LEGAL NEWS 03.01.2012

6th Pay Commission to decide on anomalies

DAVANGERE: It was the duty of the Sixth Pay Commission to rectify the pay anomalies, and the state government has no role in it, said Primary and Secondary Education Minister Viweshwar Hegde Kageri.

He told reporters on Saturday that the committee appointed by the government to study the pay anomalies for high school teachers had submitted its report and it had been forwarded to the Pay Commission.
The state government would strongly oppose the Maharashtra government’s demand to make Belgaum a Union territory. The Mahajan Commission report was final and debating on the border dispute further was meaningless, he said. I am not an aspirant for the CM post and said that Sadananda Gowda will continue as CM, he said Horticulture and Sugar Minister S A Ravindranath and Z P president Veeresh accompanied Kageri.
Many Assam cops, officials into land grabbing: Gogoi
HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Guwahati, January 01, 2012
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Sunday said many policemen and other officials in the state were into land grabbing, which had assumed alarming proportions. He proposed a land-use policy to prevent productive farmland from being converted into industrial areas.
In his customary
New Year interaction with the media, Gogoi said a tribunal would be set up this year to handle land-grab cases. “Such cases are too many, and they need to be fast-tracked instead of gathering dust in the lower courts.”

The seriousness of the issue — ministers, legislators and former rebels have also been accused of grabbing land in urban and semi-urban areas — had in June 2010 led to the Assam Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act being passed. It was, however, panned as a toothless tiger.
In the last couple of years, at least 30 land-grab cases have been reported in Guwahati and other major towns of the state. In June last year, four persons were killed in police firing during an eviction drive in the city allegedly on behalf of builders. A few months later, a woman was abducted and killed after she refused to part with her two-storey house in a prime location.
On protecting productive farmland, Gogoi said, “We are working on a land-use policy that will clearly define which types of land can be used to set up industries and which cannot be touched.”
Villagers across Assam have been opposing various industrial projects. The most intense protests have been against the acquisition of around 340 acres of farmland for a proposed cement factory at Senabor village in Khetri, some 40 km east of Guwahati.
On a brighter note, Gogoi promised the first three position holders of high school leaving certificate examinations, from this academic session, would be sent on a study tour of National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the US.  

MERC raises power tariff by over 1%

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 01.13AM IST
NAGPUR: There seems to be no end to the woes of power consumers in the state. Even as they are coming to terms with the steep hike in power tariff effected in November, power regulator MERC has hiked the tariff by over 1% with immediate effect.

MSEDCL had filed a petition claiming that the tariff hike in November was not sufficient. In addition, Appellate Tribunal for Electricity ( ATE) had asked MERC to allow MSEDCL to recover Rs 487.46 crore for losses incurred in 2001-02.

This is the main reason for the hike. MSEDCL will recover additional Rs 405 crore from consumers.

MSEDCL officials said that as MERC had not specified the methodology for recovering the amount, this would be done on pro-rata basis on the lines of the surcharge approved in the commission’s October 31, 2011 order. This means that lower end consumers will pay less while industries and high-end domestic and commercial consumers will pay the maximum amount.

The commission has, however, issued several directives to MSEDCL for improving its functioning. The company has been asked to submit a plan to recover arrears within 30 days. It stated that while MSEDCL’s collection efficiency was between 94 and 97%, it had to increase beyond 100% to improve the company’s financial condition.

Expressing dissatisfaction over MSEDCL’s failure to meter distribution transformers and unmetered agricultural consumers, the commission has directed it to submit an action plan within a month to meter transformers and perform circle wise energy audit. A similar plan has to submitted for metering farm pumps.

Despite MERC directions to not release any unmetered agricultural pump connections, MSEDCL sanctioned over a lakh such connections in 2010-11. The commission has directed MSEDCL to meter them within six months.

The commission has also rejected MSEDCL’s claims of power consumption by unmetered agricultural pumps. It has asked the company to study agricultural pump power consumption and submit a report within one year.

MSEDCL had claimed that intra-state transmission loss was 1.17% against MERC’s target of 5.69%. However, the commission has expressed doubt about this figure, stating such a drastic change was not possible. It has asked MSEDCL to completely review its energy accounting process and present the actual figure when it submits the next tariff petition.

GHMC to tighten up town planning wing

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 03.58AM IST
HYDERABAD: The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has requested the state government to set up a special tribunal for trying the thousands of cases pending with the town planning wing after it was discovered that builders were going ahead with unauthorised constructions.

Were a separate tribunal to be constituted on the lines of an administrative tribunal or a special court for land-grabbing cases, it could be beneficial for the corporation and builders who are both looking for a speedy disposal of cases.

The GHMC recently wrote to the municipal administration and urban development (MA&UD) department to initiate the process for the setting up of a separate tribunal for the town planning wing. Officials said the request would be forwarded to the legal wing of the general administration department ( GAD) for further action.

GHMC officials said that there was a provision for a tribunal under New Building Rules (GO 86) introduced by the MA&UD department in March 2006. However, no such proposal was sent to the civic body by the corporation. Now, an amendment in the GHMC Act has been proposed for the constitution of a tribunal for such cases.

Officials said over 5,500 cases, all pertaining to the town planning wing, are pending in courts. Nearly 1,500 cases are before the AP high court with another 4,000 cases pending in lower courts. For most of the cases related to illegal constructions, the owners have approached courts following notices for demolition issued by the GHMC. “The proposal for setting up a tribunal for town planning cases has been sent to MA&UD department.

Extra care would be taken till then to monitor cases regularly,” GHMC special commissioner Navin Mittal told TOI. Sources said that the department was aware of staff who advise owners on how to approach courts after receiving notices pertaining to unauthorised construction.

In some cases, despite status quo orders, owners continue with illegal constructions like in the case of the Ayyappa society in Madhapur. In some cases, no demolition or further action was initiated against builders even after a stay order was vacated by eligible courts. “Our aim is to get stay orders vacated for cases pending for over six months by filing vacation petitions in courts, especially with regard to illegal buildings,” a GHMC town planning officer said.

During Sameer Sharma’s tenure as the GHMC commissioner, some exercises were performed to streamline cases since certain town planning staff were believed to be in cahoots with builders and land owners.

The then commissioner had issued a circular directing officials to provide information on court notices to standing counsels within a week of receipt. In vigilance cases, officers failing to produce records for the perusal of the inquiry officer would be held responsible for the omission and disciplinary action would be initiated against them. However, no action has been taken against any town planning officer for laxity.

According to officials, over 5,500 cases, all pertaining to the town planning wing, are pending in courts. Nearly 1,500 cases are before the AP high court with another 4,000 cases pending in lower courts.

Government misses number plate deadline

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 02.48AM IST
NEW DELHI: The Delhi government starts the new year on a dubious note – it has missed the December 31, 2011 deadline set by the Supreme Court for implementation of the high-security registration plate (HSRP) scheme. Last-minute decisions regarding the scheme had held up the announcement for notification of the high security plates, said highly placed sources in the government. A final decision will be taken in the first week of January, added sources.

“There are several issues which need to be sorted out before the notification can be announced. This includes the engagement of a sub-contractor by the agency which had been entrusted by the government to implement the scheme,” said a senior government official. Incidentally, the SC had recommended a single-vendor process for the HSRP. The government had sent the proposal to the law department for a way to save the project and a meeting would be held on Monday to discuss the issue further, said sources.

“The court order is being scrutinized by the law department. The single-vendor clause may prove to be an obstacle as the present proposal is not along these lines,” added the official.

The agency, DIMTS, hired for the project has hired a sub-contractor to procure the high security registration plates, said officials. “According to the current proposal, the plates will be procured by DIMTS through another vendor though embossing will be done by the agency itself,” the official said. DIMTS will also undertake to fit the plates to the vehicles at the centers identified by the transport department. Issues concerning demands by DIMTS for more infrastructure, is another topic of contention.

HSRPs are tamper-proof and meant to aid agencies in tracing vehicles involved in crimes. While DIMTS is asking the government to pay Rs 100 per plate for the embossing, the vendor will charge between Rs 80 (for two wheelers) and Rs 230 (for four wheelers). A service tax will be also levied at the rate of 12%.

State to lodge protest today

KOCHI: Taking up the issue of negative approach by the expert team members C D Thatte and D K Mehta during the Mullaperiyar dam inspection last week, Kerala will file a complaint before the Empowered Committee, which will meet in New Delhi on Monday.

On December 24, members of the Supreme Court-appointed Empowered Committee Thatte and Mehta inspected the dam.
Representing Kerala, Mullaperiyar cell Chairman M K Parameswaran Nair, member James Wilson and Irrigation Chief Engineer P Lathika, were present during the inspection.
The officials from the state felt that Thatte then behaved like Tamil Nadu’s spokesperson.
He reportedly gave instructions to TN officials on the measures to be taken for strengthening the dam.
While Kerala protested, Thatte asked the Irrigation Chief Engineer to keep quiet. In protest, Kerala boycotted the inspection.
Later, the Mullaperiyar cell filed a report on the issue before Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
This report would be submitted as Kerala’s complaint before the Empowered Committee by state’s counsel Rajeev Dhawan.
The state has also sought legal advice in this regard from advocate Harish Salve.
“The Empowered Committee is actually meeting to discuss the issue of bringing down the water level at the dam to 120 ft. When we approached the apex court for the same, the court had asked to file it before the Empowered Committee. However, following the developments during Thatte’s visit, the state decided to take up this issue also. There was a clear negative attitude towards Kerala,” Parameswaran Nair said.

