LEGAL NEWS 17.02.2012

BJP complains to Election Commission on Beni Prasad’s quota remark


NDTV Correspondent, Updated: February 17, 2012 15:09 IST

New Delhi:  Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress got there first, but the BJP too has now landed up at the Election Commission’s door to complain against Congress minister Beni Prasad Verma for doing a Salman Khurshid and talking about reservation for Muslims in an election speech in Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP says Congress leaders are repeatedly violating the model code of conduct in UP and has also taken umbrage at Mr Yadav openly challenging the Election Commission. Mr Verma said at an election rally in Farrukhabad, “Reservation for Muslims will be increased and if the EC wants, it can now issue a notice to me.” Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh and Law Minister Salman Khurshid sat and listened. Mr Khurshid’s wife Louise Khurshid is the Congress candidate from Farrukhabad, and it was here that the Law Minister too had made a speech on the same issue that plunged him into a row with the poll panel. Mr Verma, in his speech, supported Mr Khurshid, saying he was “honestly fighting for the Muslims.”

Mr Yadav is the Union Steel Minister and a prominent UP leader who was imported by the Congress from the Samajwadi Party.

The Election Commission too has taken note of Mr Verma’s remarks and is examining his speech. An EC official in Farrukhabad said, “We are in possession of the CD of the minister’s speech. The Election Commission is examining the matter.”

Yesterday, the Congress’ fickle ally the Trinamool Congress complained to the EC formally. Trinamool leader and Mr Verma’s colleague in the UPA ministry Sultan Ahmed said, “Whether it’s Beni or Salman, Congress leaders are breaking model code of conduct, they want to fool the community. Minorities in UP are not voting on this issue.”

“EC should take serious cognizance. They are not paying heed to the Election Commission,” Mr Ahmed added.

Salman Khurshid had first stirred a hornet’s nest in January when he talked about a nine per cent sub quota for minorities in UP if the Congress was voted to power. There were protests and complaints from other parties and the Election Commission held his speech as a violation of the model code of conduct. Mr Khurshid then triggered fresh controversy last week by stating that he would continue to speak on the nine per cent sub-quota for minorities even if the Election Commission “hangs me”. The poll panel yesterday put a lid on the standoff with the minister after he expressed regret over his “defiance” of the poll body.

The BJP’s Balbir Punj said yesterday that Congress ministers were doing this deliberately and with the blessings of the party leadership.







Now, Beni does a Salman Khurshid on Muslim quota


HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 16, 2012

BJP attacks Cong over Beni’s remarks

A day after closing the case against union law minister Salman Khurshid for his “sub-quota for minorities” comments, the Election Commission has another challenger on its hands — union minister for steel Beni Prasad Verma.

On Wednesday, campaigning for Khurshid’s wife Louise Khurshid,

Verma said quota for Muslims will indeed be increased and dared the commission to send him a notice.

Louise is contesting from the Muslim-dominated Farrukhabad Sadar seat in UP, and while campaigning for her last week, the law minister, too, had promised to speak for the sub-quota.

“I fully endorse him (Khurshid) and can promise that the quota for Muslims will be increased when the Congress comes to power,” Verma said at a rally in Amritpur, with Khurshid and Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh at his side.

“If the Election Commission wishes, it can send me a notice too,” he said.

In Delhi, EC officials said they have the tapes of Verma’s speech. An official indicated they might issue him a notice for violation of the model code of conduct.

On Wednesday, the EC had put a lid on the stand-off with Khurshid after he expressed regret over his “defiance” of the poll body. The Congress, apparently, is not too happy, though information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni denied an exact knowledge of Verma’s remarks.

She, however said, “Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi has said the language of our political discourse should be restrained and we should definitely respect constitutional bodies. This statement is applicable to me, to Beni Prasad Verma, Salman Khurshid and all of us.”










Govt asked not to grant permission to stone crusher units near Kaziranga


Naresh Mitra, TNN | Feb 16, 2012, 11.11PM IST

GUWAHATI: The National Green Tribunal has directed the state government to maintain status quo and not to issue any new permissions or renewals to stone crusher units and other industrial activities around Kaziranga National Park.

The tribunal, in an interim order on Wednesday, categorically asked the state government not to grant permission to any new crusher unit and or any other industrial unit within the ‘no development zone’ of Kaziranga. The park, which is also a World Heritage Site, lies on the southern bank of Brahmaputra about 250 km from here.

The National Green Tribunal was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources, including enforcement of any legal rights relating to environment.

A bench of the tribunal, comprising chairperson Justice A S Naidu and expert member G K Pandey, has also directed the park authorities not to renew permissions granted to stone crusher units and other units currently operating in the vicinity of the national park till further orders.

The interim order came following an application filed by local resident and RTI activist, Rohit Choudhury. Ritwick Dutta was the counsel for the appellant. “As an interim measure, we direct the authorities to maintain status quo till the next date and not to grant permission to any new crusher unit or any other new industrial unit in the demarcated zone. The authorities shall also not renew the permission granted to stone crusher units or any other units that are functioning in the vicinity of Kaziranga National Park till the next date,” the interim order stated.

The tribunal said as the reply of the Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) is very necessary, the case has been adjourned to February 29.

Choudhury approached the tribunal in view of the “blatant violation” of the “eco-sensitive area” notification issued by the MoEF.

On July 5, 1996, the MoEF had issued a notification declaring an area of 15 km radius around the Numaligarh Refinery as a ‘no development zone’, directing that the expansion of industrial area, townships, infrastructure facilities and other such activities which could lead to pollution and congestion will not be allowed in this zone except with prior approval of the Centre.

Choudhury said in Bokakhat area alone, about 19 stone crusher units are operating while almost the same number is functioning at Dolamara area of Karbi Anglong district. He said that there are also many such units in Nagaon district. All these areas are around Kaziranga National Park.

Besides, Choudhury said, a number of brick kiln units have also sprung up in the areas around the park.

The MoEF, however, in its reply to an RTI application filed by Choudhury, said it has not granted approval for any unit nor has it received any application seeking its approval.









Consumer shouldn’t suffer in power firm switch’


Chittaranjan Tembhekar, TNN | Feb 17, 2012, 02.04AM IST

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has directed Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) and Tata Power Company (TPC) to ensure that a consumer faces no hurdles while changing a power supplier.

The court was hearing a writ petition filed by suburban resident Himanshu Kumar Sarkar, who wanted to switch to TPC. However, the process to offer him a new connection was allegedly stalled on grounds of RInfra’s tussle with TPC before the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC).

In October 2011, RInfra accused TPC of laying its own lines for some consumers of the former who wanted to switch over to the latter. RInfra described this as “cherry-picking” of consumers in the light of the MERC directive that TPC would use the RInfra network for being a parallel supplier in the same area and not duplicate it.

RInfra allegedly stopped the process from its side and filed a petition before the MERC. This delayed about 140 applications by consumers who wanted to switch to TPC. RInfra, through letters to consumers, said they would not be able to cooperate till MERC had resolved the matter.

Sarkar then filed cases against both RInfra and TPC citing MERC’s changeover protocol of October 15, 2009. It stated that the period for offering a new connection after changeover should not exceed 30 days. RInfra and TPC were to conduct a joint meter reading but the process was delayed due to their tussle.

Hearing the matter, Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Ranjit More said on February 13: “In our view, whatever may be the issues that Reliance Energy may have raised before MERC vis-a-vis the arrangements made between Reliance Energy and TPC, a consumer should not be dragged into such proceedings. Once the protocol by MERC permits migration and the consumer has done everything that is required to be done by him, any difference of opinion between the two licencees should not cause any prejudice to the consumer… the consumer should not be threatened with disconnection of electricity supply on grounds of pendency of differences between the two licencees and any proceedings before MERC in that behalf.”

RInfra had alleged before MERC that the “cherry-picking” of consumers was not only against the commission’s orders but was also causing the company a loss, making it financially unviable to offer its network to TPC consumers. RInfra had contended that TPC should be asked to lay its own network of wires first and then start supply, or be stopped from “cherry-picking” till the time its network came up fully under the open-access rule, which was yet to be enacted.

TPC, on its part, clarified before the MERC that it was always ready to lay its network but was not being allowed to do so by the commission.



Relief for N Chandrababu Naidu as AP High Court dismisses plea of Reddy’s widow


PTI Feb 16, 2012, 04.40PM IST

HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh High Court today dismissed a petition seeking a CBI probe into the assets of former chief minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu.

A division bench of Justices G Rohini and Asutosh Mohanto in their order observed that the writ petition filed by YSR Congress MLA Vijayamma “does not qualify to be a public interest petition”.

Vijayamma is the widow of former chief minister late YS Rajasekhara Reddy.

The order said that the court can not entertain a writ petition filed by a political adversary against another for venting political grievances.

“Many issues raised by the petitioner (Vijayamma) were earlier considered by the courts in separate proceedings,” it said.

The bench also observed that the earlier interim direction issued by previous division bench to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the allegations levelled by Pulivendula MLA Y S Vijayamma against Naidu over alleged disproportionate assets and submission of a report within three month, was passed without observing principles of natural justice.

Vijayamma had moved the high court on October 17 last seeking a probe by CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Naidu on various counts. The High Court had on November 14 directed both the agencies to investigate into the assets of the TDP chief.

Besides CBI and ED market regulator SEBI too was then asked to complete the investigation and submit reports independently within three months.

However, in December last the high court kept in abeyance the order earlier passed by the previous division bench and directed the CBI and the ED to put on hold their preliminary investigation.









Court bars withdrawal of any facility at Anna library


The Madras High Court on Thursday made it clear to the authorities that it will view very seriously withdrawal of any activity or facility in the Anna Centenary Library at Kotturpuram here and will pass appropriate orders.

When a batch of writ petitions challenging the government’s move to shift the library to Nungambakkam came up, the First Bench comprising Chief Justice M.Y.Eqbal and Justice T.S.Sivagnanam said no counter had been filed even on Monday for reasons best known to the government. Again, the Advocate-General sought three weeks time for filing counter.

