Activists welcome stay on mega-housing project in Goa
Activists opposed to mega projects in Goa have welcomed the central environment ministry’s order keeping a massive DLF-backed housing project in the state in abeyance following a writ petition in the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court.
The activists had earlier alleged that Chief Minister Digambar Kamat was responsible for the massive irregularities in granting permissions for the housing project which envisages 600 top-of-the-range homes in an ecologically sensitive area.
In a pressnote issued here, Goa Bachao Abhiyaan (GBA), an umbrella organisation representing more than a dozen planned development-oriented NGOs, has hailed the ministry order staying all constructions of the DLF promoted project, allegedly built illegally on a hill slope after felling hundreds of trees.
‘GBA and Save our Slopes have petitioned the government to institute an enquiry into the illegal permissions given under the ‘deemed’ clause and to fix responsibility and take punitive action against the erring officers,’ GBA convenor Sabina Martins said in the note.
The ministry’s order comes in the wake of a writ filed by Goa Foundation and Edwin Mascarenhas against Saravati Builders (executing the DLF project), in which the ministry is also a respondent.
In its order of April 15 (obtained by GBA earlier this week), Bharat Bhushan, director (impact assessment) in the ministry, said that issues raised in the writ petition relating to destruction of forest area and destruction of ecologically sensitive habitat were serious.
‘The above issues are important and require detailed re-examination of the project. In the meantime, you are directed not to proceed for the construction of the group housing project in the aforesaid plot, till a detailed examination of all issues raised in the writ petition are re-examined by the expert appraisal committee,’ the order stated, adding that environmental clearance given to the project Jan 11 this year have been kept in abeyance.
GBA earlier alleged that the role of Kamat – who is also the minister for town and country planning – in the DLF project was ‘full of suspicion, especially the manner in which permissions were given to DLF by his department’.
Kamat has dismissed these allegations, stating that he had done nothing wrong.
Indians on death row a mockery of justice: Amnesty International to UAE
PTI, Apr 24, 2010, 08.47pm IST
DUBAI: Describing the death sentence awarded to 17 Indians in UAE as a “mockery of justice,” leading rights watch Amnesty International has asked the country to probe allegations of torture and ensure a fair trial on appeal.
The Indian migrants, all from Punjab, were sentenced to death on March 29, three months after their arrest, after being convicted by a Sharjah Shariah court for killing a Pakistani national.
“This is a mockery of justice. These 17 men have been tortured, forced to confess, and sentenced to death based on a fake video,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa said in a statement.
The convicts, aged between 21 and 25, have launched an appeal in an appellate court seeking a review of the death penalty. The case was regarding a fight, believed to be between rival gangs for control of an illegal alcohol business, in which a Pakistani died and three were injured.
The Indian government sought consular access to the Indians after the verdict was pronounced, following which the Indian embassy here assisted them in launching an appeal. Amnesty also said the men were held for months before the Indian government was notified of their arrest.
The Indians have alleged they were tortured and abused by police over nine days to make them ‘confess’ to the crime.
Amnesty cited the allegations of Indian NGO Lawyers For Human Rights International (LFHRI) that they were “beaten with clubs, subjected to electric shocks, deprived of sleep and forced to stand on one leg for prolonged periods”.
“The authorities must investigate these reports of torture and ensure that the results are made public and those allegedly responsible are held to account,” said Sahraoui.
The LFHRI has also alleged that the conviction was based on a “fake video” filmed one month after the arrest, after the men were taken to the scene of the crime and “forced to re-enact it,” the statement said. The videotape was presented at the trial as genuine CCTV footage of the killing, the NGO has alleged.
Taking note of the allegations, Amnesty asked the UAE authorities to investigate the allegations of torture and ensure a fair trial on appeal.
“They must be protected from further torture and other ill-treatment, and any evidence obtained using such methods should not be used in court,” it said.
Govt wants to give final say to PM on CJI appointment
Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN, Apr 25, 2010, 04.54am IST
NEW DELHI: The government has seen a devil in the existing Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of the Chief Justice of India and has initiated the process to amend it and give the final say to the Prime Minister in tricky situations.
Since the executive had lost primacy in the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the high courts nearly 17 years ago, it is the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court who is appointed to the top post after the retirement of the CJI.
But, there is a catch. The process for appointment of the senior-most judge to the top judicial post can be initiated only after the incumbent CJI gives a recommendation saying he is eminently suitable for the job.
The government feels once the apex court’s constitution Bench had ruled that the senior-most judge would get elevated to the top post after the retirement of the incumbent CJI, there should not be any leverage given to the CJI for choosing his successor.
What happens if the CJI refuses to send any recommendation or sends a recommendation proposing the name of a judge junior to the senior-most judge? Should the appointment process for the CJI come to a standstill for this purpose?
Law ministry sources said that the government has already drafted the proposed change in the MoP that would empower the Prime Minister to step in such eventualities. If the CJI gives a recommendation proposing the name of a judge other than the senior-most judge of the SC or sends no recommendation, then the PM would advise the President to appoint the senior-most judge as the CJI.
The proposed change in the present MoP, which was drafted during the time when Ram Jethmalani was the law minister, would soon be discussed with the judiciary for clearance and implementation, the sources said.
HC pulls up MoEA for denying permission to sue Iranian embassy
The Delhi High Court has pulled up the External Affairs Ministry for denying permission to a person to file a case against Iranian embassy for not compensating him for illegally terminating his service.
“Union of India is directed to issue a letter to the petitioner within a period of four weeks permitting him to execute the decree dated 14th November 2007 (regarding payment of Rs 7.8 lakh compensation),” the court said, adding if the Centre fails to permit him then the petitioner can take legal action against Embassy without government approval.
