LEGAL NEWS 22.04.2010

Web column | Regulatory turf wars|regulatory-turf-wars/392705/
Krishnava Dutt / New Delhi April 22, 2010, 15:22 IST

The jurisdictional war over Ulips between Sebi and Irda is not the first conflict between regulators and certainly not the last that we will be witnessing. With the establishment of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) under the Competition Act, 2002 and with enough teeth being given to it to cover all sectors of the economy and impose paralysing penalties, conflicts between the CCI and sector regulators are set to become a common feature in the days to come.

The overarching reach of the Act is further emphasised by section 60 thereof which states that the provisions of the Act will have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent contained in any other law. However, section 62 states that the provisions shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law.

On one hand CCI has the mandate to regulate competition issues across sectors and on the other hand, various industries in India are subject to specific regulatory control. Some of the sector regulators include the CERC/SERCs, PNGRB, Sebi, RBI, Trai, Irda and Airports Economic Regulatory Authority, all established under their respective statutes. Most sector regulators have been given the express mandate to regulate competition in their spheres. Even if such power has not been given expressly, it can be implied from the extensive powers given to some regulators. Though turf wars among sector regulators are not new in this country, the entry of the CCI adds a whole new dimension to this battle.

Already there are tensions between the RBI and the CCI over the issue of merger control among banks. While CCI seeks to control mergers across sectors including banking, RBI is unwilling to share its turf with the CCI. In the electricity sector, CCI is probing into allegations of abuse of dominance by power distribution companies in Delhi. It has been reported that CCI has issued notices to distribution companies alleging that they have been installing faulty meters and overcharging their customers. The CCI intends to commence investigations into allegations by the MCX Stock Exchange that NSE has been abusing its dominant position by waiving transaction fee on currency derivatives. The CCI, therefore, has been very proactive across sectors and sooner or later conflicts between the CCI and sector regulators are bound to emerge.

The legislature has tried to resolve the conflict by introducing provisions which allow cross referral of issues between the CCI and other regulators. A harmonious co-existence among the regulators is therefore envisaged. Significantly, the opinions of the CCI and the statutory authority are not binding on the other.

This discussion becomes even more interesting if one examines the other regulatory legislations. The Electricity Act, 2003 provides that the appropriate commission may issue such directions as it considers appropriate to a licensee or a generating company if it enters into any agreement or abuses its dominant position or enters into a combination which is likely to cause or causes and adverse effect on competition in electricity industry. The Electricity Act also contains provisions similar to sections 60 and 62 of the Competition Act. We, therefore, have two legislations with a non-obstante clause, both covering the same area. Applying principles of statutory interpretation, it may be argued that the non-obstante clause in the subsequent enactment i.e. the Electricity Act, 2003 should prevail over the previous enactment i.e. the Competition Act. Another principle of statutory interpretation is to determine the ‘general’ and ‘special’ legislation, as a ‘special’ legislation will prevail over a ‘general’ legislation. The Supreme Court has, however, held that the above tests are merely illustrative and by no means should they be considered as exhaustive. It is for the court, when it is called upon to resolve such conflict, to harmoniously interpret the provisions of both the competing statutes and give effect to one over the other. Though enactments such as the PNGRB Act, Irda Act and Trai Act do not contain such non-obstante provisions, there is still scope for confusion as far as jurisdictional issues are concerned. Interestingly, the Trai Act and the AERA Act make an exception for matters which are under the purview of the MRTP Commission and the Competition Act respectively.

The current framework, therefore, does not provide an adequate solution to the impending problem. The real purpose of preventing anti-competitive practices will be lost if the regulators who have been given the power to prevent such practices enter into a turf war among themselves. One possible way of addressing the problem is to clearly delineate the regulatory functions and assign the functions among regulators. This has been suggested by Unctad (2006) as a possible method for resolving conflicting mandates. For example technical regulatory tasks can be assigned to the sector regulators while pure competition issues can be left to the CCI. In theory this seems like an ideal solution, but in practice trying to define and dissect functions will have its own set of problems.

