Tribunal grants more compensation than claimed to mishap victim’s widow
TUESDAY, 13 DECEMBER 2011 05:46 ADMINISTRATOR
The Banking industry is passing through the phase of rising NPAs, interest rates and mounting cases of debt restructuring. The government has on various occasions shown its concerns on this sector. Thus, the government has introduced an Amendment Bill in Parliament to enable banks and financial firms to effectively deal with bad loan recovery.
It will help to bring down lending rates for home and corporate loans, experts said. Enforcement of Security Interest And Recovery of Debts Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2011, which was introduced by minister of state for finance Namo Narain Meena in the Lok Sabha, seeks to strengthen recovery process of secured loans.
It seeks to amend the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act 2002 and Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions (RDBF) Act 1993.
To ensure expeditious adjudication and recovery of dues of banks and financial institutions, remove legal anomalies and strengthen the Recovery Tribunal, the RDBF Act was amended in the years 1995, 2000 and 2004.
The amendment in SARFAESI Act will “provide for conversion of any part of the debt into shares of a borrower company and such conversion shall be deemed always to have been valid as if the provisions of said conversion were in force at all material times.”
It also seeks “to permit the multi State Cooperative banks, with respect to debts due before or after the commencement of the proposed legislation, to opt either to initiate proceedings under the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act 2002 or to initiate proceedings before the Debt Recovery Tribunal.”
It will also enable in increasing the period of response to be sent by the banks or financial institutions to the representation of the borrowers to 15 days from 7 days.
The bill will empower banks or financial institutions to accept the immovable property in full or partial satisfaction of the claims of the bank against the defaulting borrower.
The amendment will allow district magistrate or the chief metropolitan magistrate to authorize any subordinate officer to take possession of assets or forward assets to the secured creditors.
The Bill has also proposed to amend the RDBF Act 1993 that among other things would “enable the banks and financial institutions to enter into settlement or compromise with the borrowers and also to empower Debts Recovery Tribunals to pass an order acknowledging such settlement or compromise
2008 Delhi blast: Ample evidence to order prosecution of 13
Published: Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011, 18:48 IST | Updated: Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011, 20:06 IST
There was ample evidence for ordering prosecution of 13 accused under anti-terror law for their association with banned Indian Mujahideen terror outfit and role in 2008 Delhi serial blasts, a local court was told today.
Deposing as a prosecution witness, Sub Divisional Magistrate (Civil Lines) Ashish Kumar said “it is incorrect to suggest that the order for the prosecution of the 13 was passed without any material to suggest that accused persons had any link with the terrorist organisation.”
Kumar, as Deputy Secretray in the Home Department of Delhi government, was deposing before Additional Sessions Judge Narinder Kumar. He had given the sanction to prosecute the 13 militants as the competent authority to do so.
The SDM also denied the reference to the Lieutenant Governor for sanction was forwarded mechanically without mentioning a specific role of any of the accused.
“There were officers of Law Department and Home Department of Delhi government who also dealt with the file while forwarding the reference to the competent authority (for sanction),” he said.
All the accused are facing trial under various sections of Indian Penal Code including those concerning waging war against the government of India, criminal conspiracy and murder and under various provisions of the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
A series of blasts rocked the national capital on September 13, 2008, killing 26 people and injuring 135 others.
Visiting faculty molests student
Fake stamps case: Script writer sentenced to 3-yrs in prison
PTI | 05:12 PM,Dec 14,2011
Mumbai, Dec 14 (PTI) A small-time script writer has been sentenced to three years imprisonment and imposed with a fine of Rs 10,000 in a fake stamps case by a local court. In 1999, the Oshiwara police after a tip off caught Raman Dwivedi from Oshiwara in suburban Mumbai and the search on him yielded them two stamps. Further when the police searched his house, it seized stamps worth Rs 1.3 lakhs. “All the stamps seized from Dwivedi were fake”, said special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat. Since the stamps were seized during the period when the stamp scam king pin Abdul Karim Telgi was arrested even the special investigation team had probed the case but found that this case was not linked with the Telgi scam, he said. However, Dwivedi was booked under various provisions of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other acts. The Andheri Metropolitan Magistrate’s court last week convicted Dwivedi, Gharat added.
Full transcript of Arun Jaitley’s interview to NDTV on Lokpal Bill
New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley spoke to NDTV in an exclusive interview ahead of Wednesday’s all-party meeting at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence on the Lokpal Bill. The meeting ended with the parties failing to reach consensus on the inclusion of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under the ambit of the Lokpal Bill.
Before the meeting, Mr Jaitley had told NDTV that he hoped that the leaders from various political reach a consensus on the contentious Lokpal Bill.
Here’s the full transcript of Mr Jaitley’s interview with NDTV’s Barkha Dutt.
NDTV: In the evening today will be a crucial all-party meeting on the Lokpal Bill; the Government finally reaching out to the Opposition. Many people are wondering why this could not be done before. But will this day end with a consensus or are divisions still going to remain? Joining us now, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, somebody who shared that stage with Anna Hazare, who in a sense, we believe, has been a key architect of the BJP’s dissent note, as well to that Standing Committee Panel on the Lokpal Bill. Mr (Arun) Jaitley, is this a day that you believe we are nearing, or within reach, of a political consensus?
Arun Jaitley: I don’t know. But hopefully we should. Why I say we should, that there are certain issues on which parties on policy, ideology, have distinct perspectives. Now, I can’t give up my ideology in order to compromise with the UPA. Neither can they. But here ideologies are not involved. Here what’s involved is governance and good, sound principles of governance. The sound principle of governance is that everybody accepts that we have a lot of corruption within the system; political, bureaucratic, and so on. Citizens are harassed. You need answers. Now when the Lokpal movement started and this debate started, everybody felt that are you creating a fifth estate? Are you creating a monstrosity, which is a very powerful institution, and who will check it? Now, as the debate has progressed, there are certain ideas, which across the political system, people have started accepting. The Government accepted some in the Bill, the Standing Committee added a few more to it, left a lot of vitals to be undecided. And I think that it should neither be a game of one-upmanship nor a game of political confrontations, but we should all ask ourselves one question and try and answer it, which is the best possible way to have a strong Lokpal institution. A Lokpal institution which is strong, which is independent, and which is not capable of being misused.
NDTV: Before we get to the different aspects that are the source of contention, your decision to share that stage with Anna Hazare. The Congress has described it in many different ways. It said the BJP has become the B team of Team Anna. Others, even on stage, for example D Raja, were very upset when he started to speak in English and the crowds egged him on to speak in Hindi. He got quite upset. AB Bardhan made the point saying leave the details to the wisdom of Parliament. All of you did that. Was this a difficult decision for you or did you intuitively know that you were comfortable sharing that stage?
Arun Jaitley: Well, I must tell you that there are two kinds of very active groups who are involved in the process of this Lokpal movement. One is the Team Anna and the other is the Aruna Roy group. Now, over the years, I think, some of us have also matured. And I have decided not to have an indifferent or a hostile posture to these groups, irrespective of what their ideological moorings are.
NDTV: Because many of their ideological moorings are totally at variance with the BJP’s ideological moorings.
Arun Jaitley: They are, they are, they are. But both the groups have been coming and discussing with us. They also have separate, distinct ideas on this issue. And I do believe that in some of these issues it is the principles that you are looking for and which is the best possible principle. So they have easy access. They come and visit us with an appointment. I’ve been listening to them. I’ve had a series of interactions with both the groups and frankly my own views have evolved as a result of the political interaction and the interaction with these groups. So I don’t have an adversarial attitude, at least in this matter, with any one of these groups. Even before we went to the stage, and my Party President requested me to represent the party there, since the party was invited to send a representative, I knew the areas of agreement and the areas where we are not completely allied with each other. And therefore we’ve been sharing it. And they also knew it. It is a transparent relationship. But I do know that they are also convinced that we are also pursuing a course towards a good, strong Lokpal. Now, once we did that, we go and explain the points of view. Now, at that stage we are invited to give what our party’s broad perspectives are. As far as the nitty-gritties of the language are concerned, the Bill has certain issues which are very vital, which I call the atma of the Lokpal Bill. Those are issues you may not be able to compromise on. But there are incidental issues which are always on the drawing board, and the languages can vary, the perceptions can vary.
NDTV: Did all of you decide together that you would not get into the specifics in a public manner or was that a spontaneous response?
Arun Jaitley: I think it was a mix of both. That was a spontaneous response and there was a discussion on the stage going on that you can’t have a yes or no response before a crowd, and therefore we’ve given our perception. Our perceptions are not radically different from yours. There may be areas of differences. We’ve understood your viewpoint and the rest must be left to Parliament, because neither you nor us ever dispute that the ultimate law has to be framed in Parliament. And therefore, since you’ve gone a lot forward, that a very large section of Parliament is supporting you on this legislation, on some issues there is unanimity. And therefore that’s the forward movement of this whole political agitation which has been going on. And therefore we told them we’ve heard your views, you’ve heard our views, there is no fundamental difference, but there may be areas of difference, and we’ll sort them out in Parliament now.
NDTV: What do you say to the Congress accusation that the Anna Hazare campaign is now Anna Hazare plus the Opposition versus the Congress?
Arun Jaitley: That is not fair.
NDTV: In other words, it’s an anti-Congress movement..
Arun Jaitley: I must tell you…
NDTV: Rather than an anti-corruption movement.
Arun Jaitley: I must tell you that I’ve had this unusual experience of watching very closely the three anti-corruption movements that have taken place in India. I was an active participant in JP’s movement..
NDTV: JP. Yes.
Arun Jaitley: JP relied on students and political parties. And therefore political parties were officially there. On the eve of the Emergency we had the political parties participating in a rally at the Ramlila Maidan, and two days before that he had a two day conference of political parties. I, as a student representative, had even attended that conference. Then when VP Singh, in post-1987, started this anti-corruption movement as a result of Bofors, and there was slowly a tactical tie-up between him and the BJP at that stage building up, I was quite active and we were active participants in that. So there was a political content in that. The Anna movement kept political parties as complete strangers.