A myth about Gita in court

New Delhi, Jan. 1: The Bhagvad Gita may have been at the centre of a court case in Russia but the holy book has long ceased to be part of judicial proceedings in the land of its conception.

In India, courts have done away with the practice of having witnesses take oath by the Gita or any other sacred text before giving evidence, contrary to what is depicted in movies.
“That’s all Bollywood,” says lawyer Santosh Paul who began his practice in Bombay High Court before shifting to Delhi High Court. “I haven’t seen this happening in my lifetime.”
A Siberian court had last week rejected a petition to ban a commentary on the Gita in the Russian Federation. In India, there was a time when witnesses did have to swear by the sacred book of his or her religion. It was supposed to make them speak nothing but the whole truth.
The practice had later formalised into a system in the Mughal era, with Hindus swearing by the holy water of the Ganga or the Bhagvad Gita, and Muslims by the Quran.
The tradition continued well into the British era as India’s colonial rulers were cautious about disrupting established traditions. “It’s an old, imperial thing. It was assumed that a person who swore by the Gita or the Quran would speak the truth,” senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said.
But that ended in 1840, when the imperial rulers tried to introduce a more uniform system of taking oath in the name of God.
A law was enacted to abolish these forms of oath in trial courts and enabled Hindus and Muslims to give evidence on “solemn affirmation”. This act was extended in 1863 to the high courts. The Indian Oaths Act, 1873, consolidated this position.
Some imperial-era courts, such as Bombay High Court, however, had rules that permitted non-Hindus and non-Muslims to take oath by their own religious books till 1957.
A Christian had to swear by the New Testament, a Jew by the Hebrew Testament and a Parsi by the open Zend-Avesta with his shoes on. A Hindu or a Muslim could just solemnly affirm their statements in the presence of Almighty God.
This practice of non-Hindus and non-Muslims swearing by the religious books of their religion, however, ended in 1969. After the Law Commission, in its 28th report, suggested a revamp in the Indian Oaths Act, 1873, a law was passed introducing a uniform system of taking oath all over the country.
Under the 1969 law, which is still in force, witnesses can swear by a universal god without referring in any way to any particular religious denomination.
“I do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that what I shall state shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” was the format prescribed.
No child under 12 needed to take such an oath. The only possible remnant of the Gita now in Indian courts is a Sanskrit inscription atop the Supreme Court building inaugurated in 1952.
It says “Yato Dharmahstato Jayah”, which loosely translated means victory lies with those on the side of dharma, the lines attributed to Gandhari in the Mahabharata.
In the epic, Duryodhana and her other sons were so desperate to win the war against the Pandavas that they sought Gandhari’s blessings on every single day of the 18-day war.
But Gandhari was careful to hedge her blessings with: “Let victory lie with dharma.” The Pandavas won the war.
“Now, inside courts, the Constitution is the only holy book,” a senior lawyer said.

Madras miscellany

A forgotten name-change
With all these articles recalling the centenary of the Delhi Durbar and the announcement that was made there that thenceforth Delhi would be the capital of India and not Calcutta, completely overlooked has been the fact that George V was remembered in Madras too in 1911. That was the year Black Town became George Town.
This Black Town, however, was the second. The first was the Indian town that developed just north of Fort St. George, on what is the High Court-Law College campus. The use Comte de Lally’s troops made of the buildings in this settlement during his siege of the Fort in 1758-59 led the English, once they had blunted the French threat, to demolish this first Indian settlement they had been responsible for developing and create an esplanade and, beyond it, in the villages of Muthialpet and Peddanaickenpet, a new, planned Black Town, a gridiron pattern consciously followed.
When George, Prince of Wales, visited Madras in 1905 and proved a popular figure at every venue where he was feted in the growing city, it was much debated what kind of a permanent memorial to him should be created in Madras. Little came of the debate till he became King George V in 1910. A competition was organised in Madras for Carnatic singers to compose classical eulogies in honour of the occasion and it was Sriram V. singing a couple of them during his talk ten days ago in the ‘Namma Chennai’ series organised by the Park Sheraton and MetroPlus that reminded me of the centenary of the way New Black Town became renamed. The visit of George V, King Emperor of India, for the Delhi Durbar was occasion enough for Madras to remember him by naming New Black Town after him.
Near the southwest corner of George Town he was further remembered in 1914 with a statue presented to the city by one of its leading Gujarati merchant-princes, Chatoorbhoojadoss Govindoss of the Kushaldoss family (Miscellany, March 6, 2006). The statue by Joseph McLure, to whom the king gave a couple of sittings in Britain, cost Rs. 45,000, quite a sum for the times.
The first cinema theatre
Another centenary this year is one which really should have been celebrated by all connected with Kollywood, given the close kinship Tamil Nadu has with the film industry. This one celebrates the opening of the first cinema theatre in the South, the ‘Bioscope’ on Popham’s Broadway. It was started by a Mrs. Klug who regularly screened a number of short silent films at each show. Despite crowds that had gathered to watch “animated photographs” at venues like the Victoria Public Hall, Museum Theatre and tents on the Esplanade from 1896, Mrs. Klug’s theatre with its permanent seating in a well-conceived hall was something different, but it just did not take off. In fact, it closed within a few months. But it certainly had demonstrated the possibilities of the medium.
It was to be 1913, by when the silent film had developed to a smoother running display, that Madras got its next cinema theatre, the ‘Electric’, owned by Warwick Major and Reginald Eyre. It was “a large corrugated iron shell with a brick façade” in what is now the Mount Road Post Office campus. The shell developed into a more ornate building that still survives but was acquired by the Post and Telegraphs Department in 1915, bringing to an end its brief cinema history. In recent years, the façade of the building and a part of its interior have been restored and serve, since 1998, as the city’s Philatelic Bureau, where exhibitions are a regular feature.
Kitty corner from it to the east was what was home of Misquith & Co (the forerunner of Musee Musicals,) and in 1907 a man called Cohen opened on its first floor a hall for entertainment called the ‘Lyric’. In a challenge to the ‘Electric’, he started screening silent films there in 1913. A fire in 1914 put paid to Cohen’s hopes of being a successful challenger. The fire also led to the building being sold to J.F. Madan of Calcutta who at the time ran the largest cinema theatre chain in India. In 1915 he opened the ‘Elphinstone’ (almost Madan’s brand) Theatre there — the first with a balcony in South India — and with it the cinema theatre was to become a major feature of life in Madras.
But before the ‘Elphinstone’ opened, Madras got its first Indian-owned theatre, the ‘Gaiety’ – which survived till just a couple of years ago — kitty corner to the west of the ‘Electric’. Film pioneer Raghupathy Venkaiah who built it opened two more theatres in the next three years, the ‘Crown’ (1916) and the ‘Globe’ that became the ‘Roxy’ (1917). Both buildings were also pulled down only recently. From these beginnings — and with sound — cinema theatres in Madras began to increase. But even during those boom years closer to their beginnings, few remembered Mrs. Klug’s ‘Bioscope’.
An Armenian representation
The Armenian Ambassador to India, H.E. Ara Hakobyan, was in Madras last week to inaugurate the Consulate office of Armenia in the city. The first Honorary Consul of Armenia in Madras is Shivkumar Eashwaran, a businessman. The inauguration was an occasion to remember the Armenian presence in Madras as far back as the 1660s, a fact attested to by the finding of a tombstone with the date 1663 near Little Mount. The name engraved on it was ‘Khoja David Margar’.
The Armenian presence in Madras began to increase from 1688 when the East India Company, finding the Armenians “sober, frugal and wise”, gave them the same trading rights as English freemen. These privileges were granted after negotiations between Coja Panous, Calendar of Isphahan, and the Company in London. The agreement was dated June 22, 1688 and was in due course communicated to the principal Armenian merchant in Madras, ‘Gregorio Paroan’, and his fellows. By these terms, they could not only trade on the same terms as the English but also had all the rights of British subjects in Madras, including the right to own land in Fort St. George, White Town.
It was also promised to them that as soon as there were 40 Armenian merchants in Madras, ground would be granted to them to build a permanent church. This was done in 1712 and for the next seven years the church received £50 a year from the Company to maintain a priest, under terms of the grant.
The first known house of an Armenian in Fort St. George is what is called Admiralty House today. It was built by Coja Nazar Jacob Jan who arrived in Madras in 1702. On his death in 1740, it passed into the hands of Coja Sultan David to whom it had been bequeathed. On Coja David’s death the house, by then known as ‘The Great House on Choultry Street’, was inherited by his son, Aga Shawmier Sultan (Suthanoomian). This house was taken over by the Company post-1757 and served in town, as Governor’s residence, Governor’s entertainment space and the venue of sessions of the Admiralty Court. Robert Clive too lived in this building after his marriage.
Aga Nazar Jan was the first of the great Armenian merchants of Madras and was followed by the legendary Coja Petrus Uscan — who has warranted much space in this column in the past — Aga Shawmier Sultan, and Aga Samuel Moorat. When Samuel Moorat died in 1816, his son Edward Moorat ran through his huge patrimony in enjoying a life of luxury. With his death, the Armenian presence in Madras began to fade.
One Armenian of this era who left a different kind of mark was the Rev. Harathun Shimavonian, who started in Madras in 1794 the first Armenian journal in the world, Azdarar, and published several Armenian classics before he died in 1827.
Madras once had a substantial Armenian presence, but the Armenians followed the seat of power (they had started in Agra) and were a few thousand in number in Calcutta during the heyday of the Raj. Their numbers warranted starting a school there and Armenian College still exists, struggling on with an intake of orphans from Armenia. Perhaps it’s time to establish a branch of that institution in Madras. It was a thought that struck me at the reception when I met one of the few IT entrepreneurs in Armenia. Why doesn’t he partner someone in Madras and establish an IT training centre for young Armenians in an Armenian College, Madras branch?

