves enshrined in the repealed law;

• provides for a leniency programme for a member of a cartel to defect and make true and full disclosure (corresponds to concept of approver to bust conspiracy in criminal law),

• empowers to impose penalty on each delinquent enterprise linked with its profits/turnover (whichever is higher),

• revamps power of search and seizure by the investigation arm, i.e. the Director General,

• confers explicit jurisdiction to nab overseas acts having Appreciable Adverse Effect on Competition (AAEC) in India,

• incorporates mirror image advisory mechanism between CCI and sector specific regulators,

• mandates advocacy to create awareness and build strong competition culture and

• encourages public to submit information fearlessly by ensuring confidentiality.

All these make it imperative for a business to be on the right side of the law and refrain from certain types of horizontal agreements narrated supra but at the same time they need not be fearful of entering into Pro-competitive Cooperative Agreements such as pooling of resources for research and development or cooperative standard setting beneficial for consumers or bids in consortium if terms and conditions of tender so permit or efficiency enhancing joint ventures or joint advertisements etc. It needs to noted that the list of horizontal agreements in respect of which there shall be presumption of Appreciable Adverse Effect on Competition (AAEC) in markets in India, is exhaustive and any other kind of horizontal agreement shall not be subject to presumption but shall be examined on the touch stone of “rule of reason”. Further, the presumption is rebuttable. The prosecutor duty is discharged by bringing on record convincing evidence to prove its existence. The determination of harm caused; however, will not only create the right perception but also act as savior of an Order appealed before the Appellate Tribunal/Supreme Court and further facilitate in assessing compensation payable to victims. The elements of “product differentiation,” “brand reputation,” “emotional connect of buyer with a product” will be areas which the prosecutor has to keep in view before concluding that the products are same/similar and substitutable.

The three pre-requisites for successful implementation of a leniency programme are-high risk of detection, credible threat of sanctions and the transparency/certainty in the operation of programme. All these create fear and deterrence amongst colluders and build confidence in those who crave to avail of refuge under leniency. It is believed that as few as one in six or seven cartels are detected and prosecuted in developed jurisdictions and detection ratio has been much lower in the developing world.1 The Regulations governing the leniency programme notified by the CCI, after extensive consultative process, focuses on unearthing of many more such cases besides ensuring transparency and certainty to a member seeking refuge.2 However, an effective and credible leniency programme has to ensure that a member blowing whistle is neither threatened nor victimised.

Price parallelism is invariably inferred as the case of collusion and the likelihood of such pricing is heightened in the ever increasing competitive scenario. Institution of enquiry in cases of uniform price simpliciter will be inappropriate unless parallel conduct is coupled with other facilitating factors such as sharing of competitively sensitive information or price remaining identical despite changes in demand and supply, or a small player taking the lead in jacking the price etc.

The trade and its Associations (especially when its members are rivals in market) need to take note of the “Do’s and Don’ts” and the CCI before embarking on an enquiry should undertake comprehensive analysis of market, its structure, characteristics and uses of the product, its cost, price and attendant issues so that its resources which are already scarce are deployed in right earnest and the charged one is not unnecessarily burdened of defending itself which costs both money and time.

Copyright Ó G. R. Bhatia

________________________________

* Partner & Head of Competition Law Practice, Luthra & Luthra Law Offices and Former Additional Director General, CCI/MRTPC 

1. Market Study Report on ‘Cartel Case Laws in Select Jurisdictions- Learning’s for Competition Commission of India’ by CUTS International & National Law University, Jodhpur. 

2. The Competition Commission of India (Lesser Penalty) Regulations, 2009 notified in the Gazette of India on 13th August, 2009.

Bangalore: PIL Questioning Gokarna Temple Transfer Admitted by HC http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=74361&n_tit=Bangalore%3A+PIL+Questioning+Gokarna+Temple+Transfer+Admitted+by+HC

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:55:16 PM (IST)  

Daijiworld Media Network – Bangalore (SP)

Bangalore, Mar 23: The controversy over the government’s decision to hand over Gokarna Lord Mahabaleshwara Temple to Ramachandrapur Mutt after divesting a local trust of the responsibility of managing it, is far from over. The state High Court on Monday March 22, admitted a public interest litigation filed by some priests and devotees of the temple, for hearing.

The petition questions the decision of the government to hand over the temple in Gokarna to Ramachandrapur Mutt. But, both Ramachandrapur Mutt and the state government had raised objections to the PIL, saying that it is backed by selfish interests and hence the petition can not be treated as a public interest petition.

However, the division bench presided by Justice Gopal Gowda admitted the petition, observing that the objection raised by the government was backed by selfish interests.

State govt may appeal against ban on jugaads

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/State-govt-may-appeal-against-ban-on-jugaads/articleshow/5713994.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 03.02am IST

JAIPUR: The state government might go in for an appeal against the recent high court ban on plying of jugaad. “The chief minister called a meeting of the home and transport departments the day the high court had banned the plying of jugaads in the state. On March 18, it was decided plying of jugaads will be halted on listed highways in the state but that they can ply on kuccha roads in rural areas,” home minister Shanti Dhariwal said and indicated if needed, the government can go for an appeal.

Dhariwal’s intervention came after a question was raised on the banning of jugaads by Congress MLA Raghu Sharma during the zero hour in the assembly on Monday.

On March 5, the high court had directed the state to ban jugaads in the state, in response to a PIL. The court had asked the government to frame a policy on the banning of jugaads and table it within a month and to ensure that jugaads do not ply in the state within three months.

However, after the accident on the Morel bridge near Sawai Madhopur, where 26 students were killed, after a bus collided with a jugaad, the high court taking suo motu cognisance of the matter banned jugaads with immediate effect on March 18 and has asked for a compliance report from the government by April 2.

In reply, transport minister Braj Kishore Sharma said, “The government has taken the matter seriously. A survey would soon be conducted with help from collectors, patwaris, gram sabhas etc so as to estimate how many jugaads are there in the state. Thereafter we would give a reply to the high court as asked by it by April 2.”

“Jugaads form the main source of ‘sustenance’ in rural Rajasthan. They are used not only to transport people but also cattle fodder. Banning them would not only throw a large number of people out of employment but would also lead to a shortage of cattle fodder specially at a time when the state is facing drought-like situations in many areas,” Sharma said.

The house was united on not banning jugaads. Deputy leader of Opposition Ghanshyam Tiwari said there are about 1 lakh jugaads in the state and banning them would mean depriving employment to that many people. He demanded the government take suitable action to safeguard the interest of these people and inquired if the state would go for an appeal against the high court orders.

HC wants riot panel to clarify whether it will call Modi

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/-HC-wants-riot-panel-to-clarify-whether-it-will-call-Modi/articleshow/5709618.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 12.17am IST

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court, on Monday, asked the Godhra probe panel to clarify about whether it would summon chief minister Narendra Modi for deposition, on a petition filed by rights group Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM).

The high court’s query came a day after the chief minister skipped a date with the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). Modi failed to turn up for questioning at the SIT office in response to the summons the investigating agency served on him in connection with the complaint filed by former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri’s widow, Zakia.

Acting on an appeal by JSM urging the high court to direct the Nanavati-Mehta commission to summon Modi and six others for cross-examination in connection with 2002 riots, a division bench headed by Chief Justice SJ Mukhopadhaya asked advocate general Kamal Trivedi to get a clarification from the commission by April 1.

The commission’s terms of reference were expanded to include examination of the role of Modi and his council of ministers, in the riots.

However, in its first report issued two years ago, the panel gave Modi a clean chit.

The high court has inquired whether the inquiry commission’s order of September 18 last year, rejecting JSM’s plea to summon Modi, was final. The bench sought an exact reply after the commission did not clarify to the court query last time in its letter, while stating that it might come out with a report soon.

During a hearing on Monday, the high court sought to know at what stage the commission would summon Modi if at all the probe panel wished to, because in the last eight years the commission had not taken any decision on this issue.
The JSM had been requesting the commission to call Modi, the then state home minister Gordhan Zadaphia and others for deposition, but the application was turned down last year on grounds that there was not enough material on record for summoning Modi for questioning. JSM later filed a petition in the high court, which was rejected by a single judge bench. An appeal against this order is being heard by a division bench.

Nithyananda pleads K’taka HC to squash charges

http://news.oneindia.in/2010/03/23/swaminithyananda-sex-scandal-karnataka-hc-petition.html

Tuesday, March 23, 2010,12:10 [IST]

 Bangalore, Mar 23: The scandal-tainted spiritual guru, Swami Nithyananda has filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking quashing of cases filed against him by the Ramanagar police contending that he is innocent and the sex scandal is a tailored controversy to defame him and his ashram.

The Ramanagar police has filed cases against him under several charges including rape and outraging religious sentiments after he invoked the wrath of his followers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for indulging in sexual activity.

The scandal came to light when a sex tape showing Nithyananda in compromising position with Tamil actress Ranjitha emerged in the media on Mar 2.

In his writ petition, the Swami claims that his driver Kurup Lenin was behind the whole controversy as he conspired against him and his ashram to sully their public image.

Sources in the high court told a news agency that writ is yet to come up for the High Court registry.

In the latest development, there are reports of emergence of a sex tape showing the godman with another Tamil actress Yuvarani.

The Karnataka police, who received information on the case from Tamil Nadu police earlier this week, is hunting for the absconding godman.