Arun Jaitley: Initially, yes. The crowds are theirs, the mobilization is theirs, the programmes are theirs. The first approach they made to us is round two. Not Jantar Mantar but Ramlila Maidan, where they met us at Mr Advani’s house to discuss the contents of the Lokpal Bill. And that’s where some areas of convergence was reached. And this is the first time they have invited us officially. Therefore, it’s their movement. It was started by them. It is run by them. The crowds, the management, the ideas are all theirs.
NDTV: Are you upset though that they keep saying “We have no support from the RSS”, prompting your Party President to say “We will not go where we are not welcome”?
Arun Jaitley: You see, let’s be fair to them. They said, in reply to the Congress repeatedly saying that “You are controlled by BJP and RSS”, which is completely untrue. They have officially nothing to do either with the BJP or the RSS. They are an independent movement. They’ve been, it’s an NGO, a citizen’s movement in that sense. Individuals in their individual capacity can go. So if, let’s say, five BJP workers and three CPM workers went to their rally it doesn’t become a BJP-CPM function. In individual capacities they’ve said people have come. So put on the back foot against that allegation they say “No, no. We have nothing to do with them. It’s our movement.” But I’ve heard a lot of statements, particularly from Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, which say “Ours is nothing to do with a political party. Individuals can come in their individual capacity if they so want.”
NDTV: Let’s go through some of the areas of contention. The Prime Minister, the inclusion of the Prime Minister now seems a virtual certainty. There are concerns now of what safeguards are needed. There has been a suggestion by some that any complaint against the Prime Minister should be referred to a full bench of Parliament, or rather Supreme Court, so that no frivolous complaints are made. Is that a way forward?
Arun Jaitley: Let me tell you. Inclusion of, universal inclusion, including the Prime Minister, is a non-negotiable essential..
NDTV: And it seems like the Government will have to surrender on that
Arun Jaitley: Now, the safeguards can be a matter of negotiation.
NDTV: What do you believe the safeguards should be?
Arun Jaitley: Well, I really am not, we have suggested, you see, we had one experience in 2001 when the NDA Government brought the Lokpal Bill.
Arun Jaitley: It went to the Standing Committee. Somebody of the eminence of Mr Pranab Mukherjee headed the Standing Committee, and he said that the safeguard is going to be that public order and national security be kept out.
Arun Jaitley: So that’s why we’ve been sticking to that position. Now, if the Government has a better formulation ..
NDTV: What about this proposal?
Arun Jaitley: Well, Supreme Court or a full bench of the Lokpal. I think that needs to be discussed, and maybe it gets discussed at the all-party meeting. Because ultimately the Supreme Court will be the appellate authority in the case of a prosecution or in the case of any action which is taken. Now should the appellate authority, the eventual appellate authority, be the sanctioning authority in the first instance? May raise certain conflict. So that requires to be discussed rather than decided on an impulse. Therefore, whether it is the Supreme Court or it is the full bench of the Lokpal, it is an area which can always be discussed, but the inclusion of the Prime Minster is an essential.
NDTV: And while in office, while in office?
Arun Jaitley: You see, while in office is extremely important. It is important for two reasons. The political answer is you can’t say “The Prime Minster appears to be questionable at a given point of time but we must suffer him for the full term and proceed against him only after he ceases to be.3” I don’t think that is in the interest of the country. There is a constitutional and a legal answer to this. Which is, the substantive laws under which corruption is punished is the Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act. The Prime Minister has no immunity under those acts. Under CrPC he has no immunity. But by creating a special investigative mechanism through the Lokpal route, the procedural law will give you immunity from the substantive law. This is unheard of. So I don’t think constitutionally also it is sustainable.
NDTV: Now this is the area that I think will see some resolution, the Citizen’s Charter. The Grievance Redressal Bill, approved now formally by the Cabinet, but Anna Hazare says that the sense of the House resolution had promised that the Lokpal would have jurisdiction. Now you know that one of the formulas that has emerged, in fact, from the BJP, is that perhaps the Lokpal could have a right of appeal over the citizens.
Arun Jaitley: I’ll tell you, in fact I’ll answer your next question along with it, because the answer is common, lower bureaucracy and Citizen’s Charter. Now the answer to both these questions is that when you came out with a sense of the House resolution, or a statement by Mr Pranab Mukherjee, which can be said that this is the sense of the House, and both Houses of Parliament approved it by thumping the desk, and that resolution is sent by the Government to Shri Anna Hazare and Anna Hazare gives up the fast. It’s not a commitment made by Parliament to Anna Hazare, it’s made to the whole country. We have to be honest to ourselves. After saying that lower bureaucracy and group C and D will come under the Lokpal, can we now do violence to ourselves by saying “Under the Lokpal actually means outside the Lokpal but a good mechanism”? Now I don’t think that’s logical. But fortunately the sense of the House resolution gives you a certain amount of flexibility
NDTV: Because it said “appropriate mechanism”.
Arun Jaitley: Because it is said “appropriate mechanism”. Therefore whichever formulation you go, it must be a strong formulation, it must be under the Lokpal. The appropriate mechanism, whether it is my dissent notes mechanism or it is some other mechanism, can always be a matter of discussion.
NDTV: And do you believe that a workable one is to give the Lokpal the eventual jurisdiction?
Arun Jaitley: That’s one formulation we have suggested that let’s say for Citizen’s Charter. You create a Citizen’s Charter in the Lokpal bill, create a mechanism for working it out, and provide some appeal to the Lokpal. So it remains under the Lokpal and this become a supervising authority.
NDTV: And the lower bureaucracy, which is said to be included. How do you address concerns that you are creating a monolithic body that cannot look after this scale of offices?
Arun Jaitley: Well, according to me, there are two answers, because the “appropriate mechanisms” gives you flexibility. You can do it directly under the Lokpal and increase the size of the staff available with the Lokpal. That is the first option. There is an alternate option that some people are suggesting, that it could be a delegatable function of the Lokpal, with an appeal provided to the Lokpal. As I said, you can have different kinds of appropriate mechanisms, but those mechanisms must eventually come under the Lokpal, because that’s a solemn assurance you have given. Today to say that, “My assurance is unworkable”, I don’t think will do good to the credibility and image of the Indian Parliament.
NDTV: Let’s come to the most contentious area, which may actually hold up a peace resolution on this, the CBI. Now we know, and have been reporting, that the CBI and Team Anna have been in back channel talks. We know that the CBI has expressed serious reservations about some of the provisions it’s read in the Standing Committee. I heard you on stage, and my sense was, what you were suggesting was administrative jurisdiction under the Lokpal but investigative autonomy with CBI?
Arun Jaitley: See, why I insist on investigative autonomy, and there I disagree with some of the suggestions that the Standing Committee has made. You see, one of the fundamental principles of investigation that we have followed in this country, and that’s based on the British model where Lord Denning had said, and that’s quoted in the Vineet Narain judgement related to CBI ..
NDTV: Related to the appointment of the CBI director, yes.
Arun Jaitley: That “No Minister of the Crown or a Commissioner of Police can tell the constable whom to prosecute, whom not to prosecute or whom to investigate, whom not to investigate”. The principle being, investigation leads to a finding where prima facie a person is culpable or not culpable. And therefore, he has to independently apply his mind, he owes a duty only to the law. Therefore, any kind of formulation in which the investigation is vitiated, either by interference or by influence, governmental or otherwise, is not proper. The fundamental principle is that you must disassociate CBI from the Government. Otherwise, what will happen? You’ll create a great Lokpal institution, Lokpal will only take a prima facie view or a preliminary inquiry, refer the matter to CBI and CBI will determine whether somebody is culpable or not, and if CBI is controlled by the Government, the Lokpal will become a toy that all supporters of Lokpal can play with. We’ve got a Lokpal but the investigative agency which is the investigating arm of the Lokpal is under Government control.
NDTV: It’s quite clear that the CBI …
Arun Jaitley: Therefore, the CBI has to get out of Government. The appointment mechanism of CBI Director, its Director Prosecution must be independent of the Government. And you must have an independent mechanism place right on top. The third, the investigations of the CBI in consonance with the principle which I’ve just stated, should not be interfered with. The CrPC does not allow any interference.
NDTV: By the Government, I understand. But should the Lokpal have jurisdiction over the CBI’s investigations?
Arun Jaitley: I’m coming to that. That the investigation is an independent function. The administrative superintendence, as the grey area which you said that, I thought the grey area is the administrative superintendence as I call it, and administrative control as Team Anna calls it. I don’t see a world of difference between the two words. The two are in fact negotiable, in my view, in the circumstances, they are interchangeable. Therefore, administrative decisions with regard to CBI, not interference with investigation, can move and should move from either the Government or the CVC to the Lokpal. So, the entire anti-corruption mechanism is, investigative agency becomes independent of the Government, the appointments are independent of the Government, their budgets as a part of the General Budgets. There can be a separate head sanctioned by the Parliament and their administrative superintendence/ control, I keep the two words as variable, is now with the anti-corruption mechanism which is the Lokpal.
NDTV: But Team Anna wants the jurisdiction to be extended to the administrative functions as well.
Arun Jaitley: I doubt that. That’s not my understanding. That’s not my understanding at all.
NDTV: Let me ask you, the proposal. One of the formulas is to separate the prosecution from the investigation.
Arun Jaitley: I think it’s a good proposal.
NDTV: You think it could work?
Arun Jaitley: Why I think it’s a good proposal. Because we’ve seen a lot of cases where investigations can cook up evidence, can create false evidence, can either exonerate people or inculpate people unnecessarily. The Prosecutor is not like a Judge, but he falls a little short of being something in that direction. He must now apply his mind independently and not merely be a spokesman for the investigation. Well, I can’t put up a court. He owes a duty to the Court. That is the kind of institution that we have to create. That the Prosecutor has the independence to say, “Well, this evidence has come. I don’t think this evidence inspires my confidence.” Therefore, the Director of Prosecution must not merely be a Joint Secretary of the Law Minister sent by the Government of India on deputation. He should be selected by an independent process. He should appoint independent prosecutors. It’s only then that we will be able to create a mechanism in which there is some kind of independence and purity maintained.
NDTV: The CBI has objected to two of the proposals. One is that the preliminary inquiry, is in a sense, done by the Lokpal. And the second is that the Lokpal has final say on the closure report.
