LEGAL NEWS 30.04.2012

Aarushi murder case: Nupur Talwar surrenders before Ghaziabad court

TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 08.48AM IST

NEW DELHI: Nupur Talwar on Monday surrendered in the Ghaziabad court as Supreme Court had refused to stay the non-bailable warrant against her. She has been taken into judicial custody.

Nupur Talwar also filed her bail plea in the trial court. However, the CBI has asked the court that they will file a counter application to oppose her bail. The CBI will be filing their reply in two hours.

On April 27, Nupur Talwar was directed by the Supreme Court to surrender on Monday before the trial court in Ghaziabad in the twin murder case of her 14-year-old daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj in Noida four years ago.

Refusing to stay the non-bailable warrant issued against her by the special CBI court, a bench of justices A K Patnaik and J S Khehar asked her to approach the trial judge for bail after surrendering which shall expeditiously consider her plea.

The court also turned down her plea for granting protection against any arrest on her surrender.

“We should not anticipate about what the trial court is going to do. You appear before it and the court shall consider your bail. If you do not get bail then there are higher courts,” the bench said.

The bench pointed out that her husband also got bail in the twin murder case.

“We are not inclined to stay the operation of the order of NBW issued by the Special Judge, Ghaziabad. But we direct that petitioner (Nupur Talwar) will appear on Monday and move her bail. In case application for bail is moved, the same shall be considered expeditiously,” the bench said.

School-going Aarushi was murdered on the intervening night of May 16-17, 2008 at her Noida residence and the body of domestic help, Hemraj, was found on their terrace the next day.

Nupur faced arrest after Ghaziabad special court issued non-bailable warrant against her on April 11 following which the CBI had carried out searches at her Delhi home.

The investigating agency, however, later on assured the bench that it would not arrest her till the hearing of her plea in the apex court.







BSNL directed to provide call details to lawyer

Nothing wrong in providing details about his own number: HC The Madras High Court Bench here has directed the General Manager of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) here to provide details of incoming and outgoing phone calls made by a lawyer through his mobile phone on a particular date along with details of locations from where the calls were made and received in order to prove his innocence in a criminal case registered against him.

Allowing a writ petition filed by the lawyer, B. Stalin, through his counsel P. Rathinam, Justice D. Hariparanthaman said that there was nothing wrong in providing the details sought for by the petitioner as he was seeking information about his own mobile phone number. “It is a different matter, if the petitioner had sought for certain details relating to a mobile phone belonging to someone else,” he added.

The judge also pointed out that the Madurai Collector U. Sagayam too had written a letter to the General Manager of BSNL on April 7 asking him to provide the details sought for by the petitioner by stating that “we are living in the era of Right to Information Act and hence every citizen of the country had the right to obtain the information sought for by him.”

The Madurai district police had registered a criminal case against the lawyer on March 10.

However, he was granted interim bail by a Division Bench of the High Court on March 13 following a habeas corpus petition filed by his father K. Bhaskaran.

Subsequently, he made an application to BSNL seeking the details about the calls made and received on March 10.

The information was not provided and hence the present petition.








Kerala seeks SIMI ban extension

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The Kerala Government in its affidavit filed before the Special Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act Tribunal, headed by Justice V K Shali, has requested the Centre to continue its ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
In February, the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had extended the ban for two years under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1963.
The Central Government in March 2012 constituted a committee headed by Justice Shali to examine if sufficient evidence exists against SIMI to extend the ban. As per Unlawful Activities Act 1963, the ban has to be approved by the tribunal.
Kerala Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan confirmed the state government move. “The Central Government had already extended the ban in February. We are just endorsing it. SIMI is still spreading propaganda in the state through various front organisations.The state government wants the ban to continue. We are facing a lot of problems because of SIMI activities.
I will try and meet Justice Shali when he is in Kerala next week and convey our stand,” Radhakrishnan said.
Radhakrishnan also hinted at various front organisations floated by SIMI in Kasargod district that have been active in organising seminars and symposium.
“The state government will soon convene an all-party meeting to discuss the problems in Kasargod and parts of Kozhikode. It is important to put a curb on propaganda circulated through various NGOs by organising symposium,” he said.
Home Ministry sources said there are at least 15 front organisations of SIMI in Kerala and intelligence input received by the Centre over the years clearly indicate SIMI links with Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba. “Some non-governmental organisations are acting as messenger. There are reports indicating that these NGOs are receiving funds from abroad,” sources said.








Endosulfan: NHRC presses State to pay compensation

Special Correspondent

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Chief Secretary to personally appear before it on June 11, if the State government failed to take action on the compensation recommended by it to endosulfan victims in Kasaragod district.

The Chief Secretary is to file an action taken report on the NHRC’s recommendations before June 4, failing which he would have to appear before the Commission. The NHRC has warned that it would approach the Supreme Court for enforcement of its recommendations if the government failed to pay the compensation.

The NHRC had said that the State should pay at least Rs. 5 lakh to the next of kin of those who had died and to those who were fully bedridden or unable to move without help or mentally retarded and Rs. 3 lakh to those who have got other disabilities.

Though the NHRC had said that the Union government should give adequate financial help to the State government, the Centre is yet to approve a proposal submitted by it.

Recently, the State government issued an order taking over liabilities of the Plantations Corporation of Kerala in this regard. It was the Corporation which undertook aerial spraying of endosulfan in its estates spreading across or adjoining a dozen villages in Kasaragod district, disregarding rules. The spraying of endosulfan, which started in the late 1970s continued till 2001.

The NHRC, which considered the issue suo moto in 2010, had given its recommendations in December 2010. Last year, the State government said in an action taken report that the payments could not be made since the assistance from the Centre was not forthcoming. More than 4,000 people have already been identified as victims eligible for relief and four-stage verification is on in the case of about 1,400 more applicants. The process includes medical examination by experts and confirmation of place of residence by Revenue Department.

The NHRC had recommended that a panel of doctors might assess the extent of physical disability to classify the categories of victims. It had also called for a survey of other populations that might also have been affected by the use of endosulfan including in Palakkad district where there were reports of similar problems faced by villagers.

Besides, the NHRC had recommended increase in the quantum of relief, rehabilitation for victims and their families, improvement in facilities for diagnosis, treatment and therapy available at hospitals and health centres. It also suggested that at least one of the hospitals attending to the victims should be equipped and staffed to offer advanced care and all Primary Health Centres in the eleven villages, which are seriously affected, may be upgraded to Community Health Centres.









NHRC issues notice to UP police over death of woman

PTI | 06:04 PM,Apr 30,2012

New Delhi, Apr 30 (PTI) The NHRC today issued notice to Uttar Pradesh Police in connection with death of a road accident victim after it was alleged that cops of two police stations were busy arguing over jurisdiction instead of taking to hospital the injured woman who was mauled by stray dogs. If true, this indifference by the police who are supposed to take action is quite reprehensible and also violative of human rights of a citizen, the National Human Rights Commission observed in its notice. The Director General of UP Police has been asked to submit a detailed report in the matter within four weeks after taking suo motu cognisance of the incident, an NHRC spokesperson said. A woman senior citizen was knocked down by a vehicle in Hapur on April 21 and the police allegedly argued over jurisdiction and did not take the injured lady to a hospital for treatment. Quoting media reports, the NHRC said, even as she was crying for help, the stray dogs mauled her to death.







Conditional acquittal for all accused in Umta rioting case

Manas Dasgupta

All the surviving 109 accused in the Umta rioting case, in which two persons were killed during the post-Godhra communal riots, have been granted conditional acquittals by the Visnagar court.

Mohammad Abdul Sheikh, a retired teacher, and Abdul Mansuri, were killed and later their bodies thrown into a fire during communal violence in Umta village in Visnagar taluka of Mehsana district in north Gujarat on February 28, 2002. More than 100 houses of the minorities were also looted and set afire by a mob of over 2,000.

The police arrested a total of 120 persons in connection with rioting, arson and murder. Of them, 11 died during the trial.

Visnagar court judge K.V. Magnani on Friday acquitted all the accused giving them the benefit of doubt because no “concrete evidence” was available against any of them. The court, however, stipulated conditions asking them to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 10,000 each, deposit their passports if they held one, and submit their address proofs before the court. The acquitted have also been told not to leave Gujarat without the permission of the court.

Special Public Prosecutor Navin Barot regretted the court order but said the court had to give them the benefit of doubt as prime witnesses, who hailed from the village, had all turned hostile and refused to recognise any of them as attackers. He said he would give his opinion about challenging the judgment after studying the order.

Babubhai Patel, one of those acquitted, claimed that the local Muslims supported their cause because the two communities always lived together in the village and would continue to do so. He claimed that the attackers were mostly people from outside but the police had wrongly arrested the locals. Some minority leaders, who were helping the victims in the court case, however, claimed that the local Muslims had “bought peace” with the majority community members by not identifying the accused in court.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat High Court on Friday admitted the petitions filed by various parties concerned in the Sardarpura massacre in which 33 members of the minority community were killed in the village, also in Mehsana district, on March 1, 2002.

The special fast track court judge S.C. Srivastava last month sentenced 31 convicted to life imprisonment while exonerating 42 others, including 31 of them on benefit of doubt. While the State government and the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team have applied for enhancing the punishment for the convicts and also challenged the acquittals of the 31 persons, the victims and witnesses have filed a petition demanding application of “pre-planned conspiracy” theory against those convicted.

A Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justices Jayant Patel and Paresh Upadhyaya, has admitted the petitions and fixed May 2 for the hearing. It will hear on June 18 the petition filed by the State government.









Court dismisses South African woman’s plea for custody of child

Staff Reporter

This court has no territorial jurisdiction, says Judge K. S. MohiA family court in Saket here has dismissed a petition by a South African divorced woman for full custody of her minor child with whom she had fled that country ostensibly to escape harassment from her husband, a local politician there.

