LEGAL NEWS 11.12.2008

PCMC to raze corporator’s illegal buildings
10 Dec 2008, 0524 hrs IST, TNN
PUNE: The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has decided to demolish the unauthorised constructions built by NCP corporator Surdas Gaikwad in Phugewadi. Subhash Dumbre, additional commissioner, PCMC, told reporters that the structures would be demolished soon after securing police protection. Padminiraje Mohite, who contested the civic election against Gaikwad, had filed a PIL in the Bombay high court against Gaikwad and his family members in the matter. The illegal constructions have come up on a piece of land which is reserved for a primary school in Phugewadi. The high court had directed the PCMC commissioner to submit an affidavit on December 10, about the action taken by the PCMC in the matter. Dumbre said, “I will represent the municipal commissioner in the high court and file an affidavit as the commissioner is out of station.” When contacted, Gaikwad said, “The court case is against my family members (brothers). It is regarding unauthorised construction on reserved land.” He refused to comment further. Civic officials said that the Bhosari police were not in position to provide protection for the demolition work as they were busy with President Pratibha Patil’s visit to the city this week. The police have said that they can now provide protection on December 11.

SC reserves verdict on courts’ power to order CBI probe
11 Dec 2008, 1839 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on the validity of the powers of High Courts and apex court to order CBI probes in sensitive cases. A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan would decide whether the probe by the central agency could be ordered on getting the nod of the concerned state government or the higher courts on their own can direct such probe when the case is brought before them. The Centre has supported the view that there was no restriction on High Courts and apex court to order a CBI probe into sensitive cases having national and international ramification under Articles 226 and 32 of the Constitution. Solicitor General G E Vahanvati stressed that such power has been with the courts to protect the fundamental rights of citizens. He had submitted that though the apex court judgements in the past had said that courts should exercise the power to order CBI probe “sparingly”, “there is no restriction, particularly in cases of sensitive nature and those having national and international ramification”. “To show that there is a restriction on powers of courts it has to be shown that there is such an expression. That is not there under Article 226 and 32,” he said before the Bench, also comprising Justices R V Raveendran, D K Jain, P Sathasivam and J M Panchal. West Bengal government had contended that vesting of such power with the apex court or High Courts would affect the federal structure of the Constitution, which has been opposed by the Centre.

Madras HC dismisses PIL against minister in land grabbing case
The Madras High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed against Tamil Nadu Minister Veerapandi S Arumugam in connection with a land grabbing case in his home town Salem.Dismissing the petition, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justices A K Ganguly and K Chandru, said there was no prima facie to accuse the minister in the alleged land grabbing issue. The bench also accepted the inquiry report filed by the Superintendent of Police (SP) Salem.The PIL, filed by Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) All India General Secretary S Manokaran submitted that 31 slum dwellers of the Angammal colony, Salem, were forcibly evicted by the minister and his henchmen and grabbed the land.While admitting the petition, the bench directed the SP Salem to inquire into the allegation and file a detailed report.When the matter came up for hearing on December 8, the bench refused to grant time to the petitioner’s counsel to file the rejoinder to the counter affidavit, which was filed by the minister two months back.The bench said though enough time has been given to the petitioner and his counsel to file their rejoinder, they did not do so and hence further time could not be given and the bench reserved orders to December 15.After the Bakrid holiday yesterday, this morning, the bench took up the case as first item and dismissed the petition.It may be recalled that the Minister was admitted in the ICU of Apollo Hospital last month for his ailment and he is taking treatment there. While he was admitted to the hospital, he was holding Agriculture portfolio. After he was admitted in the hospital, on the advice of the Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, the Governor Surjit Singh Barnala divested his portfolio to Transport Minister K N Nehru. Mr Arumugam is continuing as a minister without portfolio.Yesterday, Mr M Karunanidhi, called on Arumugam in the hospital and enquired about his health with the doctors.UNI

Madras HC reserves order on land grabbing case for Dec 15
The Madras High Court reserved orders for December 15 on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against Tamil Nadu Minister Veerapandi S Arumugam in connection with a land grabbing case in his home town of Salem.When the case came up for hearing, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice A K Ganguly and Mr Justice K Chandru, refused to grant time to the petitioners to file their rejoinder to the counter affidavit, which was filed by the Minister two months back.The Bench said though enough time has been given to the petitioners to file their rejoinder, they did not do so and hence further time could not be given. The Bench also rejected the petitioners plea to file an impleading petition by the people, who were said to be affected in the alleged land grabbing by the Minister.Earlier, Mr N Jothi, counsel for the Minister, submitted that the PIL filed by Indian Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL) All India General Secretary S Manokaran was aimed at tarnishing the image of the Minister.Submitting that the petitioner was not directly connected with the people who were allegedly affected in the case, Mr Jothi contended that Mr Arumugam was not involved in the alleged grabbing of land in Angammal colony in Salem, where 31 families were leaving, and denied that the Minister had misused his office to forcibly evict the occupants. Mr Jothi also submitted that the Salem City Police Commissioner, as per the directions of the court, had in his inquiry report clearly stated that there was no illegal eviction of Angammal colony residents and that the Minister was not involved in it. Contending that the petition was politically motivated and filed with the malafide intention of defaming the image of the Minister, Mr Jothi pleaded the Bench not to give any more time for the petitioner to file the rejoinder and wanted the case to dispose immediately.Despite repeated pleas by the petitioner’s counsel, the Bench said all the examinations were over and that it would pass the orders on December 15. UNI

Arrested terrorist Kasab remanded to police custody till Dec 24
11 Dec 2008, 1233 hrs IST, PTI
MUMBAI: Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive during the November 26 terror attacks, was on Thursday remanded in police custody till December 24 by a court here for his alleged involvement in the killing of ATS chief Hemant Karkare and two other senior police officers. ( Watch ) Due to security concerns, Ajmal was not produced in a regular court and a magistrate and a public prosecutor were taken to the police lock-up, where the terrorist was lodged. “When asked by the magistrate if he had any complaints against the police, Ajmal said he had none,” Additional Public Prosecutor Eknath Dhumal said referring to the remand proceeedings. Following brief arguments regarding his custody, the terrorist, who has not yet obtained any legal representation, was sent to police custody for 14 days. Kasab and terrorist Ismail Khan, who was killed in a shootout with the police, had allegedly ambushed and killed six policemen, including Karkare, Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Salaskar, on November 26 night The police have registered 12 terror cases in connection with the November 26 strikes in the city that left more than 180 people dead and over 200 injured. Kasab, who hails from Pakistan, has been booked under various charges, including waging war against India, murder, attempt to murder and sections of the Arms Act and Explosives Act. The only one in the group of 10 terrorists who attacked Mumbai to be arrested alive, Kasab has been kept in an undisclosed location since his arrest on November 26-27 in south Mumbai. The city Crime Branch, which has Kasab’s custody, had requested the magistrate to hear the remand application in the police lock-up due to security concerns with regard to his production in an open court.

40m joined ranks of hungry this year: UN
11 Dec 2008, 0310 hrs IST, Amit Bhattacharya, TNN
NEW DELHI: More than 40 million people joined the ranks of the chronically hungry in 2008, taking the world further away from its millennium goal of reducing hunger by 2015, according to preliminary data released by UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization on Tuesday. There are now an estimated 121 million more hungry people in the world than there were in 1990-92, the base year on which the goal of halving the number of the hungry was based. FAO’s latest report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008, attributes the surge mainly to the world food crisis which led to an unprecedented rise in prices from late 2006 to the first half of 2008. Though there has been a sharp drop in foodgrain prices since then — cereals are now more than 50% cheaper from their peak prices earlier in 2008 — the FAO Food Price Index was still 28% higher in October 2008 compared to October 2006. And, with the global financial crisis showing no signs of abating, the ranks of the hungry are only expected to swell further, FAO says. According to a release accompanying the report, the number of the world’s chronically hungry currently stands at 963 million. Through 2006-07, when food prices began to rise steadily, 75 million people were added to the ranks of the undernourished, the report says. It adds that till 2005, the world had been making progress in reducing the share of hungry people. The percentage of the undernourished in world population had reduced from 20% in 1990-92 to 18% in 1995-97 to just above 16% in 2003-05. But since then, the food and financial crises have taken the proportion of the hungry back to around 17%. The developing countries account for more than 93% (901 million out of 963 million) of the world’s hungry, the report says. Out of these, 65% are from seven countries alone — India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Congo, Indonesia, and Ethiopia. The report says these countries are key to fighting poverty and malnutrition. India is home to the largest number of hungry people in the world, accounting for more than 20% of the total. According to international anti-poverty agency ActionAid, another food crisis could hit the world in late 2009 or early 2010. The agency says, due to fluctuating food prices and a squeeze on inputs and credits, farmers in developing countries are not planting enough to satisfy demand once economies begin to recover.

Legalizing homosexuality can increase HIV/AIDS cases
Submitted by Piyush Diwan on Wed, 12/10/2008 – 06:17.
Different people have different views regarding homosexuality. According to Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, homosexuality is an offence and person indulging in such act can be given life imprisonment. Gay rights activists filed a PIL to seek the court’s direction to decriminalise gay sex among consenting adults in private.
The Centre pleaded that giving homosexuality a legal status will lead to an increase number in HIV/AIDS as it is one of the main reasons for spread of HIV/AIDS. In a written submission filed by Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra, the Centre placed reports of various countries to substantiate its stand.
The centre said, “In Bangkok, HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men rose from 17% in 2003 to 28% in 2005 and it is estimated that as many as 21% new HIV infections in Thailand in 2005 were attributable to unprotected sex between men. In Zambia, one in three (33%) surveyed men who have sex with men tested HIV-positive. In the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, 43% of men who said they had sex only with other men were found to be living with HIV.”

CBI tells SC: Reprieve to Mulayam under govt orders
11 Dec 2008, 0023 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra , TNN
NEW DELHI: The CBI’s attempt to safeguard its image as a professional and regime-neutral agency suffered a body blow as it conceded before the Supreme Court that its latest move to give a reprieve to Mulayam Singh Yadav, the SP chief and a key ally of the ruling UPA coalition, was primarily because of a direction from the Centre. This disclosure was made by the premier investigating agency in its latest application, seeking to withdraw its earlier plea requesting the apex court’s permission to lodge a regular case against Yadav and his kin on charges of amassing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. Seeking to withdraw the plea, CBI said: “Representations were received from respondents (Yadav & Co) and legal advice was sought. In view of the legal advice and directions of the Union of India, the interlocutory application filed by CBI may be allowed to be withdrawn.” The Centre had virtually celebrated when the SC on March 1, 2007, ordered a preliminary probe by CBI into the alleged disproportionate wealth of Yadav and his relatives mentioned in a PIL filed by one Vishwanath Chaturvedi. But after the change in the political equation when Congress was forced to take SP’s support following the Left pullout over the nuclear deal, the scenario changed completely for the investigating agency. The CBI wanted a fresh look at the evidence collected by it by seeking legal opinion on it. Finally, a direction from the Union government made the agency take a U-turn on its earlier fiercely independent assessment of the case. Interestingly, in this very case, the CBI had earlier told the apex court that it did not take directives from the central or state governments. It declared its autonomy when the SC, while allowing CBI’s plea to probe the assets of SP boss and his kin, directed the agency to place the inquiry report before the Centre for appropriate action, instead of giving the agency the freedom to take the preliminary investigation to its logical conclusion. After conducting the requisite probe, CBI moved the Supreme Court with an application on October 26, 2007, saying, “In the matter of registration of a case, the CBI does not make a reference either to the central government or the state government.” By expressing its desire to place the status report of the probe before the Supreme Court rather than the Centre, the CBI attempted to drive home a point that it did not take orders from political masters in matters of investigation. It urged the SC to “pass an order/direction permitting the CBI to proceed further in the matter in accordance with law without any further reference to the Union government or the state government”, to build up its image as an independent agency.

One case, 2 rulings: Accused goes free
11 Dec 2008, 0921 hrs IST, M Sagar Kumar, TNN
HYDERABAD: An appeal by a man charged with dowry harassment and the murder of his wife was heard by two division benches of the Andhra Pradesh high court almost concurrently. While one bench held him guilty on both counts, the other acquitted him on the charge of murder. And as legal circles pondered the quirkiness of the ruling, the man walked out free. Hymad Pasha’s strange tryst with justice began when his father-in-law went to the Bhainsa police station in Adilabad on April 13, 2003, and lodged a complaint against him, accusing Pasha of killing his daughter Rayeesa Begum. “I gave him my daughter, Rs 15,000 cash as dowry, gold ornaments and household articles and performed the marriage on April 17, 2000,” the father’s complaint said. Fifteen days into the marriage, Hymad began harassing his wife for more dowry. Although two more demands of Rs 3,000 each were met, the third for Rs 10,000 couldn’t be met. On April 13, 2003, the father said he got a call from Hymad’s house, saying Rayeesa was dead. As per rules in the unnatural death of the wife within seven years of marriage, a postmortem was conducted and Hymad was charged with dowry harassment and murder of his wife. The Adilabad trial court held Hymad responsible for the death of his wife and, in 2006, sentenced him to life imprisonment for murder and fined him Rs 1,000. The court also sentenced him to another three years’ of imprisonment and fined Rs 500 for harassing his wife for additional dowry. After the trial court verdict, Hymad was sent to Cherlapalli central jail on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Hymad’s relatives then approached S Surendar Reddy, a Hyderabad-based lawyer, and got a criminal appeal filed in 2006 in the HC against the trial court verdict. Around the same time, Hymad, too, wrote a letter to HC authorities seeking help in engaging the services of an advocate for appealing against the trial court judgment. The HC, through its legal aid wing, allotted advocate Shanti Neelam to argue his case. While the appeal by Hymad’s relatives went to a two-member division bench, comprising Justice A Gopal Reddy and Justice B Seshasayana Reddy, Hymad’s own plea went to another two-member bench of Justice D S R Verma and Justice K C Bhanu. The verdict on the relatives’ appeal holding Hymad guilty on both counts was given on March 7, 2008, while the judgment on Hymad’s plea acquitting him for the murder was delivered on September 29, 2008. Based on the second judgment, Hymad was released from the Cherlapalli jail on October 1 this year. He is now untraceable. Chief Justice Anil R Dave of the HC has reportedly ordered a probe into the case, which has sparked an uproar among legal luminaries. “Never in the history of the AP high court has such a thing happened. In my view, in matters such as this, the second judgment would be annulled,” said Jandhyala Ravishankar, counsel for the AP legislative secretariat. But Nagisetty Vidya Prasad, ex-district and sessions judge, said there was no solution to such a case in the Indian jurisprudence and that this can only be solved by the legislature amending certain provisions of the law.

Police can keep Kasav for a longer time
11 Dec 2008, 0144 hrs IST, Kartikeya , TNN
MUMBAI: Arrested Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasav will complete two weeks in the custody of Mumbai Police on Thuesday. Though he has been booked under ordinary laws such as the IPC, the Arms Act and the Explosives Act where cops are allowed a maximum of 14 days to interrogate a suspect Kasav’s interrogation is unlikely to end any time soon. This is so because the crime branch has taken care to book him in a dozen cases and in each one of them it reserves the right to have his custody for 14 days. Kasav will be produced before a magistrate on Thursday when his custody in the CST firing case registered with the Azad Nagar police station ends. In most likelihood, police will plead before the magistrate to hand him over to the crime branch again in connection with any one of the 11 other cases. By using this tactic, police can technically hold Kasav for another 164 days or more than five months if the court accedes to its plea. Kasav represents a rare instance when a terrorist, who was on a suicide mission, has been caught alive. All his nine other aides were gunned down by security forces. So Kasav is a vital source of information on who his mentors are, how he was trained and indoctrinated and what is the organisational structure of his handlers in Pakistan. Thus police would need more time to not just interrogate him but also conduct scientific tests such as brain mapping and narco-analysis to get to the bottom of what all that he knows. It is only under special laws such as the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) that police get 30 days to interrogate an accused and six months to file a chargesheet. But MCOCA has not been applied in the case and cops are currently armed only with conventional laws, meant for ordinary criminals, to deal with Kasab. “Reports suggest that terrorists trained for a long time before executing the attacks. Clearly, the arrested terrorist must be holding a lot of information which cannot be gleaned from him in just two weeks. Moreover, it is not just Mumbai Police but a number of other security agencies will also want to question him according to their own expertise and information,” said an intelligence officer. “Also, a terrorist is trained to dodge questions and hide information for long, so that you need to question him really intensively, which again is time consuming,” he added. In the two weeks that the crime branch has had Kasab in its custody, it has had to share its time to grill him with central agencies such as Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing as well as international sleuths from FBI and security agents from Israel. No lawyer for Kasab Chances are that when arrested Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab is produced before a magistrate on Thursday he will have no lawyer representing him in court. This was the case during his first remand on November 27 just a day after the terror attack started and since then no advocate has come forward to defend him. It was the magistrate who had asked Kasab whether he had any complaints against police or if he had been tortured before he was produced in court and Kasab had replied in the negative.

Two Indian sailors convicted in S Korea
11 Dec 2008, 0155 hrs IST, Mansi Choksi & T K Rohit, TNN
MUMBAI/CHENNAI: Two Indian sailors have been convicted for the leakage of 10,800 tonnes of oil after a ship collided with theirs off the coast of South Korea. National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) has been maintaining the ship, Hebei Spirit, was at anchorage when the collision occurred. The captain of Hebei Spirit, Jasprit Chawla, was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in jail and chief officer Shyam Chetan was given eight months in jail by a South Korean court. “A tug-towed crane barge owned by Samsung Heavy Industries collided with the ship which was at safe anchorage. The collision punctured three of the five tanks of the ship and resulted in the oil spill. Captain Chawla and chief officer Chetan were then detained in December last year in South Korea. Despite being proved innocent on June 23 by the court, the matter went to appeal and the judgment was delivered on Wednesday,” NUSI general secretary-cum-treasurer Abdulgani Y Serang said, adding there was an outrage in the shipping fraternity. “We had asked the Indian government to intervene because this was yet another example of criminalisation of seafarers. Innocent seafarers are being made scapegoats for honestly carrying out their duties,” he said. The shipping fraternity, including NUSI, the Maritime Union of India (MUI) and Foreign Owners Representatives and Shipmanagers Association (FOSMA) met Korean consul-general Dong Yern Kim on Wednesday. “We wanted to make him aware that the whole world was watching the developments of the case. But, immediately after the meeting, the bad news followed and we were informed about the judgment and that both the officers were taken into custody after the sentence,” said Serang. He warned that there would be a definitive reaction from the Indian shipping fraternity. “The government of India has to act immediately to safeguard the rights of the Indian seafarers who have been treated unfairly and unjustly,” he said. The court held that the Captain did not do enough to prevent the oil spill, including failing to go full astern to drag the anchor, while the chief officer was found to have been insufficiently vigilant.

HC commutes Bihar ex-MP’s death sentence to life
11 Dec 2008, 0222 hrs IST, Ravi Dayal, TNN
PATNA: In a major reprieve to former MP Anand Mohan, the Patna High Court on Wednesday commuted the death sentence awarded to him in the Gopalganj DM G Krishnaiah murder case to life term. A division bench comprising Justice Shivakirti Singh and Justice Mahfooz Alam also acquitted six others including former MLAs Akhlaque Ahmad and Arun Kumar Sinha, Anand’s wife and former MP Lovely Anand, Lalganj MLA Munna Shukla, Harendra Kumar and Shashi Bhushan Thakur. While Akhlaque and Arun had been awarded capital punishment, the four others had been sentenced to life by the trial court of Patna additional district and sessions judge Ram Shrestha Rai on October 4 last year. Krishnaiah, a young IAS officer, was on way back to Gopalganj from Hajipur on December 5, 1994 when participants in the funeral procession of Chhotan Shukla, a criminal, intercepted his vehicle at Khabra village, near Muzaffarpur. According to the prosecution, Chhotan had been killed in an encounter, and the mourners — Anand and others — incited Chhotan’s brother Bhutkun to shoot Krishnaiah as he was part of the government that killed Chhotan. Giving its judgment on the convicts’ criminal appeals, the HC bench observed that Anand had himself not murdered the officer and, as such, did not merit death sentence. Acquitting the other accused, the HC observed that the prosecution failed to establish the charges of murder against them “beyond reasonable doubt”. Defence counsel Surendra Singh and others submitted that the accusation was concocted and politically motivated as the accused were opposed to the party in power in the state at the time of the incident. On behalf of the prosecution, additional public prosecutor Shyameshwar Dayal submitted that the accused had unlawfully assembled at Khabra and gave fiery speeches against the government. When Krishnaiah reached Khabra Chowk, the accused incited Bhutkun to kill him, he added. Bhutkun was also killed in an encounter later.

FIA not enough, BJP wants terror law too
11 Dec 2008, 0249 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Its `soft-on-terror’ charge against Congress may not have worked at the hustings, but the BJP has refused to relax its insistence on a special anti-terror law. BJP has indicated to the government that it will insist on the proposal for a federal investigating agency being accompanied by an anti-terror law if the legislation to set up the agency is to enjoy bi-partisan support in Parliament. Consultations between foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee and BJP saw the Opposition party stressing that while it is in favour of terrorism being declared a federal crime, a central agency would not be effective unless supported by relevant laws. While BJP has said so before, its position does not seem to be a bargaining chip or rhetoric. “We want an anti-terror law. It should have penal provisions. It should not be merely to do with detention. Government can call this law by whatever name it chooses but it is necessary,” said senior BJP sources familiar with the discussions with the government. BJP’s intent seems to be ensure that a part of its agenda is accepted by the government. Perhaps keenly aware, after Monday’s elections results, that it needs to hone its message on terrorism, BJP is looking to share the honours with the government over the FIA proposal by arguing that unless there were laws to try terrorists, a new agency would not be effective. These laws would need to deal with admissibility of evidence and strict sentences. Home minister P Chidambaram has been touch with Leader of Opposition L K Advani who has given a conditional go-ahead for the FIA proposal and also asked the minister to regularly brief former law minister Arun Jaitley about the proposed law. BJP will will take a close look at the FIA Bill and also see what the government is doing on anti-terror laws as well. BJP’s insistence could create some difficulties for the government though it has been considering introducing provisions like making tapping of phones more liberal and extending the time period before permission to do so isrenewed. Government has been considering amending the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), a law that now deals with terrorism since the repeal of POTA. The government has shown a greater sense of urgency since the Mumbai attacks to strengthen investigation, intelligence gathering and prosecution of terror crimes, but it will not be easy for it to accept changes in the law that allow admission of confessions as evidence or tough sentences. Despite having invoked MCOCA, which has precisely such provisions, in the Indian Mujahideen and Malegaon cases, government will not find it easy to do so at the Centre. The government can push ahead on its own, but this could test its support on the floor and require careful mobilisation. BJP is no position to challenge the numbers after the desertions from its ranks during the July trust vote, but the government’s floor managers would not like to be put to test. Besides getting the BJP on board helps the government to get smaller parties to back the FIA at a time when it feels the Mumbai attacks can help overcome reluctance of regional parties to law and order powers of states being trimmed.

Blow hot, blow cold: consumer forum asks Railways to compensate man for ineffective heating on train–blow-cold–consumer-forum-asks-Railways-to-compensate-man-for-ineffective-heating-on-train/396392/
Ayesha Arvind Posted: Dec 10, 2008 at 0122 hrs IST
New Delhi: Ever travelled in an air-conditioned railway coach that gets too cold for comfort? The problem of excessive air-conditioning is not uncommon and the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, in a recent order, has taken the Railways to task for this.
Acting on a complaint filed by Sharat Chandra Agarwal, a resident of the Rani Bagh area, the forum has directed the Railways board here to pay a sum of Rs 20,000 as compensation to him for “ineffective heating” in a train he was travelling in.
Noting that the authorities were under an “obligation to provide a comfortable journey for which they had received consideration”, the consumer forum ruled that ineffective heating was a “deficiency in service” on their part.
The complaint states that in January this year, Agarwal (71) was travelling along with his wife from Hyderabad to New Delhi in an a/c coach in the Andhra Pradesh Express. The heating in the coach was ineffective and the low temperature in the compartment made the journey uncomfortable for most passengers, he said. “All the passengers were shivering,” Agarwal stated in his complaint.
The authorities, however, contended that due to low occupancy, the coach was marginally cooler. They argued that the comfort range of the air-conditioning system varied from person to person and on that day, the temperature of the coach was “within the comfort range”.
“There were other passengers in the coach and we maintained the temperature to suit everyone travelling therein,” they contended.
The forum, however, ruled that the complainant “suffered physical discomfort during the long journey due to deficiency on part of the Railways, which did not provide services undertaken to be provided”.
It observed that Agarwal deserved to be compensated for the inconvenience suffered during his journey as well as for the “mental agony and stress” suffered during the proceedings.

SC seeks evidence against Baalu from TV channels
11 Dec 2008, 0133 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Fresh trouble seems to be brewing for Union transport minister T R Baalu over his alleged contemptuous speech on October 1, 2007, when a Tamil Nadu bandh was called by the ruling DMK coalition to protest against the apex court’s interim order staying dredging of the Ram Sethu. On a contempt petition filed by rival political party AIADMK, the apex court had issued notices to Baalu and others as it was alleged that the speech was made during the bandh, which was observed in total defiance of the September 30, 2007 order banning all kinds of political activities that could paralyse life in the state. On Wednesday, AIADMK counsel Guru Krishan Kumar requested a Bench comprising Justices B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi that the court should seek original recordings of Baalu’s speech from TV news channels. “This will certainly prove the allegations made by AIADMK,” he said. Baalu’s counsel senior advocate M N Rao objected to this saying the court should not summon material before deciding the maintainability of the petition filed by AIADMK. He said it was liable to be dismissed as no contempt petition could be filed in the apex court by private parties without first obtaining consent from the Attorney General, a mandatory requirement which was not met by AIADMK, he said. Brushing aside the objections, the Bench issued notices to two TV news channels seeking the original recordings of the speech delivered by the Union minister at Chennai on October 1, 2007, a day after the SC had banned the bandh, again on AIADMK’s petition. “From the press reports about the speech, it appears to be a serious matter. If what is alleged is correct, then it is very serious,” the Bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on January 21. The Supreme Court had on September 30 last year, acting on a petition filed by AIADMK, restrained all political parties from going ahead with the October 1 bandh called by DMK to protest against stalling of the Sethu Samudram Project. It had warned that as long as the 1998 apex court judgment was in operation, no political party could call for a bandh as it inconvenienced people.

2,000 kids die every day because of accidental injuries: WHO
11 Dec 2008, 0043 hrs IST, Kounteya Sinha, TNN
NEW DELHI: Injury — unintentional or because of accidents — has become the world’s latest epidemic to affect children. In the first comprehensive global assessment of unintentional childhood injuries, WHO has made a chilling revelation — 8.3 lakh children are dying every year across the world to such preventable injuries. According to the report, car crashes, drowning, burn injuries, petty falls and poisoning together kill 2,000 children every day. Road crashes have been found to be the biggest killers with 2.6 lakh children dying of it every year and another 10 million getting injured. They are also the leading cause of death among 10-19-year-olds and a leading cause of child disability. Episodes of drowning is also common in under five-year-olds, killing 1.75 lakh children every year, almost 480 lives every day. Three million children, however, survive a drowning incident. Fire-related burns kill nearly 96,000 children a year and the death rate is 11 times higher in low- and middle-income countries. A simple fall has also been found to be fatal. Nearly 47,000 children — 130 every day — fall to their death every year, but hundreds of thousands more, sustain less serious injuries from a fall. According to the report, 66% of fatal falls are the result of falls from a height. Unintended poisoning too has been identified as a major killer with over 45,000 children dying each year of it. “Child injuries are an important public health concern. The cost of treatment can throw an entire family into poverty. Children in poorer families are at increased risk of injury because they are less likely to benefit from prevention programmes,” said WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan. UNICEF executive director Ann M Veneman added: “This report shows that unintentional injuries are the leading cause of childhood death after the age of nine years and that 95% of these child injuries occur in developing countries. More must be done to prevent such harm to children.” “Improvements can be made in all countries,” said Dr Etienne Krug, director of WHO’s department of violence and injury prevention and disability. “When a child is left disfigured by a burn, paralyzed by a fall, brain damaged by a near drowning or emotionally traumatized by any such serious incident, the effects can reverberate through the child’s life. Each such tragedy is unnecessary. We have enough evidence about what works.” According to WHO, a known set of prevention programmes should be implemented in all countries. These measures include laws on child-appropriate seatbelts and helmets, hot tap water temperature regulations, child-resistant closures on medicine bottles, lighters and household product containers, separate traffic lanes for motorcycles or bicycles, draining unnecessary water from baths and buckets, redesigning nursery furniture, toys and playground equipment, strengthening emergency medical care and rehabilitation services. WHO has also identified approaches that should be avoided or are not backed by sufficient evidence to recommend them. It says that blister packaging for tablets may not be child resistant, that airbags in the front seat of a car could be harmful to children under 13 years, that butter, sugar and oil should not be used on burns and that public education campaigns on their own don’t reduce rates of drowning.

No restriction on SC and HCs to order CBI probe: Centre
11 Dec 2008, 0039 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: When violations of fundamental rights of the citizens come to the notice of the Supreme Court or the high courts, no statutory provision could fetter them from ordering a CBI probe into the incidents, the Centre told the apex court on Wednesday. While requesting the apex court to lay down guidelines on this contentious issue, Solicitor General G E Vahanvati said the statutory provision barring the Centre from ordering a CBI probe into an incident in a state without the latter’s prior consent did not apply to the higher judiciary. Putting forth the Centre’s unusually frank views before a constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran, D K Jain, P Sathasivam and J M Panchal, Vahanvati said if the SC and the HCs did not have the power to order an impartial probe by an independent agency, then where would a commoner go if in a given case the state was the violator of fundamental right. However, he was quick to put in a caveat. The discretion to order a CBI probe into an incident should be exercised sparingly and in exceptional circumstances, the SG said and cited several judgments of the apex court frowning upon HCs referring cases to an already overburdened CBI. And no CBI probe should be ordered by either the SC or HCs unless they were satisfied that a prima facie case was made out to suspect blatant violation of the fundamental right of citizens, he said. The Centre supported the order of the Calcutta HC directing a CBI probe into the death of 11 Trinamool Congress workers allegedly at the hands of ruling party activists in West Bengal.

Indian companies prefer to bribe low-level officials: Survey
11 Dec 2008, 0039 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Companies in India prefer to bribe low-level public officials to “speed things up” which has a higher result than bribing political parties or using personal relationships to get things done. Around 30% of respondents, surveyed by Transparency International, indicated that companies from India are likely to bribe low-level public officials to speed things up, which gave a higher result than the other two types of foreign bribery assessed. The other types of bribery assessed were bribery of high-ranking politicians or political parties and the use of personal or familiar relationships to win public contracts. The report `Bribe Payers Survey’ rates India amongst the worst five corrupt countries along with Russia and China. Even amongst sectors, companies involved in public works, construction, real estate, property development, oil and gas, heavy manufacturing and mining were seen to bribe officials most frequently. The findings of the 2008 BPI and the sectoral rankings show that many of the world’s most influential economies, and some key industrial sectors, continue to be viewed as greatly compromised by international corruption. According to senior business executives interviewed around the world, companies from Belgium and Canada were least likely to engage in bribery when operating abroad. These two countries are followed closely by the Netherlands and Switzerland. At the other end of the spectrum, respondents ranked companies from Russia as those most likely to engage in bribery when doing business abroad. In the 26 countries where the Bribe Payers Survey was carried out, two-thirds of senior business executives surveyed expressed the view that governments are ineffective in the fight against corruption. This result shows that senior representatives of the business community in many countries do not feel that governments are adequately addressing the issue of bribery and corruption.