Arun Jaitley: Well, I think, on the second, that’s not a Team Anna recommendation. That is an Abhishek Singhvi recommendation.
NDTV: Abhishek Singhvi recommendation. Yes.
Arun Jaitley: I think that there is some merit in what the CBI says. For the reason, if you go by the principle that it is at discretion of the investigating officer. That others can’t tell you whom to prosecute, whom not to prosecute. As far as interference is concerned, I have already said it really should not be done. As far as preliminary inquiries are concerned, this is an area which can be discussed between the experts, from the Government, civil society groups, Opposition in Parliament, as to what kind of mechanism debate. If we are going to create some kind of mechanism, within the Lokpal, which can do a preliminary inquiry, let them do it. If we are not going to create that, let that be done by CBI, but the Lokpal, before referring the matter to CBI, will always have to take a prima facie view, whether it is a frivolous case or it is a case which deserves a preliminary inquiry. You have three stages. The Lokpal takes an independent view, prima facie view, conducts an independent inquiry itself or through CBI, that can be worked out, and then gives the investigation to the CBI, which becomes an investigative arm but in its investigative function, functions autonomously. As far as administrative superintendence or control is concerned, transfers, postings, you don’t put, people in the CBI. All that is then decided through a mechanism, which is at an arm’s length distance from the Government.
NDTV: Let me end by asking you, there is an all-party now, but has the Government reached out to the Opposition through back channels, informally, to try and create consensus?
Arun Jaitley: Well, let me tell you, it would not be fair of me to disclose the contents of our discussions. Parliament is in session. We meet and speak to people in Government almost by the day. These are informal discussions.
NDTV: But you’ve had a complaint earlier of them not reaching out. Have they been trying more this time?
Arun Jaitley: Well, it’s minimum, but I can’t say that in this case we haven’t spoken, we have.
NDTV: And do you see the contours of an agreement like happened with the sense of the House was reached?
Arun Jaitley: I think, I think..
NDTV: Where you were actively involved.
Arun Jaitley: Well, I think it’s moving towards, in a direction where, from the news reports that I get, I don’t know the view the Government has taken where some of the issues seem capable of resolution. But I think the two sticking points will be the independence of the investigative agency and its purity in the matters of investigations, and an independent methodology of selection of the Lokpal.
NDTV: And do you believe we will see the Lokpal in this Winter Session?
Arun Jaitley: I hope we do.
NDTV: And if the Session needs to be extended?
Arun Jaitley: Well, I think these are flexible things. These are not things on which the Opposition or Government should act on prestige.
Indian couple’s family files lawsuit against US chopper firm
Los Angeles/Gurgaon, December 15, 2011
Family members of Lovish Bhanot, 28, and Anupama, 26, who were killed in a chopper crash at Las Vegas in the US on December 7, have filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful death. The civil lawsuit, filed by a lawyer on behalf of the family has named Sundance Helicopters — the Las Vegas-based
operator of the chopper that crashed near Lake Mead — as the accused.
The lawsuit was filed in the Clark County District Court.
Accusing the chopper company for the mishap, Puneet Sharma, Lovish’s cousin, said, “They have had similar accidents in 2003 and 2009. Our family has suffered the irreparable loss because of their incompetence.”
A preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), US, read, “The chopper, built in 1989, underwent maintenance the day before the crash during which the engine and parts of the rotors were replaced.”
“In the final minute before the crash, the tour helicopter shot up 600 feet, turned left, dropped 800 feet and turned left again, radar records indicate,” the report further reads.
Meanwhile, the last rites of the victims will be performed in the US due to tough paperwork involved in getting the bodies back home, a family member said. “A relative has already left for Las Vegas. More will reach there soon. Our family wanted the cremations to be conducted in Gurgaon. We tried our best but were helpless due to tough procedures,” Sharma added.
Lovish, an MBA graduate, was the CEO of a property brokerage firm, Lyca Investment Ltd. He took over the reins of the company after the death of his father three years ago.
Lovish used to live with his mother and wife in an apartment in Sector 50 near Sohna Road.
The couple had got married on November 6 and left for their honeymoon on November 23. They were scheduled to return on December 20.
The three other victims were the pilot, 31-year-old Landon Neild of Las Vegas, and 49-year-old passengers Delwin and Tamara Chapman, a couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. All victims died from multiple blunt force and thermal injuries in the fiery crash.
Bench reserves verdict on UP division
Lucknow: The Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court, in a major setback to the State Government, on Wednesday reserved its verdict in the public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the resolution to divide Uttar Pradesh into four parts.
The PIL petitioners had pleaded that the division would affect their residency and also sought direction for placing the issue before the Vidhan Sabha Speaker.
HC reserves ruling on IPS Bhatt plea
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday reserved its ruling on a petition by controversial IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt seeking to quash a complaint of torture registered against him in Porbandar. During Bhatt’s tenure in Porbandar as the District SP in 1994, he had subjected some accused to mental and physical torture in custody. One Jadav had complained that his brother and son were physically and mentally tortured by Bhatt.
Court seeks reply on PIL against Maya aide
Allahabad: In an embarrassment to the Mayawati Government, the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday sought replies from the State as well as the Centre on a criminal Public Interest Litigation filed against the Chief Minister’s close confidante and UP Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh.
The PIL has claimed that a nine-year-old report of the Income Tax Department had accused Singh of land grabbing and money laundering.
Thane torture: HC gives probe to CID
Mumbai: Raising concern over the manner in which police was probing the case of a tribal from Thane district who was tortured to death for failing to return borrowed money, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the State Crime Investigation Department (CID) to take over the investigation. On November 21, one Jhipru Mukane (35), a tribal, of Shahpur taluka, was chained and tortured into working as a bonded labourer after failing to repay a loan he had taken. Mukane had later died.
Political parties to file affidavit on rallies
Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed political parties to file affidavits on their stand on rallies blocking roads by the second week of January or else it would pass an order on the issue. The affidavits should be submitted by the second week after Christmas holidays and the matter would come up after that.
HC issues notices to civic bodies on sanitation ills
Dec 15, 2011 |
The Delhi high court on Wednesday issued notices to various civic agencies, including MCD and NDMC, on a PIL seeking directions to them for maintaining cleanliness and improving sanitation in the capital.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw sought responses from civic authorities including MCD, NDMC, Delhi Jal Board and asked them to file responses by January 25, 2012, the next date of hearing. B.B. Sharan, a retired army officer who filed the PIL on behalf of the NGO, said its members have noticed that “almost all covered drains were full of garbage which led to water logging during monsoon season.
The NGO sent its members and staff to see the condition of government schools, MCD primary schools, hospital, buses, railway stations and received disturbing reports that school toilets were stinking and some were locked. Even the new DTC buses were dirty, fans were missing and air-conditioners were not working. “Hospitals were found with heaps of garbage, unclean toilets and almost all covered drains were full of garbage,” the petition said.
The court also refused to issue a notice to the chief metropolitan magistrate saying “a judicial officer cannot be made a party to such a litigation… Off course, we may take his (judicial officer) services at a later stage, but a notice cannot be issued,” it said.
Goa miners mum on how they jumped red signal
While activists and villagers blame miners for causing pollution, firms say mistakes were unintentional
Goa’s prominent miners, including Sesa Goa Ltd, have been blamed by activists and villagers for environmental degradation and a series of accidents that have led to fatalities and devastation of fertile farmland.
The companies, while admitting to making unintentional mistakes, have balked at being compared with illegal iron ore miners, but have failed to answer how the errors were made that may have cost at least three people their lives just this year.
In June, a tailings stack containing sediments belonging to a mine ofFomento Resources got washed away amid heavy rains, killing three employees. In the following month, a tailings dam—where water is left for sedimentation—belonging to Sesa Goa near Mulgao village broke, flooding nearby farms with iron-rich muddy slush.
Goans living in the vicinity of the mines, by and large, have developed a distaste for them. Most residents hate the dust and the noise, but people who are affected more seriously by pollution and depleting water resources are agricultural landholders.
In Sirigao village, a Dempo mine, that now belongs to Sesa Goa, and mines of Chowgule and Co. Pvt. Ltd and Rajaram Bandekar Mines Pvt. Ltd, were deepened in 2006 to such an extent that the ground water depleted, drying up wells in the surrounding areas.
“There is noise pollution and dust pollution,” said Rajshree Gaokar, a housewife and mother of three children in Sirigao. “When I came here after marriage, the hill (behind her house) was green.”
Gaokar, who lives in a pink and orange home, has earth movers working noisily just about 50 metres away from her boundary wall. She has, however, paid a bigger price for the mine. A well in her compound went dry five years ago. So did everybody else’s in the village.
Not too far from Mulgao, two years ago, Sesa Goa’s dump—a huge pile of rejected earth—collapsed as a strong jet of water from a mine fell on it, entering homes and fields in Advalpal village.
Were these the consequences of the “inadvertent errors” that P.K. Mukherjee, Sesa Goa’s managing director and president of the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) admitted the industry had committed?
In Goa, differing voices, hazy aspects in the mining law and the miners’ own silence make it difficult to pinpoint how the so-called inadvertent errors may have happened and the consequences of those mistakes.
An investigative report due by M.B. Shah Commission may provide definite answers soon.
“At the most, there could have been irregularities,” Mukherjee had said in a recent press conference. “But these are not mala fide. It is like jumping the red signal.” When asked how the mistakes were made at Sesa Goa’s mines, Mukherjee did not give a specific answer. “So far Sesa is concerned, we’re awaiting new observations, if any,” Mukherjee said in an emailed answer to a questionnaire. “Inadvertent mistakes and intentional flouting should not be painted with same brush.”
Other miners also said mistakes may have happened unknowingly, but did not say how or what resulted in those mistakes.
Ambar Timblo, managing director of Fomento Resources, said an inquiry involving several authorities revealed a natural cause for the accident.
“Sudden heavy incessant rain over a short period of time which led to sliding of the embankment wall, causing uncontrolled rushing of liquefied tailings into part of the plant area inflicting ill-fated fatal injuries to three work persons in that area,” Timblo said.