The court passed the order on a petition filed by Ashraf Rizwi contending that the government did not grant him permission to pursue a case against the embassy despite the latter’s failure to comply with a district court order to pay him a compensation of Rs. 7,89,600.
A district court, in a decree on November 2007, had asked the Iranian embassy to pay the compensation along with nine per cent annual interest.
Mr. Rizwi, who worked with the Science and Education section of the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran here since October 1, 1989 was allegedly terminated from services on May 15, 2002 through an oral communication without any reason.
He then approached the lower court which passed the order in his favour but the embassy refused to comply with the order. He then sought sanction from the Centre to take action against the embassy which was refused.
Aggrieved by the decision, Mr. Rizwi approached the High Court which admitted his plea saying, “It is difficult to appreciate the objection taken by the MoEA in this case.”
The court also imposed a cost of Rs. 5,000 on the Centre and asked it to pay the same to the petitioner.
HC allows blind student to appear in entrance test
STAFF WRITER 18:33 HRS IST
Mumbai, Apr 24 (PTI) In a novel gesture, the Bombay High court has allowed a 17-year-old blind student to appear in an entrance test for admission into a physiotherapy course, although rules in Maharashtra do not permit physically and visually challenged persons to write the test.
Hearing a petition filed by Krutika, who was refused permission to appear in the Common Entrance Test (CET), Justices J N Patel and A P Bhangale allowed her to write the test to be held in the first week of May.
The Director of Medical Education opposed the petition saying the rules do not permit physically and visually challenged persons to write the test. He said 70 per cent handicapped is sufficient to consider such a person disabled.
Physiotherapy involves movement of limbs and muscles which is difficult for the blind and handicapped persons to practice, he said.
BCS, BJS Exam Candidates with Disabilities
HC order on writs April 25
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The High Court (HC) will pass orders on April 25 on two writ petitions that sought directions from the court upon the government to allow the candidates with disabilities to sit for Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) and Bangladesh Judicial Service (BJS) examinations.
An HC bench of Justice Md Mamtaz Uddun Ahmed and Justice Naima Haider fixed the date after concluding the hearing on the petitions yesterday.
Four human rights organisations — Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Action on Disability and Development (ADD) and National Council of Disabled Women (NCDW) — and Swapan Chowkidar, a lawyer, and Ridwanul Hoque, a teacher of law faculty of Dhaka University, jointly filed the petitions on April 19.
The secretaries to the establishment, law, social welfare, and health ministries, Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC) and its chairman and secretary and the controller of examinations (Cadre), the judicial service commission and its chairman and secretary, the director general of the directorate of health, and the national disability welfare coordination committee and its chairman and secretary have been made respondents to the petitions.
The petitioners prayed to the court to issue a rule upon the respondents to explain why the provisions of the Bangladesh Civil Service (Age, Qualification and Examinations for Direct Recruitment) Rules 1982 preventing the candidates with disabilities from appearing in the BCS and BJS examinations should not be declared unconstitutional.
Advocates Shahriar Shakir, Qazi Zahid Iqbal, Taufiqul Islam and Nusrat Jahan appeared for the petitioners, while Attorney General Mahbubey Alam represented the government.
HC issues notice to Narayan Rane
STAFF WRITER 12:11 HRS IST
Nagpur, Apr 25 (PTI) The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has issued a notice to Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane for allegedly helping a city-based industrialist grabbing a plot of land illegally.
A single judge bench of Justice Bhushan Dharmadhikari responding to a writ petition, on Friday asked Rane along with Revenue Secretary, Forest Secretary and Managing partner of a local distillery company, Aspi Bapuna to reply to the notice within two weeks.
The Nagpur bench of the High Court also directed the state government not to implement any orders passed by the concerned minister related to the petition till pendency.
The petitioner Shailendra Sahu and his brother, who jointly own a Nazul land in Indora in northern part of city, had been alloted the land on lease by the then Central Province and Berar Government (CP & Berar) in March 1942.
The agreement was renewed till 2008.
Minimum punishment for murder by spurned man is lifer: Delhi HC
Sunday, April 25, 2010 11:15 IST
New Delhi: The killing of a woman by a man whose proposal she rejected would be treated as an offence not less than murder with the minimum punishment being life imprisonment, the Delhi high court has said.
The court refused the plea of a man who had submitted that he should be convicted for culpable homicide not amounting to murder as the offence was committed under emotion.
“If the argument is accepted it would mean that every male who has an infatuation for a female, on being spurned, would be entitled to kill the female under pain of a lesser offence i.e. the offence of culpable homicide not amounting to murder,” justice Pradeep Nandrajog said.
The minimum punishment for the offence of murder is life imprisonment and the maximum is death penalty while in case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder a person can be sent to any jail term up to life imprisonment.
“Repelling the overtures of an infatuated lover would not make out a case of Exception IV to Section 300 IPC (murder) being attracted. The concept of acting under the impulse of passion envisaged under the provision is premised on the passion and the impulse being preceded upon a sudden quarrel,” the court said.
The court passed the order on appeal filed by a man Ashok Kumar Kohli who had killed a woman he was in love with.
He had approached the High Court challenging the trial court’s order of convicting him for the offence of murder and sentenced him to undergo life imprisonment on the ground that he was overcome with emotion and acted in a fit of rage.
The court refused to grant him any relief and dismissed his appeal.
1 extra hr to dyslexic student to write AIEEE: HC rules
Express News Service
Posted: Sunday , Apr 25, 2010 at 0038 hrs Chandigarh:
In a first of its kind decision, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday directed the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to give extra time of one hour to a dyslexic student appearing in the All India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE).
