LEGAL NEWS 08.12.2011

Tribunal verdict vs. 6 agrochemical TNCs hailed, urgent action on recommendations urged

International organizations and intergovernmental institutions to uphold human rights and the welfare of populations, and protect of biodiversity and ecosystems by subordinating the interests of corporations pursuing patents.

(BANGALORE, India) – Pesticide Action Network (PAN) International hailed the verdict of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) against the world’s six largest agrochemical companies Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow Chemical, DuPont and BASF after a historic four-day session that culminated in Bangalore, India yesterday.

Victims and survivors of the pesticide industry from all over the world, represented by PAN International, testified before a distinguished international jury to indict the “Big 6” for human rights violations. Based on evidence presented before it, the Tribunal found the Defendant agrochemical TNCs “responsible for gross, widespread and systematic violations of the right to health and life, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as of civil and political rights, and women and children’s rights.”

(see the verdict here)

The Tribunal also found agrochemical TNCs responsible for violation of indigenous peoples’ human rights, and further found that “their systematic acts of corporate governance have caused avoidable catastrophic risks, increasing the prospects of extinction of biodiversity, including species whose continued existence is necessary for reproduction of human life.”

Sarojeni Rengam, PAN Asia Pacific Executive Director, said that the Tribunal’s verdict is a victory for peoples who have been most affected by the Big 6’s control over food and agriculture. “We are elated with the verdict. It affirms what people all over the world already know and are experiencing: that the pesticide industry is to blame and should be held accountable for the systematic poisoning of human health and the environment, loss of food sovereignty and self-determination, and increased world hunger and poverty,” she said.

The PPT, founded in 1979 in Italy, is an international opinion tribunal that looks into complaints of human rights violations. Borne out of the tribunals on the Vietnam War and Latin American dictatorships, the PPT has held 37 sessions so far using the rigorous conventional court format. While its verdicts are not legally binding, these can set precedent for future legal actions against Defendants, and can pressure governments and institutions.

Jurors for the PPT Session on Agrochemical TNCs are Indian legal scholar Upendra Baxi, British scientist Dr. Ricarda Steinbrecher, African environmental lawyer Ibrahima Ly, German economist Elmar Altvater, Italian professor Paolo Ramazotti, and PPT Secretary General Dr. Gianni Tognoni.

(see profile of jury here)

The Tribunal said that the home States of the Big 6 (US, Switzerland, and Germany), have “failed to comply with their internationally accepted responsibility to promote and protect human rights,” by not adequately regulating, monitoring and disciplining these corporations. The Tribunal further said that these States have “unjustifiably promoted a double standard approach prohibiting the production of hazardous chemicals at home while allowing their own TNCs unrestrained license for these enterprises in other States, especially of the Global South.”

The Tribunal also found host States responsible for failure to protect the human rights of its citizens by offering “magic carpet type hospitality” to agrochemical TNCs and therefore not adequately protecting social movement activists or independent scientists from harassment, not limiting the “global corporate ownership of knowledge production in universities and related research sites,” “not recognizing the value of indigenous knowledge and social relationships they create and sustain,” and “not fully pursuing alternative and less hazardous forms of agricultural production without having learnt the full lessons from the First Green Revolution.”

The Tribunal also found that the policies of World Trade Organization in relation to Intellectual Property Rights are “not balanced with any sincere regard for the grave long-term hazards to humans and nature already posed by the activities of agribusiness and agrochemical industries.” International financial institutions, named in the indictment as the International Monetary Fund-World Bank, do not follow “a strict regime of human rights conditionalities” and “have yet to develop policies concerning their support for hazardous manufacture, application or process,” said the Tribunal. The Tribunal recommended that national governments should “prosecute the Defendant agrochemical companies in terms of criminal liability rather than civil liability.” It also urged governments to take action to “restructure international law” to ensure the accountability of transnational corporations, to “accept a less heavy burden of proof on the victims and to fully commit to and legislate for the precautionary principle,” and “to prevent TNCs from directly or indirectly harassing and intimidating scientists, farmers and human rights and environmental defenders.”

It also urged international organizations and intergovernmental institutions to uphold human rights and the welfare of populations, and protect of biodiversity and ecosystems by subordinating the interests of corporations pursuing patents.