HC: Domestic Violence Act can be used with retrospective effect

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/HC-Domestic-Violence-Act-can-be-used-with-retrospective-effect/articleshow/5713590.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 05.41am IST

NEW DELHI: In an important ruling, the Delhi high court has clarified that the Domestic Violence Act has a retrospective effect. This means it can be invoked even by women who were subjected to domestic violence before the Act came into force in October 2006.

Justice V K Jain, while dealing with a complaint filed under the Domestic Violence Act, said the Act was maintainable ‘‘even if the domestic violence has been committed prior to coming into force of the Act.’’’

Setting aside the order by a lower court, justice Jain further observed, ‘‘The court needs to eschew from taking an interpretation which would not only be violative of constitutional rights but would also result in denying the benefit of the beneficial provisions of the Act to the women who have been subjected to domestic violence and are compelled to live separately on account of a man’s acts of omission or commission. Such an interpretation would at least partially defeat the legislative intent behind enactment of this Act, which was to protect women against domestic violence, to give them compensation and other suitable reliefs.’’

HC was hearing a petition filed by a woman appealing against the order of a lower court. The petitioner alleged she was forced to leave the matrimonial home because of her husband’s behaviour. While the magistrate allowed her plea and granted maintenance of Rs 6,000 per month to her, the husband appealed against it. A court held that the victim was not entitled to any relief under the DV Act because she had left the matrimonial home in 2005 while the Act came into force a year later.

SC takes up AP appeal against HC ruling quashing 4% Muslim quota

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/SC-takes-up-AP-appeal-against-HC-ruling-quashing-4-Muslim-quota/articleshow/5712871.cms

 TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 02.41am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday entertained Andhra Pradesh government’s appeal challenging the High Court verdict quashing a state law giving 4% reservation to Muslims in jobs and admissions to educational institutions.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Deepak Verma was reluctant to hear attorney general G E Vahanvati who was eager to press for a stay on the HC order given the stinging criticism of the Rosaiah government, accused by Muslim bodies of not doing enough to sustain its legislation in the HC.

The reluctance to hear the appeal on merit and on the issue of interim order was because the HC judgment was given by a 7-judge Bench by 5:2 majority. The CJI said that it would be appropriate if the matter was heard by a three judge Bench of the apex court and fixed March 25 as the next date.

Though the AP government had hurriedly filed the special leave petition against the February 8 judgment of the HC, mainly to quell frayed tempers among political parties, curing the defects in the petition resulted in its delayed listing.

While striking down the `Andhra Pradesh Reservation in Favour of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes of Muslims Act 2007′, the HC had remarked that such a legislation could promote conversion.

The AP government said Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Manipur had more or less similar legislation providing reservation to Muslims. It said the apprehension about promoting conversion was unwarranted as reservation was being given to socially and educationally backward in the community, virtually at par with those similarly placed in the Hindu community.

This is the third time that the Andhra government found its decision for providing reservation to Muslims being scrapped by the HC. Prior to 2007 legislation, it had first decided to extend quota to Muslims in 2004 through an administrative decision. After the government orders were quashed, the state had appointed BC Commission and on its recommendations enacted a law in 2005 to similar effect. This also met the same fate as the 2004 decision.

Muslims constitute 9.2% of the 77 million population of the state and the reservation was extended to 15 groups within the community who were identified after a survey by the AP Backward Classes Commission, said the Rosaiah government.

Seize cars of people caught driving drunk: Bombay HC

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_seize-cars-of-people-caught-driving-drunk-bombay-hc_1362274

Hetal Vyas / DNA

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 1:31 IST

Mumbai: A person caught driving under the influence of alcohol may not be allowed to drive his car back home after the police have completed the formalities of registering a case against him. The Bombay high court said on Monday that the police commissioner should issue a circular, asking the cops to seize vehicles of people caught for drunken driving immediately after they have been booked.

 Justice BR Gavai refused to grant interim relief to businessman Nikhil Kisnani, who had his original driving licence seized following a drunken driving offence in 2008. It means that proceedings against Kisnani will go ahead in a magistrate’s court, and the accused will have to wait for some more time before he gets his license back. “Taking into consideration the menace in the society, interim relief cannot be granted,” the court said.

The Worli traffic police impounded Kisnani’s licence in December 2008. He was granted a temporary licence, which has to be renewed from time to time.

Kisnani had moved the high court, challenging the traffic police’s method of dealing with drunken driving cases. He had petitioned the court to stay the proceedings against him in the trial court. His grouse was that drunken driving cases were being heard by judicial clerks acting as magistrates in morning courts.

Representing Kisnani, senior counsel Shirish Gupte and advocate HK Prem said, “Only the high court has the power to appoint magistrates, and not the state government. Judicial clerks, some of whom are not even law graduates, have been appointed special magistrates in the morning courts.”

Gupte pointed out to the judge that the police had actually allowed his client to drive back home in his vehicle after he had been booked. “They arrested him for drunken driving, and then allowed him to drive back home,” Gupte said.

“That is the only mistake they (cops) did,” Gavai said. He then suggested that the vehicles of the offenders should be seized immediately.

Public Prosecutor PA Pol and additional public prosecutor Alpa Javeri defended the procedure adopted by the state. “An accused in a drunken driving case is not arrested. He is immediately let off on bail,” Javeri said. “Fine is collected from him as a bail bond to safeguard the case.”

Girl’s wish paramount for marriage, says HC

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/girls-wish-paramount-for-marriage-says-hc/594407/0

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Mar 23, 2010 at 0256 hrs Mumbai:

The Bombay High Court on Monday held that the wish of a girl is paramount and just because she has attained puberty does not mean she can be married off.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Zakia Begum, a resident of Aurangabad, seeking custody of her 14-year-old daughter.

The court will decide whether a Muslim girl child can be married before attaining the legal age limit by seeing which of the two- Muslim Personal Law or Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA)- are applicable in such cases.

Division bench of Justice D B Bhosale and Justice A R Joshi will be interviewing the girl on Monday. At present she is at a child welfare home in Bandra.

“We would like to ascertain the wish of the girl,” Justice Bhosale said adding that due care should be taken to see that her parents do not meet her before the interview.

“Girl’s wish is paramount. Just because she has attained puberty does not mean she can be married off,” Justice Bhosale said.

Senior Counsel Yusuf Muchhala, appearing for the Muslim Personal Law Board, submitted that it is shocking that the Child Welfare Committee has detained the child and is not giving a hearing to the parents. He submitted that a decision on the girl needs to be taken soon since she is a school-going student and her exams are near.

The larger issue regarding the applicability of law will take a long time, Muchhala said. The court said very rarely such issues come up before the court to decide for the larger interest of the society.

The court has also issued a notice to the union government for appearing in the case. Zakia’s daughter was to marry last December but her uncle filed a complaint with police stating that Child Marriage Restriction Act (now replaced by PCMA) is being violated. The police then took the girl in custody and produced her before the Child Welfare Committee. She is now in a remand home.

Zakia moved the court arguing that police action was illegal because Muslim law allows girl to marry after onset of puberty.

HC orders Indage to wind up
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/hc-orders-indage-to-wind-up/389426/
BS Reporter / Mumbai March 23, 2010, 0:56 IST

The high court here has ruled that troubled wine-maker Indage Vintners (formerly Champagne Indage) should wind up operations.

 The order, of March 19, following separate petitions filed by lenders of Indage, including IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and the Government of Maharashtra-owned SICOM, a financial institution.

The stock price of Indage reacted sharply today, falling 6.9 per cent to close at Rs 47.80.

The company, in a filing to the stock exchanges, said it would appeal against the HC verdict.

An email sent to the company chairman S G Chowgule remain unanswered, while managing director Ranjit Chowgule could not be reached.

It may be recalled that Indage was pursuing a corporate debt restructuring (CDR) package to the tune of Rs 400 crore. This was being led by ICICI Bank, with allied lenders being IndusInd Bank, Allahabad Bank, UCO Bank, IDBI Bank and Bank of Rajasthan.

The CDR proposal, which came up in December 2009, was yet to be finalised. Indage said during the March 19 hearing in the HC that the company was looking to place the proposal with the support of CDR lenders, both secured and unsecured, in the next meeting. It also said it was ready and willing for a scheme of arrangement under sections 391 to 394 of the Companies Act, to restucture its outstanding liabilities.

Despite these contentions, the HC gave a wind-up order. “The company has taken steps to procure a certified copy of the said order,” it said today.

The company had been seeing a steady decline both in terms of stock price as well as goodwill and profile since its troubles came to the fore in the wake of the worldwide recession in 2008, which deeply affected the global wine industry.

HC asks Turf Club to vacate
http://bangalorebuzz.blogspot.com/2010/03/hc-asks-turf-club-to-vacate.html

Bangalore, Mar 22, DHNS:

The City’s Green Brigade has won a major victory. The Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) will have to move the Race Course out of its current location by September 22, 2010, and make way for a mini forest.

Setting this six-month deadline, the Karnataka High Court bench comprising Justice V Gopala Gowda and B S Patil dismissed three petitions challenging the State Government’s ultimatum to the BTC to vacate the place once the lease term ends. After the lease term, the club will have to pay a monthly rental of Rs 5 lakh to the State till the land is handed over to the government, the court said.

Hearing a petition by the club, the BTC staff and People for Animals, the Division Bench also upheld the State’s contention not to provide the BTC an alternative land for racing activities.

The government was directed to retain it as a mini forest to compensate for the indiscriminate felling of trees during road widening works in the vicinity of the Race Course.