Acquittal by trial court carries a lot of weight: SC
11 Dec 2008, 0001 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: In the long and tortuous three-tier litigation system in India, what is the value of a trial court order acquitting an accused when the state has the option of appealing against it before the high court and then in the Supreme Court? Quite a lot, answered the Supreme Court through a recent judgment. The clean chit given by the trial court provides a “double presumption” of innocence in favour of the accused, said a three-judge Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat. “First, the presumption of innocence is available to him (the accused) under the fundamental principle of criminal jurisprudence that every person shall be presumed to be innocent unless he is proved guilty by a competent court of law. Secondly, the accused having secured his acquittal, the presumption of his innocence is further reinforced, reaffirmed and strengthened by the trial court,” said Justice Pasayat, writing the judgment for the Bench. But, this was not to bar the appellate courts — the HC or the SC — from reappreciating the evidence and, if necessary, quashing the acquittal if evidence was found sufficient for the purpose, the Bench said. “An appellate court has full power to review, reappreciate and reconsider the evidence upon which the order of acquittal is founded,” it said. After such reappreciation, if there were two possible views — one favouring the acquittal as had already been recorded by the trial court and the other pointing towards his guilt — then the appellate court should go with the trial court’s finding. “If two reasonable conclusions are possible on the basis of the evidence on record, the appellate court should not disturb the finding of the acquittal recorded by the trial court,” the Bench said.

Bihar minister accused of hit-and-run
10 Dec 2008, 1956 hrs IST, PTI
GAYA: Bihar minister Anil Kumar was on Wednesday accused of causing the death of a four-year-old girl due to rash driving in Gaya. He, however, denied the charge and demanded a thorough probe into the incident. According to an FIR lodged by the officer in-charge of Tekari police station, Ram Bhajan Chaudhary, based on the statements of eyewitnesses, Sweety Kumari was crushed to death by an “unidentified beacon-fitted” car near Mahimapur village on Tekari-Alipur road on Tuesday evening. The FIR was lodged under sections 279 (rash driving or riding on a public way) and 304(a) (causing death by negligence). The victim’s father Dilip Yadav, however, alleged that Anil Kumar, who is minister of state for information and technology in Nitish Kumar government, was driving the vehicle in an inebriated state and ran over his daughter. “Her (Sweety’s) father made a statement on Wednesday accusing the minister of driving his Scorpio jeep in inebriated state leading to the death of her daughter and demanded a compensation of Rs five lakh,” Deputy Superintendent of Police, Tekari, Harishanker Kumar said. The statement of girl’s father has been tagged to the FIR, he said. Denying the hit-and-run charge, the minister, however, claimed that he had passed the area hour-and-a-half before the accident and accused the family of falsely implicating him in the case at the behest of his political rivals. Shiv Bachan Yadav, former RJD MLA from Koch, the constituency now represented by Anil Kumar, along with scores of local people blocked the Tekari-Alipur road with the body of the child for more than nine hours last evening, demanding arrest of the minister and adequate compensation for the family.

CBI lists evidence in Sister Abhaya murder case
10 Dec 2008, 1946 hrs IST, PTI
KOCHI: In fresh revelations in the Sister Abhaya murder case, the CBI on Wednesday said it had evidence that a senior police officer had put “immense pressure” on a former policeman, who recently committed suicide, to “manipulate” records in the sister Abhaya case. CBI counsel M V S Namboodiri told the High Court, which was hearing the bail plea of the three accused, that there was sufficient evidence – oral and circumstantial against Father Thomas Kottur, Father Jose Puthrikayil and sister Sephi, who were arrested by CBI last month in connection with the 16-year-old case. Abhaya’s body was found in the well of the ST Pius convent at Kottayam in 1992. Three priests– A V Michael, Thomas Thzeppilly and T Jose – had informed the CBI that they had seen the two priests “roaming” near the St Pius convent, of which sister Abhaya was an inmate, the counsel claimed. They had also stated that “Abhaya had witnessed sexual act of the two priests with a lady partner and this had been corroborated in the narco analysis test”, he said. Evidence of K K Varghese, who took the photographs of Abhaya after her body was pulled out from the well, revealed that there were injuries on her neck, he said. The counsel said that it also had evidence to show that Assistant Sub-inspector V V Augustine, who was the first reach the convent after Abhaya’ death was reported and committed suicide about two weeks back, faced “immense pressure” from a senior police officer to “manipulate” records in the case. The court had sought the details when petitions by the three accused seeking bail came up before the court. The High Court had said that an “unseen” hand was at work to “jettison the truth” when it ordered CBI to hand over the case to its Kochi unit in September.

Deny safe haven and bring terrorists to justice – Security Council
United Nations, (IANS): Expressing deep concern over continuous terrorist attacks around the world, the UN Security Council has underlined the need to strengthen existing mechanisms and cooperation for a joint fight against terrorism.
This is essential to find, deny safe haven and bring to justice any person who supported, facilitated or participated in the financing, planning, preparation or commission of terrorist acts, the Security Council said in a presidential statement Tuesday afternoon.
The statement, read by Croatian President Stjepan Mesic, was issued following a daylong debate on ‘Threats to international peace and security cause by terrorists’. All members of the Security Council unanimously condemned the horrific terrorist attack in Mumbai last month, which killed 179 people, including 26 foreign nationals.
Croatia is the president of the Security Council for the month of December. The presidency of this powerful UN body rotates among its 15 members every month.
The presidential statement condemned in the strongest terms the incitement of terrorist acts and repudiated attempts at the justification or glorification of such acts. It reaffirmed the importance of countering radicalisation and the exploitation of young people by violent extremists.
The Mumbai terror attack dominated the proceedings of the Security Council Tuesday with almost all 46 speakers condemning the 60-hour siege of India’s financial capital.
Addressing the meeting, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said combating the global scourge must be one of the international community’s main collective priorities.
The attack in Mumbai at the end of last month was an attack on us all, said British Ambassador to the UN John Sawers. We must all focus on helping the government of India in whatever ways we can to investigate these attacks and bring those responsible to justice.
The US reiterated that countries should deny safe haven to terrorists.
So did Russian Ambassasor Vitaly I. Churkin, who said it was important to expose and neutralise terrorist networks, to block financial flows and to eliminate safe havens.
Attacks in Mumbai had been evidence of the continuing threat of terrorism and a reminder of the collective responsibility of the international community in combating that threat, he said.
China’s Zhang Yesui said the alarming terrorist attacks that occurred in Mumbai underlined that terrorism was still a strong threat to international peace and security.
Indian Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed maintained that the terrorists were from Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Pakistan. He called for the Security Council and Pakistan to proscribe the LeT front Jamaat-ud-Dawa and urged that all those who were in any way responsible for the Mumbai attacks be brought to justice.
Croatian President Stejpan Mesic said events in Mumbai had confirmed in an extremely tragic way that terrorism was a global threat, rather than a threat affecting a particular country.

Legal Aid panel refuses to defend Ajmal
Mumbai (PTI): Close on the heels of the Bombay Metropolitan Magistrate Court’s Bar Association’s refusal to defend the lone terrorist captured during Mumbai terror attacks, lawyers from the Legal Aid Panel also followed suit.
Mohd Amir Ajmal, involved in the killing of three senior police officials, including ATS chief Hemant Karkare, is in police custody tillDecember 24.
Earlier, the resolution was passed by lawyers of the Bombay Metropolitan Magistrate Court’s Bar Association refusing to defend Ajmal.
Defense lawyer Dinesh Mota, senior most member of the Legal Aid Panel, was requested by Magistrate N N Shrimangale, who remanded Ajmal to police custody till December 24, to legally aid the arrested terrorist.
Mota, however, refused to appear for Ajmal citing ethical constraints. “My name was recommended by one of the magistrates in the Esplanade court following which magistrate Shrimangale asked me on Wednesday if I would appear for Ajmal,” Mota said.
Due to security concerns, Ajmal was not produced in a court and prior to regular court hours the Magistrate and a public prosecutor were taken to the police lock-up where the terrorist is being kept.
Ajmal and terrorist Ismail Khan, who was killed in a shootout with the police, had killed six policemen, including Karkare, Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Salaskar, on November 26 night.
The police have registered 12 offences in connection with the November 26 strikes in the city.

Ajmal not produced in court; in police custody till Dec. 24
Mumbai (PTI): Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman, the lone surviving terrorist involved in Mumbai attack, was on Thursday remanded in police custody for another two weeks till December 24 by a local court and the Pakistani national faced a dozen charges including waging war against the country and murder.
Due to security concerns, Ajmal was not produced in a court, and prior to regular court hours the Magistrate and a public prosecutor were taken to the police lock-up, where the terrorist is being lodged.
Ajmal and another terrorist Ismail Khan, who was killed in a shootout with the police, had ambushed and gunned down six policemen, including ATS chief Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte and Inspector Vijay Salaskar on the night of November 26 when ten terrorists laid a siege on Mumbai, the prosecution said.
“When asked by the Magistrate if he had any complaints against the police, Ajmal said he had none,” Additional Public Prosecutor Eknath Dhumal said.
Following brief arguments regarding custody, Ajmal, who has not yet obtained any legal representation, was sent in 14-day police remand.
The police in all have registered 12 offences in connection with the attacks that left 173 dead and over 200 injured.
Ajmal, who hails from Pakistan, was booked for charges including waging war against the nation, murder, attempt to murder and some relating to the Arms Act and Explosives Act.
The only one of the terrorist group of ten to be arrested alive, he has been kept in an undisclosed location since his arrest on November 26 in South Mumbai.
The city Crime Branch, which has Ajmal’s custody, had requested the magistrate to hear the remand application in the police lock-up due to security concerns over producing him in an open court.

Supreme Court refers entry tax issue to a larger bench
New Delhi (PTI): The Supreme Court has referred to a larger bench the issue related to state governments imposing entry tax on goods coming into their areas of jurisdiction.
Over 2,000 petitions filed by state governments and companies all over the country are pending before the apex court, having financial implications of Rs 30,000 crores.
A bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat referred the matter to a larger bench after high courts across the country viewed the tax matter differently and gave conflicting judgments on the issue.
ADAG firms, Reliance Industries, Procter & Gamble, ITC, Gillette India, and NTPC had challenged the Madhya Pradesh High Court decision upholding the state government’s right to levy tax on raw materials and packaging goods used in the manufacture of the finished products at rates higher than those prescribed under the Entry Tax Act.
The High Court had upheld the validity of the ‘Madhya Pradesh Sthaniya Kshetra Me Mal Ke Pravesh Par Kar Adhiniyam 1976 and 2006’ (Entry Tax Act) and the ‘(Sanshodhan) Adhiniyam, 2004’ on grounds that the levy, being “compensatory in nature”, was immune from the challenge.
But according to the companies, as the tax in question is ad valorem in nature, it cannot be compensatory because there can be no relation between the levy based on the value of goods coming into the state for consumption or use and the trading facilities purportedly proposed to be provided to traders.

Inquiry ordered into death of Onge tribesmen
Port Blair (PTI): An inquiry has been ordered on Thursday into the death of eight primitive Onge tribesmen at Dugong Creek in Andaman and Nicobar islands on the night of December 8.
“The inquiry would look into how the eight persons belonging to the tribe, whose number is fast dwindling, died and 15 others were taken ill after consuming a toxic chemical at Dugong Creek of the Little Andaman island,” Governor Bhopinder Singh told reporters in Port Blair.
The governor visited the G.B. Pant hospital where the ill were recuperating and talked to them.
Singh has directed the concerned authorities to enforce strict measures to ensure safety and security of the tribesmen.
A meeting was held at Raj Niwas in which measures were discussed to protect the primitive tribe from such incidents in future.
Singh instructed the police authorities to strictly comply with the convoy system on the ATR and ordered that any violation of the convoy system be dealt with strictly. Measures to close the ATR to the tourists in the near future to protect the Primitive Jarawa tribe were also discussed.
The tribesmen had drunk the chemical mistaking it to be alcohol on the night of December eight from a plastic can that was washed ashore from the Bay of Bengal at Dugong Creek.
According to official sources the population of Onge tribals, who numbered 672 in 1901, had come down to 100 recently.

UN awards Benazir Bhutto human rights prize
UNITED NATIONS (AP): The son of slain Pakistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto defended his mother’s human rights record on Wednesday after accepting a U.N. prize in her honour.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari accepted the United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights reading a prescient quotation from her autobiography that his mother had written before her Dec. 2007 assassination, saying she realized returning to her homeland could cost her life but did so because “democracy in Pakistan is not just important for Pakistanis it is important for the entire world.”
But at a press conference following the ceremony, Zardari also had to defend his mother’s human rights record during her two terms as prime minister from 1998-1990 and from 1993-1996, during which time Amnesty International documented hundreds of extra-judicial killings by government forces and the jailings of human right defenders, including journalists.
“My mother did everything humanly possible to ensure both democracy and human rights in Pakistan, her governments were undermined by rogue elements within the establishment at the time,” Zardari said. “It was not her who committed any of these crimes and she did everything she could to stop anything of this sort happening.”
Zardari, whose father is now Pakistan’s president acknowledged that many challenges remain in the area of human rights and that they will not likely get the attention they deserve in the face of problems with terrorism and the global economy.
And he urged Pakistani youth to reject extremist interpretations of Islam, which he defended as a religion of peace.
He also defended his decision to assume, together with his father, the helm of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party after his mother’s death, saying it had to be looked at in the context of what happened after she was killed.
“Had we not been able to calm the situation as much as possible, our country would not exist today,” Zardari said.
The U.N. prize is awarded every five years on Dec. 10 — the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, now 60 years old.
Other winners this year included former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark; slain U.S. nun and Amazon rain forest defender Dorothy Stang; the group Human Rights Watch; Dr. Carolyn Gomes, co-founder of Jamaicans for Justice; Dr. Denis Mukwege, who founded a hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo to treat victims of sexual violence; and Canadian human rights lawyer Louise Arbour.
Past winners have included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jimmy Carter, Amnesty International and Nelson Mandela.

23 Bangladeshis arrested for illegal fishing
Bhubaneswar (IANS): As many as 23 Bangladeshi fishermen were arrested for illegally fishing in the Indian waters of the Bay of Bengal, police said on Thursday.
“The men were fishing in the Indian sea, 160 nautical miles from the port town of Paradip in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur Wednesday evening,” deputy superintendent of police Chakradhar Mohapatra told IANS. Paradip is about 100 km from Bhubaneswar.
He said the Indian coast guard nabbed them and police have seized their fishing vessel ‘Sukul’.

Broken homes leave grandparents as silent sufferers: CRISP
Bangalore (PTI): A divorce not only wrecks havoc among the couple and separates children from their biological parents, but it also wrecks as much damage to the grandparent-grandchild relationship, denying many the right of access to the little ones, says Kumar Jahgirdar, President of the Children’s Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP).
Making an appeal on behalf of grandparents who are often denied access to meeting their grandchildren, he told media that in the custody battle, between husband and wife, grandparents are among the silent sufferers who are torn away from their little ones for little or no fault of theirs.
“I have not seen my grandchild for three years”, said a teary-eyed grandfather whose son is currently in the middle of a custody battle for the child. “I am waiting to see my three year-old grandaughter for past one and half years”, said another grandmother.
The visitation rights given to fathers to meet their children in court premises was not often conducive for grandparents to tag along due to their old age.
“No one really speaks for them or thinks about them”, said Jahgirdar.These numerous silent sufferers who are punished because of animosity between spouses undergo huge mental trauma and sense of isolation and depression in their advanced years due to the custody battles that drag several years.
“How long are we going to live, we do not know and these long custody battles only tend to dry up our hopes of being reunited with our grandchildren”, says a grandfather.
In an appeal, CRISP called for steps to ensure that the grandparents get their right to spend quality time with their grandchildren and urged judiciary to take immediate steps and render justice to the senior citizens.

SC declines early hearing on federal agency plea
New Delhi (PTI): Stating that Parliament was already seized of the issue, the Supreme Court on Thursday declined early hearing of a writ petition seeking the constitution of a “National Investigating Agency (NIA)” to combat growing terrorist violence in the backdrop of the Mumbai mayhem.
“Parliament is already seized of the matter. They are our representatives, let us wait,” a two-judge bench of Justices B N Aggrawal and G S Singhvi observed curtly, when the petitioner Abani Kumar Sahu during “mentioning time” pressed for an early hearing on the ground that the issue was of national importance.
The bench told the petitioner that the matter would be taken up on December 19, when it is slated for hearing.
The petitioner’s plea that the matter required urgent hearing as the Centre had been dragging its feet on the issue failed to convince the court which said it would not direct any early hearing of the matter.
Sahu, an advocate himself, in his petition has submitted that the existing investigating agencies like the CBI, ATS squads besides the various intelligence agencies have failed to serve the purpose, and cited the recent mayhmen in Mumbai to buttress the argument.
The petitioner suggested that the NIA should act as a nodal agency to collect inputs from various intelligence and investigating agencies like IB, RAW, CBI, state intelligence bureaus and the anti-terrorist squads to launch a concerted action for preventing and combating the challenge posed by terrorists.

Legal aspects involved to prevent terror attacks : Kalam
Bhopal (PTI): Former President A P J Abdul Kalam has said that several legal aspects were involved in attempts to prevent terror attacks like the one that had taken place last month in Mumbai.
Delivering a lecture on “Law and Technology” at the National Law Institute Universityon Wednesday night, Kalam said that these aspects included effective investigation and speedy trial of the involved persons.
All this was necessary to ensure that such cruel acts by some “inhuman” people were checked, he said.
Referring to cyber crimes, he said that normally the jurisdiction of a court of trial in the case of a crime is the place where it originates and the places where it is committed.
The former President said that in a normal case both these things occur at the same place but a cyber crime can originate in any part of the world.
Judges and lawyers are faced with the challenge of effectively dealing with cyber crimes, the former President said.
An example of developmental politics should be set up by political leaders while law-makers should ensure fast dispensation of justice, Kalam added.

Govt formulates draft code for TV programme, ad guidelines
New Delhi (PTI): The government has formulated a draft code on programmes and advertisement to contain adverse impact of television content on viewers, specially children, Parliament was informed on Thursday.
In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sahba, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Anand Sharma said the government had set up a committee to review existing programme and advertisement codes prescribed under the Cable and Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
“The committee has submitted its report…a representative from Advertising Standards Council of India was a member of the above committee and the draft code was formulated after studying similar regulation in other democracies,” Sharma said.
He said the committee was formed with a view to containing adverse effect of programme and advertisements on viewers, specially the children.
Responding to another question, the minister informed the house that presently 372 TV channels were permitted to uplink their programmes from India and 61 channels were permitted to down link.
He said till December 8, 2008, 155 applications for uplinking were pending before it and 34 applications by private satellite channels, which have requested for permission to downlink programmes uplinked from abroad are at various stage of scrutiny in accordance with the existing guidelines.

Centre to ask industries to ensure child labour isn’t used
New Delhi (PTI): The Centre will ask industries to ensure that child labour has not been used “at any stage” of manufacturing and issue a “logo” to them to signify the same in their products.
“Industries employ children shockingly. We will ask industries to ensure that no child labour is used at any stage of manufacturing and also issue a logo to them in this regard,” Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Choudhary said on Thursday.
The minister was addressing the National Convention on “Right to Education and Abolition of Child Labour” here in the national capital.
She said that industry “must have a larger sense of responsibility”.
“We are scheduled to hold an international round table meeting with leading manufacturing companies in this regard very soon,” she informed.
Choudhary also felt the need to enact a “separate law” to prohibit “all sorts of exploitation” of children and sought “stringent punishment” to the “adult offenders”.
The minister favoured a change in the “legal framework” that prohibits child labour in the country, saying it must have a “clarity on the definition of child labour”.
There should not be any difference between “hazardous and non-hazardous work” for the purpose of the implementation of the Prevention of Child Labour Act, she stressed and sought “prohibition on all sorts of child labour”.
Choudhary felt that the definition of a child should include “all children up to 18 years of age” in consonance with the Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of Children) Act, underlining that the children of this age group are far more vulnerable.

Take action against sale of cigarettes without warning: HC
Mumbai (PTI): The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Food and Drugs Administration to initiate action against sale of cigarette and other tobacco products which carry no statutory warning of health hazards.
The order came in response to a PIL filed by Vincent Nazareth, Chairman of Neil Charitable Trust, complaining that branded cigarettes – mostly foreign-manufactured – without the warning about health hazards, are being sold openly in the city.
Division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Sharad Bobde directed that FDA commissioners will file personal affidavits stating what action has been taken against such sales so far.
Court also said that central authorities – mainly customs – and the state should not indulge in “blame-shifting” in this matter.
Principal Secretary, Medical Education and Drugs department will have ensure that court’s directions are followed, court said.
The hearing of the case has been adjourned for two weeks

Centre likely to introduce Right to Education Bill next week
New Delhi (PTI): The Centre is planning to introduce the landmark Right to Education Bill in the parliament next week, a senior official of HRD Ministry has said.
“In India, education is free but not compulsory. The government’s plan is to make it necessary for all children. We will introduce a bill in this regard in the ongoing session of parliament,” said Arun Kumar Rath, Secretary, Elementary Education, HRD Ministry, at a function here.
He said the government was planning to double the expenditure on education in order to provide education and better facilities to all.
“We are going to enter the school education sector in a big way. This sector was ignored as a state subject. With government planning to increase expenditure on school, the standard of education would certainly go up,” Rath said.
Speaking at the inaugural function of the International Conference on Distributed Computing and Internet Technologies organised by the KIIT University yesterday, he said the Education Bill would ensure every child could get an access to education.
The GoM, entrusted with the task of scrutinising the contentious Bill, had cleared the draft legislation earlier without diluting the content including some of the contentious provisions, like 25 per cent reservation in private schools for disadvantaged children from the neighbourhood at the entry level.

Open bidding of spectrum not good for consumers: Centre to HC
Press Trust Of India / New Delhi December 09, 2008, 1:07 IST
The Centre today defended its first-come-first-serve policy for spectrum allocation, saying that open bidding for the precious resource was not beneficial for consumers, who would have to ultimately bear the brunt for its high bidding price. “If the spectrum was to be auctioned to the highest bidder for an upfront payment, such a bidder would pass on the cost to the customer or would go bankrupt. The cost of running the services can become so high that nobody would really be interested in applying for the licence,” the government said in its 48-page affidavit filed in the Delhi High Court.
The Centre’s response was on a petition challenging its policy of allocating spectrum (air waves on which wireless communication is provided) without inviting an open tender and alleged that due to the faulty policy the government could not fetch a fair price, causing “a loss of Rs 50,000 crore to (the) public exchequer”.
Refuting the allegations made by the petitioner Arvind Gupta, an economist, advocate Sanjay Hegde, who filed the affidavit on behalf of the Centre, said that the policy was followed to encourage competition and to provide a level-playing field to the newcomers in the telecom sector.
“The basic objective underlying the telecom policy is to encourage competition so as to make the services affordable and viable to the consumer at the lowest possible tariff. This can never be achieved if the licence fee or the cost of spectrum is kept at a high premium,” the affidavit said.
“Spectrum fee is not necessarily a sale of government property that the highest amount should be realised immediately. This is a case of authorising of a set up of services to benefit the consumer. Completely different considerations prevail,” the government contended.
Earlier, the high court on November 12 had issued notice to the Centre on Gupta’s petition and asked it to file its response in three weeks. Gupta in his petition alleged that the Ministry of IT and Communications had followed a procedure that was against the recommendations of the telecom regulator Trai.
“The Ministry of IT and Communications has not complied with the advice of the finance ministry, the advice of the PMO and not even the recommendations of the Trai in allocating the spectrum,” he had said, seeking an independent probe into the allocation procedure.
“The government arbitrarily allotted available spectrum to private players without laying any transparent guidelines about the eligibility of potential telecom players,” he had submitted.
He alleged that the procedure followed by the government was non-transparent and was intended to benefit some private players. The petitioner questioned the government’s intention of not following a competitive bidding procedure.
“The proximity of the real estate developers to corridors of the Department of Telecommunication has enabled them to turn into telecom entrepreneurs overnight. The Indian real estate developers and infrastructure promoters have also become Indian telecom players,” Gupta alleged in his petition.

HC asks doctor to apologise for false certificate
11 Dec 2008, 0528 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: A doctor, who scrawled a medical certificate for the wife of a convict so that the latter could come out of the jail on parole, is now in the dock. The Bombay High Court on Wednesday raised doubts about the truthfulness of the certificate and rapped Vijay Tambhale, medical superintendent of a government hospital in Hingoli, Nashik, for issuing the document. A division bench of Justices S B Mhase and Amjad Sayed has now asked the medical practitioner to file an undertaking in court apologising for the false certificate and declaring that he would not issue such certificates without examining patients in the future. “The medical certificate was vague,” said additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai. The case concerned an application for parole by Marotrao Kadam, serving a 10-year prison sentence at the Nashik Jail after being convicted of attempt to murder in 2005. Under the Maharashtra Prison Rules, once a convict completes two years of a jail term, he is eligible for parole or temporary release from jail. This period can vary from a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 90 days. The jail authorities, however, rejected Kadam’s plea for parole in March 2008 following an adverse report by the local police. Kadam then wrote to the high court and his letter was converted into a petition. Kadam had sought parole saying that his wife was to undergo a surgery. He had submitted a certificate from Tambhale, which said that his wife suffered from “acute abdomen and is in need of surgical intervention”. Prosecutor Pai submitted an affidavit by the jail authorities that said no date had been given for the surgery. The court also questioned the veracity of the medical report, which revealed that the doctor had only mentioned details of blood pressure and that Kadam’s wife had been administered saline. The doctor, who was in court on Wednesday, apologised for his conduct. He has been asked to submit the affidavit with the undertaking in court.

Parallel justice: HC looks for a way out
11 Dec 2008, 0540 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: The AP High Court is searching for precedents to get over the embarrassing legal tangle after the Hydmad Pasha case was heard by two benches almost at the same time, giving opposing verdicts. Sources told TOI that some officials were specifically asked to search if there were any such cases earlier, and to see how authorities could overcome such piquant situations. Meanwhile, Talari Anantha Babu, former advocate general of the AP High Court, on Wednesday told TOI that there were several Supreme Court verdicts which would come in handy for the AP High Court at this juncture. When asked to suggest a way out of the legal impasse, Anantha Babu quoting those judgments, said it was held unequivocally by the apex court that courts and even the tribunals have got a right to rectify their orders if they realise at a later stage that they were wronged through misrepresentation. This is called the right to recall, he said. Needless to mention, this is available to the AP High Court as well, the former AG said. Also, some legal sources told this correspondent that the state government, through its public prosecutor, is going to file a petition in the high court seeking it to nullify the second judgment. On a parallel note, it is learnt that the authorities are enquiring into the issue of fixing responsibility on persons responsible for this faux pas.

Define roadshow, parties urge HC
11 Dec 2008, 0540 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: Several political parties, including TDP, TRS and Prajarajyam on Wednesday urged the AP High Court to clarify on the meaning of `roadshow’ and complained that their legitimate applications for political meetings and processions were being rejected by police quoting the court’s stay order on roadshows. When the petition that sought a ban on roadshows on the ground of inconvenience to the public came up for hearing, the parties through their council sought a clarification order from the court. Addressing people from a road using a public address system by blocking traffic is not allowed, the bench comprising Chief Justice Anil Ramesh Dave and Justice R Subhash Reddy told the lawyers. Appearing for PRP, senior counsel P Gangaiah Naidu told the bench that the state government and the police authorities were misusing the court order and rejecting even legitimate applications for political meets. A public meeting and a procession too would involve people moving from one place to another in a row and even such activities were not being allowed under the guise of the court order, he said. He sought production of guidelines in this regard. Advocate general C V Mohan Reddy said the policy and the guidelines were being prepared and the same would be placed before the court within a week. The counsel then sought an order clarifying that except roadshows nothing else was prohibited. The bench refused to pass any such clarification and said only meetings addressed on roads were not allowed. The bench posted the matter to December 18.

HC heat after govt misses petition date 11 times
11 Dec 2008, 0440 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: Over two and a half years back, Sabi Singh Bauri of Burnpur moved Calcutta High Court, seeking a job on compassionate grounds, after her husband died while working as a non-teaching staffer at the Hirapur Manikchand Thakur Institution. On 11 occasions after that, the court directed the state government to provide details on the matter. But no affidavit has been filed as yet. Every time, the state counsel sought an adjournment either to take instructions or submit affidavits. The court has not been able to get into the merits of the petition, leave alone pass an order. On Wednesday, after the state counsel sought more time to affirm affidavits by the chief secretary, a visibly upset Justice Debasish Kargupta took anxious consideration to the facts and circumstances of the matter’ and fixed the matter for hearing on Thursday. The petition was moved on July 27, 2006. On that day, the state counsel sought time to take instructions. On the next occasion, the state wanted time to file affidavits-in-opposition. On August 6, 2008, the state had not filed affidavits. Neither was there anyone to represent the state. The state got another adjournment on August 27, when the district inspector of schools, Burdwan was supposed to be personally present with all relevant documents. On November 5, 2008, the state sought adjournment for the sixth time. The court directed the chief secretary as well as the principal secretary, school education, to ensure compliance of the order. On November 26, the case was adjourned for the eighth time till December 3. The state then sought more time to explain why the chief secretary and education secretary, education, had not complied with the court’s orders. A couple of days later, on December 5, the court was handed an affidavit affirmed by the education secretary. It didn’t go into the merits of the case but dealt with why the secretary had not complied with the court’s orders earlier. The next hearing was fixed for December 10 and the court gave the state its last opportunity to protect its interests’. The legal remembrancer, judicial secretary and additional advocate general were also asked by the court to look into the matter. On Wednesday, the state counsel sought further adjournment and said that the chief secretary would affirm the affidavit during the course of the day. The petitioner’s counsel Swapan Banerjee said he was unable to argue the matter as no copy of the affidavit had been served to him. Finally, the judge directed the matter to be specially fixed’ for Thursday.

City builder moved HC over ULCRA land
11 Dec 2008, 0454 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: One of the city’s leading builders Chandru L Raheja has approached the Bombay high court to challenge the state government’s action initiated in 2006 to reclaim its land under the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act. The 5000 sq metre plot in question is located at village Kole Kalyan and was initially owned by a company and leased out in 1973 for 999 years.
Raheja is challenging a 2006 notification issued by the state to the original lessors seeking delivery of 3142 sq metres of the land. The government’s notice was never received by the petitioners who were the owner and occupant of the land, the petition stated and added that in view of the exemption granted under ULCRA for development of the land and with the repeal of the Act, the state’s notice and the entry into revenue records has to be quashed. The state has to file a reply and the matter will come up next year.

HC breather for Roche in Cipla case
11 Dec 2008, 0330 hrs IST, Nina Mehta, ET Bureau
MUMBAI: Roche has received a breather with the Bombay High Court on Wednesday granting the company’s request for an injunction against Cipla.

