LEGAL NEWS 22.05.2012

SC allows devotees to enter Kalighat temple sanctum sanctorum

TNN | May 22, 2012, 02.33AM IST

NEW DELHI: Devotees can once again enter the sanctum sanctorum of Kolkata’s Kalighat temple, one of the 51 famous Adi Shakti Peeths in the country.

The Supreme Court on Monday lifted the month-long stay granted by Calcutta high court which prevented devotees from entering the 200-year-old Kalighat temple’s sanctum sanctorum. The HC had banned entry of devotees into the innermost portion of the temple housing the deity on the grounds of cleanliness, security and preventing visitors from being fleeced by touts.

The HC on April 20 had barred entry into the sanctum sanctorum of everyone except two priests appointed by the temple committee after a PIL alleged malpractices and expressed concern over the temple’s cleanliness.

On the appeal filed by Kalighat Temple Association, a bench of Justices Deepak Verma and S J Mukhopadhaya said the administration could take care of the PIL petitioner’s concern that cheats and touts were fleecing devotees.

The bench said, “Cheats can be taken care of by the police. The high court cannot act or alter the scheme framed and approved by the Supreme Court (regarding entry into sanctum sanctorum). If it was a Shiva temple in south India, we would understand as there only ‘darshan’ is allowed. But in north and east India, devotees are allowed to touch the feet of the deity and offer puja.”

The PIL petitioner argued that the ban was only to facilitate a hassle-free visit to the sanctum sanctorum for devotees. But the bench wanted to know whether similar arrangements and restrictions were in place in other important temples in West Bengal.

When the PIL petitioner’s counsel replied in the affirmative, Justice Mukhopadhaya countered, “Two days ago, there was a photograph in the newspapers showing a VIP offering puja in the sanctum sanctorum of Dakshineshwar temple.”

Though the bench stayed the HC order relating to restriction on entry of devotees to the innermost part of the temple, it clarified that the HC’s directions to ensure cleanliness of the temple would have to be implemented.








Cheating case: Court asks police to give notice before arrest

Express news service : Chandigarh, Tue May 22 2012, 01:39 hrs

Hearing the bail plea of two accused in a cheating case, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge S S Sahani on Monday directed the UT Police to give a three-day notice to the accused before arresting them.

The accused, Seema Khutten and Renu, have been blamed by Sector 37-based chartered accountant Rajesh Jindal for cheating him.

A few days back, Jindal had filed a complaint with the Chandigarh Police alleging that he had given Rs 1.30 crore to former Congress councillor Arshad Khan for investment, but when he did not get the returns, he reportedly contacted Khan, who told him that his money would be given to him by Khutten.

Khutten reportedly gave three cheques for Rs 5 lakh each to Jindal which were later dishonoured by the bank. After this, the complainant approached the police. The case is currently under investigation and an FIR is yet to be registered. However, the two accused had filed a bail application in court in this matter.

Last week, the police had raided the houses of Khutten, who has been named as one of the accused in another cheating case along with Arshad Khan. They had allegedly cheated a British national Patricia Craig of Rs 71 lakh. The police party had later given a four-day notice to her to join the investigations. The notice was handed over to Seema’s mother at her house in Sector 24.








Cheating case: Court issues warrant against 91-year-old

Pranav Kulkarni : Pune, Tue May 22 2012, 02:25 hrs

The Pune Cantonment Court has issued a bailable warrant against 91-year-old Sosama Ulhanan, a resident of Cliffdale, Kadri hills in Mangalore in a case of alleged cheating. The warrant was issued as Sosama did not appear before the court even once during the course of trial.

The case dates back to the late 90s when an agreement was drawn between Taramati Pathak, a Pune citizen, and Vellukatil Ulhanan Seemon and his family members. According to Pathak, Vellukatil induced Pathak to donate large sums towards construction of an orphanage and school. When the project did not take off, he promised that the money would be returned to Pathak by December 1998. “The accused used my money for personal gain. They had made an arrangement, acknowledging the money taken from me. They also agreed to give irrevocable power of attorney to me with regard to rubber plantations which are in the name of Sosama and Molly Seemon, besides other properties in the names of various family members,” said Pathak.

Not only did a Rs 1.14 crore cheque issued by the accused bounce, the family also sold all the properties including the rubber estates between 2008 and 2010 despite power of attorney being with Pathak. Process was issued against Vellukatil Seemon, Molly and Sosama under section 204 of the CrPC in February 2011.

While Vellukatil Seemon and Molly appeared before the court in person Sosama did not, with her family citing health reasons. The additional sessions judge, Pune, on 30, 2011 ordered, “The complainant in fact made a proper case for issuing process against the petitioners. Their old age, as contended before us, is irrelevent.”

The warrant was subsequently issued by the Judicial Magistrate (First Class) on May 9. “The warrant was issued by the court in order to compel the accused to appear before the court,” said advocate S Bhojwani, Pathak’s counsel.

“Being one of the four accused, she should have appeared before the court after the court issued summons. However, she never did so. Her family members have been citing her poor health and old age as the reasons. There is no provision in CrPC where you can carry on with the trial without her appearance,” said Bhojwani.

“We will get to know about whether the local police station in Mangalore has executed the warrant or not only after the local police station files the report. As of now, we do not have any clue about the developments post the warrant,” he said.









Court acquits 12 in Topchachi picket police attack

Last Updated: Monday, May 21, 2012, 14:18

Dhanbad: The Dhanbad District and Sessions court here on Monday acquitted all 12 accused in the 2001 attack on the Topchachi picket police in which Maoists had butchered 14 police personnel and looted weapons.

The district and session judge RN Mishra while delivering the verdict on the incident 11 years ago, absolved all 12 accused for lack of evidences.

Altogether 141 Maoists had been made accused in the case in which police had arrested 12 persons. Fourteen policemen were killed and five injured during a Maoist attack on a police picket in Topchachi block office campus around 40 km away from the district headquarters during the day on October 31, 2001.