It was allowing the plea. “But it is made clear that if any existing facility or activities in the library are withdrawn, that will be viewed very seriously and appropriate orders shall be passed.”

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks.

On November 4 last year, the Madras High Court stayed until further orders the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to shift the ACL from Kotturpuram to the DPI campus at Nungambakkam.










Universities to decide MBBS tenure


Express News Service , The New Indian Express


CHENNAI: It is for the TN Dr MGR Medical University to decide the period within which the MBBS course has to be completed. If regulations have been complied with, “this court cannot issue any direction contrary to those regulations,” the Madras HC has observed.
Justice K Chandru made the observation while dismissing a writ petition from P Manikavasagam praying for a direction to the university to permit him to rejoin in the second-year MBBS degree course.
As per the scheme envisaged by the Academic Board in terms of Section 14 of the TN Medical Universities Act, a student can complete the course within the double duration period of 11 years. The normal period is 4-1/2 years plus one year internship.
Since the petitioner discontinued his MBBS studies on five occasions and 20 years had elapsed from the date of his admission in the first-year course, the university denied permission to re-admit him for the sixth time. So, he moved the HC. In such matters, it was for the Academic Board to take the call and the court could not have any say in it, the judge said and dismissed the petition.









Appointment irregularities: HC seeks reply from ARIES


PTI | 06:02 PM,Feb 16,2012

Nainital, Feb 15 (PTI) The Uttarakhand High Court has asked Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) here to respond to a plea alleging irregularities in selection of the scientists in the institute and in the award of various tenders by it. A single bench of Justice U C Dhyani sought ARIES’ reply to the allegations within three weeks, issuing notices to its governing council’s chairman and former ISRO chief Prof K Kasturirangan and the institute’s director Prof Ramsagar. Admitting a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) yesterday, Justice UC Dhyani fixed March 5 as the next date of hearing in the case. A social worker from Nainital, D N Bhatt, had filed a PIL alleging irregularities in the recent appointments of scientists in the institute and in the award of various tenders by it. Nainital-based ARIES is one of the leading research institutes in the country, which specialises in observational astronomy and astrophysics and atmospheric sciences. PTI CORR DPT






Treat burns patient properly, HC tells Puri CDMO


Express News Service , The New Indian Express


CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Wednesday directed the Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) of Puri to provide proper medical treatment to an unknown patient suffering from burn injury.

Treating a letter petition filed by a lawyer DN Lenka of Cuttack as PIL, a division bench comprising Chief Justice V Gopalagowda and Justice BN Mohapatra issued the order. Having received the letter petition, the Additional Government Advocate obtained instruction from the CDMO and stated before the court that the patient who had maggots was admitted as an indoor patient and proper treatment is provided to him at the district headquarters hospital.

It was further stated that during the first week of February, a woman had brought the patient and left him in the hospital. Thereafter the patient was given treatment. The patient fled from hospital several times without intimating anybody and the matter was reported to police also. Finally, he is being now treated in the hospital.

The patient also needs psychiatric treatment as he is unable to disclose anything about himself. The petitioner has filed the PIL writ petition seeking appropriate direction in the matter.

Basing on the news published in a vernacular daily, the petitioner stated before the court that there has been negligence on the part of the State to protect the right to life of a citizen.










Impact fee law to be enforced by Feb 20


TNN | Feb 17, 2012, 01.03AM IST

AHMEDABAD: The state government will implement the impact fee law by February 20, the state government told Gujarat high court on Thursday.

During a proceeding on public interest litigation (PIL) that resulted in sealing drive by the civic body on CG Road and at other places, advocate general made a statement that the government is to come out with a notification for implementation of newly passed Gujarat Regularization of Unauthorized Development ( GRUD) Act, 2011.

With implementation of the new law, the government aims at regularizing 15 lakh illegal structures across the state. The crucial question before the government is about those buildings put up on non agricultural (NA) plots.Amid much din over sealing drive upon HC orders, the state government moves Impact Fee Bill and the assembly passed it.

A similar law was enacted in 2001 when similar issue of regularization had come up and businessmen from CG Road were in the centre of controversy then as well. tnn

With implementation of the impact fee law, the state government is bringing in the law for the second time. This speaks volume about the administrative lapses in implementation of laws, advocate Amit Panchal, who filed the PIL in 2008 for non-compliance of HC orders, said.












State intiates action against 3 for harming hillocks

Express News Service : Chandigarh, Fri Feb 17 2012, 03:11 hrs
The Punjab government has initiated action against three persons on account of ecological degradation of hillocks in the city’s northern region, the Punjab and High Court was informed on Thursday.

During the resumed hearing of a PIL arising out of a suo motu notice taken by the court, the Punjab government filed an affidavit stating that action has been initiated against three violators.

The affidavit further reads that the three violators have been directed to restore the original forest land. The government also submitted that notices have been issued to the other violators as well and necessary action was being taken against them in accordance with law.

The PIL is a fallout of a suo motu notice taken by the high court on the basis of a news item published by an English daily. On May 26, 2010, the court had directed the chief conservator of forests and the environment secretary through the forest secretary and the Union Ministry of Environment secretary to file their replies in this regard.










Election Commission of India and others receive court notice


PTI | Feb 16, 2012, 11.30AM IST

BANGALORE: Karnataka High Court on Wednesday ordered issue of notices to the Union of India, Election Commission of India and Chief Electoral Officer of Karnataka on a PIL seeking to bring some improvement in the revision of electoral rolls in Bangalore graduates constituency.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen ordered issue of notices when the PIL filed by Ashwin Mahesh, a visting professor at the IIM and the IISC came up for hearing.

The Election Commission of India had started revising the electoral rolls for Bangalore Graduates Constituency in November 2011.

The PIL further pointed out that while there were about 22 lakh graduate voters in the city of Bangalore, as on today the registered number of voters is only about 70,000.

The PIL therefore prayed the court to direct the Election Commission to take certain measures to improve the voters’ registration.










Electoral rolls: Karnataka HC notice to EC, law ministry


Published: Thursday, Feb 16, 2012, 11:41 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Election Commission of India (EC), Union ministry of law and affairs and chief election officer over a PIL.

The PIL contended that the three entities failed to adopt steps to ensure enrollment into the electoral rolls of the south-west graduates’, north-east graduates and Bangalore graduates’ constituencies (‘notified constituencies’) of the Karnataka legislative council and electoral rolls of graduates’ constituencies of the Karnataka kegislative council.

The PIL was filed by Ashwin Mahesh, member of the ABIDe task force. The petitioner said the Election Commission of India (EC), the ministry of law and affairs and the chief election officer failed to adopt measures to encourage and enhance enrollment to electoral rolls. They actively pursued discriminatory and dis-incentivising mechanisms and this resulted in discouraging application for enrollment in the electoral rolls from certain groups while promoting enrolment of certain groups.

The PIL came up before a division bench headed by chief justice Vikramajit Sen.

Mahesh said there is an absolute lack of publicity regarding the enrolment process. Limited number of locations had been identified for filing applications for enrolment in the electoral rolls of the notified constituencies.

Approximately 22 lakh voters are eligible for enrolment in the rolls for notified constituencies for the upcoming elections.
Hence, at least one registration desk per municipal ward should be there to ensure registration.

The respondents should provide an online resource where the electoral rolls are constantly updated and status of applications for inclusion in the electoral rolls for the graduates’ constituency can be tracked. But no steps have been taken in this regard, the petitioner said.

Respondents can ensure registration by permitting registration in any registration office established for the purpose of enrolment.
Now, various offices are assigned with distinct jurisdictions. This means an individual can apply for enrolment only in one particular registration office or kiosk.

Bangalore has over 22.52 lakh graduates. But only 17,406 applications have been received in response to the notice. In the last election for the Bangalore graduates’ constituency, 60,000 people enrolled in the electoral rolls. Coupled with the number of applications so far received, the rolls contain 77,406 voters, against the total enfranchised population of more than 22 lakh voters.

The enrollment in the electoral rolls of the notified constituencies shows there is a disproportionate number of government employees who are graduates and are enrolled whereas there is a negligible number of a non-government employee who are graduates and are enrolled in the said rolls.

The disproportionate enrolment arises from discriminatory mechanisms deployed by the respondents in the enrollment process.









Gujarat: PIL seeks CBI probe in alleged land allocation scam


PTI | 10:02 PM,Feb 16,2012

Ahmedabad, Feb 16 (PTI) A public interest litigation filed in the Gujarat High Court has sought CBI probe into a land allotment to private players, which allegedly caused a loss of at least Rs 1,100 crore to the public exchequer. In response to the PIL filed by social activist from Porbander, Bhanubhai Odedara, the division bench of acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala today asked the state government to file a reply in a week. Odedara’s lawyer, Vivek Mapara, said that state sold over 3.76 lakh sq mt of land in Koba village of Gandhinagar to K Raheja Corp Private Ltd, for a technology park, at a throw-away rate of Rs 470 per sq mt, when the Jantri rate (minimum price fixed by government) in the area was Rs 19,000 per sq mt. In the same area, Indian Air Force Wing was given land at the rate of Rs 8,800 per sq mt by the government, he said, adding that the allotment to Raheja Corp resulted in a loss of over Rs 1,100 crore. “If grace was required to be shown, then it had to be shown to the Public Sector….however, the policy is absolutely contrary, which shows a clear malafide intention on the part of government officials,” the PIL says. Some other private bodies too benefited in the same way, it adds.