Giving exclusive jurisdiction to either regulator is a possible solution, but highly inefficient. Though competition authorities have the expertise in the subject, the sector regulators have sector specific technical competence necessary, which competition authorities may lack, to determine a particular case. At the same time, sector regulators may not have the adequate training to deal with pure competition law issues. Therefore, an efficient way of resolving the conflict is to ensure that while deciding on a case involving a particular sector, apart from competition authorities, technical experts from that sectors be also mandatorily involved. The composition of the CCI, being itself considered as an expert body, may be such that it includes sector regulators as well. Alternatively, the CCI may look at entering into separate agreements with other regulators to clearly enunciate the procedure to be followed in a case involving that particular sector and in respect of which both the regulators are entitled to exercise jurisdiction.

India may learn a few tricks from the UK where Competition Act, 1998 gives concurrent powers to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and sector regulators for communications matters, gas, electricity, water and sewerage, railway and air traffic services in enforcing anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominance provisions. UK has enacted the Competition Act (Concurrency) Regulations, 2004 which contains provisions for the co-ordination of the performance by the OFT and the regulators of their concurrent functions. The OFT and the regulators are required to consult with each other before acting on a case where it appears that they may have concurrent jurisdiction. If no agreement can be reached, then matter is referred to the Secretary of State. Double jeopardy is prevented because simultaneous exercise of jurisdiction by more than one authority in relation to a case is prohibited. Interestingly, an appeal from both the OFT and the sector regulators lies to the competition appellate tribunal.

It is clear that unless the government takes a proactive measure, jurisdictional conflicts are bound to surface and perhaps, as in the conflict between the SEBI and IRDA in the Ulips issue, it will be left to the courts to finally resolve the conflicts as and when they will arise in future.

The author is Managing Partner, Argus Partners, Advocates. Views expressed are personal.

Doctors recruitment scam: K.P.S. Gill files lawsuit
Chandigarh, April 21 (IANS) Former Punjab police chief K.P.S. Gill Tuesday filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in connection with allegations of malpractices in the recruitment of doctors in the state.

In March, media reports had highlighted irregularities in the recruitment of doctors made recently by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC).

“After this scam was highlighted in PPSC, exposing corruption and favouritism in the selection of 312 doctors, Punjab chief minister had ordered an inquiry and asked state chief secretary S.C. Aggarwal to submit an inquiry report within 30 days,” Anupam Gupta, counsel for Gill, said here.

“Despite the passing of more than a month no such report has been submitted or has been brought to light in the public domain. In our PIL we have sought replies in this connection from the government,” he said.

There are allegations that 45 doctors were interviewed by the PPSC within minutes and selected for government jobs.

However, earlier a Punjab government spokesperson said that over 19,000 teachers had been recruited and there had not been a single complaint in any of the appointments made.

DLF, IPL remove `Building India’ from pitch

TNN, Apr 22, 2010, 05.31am IST

LUCKNOW: DLF and IPL on Wednesday apprised the high court of removing the caption `Building India’ from both sides of bowlers run up as well as at the place of presentation ceremony of cricket grounds where T-20 matches are being played.

In this view, a division bench of the HC comprising acting Chief Justice Amitava Lala and Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi dismissed a PIL as the grievance no longer remained. The PIL had termed painting of name of the country at cricket grounds during T-20 matches as insulting as the players walked on the name of the country during matches.

Parents plan fight to take on private schools’ might

Priya Ramakrishnan / DNA

Thursday, April 22, 2010 1:13 IST

Mumbai: In order to fight private schools over “exorbitant” fee hikes, parents’ associations from across the country are planning to come under one umbrella and file a PIL in the Supreme Court.

Last week, over 20 representatives of various associations mulled coming under the Forum for Fairness in Education, a parent-teacher organisation registered in Maharashtra.

The forum, which has local chapters in Raigad, Thane, Pune, Amravati and Nanded, will be the apex body with local chapters in other parts of the country, such as Delhi, Kanpur, Bangalore, Ghaziabad and Faridabad.

