LEGAL NEWS 23.02.2012

Beni to appear before EC on Feb 24


Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma was on Tuesday granted personal hearing by the Election Commission to explain his minorities sub-quota remarks for which the poll body slapped a notice and he is likely to appear on Friday.

The Commission, which met here this evening, decided to grant personal hearing to the minister following his request in this regard.

“The Minister had sought a personal hearing before the Election Commission on the matter and the poll body granted him so. He will explain his position either in person or through his lawyer on February 24 now,” a top EC official told PTI.

During his hearing on Friday, Mr. Verma is expected to explain to the Commission on why action should not be initiated against him for violation of model code of conduct, sources said, adding that he had made a request to the EC in this regard to explain his position with regard to the minority sub-quota remarks.

Mr. Verma, in his reply to the Commission on Monday, expressed regret over his sub-quota remarks but has contended that he did not violate the model code of conduct and that his remarks were made as a Congress leader in line with the party’s manifesto and not as a minister.

The Election Commission had on Saturday issued notice to Mr. Verma over his remarks on sub-quota for minorities, holding that prima facie it was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct and had sought his reply by Monday evening.

While addressing a poll rally on Wednesday night in Farukkhabad in the presence of Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh and Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Mr. Verma had said, “Reservation for Muslims will be increased and if the EC wants, it can now issue a notice to me.”

Mr. Verma is the second Union minister after Law Minister Salman Khurshid to get an EC notice for poll code violation over the sub-quota remarks.

Sources in the EC said that Mr. Verma is toeing the line taken by Law and Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who was also issued a notice by the poll body over the minorities sub-quota remarks.

Sources said the Election Commission had taken serious note of his comments, particularly for daring the poll body to take action against him.

Govt says no move to curb powers of Election Commission


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 02.00AM IST

NEW DELHI: A political storm broke out on Tuesday over reports that the Centre is considering a proposal to give statutory status to the electoral model code of conduct and remove it from the purview of the Election Commission with the opposition accusing the government of trying to undermine the poll panel’s authority.

Faced with the charge that it is keen to reduce EC to a “toothless body” after several Congress leaders were pulled up by the poll watchdog, the government sought to put a lid on the controversy saying it was not considering any such proposal but admitted that “in course of discussions, incidental references were made to the code of conduct”.

However, a note for the meeting of the group of ministers on corruption scheduled for Wednesday says, “It was also suggested that the legislative department may also look into the aspect where executive instructions of the EC will be required to be given statutory shape.” The reference seems fairly direct.

Interestingly, the note indicates that law minister Salman Khurshid – who recently apologized to the EC over his advocacy of minority quotas – sought a review of the code. “The chairman (finance minister Pranab Mukherjee) was also of the view that code of conduct was one of the biggest excuses to stall development projects and thus agreed with the request of the law minister to flag this issue and its inclusion in the agenda paper,” the note says.

Senior ministers denied that the government was mulling changes over who will administer the code of conduct although Khurshid said giving legal status to it could be discussed if political parties wanted a debate. The minister might have been calculating that most political parties have been red flagged by the EC and might want the code’s operation to be reviewed.

It is also intriguing that the proposal on the code of conduct was to be discussed by the GoM on corruption with the note stating that the secretary of the legislative department has been requested to make a presentation on the progress made in the matter regarding giving legislative backing to the code. The department of personnel and training, however, argued that “state funding of elections” was a key mandate given to the GoM and the code was related.

Opposition parties were quick to latch onto the proposal, saying that once a violation of the code became a matter to be settled by the courts, hauling up offenders would take years.

The EC did not officially react to reports, but sources said the code was the main instrument by which the panel enforced free and fair polls. “If the power to implement the code is taken away, then the EC’s hands will be tied,” an official said. It ensures that correctives are applied while an election is still in progress.

The code is a voluntary compact political parties agree to adhere to and has the backing of the Supreme Court. The EC is a quasi-judicial body that issues notices to those who flout the code, hears them, looks at evidence and takes a decision. It can reprimand and censure offenders.

The code prevents governments and ministers from making policy and financial announcements and misuse of official machinery for electioneering. Some in the government feel there is a case for shortening the duration of the policy freeze that comes into effect when elections are announced.

A number of ministers on the GoM on corruption — Pranab Mukherjee, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and M Veerappa Moily — denied there was any proposal to rein in EC by giving statutory backing to the code.

“The contents of the report are totally misconceived as there is no such move under contemplation of the government or the GoM,” the ministry of personnel and training said in an official statement. “The GoM has not made any recommendation to make the MCC statutory or to take it outside the purview of the commission,” it added.

Mukherjee said, “There is no such thing. I don’t know from where this idea has come. But in the GoM agenda, there is nothing.”

Khurshid said the issue of giving statutory shape to executive instructions issued by the EC was not on the draft agenda. “But if it is raised by any political party during the course of discussion, we will take it as and when it happens,” he said.

The government said, “The GoM, in its last meeting held on September 30, 2011 considered a presentation made by the secretary, legislative department on the viability of various alternatives on the question of state funding of elections. In the course of discussions, incidental references were made to the issue of code of conduct.”

It added, “The subject has, accordingly, been receiving the attention of the GoM at its deliberations from time to time and the legislative department of law ministry has been updating the GoM on the several initiatives taken by that ministry and by the Election Commission on issue of state funding of elections along with other electoral reforms.”





NCW’s intervention sought in Indore gangrape case


PTI | 01:02 AM,Feb 22,2012

Indore, Feb 21 (PTI) Accusing to police of adopting a casual approach in the case related to the gangrape of two women here, the Madhya Pradesh Congress’ women wing today urged the NCW to intervene and ensure justice to the victims. “I have written to the chairperson of National Commission for Women Mamta Sharma to take cognisance of the case and ensure that the victims get justice,” Archana Jaiswal, who heads the women wing, said. She alleged that a video clipping of the crime was made on a mobile phone which was distributed. “But the police took no action and remained a mute spectator till the victims themselves walked to the police station.” According to police, the two women were gangraped by 18 persons in Betma area on February 10 and a case was registered on the women’s complaint on February 18. They said 15 people have been arrested in the case, including Vikas Bharti, the son of a BJP counsellor Rajni Bharti and grandson of a Congress councillor Dilip Kushwah. The BJP has expelled Rajni from the party.









Court: foreign lawyers must fulfil norms of Advocates Act to practise


No bar on their visits on a ‘fly in and fly out basis’ for cases

Foreign law firms or foreign lawyers cannot practise on the litigation and non-litigation side unless they fulfil the requirements of the Advocates Act and the Bar Council of India (BCI) Rules, the Madras High Court said on Tuesday. However, there was no bar either in law or the rules on the firms or lawyers visiting India on a ‘fly in and fly out basis’ for giving legal advice to their clients regarding foreign law or their own system of law and on diverse international legal issues.

The First Bench of Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Justice T.S. Sivagnanam was disposing of a writ petition by A.K. Balaji, who sought a direction to State and Central authorities for taking action against foreign law firms or foreign lawyers who practised illegally in India.

The petitioner also sought a further direction to them to forbear from having any legal practice either on the litigation or in the field of non-litigation and commercial transactions in any manner in India. The court also said that having regard to the aim and object of the International Commercial Arbitration introduced in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, foreign lawyers could not be debarred from coming to the country and conducting arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising out of a contract relating to international commercial arbitration. Business process outsourcing companies providing a wide range of customised and integrated services and functions to their customers did not come within the purview of the Advocates Act or the BCI Rules. However, in the event of any complaint against these companies violating the Act, the BCI may take appropriate action against such erring companies. The petitioner contended that law practice by foreign law firms or any foreign lawyer was illegal and impermissible. The Bench observed that it had been categorically stated that foreign lawyers visited India for giving advice on their own system of law or on English law. It found force in the submission by counsel for foreign law firms that if the firms were not allowed to take part in negotiations for settling documents and conduct arbitrations in India, it would have a counter-productive effect on the government’s aim to make India a hub of international arbitration.

International arbitration was growing big-time in India and in almost all countries. India was a signatory to World Trade Agreement.










