LEGAL NEWS 13.05.2012

Officiating principals: SC orders status quo, issues notice to UT

Vinod Kumar , Hindustan Times
Chandigarh , May 12, 2012

Acting on an appeal filed by three officiating principals of post graduate government colleges (PGGC), the Supreme Court has ordered status quo with regard to their present postings. The apex court on Friday also issued notice to the UT administration to file a reply within four weeks.

Achla Dogra, officiating principal PGGC-11; Mani Bedi, officiating principal, PGGC-42; and Manjit Kaur, officiating principal, Government Commerce College, have challenged the Punjab and Haryana high court order, dated February 25, 2012, whereby it had upheld the UT administration’s rules that for regular appointment of college principals, PhD degree would be compulsory.

The high court also said that seniority for promotion to the post of principal was not enough to become the head.

In October 2010, the central administrative tribunal (CAT), Chandigarh, had directed the UT administration to carry out amendment in its rules to consider those lecturers also for the post of principal, who did not possess PhD degree. However, the administration challenged the CAT orders in the high court.

In the apex court, petitioners had stated that they took charge as principals in 2009 under the Punjab rules, 1976, and they were not covered under the new notifications issued in 2010.

According to Punjab rules, for the appointment to the post of principal by way of promotion, PhD was not an essential qualification. Only on the basis of requisite experience as lecturer, a candidate was to be promoted as principal.

The petitioners had submitted that after putting in decades of service, a lecturer was now being asked to possess a PhD for the post of principal, which was unfair. It was submitted that since the petitioners were at the fag end of their careers, they should be considered for promotion.

In February this year, a delegation of associate professors gave a representation to the UT finance-cum-education secretary VK Singh and termed as arbitrary the decision of giving charge of post of principal to those not possessing PhD degree.

The delegation had urged VK Singh to give charge to an eligible candidate as per the rules.







Tollywood strikes it rich in Karnataka

TNN | May 13, 2012, 01.31AM IST

HYDERABAD: The market has just got bigger for Telugu films with Competition Commission of India (CCI) removing restrictions imposed on the release of non-Kannada films in Karnataka. Ram Charan Tej’s ‘Racha’, Jr NTR’s ‘Dammu’ and Pawan Kalyan’s ‘Gabbar Singh’ have all been released in a large number of theatres in Karnataka.

The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC), which felt that the survival of Kannada cinema was at stake had recently imposed restrictions on the number of theatres where non-Kannada films could be screened in the state.

Annoyed by this decision, certain production houses had approached the CCI against the KFCC’s decision. With CCI finding fault with the KFCC on the issue a couple of months ago and removing barriers on the release of non-Kannada films in the state, Telugu films are being released in a big way in Karnataka now.

“Telugu films and heroes have a big following in Karnataka. Our production houses have now started releasing Telugu films in as many theatres as they want to. Definitely, the market for Telugu cinema has now got expanded,” Andhra Pradesh Film Chamber of Commerce (APFCC) president D Suresh Babu told STOI. This means that producers will stand to gain hugely as they can now sell their films rights for a larger amount as they can be released in more theatres. While Telugu film heroes are a big draw in Karnataka, their image will get even bigger and this could result in increase in their remuneration as well.

On April 5, ‘Racha’ reportedly was released in as many as 90 theatres in Karnataka. Before the restrictions were removed not more than 24 theatres were allowed to show non-Kannada films. In addition to 90 theatres where ‘Racha’ was screened officially, 30 followed suit in Karnataka. The Ram Charan Tej-starrer, it is said, collected several crores in the Karnataka market.

With Karnataka now becoming a lucrative market, Jr NTR’s ‘Dammu’, which was released on April 27, tried to take full advantage and the movie was released in 150 theatres across Karnataka. On Friday, Pawan Kalyan’s ‘Gabbar Singh’ now bids to repeat the feat. The film was released in 16 single screen theatres and 17 multiplexes in Bangalore city. In all, the movie was released in 83 theatres in Karnataka.

Ironically, while the Telugu film industry has lost no time in taking its share of the Kannada pie, a section of the Tollywood has been voicing itself against the release of dubbed movies from other languages in Andhra Pradesh.










Essar Oil posts Rs 515 cr loss due to debt restructuring, sales tax

PTI, 12 May 2012 | 07:24 PM

Essar Oil today reported a loss of Rs 515 crore for the three months ended March, 2012, due to reversal in sales tax benefits and provisioning related to corporate debt restructuring.

It had a profit of Rs 321 crore in the year-ago period.

Meanwhile, gross revenues of Essar Oil rose to Rs 19,160 crore in the 2012 March quarter from Rs 14,846 crore in the same period a year ago, it said in a statement. The higher revenues came on the back of increase in product prices.

However, the quarterly performance was hit by decline in gross refinery margin, reversal of sales tax benefits and provision of Rs 322 crore for Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) exit proposal.

For the full year ended March 2012, Essar Oil posted a loss of Rs 4,199 crore. The company had a profit of Rs 654 crore in financial year 2010-11.

The company said the CDR exit proposal has been approved by majority of its lenders and the process is expected to be complete in the current quarter.

“CDR exit would provide operational flexibility and an opportunity to reduce cost of debt,” it added.

Following rejection of its review petition by the Supreme Court regarding repayment of deferred sales tax, the company had made representation to the Gujarat government.

As the issues could not be resolved amicably with the government, the company filed a writ petition in the Gujarat High Court to seek direction on the repayment installments and interest of its sales tax deferral liability to the government.

Essar Oil said the Gujarat High Court has fixed the next hearing for June 22.

“The company has already provided Rs 4,015 crore as an exceptional item in its book as reversal of sales tax incentive income in Q3 FY12 and considering the net accretion of Rs 53 crore in Q4 FY12 on account of defeasement, the net reversal for the year is Rs 3,962 crore,” the statement said.

Essar Oil’s net worth stood at Rs 3,613 crore for the year ended March 2012. In the year-ago period, the same was at Rs 6,538 crore.

“With our capex funding requirement coming to an end, ensuing (Corporate Debt Restructuring) CDR exit, and benefits of higher capacity and complexity will soon be visible in terms of incremental operational cash flows, which will be utilized to deleverage the balance sheet and boost our valuation,” Essar Oil Chief Financial Officer Suresh Jain said.