Jayant Jain, president of Forum for Fairness in Education, Mumbai, said: “The objective of becoming a part of one organisation is to ensure that parents can effectively deal with the malpractices in private unaided schools.”

Bipin Arora, general secretary of Summerfield School Parent Association, South Delhi, said: “In Delhi, we are fighting private schools which have bogus parent-teacher associations.”

The local chapters will help parents in a particular state know about issues in other states.

Rajinder Katoch, general secretary, Green Fields School Parents Welfare Association, Delhi, said: “We can refer to the laws or court orders passed by other states and fight a case against private schools. Currently, there is no united parent body to fight against private schools. It becomes expensive for individual associations to pay litigation charges, which are anything between Rs50,000 to Rs1 lakh. With a single parent organisation, we can pool in money and resources and not let the expenses pinch us.”

The local chapters plan to file PIL in the Supreme Court within two months after discussing problems faced by parents from other states.

Why isn’t Shivaji Park a ‘silence zone’: Bombay high court

Hetal Vyas / DNA

Thursday, April 22, 2010 1:26 IST

Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has irked the Bombay high court by not declaring Shivaji Park as silence zone.

The court on Wednesday directed municipal commissioner Swadheen Khsatriya to file a personal affidavit explaining why it had not been done.

Taking note of a PIL, filed by Wecom trust and two local residents, the court said that there were several educational institutions, hospitals and religious structures in the vicinity of Shivaji Park.

“Any area falling within 100 metres around educational institutions and hospitals should be noted as a silence zone. It is a law made by you, and you have to enforce your own law,” a division bench of justice FI Rebello and justice Mridula Bhatkar said.

The PIL has demanded that Shivaji Park be declared a ‘silence zone’, and all kinds of ‘non-sporting’ activities be banned from the park.

G Pai, assistant commissioner of G ward, filed an affidavit saying that the area surrounding the Bal Mohan Vidyalaya had been declared as silence zone. The BMC counsel too told the court, “Shivaji Park is quite a big area and several parts of it have been marked as silence zones.”

The court, however, insisted that the municipal commissioner (the highest ranking officer in the BMC) should file a personal affidavit explaining the reasons for not giving Shivaji Park the ‘silence zone’ tag.

How much income earned from T-20 matches, Bombay HC asks BCCI & IPL–IPL/articleshow/5844483.cms

22 Apr 2010, 1713 hrs IST,PTI

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked Cricket Board and IPL to give information regarding the income generated from the T-20 matches

played in Maharashtra.

The High Court also asked the BCCI to inform how it controls the IPL.

The information is to be provided by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Indian Premier League (IPL) on April 26.

The Court directive came in response to a PIL filed by Subhash Desai, Shiv Sena MLA, alleging the state was not collecting entertainment tax from IPL, resulting in loss of revenue to the exchequer.

PIL against insurance cos for ULIP `fraud’

TNN, Apr 22, 2010, 05.27am IST

LUCKNOW: In a public interest litigation (PIL) filed with the high court, a lawyer has charged insurance companies of fleecing people of their hard-earned money through unit linked insurance policies (ULIPs).

The PIL comes after the insurance regulatory and development authority (IRDA) allegedly failed to protect the interests of the insured persons despite an order by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) issued with the aim to check malpractice by insurance companies. Besides prominent insurance companies, the PIL makes the IRDA also a respondent, charging the regulatory authority of being “most unsympathetic” towards complaints of policy holders with a grievance. In fact, “when it comes to protecting the interests of insurance companies,” IRDA “is most proactive”, the PIL alleges.

The PIL gives as an example the IRDA order to defy the ban of SEBI and continue selling ULIPs. The PIL claims that the sale of ULIP is in violation of sub-section (11) of section (2) of the insurance Act, 1938 because ULIP contracts are based on share market fluctuations which are not a contract upon human life.