Husband, mother sentenced to life imprisonment for dowry death

TNN Jan 1, 2012, 03.19PM IST

PUNE: The court of additional sessions judge W K Sangle on Friday sentenced a 28-year-old husband and the mother in-law of a newly wed woman to life imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 2,000 each for killing her by setting her on fire over demands for dowry in 2010.
The convicts are Pravin Pawar and his mother Ambubai Pawar both residents of Wadarwadi.

The prosecutions case is that the 19-year-old Poonam married Pravin on May 7, 2009. But, 15 days after the marriage, Pravin had started harassing her and demanding Rs 30,000 as dowry.
Additional public prosecutor Shivaji Patil said initially, Poonam’s parents acceded to Pravin’s demand and her mother paid up Rs 30,000. But, in August, the mother-son duo once again demanded Rs 40,000 as dowry and started harassing Poonam physically and m entally.

Patil said that Pravin also threatened her with a divorce if she did not meet the dowry demand. Poonam’s parents again paid Rs 40,000 to the greedy mother-son duo.
According to Patil, after few days, Pravin demanded Rs 2 lakh, but when Poonam and her family members failed to meet their dowry demands, the duo poured kerosene over her and set her ablaze on April 3, 2010.
Poonam in her dying declaration had held her husband and mother in-law responsible for the incident. Patil relied on the dying declaration, medical and other evidence for proving the guilt of the accused.

Father-son duo fined 10k each for molesting woman

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 12.55AM IST
PANAJI: A judicial magistrate first class court at Ponda recently convicted and sentenced Agnelo Fernandes and his son Severous to pay a fine of 10,000 each on charges of molestation of a woman at Shiroda in 2008.
Judge Dvijple Patkar held the duo guilty under Section 354 (outraging modesty) of the Indian Penal Code. Severous was also convicted under Section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the IPC and directed to pay a fine of 10,000.
During the hearing of the case, the prosecution alleged that on May 23, 2008 , both the accused abused the victim and tore her dress. Subsequently, Severous attacked the victim with an iron rod on her forehead, the prosecution said.
The accused’s lawyer argued that his clients were falsely implicated in the case as there was a dispute between the two groups in the village.
While holding the accused guilty, the court observed, “The testimony of the victim with regard to the act of the accused of tearing her dress is reliable. The act establishes the offence under Section 354 of the IPC.” The court also noted that the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused no 2 (Severous) voluntarily caused hurt to the victim with the iron rod.
Considering the fact that Agnelo is the only earning member of his family and his son being a young man, the court noted that sentencing them to pay fine would meet the ends of justice and would have deterrent effect.
The court has directed that an amount of 5,000 shall be paid to the victim as compensation, if the fine is paid by the accused. Assistant public prosecutor R Dessai appeared for the state.

Mayawati’s minister says he can get Lokayukta sacked

Uttar Pradesh energy minister Ramveer Upadhyaya has landed in a controversy after launching an attack on the Lokayukta boasting that he could have easily got him sacked.
“I respected the personal relations which I share with the Lokayukta (Justice N.K. Mehrotra). Otherwise I could have got him sacked anytime from the Supreme Court,” Upadhyaya said at an election rally in Hathras on Saturday in support of the BSP candidate Genda Lal.
With several members of the Mayawati ministry facing the heat from the anti-graft ombudsman, Upadhyaya went on the offensive, claiming he had a better understanding of law than the judge. “I had been a student of law and I know law very well…I know law more than him,” Upadhyaya said.
The minister’s remarks came under the scanner of the Election Commission which said it was awaiting a report from the district magistrate of Hathras.
“The district magistrate has informed us about the incident and he is sending a factual report,” chief electoral officer Umesh Sinha said.
Reacting to the minister’s outburst, Lokayukta Mehrotra said the statement was made out of anxiety at the behest of the BSP and the Election Commission should take cognisance of the matter.
He denied Upadhyaya’s claims that they shared a “personal relation”.
“As far as I know I have no personal relations with him. The statement has been made in haste and political leaders say such things during elections,” Mehrotra said in Lucknow. “I can also send a formal complaint to the chief minister,” Mehrotra added.
The minister is under the scanner of the Lokayukta after a complaint lodged by the Samajwadi Party’s Hathras district president Devendra Agarwal, who accused Upadhyaya of amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income, misusing his local area development fund and land grabbing.
“The probe is still on,” Mehrotra said.
Ahead of the assembly polls, five ministers had been removed by Mayawati on the recommendation of the Lokayukta.
“It is an act out of anxiety. It is not an individual act but a party act,” Justice Mehrotra said.
The Lokayukta said on the one hand Upadhyaya claims of having personal relation with him while on the other he threatens of approaching the Supreme Court to get him removed.
He alleged that it was an attempt to create pressure so that the inquiry against him does not proceed.
Justice Mehrotra said there was a provision in the law where a complaint could be lodged before the competent magistrate, but as Upadhyaya wanted to take advantage of the situation, he was not considering taking action as of now.

Pune man, 2 doctors get RI for sex determination test

Published: Sunday, Jan 1, 2012, 15:17 IST
By Mohsin Mulla | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA

In a landmark judgment on Friday, a man and two doctors got three years’ rigorous imprisonment for conducting a sonography test for determining the sex of the foetus and subsequently terminating the pregnancy.
The first class judicial magistrate in Jaysingpur town (Shirol taluka) DP Kasat convicted Ramling Bhusaheb Sutar (resident of Umalwad in Shirol taluka), radiologist Dr Shivaji Sadashiv Mane (Jaysingpur) and a homeopathy practitioner, Dr Ujma Patel (Jaysingpur).
This case was brought to light by social activist and lawyer Varsha Deshpande.“This case is unique as for the first time in the country, a relative (husband) has received a jail sentence for illegal sex determination and abortion of a pregnant woman,’’ Deshpande said while speaking to DNA.
In 2008, Deshpande had received information of an abortion of a pregnant woman being done in Patel’s hospital in Jaysingpur town. “We rushed to the hospital immediately on February 28, 2008. Unfortunately, the abortion was over before our team and the government officials could reach the spot. The detailed inquiry revealed that a female foetus had been aborted,’’ Deshpande said while speaking to DNA.
It was found that ultrasound sonography of the pregnant woman was done at Shinde’s hospital in Jaysingpur.
Accordingly, Sutar, Patel and Shinde were booked as per the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994.

Incidentally, another case of the illegal sex determination is pending against Dr Mane.

Age row: Army chief seeks legal aid, say sources

Nitin Gokhale, Updated: January 01, 2012 22:36 IST
New Delhi:  Two days after the Defence Ministry formally rejected his statutory application seeking correction in his date of birth, Army Chief General VK Singh is working out his future response.

He feels the government has given him a raw deal and therefore he has no option but to fight for his honour.

General Singh is consulting legal experts, including three former Chief Justices of India, and they have strongly supported him. Sources say the Army chief has two options: Either to go to the Armed Forces Tribunal, or move to Supreme Court directly. The Supreme Court is already hearing a Public Interest Litigation over the issue.

Sources also say that General Singh has also not ruled out resigning ahead of his tenure ending on May 31, 2012 – the date which the government has now decided.

Rejecting his statutory plea, the Defence Ministry cited Attorney General’s opinion as the reason. On Dec 16, NDTV had reported that the Attorney General is of the opinion that the Army Chief date of birth has to be May 10, 1950.

Different records within the Army show May 10, 1950 and May 10, 1951 as the General’s date of birth. General Singh has consistently claimed that he was born in 1951 and not 1950 as maintained by the Ministry of Defence.

In his statutory complaint, he had said that he was seeking to clear the perception that he was lying about his age and not fighting for his tenure, which he maintained, was the government’s prerogative.