“This court has no territorial jurisdiction to entertain the present petition under Section 9 of the Guardians and Wards Act 1980,” said Judge K.S. Mohi, while quashing the petition.

The couple married in 2004 in South Africa and again in 2005 in Goa and divorced by mutual consent in 2010, obtaining the decree from a South African court. They had agreed to share custodial rights over the child.

The woman alleged that her former husband regularly used abusive language and she feared for her five-year-old daughter. The man also allegedly abandoned her before her divorce, leaving her to fend for their daughter as well as two of his other children from previous marriages.

The woman had obtained permission to travel on holiday to the U.K and, on applying for her visa, was told that her South African visa was a spouse visa and no longer valid after her divorce. The woman, after several consultations with the Embassy, made her way back to India.

She had filed a petition for perpetual and mandatory injunction restraining her former husband or his relatives or anyone else acting on his behalf from approaching her or her child, restraining him from coming within 100 metres of her, her present place of residence in Delhi and the school in which she intended to put her child, and restraining her former husband from sending any correspondence, email, SMS either directly or indirectly.

The defence, however, stated that the court had no territorial jurisdiction to deal with the matter because the minor child was not residing within its territory at the time of filing the petition and was therefore not maintainable in the eyes of the law. They further contended that the woman had, after obtaining a consent divorce allowing joint custody and rights to the child, moved an application in Cape Town for a holiday in the U.S. The court had granted its consent with certain conditions, which were never fulfilled by the woman.

The court contended that the matter was sub-judice as the matter was pending in the South African court and questioned the intentions of the woman who defied the South African court’s orders by coming to India and that her child could not be considered a citizen of India as she was born and brought up in South Africa.

* This report has been edited for a technical error.









Senior lawyers must guide juniors: Justice Deshpande

TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 01.21AM IST

AMRAVATI: “Judges and lawyers should work jointly to ensure speedy justice to clients,” said chief justice of Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court RK Deshpande.

He was speaking at the inaugural function of the new building of Nandgaon Khandeshwar Court on Sunday.

“Senior lawyers should guide juniors regarding behaviour in court. They must also provide them with opportunities to ensure justice is delivered,” said Deshpande.

The Nandgaon Khadeshwar court started functioning in 1997. It will be shifted to the new building soon. The new structure was constructed at a cost of Rs 3.31 crore. It has provision for all basic amenities.

Chief district and sessions court judge of Amravati, MK Walchale too addressed the gathering while civil judge and magistrate of Nandgaon Khandeshwar court, AP Karad made the introductory remarks.

The guests at the function included MLA Virendra Jagtap, former judges, lawyers and citizens.










Mining scam: SC to decide on independent probe against BSY

New Delhi: It is a crucial day for former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa as the Supreme Court on Monday will decide whether to order an independent probe into allegations that the Lingayat leader’s family received kickbacks from mining baron Praveen Chaddha.

Yeddyurappa will also be appearing before a Lokayukta court in connection with the alleged illegal denotificiation of land in South Bangalore.

The high-level panel headed by PV Jayakrishanan, which has gone through voluminous documents submitted by Dharwad-based NGO Samaja Parivartana Samudaya (SPS), submitted its report to the apex court bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia.

In what could be a serious indictment for the BJP’s star campaigner in the southern state, the recommendation for the CBI probe will put Yeddyurappa’s demand of reinstating him as the chief minister of Karnataka into a jeopardy.

The SPS which demanded a CBI probe into the alleged nexus between corporate houses and people in power, alleged that some of the land denotification done by Yeddyurappa when he was in power and subsequent sale of the properties to mining companies was nothing but quid pro quo.

Petitioners SR Hiremath and P Vishnu Kamath from SPS have alleged that over 12 firms and trusts run by family members of Yeddyurappa, including Prerana Trust, Bhagat Homes Private Limited, Davalagiri Property Developers Private Limited and Sahyadri Health Care Limited, received huge donations from mining companies in return for mining leases.

The SPS alleged that the said documents showed that companies belonging to family members of Yeddyurappa received Rs 6 crore from R Praveen Chandra, who got the mining lease in Chitradurga district. The NGO also submitted documents pertaining to Rachenahalli land denotification case to the CEC.

Earlier, Karnataka Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde had accused the former chief minister of not taking steps to stop illegal mining.

The Lokayukta report had indicted Yeddyurappa and his family in the illegal mining case. “We have pointed out illegal mining can be controlled but unfortunately no action has been taken. We had to examine over 4 lakh records and 50 lakh entries to produce this report which comes to 25,288 pages. The illegalities done have been described in 31 chapters. We have come to the conclusion that the loss caused is Rs 16,085 crore from 2006 to 2010,” he had said.

After the Lokayukta report, the BJP strongman had to quit from his post.









Orissa high court orders Central Electricity Supply Utility of Orissa to appoint new CEO

TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 06.27AM IST

CUTTACK: The Orissa high court recently directed Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) to remove Bijoy Chandra Jena from the post of chief executive officer (CEO) of CESU and to appoint a new CEO within two months. Division bench of Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice B N Mohapatra gave the direction in response to a petition challenging the appointment of Jena.

Seventy-year-old Jena was handling two crucial posts of chairman and CEO in the government owned power distribution company. Challenging his appointment, secretary of Odisha Electricity Employees’ Federation, Dhobei Sahoo, had filed a PIL seeking judicial intervention in the matter. He had alleged that one person holding both the posts of chairman and chief executive officer of CESU since August 2010 was illegal. The petitioner had alleged that post of CEO is the key post of CESU and the CEO is supposed to report to the chairman if any misappropriation of funds or irregularity is detected in the company, but if CEO and chairman is the same person then who will check the corruption. tnn










Rethink age of consent for sex, Court tells lawmakers

Express news service : New Delhi, Mon Apr 30 2012, 02:34 hrs

A Delhi sessions court has called on the legislature to “rethink” the existing laws regarding the age of consent for sex keeping in mind the changing social sensibilities in the country. The court made the observation while acquitting a youth who was facing charges of abducting a young girl with an intention to compel her to marry him.

“It is time for legislators to have a re-think regarding the existing law by creating certain exceptions and making allowances regarding the age of the consent/protection keeping in view the changing social attitudes and social sensibilities,” Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said.

“Many jurisdictions world over have made allowances regarding age of consent in cases where there is not much difference between the age of older partner and that of the minor engaged in a sexual act. The enforcement of the age of consent law varies in different places depending upon culture, social sensibilities and changing societal attitudes,” Lau said.

In the present case, the court noted that the girl and the accused were in love and had planned to elope since their parents had not consented to their marriage. At the time of the incident, in October 2008, the girl’s father had filed an FIR saying his daughter was a minor and had been kidnapped by the accused. On the same day, she was ‘rescued’ from the Wazirpur area here.

During trial, the father and mother of the girl said after seven months of the alleged incident, she was married to a Bihar-based man and they were now living happily. The parents told the court that they have not informed the husband of their daughter about the incident and requested the court not to summon her as her marital life would be ruined.

The court noted that the accused youth was also happily married to another person and ruled that the future of the two youngsters should not be destroyed by an incident that occurred in their past. Further, it noted that during trial, an ossification test of the girl was conducted and, as per the medical record, she was of 18-19 years at the time of the alleged incident and the accused was only a few years older.

“The legal system cannot be used to punish youngsters in love who are at the verge of attaining majority and this court cannot ruin their lives by taking a hyper- technical view, especially so when the age gap between these youngsters is within acceptable limits and does not reflect an exploitative coercive situation,” the court said.









Misuse of Army dress code: three held

The police here have arrested three persons in connection with staging a procession wearing dress similar to that of the Army uniform as part of Milad-un-Nabi earlier this year.

The arrests of Arshad (27), Arif (27), and Junaid (28) were made during a police raid led by Kanhangad Circle Inspector K.V. Venugopal on Saturday, a senior police officer told The Hindu. The arrests were made under provisions of the Indian Penal Code including Section 124-A (sedition). A case was registered under Section 79 of the Kerala Police Act for taking out a procession without taking prior permission from the police.

The police had registered cases against 90 persons in three similar incidents in the Kanhangad police station limits, Mr. Venugopal said.

A similar procession was taken out at Parappa near here a week later despite a firm assurance from the community’s leaders that no such unhealthy practices would be repeated.









Manipur student’s death: Youngsters rally for justice

TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 05.44AM IST

BANGALORE: Hundreds of stu dents turned up at a rally at Town Hall on Sunday, dema nding justice and transparent investigation into the alleged murder of 19-year-old Loitam Richard, a student of Acharya NRV College of Architecture near Hessaraghatta.

A first-year B Arch student Loitam was a native of Im phal, Manipur. He was found dead in his hostel room at Madanayakanahalli on Tum kur Road on April 17.

A Facebook page hosted by activist Monika Khangembam for the cause of students’ se curity had mobilized opinion among youth in the city against the tardy probe into Loitam’s killing.

The ‘Justice-For-Richard Group’ has already submitted a memorandum to PM Man mohan Singh, pointing to mis leading reports about Loitam being a suicide or drug abuse victim. ” Loitam was not real ly taken to the hospital and how could the hostel doctor declare him dead? Preliminary reports did not suggest any drugs or toxins in the blood; the man agement is trying to hush up the case despite there being three witnesses giving their statements to police,” said Monika . Two seniors allegedly punched Loitam on his head after he changed the TV channel which other students were watching. Police interrogated Sayeed Afzal Ali and Vivek Banerjee, two inmates of the hostel, but released them.

A family friend of Loitam who did not want to be named said he was too shocked that the teenager had died such a pathetic death.