Charging IRDA of being “hand-in-glove” with the insurance companies, the PIL brings to the court’s notice certain cases in which insurance companies had duped the insured persons, one a doctor, another a scientist and even a lawyer.

The PIL primarily requests the court to issue an order commanding insurance companies not to sell any ULIPs and IRDA not to approve any new ULIP. The PIL also requests that the Union government institute a committee to thoroughly investigate the fraud committed by private life insurers along with the role of IRDA on complaints against insurance companies.

Lawyers to file PIL in murder case


Cuttack, April 21: The Orissa State Bar Council has decided to take the PIL route against police apathy in investigating the sensational murder of Kalicharan Pradhan, a lawyer of Baripada in Mayurbhanj district.

Bar Council chairman Gopal Krushna Mohanty said the decision was taken at a special meeting yesterday to discuss the demands of the Mayurbhanj District Bar Association. The body has been agitating for two months in connection with the murder.

The octogenarian lawyer was found dead on February 8 at his house at Kumbharmundakata village under Bangriposi police station, about 27km from Baripada town.

The district bar association had demanded identification of the culprits involved in the murder of the lawyer. They also called for a dawn-to-dusk bandh on April 6 to protest against police failure to achieve a breakthrough in the case.

Defamation case: Bihar court takes cognizance of Asaram Bapu’s role


April 22nd, 2010

PATNA – A Bihar court on Thursday taken cognizance of spiritual guru Asaram Bapu and two others role in connection with a defamation case lodged by the Bihar State Religious Trust Board.

Judicial Magistrate Divya Vashishtha took cognizance of the charges against Asaram Bapu, Swami Narendra Goswami and Jai Kumar Singh under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The court would decide on issuing summons to Asaram Bapu on April 24.

In March 2009, Board’s Administrator Kishore Kunal had lodged a complaint in the court against the three persons, accusing them of organising a procession and using unparliamentary language to tarnish his image.

Kunal had alleged that Bapu’s men had assaulted police officials and Board staff when they had gone to execute a court order to free the property of Bhikhamdas Ram Janki Thakurwadi Kadamkuan here from forcible occupation of Bapu and his men on May 4, 2009. (ANI)

Parent writes to HC over domicile rule

Vaibhav Ganjapure, TNN, Apr 22, 2010, 06.28am IST

NAGPUR: The Maharashtra government’s controversial move to change domicile norms for admissions to engineering and other courses to benefit sons-of-the-soil has found its way to the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court. Meanwhile, a Thane-based aggrieved father has written a letter to the HC judge praying for quashing of the new rule to save the academic careers of thousands of promising students.

A division bench of justices Dilip Sinha and FM Reis on Wednesday adjourned till April 29 hearing on the petition filed by city-based lawyer GC Singh challenging the government move. Government pleader Nitin Sambre had sought time to take instructions from higher authorities.

Meanwhile, Kingusuk Kumar Mondal, working with a private firm as joint vice-president, cited a TOI report of April 16 published in Mumbai in his letter to the judge. “We hope that you will understand the mental agony my daughter is undergoing along with thousands of similarly affected students and parents. The change in conditions of domicile is against the fundamental right of Indian citizens, which will spoil children’s career,” he mentioned in the letter citing opinion expressed by Pune-based legal expert A Sarode.

A copy of Mondal’s letter is in possession of TOI. It states that due to his transferable job, his daughter had to study in Madhya Pradesh, then Andhra Pradesh and finally Maharashtra. She secured an impressive 93.8% in SSC and was expecting similar results in HSC examination. However, she received a shock when the MHT-CET-2010 brochure said she was ineligible for centralised admission process (CAP) for admission to engineering courses in government or aided colleges.

She is now eligible to take admission only in management quota of a private college, which means exorbitant fees. Mondal said he and other parents could not bear education in private institutes. He also claimed that his daughter is already under depression as she apprehends that she would not be able to pursue her dream career despite working hard.