The Court observed: “We are hardly able to find any trees in the place which earlier appeared like a real garden city. The State, in its instrumentalities to compensate this inevitable interference with nature, can balance it at least to a small extent by planting different types of flowering trees and preserving this as a lung space. It will beautify this place and provide at least a certain extent the much needed protection of environment of the City.”

The High Court wanted the State to take this as an opportunity to create a green paradise in the City, on a par with what was done in the past, in the form of establishing Lalbagh and Cubbon Park.

Such a contribution by the State will be remembered by generations to come as a gift to residents, the court observed. The court did not want the State to put up any construction here, thus putting an end to speculations of a possible multi-storeyed building coming up here.

Directing the club to pay Rs 5 lakh per month as rent from the date of expiry of the lease till the date of delivery to the government, the bench said that the Turf Club be utilised only for the permitted activities during the next six months.

Upholding Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli’s submission regarding the alternative land, the court said: “The petitioners cannot, as a matter of right, seek alternative land for racing and allied activities.”

The court directed the State to take all measures to preserve and protect Doddajala — which had been earlier seen as an alternative site for the race course — by removing all obstructions and ensuring smooth flow of water to the tank.

The bench observed: “It is clear that the State has not applied its mind to the importance of the water body in the instant case. It is painful to observe, that such a decision to meddle with the water body has been taken without giving any serious thought to the fundamental obligation of the State and instrumentalities to preserve and protect water bodies.”

It is expected that the BTC will appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court. After the judgment, the Turf Club had an executive meeting.The BTC could ask for more time to vacate the current premises, and also request the State Government to allot new land for conducting their racing activities.

posted by The Bangalorean @ 3/23/2010 08:15:00 AM

Top Maoist’s mother seeks CJI intervention to find her son
http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?e8d408bf-f1ed-4ea7-b9c0-b857fd43cb6a

3/22/2010
The mother of a top Maoist leader has approached the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan seeking his intervention in tracing out her son who, according to her, is in the illegal custody of Andhara Pradesh police.

Karuna in her letter, submitted to the CJI, has alleged that her son Cherukuri Rajkumar Azad is in illegal custody of the AP police since March 12 and his whereabouts not known to anybody.

She has requested the CJI to treat her letter as Habeas Corpus petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and direct the State police to produce her son before the court.

UNI

Ex-CJI Critical of Media Trial, Sibal Disagrees

http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?677513

New Delhi | Mar 22, 2010

Concern over the growing practice of ‘paid news’ in media was today voiced by former Chief Justice of India A S Anand but his criticism of trial by media did not find support from HRD Minister Kapil Sibal.

They were speaking at a function to give away IPI-India award for excellence in journalism jointly to journalist Bidisha Ghosal of The Week and The Indian Express for 2009 under the aegis of India Chapter of International Press Institute.

Presiding over the function, Anand decried the tendency of paid news in media.

“Paid news is unethical, immoral and illegal. The Election Commission and Parliament need to look at it,” he said.

“Certain political parties pay newspapers for favourable coverage which at times misleads the public. The public cannot differentiate sensitive editorial pieces and paid news,” he said.

Ghosal was awarded for her story on the sexual exploitation of widows of farmers who allegedly committed suicide in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. The Indian Express was picked for the award for its series of stories exposing the role of Hindu extremists in the Malegaon blast.

Philip Mathew, Managing Editor of The Week and Fellow of IPI, said the IPI is meant to safeguard the freedom of press. The award was started in 2003 and it has grown in its popularity and reputation. T N Ninan, who was one of the jury members for the award, also spoke.

Sibal said media trial serves the public interest in certain cases when the course of justice is thwarted or blocked.

“What is media trial? Those who are obliged by law to speak, but choose not to speak, those who are obliged by law to investigate, but choose not to investigate, those who are to take action, choose not to do so, in those circumstances when the course of justice is thwarted or blocked, the public have right to know the facts. When media does that it is perceived as media trial,” he said.

Maintaining that such trials could at times do injustice to an individual concerned, Sibal said each newspaper needs to decide what public interest it needs to serve.

Anand, in his speech, said the media trial often prejudged the course of justice which was not a healthy practice.

“When the media conducts trial, it denies the basic right of individual to fair trial,” he said, adding that media has no right to prejudge an issue.

Sibal said freedom of speech is at the heart of constitutional democracy. “But there are millions of people who do not speak and the media speaks for them”.

He said both media and judiciary enjoyed full freedom. Often both the institutions were crossing the ‘Laxman rekha’. On such occasions, public start to doubt the trustworthiness of these organisations.

On ‘paid news’ syndrome, Indian Express Editor-In-Chief Shekhar Gupta said disclosure by journalists of their contents was more important because any journalist worth his salt will not indulge in such a practice. He said 60 to 70 per cent of the content in television media was either sponsored or paid for.

Filed At: Mar 22, 2010 19:54 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 22, 2010 19:54 IST

FILED IN: MediaJourno

For tracking Malegaon blast plot, Express gets IPI Excellence award

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/for-tracking-malegaon-blast-plot-express-gets-ipi-excellence-award/594406/0

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Mar 23, 2010 at 0255 hrs New Delhi:

Stressing that the media is accountable to the reader and the nation, former Chief Justice of India and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission A S Anand today asked journalists to stay within the “lakshman rekha of ethical practice”.

Justice Anand was speaking at an event held here to present the 2009 International Press Institute India Award for Excellence in Journalism.

The award was given to The Indian Express and Bidisha Ghosal of The Week. The Indian Express won for its sustained investigation into the Malegaon and Modasa blasts of 2008 and the alleged role of Hindu extremists and organisations. Ghosal was awarded for her reports on the exploitation of widows of debt-burdened farmers in Maharashtra.

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal, who presented the awards to the winners, pointed out that freedom of expression is at its most powerful when those without a voice can express themselves through the media. Both stories that were rewarded today fulfilled that role.

On October 22, 2008, The Indian Express’s Mumbai-based reporter Smita Nair broke the story that police investigations had found that Hindu militant groups were behind the blasts in Modasa and Malegaon. In the following months, a team of Express reporters — Nair, Chandan Haygunde, Kamal Saiyed, Manu Pubby, Milind Ghatwai, Vikram Rautela and Sagnik Chowdhury — stayed resolutely on the story, joining the dots of the terror plot.

Receiving the award on behalf of the Express team, Nair said, “While building the facts of the conspiracy and the profiles of the accused, as a team we tried our best to steer away from any biases and challenge the stereotype to raise the larger question that terrorism is not the subject of any particular religion or group anymore. This story in many ways has also changed the way in which terror reporting is done in the mainstream media.”

Ghosal of The Week said, “The widows of Vidarbha were conspicuous by their absence. My story, Silent Sufferers, sought to give a voice to these women.”

This year’s IPI Award was the third for The Indian Express. It won first in 2003, the year the Award was instituted, for its “fearless and comprehensive” reporting of the Gujarat riots and their aftermath. In 2006, it was honoured for its expose of the Bihar flood relief scandal where crores meant for flood victims were siphoned off by politicians, contractors and bureaucrats, and for its series on the vanishing tigers of India.

Said Shekhar Gupta, The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief, “These are not file-snatching jobs or stings. Journalism is not about sticking a camera into someone’s bedroom. These are investigative stories where facts were collected and checked and where the other side’s version was sought.”

Justice Anand took the media debate further by saying that while the media has an important role in safeguarding human rights, the trend of paid content in news needs to be checked. “It is a reprehensible system where during elections, political parties and candidates are offered packages by media houses… It is a matter of concern that ‘paid news’ is not confined to election time alone…”

The entries for the 2009 Award were judged by a distinguished jury of editors and publishers headed by Justice Anand. Other members of the jury included N Ravi, Chairman, IPI-India and Editor, The Hindu; Philip Mathew, Fellow, International Press Institute, Vienna, and Managing Editor, Malayala Manorama; M K Razdan, Editor-in-Chief, Press Trust of India, and T N Ninan, Editorial Director, Business Standard Ltd.

The Award carries a trophy, a citation and Rs 1 lakh. The Indian Chapter of the IPI is an active forum of editors, publishers and senior executives of newspapers, magazines and news agencies, all of whom are members of the International Press Institute that was founded 60 years ago in New York.

CJI opposes move to make internal matters public

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/56843/cji-opposes-move-make-internal.html

 New Delhi, Mar 8, DHNS:

Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan on Sunday told a news channel that he would continue to oppose any move to make public the correspondence between the CJI and other members of higher judiciary.

“The discussions in the collegium cannot be made public. The candidates are sitting chief justices. It is not a departmental promotion, where we grade the abilities of the judge. It is not a DPC(departmental Promotion Committee) meeting. Supreme Court judges are appointed from among the judges of the high court, mainly chief justices.

“In the discussion, sometimes comments are made against judges, but we do not record the minutes. This is because it could adversely affect the image and integrity of the judge. The judge in question will continue as chief justice, we only consider if he is to be elevated or not.

CJI fast-tracked Pinarayi’s plea’

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/cji-fasttracked-pinarayis-plea/589749/0

Krishnadas Rajagopal

Posted: Friday , Mar 12, 2010 at 2316 hrs New Delhi:

A Right to Information reply from the Supreme Court reveals that a petition filed by CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan against the gubernatorial go-ahead to prosecute him in the SNC Lavalin case was scheduled for “urgent” hearing by the Registrar after “obtaining orders/directions from the Chief Justice of India”.