Rahul Prasad from Juvenile Care, an NGO, said: ” I have come here to study; no one has the right to beat me up if I switch off TV,” he said.

The postmortem report was inconclusive and his viscera samples and body parts have been sent for chemical analysis and histopathological examination, respectively.











Shortage of bureaucrats plagues Maharashtra

Madhavi Rajadhyaksha, TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 02.43AM IST

MUMBAI: A delegation of citizens who met chief minister Prithviraj Chavan recently over the vacant posts of information commissioners under the RTI Act in Maharashtra was told that there weren’t adequate bureaucrats to spare to fill these posts. The excuse cited by the CM points to a deeper problem stalking the power corridors of Mantralaya in recent months – the shortage of bureaucrats to run the affairs of the state.

A tally of the IAS officers making their way to Maharashtra puts the situation in perspective. The state currently has a sanctioned strength of 350 IAS officers but officials from the general administration department say 52 posts are vacant, mainly owing to retirement or officials leaving government service.

The problem is compounded since the intake of bureaucrats doesn’t match the state’s requirement. “We are facing a shortage of IAS officers ever since the intake for the state was cut down. We get seven new IAS officers every year which is too little,” said Chavan on a recent visit to the TOI office. Officials say they need at least 15 IAS officials annually.

The strains on effective decision-making and administration are evident, with senior officials juggling dual portfolios or key posts lying vacant.

The implementation of the RTI Act in the state has been hampered, believe citizens. Bhaskar Patil, who held the Amravati divisional post of the information commissioner, now juggles the charge of chief information commissioner (CIC) as well, even as three divisional information chief posts in Mumbai, Konkan and Pune lie headless. “The post of CIC is demanding and such dual charges leads to inefficient clearing of RTI appeals,” said RTI activist Krishnaraj Rao who, along with eminent citizens like former police commissioner Julio Ribeiro, met the CM recently to point to the mounting pendencies under the act. There were roughly 1.07 lakh RTI appeals pending across the state at the end of 2011, even as citizens point out that the posts needn’t be filled only by bureaucrats.

The fallout is evident across sectors. Take, for instance, the industries department, a major portfolio for a state aspiring to boost its industrial quotient. MIDC chief K Shivaji took on additional charge as principal secretary (industries) after bureaucrat A M Khan, who was holding the portfolio, took voluntary retirement. Urban development secretary Manu Kumar Srivastava holds additional charge of special projects after his predecessor took voluntary retirement. Chief posts at City and Development Corporation (Cidco) too are waiting to be filled.

“The shortage of IAS officers will affect the efficacy of administration, service delivery and the development of the state in the long run,” said former chief secretary Johny Joseph. The lack of able hands doesn’t augur well particularly for a bureaucracy plagued by low morale following the arrest of senior IAS officials in the Adarsh scam. While the posts, particularly at the lower-levels such as CEOs, can be filled from non-IAS cadres, officials admit that the IAS comes with its specialized skill-sets and training for multi-tasking, which is crucial to effective administration.








RTI applications now expensive and difficult; will the move kill the act?

Reported by Sidharth Pandey | Updated: April 29, 2012 16:00 IST

New Delhi:  It was hailed as the UPA’s big achievement when the Right to Information Act was passed in 2005. Now it seems like state governments and public authorities across the country are making it increasingly expensive and at times a virtually impossible task for people to seek information.

In states like Chhattisgarh, the Vidhan Sabha or state assembly has recently hiked the fees for information to Rs500 for each query. This means, that anyone asking questions like details of how many days their elected representatives have attended the assembly, or the expenditure on their foreign trips, will have to shell out 500 rupees each time. That’s 50 times the price as envisaged under the original 2005 RTI Act. The Uttar Pradesh assembly has been asking 500 rupees for years now.

It doesn’t stop there; in fact citizens should avoid asking for any photocopied documents from the Chattisgarh assembly unless they are ready to pay 15 rupees per page as charges to the assembly. That’s 15 times the market rate for photocopying.

So while in some states the cost of applying for information has become expensive, other states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh have set a word limit to just 150 words.

It now seems that Madhya Pradesh too is about to set a word limit and also double the fees for seeking information from Rs. 10 to Rs. 20.

The justification to hiking fees and limiting queries given by various authorities is that the move is aimed at curbing frivolous applications that end up over burdening government officers with answering frivolous applications. But these changes in the rules have not gone too well with activists who have been fighting to strengthen it.

Shekhar Singh, the coordinator for the non profit organisation, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), says the present and proposed changes may be ok in the letter but not in the spirit of the law.

Singh, who was a key player in drafting the 2005 landmark information act, says that citizens should challenge the change in rules.

“Even if we agree to the Rs. 28 income a day, as the line that divides the poor according to the planning commission that means a person will have to save his entire months income just to file one RTI. It in effect takes away a person’s fundamental right indirectly” explained Singh.

But changing rules is one thing, changing the act is another.

“More and more exemption provisions are being made than what are there are in the original law and this is not acceptable,” said Satyanand Mishra, India’s Central Information Commissioner (CIC).

As the CIC, it’s Mishra’s job to ensure that the RTI is implemented across the country. He also plays the role of chief referee between information seekers and public authorities, often ruling on appeals filed by citizens who have been denied information by officers.

But increasingly he’s had to pass orders asking public authorities to not only give information to citizens but also re-look at the changes made by them which have altered the nature of the law.

The RTI is heralded as one of the most important laws since independence, by civil rights campaigners. It’s allowed ordinary citizens get a host of basic services from water connections to passports. But now with many states and authorities making this process difficult and expensive, the RTI could soon be a mere act in government books.











Disclose plaint letters against judges: CIC

TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 03.30AM IST

NEW DELHI: In a move which may make public the names of judges against whom complaints have been received by the law ministry, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the ministry to disclose the forwarding letters attached with such complaints referred to the Supreme Court and the high courts by it.

The ministry had earlier claimed that it cannot provide copy of complaints because these complaints are forwarded to Chief Justice of India and Chief Justices of High Courts in respective cases. It had also said that the ministry officials do not keep a record of these complaints.

While hearing the plea of RTI activist Subhash Agrawal, the CIC found his demand of the letters “reasonable” and ordered the disclosure of such letters dating back to last one year immediately and asked the officials to trace records for three years and provide it to the applicant. Information Commissioner Sushma Singh also directed the ministry to maintain the records in such a manner that they can be retrieved easily whenever requested for by the applicants.












Burglary at Bombay high court judge’s flat

TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 06.27AM IST

PUNE: Unidentified persons broke into a flat of Bombay high court judge, Mrudula Bhatkar, located in Erandwane. Kothrud police said that the flat was unoccupied and nothing except bank locker keys had been stolen from the flat. The driver of the family, Sanjay Sohani, has lodged a complaint with the Kothrud police station.

Senior police inspector Chandrakant Ghodke of the Kothrud police station said that the incident came into light on Saturday evening, when the residents of the Anushri society in Erandwane noticed that the locks of the door of Bhatkar’s flat were broken. “When they found that Bhatkar’s car was not in the parking area, they realised that the family was not in the city. They then suspected something amiss and informed the police,” Ghodke said.

Ghodke said the suspects may have broken into the house two-three days back. “When the police reached the flat, they found that all the clothes were scattered in the room. The suspects had checked the cupboards and made away with the bank locker keys,”he said. tnn

Assistant police inspector A D Walambe, who is investigating the case, said that Bhatkar on Sunday visited her flat and checked whether anything was stolen. “She and her family are living in Mumbai and had not come to the flat since the last three-four months,” Walambe said.

Bhatkar’s husband Ramesh Bhatkar, a veteran actor, used to visit the flat whenever he came to Pune for shoots. “We are investigating further,” Walambe said.










Bombay High Court to hear plea of student who wants sex-change operation

NDTV Correspondent | Updated: April 30, 2012 09:52 IST

Mumbai:  The Bombay High Court will today hear the plea by a 21-year-old college student from Guwahati who has alleged that his family stalled his sex-change operation scheduled for this month. Bidhan Barua says that his parents had threatened the doctors at the Saifee Hospital, who have now refused to operate upon him until they get a go-ahead from the court. He wants the court to restrain his parents so that he can undergo the operation and become a woman.

His father says the surgery cannot be treated as “a personal decision” and that the 21-year-old must get the consent of his entire family, including his grand-parents and his uncles. “I gave birth to a son, not a eunuch,” said his father to NDTV.

Bidhan has acknowledged that at a very young age, he realised that he enjoyed dressing up as a girl and that embarrassed his family members who abused him and often beat him up. After he finished high school, he began working odd jobs to save up money for the operation that he believed would free him from a life and identity that he didn’t feel comfortable with. He then ran away from home to Mumbai to undergo his operation.

In Guwahati, Bidhan’s father, who works as a cook, said he is concerned about his son and wants him to be happy but cannot understand or accept his insistence on becoming a woman. “I feel ashamed that he wants to change his sex,” said Supti Ranjan Barua to NDTV. “If he changes his gender, I will not be able to bear the humiliation,” he pleaded.

But the matter for Bidhan is not just about his sex change surgery. It is about being with his beloved. “I want to be with my fiance and he has accepted me as I am. That’s what finally pushed me into taking this decision.”

Psychiatrist Dr Yusuf Matcheswala has examined Bidhan and says he is ready to undergo the surgery. “It’s a complex issue. The parents must be counseled as it is always not easy to accept such decisions. There could be serious dangers if the decision of the child is not accepted. Ultimately he only wants to be happy,” explained Dr Matcheswala.









Abandoned by mother, child forced to stay in psychiatry institute

Preetu Venugopalan Nair, TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 01.39AM IST

PANAJI: Abandoned by his mother, a 15-year-old boy has nowhere to go and is forced to stay at the institute of psychiatry and human behavior (IPHB), as authorities at the state run home for children, Apna Ghar, are refusing to accept him.