Notice to Port Trust chairman on PIL


PTI | 12:02 AM,Feb 17,2012

Madurai, Feb 16 (PTI): The Madras High Court bench today ordered notice to V.O.Chidambaranar (Tuticorin) Port Trust Chairman on a PIL, seeking to direct the state forest department to take back unutilised forest from its control. Justices Chitra Venkataraman and R Karuppiah directed the Chairman,District Collector and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests,Chennai to file counters on the PIL, which alleged the Port had sub-leased 1200 acres of Mullakadu Reserve Forest area given to it in 1924 to thermal power units and other polluting industries. Petitioner K Mohan Raj, an environmental activist said silting sea flyash and discharging highly polluted effluents by thermal power units and hotels into the sea affected its biodiversity and livelihood of fishing communities. He also alleged the port trust diverted 570 acres to TNEB and NLC and that no importance has been given to preserving the ecology in the Gulf of Mannar, much of which has been lost due to encroachment by polluting industries. Pointing out that Tuticorin has one of the lowest forest cover districts in India,Raj contended any diversion of forest lands for non-forestry purposes would cause catastrophic damage to the ecological balance of the district and the region. The petitioner also sought a direction to the state authorities to take back all the reserve forest land by cancelling all sub leases by the Port Trust and to declare it as eco sensitive zone.











VMC oppn leader files PIL over projects


TNN | Feb 16, 2012, 10.35PM IST

VADODARA: Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) opposition leader has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Gujarat high court over alleged poor work on three major development projects in the city. The court has issued notices to VMC, state government and some of those officials connected with these projects. The matter will now come up for hearing after three weeks. Opposition leader Chinnam Gandhi in his petition has raised the issue of three projects – Ajwa-Manjalpur water pipeline along with a filtration plant and balancing reservoir, Atladara sewage treatment plant and Kapurai sewage treatment plant.

Gandhi had earlier issued a legal notice to the civic body over these projects. He had alleged then that because of the poor work, the projects were functioning far below their capacities.

He had also claimed that the staff maintaining and operating these plants was not qualified. Gandhi had claimed that he had raised the issue on several occasions, but the VMC did not take any action. “With the VMC not doing anything, I had no option but to approach the court,” he said. tnn









No law says homosexuality is unnatural… society has changed: SC…-society-has-changed-sc/913180/


Krishnadas Rajagopal : New Delhi, Fri Feb 17 2012, 03:52 hrs

Homosexuality may be “abnormal”, but it is not unnatural, the Supreme Court said today, and challenged anti-gay groups to point out even a single piece of penal law in India under which homosexuality in particular is a punishable offence.

“Homosexuality may be abnormal for some, unnatural for some others. All abnormal sex is not unnatural. There is a difference between unnatural, natural and abnormal… And in each case it has to be proved that an individual act was against the order of nature,” the court said, questioning the very logic behind the government generalising homosexuality as an unnatural offence under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhyay is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging a Delhi High Court judgment of July 2, 2009, decriminalising sexual intercourse among adults of the same sex.

The court questioned whether the framers of the IPC had, in the first place, ever intended the section to include homosexuality in its ambit as an unnatural offence. It pointed out that the act was not classified as an offence up to 1860, the year the IPC was framed.

In this context, the Bench noted that Sec. 377 does not mention homosexuality specifically, it only says “carnal intercourse” against the “order of nature” is punishable.

When advocate Amarendra Saran, representing Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights in court against gay groups, insisted that the section applied to all “carnal intercourse”, the Bench shot back: “Homosexuality may not necessarily be connected with carnal intercourse. Homosexuality is a very wide term. Is there a prohibition of homosexuality under any penal law… No, there is no law saying homosexuality is unnatural.” The court said society had changed, showing an increasing tolerance of live-in relationships, single parenthood and surrogacy.










Union minister Beni Prasad Verma does a Khurshid, dares EC


TNN | Feb 17, 2012, 02.24AM IST

NEW DELHI: Just two days after law minister Salman Khurshid regretted his ‘Muslim quota’ remark, another Union minister Beni Prasad Verma belonging to UP dared the Election Commission to act against him for saying that reservation for Muslims would be increased if Congress came to power.

“Reservation for Muslims will be increased and if EC wants, it can now issue notice to me,” steel minister Verma said while addressing a rally in Khurshid’s Lok Sabha constituency of Farrukhabad. Khurshid and Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who had criticized EC’s censure of the law minister, were present when Verma chose to defy the poll watchdog. In fact, Khurshid’s wife Louise is among the Congress candidates in the Farrukhabad fray.

The remark immediately attracted the charge of “serial offence” against Congress, with rival BJP and ally Trinamool Congress accusing it of violating the model code of conduct, and drawing EC’s scrutiny into the affair. The poll body had censured Khurshid for a similar comment and even sought presidential intervention against him, forcing him to buy peace by writing a regret letter.

The fresh provocation threatened to revive Congress’s tryst with the poll body, which is bristling at the belligerence of the ruling party over minority reservation in the Uttar Pradesh poll turf. An EC official said Verma’s remarks prima facie appeared the same as those which earned Khurshid the commission’s ire, but said that a determination will have to wait for an examination of audio and video tapes. EC has asked a private channel for a copy of the tapes of the steel minister’s speech.

A wary Congress dissociated itself from Verma’s comment. I&B minister Ambika Soni and AICC spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary said Congress expected its leaders to respect constitutional bodies, repeating the stance the party took during the Khurshid row.

However, Verma persisted with his defiance. “I said in Farrukhabad that Muslims have not got their due and central government has made a reservation of 4.5% for them and that it needs to be increased. If the Election Commission sends me a notice, I will reply to it,” a TV channel quoted him as saying.

Congress is caught in a tough balancing act. While it feels that talking about the party’s manifesto promise was legitimate poll campaign, it does not want to be seen as condoning its leaders’ “contemptuous behaviour” towards the constitutional body. That Congress has repeatedly criticized BJP for attacking EC is also a factor in its reaction.

The possibility of another tiff with the watchdog may not be a comforting thought for the prime minister, who could again face a petition seeking action against his Cabinet colleague.

The saffron camp jumped in to attack Verma, calling it part of Congress’s continued bid to communalise state polls. Putting pressure on the poll body for strong action against the minister, BJP leader Vijay Goel said Verma had dared to challenge the EC because it had disposed of Khurshid’s case “lightly”.

While the opposition’s aggressive line was expected, Congress was taken aback by ally Trinamool Congress’s sharp criticism, dubbing the aggressive quota talk as an attempt to “befool Muslims”. Union minister of state for tourism Sultan Ahmed demanded that Verma be barred from campaigning in UP. He told reporters, “First Khurshid’s 9% quota, now it is Verma. They think Muslims will bite this bait. This is not going to happen.”

EC’s proactive implementation of the campaign code has lent weight to the charge that aggressive mention of Muslim quota constituted seeking votes in the name of religion though it was considered par for the course till now. Congress built its UP campaign around reservation for Muslims, with leaders repeatedly asking SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav why he did not give it during his three stints as chief minister. A defensive SP was forced to promise 18% reservation to outdo the 9% promise of Congress.

BJP has latched on to the quota promise to polarize Hindu OBCs. It has projected the Muslim sub-quota as cutting into the 27% reservation field of backward castes.

Times View It is time the Congress reined in its leaders on this issue. Union law minister Salman Khurshid’s apparent retraction after initially defying the Election Commission becomes meaningless if other leaders of the party take up the baton. The Congress must remember that it remains India’s premier national party and the one with the longest experience of running governments at the Centre and in the states. Given that pedigree, it ought to set higher standards than most in respecting and honouring the institutions that make Indian democracy what it is.






Man wronged by police gets Rs 2 lakh compensation after 10 yrs


PTI | 07:02 PM,Feb 17,2012

New Delhi, Feb 17 (PTI) It took almost 10 years for a man from Jharkhand, wronged by the police, to get justice with the state government awarding him Rs 2 lakh compensation following the intervention of National Human Rights Commission. Fauji Ansari, son of Kallu Panwala from West Singhbhum district, was wrongly arrested after the Jharkhand police mistook him for another accused in a case following a mix-up over their names in 2002 and failed to cross-check his identity despite a court order. Police arrested one Mohammad Firoz, son of Mustafa, who was a habitual offender in Chakradharpur town of West Singhbhum district. Firoz gave his name as Fauji Ansari to the investigation officer at the time of his arrest. Later, the victim Ansari received a notice from the local court to appear in the said case. Ansari moved an application before the court saying that he was never arrested in the case. “The Judicial Magistrate directed the police to enquire the matter and submit a report within three months. Instead, police arrested Ansari and sent him to jail in July 2002,” a statement from NHRC said. Ansari’s wife approached NHRC requesting its intervention and action against the erring officials in August 2002. The Commission, in September 2002, issued a notice to concerned authorities and asked for report. “After six months, the Superintendent of Police, West Singhbhum, Chaibasa confirmed that Firoz was an accused in GR case no. 283/91, but he dishonestly gave his name as Fauji Ansari to the enquiry officer,” the statement said. A case was registered against Firoz for impersonation and necessary steps were taken to correct name in the charge-sheet already submitted in the court. Despite repeated reminders, the state authorities didn’t inform the Commission as how long they had kept Ansari in jail, but agreed that he deserved to be compensated. The Commission based on the facts observed that Ansari suffered incarceration due to dereliction of duty on part of the inquiry officer despite a court order and his human rights were violated by the State. NHRC recommended that the Jharkhand Government should pay Rs two lakh to Ansari. The Commission also directed the state Chief Secretary to initiate disciplinary action against the delinquent officer for the serious lapse. “Jharkhand Government has informed the Commission that it had paid the amount to the victim in November last year,” the statement said.









Kasab’s diary reaches SC


TNN | Feb 17, 2012, 02.15AM IST

NEW DELHI: A diary, which sailed with Ajmal Kasab and nine other terrorists from Karachi and provided them with crucial sea coordinates to reach Mumbai on November 26, 2008 along with locations to attack, ended its eventful journey on Thursday when it landed on the table of two Supreme Court judges, who will take the final call on award of death sentence to the lone surviving gunman.

The diary — a flip-up, ruled note book filled up by the gang leader – listed a 24-hour roster for guard duty during the three-day sea journey and stocks of ration and ammunition. It also contained the locations for attack – Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Machimar Nagar, Rajabhai Tower, Regal Chowk, Nathabhai Marg, Nariman Point, WTC (at Cuffe Parade) and Regal Cinema.

When senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam and public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam handed over the original diary, a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Chandramauli Kumar Prasad went through it keenly. Justice Alam’s knowledge of Urdu, the language used to make entries in the diary, came handy as he could point out minor discrepancies in the Hindi translation of the contents.

A number – 23270972879217 — noted on top of a page in the diary, a copy of which is with TOI, evoked much interest of the bench. It wanted to know its significance from Subramaniam, who said he would consult the investigating officers and let the court know.

Subramaniam said Kasab’s counsel in the trial court had admitted to the translation of the diary’s contents except for the word “mujahid”, which had been encircled in red. He said the entries in the diary established that Kasab was part of the gang that had clear instructions to launch attacks on crowded places in Mumbai and kill as many people as possible to strike terror among Indians.

The diary contains code words to be used by the terrorists while communicating through satellite phones with their masters in Pakistan without arousing suspicion even when the conversation was intercepted by intelligence agencies. If the situation is alright (halat theek hai), it was to be referred to as fishes are plenty (machhli lag rahi hai); for ‘civilian boat’, the code was ‘bhai log’; for ‘naval boat’ it was ‘yar log’; ‘naval ship’ was ‘yar logon ka group’, engine was machine, and journey was ice (burf).

The diary entries showed that the terrorist group had local contact numbers, local satellite phone numbers, photocopy of maps, SIM cards for satellite phones, two pistols, mineral water bottles, 10 kg of good quality khajur (dates), spare phone charger, GPS devices and satellite phones apart from explosives and ration. The satellite phones were seized from merchant vessel Kuber, which was hijacked by the terrorists on the Arabian Sea near Porbandar on November 23, 2008 and used to reach Mumbai.

Kasab was caught by the police on the night of November 26. While the NSG was carrying out an operation to neutralize the terrorists holed up in hotels Taj and Trident, the police was taking Kasab in the dead of the night on November 28 and 29, 2008 to various places to get details of the terror module and its masterminds, the court was told.

The satellite phones and the GPS devices were examined by FBI’s forensic and electronic device expert Daniel Jackson during February 11-18, 2009 and he gave a detailed report mapping the sea route taken by the terrorists from Karachi to reach Mumbai and revealed that they had also mapped their return journey.

The arguments will resume on Wednesday.












Uphaar: SC commences hearing on criminal liability


Last Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 22:

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday commenced hearing on the CBI’s appeal challenging the Delhi High Court’s decision to reduce the sentence imposed on real estate barons Sushil and Gopal Ansal besides nine others in the 1997 Uphaar cinema tragedy that claimed the lives of 59 cine goers.

A bench of justices TS Thakur and Gyan Sudha Mishra asked senior counsel Ram Jethmalani appearing for the Ansals to lead evidence to prove that the theatre had sufficient exit facilities to facilitate the escape of the cine goers at the time of the fire inferno.

“You have to lead evidence to prove that the theatre had sufficient exit facilities for the victims to escape within two minutes from the carbon monoxide,” the bench told the counsel during the arguments.

Opening the arguments, Jethmalani submitted that the theatre management and the Ansals were not in any way responsible for the tragedy and the entire blame, if any, has to be apportioned to the Delhi Vidyut Board.

“If anybody has to be convicted it has to be PW 40(B C Bharadwaj). He had to be convicted for the murder,” he argued. Bharadwaj was a senior engineer with the now defunct DVB.

The arguments would resume next week.

The Ansals had challenged their conviction and maintained they were in no way responsible for the incident as the fire mishap they claimed was on account of the DVB transformer.

Senior counsel KTS Tulsi is appearing for The Association of Victims of Uphaar Fire Tragedy (AVUT) which has been spearheading the legal battle on behalf of the victims’ families.

The CBI has filed the appeal challenging the alteration in conviction and reduction of sentence by the Delhi High Court on December 19, 2008. The sentence for the Ansals was reduced to one year as against the two-year sentence imposed by the sessions court.

The high court had also acquitted five of the accused held guilty by the sessions court and reduced the sentence on four others.

According to CBI, the high court had “erroneously” altered the conviction and reduced the sentence despite the fact that the sessions court had on November 20, 2007, rightly held some of the them guilty for offences under Sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and the Ansal brothers under Section 304A (causing death due to rash and negligent acts) besides other sections.










Tytler deliberately given clean chit: Riot victim


Last Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 21:56

New Delhi: A victim in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case Thursday told a Delhi court that there was enough material to proceed against Congress leader Jagdish Tytler but CBI has “deliberately” given him clean chit in the case.

In the written submissions filed before Additional Sessions Judge K S Pal, complainant Lakhwinder Kaur said the court should direct CBI to re-investigate the matter.

“It is, therefore, prayed that this court may be pleased to direct CBI to investigate the matter further to bring on record the available incriminating evidence against the accused (Tytler) in the interest of justice,” it said.

It said CBI has “deliberately not collected available incriminating evidence to strengthen the case against the accused (Tytler).”

The court was hearing a plea by the 1984 anti-Sikh riots victims against a magisterial court decision to accept CBI’s report to close a riot case against Tytler.

Kaur, in her written submissions, said CBI’s closure report was “dishonest” in order to exonerate Tytler.

“It’s unheard off that an investigating agency, instead of finding evidence against the accused to prove their guilt, has gone out of the way to collect evidence in favour of Jagdish Tytler to discredit the reliable witnesses,” it said.

It said CBI had done the probe only to falsify the statements of material witnesses in the case.

“It is pertinent to mention that the line of investigation adopted by CBI from the very inception of the investigation is only to exonerate the accused (Tytler) and to falsify the statements of the material witnesses,” it said.

The court has asked CBI to file its written arguments on March 19, next date of hearing.

Kaur also referred to the affidavit filed by Resham Singh who had migrated to the US a few years after the riots and had told the court that on November 1, 1984, he had seen Tytler leading a mob near Gurudwara Pulbangsh here.

On April 27, 2009, a magistrate had accepted CBI’s closure report in the case against Tytler, saying there was no evidence to put him on trial.

Lakhwinder Kaur, whose husband was killed in the riots, had approached the sessions court challenging the order of the magistrate.

CBI had given a clean chit to Tytler on April 2, 2009, claiming lack of evidence against him in the case pertaining to the murder of three persons on November 1, 1984, in the wake of the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Tytler’s alleged role in the case relating to the killing of three persons in the riots, including that of one Badal Singh near Gurudwara Pulbangash in North Delhi, was re-investigated by CBI after a court had in December, 2007, refused to accept its closure report.

The court had allowed CBI’s arguments that Tytler was present at Indira Gandhi’s residence at Teen Murti Bhavan and was not at the scene of crime, saying its contentions were justified by material, including some visual tapes and versions of some independent witnesses.









Remand revision plea filed in document forgery case


TNN | Feb 16, 2012, 10.43PM IST

SURAT: Police filed a remand revision application in a sessions court here on Wednesday after their request for remand of the accused involved in forgery of property document case was rejected by another court.

Police had requested the court to remand journalist Prasann Bhatt and lawyer Shailesh Patel in their custody, but it was turned down on Monday by a judicial magistrate. Police submitted before additional sessions judge M R Megde that they did not get enough opportunity to establish the significance of the role of the two accused in the case and the need for their remand.

Bhatt and Patel were arrested in a property document forgery case related to land survey number 89 in Magdalla village within the city limits. The accused are believed to have arranged for fake owners of the land to help create forged ownership document. Police submitted that the remand of accused was important as the fake land owners needed to be arrested.











Sikhs demand justice from CM


TNN | Feb 17, 2012, 01.30AM IST

NEW DELHI: Members of the Sikh community on Thursday held a protest outside chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s residence, demanding that no leniency be shown to 1984 riot convict Kishori Lal. Earlier, Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna had decided to commute the life sentence of Lal, which has now been reversed. Khanna has now asked the State Review Board (SRB) to review Lal’s plea even as senior officers in the L-G’s office denied having given any approval to commuting the sentence.

The protesters, which included relatives of victims of the riots, shouted slogans against Khanna and Delhi Government and demanded that no leniency be showed to Lal, who was sentenced to life imprisonment. Following opposition from a section of Sikh community, Khanna asked Delhi’s ‘Sentence Review Board’ to review Lal’s case on Wednesday.

“We staged the protest outside Dikshit’s residence as she was also a part of the decision making process to commute life sentence of Lal,” said Tawant Singh, general secretary of Delhi unit of Shiromoni Akali Dal (Badal).

Lal, a former butcher, had been sentenced to death in at least five cases by the lower courts for stabbing to death several people during riots. SC, however, commuted them to life terms later.

A former butcher, 48-year-old Lal became infamous as ‘Butcher of Trilokpuri’ and has already spent 16-years in jail. “His case, along with the others, was sent to the L-G because of his good conduct in jail. He has already spent several years in jail and has a chance to lead a reformed life outside jail, which is the aim of the jail,” said a jail source.

Tihar Jail authorities had recommended to SRB to commute the sentence. SRB had then forwarded it to Khanna last year for consideration.

Protests were also witnessed outside Karkardooma Court complexon Thursday, against the attempts for early release of a 1984 anti-sikh riots convict. It is in this Court that all other 84 riots related cases are being tried.

Victims families and other supporters held a peaceful demonstration to express their shock. Police officials, deployed outside the court managed the demonstration, which ended after raising of few slogans. Talking on the issue, H S Phoolka, a senior advocate who also represents the victims of the 1984 anti-sikh riots, condemned the decision of the sentence review board calling it arbitrary. “its an arbitrary decision. Where one one hand, a convict is in jail for the past 21 years on the ground that it was a case of multiple murder and two life sentenced had been given to him, here a 1984 anti-sikh riots convict who killed so many people is getting a relief. It is a sad situation and government needs to take a stand on it,” Phoolka said.

The Tihar jail authorities had recommended to State Review Board to commute life sentence of Lal lodged there since 1996, and release him on the grounds of good conductand certain other criteria. Tihar jail authorities had submitted to the SRB that the sentences of 36 life convicts, including Lal’s, be commuted. After the perusal of the cases by the SRB, which then sent a list of shortlisted cases from the said 36 for L-G’s approval, the life sentence of 15 convicts, including Lal, was commuted by the Lt Governor earlier this month, sources said.