The exam will be conducted throughout the country on Sunday.
Also, the High Court has suggested that the CBSE and the Central Counselling Board (CCB) grant similar facilities to all such students appearing for the exam in the country.
After hearing a petition filed by Chandigarh resident Pranjay Jain, Justice Permod Kohli observed, “I direct that the petitioner should be provided one hour extra time in AIEEE for each paper. However, this permission shall remain subject to (the) outcome of the writ petition.”
Justice Kohli added: “Mr Harsh Aggarwal (counsel for CBSE) has expressed his concern about similarly situated persons, who are appearing in AIEEE throughout the country. In view of the matter, it may be observed that the CCB may consider granting similar facilities to all dyslexic students, who are appearing in AIEEE test.”
Jain, a dyslexic student, had moved HC, seeking extra time and permission to take a scribe along in the examination hall. The HC agreed to award extra time to the student but turned down the plea to have a scribe.
“Since it is an objective test, no scribe is required. However, in view of the disorder with which the petitioner is suffering, I am of the considered opinion that extra time as per the guidelines framed by the CBSE for 10+2 examination, should be given to the petitioner to provide him a fair opportunity to compete with other students, who don’t suffer from any such disability,” the court observed.
Initially, the petition was filed for the Class XII examinations. Subsequently, the HC had passed an order on March 2, 2010, directing the CBSE to provide a scribe and extra time to the petitioner.
After the exams, the petitioner again approached the High Court, seeking similar relaxations for AIEEE.
The CBSE had raised various objections to the petition. One of them was that since AIEEE was a competitive exam in which thousands of students appear, the petitioner could not be given advantage over others.
In response, the court observed, “Suffice it to say that even 10+2 examination is a competitive examination and so is the position with every examination.”
Dome to be heritage site: Gujarat HC
Nikunj Soni / DNA
Sunday, April 25, 2010 9:33 IST
Ahmedabad: Justice MR Shah of the Gujarat high court has directed Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to preserve the historic Calico dome by restructuring it in its original design within a year.
The court also pointed out that the civic body cannot use this historic memorial for any other purpose.
The high court was hearing a petition filed by the AMC seeking permission to purchase the structure from the official liquidator of the Calico Mill. The official liquidator was looking after the assets of the closed mill.
The court issued many directives to preserve the Calico dome in its original form by allowing its purchase by the civic body for Rs30 lakh. The dome, which is situated on the Relief Road is in bad shape and is included in the list of heritage structures of the city.
This nearly 12-metre-wide structure formed a segmental dome, anchored at the edges, crowning over the steel tube space frame over the part-buried Calico mill shop. Built in 1962, the structure remained the epitome of the glory of textile mills .
The official liquidator insisted on selling the structure according to market price. The state government had valued it at Rs1.20 crore. However, thecourt accepted the AMC’s argument that the value of the heritage structure can’t be evaluated as per market pricing.
Tamil to be Supreme Court language, hopes Karunanidhi
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Sunday hoped Tamil will be one of the Supreme Court languages in the future and as a first step it should be accepted in the Madras High Court.
Speaking at the unveiling of B.R. Ambedkar’s statue in the Madras High Court premises, he said: ‘Tamil language should resonate in the precincts of the Supreme Court. As a first step, Tamil should be the high court language here for which the judges should take necessary steps.’
He said the DMK government does not lag behind any other government in following the ideals of Ambedkar regardless of the opposition.
Referring to the petition submitted by Madras High Court Advocates Association President R.C. Paul Kanakaraj for 10 acre ground for setting up a medical trust to render medical assistance for advocates, he said a decision will be taken after consulting with the state officials.
Unveiling the statue, Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan said: ‘In all the courts across the country, cases are pending for several years. Setting up of more courts and appointing more judges is the only way to settle the pending cases.’
The Chief Justice of Madras High Court H.L. Gokhale said the lawyers should assist in the smooth functioning of the court.
He said the judges cite Ambedkar’s philosophies in their judgments. It is the duty of the lawyers and judiciary to uphold the Indian constitution framed by Ambedkar.
The function witnessed some tense moments with a section of lawyers waving black flags and shouting slogans against Karunanidhi demanding action against police officials for last year’s clash in the high court premises.
Bombay HC asks Maharashtra govt about steps to avert fresh terror attacks
Sunday, April 25, 2010 14:03 IST
Yavatmal: A Nagpur bench of Bombay high court in a notice to state government has sought the steps it proposes to prevent fresh terror attacks in the state.
The division bench comprising justice JN Patel and justice BR Gavai hearing a criminal petition filed by one Digambar Pajgade proposing various measures to avert terror attacks, issued notices to state and senior officials asking them to reply in six weeks time. The matter would come up for hearing on May 6.
Pajgade has filed a criminal PIL on July 16, 2009 with a plea to order the state government to take preventive measures to avert fresh terrorists’ attacks on public institutions and properties in Mumbai and other parts of the state.
He has also suggested a number of effective measures to be considered by the state government through his plea.
Wanted: A Board of Control to Control the BCCI
Sunday, April 25, 2010 2:53 IST
In 2000, Rahul Mehra, a lawyer and cricket lover, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), demanding transparency and accountability in the way cricket is run in the country. The BCCI responded by arguing that it was a private society and that the Indian team was not a national side, but one picked by the BCCI. And therefore it couldn’t be subjected to a PIL of any sort. The court quashed this contention, thus establishing that the BCCI is indeed answerable to the public.