Civic body chiefs fate hangs in balance

Express News Service

SAMBALPUR: Uncertainty looms large over the fate of Sambalpur Municipal Council even after the High Court on Friday vacated the stay on the writ petition filed by chairperson Rina Trivedi. She had obtained a stay from the court to reserve the outcome of the no-confidence motion against her held on May 7. Although the case was supposed to be taken up by the court on Thursday, it was postponed to Friday.
While it was expected that the counting would be taken up on Friday and the fate of Trivedi would be decided, it could not be done as the district administration is yet to receive any communication from the High Court.
Earlier on May 7, as many as 20 disgruntled councillors had moved the no-confidence motion against Trivedi.
Of the 29 wards under Sambalpur municipal limits, BJP had maximum 15 councillors followed by Congress with 13 besides one Independent. Congress’ strength reduced by one with death of councillor Ladra Munda while seven BJP councillors had resigned from the party reducing it to a minority. Then the disgruntled councillors, including 12 from the Congress and BJP vice-chairman Siddharth Saha, had closed ranks against Trivedi.
Although an attempt was made to unseat Trivedi on February 9 last year, her mentor and Sambalpur BJP MLA Jayanarayan Mishra managed to bail her out by holding the BJP councillors together. He had then issued a stern warning to Trivedi to mend her ways and take all BJP councillors into confidence before taking any decision.










4,000 cases settled at Lok Adalat

TNN | May 13, 2012, 03.09AM IST

NEW DELHI: More than 4,000 cases pending before various district courts in the capital were disposed of by a special weekend Lok Adalat on Saturday.

The Adalat also awarded over Rs 45.20 lakh as compensation in 44 cases pertaining to Motor Accident Claim Tribunal after deciding them in a single day.

The Adalat, organized by Delhi State Legal Services Authority in all six district courts, comprised 58 benches which dealt with the cases relating to dishonour of cheques, civil, labour, electricity, criminal compoundable offences and recovery matters. Several civil and criminal cases like matrimonial disputes and traffic violations referred to lok adalats by regular courts, were taken up for hearing to facilitate settlement. Out of the 4,000 cases, 197 criminal cases were disposed of by way of plea bargaining in a special sitting where any consumer having disputes could walk in for on the spot settlement of his dispute.

Around 33 cases were disposed of at pre-litigative stage at Patiala House Court Complex, Tis Hazari, Karkardooma, Rohini, Dwarka and Saket district courts.










Green Tribunal seeks details of forest land in Kashang power project

New Delhi, May 13, 2012

The National Green Tribunal has directed Himanchal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL) to furnish details of the forest land likely to be affected by the 243 MW Kashang Hydroelectric Power Project in Kinnaur district of the state. The Tribunal passed the orders on a plea filed by an NGO challenging the forest clearance granted for the project by Ministry of Environment and Forest on April 16, 2010.

“After hearing (counsel for petitioner and respondents), we direct the project proponent (HPPCL) to file a further affidavit clearly furnishing the break-up of forest land measuring 17.685 hectares for which forest clearance has been granted.

“The project proponent is also directed to furnish figures with regard to the nature of the forests, the number of trees existing along with their species and number of trees which are going to be felled either for preparation of head race tunnel or tail race channel or the road,” a bench headed by Tribunal’s Acting Chairperson Justice A S Naidu said.

The Tribunal also said HPPCL will “indicate the number of springs existing in the vicinity as well as the distance of local habitation. They will also furnish the list of springs which may be affected due to use of forest lands for non-forest purpose”.

The bench, also comprising GK Pandey as the expert member, posted the matter for further hearing on July 11.

An NGO, Paryavaran Sanrakshan Sangarsh Samiti Lippa Village, had moved the Tribunal challenging the forest clearance granted to the project being developed by HPPCL.

During the hearing, the bench also allowed Devi Gyan Negi, a Himachal Pradesh native, to file an application for being made a party to the case.

Negi had moved the Tribunal seeking directions to stay the clearance granted to the project.










Gujarat riots: Former Supreme Court judge says SIT findings incorrect

Syed Imtiaz Jaleel and Rohit Bhan | Updated: May 12, 2012 13:14 IST

Former Supreme Court judge Justice PB Sawant, who conducted an inquiry into the 2002 Gujarat riots and found Chief Minister Narendra Modi guilty, has said that he does not agree with the report on the case submitted recently by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).

The SIT was asked to determine whether Mr Modi should be tried for his alleged role in the riots. In its report submitted to a Gujarat court last month, it gave a clean chit to the Chief Minister and ruled that there was no “prosecutable evidence” against him.

But Justice Sawant says the conclusions drawn by the SIT “are completely incorrect.” “I don’t agree with them,” he told NDTV, adding that the findings of the probe panel are not binding on the court.

“It is for the people to compare both the reports and draw their own conclusions,” he said. Justice Sawant had conducted an inquiry into the Gujarat riots in 2002 and had found Mr Modi responsible for the carnage. He had even recommended his prosecution.

Besides the SIT, the Supreme Court had also appointed senior advocate Raju Ramachandran to investigate allegations of Mr Modi’s complicity in the riots. Mr Ramachandran submitted his report to the Supreme Court in February this year. But his findings differ from those of the SIT.

He said there appear to be enough grounds for offences to be made out against the Chief Minister. “The offences which can be made out against Shri Modi, at this prima facie stage” include “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and acts prejudicial to (the) maintenance of harmony,” his report reads.

The amicus curiae (one who assists the court) has also said in his report that more attention should be paid to the claims of suspended police officer Sanjiv Bhatt, whose comments against the Chief Minister were dismissed by the SIT. Mr Bhatt claims that on February 27, 2002, hours after 58 passengers were set on fire in a train near the Godhra station, Mr Modi held a meeting at his residence with senior police officers and told them that Hindus should be allowed to “vent their anger.”

Justice Sawant seconds that. “The genocide started after Narendra Modi instructed his ministers and top police officials against interfering with what people will be doing as a reaction to the Godhra incident,” he said.