The doctor treating the boy at IPHB certified him fit to be discharged almost a fortnight ago. The boy had been detected with conduct disorder and treated for this at IPHB.

Sources said Apna Ghar authorities are refusing to accept the child stating that conduct disorder is a “mental illness” and the boy should be kept at IPHB and not Apna Ghar. The doctor treating the boy has now written to CWC (South) stating that most Apna Ghar inmates show signs of conduct disorder and the child needs to be kept at Apna Ghar, not IPHB.

Confirming receiving the letter, CWC (South) chairperson Martha Mascarenhas said, “We are concerned about the boy’s safety and welfare and are worried that if brought to Apna Ghar his situation may worsen. Also we have to look into the other children’s safety. We are in talks with two homes in which to lodge the boy. In case he is not taken in by either of these homes, he will be brought back to Apna Ghar. We don’t want the child to be troubled anymore.”

She added, “I had met him in IPHB and the tears in his eyes shattered me. I don’t want the child to continue staying with adults in IPHB. The child is special and he needs care and love.” CWC looks into issues of children in need of care and shelter lodged in the state run home.

The minor was referred to IPHB after he, along with two other children, went on a rampage and vandalized the child welfare committee’s (CWC) offices and the dormitory in February this year. The child was allegedly upset as he was kept in a separate room and not allowed to interact with other children in the home.

Psychiatrists said conduct disorder is a psychological problem diagnosed in childhood and juvenile delinquents. “Most of the children in Apna Ghar come to IPHB with such a problem,” a psychiatrist at IPHB said.

CWC claims that on the psychiatrist’s advice, they are trying to arrange some employment for the minor boy. “The doctors have said he needs to be occupied with some job so that it can bring in a change in his life and attitude. I have spoken to NGOs ARZ and SCAN to help the boy get a job,” added Mascarenhas.

When contacted, ARZ representative Arun Pandey said, “This amounts to child labour. What the child requires is care and protection and not employment. He seems to be in a no man’s land in the most child friendly state in India, with Apna Ghar and even NGOs neglecting him.”








Ball in govt court in chopper issue: Army chief

TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 06.55AM IST

LUDHIANA: Chief of Army Staff General V K Singh has said that the “ball is in the government’s court” in the issue of allegations of corruption in the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters by India.

“It is up to the government now to take a stand on the issue,” Gen Singh said here on Sunday. The issue had even come up in Parliament after reports of Italy investigating allegations of payouts of Rs 350 crore made to a Swiss consultant in the deal.

Gen Singh was here as a part of his tour across the country to address problems faced by ex-servicemen. He met ex-servicemen from all over Punjab.

“We decided that this year would be dedicated to Army veterans. We are trying to meet as many veterans as possible, trying to know their problems and solving them,” Gen Singh said at a gathering organized by the Indian Ex-servicemen League, adding that all efforts were being made for the implementation of ‘one-rank-one-pension’ scheme.

“As many as 46 anomalies related to pension and benefits of ex-servicemen have surfaced and this would require Rs 3,000 crore to correct. The implementation of one-rank-one-pension scheme will require Rs 1,300 crore,” he added.

He also raised issue of mismanagement in the Canteen Stores Department or CSD. “It (CSD) is run by the government and linked to Consolidated Fund of India. A budget is made by the government every year and items are purchased but there have been problems with the management and we don’t mind stepping in and taking over the functioning of the CSD,” the COAS said.










Congress government ‘killed’ the Bofors case: Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: BJP leader Arun Jaitley said that the NDA government made all efforts to bring the guilty to book in the Bofors scam and alleged that successive Congress-led governments or those supported by that party tried to “kill” the case.

Speaking to Karan Thapar on Devil’s advocate, he said that during the NDA regime from 1998 to 2004, the Bofors case was taken to its “logical conclusion” and the CBI, which was probing it, acted independently of the government.

Here is the full transcript of the interview:

Karan Thapar:Hello and welcome to Devil’s Advocate. With the Bofors controversy back in the news, how does the BJP face up to the questions it must answer. That’s the key issue I should explore today with the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley.

Mr Jaitley, your colleague in the Lok Sabha, Jaswant Singh has demanded a judicial commission into the Bofors affair. Is this the official position of the BJP?

Arun Jaitley:Well, Mr Jaswant Singh is a very senior man and when he says something he says it on authority and party fully agrees with him. The real intention being whether you have a full debate or have committee or commission, should not after 25 years of the disclosure. The Indian society knows, that not withstanding the fact that the entire truth came out, in terms of law we are unable to prosecute the concerned people. Therefore I think since, this was the terrible chapter in history where you had corruption at a very high level and yet you are a failure of the system, at least we need to know what went wrong.

Karan Thapar:But let me put to you, as a former Law Minister, do you believe a judicial commission is a fitting and the appropriate way of enquiring into a matter, that the High Court has closed?

Arun Jaitley: Well there are possible argument that there will be difficulty in that, I quite concede to you on that. But at the same time you call it a committee, you call it a Parliamentary committee, you call it an administrative committee of the government. But then must be a fair assessment of what went wrong, and I think this was the intention behind what Jaswant Singh suggested.

Karan Thapar:In other words what we need, is an enquiry that shows where lapse are made. And if possible also point up the responsibility for those lapse on individuals or on goofs?.

Arun Jaitley:And I think it is more important that this sad chapter of history, at least the truth must be distort some where.

Karan Thapar:The important thing is to get to the truth?

Arun Jaitley:I think that’s the pursuit of truth is most important aspect.

Karan Thapar:Alright in getting at the truth. Let’s begun with Sonia Gandhi, Sten Lindstrom, the whistleblower has said “Sonia Gandhi must be questioned, I know what I am saying.” Do you agree with him?

Arun Jaitley:Well, he must be having some material on basis, he said so, but as far as the Indian system is concerned, the Indian system proceeds on the basis that when investigations are in progress, investigator reach a particular conclusion, facts come before them. If any person is in position of information which can help in investigation to find out the truth, they are entitled to question that person.

Karan Thapar:In your eyes, is Sonia Gandhi in that position? Are we entitled to question her?

Arun Jaitley:I would say, it would entirely depend on the kind of information that the CBI had, which the CBI case diaries and record would disclose. It would really depend on that and the crucial question would be, in swinging the contract where did Mr Quattrocchi draw his influence from?

Karan Thapar:Did that influence come from Sonia Gandhi? That’s a critical question.

Arun Jaitley:I think, it is the record of the CBI and the nature of the investigation that would answer that question.

Karan Thapar:Your colleague is General Secretary of the party, he is the Chief Spokesperson of the BJP, Ravi Shankar Prasad has gone on record to say Sonia Gandhi has a lot of explaining to do. If she has explaining to do…

Arun Jaitley:Why Ravi Shankar, even I have also said this in the past.

Karan Thapar:If you said it and standby, then does she need to be questioned?

Arun Jaitley:I have said it in the past also. There is one aspect making to the state to the media and the reason for that is, where did Mr Quattrocchi draw his influence. If you go though the fact which have come out, is now almost established on record, available with the CBI, obviously he was successful in swinging the contract, he was not an official middleman, he got paid. Why did he get paid and where did he draw his influence from? Somebody has to answer that question.

Karan Thapar:Absolutely and that somebody as you are suggesting is Sonia Gandhi. But the point is this, from 1998 to 2004 the 6 years of the BJP was in power, the CBI didn’t make any afford whatsoever to question?

Arun Jaitley:Your question is based on complete ignorance. If CBI made substantial progress, it was made during two periods.

Karan Thapar:But they didn’t question her, that’s the point?

Arun Jaitley:Questioning her is one aspect, but the CBI in establishing the truth made huge progress and I owe to you since you asked this question, to tell you what progress the CBI made.

Karan Thapar:But the question I asked you is that in the 6 years when you were in power, the CBI, didn’t question her once, they made no effort to do so.

Arun Jaitley:That the discretion CBI has to exercise, if they have the material to question they would question, they don’t have material, they don’t.

Karan Thapar:Can I quote Sten Lindstrom? He said “it can’t be the coincidence that Quattrocchi gets the money in this way, there must be some connection. She can explain it somewhere and in someway it will be very helpful.”

Arun Jaitley:There is a common sense presumption that Quattrocchi drove strength from some place, that he got the money in the contract where he was not the middleman. But the record and diaries of the CBI will show, if CBI reached a particular conclusion on basis of which they need to cross examine somebody or not, that is the question CBI better suited to to answer.

Karan Thapar:Just a moment, you either saying CBI is failed to do what they should have done? Or they didn’t reach the position where they need it to do it.

Arun Jaitley:Well I am not aware of the records so I am not going to speculate that.

Karan Thapar:Expect for the fact, that you began by saying, you agree with the Ravi Shankar Prasad that she has explaining to do. If she has explaining to do, she should have been questioned, if she wasn’t questioned…

Arun Jaitley:Well, it’s an explaining where the entire leadership of the Congress has to do, as to where and why did Quattrocchi draw this influence from in order to swing the contract. We are talking in terms of legally admissible evidence, you can’t ask me a question which really CBI should be answering.

Karan Thapar:No, I am asking a different issue. I am saying if there is a reason to question her and she wasn’t questioned, that’s their addiction. And she wasn’t questioned because there is no case against her, the you can’t say she has explaining to do.

Arun Jaitley:It’s a very good question you are asking to me, which is the question you should ask to CBI not me.

Karan Thapar:I tell you why I asked it because many people say that there was a secret understating between the BJP and Congress, not to question Sonia Gandhi.

Arun Jaitley:I think it is complete rubbish, there is no question to that effect. The CBI had full freedom during NDA period, to proceed with the case in the manner they considered the best and they did their job.