MPSC scam: accused moves HC–accused-moves-HC/609546/

Express News Service

Posted: Thursday , Apr 22, 2010 at 2334 hrs Mumbai:

An accused in the MPSC scam, Dr Tukaram Shiware, has moved the Bombay High Court seeking to quash a second chargesheet filed against him in 2006.

Dr Shiware, who was a member of the Maharashtra Public Service Commission from 1994 to 2000, sought the quashing of the chargesheet since it has been merged with an earlier chargesheet of 2002 which was quashed by the High Court in October 2009.

His lawyer Samir Vaidya contended before Justice Kanade that since the first proceedings had been quashed, the second case merged with the earlier one could not survive.

The petition states that after the High Court quashed the first case, Shiware had moved a special court seeking discharge from the second case. The special court, however, rejected his application.

Shiware stated that the special judge erred in rejecting the application as the second chargesheet was also filed based on the same witness’s statement.

It’s further contended that petitioner cannot be prosecuted twice for the same offence since the same witnesses are relied upon. Due to this, the FIR is liable to be quashed, especially in the absence of sanction for prosecution as the petitioner is a government servant, contended his lawyer.

Shiware urged the court to call for the records and quash the case until which time the proceedings should be stayed. The court has now directed the state government to file a reply within two weeks.

Muslim woman has right to maintenance, says HC

Ravi Singh Sisodiya, TNN, Apr 22, 2010, 05.32am IST

LUCKNOW: Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad high court, in a significant judgment, has ruled that a Muslim woman is entitled for maintenance pending litigation as well as payment of cost of litigation under the Family Courts Act, 1984. A division bench comprising Justice Devi Prasad Singh and Justice S C Chaurasia, while elaborating the Right to Life and the Right to Livelihood guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India observed — “In case wife is suffering from paucity of funds or is unable to maintain herself or she has got no sufficient means for livelihood, then, the court in a pending suit for restitution of conjugal rights, has got ample powers to direct for payment of maintenance in pursuance to the powers conferred under section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure”.

Needless to say that right to life and livelihood does not need animal living but quality of life suiting to the status of the person concerned, said the Bench adding that the provisions of the Family Court Act, a Central legislation, shall be applicable to family disputes of every citizen, whoever they be, ignoring their caste, creed or religion.

The court further ruled that the maintenance provided under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is in addition to other legislations. While ruling in favour of Muslim married lady, the Bench drew analogy from Act, 2005 where the Parliament deals with the situation with regard to plight of women without differentiating on the basis of caste, creed or religion.

Brushing aside the Personal Law, the Bench clarified the philosophy of the Constitution saying — “The statutory protection granted by Parliament is to meet out the requirement of Article 21. Accordingly, even if there is no statutory provision, temporary injunction may be granted or an order may be passed by the family court for payment of maintenance, including cost of litigation, without discriminating among women of the country on any basis”.

The ruling which may have far-reaching effects on interpretation of Muslim Personal Law came from the high court as Samaun Khan, a Faizabad resident challenged principal judge family court, Faizabad, order whereby it had provided Rs 800 per month as maintenance during proceedings of restitution of conjugal rights case filed by him and Rs 5,000 as the cost of litigation to his wife, Roshni Parveen. The couple had married on November 23, 2005 but separated on December 22, 2007 due to differences and a bitter relationship.

As Samaun filed a suit for restitution of conjugal rights, Roshni sought maintenance pendente-lite and cost of litigation. The principal judge awarded maintenance to Roshni but Samaun challenged the principal judge order in the HC on the ground that it was against Muslim Personal Law.

HC to hear FMC-CERC dispute over electricity futures jurisdiction

22 Apr 2010, 0059 hrs IST,Ram N Sahgal & Almas Meherally,ET Bureau

MUMBAI: The department of legal affairs in a note last year had said that the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) appears to have “erroneously” assumed jurisdiction in dealing with the matter of regulating electricity futures.