Ten years later, the BCCI is embroiled in what is perhaps the biggest controversy in its history, and it is facing many uncomfortable questions: Why was one man given so much power to run a lucrative league such as the IPL? Why aren’t rules, rather than the whims of an individual, governing important processes such as franchisee auctioning? What prevented others in the BCCI from taking action?
In an interview with The Mag, Mehra says that we need to take a hard look at the way office-bearers are elected in the BCCI and the state associations that come under it. But the reforms won’t come from within the BCCI; the government has to step in to clean up the act, says Mehra. Excerpts:
Is there a conflict of interest between those running the IPL and those participating in it?
N Srinivasan was a treasurer when Sharad Pawar was the BCCI president. When Shashank Manohar took over as president, Srinivasan became the honorary secretary of BCCI. So you are the honorary secretary of the parent body of IPL. You are also the president of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association. You also happen to occupy a position in the governing council of IPL — which is a sub-committee of the BCCI and takes all decisions regarding the governing of IPL. And then you are a stake-holder in Chennai Super Kings. Any of your decisions — be it as the secretary of the BCCI or the governing council member of IPL — can have a direct impact on Chennai Super Kings. Can there be a clearer case of conflict of interest than this?
Clearly, the administration needs reforms. But how can such reforms be carried out?
Nobody (within the BCCI) will carry it out because they have their vested interests. It has to be an outside agency. It has to be the sports ministry because the BCCI is performing a public function. The government should say we will derecognise you if you don’t toe our line. They could say that we will take away your right to select Team India. The point is that there has to be political will at the Centre, because obviously this is not going to come from within the BCCI.
The government only acts when there is a hue and cry. The ongoing investigations are highly motivated, but it is still good for the general public. At least something is happening now, which otherwise wouldn’t have.
Do elections at state-level associations also need reforms?
At the local level, the key question is, what kind of electorate do you have? The problem is that you cannot do much about the current electorate since it’s the legacy of the past. But surely, in future, you can ensure that only sportsmen get voting rights. Ultimately, these are not social clubs. These are sporting clubs.
In most associations, you see that there is one individual who has ruled the roost for 30-40 years, and ensured that his cronies, drivers, cooks, peons, relatives and close friends were inducted as members. Since they happen to be in a majority as members (of the association), time and again, the same person keeps coming back to power.
Instead, the BCCI should lay out guidelines whereby, while you might have anyone as a member, voting rights are given only to district-, state-, and international-level players.After all, the office-bearers will be looking at sporting requirements and some relative [of an office-bearer] who has no knowledge about the game is not the ideal person to elect the office-bearers of the association.
When I did my research in 2000, I found that in state associations, not even 5 per cent of the electorate are people who have played cricket in their life. If you don’t understand the technicalities and nuances of the game, how can you elect the right person? That’s why there is so much politics, backbiting and all the dirt that’s coming out now.
For example, Narendra Modi might be a great administrator and a great chief minister, but what are his credentials to come into cricket? Overnight, one saw him catapulted into the central politics of the BCCI because the Gujarat Cricket Association elected him as the president. How can that happen? There has to be some work that you’ve done at the grassroots, some credentials — apart from being a state or national-level leader — for you to be able to run a sports body.
What about the current manner of electing the top functionaries of the BCCI?
First of all, there should be a standardised way of registering a member association. There are some member associations of the BCCI which are registered under the Societies Registration Act. Others, like the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), are registered under the Companies Act. The BCCI should standardise this — member associations should all be registered under the Societies Registration Act or under the Companies Act.
In a body registered under the Societies Registration Act, you can’t vote by proxy. But in a body registered under the Companies Act, proxy voting is allowed.
This aspect is critical because in the proxy system, there are proxy forms that can be filled and misused in certain ways. However, in an organisation registered under the Societies Registration Act, there is no proxy system and voters have to be present at the time of voting. The key, however, is that voting has to be by secret ballot. Most of the time, we see that there is no polling officer and no fixed agenda. An independent person is not present to monitor the election process. There are only people who are motivated to see one side win. So power, money, muscle all come into play.
To clean things up, you should have an independent returning officer. You need to have a very honourable person — say, a jurist —and request him to conduct the election. There are around 30 state associations, apart from one or two organisations like the Railways which are members of the BCCI. All of them have a single vote (to elect the BCCI office-bearers).
Generally, a single member association sends two representatives to the BCCI at the time of election. So who is going to cast the vote eventually? That is decided by the BCCI. And who decides (within the BCCI)?
The incumbent office-bearer decides who will be voting in the subsequent election. So there is a clear conflict of interest. I believe every election should be telecast on TV. If you can’t do that, at least have it video-recorded. Every minute of the election should be on tape. This is the standard practice anywhere.
What will it take to clean this up?
To clear the current mess and in the larger interest of the game, I do feel there should be a regulatory body. The form of the regulatory body could be debated. It could be government-run or it could consist of distinguished people from society. But clearly, the regulation is never going to come from within the BCCI.
How can we ensure there is no cartelisation among the IPL franchisees?
By being fair and transparent. For instance, the moment the auctioning became transparent, teams like Kochi came on board. Otherwise there would only have been a cartel. A larger point here is that if the prime minister of India or the state chief minister falls under the RTI, why not a public body like the BCCI? If you go by the law, you have to be a government body or have to be substantially funded by the state (to fall under the purview of the RTI). Now the BCCI can say that it isn’t funded by the State. But this can actually be challenged, saying that they are given exemptions worth thousands of crores in the form of stadium costs, that they are offered thousands of crores worth of security for every game, that they are being allowed to use the name ‘India’ etc. You can really come down hard on them.
