LEGAL NEWS 04.06.2012

Advocate who sought removal of Gujarat Guv held

Express news service : Lucknow, Mon Jun 04 2012, 03:29 hrs

Lucknow police have arrested a lawyer who was fined by the Supreme Court and Gujarat High Court for lodging a PIL seeking removal of Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal. Advocate Ashok Pande, who had filed the PIL in Gujarat High Court and later in the Supreme Court, was sent to Gujarat on Sunday by the Lucknow police.

Pande was arrested from his Gomti Nagar residence on Saturday night. A non-bailable warrant was issued against Pande by the Gujarat High Court for not depositing the cost imposed on him by the Supreme Court and high court, police said.

A bench of Supreme Court justices H L Dattu and A K Dave had imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on Pande in March for filing the “misconceived” and “misleading” petition. Pande had sought removal of the governor after Gujarat CM Narendra Modi wrote a letter to the PM seeking to recall her for appointing Justice (retired) R A Mehta as Lokayukta without his consent.






Pay Rs 1.80 lakh to 6 injured by PCR van: NHRC to Delhi govt

Press Trust of India / New Delhi June 04, 2012, 18:25


The National Human Rights Commission has asked Delhi government to pay a compensation of Rs 1.80 lakh to six persons injured after being run over by a PCR van in October last year.

The NHRC has asked the government to pay Rs 50,000 each to three persons who were grievouly injured and Rs 10,000 each to three others who had sustained minor injuries and also called for compliance report along with the proof of payment made to the victims, a statement from the rights body said today.

They were injured in October, 2011, when a speeding PCR van, driven by head constable Murari Lal, climbed up the footpath near Barapullah flyover on which they were sleeping.

The reports sent by the Delhi police in response to NHRC notices revealed that the head constable had been arrested for rash and negligent driving following the incident, the statement said.





Minority commission backs Islamic banking

Commission seeks amendment to the banking regulations to open the doors for interest-free banking

Dinesh Unnikrishnan

Mumbai: The long-standing debate on whether India should allow Islamic banking has taken a twist with the National Commission for Minorities, or NCM, stepping into the picture and strongly supporting the model in Asia’s third-largest economy.

Following a proposal from NCM to permit interest-free banking—a variant of Islamic banking—the finance ministry has asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to take a fresh look at the matter.

Seeing benefits: National Commission for Minorities chairperson Wajahat Habibullah says the interest-free model will help the country to channelize more funds from the Muslim business community abroad. (Mint)

Until now, the central bank has maintained Islamic banking is not feasible in India as existing regulations do not permit interest-free transactions.

The minority commission, a constitutional body headed by the former chief information commissioner of India, Wajahat Habibullah, has sought an amendment to the banking regulations to open the doors for interest-free banking in the country.

This is the first time the commission has got itself directly involved in the matter. The commission recently met top finance ministry officials including Sunil Soni, additional secretary, financial services, and Alok Nigam, joint secretary, on the matter.

Since Islamic banking is not allowed in India under current norms, “there should, therefore, be a possibility of permitting interest-free banking by amending the regulations,” Habibullah said, according to a recorded note of the meeting, reviewed by Mint.

According to the note, the finance ministry is open to the possibility of allowing some nationalized banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) to open accounts that will offer interest-free products. “Interest-free banking should not be associated with the religion. It is not in violations of any rules, though the current regulations have to be amended to make this model available in India,” Habibullah said. “The conventional form of banking is not stable as is evident from the collapse of the banking systems across the world. Implementation of interest-free model will provide that stability. This will also help the country to channelize more funds from the Muslim business community abroad,” he said.

Islamic banking is prevalent in countries such as Hong Kong, the UK, the US, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Under Islamic, or Sharia, law any payment or acceptance of interest is prohibited in banking transactions. Islamic banking operates on the theory that the return on investment is a compensation for the risk taken by the investor by providing a fund for commercial activity. As per this, the money can be lent on a profit-sharing or a fee-based model.

In 2007, an RBI-appointed working group under the then executive director, Anand Sinha, which was examining the financial instruments used in Islamic banking, said that under existing regulations, it was not feasible for banks in India to undertake Islamic banking or to allow their branches to carry out Islamic banking operations abroad.