Roche had filed an infringement suit against Cipla in the High Court in September seeking an injunction. Roche and Cipla have been at logger heads since May 2008 over Roche’s patent of Valganciclovir. The dispute between the companies hinges on “patentability” of the drug. The validity of the patent is in question under the country’s patent laws that do not allow patents on new forms of old drugs, also known as Section 3(d). Last week, Roche suffered a setback when the Madras High Court set aside the pharma major’s patent on procedural grounds. A patent on valganciclovir was granted to the company in June 2007. The court had cited the failure of the Indian patent office to comply with the patent law and remanded the matter back to the Patent Controller. Once its patent was approved, Roche was selling the drug for Rs. 1,000 per tablet. It also prevented the entry of generic versions of valganciclovir, which was the point of contention with the human rights groups who had initially protested the grant of the patent. A patient would have to spend Rs 2.5 lakh for a four-month course of the drug, a cost that was unaffordable to most people, sources said. In May this year, Cipla launched the generic valganciclovir in the domestic market at a price of Rs 245 per tablet causing Roche to take retaliatory action against it. Valganciclovir is used in the treatment of cytomegalovirus (CMV), a virus that often attacks the retina of people with lower immune systems, such as AIDS patients. In addition, it is crucial for prevention of CMV infection in patients who have received organ transplant. The Madras High Court’s judgement was delivered on a petition filed by civil society groups Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS (INP+) and Tamil Nadu Networking People with HIV/AIDS (TNNP+), who had challenged the Indian Patent Offices decision to grant a patent without hearing the pre-grant opposition filed by them.

HC rejects Shahabu co-accused plea in murder case
11 Dec 2008, 0313 hrs IST, TNN
PATNA: The Patna High Court on Wednesday rejected the criminal revision petition of one Rama Chaudhary, an accused in a case of abduction and alleged murder of Munna Chaudhary. The case was instituted by Siwan mufassil police station on January 13, 2001. RJD MP from Siwan Mohd Shahabuddin is the main accused in this case. A single bench presided by Justice Ghanshyam Prasad rejected Rama’s petition which challenged the order of a Siwan sessions court allowing supplementary chargesheet against him on the basis of an eyewitness account of Rajkumar Sharma. Opposing Rama’s petition, APP Mukeshwar Dayal submitted that after the police arrested Rajkumar Sharma, who was an eyewitness of Munna Chaudhary’s abduction, the case was further investigated and the supplementary chargesheet submitted. Petitioner’s counsel Rana Pratap Singh submitted that under the law, the prosecution was not allowed to investigate the case again and file chargesheet without taking prior permission of the court. Countering this argument, the APP cited a Supreme Court ruling which said police could further investigate a case on the basis of fresh evidence and submit supplementary chargesheet without the permission of the court. Yet, in this case the court was informed through the case diary that further investigation was being done.

No leniency for acid attacks, says SC, chides Bombay HC
New Delhi, Dec 11 (PTI) The Supreme Court has said that persons attacking others with acid should not be shown any leniency as otherwise people cannot live in peace; and chided the Bombay High Court for reducing the sentence imposed by the trial court.A bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and Aftab Alam in an order quashed the Bombay High Court judgement which had reduced the sentence on the culprit Mallappa Sangramappa Mallipatil to a mere 35 days as against the three years imposed by the trial court.”We are surprised that the High Court has, in such a heinous crime, chosen to reduce the punishment to the sentence already undergone which we are informed was only 35 days,” the bench observed.The apex court directed the police to forthwith take the accused into custody to ensure that he served the remaining period of sentence.Mallipatil had on January 25, 2002 attacked Vishwambhar Narayan Jadhav by splashing acid on him in a public transport bus owing to previous enmity.The trial court in its judgement convicted the accused to three years imprisonment and the accused’s appeal in the session court was dismissed and it confirmed the sentence. PTI

Vox Populi: PIL vs Google Earth Fans
Techtree News Staff, Dec 11, 2008 1558 hrs IST
A couple of days back, we reported that a Mumbai-based advocate has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court seeking a “complete ban on Google Earth and similar sites like Wikimapia”. The PIL states that the websites gave minute details and provided viewers with photographs and “extremely accurate navigational coordinates” as well. Now our readers have a lot to say about this. We got a number of reactions and a series of questions our readers want to ask of the legal advocates who have demanded a ban on the US-based website, which provides detailed satellite images to a 50cm resolution of locations worldwide.
Sandeep from Chennai wants to know, when our own country is coming up with a Google Earth competitor, is it really logical to ban the website. As reported, come March 2009, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) will launch its own IRS (Indian Remote Sensing) image portal called Bhuvan. The portal will offer detailed satellite views of our planet to users – akin to those seen on Google Earth and Wikimapia, but with a difference; this one will give sharper and more detailed pictures than provided by Google. Google Earth can be accessed from around the world and not just our country, says our reader Sunil Suresh from Mangalore. Since it is a fact that the terrorists are tech-savvy, we should be expecting them to find an alternative even if we completely ban Google Earth here in India. Another reader, Andy from Bangalore points out that there are agencies around the world that give you satellite imagery and other details on payment of a fee, so what’s Google Earth? “The Government of India should wake up and make their defense structure proper, rather than point fingers at Google,” suggests Samir from Mumbai. Rex from Bangalore claims that the only way to counter terrorism is via good intelligence operations. “You cannot block them once they are on the way to attack. Stop everything at the planning stage itself,” he adds. Back in September, while we had witnessed the nasty Delhi bomb blasts, there was a talk of the government monitoring your online activity through a legislation that would authorize officials to snoop on your activities online. Widely considered a knee-jerk reaction, the plan was opposed by people and corporate entities who felt government had no right to see what its citizens were up to. After the recent terror strikes in Mumbai, investigations have led to the fact that technology was widely used to plan, coordinate and execute the attacks. The terrorists used equipments ranging from ultra-modern arms to satellite phones. It was reported that terrorists used UK-based Call Phoenix’s Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service during the three day terror siege in Mumbai. It was also said that the terrorists who targeted the plush locations in south Mumbai were carrying multiple mobile phones, SIM cards, web browsers, satellite phones and many other high-tech gizmos. Our readers thus demand why should India pick up only Google Earth when it comes to banning? Keeping in mind the security concerns behind the use of Google Earth, our view remains that it would be wise to blur certain sensitive Indian areas on the website. However, completely banning the website would not help this situation. We at Techtree believe that our intelligence and security personnel should try to stay a step ahead of these terrorists to stop them in their tracks. What do you think guys? Posts your votes on our poll and let us know your verdict.

Terrorists using technology to deadly effect
Computer systems can be hacked, blasted with email bombs and hit with denial of service attacks by cyber terrorists. When these abilities are complemented on the ground with an equally motivated terror army, the results can be very lethal..

TERROR ATTACK on Mumbai has reaffirmed the argument that uncontrolled use of advanced technologies is helping the cause of terrorists and those who want to spread mayhem in the world. In the recent Mumbai attacks on December 26, it has been discovered that Google Earth, a web based service, Internet telephony, satellite phones and online data were used to execute the deadly terror attack.

The seriousness of the situation can be gauged from the fact that a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in a Mumbai court demanding a ban on the Google Earth service. The petitioner has alleged that the service provided by Google helps the terrorists in identifying and selecting targets to be attacked.

Even prior to the Mumbai attacks, Google Earth service had come under the scanner in a number of countries. In the past, South Korea had expressed concern over the images of presidential palace and other military installations made available by Google online.

Maroc Telecom, Morocco’s main Internet service provider has blocked Google Earth since 2006. Even Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has expressed concern over the availability of pictures of sensitive Indian installations and locations, which pose a security threat.

Increasingly, questions are being raised by security experts over the presence of high resolution pictures of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, in Mumbai, in the Google service.

British army was forced to take up this issue with the company, when it found that Iraqi insurgents were using Google Earth to plot an attack on sensitive installations in Basra. It asked the company to replace the pictures and similar demands are now being made by security agencies across the world to ensure safety.

It is not only Google though, which is giving sleepless nights to the governments across the world but a whole lot of gizmos and services are also helping the terrorists. Experts have expressed the possibility that Twitter, a popular online tool used to update blogs, could be used by terrorists to coordinate terror attacks.

While the terrorists are making full use of the available technologies to achieve their goals, governments are also equally responsible for spreading the culture of cyber wars.

Reports reveal that a number of countries have recruited cyber armies to penetrate the online information systems and paralyse everything.

Cyber terrorists are attacking banking and financial systems by using Internet as a weapon. The objective of the terrorists is to cripple the financial, military and communication capabilities of the enemy.

Pertinent to mention that computer systems can be hacked, blasted with email bombs and hit with denial of service attacks by cyber terrorists. When these abilities are complemented on the ground with an equally motivated terror army, the results can be very lethal as seen in Mumbai.

The terrorists in Mumbai used global positioning satellites system, satellite phones, voice over Internet protocol telephony and online services to a deadly effect. In the aftermath of this attack, the Indian security forces have been left shocked by the Mumbai carnage. They are now looking for answers.

Cabbies seek more time to phase out old taxis
11 Dec 2008, 0544 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande, TNN
MUMBAI: Taxi drivers of all hues gathered at the Bombay high court on Wednesday and packed the second floor courtroom of the Chief Justice. There were about one hundred of them, who were worried that they would lose their livelihood following the state’s order to junk their 25-year-old cabs. With three lawyers for three cabbies-including advocate K Dubey brought in from Allahabad-to steer the arguments against the state, the matter would have gone on but the government offered to extend the recently lapsed deadline to phase out the old taxis by three more months. The Chief Justice asked the cabbies’ lawyer to respond to government pleader D Nalawade’s offer by Monday when the next hearing would take place. The lawyers said six months would be more appropriate. “It is the question of the taxi drivers’ livelihood, which can’t be snatched away arbitrarily without following the due process of law. I have been called from Allahabad high court to pray for their ` roti ‘,” said Dubey. The state had in August decided to do away with 25-year-old taxis from Mumbai and the deadline set was December 5. Advocate Shiraz Rustomjee, who had appeared for an environmental group in an earlier long-running PIL against vehicular emission in the city, informed that in the past too, the HC had passed several phase-out orders. But taxi owners had sought extensions.

Mulayam’s assets case: Petitioner seeks monitoring by SC
Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 AT 9:12 PM
New Delhi: CBI may have taken a U-turn in the disproportionate assets case against former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and his kin, but the advocate, who had filed the PIL against them, has asked the Supreme Court to direct the agency to stand by its commitment.
Vishwanath Chaturvedi, whom Yadav had accused of filing the PIL against him at the behest of the Congress, has sought a direction to the CBI to register a regular case, and proceed with proper investigation under the supervision of the apex court.
The investigating agency in October last year had moved the apex court, informing it that preliminary enquiry undertaken by it discloses commission of offences by Yadav and his family members, and had sought permission to place status report before it, instead of submitting it with the Central government as per the March 1, 2007 order.
However, on December 6, the CBI sought withdrawal of the application, to file the status report directly before the apex court saying that the change in stand was based “on the legal advice and directions of the Centre”.
The application filed by Chaturvedi on November 26 has sought a direction, that CBI be restrained from making any reference about the enquiry report relating to the case with the UPA government, which is getting the support of the Samajwadi Party headed by Yadav.
He contended that such a direction was necessary otherwise both of them – Centre and Yadav – will try to manipulate the investigation according to their convenience, without considering the public interest and public money.
Further, the advocate has sought a copy of the enquiry report, so that he could become aware of the nature of the probe and assist the court.

Whose human rights is NHRC protecting ?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Pay attention to the sequence of events. Here they go:-
17th November: Sadavi Pragya files an affidavit in court
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) lead by Ms. Girija Vyas is on leave the whole week. Shouldn’t the NHRC taken note of it and send notice or ask report (clarification) from the Maharashtra Government immediately to investigate into the matter. But NHRC did not ! Whose human rights is the NHRC protecting ?
21st Novemeber: Eminent people (like supercop K.P.Gill) lodge a written protest in person in NHRC against the treatment given to Sadhavi.
24th Novemeber: MCOCA special court dealt it a near lethal blow by denying ATS any further remand of Sadhvi Pragya, Lt. Col. Shrikant Prasad Purohit and Ajay Rahirkar. Court sends them to judicial custody instead wherein no further interrogation by ATS is allowed.
25th November: NHRC finally awakens and issues notice to the Maharashtra Government regarding allegations of custodial torture of Sadhvi Pragya.

Stop sending NHRC teams to Bengal: Buddha
11 Dec 2008, 0441 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee would like the national human rights commission to stay away from West Bengal. Recommendations made by the national rights body on the Nandigram issue did not please the government and are yet to be implemented. “The national human rights commission keeps on sending recommendations. States have their own human rights commissions. Where is the need for the national human rights commission to send its team? The NHRC team can go to states where the state bodies are not present. Both the bodies overlap at times,” Bhattacharjee said in his address to a meet on the 60th World Human Rights Day. Well aware that his statement was likely to kick a storm, Bhattacharjee asked the state human rights commission chairman Justice Shyamal Sen to take up the matter with the national body. While the chief minister was speaking, Justice Sen stood up to express his views on the matter. “When the state human rights commission takes cognizance of a case, the national human rights commission doesn’t have the jurisdiction to intervene. This goes against the statute,” Justice Sen said. Resuming his address, the chief minister said that the government had accepted most of the recommendations made by the NHRC. “They had given 62 recommendations, out of which 52 were accepted. Five are still under consideration and five were rejected,” Bhattacharjee said. Bhattacharjee also spoke about the terror attacks in Mumbai and the threat from Maoists. “The Mumbai incident has shocked the entire country. How could a handful of terrorists do this? We will have to find out a mechanism to kill terrorists,” Bhattacharjee said. He also described Maoists as terrorists. Elsewhere, West Bengal Federation of United Nations Association celebrated World Human Rights Day at a programme. Justice Chittatosh Mookerjee was the chief guest. Centre for Protection of Democratic Rights also observed the occasion.

Chatterjee releases stamp at Human Rights Day function
Submitted by Sahil Nagpal on Thu, 12/11/2008 – 03:15.
New Delhi, Dec. 11: Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee released a commemorative postal stamp on Wednesday evening in observance of 60 years of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights at a special function organized by the National Human Rights Commission to mark Human Rights Day in New Delhi.
He also launched an online registration of complaints mechanism with the National Human Rights Commission.
Addressing the gathering as the Chief Guest on the occasion, Chatterjee said, human rights have no meaning if there is no sustainable development.
Unfortunately the fruits of development have failed to reach all over citizens in the same proportion, he added.
He appreciated the work being done by the National Human Rights Commission in ensuring promotion and protection of human rights and underscored the challenges ahead.
Chatterjee expressed serious concern over the human rights violations of women and children. Condemning terrorism as a natural enemy of human rights with a reference to the recent terrorist attack in Mumbai, Chatterjee described it as a most reprehensible act and violation of a human beings basic right to life and security.
Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology A. Raja said India struggles in its own way on its path of progress and in its endeavor for ensuring human rights of all its citizens.
He expressed hope that through the commemorative stamp of the Department of Posts, the message of Universal Declaration of Human Rights will reach to the people of India and the world.
Earlier, in his welcome address, NHRC Chairperson, Mr. Justice S. Rajendra Babu. said, there is a wide gap envisaged either in the law or in the programme and the people.
The Commission is enjoined with a duty to monitor such programmes and effectively bring them closer to the people concerned and needy.
In this context, he said, various programmes have been conducted by the Commission to bring awareness on human right issues. These range on various topics as Food Security, Right to Health, Right to Education, Hygiene and Sanitation, Custodial Justice, Rights of Women Children or Elderly or disabled persons, Rights of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes etc.
The Secretary General, NHRC, A. K. Jain read out the message of the President, Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil on the occasion. The President in her message said, on the occasion of 60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights we all should re-dedicate to the cause of promotion and protection of human rights and dignity of all. The message of UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon was also read out by a UN Representative.
In his message Mr. Ban Ki-moon said, rights and especially there violation must hold the whole world in solidarity.
Both guests released a number of NHRC publications on the occasion. These included Annual Journal of NHRC, both in Hindi and English, booklet of Universal Declaration of Human Rights in eight different languages – Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali and English.
A book on proceedings of NHRC workshop on Detention, three bilingual pamphlets in Hindi and English on NHRC’s recommendations on Rights to Education, Manual Scavenging and Sanitation and Detention were also released. The release of NHRC’s wall calendar and desk calendar 2009 based on the theme of Mahatama Gandhi’s approach and vision on human rights was another attraction on the occasion.
The NHRC also presented a memento to both Chatterjee and Raja. Several dignitaries including the Members of the Commission and Senior Officers were present at the function. (ANI)


LEGAL NEWS 10.12.2008

Consumer can no longer be taken for a ride
In a recent verdict, the A.P. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (APSCDRC) censured Narne Estates Pvt. Ltd. for its unethical business practices.The State commission commented that the company was harassing and causing loss to the consumer and its efforts to repudiate the agreement were unethical.T. Vijaya Kumari, a resident of Indian Airlines Employees Colony, purchased a plot from the company in its East City extension in January 1998. She paid Rs.40,000 by the end of 2000 as per the initial agreement. She was asked to further pay an amount of Rs.43,750 towards development charges.Accordingly she paid the charges by February, 2003. The company refused to register the plot on her name and it offered an alternative plot, which was not acceptable to the buyer.Hence, the buyer asked for repayment of her amount. However, she could get only Rs.81,250 out of Rs.83,750.She was told that Rs.2,500 was deducted towards outstanding dues, which never existed.The company neither paid interest on the money for keeping it for three years nor compensation for going back on its promise.The annoyed buyer filed a case at Hyderabad District Forum-III seeking for Rs.3,75,000, the then market rate of the plot, with 24 per cent interest rate per annum, Rs.2,500, which was deducted illegally and Rs.50,000 towards compensation besides court costs of Rs.10,000. The company didn’t oppose the case at the Forum.Deficiency in serviceAll in all, the District Forum stated that not registering the plot after taking the entire sale consideration, amounts to deficiency in service.However, the forum awarded only a compensation of Rs.50,000 besides costs of Rs.2,000. The company contended the verdict in the State Commission. It said that the compensation of Rs.50,000 was on the higher side and it argued that it was not liable to pay either interest or compensation since it proposed to register an alternative plot.The commission pointed out, that the reasons put forth by the company for not registering the plot were inconsistent. It further stated that compensation of Rs.50,000 cannot be termed high, as the company locked up the consumer’s money for three years by which she has lost her plot at a time when land prices in the city escalated.However, Ms. Vijaya Kumari was not granted the market rate as she couldn’t submit any proof to support her argument.
Posted by harsha at 5:07 AM

Justice to go mobile in Karnataka-India-The Times of India
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Justice to go mobile in Karnataka-India-The Times of India , Nov. 20, 2008:
BANGALORE: Karnataka is all set to take justice and legal literacy to the doorsteps of its people across the state, particularly to the poor as they cannot pay for the expensive and time-consuming court battles.A specially designed bus will serve as a court room to conduct the lok adalat (people’s court).Lok adalat is a mechanism for speedy settlement of disputes through conciliation, compromise or arbitration. It is not a substitute to the courts but supplements their function. For the financially weak, it is a relief as they need not pay any court or lawyer’s fees for the lok adalats to take up their case.
Thanks: Michele Storms.
Posted by Mary Whisner at 3:22 PM

Training programme for Journalists inaugurated at IGNOU
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
New Delhi: The coverage of the recent Mumbai mayhem by some Indian electronic channels indirectly helped the terrorists who could change their guards within the Taj Hotel rooms to safely fire at the security agencies. That was not a proper coverage.Similarly, the members in the media must know that the term ‘Trial by Media’ is also not quite rational, for the right to try is only vested in the Judiciary and the media can only interpret the trial with logic and wit.In the background of this concept, a five-day residential training of journalists and legal correspondents began on Sunday at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) Convention Centre.The training programme is the brainchild of the Chief Justice of India (CJI), Dr. Justice KG Balakrishnan. Taking the cue from him, the National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) and IGNOU think-tank has jointly organized the training programme free of cost to journalists and scribes reporting on courts.The Press Council of India and Editors Guild of India were also roped in association to give the training programme a comprehensive shape, so that the GenNext journalists be able to catch the idea that the Statute-ordained Freedom of Press entails certain degree of responsibility.The training programme is part of a larger series of workshops which have been organized to stimulate a vigorous dialogue about the role of the mass media in relation to the administration of justice. A few more similar initiatives are in the pipeline soon after at Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Mumbai.Two more will be organised thereafter, one at Jammu and the other at a centre of North-Eastern part of the country, probably at Shillong or Guwahati.Inaugurating the ‘Five-day Residential Training on Reporting of Court Proceedings by Media and Administration of Justice for Legal Correspondents/Journalists’, and addressing the elite gathering of the IGNOU academics and administrators, invitees, trainee scribes and the media-persons gathered there to report the programme, the CJI said, “Often the new members in the media organizations forget this point. The framers of Indian Constitution safeguarded the press freedom mostly on account of their experience of governmental repression during the colonial rule. The importance of Press Freedom was further underscored after the Emergency. However, in the era of liberalization where private players have aggressively entered the market for seeking viewers and readers, the conceptual understanding of Freedom of Press has assumed more dimensions.”The function was presided over by Justice Arijit Pasayat, Supreme Court Judge, while the key-note address was delivered by Justice G.N. Ray, chief of the Press Council of India.Editors Guild President Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai introduced the concept of the five-day free training programme for the short-listed scribes.The CJI explained these dimensions as protecting the rights of smaller players in the media, “Especially of those who represent dissenting views”, preventing “a race to the bottom in standards of reporting in an intense scenario of competition among media organisations, coverage of sub-judice matters where reporting can be prejudicial to litigant parties, and the role of pervasive tele-cover of situations like the Mumbai mayhem”.Calling upon influential media agencies, the CJI said, “They must promote the best practices for newsgathering and emphasize the importance of maintaining ethical standards for coverage the judicial proceedings.”Congratulating the CJI and the luminaries from the Judiciary, IGNOU Vice Chancellor Professor V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai expressed desire to take this training to the grassroots scribes working in remote areas in the country so that they learn the good things about the Judiciary and media responsibilities.”This was the first of its kind of an initiative taken by any university of the nation,” he said, and explained that “it’s an opportunity to our upcoming journalists to understand the importance of proper legal reporting. The exercise can be continued in a number of educational institutions of the country. All types of media need development.”However, the media is always quizzed about various judgments of the court of the country and often wonder at which level it should tread to report a court proceeding.Explaining the media concerns in clear terms, and mentioning the recent Government expression on the Mumbai mayhem, Editors Guild Chief Rajdeep Sardesai said, “Often media find that a lower court’s death sentence for an accused is turned into life sentence in the High Court, and in such cases media would find difficulties in reporting, as that might end them up reporting sub-judice matters. We need to address these in this training programme. It is very important for us in media to understand the niceties of legal process.”Stressing that the two powerful links in Democracy – Judiciary and Media – must work naturally complementary to each other, Justice G.N. Ray mentioned what the first CJI Justice Patanjali Shashtri had observed in 1950, “Media must be allowed the freedom to write”.”Lately, certain section in the public and press started disturbing the link between the Judiciary and the Media. This training would try to address what the media need to understand about the nuances of Justice Delivery System. Students will also be taken to the corridors of Delhi High Court and be briefed about various court reports on use of freedom to know the context and consequences”, he said.’Media must show maturity at their court reports’. Stressing this theme, Justice Arijit Pasayat, cited a classic example of distorted report of a court’s justice delivery. Justice Pasayat referred to a scribe’s understanding of a case of trial of an accused.The reporter had mentioned that the accused was acquitted, when in reality the court had asked for more details about the charges against him and gave a different date. Asked why this report was published the reporter had replied that he thought of the acquittal because he found the defence lawyer, while coming out of the court, was smiling.”We expect responsibility at Court Reporting. The term ‘Trial by Media’ is a misnomer,” he said, adding, “The responsibility of trial lies only with the courts. Media can only interpret the merits of the cases and their judgments without suggesting corruption in the judgment.”Soruce:

16 more courtrooms to come up at new HC building
Express News Service Posted: Dec 10, 2008 at 0025 hrs IST
Chandigarh: In a significant decision — which will put an end to the perennial problem of lack of infrastructure for new judges in the Punjab and Haryana High Court — the HC Building Committee has given a green signal to the construction of 16 new courtrooms in the new building. Lack of courtrooms has been stated as a major roadblock in appointment of new judges.
A feasibility report in this regard was sought by the High Court from a retired professor of the Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh. The professor submitted that 16 courtrooms can well be constructed on the High Court premises.
These courtrooms will be constructed above the first floor. The committee has directed the UT Architecture department to examine the report submitted by the professor and chalk out a plan for the construction of the courtrooms. Work on the project is expected to begin within three months and the courtrooms are likely to be inaugurated by the Chief Justice of India, Justice K G Balakrishnan.
There are a total of 52 courtrooms in the High Court building against the sanctioned number of 68. With 16 more rooms, the sanctioned target will be achieved.
In another decision, which will to put an end to parking chaos, the Building Committee is contemplating the idea of mechanical parking. To demonstrate the concept, four companies will also give a demonstration on the High Court premises on Friday.
Once operational, the mechanical parking will allow an advocate to simply park his vehicle in a multi-level parking area. The vehicle will be automatically lifted by a crane and taken to the assigned floor.

Tainted cops: HC asks Punjab govt to file affidavit, identify officers–HC-asks-Punjab-govt-to-file-affidavit–identify-officers/396445/
Express News Service Posted: Dec 10, 2008 at 0040 hrs IST
Chandigarh: Terming the issue of allowing police officers with charges pending against them to continue on their posts as serious, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab Government to file a detailed affidavit specifically identifying such officers .
The directions were passed by a Division Bench headed by Justice J S Khehar in wake of a suo motu notice taken by another Division Bench recommending that a petition pending against continuation of tainted police officers should be converted into a public interest litigation (PIL).
In the last hearing, the High Court had directed the Punjab government to file an affidavit making its stand clear with regards to police officers continuing on sensitive posts despite them facing serious charges.
One such officer who had come under scanner of the High Court is Sumedh Singh Saini, Director of the Vigilance Bureau.
The High Court had directed the Punjab government to make clear as to whether provisions of the amended Punjab Police Act were applicable to Saini or not.
As per the amended Act, any Inspector General of Police (IG) officer, against whom charges have been framed, has to be either suspended or removed.
The government was to clear its stand in this regard today. Arguing on behalf of the government, Advocate General H S Mattewal submitted that the Vigilance Bureau did not come under the purview of the Punjab Police Act. The Advocate General also questioned as to whether this petition could be heard in public interest or not.
Making it clear that the case was of an extremely serious nature, Justice J S Khehar observed: “Why are corrupt people or officers, facing serious charges, continuing at senior positions? It is a serious issue but there are remedies. File a good affidavit so that there are no problems for the Bench to pass appropriate orders.” The Bench also asked the Advocate General to take remedial measures.
The High Court adjourned the case for January and directed the government to formulate a policy to be uniformly adopted in cases where serious charges were pending against officers facing departmental as well as criminal inquiries.
The Bench stated that the affidavit would disclose the nature of the chargesheets, if any, pending against the officers from the level of SHO to the rank of Director General of Police (DGP). The next hearing has been scheduled for January 16.

Thane: HC seeks solution from state on encroachment issue–HC-seeks-solution-from-state-on-encroachment-issue/396316/
N Ganesh Posted: Dec 10, 2008 at 2238 hrs IST
Mumbai: Not satisfied with the action taken by the civic bodies and local-self governments against unauthorised constructions in Thane district, the Bombay High Court has sought a solution from the Urban Development department.
While hearing public interest litigations (PIL) against encroachments in Thane, the division bench of Justice J N Patel and S J Kathawala asked the principal secretary of the Urban Development department on “how the state proposes to deal with the problem of encroachment and unauthorised construction on Government and municipal lands.”
The court said that issuing directions and orders time and again has not solved any purpose and they need to seek a solution from the state for a problem of such magnitude and gravity.
“The court has observed that these pockets in the jurisdiction of various local bodies and statutory bodies are encroached, patronised and protected by slumlords. They also cater as vote banks and unless there is a political will on the part of the state the problem will remain unsolved,” the bench stated.
Meanwhile, the Thane district collectorate has directed the chiefs of the civic bodies in the district to take disciplinary action against the officers and staff who hesitate in demolishing unauthorised constructions. The directives are in confirmation with an interim order by the Bombay High Court dated October 15, 2008.
The collector had directed the civic bodies and local-self government to remove the unauthorised construction and furnish a progress report on the same to the court. The civic bodies and local-self governments have also been asked to document the removal of unauthorised construction with photographs.
The collector had highlighted the observations of the High Court that the state administration has sufficient manpower, machinery and authority to take action against unauthorised construction.
In its interim order dated October 15, 2008, the bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice S J Kathawala made stringent observation against the authorities. They said, “It appears that the authorities have slept over their statutory powers and allowed the problem to go beyond their control.” They added that how in the first place these encroachments on municipal and private lands have been permitted and tolerated by the authorities who have sufficient infrastructure and staff to deal with it.

HC issues notices to Haryana govt, police–police/396429/
Express News Service Posted: Dec 10, 2008 at 0029 hrs IST
Panchkula/ Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notices to the Haryana Government and directed the Haryana Police to come up with the evidence collected so far against Kushal Kaushal, accused in the Panchkula gangrape case. Hearing the case on Tuesday, Justice M M S Bedi also directed the Haryana government to file the current status of the case.
The notices were issued on a petition filed by Kaushal, owner of the Swift car in which the victim was allegedly kidnapped before being raped. Kaushal, a national-level judo player, has demanded a CBI probe into the case.
The petition said Kaushal was being falsely implicated in the case, and that he was at the Sector 42 stadium in Chandigarh for practice when the alleged rape took place.
The victim had identified Kaushal’s Swift as the car that was used in the crime, and even testified this in her statements recorded before a magistrate. Her mother has already moved the High Court, demanding an independent probe into the case. Hearing her petition, the court had issued notices to the Haryana government and the director general of police, the Panchkula superintendent of police and the station house officer of the Sector 14 police station. The case comes up for hearing on December 16.
The victim was allegedly gangraped and tortured by a group of four people on September 16, at the garage of a Haryana government office in Sector 4, Panchkula.
Plea seeking cancellation of Ahuja’s bail dismissedA local court has dismissed the application filed by the gangrape victim’s family, seeking cancellation of bail to Aman Ahuja, one of the accused in the case. Additional Sessions Judge Sanjeev Jindal dismissed the application on Tuesday on the plea that the accused had not violated any guidelines of the bail application.
“The application was dismissed as the judge said the ground on which the cancellation of the bail was being demanded was not enough to cancel the bail,” said the public prosecutor. The rape victim had named Aman Ahuja, a resident of Sector 10, Panchkula, as one of the accused who raped her and made a pornographic CD.
He allegedly used the CD later to blackmail her.
Ahuja was arrested a few days after the case was registered by the police on September 16 and was later granted bail by the court. Ahuja is the son of an additional district transport officer in Haryana.