“The Tribunal’s recommendations must immediately be acted upon, for they echo what civil society and people’s organizations have been demanding for a very long time. The prosecution of the Big 6 must be started to bring justice to fruition for the thousands of victims and survivors of the pesticide industry. The precautionary principle must be put into place and the patent regime abolished, as recommended by the Tribunal. That is the only way to stop these human rights violations, which continue every day without impunity,” said Rengam.

Rengam further added that the Tribunal just marks the beginning of an escalated international people’s movement against agrochemical TNCs, which is now armed with a powerful verdict that can be used in every part of the world. “The next step towards justice and liberation from the Big 6’s control will be determined by the people’s unity, strength, and determination to stand up against corporate greed and aggression, just as was shown in this victorious PPT Session,” she concluded.


The Permanent People’s Tribunal Session on Agrochemical TNCs is organised by Pesticide Action Network International, a global network of more than 600 organisations in over 90 countries which has been working to eliminate the use of pesticides and other hazardous technologies.

See the full coverage of the PPT Session here.





Judge recuses from hearing plea against ban onDam 999

Justice Jain is heading the Bench hearing the Mullaperiyar case

The Supreme Court will hear on Thursday a writ petition filed by the producer and director of Hollywood film Dam 999, Sohan Roy, challenging the ban imposed by the Tamil Nadu government on the screening of his film in the State.

When counsel P.V. Dinesh, appearing for the petitioner Sohan Roy, made a mention before a Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and Anil R. Dave for urgent hearing of the case, Justice Jain told counsel: “Since I am heading the [Constitution] Bench hearing the Mullaperiyar dam case, I don’t want to hear this matter. Let this matter be listed before some other Bench on Thursday.”

Mr. Roy, in his writ petition, questioned the “subjective satisfaction” of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaaa, purportedly arrived at based on “narrow political objectives,” and said that it should not come in the way of the right guaranteed to him under the Constitution. He said the impugned order dated November 24 had no constitutional, much less any legal basis, and did not come under limitations of reasonable restrictions.

He said the movie was made at a budget of $10 million and had received a certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification on November 21. The movie was ready for release on November 25 worldwide. However, the State of Tamil Nadu, suspended the exhibition/screening of the movie without hearing or affording him an opportunity to be heard. The arbitrary and unjustified action the part of the State of Tamil Nadu violated the fundamental right to freedom guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. The fundamental freedom under Article 19(1) (a) can be reasonably restricted only for the purpose mentioned in Article 19(2) — the restriction must be justified on the anvil on necessity and not the quicksand of convenience of political expediency.”







PIL against private bus operators at Bombay HC

Manka Behl, TNN | Dec 8, 2011, 01.14AM IST

NAGPUR: Recently, 16 passengers were charred to death after two buses operated by private travel companies collided near Mehkar in Buldhana district. Aggrieved by such mishaps and general exploitation of commuters, a NGO has approached the high court to plead for regulation of the private bus operators in the state.

Sahyog Trust has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) at Bombay high court through secretary Rama Sarode making the state government,Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation(MSRTC) and Regional Transport Office (TO) in Mumbai as respondents.

Interestingly, the trust has conducted a survey in which it asked citizens to put forth their complaints on the issue. Many passengers complained that lights, fans and air conditioners in these buses are not functional and seats were frequently broken. Moreover, they lacked proper facilities for physically challenged persons and usually do not run on time. Also, many complained that drivers were not properly trained and drove at high speeds, especially at night.

The petition stated that there is neither accountability nor transparency in the business, and norms are being flouted for commercial gains by private operators. “They charge exorbitant fares without providing basic amenities to passengers. Citizens have harrowing experience while travelling in private buses, particularly children and senior citizens,” Sarode told TOI.

The petitioner has appealed to the court to direct the respondents to frame a policy that would be fair to passengers. The PIL stated that since there is no restriction or regulation by the government over fare, the bus operators increase ticket rates exorbitantly during festive seasons and vacations. Sarode has also demanded action against regional transport office (RTO), which according to him gives clearances to buses without cross-checking facts like number of passengers etc.