The SIT and Mr Ramachandran were both asked to study Mr Modi’s role on the basis of a case filed by Zakia Jafri. Her husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was set on fire during the riots. Mrs Jafri has said that Mr Modi was among 63 people who colluded to prevent assistance to those being attacked in the riots.

She has alleged that Mr Modi and his administration did nothing to save Mr Jafri and 69 others at the Gulberg Society when rioters attacked them. She has claimed that her husband made repeated phone calls for help, even to the Chief Minister, but to no avail.

The SIT report claims that Congress leader could have provoked the rioters by firing on them.

On Monday, May 7, Ms Jafri was given a copy of the SIT closure report. But she has alleged that she has not been given all the documents, and at least 20 pages of the report are missing. She has also said that she will continue her legal battle to prove what she calls Mr Modi’s complicity in the post-Godhra Gujarat riots.

In another stunning statement, the SIT has said that even if Mr Modi had told the police during the riots to allow the Hindus to vent their anger over the massacre of 56 kar sevaks in the Godhra train burning incident, the mere statement of those in the confines of a room does not constitute an offence. On this, the SIT seems to have based its report on public statements made by Mr Modi during the riots.

Around 1200 people lost their lives in the riots in 2002 in the state.









Order against CPCL set aside

Express News Service

CHENNAI: An order of a Labour Court directing Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL), formerly known as Madras Refineries Limited (MRL), to absorb 381 members of a trade union with retrospective effect from the date of their initial entry into the service of MRL Industrial Co-operative Service Society Limited (INDCO Serve), has been set aside by the Madras High Court.

Justice K Chandru set aside the order, while allowing writ petitions from the management of CPCL and INDCO Serve, challenging the order of the Central Government Industrial Tribunal (CGIT)-cum-Labour Court.

According to CPCL, it had engaged contractors, of which one was INDCO Serve, which was formed by employees previously working under the contractors. CPCL also became a member of INDCO Serve in 1983. The main object of INDCO Serve was to take up and execute various works entrusted to it by CPCL. Subsequent to the formation of INDCO Serve, its members, through their trade union, raised an industrial dispute to absorb them into CPCL.

The dispute was referred to CGIT, which held that the so-called contract between INDCO Serve and CPCL was only nominal and only a camouflage. It held that INDCO workers were really the workmen of CPCL and therefore, they were entitled to be regularised into the service of CPCL. Challenging this order, CPCL filed the present petition.

The HC judge said that the INDCO Serve was a registered contractor and the CPCL had registered itself as principal employer under the provisions of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act. The workmen employed in INDCO Serve were governed by their own standing orders and the special bye-laws applicable to them.

Employees of INDCO Serve were not appointed by CPCL by any recruitment process conducted by them but were appointed by INDCO Serve.

Therefore, the demand raised by the workmen were misconceived and not legally sustainable. “Hence, the award stands set aside,” the judge said.









NGO refutes Child Welfare Committee report

TNN | May 13, 2012, 02.52AM IST

NEW DELHI: A day after the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Lajpat Nagar ordered a police inquiry into allegations of child abuse at the Prayas children’s home, the senior management of the NGO hit back, saying that the CWC order was baseless and they had not been informed about the probe at all.

Amod Kanth, founder of the NGO and former chairperson of Delhi Commission of Protection of Child Rights said he personally checked the files of both the complainants and found no records of the complaint. “The children were not forced to spend the night outside the dormitory as claimed. They were sitting on the stairs for some time after being told to not wear ornaments. When some children requested, they even had food,” Kanth said. He added that the children living in the home are taught about manicure and pedicure and it is possible that they had done the same for the manager in question. “But they were not forced to do so,” he said.

Arun Grover, director, Prayas, claimed the accused manager was “informed about the complaint against her by an informal email, and no formal summon was issued”. “She made a mistake by going to the committee without informing her senior, especially when there was no formal summon. How can the enquiry be proper if it is so one sided-when we were not informed about the allegations, or the order didn’t come through proper channel?” he said.

Raaj Mangal Prasad, chairperson of the CWC Lajpat Nagar refuted the claims made by NGO. He said that the mails were sent to the manager from the official id. “The CWC is a statutory body and we cannot comment on the allegations being made by the said NGO. Law will take its own course,” said Prasad.










Legal action against 3 deemed varsities

Published: Saturday, May 12, 2012, 13:24 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Medical education minister SA Ramdas on Friday said that the department is initiating legal action against three deemed universities—Siddharth Medical College, KLE University of Belagavi and BLDEA’s Shri BM Patil Medical College —for not complying with the 25% seat quota for poor meritorious students, selected through Common Entrance Test (CET).

Although several notices have been issued to these universities in this regard, the managements have not bothered to provide details of the seat-sharing matrix to the department.

“On Thursday too, we had a meeting with the officials of these colleges. But they were not forthcoming in providing seats to meritorious students. So, we have decided to take action against them,” the minister said.

“The managements had given in writing that they would allot 25% seats to government quota students,” he said, adding that even after the government writing to the Medical Association of India seeking information on seat allotments, these universities have failed to provide details.

This year, we have decided not to give away even a single vacant seat to private managements. Last year, 42 seats remained vacant, he said.

“We had given clear instructions to the private managements to begin the counselling process after we finish ours,” he said.
Notices have also been sent to Rajarajeshwari Medical College in Bangalore and AJ Shetty Medical College in Mangalore. Medical education minister SA Ramdas on Friday said that the department is initiating legal action against three deemed universities—Siddharth Medical College, KLE University of Belagavi and BLDEA’s Shri BM Patil Medical College —for not complying with the 25% seat quota for poor meritorious students, selected through Common Entrance Test (CET).

Although several notices have been issued to these universities in this regard, the managements have not bothered to provide details of the seat-sharing matrix to the department.

“On Thursday too, we had a meeting with the officials of these colleges. But they were not forthcoming in providing seats to meritorious students. So, we have decided to take action against them,” the minister said.

“The managements had given in writing that they would allot 25% seats to government quota students,” he said, adding that even after the government writing to the Medical Association of India seeking information on seat allotments, these universities have failed to provide details.

This year, we have decided not to give away even a single vacant seat to private managements. Last year, 42 seats remained vacant, he said.