After the controversy over his age, the Army chief had argued that that the confusion arose from a form which he had filled at the age of 15. The clerk handling his papers for the Union Public Services Commission (UPSC) exams listed his age as 16 instead of 15. This was the application form for the National Defence Academy (NDA), which documents the General joining the Army.

All his promotions were, however, decided on the basis of him being born, as he said, in 1951.

In an interesting move, after receiving the formal communication from the Defence Ministry, General Singh went and met Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. What transpired at the meeting is, however, unknown.

12 MP doctors let off with Rs.5,000 fine for conducting illegal drug trials

As penalties for subjecting patients to guinea pig treatment go, this one would not even register on the blip screen.
A dozen government doctors in Indore got a mere slap on the wrist on Saturday evening when they were fined Rs.5,000 for allegedly conducting controversial drug trials on 1,883 poor and unsuspecting hospital inmates, many of whom suffered from side effects and some even lost their lives.
The trials, that took place over a period of four years in three hospitals, shockingly did not either have the government’s permission or the patients’ informed consent. What was worse, the accused appeared to have covered their tracks by not furnishing the details of the drugs or vaccines used in the experiments as also the names and particulars of the victims. In these circumstances, assessing the precise extent of damage in terms of side effects and fatalities was an onerous task.
Instead of looking at the criminal conduct of errant doctors belonging to government hospitals of Indore, the probe conducted by the city’s chief medical and health officer (CMHO), Dr Sharad Pandit, merely invoked the Madhya Pradesh Nursing Homes and Clinical Establishment (registration and licence) Amendment Act, 2003, to impose the paltry penalty. The Madhya Pradesh government’s disdain for the victims was further laid bare by the untouched provision of the same law that provides for a maximum fine of Rs.50,000.
Even that amount, however, would not have been a serious deterrent for the doctors who, according to Paras Sacklecha (an Independent legislator from Ratlam), had pocketed Rs.1.44 crore from private pharmaceutical companies to conduct the trials. “They lured poor and illiterate patients without telling them about the implications involved,” Sacklecha alleged. It was he who obtained the figure of 1,883 victims, including children and mentally challenged persons, from the government under the RTI Act.
“In fact, without taking permission for the drug trial from the government, the doctors have not only taken the huge sum from pharma majors but also embarked on foreign tours,” Sacklecha added. The penalty, interestingly, was imposed on the doctors for not furnishing the details of the victims who had been subjected to the trials.
“A fine of Rs.5,000 each has been imposed on 12 doctors of autonomous medical colleges and hospitals attached with them for conducting drug trials on children and mentally challenged persons. The doctors had expressed their inability to provide details of drug or vaccine trial, citing a provision of the Drug and Cosmetics Rules, 1945,” medical education department deputy secretary Shyam Singh Kumre said.
In effect, therefore, action had been taken only for their failing to provide data to the CMHO under the nursing homes Act. Even the press note was silent on the illegality of the doctors’ action. It merely talked about new norms: “The state government is serious about the complaints received in this connection and fresh guidelines will be issued after chalking out new parameters.”

But Dr Anand Rai, the whistleblower and a government doctor of Dhar district, said: “A maximum fine of Rs.50,000 could be imposed if the nursing homes were not registered or were unable to furnish monthly data. Yet the fine slapped on the doctors was the bare minimum.”

Rai felt the government had simply let off the doctors despite their performing drug trials on patients who had gone to the government hospitals for routine treatment. “Putting such patients under clinical drug trials without taking their consent is a criminal offence,” he added.
Between 2006 and 2010, the paediatrics department of MGM Medical College, Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalay Avum Anusandhan Kendra, and the department of medicines and neurology of M. Y. Hospital – all Indore- based – allegedly conducted thousands of clinical trials on children, men and women.
The MP government looked the other way till the issue rocked the state assembly in the last monsoon session, forcing chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to order an enquiry by the Economic Offences Wing. The latter curiously did not come out with the names of the culprit doctors, the beneficiary corporations or even the victims. However, last month, Chouhan claimed that no patient had died during the drug trials in Indore.
“The state bureau of investigation of economic offences has submitted a chart, along with its report on unethical drug trials, on important facts and statistical data. This chart shows that 81 people had died or fell unwell after the trials. But it has not come to our notice that anyone died directly as a result of the drug trials,” the CM told the House, leaving enough room for doubt about whether the home ministry was proficient enough to probe the cause of deaths after the trials.
Recently, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) served a notice to the MP government over reports alleging illegal drug trials on mentally ill patients in Indore. The NHRC asked the state chief secretary to submit a report within four weeks, referring to a media report alleging that 233 mentally ill patients were subjected to drug trials in Indore.
The NHRC wanted to know whether guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) were adhered to by doctors while taking approval for the trials from independent ethics committees attached to private hospitals. It also sought information on whether the nature of the drugs being tested had been revealed. Furthermore, the panel asked whether any survey had been conducted about the status of health of the mentally ill patients who underwent drug trials.
“Every medicine has some side effects or risks associated with its use. It is very difficult to say what kind of side effects the patients on whom the drugs were tested may have suffered. The most shocking part of the entire Indore drug trial fiasco is that the doctors conducted investigational vaccination trials on illiterate persons without telling them about the implications involved,” Dr Anand Rai said.

Army blames lawyer for officer’s promotion fiasco

An armed forces tribunal order stalling the promotion of Brigadier P.S. Rathore, tipped to be the next judge advocate general (JAG), has rattled the army. The blame is being shifted to a senior counsel who appeared for the defence ministry and army in a case where the brigadier was accused of harassing a Lt-Colonel.
Incumbent JAG Major-General B.V. Nair retires on January 31, 2012. Brigadier Rathore, currently serving as the deputy JAG in the south-western command, was considered for promotion by the special selection board in October and the official announcement in this regard was expected in the last week of December. But the tribunal directed the ministry and the army headquarters to keep the issue pending till February 7, 2012, when the matter comes up again for hearing.
Advocate B.K. Das was pulled up by the army after the tribunal’s December 19, 2011, order left it red-faced. Deputy JAG (eastern command) Brigadier V.C. Chitravanshi sought an explanation from Das as to who had authorised him to appear on behalf of the army. Chitravanshi also claimed no efforts were made to seek time for contesting the interim order.
“A plain reading of the order shows that no effort was made to seek time to contest the interim orders or to even seek grant of some time to seek the instructions to oppose the application for interim relief,” Brigadier Chitravanshi wrote.
Das has termed the charges “defamatory, biased” and “insulting”. He has asked Brigadier Chitravanshi to withdraw his letter, which is causing interruption in the tribunal’s proceedings. “I was asked to appear on behalf of the government by Lt-Col Sanjeev Pandit of HQ Bengal Area, legal cell, and invited to a conference with him for necessary instructions. I tried to contest the matter… but the tribunal passed the interim order,” he countered, adding that there was “no evidence on record to suggest that I did not defend the case to the best of my ability”.
Das said: “The deputy JAG’s letter not only discourages the counsel’s moral but is also contrary to the court decorum.”
Meanwhile, the army is said to have moved a miscellaneous application before the tribunal’s principal bench in New Delhi for transfer of the case from Kolkata.
Mail Today had first reported that Lt-Col Mukul Dev, then posted at the central command headquarters, was transferred out of the JAG branch in 2009 allegedly to harass him and hamper his career growth.

Army chief has option to move SC over age row

 New Delhi: Sources say all options are open to Army chief General VK Singh after the Defence Ministry rejected his complaint on the controversy involving his age.

He could file an appeal before the Armed Forces Tribunal (which is equivalent to high court) or move the Supreme Court.
The other option on the table is to resign before his tenure ends.
In a major setback for General Singh, the defence ministry on Friday rejected his statutory complaint seeking a change in his year of birth from 1950 to 1951 in the official records.
General Singh had earlier claimed his year of birth is 1951.
There were two different dates of birth for General Singh in official records. One with the Adjutant General’s branch in Army Headquarters lists May 10, 1951 as his date of birth and the other at the Military Secretary’s branch shows the date as May 10, 1950.