The petitioner further pointed out that the ticket fare from Nagpur to Pune, which was earlier around Rs400- Rs600 has been increased to Rs1,500 without any prior intimation to passengers. Due to unavailability of train tickets, there was no option left for them but to travel by private buses.

The petitioner questioned how these buses were passed by the RTO when they are unable to fulfil norms of the transport department. Social activist and lawyer Asim Sarode will plead the case.






Ask Tamil Nadu to decommission dam: PIL

Petitioners want National Disaster Management Authority put in place

Apprehending danger to the Mullaperiyar dam if the present water level of 136 ft. was maintained, a public interest litigation petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Wednesday for a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to drain water completely to the extent possible and decommission the dam to protect the right to life of 5 million people guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The petitioners, All-Kerala Anti-Corruption and Human Rights Protection Council, represented by its State president Issac Varghese and other villagers from that area, while squarely blaming the Centre for not taking any steps to address the issue so far, wanted a direction to the authorities concerned to put in place the National Disaster Management Authority on an urgent basis, a mechanism for relief and rehabilitation of the people living downstream of the Mullaperiyar dam in the eventuality of the failure of the dam.

Expressing concern over the 25 earthquakes reported in the area, the petition, filed through advocate P.V. Dinesh, said the lives and properties of 5 million people residing downstream of the fragile Mullaperiyar dam was at stake and could be protected only by the intervention of this court by issuing appropriate directions to the Union of India and the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

In view of the prevailing extraordinary circumstance, it was not necessary to prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether the dam would withstand an earthquake of a larger magnitude or not, they said. School-going children spent sleepless nights and a fear psychosis had gripped the local people of that locality.

“The Central government is treating the issue as if it is an issue between the State of Tamil Nadu and the State of Kerala. This indifference and ‘dangerous neutrality’ is a sheer abdication of constitutional responsibility.” The Central government or State governments had not conducted any serious study or taken measures to meet the possible fallout of the failure of the dam so far. “In the given situation of constant quakes, a reduction in water level has also lost its relevance and the dam should be decommissioned.”

They said “the process of testing the legality and constitutionality of the law passed by Kerala is a time-consuming process, and in the interregnum, the people of the area are seeking indulgence of this court for an immediate intervention. The present uncertainty, dilapidated condition of the dam, regular earthquakes and media reports on safety of dam have psychologically affected the people living in the vicinity of the dam. It makes people run out of their homes in the middle of night and schools and colleges declare holidays during heavy rains fearing that the dam would fail any moment.” Hence the present petition.





Kerala: PIL against Isaac, 4 others in CST fraud

N V Ravindranathan NairThe New Indian Express

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Vigilance court here seeking a probe against former Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, former Taxes Secretary T Mara Pandian, Commercial Taxes Deputy Commissioner Muralidharan, and cashew dealers Abdul Salam and Rajkumar in the Central Sales Tax (CST) fraud committed by cashew dealers. The case has been posted for consideration on December 31.

D Venugopal Nambiar, an educational activist here, filed the complaint. Express had reported on November 30 that the LDF Government under cover of a special package to revive cashew industry condoned the tax fraud by the cashew dealers resulting in loss amounting to several crores of rupees to the state exchequer. Venugopal Nambiar said this report prompted him to approach the court seeking a probe.

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court, while dismissing the revision petition  in the case, had ruled that it did not want to be a party to the undesirable practice of the government granting exemption to the dealers who allegedly committed fraud.






Bill to regulate IB school fees awaits President’s nod

Rosy Sequeira, TNN | Dec 8, 2011, 08.03AM IST

MUMBAI: The state government on Wednesday informed theBombay high court that presidential assent is awaited on a bill that will regulate fees of International Baccalaureate (IB) schools.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Roshan Dalvi was hearing a PIL filed by the Forum for Fairness in Education contending that international schools are charging students heavily, thereby violating provisions of the Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Capitation Fees) Act 1987.

Among the schools named in the petition are Aditya Birla World Academy at Tardeo, B D Somani International School at Cuffe Parade, Garodia International School at Ghatkopar, Pawar Public School at Bhandup, Dhirubhai Ambani International School at Bandra-Kurla Complex, Pinnacle High International School at Malad, RBK International School at Chembur and Ecole Mondiale World School at Juhu.