The Maoists also looted 18 SLR, 3 sten guns, 2 nine MM pistol, 936 cartridges, 865 cartridges of sten gun and one dragon light.











Legal tangles hold up trial of 12 ‘Maoists’

Kanchan Chakraborty : Kolkata, Tue May 22 2012, 03:47 hrs

The trial of 12 alleged Maoists who were arrested from Kolkata between 2009 and 2010 has not yet begun because of several legal proceedings pending in court.

Ten of the 12 arrested people have already been declared political prisoners by the criminal court.

The other two — Gour Chakraborty, spokesperson of the CPI (Maoist), and Venkateshwar Reddy alias Telegu Deepak — have also urged the Calcutta High Court to declare them political prisoners. Their cases are pending and the trial was stayed by the high court.

The CID arrested Telegu Deepak, allegedly a hardcore Maoist, on March 2, 2010, from Sarsuna in Kolkata and UAPA was applied against him. The police implicated Deepak in several criminal cases in West Midnapore, East Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia. Deepak is said to be studying Sanskrit and the Vedas in jail and appealed to the Calcutta High Court for political prisoner status last year when his trial was under way. The Calcutta High Court extended the stay of the trial in March this year. The petition for political prisoner is pending in the high court.

The CID arrested Madhusudhan Mondal, Siddhartha Mondal, Sachin Ghosal, Sanjay Mondal and Radheshyam Das from South 24 Parganas on June 29, 2010, under UAPA for their alleged involvement with the Maoists. It was alleged that they were operating in Nandigram in 2007. The additional sessions court in Alipore framed charges against the five and declared them political prisoners last year.

Kolkata Police arrested five more alleged Maoists — Sudip Chongdar, Barun Sur, Akhil Ghosh, Bimal Mallick, Kalpana Maity — from Maidan in Kolkata on December 4, 2010. Since then, charges have not been framed by the sessions court though the charge-sheet was filed in due time. Last year, the court declared them political prisoners.

The judicial review committee set up for the release of political prisoners has recommend the release to the alleged Maoists.





Talwars seek more time, Aarushi trial to take place today

TNN | May 22, 2012, 02.55AM IST

NEW DELHI: A trial court in Ghaziabad deferred till Tuesday arguments for framing of charges against dentist couple Nupur Talwar and Rajesh Talwar after they pleaded lack of preparation.

Special CBI judge S Lal gave them one day and fixed the hearing for Tuesday, even as the couple sought 15 days’ time to examine the documents. The judge also warned the couple that if they do not come prepared on Tuesday, the court will go ahead with the framing of charges without hearing them.

Filing a petition before special CBI judge Shyam Lal, the couple’s counsel had contended that the investigating agency had handed over 6,000 pages of documents to them only a day before.

The counsel for Rajesh Talwar submitted that it was his first appearance before the court and he had not been able to go through the papers. He claimed the papers submitted by CBI were deficient. In view of this, the defence needed at least 15 days to prepare itself, he submitted. Nupur’s lawyer, Vijay Pal Singh Rathi, said CBI had not provided the relevant documents. It was also submitted that the review petition filed in the case is pending before the Supreme Court.

The CBI, however, opposed the defence’s plea for more time. The court had on May 16 fixed Monday as the day for beginning the arguments after rejecting the accused’s plea for a month’s time to study the prosecution documents. The judge had rejected Talwars’ plea saying the SC had ordered speedy trial.

While Rajesh Talwar is out on bail, Nupur has been in judicial custody since April 30, when she surrendered before a Ghaziabad court on a direction by the apex court.








Candidates told to petition High Court for revaluation

The Madras High Court has ordered over 15 candidates, who have filed writ petitions seeking revaluation of their answer scripts in the recently-conducted Civil Judges (Junior Division) examination, to approach it with representations containing their plea. If there is any valid ground for revaluation, the exercise will be undertaken.

Disposing of a batch of writ petitions, a specially-constituted Division Bench said that the petitioners could make a representation before the High Court following which certified copies of the answer scripts would be provided to them. Later, they could make the representations.

Nearly 460 candidates had qualified for viva voce, to be held on May 28, for filling 185 vacancies of Civil Judge (Junior Division.)

The written examinations were conducted on March 24 and 25. As a one-time measure, the selection process was conducted by the Madras High Court, instead of the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission. Of the 10,400 candidates who had applied for the posts, 8,895 were issued hall tickets. Nearly 6702 candidates appeared for the examinations.

In a writ petition, R. Kiruthiga Devi of Anna Nagar East submitted that she enrolled as an advocate in March 2001. She belonged to the Backward Classes. She was not selected for the viva voce because she secured only 31 marks in Law Paper-1, which was four marks short of the minimum to qualify for the interview.

She had written all the examinations well and was expecting higher marks in the subjects.

She had written the translation paper excellently well. Contrary to her expectations, she was awarded only 37 marks in the paper. Still worse, in Law Paper I she had obtained only 31 marks. She was confident of scoring good marks.

She strongly believed that the mistake could have occurred while valuating or totalling the answer paper. She prayed the court for a direction for revaluation and re-totalling of Law Paper-I and the translation paper.








Ad hoc service term can’t be counted for seniority: High court

TNN | May 22, 2012, 04.24AM IST

ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court on Monday ruled that services rendered by employees on an ad hoc basis prior to their regularisation can not be counted for the purposes of their seniority. Instead, their seniority shall be counted from the date of their ‘substantive’ appointment. It also held that the date of substantive appointment is the date of their regularisation on their posts.

The ruling was given by Justice Sabhajeet Yadav on three connected writ petitions filed by clerks working in the district court, Allahabad. The petitioner, Ashok Kumar Pandey, and 13 others had filed writ petitions in the high court and challenged the order passed by the district judge, Allahabad, on July 13, 2001. The district judge, by the impugned order, had declared the respondents (clerks) working in the district judgeship, Allahabad, as senior to the petitioners. The petitioners had challenged this order in the high court on various grounds.

The question for consideration before the court was whether ad hoc service rendered by the petitioners shall be computed for determination of their seniority or their seniority shall be computed from the date of their regularisation in service.