Year of criticism, from the bench and against it

CVC THOMAS: A three-judge bench led by CJI SH Kapadia declared “non est” — or nonexistent — the majority recommendation of a high-powered committee for P J Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner. The court ruled that the Prime Minister and the Home Minister’s recommendation amounted to “official arbitrariness”, coming in spite of the dissent of the third committee member (the Leader of the Opposition) and without considering the relevant material.
LEADERS vs JUDGES: Rajya Sabha members went on TV to criticise the “growing” cases of corruption among judges and raised a pitch for a Judges Accountability Bill. The CJI responded that an honest judge need not worry about such a bill, and shot back at the parliamentarians for putting all judges in the same category of “corrupt” judges. He went on to issue an open challenge to the lawmakers that if “you” want to dismantle the institution of judiciary, first show how to build a better alternative.
JUDICIAL ACTIVISM: Two back-to-back rulings in July by an SC bench led by Justice Sudershan Reddy were widely criticised as instances of judicial overreach and activism. First, it set up a Special Investigation Team to investigate and bring home back black money abroad. The decision was challenged by the government; a second Bench then reached a split decision. In the other judgment, Justice Reddy ordered the Chhattisgarh government to disband vigilante groups (Salwa Judum) fighting against Naxals, criticising the “new mantra from the mandarins of security and high economic policy of the state — tax breaks for the rich and guns for the youngsters amongst the poor”. The order was later modified. When the controversy was raging, a Bench led by Justice G S Singhvi criticised “some lawyers, journalists and men in public life” for accusing the judiciary of over-reach when it entertains public interest litigations espousing the cause of the poor and downtrodden. “So far, the courts have been used only for the purpose of vindicating the rights of the wealthy and the affluent,” the bench said.
2G BAIL: In February, the Supreme Court had exhorted the CBI, “You must catch them all.” Then in November, it criticised a tendency shown by lower courts to deny bail to any of the persons arrested. “Right to bail is not to be denied merely because of the sentiments of the community against the accused,” Justice H L Dattu wrote in his judgment. Five executives of Unitech, Swan Telecom and Reliance ADAG later got bail.
BHOPAL GAS LEAK: On May 12, the Supreme Court threw out the CBI’s curative petition against a 1996 judgment that described the tragedy as an act of negligence and not culpable homicide on the part of Union Carbide staffers. The court refused to take the blame for fact the eight accused had “walked away” with a two-year jail term from the Bhopal chief judicial magistrate’s court, after a 26-year trial.
AMAR SINGH: The Supreme Court’s displeasure at the CBI’s “shoddy” probe in the cash-for-vote case led to the former Samajwadi Party leader’s arrest. And when he decided to remove the Congress’s name from the list of those he accused of tapping his calls, the SC suspected his actual motives. The court further lifted a five-year-old ban on publication of the tapes of those conversations.
Post-GODHRA: The Supreme Court pulled out of monitoring the Ehsaan Jafri case in which Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 63 other high functionaries were accused of several offences. It ordered the SIT to present its report before the Gujarat magistrate concerned. It was the only case involving the riots that named Modi directly.
AYODHYA: The Supreme Court re-kindled the 60-year-old dispute when it stayed an Allahabad High Court judgment, calling it a “leap of faith”. The Supreme Court said it found it “strange and surprising” that the High Court had taken it upon itself to “partition” the site.
GRAHAM STAINES: The Supreme Court invited criticism when it confirmed the life sentence awarded to Dara Singh, who burnt alive the Australian missionary and his two sons in 1999. The court cited the reason that the intent was only to teach a lesson to the father about religious conversion. The court later suo motu deleted this portion from the judgment.
NITHARI: A bench led by Justice Markandeya Katju made a decisive comment when it observed that Surendra Koli “appears to be a serial killer”. The court went on to confirm the death penalty awarded to Koli.
EUTHANASIA: The SC for the first time allowed passive euthanasia “under exceptional conditions” and set down guidelines for it. The decision came in the case of nurse Aruna Shanbaug.
ENDOSULFAN: The SC banned the production and sale of endosulfan, a cheap but controversial agrochemical used by farmers, noting that the life of one child is more precious than all the financial losses that industry will incur.
BELLARY: The Supreme Court suspended mining in this district, saying miners’ “greed” has overshot the court’s efforts to balance environmental concerns and development.
26/11: The final hearing on Ajmal Kasab’s appeal against the death penalty will start on January 31. The Supreme Court has suspended the death sentence, saying it would like to hear the plea at length as “due process of law” has to be followed.
AFSPA: The CBI has sought a clarification on the extent of immunity enjoyed by Army personnel under this Act and other laws for fake encounter killings. The agency wants the lifting of an SC stay on the trial in a J&K court relating to the killing of seven youths by the Army.
VODAFONE: A judgment is awaited on the Vodafone tax case, in which the company argues it is not liable to pay capital gains tax because the deal to buy Hutchison’s India operations was done overseas.
N-LIABILITY: A PIL on nuclear liability and safety of plants will be heard. The petition wants an independent safety regulator set up.
END OF TERM: CJI S H Kapadia retires in September.

Blooper on site leaves CIC red-faced

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 06.19AM IST
NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission’s (CIC) inordinate delay has come to light in the five appeals filed between October and December 2010, which were heard together on September 30 last year. While the order in one appeal was given on the day of hearing, for the other four appeals the order was dispatched to appellant only in December-end.

The four orders, however, still show September 30 as the date when it was passed. On the CIC website, none of the five orders is listed in the name of IIT respondents, but the HRD ministry’s department of school education and literacy. The ministry was not even party to the case. CIC’s website lists the case as Rajeev Kumar vs. department of school education and literacy.

The first appeal related to information in all cases of admissions in IIT-Kanpur of the wards of faculty members/scientific officers since 2000. The CIC ordered IIT-Kanpur to provide the information. The second appeal was about information regarding number of students who have answered correctly, wrongly and did not attempt each question of papers I and II of JEE, 2010. The CIC told IIT-Madras that conducted JEE in 2010 to provide the records just the way IIT-Kanpur did for JEE, 2011.

Kumar’s third appeal sought details of IIT-Kharagpur faculty members involved in consultancy along with the honorarium paid to them. The CIC asked IIT-Kharagpur to give the information. It said in case IIT-Kharagpur feels information is scattered and cannot be easily gathered without committing huge resources, then supporting affidavit should be filed in the commission.

Kumar had also asked IIT-Madras to give names and details of all candidates, who appeared in both papers of JEE, 2010, in mathematics, physics and chemistry along with two ways of evaluation that was undertaken as a corrective measure. IIT-Madras told CIC that names of candidates, parents’ name are available on the website but that of SC/ST categorization is not uploaded. CIC asked IIT-Madras to file an affidavit to the commission that no intermediate data is generated.

Vetting pharma M&As out of ambit, says CCI

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 12.49AM IST
NEW DELHI: The government’s move to get all acquisition of local pharmaceutical companies by overseas players vetted by the Competition Commission of the India (CCI) has run into trouble.

CCI, the anti-monopoly watchdog, has told the government that the law does not empower it to monitor and restrict merger or acquisition (M&A) activity in the sector. Officials told TOI that CCI has told the government that the move will be tough to defend in a court of law and can only be implemented if the government amends the Competition Act.

Amid demands from domestic industry and the department of industrial policy and promotion to cut the pharma FDI cap to 49% – from 100% at present – in October, the government settled for a new mechanism while leaving the ceiling unchanged. The new system was finalized after prime minister Manmohan Singh stepped in amid intense inter-ministerial wrangling.

Under the new rules, for any M&A, the overseas investor will have to seek permission from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). By February, the government is hoping to allow the CCI to vet these deals.

Accordingly, RBI changed the rules and said, “FDI, up to 100%, would be permitted for brownfield investment (i.e. investments in existing companies), in the pharmaceutical sector, under the government approval route.”

The government has begun brainstorming on the issue, and Pulok Chatterjee, principal secretary to PM, has also convened a meeting to discuss the issue.

Although the government is discussing a comprehensive set of amendments to the Competition Act, sources indicated that even an Ordinance could be promulgated to allow the free-play entity to keep an eye on the pharma sector.

Following a spate of acquisition by multinational corporations, concerns were raised over the impact on homegrown firms as there are fears that domestic drug prices may rise and availability could also be affected. There have been at least half-a-dozen such deals, including Ranbaxy Laboratories buy out by Daiichi Sankyo of Japan, Shanta Biotech by Sanofi Aventis of France and Piramal Healthcare by Abbott Laboratories of the US.

This prompted the local pharma lobby to seek protection from M&As, a view that found favour with the industry department and the health ministry although almost everyone else opposed the proposal.

State allows builder to sell car parking’

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 05.47AM IST
MUMBAI: Days after the state cabinet approved a legislation meant to improve transparency in the housing sector, activists have objected to certain “grey areas”.

The cabinet approved the Maharashtra Housing (Regulation and Promotion of Construction, Sale, Management and Transfer) Act, which contains provisions for the formation of a housing authority and an appellate tribunal. To be put up for approval before the state legislature during the budget session, the Act will replace the existing Maharashtra Ownership Flats Act (MOFA), 1963, which was also meant to provide relief to flat purchasers against malpractices by developers in construction, sale and transfer of flats.

Provisions of the MOFA have been included in the new Act. Activists, however, observed that some modifications or new clauses introduced went against the “interests of a flat purchaser”.

Ramesh Prabhu, chairman, Maharashtra Societies’ Welfare Association (MSWA), alleged that the new Act recognizes the right of a builder to sell car parking areas to flat purchasers.

Objecting to a clause which states that the builder should mention the proportionate price of parking spaces separately in the agreement, Prabhu claimed that there existed a Supreme Court directive in this regard, which prohibited selling of car parking.

‘Open space can be misused’

Activists have decried ‘grey areas’ in the new housing regulation Act. Advocate Vinod Sampat, president of Cooperative Societies’, Residents and Users Welfare Association, said the clause relating to pricing of parking lots “completely disregards the SC directive”.

State officials however said that the provision was only meant to bring in more transparency in home deals. Even the model guidelines formulated by the Centre in this regard make a similar provision, an official added.