The finance ministry has now referred the NCM proposal to Anand Sinha, currently a deputy governor of RBI, to re-look the matter.

Though there have been several attempts by private groups to introduce Islamic banking in india, none of those succeeded due to regulatory constraints and opposition from some of political factions.

In 2009, Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy filed a public interest litigation in the Kerala high court against the inception of a financial institution that was to run on the principles of Islamic banking, backed by the state government-owned Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation.

In September 2010, the Indian Centre for Islamic Finance, a non-profit organization spearheading the call for Islamic banking in India, approached RBI to allow a few banks in Mumbai to open interest-free windows on a pilot basis without amending any of the regulations.

It is yet to receive any response from RBI, according to H. Abdur Raqeeb, convenor, National Committee on Islamic Banking, and general secretary, Indian Centre for Islamic Finance.

In 2008, the Raghuram Rajan committee of financial sector reforms suggested implementing interest-free banking in the country. “The committee recommends that measures be taken to permit the delivery of interest-free finance on a larger scale, including through the banking system… it would be possible, through appropriate measures, to create a framework for such products without any adverse systemic risk impact,” the report said.

According to the report, since certain faiths prohibit financial instruments that pay interest, a section of Indians are unable to access banking products and services. “This non-availability also denies India access to substantial sources of savings from other countries in the region,” the report said.

In May, a Kerala-based NBFC that operates in accordance with Sharia principles moved a petition in the Bombay high court against an RBI order cancelling its licence. The firm, Alternative Investments and Credits Ltd, sought legal recourse after RBI took action against it, charging the company with not complying with its fair practice code for NBFCs, which stipulates that NBFCs should declare the rate of interest at which they lend to borrowers. The court is likely to hear the petition on 11 June.





Jilted lover awarded life term for setting girl ablaze

Agencies : Faridkot (Punjab), Sun Jun 03 2012, 14:54 hrs

A local court here has awarded life term to a jilted lover who set a teenage girl ablaze at Kotsukhila village of the district.

District and Sessions Judge Fatehdeep Singh yesterday sentenced Hoshiar Singh (22) to life imprisonment for setting Veerpal Kaur ablaze in October last year.

Singh wanted to marry the girl, but when she refused, he poured kerosene and set her on fire when she was alone at home.

Kaur, who suffered 80 per cent burn injuries, was rushed to a hospital, where she succumbed later.

In her statement to the police before she died, Kaur said that Singh wanted to marry her forcibly despite the fact that she was engaged to someone else.






Death for man who raped, murdered 8-year-old

Jiby Kattakayam

“There is one and only one sentence which a person charged with raping a child and killing her deserves…”

On July last year when temperatures peaked, a desperately thirsty eight-year-old child living in a park went in search of water, leaving her younger siblings behind, after her poverty-struck mother left for work. The child found what she was looking for, but never returned. She was raped, bludgeoned 15 times with a steel rod and killed behind an NDPL office near Maurya Enclave in North-West Delhi where she had chanced upon a water cooler, but then encountered a sex-crazed accused Sanjay Kumar Valmiki.

This Thursday, a Sessions court at Rohini awarded the death penalty to 21-year-old Valmiki for murder. For the charge of rape, he was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for the rest of his life. For kidnapping, he was given a five-year prison term.

Concluding that this was a “rarest of rare” case, Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said: “Let those who mess with children know that the justice system in India has zero tolerance for it and a single moment of madness can lead them to gallows.”

Dr. Lau further added: “There is one and only one sentence which a person charged with raping a child and killing her deserves. It is death and the only place where such a person deserves to go is straight to the gallows, where he is hanged by neck till he is dead.”

In the poignant words of the judge, the rapist “after fulfilling his hunger for sex, does not stop at that and uses brutal force by repeatedly hammering and clobbering the child with a Y-shaped steel rod and smashing her head in order to hide his reprehensible and disgraceful act and cause disappearance of the identity. The injuries on the body of the child, as many as 15 in number, speak volumes of the brutality and force with which the innocent child had been battered to death. The convict then dumps the badly-mutilated body of the child in a trench”.