HC directs wildlife body to decide chemical company’s plea on salt plant
Express News Service Posted: Dec 09, 2008 at 0226 hrs IST
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court, on Monday, directed the National Board for Wildlife to decide on the representation made by Kanoria Chemicals about incorporating 300 acres of the latter’s salt manufacturing unit in the proposed wild ass sanctuary in Jungi village of Kutch district.
Directing the Central wildlife authorities to decide on the representation within four weeks from the date of receipt of the order, Justice Anant S Dave asked both parties to maintain the status quo. Wildlife officials have to ensure that coercive measures are not taken against the company, while the company should also not cause any damage to the land till a final decision is taken.
This is the second time that the High Court has asked wildlife authorities to decide on the representation of the company, which has sought permission to continue its activities. The company had the leasehold right for 20 years, which is due to expire in mid-2009. Wildlife authorities, however, failed to take any decision on the court order that expired on November 21, 2008.
The company had moved the court after the Wildlife Department issued a communication, stating that Kanoria Chemicals had no right over the land in question, falling in survey number 1,039 of Jungi village, as the area had been declared a part of the wildlife sanctuary to protect wild asses.
The state government, had in January, 1973, issued a notification declaring certain areas of Kutch district as part of the Ghudkar Wildlife Sanctuary. In December 2006, the Additional Collector in charge of the sanctuary had also rejected the company’s claim over the land in Jungi village beyond mid-2009.

Madras HC to get 14 new judges
10 Dec 2008, 0344 hrs IST, A Subramani, TNN
CHENNAI: The Supreme Court has given its nod for the appointment of 14 new judges in the Madras High Court, but not without a rider. At least five of the 14 candidates, who met chief justice A K Ganguly on Tuesday, were informed that they may have to volunteer for a transfer outside Tamil Nadu or their immediate family members practising law in the state may have to suspend their practice. Though the Bar Council Rules do stipulate that an advocate shall not practice before a judge if he/she happens to be a close relative, this is the first time that prospective judges are being formally asked to clarify their stand on this question ahead of their appointment. Speaking about professional conduct and etiquette, Rule 6 of the Bar Council Rules excludes almost all relatives from practising in a court where the judge concerned is appointed. It includes husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, grandfather, grandson, uncle, brother, sister, nephew, first cousin, aunt, niece, father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and son-in-law. In the nine-judge bench order on S P Gupta Vs Union of India (First Judges Case), a judge observed that transfer is a sound policy, if a judge cannot curtail his relatives from practising in the same court. The Madras High Court, which has a sanctioned strength of 59 judges, has 44 judges at present. Candidates who are to be appointed judges of the Madras High Court are: R S Ramanathan, B Rajendran, Raja Ilango, D Hariparanthaman, C T Selvam, C S Karnan, N G Kirubakaran, M M Sundresh, T S Sivagnanam, M Duraiswamy, T Raja, R Mala, Aruna Jagadeesan and G M Akbar Ali. While the legal fraternity in Chennai is gleeful over the appointments, authorities managing the day-to-day affairs of the higher judiciary are worried at the prospect of having to provide matching infrastructure, given the prevailing severe crunch. The lack of adequate court halls and chambers for judges is the most serious issue, a court official said, adding that they were drawing up a contingency plan to tide over the problem. Of the 14 new judges, at least four will be sent to the Madurai Bench of the court, which has 10 judges now. The number of division benches in the principal seat here as well as the Madurai Bench would be increased, he said. While the move would take care of the shortage of court halls, finding chambers would be a real challenge, he said. Already, some of the 34 judges here are using the chambers of others posted in Madurai at present. “It is not nice to see constitutional functionaries occupying the chambers of other judges,” a senior advocate said, adding, “the concept of twin-sharing basis cannot work here, as judges need absolute privacy to read or dictate judgments.” More judges will mean more personal staff, including stenographers, an official said. The court needs many more qualified stenographers and shuffling the available staff cannot be continued for long, he added. While the government is yet to get new cars to replace vehicles that are either five years old or have logged over one lakh kilometre, at least five judges are yet to get official bungalows on Greenways Road. “The waiting list will just get longer shortly,” the official noted. Creating one or two court halls in the Tamil Nadu Legal Services Authority complex in the High Court premises or taking over the Small Causes Court complex are some of the options being considered by the authorities.

‘Illegitimate’ children also have right to property: HC–children-also-have-right-to-property–HC/396572
Express news service Posted: Dec 10, 2008 at 0222 hrs IST
KOCHI: The Kerala HC on Tuesday said illegitimate children too have rights in the property of their parents and asked the Centre to make necessary legislation, or otherwise amend Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
The HC Division Bench, comprising C N Ramachandran Nair and Haroon Al Rasheed, said both the legitimate and the illegitimate children of a parent should have equal rights over the property. That a man and woman had not been legally married should not be raised as an excuse to deny the succession of property for their children. The court observed that the legislation should be encompassing all religions. If that was not possible, separate rules should be implemented for each religion.
The court gave the verdict, while hearing an appeal filed by the wife of a doctor who was killed in a road accident. She challenged the verdict of a motor accident tribunal in Kottayam which said the doctor’s illegitimate wife and their children also had the right to get a share of the compensation. The HC upheld the decision of the accident tribunal.

HC dismisses lawyer’s petition demanding suspension of sentence…/396449/
Express News Service Posted: Dec 10, 2008 at 0043 hrs IST
Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed by advocate Balbir Singh wherein he had demanded suspension of sentence awarded to him by a trial court in Punjab.
Balbir was booked under the Arms Act by a lower court in a case of murder. He was accused of handing over his licenced gun to his son, Hardeshwar Singh, and exhorting him to fire at one Gulshan, who died of the gunshot.
While his son was booked on charges of murder, Balbir was charged under Section 27 of the Arms Act. A case was registered against the two on October 27, 2004. Balbir was an officebearer of the District Bar Association, Gurdaspur. It has been over a year since Balbir has been behind bars.
Refusing to allow the petition filed by Balbir, a Division Bench comprising Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice Daya Chaudhary held: “We are not inclined to accept this application for suspension of sentence at this stage.”
The Division Bench held that it appears Balbir has not served a substantial part of the life imprisonment sentence as not even a year has passed.
“Without expressing any opinion of merit in the case, we need to ponder on a question that how can a senior lawyer of a district court, who is said to have been officerbearer of the District Bar Association, hand over his licenced gun to his teenaged son to be used in a heinous crime like murder, knowing well the consequences which would follow,” remarked the Division Bench.
However, the Bench has given the petitioner the liberty to file an appeal to revive his demand of suspension of his sentence after one year.

Govt data on forest land encroachment rattles pro-FRA lobby
10 Dec 2008, 0407 hrs IST, Nitin Sethi, TNN
NEW DELHI: UPA’s attempts to derive political mileage from the Forest Rights Act could face another stumbling block with the environment ministry releasing data of encroachment on forest land harking back to the pre-Act days, threatening to stall the implementation of the pro-tribal legislation. Coming at a time when Congress has failed to squeeze any advantage out of the much-publicised measure in the just-concluded assembly elections, the environment ministry’s step, insiders said, would make it difficult for the party to seek political dividends even in the general elections. Rahul Gandhi may have tried to pitch-fork the issue up in his election rallies for Congress in the tribal belts of Chhattisgarh but the forest bureaucracy’s insistence on continuing to call tribals and other forest dwellers as `encroachers’ has rattled the pro-Act lobby in the government. The environment ministry claimed in the latest release that 16.20 lakh hectares of land was under encroachment with Assam having 3.5 lakh hectares under encroachment, Andhra Pradesh 2.93 lakh hectares and Madhya Pradesh 2.40 lakh hectares illegally occupied. Government officials pointed out that FRA had come about as a reaction to the forest bureaucracy’s trenchant stance of labelling even traditional and tribal forest-dwelling people as encroachers ever since the forest laws were enacted and evicting them forcefully. States like Orissa have recently admitted that more than 40% of its forest areas were never surveyed for rights before being turned into forest lands taking away the rights of those living on these green patches. Similar problems of ascertaining land status continue to plague all the states of North-East, 1.2 million hectares of land in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh besides several other regions. FRA was meant to restore the rights to those who have been incorrectly termed encroachers but the environment ministry’s step to release the data collected against old parameters indicated that a section of the forest bureaucracy continued to work against the implementation of the Act. While FRA does not prescribe a role for the forest department in limiting the number or area that can be claimed for rights in states like Chhattisgarh, the department had taken on such a role frustrating even the BJP government’s plans to distribute the rights in time to gain advantage during the assembly elections.

SMSs during trial: Officer moves SC
10 Dec 2008, 0358 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: A naval officer, dismissed on corruption charges, has moved the Supreme Court pointing out that scores of SMSes were sent by the presiding officer during the court martial. This misdemeanour not only breached the Navy Act but also snuffed out prospects of a fair trial, he alleged. Challenging a Delhi High Court order upholding the court martial verdict, petitioner M P Verma in his appeal said the HC lightly brushed aside the misdemeanour charge against the presiding officer and overlooked illegalities in constituting the court martial board. Petitioner’s counsel senior advocate Parminder Singh Patwalia questioned the legality of the composition of the court martial body alleging that drafting of members, who were originally not in the panel, fly in the face of the guidelines set under Section 97 of the Navy Act. A Bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Markandey Katju, while commenting adversely on corruption in public life, agreed to examine the issue in view of the serious infraction of the Navy Act alleged by the petitioner. It issued notice to the Centre and posted the matter for final hearing on January 9, 2009. The petitioner based his allegation on the phone record of the presiding officer. Annexing the mobile phone record of the presiding officer during the days when the court martial proceedings were held, he said: “The president had been sending SMSes almost on every day of the trial.” From the MTNL records, “it can be safely said that the president was either sending or receiving 40-50 messages on some days, 10-20 on the others”, he said and accused the president of breaching section 116(2) of the Navy Act, 1957. As per Section 116(2) of the Act, “No person shall speak to or hold any communication with the court while the court is considering the finding”. If the president was sending and receiving so many SMSes, then “the possibility of president establishing communication with concerned outside authorities cannot be ruled out”, the petitioner alleged. The question that emerged from the petition was that `even if there was overwhelming evidence against an accused, can a judge be said to have done complete justice if he was found to be sending SMSes during the hearing of arguments in the case’? The HC had brushed aside the allegations of the petitioner and upheld his conviction saying, “The allegation that the president of the court martial had not applied his mind while holding the trial has not been substantiated.” “Merely because some SMSes were sent by the president on a particular day or two would not reflect the non-application of mind by the president of the court martial, more so when the accused was duly represented by defence counsel who has cross-examined each and every witness throughout the trial and has made all objections whatever available to him while recording of the evidence of those witnesses,” it had said.

Govt looking to courts to turn CBI into federal agency
10 Dec 2008, 0400 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
NEW DELHI: In the midst of drafting modalities for a federal agency against terror, the Centre has given loud hints that it favoured making CBI the federal crime investigation bureau, which should not be prevented from probing an offence merely because a state has not consented to it. But, it did not want to go the whole hog on the issue and wanted to take one step at a time. So, the Centre has decided to ride piggyback on the judiciary to achieve its objective of making CBI a federal crime investigating agency. Solicitor General G E Vahanvati has told the Supreme Court that a high court or the apex court, to do complete justice, should be free to order a CBI probe into a case without seeking the prior consent of the state government. He was replying to West Bengal’s vehement opposition to the Calcutta HC order asking CBI to investigate the death of 11 Trinamool Congress workers at Gabreta in Midnapore district allegedly at the hands of ruling party members. Appearing for West Bengal, senior advocate K K Venugopal cited the provisions of the Delhi Police Special Establishment Act, under which CBI had been set up, and said it did not permit the agency from probing incidents in a state without the latter’s prior consent. This statutory provision could not be sidestepped by the courts, he said on Thursday before a five-judge constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan. West Bengal has been supported by few other states, which also hold identical views on the CBI’s investigation jurisdiction. Vahanvati nuanced his arguments on a different aspect — the fundamental right of a victim to get complete and fair justice. “A restriction, if any, placed on the Centre to extend powers to the CBI to investigate incidents in states cannot possibly be read as a limitation on the powers of the HCs or the SC to enforce fundamental rights,” he said. “When a citizen approaches a court seeking protection of his human rights under Article 21 of the Constitution and submits that he is being subjected to an unfair investigation, the courts are not helpless but on the contrary duty bound to grant him full relief and for this purpose, are entitled to call on any authority, civil or judicial, to grant full and effective justice to the citizen,” he said. Vahanvati, who would continue his arguments on Wednesday, said: “Fundamental rights occupy a unique position in the Constitution and there can be no fetter put on the court’s powers and jurisdiction to enforce fundamental rights much less fetters by implications and strained feelings.”

Church comes out in support of Sister Ahaya case accused
10 Dec 2008, 0345 hrs IST, TNN
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the Sister Abhaya murder case turning out to be an embarrassment, the Church has come out in support of the accused, two priests and a nun — claiming they were innocent and accusing the CBI of trying to implicate them. “Some magic seems to be at work that a case which was not proved for 16 years is depicted to have been solved in just 16 minutes,” Syro Malabar Church spokesperson Paul Thelakkat told a congregation of believers in Kottayam district conveying the clergy’s displeasure over the developments. The meeting called to convey the Church’s support for the accused claimed that even basic human rights are being denied to them. The CBI told the Kerala High Court, which is monitoring the case, that there seemed to be a deliberate move from “interested corners” to derail the case. The agency said this while replying to a plea of torture filed by some nuns who were questioned by CBI. Denying the charge, the agency said questioning was part of investigation and denied it had physically harassed anyone. The case of death of Sister Abhaya in the St Piuos Convent Hostel in Kottayam on March 27, 1992 has continued to haunt the Church with allegations of involvement of some brethren. The arrest of the accused Father Thomas M Kottur, Father Joseph Poothikkayil and Sister Sephy only confirmed the doubts. According to investigators, Abhaya had woken up early in the morning and come down to the kitchen to drink water when she saw Sister Sephy and the two priests in an objectionable situation. They said the trio hit her on the head with an axe and then dumped her body in the Convent well. It is learnt that CBI is now on the look out for all those who allegedly tried to hush up the case including the former crime branch SP, who had ruled it as a suicide case.

Burail custodial death: NHRC rejects report
10 Dec 2008, 1019 hrs IST, Saurabh Prashar, TNN
CHANDIGARH: The two-year old custodial death of a 30-year-old undertrial in model jail, Burail, is still haunting jail officials. The National Human Right Commission (NHRC) rejected the probe report of UT administration and marked a fresh inquiry into the entire incident. Harnek Singh, 30, resident of Bapu Dham colony, Sector 26, died in Burail jail on May 23, 2006, and during postmortem, doctors detected more than 15 external contusions on his body, said to have occurred in 24 hours before his death. Sources say the probe team ended the inquiry, claiming that all the contusions were self-inflected by Harnek Singh inside the jail premises. Harnek was arrested under Section 109 of CrPC, as he failed to reveal his exact identity to a raiding party of Bapu Dham police post on May 20, 2006. The major blunder on part of police officials was detected when the fact came to light that Harnek Singh was sent to judicial custody without any medical examination. Meanwhile, the postmortem was conducted by a special panel of doctors and the inquiry was conducted under the supervision of several senior officials, including the then IG (prison) Dinesh Bhatt and others. Sources in the police headquarters, Sector 9, revealed that even as the jail official closed the file of Harnek Singh, his family members challenged the NHRC report, pointing out that there were more then 15 contusions on the body of their relative. The NHRC directed UT administration to hold an independent inquiry, to be conducted by a gazetted officer. The inquiry was marked to DSP (crime) KIP Singh, but according to sources, it is being conducted by a sub-inspector level official of UT police. After the death of Harnek, police department has made it mandatory that medical examination of all suspects, arrested under 109 of CrPC be conducted before putting them behind bars. Sources say statements of jail officials are being recorded and a reply would be filed within a fortnight.

People’s Tribunal releases final report
10 Dec 2008, 0059 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore : While a policeman’s role is to maintain law and order and ensure security, human rights activists stress that cases of torture meted out by men in khakhi are on the rise. The People’s Tribunal on Torture released its final jury report on Tuesday, detailing 800 cases of alleged violence by police personnel. The South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM) had identified these cases in six districts and presented them before the jury. Nearly 100 of these cases were heard by the tribunal, chaired by Justice Suresh, on August 12-13. The final report contains recommendations to the government and case-by-case analysis. “In just two and a half years, SICHREM found 800 cases of torture by police. You can imagine how many have not come under the public eye. Despite public hearings and awareness building initiatives, torture by the police is a reality. Even women and children are not spared,” human rights activist and researcher Asha Ramesh said. “Women are beaten and abused. There was even a case of rape. The violence in many cases is caste-based. The SC/ST Act is such a strong tool, but it is not implemented properly,” she added. The report makes specific demands of the state police — abiding by mandatory procedures and reporting guidelines, public display of D K Basu Commission guidelines on arrest, and all police personnel to undergo human rights training. The project’s aim is to urge the Centre to ratify the UN Convention against Torture, and enact a domestic legislation in accordance with it. “The government signed the convention in 1997 but is yet to ratify it. This report is proof of torture going unnoticed. It focusses on police violence. We will document other areas too in a similar way,” R Manohar, state coordinator, National Project on Preventing Torture, said. SICHREM’s study was conducted in Kolar, Haveri, Mandya, Kodagu, Mysore and Chamarajnagar. The organization is also helping victims of torture file cases so that the issue gains importance. Twelve cases have been filed so far.

Cop slaps woman, govt to pay
Monetary relief to a
Jamshedpur, Dec. 9: After being humiliated and thrashed by the police two years ago, Geeta Devi, a slum dweller near New Baradwari, finally got justice.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) directed the state government to pay a monetary compensation of Rs 10,000 to Geeta today. It also reprimanded sub-inspector Satish Kumar Sinha of Sitaramdera police station for the cruelty meted out to the woman.
Acting on an FIR lodged by one Rajinder Singh with the Sitaramdera police station, a police party led by sub-inspector Satish Kumar Sinha on February 5, 2006, raided the residence of one Umesh Prasad Singh, accused in a criminal case.
At the time of the raid, Singh’s wife was present in the house. His daughter Geeta Devi, who lived in the neighbourhood protested and urged the police team to bring lady constables if they wanted to search the house. But the sub-inspector tried to enter forcibly and in the spur of the moment caught hold of Geeta and thrashed her in front of her neighbours.
Geeta sustained injuries on her hands and shoulders and was admitted to the MGM Medical College and Hospital for treatment.
The People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), a human rights organisation, took up the case of alleged brutality. After a preliminary probe, PUCL’s Jharkhand unit sent a petition to NHRC, demanding a probe and strict action against the erring police officer.
The NHRC started proceedings and in April 2006 and instructed the East Singhbhum SP to submit a report. The East Singhbhum district police probed the matter and on June 1, 2006 submitted a report.
It said that the sub-inspector wanted to arrest Singh, who was wanted in a criminal case, but the daughter of the accused, Geeta protested. In her statement, Geeta said, there was no male member in the house when the police arrived. Also, the police did not bring any lady officer with them to search the house.
As there was an injury report and statements of eyewitnesses, the commission held the sub-inspector guilty and also directed the state government to pay Rs 10,000 as monetary relief to Geeta.
“I was confident of getting justice. I am thankful to the commission,” Geeta said.

NHRC opposes any state regulation on media, advocates self-restraint
New Delhi, Dec 09: Holding that there can be no rights without responsibilities, NHRC on Tuesday disfavoured imposition of any state regulation on the media and said that self-restraint instead should be exercised by the fourth estate.
“We feel that there should be no regulation or prohibition and self-restraint is the best restraint for the media,” National Human Rights Commission Chairperson S Rajendra Babu told a seminar on “Human Rights and Role of Media” organised here to mark 60th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His comments assume significance in the backdrop of allegations against the electronic media that during the Mumbai terror attack coverage, certain operational details of action undertaken by NSG and other security forces were broadcast endangering the lives of the soldiers. The government has taken exception to such coverage and issued advisories to some TV channels. To the criticism that the panel was merely a ‘paper tiger’ with none of its suggestions being implemented by the authorities, Rajendra Babu said that while Commission wants to see total transparency in the government, the pronouncements of the panel were not enforceable but recommendatory in nature. “No government can refuse that human right is not part of good governance although the Commission does not have power to make observance of human rights enforceable,” he said. While the Commission wanted no confrontation with the government, Babu said that the NHRC has to function in a totally independent manner. Rajendra Babu stressed that the NHRC was keeping track on cases of human rights violations by the state authorities and said quoting an Israeli judge that “if the terrorism is bad, state terrorism is worse.” Emphasising that much needs to be done at the ground level to ensure human rights in the states, Babu noted that Chief Ministers should take appropriate steps to strengthen the State Human Rights Commissions. The panel chairperson also expressed the Commission’s inability to keep a tab on each and every human rights violation cases in the states on the basis of media reports and said it has failed to get adequate support from the authors of the articles alleging abuses. On a demand for NHRC’s intervention on the issue of detention of Binayak Sen, a physician and a human rights activist who is in jail for his alleged nexus with the Naxalites, he said, “it is a subject matter before the courts and since the Supreme Court is already seized of the matter, there is nothing the NHRC can do in the matter.” Rajendra Babu also dismissed allegations that the rights body was working under the influence of the Central Government. “NHRC is not working at the behest of anybody and it is an independent body,” he asserted. Bureau Report

NHRC seek views of J-K Govt on allegations of mass burials
Tuesday, December 09th, 2008 AT 7:12 PM
NEW DELHI: Taking suo motu cognisance of media and human rights bodies’ reports, National Human Right Commission (NHRC) has asked Jammu and Kashmir government to give its views on allegations contained in them, that certain mass burials had been carried out by the security forces.
The Commission has also sought a report from the state government, on alleged disappearance of people including Kashmiri Pandits, NHRC chairman Justice S Rajendra Babu told here today.
He was speaking on the sidelines of an interactive session organised by the Commission, with senior media professionals on the issue of “Human Rights and Role of Media” here.
“The Commission sought a report from the state government two months back. The report is still awaited, and NHRC would proceed on the next course of action after getting the report,” Justice Rajendra Babu said.
On being asked how the Commission proposes to probe the issue, he referred to the NHRC investigation into incidents of mass burial in Punjab during the terrorism years there.
“Of 2,000 such bodies buried in Punjab, we identified 1,000 and even solved 200 cases. In a similar way, we will handle the cases relating to Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
He, however, said he may not be personally visiting the state.
“What will I do by going there?” he asked.
On being asked about NHRC response to an NGO’s claims, that around 18,000 people from the state are reported missing, the NHRC chairman said, “We are verifying it.”
While admitting that the response from the state to the NHRC missives has been slow, the chairman said that the Commission receives complaints of different nature from the state.
The Commission has also with it complaints regarding disappearance and killings of Kashmiri Pandits, NHRC officials said.
Amnesty International had earlier urged the Indian government, to carry out investigation into the issue of mass graves, which are suspected to have victims of unlawful killings.
According to a report, the graves are located in areas bordering Pakistan.

NHRC waiting reply from Maha govt on north Indians issue
Tuesday, December 09th, 2008 AT 7:12 PM
New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) seems to have lost all hope of getting a reply from Maharashtra government, on its notice on alleged attack on north Indians by supporters of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) led by Raj Thackeray.
“The state government is looking into the matter and we are yet to get a reply,” NHRC chairperson Rajendra Babu told, on the sidelines of a function here.
Taking suo motu cognisance of the media reports on incidents of attacks by MNS on north Indian aspirants for railway jobs, the Commission in October had issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP of Maharashtra government for their comments on the issue.
However, the Commission, which had given two weeks to the state to file its reply in the matter, is still waiting for the report even though the campaign against north Indians had led to violence and damage to property.
Interestingly, this is not the first time that the state has “ignored” the NHRC’s directives.
In February too, it was asked by the Commission to reply on a report alleging that a person had fled from Nashik with his family, after they were allegedly beaten up by MNS activists.
The NHRC, while seeking a reply from the state government within four weeks, had described the attacks on north Indians in the state, as a serious issue of human rights violation, and had sought the views of the Maharashtra authorities.
Quoting the reports, the panel had said, “These people were threatened by MNS workers to leave Maharashtra or face consequences.”
The reports had quoted a victim Rehman Bhai, who had also alleged that MNS activists had threatened him.

LEGAL NEWS 09.12.2008

Snag in new phone, bill the company
MS Kamath
Monday, December 08, 2008 03:16 IST
A mobile phone which gives rise to complaints in the warranty period is presumed to have manufacturing defects and must be set right immediately at the cost of the manufacturer or dealer. This order was passed by the West Bengal State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in Bengal Tracom (P) Ltd, vs Prasant Mukherjee.
Mukherjee purchased a mobile phone on payment of Rs6,000. The phone was not functioning properly from the start. Mukherjee went back to the dealer and asked him to repair it. However, the consumer had to make repeated trips to have the phone repaired.
The consumer ultimately filed a complaint in the Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum at Kolkata, which issued a notice to the opposite party to give its say. The company paid no heed to the notice, which led to the passing of an ex-parte order against it in which the Forum ordered the company to repair the phone within 30 days and to pay him Rs1,000 as compensation.
The company appealed against the order in the State Commission. It contended that the consumer had filed the complaint after the statutory period of two years and that it had given a good piece to him. Also, there was no record of the phone having been serviced and the consumer did not have original warranty card.
The commission noted that the mobile phone had been repaired within three months of being purchased without any charge. So, the non-existence of a warranty card would not affect the merits of the consumer’s case.
Upholding the Forum’s order, the Commission asked for the phone to be repaired within forty days but it set aside the order asking for payment of compensation.

If your bankers do not know, tell them that the entire pension of gallantry awardees is exempted from Income Tax
Monday, December 8, 2008
A Gallantry awardee retired Lieutenant General recently wrote to me that his bank was deducting Income Tax from his pension, he also enquired if gallantry awardees were indeed exempted from payment of Income Tax on their pensions.The answer is in the positive. Income Tax is not to be paid on the entire pension of personnel who are recipients of “Param Vir Chakra”, “Maha Vir Chakra”, “Vir Chakra” or such other gallantry awards as the Central Government may specify by notification in the Official Gazette. Even family pension paid to the family of such gallantry awardees is exempted from IT. As earlier published in this blog, the entire pension of disability pensioners is also exempted from IT and more on it can be seen by clicking here.Exemption of IT on pension and family pension of gallantry awardees was introduced by the Central Govt with effect from 1st of April 1999 by inserting a new sub-clause (18) to Section 10 of the Income Tax Act. The said amendment / insertion was introduced through the ‘Finance Act, 1999’.Besides PVC, MVC and VrC, the following awards are also covered under IT Exemption as per Govt of India SRO 1048(E) 1 dated 24-11-2000 when awarded for gallantry :Ashok ChakraKirti ChakraShaurya ChakraSarvottam Jeevan Raksha PadakUttam Jeevan Raksha PadakJeevan Raksha PadakPresident’s Police Medal for GallantryPolice Medal for GallantrySena / Nao Sena / Vayu Sena MedalPresident’s Police and Fire Services Medal for GallantryPresident’s Fire Services Medal for GallantryFire Services Medal for GallantryPresident’s Home Guards and Civil Defence Medal for GallantryHome Guards and Civil Defence Medal for GallantryTHE COMPLETE NOTIFICATION LISTING ALL AWARDS EXEMPTED FROM INCOME TAX CAN BE SEEN BY CLICKING HEREPlease inform your bank about Section 10(18) of the IT Act and the above mentioned notification by the Central Govt if you are a gallantry awardee pensioner / family pensioner and if still your bank is deducting IT from pension. If the bank does not cease and desist from deducting IT, then please inform the IT department and also file a Consumer Complaint in the District Consumer Redressal Forum of your district. In case IT has been deducted from your pension or you have paid IT on your pension any time after 2000, you may contact the IT department or your CA for initiating refund of the same.-
Posted by Navdeep / Maj Navdeep Singh at 6:14 PM

HC dismisses writ against UP cane support price
Our Bureau
Chennai, Dec. 8 The Allahabad High Court on Monday dismissed a writ petition that challenged the state advised price (SAP) fixed by the Uttar Pradesh Government for purchase of sugarcane from the growers during the current crop year that began in October.
A division bench comprising Mr Justice Arun Tandon and Mr Justice Dilip Gupta said it was the prerogative of the State Government to fix SAP.
It also said the Western UP Mills Association, which filed the writ, had failed to prove that the State had fixed the price “arbitrarily”.
On October 18, the Uttar Pradesh Government raised SAP by Rs 15 a quintal from last season’s price. SAP for common variety sugarcane was fixed at Rs 140 a quintal, while for the early variety sugarcane it was Rs 145 and for rejected variety, it was Rs 137.50 a quintal.
Tackling issue
The price was fixed after the Government held consultations with the industry, cooperatives and growers. This was seen as a way to overcome the issue of mills challenging the price fixation in the court. SAP fixed by Uttar Pradesh during 2006-07 and 2007-08 has run into problems and the cases are currently pending in the Supreme Court.
During the hearing, private sugar mills offered to pay Rs 125 a quintal. The offer was the same as fixed by the State last season. It was made response to a query from the bench, which asked them how much they were ready to pay to the growers.
The SAP issue also has seen the mills split ranks with at least a couple of mills beginning crushing on the understanding that the growers would be paid SAP if the High Court rules in favour of the State. If the case goes to the apex court, then growers are assured of Rs 125/quintal pending the final outcome.

Lanco Infratech updates on Vizhinjam Seaport contract
LANCO Kondapalli Power Pvt. Ltd in consortium with Lanco Infratech Ltd and Pembinaan Redzai Sdn. Bhd. Malaysia (Lanco Consortium) were declared as the successful bidder by the Government of Kerala (GOK) for ‘Development of International Deepwater Seaport and Container Transshipment Terminal at Vizhinjam, Trivandrum, and Kerala”.One of the disqualified bidders (Zoom Developers Pvt. Ltd.) filed a writ petition before the High Court of Kerala, challenging its disqualification. The Writ Petition was dismissed by the Hon. Single Judge on July 03, 2008.Against the order of the Hon’ble Single Judge, the said disqualified bidder filed a Writ Appeal before a Division Bench of Kerala High Court. The Division Bench on December 04, 2008 had pronounced the Judgment in the Writ Appeal declaring the “Qualification Bid” of Zoom Developers Pvt. Ltd. as responsive and that the Technical and Financial proposals submitted by them are to be considered by the Government of Kerala within fifteen days.The Lanco Consortium is evaluating all options for future course of action, including filing of review Petition in the appropriate Courts.The stock was trading at Rs.127.70, up by Rs.10.90 or 9.33%. The stock hit an intraday high of Rs.127.80 and low of Rs.119.95.The total traded quantity was 509474 compared to 2 week average of 882771.
Source: Equity Bulls
Posted On: 12/8/2008 12:58:52 AM

CJI inaugurates course for legal correspondents
With the increasing activism of the judiciary and the role of media in reporting the court proceedings, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishan has taken an initiative to make the legal correspondents aware of their responsibilities while performing their job.Justice Balakrishnan inaugurated a five-day free of cost residential programme. The programme was jointly organised by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) with the help of Press Council of India and Editors Guild of India. Fifty journalists from across the country have been selected to participate in it.The Chief Justice said the aim of the judiciary and the media is to improve the system but the latter should take care of the rights of the accused before passing any advance judgements. The media is doing a commendable job but rights of privacy should not be infringed by them. Media should take care to report the sub judice matters in such a manner as not to give an impression of a favouring any one side, he said. He emphasised the need of self regulation while reporting cases concerning security matters. Justice G N Ray, chairman of the Press Council said media and judiciary are the natural allies and have stood side by side and complimented each other. Upholding the freedom of Press as supreme, he said,’ the Constitution has given us freedom of speech under Article 19(a) but the Supreme Court has widened the scope to freedom of Press.’ Referring to the many instances when Courts have upheld the Freedom of Press, he said this Course will enable both media and the judiciary to understand each other better.UNI

CJI announces Free Legal Aid
December 8, 2008 — Aditya
The Chief Justice, KG Balakrishnan announced today that free legal aid would be given to all the victims of the terrorist attacks on 26/11. This has come as a welcome move from the president of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).
We know that the Indian Constitution under article 39 A guarantees the right to free legal aid to all citizens of the country and this recent act by the Chief justice is another step towards achieving that goal. Now the NALSA will provide all sorts of help to the victims and their families to get compensation, medical treatment, death certificates, Legal heir certificates, identity of missing people, insurance claims, workman compensation, recovering of movable and immovable properties and other benefit schemes from state or central governments.
While I praise this recent move, hysterical that I am, I would have been more impressed if the Chief Justice had announced and declared that there shall be no encumberances to an accused terrorist getting legal aid too. I write this because about precisely a year ago, in Afzal Guru’s case, the issue of legal aid was brought up and statements were made to the effect that ‘he is a terrorist and thus the fact of legal aid not being given to him does not matter’. That is not true; he was an ‘alleged terrorist’ and by virtue of being an Indian citizen he should have got legal aid.
I might have raised quite a few eyebrows by what I’ve said above. But I’d like the readers to fathom the facts that the foundations of our democracy rest of the principles of equality and non-discrimination and merely denying someone legal aid on the charge of being accused as a terrorist is not in consonance with that foundation. I wrote earlier that democracy biggest failure would be it succumbing to the threat of terrorism and modifying its actions based on that threat. That should not be the case.
It would thus have been a pleasure to here the Supreme Court declaring free legal aid even to one accused of terrorism if he cannot find the finances for himself.