Monitor liquor probe, HC urged


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 01.24AM IST

HYDERABAD: Expressing apprehensions that the ongoing ACB probe into the liquor syndicate-politician nexus may not reach its logical end, a citizen’s activist filed a petition in the A P high court on Tuesday urging it to monitor the probe on a regular basis and also provide functional independence to ACB.

O M Debara, member of Forum for Better Hyderabad, filed the writ plea contending that the court should supervise the probe. He said the court should facilitate unearthing of the full magnitude of the liquor scam. He said excise, police and other departments, besides politicians, had a big role in the racket.

He said the liquor syndicate was destroying scores of poor families in the state and time had come to put an end to this menace. He said ministers in the state cabinet were trying to settle scores and save their men involved in the scam.

The petitioner also mentioned in his plea that as many 450 requests of ACB to prosecute corrupt public servants were turned down by the state since 2003. He also sought the quashing of a government memo issued in 1999 restraining ACB from booking cases against the errant members of legislature in this regard.

The matter was posted to Friday for further hearing.










Official charged in teachers’ test scam moves HC


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 06.42AM IST

ALLAHABAD: Secretary, Board of Secondary Education, Prabha Tripathi, has approached the Allahabad High Court seeking stay of her arrest in connection with the Teachers Eligibility Test (TET) scam.

Tripathi, through a writ petition, has raised apprehension of her arrest in connection with the TET scam and submitted that she had nothing to do with it.

A division bench of the Allahabad High Court, though has not granted her interim relief, but asked the state government counsel to seek instructions in this case. The bench of Justice D P Singh and Justice V P Pathak has directed to hear the case on February 24. It is believed that soon after the arrest of Board director, Sanjay Mohan, in connection with the TET scam, the petitioner was also apprehending her arrest and therefore she approached the High Court seeking stay of her arrest.

Pointedly, the secretary has not been attending her office and her whereabouts were not known since last Sunday. The Board officials were also ignorant about her current whereabouts and were not in a position to tell if she was on leave.

Appointments quashed: The Allahabad High Court has quashed the appointment of three persons as stenographer in judgeship Moradabad, holding that their appointments were against the statutory rules. The order was passed by Justice Sudhir Agarwal, allowing the writ petition filed by Kumari Minakshi and others, challenging their appointment.

The writ petition was filed on the allegation that all the three persons were found extremely inefficient in typing test and had performed below the prescribed minimum limit but they were given appointment as stenographer by means of order dated June 5, 1990 on their assurance that they will improve their typing.

The high court after hearing the counsels quashed the order of appointment and allowed the writ petition with a cost of Rs 25,000 against
the then district judge of Moradabad.










Plea on recruitment of judges dismissed


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 06.38AM IST

CHENNAI: Clearing the decks for the recruitment of 185 civil judges for the subordinate judiciary, the Madras high court on Tuesday dismissed a batch of public interest writ petitions against the exercise.

A specially constituted division bench of Justice K Suguna and Justice M M Sundresh dismissed the PILs saying there were not enough reasons to interfere with the January 21 notification calling for applications.

The matter pertains to writ petitions filed by various bar associations and individual advocates on the grounds that the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission and the state government ought not to have ceded their recruitment powers in favour of the high court even as a one-time measure.

The January 21 notification sought to recruit 185 civil judges for the state judiciary. At least eight writ petitions were filed raising several issues concerning the advertisement. While some petitions say the TNPSC could not be undermined in the selection process, others demanded filling up backlog vacancies meant for SC/ST first, besides relaxation of upper age limit for SC/ST candidates.

A clause that law graduates in Madras high court service and employees of the high court are ineligible to participate in the selection drive too had been questioned.










Notice to Centre, Bihar on MPLAD scheme guidelines


The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre and the State of Bihar on a public interest writ petition questioning the guidelines framed by the Bihar government for implementation of the MPLAD scheme, contrary to the guidelines formulated by the Centre.

A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and Anil R. Dave issued notice returnable in four weeks on the writ petition filed by Capt. Jai Narayan Prasad Nishad, Member of Parliament, after hearing senior counsel Jayant Bhushan and counsel Ravi Shankar Kumar challenging the guidelines of the State government dated November 10, 2011.

The petitioner said “the question that arises in the present writ petition is as to “whether the State Government is justified in framing independent guidelines contrary to those of the Central Government framed for implementation of its fully funded Government of India’s Schemes under “Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme.”

He said the Principal Secretary of the Department of Planning and Development, Bihar, by an order dated November 10, 2011, had framed a new guideline for implementation of the “MPLADS” within the State of Bihar and made a separate procedure for Selection of Plan, Allocation of fund, Selection of Agency, Procedure and method for implementation, approval of Schemes etc.

He said that due to the framing of new Guidelines, the progress of implementation of the “MPLADS” for the year 2011-12 “is very poor in the State of Bihar, and till December 2012, a very minimal amount had been spent and the development works under “MPLADS” are badly affected. The public at large are on the verge of deprivation of basic amenities under the Central Government Development Schemes.”

He said “the public of the State have equal rights and opportunities for development under the Central Government’s fully funded Schemes to be implemented under the “MPLADS”. For the schemes covered under the Central List, the Central Government is only empowered to frame rules for its implementation while the State Executive has no power under Rule of Executive Business to frame Guidelines.” Hence, he sought quashing of the guidelines dated November 10, 2011 by holding them as ultra vires the Constitution.










Declare Adarsh a security threat: Army


Rajshri Mehta, TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 02.22AM IST

MUMBAI: With the Maharashtra government shying away from implementing the 2011 ministry of environment & forests order to demolish Adarsh, the defence ministry has opened another front to reclaim land on which the controversial 31-storey building stands in Colaba.

The local army unit has filed a writ demanding that Adarsh be declared a security threat to the Colaba military station. Calling it a ‘private’ society, the petition said Adarsh being the tallest building overlooks military establishments like the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) workshop, a storage and disbursal depot for petrol, oil and lubricants, within 27 metres to a maximum 400 metres.

“The entire top decision-making echelons-the General Officer Commanding (GOC) window being clearly visible-at the headquarters of the Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa (MG&G) area can be eliminated with sniper rifles and other hand-held weapons with the building barely 200 metres away,” the petition filed through Deepak Saxena, major general (chief of staff) of MG&G area, said.

Citing the case of US president Barack Obama watching live in Washington the operation to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the petition pointed out that it may be possible for residents of the building to observe numbers and types and movement of personnel, specialist and general purpose vehicles that may be parked in the workshop, from which their availability/serviceability can be analyzed.

“…potential residents of Adarsh and their guests, who could be foreign nationals, will not be under the jurisdiction of the Indian Navy or Indian Army authorities and hence not amenable to security checks,” army officials added, detailing a range of hand-held weapons available with terrorists that can be smuggled into Adarsh.

The army pointed to violations in provisions of development control regulation 16, which states the municipal commissioner can reject a building proposal if he considers it to be source of danger to the health and safety of inhabitants of the neighbourhood.

The role of five GOCs from 1999 to 2010 as being responsible for the security risk arising from the building was also pointed out. “Each successive GOC, be it A R Kumar, V S Yadav, T K Kaul, Tejinder Singh and R K Hooda, or their family members, were given a flat and thus, none objected to the land under occupation and owned by the army to Adarsh,” officials said.

To buttress security concerns, the army cited the example of Pakistani American national David Coleman Headley, currently in US custody, who surveyed sites across the city before the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.

The army said that to ensure a Adarsh-like situation is not repeated, they (in addition to the Western Naval Command) have sent a proposal to the defence ministry to restrict the construction and height of private buildings around 500 metres of the military station.

It added that as early as June 2003, the then defence estate officer has raised the issue of a security threat with the collector of Mumbai. In fact, it mentioned that the occupation certificate (OC) was issued to Adarsh despite a written request to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority ( MMRDA) to withhold its issuance, citing security concerns in 2010.








Aarushi murder case: CBI opposes Talwars’ plea for trial in Delhi


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 03.02AM IST

SC wants to know what is the harm in transfer

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday wondered why the CBI was objecting to Rajesh and Nupur Talwars’ plea for transfer of the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case trial from Ghaziabad to Delhi and asked what the agency’s objection could be when most of the witnesses were in Delhi.