Recently, one of the IPL franchise owners suggested on a TV channel that since the franchisees are the ones putting in the money, they should run the IPL. What is wrong with that idea?
This is nonsense. If these eight or ten people are allowed to run the IPL, then what is the requirement of the BCCI? The BCCI has been given de-facto recognition by the government of India to run the game of cricket on its behalf. To now say that the franchisees are pumping in money and therefore should be allowed to govern and choose a leader amongst themselves would sound the death knell of a tournament like the IPL. Right now we are already debating whether these matches have been betted on and fixed, but these eight people may well decide amongst themselves which team should win each year. That would be a joke of sorts. Every year they will keep siphoning off money for themselves and keep showing losses and diverting funds overseas. Who will stop that? Unless and until there is aa watchdog — a role which BCCI should have assumed and which it didn’t — you can’t allow corporate entities a free run.
Who is to blame for the current controversy?
The fault lies mainly with the watchdog. If Lalit Modi was doing what he is alleged to have done, what were the BCCI, and the IPL governing council members, including independent watchdogs like Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, and MAK Pataudi, doing? Why were they giving their assent to every document or decision taken by Lalit Modi? Weren’t they supposed to look into all the documents? They have lawyers on the governing council. The BCCI president himself is a senior lawyer in Nagpur. You don’t get bigger names than these. What were these people doing there? The fault lies with BCCI, not just Lalit Modi. Modi was allowed to have a free run. The real fault lies with people who let him have the free run.
Support legal aid programme: CJI
The Chief Justice of India, Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, on Sunday called upon the stakeholders in judicial system to extend whole-hearted support to the para-legal and legal aid training programme conceived by the National Legal Services Authority.
Launching the nation-wide training programme at the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Sriperumbudur, the Chief Justice said the programme was launched with the objective of ensuring access to justice for the marginalised sections.
Noting that conduct of ‘lok adalats’ and provision of legal services to the poor and needy through the NLSA and State-level LSAs had not brought in the desired results in terms of providing speedy justice, Mr. Balakrishnan said mass mobilisation of individuals with the inclination and capability to provide legal assistance to the poor and needy would help prevent legal disputes.
“It will be easy to prevent legal disputes if awareness of legal rights and laws is created among the general public. The large number of youth to be roped in as para-legal service providers will help achieve this objective”, he added. The training aims at identifying committed individuals as para-legal volunteers at district and taluk levels and equip them with knowledge and skills to act as intermediates between the people and legal service institutions at Central, State, district and taluk-levels.
Union Law Minister M. Veerapa Moily said the objective of the judicial system was to render justice to everyone, even the one last in the row. At the same time, the Union Minister said that protracted litigations were hiccups in the system.
“When I was Chief Minister of Karnataka, I found that several litigations over land acquisition blocked the implementation of Hassan irrigation project, an 18-year dream of ryots in that region. Subsequently, all litigations were cleared within a short period and the project was completed successfully to provide irrigation for 20 lakh acres since I felt justice denied to water is justice denied to everyone”, he added.
The blueprint for the National Legal Mission has been prepared, Mr. Moily said, and the Ministry was engaged in evolving the second generation legal education system. “Hitherto, a lower-level judicial officer was able to reach up to the district or State-level judicial position only. Efforts are being made to change the legal education system so as to help legal officers entering at the lower-level of the system reach higher positions,” he said.
Outlining the programme, the Chairman, National Consultation for Para Legal Training and Legal Aid Activities and Supreme Court Judge, P. Sathasivam said 400 out of 6400 blocks in the country would be covered under the programme initially. About 1000 members from NSS, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sankatan etc. would be trained at RGNIYD in association with Indira Gandhi National Open University, which is offering diploma course in para-legal services.
Chief Justice of Madras High Court H. L. Gokhale, Madras High Court judge E. Dharma Rao, Vice-Chancellor of the IGNOU V. N. Rajasekharan Pillai, vice-president, RGNIYD, C.R.Kesavan, director, RGNIYD, P.Michael Vetha Siromony and others participated in the function.
Later speaking to reporters, the Union Law Minister said the impasse relating to the new posting for former Karnataka Chief Justice P. D. Dinakaran would have to be dealt with by the judiciary.
When asked whether the introduction of para-legal services in Indian legal system could be construed as a preliminary step to open up the Indian legal education system to foreign universities, Mr. Moily replied in the negative and said that it was an effort to raise the legal education system to international standards.
More courts, judges needed to reduce pendency of cases: CJI
Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Sunday said that in view of the increase in number of cases, the country needed more courts and judges to reduce the pendency.
“Our problem is large number of cases. Unless the number of judges and courts increase there is no other way to reduce pendency,” Justice Balakrishnan said.
“Tamil Nadu had good number of judges and pendency of cases in the Madras High Court has been reduced by 30,000 within a short time,” he said.
According to him, the public would have more confidence in the judiciary only if the pendency was reduced. “Like any public institution, quality of justice delivery also depends on the trust and confidence of large public,” he said.
After unveiling a statue of B R Ambedkar in the high court premises, he said, “It is apt tribute to Ambedkar’s life and contributions (to society).”
“Despite many constitutional democracies withering away in recent times, Indian democracy stood firm because of a strong Constitution.”
Noting that the judiciary was conscious of gender equality, Justice Balakrishnan, who retires next month, said “We have upheld laws protecting it.”
Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily said the UPA government was striving to realise the dreams of Mahatma Gandhi, former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Ambedkar.
Describing Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, whose party the DMK is a UPA constituent, as a ‘pillar of strength’ for the government, he sought his support on reservation policy and ‘gender justice’.