“We had given clear instructions to the private managements to begin the counselling process after we finish ours,” he said.
Notices have also been sent to Rajarajeshwari Medical College in Bangalore and AJ Shetty Medical College in Mangalore.








A ban that does no justice to future generations

Text of resignation letter written by Prof. Suhas Palshikar and Prof. Yogendra Yadav to the head of the National Council of for Educational Research and Training following Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s announcement that the government is withdrawing a political science textbook containing an “objectionable” cartoon of Babasaheb Ambedkar:

1.The textbook (‘Indian Constitution at Work’) was first published in 2006 and so far has received appreciation from various quarters, scholars, educationists and students. This book is being taught since 2006 without change since then. The purpose of the textbook is to not only give reliable information but also to encourage students to think, and seek more information on their own. From this perspective, the textbook has included many additional elements besides the text; these include dialogues by two student characters, photographs, original documents (in facsimile), newspaper clippings and cartoons.

2. The cartoon on page 18 is by the famous cartoonist Shankar. This is a cartoon not done for the textbook but published at the time when the Constituent Assembly was working. It does not criticise or comment upon Dr. Ambedkar. It depicts Dr. Ambedkar as the one who is in charge of Constitution-making. Since the book has included many cartoons from that era, it is only natural that those cartoons depict many leaders of that time, including the makers of the Constitution.

3. However, the text on pages 17 and 18 amply elaborates why the making of the Constitution took considerable time, and what procedures were followed by the Assembly. It is also explained that deliberation and consensus were the key elements of Constitution-making.

4. In no way does the text or the cartoon denigrate or downplay the contribution of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. Since this textbook is in continuation of the Standard X textbook, it assumes the knowledge about the role and contribution of Dr. Ambedkar. In the Standard X textbook, on page 48, Dr. Ambedkar’s role is explained, and also a quotation from his speech is given for students to better understand his approach.

5. It may also be mentioned that the textbook had gone through very detailed scrutiny and finally was also vetted by a Monitoring Committee co-chaired by Professors Mrinal Miri and G.P. Deshpande. The national Monitoring Committee included, among others, Professors Gopal Guru and Zoya Hasan of JNU.

6. Before publication the textbook was also reviewed by many eminent scholars and was highly appreciated for its balanced treatment and student-friendly structure.

Suhas Palshikar, Professor, Department of Politics & Public Administration, University of Pune.

Yogendra Yadav, Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.








SC restricts medical admission till July 15

New Delhi, May 13, 2012

The Supreme Court has framed a series of guidelines for admission to MBBS and BDS courses in the country, saying after July 15 each year, neither the government nor the medical or dental councils shall issue any recognition or approval for that academic year. “The commencement of new courses or increase in seats of existing courses of MBBS/BDS are to be approved/recognised by the government of India by 15th July of each calendar year for the relevant academic sessions of that year.

“After 15th July of each year, neither the Union of India nor the Medical or Dental Council of India shall issue any recognition or approval for the current academic year. If any such approval is granted after 15th July of any year, it shall only be operative for the next academic year and not in the current academic year,” the bench of justices AK Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar said.

The judges said violation of the orders would invite both contempt proceedings and initiation of departmental action against the violating its directions.

The bench initiated contempt proceedings against six officials in connection with the admission granted to two girls – Akansha Adile and Priya Gupta – in the MBBS course for the academic year 2006-07 in the government NMDC Medical College, Jagdalpur in Chandigarh, on September 30, after overlooking the claims of several other meritorious students and the time schedule.

Contempt proceedings were initiated against the director general, directorate of Health Services; SL Adile, director of Medical Education; the dean of Jagdalpur College; and MS Banjan, PD Agarwal and Padmakar Sasane, members of the selection committee. Akansha is the daughter of SL Adile.











CBI court sends foodgrain scam accused to jail

TNN | May 13, 2012, 03.10AM IST

LUCKNOW: A CBI court on Saturday has sent a foodgrain scam accused Uday Pratap Singh to jail under judicial custody till May 26. The CBI produced the accused at the residence of CBI judge RP Sharma.

The CBI on Friday had arrested Uday Pratap Singh, brother of sitting Samajwadi Party MLA from Gonda Awdhesh Pratap Singh in connection with the scam. The CBI team probing the scam summoned Uday Pratap Singh to its camp office in Gonda on Friday morning for questioning. After a series of grilling sessions, the CBI brought him to Lucknow and formally arrested him late in the evening on Friday.

Uday Pratap happens to be a transporter and was among the three Gonda transporters who have been found involved in the scam related to disposal of food grains worth Rs 8 crore that was to be distributed to the below poverty line families through the public distribution system. Allegations are that the foodgrain was sold away in the open market. The transporters who were supposed to transport the foodgrain stocks from the government godowns to PDS warehouses sold the stocks directly from the government godowns and the stocks never reached the PDS warehouses.

The CBI had earlier arrested Rajendra Singh and Shivbux Singh – two leading transporters of Gonda, about a week ago. It was on the basis of the interrogation of these two transporters that the CBI managed to gather evidence against Uday Pratap to establish his involvement in the scam. While the agency has detected that foodgrain scam in Lakhimpur was worth Rs 7 crore, in Gonda it was estimated to be around Rs 8 crore.

The scam had surfaced during the previous Mulayam Singh Yadav regime. Investigators believe that the scam may turn out to be worth over Rs 1 lakh crore. More than 20 persons have been arrested so far by the CBI in connection with the scam from the two districts.










CBI finds Aarushi murder a tough case: Official

Press Trust of India

Ranchi: Terming Aarushi murder as a tough case due to delay in getting the case, the CBI on Saturday felt early handing over the matter could have enabled it to gather solid evidence.

“The CBI gets such cases very late. It gets such cases only after the state police and forensic experts finish their investigation. So, we don t have much time to get crucial evidence and it becomes difficult (to strengthen CBI’s points of investigation), a top CBI official said.

Describing the Aarushi murder case as a tough case, the official said the agency was waiting for a court order on May 14 as the trial resumes.

A special CBI court in Ghaziabad had yesterday reserved for May 14 its order on the plea of dentist couple Nupur and Rajesh Talwar, facing prosecution in the twin murder case of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj, for all the CBI documents pertaining to the case.