Chairman of MSWA Ramesh Prabhu further alleged that the new Act recognizes the right of the developer to sell utility areas like dry balconies, flower beds, pocket terraces, which were not provided for in MOFA. The official however said that these spaces are anyway being sold.

Activists opposed another clause which permitted promoters/developers to amend or modify the layout including recreation grounds, gardens and playgrounds. Prabhu said that this too contradicted another SC verdict. Sampat said that this could amount to “fleecing” of the flat buyer. “A flat purchaser often buys a house on the basis of the open space shown in the layout. By allowing developers to amend plans, the state is only facilitating an exercise wherein he can construct on that open space,” he said.

Prabhu also objected to a condition imposed for the formation of a cooperative society. “It states that for the registration of a society, all flat owners have to pay the full consideration amount towards the purchase and other amounts. This means, if the developer chooses to keep amounts payable by one or two flat buyers pending, the registration of the society and the conveyance of the land and building will become difficult,” he said. Sampat alleged that the MOFA Act did not contain this provision.

Both also objected to the provision stating that it would not be necessary for the promoter to obtain consent of permission from flat purchasers for utilizing FSI, TDR and or additional FSI in a bigger sized (layout) plot. A state official however said that this was only applicable for FSI and TDR remaining after conveyance of common amenities to a federation of societies, and buildings to individual societies.

Case registered under SC/ST Act

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 05.27AM IST
KANPUR: The Sajeti police have registered a case of rape under SC/ST Act and threat to life on the intervention of police officials after seven days.

In an incident that was reported to the Sajeti police on December 26,

The victim was dragged to a sugarcane field belonging to one Raj Vishambhar in Barimhatan village and raped by Kamlesh Dikshit, son of Brij Bhushan of the same village. The victim and her husband approached the Sajeti police but the cops did not register a case. They approached senior police officials, who initiated investigations and a a case had been registered under Sections 376 of IPC and 3 (1) 12 SC/ST Act.

Case registered: The police have registered a case under Sections 302/201 in connection with the recovery of an unidentified body of woman from the bushes near Massacre Ghat in Cantt on November 28.

CCTVs installed in district court of no use
Deevakar Anand , Hindustan Times
Gurgaon, January 02, 2012
It’s been five years that CCTV cameras were installed in the district court complex here, but no court official knows how to store footage and convert it into transferable form like CD. In case of an untoward incident, this may hinder the investigation process. “No official is trained to operate/
prepare a floppy/ diskette of the CCTV recording,” the office of district and sessions court wrote to the public works department (PWD) on December 19, asking if it could help fix the problem. The office of district and sessions judge had asked the PWD to “get the needful done”, after an RTI application filed in court sought the CCTV footage from November 1 to 25.

PWD executive engineer (electricals) could not be contacted. However, the department has to respond to the RTI plea, which has been passed to it by the court officials. PWD had installed CCTV cameras in the court in 2006, after a criminal was shot in the complex.
RTI applicant Aseem Takyar said, “I doubt if the cameras installed in the court work properly. I asked for the footage in larger public interest.” A former district judge had got some 24 cameras installed in the complex, including the courtrooms. While the ones inside courtrooms were removed after a directive from the Punjab and Haryana HC, those installed outside court numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are static.

285 HC positions vacant as CJs fail to give proposals

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 06.22AM IST
NEW DELHI: The government said that vacancies in high courts across the country were because it was not getting “sufficient proposals” despite periodic reminders to the chief justices.

Though over 40 lakh cases were pending before various HCs, 285 posts are lying vacant in higher judiciary accounting for 31% of the sanctioned strength of 895 judges.

The Allahabad high court has a sanctioned strength of 160 judges as on September 1, but only 61 posts are occupied, which is only 38% of the strength.

In an RTI response to activist Subhash Agrawal, the law ministry said according to the Supreme Court judgment dated October 6, 1993, the entire process of initiation of proposal for appointment of a judge of the SC and the chief justice of HCs rests with the Chief Justice of India, and appointment of a HC judge with the chief justice concerned.

“The main reason for the large number of vacant posts is that the government has not received sufficient proposals. The government is periodically reminding the chief justices of high courts to initiate proposals in time for filling up the existing vacancies as well as the vacancies anticipated in next six months in the high courts,” the ministry said.

Law minister Veerappa Moily had said last year that over 9.5 lakh cases are pending before the Allahabad HC.

The Punjab and Haryana HCs is also facing shortage of judges as there are only 43 judges against the sanctioned strength of 68, while 25 positions are lying vacant.

After HC cracks the whip, postal dept pulls up its socks

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 03.04AM IST
CHENNAI: The Department of Posts has decided to deliver court notice/summons to addressees on a priority basis, and not to take more than five days to complete service.

This is pursuant to the high court’s order last month, rapping the department for postmen’s lackadaisical attitude while handling court notices, and directing the chief postmaster-general to issue suitable circulars or instructions to his subordinates.

An innocuous return of a notice undelivered to the addressee often holds up disposal of cases pending in court, the court pointed out, adding it amounted to interference with the administration of justice.

The department has issued a circular advising postmen to deliver court notices and summons on priority basis. The department will be employing more postmen on contract to complete service of court letter or notice or summon within a maximum of five days.

Chennai city has about 1,000 postmen and 300 post offices. Often, services of retired postmen, who are familiar with families, are engaged to deliver mails.

Assistant director of postal services at the office of chief postmaster-general, M K Subash said postmen faced problems when addressees shifted residence or were hesitant to receive court summonses.

“It is a tough job for the postman as most addressee say they are not aware of the person or say they will have to consult their husband or lawyer before receiving the letter,” he said. In such situations the postman informs the higher-ups after two attempts to complete service. Norms state that the addressee should collect the letter from the post office within five working days, after which it is sent back to the sender.

Postmen are worried about the latest circular, as they have to make a number of attempts to trace the addressee. Stating that pressure on them is high, V Natesan, a postman at Kilpauk, said: “Each of us has been served a copy of the circular and instructed to complete delivery of court notices and summons on a priority and we are complying with it. Though it is an added pressure this is our job and we have to do it and we urge addressees to cooperate with us.”

Despite HC orders, TNPSC denies info to RTI applicant

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 02.38AM IST
CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC), which is under a cloud over irregularities in recruitments over the past couple of months, has now extended its dubious streak of not being transparent enough. It has reportedly denied information to an RTI petition on the recruitment of assistant directors of the Town and Country Planning department despite two orders from the high court and two directions from the state information commission since 2008.

R Shivakumar of Choolaimedu filed the petition under the right to information (RTI) Act in December 2008 seeking to find out if the 41 candidates found eligible by the TNPSC actually satisfied the requisite norms. “After 30 years, TNPSC issued an advertisement on February 9, 2008 seeking applications for the post of Assistant Director of Town and Country Planning. It received about 326. After receiving the applications, the TNPSC asked the Directorate of Town and Country Planning to fix eligibilities for the post. I smelt something fishy and filed the petition,” Shivakumar said.

Shivakumar had asked for the names of the selected candidates, their qualifications, experience, date of birth and community. The Public Information Officer of the TNPSC said the information could not be provided as the selection process was not finalized. Then, in February 2008, Shivakumar appealed to the Appellate Authority in TNPSC which passed an order saying the information sought could not be furnished and cited provisions of Section 8 (1) (8) and 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act.

Shivakumar appealed to the Tamil Nadu Information Commission which ordered the TNPSC to furnish the information on September 10, 2009.

“Ten days after the commission issued the order, the TNPSC filed a writ petition in the Madras high court, seeking to quash it,” Shivakumar said.

In its petition, TNPSC said: “Only a person who participated in the selection but did not get selected is entitled to know if those selected had the essential qualifications.” Dismissing the petition, a single bench, led by justice V Ramasubramanian, asked the TNPSC to furnish the information in four weeks as per the order of the Tamil Nadu Information Commission.

The bench said: “The respondent may not be a candidate who participated in the selection, (but) it does not mean he cannot seek information about eligibility of persons selected to a post which is entrusted with statutory functions.”

The TNPSC appealed to a division bench on July 22, 2011. The bench dismissed the appeals and said: “The TNPSC is amenable under RTI Act and is duty bound to furnish information under the Act.” The TNPSC has still not furnished the information, Shivakumar said.

Only a person who participated in the selection but did not get selected is entitled to know if those selected had the essential qualifications.