The petitioners were initially appointed on ad hoc basis from October 1, 1986 to May 24, 1989 on different dates and they had continued in service till their regularisation on August 5, 1993. The respondents (clerks) whose seniority was challenged by the petitioners, were appointed as clerks in different district courts on regular basis other than Judgeship of Allahabad. They were transferred and posted in the district court, Allahabad, on different dates from October 14, 1992 to May 21, 1993. All the respondents (clerks) were working on regular basis in the district courts prior to the regularisation of the petitioners.

Determining the disputes of inter-seniority of the petitioners and other respondents (clerks), the court turned down the plea of the petitioners that they were entitled for regularisation on completion of their three years continuous service on ad hoc basis and date of order of regularisation was a mere formality.

The HC said, “This argument was wholly erroneous and misconceived, therefore can not be accepted. In my view from close analysis of UP Regularisation of Ad-hoc Appointments Rules 1979, there is nothing to indicate that in case any delay is caused in considering the case of regularisation of ad hoc appointee, the appointee will either stand automatically regularised on completion of three years of continuous service or after such regularisation, his regular appointment shall relate back to the date of his initial appointment,” maintained the judge.

The court dismissed the writ petitions of the petitioners, saying that there was no fault in the order passed by the district judge on July 13, 2001. The district judge, Allahabad, is directed to give effect to the order, which was impugned by the petitioners and also directed to pass other consequential orders. The court allowed the writ petition, filed by the respondents (clerks).








Tribunal to hear Unlawful Activities Prevention Act cases on May 26

TNN | May 22, 2012, 05.52AM IST

KOLKATA: In order to speed up the trials of accused under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a tribunal headed by Justice V K Shali will be hearing the cases at Bedi Bhavan on May 26.

There are about 125 pending cases under UAPA in Bengal. The tribunal will be hearing UAPA cases of Bengal and Bihar. The court will record evidences and cross examine witnesses.

However, doubts are there among the lawyers if the court can solve much of the cases at one sitting. Kaushik Sinha, lawyer of Chhattradhar Mahato – who is in jail under UAPA – said that he was not aware of any tribunal going to hear UAPA cases in the city. He said that in order to appear before the tribunal, he needs the consent of Mahato. “Moreover, it will take some time to procure the records from the lower court to be produced before the tribunal,” Sinha said.

A notification states that all those who are interested in giving evidences may file their affidavits to the registrar of the UAPA tribunal and should be present in person before the tribunal for their cross examination.

Former prosecution director, Taj Muhammad, said that if the chargesheet had been filed in the court, then the lawyers need to supply its copy to the tribunal. Moreover, all records should be there in the court and notices should be given to the witnesses as well as the accused. “All these will take some time and very few people can engage lawyers to appeal to the tribunal within such a short span of time,” added Muhammad.






Voluntary disclosure under RTI Act non-starter

Ashok Pradhan | May 21, 2012, 11.07PM IST

BHUBANESWAR: Seven years after the Right to Information (RTI) Act was implemented in 2005, several state government departments are yet to make voluntary disclosure under various sub-sections of Section 4 (1) of the Act.

The Odisha Information Commission (OIC) in January last year had asked the chief secretary to develop a suitable mechanism in each department for pro-active and timely disclosure of proposed programmes, plans and policies as well as proposed amendments to the existing laws and fresh legislation under Section 4 (1)(c). The sub-section requires that every public authority should publish circumstances which are taken into account while formulating policies and taking decisions that would affect the public.

Chief information commissioner Taran Kanti Mishra had said in his order that this should be a continuous process and there should be visible beginning within 30 days. The chief secretary was supposed to submit a compliance report to the commission.

“More than a year after the commission order, the government is yet to make such disclosures, critical to ensure transparency and accountability in the functioning of the public authorities,” said Biswajit Mohanty acting on whose petition the OIC had passed the January 2011 order. “The commission is conspicuous by its silence on the issue,” he added.

After the order, chief secretary BK Patnaik had convened a meeting of various departments last year. However, the government is yet to submit any affidavit of compliance before the commission.

The government has asked various departments to take expeditious steps, a senior government officer said.

The chief information commissioner, when contacted, declined to comment. Commission sources, however, said the CIC has again posted the matter for hearing in June when the chief secretary will be asked to explain what action the government had taken.

Though the CIC can ask the secretary to take steps to ensure the Section, there is no precedence in India of any commission imposing fine or taking any other such action against government functionaries for not making voluntary disclosure under Section 4 (1) (c).

RTI activists are peeved with the commission for its alleged failure to implement various Section 4(1). “The whole problem is because the commission is not imposing any fines on violators of the Section 4 (1) (a), (b), (c) and (d),” said Pradip Pradhan, an RTI activist. Pradhan has filed a public interest litigation in the Orissa high court, seeking direction from the court to the state government and the information commission for compliance of Section 4 (1) (b). Under the sub-section, the public authorities are required to voluntarily disclose 17 types of information.








Par panel slams DoPT for non-utilisation of funds

Last Updated: Monday, May 21, 2012, 23:46

New Delhi: Noting low level of expenditure on key schemes, a Parliamentary Committee on Monday came down heavily on the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and its allied organisation like the CBI, CVC and CIC.

The Panel in its report tabled in parliament today also expressed its anguish over the fact that the Ministry’s latest annual report did not have any reference to the Lokpal Bill 2011.

Besides, it has also suggested that the Government consider an anti-corruption legislation to cover private persons and bribe givers.

In a detailed explanatory note furnished by the Ministry, it has been stated that for the year 2009-10, plan allocation for the scheme ‘Propagation of Right to Information Act was reduced from Rs 14.16 crore to Rs 10.66 crore in Revised Estimates 2009-10 due to slow pace of expenditure, non-receipt of utilisation certificates from some state governments and that unutilised surplus funds of Rs 0.35 crore could not be surrendered in time leading to lapse of funds.