The official said the CBI could miss crucial evidence because of the time factor if they were handed over a case pertaining to murder, rape, missing or kidnapping.










CIC says Vohra report annexures be made public

Manoj Mitta, TNN | May 13, 2012, 06.00AM IST

NEW DELHI: In the pre-RTI era, the Supreme Court had ruled that it would be “severely and detrimentally injurious” to public interest if annexures to the N N Vohra Committee report, containing details of the alleged nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and criminals, were disclosed.

But the Central Information Commission (CIC) has now directed that these annexures be made public because the government had not bothered to explain its failure to disclose them in response to an RTI application.

The order passed by information commissioner Sushma Singh on May 10 directed the home ministry to provide the annexures to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal within two weeks.

Since the government had only provided the already-public main report of 12 pages, the CIC warned the government that the government’s refusal to disclose its annexures spread over 100 pages could invite penal proceedings under RTI for giving incomplete information.

Given the probability of the annexures to the Vohra report naming political leaders who still wield clout, the government is more likely to appeal against the CIC order than to comply with it. Though it would be hard pressed to justify the cavalier manner in which it had withheld the annexures in its RTI reply without any explanation, the government’s best bet for letting them remain under wraps is the SC judgment of 1997 on a petition filed by MP Dinesh Trivedi.

Though based merely on the technicality of an omission in the RTI reply, the CIC order has for the first time raised the larger question whether the statutory immunity provided to intelligence agencies could be penetrated when their inputs had been annexed to the report of a high-powered body like the Vohra committee.

The Vohra committee submitted its report in 1993 in the wake of the Bombay blasts taking off all the available information about “the activities of crime syndicates/mafia organizations which had developed links with and were being protected by governmentfunctionaries and political personalities.”










CBI probe into RS horse trading to be completed in 6 months

Published: Saturday, May 12, 2012, 18:33 IST
Place: Ranchi | Agency: PTI

CBI investigation into alleged horse trading in the election to two Rajya Sabha seats in Jharkhand is expected to be completed within six months and seizures, including the ballot box used in the March 30 countermanded elections, has given many clues.

“Progress in the horse-trading (countermanded RS polls for two seats) case is good,” a top CBI official said in Ranchi.

He declined to share details of the investigation citing sensitivity of the case and said seizures like cash, car and others things had put the probe on the right track.

The countermanding of the RS elections in Jharkhand had come in the wake of police and Income Tax department seizing Rs2.15 crore from a vehicle on the outskirts of Ranchi on the polling day.

CBI sleuths had last month raided the premises of industrialist RK Agarwal, who was in the fray in the election which was countermanded as the premises of an independent candidate, besides those of three MLAs and some other persons were raided and documents and articles seized.

The investigators had on April 26 seized the ballot box used in the countermanded elections and registered a case under sections 171F (undue influence) and 188 (disobedience to an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code.

Asked about the number of votes polled by Agarwal as the investigating agency had checked each vote after opening the ballot box, the official refused to reveal it.

Fresh polling to the two Rajya Sabha seats was held on May 3 and there was no independent candidates in the fray.











Lucknow: FIR against Nirmal Baba

India Blooms News Service

Lucknow, May 12 (IBNS): The Lucknow Police on Saturday said they have registered an First Information Report (FIR) against godman Nirmal Baba on the directions of a local court.

Nirmal has been charged under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that include 417, 419, 420 and 508.

Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Rajesh Upadhyaya directed the police to lodge a case against the godman after accepting an application moved by Tanya Thakur and Aditya Thakur.

They filed the complaint after watching the show Nirmal Darbar where the godman was seen giving solutions to people’s problems.

They alleged Nirmal was fooling people and also promoting superstition through his acts.

Earlier, it was reported that Nirmal Baba allegedly used donations from his followers to buy a hotel in Delhi’s Greater Kailash area.

Hindi Daily Prabhat Khabar claimed that Nirmal purchased the hotel for Rs. 30 crores.

The current market value of the hotel is around Rs. 35 crores.

Former owner of the hotel Ashwani Kapoor told a national news channel that Nirmal wanted to start a chain of hotels.

Nirmal landed up in fresh controversies when a voluntary organization accused him of cheating innocent people.

According to reports, complaints were registered against the godman in local police stations at Lucknow and Raipur for charging heavily to device ‘fake’ remedies.

Former President, Ravishankar University Yogendra Shankar Shulka, who filed a complaint against Nirmal, said the godman was giving ‘non-sense remedies’ to commoners who were asking for his help.

He said Nirmal was exploiting innocent people financially.

Actor Nidhi also claimed that Nirmal used to hire ‘fake’ people and they used to ask questions to him.

Nidhi said that she was paid Rs.10,000 for asking questions.










High Court quashes proceedings against Kuldip Sharma

Published: Saturday, May 12, 2012, 16:13 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

Justice JB Pardiwala of Gujarat high court, on Friday quashed proceedings against IPS officer Kuldip Sharma in connection with criminal case initiated against him by a court in Anand.

“The court has quashed the proceedings by observing that ‘reading the complaint by face of it, there is no offence made out of it’. Therefore, the court, has accepted our submission against the proceedings,” said IH Syed, counsel for Sharma. “We had also opposed state government’s sanction in this case after a gap of 14 years,” he said.

Kuldip Sharma, a senior IPS officer who is not on good terms with the state government, is on deputation with the Central government. A court in Anand had issued summons against Sharma by order to register an offence against him in April 2011.

The offence has been registered following a complaint by Kirit Brahmbhatt, a retired DySP, regarding an incident that took place with him in 2001 when he was working under Sharma.

According to case details, when Brahmbhatt was posted in Anand in 1998, a complaint of criminal intimidation and corruption was lodged against him. The police then closed the case against him by submitting a summary report in the court.

Though, the court had accepted the closing report against Brahmbhatt which was not challenged, Sharma, as a superior officer with CID (Crime), ordered further investigation of the case against Brahmbhatt in 2001.

Sharma’s action was challenged by former cop before the Gujarat high court. When the petition was pending before the high court, Sharma sent a team of police officers to arrest Brahmbhatt at his residence in Anand.