Bail or no bail? HC Bench split on Todi plea
9 Dec 2008, 1119 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: There was yet another court drama in the Rizwanur Rahman death case on Monday, this time over the bail plea of the prime accused and Rizwan’s father-in-law, Ashok Todi. Justices Amit Talukdar and P S Banerjee could not agree on whether the industrialist should be given bail and the matter was referred to a third Bench. Todi has to stay behind bars for a few more days before the third Bench hears out his plea. His brother Pradip and cousin Anil Saraogi joined him in Presidency jail on Monday. They followed the Supreme Court directive and appeared before a metropolitan magistrate court, which remanded them in judicial custody till December 12. Ashok Todi’s counsel has been arguing that he is unwell and should be granted bail. This plea was turned down by the 14th metropolitan magistrate’s court after which he moved high court. On Monday, the Presidency jail superintendent submitted a report to the division Bench, saying Todi, though not bed-ridden, was ailing and needed medical attention. Todi, who got a 12-day judicial remand on December 1, has been in jail hospital since. Rahmans’ counsel Kalyan Banerjee strongly opposed the bail plea, arguing that Todi could tamper with evidence. Justice Talukdar was reportedly of the view that Todi could be granted bail but Justice Banerjee thought otherwise. Talukdar observed that there was no evidence to show that Todi had tampered with evidence during the probe. Banerjee, however, pointed out that Todi was the prime accused and money was exchanged to separate the couple, so he couldn’t be granted bail. The judges failed to agree. Meanwhile, the hearing on Pradip Todi and Saraogi had started at the 17th metropolitan magistrate court. Defence counsels Amit Bhattacharya and Shishir Ghosh moved the bail petition, claiming neither Pradip nor Anil had any role in the case. They said Anil had to go to Lalbazar to bring Priyanka as both Ashok and Pradip were hospitalized. They even claimed police had instructed Anil to sign the agreement to allow Priyanka to return to Rizwan in seven days. The counsels raised queries about Rizwan’s “relationships with other girls”. None of this could sway the magistrate and the duo was sent to jail custody.

Policemen did not go to Batla House to shoot themselves: SC
9 Dec 2008, 0244 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: If generous praise was showered on commandos who fought back terrorists in Mumbai, then the Supreme Court on Monday appeared to do justice to Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma who laid down his life in the Batla House encounter in Delhi on September 19. A PIL in the Supreme Court, filed by a person who runs an NGO while being in the business of providing security guards, sought CBI probe into the Batla House encounter claiming it to be fake. “I was an eye-witness to the encounter. It was fake. I had approached the National Human Rights Commission. Notice was issued to Delhi Police but nothing happened thereafter,” the petitioner said, seeking CBI probe into the encounter in which Sharma was killed. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam asked the petitioner, “So you say that policemen went there to shoot themselves?” It added, “Go and tell the police if you have information about the encounter.” Before dismissing the PIL, the Bench also said it suspected that the PIL might have been “put up” by somebody with a vested interest.

PIL demands removal of country’s images from Google Earth
9 Dec 2008, 2045 hrs IST, PTI
MUMBAI: A PIL filed in the Bombay High Court has taken exception to easy access to satellite images of the vital installations in the country through Google Earth. The petition, filed by Mumbai-based lawyer Amit Karkhanis, has demanded removal of images of the country from Google Earth. “In the alternative, I have demanded that at least the images of vital installations in the country be blocked,” said Karkhanis. “The petition is filed against the backdrop of terror attacks in Mumbai,” he said. “Even images of nuclear plants and defence establishments are available on this site. It is a security hazard,” he added. The petition is likely to come up for hearing on December 18. Google Earth, subsidiary of popular search website Google, is a US-based company. Google Earth provides satellite images of any location on the globe through its website.

India ranks third in rape cases
9 Dec 2008, 1646 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: India stands third, leaving behind countries like Sri Lanka, Jordan and Argentina, when it comes to rape cases, latest data of the home ministry suggests. Ahead of India are only the United States and South Africa. According to the data, 18,359 rape cases were registered in India in the first three quarters of this year while in the US, 93,934 and in South Africa 54,926 rape cases were registered respectively. The lowest number of rape cases were registered in Jordan (78), Latvia (260), Bulgaria (403) and Finland (596). Some of the other countries where a large number of rape cases were reported include Germany (8,133), Thailand (5,060), Sweden (3,787) and Argentian (3,447). Altogether 44,159 cases of different sex offences were registered across India in the said period. In such cases too, India stands third after England and Germany where 62,100 and 47,070 cases were registered respectively. Four other countries where the numbers of sex offences were high include Canada (26,044), Australia (17,516), Sweden (7,924) and Argentina (3,473). According to the data, the incidence of various crime per one lakh population in India are — murder (3), sex offences (4), rape (1.7), serious assault (24.6) robbery and violent theft (2.1), breaking and entering (8.2) and theft of motor cars (7.8).

Calls made to police control room are public documents: CIC
9 Dec 2008, 1600 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The records of calls made to Police Control Room — on 100 — are “public documents” details of which should be provided under the RTI Act, even if an accused wants to use it for defence in a Court, Central Information Commission has directed. “Records of calls received in PCR are, in fact, public documents. Their disclosure is incumbent unless that have been made in confidence in which case such a condition will require to be recorded,” Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. “Unless it is clearly established that such a disclosure would impede the process of investigation or prosecution and not simply that the record will be used in defence by an accused,” he said. The case relates to one Ram Lal who sought details of a call made to the police control room on January 19 and 20, 2007 from Model Town police station. A similar application was moved by one Asha Devi seeking same call details. The Delhi police refused to give information saying that it “could not be acceded to under section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act.” Not satisfied with the reply, Asha filed an appeal with the police claiming that the calls were made by her and it was her right to know what she informed police. “There is nothing secret or any such thing which relates to you or any investigation or any third party related matter,” she pleaded. Delhi police again rejected the appeal saying that it will impede the prosecution of an accused. Asha reached the Central Information Commission with the prayer to direct the officer concern to provide the required information and take action against the official responsible for it.

No record of corruption cases against Central Police Organisations’ officers
9 Dec 2008, 1519 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Believe it or not! The Union Home Ministry says it does not maintain a count of corruption cases against officers from different Central Police Organisations (CPOs) and Intelligence Bureau under its control. This admission came in reply to an RTI query, which sought the information on the number of corruption complaints received against officers of Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, National Security Guard, Assam Rifles, Sashastra Seema Bal and IB during last five years. The ministry said it attended to the complaints on a “case-to-case” basis and decisions were taken at various levels. “Depending on the nature of the complaint and the rank of the officer against whom allegations are made, decisions are taken and processed at various levels. This ministry does not maintain a count of complaints received at various levels,” it said. When contacted, Director (Personnel) and CPIO Barun Kumar Sahu said he could not share more information on the reply. The ministry cited sections 2(f) and 2 (j) of Right to Information Act and said the information sought by the applicant “is beyond information” and “require huge work and resources not envisaged under RTI Act”.

Orissa police seeks I-D parade date in nun rape case
9 Dec 2008, 0431 hrs IST, TNN
BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa police crime branch would soon file a petition in a lower court seeking date for identification parade in the Kandhmal nun rape case, official sources said on Monday. The crime branch move comes within days of the Orissa High Court verdict to hold the parade in Cuttack following the request of the 29-year-old victim who has not returned to Orissa since the incident during the communal violence. “We will file a petition with the sub-divisional judicial magistrate, Baliguda in Kandhmal, most likely on Wednesday asking for a parade date,” a source said. The crime branch, which is investigating the case, wants to complete the probe and file the chargesheet before January 28, (within 120 days of the date of arrest of the accused), sources said. So far the police have arrested 10 people in connection with the rape that took place at K Nuagaon on August 25, two days after VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was murdered in Kandhmal. The accused are lodged in a jail at Baliguda and the local court has to order their shifting for the identification parade, sources said, adding, they could be housed at Choudwar Circle Jail for the parade. The nun’s lawyer, Manas Ranjan Singh, had last week, in the wake of the high court ruling, said the victim would attend the parade in Cuttack after the date is announced. The nun had earlier on November 10 and 19 failed to appear before the court of SDJM, Baliguda, for the parade citing health reasons and mental trauma.

Madras HC directs law college student to approach commission
The Madras High Court directed a girl student of the Dr Ambedkar Government Law College to make a representation to Justice K Sivasubramaniam Commission, inquiring into the group clash in Chennai on November 12, to extend time to submit her views before the Commission.Disposing a petition filed by Ms D Asenthamani, a fifth-year student of the Law College, the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice A K Ganguly and Mr Justice K Chandru, said under section eight of the inquiry Act-1952, the Commission has the power to regulate its own procedure. It is for the Commission to take up the petitioner’s application or the representation for the grant of extension of time, Bench observed.‘We therefore do not exercise our jurisdiction in the matter of extension of the time. The Commission may take steps in accordance with law,’ the Bench said and disposed off the petition.In her petition, Asenthamani submitted that the Commission on its notification through newspapers on November 22 called upon all people having information and materials on the group clash to submit their views before December eight.De to the closer of the college as well as the hostel, students were not immediately available to file their affidavits. Many students are under judicial custody and others are staying in their respective native places. Hence, the petitioner sought the court to direct the Commission to extend the time to file their views.UNI

Australian national moves Madras HC against validity of court order
An Australian national has moved the Madras High Court, challenging the validity of the jurisdiction of a Magistrate court in trying a criminal case, involving foreign nationals, without the consent of the Centre.Petitioner Kamakshidasan submitted that the Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Saidapet, without trying the jurisdiction issue, had passed an interim order, directing him to pay Rs 30,000 as a compensation to his wife, though both of them and their two children are Australian nationals.‘Being Australian nationals, the petitioner and respondent can be covered only under the Australian laws as applicable and hence the Magistrate in India has no jurisdiction to try any matter,’ he submitted.Assuming that the court could try the case on the ground that the alleged crime took place in India, the court has to necessarily obtain the consent of the Central government to try any matter against foreign nationals, he contended.Without ascertaining the facts, the Magistrate court, on a complaint by his wife Sripriya, under the domestic violence Act, directed the petitioner to pay Rs 20,000 for the maintenance of two children and Rs 10,000 towards rent.Admitting the petition, Mr Justice K Mohan Ram ordered issue of notice to Ms Sripriya. The matter is likely to come up for hearing on December 10.UNI

HC sets aside dismissal of 23,000 UP cops
9 Dec 2008, 0322 hrs IST, TNN
ALLAHABAD: In a setback to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati, Allahabad High Court on Monday admitted a bunch of writ petitions and quashed the state government’s order sacking 23,000 constables recruited by the previous Samajwadi Party government. The court disagreed with the reason given by the Mayawati government for their dismissal that higher marks were awarded in interview to candidates who had secured less marks in physical test and vice-versa, suggesting it was a predetermined exercise. The court also quashed the orders, passed by various recruitment boards, terminating the appointment of the constables. The government’s chief standing counsel M C Chaturvedi said a special appeal would be filed against the single-judge order. “I am studying the judgment and will file the special appeal before a division bench of the Allahabad High Court,” said Chaturvedi. Justice D P Singh said there was no need of testing the administrative or managerial skills of constables as the candidates were only required to clear “physical and fitness” tests. Services of the constables were dismissed by three government orders on September 11, 18 and 30, 2007. The court observed, “The requirement of fairness demanded that the body, which has to inquire or decide on a issue which may affect individual rights, the character of such body should be above board.
Official bias is likely to arise when the person inquiring into a matter has a previous or personal knowledge of the material facts of the case before him by virtue of his dealing with those facts in some other capacity or context. The possibility of predisposition or prior inclinations hovering over the mind of such a person into the matter, cannot always be ruled out.”

Allahabad HC reinstates 18,000 sacked cops
Statesman News ServiceLUCKNOW, Dec. 8: In a major setback to the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court today reinstated 18,000 policemen who were sacked by the state government on grounds of alleged irregularities. The order was passed by Justice Mr DP Singh, who allowed a writ petition filed by Mr Pawan Kumar and others, challenging their dismissal on various grounds.Chief minister of Uttar Pradesh Miss Mayawati had sacked the policemen because she had found the selection process of these constables “highly objectionable”. She reached this decision after a high-level inquiry was conducted by ADG Mr SK Misra soon after the Bahujan Samaj Party government came to power April last year. Nearly a dozen policemen had committed suicide after Miss Mayawati’s decision to sack them, as most of the policemen were left without any means of income. The High Court decision may bring back cheer to the disgruntled constables who had been agitating on the streets demanding their reinstatement because the “inquiry conducted was malafide”, but their joy may be short-lived. The Mayawati government may appeal before the apex court against today’s order. The police constables had taken an examination and been given training before being posted at police stations all over the state during the tenure of the Mulayam Singh Yadav government. Soon after she came to power in the state, however, Miss Mayawati ordered an inquiry into the selection process. She later cancelled the appointments on grounds of alleged irregularities in the conduct of tests, forgery of examination records, political interference and corruption. The Court noted that “none of the petitioners were served notice, nor were they involved in an inquiry conducted by the government or heard at any time before their appointments were cancelled”. It was submitted by the petitioners that the irregularities or discrepancies found in various recruitments were a “handful”, and no effort was made to separate the genuine ones from the fake.

Tardy investigation: HC asks cops to pay compensation to victim of fraud
Express News Service
Posted: Dec 09, 2008 at 0219 hrs IST
Rajkot In a remarkable judgment, the Gujarat High Court has ordered the Rajkot police to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 for a delay in investigation in a loan fraud case filed by an NRI woman.
In his order, High Court judge D H Waghela also asked each of the six accused to pay the victim, Kusumgauri Doshi from Rajkot, Rs 10,000 for trouble and loss caused in the three-year long legal battle.
The High Court came down heavily on the accused — Bharat Unadkat, Hasmukh Unadkat, Champaklal Unadkat, Kirit Tanna, Mangala Unadkat and Hasmukh Kotak — who forged documents and signature to take a bank loan to the tune of Rs 97 lakh in the name of Doshi. The High Court also criticised the Pradhyumnanagar police station in Rajkot for tardy investigations in the case that was filed in 2005.
“The HC has ordered the Home Department to pay a sum of Rs 50,000 to Doshi and recover the amount from the concerned investigating team,” said Rajkot Commissioner of Police Sudhir Sinha, who received a copy of the judgment on Sunday. He added, “Each of the accused has also been ordered to pay a sum of Rs 10,000 to Doshi.”
Doshi had filed a complaint with the Rajkot Chief Judicial court against the six accused, co-partners in Ameera Exports, for forging her identity, signature and documents for committing the fraud. The court had asked Pradhyumanagar police to conduct a probe in this regard.
After little progress was made in the investigation, Doshi approached the HC at the end of December, which was followed by a dramatic turns of events. Even as the police began procedure to arrest the accused in February 2008, the latter got a stay in investigation from the HC. Soon, they paid the original loan amount to the bank and moved the court to quash the FIR.
The HC, however, castigated the police for doing little investigation during 2006-2007, and the accused for causing trouble to the NRI woman.
On his part, Sinha said: “During the said period, the police kept on writing to the bank to provide documents to produce evidences in the case, but the bank’s response was very slow.” Sinha, however, maintained that many policemen had worked on the case during the course of the three-year investigation. “It is a matter of inquiry for the department to find out who all were responsible for tardy investigation,” said Sinha.

HC order flouted on road: ESG
BENGALURUBoth widening of the city’s roads and the Metro Rail project are being carried out in violation of the high court’s orders, an NGO, Environment Support Group (ESG) , claimed on Monday.Leo Saldanha, coordinator of ESG, said the high court had ordered the formation of an Empowered Committee under the chairmanship of noted environmentalist A.N. Yellappa Reddy to review road widening and related transport projects in Bengaluru. Its order was based on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by ESG, he said.“The committee was directed to consult the public before implementing any project and ensure that the objectives of sustainable development were kept in mind,” Mr Saldanha added.But despite the proactive efforts of various groups and affected communities, the committee had not paid any attention to them. It had also denied the ESG and members of the public the right to participate in and observe its proceedings, he alleged.The matter was taken to the Lok Adalat which had now ordered that all work being carried out in the city should have the prior sanction of the committee.The Lok Adalat comprising Justice K L Manjunath, chairman of the Karnataka Legal Aid Services Authority and Dr. H. C. Sharatchandra, member and chairman of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board had also directed the committee to hear all pending applications filed before it, Mr Saldanha said. Some had in their applications to the committee suggested alternatives to road widening as it was resulting in displacement of homes and business establishments.Others had expressed apprehension that projects in the city were eating into public spaces and inconveniencing pedestrians, senior citizens and the differently abled. “It has been suggested that authorities take the Metro project underground so as to not inconvenience the public,” he added.
posted by The Bangalorean @ 12/09/2008 08:46:00 AM

PIL demands removal of ‘sensitive’ images from Google Earth–sensitive–images-from-Google-Earth/396216
Agencies Posted: Dec 09, 2008 at 1253 hrs IST
Mumbai: A PIL filed in the Bombay High Court has taken exception to easy access to satellite images of the vital installations in the country through Google Earth.
The petition filed by Mumbai-based lawyer Amit Karkhanis has demanded removal of images of the country from Google Earth.
“In the alternative, I have demanded that at least the images of vital installations in the country be blocked,” said Karkhanis.
“The petition is filed against the backdrop of Terror attacks in Mumbai,” he said. “Even images of nuclear plants and defence establishments are available on this site. It is a security hazard,” he added.
The petition is likely to come up for hearing on December 18.
Google Earth, a subsidiary of popular search website Google, is a US-based company. It has been made a party, along with Ministries of Defence, Science and Technology and Information Technology.
Google Earth provides satellite images of any location on the globe through its website.

Rally calls for better infrastructure to combat terrorism
Express News Service
Posted: Dec 09, 2008 at 0413 hrs IST
Pune Over 400 people gathered on MG Road on Sunday for a rally to protest against the Mumbai terror attack and to demand concrete action to prevent any such happenings in the future.
There were banners everywhere urging people to join in the battle against terrorism. ‘Corruption is the root of terror’, ‘do not pass the baton to the cops, march with us to fight off terror’ and ‘take back your city and your life’ read some of the banners.
The rally called for signatures from people, which will be sent to a group of lawyers in Mumbai who have filed a PIL seeking better infrastructure to combat terrorism.
The rally also called for better infrastructure in security systems, intelligence with proper coordination, more NSG units, better pay packages for the police and the defence forces.

Govt justifies spectrum allocation
ENS Economic Bureau Posted: Dec 09, 2008 at 0115 hrs IST
New Delhi: Explaining its decision to apportion spectrum among Telecom companies on a first-come-first-served basis, the Government on Monday claimed before the Delhi High Court that the policy was for the benefits of the consumers, whose interests would be jeopardized if there was open bidding for the resource allocation.
“If the spectrum was to be auctioned to the highest bidder for an upfront payment, such a bidder would pass on the cost to the customer or would go bankrupt. The cost of running the services can become so high that nobody would be really interested in applying for the licence,” the 48-page affidavit by the Government read.
Furnishing its response over a public interest litigation (PIL), the affidavit contended that the policy was followed to encourage competition and to provide a level playing field to the newcomers in the Telecom sector.
It said the spectrum fee was not necessarily a sale of Government property that the highest amount should be realized immediately. “This is a case of authorising of a set up of services to benefit the consumer. Completely different considerations prevail,” the government contended.
The court is hearing a PIL filed by Arvind Gupta, who has averred the communications ministry acted in conflict with TRAI recommendations.

Once upton a time…THIS WAS A LAKE!
The halubidda kere is a familiar landmark in most of our villages. It is important that our tanks and lakes are revived, points out S V Upendra Charya
Janagere, Arishinakunte, Challakere, Nagarabhavi, Bheemasamudra, Chamarajasagara (TG Halli), all have the lake or tank connection. The state is dotted with hundreds of such namesake tanks and lakes. A whopping 1233 villages were named after a kere (tank) or kunte, (pond) according to the revenue transactions of the year 1854, as per the erstwhile Revenue Department of the Govt of Mysore.Village tanks in those times were considered sacred and therefore well-maintained. To them, dirtying the Oora kere was sacrilege.“Our forefathers built bhavi, kere, kunte as dharmakarya (for philanthropy). They also usually built temples adjacent to the tanks or ponds. “It’s time we saved these tanks, not only to save the environment, but also in memory of our ancestors who built them,” points out Patel Rangappa from a village near Tumkur.
Rangappa is right. A village tank is important for rural ecology. But the ubiquitous halubidda kere (a tank in ruins) is a familiar landmark in any village. This, despite the efforts of the Gram Panchayats to restore such tanks.The management and maintenance of Oora kere by villagers themselves is not a new concept and goes by the name of Kere Panchayat. It was aimed at motivating people in villages to preserve their tanks and ponds through community participation. However, the system that has been in place from the last 70 years, stopped being that crucial when the water management priority shifted to mega irrigation projects. Despite the existence of many big dams and large reservoirs in the state, there are still dry regions where people are indeed dependent on their keres and kuntes. There are more than 30,000 tanks and lakes in Karnataka. The Gram Panchayats concerned are in charge of most of these water bodies.The case of lakes in trouble is not limited to villages. Towns and cities in the state are in a similar position, if not worse.Bangalore lakesBangalore was once the city of lakes. Oldtimers remember landmarks such as City Market (once Siddikatte lake), Gandhi Bazaar (Karanji Lake) and Kempegowda bus-stand (Dharmambhudi Kere). In the records of the early 1960s, Bangalore had 260 water bodies.Of the 260 water bodies that existed then, now there are hardly 100 lakes. In 1988, the Lakshman Rau Committee recommended that 115 lakes (which existed then) located in Bangalore be taken care of by the forest department.Most of the 100-odd lakes are full of weeds and are shrinking due to endless urbanisation and encroachments.The Ramaswamy Committee constituted in 2006 said the land encroached upon the city’s lakes ran into thousands of acres.“We are not in a position to take appropriate action against the encroachers as these lakes have not been brought under the Forest Conservation Act . This is badly needed to ensure better control over the lakes under our jurisdiction. Now the department has to function under rseversl limitations. Because of this handicap we cannot deal with encroachments with an iron hand,” explains an official from the forest department.Lake lovers and environmentalists, however, feel that the condition of water bodies in Bangalore and elsewhere is getting worse largely because of indifferent officials and lack of public concern towards preservation of precious lakes.“Dumping garbage and letting sewage into the lakes eventually helps land grabbers to encroach upon public lakes. We do nothing about it. Housing layouts are formed on dried-up lakes, but we are not bothered. Without public awareness and initiative, the revival of dying lakes is simply impossible,” points out a resident of Bangalore’s Padmanabhanagara.The Lake Development Authority, an autonomous agency, was established in 2002 by the state government for overall development of lakes. Though the LDA has been doing its bit for restoration and preservation of Bangalore lakes in particular, its plans to privatise lakes have come under the scanner.After several protests, candle-light vigils, and an eventual PIL, the Karnataka High Court has recently put the brakes on lake privatisation.Lake revival measures are vital from the point of view of maintaining an ecological balance and preserving aquatic life. The environmentalists are of the view that focus should be on ecological aspects of lake restoration. The serene and natural lake environments must not be spoiled by constructing footpaths, parks, playgrounds, tea stalls etc. in and around the lake spots.“Lake revival is basically to preserve the precious water source and its natural surroundings. More than engineering skills, the in-depth understanding of the ecological aspects of the lake restoration is what matters,” points out Krishnamurthy, an environmental activist.

PIL on Jamia Nagar shootout shot down
8 Dec 2008, 2341 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: If generous praise was showered on commandos who fought back terrorists in Mumbai, then the SC on Monday appeared to do justice to Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma who laid down his life in the Batla House encounter in Delhi on September 19. A PIL in the SC, filed by a person who runs an NGO while being in the business of providing security guards, sought CBI probe into the Batla House encounter claiming it to be fake. “I was an eye-witness to the encounter. It was fake. I had approached the National Human Rights Commission. Notice was issued to Delhi Police but nothing happened thereafter,” the petitioner said, seeking CBI probe into the encounter in which Sharma was killed. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam asked the petitioner, “So you say that policemen went there to shoot themselves?” It added, “Go and tell the police if you have information about the encounter.” Before dismissing the PIL, the Bench also said it suspected that the PIL might have been “put up” by somebody with a vested interest.

Eagle’s Eye: TV channels should be more responsible
The manner in which the electronic TV News media were covering with no holds barred the tragic Mumbai terror happenings should be introspected within themselves-KC Mouli
Long back the Kargil war was on the live coverage of many of our TV News Channels including some foreign TV News Channels. The war strategy of our defence forces went off well and India had won the Kargil war. But Kargil war’s live coverage by the TV News channels had its share of adventurism fraught with danger like putting ones head into the lion’s mouth. This may sound exaggerating but this is not just metaphoric. It is a truth realized later by the media, the Army as well as the protagonists of transparency in the ruling dispensation. It is only just a lucky coincidence that nothing adverse had happened after the Kargil war either to the detriment of the Nation or to the Army. Electronic media would otherwise have lived for long with guilt of having jeopardized national interests and damaged the reputation of the Indian Army.
TV News Channels have however not learnt a lesion. They have repeated the same performance during the Mumbai’s Taj, Oberai-Trident, Nariman House terror attack. Freedom of media and freedom of expression should definitely be respected but when national interests are in clash and human lives are endangered the media channels who are covering live from the field of operation should exercise restraint in their own wisdom rather than any authority regulating them. But if media fail to do so the competent authority should regulate them and there is no reason why media should feel offended. Neither media are above the law nor are they above the Nation.
Some recent observations by the first bench of the Madras High Court comprising Chief Justice AK Ganguly and Justice FM Ibrahim Kaifulla on a PIL are quite analogical and of relevance here. In their observations the learned judges recorded that the Court (society too) respects both the freedom of the Press and freedom of electronic media but the said freedom must be exercised with due caution and public interest. The PIL alleged that live reporting of some localized brutal incidents of violence by national channels had escalated the violence throughout the State of Tamil Nadu and its neighbouring states. The media could have restricted its coverage to the area of occurrence in which only locals were involved and has no relevance beyond that area.
The manner in which the electronic TV News media were covering with no holds barred the tragic Mumbai terror happenings should be introspected within themselves. Was it right to show the commandos landing? It was not a demonstration or training session. The commandos were there to combat a group of well-entrenched, well-armed, well-trained, motivated and committed jehadi elements. Was it right to discuss and explain through graphics and animation the probable location and movement of commandos, army personnel and other security staff engaged in flushing out the terrorists? Was it proper to explain the strategy either casually or in depth even if the media knew because of their contacts and relations with security top brass? Who was responsible for the martyrdom of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan who was to have token the toll of terrorists and who was not visible to the terrorists till his movements and location were visualized by media?
It is very difficult to challenge media, specially the TV News Channels for their follies and failures because their egos come into clash. I remember a prestigious Indore Hindi daily’s Delhi-based bureau chief arguing with me that news alone was of importance to him, not its adverse impact and repercussions which were of no concern to him I failed to convince him that his first accountability is to the Nation and humanity as a respectable civilized citizen. Not much has changed since then. There is already a media war of words on what Navy Chief Admiral Suresh Mehta had said about the irresponsible performance by a reputed TV News channel in the recent Mumbai terror strike.
The Society of Media Initiative for Values does not believe in any war of words or witch-hunting. It firmly believes that media is a very responsible section of the Society and by and large the media practitioners are sensible, responsive, sensitive and accountable in their performance both towards their respective managements and the Society. The Society of Media Initiative for Values only time and again reminds media about these inherent values and qualities facilitating their manifestation in media practices. The Society is assured that Media would revert back to these value-based responsible media practices soon.
(The author is the State Coordinator of the Society of Media Initiative for Values, MP) accessible at

Voters send clear message to Naxals
9 Dec 2008, 0449 hrs IST, Bharti Jain, ET Bureau
The nearly 55% voter turnout recorded in Naxalite-infested pockets on November 14 is an indication of the electorate’s defiance of the CPI(Maoist)’s
poll boycott call and the comfortable victory of the Raman Singh government here cocks a snook at allegations by rights activists that the BJP regime was using Salwa Judum to create a private army of local tribals against Naxalites. Dantewada, the district where Salwa Judum is concentrated, returned BJP candidates from two of its three assembly segments. So much so, even the original brain behind Salwa Judum, Congress leader Mahendra Karma, lost to the BJP in Dantewada. The tally of BJP in Naxalite-infested Bastar region improved from nine to 10 seats, with adversaries managing only the remaining two of the 12 seats in the region. In the other tribal belt of Ambikapur and Surguja, the BJP walked away with 12 of the total 14 assembly seats. The impressive show by the BJP in the Naxal belt is a signal to the state Congress that its attempts at painting Salwa Judum as an anti-tribal, rather than an anti-Naxal campaign, has not gone down well with the electorate. Incidentally, a recent NHRC inquiry into alleged excesses by Salwa Judum activists, including killings and rape, had failed to substantiate the charges. The NHRC report said: “Allegations against Salwa Judum of killings are not true. During the inquiry of some specific allegations, the inquiry team also did not come across any case of rape which could be substantiated. “On the other hand, Naxalites (Maoists) have not only selectively killed Salwa Judum leaders and supporters, but they are also responsible for indiscriminate killing of many tribals and security personnel.” For the Raman Singh government, credited with several surgical strikes on Naxal hideouts across south Chhattisgarh, its tough approach against red terror seems to have reaped electoral dividends. Incidents relating to Left-wing extremism have come down in the state since 2007, as have killings of civilians and security forces. Incidents were down from 436 between January and August 2007 to 363 until August this year. Fatal casualties among security forces fell from 148 in the corresponding period of 2007 to 49 this year, as did civilian killings from 139 to 95.