During 2010-11, plan allocation for the scheme was reduced from Rs 19 crore to Rs 11.35 crore in RE 2010-11 for the same reason as also in 2011-12 during which the plan allocation was also reduced from Rs 51.60 crore to Rs 24.60 crore in RE 2011-12.

The Committee took serious note of the fact that the reasons furnished by the Ministry for reducing the expenditure at the RE stage for various plan schemes have remained almost the same during the past three years.

“The Committee wonders why this trend was not noticed and arrested by taking appropriate remedial steps,” it said and directed the Ministry to ensure “optimum utilisation of available funds”. Noting that the corruption is deep rooted in the society which needs serious and immediate attention, the Committee felt that there was need to bring about a shift in the mindset of the public servants so that they opt to remain honest and discreet in their functioning.

“For the purpose of meeting the objective of elimination of corruption in the society, Government may also consider bringing even private individuals under the fold of a suitable anti-corruption legislation because if bribe givers are left scot-free, it may be a difficult task to exercise a check on the bribe seekers,” it said in the report tabled today in the Parliament.

Such steps, the Committee felt, were imminent seeing the pervasive public sentiments of being fed up of this menace.

“The Committee would like all these steps to be taken in a definite time frame as much delay has already occurred,” the report said.

It was also anguished over the vacant posts in various cadres of All India Services and in CBI, CVC and CIC and told the Ministry to take steps on war-footing level to provide necessary manpower and infrastructure supports to these organisations.

The panel has also recommended to the government to constitute an anti-human trafficking cell under the control of CBI besides imparting stress management training to the personnel of the investigating agency.







MCD employee’s kin awarded Rs 12 L compensation in mishap case

Agencies : New Delhi, Mon May 21 2012, 19:51 hrs

Family members of an MCD employee, who was crushed to death in a road accident by a rashly driven bus in 2006, have been awarded a compensation of over Rs 12 lakh by a Motor Accident Claims Tribunal (MACT) here.

MACT Presiding Officer Nirja Bhatia directed The New India Assurance Company Ltd, with which the offending bus was insured, to pay Rs 12.67 lakh to his wife, his three children and his mother.

“I hereby award an amount of Rs 12,67,224 as compensation with interest at the rate of nine per cent per annum, from the date of filing the present petition, i.e., October 5, 2006 till the date of realisation of the amount, in favour of the petitioners and against the respondents,” she said.

Delhi-resident Ram Kishan, an MCD employee, had met with an fatal accident on August 1, 2006 when he was hit by a bus while walking back home.

Kishan’s kin had sought a total compensation of Rs 20 lakh along with interest.

“Having regard to the circumstances, there is sufficient material on record to indict the erring driver for his rashness and negligence in driving the offending vehicle,” the court said.

The court ordered that 50 per cent of the awarded amount of Rs 12.67 lakh be imparted in favour of his wife.

It also directed that Rs 50,689 be given in favour of each of the three minor children of the deceased which would be kept in a fixed deposit account.









Investors’ forum files PIL in Delhi High Court for penal action against defaulting listed companies

MUMBAI: A Delhi-based investors’ association has filed a public interest litigation in the Delhi High Court alleging failure of regulators to initiate action against listed companies that have failed to meet their obligations. The PIL would be taken up by the division bench of the court on July 12.

Earlier, a PIL had sought a stay on implementation of BSE’s proposed new norms for revocation of suspended companies in the Delhi High Court. The PIL, which alleged that the new norms could potentially cause losses to public shareholders of these suspended firms, is listed on May 30. It said the requirement for revoking suspension is stringent and may result in loss to investors.

The latest PIL alleges that Securities and Exchanges Board of India’s (Sebi) inaction, subsequent to the failure of stock exchanges to initiate penal action against companies which failed in performing their statutory obligations, has enabled thousands of listed companies and their promoters and directors to get away with unfair practices. There has been no imposition of the statutory monetary penalty and penal action despite violation of the listing agreement, the PIL alleged.

It has asked the court to direct the capital markets regulator to take action as per the recommendations of a committee appointed by Sebi in 2010. The committee, chaired by the then Sebi whole-time member MS Sahoo, had MDs of both the exchanges and representatives from investors associations as members of it. The committee recommended in March 2011 that action be taken against these firms for non-compliance of listing conditions.

According to the petition by Midas Touch Investors Association or MTIA, a Sebi-registered investors association, “Small investors are the biggest losers due to such inaction. Their estimated investment of over Rs 1 lakh crore is blocked and in suspended animation for years. The number of affected small investors may be one crore.”

While suspension does not affect a company’s functioning, it has an adverse impact on its public shareholders since they cannot exit until the suspension is revoked. An email query sent to Sebi did not elicit any response.

According to the petition, around 2,000 companies of the total 5,000 listed companies on NSE and BSE were not in compliance with various listing norms in 2010 when Sebi decided to form a committee to look into the issue.

Though the committee recommended specific action against these companies and its promoters , by NSE, BSE and Sebi, no action has been taken so far. Measures recommended for strengthening the monitoring system also have not been put in place.






Bombay high court: Kids can’t be kept away from either parent

Rosy Sequeira, TNN | May 22, 2012, 03.11AM IST

MUMBAI: Children cannot be deprived of the company of either parent, the Bombay high court said on Monday while hearing a woman’s plea to stay a family court order allowing her husband to take their son for holidays.

A vacation division bench of Justices S J Kathawalla and P D Kode was hearing an appeal by Priya Kulkarni challenging the family court’s May 9, 2012, order allowing her husband Suhas to take their son Rahul (6) for holidays from May 21-June 4. The judge noted that during an interview Rahul was eager to spend time with his father.

“The experience of the warring couples may be bad, but it does not mean the child should remain without the father’s love and affection,” he said.

The couple married in May 2005 and their son was born a year later. Priya left the house in 2009 and filed cases under Sections 498 A (dowry) and 326 (causing grievous hurt) of the Indian Penal Code, alleging that her husband beat her up badly. She moved the Pune family court for maintenance and in April 2009, Suhas was directed to pay Rs 11,000 to her and Rahul.