Vijayan, Kerala CPM secretary and Politburo member, had challenged Kerala Governor R S Gavai’s sanction to the CBI in June 2009 to prosecute him. He is accused of wrongfully awarding a contract to Canadian company SNC-Lavalin for renovation of two power plants when he was power minister in 1997.

The RTI response, dated February 20, 2010, by Supreme Court Public Information Officer (PIO) Raj Pal Arora is on an application by Delhi-based advocate Zulfiker Ali. Arora is silent on whether Vijayan had even applied to the Supreme Court for an early hearing.

Though the Supreme Court had only admitted Vijayan’s petition on August 31, 2009 and issued show cause (rule nisi) notice, the case was included in the list of cases scheduled for final hearing, starting from January 19, 2010. Corruption cases are placed fourth in the list of regular cases accorded priority.

The advocate asked “whether there is any order or direction (judicial/administrative) from the court to list this matter for hearing on urgent basis. Whether any application for early hearing was filed in this matter? If not, on what basis this particular matter is listed for hearing within this short period?”

In his reply, PIO Arora says: “As per amendments introduced to Order VI of the Supreme Court Rules, 1966, the Court of Registrar is conferred with the power of the court in so far as matters mentioned under Order VI Rule (1). The said matter was added in the weekly list for the week commencing from 19.1.2010 on the basis of order dated 25.11.2009 of the Registrar Court and after obtaining orders/directions from Honourable Chief Justice of India”.

Ali wanted the information officer to disclose the criteria being followed in the Supreme Court in taking up admitted matters; whether there is any fixed procedure in this regard; criminal and civil cases admitted in which year are presently listed for final hearing and whether a pending matter could be taken up for consideration out of turn, even without an order for early hearing from the Court on an application by the parties in this regard.

To this, Arora replies that “unless otherwise directed by the Honourable Court or by the Honourable Chief Justice of India, the regular hearing matters are being listed as per approved guidelines”.

A new writ filed against entry of foreign law firms in Madras HC

http://www.legallyindia.com/20100322609/Law-firms/a-new-writ-filed-against-entry-of-foreign-law-firms-in-madras-hc

Monday, 22 March 2010 by Kian Ganz

A Tamil Nadu advocate has reportedly filed a writ petition against 30 foreign law firms and legal process outsourcing (LPO) company Integreon for “illegally practising” law in violation of the Advocates Act 1961, according to unconfirmed media reports, although no notices have been served on the respondents yet.

The Madras High Court petition of A.K. Balaji “prayed for a direction to prohibit the firms or foreign lawyers from having any legal practice either on the litigation side or non-litigation and commercial transactions in any manner in the country”, wrote Indian daily The Hindu today.

The Hindu added that the petition argued that a “wholesome reading of the Advocates Act would make it abundantly clear that to be entitled to practise law in India, a person should be a citizen of India and possess a law degree obtained from a university in the country”.

It is understood that 30 non-Indian law firms have been named in the petition, including the Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and most other corporate firms with India practices, US firms, French firms, Singaporean firms and Australian firms and LPO provider Integreon, although this could not be authoritatively verified.

Legally India has contacted several of the firms but it is understood that none had been served with notices at the time of going to press.

All firms were unavailable for comment, as some are understood to be evaluating whether the claim is vexatious or a genuine one.

The Hindu wrote: “Allowing entry of foreign law firms with no reciprocal arrangements with respect to Indian lawyers should not be entertained. In response, Indian lawyers have to be allowed to work in the respective countries. Otherwise, foreign law firms should not be allowed to exploit the Indian legal market.”

“The petitioner said while the law on the subject was clear, various international law firms having roots outside India had opened offices in the country or neighbouring countries and taking up legal practice within the country such as mergers, takeovers, acquisitions, amalgamations, and so on, and were into various commercial transactions and arbitrations,” said the paper.

The case is listed on the causelist of Friday 18 March 2010 as M/S.R.Ethilarasan (PIL) Karthikeyan for injunction 5614 / 2010, although no documents have been uploaded to the court’s website yet and it is not confirmed whether the petition has been accepted on merits.

News site Express Buzz reported today that “the First Bench comprising Chief Justice HL Gokhale and Justice V Dhanapalan, before which the public interest writ petition from AK Balaji of Harur came up for hearing on Friday, ordered issuance of notice to the authorities concerned returnable by April 8”.

On 16 December 2009 the Bombay High Court had ruled in the Lawyers Collective case that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should not have granted Ashurst, Chadbourne & Parke and White & Case licences to open up liaison offices in India and that the firms had been “practising law” contrary to the Advocates Act.

We will report further details on the story as soon as the facts have been authoritatively confirmed.

Let the writ of law prevail in corruption cases against politicians: Bir Devinder Singh

http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/24362/38/

Punjab Newsline Network   

Monday, 22 March 2010

CHANDIGARH: 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, said Former Deputy Speaker Punjab, Bir Devinder Singh 

He said, the news regarding a proposal before the House over a letter written by the Deputy Speaker, 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, He added.

He further said, “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.

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.

He said, “the reaction of Captain Amarinder Singh expressing his views against any such move is laudable and worth emulating by the other leaders.”

He said, “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. ”

He said, 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.

Aluva Munsiff Court jubilee fete held

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Aluva+Munsiff+Court+jubilee+fete+held&artid=KIZvGWfxJhk=&SectionID=1ZkF/jmWuSA=&MainSectionID=fyV9T2jIa4A=&SectionName=X7s7i%7CxOZ5Y=&SEO=

Express News Service

First Published : 23 Mar 2010 03:41:00 AM IST

Last Updated :

ALUVA: The valedictory meet of the silver jubilee celebrations of the Aluva Munsiff Court was inaugurated by senior Judge of the Kerala High Court Justice C N Ramachandran Nair here on Sunday evening.

Aluva has a great tradition in the field of judicial courts as the Zilla Court functioned at Kacheri Kunnu (UC College) here over a century ago. The Zilla Court was later shifted to Paravoor.

Aluva had to be satisfied with a Munisiff Court and two magistrate courts later.

The silver jubilee is being celebrated at a time when there is a hue and cry from the public to set up a Sub Court, MACT Court, Additional Family Court, and Special Court to handle cyber cases, without delay.

Justice Ramachandran Nair said the High Court follows specific norms to establish new courts. The government has to provide funds, staff and infrastructure to set up a new court.

He suggested that adalaths could be conducted in Aluva to expedite the settlement of disputes. He said the first adalat would be held at Aluva, when the KELSA (Kerala Legal Service Association) gets a mobile unit. Justice Nair advised the advocates not to charge exorbitant fees from clients. If the clients feel that litigation is expensive and that it is not worth to approach the courts for justice, they would seek the help of goons and mafia for redress of their grievances.

Transport Minister Jose Thettayil delivered the keynote address. Aluva Bar Association president Jose Manavalan presided over the function. Ernakulam District and Sessions Judge D Pappachan presented mementos to 30 advocates who completed 25 years of professional practice in Aluva.

‘Adverse reports’ knocked ex-CJI out of race for NHRC top job

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/newdelhi/Adverse-reports-knocked-ex-CJI-out-of-race-for-NHRC-top-job/Article1-520274.aspx

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times

Email Author

New Delhi, March 17, 2010

First Published: 23:22 IST(17/3/2010)

Last Updated: 23:23 IST(17/3/2010)

Former Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal was not  offered the post of National Human Rights Commission chief because of “adverse media and other reports” against him, the Centre revealed on Wednesday.

In response to a Right to Information query by a Delhi resident, Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the home ministry said that Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justice Sabharwal, both former CJIs, were the only two eligible for the post, but Justice Lahoti declined the offer.

The post has been lying vacant since the past 10 months.
“Because of the adverse media and other reports with regard to Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, it was felt that the highly sensitive post of chairperson NHRC may not be offered to him,” the ministry stated in its reply.

Justice Sabharwal faced serious allegations of corruption in passing orders for sealing commercial establishments running in residential areas in Delhi when he was a Supreme Court judge in 2006.

“In the case of Justice Lahoti, the then home secretary had spoken to the learned judge enquiring about his availability to the post. It appears that Justice Lahoti indicated that he was otherwise very busy and would not be in a position to accept the offer,” the ministry said.

“Accordingly, it was recorded on our files that Mr Justice RC Lahoti and and Mr Justice YK Sabharwal are not inclined/ not available for different reasons,” the reply stated.

The ministry said the offer to Justice Lahoti was made “orally” and there was no correspondence recorded between the government and the judge.
 
The post of the NHRC chief fell vacant on June 1, 2009. The country’s human rights watchdog has been without a regular boss since then.

According to the provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, only a retired Chief Justice of India below the age of 70 can be appointed NHRC chairperson.

The RTI response has highlighted the government’s helplessness in appointing the NHRC chief despite being pulled up by the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court on the matter. The Centre told the courts it was open to amending the law to tide over the problem.

Title :       Fight Against Cartels-unlocking Of Issues By The Competition Commission Of India (cci)

http://articles.manupatra.com/PopOpenArticle.aspx?ID=2bc2689b-b597-407a-9e99-7e5360c65601&txtsearch=Mr.%20G.r.%20Bhatia

Author : Mr. G.r. Bhatia

G.R. Bhatia

It has been increasingly recognised that fair competition in markets is benign for the consumer, business and economy. Therefore, the competition laws worldwide including the Indian Competition Act, 2002 (the “Act”) inter alia, seeks to promote and sustain competition in markets. In “cartel arrangement or agreements,” the rivals agree not to compete on price, production/supply, and customers or in bids etc. These being palpably anti competitive and malevolent, are condemned globally and frowned upon by the competition agencies.