The Talwars, who had unsuccessfully moved the apex court against the trial court’s decision to summon them as accused despite the CBI filing a closure report in the case, had sought transfer of the trial from Ghaziabad to Delhi on the ground that they feared for their safety. In January last year, a person had attacked Rajesh Talwar with a cleaver, inflicting serious cuts on his face and neck.

When additional solicitor general Harin Raval sought time for the CBI to file reply to the transfer petition filed by the Talwars, a bench of Justices B S Chauhan and J S Khehar wanted to know what possible objections the agency could have to such a plea. Raval said the CBI was prepared to provide security to the accused couple in the Ghaziabad court and sought time to file a comprehensive reply. The bench posted hearing on Monday and asked the agency to file its reply by then.

What was virtually given up as a perplexing blind murder case was revived on January 6, when the SC cleared the decks for the dentist couple’s trial for the murder of their 14-year-old daughter Aarushi and their servant Hemraj.

The SC upheld the trial court’s decision to summon the Talwars as accused in the case. The SC was apparently convinced by the evidence and arguments presented by the CBI that there was indeed a prima facie case against the couple. The two-judge bench of Justices A K Ganguly (since retired) and J S Khehar, however, had allowed the couple to remain on bail till their appearance before the trial court and refused to comment on the merits of the case.

The murder of Aarushi, a Class IX student of Delhi Public School, Noida, on May 16, 2008, and the subsequent discovery of Hemraj’s body the next day on the terrace of the Talwars’ flat not only developed into a bizarre whodunnit but also led to heated debate on the ethics of media reporting about the UP police’s allegations against the couple and the alleged motive behind the killing.






CWG: District judge sends file back to trial court


New Delhi: The Delhi district judge on Tuesday sent the file of a corruption case releated to the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) to the trial court for hearing on February 23 and deferred the proceedings on a defence counsel’s allegation doubting a fair trial.

District Judge Sunita Gupta listed the matter for March 5 for hearing the submission of prosecution over allegations of defence counsel.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Special Judge Talwant Singh on February 16 adjourned the hearing of the CWG case and sought directions from the district judge after defence counsel Ramesh Gupta, appearing for former Commonwealth Games Organising Committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot raised doubts over getting a fair trial.

Counsel Gupta along with former CWG Organising Committee’s chief Suresh Kalmadi’s counsel Siddharth Luthra told the district judge that the submission was made to point out the daily proceedings of the case affecting the life of the accused and others.

“Since date of scrutiny is fixed on February 23, so there is no need for the accused to be present in court on every day in between as the scrutiny is to be done in the chambers of the advocates and not in court,” Gupta had said before Judge Singh.

Judge Gupta sent the file to the trial court to take up the matter on February 23.

Judge Singh also denied Gupta’s allegation and termed it false. He refused to hold any proceedings till a direction was given by the district judge to whom he sent the case file.

The special court was hearing a case against Kalmadi, Bhanot and nine others in a corruption case related to alleged financial irregularities in awarding a Rs 141 crore contract for the time scoring and records system for the 2010 mega sporting event held in New Delhi.









Divorce cases dip in Chennai


Karthika Gopalakrishnan, TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 06.30AM IST

CHENNAI: Married couples in the city appear to be getting more tolerant of each other’s differences with statistics showing a decrease in the number of divorce cases filed at the family court last year.

The four family courts in the city recorded 3,742 cases of divorce and divorce by mutual consent in 2011. In 2010, as many as 3,803 cases had been filed in these courts.

Statistics available with TOI for the period from 2000 to 2011 indicate a slowdown in the rate of growth of divorce cases that are being filed as well. While the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) stood at 12.4% from 2001 to 2006, it tumbled to 4.9% from 2006 to 2011.

Lawyers say this could be due to the efforts made by the court in getting couples to settle their differences; even reunite, by sending them for mediation and counselling.

“Once a petition for divorce is filed, the couple are immediately referred to counselling. In the mofussil areas, they are sent to the Lok Adalat if there are no family courts there. If the couple do reunite, the case is dismissed as withdrawn. Perhaps these cases were not taken into account when the statistics were compiled. This could explain the fall in the growth rate,” an advocate said.

Lawyers add the slow down in the city should be matched by other areas of the state as well. “There is an increase in matrimonial cases from suburban areas. Thursday has been reserved for matrimonial matters at the Tambaram sub-court. We can get an idea of whether there divorce cases are reducing if we can get statistics from family courts in Coimbatore and Madurai along with data from the mofussil courts,” said advocate Adhilakshmi Logamurthy.

Pointing out cases continued to stagnate for years on end, lawyers said that concerted efforts had to be taken for speedy disposal of cases.

“Why does a person have to wait for eight years and why should his/her life hinge on the orders on a divorce petition? Close to 200 petitions relating to various issues are filed at these family courts every day. During the session between 10.30am and 1pm, the judges just call the cases and adjourn them. Matters are taken up for final hearing only during the later half of the day. A better system needs to be worked out so that cases are taken up for disposal in the morning itself. The process has to be simplified,” advocate Sheila Jayaprakash said.



Jamia students’ union polls; HC seeks varsity’s response


PTI | 07:02 PM,Feb 21,2012

New Delhi, Feb 21 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today sought response from Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) on a plea seeking a direction to the university administration to conduct polls to the students’ union which remains dissolved since 2006. A division bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Rajiv Shakdher directed the university to file a detailed affidavit within four weeks to the plea of Hamidur Rehman, a final year BA student, for a direction to hold the elections. Directing Atyab Siddiqui, the counsel for Jamia, to file the response, the bench fixed March 18 for further hearing of the petition. The petition alleged JMI was not conducting the students’ union election since 2006 on the ground that the atmosphere is not conducive despite several representations made in this regard before the administration. Alleging that Jamia administration had dissolved the elected body in March 2006 without giving any reason, the petitioner said, “Jamia was not conducting and allowing the students’ union election since 2006 onwards till date despite several representations and request made by students to various authorities including the vice chancellor.” The request for conducting the election was made time and again but no action has been taken, said the PIL, filed through lawyer Sitab Ali Chaudhary. “There is nobody in the campus to address the students’ grievances and problems and that is why they are being harassed frequently,” the lawyer submitted. It also claimed the HRD Ministry and the UGC have also asked the university to hold polls. Jamia has been charging Rs 50 annually from each student as union fee since 2006 but the authorities have “no intention to hold the election,” the petition said. (More)










Lawsuit on offensive content motivated, says Yahoo India


NEW DELHI: Yahoo India on Tuesday said in a reply to a Delhi Court that the lawsuit against it on ‘objectionable’ content was motivated and reflects an “abuse of the power of law”.

“The suit is a complete abuse of the process of law,” Yahoo India said in a reply to the lower court’s direction to file a compliance report to 21 websites to remove objectionable content from their web pages. Yahoo had asked for the removal of its name as a party in the case.

“The present proceedings are somewhat akin to a public interest litigation (PIL), wherein the plaintiff has sought certain reliefs, which do not directly concern the plaintiff and without there being any actual existing interest in the subject matter,” the website said in its written submissions to the court of Additional Civil Judge (ACJ) Praveen Singh. The Delhi High Court has refused to quash summons against Yahoo India, despite its plea that it is not an online social network.

Yahoo is asking for the removal of its name as a party in the lawsuit. The website pleaded that it should not be clubbed with Google and Facebook.

The website said in its written submissions that “it has been made a party in the case on the patently mistaken assumption that it is a social networking website and thus there is no cause of action against it”. Yahoo India’s lawyer Arvind Nigam further argued that since it is not a necessary party in the case, striking out its name would not affect the proceedings (against Google and Facebook).

The case in the lower court was filed last year by Mufti Aijaz Arshad Qasmi, founder of, against 21 websites for carrying ‘objectionable’ content. The government has sanctioned prosecution of the websites, on grounds, that they declined to come out with a mechanism to remove content. Government’s meetings with Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Facebook, last year on the issue, failed to draw a conclusion.









Don’t cut trees for legislators’ parking lot: HC


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 02.48AM IST

BANGALORE: Construction of a multi-level car parking facility near the Legislators’ Home (LH) is in limbo now. The high court on Tuesday issued an interim direction to the authorities not to prune or fell trees without the court’s permission.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen ordered notice to the government and the BBMP, asking them to file replies within two weeks on a PIL filed by advocate Ramesh Babu.