The note may assume significance in light of the ongoing FMC and CERC feud in the Bombay High Court over the jurisdiction of electricity futures. Commodity exchange MCX is a respondent in FMC’s petition and has also independently filed a petition in February against CERC. The cases are listed for hearing on Thursday. MCX has sought FMC’s permission to launch trading of electricity futures on its platform.

The department had said last June that the order of CERC “may be challenged before the high court” after the FMC’s parent ministry, ministry of consumer affairs, sought its advice on the issue. In April 2009, in response to a complaint by NSE and NCDEX-promoted Power Exchange India (PXIL), CERC passed an order to the effect that it had jurisdiction for regulating all trading in electricity.

In its closing arguments last Thursday, the HC reportedly suggested that it would be more appropriate, if the government sorted out the issue regarding the regulation of futures contracts relating to electricity. The department of legal affairs’ note, highlights a number of functions over which CERC has regulatory jurisdiction under Section 79 (1) of the Electricity Act, 2003, and said “…it appears that CERC has erroneously assumed jurisdiction in dealing with the matter…”

“In view of the department of legal affairs’ note, the court will have to decide the issue of jurisdiction regarding futures contracts in electricity,” said Cherag Balsara, counsel for MCX. When contacted, Aspi Chenoy, who is appearing for CERC, declined to comment.

The CERC’s main point of contention on why it should regulate futures in electricity is that futures contracts need not just be cash settled, where there is no delivery of the underlier, but can also be mandatorily settled by way of physical delivery. According to the regulator, it is well settled that futures contracts in international markets impact the spot price because of the presence of arbitrageurs, who seek to bridge any price gap between spot and futures markets. It also said that allowing speculation in electricity would be akin to placing commercial interests over consumers’ interests were the prices to rise.

The FMC’s argument, according to a person privy to the case, is that under the FCRA Act of 1952 futures trading in electricity vests with it and MCX, which is registered with FMC, can offer such contracts on its trading platform. Further, the futures contracts of electricity would be cash settled and not involve delivery.

The government has taken a similar line in the spat between the insurance and capital markets regulators over Ulips by saying that the tussle should be settled after both parties obtain a view from the courts.

Andhra HC stays Tirupati gold-plating plan

A. Srinivasa Rao

Hyderabad, April 22, 2010

The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday stayed the gold-plating project of the Lord Venkateshwara temple at Tirumala in Tirupati.

A division bench gave the order on a petition filed by Raghava Reddy of Hyderabad. The bench has directed the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam (TTD), the temple authority, to file its counter within four weeks.

The petitioner argued that the goldplating project – “Ananda Nilayam-Ananta Swarnamayam” – would damage the centuries-old inscriptions on the temple walls. These inscriptions in Telugu, Kannada and Tamil, and the images of gods and goddesses are from the time of the Vijayanagara Empire, he stated.

“If these walls are gold- plated, the people won’t be able to view these inscriptions and ancient images,” Reddy stated.

The project has also faced resistance from purists, particularly the BJP and the Janata Party. A petition filed by Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy is pending before the HC. Swamy argued that such projects served the personal agenda of some individuals who had no respect for traditional values. “Any interference with the basic structure of the temple should not be allowed,” he said.

Other purists argue that the project interfered with the temple structure.

Differences have also cropped up within the temple board over the viability of the multi-crore project.

TTD chairman D.K. Adikesavulu Naidu, the brain behind the project, asserted that all precautions were being taken to preserve the wall inscriptions.

“We have taken the consent of agama pundits before embarking on this project. All the ancient writings and epigraphically valuable texts on the temple walls are being digitised,” Naidu said.

Dismissed Kasab lawyer moves HC against judge

Mustafa Plumber

Posted: Apr 22, 2010 at 2304 hrs IST

Mumbai Lawyer Abbas Kazmi today moved a contempt petition in the High Court against 26/11 trial judge M L Tahaliyani, who had sacked him as terrorist Ajmal Kasab’s defence counsel on charges of non-cooperation and purposely delaying the trial.

Kazmi has urged the High Court to take suo motu cognisance and action against Tahaliyani under section 15(1) of the Contempt of Court Act.