India has recently put in place a modernised competition regime and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has commenced its enforcement inter alia, to combat cartels. Undoubtedly, the CCI is better equipped than the erstwhile MRTP Commission to detect and punish cartels as the Act :

• defines “cartel” and thus, ambiguity as to its scope does not subsist anymore;

• does not entitle the charged party to claim and avail of the benefit of all or any of escape valves enshrined in the repealed law;

• provides for a leniency programme for a member of a cartel to defect and make true and full disclosure (corresponds to concept of approver to bust conspiracy in criminal law),

• empowers to impose penalty on each delinquent enterprise linked with its profits/turnover (whichever is higher),

• revamps power of search and seizure by the investigation arm, i.e. the Director General,

• confers explicit jurisdiction to nab overseas acts having Appreciable Adverse Effect on Competition (AAEC) in India,

• incorporates mirror image advisory mechanism between CCI and sector specific regulators,

• mandates advocacy to create awareness and build strong competition culture and

• encourages public to submit information fearlessly by ensuring confidentiality.

All these make it imperative for a business to be on the right side of the law and refrain from certain types of horizontal agreements narrated supra but at the same time they need not be fearful of entering into Pro-competitive Cooperative Agreements such as pooling of resources for research and development or cooperative standard setting beneficial for consumers or bids in consortium if terms and conditions of tender so permit or efficiency enhancing joint ventures or joint advertisements etc. It needs to noted that the list of horizontal agreements in respect of which there shall be presumption of Appreciable Adverse Effect on Competition (AAEC) in markets in India, is exhaustive and any other kind of horizontal agreement shall not be subject to presumption but shall be examined on the touch stone of “rule of reason”. Further, the presumption is rebuttable. The prosecutor duty is discharged by bringing on record convincing evidence to prove its existence. The determination of harm caused; however, will not only create the right perception but also act as savior of an Order appealed before the Appellate Tribunal/Supreme Court and further facilitate in assessing compensation payable to victims. The elements of “product differentiation,” “brand reputation,” “emotional connect of buyer with a product” will be areas which the prosecutor has to keep in view before concluding that the products are same/similar and substitutable.

The three pre-requisites for successful implementation of a leniency programme are-high risk of detection, credible threat of sanctions and the transparency/certainty in the operation of programme. All these create fear and deterrence amongst colluders and build confidence in those who crave to avail of refuge under leniency. It is believed that as few as one in six or seven cartels are detected and prosecuted in developed jurisdictions and detection ratio has been much lower in the developing world.1 The Regulations governing the leniency programme notified by the CCI, after extensive consultative process, focuses on unearthing of many more such cases besides ensuring transparency and certainty to a member seeking refuge.2 However, an effective and credible leniency programme has to ensure that a member blowing whistle is neither threatened nor victimised.

Price parallelism is invariably inferred as the case of collusion and the likelihood of such pricing is heightened in the ever increasing competitive scenario. Institution of enquiry in cases of uniform price simpliciter will be inappropriate unless parallel conduct is coupled with other facilitating factors such as sharing of competitively sensitive information or price remaining identical despite changes in demand and supply, or a small player taking the lead in jacking the price etc.

The trade and its Associations (especially when its members are rivals in market) need to take note of the “Do’s and Don’ts” and the CCI before embarking on an enquiry should undertake comprehensive analysis of market, its structure, characteristics and uses of the product, its cost, price and attendant issues so that its resources which are already scarce are deployed in right earnest and the charged one is not unnecessarily burdened of defending itself which costs both money and time.

Copyright Ó G. R. Bhatia

________________________________

* Partner & Head of Competition Law Practice, Luthra & Luthra Law Offices and Former Additional Director General, CCI/MRTPC 

1. Market Study Report on ‘Cartel Case Laws in Select Jurisdictions- Learning’s for Competition Commission of India’ by CUTS International & National Law University, Jodhpur. 

2. The Competition Commission of India (Lesser Penalty) Regulations, 2009 notified in the Gazette of India on 13th August, 2009.

Bangalore: PIL Questioning Gokarna Temple Transfer Admitted by HC http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=74361&n_tit=Bangalore%3A+PIL+Questioning+Gokarna+Temple+Transfer+Admitted+by+HC

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:55:16 PM (IST)  

Daijiworld Media Network – Bangalore (SP)

Bangalore, Mar 23: The controversy over the government’s decision to hand over Gokarna Lord Mahabaleshwara Temple to Ramachandrapur Mutt after divesting a local trust of the responsibility of managing it, is far from over. The state High Court on Monday March 22, admitted a public interest litigation filed by some priests and devotees of the temple, for hearing.

The petition questions the decision of the government to hand over the temple in Gokarna to Ramachandrapur Mutt. But, both Ramachandrapur Mutt and the state government had raised objections to the PIL, saying that it is backed by selfish interests and hence the petition can not be treated as a public interest petition.

However, the division bench presided by Justice Gopal Gowda admitted the petition, observing that the objection raised by the government was backed by selfish interests.

State govt may appeal against ban on jugaads

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/State-govt-may-appeal-against-ban-on-jugaads/articleshow/5713994.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 03.02am IST

JAIPUR: The state government might go in for an appeal against the recent high court ban on plying of jugaad. “The chief minister called a meeting of the home and transport departments the day the high court had banned the plying of jugaads in the state. On March 18, it was decided plying of jugaads will be halted on listed highways in the state but that they can ply on kuccha roads in rural areas,” home minister Shanti Dhariwal said and indicated if needed, the government can go for an appeal.

Dhariwal’s intervention came after a question was raised on the banning of jugaads by Congress MLA Raghu Sharma during the zero hour in the assembly on Monday.

On March 5, the high court had directed the state to ban jugaads in the state, in response to a PIL. The court had asked the government to frame a policy on the banning of jugaads and table it within a month and to ensure that jugaads do not ply in the state within three months.

However, after the accident on the Morel bridge near Sawai Madhopur, where 26 students were killed, after a bus collided with a jugaad, the high court taking suo motu cognisance of the matter banned jugaads with immediate effect on March 18 and has asked for a compliance report from the government by April 2.

In reply, transport minister Braj Kishore Sharma said, “The government has taken the matter seriously. A survey would soon be conducted with help from collectors, patwaris, gram sabhas etc so as to estimate how many jugaads are there in the state. Thereafter we would give a reply to the high court as asked by it by April 2.”

“Jugaads form the main source of ‘sustenance’ in rural Rajasthan. They are used not only to transport people but also cattle fodder. Banning them would not only throw a large number of people out of employment but would also lead to a shortage of cattle fodder specially at a time when the state is facing drought-like situations in many areas,” Sharma said.

The house was united on not banning jugaads. Deputy leader of Opposition Ghanshyam Tiwari said there are about 1 lakh jugaads in the state and banning them would mean depriving employment to that many people. He demanded the government take suitable action to safeguard the interest of these people and inquired if the state would go for an appeal against the high court orders.

HC wants riot panel to clarify whether it will call Modi

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/-HC-wants-riot-panel-to-clarify-whether-it-will-call-Modi/articleshow/5709618.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 12.17am IST

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court, on Monday, asked the Godhra probe panel to clarify about whether it would summon chief minister Narendra Modi for deposition, on a petition filed by rights group Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM).

The high court’s query came a day after the chief minister skipped a date with the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). Modi failed to turn up for questioning at the SIT office in response to the summons the investigating agency served on him in connection with the complaint filed by former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri’s widow, Zakia.

Acting on an appeal by JSM urging the high court to direct the Nanavati-Mehta commission to summon Modi and six others for cross-examination in connection with 2002 riots, a division bench headed by Chief Justice SJ Mukhopadhaya asked advocate general Kamal Trivedi to get a clarification from the commission by April 1.

The commission’s terms of reference were expanded to include examination of the role of Modi and his council of ministers, in the riots.

However, in its first report issued two years ago, the panel gave Modi a clean chit.

The high court has inquired whether the inquiry commission’s order of September 18 last year, rejecting JSM’s plea to summon Modi, was final. The bench sought an exact reply after the commission did not clarify to the court query last time in its letter, while stating that it might come out with a report soon.

During a hearing on Monday, the high court sought to know at what stage the commission would summon Modi if at all the probe panel wished to, because in the last eight years the commission had not taken any decision on this issue.
The JSM had been requesting the commission to call Modi, the then state home minister Gordhan Zadaphia and others for deposition, but the application was turned down last year on grounds that there was not enough material on record for summoning Modi for questioning. JSM later filed a petition in the high court, which was rejected by a single judge bench. An appeal against this order is being heard by a division bench.

Nithyananda pleads K’taka HC to squash charges

http://news.oneindia.in/2010/03/23/swaminithyananda-sex-scandal-karnataka-hc-petition.html

Tuesday, March 23, 2010,12:10 [IST]

 Bangalore, Mar 23: The scandal-tainted spiritual guru, Swami Nithyananda has filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking quashing of cases filed against him by the Ramanagar police contending that he is innocent and the sex scandal is a tailored controversy to defame him and his ashram.

The Ramanagar police has filed cases against him under several charges including rape and outraging religious sentiments after he invoked the wrath of his followers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for indulging in sexual activity.

The scandal came to light when a sex tape showing Nithyananda in compromising position with Tamil actress Ranjitha emerged in the media on Mar 2.

In his writ petition, the Swami claims that his driver Kurup Lenin was behind the whole controversy as he conspired against him and his ashram to sully their public image.