In her order, the Additional Sessions Judge also recalled the scene outside the NDPL office when the girl’s body was recovered two days later, in a mutilated and decomposed condition.

“The discovery of the mutilated/ decomposed body of the child in the NDPL office resulted in a huge public outcry, where people’s anger spilled on the streets and there was large-scale stone pelting outside the office of NDPL resulting in damage to public property. Had the convict fallen into the hands of the angry mob, he surely would have been lynched and killed. Such was the public wrath.”

The defence plea for a lighter sentence on account of him being a young man was not accepted. “The convict was not a boy in his teens, rather a mature young man of 21 years of age and the victim a child of seven years-eight years. I am of the view that Valmiki is not of such a young age that he could not fully comprehend his actions. He was not a person in his teens but a matured robust young man of 21 years and had not acted on sudden provocation or on being suddenly emotionally disturbed,” Dr. Lau said.

Thirty-one witnesses were examined in the case with the most material being a 10-year-old child, who not only saw Valmiki, a contract sweeper at the NDPL office, talk to the victim, but later also heard her cries and screams from the switch-gear room where she was taken. When 10-year-old witness inquired as to who was inside, she was told by the rapist that it was his brother.

The evidence which conclusively nailed the convict was the DNA fingerprint report. “Thanks to the latest scientific technology and forensics which made it possible to identify the offender despite an attempt by him [offender] to destroy all evidence against him by mutilation of the body of the victim. It is the use of this technology [DNA fingerprinting] which has helped in conclusively establishing the guilt of the offender beyond doubt,” the court observed.





Honour killing accused will lose right to contest polls’

Source: Rakesh Bhatnagar, DNA   |   Last Updated 09:16(04/06/12)

New Delhi: Concerned with the regressive mindset of a section of the male-dominated society that uses the term “honour” to justify killing of young couples who marry outside their castes, the Centre is contemplating amendment to the election law to outcast those involved in the dastardly crime.

If this gets approval of Parliament, an accused involved in “honour killing” would lose the right to vote or contest any election.

However, the government doesn’t want to burden the Indian Penal Code with any additional provision to deal with an individual or members of a pachayat or `khap’ panchayats responsible for such brutal murdering couples in love. So, the Centre plans to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Following a spate of caste-based killings of young men and women with the support of the victims’ families and the despotic local community, the government set up a group of ministers (GoM) for considering the menace of what’s been termed by the Supreme Court as the “barbaric and brutal murders by bigoted, persons with feudal minds”.

Though no serious thought had been given to this burning issue during the past two years, it’s learnt that the Law Commission has given its report on the issue to the GoM.

The Commission recommends amendment to the electoral law with a view to disqualifying all those found guilty of “dishonour killing”. Thus, an amendment in section 8 has been suggested so that these criminals are given the same treatment provided for other persons involved in equally barbarous acts such as dowry death and Sati.

Informed sources say the new enactment is titled the Prevention of Crimes in the name of Honour and Tradition’.

If the Act were in place now, a senior DIG of Uttar Pradesh, SK Mathur, could have been arrested for propagating the dastardly killing by telling the parents of a girl, who was suspected to have eloped with the man of her choice, that if his daughter had run away with a boy of another caste, he would have killed her.
Later chief minister Akhilesh Yadav only transferred the officer.

It may be pointed out that a section of Indian communities isn’t alone in executing or masterminding inhuman killings.

A recent report submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights shows that “honour” killings have occurred in Bangladesh, Great Britain, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Sweden, Turkey, and Uganda.

But dowry deaths and so-called crimes of passion have a similar dynamic in that the women are killed by male family members and the crimes are perceived as excusable or understandable, the report said.






Man granted divorce on grounds of cruelty

K. T. Sangameswaran

Acts of commission by a woman in filing a criminal complaint against her husband and his relatives resulting in the husband being in distress in jail constitute mental cruelty to him and, therefore, he is entitled to get the relief of divorce, the Madras High Court has held.

A Division Bench of Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and M. Venugopal said this in its judgment while allowing appeals by a person challenging a common order of the Principal Family Court here of April 24, 2008 dismissing his petition praying for divorce and allowing his wife’s petition seeking restitution of conjugal rights.