Pointing out that Suhas has not complied with the maintenance order, Priya’s advocate, F A Pareira, argued that he was a criminal and had beaten her up badly, causing a contusion on the frontal lobe. “He has a criminal record and unless cleared of these cases, he should not be allowed access to the child,” said Pareira. He also said the court had orally stayed its order till May 30.

“How do you call him a hardcore criminal on the basis of these cases?” asked Justice Kathawalla. The judges noted that no notice was served to Suhas to enable him to appear before the HC. “You’ll have to give access to the father. Children cannot be deprived of the company of either parent. As a father, why should he not have access to the child?” asked Justice Kathwalla.

The judges said they were familiar with tactics used by couples to deprive either of access to child.

“We know all the tricks that are used. You first comply with the order and give him access, and then move this court,” Justice Kathwalla added.

The judges said they found nothing wrong with the family court’s order and warned that if there was no stay from it, as claimed by Pareira, “we shall give access to the father for an entire month”. They directed Priya to hand over Rahul to Suhas at the family court on Tuesday and posted the matter for hearing on Wednesday.











Currency case: Charges against Karmapa dropped

Shimla, May 21, 2012

The Himachal Pradesh government’s move to remove the name of Tibetan religious head and the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje from a currency seizure case got the court’s nod on Monday with the judge deciding to drop the charges against him. “After considering the plea moved by the

prosecution to drop his name from the charge sheet, judicial magistrate Kanika Chawla in Una town has decided to remove his name,” district attorney Ram Swaroop Sharma said.

The Karmapa was charged under Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

He was the 10th accused in the seizure of currencies of 26 countries, including 120,197 Chinese yuan and around Rs. 5.3 million in Indian currency, from the Gyuto Tantric University and Monastery located on the outskirts of Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Jan 28 last year.

Sharma said the trial against nine other accused in the case would continue and the hearing is next slated for Aug 4.

The 26-year-old Karmapa is the spiritual head of the Karma Kagyu School, one of the four sects of Tibetan Buddhism. He joined the Dalai Lama in exile in 2000. Ever since, he has mostly lived at the monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala.

As the news about dropping of charges against the Karmapa spread, a large number of the exiles and his followers assembled in his Sidhbari monastery.

“Finally the truth has prevailed. We have always expressed faith in the rule of law of the country. We all are much relieved,” said Gonpo Tsering, administrative secretary to the Karmapa.

After taking the opinion of the state home and law departments, the government last month decided under Section 321 (withdrawal of prosecution) of the Code of Criminal Procedure to drop the Karmapa’s name from the charge sheet.

An official associated with the case said the government in its report said that “the Karmapa is an esteemed religious leader of the Tibetans with a vast following and charging him with conspiracy could hurt the religious sentiments of the people”.

He said the law department observed that the charges against the Karmapa “are very weak and there is no material evidence to corroborate them”.

The Karmapa’s name was included in the charge sheet filed by police Dec 7, 2011.

His office told investigating agencies that the money was collected in donations from followers the world over, including scores who come from Tibet and carry Chinese currency.










Briefly State: Free air travel for freedom fighters: HC seeks Centre’s response

Express news service : Tue May 22 2012, 03:40 hrs

CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday issued notices to the Union Aviation Ministry and Union Home Ministry on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to grant free air travel facility to the freedom fighters and their spouses.

A lawyer, H C Arora, has moved the PIL seeking quashing of an order dated July 27, 2011 issued by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) declining free air travel, or with 75 per cent concession to freedom fighters.









7/11 accused wants books to study, HC treats his letter as PIL

Utkarsh Anand : New Delhi, Tue May 22 2012, 02:18 hrs

A letter by a prime accused in the 2006 Mumbai serial train blasts to the Delhi High Court may determine the rights of a prisoner, who would fall in the BPL category, to get study material under RTI.

Ehtesham Qutubuddin Siddiqui had sought copies of books published by the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy (CCRH) under RTI to “study” the same. The CCRH refused on the ground that these were “priced publications” and hence could not be given free. His request for soft copies was also turned down, citing copyright laws.

However, Siddiqui argued that since he fell in the below poverty line category, a fact verified by the Bombay High Court Registrar, he should be given this “information” free of cost.

After his pleas with the CCRH and the Central Information Commission failed to yield any results, Siddiqui drafted a letter petition and mailed it to the Delhi High Court. After taking due note of the five-page letter that reached it in the first week of May, the court has converted it to a PIL. Justice Vipin Sanghi has also appointed advocate Sumeet Pushkarna as amicus curiae to assist the case.

Siddiqui cites Section 7(5) of the RTI Act that says that even for supplying a priced publication, no fee shall be charged from persons under the BPL category. He also points out that his status itself has not been questioned by RTI departments of the CCRH. A denial citing monetary reasons, he says, is therefore wrong.

The RTI enables an applicant to obtain information, including copies of books or other such material, unless exempted from disclosure. Siddiqui also raises questions over invoking of copyright laws, pointing out that providing soft copies does not violate the same unless the copies are published by anyone for financial gains without their permission.

Requesting the court to direct the CCRH to provide the information to him under RTI, he has also urged that he be brought to court by his jail superintendent for every date of hearing in the Delhi High Court.

One of the prime accused in the Mumbai 7/11 terror attacks of 2006, in which seven bombs kept in first-class coaches of Mumbai’s suburban trains and at railway stations had killed 187, Siddiqui has been lodged in jail since 2006.






Stop playing tricks, hand over kid to hubby, HC tells mother

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 8:00 IST
By Mustafa Plumber | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Don’t play tricks with the court, warned the Bombay high court on Monday while hearing the plea of a mother who challenged the family court decision to temporarily allow the custody of her five-year-old son to her husband.

Rubbishing the wife’s claim that the husband, a Pune-based businessman, is in improper frame of mind, the vacation bench of justice SJ Kathawalla and justice PD Kode ordered the wife to hand over their son to him at the family court on Tuesday. The bench warned: “In the event the court order is not met with, then the wife’s plea will be dismissed on the next hearing, due on Wednesday, and the father granted a complete one-month access to the child.”