All credit to my parents, says Haryana judiciary exam topper


Express News Service : Chandigarh, Fri Feb 17 2012, 01:06 hrs


For 24-year-old Vikramjit Singh, qualifying for the prestigious Haryana Judiciary exam was his ambition when studying law at Panjab University (PU). In his first try at the exam he did not just pass the test, but topped it. The son of a Asian Games gold medallist and war veteran,Vikramjit, a squash player himself, was given the news on Thursday afternoon by his friend.

The result of the examination was declared on Thursday and the first four rankers have been residing in Chandigarh for the past several years. Still trying hard to control his excitement, Vikramjit credits his parents and teachers with his success.

“My father was ecstatic while my mother broke into tears on hearing my result. I have never seen them getting so emotional and they had all the reason to celebrate given the kind of encouragement and sacrifices they made for me. My mother is suffering from severe arthritis while my father is 75 percent handicapped in his right hand,” said Vikram who is presently studying MA (LLB) from PU.

It was Ayn Rand’s book Fountainhead, which Vikramjit says helped him bring balance to his life when he was not doing well a couple of years ago. Since then he has read the book several times.

Vikramjit, whose father took up a Indian Railway’s job after he suffered a injury on his right hand, had to frequently change schools due to his father job commitments. Chandigarh became his base after his father retired around eight years ago.

After studying non-medical from Government Model School, Sector 16, Vikramjit took admission in the University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS). He topped the university examination in 2010 after which he joined a coaching institute in Sector 24.

Vikram says he will be celebrating but it will be limited as he says he will be putting in effort to prepare for Punjab judiciary interviews and Delhi judiciary (mains) exams.













With Montek and Nair on its board, PHFI declared public authority


Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 16, 2012

Having planning commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia and former Principal Secretary to Prime Minister TKA Nair on board has resulted in Public Health Foundation of India being declared a public authority under Right To Information Act on Wednesday.
It is first organization set up under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode to be declared as a public authority. The plan panel had earlier rejected the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) demand to cover PPP projects under the RTI Act saying the commission should take a view on individual case basis.

Now, the commission has said the government should incorporate a specific provision in every PPP agreement to make the project accountable to people through RTI. 

The observation was part of the CIC decision overruling the foundation’s claims that it was not “owned” by an appropriate government and said that the public servants on its board were in their “private capacity” and not because they represented the government.

The foundation was set up under a PPP agreement with the government.

The PHFI board has 30 members of which five — Ahluwalia, PK Pradhan, health secretary, VM Katoch, director general of Indian Council of Medical Research, Nair and R K Srivastava, director general health services — are public servants. 

Information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi described the PHFI’s argument of they being in their private capacity as “untenable” and said it was difficult to assume that senior public servants on the board in their private capacity. “The Commission can assume that such public servants must be acting on behalf of the government…any other conclusion would be an improper slur on their integrity,” the order read.

The commission was hearing an appeal filed by Mumbai based Krishan Lal, who had sought details about constitution of the foundation and its functioning. The foundation rejected his application stating that it was not a public authority under the RTI Act as it was an “autonomous” organisation.

But, the commission found out that the government has given Rs 65 crore, one-third of the initial seed capital, for kick-starting PHFI and rest from Melinda and Bill Gates foundation and other high net worth individuals.

Once set up, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Gujarat governments gave it land free of cost to set up institutions. Delhi government spent Rs 13.82 crore to acquire land in Khanjhawla for setting up of Indian Institute of Public Health.

The officials were nominated to ensure that the decisions taken by the foundation are in consonance with the objectives for which the organization was set up. “PHFI refusal to accept its coverage by the RTI Act seems at variance with this,” the order read.  

As the foundation has placed most of the information on its website, the CIC gave 30 days to PHFI to comply with the provisions of the RTI Act. The foundation will have to pay compensation of Rs 3,000 to Lal for loss and detriment suffered by him in pursuing his complaint with the commission.










Do not take in new kids: Govt


HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 17, 2012

The management of central Delhi’s Arya orphanage has been told not to admit any new child till the inquiry into the alleged serial sexual abuse is over. Government administrator PP Dhal, who has been appointed to look into the functioning of the orphanage, issued these directions to the

management on Thursday.

The administrator, in consultation with the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), will also chalk out an action plan to ensure that all provisions and guidelines of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act are being followed.

“Till the inquiry into the alleged sexual and physical assault is on, we have directed the management not to admit new children,” said a senior Delhi government official.

Counsellors and CWC officials will visit the orphanage from Friday to talk to the children.

The administrator’s tenure has not been fixed and he will continue to oversee the functioning of the orphanage till the government requires.

“The children are emotionally very vulnerable and they need support. From Friday, counsellors will interact with them on a regular basis to get more information from them,” said a senior Delhi government official.

In addition to this, the administrator and CWC officials will check the space available inside the orphanage and the number of children living there.

An 11-year-old girl, a resident of Arya orphanage, had died on December 24 after being raped over a period of time. A report had pointed out cases of serial sexual and physical abuse.









Cabinet nod for one-time relief for highways ministry


TNN | Feb 17, 2012, 03.50AM IST

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday gave its nod to the highways ministry’s one-time exemption to invite bids for at least 1,300km of national highway (NH) projects sans the mandatory approval from the Public Private Partnership Accounts Committee (PPPAC).

An official note from the finance ministry said that the empowered group of ministers (EGoM) had agreed to recommend the relaxation till March 31 to make the highways ministry achieve the target of awarding 7,300 km. However, the relief is subject to certain conditions.

“Opening of bids and award of projects will be done only after the formal approval of the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure ( CCI) for each project has been obtained,” the note says.

Sources in the NHAI said tenders would be posted on the website on Friday to expedite the awarding of projects.

The ministry had sought the special relaxation since the guidelines stipulate that a 45-day notice has to be given before any bid can be received, and now only that many days are left during this fiscal when it is mandated to meet the target of awarding 7,300km.

So far, NHAI has awarded 4,691 km of NH, and the bidding process is on for another 1,110 km.










Tirkey demands strict CNT Act


TNN | Feb 17, 2012, 02.33AM IST

RANCHI: Tribal MLA from Mandar Assembly constituency Bandhu Tirkey is up in arms against government and political leaders proposing amendment to Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act. Tirkey has organized a debate over the issue inviting political and non-political leaders along with experts to deliberate on the details of the law on February 25.

Talking to newspersons, he said ministers in the government are trying to mislead people over the issue of CNT Act that primarily aims at protecting the rights of tribals, dalits and backward caste members. Demanding strict implementation of the law in the state, he said the government has been reminded by the judiciary time and again that no minister or the government can tamper with the provisions of the act.

“The government is bound by the law to implement the act,” he said adding that anyone who misuses power to grab tribal land in violation of the law must face legal consequences. When asked if he will support action on tribal leaders in state, who have purchased land outside the police station of their permanent residence, Tirkey said, “The law is equally applicable to all and the process of returning the land to tribals must start from the powerful and mighty.”

Contradicting the argument being given by the Arjun Munda government, the act has become a deterrent in development because of constraints in acquiring land for big projects. Tirkey said the act was implemented in 1903 and yet so many development took place.

“We have railway stations, airport and projects like SAIL and Mython dam despite the act being in place, which indicates that there is always a provision for acquiring land by legal methods for development projects,” he said. Backed by lawyers and public representatives, the front has extended an invitation to leaders across political affiliation and called upon common people to avoid being instigated by some of the leaders, who describe the Act as antinon-tribal.

“People must understand that the law is for protection of tribal rights and it is beyond amendment in wake of the fact that no law could be amended by the state legislature in scheduled areas, which come under the jurisdiction of President of Union of India,” Tirkey added. Insisting on enforcement of the Act, he, however, abstained from commenting if he would support certain changes so that restriction on sale of land belonging to scheduled caste and backward classes be removed.











Helpdesk set up to clear doubts on RTE Act


School Education Department is aware of challenges in implementing the Act, says Secretary

A helpdesk to offer clarifications, when sought, on the Right To Education (RTE) Act has been set up at the Directorate of Teacher Education Research and Training (DTERT) here.

For any query on the implementation of the Act, or clarification on specific clauses one could contact the help desk on 044-28278742, said D. Sabitha, Secretary to the School Education Department.

She was addressing senior officials of the department, school heads and teacher-trainers as part of a training session on the Act organised by the DTERT on Thursday.

The department was aware of the challenges before it in implementing the Act, but was fully geared up to meet them, she said. “We have to ensure that homeless children and students living in hilly areas also receive uninterrupted and quality education. As a team, we acknowledge these challenges and will do our best to meet them.”

School Education Minister N.R. Sivapathy said education was a priority area for the government. “The Chief Minister had indicated that school education would be given a lot of emphasis even before the elections, in her election manifesto,” he said.

Urging teachers, parents and school managements to ensure that every clause of the Act is diligently implemented, he said: “Teachers must ensure that there is no gap between them and the children. They should be role models and treat students like their own children.” As many as 12 Government Orders pertaining to the RTE Act have been issued so far.

Highlighting some key initiatives, Mr. Sivapathy said nearly 65 primary schools had been upgraded to middle schools. As many as 210 middle schools had been upgraded to high schools and 100 high schools to higher secondary schools. Around 53,000 teachers were being recruited this year.

The trimester and Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) to be implemented by the department would go a long way in reducing the burden on students, he said.

The Minister released a manual with guidelines on the Act, applicable to different stakeholders. It also outlined the punishments and disciplinary action that would be initiated in case of violation of the clauses. The training on RTE Act would be extended to as many as 1.25 lakh teachers in the coming weeks, organisers said.

While the 12 GOs in regard to the RTE Act have taken care of several provisions, the government is yet to constitute the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) mandated by the Act.

The SCPCR, as an independent body, would have the power to investigate into any case that deals with complaints relating to violations of the RTE Act or child rights in general.