He had married the daughter of a former Tamil Nadu MLA here in April 2000 as per Hindu custom.

The appellant’s senior counsel, P. Wilson, contended that his client’s wife after initiating criminal proceedings against her husband and nine others was not entitled to obtain the relief of restitution of conjugal rights because of the inconsistency in her case.

Defining cruelty

The judges said what conduct would amount to cruelty was a question of fact to be decided on the facts and particulars of each case. When a divorce was being sought on grounds of cruelty, the acts complained should be so grave and weighty to enable a court to conclude that one party could not reasonably be expected to live with the other.

The Bench said that in its considered opinion, on grounds of cruelty, the whole matrimonial relations should be considered.

SC judgment

Citing a Supreme Court judgment, the Judges observed that cruelty would normally consist not of harmful acts but of injurious reproaches, complaints, accusations or taunts.

It should be established that one party in the marriage, ignoring consequences, had misbehaved, which the other party could not be called upon to endure, and that misconduct had caused injury to health or a reasonable apprehension of such injury.

The Bench pointed out that in the present case, the husband had been put in jail for 22 days for alleged offences of dowry harassment and attempt to murder. Further, the woman had gone to the extent of filing intervening application opposing the bail sought by her husband. The case later ended in acquittal.

Filing of a criminal complaint by the wife against the husband and his relatives, instituting cases based on it and the same ending in acquittal and before that the husband being in distress for 22 days in jail, all these acts of commissions by the wife clearly constituted mental cruelty to the husband who admittedly would have undergone a traumatic experience and suffered humiliation in social circles.

In the present case, the marriage had become emotionally dead. It had irretrievably broken down. Moreover, the element of separation between the parties unerringly point out that there was an intention to bring cohabitation permanently to an end. The differences of opinion should not be considered as temporary passions.

The Bench ruled that the husband was entitled to get divorce.

His wife was not entitled to get the relief of restitution of conjugal rights. It said the marriage would stand dissolved.





HC refuses to interfere in transfer of civil suit

Express news service : Ahmedabad, Mon Jun 04 2012, 02:30 hrs

THE Gujarat High Court has refused to interfere with an order of the Rajkot principal district judge to transfer a civil suit from one magistrate to the other after the first magistrate wrote a confidential letter to him after reserving pronouncement of judgment on the suit.

The court also held that if a party is aggrieved by the transfer order it may approach the HC on the administrative side.

A petition in this regard was moved before by Sai Developers and one Doli Patel.

According to the petitioners, the civil suit in question was going on in the court of 14th Additional Senior Civil Judge. This magistrate after conducting hearing and dictating half of the judgment wrote a confidential letter to the Principal District Judge on May 11, following which the suit was transferred to the court of another magistrate.

The petitioners challenged the transfer before the HC contending that the arguments were heard, judgment was even part dictated and was kept for pronouncement of the remaining judgment.

Since vacation was there, both sides had given purshis that they do not have any objection if judgment is pronounced in vacation. And at that stage, the transfer order was passed, which was not only without any provisions under the Code of Civil Procedure, but also against settled position of law, they argued.

They also contended that the exercise of administrative powers by the principal district judge to transfer the suit to another court was unjust and illegal.

However, the HC turned down the petition while observing, “…discretion exercised by the learned Principal District Judge on administrative side, that too by referring to the confidential letter of the Judge from whose court the matter is transferred, does not call for any interference… it is open to the petitioner to move the High Court on administrative side, if he so desires.”





HC upholds DTC’s levy of Re 1 surcharge

TNN | Jun 4, 2012, 01.40AM IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court has upheld the decision of the Delhi Transport Corporation to levy a surcharge of Re 1 on passengers travelling in its buses.

A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw upheld the corporation’s decision pointing out that the surcharge is collected to reduce the cost incurred by DTC when it pays toll tax/toll charges while crossing through municipal toll or at DND flyover or other toll bridges.