The wife has challenged the May 9 order of the family court, which has allowed the husband access to his minor son during summer vacation. When her advocate argued before the high court that “the husband does not have a mind of his own apart from having a criminal case pending against him”, the court clarified that “the child cannot be denied access of any of the parents”.

“Don’t play tricks that I have moved high court against the custody order and that my plea has been admitted, so the custody cannot be given,” the HC bench warned.

As per the wife’s plea, the couple married in 2006 and in 2009, allegedly after harassment from the husband, the wife filed for a divorce in the family court. The divorce case is pending.

Meanwhile, the court also ordered the husband to pay a maintenance of Rs11,000 to the mother and child, which he has not paid for the past 18 months. However, when the husband moved the court seeking for a month’s access to the child, it was granted. The child’s custody is to be handed over by the wife to the husband on Tuesday.








Land grab: Take ex-judge’s consent to head panel, says HC

Sanjeev Verma, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, May 21, 2012

Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday directed amicus curiae Arun Jain to take the consent of former Supreme Court judge Kuldeep Singh to head the commission to be set up to probe the land grabbed in UT periphery by senior politicians and bureaucrats. A district judge would also be a member of the proposed commission. The HC also directed Jain to chalk out the terms of reference of the panel. The case would come up for hearing on Tuesday.

On Thursday, dissatisfied with the Punjab government action in the case of land acquired by prominent people in the periphery of Chandigarh, the high court had voiced the need for a court-monitored probe by a commission or tribunal headed by a retired judge.
The HC had asked senior advocate Arun Jain to act as amicus curiae (friend of the court) and sum up the issue by Monday.

The action came after state chief secretary Rakesh Singh finally submitted an affidavit carrying a list of 60 persons, the who’s who of Punjab who own land in Punjab’s SAS Nagar district adjoining UT.

Seemingly not happy with the affidavit, the HC bench told the state counsel, “Those who are at the helm of affairs, including [the] chief minister, are indulging in such activities […] then how can justice be done [?]… They’ll not proceed against themselves.”

The court opined that the case should be monitored by the high court “like the 2G spectrum case was being monitored by the apex court”, and asked for the entire record to be handed to advocate Jain, who would assist the court.









SC allows entry into Kalighat temple’s sanctum sanctorum

New Delhi, May 21, 2012

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Calcutta high court order banning the entry of devotees into the sanctum sanctorum of the famed Kalighat temple in Kolkata.

A bench of justice Deepak Verma and justice SJ Mukhopadhyay, while staying the high court order, directed the West Bengal Government, the Centre and the temple committee to file their responses within four weeks.

The apex court, however, clarified that certain restrictions imposed by the high court on preserving the cleanliness and hygiene in and around the temple shall continue to be in force.

The apex court had on May 15 issued notices to the Centre and the West Bengal government on a plea for permitting devotees to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Kolkata Kalighat temple to pay obeisance to its deity.

The Calcutta high court on April 20 had restricted the entry into the Kali temple and had ordered that no visitors, including VIPs, will be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.

Pleading for a stay on the high court order, the temple committee had submitted that the ban on the entry of devotees was creating a law and order problem.

In a slew of directions, the high court had earlier ordered that only two priests designated by temple authorities would be present within the sanctum sanctorum.

The high court had also ruled that no one should be allowed to accept offerings of money or valuables from devotees.

The order was passed on a petition filed before the court on malpractices and harassment of visitors to the temple.

Considered an adi shakti peeth, the temple is believed to be more than 200-years-old.








HC notice to Centre over plea for free air travel to freedom fighters

TNN | May 22, 2012, 05.51AM IST

CHANDIGARH: Taking cognizance of a PIL seeking quashing of orders of MHA, declining to grant free air travel or air travel at concessional rates to freedom fighters and their spouses, a division bench of Punjab and Haryana high court, comprising acting Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Alok Singh, issued notices to Union ministries of home affairs and civil aviation on Monday.

Petitioner H C Arora, advocate, had sought directions to quash the orders of July 27 last year, issued by MHA, declining to grant free air travel, or even air travel with 75% concession to freedom fighters and their spouses, as is being extended to war widows and war heroes/gallantry award winners/handicapped/injured soldiers.

The MHA had informed the petitioner that already the Central government was burdened with Rs 780 crore annually on account of pension being given to 53,000 freedom fighters and their dependants. Besides, Rs 30 crore annually was being spent by Union railway ministry in extending free travel facility to freedom fighters in Shatabdi/Rajdhani trains. Free air travel facility or even 75% concession in airfare for traveling in government-owned airlines would cost a huge amount to the government. Thus, the Union home ministry was not in favour of granting the aforesaid relief to surviving freedom fighters and their spouses, the MHA order had said.









May 26 date for ND Tiwari’s test

New Delhi, May 21, 2012

Congress leader ND Tiwari was on Monday asked by the Delhi high court to appear in person on May 26 before it to give blood sample for a DNA test to decide the paternity suit of a man claiming to be his son.
“Defendant number 1 (Tiwari) is directed to appear on May 26 at 12 noon along with his two photographs,” Joint Registrar of Delhi high court, Deepak Garg, said, adding that the court should not rush to take police assistance for enforcing its order.

86-year-old Tiwari will “be given an opportunity to voluntarily comply with the order,” Garg said and asked the medical chief of the dispensary, located inside the high court premises, to appoint a doctor for collecting the blood sample on May 26, the next date of hearing.

The court’s direction came after it was informed that the requisite DNA kit has been received by the high court registry from Hyderabad-based lab Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD).

Justice Reva Khetrapal of the high court had on May 16 ordered its registrar to take police assistance for bringing the defiant veteran Congress leader here for taking his blood sample to decide the paternity suit.

Justice Khetrapal had came down heavily on the counsel representing the Dehradun-based Congress leader, after he sought adjournment of hearing on the ground that a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court on the issue.

The court had said that considering the age of Tiwari, the order of taking the blood sample is required to be implemented “as expeditiously as possible otherwise an irreparable loss is bound to visit the plaintiff”.