Karan Thapar:I tell you why I raised this question because George Fernandes told this channel on the March 11, 2007, that he wanted to probe Bofors and he was told by Mr Vajpayee not to do so. His exact words were “Vajpayee told me not to touch this.”

Arun Jaitley:Well according to me the investigation was not with the Defence Ministry, the investigation was with the CBI. The CBI not only and now I use this opportunity to answer the question, you told me you asked me. When in 1998 Mr Vajpayee became the Prime Minister, you had an FIR, you had Letter Rogatory, you had details of accounts coming in, you had documents. The CBI concluded the entire investigation. In 1999 the CBI files the chargesheet, the accused were prosecuted, charges were farmed in court. Therefore the entire due process of the law was being carried out and therefore it is not for a minister, its for the CBI to investigate the case and CBI was doing it.

Karan Thapar:Except for the fact that you were Law Minister for much of this time. And except for the fact that one critical person who should not be questioned, was never questioned. Let me again quote Sten Lindstrom, he says “it has always amazed and it continues to…”

Arun Jaitley:I don’t think we in India makes statement to that effect where politicians decide who CBI should question.

Karan Thapar:Just a moment, let me finish quote of Sten Lindstrom, he says “it is always amazed and it continues to amaze me as to why Indian investigators didn’t take obvious step of questioning her.”

Arun Jaitley:Obviously I think Mr Lindstrom has lot of information on the basis of he says so. If that information is available with the CBI, he is probably right. But that is the question which has to be addressed to them.

Karan Thapar:A second aberration, in the way which BJP handles Bofors, arise is directly you said It something in the Parliament this Thursday. You said and I quite “in 2004 one judgment said no case is made out, it wasn’t even appealed against and we gave the whole burial to the case”. But infact the government that should have appealed and refused to do so, was your and you were Law Minister.

Arun Jaitley:Well I think lets be correct the dates.

Karan Thapar:The date is February 4, 2004

Arun Jaitley:Yes, I know. The CBI got the copy of the judgment, the CBI processed the copy, the CBI recommended the filing of the appeal, and the government law officers advised them to file the appeal. The CBI because of the court vacations and the pending elections, was to file an appeal, the government changed and the new government overrule the opinion and said appeal should not be not be made.

Karan Thapar:Just a moment, The Delhi High Court judgment of February 4, 2004, it had to be appeal begun within 90 days or it could be technically time bar. Those 90 days lapsed on May 4 and you were in power till after the May 28, it was your responsibility to do so.

Arun Jaitley:You are absolutely mistaken, it’s 90 days when you obtained the copy of the judgment and therefore the limitation was expired sometime in the month of June. The CBI prepared it’s case for an appeal, the CBI got all the opinions when the government changed and it was the Congress government which took a decision, not to file the appeal.

Karan Thapar:Are you saying to me that infact the blame for not filing the appeal rest on the Congress not the BJP?

Arun Jaitley:Entirely because the record would show, during the NDA government the record was entirely prepared, advices and opinion given, why that incorrect judgment must appealed again.

Karan Thapar:I tell you two reason, why the blame lies with an not the Congress. First of all, even if you are correct and saying the 90 days period ended in June and not on the fourth of the May 4 as I pointed out. You confined an appeal within 70 days or 60 days, you don’t really need to that

Arun Jaitley:You can file in two days.

Karan Thapar:In which case why u didn’t you.

Arun Jaitley:Well it is the question that CBI processes have to go through, their entire processes have to move the file upward, take a law officers opinion, their own legal department opinion. Everything they did, they had till June to file an appeal which would strictly be filed on the reopening of the court because June was vacations. The government changed and the first act of the UPA government was, to advice the CBI not file it.

Karan Thapar:I tell you why infact there is a second reason for blaming the BJP because you should have known, there was no way the Congress is going to appeal against a judgment that exonerated its leader.

Arun Jaitley:We don’t know we were losing the elections.

Karan Thapar:Secondly, judgment that they had used in the campaign, they tom-tom and drum beaten the judgment. They are not going to appeal against the judgment.

Arun Jaitley:I think you question is based on very weak footings, for the simple reason you are blaming a government which advised the filing of an appeal, as against a government which advised not to filing the appeal. I think your anger in your questions should be directed against those who advised against not filing the appeal.

Karan Thapar:I tell you why my anger, if you want to call it anger, actually it’s not anger , its skepticism and cynicism, is directed to you. Because Vijay Shankar speaking to on the August 15 ,2007 when he was CBI director said “my predecessor in the CBI and Arun Jaitley created a weak case, that’s why he says we were not able to proceed when it came to Argentina and we lost it in the first court.’

Arun Jaitley:Well I wrote to him when he write the statement, he called me up and said he has been misquoted and regretted this particular statement, but that apart, it’s a incorrect statement which he regretted to me personally. As far as Argentina is concerned, let’s get the facts through, so that this smoke screen doesn’t remain for you. Mr Quattrocchi escaped to Malaysia in 1994, when information came that the beneficiary account was his, no efforts were made to extradite him. We made an effort after 1998 to extradite.

Karan Thapar:And failed.

Arun Jaitley:We failed. So we appeal to the highest court in Malaysia.

Karan Thapar:And failed.

Arun Jaitley:We didn’t fail there, you are incorrect. We appeal to the highest court and he escaped from Malaysia over the weekend, when the CBI appeal was coming on Monday for hearing. In the weekends between Friday and Monday he escaped from Malaysia. He was next found in 2007 in Argentina, our ambassador Mr Rath asked the Government of India whether he should take steps to get him and send him to India. The Government of India advised him that this process is to costly and no effort in this regard should be taken.

Karan Thapar:Expect the facts the CBI director who have quoted just now said, the reason they failed in Argentina because you and the CBI predecessor prepared a weak case.

Arun Jaitley:Well that’s factually incorrect, that CBI during Congress government which tried to put a burial to this case. They obviously cannot blame the predecessor. You first take a decision not to file an appeal thereafter you start telling the crown prosecutor in the England to defreeze the account and then you say my predecessor went wrong.

Karan Thapar:Let me raise a third so called aberration in the manner in which, this time not BJP but you personally have handled this issue. Mani Shankar Aiyar in Parliament, Chitra Subramanian writing in Outlook magazine this week, both have said that the Letter Rogatory prepared when you were Additional Solicitor General was shoddy. It had handwriting all over it, it had pieces of paper stuck all over it, it has staple and Chitra Subramanian adds that it was thrown out.

Arun Jaitley:Well the Letter Rogatory was issued by an Indian court, it is not issued my Additional Solicitor General, these are all propaganda. After the Letter Rogatory was issued by an Indian court, some misleading arguments were made. And you know what was the kind of arguments was raised, why do you have a special judge in India trying this case, why not an ordinary judge? These were the kind of objections, not realising that the CBI cases prosecuted by the special judge. The Letter Rogatory questions were raised the CBI answered the questions and what Mani Shankar Aiyar doesn’t say, it is on basis of that Letter Rogatory that the actually the Swiss authorities conveyed the beneficiaries of the accounts. The five names came pursuant to that Letter Rogatory, the documents came back pursuant to the process after the Lettr Rogatory and not withstanding the fact that the Congress government took various steps including Mr Madhav Singh Solanki asking the Swiss not to cooperate with India. But all the documents and the evidence came because of that Letter Rogatory.

Karan Thapar:Alright I will grant that to you. Let’s take a break and come back and pick up on a key point that you made in your Parliamentary speech on Thursday. You said that the time had come to introspect and secondly to try and understand how it is, that we ended up killing the truth. Back in the moment’s time, see you after break.

Karan Thapar:Welcome back to Devil’s Advocate, in an interview with leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha on how BJP has handled the Bofors controversy.

Arun Jaitley in Thursday on Parliament you said and I quote ‘this is the text book illustration of a fraud as to how to kill the pursuit to get to the truth.’ The central point I have been making in part one is that, some of the fraud has happened when the BJP in power and some time, it happened when you were Law Minister. So, do you accept that your failure to ensure that Sonia was questioned is part of that.

Arun Jaitley:I completely reject that suggestion. You had two faces of completely non-Congress government or government not supported by the Congress. In 1990, for three years no FIR was registered from 87 to 90, you registered an FIR, you got the accounts frozen in 1990, and you sent a Letter Rogatory. Thereafter in 1998 when the next government came you filed a complete chargesheet and I can tell you, I personally seen the charges, the documents substantially established the charges.

Karan Thapar:Can I then interrupt and put this to you, if you filed the chargesheet when you were there in power. How come no one took the critical, essential and obviously step of questioning Sonia Gandhi. Once again I am going to quote Sten Lindstrom, he says ‘if you examine the logic in the document in one hand and the direction of the cover up on the other that is the obvious step to take.’

Arun Jaitley:Well I am afraid he may well have basis to say that but the decision whom to question is not taken by the Prime Minister or the Law Ministry. It is taken by the CBI and therefore the CBI will do it on the basis of the evidence with the CBI has available.

Karan Thapar:The whole point I am making and I have quoted George Fernandes in support of quoted public opinion. There was collusion between the BJP and Congress not to question her.

Arun Jaitley:Well if you just see the kind of evidence you will realise by yourself. Evidence number one you had a contract with AE services of Mr Quattrocchi entered in to, which helped the contract to be swung in favour of Bofors. AE services gets the commission, the person behind AE services is Mr Quattrocchi.

Karan Thapar:He is a Italian and he is a friend of Sonia Gandhi.

Arun Jaitley:He is Italian and he allowed to escape from India when Narasimha Rao was in power.

Karan Thapar:You are making my case for me. Why then did you not have her questioned?

Arun Jaitley:Will this is the decision on the basis of the evidence which CBI has to take.