The presentation of evidence and arguments in the 26/11 case are over and the judge has reserved the judgment for May 3. Kazmi says in his plea, “The facts of the complaint should not be taken as a reflection on the merits or legality of the proceedings of the trial and no part of the petition should be taken advantage of by any accused.”

The special court had given Kazmi the brief on April 16, 2009, at a fee of Rs 2,500 per day, and sacked him on November 30. The judge had called him a liar when he said he was not aware of the affidavits handed over to him by the Crime Branch.

Kazmi had requested the court to ask the prosecution to first move an application for tendering the formal evidence in court before he could reply how many witnesses he would cross-examine. Kazmi says the judge, instead of rejecting his plea or accepting the prosecution’s stand, dismissed him, “which is unheard of in any trial”. He questioned the court’s right to do so.

Kazmi says he has not yet got a certified copy of his removal order, nor has the Advocate General replied to an application for his consent before filing the contempt petition.

In his plea, Kazmi says Judge Tahaliyani, by “humiliating” him in court, has “committed contempt of his own court as well as the High Court”. He said Tahaliyani has lowered the dignity of the entire legal system. He added that the prosecution and sometimes the judge tarnished his image by terming him a “terrorist lawyer”.

HC to state: Provide alternate shelter to people staying on government land prior to 1991

Express News Service

Posted: Thursday , Apr 22, 2010 at 0319 hrs Ahmedabad:

The Gujarat High Court observed that people, who have been staying in houses on government land prior to 1991, should be given alternate accommodation in case the settlement has to be evicted for any public purpose.

A Division Bench headed by the Chief Justice made oral observations to this effect on Wednesday, while acting on a petition filed by 266 families of Khodiyar Nagar in Ghatlodia area.

The families have challenged the government move to demolish their homes without providing them alternate accommodation.

They had earlier filed a petition before a single judge bench, seeking directions for the authorities to stop the eviction till the time alternate accommodation is provided. The petitioners had made the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, the District Collector and the state government as respondents in the petition. The bench had rejected the plea.

Subsequently, the petitioners had filed an appeal against the order before the Division Bench. On Wednesday, opposing the petition, the government counsel said that some residents f Khodiyar Nagar have “illegally” constructed more than one room in the locality and are collecting rent.

To this, Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhyaya observed that families living in the rented rooms should also be considered for alternate accommodation, if they are living there prior to 1991.

Counsel of the petitioners, Sudhir Nanavati, said the court has stayed eviction of all families staying in Khodiyar Nagar since 1991.

The next hearing has been fixed for May 11.

HC for panel to look into Gurjjars’ quota demand

Posted: Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 2155 hrs IST
Updated: Saturday, Apr 17, 2010 at 2155 hrs IST

Jaipur: The Rajasthan High Court on Friday directed the state government to appoint a committee to look into the agitating Gurjjars’ demand for reservation.

A Divisional Bench of Chief Justice JC Bhalla and Justice MN Bhandari passed the order on a PIL filed by JP Dadeech. “The court directed the government to constitute a committee led by a retired HC judge to look into the Gurjjars’ demand for reservation. The court has also asked the government to appraise it of security precautions taken,” said Dadeech’s counsel RP Garg. He said the committee will have a parliamentarian, a bureaucrat, a member of the Bar Association and Gurjjar community leaders as its members.

Dadeech had filed the PIL 15 days ago to seek details of the security precautions taken by the state to prevent untoward incidents during the current agitation. “My client maintains that there have been agitations like this twice, both of which ended in a breakdown of civil life and destruction of public property. The PIL was filed to prevent such incidents,” Garg said. The HC, Garg added, has now directed the state to take action against anyone who breaks the law.

Gurjjar leaders are, however, not reading much into the judgement. “This particular hearing was over a PIL and does not concern another case that deals with the implementation of 5% reservation for Gurjjars. Our agitation will continue,” said a senior Gurjjar leader.