“Though the amount to be paid per DTC trip is fixed, if the burden is to be shared by the passengers, in every trip, the amount to be collected from passengers may vary depending upon the number of passengers travelling in a particular trip,” the bench observed. To “obviate such an onerous task” HC added, the corporation is justified in charging a fixed amount which in any case is much less than the actual amount paid by the DTC.

HC also brushed aside the argument that by collecting an extra amount DTC is determining the fare of buses, concluding that the Re 1 surcharge is not part of any fare.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by one Ramesh Chhabra claiming that DTC charges Re 1 as surcharge on the actual fare from each passenger travelling from Delhi to Faridabad.





HC nixes union’s plea for Binny Mill’s office

A Subramani, TNN | Jun 4, 2012, 03.09AM IST

CHENNAI: A labour union’s attempt to get possession of the Binny Mill’s 94-year-old Madras Labour Union (MLU) premises failed after the Madras high court turned down the request of the new set of ‘office-bearers’ recently.

MLU, the first labour union in the state to espouse the cause of textile workers, was formed in April 1918 by a Parsi lawyer from Mumbai, B P Wadia.

Pointing out that the mill had been wound up in 1996 and its premises sold to a real estate promoter, Justice K Chandru said, “It is not clear how the union is still functioning, especially when the B&C Mills have been irrevocably closed. Even as per bylaws of the union, only persons who are working in the B&C Mills are entitled to become members of MLU. Only existing workers can get elected to various committees through department-wise allotments. The petitioner has not disclosed as to who are the workers who will continue to be MLU members in the absence of employment for the workers.”

A general secretary of the MLU preferred the present writ petition seeking possession of the union office located on Strahans Road at Pattalam in Chennai. In 2003, there was a dispute between two rival groups of unions over the property. In October 2003, the jurisdictional tahsildar passed an order stating that they should first prove their title right over the union’s property.

Though no party approached an appropriate civil court to establish their title over the property, the present petition was filed in 2008, stating that the union had been ‘revived’ and that 2,060 ’employees’ of the union had elected new office-bearers and authorized them to claim the union’s property.

Justice Chandru, pointing out that no one had approached a civil court to establish their right and take control over the property, said the union was allegedly ‘revived’ five years after the tahsildar’s order. He said such rights cannot be proved and granted in the high court under Article 226 of the Constitution.

Tracing the rich history of the union, the judge said the bylaws clearly state that in the event of dissolution of the trade union, the property should be entrusted only to the Pachaiyappa Trust Board, which would utilize the fund derived from it to provide free scholarship to the children of textile workers in Chennai. Citing the Supreme Court rulings, he said dissolution of the union will not vest the property with the members of the union.






Cops open Parel school gate after HC order

Published: Monday, Jun 4, 2012, 9:48 IST
By Mustafa Plumber | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

After verbal directives by the Bombay high court, the Bhoiwada police have opened the main gate of a school in Parel and handed over the keys to the trust running the school. The trust was fighting a legal battle with two alleged illegal tenants staying on the terrace of the school building.

On April 27, the Bhoiwada police had locked the Kranti Veer Nana Singh Patil School at Naigaum in Parel, which is run by the Naigaum Education Trust, after complaints from the tenants against the school staff.

Division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice P D Kode asked the police to open the gates of the school and allow the teachers and other staff to enter the school.

The trust moved the high court seeking directions to the police to unseal the premise. They also wanted the unauthorized occupants staying on the terrace to be vacated, who they claimed were miscreants.

The trust got into an agreement with two people-Rajendra and Devendra Patil. As per the agreement, the trust gave them three rooms on the terrace of the building for setting up a computer lab to impart computer education.

However, the school authorities started getting complaints from girl students of alleged misbehavior by the Patils.

Last year, the trust terminated the contract and the Patils were supposed to leave. However, they moved the small causes court claiming that they were tenants and were being forcibly evicted from the premises. The suit is still pending before the court.






Allahabad high court orders probe into lapses in Ayodhya case judges security

Ashish Tripathi, TNN | Jun 4, 2012, 06.16AM IST

LUCKNOW: The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court has ordered an inquiry into lapses in the security of three judges who delivered the verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit case on September 30 2010. The court has also directed the Centre and governments of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to take immediate steps to provide adequate security to the judges. The next date of hearing in this case is July 18.