“You (government) have to show how it doesn’t form part of Cubbon Park,” the division bench observed when the government advocate said the earlier application seeking permission was withdrawn as it was found that the area in question isn’t part of Cubbon Park. The government advocate said the project has been taken up to set up parking facilities for visitors to Vidhana Soudha and the LH. The petitioner complained that though the government had withdrawn its application in October last year seeking the court’s permission for construction of the facility, work was going on and eight trees had been cut.









CID arrests 4 constables for custodial death


Published: Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012, 8:00 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The state Crime Investigation Department (CID) has arrested four constables attached with the Ulhasnagar police for their alleged role in the custodial death of Narayan Rathod in March 2011, the state government told Bombay high court.

Public prosecutor Pandurang Pol told the division bench of Justice SA Bobade and Justice R Dhanuka that the CID has lodged an offence against seven and is investigating the case.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by Hardas Tharwani, a social activist from Ulhasnagar, seeking an independent probe against the alleged killing of Rathod in custody.

As per the PIL, Ulhasnagar residents Govardhandas, 70, and Kavita Dalwani, 65, were killed on February 25, 2011. Govardhandas was a retired CRPF official. After two days, the police called in their son-in-law, Rathod, for questioning. He was called on three other occasions.

On March 1, 2011, however, the constables beat him during questioning, which caused his death, the PIL claimed.


HC declines to hear PIL


PTI | 08:02 PM,Feb 21,2012

Patna, Feb 21 (PTI) Patna High Court today declined to hear a public interest litigation seeking quashing of land allotment by the Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority to the relatives of politicians and bureaucrats allegedly in irregular manner. A division bench comprising Justices T Meena Kumari and Gopal Prasad disposed of the PIL filed by a Samata Party leader P K Sinha and asked him to submit a representation to the chief secretary raising all his grievances about the alleged irregularities in the land allotment.










Court quashes PIL seeking recovery of expenditure on Modi fast

The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday dismissed a PIL seeking recovery of the expenditure incurred on the three-day fast observed by Chief Minister Narendra Modi under ‘Sadbhavna Mission’ here last year.

A division bench of acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala rejected the PIL filed by one Rajesh Mota on the grounds that the expenditure on functions was decision of the executive government and there was no need for the judiciary to interfere into the matter.

The petitioner’s counsel Ratna Vora, who is also state president of the Women’s Cell of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), said they would challenge the high court’s decision in the Supreme Court.

In the PIL, the petitioner had alleged that Modi’s three-day Sadbhavana fast, held between September 17 and September 19, 2011, was neither part of any government programme nor it served any public cause.

Dubbing the Sadbhavna mission as a ‘drama’, Ms. Mota further contended that the fast was aimed at deriving a political mileage, and hence, the expenses incurred on the event should be footed by the ruling BJP or the chief minister himself.

The petitioner had also sought directions from the high court for recovery of over Rs 100 crore, which was reportedly spent on the event, either from BJP or Mr. Modi’s personal account.

This petition was the third such PIL filed with regard to the Sadbhavana fast and the expenditure incurred on it.

Last year also Mr. Mota had moved the court questioning the huge expenditure incurred on the much—publicised programme but later withdrew it when the judges pointed out certain technical flaws in the petition.

Another litigation on the same issue was filed by advocate K.G. Pandit who had cited newspaper reports in his prayer seeking recovery of the expenditure.

However, the high court rejected his petition for lack of any evidence.

Mr. Modi had undertaken the three-day fast in September last year for promoting peace, unity and harmony in the state.

He recently concluded a series of one-day fasts in all districts of Gujarat. In all, he held 33 one-day fasts in various districts and cities of the state, during which he also announced huge financial packages for development.

The opposition Congress had dismissed the fasts as a political drama and a drain on public exchequer.










PIL on land distribution: Last call for counters


BANGALORE: The High Court on Tuesday gave the final adjournment to file objections to the state government, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), the Department of Urban Development (UDD) and other beneficiaries of ‘G’ category sites in connection with a public interest litigation petition (PIL) alleging irregularities in the distribution of sites.

The petitioner and a city-based advocate S Vasudeva, submitted to the court, that since 2003, the state government acted arbitrarily while allotting G category sites by violating the provisions of the BDA Act. He stated that G category sites were allotted to 316 persons including seven ministers, five MPs, 143 MLAs and MLCs from February 2, 2006 to October 8, 2007 in violation of the Bangalore Development Authority Site Allotment Rules, 1984.

Earlier, the High Court had issued notices to all these 316 respondents.

However, only six have filed objections so far. Looking into the matter, the division bench comprising Justices K L Manjunath and Govindarajulu directed all the respondents who have not yet filed their objections to file the objections within a week’s time.

The bench further stated that if respondents fail to file objections, the Court will start hearing the case and adjourned the case for further hearing .












SC slams Guj over ‘spurious case’ against Teesta


HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 21, 2012

The Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed the Gujarat government for “victimising” social activist Teesta Setalvad and initiating a “spurious case” against her over her alleged role in illegally exhuming the bodies of the 2002 riot victims.
“This is a spurious case to victimise the petitioner. This type of a case does no credit to the state of Gujarat in any way,” said a bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai while hearing Setalvad’s appeal challenging the Gujarat High Court order which declined to quash the FIR against her.

A case was lodged against Setalvad at the Panchmahal district police station after she got bodies of post-Godhra riots victims exhumed from a graveyard near Panam river. The Gujarat HC had on May 27 last year declined to give the activist relief from facing prosecution.

The SC, on the other hand, said it wasn’t correct on the Gujarat government’s part to go ahead with the case. “You may be right in other cases. But not in this one,” the bench said.

It asked senior advocate and state counsel Pradeep Ghosh to go through the FIR and advise the government not to proceed with it. The bench said: “You advise your client not to proceed with this type of a case. You should show some responsibility and tell the government not to proceed with the case.”

The bench added that its interim stay — imposed on July 29, 2011 — on criminal proceedings against Setalvad in the case would continue till the next date of hearing.

The Gujarat government justified the registration of the case against her. The state said the activist had planned and executed the digging of graves without any permission in 2006. The government had said the other accused have claimed innocence and had blamed Setalvad for instigating them to carry out the exhumation, which is a penal offence.











Lawyer’s plea to renounce faith quashed


Nitin Yeshwantrao, TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 02.16AM IST

THANE: Karl Marx’s famous line about religion being the opium of the people appears to have been taken too literally by a local lawyer, whose unusual petition in the Thane sessions court to declare him as ‘non-religious’ was struck down by the Justice SS Todkar here recently.

Shrirang Balwant Khambete, a practicing advocate here pleaded that he was no longer eager to be identified with any particular traditions or faith and wished to abandon his religion.

The 50-year-old advocate said in his petition that the present day strife and struggle was a result of traditions rooted in religious faith. He said a value system based on principles of secularism or non-religious traditions is the key to spread peace in the region and therefore sought the court’s orders to be henceforth referred to as ‘non’ religious’ just like the constitution of India.

Religion and caste are purely man- manufactured. People will be happy and content only when they break-free of all man-made traditions of faith. Animals are not governed by any religious practices and so they lead a peaceful life. If man sheds his self-made beliefs of religion and instead accepts the larger humanity as his religion, it will put an end to disputes,” Khambete said.

The one-of-its kind petition, filed way back in 2009, invited attention among the legal fraternity as also the citizens here who were anxious about the fate of this plea given the fact that religion, caste and creed are considered as integral part of the Indian society

Khambete, who was born in a Marathi-speaking Brahmin family here, argued further that, religion cannot be imposed on a person merely due to the fact that he was born into a family where the parents preached a particular faith. If politicians can be referred to as Independens and the Constitution be called secular then by the same logic I wish to be non-religious,” he said.

Arguing his case in the court debate, advocate VP Patil told the court that the petitioner intends to abandon his caste and religion as per rule 13 (1) (ii) of the Hindu Marriages Act and that he does not want to take up any other religion after that. If the court can sanction change of religion then the person should legally be allowed to give up religion entirely,” Patil said in his petition.