On when the SCPCR would be constituted, a senior official of the department said the Social Welfare Department was also involved in the process. The files were in circulation, the official said.

The SCPCR is an important component of the RTE Act. As an appellate authority, it will monitor the implementation of various clauses of the Act and take up issues pertaining to violation of child rights.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in New Delhi has, for over a year, been urging States to set up the SCPCRs swiftly.

When contacted, chairperson of the NCPCR Shanta Sinha said: “Around 12 States have already set up their SCPCR. One would expect a progressive State like Tamil Nadu to have constituted one by now. The State government should do so at the earliest, for the Commission can monitor various aspects such as recruitment and training of teachers, teacher-pupil ratio. It is an absolute necessity in the context of the RTE Act.”









RTE Act going MGNREGA way in state’


Kangkan Kalita, TNN | Feb 16, 2012, 11.23PM IST

GUWAHATI: Coming down heavily on government inaction with regard to violation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, in Assam, well-known intellectual Hiren Gohain slammed the state government for failing “severely” to ensure free and fair education for children up to 14 years in Assam.

Speaking at a seminar organized by city-based NGO Sangrami Krishak Shramik Sangha (SKSS), Gohain said the RTE Act was a historic act passed by the Centre, but in the state, it has met the same fate as the central employment guarantee act, MGNREGA.

“Like the rampant corruption in the implementation of MGNREGA, the lethargy shown by the Centre and the state government in ensuring implementation of the RTE Act is bound to paralyze government-run schools. The act promises free education to all children below the age of 14. Though the SKSS has submitted receipts of fee collected from students below 14 years of age by government-run schools to the chief minister and the education minister, no action has been taken yet against errant schools,” said Gohain.

SKSS conducted a survey in the districts of Kamrup, Kamrup (Metro), Darrang and Udalguri, where it recovered money receipts from nearly 150 schools which collected fees from students below 14 years of age in the years 2010 and 2011, which is a punishable offence.

“The Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights is the monitoring authority as far as implementation of the RTE Act is concerned. The commission said it cannot take action unless collection of fees is proven. We have produced all the documents but no action has been taken yet,” said SKSS president Dinesh Das.

Gohain was also critical of private institutions as most of them do not follow the directives of the RTE Act. The act makes it mandatory for private institutions to impart free education to students from economically weak backgrounds, who should comprise at least 25% of the total students.

“Many private schools are hoodwinking the government. On paper, they show that they are imparting free education to 25% poor students, which is far from reality,” Gohain added.

He said it was a national shame that despite all efforts, 12% (rural) and 8% (urban) children in India are not yet enrolled in schools due to poverty and related factors every year.

The SKSS, which gave the Assam government a seven-day ultimatum on February 8 to punish the violators of the act, has now decided to move to the Gauhati high court seeking justice.



Sightless man wins a long battle to get into IAS


Sukhbir Siwach, TNN | Feb 17, 2012, 05.35AM IST

CHANDIGARH: After a long struggle, 32-year-old Ajit Kumar became the second 100% visually impaired man to join the Indian Administrative Service. On Wednesday, he received a letter asking him to join the service.

A resident of Haryana’s Kheri village, Kumar ranked 208 among 791 candidates who qualified in the civil services examination held by the UPSC in 2008. “Despite a good rank, the DoPT offered me the Indian Railway Personnel Service (IPRS),” he said.

Kumar approached the Central Administrative Tribunal. In 2010, the CAT directed the DoPT to appoint him an IAS within eight weeks. But the orders were not implemented. Kumar sought CPM MP Brinda Karat’s help to meet the Prime Minister. After that, the files moved. “I am packing my bags and will be off to Mussoorie this week where I will be trained from February 20,” said Kumar. He is an MA in Political Science.

“Initially, I wanted to be a doctor as we had lost a relative due to prolonged illness,” he told TOI. Kumar lost his vision due to acute diarrhea when he was five years old. “Without sight, it is not possible to work as a surgeon. So, I changed my mind and decided to become an IAS,” he said.

Son of a retired block development and panchayat officer in Haryana, Kumar studied in a Delhi blind school. He had a good academic record and became assistant professor in Sham Lal College of Delhi University in 2007. Earlier, he had worked as a government teacher in Haryana.










Homosexuality is to be seen in context of changing society: Supreme Court


Press Trust of India, Updated: February 17, 2012 00:42 IST

New Delhi:  Homosexuality should be seen in the context of changing society as many things which were earlier unacceptable have become acceptable with passage of time, the Supreme Court observed on Thursday.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and S J Mukhopadhaya, which is hearing a bunch of appeals filed against decriminalisation of gay sex, said that these things should be seen in the light of changing times where phenomena of live-in relationship, single parents and artificial fertilisation have become normal.

“Recent phenomena of live-in relationship, single parents, surrogacy. There is a case where a man is unmarried but wants to be a father and engage a surrogate mother. Thirty-forty years ago it was against the order of nature but now artificial fertilisation is a thriving business,” the bench said.

It also pointed out that many things, which were considered immoral twenty years back, have become acceptable to society now.

“The society is changing,” the bench said adding that gay sex was not an offence prior to 1860 and referred to paintings and sculptures of Khajuraho.

Senior Advocate Amrendra Sharan, who is opposing the Delhi High Court’s verdict of decriminalising gay sex on behalf of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Right, submitted that social issues cannot be decided on the basis of sculptures.

The bench, however, observed that it is a reflection of society of that time and homosexuality should not be seen only in terms of sexual intercourse.

Earlier, the bench had asked the anti-gay rights groups, challenging legalisation of gay sex to explain how such acts are against the order of nature as submitted by them.

The top court was hearing petitions filed by anti-gay rights activists and also by political, social and religious organisations which have opposed the Delhi High Court verdict decriminalising homosexual behaviour.

The bench would continue hearing the case on Friday. On February 7 last, the bench had refused to implead the armed forces in the case on the contentious issue.

People and organisations from different fields have come out in support of or against the path-breaking verdict of the High Court which had sparked a controversy.

Several political, social and religious outfits have asked the Supreme Court to give the final verdict on the issue.

Senior BJP leader B P Singhal, who had opposed in the High Court legalisation of gay sex, has challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court saying such acts are illegal, immoral and against ethos of Indian culture.

Religious organisations like All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Utkal Christian Council and Apostolic Churches Alliance have also opposed the High Court’s verdict.

Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Right, Tamil Nadu Muslim Munn Kazhgam, astrologer Suresh Kumar Kaushal and yoga guru Ramdev have also opposed the verdict in the top court.








High Court dumps PIL for quashing anti-graft panel


: Fri Feb 17 2012, 04:50 hrs
The Gujarat High Court on Thursday dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that sought to quash the state government-appointed Justice (retired) M B Shah Commission.

The Commission was appointed in August last year to probe into certain land deals in which the government is facing allegations of corruption by favouring certain industrial houses.

A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala dismissed the petition on the ground that under the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, the government has the right to appoint such a commission and so there is no illegality in the same.

The petition was moved by a Jamnagar-based person, Gunwantrai Joshi (65). He had alleged that the government set up the Commission at a time when the appointment of Lokayukta was in its final stage. This, according to Joshi, was done with a malafide intention to hide its corruption, to rescue the culprits, and to keep the matters away from the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta.

Joshi also contended that commissions have proved to be completely ineffective and are wastage of time, public money and human hours.

Stating that Lokayukta is the proper institution which can probe into the issues of corruption in the state, the petitioner had demanded to quash the Commission’s appointment and to hand over the said cases of corruption to the Lokayukta.









YSR Congress to move Supreme Court


Unfazed by the AP High Court striking down the petition it filed against the disproportionate assets of TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, the YSR Congress Party has announced its resolve to approach the Supreme Court as “we are convinced with the merits of the case.”

The YSR Congress, in a press release, expressed concern that the court which accepted a two-page letter addressed by former Minister P. Shankar Rao as public interest litigation, had turned down the 2,000-odd page petition accompanied by documentary evidence. “We have full faith in the judicial system and we will take up the issue in the higher court,” party spokesman Jupudi Prabhakar Rao said.

Mr. Prabhakar Rao and other spokespersons of the party said, at separate press conferences, that the party moved the apex court seeking shifting of the case to another High Court raising doubts about the present bench. As the Supreme Court said it could not intervene as the verdict was due, the petition was withdrawn.










High Court denies to stay criminal proceedings against Google, Facebook


NEW DELHI: The Delhi HC on Thursday declined to stay proceedings against Facebook and Google in a case of ‘objectionable’ content being posted online.

The Court also declined plea of the counsel for the State of Delhi and Delhi Police who was insisting that Google India MD Rajan Anandan and Facebook India Director Online operations Kirthiga Reddy appear in person and seek exemption from the lower court.

“What is this insistence that they should appear in person?” Justice Suresh Cait asked the counsel for Delhi Police, Naveen Sharma.

“To force a party to go and attend criminal proceedings will amount to injustice,” Google India’s lawyer NK Kaul said in a heated argument, before the High Court.

The Court directed that lawyers of Facebook and Google can appear on behalf of their authorized representatives in the lower court, against whom summons have been issued. The trial will now take place starting March 13 in the lower court.

The HC also reserved its order citing pending cases which may have bearing on the ‘objectionable’ content case. “A special leave petition related to the Avnish Bajaj case which has a bearing on this case, and another pending court case of Google India versus Visakha Industries are pending in the Supreme Court. Till then, we will reserve our order,” Justice Suresh Cait said. Ironically, the cases were cited by prosecution during its argument on Thursday.

Google and Facebook had last month moved an application in the High Court seeking quashing of summons and proceedings underway in a lower trial court. “Quashing of an FIR has to be done sparingly, where no cognizable offence can be cited,” Delhi Police Counsel Naveen Sharma argued before the High Court, citing various orders of the Supreme Court.

Google and Facebook will have to appear in a lower court on March 13, along with Yahoo and Microsoft, who have been made a party in this case. The High Court has already denied to stay criminal proceedings against Yahoo India in a separate plea filed by them.