Sources in the high court told a news agency that writ is yet to come up for the High Court registry.

In the latest development, there are reports of emergence of a sex tape showing the godman with another Tamil actress Yuvarani.

The Karnataka police, who received information on the case from Tamil Nadu police earlier this week, is hunting for the absconding godman.

HC: Domestic Violence Act can be used with retrospective effect

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/HC-Domestic-Violence-Act-can-be-used-with-retrospective-effect/articleshow/5713590.cms

TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 05.41am IST

NEW DELHI: In an important ruling, the Delhi high court has clarified that the Domestic Violence Act has a retrospective effect. This means it can be invoked even by women who were subjected to domestic violence before the Act came into force in October 2006.

Justice V K Jain, while dealing with a complaint filed under the Domestic Violence Act, said the Act was maintainable ‘‘even if the domestic violence has been committed prior to coming into force of the Act.’’’

Setting aside the order by a lower court, justice Jain further observed, ‘‘The court needs to eschew from taking an interpretation which would not only be violative of constitutional rights but would also result in denying the benefit of the beneficial provisions of the Act to the women who have been subjected to domestic violence and are compelled to live separately on account of a man’s acts of omission or commission. Such an interpretation would at least partially defeat the legislative intent behind enactment of this Act, which was to protect women against domestic violence, to give them compensation and other suitable reliefs.’’

HC was hearing a petition filed by a woman appealing against the order of a lower court. The petitioner alleged she was forced to leave the matrimonial home because of her husband’s behaviour. While the magistrate allowed her plea and granted maintenance of Rs 6,000 per month to her, the husband appealed against it. A court held that the victim was not entitled to any relief under the DV Act because she had left the matrimonial home in 2005 while the Act came into force a year later.

SC takes up AP appeal against HC ruling quashing 4% Muslim quota

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/SC-takes-up-AP-appeal-against-HC-ruling-quashing-4-Muslim-quota/articleshow/5712871.cms

 TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 02.41am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday entertained Andhra Pradesh government’s appeal challenging the High Court verdict quashing a state law giving 4% reservation to Muslims in jobs and admissions to educational institutions.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice Deepak Verma was reluctant to hear attorney general G E Vahanvati who was eager to press for a stay on the HC order given the stinging criticism of the Rosaiah government, accused by Muslim bodies of not doing enough to sustain its legislation in the HC.

The reluctance to hear the appeal on merit and on the issue of interim order was because the HC judgment was given by a 7-judge Bench by 5:2 majority. The CJI said that it would be appropriate if the matter was heard by a three judge Bench of the apex court and fixed March 25 as the next date.

Though the AP government had hurriedly filed the special leave petition against the February 8 judgment of the HC, mainly to quell frayed tempers among political parties, curing the defects in the petition resulted in its delayed listing.

While striking down the `Andhra Pradesh Reservation in Favour of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes of Muslims Act 2007′, the HC had remarked that such a legislation could promote conversion.

The AP government said Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Manipur had more or less similar legislation providing reservation to Muslims. It said the apprehension about promoting conversion was unwarranted as reservation was being given to socially and educationally backward in the community, virtually at par with those similarly placed in the Hindu community.

This is the third time that the Andhra government found its decision for providing reservation to Muslims being scrapped by the HC. Prior to 2007 legislation, it had first decided to extend quota to Muslims in 2004 through an administrative decision. After the government orders were quashed, the state had appointed BC Commission and on its recommendations enacted a law in 2005 to similar effect. This also met the same fate as the 2004 decision.

Muslims constitute 9.2% of the 77 million population of the state and the reservation was extended to 15 groups within the community who were identified after a survey by the AP Backward Classes Commission, said the Rosaiah government.

Seize cars of people caught driving drunk: Bombay HC

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_seize-cars-of-people-caught-driving-drunk-bombay-hc_1362274

Hetal Vyas / DNA

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 1:31 IST

Mumbai: A person caught driving under the influence of alcohol may not be allowed to drive his car back home after the police have completed the formalities of registering a case against him. The Bombay high court said on Monday that the police commissioner should issue a circular, asking the cops to seize vehicles of people caught for drunken driving immediately after they have been booked.

 Justice BR Gavai refused to grant interim relief to businessman Nikhil Kisnani, who had his original driving licence seized following a drunken driving offence in 2008. It means that proceedings against Kisnani will go ahead in a magistrate’s court, and the accused will have to wait for some more time before he gets his license back. “Taking into consideration the menace in the society, interim relief cannot be granted,” the court said.

The Worli traffic police impounded Kisnani’s licence in December 2008. He was granted a temporary licence, which has to be renewed from time to time.

Kisnani had moved the high court, challenging the traffic police’s method of dealing with drunken driving cases. He had petitioned the court to stay the proceedings against him in the trial court. His grouse was that drunken driving cases were being heard by judicial clerks acting as magistrates in morning courts.

Representing Kisnani, senior counsel Shirish Gupte and advocate HK Prem said, “Only the high court has the power to appoint magistrates, and not the state government. Judicial clerks, some of whom are not even law graduates, have been appointed special magistrates in the morning courts.”

Gupte pointed out to the judge that the police had actually allowed his client to drive back home in his vehicle after he had been booked. “They arrested him for drunken driving, and then allowed him to drive back home,” Gupte said.

“That is the only mistake they (cops) did,” Gavai said. He then suggested that the vehicles of the offenders should be seized immediately.

Public Prosecutor PA Pol and additional public prosecutor Alpa Javeri defended the procedure adopted by the state. “An accused in a drunken driving case is not arrested. He is immediately let off on bail,” Javeri said. “Fine is collected from him as a bail bond to safeguard the case.”

Girl’s wish paramount for marriage, says HC

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/girls-wish-paramount-for-marriage-says-hc/594407/0

Express News Service

Posted: Tuesday , Mar 23, 2010 at 0256 hrs Mumbai:

The Bombay High Court on Monday held that the wish of a girl is paramount and just because she has attained puberty does not mean she can be married off.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Zakia Begum, a resident of Aurangabad, seeking custody of her 14-year-old daughter.

The court will decide whether a Muslim girl child can be married before attaining the legal age limit by seeing which of the two- Muslim Personal Law or Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA)- are applicable in such cases.

Division bench of Justice D B Bhosale and Justice A R Joshi will be interviewing the girl on Monday. At present she is at a child welfare home in Bandra.

“We would like to ascertain the wish of the girl,” Justice Bhosale said adding that due care should be taken to see that her parents do not meet her before the interview.

“Girl’s wish is paramount. Just because she has attained puberty does not mean she can be married off,” Justice Bhosale said.

Senior Counsel Yusuf Muchhala, appearing for the Muslim Personal Law Board, submitted that it is shocking that the Child Welfare Committee has detained the child and is not giving a hearing to the parents. He submitted that a decision on the girl needs to be taken soon since she is a school-going student and her exams are near.

The larger issue regarding the applicability of law will take a long time, Muchhala said. The court said very rarely such issues come up before the court to decide for the larger interest of the society.

The court has also issued a notice to the union government for appearing in the case. Zakia’s daughter was to marry last December but her uncle filed a complaint with police stating that Child Marriage Restriction Act (now replaced by PCMA) is being violated. The police then took the girl in custody and produced her before the Child Welfare Committee. She is now in a remand home.

Zakia moved the court arguing that police action was illegal because Muslim law allows girl to marry after onset of puberty.

HC orders Indage to wind up
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/hc-orders-indage-to-wind-up/389426/
BS Reporter / Mumbai March 23, 2010, 0:56 IST

The high court here has ruled that troubled wine-maker Indage Vintners (formerly Champagne Indage) should wind up operations.

 The order, of March 19, following separate petitions filed by lenders of Indage, including IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and the Government of Maharashtra-owned SICOM, a financial institution.

The stock price of Indage reacted sharply today, falling 6.9 per cent to close at Rs 47.80.

The company, in a filing to the stock exchanges, said it would appeal against the HC verdict.

An email sent to the company chairman S G Chowgule remain unanswered, while managing director Ranjit Chowgule could not be reached.

It may be recalled that Indage was pursuing a corporate debt restructuring (CDR) package to the tune of Rs 400 crore. This was being led by ICICI Bank, with allied lenders being IndusInd Bank, Allahabad Bank, UCO Bank, IDBI Bank and Bank of Rajasthan.

The CDR proposal, which came up in December 2009, was yet to be finalised. Indage said during the March 19 hearing in the HC that the company was looking to place the proposal with the support of CDR lenders, both secured and unsecured, in the next meeting. It also said it was ready and willing for a scheme of arrangement under sections 391 to 394 of the Companies Act, to restucture its outstanding liabilities.

Despite these contentions, the HC gave a wind-up order. “The company has taken steps to procure a certified copy of the said order,” it said today.

The company had been seeing a steady decline both in terms of stock price as well as goodwill and profile since its troubles came to the fore in the wake of the worldwide recession in 2008, which deeply affected the global wine industry.

HC asks Turf Club to vacate
http://bangalorebuzz.blogspot.com/2010/03/hc-asks-turf-club-to-vacate.html 

Bangalore, Mar 22, DHNS:

The City’s Green Brigade has won a major victory. The Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) will have to move the Race Course out of its current location by September 22, 2010, and make way for a mini forest.

Setting this six-month deadline, the Karnataka High Court bench comprising Justice V Gopala Gowda and B S Patil dismissed three petitions challenging the State Government’s ultimatum to the BTC to vacate the place once the lease term ends. After the lease term, the club will have to pay a monthly rental of Rs 5 lakh to the State till the land is handed over to the government, the court said.