Young lawyers facing multiple challenges: Supreme Court judge

TNN May 12, 2012, 10.14PM IST

GUWAHATI: Supreme Court judge G S Singhvi on Saturday said young lawyers and the present generation are facing multiple challenges emanating not only from the legal front but also from the social quarter as well.

Justice Singhvi was speaking at a seminar titled “Challenges before the Legal Profession in Contemporary Times” organised by the National Law University and Judiciary Academy, Assam.

While addressing law students, lawyers, and judges at the seminar, Singhvi said people from his generation, which included leaders and bureaucrats, have failed the nation and were responsible for the present state of the country where more than 700 million people are below the poverty line. He also stated that the present generation faced tremendous challenges in matters pertaining to the violation of basic human rights and the destruction that was being meted out to the ecology.

“It is sad to say that my generation has failed the nation. In a country where 700 million people live below the poverty line, we tend to talk about justice. We talk about our fundamental rights being trampled upon but what about those people who do not get two square meals a day, have no right to education, shelter, clothing and other basic amenities. The country is divided into rural and urban and the idea about equality and fraternity needs to be pondered about and the entire process of development had taken place at the cost of rural people,” said Singhvi.

The justice also spoke about his experience as a lawyer and judge, juxtaposing his experiences as a legal person and a citizen of this country. “I feel guilty when I read about equality and fraternity and think about the labourers and farmers who have made our lives comfortable and easy. The ‘jan sevaks’ are fast becoming our masters, the first citizens followed by the rich and the poor only as third class citizens. At this juncture, I urge the young generation to treat Section 4 and 4(a) of the Indian Constitution as a common religion so that 700 million-odd people can come out and compete with us. You should stop thinking about your expectations,” added Singhvi.

Praising the young generation as brilliant as compared to his, the judge was all praise for Assam for its natural tapestry and even commented that Delhi was hell and appeared glamorous only on television.

Also present at the event were Adarsh Kumar Goel, chief justice of Gauhati High Court, Amitabh Roy, B K Sharma, B P Kotoky and Rishikesh Roy – judges of Gauhati high court. The seminar was streamed live through video conference.












Rajasthan High Court clears US teenager of mother’s murder

Associated Press | Updated: May 13, 2012 08:50 IST

Jodhpur The Rajasthan High Court has overturned the conviction of a US teenager who had been accused of killing his mother while on vacation in western India.

The Rajasthan High Court ordered Joncarlo Patton’s immediate release from a juvenile detention facility, according to Press Trust of India news agency. It was not immediately clear on what grounds the court overturned his conviction.

Patton was sentenced last year to three years in a juvenile detention facility after he was found guilty of slitting his mother’s throat at a desert resort in Rajasthan in August 2010. Prosecutors accused Patton of killing Cynthia Iannarelli, of Cecil, Pennsylvania, because he was traumatized over his parents’ divorce. Police said Patton left the wrapped body on a sand dune near the Osian resort and was arrested at the airport as he tried to fly home.
Patton, who was 16 when he was arrested, has said he is innocent and has accused police of forcing him to confess.

The teenager’s father, Richard Patton, said the family was overjoyed at his acquittal.

“While this does not in any way lessen the tragic death of Dr. Iannarelli, both the Patton and Iannarelli families are relieved and joyful with Joncarlo’s acquittal, an outcome we have believed in and expected from the very beginning,” Richard Patton said in a written statement.

The teenager’s lawyer, Rahul Mehra, said Patton had been turned over to US Embassy officials for repatriation.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said US officials “are aware of the case and are providing appropriate consular assistance.” He declined to comment further citing privacy concerns.

Richard Patton, a professor of business administration at the University of Pittsburgh, said the staff at the juvenile facility had treated his son “with kindness, dignity and respect under very trying conditions.” He also expressed his gratitude to his son’s legal team for working “tirelessly on Joncarlo’s behalf as well as providing him friendship and support.”

“As Joncarlo returns to Pittsburgh, his focus will be on getting back to his studies and activities and continued accomplishments that will make his mother and all of us proud,” Richard Patton added. “At some future point, he may choose to discuss his experiences but for now he will focus on returning to a normal life.”

He declined to comment beyond the written statement.





NHRC suggests night courts to tackle overcrowding in prisons

New Delhi: To tackle overcrowding in prisons across the country, the National Human Rights Commission has suggested holding of night courts in jails for trial of petty offences.

NHRC Chairperson KG Balakrishnan said various strategies could be employed to bring down the prison population like ensuring that police does not make any arrest indiscriminately and also providing legal aid to the poor.

He said the number of undertrial prisoners is very high in India and there is no other country which has such a count in its jails.

Convicts may be in large numbers but not undertrial prisoners, he said.

“In jails itself, there could be some courts so that petty offences could be tried. The timing could be between 4 pm and 8 pm. Some incentive should be provided to the magistrates.

“Earlier, there were evening courts in some places. One third of the basic was given as incentive to magistrates. Only young lawyers less than seven years were allowed to appear,” Balakrishnan said.

He said there can be some facility for court in the prison itself. “Even witnesses would love to come in the evening so that they don’t lose their wages,” he said.

The jails in the country are bursting at the seams, with the NCRB statistics showing that 3,68,998 prisoners are lodged in the country’s 1,393 prisons as against their capacity of 3,20,450 inmates. The occupancy rate was 115.1 per cent in 2010.

Balakrishnan said sometimes people are unnecessarily incarcerated. “But after long trial, they are acquitted,” he said.

“Another issue is that poor people, who get bail from courts, are not able to produce sureties. They are not able to get out of prisons. Such people should be released on some personal bond,” he suggested.

However, Balakrishnan said it will be difficult if these people are accused of heinous crimes. He suggested that others should be given bail.









Lawyers can practise before college and school tribunal: HC

Vaibhav Ganjapure, TNN | May 13, 2012, 01.32AM IST

NAGPUR: In a landmark decision, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court has ruled that lawyers should be allowed to practice before the university and college tribunals.

“A legal practitioner including an advocate shall not be required to obtain permission of the college and school tribunal to appear before it,” a division bench comprising justices Sharad Bobde and Prasanna Varale ruled, while declaring Section 64 of the Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994 under which legal practitioners are not entitled to appear before the college tribunal as “invalid”.