HC upholds life term in boy’s sodomy, murder

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 04.14AM IST
MADURAI: The Madurai bench of the Madras high court has confirmed life sentence imposed on two accused in connection with the sodomy and murder of an eight-year-old boy. On September 16, 2010, a trial court at Karur had convicted Mansur Ali, Nattu alias Nataraj and Kumar, sentencing them to life imprisonment for the murder of Faizur Rahman.
The boy was staying with his father at Aravakurichi village in Karur taluk where his father ran a partnership business. One Ramu alias Madan a juvenile, in conflict with law was working under them. At 4.30pm on March 2, 2008, the three accused along with Ramu, abducted the boy and took him to Sukkankarai Thottam where they molested the boy. Later, one of them killed Rahman by dropped a big stone on the boy’s head. They then concealed the dead body in a gunny bag in a garden at Jeeva Nagar. The inspector of police, attached to Aravakurichi police station registered the case and arrested all accused.
The trial court at Karur convicted all the three accused. However, challenging the judgement of the lower court, they preferred the present appeal before the Madurai bench seeking to set aside the sentences imposed on them.
Delivering a judgment on their appeal, the bench comprising Justice M Jaichandren and S Nagamuthu said according to the doctor, the death was due to a head injury which could have been caused by a stone.
The prosecution pointed out that the recto anal swab taken from the deceased was compared to the DNA of the three accused and that of the juvenile accused Ramu. As the DNA of Kumar did not tally, it was concluded that Mansur Ali and Nattu had committed sodomy and killed the boy. Hence, holding that the prosecution has proved the case against them, the bench sustained the conviction. Stating that so far the case against Kumar was not proved beyond reasonable doubt, the judges acquitted him of all charges.

HC rues habeas corpus petitions in love cases

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 05.30AM IST
BANGALORE: Disapproving of the tendency to file habeas corpus petitions in love affair cases, the Karnataka high court has said that no directive could be issued in such instances unless illegal custody was established.

A division bench headed by justice DV Shylendra Kumar rued that every love affair between teens in the age of unrestrained spirit, enthusiasm, ideas and emotions was sought to be converted into subject matter for issue of habeas corpus.

The bench also observed that parents were finding habeas corpus petitions a convenient forum to get such affairs investigated instead of filing police complaints.

The court made these observations while dismissing a habeas corpus petition filed by a Banaswadi woman, Anusuya (name changed), after it was revealed that her daughter was in love with a boy and might have eloped with him fearing reprisal since he belonged to another community.

The court also obtained an undertaking from police that they would continue with their efforts to trace the missing girl. “There is no dearth of youngsters getting infatuated with persons of opposite sex with whom they might have developed some intimacy or relationship,” the bench said.

Scared that their affairs might not be approved by their elders, youngsters leave their parents and seek shelter elsewhere, including at unknown and strange places, it observed.

The petitioner said that her teenage daughter, PUC student Ashwini (name changed), had been missing since November 22 morning when she left for writing an examination.

Anusuya further stated that she received a phone call from a local boy who claimed that Ashwini was with him. The caller threatened Anusuya with dire consequences for having gone to police.

The call was traced to Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. A local resident, meanwhile, told police that he had seen the boy and the girl together several times and had felt that they were in love.

HC rules in favour of Indian Co in trademark copyright case

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has dismissed the Netherlandbased liquor group’s plea, seeking to restrain Tilaknagar Industries Ltd here, from using trademarks ‘Mansion House’ and ‘Savoy Club’ on products sold in India.

Tilaknagar Industries claims to be a major player in the sale of Indian made foreign liquor in India and manufactures 40 brands, including the ‘Mansion House’ brandy.

UTO Nederland BV and Distilleerderji en Likeurstokerji Herman Jansen BV had filed a suit alleging that Tilaknagar Industries, by printing labels on its products, has infringed their copyright in the original artistic works.

The plaintiffs claimed that they were the registered proprietors of the trademarks ‘MANSION HOUSE’,’MH’, ‘MHB’ and ‘SAVOY CLUB’ and contended that the defendant has, by using the trademarks, passed off their products, such as alcoholic beverages, spirits and liquors as those of the plaintiffs or as emanating from or being associated with the plaintiffs.

Comparing the labels of the products sold by plaintiffs as well as the defendants, Justice S FVajifdar held in his 90-page order on December 22 that there was no similarity between them.

The literature, shape of the label and the entire get-up of the labels are different. Prima-facie, the mere depiction of the official residence of the Lord Mayer of the city of London would not constitute an infringement of copyright.

This device is used on the defendant’s label in a manner different from the manner in which it is used on the plaintiffs’ label.

Noose for 59 in the last decade, HC confirms death in four cases

Saeed Khan, TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 03.49AM IST
AHMEDABAD: With the two accused in Chandni rape and murder case getting death penalty, the number of people sentenced to death by hanging in 2011 in Gujarat has gone up to 15. This is the second highest figure in the last decade after 17 persons were ordered to be hanged by different sessions courts across the state in 2004.
In all, 59 persons tried in 36 different offences were sentenced to death in Gujarat in the last decade but the Gujarat high court confirmed the death penalty in four cases only, one of them being the Akshardham temple attack case, wherein three persons have been condemned to be hanged till death. Seventeen cases, including those of two drug peddlers and the cases of 2011, are still to be adjudged by the HC.
The courts considered all these cases in ‘the rarest of the rare’ category and awarded capital punishment. All the cases involved multiple killings, abduction and killing of children and rape and murder of minor girls. Besides, the court awarded capital punishment in terror-related cases too, even when there was no bloodshed but large-scale conspiracy as part of cross-border terrorism was established.
Of the four cases, wherein HC held that death sentence by trial courts were proper quantum of punishment, three cases involved people charged with rape and murder of particularly minor girls. Akshardham is the only terrorism related case, wherein the HC confirmed death penalty. All these cases are now before the Supreme Court for consideration.
On the other hand, the HC acquitted accused persons in four such cases. They include a father-son duo from Saraspur area who were sentenced to death by trial court for killing five of their own family.
In most of the cases, HC has commuted death sentence to life imprisonment. These cases include Salim Sheikh, the man who threw his five daughters in the Narmada river, four swamis of Vadtal temple who conspired and killed the head priest and four Pakistan nationals who infiltrated from the Kutch border with heavy ammunitions during the Kargil war.
One Shahnawaz Bhat, who sneaked into India from Pakistan, was acquitted of charges of waging war against the nation and his death sentence was converted into life imprisonment by HC.
This year, the special SIT court’s awarding death penalty to 11 persons in the Godhra train burning incident has resulted in such a high number of death sentences. The only parallel is in 1947, when 11 persons were ordered to be hanged in Porbandar for an attack on the police station.

J&K: Wipro backtracks on UID deal after state govt ‘flip-flops’

Srinagar: The Unique Identification (UID) project in Jammu and Kashmir has entered a limbo after one of the vendors, Wipro, refused to carry out the project. CM Omar Abdullah meanwhile has pleaded ignorance of the issue.
Wipro Technologies, apparently in a letter to the Omar Abdullah government, said that it had had enough of its flip flops. It clearly stated in the letter that it would not be able to execute the UID project in the state.
The Omar Abdullah government had unilaterally scrapped a deal it had entered into with Wipro and another local vendor, Compech Technologies.
Abdullah has, however, pleaded ignorance on the status of the project.
He said, “I will have to check this.”
The two companies had won the bid to carry out enrollment of 27 lakh and 45 lakh people respectively. The Jammu and Kashmir Bank – a registrar for the UID project – later invited fresh tenders twice but failed to get the drive started.
The high-profile project will continue to remain in limbo for some more time as another techno group called Eco Bay has now moved the Jammu and Kashmir High Court seeking more transparency in the tendering processes.
The HC has stepped in and asked the bank to explain its position.
The idea behind the entire project was to prepare over 1.1 crore UID cards with biometric details of every person in the state above the age of five in three years.
CM Abdullah was the first to give his fingerprints for the project in August, but the project is yet to take off.

Maharashtra to fill vacant posts in govt colleges early this year

TNN | Jan 2, 2012, 01.11AM IST
NAGPUR: The new year would surely bring good news for institutions, especially imparting professional education across Maharashtra, which have huge vacancies of lecturers and non-teaching staff.

The state government has embarked on a major drive of filling all vacant posts of lecturers and professors along with non-teaching staff in all its colleges offering courses like engineering, management, pharmacy and computer applications among others.

“By early 2012, you will not see even a single vacancy of teaching/non-teaching staff. There will be no visiting faculty in these colleges from next year,” minister for higher and technical education Rajesh Tope told TOI. He said that the government had taken a policy decision in this regard with a view to improve quality of education.

“About 1,500 candidates would be recruited in teaching and non-teaching categories in these colleges. The Department of Technical Education (DTE) had already screened eligible candidates and prepared their list,” he said.

The minister added that the government had constituted panels under respective divisional commissioners in the state which will conduct interviews of the eligible candidates before appointing them.

“The candidates aspiring to become a lecturer however will have to appear for a written test. An advertisement was published in the first week of December and facility was offered to students to apply online,” he said.

The development would surely bring relief to lakhs of students as they are the worst sufferers in case of inadequate teaching/non-teaching staff. Colleges are suffering due to scarcity of principals, lecturers and non-teaching staff, not only in the government-run colleges but also in private institutions.

Even in case of Nagpur University, nearly 450 of over 800 colleges, including Laxminarayan Institute of Technology (LIT), are functioning without regular principals/directors, leave alone lecturers.

Interestingly, the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court comprising justices BH Marlapalle and Ambadas Joshi had taken a suo motu cognizance of the alarming situation and ruled on December 3, 2008 that the government and the universities should fill the posts of principals/directors in all colleges by May 31, 2009.