Work on Camelot to be suspended till Jan 9

Express News Service

Posted: Thu Dec 08 2011, 03:57 hrsChandigarh:

PIL stated that construction in the vicinity of Chandigarh will obstruct hill view and pose a threat to the city’s heritage

No development in the Tata Camelot Housing Colony Project, which is coming up in Kansal village, will be carried out at least till January 9, 2012. Punjab and Haryana High Court, on Wednesday, adjourned the regular hearing of the case to January 9. A petition was admitted for regular hearing in September.

On the last date of hearing, the High Court had refused to vacate stay which is prevailing on the construction of the project since January 20.

The PIL arises out of a suo motu notice taken on a news item of Newsline dated November 9, 2010. Newsline had highlighted as to how new constructions coming in the vicinity of Chandigarh will obstruct the hill view and pose a threat to the city’s heritage. A connected PIL filed by Advocate D S Patwalia, concerning the same issue, will come up for hearing on December 7.






SC quashes CBI probe against top Punjab cop

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN | Dec 8, 2011, 04.11AM IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday quashed a three-year-old Punjab and Haryana High Court order asking the CBI to probe former senior police officer Sumedh Singh Saini for his role in alleged extra-judicial killings of suspected militants, including a former bureaucrat’s son and the father of condemned prisoner Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, in 1991 when the state was affected by militancy.

A bench of Justices B S Chauhan and A K Patnaik minced no words in terming the single judge bench’s order as erroneous. It said the order directing the CBI probe caused greater injustice than the apparent attempt to dispense justice.

Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Chauhan said the HC order was an example of judicial inconsistency and allowed the appeals filed by the Punjab government and Saini, who pleaded that there was apparent bias and perceivable ulterior motive behind the judgment directing the CBI probe against the much decorated police officer. The SC quashed the CBI FIR and brought to naught the probe done so far.

However, the court said the complainants, including former bureaucrat Darshan Singh Multani who had alleged that his son was a victim of extra-judicial killing, were at liberty to initiate appropriate proceedings before prescribed forums.

The Punjab government had argued before the court that “the state has in its possession some material that would suggest that the senior officer is being targeted due to the sensitive nature of investigation conducted by him against the judge”. It had submitted sealed envelopes to the court indicating that they contained the report of the investigation conducted by Saini when the concerned judge was still an advocate.

The CBI registered a criminal case against Saini and some other police officers, including Chandigarh’s former superintendent of police (operations) Baldev Singh Saini and sub-inspectors Harshay Sharma and Jagir Singh, on July 4 on the HC’s orders for the alleged staged killings of a few militants in 1991.

The alleged militants included former IAS officer Darshan Singh Multani’s son Balwant Singh Multani, who was arrested by Chandigarh police on December 13, 1991, for his alleged involvement in terrorism. Police had claimed that Multani had escaped from their custody within days of his arrest.

Multani was also an accomplice of Bhullar, who was later convicted and awarded death penalty for his role in the bomb attack on ex-Youth Congress president M S Bitta in New Delhi in 1993. The HC had ordered a probe into Saini’s role in Multani’s death on a plea by his father.

The others, who were allegedly kidnapped and killed by the police, included two relatives of Bhullar, who wrote to Punjab and Haryana High Court from Tihar Jail that his relatives were picked up by Chandigarh police in 1991.

This letter by Bhullar prompted the HC to investigate Saini’s role in the deaths of Bhullar’s relatives as well. It had also ordered a probe into the killings of alleged terrorists like Navneet Singh, who died in a police encounter in Jaipur in February 1995, and Gurjant Singh, who was shot dead in an anti-terrorism operation in Ludhiana in July 1992.

Some of these alleged militants were also accused of attacking a police convoy led by Saini in December 1991, when he was senior superintendent of police in Chandigarh. Three policemen were killed and many were injured in the attack, which also left Saini grievously wounded. Those accused of launching the attack on Saini’s convoy, including Bhullar, were later acquitted by the trial court.