The court issued order after UP’s anti-terror squad (ATS) informed court that activists associated with the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) may attack the three Judges. In the statement submitted before the court by Rajiv Sabbarwal, deputy inspector general (DIG), ATS, submitted that during the course of investigation, even in the months of March and April, 2012, it was found that the judges who decided Ram Janamabhoomi case are still under continuous threat and the SIMI activists are in process to constitute a fresh module to assault the judges. The statement given by Sabarwal also revealed that there was an imminent threat to the life of the judges.

The ATS submitted the statement in response to the previous order of a division bench of the High Court comprising Justice Devi Prasad Singh and Justice Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya. The bench had issued order on a petition filed by advocate Ranjana Agnihotri in connection with the threat preception to the judges and advocates associated with the case. The three judges who delivered the Ayodhya verdict are Justice Sudhir Agarwal, Justice SU Khan and Justice DV Sharma.

Justice Agarwal, in fact, was stopped by anti-social elements in Ghaziabad in July 2011. The judge, who was in his car, escaped a possible assault and had revealed that he had no police escort with him during the incident. The judge informed in writing to the authorities concerned about the incident.

Justice Sharma, who is now in Uttarakhand for an assignment, had also made a written complaint to the UP high court registrar that he was not being provided adequate security by the Uttarakhand government . Justice Khan, however, has refused any security cover.

It was also revealed during the hearing that for the past one year, the Registrar General of the High Court has been continuously informing state government officials about the developments.

However, on behalf of the state government, HP Srivastava, additional chief standing counsel, informed the court that the letter of Justice Sudhir Agarwal was received by the state government on May 23, 2012 along with the letter dated May 19, 2012 sent by the Registrar General.

On the other hand, Balwant Rai, additional superintendent of police, security, has informed the court that after filing of the present writ petition and keeping in view the threat precept, the state government had decided to provide Z-category security to all the three judges, provided them with two gunners along with an escort round the clock.

After hearing the statements, the high court directed UP government to hold an inquiry keeping in view the contents of the letter on security lapse of Justice Agarwal and submit a report to this court. Further, the court directed that the DIG, ATS, UP and the UP home secretary would review the security requirement of the judges in view of an enhanced threat perception. Also, the court said that keeping in view the incident happened with Justice Agarwal and after discussing the matter DIG, ATS, UP, and other officers present, it would be appropriate to provide two escorts to the judges concerned.

The court also directed that though Justice Khan had declined to accept any security, the additional director general of police, security, UP, should meet the judge personally and apprise him about the threat perception to take future course of action. The bench directed the state of Uttarakhand to provide Z category security to Justice Sharma immediately.

The government of India was also directed by the court to issue appropriate order or circular to all the states in the country to provide Z category security to the three judges during their movement outside UP. The security provided to the three Judges would not be withdrawn except with prior permission of chief justice of Allahabad high court.

The officials have also been asked by the court to personally meet the three judges and find out whereabouts of their residences and that of their family members for security arrangements. Officials have also been directed to hold a meeting to find out if more security, other then what was discussed in the court, was required in view of threat precept.

The court also directed the registrar general to consult chief justice/senior judge and strengthen the security arrangement on court campus and implead government of Uttarakhand through its home secretary and government of Madhya Pradesh through secretary, home, and inspector general of police, ATS, as respondents.






High court quashes criminal case against man

TNN | Jun 4, 2012, 02.58AM IST

CHENNAI: The Madras high court has quashed a criminal case against a man, who was detained under Goondas Act, after it came to light that the Vellore police had obtained signatures of another man in blank papers and created a false criminal complaint to arrest him.

Justice T Mathivanan quashed the case against G G Ramesh, after the original ‘complainant’ Mohamed Shareef appeared before the judge and filed an affidavit stating that he had merely signed some blank papers given to him by the police and that he was no way responsible for the arrest and detention of Ramesh.