As part of a public interest litigation, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) studied the depletion of ground water in Sirigao and said the operations of Dempo, Bandekar and Chowgule were responsible for it.
report also said silt deposition from the overburden or dumps from the mines has degraded the soil fertility in the agricultural fields. The NEERI
Sesa Goa’s Mukherjee said he cannot comment on the situation in Sirigao as the case is in the court. Bandekar, Chowgule and their public relations agent did not reply to emailed questions. In Advalpal, Kishore Naik and Shyam Sunder Naik, residents of the village, said Sesa Goa had offered compensation, but future accidents could not be ruled out owing to their proximity to the mines.
Mukherjee declined to comment saying the case, separate from Sirigao’s, was sub-judice.
For the tailings dam collapse in Mulgao this year, Mukherjee blamed excessive rains.
But Claude Alvares, director of Goa Foundation, that has a string of PILs (public interest litigations) against Sesa Goa and the other mines, said the fatal accident at Fomento and the incidents at Advalpal and Mulgao show bad practices.
“If you are a company doing best practice, you will plan your mining in terms of the rains you are going to get in Goa,” Alvares said. “You will take the average rains in the last 100 years in Goa as a benchmark.” Alvares said Sesa Goa’s tailings dam could have caused a more serious accident, threatening villagers, had it broken off in a different area.
To be sure, a technical official in Goa’s mining department said there was no glaring violation of rules, and Goa’s miners acquired the illegal mining tag because of such mining in neighbouring Karnataka.
“Systematic mining was there in Goa. But it was too fast and too quick in the last two years,” said the official, who declined to be named. “Everytime the words illegal mining would come up, we would be asked to investigate and we would find nothing.”
That said, the miners should have taken pre-monsoon precautions to prevent the recent accidents and that they should have monitored the movements of trucks, the official said.
“Fifty-four million tonnes of iron ore movement is too big for the small state. So the impact on the local infrastructure is too big and it has affected people,” the official said.
Members of the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters’ Association say fly-by-night operators are the main culprits who practiced illegal mining and may account for about 7 million tonnes (mt) of iron ore out of the total 54 mt that the state exported.
Activists allege that Sesa Goa, which has the largest share of the state’s total production of 47mt of iron ore, flouted several norms. Alvares alleged Sesa Goa’s total mining lease area comes to 27 sq km after the purchase of Dempo two years ago, whereas the current mining law permits only 10 sq km mine area per lease owner.
Mukherjee said this is a legal issue and could be “dealt with at an appropriate forum, if and when raised”.
Alvares’s PIL filed at the Bombay high court in Goa says Sesa Goa produced 18,146,991 tonnes excess iron ore beyond what was permitted in 2007-10.
To this Mukherjee said Sesa Goa has not done any extraction of iron ore beyond its annual environment clearance limits.
Sudden, excessive rains were responsible for the Fomento accident, but the incident brought attention to several safety measures that need to be taken by Goa’s mining industry, said Agnelo Fernandes, deputy collector of Panjim, who was part of an investigation after the accident at the mine. “The mining policy has to set a buffer zone between the mines and villages,” Fernandes said. “Authorities also have to make pre-monsoon checks. Otherwise such accidents can happen again and more lives could be lost.
Penalties to be recovered from arsonists, Centre tells SC
PTI | 08:12 PM,Dec 14,2011
New Delhi, Dec 14(PTI) The Centre today placed in the Supreme Court its new guidelines to recover penalties from rioters and arsonists indulging in wanton destruction of public property during agitations. Solicitor General Rohington Nariman told a bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhya that besides empowering district magistrates to recover penalties from the offenders they would be empowered to seek prosecution of such persons before the court concerned. The apex court, while taking on record the Centre’s note containing the guidelines, issued notices to the Centre for its reply on a PIL filed by former UP Director General of Police Prakash Singh seeking recovery of penalties from protesters who recently enforced over a 100-day blockade of Manipur. In the two-page note submitted to the court through counsel Tarun Sharma, it was stated that the Centre would coordinate with the respective state Home Secretaries to remove blockades and tackle the menace of destruction of public properties like railways, airways and highways. However, if the state fails to remove the blockade within 12 hours, the state Home Secretary “shall immediately request the Home Secretary of the Union of India to direct the Central Forces or any other para-military force available at the command of the Centre to initiate the desired preventive steps immediately to maintain or restore public order within 24 horus,” the note said. The Centre’s guidelines came in the backdrop of the bench’s direction to Nariman to assist the court as amicus curiae to tackle the problem arising out of destruction of public properties by rioters. The bench had passed the order while dealing with the killing of two Dalits, including a physically challenged girl, by members of an upper caste in Harayana’s Mirchpur village last year.
Secretaries say sorry to HC
TNN | Dec 14, 2011, 10.41PM IST
CUTTACK: The secretaries of rural development and women and child development departments on Wednesday apologized to the Orissa high court for not having complied with its order on providing drinking water facilities to anganwadi centres in the state.
Appearing in person before the division bench ofChief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice B N Mohapatra, two senior IAS officers – secretary, rural development, S N Tripathi and secretary, women and child development, Arti Ahuja – filed affidavits seeking time till December 31 to comply with the court’s order. The high court decided to hear the matter on January 10, said petitioner Dilip Mohapatra.
Earlier, while adjudicating a PIL alleging that anganwadi centres in the state were facing acute drinking water problems, the high court had directed the state government to ensure drinking water facilities were available in all 9000 anganwadi centres. But the state government failed to comply with the order within the stipulated time period.
Subsequently, the petitioner had filed another affidavit alleging that most of the tubewells dug by the state government were either lying defunct or pumping out impure water. Taking serious note of the allegations, the high court on December 6 expressed displeasure over the issue and asked both the administrative department secretaries to appear personally in court and explain as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for not obeying the court’s order.
Political parties directed to file affidavit on rallies
PTI | 08:12 PM,Dec 14,2011
Kolkata, Dec 14 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court today directed political parties to file affidavits on their stand on rallies blocking roads by the second week of January or else it would pass an order on the issue. A division bench presided by Justice P C Ghosh directed that the political parties spell out their stand through affidavits on holding of rallies that create traffic snarls and inconvenience people. The affidavits should be submitted by the second week after Christmas holidays and the matter would come up after that, the court directed. The court also directed the West Bengal government to submit an affidavit stating its position on holding of such rallies. Petitioner Subhas Dutta had moved a PIL claiming that the political rallies were creating a lot of inconvenience to people and should not be allowed in main thoroughfares during busy hours. The state government has already barred students from attending any political rally during school hours after such an incident was brought to the notice of the High Court, which had expressed its displeasure at such activities. In a separate PIL by Dutta, regarding hawkers on the streets of Kolkata creating space crunch on footpaths, the division bench directed the West Bengal government to state whether it has come up with a hawker policy. The government was directed to submit an affidavit in this regard by the second week after the Christmas vacation. PTI AMR CR
Hope floats for displaced people of Majuli
TNN Dec 14, 2011, 11.17AM IST
GUWAHATI: The displaced people of Majuli, the world’s largest river island in the Brahmaputra, are hopeful of getting some respite from their plight as the Gauhati high court is likely to pass its judgment on a PIL appealing for their immediate rehabilitation on December 15.
The high court, which was scheduled to pronounce the judgment on Tuesday, adjourned it due to some technical matter.
This was the first time the high court accepted a PIL on Majuli’s protection. The PIL, filed by Manoj Bora, president of the Assam Yuva Parishad and a resident of Majuli, in September last year, appealed for immediate rehabilitation of the people of the island who’ve been displaced due to floods and for protection of the island from erosion.
“There are 9,566 Majuli residents who have been displaced due to floods since 1969. The PIL prayed for immediate rehabilitation of the victims. Moreover, it also pleaded that measures be taken to protect the river island’s cultural heritage and biodiversity. I was expecting the judgment today, but the court deferred it till December 15,” said Bora, the petitioner.
Satisfied with the Gauhati high court’s previous orders in the case, Bora believes the court is going to mete out justice to the island and its residents.
“The high court has taken stern action against the Centre and the various departments earlier for failing to protect the island and its people and I believe the judgment will be in the interests of Majuli,” he added.
Earlier, the high court issued showcause notices to 15 departments of both the Union and state governments for “failing miserably to protect the lives and property” of the people of Majuli from floods and erosion over the years.
In April and July, the high court slammed a fine of Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 on the central water resource department for showing a “casual attitude” towards the issue, leading to unnecessary adjournments.
4 DSPs suspended; seeks PPSC advice
TNN | Dec 15, 2011, 07.04AM IST
CHANDIGARH: The Punjab government on Wednesday informed the Punjab and Haryana high court that it has suspended four convicted DSPs and has sought the statutory advice of the Punjab Public Service Commission on the issue.
The information was provided by the state government in response to an ongoing PIL before the division bench comprising Justice M M Kumar and Justice R N Raina.
When the matter came up for hearing before the bench, counsel for the state informed that the state has placed four DSPs, namely Bhupinder Singh Khatra, Parminder Singh, Arinderbir Singh and Sukhdev Singh Chheena under suspension and their case has been sent to PPSC for advice.
Hearing this, bench directed for impleading the PPSC through its secretary as a respondent in the case directed the secretary of the PPSC to take a decision for according approval to the proposal of the government for taking action against four convicted DSPs within 2 weeks.
Earlier, the state had informed the HC that 18 cops has been dismissed from service, 17 personnel have been awarded major punishments, 16 are retained due to court’s stay against conviction, or due to order releasing the convicted police officials on probation. It was also informed that 6 cases are under active consideration of competent authorities and appeal of convicted DSP, Bhupinder Singh Khatra, seeking “pardon” is pending before Governor.
Petitioner in this matter had contended that retention of such police officials in service on ground of pendency of appeal or suspension of sentence (grant of bail) is against various judgments of apex court and even against the instructions issued by the Punjab government.
NC man’s killing: All eyes on SC on Thursday
WEDNESDAY, 14 DECEMBER 2011 21:54 SRINAGAR: KDNN
Mirchpur killings: SC seeks response on rehabilitation package
PTI | Dec 15, 2011, 07.03AM IST
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from Haryana government on giving a rehabilitation package to 125 Dalits who were forced to leave their village after the killing of a 70-year-old Dalit man and his physically-challenged daughter were killed last year.