Court asks police to book Vidya Balan for obscenity

Hyderabad: Controversies continue to dog `The Dirty Picture` with a city court directing police to book actress Vidya Balan for posing for indecent photographs on the film posters and promos.

Nampally criminal courts ordered the Nallakunta police station in the city to book a criminal case against the Bollywood star.

The court passed the orders on a petition filed by an advocate S. K. Azad.

The judge asked police to book the actress under relevant sections of Indian Penal Code and also under Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

Police was also asked to take action against public display of posters and promotional advertisements of the controversial movie.

The petitioner said the posters and hoardings of the film were spoiling the minds of the people and causing harm to the society.

Produced by Balaji Telefilms, starring Vidya, Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi and Tusshar Kapoor, the film was released all over the country Friday.

There have been protests by anti-obscenity activists in parts of Hyderabad and other towns in the state during last two days.

The film before its release had landed into trouble when former south Indian actress Silk Smitha`s brother V. Naga Varaprasad Rao moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court, objecting to the way her late sister was portrayed in the film.

The court Dec 1 refused to stop the film`s release after the filmmaker denied that it is based on Silk Smitha`s life.




Harvard University removes courses taught by Subramanian


New Delhi:  Harvard University has decided to remove the summer courses on economics taught by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy after a furious debate over a controversial editorial written by him that was offensive to Muslims.

The university has termed his views, expressed in a Mumbai newspaper in July, as “reprehensible”.

At a meeting of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, faculty members voted with an “overwhelming majority” to remove two economics courses – ‘Quantitative Methods in Economics and Business’ and ‘Economic Development in India and East Asia’ – that Mr Swamy teaches at the three-month Harvard Summer School session.

According to a report in the Harvard Crimson, the faculty meeting resulted in a “heated debate” when Comparative Religion Professor Diana Eck proposed an amendment to exclude Mr Swamy’s courses from the catalogue.
The Professor said that that Harvard had a moral responsibility not to affiliate itself with anyone who expresses hatred towards a minority group.

“There is a distinction between unpopular and unwelcome political views,” the professor was quoted as saying.

But Mr Swamy said that “a dangerous precedent has been enacted”.  “If there was an objection they (the university authorities) should have written to me,” he said.

After Mr Swamy’s controversial piece appeared, a group of Harvard students known as ‘Coalition Against Bigotry at Harvard’ had started a petition drive calling on the University to severe ties with him.

The university had initially decided to stand by Mr Swamy, citing principles of free speech.

Philosophy Department Chair Sean Kelly had defended the unanimous decision of Harvard’s Faculty Council to keep Mr Swamy on the teaching roster as an effort to preserve free speech at the school. Mr Kelly ultimately voted for the amendment to remove Mr Swamy’s courses.

“I was persuaded … that the views expressed in Dr Swamy’s op-ed piece amounted to incitement of violence instead of protected political speech,” he said.

Dean of Summer School Donald Pfister said that the courses included in the catalogue are chosen by individual departments.

“I find (Mr Swamy’s) position reprehensible, but on the other hand, it is our duty to support departments and their offerings,” he said.

Faculty members said that Mr Swamy’s article was not a product of free speech but of hate speech.

“(Mr Swamy’s position on disenfranchisement) is like saying Jewish Americans and African Americans should not be allowed to vote unless they acknowledge the supremacy of white Anglo Saxon Protestants,” said History Professor Sugata Bose.

The Janata Party leader had received his PhD in Economics from Harvard in 1965 and has served as an assistant and associate professor.

Division of Continuing Education spokesperson Linda Cross had called the article “distressing” but had said “it is central to the mission of a university to protect free speech, including that of Dr Swamy and of those who disagree with him.”


Cash-for-vote scam: Court reserves order on plea against Amar Singh

PTI | Dec 7, 2011, 03.18PM IST

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court today reserved for December 12 its order on a plea for lodging a case against Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh for his alleged role in kidnapping of a witness in 2008 cash-for-vote case hours before his deposition on the issue before a parliamentary panel.

Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar reserved his order on the plea made by the alleged victim Hashmat Ali, accusing Singh of getting him kidnapped through his secretary Tarun Goel and aide Ramesh from Khan Market in south Delhi.