Meanwhile, Kirori Singh Bainsla, who is spearheading the agitation for reservation, said their protest march towards Jaipur would continue despite the government inviting him for another round of dialogue.

The march reached Sikandra in Dausa district on Friday, around 70 km from Jaipur. The march started from Hindaun on Tuesday and is expected to enter the state capital in three days.

Ex-CJI’s sons pay Rs 89.75cr to buy Delhi house

TNN, Apr 22, 2010, 04.12am IST

NEW DELHI: Chetan Sabharwal and Nitin Sabharwal, the two sons of former chief justice of India Y K Sabharwal, have bought half of one of the most premium residential properties, 7 Sikandra Road, in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi. The other half of the property has been bought by the promoter and MD of real estate company BPTP, Kabul Chawla. The total deal is worth Rs 117 crore.

On Tuesday, the Sabharwal brothers and Chawla together paid Rs 89.75 crore as part payment for the property.
“Kabul Chawla has purchased 50% of this residential property in his personal capacity. This is not a joint property,”said a spokesperson in Kabul Chawla’s office. It means that the Sabharwal brothers will have to pay separately Rs 58.5 crore to complete the deal.

The name of Chetan Sabharwal and Nitin Sabharwal had cropped up earlier for running their businesses from the then CJI’s official residence. Also, the government had while responding to an RTI application in April 2009 revealed that the CBI was investigating allotment of a piece of land in Noida to Sabharwal’s daughter-in-law. The income-tax department is also investigating a South Delhi land deal by the Sabharwal brothers.

The part payment of Rs 89.75 crore for the 7 Sikandra Road bungalow deal has been made by the Sabharwal brothers and Chawla with the approval of a single-judge bench of Delhi high court. In fact, Triveni Infrastructure had bought the 2.70-acre property for Rs 117 crore in 2008 in a court supervised auction. Triveni paid Rs 29.25 crore — 25% of the total amount — upfront. But, it could not pay the rest — Rs 89.75 crore — on the due date.

Instead of paying the rest of the amount, Triveni Infrastructure filed a suit in the court praying that another company, Angle Infrabuild Private Ltd, be allowed to pay the balance with a penalty of Rs 5 crore. But as some of the original co-owners opposed the request, the court did not accept the offer. Meanwhile, the Sabharwal brothers approached the court saying they would pay the balance amount of Rs 89.75 crore of the original deal.

Following the payment made by them, the court ordered execution of the sale deed in the name of the Sabharwal brothers and their associate.

The rest of the amount — Rs 29.25 crore — which was paid by Triveni Infrastructure in 2008 will also be paid by the new set of buyers.

To beat ash cloud, CJI took 700km road trip

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN, Apr 22, 2010, 01.48am IST

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan’s quick decision to hit the road –from Minsk in Poland to Moscow in Russia — helped him escape the dark clouds of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland which grounded flights in Europe.

By the time he got over with his speech at an international conference of chief justices on April 16, he was informed that Minsk airport was closed because of the volcanic ash clouds.

Acting fast, Justice Balakrishnan, who was scheduled to hear important matters in Supreme Court on Monday, requested the Indian ambassador to arrange for a car to take him to Moscow, a good 700 km away.

There was no certainty of getting a flight from Moscow to New Delhi as the ash clouds were getting closer to the airport with every passing hour but the CJI was game for the gruelling 12-hour journey and take his chance.

He did beat the ash clouds and reach Moscow in time to catch virtually the last flight home and he was presiding over a Bench in Chief Justice’s court on Monday and disposing of cases.

He was lucky because on Monday, Moscow airport got paralysed with 277 flights getting cancelled and 77 posponed leaving over 2 lakh passengers stranded.

But one of the top lawyers of the country, Harish Salve, had no such luck and has been grounded in London since the last one week. He was scheduled to come back to India to argue cases by Friday but the ash clouds left him with little choice but to remain in London as the airport there was rendered non-functional.

Many cases he was to argue, which would have earned him fees in lakhs of rupees, had to be adjourned.


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