“We require some more support (from you). We are all for equality of justice including reservation policy and gender justice. Even now there are personal laws which are gender biased. However, we recently brought in two to three laws that are gender neutral,” Mr. Moily said.
“I think it (gender justice) should enter all courts…only then our justice system can be perfect. He (Ambedkar) understood the meaning. It is left to you (judges) to interpret it,” he said.
Mr. Karunanidhi was also present at the function.
Violence mars CM’s function at Madras HC
A Subramani, TNN, Apr 26, 2010, 03.10am IST
CHENNAI: Violence returned to haunt the Madras High Court campus on Sunday as attacks on journalists and black flag demonstrations marred chief minister M Karunanidhi’s participation in a function to unveil Dr BR Ambedkar’s statue.
The CM was visiting the court premises for the first time after the violence on the campus on February 19, 2009 when lawyers and policemen clashed.
The protest started when some advocates sprang to their feet soon after Karunanidhi commenced his speech. Even as they were waving black flags and shouting slogans, an unidentified group flung chairs at them, resulting in a fight. Camerapersons were also targeted. At least two video cameras were snatched and smashed by the rampaging mob.
Karunanidhi continued his speech amidst the melee, saying he would not be deterred by such indecent interference. He said he bore no ill-will against advocates or police and went on to promise a hike in the ex-gratia paid in the event of the death of a lawyer from a public welfare fund.
Parab must show up in court, police to tell HC
TNN, Apr 26, 2010, 03.52am IST
PANAJI: With no clue of constable Sanjay Parab’s whereabouts, crime branch has decided to insist that he remains present in the high court of Bombay at Goa, which will hear Parab’s anticipatory bail application on Monday.
“We will insist that Parab should be present in court. We are also looking into the legal aspects of the matter before declaring him an absconder,” said police sources.
Incidentally, the police took more than a month to arrive at this decision. “A month back, Parab had filed an anticipatory bail application and the case got transferred from one court to another. But, the police didn’t file any application in the court to ensure that the accused would be present in the courtroom”, said sources.
Despite issuing a look-out notice against Parab, police couldn’t trace the constable, who is wanted by the crime branch for his alleged nexus with Israeli drug dealer Atala. He is absconding from the time a police inspector and four constables were arrested for their alleged nexus with the drug dealer.
Parab has been booked under Section 59 (b) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, which deals with a government officer’s connivance or wilful aid that results in the contravention of any provision of the NDPS Act. He is also booked for offences under Section 120 (b) of IPC, Sections 11 and 12 of Prevention of Corruption Act, and Sections 28, 29, 30 and 59 (b) of the NDPS Act.
After the arrest of the five policemen involved in the case, searches were on to trace Parab, who after being suspended, had failed to report to the Goa Reserve Police on a daily basis. Incidentally, unlike the five policemen arrested, Parab has never worked in the Anti Narcotics Cell.
Ensure environment audit reports don’t gather dust: Gujarat HC
Press Trust Of India / Ahmedabad April 26, 2010, 0:42 IST
The Gujarat High Court has directed the state pollution control board to ensure that environment audit reports are put to meaningful use to control pollution in the state. A division bench of Chief Justice S J Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi issued the directives while dismissing a petition of Gujarat Dyestuff Manufacturers Association which sought scraping of the environmental audit for industries manufacturing specified products, last week.
“Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) is directed to take all necessary follow up steps on the basis of (environmental) audit reports to control environmental pollution,” the court said in the order. “GPCB shall also ensure that the data collected through such audit reports does not collect dust in the archives of its office but is put to meaningful use for understanding the environmental impact,” the court added.
The audit scheme was finalised by the High Court in 1996 after it received several petitions on rising pollution. The court had then asked GPCB as well as the state government to protect the natural resources. The court said the environmental audit is required to make the industry realise the impact of its activity. The petitioner, Gujarat Dyestuff Manufacturers Association, had contended that no useful purpose was being served by filing environmental reports as the GPCB had not put the said data collected to any effective use.
The association also pointed out that the environmental audit scheme was framed when industrial pollution was at its peak, but now most of the polluting industries have been brought under control. The association said its members are mainly small scale industries and they should not be burdened with providing environmental audit every year which involves huge cost.
But, the Court directed GPCB to continue with the environmental audit scheme, given that an agency like National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has recommended that the scheme followed in Gujarat should be replicated across the country.
Petition seeks stay on declaring IIT entrance result
Citing an error, a non-government organisation (NGO) has approached the Delhi High Court seeking a stay on the publication of the result of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) entrance exam held April 11.
The petition has also sought a fresh entrance test. It is likely to come up in court Tuesday.
Raising the issue of an error in the instructions for examinees who took the IIT joint entrance examination (IIT-JEE) in Hindi, the NGO filed the public interest litigation (PIL) Saturday.
‘In the interest of justice, the court may pass an interim order or stay directing the respondent (IIT) not to announce the result in the meantime, till the pendency of the writ petition,’ the PIL said.
‘Due to the error, students who took the entrance exam in Hindi suffered a blow in more than one way,’ M. Shakeel Khan, counsel for the NGO told IANS.
Chairman of the IIT-JEE, T.S. Natarajan has denied any plan to re-conduct the entrance examination.
‘There is no need for re-conducting the examination. For the Hindi question paper problem, corrective measure will be decided in a committee meeting and it will be shared with people,’ Natarajan told IANS over phone.
He also added that the results will be declared as per schedule.
Anand Kumar, director-cum-founder of Bihar-based Super 30 coaching centre for the economically poor, has favoured a fresh exam.
‘The IIT must re-conduct the entrance examination as the problem in the question paper is very serious and meeting of the directors of the IITs held on Sunday also could not find any concrete solution,’ Anand told IANS over phone.