Kandhmal victims recount their tales of horror
9 Dec 2008, 0027 hrs IST, TNN
Bangalore: Twenty-four women from Kandhmal, Orissa, who lost their spouses in the recent attacks on Christians, came to Bangalore on Monday to spread the message of peace and love. They were brought here from relief camps in Orissa by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). GCIC hopes the women will be able to celebrate Christmas in Bangalore. They also presented a song and dance programme in their native language. Despite their loss, they prayed for forgiveness to the attackers. Among them was Namrata, 10, who suffered 40% burn injuries in a bomb attack during the communal clashes. The women shared their experience and narrated the incidents, such as how they lost their loved ones. Asmitha Digal said the attackers entered her house and poured kerosene on her mother-in-law before alighting the place. “Then they turned to my husband and asked if he would convert to Hinduism. He refused and had to face the wrath,” she said. Another woman Kadamphul Nayak said her family was attacked in a church. “They torched our houses. We fled and many ran to the safety of the forest. My husband too tried to escape and hid in a field. But the attackers found him and killed him,” she said. National president of GCIC, Sajan K George, said the women have lost many things in life but they have not tried to retaliate. “Others should draw examples from them,” George said. He said the women did not get any compensation from the government as they have lost their identity documents when their houses were burned down. Their children also do not attend schools. They stay at relief camps now. GCIC aims to voice the difficulties faced by the citizens who try to practice a faith of their choice. It also tries to uphold and implement Constitutional guarantees and the universal declaration of human rights. George said GCIC has moved the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on this matter. A total of 106 complaints from Karnataka since January, 2008 have been submitted to NHRC.

India, Nepal and law and order
By elewien
Although it left most front pages, thought we might as well continue on this topic. A great background on report on Terror Groups in India from the Council of Foreign Relations, ties in nicely with some of the discussion from posts below about the Mumbai situation, one & two. Provides information on the Indian security situation and how India has handled past situations. If you follow the link, notice it’s not Kashmir based groups, but the communist Naxalite groups of northeastern India (who have important ties Nepal’s communist movement) that are – noted before the most recent attacks – considered the biggest threat to India’s security. Found this of particular interest:
… experts credit New Delhi’s historical stance for effectively dealing with extremists through a combination of deploying heavy military force and addressing grievances through negotiations.
Human Rights Watch reports that Indian security forces operating in Kashmir abuse state laws allowing lethal force and details multiple cases where police or the military killed innocent civilians. The report calls torture in India “endemic” and quotes an Indian lawyer who calls the practice “routine” but says “most people are so glad to be out of interrogation alive, they don’t really complain.”
I know no equation for calculating the amount of force needed to maintain law and order in India (who does?). The state held together when it was not expected by the greatest of minds (if you have an hour to spare, read Moore’s chapter on India). There were tough times and great losses. I’ll venture to say that the price of maintaining democracy has outweighed the sometimes violent alternatives. Nevertheless, there is definitely room for India to improve it human rights conditions. How Indian decides to act concerning the Kashmir situation, and Pakistani relations, will definitely be a test for the ability of the government to continue providing the benefits that supposedly come with living under the auspices of a democracy. I am not one, in any way, to promote violence. Yet, I believe a solid line must be drawn when particular groups threaten the well being of a majority that promotes a democratic government. With well-defined and followed rules, some state force must be used. After all, the working definition of a state is an entity that has a “monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.”
To tie this to Nepal (as l probably with all my posts), the government is dealing with similar problems as India, trying to maintain law and order in the face of multiple groups that have resorted to the use of violence. The situation outside of the Kathmandu Valley, where 93% of the population lives, has been frequently described as anarchic by leading papers and politicians. After 100 days of Maoist rule, the number one issue on citizens’ minds is, you guessed it, law and order. Abductions, bombings, murders and bandhs (large strikes that shut down the country) are daily occurrences that have led many to seriously question the ability of the CPN-M to rule, scared away much needed foreign direct investment, and increased skepticism about the idea of democracy itself. Today, many of the current criminals are former Maoist guerillas that have not benefitted in the post-war situation. Most are jobless, with no near hope of employment. Others are still bent on moving the Peoples’ War to its conclusion – communism (more on this in my next post). Early in the week, the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission condemned the political parties for providing protection to criminals linked with their youth wings, who the NHRC blame as responsible for the country’s poor human rights record. Youth wings of numerous parties sweep the countryside with no respect for the legal institution. Parties talk about disbanding their violent youth wings, but take little action. No plans have been created to incorporate the massive number of disenfranchised unemployed youth into society. Armed political parties in the Terai (southern region of Nepal) have turned to violence in order to capture the government’s attention, shutting down entire villages and districts with their tactics. When a pedestrian is killed in a vehicle accident, in many incidents the vehicle is torched and the driver beaten. Eye for an eye justice is not the way most legal systems in liberal democracies work, but today no viable justice system exists in Nepal, leaving people to angrily take justice, sometimes in very unjust manner, into their own hands.
In response to troubles faced, the residents of my neighborhood are testing their own siren security system in order to prevent prevalent crime. If an incident occurs at a particular neighbor’s house, the owner text messages the siren system and it sounds for other neighbors to rush to the scene. “Why don’t you wait for the police?” I asked my landlord. ”Because the police take a long come,” he answered. Ironically, we live less than a minute from police headquarters. Many in my neighborhood feel they were safer with the king in power.
Assessing the lack of law and order in Nepal, there are several factors that contribute to the situation. First, the government is composed of former rebels who applied many of the same tactics as the current illegal groups are. Nobody is exactly sure, but it seems like the Maoist led government is afraid to apply too much force in fear of being called hypocrites, of bad PR. Second, there is also a split within the Maoist central leadership committee that has some leaders pushing for an agenda of revolution while Prime Minister Prachanda fights for the consolidation of democracy. After having employed revolutionary rhetoric to wage his People’s War, Prachanda is now praising the benefits of democracy, foreign direct investment and cooperation – his old worst ideological rivals. Many of his comrades are not stomaching his new moderate policy easily, especially in the countryside where there are rumors of men training for another insurgency. Prachanda has spend a lot of time justifying his ideological positions to his old comrades and convincing his new colleagues of his moderate approach. All this political wrangling has left little time for discussion on governance related issues within the party. Third, the use of the army to institute order is also an extremely sensitive issue given the political debate surrounding the incorporation of former rebels into the corps that once fought them. Fourth, there is an enormous lack of organization in the ruling CPN-M, and between CPN-M and other parties. Nepal Congress, the old ruling party is supposedly playing responsible opposition, but is being more difficult than responsible when demands are not met. Unwilling to join numerous committees until their demands have been met, the government has been unable to make important decisions on security matters without their members present. Concurrently, much criticism has been aimed at the government for wasting time cracking down on light Kathmanducentric crimes, like the operation of dance bars and casinos, when the more serious and difficult to tackle issues have been left on the back burner. Government ministries have not been formed, while human rights and abuse investigative committees’ recommendations remaining nothing more than words on paper. In end, political bickering has won out over the more important responsibilities of the caretaker government: drafting the constitution (which has been delayed over 8 months) and maintaining law and order.
The next weeks and months will be telling for the future of Nepal if conditions do not improve. I have the hope that, like what has happened in many other democratizing countries, that the early period during the transition will be confusing (as it has been) and that the situation will better as the constitution is drafted and the rookie government has more time to work out problems they have only recently inherited (if they are given the time/don’t revert again to civil war). 100 days is only a short period of time to drastically change the living conditions in a country that were next to the worst in the world during 100s of years of autocratic rule. Expectations amongst the people were extremely high that democracy would lift them quickly from poverty and make everything better. This certainly was a nice but unrealistic expectation that has resulted in a fair amount of disdain for the Maoist leadership who won their campaign on such high promises. The Maoists need a reality check, and need to begin to truthfully explain their predicament to their constituents – soon. Speaking with a Nepali friend that works at the UN the other evening, he was quite skeptical about the future of the constitution drafting process, but was certain the country could not go back to authoritarian rule. When I asked what he though the solution was, he frankly said, ” I have no clue.”

LEGAL NEWS 8.12.2008

CJI calls for ‘responsible’ media coverage
8 Dec 2008, 0455 hrs IST, TNN
New Delhi: Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Sunday asked the media to be “more responsible” and not pose hurdles to risky operations of security forces. Referring to the coverage of Mumbai attacks, CJ I Balakrishnan said that the coverage of the siege might have been used by the terrorists to their advantage. “A lot of criticism was made for the way media was reporting the Mumbai terror attack. The coverage may have been used by terrorists to their advantage and to change their guards,” he said. He said TV channels should be “more responsible” in such events as the reporting (live coverage) may have added to the problem of the security agencies. There are strict laws in foreign countries to deal with such a situation, he stressed. The CJI’s view was shared by his colleague Justice R V Raveendran, who also felt that in no other country media could have been permitted live coverage of terror attacks like Mumbai. Justice Balakrishnan refrained from making any comment on the need for bringing a tougher anti-terror law. “It is for the Government to decide,” he said when asked on the sidelines of the five-day workshop for journalists covering court proceedings, which was opened by him today.

Uttar Pradesh court reinstates 18,000 dismissed policemen
8 Dec 2008, 1930 hrs IST
ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court has ordered the reinstatement of 18,000 policemen whose services were terminated by the Mayawati government shortly after she assumed office in 2007. A single-judge bench of Justice D P Singh, which was hearing the case and had kept its judgement reserved for the past four months, gave the verdict on Monday afternoon. Recruited during the previous regime headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav, the policemen became victims of the political duel between the two rivals. Soon after she assumed office in May 2007, UP Chief Minister Mayawati instituted a high-level probe into alleged irregularities in the recruitments. The inquiry found large-scale irregularities in the recruitment process, following which the government decided to terminate the services of as many as 18,000 of the 20,000 new recruits. While the victims filed a writ petition against the move, the government decided to reinstate the 34 police officers who were suspended for their role in making the recruitments. The court, allowing the petition, directed the state government to restore the services of the dismissed policemen. The state government has, however, not been in mood to relent and proposes to move a review petition before a larger division bench of the same court. “We will file an appeal against the order of the honourable court,” Principal Home Secretary Kunwar Fateh Bahadur told reporters in Lucknow. State government chief standing counsel Devendra Upadhaya said: “Since the order was issued by a single judge, we will first move our appeal before a division bench.” Meanwhile, there was much jubilation in the Samajwadi Party camp over the court order. “Our stand has been vindicated. We always maintained that the dismissal of these poor policemen was not only unfair but illegal,” stressed state Samajwadi Party chief Shivpal Yadav, who was largely responsible for the recruitments in his capacity as a minister in his elder brother Mulayam Singh Yadav’s regime.

48 prisoners write 8th stand exam
8 Dec 2008, 1817 hrs IST, PTI
COIMBATORE: Forty Eight prisoners, lodged in the Central jail here, on Monday wrote 8th Standard examination. A special hall was set up in the jail for the prisoners, undergoing sentence for various charges, to write the exams, under direct supervision of jail superintendent. Headmaster of Government Higher secondary school of Thennanur in the district, supervised the examinations, with the help of other senior Jail officials, jail sources said.

Campus cannot be allowed to become political battlefield: SC
8 Dec 2008, 1642 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday said that it would not allow a university campus to become a “political battlefield” with free flow of money and muscle power in student union elections. “We will see that educational institutions should not become a political battlefield. Our aim is to see that there should not be free flow of money and muscle power,” a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and M K Sharma said. The Bench expressed its displeasure that elections in universities have become like parliamentary elections. “Things have changed over the years. See the amount of money going into these elections. Ten years ago even in Parliamentary election such money was not used,” it said. The Bench was hearing matters relating to the student union elections in Jawaharlal Nehru University, which were stayed by it on October 24 after allegations that the university was not implementing the recommendations of Lyngdoh Committee. It was also hearing the issue relating to vandalism in a college premises in Puri district of Orissa in the run-up to the students union election. The Bench took up the matter by expressing its disapproval at the students of JNU who filed an application under the nomenclature of ‘Joint Struggle Committee’ for lifting the stay on its election. The use of word “struggle” in naming the committee to fight out the stay order of the apex court on JNU students union election brought the wrath of the Bench. “What is the nomenclature of the Committee. This is certainly not the language to be acceptable. You cannot say struggle against the Supreme Court,” the Bench said.

Bhajan Lal disowns Chander Mohan for marrying second time
8 Dec 2008, 1228 hrs IST, PTI
HISSAR: Disowning his elder son for marrying second time, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal on Monday said Chander Mohan’s act had made him “hang his head in shame”. “The act of (remarrying by) my son is something shameful for me, my family and the state. I always lived with my head high, but this act has lowered it,” Lal said, a day after Chander Mohan was sacked as the deputy chief minister of Haryana when he surfaced yesterday after mysteriously disappearing for a month from public view. “I condemn Chander Mohan’s act and disown him from my family. He has no links with us after his ‘harkat’ (act),” he told reporters in the presence of his wife and former MLA Jasma Devi and former MP and younger son Kuldeep Bishnoi at his residence here. Lal said that he and his family stood by Chander Mohan’s first wife Seema, son Siddhartha and daughter Damini. “Their upbringing would be the responsibility of mine and my family,” he said. The former chief minister said he had always worked for the society and the state and tried to set an example before the people. Asked if the action of 43-year-old Chander Mohan would adversely affect poll prospects of Haryana Janhit Congress led by Kuldeep Bishnoi, Lal said, “There would be no effect as in the past two years, he (Chander Mohan) and we had adopted a different approach. “He was with the Congress whereas I and my younger son were in the HJC-BL,” he said.

Haryana dy CM converts to remarry, sacked from cabinet
8 Dec 2008, 0239 hrs IST, Manveer Saini, TNN
CHANDIGARH: The deputy chief minister of Haryana, awol for nearly a month, resurfaced in Jaipur on Sunday, a much married man who also changed his name and religion. But none of this has apparently helped. For, Chander Mohan, who was chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s deputy, has been summarily sacked from the state cabinet. Putting recent speculation to an end, Chander Mohan finally appeared as Chand Mohammad along with Fiza (Anuradha Bali, a former law officer from Haryana), saying, “I was attracted towards Islam since childhood. I have known her (Anuradha Bali) for a long time and now we are happily married.” Son of former Haryana strongman Bhajan Lal, who was instrumental in his appointment as deputy CM as part of a compromise formula (whereby Bhajan Lal himself had lost the CM’s chair to Bhupinder Singh Hooda), Chander Mohan had remained dormant within the Congress. This was even as his father and his younger brother, Kuldeep Bishnoi, floated a regional party. Sources close to the CM claimed that Chander Mohan was stripped of his post for his “absence from office for over a month”. Appearing composed while interacting with a TV channel, Chand Mohammad alias Chander Mohan said, “Positions just come and go. I am a man of commitment and am very much part of the Congress party. It’s for the high command to decide what role is to be assigned to me.” With no sign of regret visible on his face, the sacked deputy CM once again reiterated that he had never disappeared and was very much in touch with his friends and colleagues. But he refused to comment on how his family members have reacted to his second marriage. Speaking about his earlier marriage, he said, “We lived together for 18 years and I would not like to comment on my first wife and children.” On the other hand, Fiza, alias Anuradha Bali, who termed Chander Mohan as a perfect human being, said he was being targeted by a certain lobby within his party.

Learning with the Times: NSG, a federal force set up in 1984
8 Dec 2008, 0203 hrs IST, TNN
When was the NSG formed? The National Security Guard (NSG) was set up in 1984 as a federal contingency deployment force mainly to tackle terrorism situations, which were beyond the control of state police and other central police forces. Also known as the Black Cat commandos, the NSG is a task-oriented force and is meant for use only in exceptional conditions. Like most of the other international special forces, it is also modelled on the pattern of the SAS of the United Kingdom. What are the main tasks assigned to the NSG? In the beginning, the NSG was trained to handle anti-hijack and rescue operations in hostage situations. It was supposed to provide support to the central paramilitary forces in dealing with anti-terrorist activities. In 1986-87, it was also entrusted with VVIP security, anti-sabotage checks at venues of VVIP public meetings and anti-hijack duties in domestic and international flights. Many NSG personnel are seconded to the Special Protection Group (SPG) which guards the Prime Minister. Apart from this, it is also deployed in bomb detection and disposal and it is responsible for collecting data on bomb explosions in the country. What is the organisational setup of the NSG? NSG operates under the oversight of the home ministry and it is headed by a director general level official from the Indian Police Service. It is mainly divided into two groups — Special Action Group (SAG) and Special Rangers Group (SRG). SAG draws its members from the Indian Army and it is the offensive wing of NSG. SRG, on the other hand, draws its member from central police organisations and is primarily used in a supportive role to the SAG. As physical fitness is a very important criterion, the NSG always maintains a young profile. All NSG commandos work on deputation. After serving for 3 to 5 years, they are sent back to their parent organisations. Where are the NSG commandos trained? The NSG training centre is located at Manesar, a village in Gurgaon district of Haryana. In the International Combat Team Competition 2007, which was conducted by GSG9 in Bonn, Germany, the NSG team won the obstacles-cum-endurance competition, a first for any team from Asian countries. Being an elite force, NSG commandos undergo tough training. The basic training course lasts for 90 days and only those who complete the entire course successfully are induced into the NSG. What are the famous operations undertaken by the NSG? Apart from the recent Mumbai terror attacks, the NSG since its inception has been involved in several high-profile operations. The NSG carried out two operations — Black Thunder I & II — to clear the Golden temple of Khalistani militants in 1986 and 1988. During Operation Ashwamedh, which was conducted in 1994, it released 141 passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines Boeing 737 at Amritsar airport by storming the plane and killing the hijacker. In the 2002 Akshardham Temple attack by terrorists, NSG ended the siege and rescued 50 people who were trapped in the temple. Apart from this, the elite force has been involved in several operations undertaken in J&K, which range from rescue in hostage situations to conducting pro-active strikes against militants.

Goons kill rape victim’s son in Kishanganj district, Bihar
8 Dec 2008, 0229 hrs IST, Bhuvaneshwar Prasad, TNN
KISHANGANJ: In a heart-wrenching incident, goons snatched a two-month-old boy from the lap of his mother, a rape victim, and dashed him against the ground after she refused to withdraw the case against the alleged rapist. The baby died instantly. The cold-blooded murder took place at Dubadangi village in Kishanganj district of Bihar on Saturday night. A case was registered on Sunday after Suraiya (name changed), the child’s mother, complained to Kishanganj SP M R Naik. The woman was being bullied by some musclemen to withdraw the case against her alleged rapist, who is also the father of the boy. When she refused to fall in line, the goons – identified in the complaint as Kalam, Sajjad and Mustqil – tried to pressure her and her guardians and later killed the child, police sources said. According to Suraiya, 18, she was raped by fellow villager Mushtaq almost a year back. She conceived following the incident. After pressure from the villagers, he agreed to take her as wife, and a date was fixed for the marriage. However, on the wedding day, the man demanded a huge dowry. When Suraiya’s father, Abdul Samad, pleaded his inability to arrange the dowry, Mushtaq fled from the marriage venue. Thereafter, a complaint was lodged with Bahadurganj police station, charging Mushtaq with rape. In the meantime, the child was born and Suraiya cared for the child. The SP told TOI said that Bahadurganj police lodged a case against the perpetrators of the crime and efforts were on to arrest them.

Pilots may serve legal notice to Jet over pay cuts
8 Dec 2008, 0433 hrs IST, Manju V, TNN
MUMBAI: Jet Airways’ salary cutting exercise, which got going this month, may face glitches with the airlines’ Indian pilots planning to serve a legal notice alleging breach of employment contract. On Thursday, the airline employees received a salary cut email, effective from December 1. “The mail informed pilots about a 10% cut in their salary and allowances, including no monthly or annual overtime dues, reduction of per day allowance and meal allowance for outstation stays from $220 to $145,” said a senior pilot. “Some of the cuts go against our employment contract. We are planning to serve a legal notice on the airline,” the pilot added. However, there were no protests from engineers and other staff. The pilot’s protests may have seemed unjustified — given that the airline took these steps to keep its neck out of water — if it were not for its alleged partisan handling of the expatriate pilots issue. On many ocassions in the past, including the time when the airline chief Naresh Goyal called the pilots to discuss salary cuts last month, the said issue was brought up. The Indian pilots have been demanding a complete phase out of foreign pilots — they have to be paid double the salary as compared to their Indian counterparts — as the airline has surplus pilots on some aircraft like the B-737. Among other sore points are the alleged discrimination in flying hours alloted and destinations. “Despite several assurances by management, the discrimination continues, even at the cost of losing more money. For instance, the airline is wet leasing B-777 aircraft to Turkish Airlines and Gulf Air. It has decided to send expatriate pilots with these aircraft, though they would cost the airline more. An expatriate pilot would have to be paid $20,000 whereas an Indian is paid only $12,000. We can’t accept the salary cuts in such a scenario,” the pilot said, adding that expatriate pilots’ salaries have not been touched. “The only change is that the airline won’t pay for hotel accomodation in the city that the expatriate pilot is based in. Instead, they will be paid Rs 1 lakh a month for accomodation,” he added. The Jet Airways spokesperson said the measures were taken to overcome the challenges faced due to the current global economic slowdown. “Jet Airways has adjusted its route network and adopted internal measures to trim costs across the organisation,” the spokeserson said.
“All employees earning a gross salary of over Rs 75,000 per month have been requested for a graduated wage cut over the next 12 months. For pilots, this will be in the form of a combination of wage cut and allowance rationalisation, which will bring the contribution of pilots in line with the other employees in the company. The top management team has taken a voluntary cut of 25%, effective from December 8,” the spokesperson said, adding that the airline and its employees are united in their efforts.

Mumbai terror attack resurrects public accountability
8 Dec 2008, 0448 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra , TNN
Live images of the three-day Mumbai attack has changed the view of the silent majority, which thought nothing could change `the system’, a common refrain reflecting the futility of any attempt to enforce public accountability in governance. Public accountability is almost a dead phrase in politics. Lal Bahadur Shastri’s decision in the 1960s to resign from the Union Cabinet owning moral responsibility for a train accident is more of a fairy tale than an example of accountability for today’s politicians. 26/11 has changed it all. Furious coverage of the attack on Mumbai’s premier hotels made people choke with emotion, sharing the grief of those who lost loved ones. Once the terrorists were killed, they rose in salute and gratitude to the men in uniform, and then vent their anger against `the system’ run by politicians. Seldom has a ruling dispensation showed such alacrity in finding the men responsible for the lapses and holding them accountable. Heads rolled in Delhi immediately after guns fell silent in Mumbai. Enforcement of public accountability also saw Maharashtra’s top two — the chief minister and his deputy — being eased out. A nation was stirred up and public anger against non-performers was being respected. Accountability of the ruling political class to the public is an essential feature of good governance. This established fact has been reiterated time and again by jurists and courts across the world. The Supreme Court had said in S R Bommai vs Union of India case (1994 AIR 1918) that it was not concerned with the merits of a political decision. The Constitution Bench had said, “We are to reiterate that judicial review is not concerned with the merits of the decision but with the decision-making process. This is on the premise that modern democratic system has chosen that political accountability is more important than other kinds of accountability and the judiciary exercising its judicial review may be refrained to do so when it finds that the controversy is not based on judicially discoverable or manageable standards.” What Prime Minister Manmohan Singh did in easing out home minister Shivraj Patil and the political parties in booting out Vilasrao Deshmukh and R R Patil appears to be in line with Lord Nolan’s 1995 guidelines for British politicians. The general recommendations of Lord Nolan’s report on `Standards in Public Life’ under the head `Accountability’ said, “Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.” Judicial accountability, demand for which has become shrill in the wake of a spate of reports about corruption among judges in higher judiciary, appears to have been overshadowed by the flow of events in the aftermath of the terror attack. A day before terrorists struck in Mumbai, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan made a strong statement in his November 25 address to the nation on the eve of Law Day, that virtually went unnoticed. Showing great courage, the CJI said, “So far as the 16,000-odd judges who constitute the Indian judiciary are concerned, I am responsible for their conduct as head of the system though I do not personally have legal and administrative control over them.” He added, “Nonetheless, I have a duty to explain how the judiciary is enforcing discipline among the judges to ensure that people who approach the courts will get fair and impartial justice.” To take responsibility for 16,000-odd judges, especially at a time when fingers are being pointed at judiciary, is no easy task. But the good thing is that a fresh beginning has been made, both in politics and judiciary, on public accountability.

Making equality less selective–2128936835,curpg-8.cms
First Published : 08 Dec 2008 12:22:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 08 Dec 2008 08:41:46 AM IST
Recently, there was a high court decision to compel the present Governor of Andhra Pradesh to personally appear in court to testify on a personal claim made against him. The Governor’s counsel argued that his client’s official status should be enough reason to exempt him from being made to appear in person. The court rejected the plea, sparking much favourable comment on equality before the law and outdated mores on privilege.
More recently, there was criticism by the union law minister on the Chief Justice of India’s decision, an unprecedented one, to allow the Central Bureau of Investigation to question two incumbent judges of a HC on a much-publicised bribery scam. The minister, himself a veteran lawyer, said he wasn’t in favour of the CBI or any police investigating cases against judges. All these, he said, must be handled in confidentiality by the CJI himself. Put another way, that judges can’t be subject to the same law as the rest of us and that this privilege is needed in the cause of democracy. One noted an absence of protest at this proposition.
Being colonised by the British made for some positive legacies. Among the more doubtful others is that of privilege based on official rank, passed on to a society that already had an overload of feudal culture and birth-based claims.
While we may, thus, admire the precepts on equality, it somehow doesn’t jell with our bones, even in those sworn to fight for the unprivileged.
Witness, for instance, the quasi-divinity status of, say, Mayawati in her Dalits-first party or, for that matter, Karunanidhi in the Dravidar one.
Or the notion, for instance, that a secretary to the government should take a bus to office or that the spouse of an IGP should queue to pay a traffic fine. It is good news, then, that judges have compelled a state governor to testify, for once, in a court of law. But it won’t make much of a change if they also simultaneously agree with a right to be guaranteed from police questioning on a serious matter. Or, even on a minor one. This might seem like making a fuss about nothing much; after all, we have completed so many decades as a democracy with all these privileges in good order. True, but it is useful to contemplate what sort of democracy we might have become if these privileges had been barred at the outset. Better late than never.

Homosexuality needs to be curbed as it spreads HIV/AIDS: Centre to HC
7 Dec 2008, 1114 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Justifying criminalisation of homosexuality in the country, the Centre has pleaded before the Delhi High that it is one of the main reasons for spread of HIV/AIDS and needs to be curbed.
In a written submission filed by Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra, the Centre said that legalising Men having sex with Men (MSM), as pleaded by gay rights activists, would lead to spread of the dreaded disease and placed reports of various countries to substantiate its stand.
“In Zambia, one in three (33%) surveyed men who have sex with men tested HIV-positive. In the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, 43% of men who said they had sex only with other men were found to be living with HIV,” the government said, quoting the United Nations report on Global AIDS Epidemic, 2008.
“In Bangkok, HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men rose from 17% in 2003 to 28% in 2005 and it is estimated that as many as 21% new HIV infections in Thailand in 2005 were attributable to unprotected sex between men,” the Centre said.
The 100-page written submission was filed by the Centre as the court, while reserving the order, had allowed the government to file any additional submission in a written form.
Centre’s response came on a PIL filed by gay rights activists seeking the court’s direction to decriminalise gay sex among consenting adults in private.
At present, homosexuality is an offence in the country and Section 377 of Indian Penal Code provides punishment for up to life imprisonment for engaging in such acts.

Hindu-Christian wedlock invalid under Hindu Marriage Act: SC
7 Dec 2008, 0331 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Marriage between a Hindu and a Christian is invalid under the Hindu Marriage Act, as the Act provides for only Hindu couples to enter into wedlock, the Supreme Court ruled on Saturday. A Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Aftab Alam upheld the judgment of the Andhra Pradesh HC which nullified a marriage, after the wife, Bandaru Pavani, a Hindu, claimed that her husband, Gullipilli Sowria Raj a Christian, had misled her by pretending to be a Hindu and married her at a temple. The husband had misinformed about his social status, the wife had complained while seeking divorce. The matrimonial court rejected her plea for divorce saying the marriage was valid under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, even if one of the parties belonged to any other faith. However, the HC upheld her plea and said the marriage was void as the Act postulated marriage only between Hindus.

In hospital for medical aid, prisoner escapes
7 Dec 2008, 0317 hrs IST, TNN
Patiala: In a filmy operation, underworld elements in Patiala freed a prisoner from hospital and ran over a jail warden as they whisked away the don in a Scorpio. The ‘rescue’ came in the wee hours of Saturday, when Ravinder Singh, facing multiple charges of fake currency racket and attempt to murder, was wheeled out of the emergency ward of Rajindra Hospital by his cronies. The accused, arrested from Zirakpur on Monday, had suffered a leg fracture in an escape bid and was hospitalized on Thursday. He was shifted from the prisoner’s ward the next day and two jail wardens were assigned to guard him.

Prove cruelty by in-laws in dowry death case: HC
7 Dec 2008, 0312 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: Every suicide by a bride cannot be taken to be a dowry death. Cruelty by in-laws and/or the husband has to be proved in such a case, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court ruled recently. “Sentiments apart, there has to be some evidence to show that the appellant had subjected the victim to cruelty, which led her to commit suicide, in order to sustain his conviction,” said Justice R C Chavan, acquitting a Yavatmal resident, 24-year-old Vithal Lakbande, of charges of abetment of suicide of his wife. The prosecution’s charge that Kaveri’s suicide was “unexplained” did not find favour with the court, which agreed with the defence that the possibility that she could have decided to end her life for some other reason could not be ruled out. Kaveri killed herself in December 2005 by consuming poison, barely ten months after her marriage to Lakbande. Following a complaint by her mother, the police arrested Lakbande, his parents and brothers. While his family members were acquitted by the trial court, Lakbande was sentenced to ten years’ rigorous imprisonment. In the high court, Lakbande’s lawyers argued that except for the statements of Kaveri’s mother and uncles, there was no evidence that the bride had been harassed by her husband or in-laws. “Though the suicide is inexplicable, since the allegations of cruelty had surfaced only after the victim’s death it’s difficult to hold that the victim was subjected to cruelty, when such allegations do not receive any corroboration from the neighbours or other independent sources,” contended the defence lawyer.