A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi asked the state government to respond on the package by Friday.
The court was hearing a PIL seeking monetary assistance for the Dalits who fled from Mirchpur village after they were attacked by pre-dominant Jat community there.
Advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioner, pleaded with the court that the state government should relocate them and provide Rs 10,000 to each per month for a reasonable period.
The incident took place on April 21 last year, when the accused resorted to rioting and attacked the houses of Dalit community as a pet dog had barked at a group of Jats two days before when they were passing through the colony. They got enraged when a Dalit boy objected to hurling of stones by Jat youths at the dog, it said, adding later it led to the killings of Tara Chand and his physically- challenged teenaged daughter.
The trial court has convicted 15 people in the case, out of which three persons were sentenced to life imprisonment on October 31. The 15 convicts, belonging to the Jat community, were held guilty for setting ablaze Tara Chand’s house, which caused the deaths of two persons.
SC raps Centre over houses for tribunal
First Published: 00:11 IST(15/12/2011)
Last Updated: 00:12 IST(15/12/2011)
The Supreme Court on Wednesday admonished the Centre for failing to provide residential accommodation to members of the green tribunal and directed it to take immediate steps in this regard. A bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi asked the Centre to file a response on the issue within six
weeks. “Even the drivers of SC and HC judges are getting two-room accommodations. You have two options — either the government should volunteer to provide the accommodation or we will pass the order and would ask them (members of the tribunal) to resign,” it said.
The court’s stern observations came while it was hearing the Centre’s appeal against a Delhi HC verdict regarding the constitution of the national environment appellate authority.
Filed in 2009, the appeal’s scope has been expanded and now SC is monitoring the constitution of the Green Tribunal and its circuit benches in Pune, Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal, Chennai and Kolkata.
“Judges have to move from one ministry to another for getting accommodation and thereby they have to compromise their position. One of our judges had to quit after house was not provided,” the bench observe
Allu Aravind files defamation case against actor couple
Express News Service, Updated: December 14, 2011 14:28 IST
Hyderabad: Allu Aravind, film producer and brother-in-law of actor turned politician Chiranjeevi, on Monday filed a defamation petition for Rs. 10 crore against actor couple Rajasekhar and Jeevitha and their follower Harikrishna Goud, who earlier alleged that large scale irregularities took place in Chiranjeevi’s blood bank and charitable trust.
Aravind filed the defamation petition against the actor couple and their follower in the 17th Additional Chief Metropolitan Sessions Court in Nampally criminal court complex.
Aravind’s counsel Malla Rao said the actor couple and Harikrishna gave interviews to TV news channels on August 9 and 14, 2010 alleging that Chiranjeevi’s Charitable Trust which got Rs. 14.5 lakh from the state government for the maintenance of their blood bank, was selling a unit of blood at Rs. 850.
He said the defamation petition for Rs. 10 crore was filed against the actor couple and Harikrishna for making baseless allegations against the blood bank, charitable trust and also Aravind.
Rajasekhar and Jeevitha did not respond to the legal notices sent by Aravind on March 3, 2011.
Harikrishna abused Aravind for serving the notice. The court recorded Aravind’s statement in this regard.
The court posted the hearing on the petition to December 15
Prime accused out on bail in matka king murder case
Army challenges jurisdiction of civil courts
Rule 8 contradicts Army Act,Constitution of India: Counsel
Srinagar, Dec 14: Army on Wednesday sought transfer of Machil fake encounter case from Civil Court to Court Martial saying that the accused Army personnel were on active duty and discretion lies with it for initiating proceedings before any court.
During hearing of the case before single bench of the High Court, Counsel for Union of India, D S Thakur pleaded that the discretion vests with the commanding officer of the Army Corps, Division or Army Brigade to decide on the option whether the accused can be tried through Court Martial or a Criminal Court.
Challenging the legality of Rule 8 of the Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Courts and Court Martial (Adjustment of jurisdiction) Rules 1983, Counsel said, “The rule is ultra virus to Army Act and the Constitution of India.”
“Rule 8 empowers a magistrate to issue notice to a commanding officer to seek presence of a person who is subject to Military, Naval and Air Force Law or any other law related to the Armed forces if he has committed an offence. Under this rule the magistrate can also stay the proceeding against such person before the Court Martial to determine which proceeding should be instituted,” Thakur argued.
“We are not here to defend the accused, we are only questioning the jurisdiction of the trial court in the matter under 125 of the Army Act,” he told the Court.
After hearing the arguments, the Court directed the State Government to file objections within two weeks to the Union Government’s petition challenging jurisdiction of civil court to try the accused Army personnel in the Machil fake encounter case.
Army has filed the petition in the HC challenging orders of Sessions Court Baramulla and Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Sopore wherein the courts held that civil court has the jurisdiction to proceed against the accused in the case.
Counsel for the State, Shabir Ahmad Naik, however, sought two weeks to file the objections, which was granted by the Court. The HC also asked the trial court to provide record of the case to it.
The Army had filed an appeal before the Sessions court Baramulla after the Chief Judicial Magistrate Sopore ruled that the civil courts have jurisdiction to prosecute the accused army men. The Sessions court had upheld the trial court order with the observation that the accused can be tried in the civil court.
In an order passed on December,30, 2010, the HC had stayed the proceedings of the civil court asking the State to file objections to the petition.
Pertinently, three civilians were allegedly killed in fake encounter in Machil area of Kupwara district, in April 2010.
The accused army men charge-sheeted in the case include Colonel D K Pathania of the 4 Rajput Rifles, Major Upendra Singh, Major Maurya (Adjutant), Subedar Satbir, Hawaldar Bir Singh, Sepoy Chadra Bhan, Sepoy Nagendra Singh, Sepoy Narendra Singh and Abbas Hussain Shah of the Territorial Army.
While Mian Abdul Qayoom represented the victim families, Karnal Singh Wazir assisted the Union Council.
Dangi faces defamation case over fake assault case
Deepender Deswal, TNN | Dec 15, 2011, 06.53AM IST
ROHTAK: Congress MLA from Meham, Anand Singh Dangi, is set to face trial in a defamation case on a petition by a retired teacher, who was falsely implicated in an assault case by Dangi about 23 years ago.
Rothak sessions judge Inderjeet Mehta has directed the trial court to summon Dangi to face trial under section 499 and 500 (defamation) of IPC on the complainant of Rohtak-resident Prem Singh Rathi, who had to wage a long judicial battle to come clean over charges against him.
Acting on the directions of the sessions court, the trail court has fixed December 20 as the next date of hearing in the case against Dangi. Rathi had filed a revision petition before the sessions court after a lower court dismissed his petition in July 2010.
Recalling the case history, Rathi told TOI that he had applied for the post of head master to the Staff Selection Board, Haryana in 1988 while serving as social science master in the education department. But he was not selected because Dangi, who was chairman of the SS Board at that time, had been nursing a grudge against his family.
Rathi however challenged the selection list of head masters in the Punjab and Haryana high court on which the HC issued interim stay on appointment of the selected persons. Four days after the stay order, a case under section 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty) and 506 (criminal intimidation) was registered against Rathi, his father Roop Ram and two others at Meham police station at the behest of Dangi, alleging that the accused had assaulted him when attending a prize distribution function in Balambha village in Rohtak.
Rathi and another accused Anand Singh (not Dangi) were sentenced to one year jail term by the trial court in 1997. However, they challenged the decision in a sessions court which set aside the conviction in May 2001. Acquitting them, the court stated that there is every likelihood that he had been falsely implicated in the case and also ordered refund the fine imposed by the lower court.
Rathi then filed a defamation court against Dangi stating that due to lodging of a false assault case, his reputation was lowered in general public, he was debarred from promotion, landed in jail and remained suspended from service for nearly two years.
In 1994, SC had fined Dangi
The complainant also referred to a Supreme Court judgment in his petition in which the apex court had imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 for making arbitrary appointments. The counsel for complainant J K Gakhar told TOI that Dangi and four HSSB members were fined Rs 10,000 each in a case of appointment of taxation inspectors in 1994.
Pranab slams Advani for quoting SC judgment
First Published: 23:18 IST(14/12/2011)
Last Updated: 01:17 IST(15/12/2011)
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee castigated senior BJP leader L K Advani for quoting a Supreme Court order on blackmoney, saying the apex court was yet to pass final verdict on the issue relating to it. Replying to the debate, Mukherjee said he was “disturbed” that the former deputy prime minister referred to a Supreme Court judgment. This judgment is not yet complete. Our department has challenged it… The judicial process is incomplete and we are discussing it. I would have ignored, if anybody else had said it. But it has come from former deputy prime minister.”
Advani later said he was aware that the final verdict in the case was pending and had quoted only one order, which was also referred to by Congress MP Manish Tewari
Briefly Nation: 2G: Chandra seeks court nod to travel abroad
Khurshid slams ‘aggressive judiciary’
2G accused ask court to quash cases
Abhinav Garg, TNN | Dec 15, 2011, 04.51AM IST
Asif Usman Balwa and Rajeev B Agarwal, directors of D B Realty and Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt. Ltd, respectively, have filed a petition seeking the CBI case against them be quashed. The duo has claimed that the CBI is unclear on what are the exact charges against them since it talks of two possible routes from where the bribe money connected to the multi-crore scam was allegedly routed. The case is listed before the HC on Thursday when it is likely to come up for a hearing.
According to the probe agency, Balwa and Agarwal played an active role in the routing of Rs 200 crore as ‘bribe’ to the DMK-run Kalaignar TV. The agency says both the accused made full use of their dual responsibilities through which the alleged bribe money was routed to Kalaignar TV in which DMK MP Kanimozhi has a stake.
The petition highlights that the money trail that the CBI claims is bribery was a legitimate business transaction for which the firm has proof in the form of minutes of meetings, where agreements were signed. The accused have argued that all entities in the money trail paid income tax and tax-deducted at source to the government at every stage of transaction, a pointer to the legality of each transaction. It faults the probe agency for linking two “independent” transactions to create a case against them.