Karan Thapar: Arun Jaitley ,no one in India believe that the CBI operate autonomously to the extend of you blaming.

Arun Jaitley:I can tell you the CBI under NDA operated on professional line, even in Mr Advani’s cases they went without the advise of the government. They had prosecutors who were completely independent in those cases.

Karan Thapar:Why did Atal Bihari Vajpayee tell George Fernandes, don’t touch Bofors.’?

Arun Jaitley:Well I doubt very much because in the NDA regime Bofors was actually taken to its logical conclusion.

Karan Thapar:This is the convener of the NDA who told to the Prime Minister.

Arun Jaitley:I don’t know whether he correctly quoted or not. The facts indicate….

Karan Thapar:Not correctly quoted he said it on the camera.

Arun Jaitley:But the facts indicate to the contrary , the chargesheet is filed, people are prosecuted, Mr Rajiv Gandhi shown in column two in the chargesheet. You are asking me the question which is to the contrary.

Karan Thapar: The reason I am asking because the one critical lady who could have shed light on the whole thing, who was a Italian, who was a friend of Quattrocchi, was never questioned.

Arun Jaitley:Perhaps there were may have a need and may have not been need, it is for a CBI to decide.

Karan Thapar:Hang on a moment, if you believe she has explaining to do which you agreed to do in part one, the there was a need to question?

Arun Jaitley:There is a explaining which she and every Congressman has to do, Why Quattrocchi got paid.

Karan Thapar:But she can’t explain, if you not question her.

Arun Jaitley:So therefore whether CBI considered it as a legally admissible evidence or not, is the question you must address to the CBI.

Karan Thapar:I am suggesting and I will say upfront that actually the CBI was told by the Government, the BJP government, hands off Sonia Gandhi. That’s why you people have the case to answer her as well.

Arun Jaitley:It’s a figment of your imagination, it has not truth and no connection with any form of reality.

Karan Thapar:In you speech in Parliament on Thursday, you also said ‘we need to introspect, how easy it has become for people who indulge in these kind of activities.’ I put it you, one reason why some of got a way and I deliberately won’t take name.

Arun Jaitley:Why?

Karan Thapar:It’s because you didn’t question people who should have been questioned.

Arun Jaitley:Absolutely rubbish, the reason for that is, you had large tenures of Congress government or Congress supported government which tried to kill the case.

Karan Thapar:Except for the fact from 98 to 2004, it was BJP unbroken for six years and questioning didn’t happen?

Arun Jaitley:Except for the fact that during that period, the chargesheets was filed, Quattrocchi was named an accused and charges were framed.

Karan Thapar:So, you honestly telling me that you don’t have any sense of regret, leave aside guilt about the way BJP handled Bofors.

Arun Jaitley:I have no sense of guilt but I have one regret. The NDA did what NDA could, it was the Congress which tried to kill the case.

Karan Thapar:Did the NDA really do what it could when it stopped short to question Sonia?

Arun Jaitley:Well the NDA doesn’t have to cross examine Mrs Gandhi or any other person, it is the CBI. And CBI will do it on the basis of the material CBI has.

Karan Thapar:Alright, Arun Jaitley, a pleasure talking to you.










Supreme Court land ruling may hit Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation hard

TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 03.57AM IST

HYDERABAD: At a time when Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) is struggling to acquire land from property owners for the metro rail project, road expansion works and other projects, the Supreme Court judgment on payment of compensation as per market value to property losers came as a big blow to the civic body.

The Supreme Court on Friday said property owners should be paid highest market value for land acquisition and not the registration value of the same area as land value is deliberately kept low to pay less registration fee for the sale deed. The court gave this direction in a case pertaining to the erstwhile ruler of Faridkot state. The court asked the Punjab government to consider the bona fide sale deeds in the area proximate to the date of notification of land acquisition.

GHMC has been acquiring properties for various purposes like widening of roads for metro rail project, general road widening on congested routes, remodeling of storm water drains, junction improvements and other projects like construction of bridges and flyovers in the city. The corporation has been incurring an expenditure of nearly Rs 200 crore towards payment of compensation to property owners. GHMC officials are worried over the Supreme Court verdict on compensation as it will have to cough up more money if the market value is to be paid to property losers. Currently, acquisition of 250 properties is underway and the GHMC land acquisition wing has already started procedures on stretches like Madhapur road, Banjara Hills Road No. 13, Raidurgam Road, Rahamathnagar, Uppal and Lakdikapul (parallel bridge). In the next one year, the corporation has proposed to takeover nearly 1,000 properties, including some on the three metro corridors.

For acquiring properties, the GHMC has been adopting two methods. They follow procedures under the Land Acquisition Act like giving draft notification, draft declaration and so on in the first method and in the second, they negotiate and get the consent of the property owners. In most cases, the corporation has been adopting consent method as it saves time compared to land acquisition procedures. If the owners do not want cash compensation, the GHMC offers transferrable development rights (TDR), where owners get additional built up area normally allowed on plot size in the area. This TDR can be utilised anywhere in the GHMC limits.

While taking over properties, the owners were being paid basic registration value of the same area for the past three years. However, the registration values have been low compared to the prevailing market rates. For instances, for widening the road on the Khairatabad-Nirankari Bhavan stretch, property owners were paid Rs 25,000 per square (sq) yard compensation, while the market value is over Rs 50,000 per sq yard.

In cases where there is urgency for road widening and a particular property has become a major bottleneck, the corporation was paying compensation more than the government value, close to prevailing market rate. The highest compensation is being offered to owners who give consent to acquire their property.

Recently, owners of 37 properties were offered Rs 45,000 per sq yard compensation on the Ameerpet- Erragadda stretch where properties become a major bottleneck for road widening and metro rail project. Recently it completed acquisition of properties on stretches like Seven Tombs (Gandipet road), Musheerabad-Chikkadpally road and expansion of Muriki nala by paying normal registration values to the owners. When contacted, GHMC land acquisition officer M Suryakala said they have been following Board Standing Orders of the revenue department while fixing land value for acquisition, which says basic registration value has to be paid to land owners. “We will study the Supreme Court judgment on compensation and decide what to do,” she added.

The Supreme Court on Friday said property owners should be paid highest market value for land acquisition and not the registration value of the same area as land value is deliberately kept low to pay less registration fee for the sale deed.









Boy with epilepsy shuttled between two welfare homes in four months

Pritha Chatterjee : New Delhi, Mon Apr 30 2012, 02:16 hrs

All of 12 years, and found abandoned at New Delhi railway station, his medical report shows he was diagnosed with epilepsy. In four months, he has been made to scuttle between two childrens’ homes, spanning the jurisdiction areas of three Child Welfare Committees (CWC), only to be returned to the first — as authorities at the two other institutions called him a “disturbance” to other inmates.

The CWC (Mayur Vihar), on December 29, 2012, had sent him to Don Bosco home in Okhla as authorities found the children’s home in their area “not equipped to handle his medical needs”.

In March, authorities at Don Bosco home, under CWC (Lajpat Nagar), said that “being a short-stay institution housing 20 children, we are not able to adequately manage the child and it becomes a disturbance for the other children.”

The boy also sustained a head injury after he accidentally fell down during an episode of fits while he was there. The authorities of the home suggested that the child be sent to another one — Antodaya Niketan in Kashmere Gate, “for its proximity to St Stephen’s Hospital and their better resources, which will help them manage the child properly.”

So, on March 25, CWC (Lajpat Nagar), ordered he be moved to Antodaya Niketan.

But within three days of being transferred here, in an official letter dated March 28, Antodaya Niketan authorities said, “The child is continuously afflicted with epilepsy and needs special attention. Moreover, it is a disturbance to other children at our home.”

They requested CWC to “transfer the child to other homes specialised in handling such cases.”

CWC (Kingsway Camp) directed the child be transferred back to Don Bosco last week.

According to Father George Nadackal, director of the Don Bosco Home, “This child needs a lot of special attention. We have to devote an attendant permanently for him. Also, his medical expenses amount to a lot — MRIs, CT scans, etc. We do not have the resources to take care of his needs. Now that he is back with us, we will try to find a solution.”

Tej Wilson, social worker at Antodaya Niketan, said, “We could only keep this child for a few days, because he had a lot of special needs and other children were getting disturbed. Since he was being well taken care of in Don Bosco, we requested our CWC to transfer him.”

With no designated home for long-term care of children diagnosed with neurological disorders, CWCs say they are in a constant dilemma over finding a place of care for such children. “Authorities at most homes say they do not have the facilities to take care of these children,” Raaj Mangal Prasad, chairperson, CWC (Lajpat Nagar) told Newsline.

However, department of Women and Child Development (WCD) officials dismissed these arguments as “excuses to turn away children”. “All normal homes are supposed to take care of the special needs of children. Isolating those with neurological disorders is not correct,” WCD Director, Rajiv Kale said.

The unwritten rule in Delhi institutions, is to direct children to Nirmal Chhaya home where an NGO, Manas Foundation, provides mental health counselling service. “We have over 120 psychiatry patients — 10 of them diagnosed with epilepsy. Since we provide a facility, all CWCs have started referring such children to us,” said Monika Kumar, Managing Trustee of Manas Foundation.

Nirmal Chaya chairperson Neera Mullick said, “We take care of all children diagnosed with epilepsy. It may be traumatic for other children to see them in a state of fits, but isolation is not the solution.”

The boy will be produced before the CWC ( Lajpat Nagar) on Monday where a final decision on his stay will be taken.






CCI approves HSBC proposal to acquire RBS assets in India

Last Updated: Sunday, April 29, 2012, 14:06

New Delhi: Competition watchdog CCI has approved the proposal of HSBC to acquire retail and commercial assets of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS NV) and wealth management business of RBS Financial Services (RBS FSPL) in India.