How green is this medicine?
7 Dec 2008, 0308 hrs IST, Meenakshi Kumar, TNN
Ayurveda, the oldest health system in the world, is going in for a makeover, but is it all for the good? Till now, the biggest innovation had been coloured ayurvedic pills and capsules. But the government’s recent amendment of the 63-year-old Drugs and Cosmetics Act appears to allow a more fundamental change — ayurvedic medicine can now contain anti-oxidants, flavouring agents, preservatives and sweeteners. So is ayurveda about to lose its unique organic wholesomeness? Ayurveda practitioners and drug-makers don’t think so. They say the additives, natural or synthetic, must be in permissible quantities in order that the medicine retains its natural properties. “The purpose of allowing the use of anti-oxidants or sweeteners is to increase the shelf life of the ayurvedic medicines,” says Dr S K Sharma, advisor to the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). The reasoning is that once they last longer, it would be easier to market ayurvedic medicines nationally and internationally. But Sharma cautions that the changed law is not “purely for commercial reasons. There is a strong need for scientific innovation. It’s time that we tried to improve ayurvedic medicines.” So, the anti-oxidants that are being allowed to use will prevent the medicine from decomposing. The additives, says Sharma, will only help in making ayurvedic medicines more stable than ever before. Some ayurvedic practitioners admit that there are legitimate concerns about additives. Dr V V Doiphode, dean of Pune University’s Department of Ayurveda, stresses the importance of testing any product before it is added to an ayurvedic drug. “The onus is on the drug-makers to ensure these (additives) aren’t detrimental to health,” he says. For that they will have to conduct extensive research and lab testing. There are other ways of ensuring compliance, not least guidelines issued by the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC), an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. The IPC sets strict standards for drugs and other pharmaceutical products. Add to this, the wording of the amended Drugs and Cosmetics Act, which allows “only natural colouring agents as permitted under rule 26 of Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules 1955 for ayurveda, siddha and unani drugs.” But what if someone wanted to market a flavoured chyawanprash, say chocolate, to attract the international market? Would that be more synthetic than traditional chyawanprash? Not really, so long as it retains its original properties, says Ranjit Puranik, CEO of Shree Dootapapeshwar Ltd, ayurvedic drug-maker and exporter. The loophole, however, is that a product like chyawanprash, which is made of 54 herbs — of which amla (gooseberry) is the main — can be marketed internationally as a dietary supplement rather than a medicine. If it has to be marketed as a medicine, then all the 54 herbs have to go through a standardisation process that will certify that none of the herbs are harmful to health. The amended act allows synthetic additives in ayurvedic drugs but insists they “carry a statutory warning stating the name and quantity of the artificial sweetener.” Puranik says it’s up to the individual manufacturer to decide how natural he wants the ayurvedic drug to be. And if he uses a large quantity of synthetic additive “he clearly can’t then sell the product as ayurveda”. That may affect ayurvedic core market, but the holistic health treatment has a long way to go in persuading India and the wider world of the goodness of its old-style organic approach to healing. Industry experts estimate that the global market for ayurveda is worth $120 billion. But India’s ayurveda exports are a paltry Rs 450 crore or $91 million. China and Sri Lanka lead the world in ayurveda manufacture and export. India is finally trying to close the gap by adding innovation to the ayurveda mix. “These medicines can be tweaked a bit to suit people’s tastes, but the medicinal properties should be maintained. Say for instance, a popular ayurvedic medicine, kashayam, is now available in the form of capsules and tablets. This has been achieved by spray drying but the original properties are not tinkered with.” says V G Udayakumar, president of the Kerala-based Ayurveda Medical Association of India. He believes the same can be applicable to other medicines too. But there’s some way to go before the humble hajmola becomes the world’s prescribed cure for indigestion.

Federal agency, new law to fight war on terror
7 Dec 2008, 0102 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN
New Delhi: The Federal Investigating Agency being considered by the Centre will have sweeping powers to probe incidents of terrorism anywhere in the country without obtaining prior consent of the state governments. Shaken by the terror attacks on Mumbai, and under pressure to demonstrate it means business, the Centre plans to work around law and order being a state subject by terming terror strikes as attacks on “sovereignty” of the country. This would allow the Union government to pass a law setting up the FIA. Determined to get the FIA passed in the forthcoming session of Parliament due to get underway on December 10, the government also plans to confer wider discretion to central security and law enforcement agencies to facilitate smooth interception of telephonic conversations of terror suspects by strengthening provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act. The government seems determined to push ahead with anti-terror initiatives and the FIA also figured in an internal security review which saw home minister P Chidambaram meet National Security Advisor M K Narayanan on Saturday. Intelligence Bureau chief P C Haldar, Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar and top home and law officials also took attending the review meeting. The high-level review took up intelligence gathering and analysis, air, coastal and riverine security besides media management during a terrorist crisis. There has been a business-like air to discussions and the nitty-gritty of equipment, command and monitoring mechanisms and manpower for policing were taken up. Certain proposals like registration of fishing boats present a mammoth task and while technical feasibility studies of may take longer, the emphasis was on shorter term, “doable” solutions. There will be a further review next week to focus on issues that have been tagged. In drafting the federal agency mechanism, which was finetuned in discussions involving home minister P Chidambaram and science and technology minister Kapil Sibal, both eminent lawyers, Centre hit upon the “sovereignty” clause to get the constitutional cover it was seeking. The move, sources said, is constitutionally sound as the Centre is entitled to enact laws, without amending the Constitution, under Item No. 1 of the Union List, which reads: “Defence of India and every part thereof including preparation for defence and all such acts as may be conducive in times of war to its prosecution and after its termination to effective demobilisation.” The federal agency could be given shape under Item No. 8 of the Union List, which empowers the Centre to set up a “Central Bureau of Intelligence and Investigation”, the sources say. In other words, terrorism would be dealt with at the central level and not get lost in the `law and order’ debate — a subject entrusted to the states under List II. On the lines of the existing provision for special courts to try offences probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the new enactment is likely to provide for designated courts to try terrorists and cases investigated by the proposed federal agency. Government has readied its plan to strengthen the UAPA and is also carefully weighing, keeping in view its political constraints, bringing in a new anti-terror law which is milder than Pota.

India No.1 in children not protected against measles
7 Dec 2008, 0245 hrs IST, Kounteya Sinha, TNN
NEW DELHI: Measles deaths may have plummeted worldwide by 74% between 2000 and 2007, from an estimated 7.5 lakh to 1.97 lakh annually, but a large number of children in India continue to be unprotected against this killer. According to WHO’s latest estimates, in 2007, more than 23 million one-year-old children did not receive a dose of measles vaccine through routine immunization. An estimated 15.2 million (65%) of these reside in eight countries. India holds the dubious distinction of having the highest number of such unvaccinated children — 8.5 million — followed by two million in Nigeria and one million in China. The leading vaccine-preventable killer of children under the age of five, measles claimed the lives of 1.3 lakh children in South-East Asia followed by 45,000 in Africa and 10,000 in Eastern Mediterranean countries which includes countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Sudan. The Eastern Mediterranean region has therefore cut measles deaths by a remarkable 90% from an estimated 96,000 to 10,000 during the same period, thus achieving the United Nations’ goal to reduce measles deaths by 90% by 2010, three years early. Although more than 3.6 million lives have been saved due to increased vaccination coverage, measles is still one of the leading killers of children worldwide, with an estimated 540 children dying each day from the disease (22 deaths every hour). According to the Measles Initiative, South-East Asia experienced a 42% decline in measles deaths — the lowest among all regions — due to the delayed implementation of large-scale vaccination campaigns in India, which currently accounts for two-thirds of global measles deaths. Presently, the injectible measles vaccine in administered only once, when a child is 9 months old. It is part of India’s routine immunization programme that includes polio, DPT and BCG vaccines. With India’s routine immunization rate as low as 50%, measles vaccination has also suffered. Unicef says that in 2006, 68.1% children were vaccinated against measles. But like in polio, Bihar, UP and North-East have recorded a poor 30% coverage. “A measles vaccine provides 85% protection. So children still get infected. Some experts say the vaccine should be given a second time. However, we are presently more concerned with strengthening the first dose delivery rate,” a health ministry official said. India is also carrying out measles immunization campaigns using its existing infrastructure for polio eradication. Meanwhile, the global fight against measles is facing an acute funds crunch. “Currently the shortfall stands at $176 million for 2009-2010, of which $35 million is urgently needed for 2009. During these tough economic times, it is important to remember that prevention is always more cost effective in the long run than treatment,” officials from the Measles Initiative said. The highly contagious virus is spread by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact or direct contact with infected nasal or throat secretions. The virus remains active and contagious in the air or on infected surfaces for up to two hours. It can be transmitted by an infected individual from four days prior to the onset of the rash to four days after the rash erupts. Measles outbreaks can result in epidemics that cause many deaths, especially among young, malnourished children. The most serious complications of measles are blindness, encephalitis, diarrhoea, ear infections and pneumonia.

Delhi HC: Directs Govt to give alternate plots to poor
The Delhi High Court has directed the government not to uproot the poors, who had been allotted land in 1975 under the then prime minister’s 20-point programme scheme, till alternate land was allotted to them elsewhere.After hearing a petition filed by 34 petitioners of the Harijans and other poor class of Village Kochanpur (Dwarka), a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Manmohan Singh on Friday directed the government not to uproot them for building a housing project for others till they were allotted an alternate plot.Holding the DDA’s stand to acquire all the land in Dwarka as a part of the development plan, the court held that for larger and more comprehensive schemes, larger tracts of land were required and to leave out small tracts as undeveloped in between will not only be counterproductive, but would also create difficulties in the proper implementation of such schemes.During 1975, government had allotted land to the Harijans and other poor people to built their houses.The land, which was allotted to the poors, was from different Gram Sabhas. Land was also allotted to 34 such landless people at village Kochanpur in 1977.In 2000, the DDA had framed a housing project and much land was placed at the disposal of the DDA by the government. Notification under section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act was issued by the government on December 13, 2000, and the process to acquire the land, including the land of village Kochanpur, began.The petitioners challenged the government decision to acquire their land and asked ‘When the Harijans were rehabilitated by the government it defied commonsense why such people should be uprooted for the purpose of development of residential plots for others.’ The High Court held that giving de regard to the law, the government should not have acquired their land. But now in the larger interest, if the government had acquired the entire land of the area, including the land which belonged to the 34 applicants, which was just a minuscule of the entire project, it must ensure that the petitioners were given alternate land within eight weeks from now.The court said the policy makers must ensure a comprehensive and holistic view before formulating schemes of such magnitude.UNI

Madras HC rules out Govt proposal to offer certificate course
The Madras High Court has ruled that the proposal of the Tamil Nadu government to offer a six-month certificate course in diabetology through the Distance Education was untenable and the Government Order (GO) providing such a course was unconstitutional.The First Bench comprising Chief Justice A K Ganguly and Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, quashing the order dated August 5, 2008, made it clear that the government could not grant any certificate to candidates, who had already joined the course that is currently being offered in all the 14 government medical colleges in the state. The proposal to launch a six-month distance education course on diabetology had come from the director of Medical Education. However, four doctors challenged the constitutional validity of the GO, stating that no medical qualification could be awarded to doctors unless it was recognised by the Medical Council of India (MCI).Senior Counsel, representing the MCI, P Chandrasekaran submitted that diabetology is a specialty in medical education and it would be impermissible for the government to offer a certificate course without the MCI’s nod.Additional Advocate General (AAG) S Ramasamy, however, said prevalence of Type-Two diabetes in Tamil Nadu was about 12 per cent in urban areas and 4.5 to 6 per cent in rural areas among the adults. Describing the course as a reorientation, he said it aimed to prevent complications as general practitioners are treating diabetics now.Quashing the GO, the Bench said the MCI was the apex body to ensure standards and this objective would be defeated if the state was permitted to run a parallel course.‘The impugned GO seeks to introduce, in exercise of its so-called executive power, a course of a different nature on the same subject, may be for a smaller duration by giving a different name. It is nothing but a course in medical education,’ the Bench observed.‘Coordination in higher education will be difficult if such courses are allowed,’ the Bench said.UNI

Madras HC: Employer’s denial of jobs to apprentice destroy human resources
The Madras High Court has observed that training schemes were introduced to promote employment chances of educated and unemployed, and if an employer did not provide jobs to qualified apprentices, it would destroy developed human resources. Dismissing a writ appeal filed by the Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) Limited, Tiruchirapally, a Division Bench comprising Justice S J Mukhopadhaya and Justice V Dhanapalan said the nation should get the benefit of time, money and energy spent on the trainees, which can be ensured only when they were given preference in employment. Services of BHEL Workers, engaged temporarily on daily wage basis, were subsequently terminated. Initially, they demanded regularisation of their services and later moved the Labour Court, Tiruchirapally, which ordered reinstatement without back wages as well as continuity of service. Following the ruling, the BHEL management filed petition. The workers, too, challenged the denial of back wages and continuity of services. The single Judge dismissed the management’s petition and partly allowed the workers petition. The present appeal was against this order.UNI

Allahabad HC: Directs formation of board for management of Radha Vallabh
The Allahabad High Court has put its seal on the removal of self-styled Tilkait Adhikari Goswami Radhesh Lalji from the management of the famous temple of Thakur Radha Vallabhji Maharaj of Radha Vallabhi Sampradaya, pronounced by Swami Hit Harbansji Maharaj in the 16th century.The High Court directed District Judge, Mathura, to form a board for the management of the temple till February 1, 2009.This order was passed by Justice Dileep Gupta. The Court has also cleared in its order that expelled Adhikari and his descendents would not receive any type of gift or collection. The said temple is one of the most revered and old temples of Vrindavan. In this temple, Goswamis of Sampraday have been authorised for the worship and task of management is divided in two pali. Second pali is of Vikas Vansh and allegation was made about this.UNI

No evidence linking us to Malegaon blast: Purohit, Rahirkar
6 Dec 2008, 1915 hrs IST, PTI
MUMBAI: Terming the invocation of MCOCA against them as “inappropriate”, Lt Col Prasad Purohit and Abhinav Bharat treasurer Ajay Rahirkar, both accused in the September 29 Malegaon blast case, on Saturday moved the special MCOCA court seeking bail. Purohit and Rahirkar in their bail applications claimed that the investigating agency, Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), had no evidence linking them to the blast and that they have nothing to do with the case. Special MCOCA Judge Y D Shinde directed the prosecution to file its reply on the application by December 16. Meanwhile, Purohit and another accused Rakesh Dhawade, whose police custody ended today, were remanded to judicial custody till December 16 along with eight other accused, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. The ATS in its remand application sought judicial custody of Purohit and Dhawade stating that they would seek police custody of the two if required later. The court also granted Purohit permission to undergo an MRI scan at a private hospital as it found the state-run J J Hospital’s refusal to do the same claiming it might dislocate his knee permanently, as pointless. Earlier, the court had directed J J Hospital to conduct an MRI scan on Purohit’s knee which had been injured when he was in the army.

Circuit bench awaits HC, SC nod to open
RAIGANJ, Dec 7: The state law minister, Mr Rabilal Moitra said today that the infrastructure development work for the Jalpaiguri Circiut Bench is complete and the Centre has been informed of the matter. “At present, we are awaiting the approval of the Supreme Court and the Calcutta High Court. Once we receive their approvals the Circuit Bench can start functioning,” he said. The state law minister said this at Islampur in the North Dinajpur district after attending the annual conference of the North Dinajpur unit of the state democratic Lawyers’ Association today. The minister also admitted that most of the courts in the state were facing acute shortage of judges as a result a good number of cases has remained pending for years. “The state government is aware of the problem and has already initiated a move to fill up the vacancies at the earliest so as to facilitate prompt disposal of the cases,” he said. Referring to the tribal unrest in different parts of the state, the minister declared that the state government is committed to the socio-economic upliftment of the tribal majority areas in the state. “We have done alot to bring the backward community to the mainstream by taking up massive poverty amelioration and other programmes in course of the three decade long Left Front regime,” he said. “A good number of roads have been constructed in the tribal dominated parts of the state. This apart, many tribal families have been brought under income generating schemes. However, much more has to be done, keeping in view the long standing backwardness of the community,” the state law minister said. He also criticised the opposition parties for attempting to make political capital out of the growing discontent in the tribal community. n SNS

HC issues notice to Maha, Cental govts
7 Dec 2008, 1729 hrs IST, PTI
THANE: The Bombay High Court has issued notices to the Maharashtra government and the Centre to give their say on a petition filed by an advocate regarding the setting up of a commission to probe into the recent terrorist strikes in Mumbai. Justices Swatantra Kumar and S A Bobade directed the respondents to file their reply within two weeks and the matter is likely to come up before the bench on December 18. In his plea, petitioner VP Patil said that the main prayer is to appoint a commission like the Srikrishna Commission which was set up to probe into the riots that took place in 1993 in Mumbai. Secondly, in 1989, he pointed out, the police ill treated the then chief judicial magistrate N L Patel of Nadiad in Gujarat which was inquired by Justice R M Sahai, judge of the Allahabad High court who was elevated to the Supreme court after completion of inquiry. He said in USA after the 9/11 incident, that government appointed 9/11 Commission which submitted its report within three months and the actions were initiated against the concerned. He requested that the same be followed in respect of the Mumbai terror attacks and a sitting High Court judge be appointed to fix the liability against ministers and bureaucrats concerned.

Recruitment scam exposed in HC, disposed of by govt
Posted on 11:51 AM
The Department of Local Government has reportedly shown an unusual haste in disposing of a case pertaining to a recruitment scam that surfaced in the Kharar Municipal Council (MC) earlier this year. The department’s decision to close the case file by withdrawing a thorough probe ordered earlier to fix the responsibilities of those involved in the nexus has raised many eyebrows.Several appointments were allegedly made at the Kharar MC, throwing norms and conditions to the winds. Certain officials had allegedly appointed their near and dear ones on different posts in an “illegal” and “wrong” manner.The scam came to light when one such appointee approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court. In her petition, Jiwan Lata, a resident of Kharar, sought the release of her salary, pension and other retirement benefits after 16 years of service, for which she claimed to have been paid only Rs 106.45.When the court sought a reply from former Kharar MC executive officer (EO) S K Gulati, he submitted that Lata had actually worked for four days only, after which she had taken voluntary retirement. He brought to the court’s notice how Lata and others were recruited by his predecessors in an “irregular” and “illegal” manner.Gulati said all such appointments had been cancelled soon after the alleged irregularities came to the notice of senior officials. The appointees were duly paid their dues, he told the court. Gulati said Lata had concealed this fact from the HC that she was the wife of Tarsem Lal Sharma, who was working as an accountant in the MC at the time of her appointment. Among other “illegal” appointees were Deepak Kumar, a close relative of the then EO Pawan Kumar Gupta, and Jagdish Lal, nephew of the then section officer Hans Raj.Submitting that Lata’s petition was based on completely “false” and “fabricated” facts, Gulati said Lata’s husband had also appointed another relative and his namesake, Tarsem Lal.While Lata, Deepak and Jagdish were appointed as clerks, Tarsem Lal was given the job of a peon/chowkidar. Gulati told the court that neither these appointments were made through the employment exchange, nor were the posts advertised in newspapers.Not only did Lata seek benefits of her “long” service that actually never existed, she also pleaded for a job to her son on compassionate grounds, claiming she had sought voluntary retirement prior to attaining the superannuation age on medical grounds.Gulati said Lata had also claimed all these “undue” benefits on the basis of her “backward-class” status, by mentioning the name of her father, though she had married a Brahmin much before her appointment. At the time of her appointment in 1991, Gulati said, Lata was 42 years old, which made her ineligible for the job anyway. “Moreover, she was appointed on an ad hoc basis,” he pointed out.Gulati produced records to substantiate his claim that Lata worked for three to four days only, for which she was paid Rs 106.45.“Even an entry was made to this effect in the MC cash book by Lata’s husband who was the MC accountant then. She never worked with the MC thereafter, and hence there is no question of paying any salary to her,” said the former EO. Gulati said Lata’s appointment letter was “totally illegal and void” as it was issued “for and on behalf of” the then MC Administrator, and not the EO who was the competent authority.After the startling disclosures, the Director-cum-Special Secretary, Local Government, issued an order on February 6 to hold a thorough inquiry to fix responsibilities so that Lata or anyone else could not derive any undue benefit.Finding herself cornered and fearing an “adverse” action, Lata withdrew her petition from the High Court. In his fresh orders issued recently, the Director-cum-Special Secretary, Local Government, however, directed to close the case file, paving way for Lata and all others involved in the nexus to go scot-free.

Hindu-Christian marriage invalid under Hindu Act: SC
6 Dec 2008, 1905 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: Marriage between a Hindu and a Christian is invalid under the Hindu Marriage Act, as the Act provides for only Hindu couples to enter into a wedlock, the Supreme Court has ruled. A Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Aftab Alam upheld the judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court which nullified a marriage, after the wife, Bandaru Pavani, a Hindu, claimed that her husband, Gullipilli Sowria Raj a Christian, had misled her by pretending to be a Hindu and married her at a temple. The husband had misinformed about his social status, the wife had complained while seeking divorce. According to the couple, Raj, a Roman Catholic Christian married Pavani on October 24, 1996, in a temple by way of exchanging of ‘Thali’ (sacred thread) in the absence of any representative from either side. Subsequently, the marriage was registered on November 2, 1996 under Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The matrimonial court rejected her plea for divorce saying the marriage was valid under the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, even if one of the parties belonged to any other faith. However, the High Court upheld her plea and said the marriage was void as the Act postulated marriage only between Hindus, following which the husband filed the SLP in the apex court. Dismissing the Christian husband’s appeal, the apex court said Section 5 of the Act makes it clear that a marriage may be solemnised between any two Hindus if the conditions contained in the said Section were fulfilled.

DIG promotion case: High Court stays Central Administrative Tribunal order–High-Court-stays-Central-Administrative-Tribunal-order/395631
Mohan Kumar Posted: Dec 08, 2008 at 0245 hrs IST
Mumbai: The UPSC has moved the High court challenging a Central Administrative Tribunal’s order that held the action of the authorities in excluding M M Rathod, Deputy Inspector General of Police, from the list of those inducted to IPS in 1987, as unjust and arbitrary.
UPSC moved the High court against the tribunal’s order following which the court stayed it. The court has asked the commission to consider Rathod in the 1988 selection list. However, according to Rathod’s lawyer Samir Vaidya, Rathod still loses one year. “The petition is pending final disposal. We might now move the Supreme Court against the HC stay order,” Vaidya said.
Rathod was denied selection as he was under suspension from 1982-87 in the wake of a criminal case against him and was declared ‘unfit’.The case pertains to a raid which Rathod’s team had conducted at a gambling den in 1982 after which the gambler and others involved made false allegations against the raiding police party. The trial went on for five years before a special judge in Kolhapur after which Rathod was acquitted of all charges.
The state Government in the meantime confirmed Rathod’s name along with 41 other state cadre officers as ACP from December 1993.
After the suspension was revoked, Rathod’s confirmation as ACP was revised with effect from 1986.
With this development, Rathod said that he was entitled to be inducted to the IPS in the list prepared by the Selection Committee Meeting held in December 1987 wherein his batch mates and even juniors were considered and promoted.
He then made a representation to the state government against the order dated February 2005 giving him IPS with effect from January 2002. The state government recommended the UPSC to consider his case. The UPSC however rejected the proposal on the grounds that there was no provision in the IPS rules for suo-motu review.
Rathod then moved the tribunal stating that there were 16 vacancies in 1987 for promotion to IPS and only 10 officers were selected. The tribunal allowed his application and directed the selection committee to reconsider it.
The committee in 2006 gave him a deemed appointment to IPS with effect from 1992. Rathod was however not satisfied and approached the tribunal once more.
The tribunal bench observed, “the applicant was available to perform his duty but was prevented from doing so because of the circumstances totally beyond his control and in this background; it is totally unfair to consider his case by following the criteria as applicable to other officers.”

No doctor’s scrawl, make copies of judgments legible: High Court–make-copies-of-judgments-legible–High-Court/395436
Utkarsh Anand Posted: Dec 08, 2008 at 0015 hrs IST
New Delhi: The problem of illegible handwriting, earlier synonymous with doctors’ prescriptions, is now plaguing judges. Delhi High Court judges are finding it difficult to make sense of ‘certified copies’ of various orders and judgments of the lower courts as they can barely be read. Judgments on poor quality paper or bad prints are not only a strain on judicial officers,they also waste precious court time.
Certified copies are the ones issued by the lower courts to parties involved in a civil or a criminal case on request. They are generally photocopies of original documents and attached to the appeal filed by the litigants in the higher court.
Things are likely to change and reading judgements bound to be less taxing for High Court judges after a circular was issued to all lower courts.
The circular, forwarded to the nine district and sessions judges by the Registrar General of the High Court, unequivocally states all the civil and criminal court judicial officers are to ensure that judgments are printed in a manner that their copies are legible.
“Kindly issue necessary instructions to all judicial officers under your control and under the control of other district judges to ensure that the orders or judgements passed by them should be in good prints so that certified copies obtained from them are legible,” it reads.
In order to bring the directive to the knowledge of not only the judges but all the other court staff responsible for handing over the certified copies of the judgments to the litigants, copies of the circular have also been issued to the copying agency, administrative wing and the computer branch.
A court staffer said there were no specific guidelines on the subject.
“There are no definite directions regarding the font to be used or the font size to ensure uniformity,” he said.
Talking to Newsline, a former judge of High Court said the administrative decision was needed as it would not only save precious judicial time but would also lessen chances of misreading.
“Earlier, various interim orders were handwritten by lower court judges but now most are computer-typed. Issuing a directive to ensure good prints would indeed be of great help,” he said.

Minor’s rape: no court relief for 51-year-old
Utkarsh Anand Posted: Dec 08, 2008 at 0049 hrs IST
New Delhi: A 51-year-old former manager of a petrochemical company, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail for raping his minor domestic help and physically abusing her, has been denied the relief of suspension of sentence by the Delhi High Court.
Adopting a stern view on the offences, Justice Veena Birbal threw out an application by Ravindra Brijmohan Prasad seeking the suspension of his sentence and an interim bail for a period of three months to look after his ailing mother in Jharkhand.
“Considering the gravity of the offence, the appellant is not entitled for relief as is prayed in the application. The application stands rejected,” the court observed in a recent order.
Prasad was held guilty by a trial court in March last year on charges of sexually assaulting his 12-year-old help, brought by him from Jharkhand in January 1991 to do domestic chores in his home in Mumbai.
The girl was kept properly for a few months before Prasad started assaulting her repeatedly despite her protests. The victim’s complaints to his wife Krishna Lata brought more troubles instead of any relief.
Lata blamed her for the whole thing and started physically harassing her by inflicting cuts on her body with a blade. She also suffered a fracture in her right hand after being hit by a heavy object.
When the girl came back to her native place in November 1993, she narrated the tale of her trauma to her mother and other relatives and an FIR was subsequently registered.
The case was transferred from Mumbai to Delhi on the plea of the National Human Rights Commission, which pleaded that the victim would not get justice there.
Pronouncing the verdict, the trial court judge had said: “Sexual violence, apart from being a dehumanising act, is an unlawful intrusion on the right of privacy and sanctity of a female. It is a serious blow to her supreme honour and offends her self-esteem and dignity. It degrades and humiliates the victim and where the victim is a helpless innocent child or a minor, it leaves behind a traumatic experience.”
“A rapist not only causes physical injuries but more indelibly leaves a scar on the most cherished possession of a woman, i.e. her dignity, honour, reputation and not the least her chastity,” the court had observed while handing down ten years each of rigorous imprisonment to the couple under respective penal provisions.
Prasad and his wife then filed an appeal with the High Court against their conviction. The dismissal of Prasad’s application came after Justice Birbal noted that not only did the facts of the case point to the gravity of the offence but also that Lata had already been released on interim bail for taking care of his mother.
The court also found substance in the contention of the counsel for the state that the possibility of his fleeing from justice could not be ruled out if he was released on bail.

SC dismisses PIL seeking inquiry into Batla house encounter
The Supreme Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a judicial inquiry into the Batla House encounter in Jamia Nagar, New Delhi and also into the death of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma.A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal wanted to know the antecedent of petitioner Kamaran and his profession. The petitioner responded by informing the Court that he was running a security agency in the area where the encounter took place. The Court dismissed the petition in limine.Two alleged terrorists were killed in the September 19 encounter and a police inspector was shot dead by the alleged terrorists, who started firing on being challenged by the police. Two of them, however, managed to escape.The residents of the area claim that those killed were not terrorists but were students of Jamia Millia Islamia University.UNI

Mr Bhujbal, here’s priority No 1: Police reforms
Monday, December 08, 2008 03:59 IST
In their first utterances after taking over as chief minister and deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan and Chhagan Bhujbal both talked about equipping the Mumbai police force with the latest hardware to tackle terror. Giving policemen the right arms and equipment is, of course, necessary, but it’s not the main reason why they gave such a poor account of themselves on 26/11. Let’s face it. Mumbai’s policemen are in no condition to take on terror or anything approaching it in their current state of low morale. The force, once the pride of Mumbai and India, is a pale shadow of its former self. Riven by corruption and used by cynical politicians for their own ends, the force is in no shape to protect civilians. It has lost its credibility, independence and moorings. There is only one way to change things, and that is systemic reform. We all know what’s the main thing that has to be done: insulate the police force from excessive political interference. The Supreme Court has issued half a dozen directives to all states and the centre. Barring four small states —Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh — the rest have barely done anything. And Maharashtra is one of the delinquents. DNA will campaign for these changes to be implemented through its news and editorial columns from now on. The directives were issued by the Supreme Court in a PIL filed by a senior IPS officer who retired as director-general of the Border Security Force. While he moved the apex court in 1996, the final directive came only in 2006. Following are the major directives on implementing the recommendations of the National Police Commission:
1The first directive is that each state should set up a State Security Commission to insulate the police force from unwarranted political pressure. The commission is, among other things, expected to evolve policy and set norms for evaluating the performance of policemen. Maharashtra hasn’t moved a finger to comply with the directive. Mr Bhujbal, it’s time your ministry read through the Ribeiro and Sorabjee committee reports on police reform and started drafting a legislation for the same.
2The court also said any state director-general of police (DGP) should have a minimum tenure of two years. He should be chosen from among the three senior-most officers in the force. The Vilasrao Deshmukh administration violated that requirement when it appointed AN Roy as DGP where there were three officers senior to him at the time of his appointment. Mr Bhujbal, you have to remedy this immediately.
3The SC said the minimum tenure of DIGs, SSPs, SPs, deputy SPs and SHOs (state house officers) must be two years. Mr Bhujbal, you must ensure this is complied with in letter and spirit since your average police officer in Nanded is not going to court to fight for his rights.
4The fourth important directive of the court was the separation of the investigating wing from the law and order section to ensure speedier investigations, better expertise and improved rapport with the people. Mr Bhujbal, you know very well how shoddy our police investigations have been in most blast and terror cases. It is time to act on this court directive and empower the investigation teams with better equipment, better funding and good leadership. 5The apex court also ordered the setting up of a Police Establishment Board (PEB) in each state. PEBs have to decide on all transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of officers of and below the rank of deputy superintendent of police. Mr Bhujbal, we know that in recent years many home ministers have meddled in even lower level postings under pressure from party functionaries and other powerful people. We hope you realise the damage this is causing to police morale and set up the board a-s-a-p. 6The court wanted all states to set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at the district level headed by a retired district judge to look into complaints against police officers of and up to the rank of DSP. Similarly, a PCA at the state level should be headed by a retired Supreme Court or high court judge. Sadly, barring four very small states, none of them – Maharashtra included – has moved a finger to implement these directives of the highest court of the land. Mr Bhujbal, if you are truly the man of action everyone says you are, these six police reforms brook no delay.