Unitech MD seeks court’s nod to travel abroad
Unitech MD Sanjay Chandra, an accused in the 2G scam and out on bail, has sought a Delhi court’s permission to travel abroad for treatment of his nine-year-old son, who has been diagnosed with an “urgent medical emergency”.
Chandra moved a plea before Special CBI Judge O P Saini, seeking release of his passport that was surrendered before the court following the conditions laid down by the Supreme Court for grant of bail. Chandra sought the court’s permission to travel to Singapore for his son’s treatment during the court’s winter vacation between December 24 and January 1.
High Court reserves judgment on transport policy petition
No Bombay High Court stay on Marathi film for animal cruelty
Published: Thursday, Dec 15, 2011, 7:53 IST
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to grant a stay on the soon to be releasing Marathi film, Shariyat, which depicts a scene of bullock carts’ race and an animal being whipped during the race. An animal activist Ajay Marathe, had moved the court for the stay, but the court observing that “it is a common practice in rural areas to whip animals during farming etc.,” dismissed the plea.
Advocate Asim Sarode, appearing for the petitioner, argued that he had recently come to know about the race scene and accordingly had moved court. As per a Central and State government notification, bullock cart race is banned. Thus it would be improper to allow the release of the film.”
The producer of the film, informed the court that “Only during the flocking of the animals at the race line was shot live, the entire race has been done through animation and using other techniques. Thus it is not real and no cruelty of any sort is inflicted on the animals.”
Division bench of Justice SB Bobde and Justice VK Tahliramani, asked, “Why you coming so late when the film is scheduled to be released on Friday?”
To this, the petitioner replied, “You cannot exploit animals for commercial use the court should see the movie and accordingly decide the plea.” The bench said, “We won’t be doing that if you want to raise your plea you can approach the Central Board of Film Certification.”
High court orders CID probe into bonded labourer’s death
Mumbai, December 15, 2011
First Published: 02:12 IST(15/12/2011)
Last Updated: 02:13 IST(15/12/2011)
The Bombay high court on Wednesday said the state criminal investigation department (CID) should probe the torture and death of an adivasi bonded labourer, reported by a newspaper last month. The court had issued suo-motu notices to Vasind police station and superintendent of police,
HC reserves verdict on Punjab’s transport policy case involving Badals
TNN | Dec 15, 2011, 07.06AM IST
CHANDIGARH: Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on the petition challenging the Punjab government’s transport policy allegedly manipulated for personal profits by the state chief minister and his family. The order is expected to be pronounced on Thursday.
The matter had reached before the high court through a petition filed by Barrister Himmat Singh Shergill contending that the state chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son, deputy chief minister Sukhbir have breached their oath of office by causing huge losses to the state exchequer.
Claiming his petition in utmost public interest, petitioner has sought either a CBI inquiry or any other agency not under the direct or indirect control of the minister and his son, or from a sitting or a retired HC judge regarding the manipulation of policy in the state’s transport department.
He further submitted that by 2011 when the new transport policy was fully implemented, the companies controlled by the Badals had acquired or taken over 150 such luxury buses.
He has also highlighted that how Punjab gives advertisements to PTC channels worth huge amounts of money which is under the aegis of G-Next Media Private Limited, which is a subsidiary company of Gur-Baz Media Private Ltd, which is further a subsidiary of Orbit Resorts Private Limited owned by Badal family.
Petitioner has also highlighted the issue of transfer of IG, Sham Lal Gakhar of Punjab policeposted in the state Lokpal office. He submitted that Gakhar was probing illegal plying of AC buses operating in state without any permit but was recently transferred from the Lokpal office, which amounts to obstruction of legal process, as the head of the home department is deputy CM, Sukhbir Singh Badal.
HC to hear PIL on Komagata Maru, Kuka movements afresh today
Ramaninder K Bhatia, TNN | Dec 15, 2011, 07.14AM IST
CHANDIGARH: On Thursday, the Punjab and Haryana high court will once again take up an important case related to two historical incidents during India’s freedom struggle, following a PIL seeking recognition of Komagata Maru episodeand Kuka movement as part of freedom struggle under the Swatantarta Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980 by advocate and historian Malwinderjit Singh Waraich in 2003.
The case assumed significance as Union government, which had not recognized these movements as part of freedom struggle, finally conceded it in 2008 and said that it would not contest the plea. Waraich had filed separate petitions in the high court seeking freedom fighter status to martyrs of Jallianwala massacre, Kuka martyrdom and Komagata Maru incidents, following which Punjab government took up the matter with Union government. All the three petitions are listed for hearing on Thursday before a bench headed by chief justice.
Komagata Maru was the name of a ship chartered by Baba Gurdit Singh in 1914 to carry Indian passengers directly to Canada in order to meet a condition imposed by the Canadian government to prevent Indians’ entry into the British colony. They did so by making it compulsory for all entrants to travel directly from their home to Canada by a direct journey — a facility which was not available to Indians those days. The passengers were however not allowed to disembark at a port in Canada for two months and were then sent back. On arrival at Calcutta port, they were fired at indiscriminately due to which 20 died at the spot and many were injured.
The Kuka movement, mainly a non-violent movement of religious reforms, started by Baba Ram Singh of Bhaini village in Ludhiana district followed the execution of 66 persons, known as “Kukas,” who were tied on to the mouth of cannons and blown to smithereens following their attack on the armoury and treasury of Malerkotla state in 1872. Before they were arrested, they clashed with British Army which resulted in some more deaths.
Initially, the Union government took a stand that since none of the kin of martyrs would be alive to claim the pension, the movement could not be recognized as part of freedom struggle.
HC order on political rallies likely in Jan
TNN | Dec 15, 2011, 05.45AM IST
KOLKATA: Calcutta high court on Wednesday observed that it will pass an order in January 2012 in the case on rallies and meetings by political parties in Kolkata’s central business district (CBD) if the litigants don’t express their views on the issue by the secend week of next month.
The division bench of Justice P C Ghosh and Justice A K Das Adhikary observed that barringBJP and PDS, no other party has filed their reviews on the issue. So, if the parties don’t file their views by mid January, then the court will pass an order in the case.
Green activist Subhas Datta had moved the petition in the case in January this year. It stated that rallies and meetings organized by political parties in the city’s central business district severely inconveniences the public. He sought the court’s intervention in the matter.
During a hearing in March, the court had observed that it is a very important issue and the court will pass an order after hearing the views of all political parties. The court directed Subhas Datta to serve notices to all political parties.
The PDS and BJP filed affidavits in court by April, outlining their views on the issue. The parties – through their affidavits – pledged to abide by whatever order is passed by the court in the case. The CPM appeared and sought time to file an affidavit. Congress and Trinamool Congress did not seek time to file affidavits. The case again came up hearing in July, but was adjourned.
On Wednesday, it was submitted on behalf of the CPM that its counsel Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya is not well. So, it needs some time.
Congress and Trinamool Congress did not appear at all. So the court observed that it will pass an order in January 2012.
In two other petitions filed by Datta, the court asked the state government to file status reports on 15-year-old cars and rehabilitation of hawkers.
Datta alleged that after 2008, when the court passed an order banning 15-year-old cars in Kolkata, no step had been taken by the government about cars that crossed 15 years after 2008.
Datta also said the new state government has not taken up any scheme for rehabilitation of street hawkers.
HC setback for Jerome in bail plea hearing
TNN | Dec 15, 2011, 12.35AM IST
MUMBAI: In a setback for ex-navy officer Emile Jerome, convicted in the Neeraj Grover murder case, the Bombay high court indicated that it was not inclined to release him on bail.
“There is circumstantial evidence. We are not inclined to grant bail. But we can expedite the hearing of the appeal,” stated a division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice M L Tahalayani. The court was hearing Jerome’s application for bail.
The judges observed that the trial court had strongly relied on the retracted confession of Susairaj while convicting Jerome. “Initially, the trial court went on a wrong footing in the beginning itself . There is enough circumstantial evidence. We might ask the trial court to reconsider the verdict,” Justice Kanade remarked.
The judge, however, hastened to add that they were just thinking out aloud while looking out at the prima facie evidence.
Earlier this year in July, a trial court had acquitted Jerome and Kannada actor Maria Susairaj of charges of murdering Grover. But Jerome was convicted of culpable homicide and sentenced to 10 years in prison, while Susairaj was held guilty of destroying evidence and sentenced her to three years imprisonment. Jerome’s appeal against the conviction has been admitted by the high court.
Jerome’s lawyer tried to shift the blame on Susairaj for the murder and claimed that police had not submitted any evidence to show that Grover was alive when Jerome landed in Mumbai. Jerome arrived in Mumbai only in the afternoon of May 7, 2008. He met Susairaj and took her for shopping. Jerome does not know what happened in her flat the previous night,” senior advocate Shirish Gupte, Jerome’s counsel said. The hearing will continue on Thursday.
HC reserves verdict in Naidu assets case
P S Jayaram
15 December 2011
HYDERABAD – The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on the vacation petition filed by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President N Chandrababu Naidu against the court-ordered Cental Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into his assets.
A division bench comprising Justices G Rohini and Ashutosh Mohanta, which heard the arguments of both the respondents and petitioners advocates reserved its verdict on the petition.
On Tuesday, the beleaguered TDP president, who suffered a series of setbacks in the recent past, including losing the vote on no-confidence motion moved by his party against the Congress government, got a reprieve of sorts with the High Court bench staying the preliminary probe by the CBI.
The bench had issued interim orders keeping all investigations at abeyance by the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and other investigating agencies until further orders.
The court’s order was in response to the former chief minister’s vacation plea against the directions of the November 14 High Court order for a CBI inquiry into the alleged disproportionate assets amassed by him and 12 others on November 14. The High Court ordered the probe against him and others after YSR Congress Party honorary president Vijayamma, widow of late Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, filed a petition alleging large-scale irregularities during Naidu’s rule.
The Supreme Court, on November 23, refused to stay the CBI probe into the case against Naidu but granted him liberty to approach the AP High Court for modification or vacation of interim order.
Meanwhile, Vijayamma has approached the Supreme Court seeking transfer of the case to the Apex Court or any other High Court in other states expressing suspicions of legal bias.