Ali in his complaint to the court had contended that Singh had got him kidnapped on September 25, 2008, the day he was to appear before a parliamentary panel inquiring into the scam involving alleged payment of bribes to some MPs for their vote during a trust motion in Lok Sabha on July 22, 2008.

Ali’s counsel L K Verma told the court that the Crime Branch of Delhi Police, in its status report to the court on the complaint for lodging the kidnapping case against Singh, has refused to believe his client, despite “solely relying” on his testimony in the cash-for-vote case.

“On the one hand, they (police) are solely relying on Hasmat Ali’s testimony in the 2008 cash-for-vote scam case, but here they are disbelieving him and his complaint,” Verma said.

The counsel submitted Ali was kidnapped from Khan Market and was taken to Amar Singh’s residence where former Samajwadi Party leader slapped him and snatched his mobile phone. He was handed over to the police in presence of media at his residence on the same day, he said.

Ali’s counsel submitted that the police had not properly probed his client’s complaint and had simply sought its dimissal in the status report.

The court, after hearing the arguments, reserved its order on Ali’s plea for December 12.

The police, in its status report, had said that the plea was devoid of “merits” and allegations were “not found substantiated” and were an “after thought”.

Ali had sought registration of an FIR against Amar Singh and his two aides under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act, accusing them of kidnapping him at gun point and illegally confining him.

The police, however, had said after a detailed inquiry, it was revealed that no such incident as alleged by Ali took place near Khan Market area here on September 25, 2008, the day when he was to depose before the parliamentary panel.

The police had said no cognisable offence was made out against Singh and his two aides.

It had said Goel had filed a complaint against Ali on September 25, 2008 accusing him of repeatedly calling them – Singh and his aides, demanding money from them to depose “honestly” before the parliamentary committee.

It had said Goel had alleged that Ali had come to Singh’s 27, Lodhi Estate residence, and had claimed that he (Ali) was ready to disclose the names of conspirators involved in the sting operation, conducted by a private news channel in connection with the trust vote.

Singh has been chargesheeted by the Delhi Police in the 2008 cash-for-vote case along with BJPleader L K Advani’s former aide Sudheendra Kulkarni, former BJP MPs Faggan Singh Kulaste, Mahabir Singh Bhagora and co-accused Sohail Hindustani and Sanjeev Saxena. All six have been granted bail by the Delhi high court.





Khar most unsafe for women in western suburbs

Sanjeev Shivadekar, TNN | Dec 8, 2011, 12.31AM IST

MUMBAI: Over the past fortnight, Khar has earned the dubious distinction of being the most unsafe locality for women in the western suburbs. TheMumbai police, in a special drive to crack down on eve-teasing, made a maximum number of preventive arrests of ‘Roadside Romeos’ from the leafy suburb.

Prime localities of Juhu, Oshiwara, Andheri and Saki Naka followed Khar’s lead on the notorious list.

Khar alone accounted for more than 15% of the 556 preventive arrests by the police between November 15 and December 1. More shocking is the fact that the Oshiwara-Andheri belt-close to the spot where two young men, Keenan Santons and Reuben Fernandez from Amboli, were killed in October for standing up against a group of eve-teasers-too acounts for nearly 16% of the arrests.






NCW to probe case against slap-happy Akali sarpanch


The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Wednesday criticised the Punjab government for not taking strong action against the sarpanch , who publicly slapped a woman teacher during a function in Muktsar recently.

The incident has become a major embarrassment for Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his government. The NCW came down hard on his regime after the Opposition launched a scathing attack.

NCW chairperson Mamta Sharma slammed the state government for not taking strong action against the sarpanch of Akali Dal, who had slapped the woman while she was protesting during a function of local MP on Sunday.

Sharma said she would form a committee to probe the case.

“It is unfortunate that the Punjab chief minister did not take action against sarpanch. We will constitute a committee to probe the issue,” she said.

Supreme Court lawyer Pinky Anand questioned if it was the sarpanch’s influential background which ensured that he got off lightly. He was granted bail soon after being arrested on Tuesday.

“Law is very clear if an FIR is lodged, police may arrest the person. He cannot go scot-free just because he comes from an influential background,” Anand said.













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