The criminal case pending in the lower court, is filed by Vinay Rai, editor of Akbari, who is asking for a mechanism by internet companies to check online content. The internet companies will now have to present their arguments in the lower court starting March 13, 2012.











RWAs may get more teeth to prevent water misuse in colonies


HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Gurgaon, February 17, 2012

To prevent the misuse of potable water in residential colonies, Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) is planning to give RWAs and maintenance agencies the power to penalise erring residents. “We can give this authority to some residents’ welfare associations or maintenance agencies,” said Huda administrator Praveen Kumar.

“But that would be the power to issue ‘evidence-based challan’. It means the RWAs or private agencies should have proper evidence before issuing challans against any resident,” Kumar added.

The civic body has launched a drive to curb wastage of drinking water by residents and developers. In the past seven months, nearly 80,000 people have been challaned. The city is running short of 20 million gallons of water per day.

DLF, the developer, will raise the issue at a special meeting with Huda on February 17. Baljit Singh, manager, DLF, said, “We should be given the authority to challan those who waste water. In the meeting we would put forward our request.”

Manpower shortage
Haryana’s first irrigation and power police station – set up to deal with water and electricity theft cases in Gurgaon – is grappling with the problem of staff shortage. The police station was inaugurated on January 1 this year.

“We do not have adequate staff to tackle mounting number of cases. At present, we have one SHO, four ASIs, two head constables and five constables as against the sanctioned manpower of one inspector, two sub-inspectors, six ASIs, 10 head constables and 20 constables for the police station,” said a police official on the condition of anonymity.

“Also three vehicles (one PCR and 2 bikes) were sanctioned, but we don’t have any of them. We have to hire a taxi to do our works such as delivering notices to the defaulters,” said the official. Senior officials said that the vacant posts would be filled within two months.

The dedicated police station, which has recovered Rs 3.35 lakh from the defaulters till date, exclusively deals with offences relating to theft of power and canal water under the provisions of the Indian Electricity Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).











CWG graft case: Two accused granted bail


Last Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 23:21

New Delhi: A CBI special court here hearing a corruption case related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games Thursday granted bail to two officials of a company and rejected the bail plea of an official of another company.
All the three were arrested for alleged irregularities in awarding a Rs.141 crore contract for timing, scoring and result equipment for the Games held in New Delhi.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge Talwant Singh allowed the bail application of A.K. Madan and P.D. Arya, promoters of Gem International, on separate charges of being proclaimed offenders. They had earlier got bail in the corruption case.

Now the two will be allowed to leave the jail.
The court dismissed the bail plea of A.K. Reddy, of Hyderabad-based A.K.R. Constructions, in the corruption case but allowed his bail application in the separate charge of being a proclaimed offender. He will continue to be in jail.
CWG Organising Committee`s former chief Suresh Kalmadi and eight others accused in the case have already been released on bail.
The individuals and the two companies were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.








Himachal: Karmapa summoned over currency row


Last Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 15:00

Shimla: Tibetan religious head and the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje has been summoned by a Himachal Pradesh court in March over the seizure of foreign currency worth Rs 70 million (over USD 1.4 million) from his monastery in 2011, police said on Thursday.
Officials from the Karmapa’s office based in Dharamsala said the Karmapa is out of station for over a fortnight to preside over the annual activities and therefore has not received the summons.

The chief judicial magistrate of Una has asked the Karmapa and nine others involved in the case to be personally present in the court on March 06, Additional Director General of Police SR Mardi said.
The charge sheet was filed by police on December 07, 2011.

The Karmapa has been charged under penal provisions related to conspiracy. The other nine accused included the Karmapa’s aide Rubgi Chosang, also known as Shakti Lama.
On January 28, 2011, police recovered currencies of 26 countries, including CNY 120,197 and around Rs 5.3 million in Indian currency, from the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery located on the outskirts of Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
It was after the seizure of Rs 1 crore meant for land purchase that police conducted searches at the monastery and recovered the currency.
Director General of Police DS Manhas told reporters in Shimla last month that during the course of investigation, police came to the conclusion that the Karmapa had a role in the currency row.
He said, “Since the Karmapa was heading the (Karmae Garchen) trust, all financial transactions being carried out by the trust relating to land purchase were in his knowledge.”
The Karmapa’s office said in a statement that “from the beginning, His Holiness (the Karmapa) has full trust in the Indian legal system and that he will cooperate and follow due process”.
“One of the three staff members of the Karmapa Office of Administration named in the charge sheet was in Dharamsala and received a summons,” it said.




HC reserves verdict on seat quota in polls


Express news service : New Delhi, Fri Feb 17 2012, 02:06 hrs
The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on a bunch of petitions by councillors and a few others seeking quashing of a notification by the State Election Commission on reserving seats for SC candidates for the upcoming MCD polls. The court reserved its verdict after hearing the arguments by the lawyers for the councillors and the state poll body.

The petitioners questioned the delegation of powers by Delhi government to the State Election Commission to decide on reservation of seats for SC and women candidates for the civic polls. They have also challenged the yardstick for rotation of seats prior to an election. They said that considering the 2001census was not appropriate, and a subsequent survey regarding population should be considered.










TDP hails HC verdict on petition against Naidu


Last Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 20:52

Hyderabad: There was jubilation in the Telugu Desam Thursday after the Andhra Pradesh High Court struck down a ‘public interest litigation’ filed by YSR Congress seeking a multi-agency investigation into the assets of party President N Chandrababu Naidu.

The petition was filed by YSR Congress Honorary President and MLA Y S Vijaya, who is widow of former Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.

TDP MLAs distributed sweets in the Assembly after the HC verdict even as a relieved Naidu maintained that those who did nothing wrong would not face any problem. “I have done no wrong…no one can do anything to me. The High Court verdict re-established this.”

The TDP President pointed out that there was nothing new in the allegations made in the petition. “She (Vijaya) doesn’t seem to have faith in the investigations launched by her (late) husband Y S Rajasekhara Reddy (against Naidu).”

The Leader of Opposition alleged the YSR family had been adopting a vengeful attitude towards him for the past many years.

YSR himself constituted many Cabinet sub-committees and even went to court but could not prove any wrongdoing, the former Chief Minister maintained.

TDP Politburo member Yanamala Ramakrishnudu welcomed the HC verdict and said Vijaya filed the petition at the behest of her son and Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy as part of “political vendetta”.

“The petition against Chandrababu Naidu was filed as part of the agreement Jagan had with the Congress high command. Jagan entered into the agreement after the CBI launched investigations against him,” Yanamala alleged.

Former Union Minister K Yerran Naidu said the ruling was a slap on the face of those who sought to gain political mileage by filing false petitions against opponents.











Guj HC rejects plea challenging formation of Shah commission


Press Trust Of India
Ahmedabad, February 16, 2012

Gujarat high court on Thursday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the constitution of Justice MB Shah Commission.
Petitioner Gunwantrai Joshi, social activist from Jamnagar, had contended that the manner in which the notification for appointing the commission was issued by the state government revealed that the intent was to avert the probe of important matters by state Lokayukta.

But the division bench of acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice JB Pardiwala dismissed the PIL, saying there was no substance in the contentions.

During the hearing, Joshi’s lawyer Vivek Mapara had demanded that notification appointing the commission be quashed, and all the matters before it be transfered to the Lokayukta.

Chief minister Narendra Modi appointed the Shah Commission in August 2011 after the opposition Congress submitted a memorandum to President Pratibha Patil, levelling corruption accusations against Modi in 16 cases.

Advocate Mapara had argued that the state government had reservations about the appointment of Justice RA Mehta as Gujarat Lokayukta, and on the day (August 16, 2011) the Governor invited a formal proposal for appointment of Lokayukta, Modi government issued the notification appointing MB Shah commission.

Language used in the notification suggested that the government, under the garb of Commission of Inquiry, was trying to justify its actions, he said.











HC reserves verdict on councillors’ petition


HTC, Hindustan Times
February 16, 2012

The Delhi high court on Thursday reserved its verdict on petitions of councillors seeking quashing of a notification by the state election commission, reserving seats for SC candidates for the upcoming MCD polls. Bench of justice SK Kaul and justice Rajiv Shakdher fixed the case for pronouncement of judgement after hearing two days of arguments by lawyer for the councillors and the state election commission.

The court had on Wednesday refused to stay the elections scheduled for April. The councillors questioned the delegation of powers by Delhi government to the state election commission to decide on “reservation” of seats for SC and women candidates for the civic polls.

Citing constitutional provisions, they said, “the Election Commission has no role whatsoever in reservation of seats or rotation of seats prior to an election. Its role starts with the preparation of electoral roll and conduct of election.”

The councillors had earlier moved the court seeking quashing of the notification, saying a faulty method was adopted to reserve seats for SC candidates.











Madras HC disposes off PIL against felling of trees


PTI | Feb 16, 2012, 03.48PM IST

MADURAI: The Madras High Court bench has disposed of a PIL against large scale felling of trees at the Saraswathi Narayanan College campus near here after its secretary submitted to compensate the loss by planting more trees and in future no trees would be cut without obtaining permission from the appropriate authorities.

In his affidavit before Justices Chitra Venkataraman and R Karuppiah, the college secretary V Thiyagarajan said the institution had devised a project to grow more trees on its 64 acre campus to compensate the felling of 64 out of 511 trees in the campus in Aug 2010. The trees were cut for providing hygienic and safe environment for hostel students, the secretary said.

The PIL was filed by Tamil Nadu Science Forum (TNSF) president S Krishnasamy. The TNSF charged that the college had arbitrarily cut down age old trees which provided a good environment besides serving as a sanctuary for numerous species of birds and bats against protests by a section of students and staff.

The District Forest Officer in his report said the campus wore a deserted look with the felling of 64 trees aged about 40 years. Most of these trees fell under the 36 species that were exempted from the purview of the Tamil Nadu Timber Transit Rules-1969.

There are 447 trees belonging to 46 different species in the campus. He said that no permission from the forest department was required for felling trees from places such as college complexes.