The court quashed and set aside the order of University and College Tribunal on November 21, 2007, by terming it as “illegal”. “Since Section 64 deals with exclusion of right of an advocate to practise before the University and College Tribunal, the provision must be held to be repugnant to Section 30 of the Advocates Act and consequently void as per Article 254(1) of the Constitution of India,” the court noted.

The petitioners – Mohan Sudame and Sanjiwani Shikshan Sanstha – had challenged Section 64 of the MU Act which stated that a legal practitioner shall not be entitled to appear on behalf of any party in any proceeding before the tribunal.

According to them, the University and College tribunal has wide powers. In any appeal brought before it by an employee who is removed or dismissed, the tribunal can decide all questions of fact and law which arise therein. The tribunal is presided over by a person, who is or has been a judge in high court or is qualified to be appointed as a judge of high court from the panel of three persons recommended by the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court. On November 21, 2007, the tribunal passed an order to withdraw the permission granted earlier to the legal practitioners to appear before it and directed the parties to make their own arrangements to defend their case.

Citing Section 30 of the Advocates Act, the petitioners contended that it was enacted by the Parliament and allows advocates right to practice. This empowers them to practice before all tribunals, University and College tribunals as well.

According to the Constitution, any law by Parliament, whether passed before or after the law enacted by the state legislature shall prevail, the petitioners argued. The court directed that the Advocates Act is act of Parliament and hence, the right of an advocate to practice before courts or any person authorized to take evidence remains intact, before disposing off the petition.









Pollution control board draws HC flak

Anand Bodh, TNN | May 13, 2012, 07.07AM IST

SHIMLA: Functioning of the Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board is now under the scanner on the issue of setting up of a thermal plant by Jai Prakash Associates Limited (JAL) at Bagheri in Solan district.

Ordering the dismantling of this plant, division bench of the Himachal Pradesh high court pointed out that the plant was set up without any valid approval, and construction was carried out even after consent to establish was withdrawn. “In fact, the pollution control board was negligent in not withdrawing consent to establish the thermal plant earlier,” the court said.

The division bench comprising Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjay Karol observed, “We had asked the state to produce record to show in what circumstances was the earlier decision taken about not to entertain such proposals for setting up thermal plants in the future and why did the government change this policy on November 10, 2008, within a short period of only one year. We find that some complaints were received against S P Vasudeva, the then member secretary of the pollution control board, wherein it was alleged that he granted consent to establish thermal power plants without following the policy and norms.”

The court added that the department of environment, science and technology was directed to examine this aspect of the matter. “The note shows that the consent to establish was accorded without any proper scrutiny of the extent of air pollution these thermal plants would cause. It was also pointed out that no regard was paid to the fact that the thermal plants fall under the negative list of industries in the state’s industrial policy. It was specifically pointed out that thermal plants generate carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide and cause very high level of pollution. It was clearly pointed out that the pollution control board had not properly examined these proposals,” the court said.

The court further observed that setting up of the thermal plant was in total violation of the EIA notification of 2006 which had come into force at the time when consent to establish this plant was given. “The draft EIA report prepared in the 2007 is absolutely a sham report. It purports to be based on baseline data collected during the summer of 2004 that is April-June 2004. At that time, there was not even a proposal to set up a captive power plant. We fail to understand how the consultants could have collected data in the 2004 before the signing of the MoU, much before the site had been selected or approved and much before there was any proposal to set up a captive power plant,” court said in its judgment.

The court in the judgment directed the pollution control board to ensure that consent to establish is not granted. It further directed the board to ensure that whenever any public hearing is held, people of the area are well-informed about the benefits and the ill-effects of the project.









HC orders 3% Vidya Sahayak seats for disabled people

TNN | May 13, 2012, 02.02AM IST

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court (HC) has asked the state government not to fill three per cent of total posts of Vidya Sahayak for the physically challenged people.

The Blind People’s Association (BPA) had filed a PIL challenging the state government’s decision of not keeping three per cent of posts reserved for physically challenged and visually challenged persons as per the provisions of the Persons with Disabilities (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation) Act, 1995.

BPA moved HC contending that the state government was denying teacher’s jobs to physically handicap persons claiming that there are various tasks that cannot be properly performed by challenged people. HC sought explanation from the government. However, the state government did not submit its reply on various pretexts and tried to skirt the issue.






HC stays govt ban on fishing in Amreli reservoir

TNN | May 13, 2012, 02.03AM IST

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court has stayed a state government’s order prohibiting fishing in a water body in Amreli district. An officer of the fisheries department had prohibited fishing in a lake at Kariyana village on the ground that the “religious feelings of the villagers were hurt due to fishing in lake.”

An assistant director of fisheries at Jafrabad had asked fishermen to stop fishing and had suspended their license to fish in Kalubhar Minor Reservoir. Left jobless, a group of fishermen had moved the HC submitting that the government’s decision to snatch their livelihood citing religious feelings of villagers was illegal and it was required to be set aside.

In this case, the fisheries department in November last ordered the fishermen to stop fishing in the lake after the villagers from a nearby Kariyana raised objection to fishing activity because a temple was situated on one bank and they did not want fishing to take place near the religious place. The fishermen agreed on not fishing in the waters near the temple and began their activity at the other end of the reservoir upon restoration of their licenses.

However, in February this year, the department once again issued prohibitory orders and suspended their licenses after it received objection from the sarpanch of the village that the business hurts their religious feelings.

Before the HC, the fishermen’s counsel S H Iyer contended that the fishermen belonged to BPL group and they were awarded contract for fishing for five years. And when a contract is signed, it becomes fundamental right of the fishermen to carry out their business, and on a vague ground of religious sentiments being hurt, the government cannot deprive poor fishermen of their livelihood.

After hearing the case, a division bench of justices D H Waghela and Mohinder Pal stayed the fisheries department’s decision and ordered to permit the fishermen to carry on with their activity on the other side of the lake till June 19, when further hearing is kept.







HC: cant’ allow projects that affect the environment

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, May 13, 2012

Any project that affects forests and the environment and is in violation of rules or lacks required permissions cannot be permitted to continue, the Bombay high court said on Friday. The observation by a division bench of justices DD Sinha and VK Tahilramani came in response to a public interest litigation filed by four activists, including Mayank Gandhi, a coordinator for India Against Corruption, pointing out irregularities in the awarding of contract and construction of the Kondhane dam project in Raigad district.