There was jubilation in the TDP camp following the court order keeping the probe against Naidu and other in abeyance with leaders hailing it as a victory of ‘dharma’. “We have been saying that natural justice was denied to Naidu in the case filed by Vijayamma. As the High Court heard Naidu’s arguments, it stopped the CBI probe. The final judgement will also be in our favour,” senior TDP leader Dadi Veerabhadra Rao said.
In another development which came as a blow to YSR Congress Party President Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, a Special Court for CBI cases dismissed a petition seeking direction to the CBI to restrain from going beyond the prescribed scope of investigations in the alleged disproportionate assets case against Jagan.
The court for CBI cases dismissed the plea filed by V. Vijay Sai Reddy, vice-chairman of Jagati Publications and second accused in the case, as it did not agree with his arguments. Vijay Sai had requested the court to direct the Central agency to refrain from investigating into the Group firms of Jagan with regard to the transaction and affairs of the companies (and persons) that took place prior to May, 2004.
HC tells UT, Punjab and Haryana not to register abduction FIRs against runaway couples
HC orders inspection of 64 night shelters of capital
PTI | 08:12 PM,Dec 14,2011
New Delhi, Dec 14 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today said that all 64 night shelters of the capital be inspected and a report be filed by next Monday giving details about them which would include their condition and occupancy. “Let a report be filed on December 19. You both (the petitioner NGO and Delhi Government officials) together visit the shelters and report back to us,” bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said. The court was hearing a PIL which was constituted after it took suo motu cognisance of news reports last year about demolition of a night shelter on Pusa Road amid biting cold. Earlier, the court asked the city government to ensure that all night shelters, including the ones which were not operational for past few months due to low occupancy, should remain functional. The court asked the government and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board of MCD to comply with earlier order to improve maintenance of night-shelters. An NGO has approached the court again alleging that some shelters have been closed despite its earlier order rejecting the government’s plea to shut 64 temporary night shelters on the ground that they were losing more than Rs one crore per month due to low occupancy. NGO Shahari Adhikar Manch alleged that despite the order to MCD to operate all shelters, only 16 were functioning. It further alleged the court had also asked MCD to constitute a panel to find out ways and means to improve the upkeep of night-shelters but nothing has been done so far. PTI SJK AHA
HC notice to civic bodies on lack of cleanliness
HC seeks replies on PIL against UP Cab Secy
Best Bakery case: HC to club hearing on plea by key witness, appeals by convicted
Mumbai, December 15, 2011
First Published: 02:32 IST(15/12/2011)
Last Updated: 02:35 IST(15/12/2011)
An application filed by a key witness in the Best Bakery incident of 2002, Yasmeen Shaikh, will be heard together with an appeals filed by convicted accused by the Bombay high court. Shaikh filed a plea before the high court seeking orders for recording additional evidence. The
division bench of justice VM Kanade and justice ML Tahliyani felt hearing the plea will delay hearing of the appeals filed by the convicted accused.
“Recording additional evidence at this stage would prolong hearing on the appeals and we would be doing grave injustice to the accused,” the judges said. They added that Yasmeen’s application would be heard only if the court upholds the convictions. “But if the conviction is quashed and set aside then the application will not stand,” the bench added.
The prime witness filed an application in February alleging she was “lured and misguided” by social activist Teesta Setalvad into giving false testimony against 17 accused, of which nine were convicted and are serving a life sentence.
According to her plea, Teesta had promised her money for giving false evidence against the accused.
After the conviction, however, Teesta refused to pay the money following which Yasmeen approached the high court. Senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, representing Yasmeen, said since she had given false testimony, it was required to be recorded afresh.
The court has posted the appeals for final hearing on February 7.
No HC relief to IAS officers despite apology
PTI | 09:12 PM,Dec 14,2011
Cuttack, Dec 14 (PTI) Even as two senior IAS officers of the state today tendered unconditional apologies, the Orissa High Court did not grant any immediate relief to them and fixed January 10 to decide the fate of their alleged disobedience of the orders passed by the court. State rural development secretary Surendra Nath Tripathy and women and child development secretary Arati Ahuja appeared personally before the bench of Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice B N Mohapatra as directed earlier this month. Both the senior IAS officers tendered apology and pleaded before the HC to drop the charges of contempt of court initiated against them for non-compliance of orders with respect to providing drinking water facilities in all the anganwadi centers of the state. While adjudicating over a PIL pertaining to supply of inferior quality of dal for the mid-day meal scheme in schools, the HC had taken note of unavailability of drinking water facilities in most of the 9000-odd anganwadi centers running in the state. The HC in March this year had asked the state government to provide the facilities by June 30, 2011. However, the government failed to meet the deadline despite repeated nudges to carry the work in a war-footing manner. (MORE)
HC notice to Centre on plea to insulate CBI from ‘influences’
PTI | 06:12 PM,Dec 14,2011
New Delhi, Dec 14 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today issued notices to the Centre, CBI, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) on a PIL seeking to insulate the investigating agency from “political and other influences” exerted on it by the government of the day. A bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw sought the responses within two weeks from the Ministry of Law and Justice and DoPT, CVC and CBI on the petition seeking to confer “statutory status” upon the agency and ensure its autonomous functioning. The court’s notice came on a PIL filed by Vijay Sai Reddy, a chartered accountant, who is being prosecuted by CBI, alleging the agency was not functioning independently. Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Reddy, said some provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which governs the functioning of CBI, has made the agency subservient to diktats of ruling political masters and they (provisions) needed to be “done away with”. Luthra cited the Supreme Court judgement in the Vineet Narain’s case and said through the verdict was passed 13 years ago, the judiciary is to intervene to ensure that the agency functions properly. “It is prayed that for the “institutional integrity” of CBI and its continuing autonomy, the prayers in the present petition ought to be considered. “The central government ought not to be permitted to use the nation’s premier investigating body as an instrument through which political opponents may be targeted or forced to strike political bargains, as this would lead to a grave miscarriage of justice and an attack on the public interest,” the PIL said.
Were you sleeping, HC asks collector
Rosy Sequeira, TNN | Dec 15, 2011, 12.53AM IST
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Wednesday lambasted the suburban collector for failing to recover lease rent from hawkers on Juhu beach for five years.
A division bench of Justice P B Majmudar and Justice Mridula Bhatkar was hearing a petition filed by a cooperative society of hawkers challenging a notice issued by the collector to 80 hawkers for recovery of Rs 1.56 crore as lease rent arrears from 2006 to 2010. The hawkers were relocated under the beach beautification plan. While 38 hawkers were relocated on the collector’s land, the remaining were placed on the Airports Authority of India’s land. The AAI has also demanded Rs 48 lakh as rent from the hawkers.
Advocate for the hawkers, Vineet Naik, argued that his clients were given a letter of allotment on July 15, 2006 and had then paid Rs 35,000 each. “Thereafter there has been no intimation as to the lease rent that the hawkers would be liable to pay,” said Naik.
The judges asked why the collector stayed quiet when recovering the lease rent is a collector’s statutory duty. “For five years you (collector) did nothing. Were you sleeping? You are dealing with public money,” said Justice Majmudar. The judges observed there are so many hawkers in the city and wondered if they are being charged licence fees. “The city’s revenue will suffer due to inaction on your part,” said Justice Majmudar.
Justice Bhatkar also asked the additional government pleader what was the rate of the lease rent payable by the hawkers but was unable extract a reply.
The judges also reprimanded the hawkers pointing out that they earn substantially in a prime area and are paying nothing for it. “You are not paying a single rupee. As good citizens, you (hawkers) should have paid the rent. You must be charging nothing less than Rs 30-40 per dish,” said Justice Majmudar. The judges asked Naik to state at the next hearing on December 16 whether the hawkers, without prejudice to their rights, are ready to pay half the amount to the collector immediately as well as to AAI. The judges said until then the authorities will not take coercive steps. They also asked the government to determine the rent payable by the hawkers. The matter adjourned December 16, 2011.
HC pulls up Wakf Board for not complying with order
HC sets aside CPCL notification on working hours
PTI | 07:12 PM,Dec 14,2011
Chennai, Dec 14 (PTI): The Madras High Court has set aside a September 6 last notification by Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd (CPCL), increasing the weekly working hours from 42 to 48 and also making it a six working day week instead of the five working day week enjoyed by its officers. Before any changes were made, the 750 officers “are bound to be heard in compliance of the principles of natural justice,” Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar held in his order on a petition filed by Chennai Petroleum Corporation Officers Association, seeking to quash the impugned notification. Pointing out that a resolution to increase the working hours for CPCL officers had been passed on Jan 24, 2005 and not implemented for the past six years, the Judge said a perusal of the order showed “it is evident that except for the change of timings, no reason is assigned.” Increase of working hours and reduction of off days from two days to one day “is definitely an alteration of service conditions.” Besides, no hearing was given to the officers before implementing the decision from October 1, the Judge said. Stating that the impungned order cannot be sustained, he said CPCL ‘can very well convene a meeting and negotiate with the association members to impress upon them to increase the working hours, though consensus was not required for making the changes.
Radiologists move Bombay HC on sonography drive
Published: Thursday, Dec 15, 2011, 8:00 IST
A group of radiologists in Navi Mumbai have moved the Bombay high court, alleging that the state government had seized their sonography machines and other equipment for minor errors made while submitting the mandatory Form F.
One of the petitioners, Dr Shilpa Patil, stated that she had been operating her women’s healthcare clinic in Sanpada for the last ten years, and there had been no complaints against her. However, a few months ago, officials from the state department of health and family welfare visited the clinic and went through her documents.
It came to their notice that in one of the F Forms, she had not mentioned her name in the doctor’s column; subsequently, the officials confiscated her equipment. Patil then appealed against the order before the appellate authority, which is yet to make a decision.
Left with no choice, she teamed up with other doctors who had been treated the same way and moved the high court. They stated that their clinics had been shut down for extremely minor reasons that could have been easily corrected.
Division bench of justice P B Majmudar and justice M R Bhatkar directed the registry to place the matter before the appropriate bench. Accordingly, the petition will come up for hearing in due course.