Justice Todkar in his order stated that the view about religion and faith are purely the personal opinions of the petitioner and cannot be imposed on others. Quoting Article 25 of the Right to Freedom of Religion, the court observed that any person is free to embrace or give up his religion and if t the petitioner intends to give up his case and religion then he is within his rights to do so.

Justice Todkar said should the court sanction the title of non-religious” it could possibly complicate matters for the family members of such a person as after his death they would be caught in a legal trap on several issues of heir to the property or rituals etc.









Businessman faces trial for forging US mission letters


Express news service : New Delhi, Wed Feb 22 2012, 05:32 hrs


Upholding a magisterial court order, Additional Sessions Judge Rajeev Bansal has directed a businessman to stand trial on charges of cheating and forgery.

Ranjan Sukhani has been accused of forging letters of the United States Embassy and of officials of the United Nations to avail a substantial bank loan.

Sukhani had appealed against the magistrate’s 2004 order, and the sessions court has now asked him to appear before the former.

“I do not find any infirmity in the order assailed by the petitioner in these proceedings. The present petition is thus devoid of merits and is hereby dismissed,” said ASJ Bansal.

The case was registered against Sukhani the Vijaya Bank wrote to the Economic offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police, claiming that he had approached them for a loan of Rs 45 lakh.

Along with other loan documents, Sukhrani had submitted three letters purportedly written by the chief travel coordinator of the Embassy of USA, travel coordinator of an organisation of the UN and Videocon International Ltd. The bank had approached the police after it grew suspicious of their authenticity.




Adarsh probe: Maharashtra govt seeks interim report


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 02.28AM IST

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has filed an application before the Adarsh commission seeking an interim report on the scam inquiry. The commission of Justice (retired) J A Patil and member P Subrahmanyam will hear the application on February 24.

The state, represented by senior advocate A Y Sakhare along with advocates R Vasudev and Uday Nighot, sought the report on two of the 13 issues before the commission–who owned the land that was allotted to Adarsh and whether the plot was reserved for housing Kargil war widows.

The application says that it may take time for a final report on the 13 issues the commission is probing. The state has pointed out that the notification appointing the commission has a provision for an interim report.

The commission will decide on February 24 when to call former chief ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan and other high-profile politicians named in the scam.

The commission’s other terms of reference include, whether reduction of width of the Capt Prakash Pethe road and change of reservation to residential was in accordance with law, was the deletion of reservation of plot reserved for BEST and conversion to residential in accordance with law, did the state violate MRTP provisions to allow Adarsh to build a 31-storey tower, who approved non-eligible persons to become society members, did Adarsh obtain CRZ and MoEF clearance and the persons who were involved in the scrutiny of applications. –Shibu Thomas













Lokpal, lokayuktas face challenge from private complainants post SC order


Sanjay Sharma, TNN Feb 21, 2012, 06.16PM IST

CHANDIGARH: The recent Supreme Court judgment on the petition of Subramanian Swamy in the 2G scam has posed a big challenge to lokpal and lokayuktas in states while seeking prosecution of a public servant from the levels of a constable to a chief minister.

Now, a person can seek prosecution of chief minister from the governor of the state on the basis of a complaint supported by credible evidence without the governor being allowed to inquire into the complaint through some other probe agency and the accused being given an opportunity to be heard, experts in probe agencies and legal fraternity told The Times of India seeking anonymityThe only stumbling block in the direct prosecution through this route is that the appointing authority, which also has the power to remove any public servant, can refuse prosecution on the basis of its own assessment and the decision of the prosecuting authority is not open for judicial review, they said.

Now anybody in the government could be directly prosecuted if the petitioner approaches the authority that can appoint and remove a “public servant”.

The judgment allows the prosecution to be sent directly to a trial court that will further work on the trial on the basis of the application of the prosecution.

As soon as the prosecution is sanctioned, it carries the same status as a chargesheet filed by investigating agencies after a tedious process of gathering evidence through arrest and police coercion.

Sources said all prosecuting authorities do not have professional skills and infrastructure of the level of investigating agencies – police and CBI – to gather evidence.

Courts will now have a challenge to proceed on the basis of the quality of evidence collected by a private person who does not have coercive power of an investigating agency. Now, a lot of RTI information may lead to seek prosecution against a suspected public servant.

Conviction in large number of these cases will be difficult as very rarely can a private person’s quality of evidence be matched with that of investigating agencies to prove a corrupt act, sources said.

Another interesting development that may emerge after the judgment is that a large number of people will seek prosecution of chief ministers from the governors, especially in those states in which non-Congress parties are ruling.

Punjab and Himachal Pradesh may be immediately affected by the judgment.

This judgment has made the private complaint even more powerful than the lokpal or lokayukta as it can only recommend prosecution to the governor and the legislature but they might refuse the same to the lokayukta to further proceed.










Let the verdict speak


The Indian Express : Wed Feb 22 2012, 03:13 hrs

2G case is on, Justice Ganguly should avoid commenting on the ‘meaning’ of his judgment

The recently retired Justice Ashok Kumar Ganguly can look back on his innings with satisfaction — in his own words, he always played “with a straight bat”. He has always upheld the highest ideals of the judiciary — in his interview with this paper, he said he didn’t want any holidays when he died, a reference to the many delays and holidays that hold up the system and clog the courts. He capped his career with the 2G case, which he and Justice G.S. Singhvi had presided over from Court 11 since 2010. Right before he retired, he delivered some ringing judgments in the case — first, ordering that sanctions to prosecute public officials must be granted within four months, and second, cancelling the 122 licences awarded by then telecom minister, A Raja, in 2008.

In a recent interview, Ganguly clarified and nuanced certain aspects of the judgment. He explained that the court had not recommended auctions as the only way to allocate all natural resources and that the criticism of the first-come-first-serve method was confined to the context of the 2G case. He also explained why the judgment has drawn a distinction between the prime minister and his office, why the focus was on Raja’s dodgy decision-making, rather than the cabinet’s collective responsibility.

Ganguly was scrupulous about not going into the “nitty-gritties of the judgment”. He repeatedly underlined that his judgment would not have an impact on the ongoing criminal proceedings against Raja in the trial court. But given the saturation coverage of the 2G case, his most recent comments on the verdict have been splashed everywhere. So, with all due respect, even this trickle of commentary is perhaps avoidable, given that the 2G case is still under judicial consideration. There is a trial on in the lower court and some of the parties affected by the cancellation order have said they intend to file a review or seek the court’s clarification. While Justice Ganguly is free to reflect on his own decisions — and such reflection does richly add to public discourse — it would be advisable to refrain from any commentary while the legal process is on. For, the verdict and only the verdict should speak for itself.









I want younger lawyers to join the judiciary: CJI


PTI | Feb 21, 2012, 07.58PM IST

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia today expressed concern over many younger lawyers not preferring to join judiciary and asked them to enter the profession to serve the country.

“Today the problem is that many of the young people would like to go for non-litigation matters. They prefer to sit in cozy air conditioned chambers. I am not blaming them. They prefer to draft documents. Economic circumstances are such so I am not blaming anyone. But I want the younger people to join the profession. I want younger people to join the judiciary so that they can serve the country and the people,” Justice Kapadia said.

The CJI, who was speaking at the convocation function of the Indian Law Institute, also praised the younger generation for their objective view in dealing with their jobs.

“I am putting this in public domain today. Today in most complicated cases, very eminent senior lawyers are appearing in the Supreme Court but at the end of the day we find that it is the material by the young junior lawyers who are working very hard.

“I am proud of the younger generation because they think objectively and I am sure that all of you will take my advise and focus on clarity, confidence and commitment,” he said.





Vodafone case: PIL claims conflict of interest by CJI


Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 12.53AM IST

NEW DELHI: A petition filed in the Supreme Court on Tuesday has sought a reconsideration of the apex court’s judgment quashing the Rs 11,000 crore tax demand on Vodafone, saying that Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia who gave the lead verdict should have recused from hearing the case.