In an order, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) noted that HSBC and RBS FSPL have relatively very few branches in India and there was presence of a large number of banks that provide services similar to the services provided by HSBC, RBS NV and RBS FSPL.

“Considering the facts on record and the details provided in the notice given under sub-section (2) of Section 6 of the Act and the assessment of the proposed combination is not likely to have any appreciable adverse effect on competition in India…”

“…Therefore, the Commission hereby approves the proposed combination under sub-section (1) of Section 31 od the Act,” the CCI while approving the proposed merger.

In July 2010, UK-based RBS had announced it would sell off its retail and commercial banking business in India, worth USD 1.8 billion (about Rs 8,500 crore then), to British banking major HSBC.

RBS, which received a 45.5 billion pound bailout from the UK government post the 2008 financial crisis, would sell its retail and SME business in India for a premium of USD 95 million, which would be over the adjusted net asset value of the bank’s businesses in the country.

As on March 31, 2011, HSBC and RBS together have 81 branches in India.

HSBC in its submission to the CCI had said except for some of the branch licences to required to continue its business, RBS NV would surrender its branch licenses.

“HSBC would apply to the RBI for obtaining the licences for its new branches to continue the business being acquired under the proposed combination,” CCI said quoting HSBC’s submission.

Even after the sale, RBS has said it would continue to retain its wholesale and investment banking businesses in India.








Dismissed college faculty reinstated by HC

TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 03.04AM IST

TRICHY: Two associate professors of Thamizhavel Umamakeswaranar Karanthai (TUK) College at Thanjavur, who were first suspended and then dismissed by the management on October 1, 2011, have been ordered to be reinstated by the Madurai bench of the Madras high court.

The court, however, said the order was not on the merit of the charges and defence put forth by the two respondents (S Senthil Kumar, and Durai Panneerselvam, both associate professors in the Tamil department). The court also held that the college management failed to seek approval for dismissal under Section 19(1) of the Tamil Nadu Private Colleges (Regulation) Act 1976. “It is poetic justice,” Kumar told TOI. “After seven months of being in the wilderness, I am delighted. Justice has once again triumphed,” Panneerselvam said.

The two associate professors were suspended on August 17, 2011 for entering into a dispute with some non-teaching staff in the college. On October 1, 2011, both of them were terminated from service. The two professors appealed to the regional joint director of collegiate education (RJDCE), Trichy against the termination. On October 4, the RJDCE termed the termination illegal and asked the secretary of the college to reinstate the duo. Meanwhile, the director of collegiate education too, upheld the RJDCE’s order to reinstate the professors. However, the management moved the court.

The court ruled that it was clear that the management had not obtained any prior approval, which is mandatory under the act for dispensing with the services of the faculty members, and so such orders of termination cannot stand in the eye of the law. If such an approval is not obtained before termination, the order of the termination has to be construed as illegal and void, the court said.








HC notices on DTU registrar

New Delhi, April 30, 2012

The city government and the Delhi Technological University have been directed by the Delhi High Court to respond to a plea questioning the appointment of the University’s registrar even after he had reached retirement age in 2010.
The plea also questioned the subsequent extension of his tenure this April by another two years, while he was 61 and had ceased to be eligible for appointment as registrar when he was first appointed at the post.

A court issued notice to the Delhi LG, DTU besides Registrar UK Worah and sought their replies by May 16.











HC acquits man held guilty of killing sis-in-law

PTI | 02:04 PM,Apr 29,2012

New Delhi, Apr 29 (PTI) Citing the questionable credibility of evidence in a murder case, the Delhi High Court has set aside the conviction of a man who was given life term for killing his sister-in-law by pouring acid on the victim. The high court set aside the conviction and entailing sentence of the man, questioning the reliability and credibility of the victim’s dying declaration. “Reliability and credibility of the witness who deposes about the dying declaration are the twin requirements which the trial court is obliged to satisfy itself about, while basing its findings on such evidence,” a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and S P Garg said. According to prosecution, Kishore was unhappy with Meena for her working as a domestic help to sustain herself. Despite his objections, she continued with her work and on April 22, 2008, when Meena was at a park, Kishore poured acid on her and fled. The prosecution said a home guard constable reached the spot on being told by a boy about the incident. On the way to the hospital, Meena narrated the event to him. The court, however, questioned the conduct of the home guard constable, saying, despite “being a responsible officer trained in the drill of what ought to be done when dealing with a medico-legal case”, the home guard constable had left the hospital without waiting for the police to arrive. “His conduct is not that of a responsible individual, he does not even mention having seen any police man, and satisfying himself that the incident was suitably reported to the nearest police station. He certainly was not present when the alleged dying declaration was recorded by PW-20 (police officer),” the bench said. (More) PTI AKI PNM RKS RAX










HC strikes down ‘onerous bail conditions’

PTI | 04:04 PM,Apr 29,2012

Madurai, Apr 29 (PTI): Madras High Court has come down on a Judicial Magistrate for imposing “onerous conditions totally unknown to law” while granting bail to a suspected Al Umma activist, an accused in the case involving planting of a pipe bomb on BJP leader L K Advani’s yatra route in October 2011. The magistrate at Tirumangalam had said that the man, Karuvai Hakeem, should execute a bond with two sureties by his blood relations. Justice A Selvam of the High Court bench here in his recent order allowing Hakeeem’s petition, deleted the portion relating to sureties and said it was sufficient if he executed a Rs 10,000 bond along with two sureties each for a like sum to the satisfaction of the Magistrate concerned. Petitioner’s counsel said his client was in prison for more than 140 days though he was entitled to statutory bail within 90 days of his arrest as police had failed to file a chargesheet. The delay in obtaining bail was due to several impediments like inability of blood relatives to give sureties as they were bereft of property. He referred to the 1978 judgement of Supreme Court in the Moti Ram vs State of Madhya Pradesh case, where it disapproved the practice of imposing onerous conditions while granting bail. Hakeem, arrested here on Nov 27 2011 by the Special Investigation Team, is a close associate of Fakruddin and Bilal Mallick, suspected to be the main accused and absconding since the incident was reported. The pipe bomb that was unearthed from under a bridge and defused on October 27 at Alampatti village, about 30 km from here on the route of Advani’s Jan Chetna yatra. Subsequently, the BJP leader’s route was diverted.











DNA test on May 2, SCB may move HC on baby care

Express News Service

CUTTACK: The SCB Medical College and Hospital (SCBMCH) is in a fix over keeping custody of the baby girl at the centre of child-swap controversy even as the samples for the DNA test are scheduled to be collected on May 2.

The Orissa High Court, while directing conduct of DNA tests to establish the parentage of the almost 30-day-old baby, had ordered the SCBMCH to take care of her until the reports came in. However, the authorities of the Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU), where the baby has been kept since her birth, along with the Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G) Department are not in a position to keep her for much longer.

The baby has begun to grow and begun to move her limbs. She has gained weight and begun to kick the walls of the warmer bed of the SNCU. Thus, she is in great risk of falling down and sustaining injuries. Besides, she is also making loud noises.

According to sources, a newborn can be kept in an SNCU for a maximum of 42 days if the child is in a proper health condition. Under the present circumstances, in the absence of the mother or parents the child can’t be shifted to the general ward in O&G Department or Paediatrics Department due to various considerations like hygiene, care and security. “The DNA test is a time-consuming affair and it will take more than a month to obtain the reports. It would be very difficult on the part of the hospital to keep the baby under its care till then,” said a senior doctor.

Faced with such a dilemma, the hospital authorities are planning to move the High Court to shift the child to a proper childcare facility after the procedures for the DNA test are completed. Meanwhile, the Registrar (Vigilance), Orissa High Court, has issued notices to the SCBMCH authorities and the complainant __ Sushanta Mallick and wife Rashmita Mallick __ and the other couple Nirpuama Mallick and husband Sukanta Mallick fixing the date for sample collections to May 2 at 11.30 am. The samples would be drawn in the presence of the Registrar under supervision of Head of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (FMT) department Prof. A Behera. The samples would be sent to the Institute of Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, the High Court-appointed Advocates’ Committee, comprising PR Das, Tarananda Patnaik and Dr PK Pradhan, on Saturday visited the SCBMCH to enquire about the well-being of the baby.






Thapar varsity student’s death: HC asks cops to probe murder

RAGHAV OHRI : Mon Apr 30 2012, 02:34 hrs

Supports DIG’s report, says no chargesheet on basis of SIT report.

Refusing to show conviction in the report of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) which probed the “mysterious” death of a student of Thapar University, Patiala, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the Punjab Police to probe murder charges as recommended by its Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police.

The development assumes significance since the Director General of Police (DGP) had refused to place reliance in a report prepared by its DIG, and had constituted the SIT.

DIG Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh had submitted a scathing inquiry report stating that “custodial interrogation” of those allegedly involved in the “accident” was required, and recommended registration of murder charges. Refusing to accept his recommendation report, the DGP had constituted a SIT.

Taking note of this, O P Bhatia, Deputy Secretary, Home Affairs and Justice, Punjab, had said the constitution of SIT would “lead to tampering with evidence”. Therefore, he ordered that the SIT be disbanded immediately, upholding the DIG’s “recommendation” for registration of a murder case. Even though it was disbanded, the Punjab Police produced the copy of the SIT report which negated the findings of the DIG and said the student had died in an accident. In its report, the SIT had submitted that the allegations of murder were “absolutely baseless”.

Much to the relief of Gurbax Singh Bains, the father of the deceased, and embarrassment for the Punjab DGP, the High Court has refused to take stock of the report tabled by the SIT. Instead, the High Court has held that the investigating agency will probe the case on the basis of the report of the DIG who had recommended registration of a murder case. The court has given three months’ time to the Punjab Police to probe the murder charges.