HC notice to Centre on vacant IC posts at CIC
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 18:47
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Centre on a PIL seeking filling up of vacant posts of Information Commissioners at the Central Information Commission as it has led to massive backlog of cases filed under the transparency law.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw asked the Centre to file its response, detailing the status of appointment process and fixed the matter for further hearing on February 15.
The court’s notice was issued on the PIL filed by RTI activists R K Jain and Amit Shanker, alleging that no action has been taken on the issue despite two “distress” letters written by the Central Information Commissioner to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The PIL, filed through lawyers Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva, sought filling of posts of Information Commissioners (ICs) and subordinate staff including Secretarial Staff within time-bound frame.
It also said, “There should not be gap between retirement and appointment of Information Commissioner. Further, there should be some time line for disposal of complaints and appeal by the Information Commissioners.”
The panel, which was earlier having one CIC and nine ICs, has at present “five vacant posts of ICs”, it said, adding “At present more than 20,000 appeals and complaints are pending before the Central Information Commission for disposal and with the growing awareness among public more and more matters are piling up before the CIC.
“Direct the Centre to prepare a list of candidates for the posts of ICs in transparent manner on the basis of rational criteria from diverse backgrounds as envisaged under the Right to Information Act… and put the list before the high-powered selection committee.”
For want of a signature, CBDT sits on babus’ chargesheets
At a time when corruption within the bureaucracy is one of the focal points of the Lokpal debate, more than 50 chargesheets for departmental action against over 30 Indian Revenue Service officers have been put on hold in the past three years, all because of the lack of a signature.
The chargesheets concern major charges of corruption, misuse of official position and misconduct, and can invite for these officers serious penalties, including possible dismissal. Instead, with chargesheets pending, at least two of these officers have been promoted. Most of these chargesheets were issued during 2004-2007 after due advice from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
Filed by the director general (Vigilance) of the Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT), the first of these chargesheets was quashed in December 2008 by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on the ground that it didn’t carry the approval of the union finance minister. Since then over 50 chargesheets have been similarly quashed. While in most of these orders CAT allowed the CBDT to issue a fresh chargesheet after seeking the minister’s approval, saying inquiries can start from the stage these were in, the board is yet to act.
Ironically, at the same time, the CBDT is fighting a legal battle in the Supreme Court against CAT quashing its charges. The next hearing is on February 12.
Asked about the cases, DG (Vigilance), CBDT, Sudha Sharma said she “didn’t remember such chargesheets”. In response to an RTI application filed by this reporter, Vigilance Additional Director Adarsh Kumar Modi said: “Such information (on disciplinary action against IRS officers) is not a part of the records of this office.”
Modi also asserted that his officers had “duly followed laid-down and well-established procedures” on the matter of the chargesheets.
Incidentally, the CBDT is among the few government departments where the vigilance set-up is headed by officers of the same service. Advocating “special care” while selecting chief vigilance officers of tax departments such as the CBDT, former CVC Pratyush Sinha said “the possibility of bringing these officers from outside departments” must be considered.
CBDT sources say that since CAT quashed the chargesheets, there has been a stream of officers approaching the tribunal challenging chargesheets against them which don’t carry the finance minister’s approval. There are more than 250 such chargesheets. Many officers are waiting for the February 12 hearing in the Supreme Court.
It was on December 18, 2008, that CAT quashed the first such chargesheet, on an appeal filed by 1987-batch officer S K Srivastav (now posted as commissioner, Delhi), who argued that a chargesheet couldn’t be filed against a Group A officer like him without the approval of the finance minister. His case was not related to corruption.
On February 5, 2009, a chargesheet concerning B V Gopinath (now posted as Income Tax commissioner at Rohtak) was similarly “set aside”.
While the CBDT approached the Delhi High Court in Gopinath’s case, justifying the chargesheet, the court upheld the CAT order, forcing the CBDT to go to the Supreme Court.
The advocate representing most of the officers before CAT, S K Gupta, says the inaction on the chargesheets proved his clients’ “innocence”. “It also shows the inefficiency, incompetence and connivance of Vigilance officials of the CBDT,” he said.
Using the CAT order, some officers have started getting their service benefits again. Interesting is the case of Commissioner, Delhi, Chhedilal. He was compulsorily retired from service on July 1, 2009, for corruption. After he appealed to CAT, his retirement was revoked merely 27 days later by the CBDT.
Two officers, Varinder Mehta and R R Prasad, were promoted as commissioners of Kolkata and Baroda in April this year because the CBDT did not issue fresh chargesheets against them.
Also in the list of such officers is Anurag Vardhan, arrested by the CBI in 2003 in Delhi for allegedly giving Rs 4 lakh to a personal assistant of then minister of state for finance Gingee N Ramachandran for a transfer from Delhi to Mumbai. Following the controversy, Ramachandran had to resign from the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
Two chargesheets against Homi Rajvansh, who was arrested in April last year by the CBI over allegations of multi-crore corruption during his deputation as additional managing director of NAFED, have also been quashed. He is currently posted as Income Tax commissioner at Agra.
The latest case to come up before CAT was of K Mythili Rani, posted as income tax commissioner in Chennai. She was arrested by the CBI in June 2002 along with her husband in Hyderabad after the agency unearthed assets disproportionate to her known sources of income. CAT will hear her case this month, on December 22. The chargesheet against Rajnish Kumar, whose name came up in the fodder scam, was quashed on Sepember 5, 2011.
Ashok Aggarwal was booked by the CBI in January 2009 for amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income and was arrested later. He refused to talk to The Indian Express about his case. He is under suspension now.
Another officer, Varinder Mehta, said: “In place of wasting time, the CBDT should have issued fresh chargesheets to the officers.”
Infant planning to move CAT against Bidari appointment
PTI | 05:12 PM,Dec 14,2011
Bangalore, Dec 14 (PTI) Karnataka Home Guards and Fire and Emergency Services DGP and IGP A R Infant today said he was planning to move the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) against the state government’s order appointing Shankar Bidari as the Director General and Inspector General of Police “overlooking” his seniority. “Injustice has been done to me and my seniority and merit has been overlooked. I will seek legal remedy in due course… I am planning to move the Central Administrative Tribunal,” he told PTI here. Senior most IPS officer in the state, Infant, a 1977 batch officer, and Bidari, who belongs to the next batch, were strong contenders for the post of DGP and IGP. Both Bidari and Infant are due for retirement next year. Bidari took charge as DGP and IGP from N Achuta Rao, who retired on November 30.
CAT notice to govt over chargesheet to Rahul Sharma
A bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on Tuesday sought explanation from the state government regarding the departmental chargesheet issued to IPS officer Rahul Sharma, and posted the matter to January 12 for the next hearing.
The Ahmedabad bench of CAT issued notice to the state government while hearing Sharma’s petition challenging the state government’s decision to issue him a charges-sheet for submitting CDs of mobile call data before the Nanavati commission. The CDs submitted by Sharma contain a record of phone calls made in Ahmedabad during the initial days of the 2002 riots which saw many massacres in the city.
The mobile call data records were collected by Sharma when he was assisting the Ahmedabad crime branch in its investigation of infamous riot cases such as Naroda Patiya, Naroda Gam and Gulbarg society massacres. The CDs later became key evidence in tracing the involvement of big politicians, police officers and bureaucrats in the riots.
Sharma is currently DIG, armed units, and is posted at Rajkot. He had challenged the government action through his counsels Dr Mukul Sinha and KG Pillai. The lawyers submitted before the court that the government itself had constituted the Nanavati-Shah enquiry commission to enquire into the 2002 communal riots and the role of different people in the gory incidents that had taken place.
“According to Section 6 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, the government is obligated not to take any action against those people who had appeared before the commission to give their version of events,” said Sinha while talking to DNA.
The lawyer further said that CAT had earlier provided protection to former DGP, RB Sreekumar, when the government had failed to promote him because he had exposed the government’s role before the Nanavati commission.
The government had issued a departmental chargesheet to Sharma a few months back and had initiated the process to start a departmental inquiry against him. When the IPS officer sought certain documents related to the allegations made in the charge-sheet, the state government did not provide him the documents. The documents were not provided to him even under the RTI Act.
Sharma had then approached the Gujarat high court. When he did not get any relief from the high court, he filed a petition before the CAT.
“The IPS officer has also made chief minister Narendra Modi a party respondent in the case. However, CAT has not issued notice against the chief minister as the court will hear the case first on legal points and merits,” Sinha said.
Centre’s dilly-dallying over office space and residence to Green tribunal members angers SC
TNN | Dec 15, 2011, 05.02AM IST
NEW DELHI: On Wednesday, the Supreme Court’s patience ran out with the Centre for its dilly-dallying over providing adequate office space to National Green Tribunal and appropriate residential accommodation to its members.
A bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya said there was a basis for the feeling that the central government was discriminating between one tribunal and the other.
Faulting the residences offered to green tribunal members, who are retired high court judges, the bench wanted to know what type of houses were provided to those headed by Debt Recovery Tribunal and Railway Claims Tribunal, both headed by former HC judges.
“As far as HC judges, they cannot be discriminated for being in one tribunal or the other. If they are agreeable to live in peon’s accommodation, this court will order it to be given free of cost,” it said.
The bench then told additional solicitor general Indira Jaising that there were three options – one, the Centre voluntarily provide appropriate residences, the court issues a direction or the members resign.
It said only some of the tribunals and its members were facing problem in this regard. “One retired Supreme Court judge, appointed to a tribunal, is staying in the SC’s guest house for last one year for want of accommodation. Another is staying in Andhra Bhawan for last six months,” the bench said.
The court ordered the government to arrange required office space for the green tribunal and gave seven weeks time for arranging proper accommodation for the members.
Jaising agreed with the bench that if the government passed a statute creating new tribunals, it must provide adequate office space and residential accommodation to the members.
In contrast, the governments of West Bengal, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu filed affidavits saying they would soon make necessary arrangements for office space and accommodation for the regional benches of the green tribunal.
During the last hearing, the apex court had questioned the sprawling buildings put at the disposal of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and National Human Rights Commission but the green tribunal being given stepmotherly treatment.
The environment ministry had informed the court that 18,864 sq metres was available at Faridkot House, which houses NHRC offices. The UD ministry had conceded that the green tribunal needed much more office space but said there were many contenders for Faridkot House.
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