The court’s directions came on the plea of 32-year-old Rohit Shekhar seeking to compel Tiwari to furnish his blood sample at the earliest to decide the four-year-old paternity suit. He has sought a judicial declaration that Tiwari is his biological father.









Child rights protection panel must: HC to UT

Express news service : Chandigarh, Tue May 22 2012, 01:17 hrs

Making it clear that it cannot run away from its responsibility of setting up a commission for protection of child rights, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today told the Chandigarh Administration that the setting up a commission or centralised agency for the protection of child rights is mandatory. Showing little conviction in the argument raised by the Administration that there is no need to have a separate Commission, the High Court today expressed surprise over the “peculiar” stand taken by the Administration.

The directions were passed during the resumed hearing on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by social activist Hemant Goswami seeking directions to set up a commission for protection of child rights. Till now, the Chandigarh Administration had been opposing the demand of setting up a commission for protection of child rights.

The Administration today took the plea that a child welfare committee was set up on March 18, 2009. It was pointed out by Advocate Anil Malhotra that the tenure of the said committee has already expired. Malhotra is the counsel for the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)

Last year the Administration had filed an affidavit opposing the commission, stating that “the Government of India has given directions to Chandigarh to set up a state commission for protection of child rights under the protection of the Child Rights Act, 2005, but the Chandigarh Administration had taken up the matter with the Ministry of Women and Child Development and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to exempt Chandigarh from having a separate sate commission. Moreover, Chandigarh has no legislature of its own as Parliament legislates for Chandigarh. However, it is ensured that all the benefits are made available to deserving children and all schemes and programmes relating to the welfare of children are implemented in letter and spirit”.

The counsel for the Administration reiterated that it has sought exemption from the Central government. Refusing to entertain this averment and terming it as misconceived, the High Court highlighted the significance of having a Commission or central agency to safeguard the rights of children. The Chandigarh Administration has been given one week’s time to clarify it’s stand on the issue. The matter will now come up for resumed hearing on May 28.







HC slams Punjab, Haryana for failing to form child rights body

Express news service : Chandigarh, Tue May 22 2012, 03:59 hrs

Taking serious note of Punjab and Haryana’s failure to constitute an agency for the protection of child rights, the Punjab and Haryana High Court took both states to task on Monday.

While Haryana government was reprimanded for not providing a clear answer on the issue, the Punjab government earned scathing criticism for not implementing its undertaking. The high court has given both states, a week’s time, to clarify their stands on the setting up of a child protection commission/ centralised agency. The directions were passed on a petition, filed by social activist Hemant Goswami, seeking directions to Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh for the setting up of a commission for the protection of child rights.

During the resumed hearing, the Haryana government on Monday submitted that it will constitute a comprehensive authority. Unimpressed with the submission, the court questioned as to why a commission was not being set up. Incidentally, the Haryana government, on the last date of hearing, had promised to form a Right to Education Protection Authority (REPA). The court, however, had questioned the constitution of the REPA as all the proposed members were bureaucrats.

For an effective commission, the high court on Monday directed the Haryana government to consult the chairman of the Haryana Legal Services Authority on the issue of members and chairman to be appointed for the commission.

The counsel for the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, advocate Anil Malhotra emphasised that the two states cannot escape from their responsibilities on the child right issue and urged the states to appoint people with experience and knowledge in the protection of child rights.

In the case of Punjab, the high court took strong exception to the non-assistance by government authorities. On April 15, 2011 the Punjab government had told the court that it has decided to set up a Commission for protection of child rights. However, no names of its members have been submitted till now. When asked, counsel for Punjab government failed to assist the court citing lack of co-operation from government authorities.

Taking serious note of this, the high court ordered that the secretary, Department of Social Security and Women shall remain present in the Court on May 28, if the government fails to file an affidavit submitting the required information. The case will now come up for resumed hearing on May 28.








HC for probe on periphery properties by Tribunal

Express news service : Chandigarh, Tue May 22 2012, 01:23 hrs

The investigation pertaining to illegal properties allegedly owned by high-ups in the city’s periphery is all set to be handed over to a judicial tribunal. For, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked senior lawyer Arun Jain, the amicus curiae, to suggest the terms of reference for the Tribunal. The amicus was today asked to suggest the scope of probe for the tribunal.

Showing little hope of a fair investigation by the State investigating agency, the High Court today made it clear that it was in favour of handing over the probe to a tribunal which would be headed by a retired Supreme Court/ High Court Judge who will be assisted by a District and Sessions Judge.

The name of Justice (Retd) Kuldeep Singh, Supreme Court Judge, was today suggested by the division bench for chairmanship of the proposed Tribunal. The Bench asked the amicus curiae to suggest more names and also to consult Justice Kuldeep Singh and apprise the Court if he (Kuldeep Singh) was ready to head the tribunal. The amicus has been asked to submit the same by Tuesday.

During the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to investigate the alleged illegal properties owned by high-ups, the amicus curiae also pointed out certain discrepancies in the investigation reports submitted by the Punjab government. He agreed that the probe should be handed over to a Judicial Tribunal. At present, the case is being investigated by Punjab Police.

After the investigation conducted by Chander Shekhar, retired Punjab Director General of Police (DGP), the government had constituted a special investigation team (SIT).

Equating the gravity of the case with the infamous 2G spectrum case, the High Court had opined on the last dates of hearing that the investigation should be handed over to a judicial tribunal. This was observed since the names of several high-ups including those at the helm of affairs had figured in the investigation reports submitted by the government from time to time.

However, on the last date of hearing the Punjab government had apprised the Court that it has given a clean chit to the majority of high-ups in the case. Seven persons were in the possession of government/ public land. The Punjab government has submitted that “land in possession of all other individuals was never government/public land.”

It was found that about 60 most influential persons, including Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, had acquired land in the area. However, a clean chit was given to them and several other high-ups by the State.