In another embarrassment for the police, the High Court has made it clear that no chargesheet will be produced in the trial court on the basis of the SIT report.

Advocate Gurbax Singh Bains had argued that since the SIT had been disbanded vide order dated January 24 this year, it had no jurisdiction to proceed further to prepare the conclusion report.

The FIR was registered at Police Station, Rajpura, Patiala, in 2010. Gurbax Singh had moved the High Court alleging that his 21-year-old son Gagandeep was “murdered” in 2010. The Punjab Police had registered a case of “rash and negligent driving” in the death of Gagandeep claiming it to be a case of accident. The “accident”, which claimed the lives of Gagandeep and his friend, occurred on September 28, 2010, near Rajpura, Patiala. The case will now come up for hearing in July.











HC: No hard and fast rule for non-custodian parents access to child

Published: Monday, Apr 30, 2012, 8:00 IST
By Urvi Mahajani | Place: Mumbai

“There can be no hard and fast rule when it comes to granting children’s access to a non-custodian parent, the courts have to be flexible.”

The Bombay high court made this observation when hearing an appeal filed by a father whose access to his two daughters, aged 16 years and 15 years, was cancelled by the family court on March 31, 2011.

The family court had continued his access to his minor son.
Justice Roshan Dalvi observed that the couple has had a “very acrimonious dispute” which can be seen by the number of applications made by both of them before the courts.

The father argued that under the law, the parent must be granted access till the child is 18 years of age.

Disagreeing with the argument, justice Dalvi observed: “No hard and fast rule can be laid down, except the prime rule that all children need love and affection, care and upbringing of both their parents and the parental responsibility extends to each of the parents granting the other opportunity to do so.”

Also, it is not the right of the parents that are to be determined in an application for custody or access but the right of the child to have such access, observed the judge.

Justice Dalvi had interviewed the daughters and the father independently and jointly in her chamber before passing the order.

“The daughters demonstrated an extremely venomous disposition towards their father. The father was amiable and understanding.

The daughters narrated to the court parrot-like what was mentioned in the petition containing expressions like harassment, cruelty without any illustrations, except one showing certain beatings on her hands on a given date,” observed the high court.

Justice Dalvi further noted: “Having been in the custody of one parent and having had absolutely no contact with the other, the source of such venom is easy to see.”

“However, in view of such vehemence, coupled with their age, counselling would not be worth embarking upon,” observed justice Dalvi, while upholding the cancellation of access rights to the father.










HC acquits man held guilty of murder, says evidence unreliable

New Delhi, April 30, 2012

Delhi High Court has set aside the conviction of a man who had been given a life sentence for killing his sister-in-law by pouring acid on her, questioning the reliability evidence.
“Reliability and credibility of the witness who deposes about the dying declaration are the twin equirements which the trial court is obliged to satisfy itself about, while basing its findings on such evidence,” a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and S P Garg said.

According to the prosecution, Kishore was unhappy with Meena for working as a domestic help. Despite his objections, she continued with her work and on April 22, 2008, when Meena was at a park, Kishore poured acid on her and fled.

The prosecution said a home guard constable reached the spot on being informed about the incident. On the way to the hospital, Meena narrated the event to him. The court, however, questioned the conduct of the constable, saying, despite “being a responsible officer trained in the drill of what ought to be done when dealing with a medico-legal case”, the constable had left the hospital without waiting for the police to arrive.

“He certainly was not present when the alleged dying declaration was recorded by PW-20 (police officer),” the bench said.

The victim’s neighbour had testified that he heard Meena shouting loudly and running in the street in front of her house saying Jugal Kishore had poured acid on her. The bench, citing the testimony, said the versions of the constable and the neighbour regarding the place of incident are “inconsistent and irreconcilable”.

“This aspect assumes importance because no public witness was associated while the police seized earth control, a jug (which contained acid) and the lid of the jug, from the park,” it said.

 It added that “the doctor who recorded the MLC, and also made an endorsement that the injured (Meena) was in a fit state of mind to record the dying declaration, was not joined in the investigation, much less produced in court”.

“The other important aspect is that the injured lived on for two more days, the prosecution did not indicate any attempt on its part to have a declaration or statement recorded,” the bench said.









Flat owners on forest land to form co-operative society to appeal in Supreme Court

Clara Lewis, TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 03.13AM IST

MUMBAI: Citizens fed up of waiting for a SC verdict on their flats on private forest land have decided to form a co-operative society and intervene in the matter. Nearly 1,500 flat owners of three buildings in Mulund on Sunday resolved to together appeal to the SC to set up a three-judge bench to hear the matter.

Advocate Vinod Sampat said the co-operative housing society guidelines require that 60% of the flat purchasers should have registered their documents to form a co-operative society. “There are instances where the HC has allowed flat buyers to form a co-operative society in case of disputes,” he said.

“We were to get possession of our flats in 2006-07 but its been nearly five years and there is no end to the matter. Our only hope was the SC but the matter is delayed there as well,” said Laxmi Ramchandran, a flat owner. Ramachandran said owing to a stay order, the buildings were not constructed completely. Many of the investors are retired senior citizens who are living on rent. “The situation is so bad that they threaten to commit suicide,” said Prakash Paddikal, president, Hillside Residents’ Welfare Association.

Residents have already paid a regularization fee as directed by the SC. In early 2012, residents were informed that they would have to pay more as earlier they had been charged on the basis of barren land. When the Union ministry of environment and forests questioned the state on why the land abutting a dense forest such as the Sanjay Gandhi National Park was classified as barren, the state issued fresh notices about the increased charges. Residents have decided against paying the increased rates.










HC rejects passport agents’ plea for log-in facility over security

Express news service : Ahmedabad, Mon Apr 30 2012, 05:48 hrs

Observing that national security is paramount, a division bench of Gujarat High Court (HC) recently dismissed a petition by an association of passport agents who had demanded a direction to the authorities to allow them to have a log-in facility in their names to submit passport applications on behalf of their clients even in the recently introduced Passport Seva Kendra Scheme which has completely changed the process of issuance of passports while curtailing the role of passport agents.

The petitioner organisation has been identified as Association of Recognised Passport Agents of Gujarat. The association had challenged a single-judge bench order of the HC that had dismissed its petition challenging the provisions of the scheme that are curtailing their roles in the passport issuance process.

Following that the organisation had preferred an appeal before a division bench. And a division bench of the HC comprising of Justices V M Sahai and A J Desai passed an order recently on their appeal while dismissing the same.

According to the details, the central government has completely changed the passport issuance process while introducing Passport Seva Project. Under the new scheme, the person who wants to have a passport has to personally appear before a Passport Seva Kendra.

Earlier, the passport agents were recognised by the Ministry of External Affairs and they also used to submit the forms on behalf of their clients to get the passport. In the new scheme, the passport agents have not been included.

With their roles curtailed, the petitioner organisation approached the HC with a prayer that they be given a separate login facility to submit forms on behalf of their clients. However, this prayer was dismissed by the division bench also while observing that the national security is of paramount importance.

The petitioner organisation had pressed for their demand while arguing that they have been carrying business as agents for last 50 years and therefore their livelihood was going to be affected.

The central government had opposed the petition on a number of grounds. One of them being the issue of national security. The central government counsel contended that there are many instances when fraudulent persons have managed to obtain passports.

Dismissing the petition the bench observed, “The passport is a very important instrument which permits an Indian Citizen to travel beyond the country and, therefore, before issuing such important instrument, the authority has to scrutinise the application for passport in detail since it is a matter of national security. It is a fact of common knowledge that large number of persons travel beyond the country on fake passports which are prepared in the name of bogus/dummy persons.”

“In view of this aspect, if the Government decides that the person, who is interested in getting passport, shall file the application in his own name having sufficient details about himself/herself, the same is not prejudicial to anybody,” it added.









Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike overlooks DC’s diktat on drains

M K Madhusoodan, TNN | Apr 30, 2012, 05.36AM IST

BANGALORE : Are possession of khatas and licence to build on encroached land cast-iron reasons to continue with illegal occupation ? Revenue authorities don’t believe so but BBMP is citing them as reasons for not clearing encroachments on a storm water drain through Chinnappanahalli village in KR Puram .

Bangalore Urban district’s deputy commissioner M K Aiyappa had shot off a letter to BBMP joint director (Mahadevapura division ) KN Devaraj , stating that a detailed inspection by the East tahsildar revealed encroachments dotting the drain passing from Survey Nos 3 to 14 in Chinappanahalli .

The DC said there were several petitions from locals aboutencroachments andhowseveralbuildings had been built with BBMP permission . Encroachers should be served notices and all illegal constructions should be demolished forthwith , he said .

“The BBMP should take immediate steps to cancel khatas and licences given to construct buildings on the encroached land ,” the letter said , offering all cooperation of revenue authorities for removal of encroachments .

“Wecannotdo anything now as revenue authorities hadn’t taken any action till now . They have now asked us to do the job but it’s difficult as all buildings have been granted khatas and licence to construct on the land under question . We’ll do a joint inspection with the tahsildar , get details of encroachments and try to demolish the buildings as soon as possible ,” BBMP chief engineer (storm water drain ) HC Ananthaswamy told TOI. He added that revenue authorities should have taken action before the encroachments happened .

The DC’s letter clearly mentioned there were large tracts of encroachments in 33 blocks of the survey numbers in the village . “Criminal cases under Section 192 (a) of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act have also been ordered against those found guilty of encroaching the SWD ,” the letter stated .

Khata alone doesn’t confer land ownership

Revenue authorities say khata in itself is not an ownership document as it is basically a receipt of record of tax collected by urban local bodies. To streamline urban property records, the revenue department has now started a drive to issue unique property identification number. Khatas will become redundant once the property identification numbers will be allotted to properties.



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