The court had also directed that names of defaulting colleges should be published in newspapers and students admitted in defiance of the order shall be treated as unauthorized and not be permitted to appear for examinations. However, the Supreme Court rejected the HC ruling while maintaining that process of filing vacant posts should continue to maintain quality.

Even a PIL was filed regarding huge vacancies of teaching/non-teaching staff in LIT. The hig court had then directed NU officials to fill them as early as possible.

No cancellation or resale of Rajiv flats: HC

HYDERABAD: A High Court division bench comprising chief justice Madan B Lokur and justice PV Sanjay Kumar directed the authorities of Rajiv Swagruha Corporation on Saturday not to resort to coercive steps against the allottees of Rajiv Swagruha homes.

The bench further directed that there would be no validity if the corporation resorted to cancellation of allotments made to those who had already paid money or sale of flats to new buyers in their place.
The case was posted for further hearing to January 20. Dealing with a writ petition, the chief justice noted that any action by the corporation authorities against the allottees would have no validity as the arguments in the case were still going on in the court. The respondent, Arambha Rajeev Swagruha Welfare Association, has already paid about Rs 10 lakh for a double bedroom flat and Rs 7 lakh for a single bedroom flat, and the corporation should not therefore resort to cancellation of allotments and sale of the flats to others, he said.
The welfare association moved the court for a direction to the corporation for immediate handover of flats allotted to them as the members had already paid the money. It said that they had come to know that some of the flats were sold by the corporation without the consent of the allottees concerned. They urged the court to see that the corporation gave the 25 percent state government’s mandatory concession. The corporation, which had to bear 34 percent interest in construction of 254 flats, should not add that amount to the cost of flats allotted to members of the association, it said.

Cops can’t refuse to register case saying info unreliable: HC

PTI | 10:01 AM,Jan 01,2012

Mumbai, Jan 1 (PTI) Observing that police cannot refuse to register a case on the ground that information given by the complainant is not reliable or credible, the Bombay High Court has directed city police to initiate an inquiry against three police officers of Andhra Pradesh for alleged extortion and threat. “It is a well-established position that it is no business of a police officer to inquire as to whether the information laid before him is reliable or genuine and refuse to register a case on the ground that the information is not reliable or credible,” a division bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and P D Kode observed recently. The court was hearing a petition filed by businessman Mukesh Gokal, seeking direction to police to register FIR against three Andhra Pradesh police officers and another person, claiming to be a close-aide of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Rajasekhara Reddy. According to the petitioner, he had entered into a business transaction with an Andhra Pradesh-based company Lalitha Fashions in 2000. However, after Gokal had failed to deliver some material on time, the company had registered a case of cheating against him, the investigations of which were on. “On May 3, 2006, seven persons, including the proprietor of Lalitha Fashions forcibly entered my office in Mumbai and threatened me at gun point. Out of the seven persons, three were police officers from Andhra Pradesh, including deputy superintendent of police of Cuddapah district, Bhaskaran and one Rammana Reddy, who claimed to be a close aide of former chief minister Rajasekhara Reddy,” the petition claimed. (MORE)

HC bench stays single judge order

PTI | 06:01 PM,Jan 01,2012

Madurai,Jan1(PTI) The Madras High Court Bench here has stayed a single judge order directing the Tuticorin Port Customs Commissioner to either complete within two weeks the probe on alleged smuggling of cigarette cartons under cover of importing biscuits from Singapore or pay demurrage and container charges to the importer. Admitting the Commissioner’s plea, a Division Bench of Justices K.N.Basha and M Venugopal granted interim stay, The commissioner said there was no need to expedite the investigation as the expiry date for the biscuits,as printed on the packs was November 30, 2012.He charged that the importers were misleading the investigation by making contradictory statements and submitting fake documents. Customs authorities accused the importer of concealing high-value cigarette cartons beneath low value biscuit cartons inside the containers to avoid payment of customs duty. The attempt to smuggle the goods came to light in Sept 2011 during an inspection carried out by the Special Intelligence and Investigation Branch at the Customs House.During the inquiry,the Importer disowned the Bill of Entry (a document filed by the importer to claim imported goods). He pretended ignorance about having filed any such BoE for importing biscuits and claimed that some one else had misused his Importer-Exporter Code to take delivery of the biscuits as well as cigarettes.Then he filed a writ petition, claiming that his supplier in Singapore had mistakenly loaded the cigarette boxes along with the biscuit cartons. The Customs, in their counter, said it was a clear case of ‘planned outright smuggling’ to evade Rs.14 lakh customs duty. The single judge directed officials to complete the probe in two weeks on the ground that the biscuits were perishable goods. The Commissioner contested that Sec110 (2) of the Customs Act provided six months time to investigate.The right to investigate could not be interfered with by the High Court by invoking its writ jurisdiction.The Commissioner also said the particular brand of cigarettes, smuggled in the present case, were actually banned in the United States.

2011: When VVIPs faced trial, jail terms
Press Trust Of India
New Delhi, January 01, 2012
As many high-profile politicians, hard-boiled bureaucrats and corporate czars faced trial and landed behind bars in 2011, trial courts and jails turned to be their second homes. The fag end of 2010 itself had sketched the contours of the events of 2011, which began with the CBI arresting former telecom minister A Raja along with his former private secretary and former telecom secretary Siddharth Behura on February 2 for their alleged roles in the 2G spectrum case.

As the trio were unceremoniously bundled into Tihar with Raja and Behura, yet to get bail, the year saw their alleged accomplices like DMK MP Kanimozhi and telecom tycoons Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa and three top corporate honchos of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group following suit between February and May.
Around the time Raja and others were arrested in the 2G case, the CBI was making crucial arrests in the CWG case as well, beginning with close aide and OSD Shekhar Deorukh of sports baron and CWG Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalamadi on February 11, even though some of his accomplices were already arrested in November 2010 itself.
The CBI had registered at least five different cases of corruptions in the Games-related scam but it made the most significant arrest – that of Kalmadi on April 25 and since then he has been lodged in Tihar.
The CWG scam also saw arrests of a number of government officials like KUK Reddy, Sanjay Mahindroo, M Jaychandran, TS Darbari, Lalit Bhanot and several high-profile businessmen.
The year saw crucial developments in the 2008 cash-for-vote scam. The police swung into action after the Supreme Court cracked its whips on cops’ inaction in the case. The police hurriedly made some arrests and filed charge sheet in the case, leaving for the trial court to deal with the high and mighty ones among the accused.
The subsequent court proceedings saw dramatic arrests of once indomitable, former Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh on trial court’s order on September 6, when Singh, first through his counsel, pleaded for exemption from appearance before the court on grounds of his ill-health.
But he appeared before the court in less than two hours after making the plea for exemption and landed in Tihar. The case also saw the court sending two former and one sitting BJP MPs behind bars along with BJP stalwart LK Advani’s former aide Sudheendra Kulkarni.
Owing to his failing health, Amar Singh, however, had to be rushed to AIIMS within a week after his arrest and was eventually granted bail by the high court on October 24 after nearly one and half month in custody, major part of which had to be spent in AIIMS. Grant of bail to Singh paved the way for the relief to others as well on various grounds.
Around the same time, luck smiled on 12 out of 14 2G case accused as well with the apex court granting bail.
The fag end of the year saw the CBI issuing charge sheets to Essar Group promoters Anshuman and Ravi Ruia, Loop Telecom promoters IP Khaitan and his wife Kiran Khaitan and Essar Group director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf as accused in the case. They now face the court summons for early next year.
The year also saw the trial court giving a decent burial to nearly 25-year-old Bofors pay offs case, pointing out the futility of pursing the same at the immense cost of exchequer and in a situation when the case has hit dead ends not only in India but abroad as well due to foreign courts’ refusal to extradite Italian businessman Ottavio Quatrrocchi to face trial New Delhi.
A magisterial court, however, allowed a CBI plea to extradite Union carbide erstwhile chairman Warren Anderson to face trial for his criminal culpability in the 1984 Bhopal Gas tragedy case, from the US.
The fag end of the year also saw the NIA issuing charge sheet to US-born terrorist David Coleman Headley, his Pakistani-cum-Canadian accomplice Tahawwur Rana, founder of Lashker-e-Taiba terror group Hafiz Saeed, two serving Pakistani Army officers and others for plotting and executing terror strikes in India.
The year also saw a trial court judge mooting the radical ideas like castration as punishment for rape convicts and open jails for to de-congest prisons.
A trial court convicted 15 out of 98 accused in the case involving killings of an elderly Dalit and his teenaged handicapped daughter in a caste violence at Mirchpur village of Hissar in Haryana last April.
In heinous criminal cases, the year saw the trial courts awarding stringent punishment, including death penalties to five members of a family in case of “honour killing” and life sentence to four youths for killing another youth for having an affair with one of the convicts daughters.
It also sent a stern message against the malady of dowry death, sentencing an 85-year-old woman to life imprisonment along with her elder son for burning alive her younger son’s wife for failing to fulfil her dowry demands.
The courts also awarded whopping compensation to accident victims, the highest being Rs 87 lakh, which was awarded to the family of a woman engineer mowed by a bus.


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