No place for half measures
Pankaj Vohra, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, April 25, 2010
The government appears to be in a dilemma over whether to order a probe into the functioning of the Indian Premier League (IPL) by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) or allow its agencies to investigate the matter that could have wide-ranging political ramifications.
The controversy seems to be leading to a situation where the IPL may make way for a PIL (public interest litigation) given the amount of money that has allegedly changed hands illegally in the name of cricket.
It is only a matter of time before the apex court will have to step in if the credibility of the system has to be restored in the eyes of the people who have been under the spell of the IPL for over a month now.
In the eye of the storm is the IPL tsar Lalit Modi whose alleged murky dealings may open a Pandora’s box that could jeopardise the political future of many top politicians. Shashi Tharoor, the former minister of state for external affairs, has already fallen by the wayside and no one knows who may follow suit.
The entire IPL circus has turned out to be the biggest scam of our times and could expose the ugly nexus among tax evaders, film stars, politicians, cricketers, corporate giants and the underworld. The IPL has also cast a shadow on its parent body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that has as its members senior politicians from the NCP, the BJP and the Congress besides some smaller parties. Designed to help develop cricket, the League has got entangled in allegations of gambling, prostitution, match-fixing, money-laundering and tax evasion.
The most difficult problem before the government is that there is no one who is willing to believe that Lalit Modi acted on his own and without the patronage of those in the BCCI in general and the IPL Governing Council in particular. Therefore, for their own sake, in order to absolve themselves of any taint, each member of the IPL Governing Council as well as top cricket bosses would do well if they voluntarily subject themselves to scrutiny by government agencies.
The problem before the government is that a JPC probe may not yield the whole truth, as members of parties associated with those under the scanner are likely to be viewed with suspicion. The JPC will be expected to investigate even those in the government, a task that could lead to the souring of relations between, say, the Congress and the NCP at one level and the Congress and the National Conference on the other. This could have a huge impact on the governments in Maharashtra, J&K and the Centre. The JPC could also prove inconvenient for the BJP, the principal opposition party, since some of its top leaders are seen as those who helped Modi at some stage or have been associated with the conduct of the games.
As people watch the unfolding developments, the government and Parliament’s credibility will take a beating if nothing comes of the probe and the accused get off scot-free. Therefore, if the JPC is approved, its members should be those who have no stakes in cricket and who have a clean public image.
If the apex court gets involved through a PIL or through a presidential reference, the independent probe committee should comprise eminent people who should give their report within a specified period of a month or 45 days. The IPL chapter appears to be the most unfortunate one in the country’s sporting history. It raises questions about the involvement of politicians in cricket administration. The guilty should be brought to book. The probe should not lead to a situation where it undermines the credibility of the government and Parliament in the eyes of the people.
12 ‘expert’ MLCs aren’t experts: PIL
Mayura Janwalkar / DNA
Monday, April 26, 2010 0:23 IST
Mumbai: Twelve members of legislative council (MLC) appointed by the state government as “experts” do not actually fit the bill, states a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Bombay high court. After hearing the PIL, chief justice Anil Dave and justice SC Dharmadhikari have issued a notice to the government and sought a reply within four weeks.
The PIL filed by Birudeo Lavate and Sunil Kate, social acitivists from Sangola, said the appointment of the MLCs is politically motivated and has deprived deserving candidates of their right.
The petition stated that under clauses of article 171 of the constitution, the governor of a state has the power to appoint members to the legislative council who have “special knowledge or practical experience in respect of literature, science, art, co-operative movements and social services”.
However, the 12 MLCs appointed by the governor in 2008, are not experts as prescribed in the relevant clause of the constitution, said Machhindra Patil, advocate for the petitioners. Patil added that in an application filed under the Right to Information Act, under secretary RG Salvi had replied stating that information regarding the expertise possessed by these 12 MLAs was “not available”.
IPL PIL: HC asks Maha govt to file reply by May 5
STAFF WRITER 13:36 HRS IST
Mumbai, Apr 26 (PTI) The Bombay High Court today asked the Maharashtra Government whether there was any code of conduct for Chief Minister or any other minister who is taking part in the activities of sport bodies such as BCCI.
The court asked whether any conflict of interest arises if a minister holds a post in a sports organisation.
The government was also asked to clarify whether it has decided to levy entertainment tax on the IPL tournament.
The court has asked the government to file its reply by May 5.
The court’s direction came in response to a PIL filed by Subhash Desai, Shiv Sena MLA, alleging that the government had decided to levy entertainment tax but did not implement it.
SC holds expulsion of former Punjab CM
Monday, April 26, 2010, 12:35 [IST]
New Delhi, Apr 26: Terming it as unconstitutional, the Supreme Court on Monday, Apr 26, quashed the expulsion of former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh from the State Assembly.
A five-judge constitution bench led by chief justice KG Balakrishnan directed the immediate restoration of Amarinder Singh’s membership to the present assembly.
Singh was thrown out of the House on Sep 3, 2008, for ‘breach of privilege’ following the passing of a resolution based on a report of a special committee appointed by the Punjab Assembly on the alleged irregularities.
The report concluded that the former Chief Minister has granted illegal exemption to certain developers which has resulted in a loss worth over several crores of rupees to the exchequer.
The scam relates to grant of exemption on 32.5 acres of land in a prime area by Singh as the Chief Minister to certain land developers allegedly in violation of the rules.
During his tenure as the Chief Minister, Singh is said to have granted an exemption on 32.5 acres of land in a prime area to certain land developers, which was allegedly in violation of the rules.