The government’s report, along with an affidavit of chief secretary Rakesh Singh on the last date of hearing, had stated that in the case of these seven VIPs, shamlat deh/ shamlat deh hasab rasad jar khewat has been mutated in favour of the VIP, either directly or through a series of buyers and sellers.

The list includes the names of retired IAS officer J S Kesar, former SSP Gurcharan Singh Pherurai, retired DSP Surjit Singh, daughter-in-law of Balwant Singh Ramoowalia Surjit Kaur, retired Chandigarh SP Baldev Singh, DSP Mukhtiar Singh in joint ownership with another police official Gurmeet Singh and Daljit Singh Dhillon, son of Lal Singh, a retired IAS officer.









HC Orders Crime Branch to probe RTI activist death

New Delhi, May 21, 2012

The Delhi high court on Monday ordered the Crime Branch of Delhi Police to probe into the mysterious death of transparency activist Ravinder Balwani.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice AK Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw asked police to appraise it of its probe every fortnight by filing progress reports.

“Having regard to the seriousness of the case, the investigation is to be conducted by the Crime Branch of Delhi Police and the progress report to be filed fortnightly,” the bench said.

The court passed the order after the Lokayukta’s counsel pointed out that Balwani’s son has recently sent a letter, written by his father before his death, to the corruption watchdog, in which the deceased had apprehended threat to his life.

Appearing before the bench, Delhi government’s Standing Counsel Pawan Sharma told the court that Balwani’s case is one of hit-and-run and an FIR was also lodged with the Vasant Kunj police station for it.

The issue of Balwani’s death was mentioned when the court was hearing the Lokayukta’s plea challenging a single judge’s order which had said that Lokayukta has no authority to inquire into allegations against any member of the judicial service or of the civil services of the Union or the state.

The Lokayukta had, in 2009, summoned some IAS officers who were posted with the Delhi Transco on Balwani’s complaint against them for their alleged role in some corrupt deeds.

A former manager with Delhi Transco Limited, Balwani was found fatally injured near a bustling marketplace, less than 2km from his house, on April 26 evening.

Balwani used the Right to Information Act extensively to expose the wrongdoings of officials in the power sector. He was actively involved in the RTI campaign of Magsaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal’s NGO Parivartan way back in 2005.








HC for independent probe in police custodial torture case

RAGHAV OHRI : Chandigarh, Tue May 22 2012, 01:16 hrs

For allegedly beating up a man in police custody and fracturing both his hip bones, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), an Inspector, two constables and an assistant sub-inspector with Punjab Police posted in Patiala are in thick soup. Expressing shock over the alleged custodial torture, Justice Rajan Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that “prima facie it appears that an inquiry by an independent authority/ agency may be required”.

Dissatisfied with the Punjab government’s inquiry and response into the allegations of custodial torture, the High Court today gave one last opportunity to the Punjab government to submit its reply as to why the investigation of the case should not be handed over to an independent agency like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Punjab Police has been give a week’s time to submit its response.

The directions were passed today by Justice Rajan Gupta on a petition filed by one Karnail Singh, resident of Sangrur. The petitioner had moved the High Court alleging custodial torture.

The petitioner had contended that an FIR on charges of cheating was registered by the Patiala Police on March 3, 2011. Karnail Singh was picked up from his residence on March 2, 2011, and was severely beaten up resulting in fracture of both hip bones. There were allegations against Karnail Singh of defrauding a Patiala resident in a property case.

The petitioner demanded that the inquiry/ investigation of the case be entrusted to an independent agency. The counsel for the Punjab government opposed the demand on the ground that three enquiries have been conducted in the case, last being by the Punjab Additional Director General of Police (VIgilance). According to the counsel, the allegations levelled by the petitioner could not be substantiated in the said inquiries.

Before proceeding further in the matter, the Court had on the last date of hearing in April “deemed it fit that the stand of the State is made clear to this Court”. In response, the affidavit of Punjab Additional Director General of Police (Internal Vigilance) Narinder Sharma was filed today.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the stand taken earlier has merely been reiterated.

According to the counsel, the affidavit does not throw any light on the manner in which the occurence took place.

“The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the story of the investigating agency appears to be prima facie false as, admittedly, the petitioner had stopped his vehicle and disclosed to the police that his left hip bone was fractured. According to the affidavit, immediately thereafter he tried to escape and fell in a ditch resulting in fracture of the other hip. The counsel contended that only an independent inquiry/ investigation can reveal the actual course of events. Faced with this situation, the State counsel sought instructions from the Patiala senior superintendent of police (SSP). Although he agrees in principle that an independent inquiry may be in order, he submitted that it is not a fit case for handing over to the CBI,” Justice Rajan Gupta held today.

The Punjab law officer added that another inquiry can be conducted by the Patiala Inspector General of Police. This was objected to strongly by the counsel for the petitioner. “In view of the above, one last opportunity was granted to the State counsel. Prima facie, it appears that an inquiry by an independent authority/ agency may be required,” reads the order.









HC orders probe into death of power whistleblower

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 22, 2012

The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the Delhi Police Crime Branch to probe the mysterious death of RTI activist Ravinder Balwani. Balwani, who died in an accident on April 26, had exposed the alleged corruption by some IAS officers working with the Delhi Transco. He had also been involved with Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal’s NGO, Parivartan.

The direction to the Delhi Police came during a hearing into a plea by Delhi Lokayukta, challenging a single judge bench order that the ombudsman had no authority to inquire into the allegations against a member of judicial service or civil services of the Union or state.

The counsel for the Lokayukta told the court that Balwani’s son had sent a letter to the watchdog, which was written by the RTI activist before his death. In the letter, addressed to the Lokayukta, Balwani had apprehended a threat to his life.

In 2009, the Lokayukta had summoned the IAS officers, against whom Balwani had sent a complaint. But after the officers moved the court, a single judge bench barred the watchdog from moving against them.

A former manager with the Delhi Transco Limited, Balwani was found injured near his house. Delhi government’s standing counsel Pawan Sharma told the court that it was hit-and-run and a case in this regard had been lodged in the Vasant Kunj police station.



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