Quashing the complaint against Ramesh, the judge said: “Shareef has submitted that he was just called to the police station and asked to sign a paper. Later, his signature was utilised to fabricate a complaint against Ramesh, for which he (Shareef) may not be held responsible.” Shareef also clarified that he was not under any pressure to file such an affidavit dissociating himself from the criminal proceedings against Ramesh. The state government, however, objected to the quashing of the complaint stating that Ramesh was a Goondas Act detenue and even the quashing of the present complaint would not result in his immediate release.






High court rules in favour of hotels in waste management row

Aswin J Kumar, TNN | Jun 4, 2012, 04.51AM IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The city corporation that has been issuing closure notices to hotels functioning without waste treatment plants in the city has been pulled up by a high court order.

Following a petition filed by the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association, the court has held that if a hotel did not have space or if there was an objection from the neighbouring shop owners for setting up the treatment plant, it was for the corporation to make arrangement to collect waste and treat it at the cost of the hotel.

The ruling that has come in favour of the hotel owners, dismayed the corporation officials. The health standing committee has been slamming notices on all the hotels that function without a waste treatment plant, ever since the garbage crisis has started bugging the city.

A deadline was also set for the hotels and it was pointed out that their licences would not be renewed if the owner fails to comply with the conditions mentioned in the notice.

“The order has come at a bad time. We had asked the hotel owners to set up plants in plots far away from their hotels. With this order there is no way corporation can ask them to get on with the project,” said a health inspector of the corporation.

The association members had claimed that the time span allotted for them to set up the plants was too short which the court upheld in its ruling. The court also maintained that section 334 of the Kerala Municipalities Amendment ordinance visualizes waste management by corporation which had to be maintained in a centralized manner.

The court has also directed the corporation to help the hotels in setting up the waste plant. A health official said that it would be very hard to maintain the waste from hotels with the court terming it as the corporation’s responsibility.

“In a way it has made us helpless. We could have persuaded the hotels into processing the waste themselves. Now the corporation cannot do so that as it would be against the court order,” he said.

The ruling also said that no hotel should be closed down and no fine should be charged unless the hotels fail to either process the waste to the satisfaction of the corporation or fail to pay the fees fixed by the corporation to collect the waste and treat the same. “Paying fees to collect the waste from the hotels is not all the issue. The question is what to do with the collected waste,” the official said.

We had asked the hotel owners to set up plants in plots far away from their hotels. With this order there is no way corporation can ask them to get on with the project.





Information hidden despite rulings

Paul John, TNN | Jun 4, 2012, 02.32AM IST

AHMEDABAD: Central Information Commission (CIC) and Gujarat Information Commission (GIC) rulings have deemed that facts pertaining to salaries and qualification of government personnel belong to the public domain – yet, people are still being denied access.

In several cases in the state, public information officers (PIOs) have interpreted such details as being ‘third-party information’.

The latest victim happens to be a middle-aged woman, Bhavna Patel of Shahibaug, who has been demanding for four years – under the RTI Act – the salary slip of her husband who serves with the Indian Railways. Bhavna is fighting for a revision in maintenance compensation in the family court and needs the salary slip to make that claim. “I receive Rs 600 and my 18-year-old son receives Rs 1,900 from his father as maintenance,” Bhavna said. “My husband earns between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000 and the court fixes a specific maintenance amount based on the salary.” She and her son Yash Diwakar were shocked when the public information officer M R A Mirza replied that the information pertained to a ‘third party’.

“After we appealed to central information commissioner Annapurna Dixit, the railways sent a letter which claimed to have an annexure consisting of my father’s salary slip,” Diwakar said. “The letter had no such thing. We have already filed a complaint with the CIC. It’s a cruel joke.”

Public agencies are under obligation to reveal their employees’ salaries, CIC has ruled in a case involving Punjab National Bank zonal office in Uttaranchal. “Under section 4 of the RTI Act, the public authority must not only provide a directory of its officials to public but also the amount of remuneration given to them,” central information commissioner M M Ansari had ruled. “The information should be published and put on the departmental website.”