The petitioner, advocate M L Sharma, said that while ruling in favour of the telecom major, the Justice Kapadia-led three-judge bench considered a due diligence report filed by Ernst and Young — the global consultancy firm with which the CJI’s son Hoshnar Kapadia has been working as senior manager since 2008.

In a prompt response to the “conflict of interest” charge, Supreme Court’s deputy registrar H K Juneja confirmed that Hoshnar was employed with Ernst and Young (India) but said he was not part of the tax department of the firm which was engaged by Vodafone.

Juneja, also principal private secretary to the CJI, further emphasized that the Vodafone transaction predated Hoshnar joining Ernst and Young, and that he was not working for the UK chapter of the consultancy that provided the advice to Vodafone. “The Vodafone transaction is dated February 11, 2007. At that time, his lordship’s son was not in Ernst and Young (India). Further, the due diligence report dated February 11, 2007 has been given by Ernst & Young (UK) and not by Ernst and Young (India),” Juneja said.

The CJI’s response to Sharma’s charge will be keenly awaited. In an earlier instance, while hearing a case relating to Vedanta, Justice Kapadia had voluntarily disclosed that he had shares in the aluminum major’s sister concern. He continued hearing the case only after no “conflict of interest” objection was raised.

In November 2009, Justice R V Raveendran had withdrawn from hearing a high stakes legal battle in the Supreme Court between the Ambani brothers over KG Basin gas because his daughter worked with a law firm that had advised one of the parties to the dispute.

Sharma said if it was true that the CJI’s son was working in E&Y at the time of hearing of the Vodafone case, then it resulted in “an unexpected scenario” warranting setting aside of the January 20 judgment. He requested the apex court to post the Vodafone case for fresh hearing before a constitution bench.

The Centre has already sought recall of the Vodafone judgment on the ground that it was “erroneous” as well as “contradictory”. If the 266-page concurrent judgments — one by Justices Kapadia and Swatanter Kumar and the other by Justice K S Radhakrishnan — had miffed the government, not only on account of losing out on Rs 11,000 crore in revenue but also on being misunderstood on factual aspect, then it found expression in the hard-hitting 100-page review petition filed jointly by the Centre and the I-T department.

The government listed 121 grounds, each pointing to an error in judgment, to seek review of the January 20 order and said it was surprised by the apex court’s decision to give relief to Vodafone on the ground that its offshore transaction was a structured foreign direct investment into the country when in reality not a single penny came as investment into India.






CIC files charges against Viquar & his associates


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 01.11AM IST

HYDERABAD: Over two and half years after the arrest of the founder of Tahreek Ghalba-e-Islam (TGI) Viquar Ahmed, the police framed charges against him on Tuesday in cases related to attacks on cops on two different occasions.

Viquar with the help of his associates had formed the militant organization TGI reportedly to avenge the killing of Muslims in police firing following the bomb blast in Mecca Masjid on May 18, 2007. The State Counter Intelligence Cell submitted the charges in the First Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge at Nampally in cases pertaining to the killing and attacking of cops. Viquar was brought to Nampally courts premises amidst tight security on Tuesday.

The CIC also filed charges besides Viquar, against Syed Sulaiman alias Amjad, Dr. Haneef, Zakir, Riyaz Khan, Sayeed, Izhar Khan and Vinod Kumar Sahu.











CAT adjourns hearing on Sharma’s petition against chargesheet till March 1


Express News Service : Ahmedabad, Wed Feb 22 2012, 04:04 hrs
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) bench in Ahmedabad on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on a petition moved by Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rahul Sharma against the departmental chargesheet issued against him by the state government till March 1.

The tribunal adjourned the hearing after the state government made a statement that Sharma may file his reply by March 1 to the departmental chargesheet.

The departmental chargesheet has been issued to Sharma by the state Government for not submitting the original CDs containing mobile call data during 2002 riots to the concerned authorities.

Sharma has challenged the proceedings while inter alia claiming immunity under the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act.

He has stated that since he deposed before the Nanavati Commission related to the CDs, he cannot be made subject to any criminal or civil proceedings in that regard under the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act.

However, the state government has opposed this saying its action to initiate departmental proceedings against him are independent and have nothing to do with his deposition before the Nanavati Commission.

On Tuesday, Sharma’s lawyer Mukul Sinha completed arguments. The state government sought time to give a reply to Sharma’s rejoinder.

Sinha said that the state government has been granted time by the tribunal while considering the state government’s statement that Sharma would get time till next date of the hearing which is on March 1 to file his reply to the departmental chargesheet.

The tribunal is presently hearing the petition on the limited aspect of whether Sharma has got immunity against any government action in connection with his deposition before the Nanavati Commission.








Hasan Ali’s anticipatory bail rejected


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 01.36AM IST

HYDERABAD: A local court on Tuesday rejected the anticipatory bail petition moved by Pune stud farm owner Hasan Ali in the Passport Act case booked by the Central Crime Station (CCS) of the Hyderabad police.

On Tuesday, the VIII Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge of Nampally Criminal Courts Complex rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Hasan Ali in the case.

Based on information provided by the Enforcement Directorate, the CCS police had booked cases against Hasan Ali under sections 177 (Furnishing false information), 420 (Cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 12 (1) (B) of the Passport Act.

The allegation against Hasan Ali was that when his passport was impounded, he applied for a new one on September 30, 2000 by giving his Banjara Hills address and naming his divorced wife Mehbubunnisa Begum as his spouse and secured a second passport (No. Z1069986).

Hassan Ali is currently lodged at the Arthur Road jail, Mumbai.










J Dey murder: Journalist Jigna Vora charge-sheeted


Published: Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012, 13:12 IST | Updated: Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012, 13:35 IST
Place: Mumbai | Agency: PTI

The Mumbai Crime Branch on Tuesday charge-sheeted journalist Jigna Vora under stringent provisions of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and various other penal offences for her alleged role in the sensational murder of senior crime reporter Jyotirmoy Dey.

Vora has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including murder, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence, besides stringent provisions of MCOCA and the Arms Act.

The special MCOCA court took cognisance of the charge sheet and extended the custody of all accused till March 12. Jigna has been shown as the 11th accused in the case.

The Crime Branch, which is investigating the murder of MiD-Day journalist J Dey, had on December 3 filed its first charge sheet in the case against against 12 accused including fugitive underworld don Chhota Rajan which did not name Vora, who was arrested on November 25.

Vora, deputy chief of bureau of Asian Age was arrested under the MCOCA on charges of supplying licence plate number of the motorcycle and address of the slain journalist to Rajan.

Dey was claimed to have been shot dead on the orders of Rajan, who allegedly gave Rs5 lakh to the accused for the contract killing that took place in suburban Powai on June 11.

The chargesheet had described the role of each accused but did not mention that of Vora who has now been named in the supplementary charge sheet.

The police had seized her mobile phones and computer records.

According to police sources, Vora’s name had figured in the telephonic conversations between the accused and Rajan.

The accused against whom charge sheet had been filed were Rohee Thangappan Joseph alias Satish Kalya, Abhijeet Shinde, Arun Dake, Sachin Gaikwad, Anil Waghmode, Nilesh Shendge, Mangesh Agawane, Vinod Asrani, Paulson Joseph and Deepak Sisodia. All of them are in custody under MCOCA charges.

Chhota Rajan and his aide Nayan Singh Bisht were shown as absconding.

According to police, two articles written by Dey against Rajan on May 31 and June 2 could have cost the journalist his life.

Though the first charge sheet filed in the case had not named Vora, police suspected that her professional rivalry with Dey could have led her to get involved in the sensational killing. Crime branch sources said Vora had spoken to Rajan over phone quite a few times before the crime.

The charge sheet had named 176 witnesses and had on record the statements made by them.

Three of the arrested accused — Paulson Joseph, Deepak Sisodia and Arun Dake — had also given their confession in keeping with provisions of MCOCA.

The charge sheet said Satish Kalya, Anil Waghmode, Arun Dake, Abijeet Shinde, Nilesh Shendge, Sachin Gaikwad and Mangesh Agawane were at the scene of the crime.

According to the charge sheet, Kalya had fatally shot Dey, while Vinod Asrani had shown the target to Anil and Dake. Absconding accused Nayan Singh and Sisodia had supplied weapons to the accused, while Paulson had given Rs5 lakh contract money to the killers.