Hearing a petition by the club, the BTC staff and People for Animals, the Division Bench also upheld the State’s contention not to provide the BTC an alternative land for racing activities.

The government was directed to retain it as a mini forest to compensate for the indiscriminate felling of trees during road widening works in the vicinity of the Race Course.

The Court observed: “We are hardly able to find any trees in the place which earlier appeared like a real garden city. The State, in its instrumentalities to compensate this inevitable interference with nature, can balance it at least to a small extent by planting different types of flowering trees and preserving this as a lung space. It will beautify this place and provide at least a certain extent the much needed protection of environment of the City.”

The High Court wanted the State to take this as an opportunity to create a green paradise in the City, on a par with what was done in the past, in the form of establishing Lalbagh and Cubbon Park.

Such a contribution by the State will be remembered by generations to come as a gift to residents, the court observed. The court did not want the State to put up any construction here, thus putting an end to speculations of a possible multi-storeyed building coming up here.

Directing the club to pay Rs 5 lakh per month as rent from the date of expiry of the lease till the date of delivery to the government, the bench said that the Turf Club be utilised only for the permitted activities during the next six months.

Upholding Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli’s submission regarding the alternative land, the court said: “The petitioners cannot, as a matter of right, seek alternative land for racing and allied activities.”

The court directed the State to take all measures to preserve and protect Doddajala — which had been earlier seen as an alternative site for the race course — by removing all obstructions and ensuring smooth flow of water to the tank.

The bench observed: “It is clear that the State has not applied its mind to the importance of the water body in the instant case. It is painful to observe, that such a decision to meddle with the water body has been taken without giving any serious thought to the fundamental obligation of the State and instrumentalities to preserve and protect water bodies.”

It is expected that the BTC will appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court. After the judgment, the Turf Club had an executive meeting.The BTC could ask for more time to vacate the current premises, and also request the State Government to allot new land for conducting their racing activities. 

posted by The Bangalorean @ 3/23/2010 08:15:00 AM 

Top Maoist’s mother seeks CJI intervention to find her son
http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?e8d408bf-f1ed-4ea7-b9c0-b857fd43cb6a 

3/22/2010 
The mother of a top Maoist leader has approached the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan seeking his intervention in tracing out her son who, according to her, is in the illegal custody of Andhara Pradesh police.

Karuna in her letter, submitted to the CJI, has alleged that her son Cherukuri Rajkumar Azad is in illegal custody of the AP police since March 12 and his whereabouts not known to anybody.

She has requested the CJI to treat her letter as Habeas Corpus petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and direct the State police to produce her son before the court.

UNI 

Ex-CJI Critical of Media Trial, Sibal Disagrees 

http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?677513 

New Delhi | Mar 22, 2010 

Concern over the growing practice of ‘paid news’ in media was today voiced by former Chief Justice of India A S Anand but his criticism of trial by media did not find support from HRD Minister Kapil Sibal.

They were speaking at a function to give away IPI-India award for excellence in journalism jointly to journalist Bidisha Ghosal of The Week and The Indian Express for 2009 under the aegis of India Chapter of International Press Institute.

Presiding over the function, Anand decried the tendency of paid news in media.

“Paid news is unethical, immoral and illegal. The Election Commission and Parliament need to look at it,” he said.

“Certain political parties pay newspapers for favourable coverage which at times misleads the public. The public cannot differentiate sensitive editorial pieces and paid news,” he said.

Ghosal was awarded for her story on the sexual exploitation of widows of farmers who allegedly committed suicide in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. The Indian Express was picked for the award for its series of stories exposing the role of Hindu extremists in the Malegaon blast.

Philip Mathew, Managing Editor of The Week and Fellow of IPI, said the IPI is meant to safeguard the freedom of press. The award was started in 2003 and it has grown in its popularity and reputation. T N Ninan, who was one of the jury members for the award, also spoke.

Sibal said media trial serves the public interest in certain cases when the course of justice is thwarted or blocked.

“What is media trial? Those who are obliged by law to speak, but choose not to speak, those who are obliged by law to investigate, but choose not to investigate, those who are to take action, choose not to do so, in those circumstances when the course of justice is thwarted or blocked, the public have right to know the facts. When media does that it is perceived as media trial,” he said.

Maintaining that such trials could at times do injustice to an individual concerned, Sibal said each newspaper needs to decide what public interest it needs to serve.

Anand, in his speech, said the media trial often prejudged the course of justice which was not a healthy practice.

“When the media conducts trial, it denies the basic right of individual to fair trial,” he said, adding that media has no right to prejudge an issue.

Sibal said freedom of speech is at the heart of constitutional democracy. “But there are millions of people who do not speak and the media speaks for them”.

He said both media and judiciary enjoyed full freedom. Often both the institutions were crossing the ‘Laxman rekha’. On such occasions, public start to doubt the trustworthiness of these organisations.

On ‘paid news’ syndrome, Indian Express Editor-In-Chief Shekhar Gupta said disclosure by journalists of their contents was more important because any journalist worth his salt will not indulge in such a practice. He said 60 to 70 per cent of the content in television media was either sponsored or paid for. 

Filed At: Mar 22, 2010 19:54 IST ,  Edited At: Mar 22, 2010 19:54 IST 

FILED IN: MediaJourno 

For tracking Malegaon blast plot, Express gets IPI Excellence award

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/for-tracking-malegaon-blast-plot-express-gets-ipi-excellence-award/594406/0 

Express News Service  

Posted: Tuesday , Mar 23, 2010 at 0255 hrs New Delhi:  

Stressing that the media is accountable to the reader and the nation, former Chief Justice of India and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission A S Anand today asked journalists to stay within the “lakshman rekha of ethical practice”. 

Justice Anand was speaking at an event held here to present the 2009 International Press Institute India Award for Excellence in Journalism. 

The award was given to The Indian Express and Bidisha Ghosal of The Week. The Indian Express won for its sustained investigation into the Malegaon and Modasa blasts of 2008 and the alleged role of Hindu extremists and organisations. Ghosal was awarded for her reports on the exploitation of widows of debt-burdened farmers in Maharashtra. 

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal, who presented the awards to the winners, pointed out that freedom of expression is at its most powerful when those without a voice can express themselves through the media. Both stories that were rewarded today fulfilled that role. 

On October 22, 2008, The Indian Express’s Mumbai-based reporter Smita Nair broke the story that police investigations had found that Hindu militant groups were behind the blasts in Modasa and Malegaon. In the following months, a team of Express reporters — Nair, Chandan Haygunde, Kamal Saiyed, Manu Pubby, Milind Ghatwai, Vikram Rautela and Sagnik Chowdhury — stayed resolutely on the story, joining the dots of the terror plot. 

Receiving the award on behalf of the Express team, Nair said, “While building the facts of the conspiracy and the profiles of the accused, as a team we tried our best to steer away from any biases and challenge the stereotype to raise the larger question that terrorism is not the subject of any particular religion or group anymore. This story in many ways has also changed the way in which terror reporting is done in the mainstream media.” 

Ghosal of The Week said, “The widows of Vidarbha were conspicuous by their absence. My story, Silent Sufferers, sought to give a voice to these women.” 

This year’s IPI Award was the third for The Indian Express. It won first in 2003, the year the Award was instituted, for its “fearless and comprehensive” reporting of the Gujarat riots and their aftermath. In 2006, it was honoured for its expose of the Bihar flood relief scandal where crores meant for flood victims were siphoned off by politicians, contractors and bureaucrats, and for its series on the vanishing tigers of India. 

Said Shekhar Gupta, The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief, “These are not file-snatching jobs or stings. Journalism is not about sticking a camera into someone’s bedroom. These are investigative stories where facts were collected and checked and where the other side’s version was sought.” 

Justice Anand took the media debate further by saying that while the media has an important role in safeguarding human rights, the trend of paid content in news needs to be checked. “It is a reprehensible system where during elections, political parties and candidates are offered packages by media houses… It is a matter of concern that ‘paid news’ is not confined to election time alone…” 

The entries for the 2009 Award were judged by a distinguished jury of editors and publishers headed by Justice Anand. Other members of the jury included N Ravi, Chairman, IPI-India and Editor, The Hindu; Philip Mathew, Fellow, International Press Institute, Vienna, and Managing Editor, Malayala Manorama; M K Razdan, Editor-in-Chief, Press Trust of India, and T N Ninan, Editorial Director, Business Standard Ltd. 

The Award carries a trophy, a citation and Rs 1 lakh. The Indian Chapter of the IPI is an active forum of editors, publishers and senior executives of newspapers, magazines and news agencies, all of whom are members of the International Press Institute that was founded 60 years ago in New York. 

CJI opposes move to make internal matters public 

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/56843/cji-opposes-move-make-internal.html 

 New Delhi, Mar 8, DHNS: 

Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan on Sunday told a news channel that he would continue to oppose any move to make public the correspondence between the CJI and other members of higher judiciary. 

“The discussions in the collegium cannot be made public. The candidates are sitting chief justices. It is not a departmental promotion, where we grade the abilities of the judge. It is not a DPC(departmental Promotion Committee) meeting. Supreme Court judges are appointed from among the judges of the high court, mainly chief justices.

“In the discussion, sometimes comments are made against judges, but we do not record the minutes. This is because it could adversely affect the image and integrity of the judge. The judge in question will continue as chief justice, we only consider if he is to be elevated or not. 