Gujarat HC rejects PIL challenging appointment of judicial commission


The Gujarat High Court on Thursday rejected a Public Interest Litigation petition challenging the appointment of the M.B. Shah judicial inquiry commission by the Narendra Modi government to probe into graft charges against the State government since 1980.

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J. B. Pardiwala held the appointment of the commission as valid and constitutional, rejecting the PIL petition filed by Jamnagar-based journalist Gunvant Joshi.

The PIL was filed on the ground that the Narendra Modi government, through a State Cabinet resolution, constituted the judicial inquiry commission under the chairmanship of the retired judge, M. B. Shah, only to forestall the appointment of a Lokayukta to investigate the graft charges against the State government.

The PIL pointed out that the Shah commission was constituted even when the process for the appointment of a Lokayukta was in progress and the then Chief Justice of the High Court S.J. Mukhopadhyaya, now elevated to the Supreme Court, had recommended the name of Justice R.A. Mehta, also a retired judge, for the post and the Governor had sent the recommendation to the State government for necessary action.

The Shah commission was constituted under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, a few days before Governor Kamala Beniwal unilaterally appointed Justice Mehta as the Lokayukta on August 25 last year. It created a furore and the State government approached the High Court challenging the Governor’s action. The commission was constituted after the State Congress submitted a memorandum to the President seeking her intervention for a probe into 17 charges of corruption against the Modi administration involving more than Rs. 1 lakh crore.

The Modi government, however, not only referred the Congress complaints to the Shah commission, but also authorised it to investigate complaints against all the State governments since 1980, including the Congress governments in the State before the BJP’s uninterrupted rule since 1998.

The PIL claimed that the commission was constituted by the State government only to ensure that the Lokayukta, even if appointed at a later stage, would not have the jurisdiction to investigate corruption charges against the Modi government.

The Division Bench, however, ruled that appointment of the judicial commission was within the rights of the State government and the PIL challenging its constitution could not be entertained at this stage when the validity of the appointment of the Lokayukta itself was pending before the Supreme Court.











HC raps govt over mining along railway track


TNN | Feb 17, 2012, 02.03AM IST

JODHPUR: The Rajasthan High Court, while hearing a petition filed by the railway over the mining taking place within 45 meters along the Jaipur-Jodhpur railway track, has severely criticized the state government on Thursday and asked whether an absolute ‘jungle raj’ is prevailing in the state. The mining is taking place in complete violation of the rules and regulations, thereby endangering the life of human beings, the court observed.

The court also sought an instant reply from the chief secretary on the stand of the government on these mining leases along the track. In his reply, the chief secretary told the court that these leases would be cancelled and in future ensure that no such violation takes place.

The court was hearing the petition for the third consecutive day on Thursday regarding mining activities along the Jaipur-Jodhpur track in Makrana. A division bench comprising Chief Justice Arun Kumar Mishra and Justice Kailash Chandra Joshi put a straight question to the mining department and the state government asking them how these leases were allowed despite court’s prohibition and not only that, these leases were renewed invariably.

The court observed that both the government and mining department are putting the national assets and human lives at stake despite it being a welfare state. “First, the mining department is responsible for these violations and the government is party to it,” the bench said.

The court also expressed surprise that despite constant reminders of the railway to the government between 1987 and 1992 regarding the damage to the tracks due to repeated blasting, the then chief minister wrote to shift the railway track instead of putting a check on the mining activity. “Now do they want this track to be removed and wait for 20-30 years more until new track is laid,” the court enquired while observing that government is committing illegality.

Furious at the state of affairs, the court had gone to the extent saying that, “if you are not stopped, you will dig up even the high court.” Superintending engineer, mining, M P Meena and mining engineer (Makrana) Sunil Sharma were present in the court.












Submit details of proclaimed offenders: HC to UT Police


RAGHAV OHRI : Chandigarh, Fri Feb 17 2012, 02:09 hrs


Anguished over the protracted delay being caused by the police in arresting a proclaimed offender, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has sought details of all proclaimed offenders whom Chandigarh Police have failed to arrest till now. Enlarging the scope of a petition demanding the arrest of one proclaimed offender, the High Court has issued notices to the Chandigarh Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP).

Justice R K Garg has made it clear that if Chandigarh Police fails to furnish the names and details of all the proclaimed offenders in the UT within two weeks, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) will have to remain present in Court on the next date of hearing.

The directions were passed by Justice R K Garg on a petition filed by a company, Kogta Financial Services India Limited. The petitioner approached the High Court, alleging that despite a lower Court of Chandigarh declaring a resident of Ambala a proclaimed offender in 2006, Chandigarh Police have failed to arrest him.

The Ambala resident, one Anil Chaudhary, was declared a proclaimed offender by a Chandigarh Court after the company alleged that he had issued cheques for payment of installments of a vehicle which had got dishonoured. A complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act was filed by the company in the year 2002.

After over four years, a Chandigarh Court declared Chaudhary a proclaimed offender. The company has moved the High Court, stating that it has been nearly six years but Chandigarh Police have failed to arrest Chaudhary. Expressing shock over the inability of the police to arrest the offender, the High Court has issued notices to the Chandigarh SSP. Responses have been sought from the superintendent of police (SP) and Ambala station house officer (SHO) too.

The petitioner alleged in the High Court that the (lower) Court) order has not been taken seriously by the UT Police as it has failed to trace Chaudhary. He further alleged that the proclaimed offender is roaming free in Ambala but neither Chandigarh Police nor Ambala Police are arresting him.

To ensure that no further delay is caused by the police forces of Punjab and Haryana, Justice Garg has also sought status reports of all proclaimed offenders in the two neighbouring states. If the status reports are not furnished within two weeks, the High Court has ordered, the Punjab and Haryana Director Generals of Police (DGPs) shall remain present in Court.









HC upholds BJP councillor’s election


PTI | 08:02 PM,Feb 16,2012

New Delhi, Feb 16 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has upheld the election of BJP candidate Balbir Tyagi as councillor of Vikaspuri MCD ward in 2007, setting aside the single judge’s order last year to hold fresh elections in his ward. Allowing Tyagi’s plea against the single judge order declaring his election as null and void, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw upheld the trial court’s 2010 order holding his election as valid. In April last year, the single judge had declared Tyagi’s election null and void and had ordered a fresh election for the Vikaspuri MCD ward. Rejecting Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) candidate Dhanwanti Chandela’s argument, the division bench said “Chandela was not able to prove the charge of corrupt practice (against Tyagi) beyond reasonable doubt.” “Various anomalies and loopholes pointed out in his testimony in support of his allegation are sufficient to raise reasonable doubt,” the bench added. (more)




Gurgaon land acquisition officer gets HC notice for ‘favouring’ pvt developer–favouring–pvt-developer/913135/


RAGHAV OHRI : Chandigarh, Fri Feb 17 2012, 03:07 hrs

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday issued notices to Land Acquisition Collector, Gurgaon and Haryana government after a petitioner alleged that the authorities changed the alignment of a road being constructed in Gurgaon so that land belonging to a private developer is not acquired.

The HC issued the notices while hearing a petition filed by Jeet Singh, resident of Gurgaon, who has alleged that the Haryana government arbitrarily acquired land for construction of road in Sector 66 and 67, Gurgaon.

Arguing the case, his counsel, Sandeep Sharma, submitted that land belonging to poor farmers has been acquired by the state whereas the land belonging to a private developer was not acquired despite it being falling within the alignment of sector road.

Alleging that instead of acquiring the developer’s land, the Haryana government changed the alignment of the road, he urged that the dispossession of the land of the petitioner, a farmer, should be stayed till the pendency of the case.

In his PIL, Jeet Singh, has also demanded quashing of two notifications – dated September 13, 2010 and May 4, 2011 – issued under Section 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act. He has also sought directions to the Haryana government to “produce the entire record of the acquisition including the record of those owners whose land stands released from the acquisition.”











HC reserves order on PIL seeking removal of Khurshid


PTI Feb 16, 2012, 12.32PM IST

LUCKNOW: The Allahabad High Court today reserved its order on a PIL seeking removal of Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid for his remarks on reservation for minorities.

The order was issued by the Lucknow bench comprising senior judge Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice Rituraj Awasthi after hearing the counsel of both the sides.

In his PIL, local lawyer Ashok Pandey has alleged that such statement made by Khurshid was against the constitutional mandate and the Prime Minister should be directed to remove him immediately.

The petitioner also contended that after Khurshid’s statement, the EC wrote a letter to the President which was referred to the Prime Minister and so necessary action was required in the matter.

Appearing on behalf of the centre, Additional Solicitor General Ashok Nigam strongly opposed the PIL, saying the statement was made in an election rally and not with any extraneous reasons.

He said that the PIL was liable to be dismissed. The EC had on last Saturday taken strong objection to his comments that he would continue to speak on nine per cent sub -quota for minorities even if the poll body “hangs me”.

The poll body had written to the President to seek her “immediate and decisive” intervention to uphold the constitutional body’s authority.










HC takes exception to escalation of construction cost of AIIMS


PTI | 09:02 PM,Feb 16,2012

Patna, Feb 16 (PTI) Taking note of delay in completion of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here which led to more than doubling of costs, the Patna High Court today showcaused the construction companies. A division bench of Justice P C Verma and Justice Aditya Kumar Trivedi showcaused the four construction companies and sought their replies by March 14 as to why hefty penalities would not be imposed on them for the inordinate delay in the completion of the work instead of one per cent of the contruction cost provisioned in the tender documents. AIIMS, Patna, whose foundation was laid in 2004, was scheduled to have started functioning from March 1 this year. The construction had begun in April last year after a protracted delay and costs have escalated to Rs 850 crore from the original Rs 332 crore. The four construction companies are M/S Nagarjuna, M/S D.L. Kashyan & Sons, M/S RDB and M/S XLL and the HC asked them to file their replies by the next date of the hearing fixed for March 14. The court was hearing a petition filed by the Council of Protection of Public Rights on the delay in completion of the AIIMS, Patna.



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