The 3055-page charge sheet ran into three volumes.










Anti-north Indian tirade: HC quashes FIR against Raj Thackeray


Agencies : Mumbai, Tue Feb 21 2012, 19:44 hrs

In a major relief for Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, Bombay High Court today quashed a 2008 case registered against him for delivering a speech against north-Indians which allegedly led to violence in the city.

Raj had been accused of “promoting enmity between two groups”, under sections 117, 151 and 153 (a) of the Indian Penal Code. He had been arrested by suburban Vikhroli police and released on bail the same day.

Raj had approached the High Court, seeking that the case be quashed, as the police had not taken the mandatory sanction from the state government before initiating action.

Accepting the arguments of Thackeray’s lawyers Rajendra Shirodkar and Shayaji Nangare, the division bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode today set aside the FIR.








Italy works back channels, sea law to get marines off Indian hook


Sandeep Dikshit

Two sides keen to ensure incident does not affect ties

The New Delhi-Rome standoff over the killing of two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast is not over yet with the detention of two marksmen, although the two sides are trying to isolate the incident from their “multi-faceted” bilateral ties.

Besides engaging diplomatically, Italy is working the Catholic channels via the Vatican to allow the two marines to leave for Rome after paying some compensation to the families of the killed fishermen. “But India is firm. Their case will be investigated here. And then, unless the courts decide otherwise, they should be tried here,” said highly placed sources, while disputing all the three legal approaches Italy is taking to secure the release of its two citizens.

The Italian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister will meet his counterpart Perneet Kaur on Wednesday and the Foreign Minister arrives next week on a prescheduled visit to convince New Delhi that any of their nationals involved in criminal activity anywhere are subject to Italian law.

“This is their main approach,” said the sources while pointing out that Section 4 of the Indian Penal Code says that any crime committed against an Indian or on an Indian vessel “wherever it may be” can be tried in India.

“So there is extra-territorial application of both Indian and Italian laws. As representatives of India, we will go by the legal process here. There are differences with Italy on facts, procedure and processes but we are willing to engage with them. If they so desire, we will provide consular access to the two detained by the Kerala Police,” said official sources.

The second approach Italy is taking is to argue that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) permits prosecution only by the state whose flag the ship is flying or the state of which the citizen is a national (in both cases Italy). The third is that their ships have the right to take on pirates.

“We think Italy is overdoing this. According to us, Article 97 of UNCLOS to which they are referring deals only with collision of vessels and other such incidents. Italy also feels it has the right to take action against pirates. In this too they are in the wrong. This right is given only to naval vessels and not merchant ships,” said highly placed sources, basing their explanation on the advice given by the MEA’s legal cell.

Officials here also confessed that both sides are facing an issue like this for the first time.

Asked if there were precedents of this nature, official sources pointed out that an Indian fishing vessel was attacked by nationals of another country in 2008 and “we know what happened after that in Mumbai.”

They also felt whether the ship was in India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or not shouldn’t be an issue. “Italy and India have the same clauses pertaining to extra-territorial jurisdiction. The ship was over 5,000 km away from the Italian coast. Don’t make an issue of the EEZ aspect.”

“Our goal is to isolate this incident. That’s why we explained the legal framework on Sunday to the Italian delegation. Besides law and order is a state subject,” added the sources.










NMA clears way for HC complex expansion


Utkarsh Anand : New Delhi, Wed Feb 22 2012, 05:53 hrs


Rapped by the Delhi High Court for “stalling and delaying” the development and expansion of the court complex, the National Monument Authority (NMA) on Tuesday submitted in the court the approval of the heritage bylaws pertaining to Sher Shah Suri Gate and Khair-ul-Manazil. The HC complex falls within the regulated area (101-300 metres from a protected monument) of the heritage structures.

The bylaws will be a first for any monument in India. The bench, headed by Justice Pradeep Nandarajog, had earlier this month ordered all NMA members to be personally present in court with an explanation, if they failed to notify the bylaws by Tuesday.

The bylaws have proposed a maximum height of 21 metres for new constructions so that they do not affect the view of the monuments or the angle of vision.

While the bylaws will not apply to the court’s main building or its two existing blocks — which are more than 30 metres in height, the upcoming Block C would have to abide by the fresh rule and will be restricted to four-stores.

Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok, who appeared for the High Court Bar Association, contended that the court had recorded that the recently acquired 2.74 acre of land abutting the court complex and the area where Block C is being constructed did not fall within the regulated area of the monuments and, hence, did not require any cap on its height. The court had put this on record after the official concerned from the ASI had agreed to the position.

Block C has been planned as a multi-storey building with 44 court rooms, including eight rooms for the joint registrars. The court complex currently has 36 court rooms, out of which two are makeshift rooms.

During the hearing, the ASG told the bench that with the bylaws in place and in the wake of a recent Supreme Court verdict prohibiting construction of multi-storey buildings within 100 metres of protected monuments, they had no objection in going ahead with the construction of the building. He said the Bar would still try to have 44 court rooms in the proposed four-storey structure.

Chandhiok, however, objected to a regulation in the bylaws that stipulated maximum permissible coverage on ground as 25 per cent of the area of the site and maximum permissible Floor Area Ratio (FAR) as 125 per cent of the site area. He referred to the Delhi Master Plan 2021, which allowed 30 per cent of the site area to be earmarked as integrated office complex and FAR as 200 per cent.

Justice Nandarajog then directed the NMA to consider the anomalous position and resolve it.

In November 2011, the bench had directed the Central government to notify the NMA within 30 days under the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 2010. The order was passed since only the NMA could sanction plans pertaining to regulated areas. A delay in notification held up the infrastructure and expansion plan of the court.

Subsequently, a competent authority under the Act apprised the bench in January that the draft heritage bylaws pertaining to Sher Shah Suri Gate had been submitted to the NMA and it now required their sanction.

The bench then posted the matter to February first week, asking the NMA to take a decision on the proposla by then. However, the court was informed that bylaws were yet to be finalised, compelling the court to pass the order: “If within two weeks, the heritage bylaws pertaining to Sher Shah Suri Gate are not notified, all members of the NMA shall be personally present in the Court at 10.30 am on February 21.”

Also, it was a nudge by the bench that more than nine Central and state government authorities had “put their heads together” that led to a clearance for the construction of an underground multi-level automated parking lot near the High Court. The fully automated six-level underground parking with a capacity to accommodate 1,500 cars on Sher Shah Suri Marg had been mired in controversy since its began in 2008 with conservationists expressing fears that it threatened a tomb in the vicinity. Thanks to the bench, the parking facility is currently having its trial run and is expected to be operational soon.











Bombay HC: Pvt persons cant impose fine on citizens


Published: Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012, 8:00 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Mumbai

The Bombay high court on Tuesday once again questioned the authority of Clean-Up marshals to impose fines on citizens found littering and engaging in non-civic behaviour. “If allowed to punish citizens, then private persons might even be allowed to jail people in future,” a division bench of justices SA Bobade and RD Dhanuka observed.

“Show us the clause that allows you to allow private persons to collect fines,” the bench said, while refusing to lift its earlier oral curb on Clean-Up marshals from collecting fines. The court made the observations during its hearing of a plea by ESS Infra Projects, a body of ready-mix cement truck owners that has challenged the marshals’ right to fine truck owners “for dirtying the roads with mud”.

As per its plea, Clean-Up marshals have been levying a fine of Rs10,000 on the ready-mix cement trucks found to have mud around their wheels. Failure to pay ends up in the vehicles being detained for hours, leading to a loss worth Rs30,000, as once mixed the cement must reach its destination within three hours or else it dries up. The next hearing of the plea will come up after vacation.













HC quashes extension to retired official, fines Punjab govt


Ajay Sura, TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 03.24AM IST

CHANDIGARH: Weird grounds preferred by Punjab government in retaining a 78-year-old retired Lt Colonel as district Sainik welfare officer (DSWO), Jalandhar, failed to impress the Punjab and Haryana high court, which on Tuesday not only quashed the appointment, but also imposed an exemplary cost of Rs 50,000 on the state.