CJI fast-tracked Pinarayi’s plea’

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/cji-fasttracked-pinarayis-plea/589749/0 

Krishnadas Rajagopal  

Posted: Friday , Mar 12, 2010 at 2316 hrs New Delhi:  

A Right to Information reply from the Supreme Court reveals that a petition filed by CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan against the gubernatorial go-ahead to prosecute him in the SNC Lavalin case was scheduled for “urgent” hearing by the Registrar after “obtaining orders/directions from the Chief Justice of India”. 

Vijayan, Kerala CPM secretary and Politburo member, had challenged Kerala Governor R S Gavai’s sanction to the CBI in June 2009 to prosecute him. He is accused of wrongfully awarding a contract to Canadian company SNC-Lavalin for renovation of two power plants when he was power minister in 1997. 

The RTI response, dated February 20, 2010, by Supreme Court Public Information Officer (PIO) Raj Pal Arora is on an application by Delhi-based advocate Zulfiker Ali. Arora is silent on whether Vijayan had even applied to the Supreme Court for an early hearing. 

Though the Supreme Court had only admitted Vijayan’s petition on August 31, 2009 and issued show cause (rule nisi) notice, the case was included in the list of cases scheduled for final hearing, starting from January 19, 2010. Corruption cases are placed fourth in the list of regular cases accorded priority. 

The advocate asked “whether there is any order or direction (judicial/administrative) from the court to list this matter for hearing on urgent basis. Whether any application for early hearing was filed in this matter? If not, on what basis this particular matter is listed for hearing within this short period?” 

In his reply, PIO Arora says: “As per amendments introduced to Order VI of the Supreme Court Rules, 1966, the Court of Registrar is conferred with the power of the court in so far as matters mentioned under Order VI Rule (1). The said matter was added in the weekly list for the week commencing from 19.1.2010 on the basis of order dated 25.11.2009 of the Registrar Court and after obtaining orders/directions from Honourable Chief Justice of India”. 

Ali wanted the information officer to disclose the criteria being followed in the Supreme Court in taking up admitted matters; whether there is any fixed procedure in this regard; criminal and civil cases admitted in which year are presently listed for final hearing and whether a pending matter could be taken up for consideration out of turn, even without an order for early hearing from the Court on an application by the parties in this regard. 

To this, Arora replies that “unless otherwise directed by the Honourable Court or by the Honourable Chief Justice of India, the regular hearing matters are being listed as per approved guidelines”. 

A new writ filed against entry of foreign law firms in Madras HC

http://www.legallyindia.com/20100322609/Law-firms/a-new-writ-filed-against-entry-of-foreign-law-firms-in-madras-hc 

Monday, 22 March 2010 by Kian Ganz 

A Tamil Nadu advocate has reportedly filed a writ petition against 30 foreign law firms and legal process outsourcing (LPO) company Integreon for “illegally practising” law in violation of the Advocates Act 1961, according to unconfirmed media reports, although no notices have been served on the respondents yet.

The Madras High Court petition of A.K. Balaji “prayed for a direction to prohibit the firms or foreign lawyers from having any legal practice either on the litigation side or non-litigation and commercial transactions in any manner in the country”, wrote Indian daily The Hindu today.

The Hindu added that the petition argued that a “wholesome reading of the Advocates Act would make it abundantly clear that to be entitled to practise law in India, a person should be a citizen of India and possess a law degree obtained from a university in the country”.

It is understood that 30 non-Indian law firms have been named in the petition, including the Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and most other corporate firms with India practices, US firms, French firms, Singaporean firms and Australian firms and LPO provider Integreon, although this could not be authoritatively verified.

Legally India has contacted several of the firms but it is understood that none had been served with notices at the time of going to press.

All firms were unavailable for comment, as some are understood to be evaluating whether the claim is vexatious or a genuine one.

The Hindu wrote: “Allowing entry of foreign law firms with no reciprocal arrangements with respect to Indian lawyers should not be entertained. In response, Indian lawyers have to be allowed to work in the respective countries. Otherwise, foreign law firms should not be allowed to exploit the Indian legal market.”

“The petitioner said while the law on the subject was clear, various international law firms having roots outside India had opened offices in the country or neighbouring countries and taking up legal practice within the country such as mergers, takeovers, acquisitions, amalgamations, and so on, and were into various commercial transactions and arbitrations,” said the paper.

The case is listed on the causelist of Friday 18 March 2010 as M/S.R.Ethilarasan (PIL) Karthikeyan for injunction 5614 / 2010, although no documents have been uploaded to the court’s website yet and it is not confirmed whether the petition has been accepted on merits.

News site Express Buzz reported today that “the First Bench comprising Chief Justice HL Gokhale and Justice V Dhanapalan, before which the public interest writ petition from AK Balaji of Harur came up for hearing on Friday, ordered issuance of notice to the authorities concerned returnable by April 8”.

On 16 December 2009 the Bombay High Court had ruled in the Lawyers Collective case that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should not have granted Ashurst, Chadbourne & Parke and White & Case licences to open up liaison offices in India and that the firms had been “practising law” contrary to the Advocates Act.

We will report further details on the story as soon as the facts have been authoritatively confirmed. 

Let the writ of law prevail in corruption cases against politicians: Bir Devinder Singh 

http://www.punjabnewsline.com/content/view/24362/38/ 

Punjab Newsline Network    

Monday, 22 March 2010 

CHANDIGARH: 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, said Former Deputy Speaker Punjab, Bir Devinder Singh  

He said, the news regarding a proposal before the House over a letter written by the Deputy Speaker, 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, He added. 

He further said, “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. 

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. 

He said, “the reaction of Captain Amarinder Singh expressing his views against any such move is laudable and worth emulating by the other leaders.” 

He said, “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. ” 

He said, 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. 

Aluva Munsiff Court jubilee fete held  

http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=Aluva+Munsiff+Court+jubilee+fete+held&artid=KIZvGWfxJhk=&SectionID=1ZkF/jmWuSA=&MainSectionID=fyV9T2jIa4A=&SectionName=X7s7i%7CxOZ5Y=&SEO= 

Express News Service 

First Published : 23 Mar 2010 03:41:00 AM IST 

Last Updated :  

ALUVA: The valedictory meet of the silver jubilee celebrations of the Aluva Munsiff Court was inaugurated by senior Judge of the Kerala High Court Justice C N Ramachandran Nair here on Sunday evening. 

Aluva has a great tradition in the field of judicial courts as the Zilla Court functioned at Kacheri Kunnu (UC College) here over a century ago. The Zilla Court was later shifted to Paravoor. 

Aluva had to be satisfied with a Munisiff Court and two magistrate courts later. 

The silver jubilee is being celebrated at a time when there is a hue and cry from the public to set up a Sub Court, MACT Court, Additional Family Court, and Special Court to handle cyber cases, without delay. 

Justice Ramachandran Nair said the High Court follows specific norms to establish new courts. The government has to provide funds, staff and infrastructure to set up a new court. 

He suggested that adalaths could be conducted in Aluva to expedite the settlement of disputes. He said the first adalat would be held at Aluva, when the KELSA (Kerala Legal Service Association) gets a mobile unit. Justice Nair advised the advocates not to charge exorbitant fees from clients. If the clients feel that litigation is expensive and that it is not worth to approach the courts for justice, they would seek the help of goons and mafia for redress of their grievances. 

Transport Minister Jose Thettayil delivered the keynote address. Aluva Bar Association president Jose Manavalan presided over the function. Ernakulam District and Sessions Judge D Pappachan presented mementos to 30 advocates who completed 25 years of professional practice in Aluva. 

‘Adverse reports’ knocked ex-CJI out of race for NHRC top job

http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/newdelhi/Adverse-reports-knocked-ex-CJI-out-of-race-for-NHRC-top-job/Article1-520274.aspx 

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times 

Email Author 

New Delhi, March 17, 2010 

First Published: 23:22 IST(17/3/2010) 

Last Updated: 23:23 IST(17/3/2010) 

Former Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal was not  offered the post of National Human Rights Commission chief because of “adverse media and other reports” against him, the Centre revealed on Wednesday. 

In response to a Right to Information query by a Delhi resident, Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the home ministry said that Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justice Sabharwal, both former CJIs, were the only two eligible for the post, but Justice Lahoti declined the offer. 

The post has been lying vacant since the past 10 months.
“Because of the adverse media and other reports with regard to Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, it was felt that the highly sensitive post of chairperson NHRC may not be offered to him,” the ministry stated in its reply. 

Justice Sabharwal faced serious allegations of corruption in passing orders for sealing commercial establishments running in residential areas in Delhi when he was a Supreme Court judge in 2006. 

“In the case of Justice Lahoti, the then home secretary had spoken to the learned judge enquiring about his availability to the post. It appears that Justice Lahoti indicated that he was otherwise very busy and would not be in a position to accept the offer,” the ministry said. 

“Accordingly, it was recorded on our files that Mr Justice RC Lahoti and and Mr Justice YK Sabharwal are not inclined/ not available for different reasons,” the reply stated. 

The ministry said the offer to Justice Lahoti was made “orally” and there was no correspondence recorded between the government and the judge.
 
The post of the NHRC chief fell vacant on June 1, 2009. The country’s human rights watchdog has been without a regular boss since then. 

According to the provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, only a retired Chief Justice of India below the age of 70 can be appointed NHRC chairperson. 

The RTI response has highlighted the government’s helplessness in appointing the NHRC chief despite being pulled up by the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court on the matter. The Centre told the courts it was open to amending the law to tide over the problem.

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