Govt confesses Justice Sabharwal not considered for NHRC post
Union government has confessed that former chief justice Y K Sabharwal was not made chairperson of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), a post where appointee has to be a former CJI of India, because he was not considered fit for the post
CJ: SUBHASH CHANDRA..
Mon, Apr 26, 2010 10:39:16 IST
THE UNION government has confessed that formers chief justice of India (CJI) Y K Sabharwal was not made chairperson of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), a post where an appointee has to be a former Chief Justice of India, because he was not considered fit to become NHRC chairperson. It is unfortunate that a person, who was not considered fit even for post of NHRC chairperson, headed Indian judiciary by virtue of seniority amongst Supreme Court judges.
Non-transparent appointment-system in higher judiciary has sparked many controversies where even the then Chief Justice of Delhi AP Shah cited injustice to him in denying him elevation to Apex Court. Appointment-system for higher judiciary including for Chief Justice of India should be modified so that controversies in appointments may not emerge, and a non-deserving person may not become Chief Justice of India just by virtue of seniority.
Aarushi murder: Accused file complaint with NHRC alleging torture by CBI
IANS, Mar 12, 2010, 03.30pm IST
NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), approached by counsel of the accused in the Aarushi murder case alleging torture by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), said they “may or may not” take a view on the case.
“The commission will take its due course of time to take a decision on the complaint. Since the case is already in the court, the commission may or may not take a view on the case,” an official of NHRC said.
According to the official, Naresh Kumar Yadav, counsel for accused Rajkumar and Vijay Mandal, filed a complaint to the NHRC on Thursday alleging torture by the CBI while conducting the narco-analysis tests.
“Yadav said that the way in which the narco-analysis tests were conducted by the CBI on the accused, it seemed that there was an effort to put words in their mouth by the officers. The investigations, he said, were conducted in an inhuman manner by the team of doctors that made them go through physical and mental torture,” the NHRC official said.
The counsel added that he filed the complaint after a TV news channel aired footage of the narco-tests.
“The counsel has asked the commission for a fair enquiry and to take action against the CBI officers who conducted the investigation and the doctors. He has also asked for compensation (for) his clients,” the official added.
Teenager Aarushi Talwar was found murdered at her home in Noida on the outskirts of Delhi in May 2008. The family’s domestic help Hemraj, who was initially suspected, was himself found killed the next day.
Dumped foetuses: NCW asks govt to submit report
Express News Service
Posted: Sunday , Apr 25, 2010 at 0126 hrs Ahmedabad:
National Commission of Women (NCW) chairperson Girija Vyas on Saturday asked the state government to submit a report on the finding of 14 foetuses near Bapunagar in Ahmedabad. Vyas was in Gujarat to meet officials from the Women and Child Welfare Department.
Vyas said, “The commission is also concerned about low rate of conviction in cases registered under the PC-PNDT (Pre-Conceived and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique) Act.” She further said, “In Gujarat, around 68 cases were registered over the last few years but there has been conviction in only one case while 14 are pending.”
Vyas also said that there was a need to create awareness about saving the girl child as the current sex ratio is quite skewed. She said there is not a single state where the number of girls is higher than that of boys.
The sex ratio in Gujarat stands at 1000:878, Himachal Pradesh 1000:820 and Chhatisgarh 1000:845 against the all India Ratio of 1000:927. Vyas asked the state government to have more programs such as “Save the Girlchild”.
“We have asked the state governments to launch more awareness programmes regarding women empowerment and implement the laws effectively,” said Vyas.
Meanwhile, the police are still waiting for the FSL report in the case. According to police, the FSL is conducting a DNA test of the foetuses and the final report is expected to take some more time.
CAT to Delhi Police: Use caution while cancelling candidature
Sunday, April 25, 2010 10:53 IST
New Delhi: The Central Administrative Tribunal has advised Delhi Police to exercise its power with caution in cancelling the candidature of provisionally selected candidates on the ground of their involvement in past criminal cases.
“There is a need for extreme caution… so that the quasi judicial authorities do not overstep their legitimate domain and give a finding over and above the findings recorded by a trial court,” the Tribunal, comprising Members Shanker Raju and Veena Chhotray, said.
It cautioned Delhi Police against over-reaching the judicial findings as it needed careful consideration before denying appointment to a personnel.
“What is required is a very thorough consideration of all the attending circumstances of the case while carefully guarding the thin line of remaining within the legitimate domain and not overreaching the judicial findings. Arriving at hasty conclusions on isolated facts is also to be cautioned against,” the Tribunal said.
It was hearing a plea of a provisionally selected constable Mahesh Dahiya, whose candidature was cancelled by the Delhi Police over his alleged involvement in a criminal case related to kidnapping.
Though no charge was proved by the prosecution against Dahiya, the Delhi Police decided not to appoint him citing his premeditated tendency of crime and his disrespect for law, the Tribunal noted.
“The Delhi Police have a right to verify the character and antecedents of Dahiya before issuing the final appointment order, and mere acquittal in the criminal case would not entail a claim for suo-motu appointment,” it said.
Citing several decisions of the apex court over the issue, the police had contended that what would be relevant was the conduct and character of the candidate to be appointed to a service and not the actual result in the criminal case.
It had said the decision regarding cancellation has been taken after a very careful consideration by a high powered screening committee constituted by the police commissioner.
Dahiya had submitted that once a person was acquitted, the stigma from the criminal case was also obliterated. He claimed that the police had exceeded its jurisdiction in cancelling his candidature after he was acquitted by the court.
The Tribunal, however, refused relief to Dahiya as it found no justification to interfere with the decision of Delhi Police cancelling his candidature.