Appearing for the petitioners, advocate Mihir Desai said hundreds of acres of forests would be affected by this project, which did not have permission from the environment ministry and other authorities. Desai further pointed out that the tender for the project was awarded within a month and in that period the project costs escalated from Rs. 50 crore to Rs. 360 crore.

Desai, however, revealed that two of the petitioners had land in the area but their research and queries under RTI led them to alleged irregularities in the project. The court wanted to know at what stage the construction was. Desai informed that according to Friday’s media report, the governor had ordered a probe into the project.

The petitioners further pointed out that work was going on in spite of a stop work notice from the Archeological Survey of India due to the presence of some caves in the project area.








Don’t decide on parole applications casually: HC

Vaibhav Ganjapure, TNN | May 13, 2012, 12.55AM IST

NAGPUR: In a strong rebuke to divisional commissioners, Aurangabad bench of Bombay High Court has ruled that they should apply their mind to the facts and materials before deciding on parole applications.

“Simply signing below the note put up by the clerk, countersigned by the tehsildar or deputy commissioner, may give rise to allegations that there was no application of mind on part of the divisional commissioner,” a division bench of justices Naresh Patil and TV Nalawade stated. The court provided relief to petitioner Sitaram Gaware, who was lodged in the Aurangabad jail and whose application for parole was rejected by the divisional commissioner.

The judges further directed the divisional commissioner to henceforth take note of the observations made by them and streamline the procedure of screening of such applicants. S/he was also told to pass appropriate orders on such applications, reflecting application of mind. “The divisional commissioner is entitled to peruse the notes and endorsements put up by the subordinates. His application of mind shall be reflected in clear terms only if s/he puts opinion on the material placed before the authority concerned,” the court said.

The petitioner had applied for parole after which a note was put up by the clerk at divisional commissioner’s office before the tehsildar. It was then circulated to deputy commissioner and ultimately to divisional commissioner for endorsement. The clerk made adverse remarks on the note that it would not be proper to release Gaware on parole. Accordingly, the commissioner rejected the petitioner’s application on March 16.

When petitioner challenged this order in the high court, the judges remarked that there was an abnormal delay in forwarding police report as noticed in several cases. “On several occasions, this court has issued directions to the authorities to curb delay in forwarding report,” the court observed.

The commissioner’s office then informed that he had taken serious note of the problem of late police reports that frustrate the rights of the prisoners and affect effective implementation of orders. Even the police were subsequently instructed that their reports should be faxed or e-mailed.

The court directed the commissioner to re-appreciate Gaware’s case and pass fresh order considering the past conduct of the petitioner who was released thrice on similar leave.

The superintendent of police was told to comply with the instructions issued by the divisional commissioner in respect of forwarding the reports diligently on fax or e-mail in the future.







HC asks CBI to submit note files on APIIC-Emaar

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: The High Court on Friday directed the CBI to submit the note files on allocation of land by the AP Industrial Infrastructure Corporation to Emaar Properties, and also on all other transactions between the two for verification by the court.
Posting hearing on the bail application of Bibhu Prasad Acharya, suspended IAS officer and prime accused in the case, to next week, justice N.Ravi Shankar sought details of government’s permission to the CBI for prosecution of the prime accused.
“When you (CBI) are opposing the bail, you must get the note files. You must explain with documents about the activities of the APIIC. I can’t pass any order without seeing these documents. What is your objection (to the bail) when a charge sheet was already filed before the CBI court? When the minister concerned and the chief minister are the final authority, why have you arrested Acharya? Is there any evidence with regard to money transfers involving Acharya?” the judge asked the CBI counsel.
CBI’s counsel P Kesava Rao said that Acharya, while serving as vice-chairman and managing director of APIIC, was nominated by the government as director for three SPVs (Special Purpose Vehicles). Though there was no evidence of his involvement in money transfers, the accused had ignored to take action despite knowing about the irregularities in SPV proceedings and had failed to bring it to the government’s notice.
Acharya’s counsel V Surender Rao said that his client had been in prison for the last three months. Besides, the government had not considered CBI’s application seeking permission to prosecute Acharya, he added.
After hearing both the sides, the judge posted the matter to next week.
On March 27 the High Court had cancelled Acharya’s bail granted by the CBI court, and directed him to surrender in the CBI court forthwith. Acharya applied for bail again but the CBI court dismissed his plea on April 26. Then Acharya approached the High Court again.








HC issues notice as PIL seeks CBI probe against forest officer

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh , May 12, 2012

After a petition sought a CBI inquiry against VK Jhanjaria, conservator of forests, Hisar, for alleged financial irregularities, the Punjab and Haryana high court has issued notices of motion to the central and Haryana governments, besides the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Jhanjaria.

Gurgaon resident Harinder Dhingra filed the public-interest litigation (PIL) upon which an HC division bench comprising acting chief justice MM Kumar and justice Alok Singh issued the notices on Friday.

Dhingra, who claims to be a Right to Information (RTI) activist, has informed the court that a state vigilance inquiry against Jhanjaria, who allegedly possesses assets disproportionate to his knows sources of income, was underway since April 21 last year but no action had been taken till date.

Dhingra also requested for a CBI inquiry into a case of bungling in the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), Jind, pending against Jhanjaria, and sought directions to restrain Jhanjaria from holding office in any sensitive field posting as probes are on against him.

The bench was informed that in a letter dated June 21, 2007, Haryana’s financial commissioner (forests) told the financial commissioner (rural development) about irregularities committed by Jhanjaria in a scheme sanctioned by the Centre, called Haryali, in 2004-05.

Subsequently, the Jind deputy commissioner referred to that letter and on May 3, 2010, said that apart from departmental proceedings, criminal action should also be initiated against Jhanjaria.

The bench was informed that during the years 2005-06 and 2008-09, Jhanjaria had claimed to have spent Rs. 16 crore of government money on plantation in Jind, where he was the district forest officer (DFO). But the area available for plantation was not in consonance with the claim.

The matter would now come up for hearing on July 24.




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