In Gujarat, there have been five instances of PIOs denying salary details of government functionaries, said Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pehel co-ordinator Pankti Jog. “These functionaries are paid from public coffers. Not only salaries but qualification of officers too is public information,” Jog said. For instance, in the Dinesh Anajwala versus Surat Municipal Corporation case of October 2008, former Gujarat chief information commissioner R N Das ruled, “Before the selection and assumption of charge of the government post, the person is a private person and copies of his marksheets and any information furnished by him to the selection committee is personal information. However, once the person has become a public servant, the nature of that information can no longer be treated as entirely and purely personal.”






Explanation on RTI Act issue sought from HC official

R. Sivaraman

The State Information Commission has called for an explanation from the Public Information Officer of the Madras High Court on why he should not be penalised for not furnishing within the prescribed timeframe, information sought by a person under the Right to Information Act.

In 2009, P. Kalyanasundaram of Pattalam, in his application before the Public Information Officer of the High Court of Madras, had sought to know the list of registers, forms, ledgers and records maintained by the office of High Court registry.

Contending that the Public Information Officer had not provided the information even after two years, he filed an appeal before the State Information Commission. He also sought compensation for the loss.

However, the Public Information Officer in his counter said it was confusing as to what kind of information the applicant was seeking. He had sought information in a casual, indiscriminate and haphazard manner. Such an attitude would defeat the purpose of the Act. The information sought was already published on the website of High Court. Hence, he sought dismissal of the application.

After hearing both sides, the State Chief Information Commissioner K. S. Sripathy in his order said the public authority should have understood at the first instance itself what kind of information had been sought and the correct details could have been provided. The public authority should have provided some concrete answer whether the information could be given or not within the timeframe. Nearly two and half years had passed since the information was sought and refusal to provide information was violative of the provisions of the RTI Act.

The order said, “Since it failed to respond in time on whether the information could be given or not to the applicant, there is room to believe that the public authority was adopting delaying tactics by not providing information. In the circumstances, under section 20(1) of RTI Act, the Public Information Officer should explain within 15 days why a penalty of Rs.25,000 should not be imposed.”

However, the commission dismissed the applicant’s prayer seeking compensation, stating that the denial of information would not be detrimental to his interests.





Advani wants collegium for CEC, CAG selection

Monday, 04 June 2012 00:12

PNS | New Delhi

Senior BJP leader LK Advani has suggested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to set up a collegium to appoint the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), as the present system of President appointing the head of Election Commission solely on the advice of the Prime Minister, “does not evoke confidence among the people”.

He has recommended a similar committee for appointment of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) as well. While the tenure of serving CEC SY Qureshi ends later this month, the CAG will retire next year.

In a letter to Singh on Saturday, Advani suggested that the collegium could include the PM as its chairman and Chief Justice of India, Law Minister, and Leaders of Opposition in both the Houses as members.

“There is a rapidly growing opinion in the country which holds that appointments to constitutional bodies such the Election Commission should be done on a bipartisan basis in order to remove any impression of bias or lack of transparency and fairness,” Advani said in his letter to the PM.

Underlining that the CVC and the CIC were also appointed through such a collegium, Advani asserted that keeping the appointment of CEC as an exclusive preserve of the ruling party rendered the selection process vulnerable to manipulation and partisanship.

“Indeed, the credibility of this system was severely dented when a dubious appointment to the crucial office of CEC was made a few years ago. The time has, therefore, come to reform the selection process for the EC and other Constitutional bodies, as has indeed been done in the case of the CVC and the CIC,” Advani wrote to the PM.

Incidentally, the BJP had objected to appointment of Navin Chawla, Qureshi’s immediate predecessor, as the CEC for his alleged proximity to the Congress and its chief Sonia Gandhi. The 2009 Lok Sabha election were held under Chawla as the CEC and widespread allegations on rigging of EVMs were made during that time. Even, Chawla’s predecessor N Gopalaswami had recommended to the Government to remove Chawla’s from the panel for his “partisan” role.

The senior BJP leader pointed out to the PM that the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, set up by the Singh Government, had recommended in 2009 that the CEC and other members of the Election Commission be appointed by a collegium.

“In respect of the CVC and the CIC, the change has come about because of the intervention of the Supreme Court.  Let the wholesome change come this time as a result of an initiative taken by the Executive,” Advani said, requesting the PM to suitably amend the Article 324 of the Constitution that deals with the Election Commission.



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