Lt Col Manmohan Singh was retained in service by the state in complete contravention of service rules on grounds that he is “drawing a salary of Rs 1 per month only”, his “name was recommended for Padma Bhushan award” and he has done an “excellent job”. This was the plea of the state government as well as Lt Col Singh before the court.

Quashing the appointment, a division bench headed by Justice M M Kumar also directed the chief secretary, Punjab to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances under which the retired army officer was given extensions, flouting all rules and also to fix responsibility for making illegal appointment of Singh. The court has also held that government would be at liberty to recover the cost of Rs 50,000 from the officer found guilty in the inquiry.

The matter was raised through a PIL filed by H S Rathi, who contended that the appointment was violative of Punjab Defence Services Welfare Officers (Group A) Rules, 1986, which provided the upper age limit as 55 years for the said post. The petitioner alleged that the Lt Colonel was given appointment as DSWO for the last 24 years, purely on pick-and-choose basis, without issuing any advertisement or inviting applications from eligible persons, and without making regular appointment to the said post through Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC).










Illegal construction: HC rejects plea of 44 traders


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 04.14AM IST

NEW DELHI: Saying the menace of unauthorized construction is “eating into our city”, the Delhi high court on Tuesday said that such constructions shouldn’t be tolerated. A bench comprising Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw made the observation while dismissing a batch of petitions filed by 44 shopownersof Diamond Mall, Karol Bagh.

The owners had approached HC, challenging the decision of the MCD to seal their shops. They had argued that they were subsequent purchasers of their respective shops, not the owners of the plot or developers of the construction on the plot. According to the MPD 2021 and the zonal development plan, the MCD is required to frame redevelopment plans and schemes for these areas, they further argued. The shop owners accused the MCD of adopting double standards.

According to the MCD, the building plans for the construction over three plots was sanctioned in 2004 and the property was permitted for commercial purposes. MCD alleged, unauthorized constructions in the shape of deviations excess coverage of basement and other floors with projections on municipal land led to demolition action by the civic agency. Sealing action was also taken and some of the floors were sealed in the last few years. “The petitioners even as subsequent purchasers owed a duty to satisfy themselves of the illegality of the title which they were seeking to require…the present is a clear case where the entire construction of Diamond Mall by illegally amalgamating three distinct plots is unauthorized,” the bench observed, dismissing the plea.










HC rap for Clean-Up marshals


Rosy Sequeira, TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 02.49AM IST

MUMBAI: “You’ll put people in jail also,” the Bombay High Court said on Tuesday in response to a complaint by Clean-Up marshals that they were being restrained from collecting fines from offenders.

A division bench of Justice Sharad Bobde and Justice Ramesh Dhanuka was hearing a petition filed by an association of ready-mix concrete truck owners, alleging that Clean-Up marshals appointed by Sulabh Security were detaining its vehicles and releasing them on the payment of a Rs 10,000 fine for littering roads with mud.

On February 7, the judges had questioned under what powers had the BMC allowed a private party to collect fines; it had orally directed that no fines should be collected till the next hearing.

Advocate Sunil Dighe, appearing for two intervener security agencies, said the BMC had directed them to stop collecting fines following the court order. “The burden is on the private agencies. We cannot collect fines from the defaulters,” he added.

BMC’s advocates Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and Jernold Xavier said the agencies might be permitted to collect fines and the amount should be deposited in court. “If fines are not collected, it will lead to littering,” argued Kumbhakoni.

The judges reiterated it was for the BMC to collect fines and not private parties. “We are equally concerned about cleanliness. That does not mean you (BMC) authorize private persons to collect fines,” said Justice Bobde. “You’ll (marshals) put people in jail also. Once you have the power to punish people, there is no end to punishment.” The matter was adjourned by a week.










HC dismisses plea by jewellers seeking relief from sealing


Express news service : New Delhi, Wed Feb 22 2012, 05:55 hrs


Favouring a stern approach against the menace of unauthorised construction in the city, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition by jewellers whose shops in Karol Bagh-based Diamond Mall was sealed for being in breach of municipal bylaws.

Also handing out a word of caution for all those who purchase such properties, the court held that illegality in the form of unauthorised construction could not be condoned and it was the purchasers’ duty to enquire well about a property before buying it.

“The menace of unauthorised construction is eating into our city and cannot be tolerated. Merely because the petitioners claim to be innocent subsequent purchasers cannot be a ground for this court to allow them to retain the illegality,” said a bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw.

A petition by owners of 44 jewellery shops in Diamond Mall at Karol Bagh had moved the court against a sealing order passed by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in August last year. The jewellers submitted that they were just subsequent purchasers of shops and not the owners of the plot or developers of the construction on the said plot. The petition further disputed the fact that their shops was situated on residential plot and also sought a court directive to the MCD to first framing redevelopment plan for the area and defer action till then.

The MCD’s affidavit in the court, however, disclosed that the mall was built up after merging three different plots, out of which only one was permitted to be used for commercial purposes and the remaining two were for residential purposes. It further said the redevelopment plan for the said area was still under preparation and, hence, commercial activities could be allowed only on the plots designated under the Delhi Master Plan 2021.

The MCD also referred to a Supreme Court’s order holding that no court other than the Supreme Court will have any jurisdiction to order a de-sealing of premises sealed under its orders.

Finding substance in the MCD’s submissions, the court noted that though petitioners claimed to be subsequent purchasers of the shops, the fact remains that their claim was steeped in illegality. It dismissed the petition saying the construction of Diamond Mall was done illegally by amalgamating three distinct plots.










HC asks govt why illegal banners aren’t removed


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 06.31AM IST

CHENNAI: With chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s birthday just two days away and the city witnessing a spurt in digital banners and hoardings on main roads, the Madras high court has asked the authorities to spell out action taken against those who put up unauthorized banners.

The first bench comprising Chief Justice M Y Eqbal and Justice T S Sivagnanam gave the directions on Tuesday, on a public interest writ petition of social activist K R ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy.

Pointing out that the bench had adjourned the matter on January 3 with a direction to the government pleader that a counter-affidavit be filed in four weeks, the judges expressed dissatisfaction when informed on Tuesday that the counter-affidavit was yet to be filed. Describing it as ‘unfortunate’, they said: “The counter-affidavit must be filed stating specifically as to what steps the authorities had taken for redressal of the grievances of the petitioner (Ramaswamy).” They, however, acceded to the request of advocate-general A Navaneethakrishnan who wanted more time to file a counter-affidavit. The matter has now been posted to February 27 for further hearing. In this regard, they pointed out that when the matter came up for hearing on January 3, the bench had given four weeks for the authorities to file an affidavit narrating the action taken to regulate the erection of banners and pandals in public places.

In his PIL, Ramaswamy had stated that authorities were indifferent to largescale violation of court orders and the relevant law by party men who put up huge digital hoardings and also damage roads. He said most of the police stations were not ready even to acknowledge complaints about such violation.











Pay 5L to ragging victim: HC to TTD


TNN | Feb 22, 2012, 01.56AM IST

HYDERABAD: The TTD found itself in an embarrassing situation when the AP high court on Tuesday directed the authorities to pay Rs 5 lakh compensation to a student of TTD’s Veda Pathasala at Tirumala in connection with the ragging and physical abuse by senior students.

The victim, a junior student, was sexually assaulted by his seniors in the school. The court ordered the authorities to pay the compensation to the boy’s family for the trauma they had undergone all these months. The court’s order comes close on the heels of its earlier directive in which it had ordered the authorities to pay Rs 5 lakh compensation to another boy who was also abused physically by seniors.

After the issue rocked the state, the court took the matter suo motu and appointed amicus curiae Naveen Rao to probe the activities in the Veda Pathasala. It also directed the authorities to provide medical assistance to another boy of the school, who was allegedly abused by his seniors.

In another case, the High Court imposed Rs 5,000 fine on the state government for not filing its counter to a petition that charged the state with inaction in controlling the mushrooming of statues in public places in an unlawful manner.

A bench comprising chief justice Madan B Lokur and Justice P V Sanjay Kumar while dealing with a petition filed by TDP leader Ch Ayyanna Patrudu ordered the state government to submit a report within two weeks on the erection of statues of late political leaders without permission in busy public places in Visakhapatnam.



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