M’laya poverty rate accelerating
Newmai News Network December 08, 2008 12:19:00
Shillong December 7: The reason behind the increasing rate of people facing poverty in Meghalaya can be due to factors such as the low maintenance of economic status, unemployment, lack of the cooperative societies in the state and also the less awareness of the people especially the rural areas on the human rights front. Recently, Dr Donkupar Roy, chief minister of Meghalaya had lamented over the range of 49 percent of the state’s population lying at the poverty line with almost an equal percentage of educated youth unemployed in the state.At present, there are 1193 cooperative societies in Meghalaya, functioning as credit and non -credit societies. About 220 have ceased to function. To lighten the poverty stricken people, especially in the rural areas by the cooperative societies like the Community and Rural Development Blocks, a two-day State Level Exhibition on cooperative societies was held sometimes back in Meghalaya.In that exhibition, PC Chakraborty, chairman of the Meghalaya State Housing Financing Cooperative Society while highlighting the role of the cooperative societies to remove poverty especially in the rural areas, mentioned that in comparing with other states in the country, the overall performance of the cooperative societies in Meghalaya was below expectation.Another factor can be that of the reducing growth rate for the improvement in the economic status which was 7.8 percent in the 9th plan to 6.33 percent during subsequent plan on which the expected growth rate of 7.2 percent during the Eleventh Plan also has an impact on the present state of high rate of poverty as well as unemployed youth in the state.Meanwhile, chief minister, Donkupar Roy termed the figure of poverty and unemployment in the state as “disheartening” and he further attributed the dismal state of economy and scenario of unemployment to “resource and infrastructure constraints”. Setting up of Meghalaya Human Rights Commission will add teeth to fight against poverty in the state to certain extent.On the need to create State Human rights Commission, to help the people especially in the backward areas to be aware of their rights in the state, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), North East Zone, Special Rapporteur and former Meghalaya Chief Secretary, SK. Tiwari had come to Meghalaya on June 10 to observe the implementation of the various human rights programmes in the state.The NHRC had selected 28 backward districts in the country, which included the South Garo Hills Districts from the state Meghalaya for the awareness and programmes on human rights for the government and district officials.

DIG promotion case: High Court stays Central Administrative Tribunal order–High-Court-stays-Central-Administrative-Tribunal-order/395631
Mohan Kumar Posted: Dec 08, 2008 at 0245 hrs IST
Mumbai: The UPSC has moved the High court challenging a Central Administrative Tribunal’s order that held the action of the authorities in excluding M M Rathod, Deputy Inspector General of Police, from the list of those inducted to IPS in 1987, as unjust and arbitrary.
UPSC moved the High court against the tribunal’s order following which the court stayed it. The court has asked the commission to consider Rathod in the 1988 selection list. However, according to Rathod’s lawyer Samir Vaidya, Rathod still loses one year. “The petition is pending final disposal. We might now move the Supreme Court against the HC stay order,” Vaidya said.
Rathod was denied selection as he was under suspension from 1982-87 in the wake of a criminal case against him and was declared ‘unfit’.The case pertains to a raid which Rathod’s team had conducted at a gambling den in 1982 after which the gambler and others involved made false allegations against the raiding police party. The trial went on for five years before a special judge in Kolhapur after which Rathod was acquitted of all charges.
The state Government in the meantime confirmed Rathod’s name along with 41 other state cadre officers as ACP from December 1993.
After the suspension was revoked, Rathod’s confirmation as ACP was revised with effect from 1986.
With this development, Rathod said that he was entitled to be inducted to the IPS in the list prepared by the Selection Committee Meeting held in December 1987 wherein his batch mates and even juniors were considered and promoted.
He then made a representation to the state government against the order dated February 2005 giving him IPS with effect from January 2002. The state government recommended the UPSC to consider his case. The UPSC however rejected the proposal on the grounds that there was no provision in the IPS rules for suo-motu review.
Rathod then moved the tribunal stating that there were 16 vacancies in 1987 for promotion to IPS and only 10 officers were selected. The tribunal allowed his application and directed the selection committee to reconsider it.
The committee in 2006 gave him a deemed appointment to IPS with effect from 1992. Rathod was however not satisfied and approached the tribunal once more.
The tribunal bench observed, “the applicant was available to perform his duty but was prevented from doing so because of the circumstances totally beyond his control and in this background; it is totally unfair to consider his case by following the criteria as applicable to other officers.”

LEGAL NEWS 7.12.2008

Court halts perjury moves against India’s top officials
2 days ago
NEW DELHI (AFP) — India’s Supreme Court on Friday stopped criminal proceedings against the country’s top cricket officials on perjury charges, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
The Calcutta High Court had last month ordered police to file the charges against six officials of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in a case linked to ex-president Jagmohan Dalmiya.
The officials were alleged to have given false evidence against Dalmiya, a former head of the International Cricket Council (ICC), who was expelled from the BCCI in 2006 accused of financial irregularities.
But the Supreme Court stayed proceedings after accepting the officials’ plea that the Calcutta High Court had not heard their side of the case before passing judgement, PTI reported.
The officials included Sharad Pawar, who takes over as ICC president in 2010, his successor as BCCI chief Shashank Manohar, and former and present secretaries Niranjan Shah and N. Srinivasan.
The other two were BCCI vice-president Chirayu Amin and chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty.
The BCCI had argued in the Calcutta High Court that Dalmiya was expelled under new rules framed by it and that those rules were properly registered.
Dalmiya, however, filed another case against the BCCI that the rules had not been registered as claimed, and therefore his expulsion was invalid.
The court ruled that the six officials had submitted a false affidavit, which amounted to perjury.
Dalmiya, who heads the Cricket Association of Bengal, ruled the BCCI for more than a decade before being overthrown by the Pawar faction in a bitter election in 2005.
The BCCI, one of the richest cricket bodies in the world, generated income of 205 million dollars in 2007-08.

Vodafone International vs. UOI (Bombay High Court)
ON : 06 December 2008
Where the assessee, a Dutch company, purchased shares of a Cayman Company (which in turn held shares of an Indian company ‘Hutch Essar’) from another foreign company (HTIL) and the AO issued a notice asking the assessee why it should not be treated as an assessee in default for failure to deduct tax at source and the assessee filed a writ petition to challenge the same on the ground that a transaction between two foreign companies did not attract the provisions of the Act, HELD dismissing the writ petition that:
(a) Prima facie, the subject matter of the present transaction between the assessee and HTIL is nothing but transfer of interests, tangible and intangible in Indian companies and not an innocuous acquisition of shares of a shell Cayman Islands Company;
(b) As there was admittedly a transfer of controlling interest in the Indian company by the transferor in favour of the transferee, there was an “extinguishment of rights” and “relinquishment” by the transferor in the shares of the Indian company which constituted a “transfer”;
(c) Apart from controlling interest the assessee had acquired other interests and intangibles rights in India such as an interest in a joint venture between HTIL and the Essar group and became a co-licensee with the Essar group to operate mobile telephony in India;
(d) In this case, the shares in the Cayman company were merely the mode or the vehicle to transfer the assets situated in India. The choice of the assessee in selecting a particular mode of transfer of such assets will not alter or determine the nature or character of the asset;
(e) As the assessee had wilfully failed to produce the primary/original agreement and other prior and subsequent agreements/documents it was impossible to appreciate the true nature of the transaction and the constitutional validity of Income-tax provisions could not be gone into;
(f) It is settled law that a writ cannot be entertained against a mere show-cause notice unless the Court is satisfied that the show cause notice was totally non est in the eye of law for absolute want of jurisdiction of the authority to even investigate into facts. The assessee has not been able to demonstrate absolute want of jurisdiction in the AO.

HC revokes Roche’s patent :FIRST OF ITS KIND JUDGEMENT
06 December, 2008
In a first-ever instance of a patent being revoked after being granted, the Madras High Court has set aside pharma major Roche’s patent on key drug, valganciclovir on procedural grounds. A patent on valganciclovir was granted to the company in June 2007.
Valganciclovir is a treatment for cytomegalovirus (CMV), a virus that often attacks the retina of people with lower immune systems, such as AIDS patients. In addition, it is crucial for prevention of CMV infection in patients who have received organ transplant.
The court has cited the failure of the Indian patent office to comply with the patent law and remanded the matter back to the Patent Controller. The judgment was delivered on a petition filed by civil society groups — Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS (INP+) and Tamil Nadu Networking People with HIV/AIDS (TNNP+), who had challenged the Indian Patent Offices decision to grant a patent without hearing the pregrant opposition filed by them.
In July 2006, INP+ and TNNP+ had filed a pre-grant opposition before the Chennai Patent Office objecting to the grant of patent to Roche and requested for a hearing. Under the Indian law, if an opponent requests a hearing, the patent office is required to provide the opponent an opportunity to be heard. However, this was not done.
At Roche’s maximum retail price of over Rs 1000 per tablet, a patient who has to take a treatment course of approximately four months for CMV retinitis in India would have to pay over Rs 2.5 lakh. This puts the treatment unafforable for those who need them.
The grant of patent to Roche allowed it to continue charging exorbitant prices and also prevented the entry of generic versions of valganciclovir. Hwoever, in May this year, Cipla launched the generic valganciclovir in the domestic market at a price of Rs 245 for a tablet. Under law, a generic producer can challenge the patent by taking the risk of launching a generic version after obtaining marketing approval.
In response, Roche filed an infringement suit against Cipla in the Bombay High Court in September seeking an injunction, which is till pending. The dispute between the companies hinges on ‘‘patentability” of the drug. The validity of the patent is in question under the country’s patent laws that do not allow patents on new forms of old drugs, also known as Section 3(d). Experts pointed out that valganciclovir is a hydrochloride salt of an old drug ‘ganciclovir’ and hence not patentable.
The generic producers of the drug, Matrix, Ranbaxy and Cipla have also filed post grant oppositions. While the opportunity to oppose the application is only granted to the patient groups, it is likely that Roche’s injunction proceedings against Cipla for launching the generic version will no longer have a legal basis as the patent is now revoked. Whether the Mumbai court will keep the infringement proceedings pending remains to be seen, legal experts say.Source:-The Times of India Delhi 6 December 2008 P.21For any query:-
Posted by Deepak Miglani

SC green light to Games Village
5 Dec 2008, 2330 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The shadow cast on the 2010 Commonwealth Games has moved away. The Supreme Court on Friday stayed an order of the Delhi High Court, which had virtually stalled construction of the Games Village near the Yamuna river. In addition to this relief, a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam also stayed further hearing before the HC on a PIL which had challenged the Commonwealth Games Village project on environmental grounds. The Centre had made the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) rush to the SC challenging the HC order as it was seriously concerned about the fate of its sovereign guarantee for holding the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Solicitor general Goolam E Vahanvati launched a scathing attack on the HC judgment right at the beginning of the hearing. He said the judges on the division Bench held diametrically opposite views on the PIL but, as a postscript, agreed to make the village constructions subject to the outcome of the PIL. He said the site was selected by the NDA government in 2003 adjacent to the Akshardham temple, a Rs 500-crore project which was also challenged in the Supreme Court on identical grounds. SC had dismissed the petitions against the temple project. He said while the temple was 1.7 km away from the river bed, the Games Village was 1.2 km away and that the project, being constructed under public-private participation, had all environmental clearances, including that from NEERI. If the HC kept the project subject to the outcome of the PIL, then nobody would come forward to buy the flats in the Games Village making the private partner quit the project, Vahanvati said. Appearing for the private construction company in charge of the Games Village, senior advocate Arun Jaitley said it had invested Rs 2,000 crore and would be seriously handicapped if the HC order was not stayed. Vahanvati said, “By delivering a judgment after almost eight months of conclusion of the hearing, the judges of the division Bench of the Delhi High Court have in effect created uncertainty and cast a shadow over the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.”

vNano land allotment: High Court to hold simultaneous hearing of two PILs–High-Court-to-hold-simultaneous-hearing-of-two-PILs/394814
Express News Service Posted: Dec 06, 2008 at 0040 hrs IST
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court will hold simultaneous hearing of two Public Interest Litigations (PILs) challenging the allotment of land to Tata Motors for its Nano car project in Snand, on December 18.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice K S Radhakrishnan and Justice Akil Kureshi on Friday adjourned the matter on the request of senior advocate Yatin Oza during the hearing of a PIL filed by Rashtriya Kisan Dal (RKD) leader H K Thakar.
Oza argued that if any order was passed on this PIL, it would affect a previous litigation filed by him on behalf of the farmers adversely affected by the land allotment. He requested the court to conduct simultaneous hearing of the two PILs.
Earlier in the day, Thakar objected to the Government allotment of 1,100 acres of land to the Tatas, saying the company was allotted only 600 acres for the same project in West Bengal. He said the government’s action was anti-farmer, as it acquired agricultural land without giving them a chance to be heard.
The RKD leader said the government has advanced a loan to the tune of Rs 9,570 crore to the Tatas to be repaid after 20 years at an annual interest of 0.1 per cent. In contrast, the farmers were given loans at 14 to 18 per cent interest, he said.
He also submitted that the government had earlier refused to allot land for a car project at Sanand to one Ugarchand Panchal. Thakar also objected to the government selling land to the Tatas at Rs 900 per square metre, even as its value was yet not been calculated by the government.
He pointed out that as the land in question was earlier allotted to the Anand Agricultural University (AAU), a charitable institution, for agriculture research purposes, it could not be allotted for any other purpose under the state’s land acquisition rules.
In an affidavit, Advocate General Kamal Trivedi submitted that the land in question belonged to the government since 1912. Pointing out that a survey conducted in 1927 showed the land as a government wasteland, he informed the court that 1,100 acres of Northcotepura land was allotted for the Nano car plant at Rs 900 per square metre. The amount is to be paid in six annual instalments, starting after two years from the date of possession, he added.
He told the court that over 2.5 lakh cars would be produced in the first phase and another 2.5 lakh in the next phase, generating direct employment for 2,000 people and indirect employment to another 8,000.

Religion saves animal sacrifice- Gauhati High Court chickens out on enforcing ban
Guwahati, Dec. 5: Gauhati High Court today declined to ban sacrifice of animals at religious places, saying any such order could have serious repercussions.
The Assam chapter of People for Animals (PFA), an NGO, had filed a public interest litigation,seeking a ban on sacrifice of animals at religious places and strict implementation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
Hearing the PIL, a division bench, comprising Chief Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari, stopped short of imposing the ban as it felt that judicial interference in religious practices could lead to “cultural clash”. The court suggested that the petitioner may modify the PIL by leaving out its plea for a ban on animal sacrifice at religious places.
“The high court expressed its unwillingness to interfere in animal sacrifices at temples and other places of worship. However, the court said it might consider our prayer for stricter implementation of the PCA Act if we modify our petition,” the chairperson of the Assam chapter of the PFA, Sangeeta Goswami, said.
The NGO is now contemplating moving the Supreme Court. “We fail to understand why the high court is unwilling to intervene in this issue,” she said, citing the ban on animal sacrifice in public view at the Kalighat temple by Calcutta High Court in 2006. “Sacrifice of animals has already been banned in states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka,” she added.
The PFA had protested against the sacrifice of animals at the Kamakhya temple by Samajwadi Party legislator Kishore Samrite in July this year and by Nepal’s King Gyanendra in 2002.
“We want a ban on animal sacrifice in public places and places of worship because the archaic ritual involves bloodshed and a problem of hygiene. The directive principles of state policy (Article 51-g) states that as part of our fundamental duties, citizens of India need to have compassion for living creatures,” Goswami said.
In keeping with the high court stand, a senior government official said it would not be advisable to enforce a blanket ban on animal sacrifice in religious places, as it would interfere with the right to freedom of religion of those who believe animal sacrifice is an integral part of their faith.
He said the PCA Act granted exemption in case of sacrifice made for religious purpose. Quoting Section 28, he said, “Nothing contained in this act shall render it an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community.”

HC orders check on mining
Ranchi, Dec. 5: Jharkhand High Court today asked Palamau deputy commissioner to furnish a report on the safety of residents in the wake of mining activities on Plot No 310.
A PIL had been filed by one Sanjay Pathak, who said that humans and animals are under threat due to the extensive explosions taking place on the mining site.
The court had directed the Palamau chief judicial magistrate to conduct a spot verification and submit his report.
The officer said there was no immediate threat to the life and property of the residents. But now he has to estimate the quantum of damage caused.
The matter will be again taken up on December 11.

HC refuses to issue order on PIL against VIP security
06 December, 2008
Even as politicians come under criticism for diverting security personnel for their own protection, Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to be drawn into the controversy, saying it wasn’t an issue on which courts should issue any directions.
HC was hearing a PIL assailing the tendency of politicians to surround themselves with impenetrable security cover which robs the common man of his right to be protected, as was evident in the Mumbai terror attack last week.
The PIL, which was filed a few years ago, points out that a large number of Delhi police personnel are deputed for security of VIPs and VVIPs, which leaves very few policemen available for policing the capital. However, a division Bench of chief justice AP Shah and justice S Muralidhar said it was not an issue for courts to issue any direction or take a decision.
HC noted that the recent attacks have made internal security a very sensitive issue for the center and state governments and the very concept of the word security had changed, hinting it wouldn’t wish to intervene.
During the hearing, petitioner and lawyer Rajeev Awasthi argued that the latest attack had again highlighted the issue raised in the PIL and sought strict division in the police force for law and order duties and investigation. Awasthi recalled how after every terror strike ministers appear on news channels and call for the need to revamp general security. Though nothing actually translates on the ground.
But this didn’t impress the bench which asked him to stick to prayers made in his petition. HC also asked Awasthi to complile a list of previous orders passed on his PIL by different HC benches and place it before it on the next date of hearing.
In his arguments the lawyer maintained that even though the Ministry had last year drawn up recommendations to make it tougher for one to get VIP security which were yet to be finalized. On its part the central government assured the bench that these recommendations were being given final touches and the home ministry was already revamping the capital’s security.Source:-The Times of India Delhi 4 December 2008 P.6For any query:-
Posted by Deepak Miglani

Judges’ AppointmentIt’s for govt to take a decision: CJI
R. Sedhuraman/Legal Correspondent
New Delhi, December 6Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan today sought to stay away from the controversy over the appointment procedure for high court and the Supreme Court judges, stating that it was for the government to take a decision on the Law Commission recommendation for a review of the collegium system.
Law minister H.R. Bhardwaj had last week ruled out any immediate review as the time was not ripe for the exercise which involved a colossal amendment to the Constitution, but made it clear that he would go by the views of the Supreme Court, particularly the Chief Justice.
“Judges don’t express their views on such matters” which was the case in Europe as well, the CJI told The Tribune when asked about his comments on the minister’s statement made at the Law Day function here.
The Chief Justice was talking to the correspondent after inaugurating the third Lok Adalat organised by the Supreme Court. About 70 cases, mostly road accident claims, were disposed of today.
The controversy over the issue had cropped up recently following the government’s hesitation in accepting the recommendations of the collegium, headed by the CJI, for the appointment of three judges for the Supreme Court. The debate on the issue had generated much heat following the reported involvement of judges in the Ghaziabad PF scam and corruption charges against Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen.
Asked about possible ways to reduce the mounting pendency of cases in courts, he said opening of more and more courts and holding evening courts were the only solution to the problem.
Efforts were already on in this direction. In Delhi alone, 160 more courts were being set up and in Mumbay 20 additional courts had started functioning. Further, states were gradually coming forward to facilitate evening courts, he pointed out.
Such steps would at least help dispose of petty cases involving minor offences such as not wearing seat belts which accounted for a staggering 1,58,000 in Bangalore city alone, he said.
Asked about the poor response to the plea bargaining move, he said apprehensions had been raised over its potential at the conceptual stage itself.
On the collegium system, Bhardwaj had said it had proved to be expeditious, while the proposed National Judicial Commission was bound to be time consuming involving serious debates. Also, the type of people with no legal background trying to get into the proposed commission would not be conducive to its smooth functioning.
The minister said he had received the recommendations of the Law Commission for changing the collegium system. Since similar suggestions had been received from various people, the government would definitely consider it. However, the CJI would have a greater say in the issue as he “is the indisputable leader” of courts and nothing should be done to “destroy or weaken” the office of the Chief Justice, the minister said.
Any change in the present system should take into account the views of the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that the judges should be “independent and men of integrity who can go against us (politicians or executive) if the occasion comes,” the minister clarified.
Also, he felt offended when a visiting legal delegation said the Indian judiciary had political judges. This was the result of propaganda spread systematically by “our own people,” he regretted.

Vodafone challenged HC decision in Supreme Court
Submitted by Gaurav Mehra on Sun, 12/07/2008 – 06:07.
Telecom giant Vodafone, approached the Supreme Court against the recent decision of the Bombay High Court on tax issue. The I-T department had asked it to pay income tax of $1.7-billion over its acquisition of Hutchison. Bombay High Court had pulled the telecom company for suppressing facts and granted eight weeks to file any appeal.
The bench of justices S Radhakrishnan and Anand Nirgude, in its ruling of 165 pages, said, “The petition totally lacks particulars as to the nature of agreement dated on February 11, 2007 and all other agreements preceding or following the same, entered into by Hutchison Telecommunications International (HTIL) and the petitioner (Vodafone International). The essential facts, supported by the necessary documents as proof of such facts, have been conveniently kept away from this court.”
The company brought 67% stake in Hutchison Essar from HTIL in February 2007 by paying $11.2 billion. I-T department had asked it to pay income tax in its show cause notice on September 19, 2007 and warned it to consider as “assessee in default”.
Tax expert, T P Ostwal said that the company will have to pay huge amount if the company loses the ongoing tax dispute in India. Maximum potential penalty of up to 300% can be imposed as per Indian law which can increase the amount substantially. He, however, hoped the department would not levy penalty beyond 100%.

HC jails and frees man at same time
7 Dec 2008, 0254 hrs IST, TNN
HYDERABAD: In an unprecedented incident, the case of an Adilabad man charged with harassment for dowry and murder of his wife was heard by two division Benches of the A P High Court almost concurrently. And while one of the Benches pronounced him guilty on both the counts, the second one acquitted him on the charge of murder and ordered that he be set free immediately. The bizarre saga began when one Abdul Raheem went to the Bhainsa police station in Adilabad district on April 13, 2003, and lodged a complaint against his son-in-law, Hymad Pasha, accusing him of killing his daughter Rayeesa Begum. “I gave him my daughter, Rs 15,000 cash as dowry, some gold ornaments and household articles and performed the marriage on April 17, 2000,” the father said in his complaint. But 15 days into the marriage, Hymad started harassing his wife to bring in more dowry. Two more demands of Rs 3,000 were met while the third one for Rs 10,000 could not be. On April 13, 2003, the father said he received a call from the house of Hymad that Rayeesa was dead. After the inquest was over, a post mortem was conducted and Hymad was charged with dowry harassment and murder of his wife. The trial court in Adilabad, after examination of the evidence on record, both oral and documentary, held Hymad responsible for the death of his wife and in 2006, sentenced him to life imprisonment for murder along with Rs 1,000 as fine and imposed another three years imprisonment plus Rs 500 fine for harassing his wife for additional dowry. The accused has been serving prison term since then. Meanwhile, the relatives of Hymad approached S Surendar Reddy, a lawyer in Hyderabad and through him, got a criminal appeal filed in 2006 in the AP High Court against the judgment of the trial court. Around the same time, Hymad too wrote a letter to the authorities of the high court seeking their help in engaging the services of an advocate for preferring an appeal over the trial court verdict. The high court, through its legal aid wing, allotted lady advocate Shanti Neelam to argue his case. The criminal appeal by Hymad’s relatives went to a two-member division bench comprising Justice A Gopal Reddy and Justice B Seshasayana Reddy while Hymad’s own appeal went to another two two-member bench comprising Justice D S R Verma and Justice K C Bhanu. The judgment on the appeal by relatives holding the accused guilty on both counts was delivered on March 7, 2008, while the verdict on Hymad’s appeal acquitting him on the charge of murder was given on September 29, 2008

HC orders Shiyal Bet talati to attend office twice a week
Express News Service Posted: Dec 07, 2008 at 0243 hrs IST
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court has ordered the talati-mantri of Shiyal Bet island, two nautical miles off the Pipavav port in Amreli district, to attend his office in the village every Tuesday and Friday.
In his orders, Justice Jayant Patel asked the village panchayat to complain to the Taluka Development Officer (TDO) if the talati did not turn up for duty within 48 hours of the passing of the orders. He further directed to complain with the District Development Officer (DDO) in case the TDO failed to take action in the matter within 48 hours after lodging a complaint.
If both the TDO and DDO failed to follow the orders, he asked the panchayat to move the high court and the latter would initiate a contempt action against the concerned authorities.
The order was issued on Friday on a petition filed by Nanjibhai J Shiyal and Chittarbhai Shiyal, sarpanch and deputy sarpanch, respectively, of the village. The petitioners told the court that the talati had not attended his office since the new panchayat came into existence in March this year.
As per the provisions of Gujarat Panchayat Act and Nagar Panchayat Rules 1963, the talati, who is virtually a secretary of the village panchayat, is required to maintain records like birth registration, below poverty level certificates, accounts and meeting registers, and land records among others.
The petitioners had submitted that the talati living in Jafrabad, the mainland, had been asking villagers to go to his residence for getting things done. Villagers said they had made several representations to the taluka development and district development officers over the issue, but all in vain.
As the talati in question has not been attending his duties, most of the villagers do not have birth certificates, needed for ration cards, seeking fishing and boat licenses. Over 500 fishermen from the village recently approached the judicial magistrate’s court at Rajula, pleading it to issue directions to the talati to perform his duties.
As the villagers, mostly from the Koli community, are engaged in fishing without licences, they are not eligible for insurance claims in case of any accident or death during fishing.
Most of 10,000 villagers, living in the island for generations,
depend on fishing to eke out their living. The village does not have electricity supply, health facilities, drinking water and sanitation
system. Schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Indira Awas Yojana or food security programmes could be implemented in the village owing to the talati’s absence and reported indifference of the district administration.

Prove cruelty by in-laws in dowry death case: HC
7 Dec 2008, 0312 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: Every suicide by a bride cannot be taken to be a dowry death. Cruelty by in-laws and/or the husband has to be proved in such a case, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court ruled recently. “Sentiments apart, there has to be some evidence to show that the appellant had subjected the victim to cruelty, which led her to commit suicide, in order to sustain his conviction,” said Justice R C Chavan, acquitting a Yavatmal resident, 24-year-old Vithal Lakbande, of charges of abetment of suicide of his wife. The prosecution’s charge that Kaveri’s suicide was “unexplained” did not find favour with the court, which agreed with the defence that the possibility that she could have decided to end her life for some other reason could not be ruled out. Kaveri killed herself in December 2005 by consuming poison, barely ten months after her marriage to Lakbande. Following a complaint by her mother, the police arrested Lakbande, his parents and brothers. While his family members were acquitted by the trial court, Lakbande was sentenced to ten years’ rigorous imprisonment. In the high court, Lakbande’s lawyers argued that except for the statements of Kaveri’s mother and uncles, there was no evidence that the bride had been harassed by her husband or in-laws. “Though the suicide is inexplicable, since the allegations of cruelty had surfaced only after the victim’s death it’s difficult to hold that the victim was subjected to cruelty, when such allegations do not receive any corroboration from the neighbours or other independent sources,” contended the defence lawyer.

Diamond jubilee celebration of Gauhati HC
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Newmai News Network
Imphal, December 06 2008: DESPITE THE varied laws and customs of the region, the Gauhati High Court has played a catalytic role in extending the system of justice in the North East region with distinction, said Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi on the occasion on the Diamond Jubilee of the high court on Saturday afternoon in Imphal.Organised by the Diamond Jubilee organising committee at the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy, Imphal West the jubilee was graced by Chief Minister Ibobi as chief guest, Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court Jasti Chelameswar as president of the function and other dignitaries of the state and the court including Law lecturers.
Hailing the notable work of the High Court, Ibobi hoped that despite about 8000 cases pending in the court, the legal fraternity would strive to carry forward the legacy of justice in a democratic society.Perhaps Manipur has the highest number of pending cases next to Assam, pointed out the Chief Minister.The Chief Minister also informed that the state government had requested the ministry of law and justice, government of India for a full fledge Manipur High Court and added that the construction of the new court building would be completed within 2009.There are about 5000-6000 workers working in full swing to meet the dateline, conveyed the chief minister.The Chief Minister also maintained that a good relation between the judiciary and the government was much needed for the development of the court.On the occasion of the Diamond jubilee of the court, judges of the court including those retired were felicitated.Ibobi also released a souvenir on the occasion of the jubilee.Several Judges and retired judges attended the programme.

Court’s staff return to work after HC’s assurance
7 Dec 2008, 0001 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Work in the five district courts of the Capital started on Saturday after a section of court staff called off their strike. They had launched an agitation on Friday demanding action against a judicial officer whose remarks, they alleged, had forced a clerk posted with a judge in Karkardooma to attempt suicide. “The staff returned to work following an assurance from the Delhi HC that they will look into their grievances,” District and Sessions Courts Employees Welfare Association president, Rakesh Yadav said. The court employees went on strike demanding action against a Metropolitan Magistrate who allegedly used a casual remark against a record-keeper, Narender Kumar Gautam, that forced him to jump from the second floor of Karkardooma courts complex. “The office-bearers of the Association were called for a meeting with the Chief Justice of Delhi HC on Friday night, where an assurance was given to the staff that proper action against the MM will be taken, following which the strike was called off,” Yadav said. “We have also been promised that Gautam would be granted paid leave and free medical aid,” he maintained.

Orissa HC seeks report on cases against IAS officer
6 Dec 2008, 1739 hrs IST, PTI
CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has asked the state vigilance directorate to submit a report on the status of corruption cases pending against an IAS officer. The High Court order came while adjudicating over a petition filed by the IAS officer, Vinod Kumar, to drop the vigilance cases pending against him. The vigilance sleuths have registered more than 10 cases against the former managing director of Orissa Rural Housing Development Corporation (ORHDC) for allegedly amassing wealth disproportionate to his known source of income. The bureaucrat was arrested by the anti-corruption wing and was sent to jail. He was also placed under suspension twice by the state government. The senior IAS officer is now facing various charges under the IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly conniving, forging documents and sanctioning Rs 1.22 crore to two Rourkela-based builders fraudulently during his tenure as MD of ORHDC in 2001.

12 yrs after mishap, Rs 20L for victim’s family
7 Dec 2008, 0008 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Twelve years after the death of a man in an road accident, the Delhi High Court has directed the insurance company to pay compensation amount of more than Rs 20 lakh to the victim’s family. Dismissing a petition filed by National Assurance Co Ltd, Justice V B Gupta upheld the Motor Accident Claim Tribunal’s (MACT) December 2006 order awarding Rs 20,50,000 to Neelam, widow of deceased Jagjit Singh. “I don’t find any reason to disagree with the findings of tribunal on this ground that the onus was on the insurance company and it has failed to discharge it and as such the appellant (company) cannot be exonerated from its liability,” said court in its judgement. The court rejected the insurance company’s submission that Tribunal awarded a huge amount as compensation and the victim’s family did not deserve so much amount as the widow has got a job in Maruti Udyog Ltd and also has been getting family pension of Rs 3,200. The court rejected this argument and asked the insurance company to honour the MACT judgement passed two years ago. On December 8, 1996 while driving a scooter, Singh met with an accident when a vehicle was parked on the wrong side of the road with its head lights off. He was declared brought dead by the medical authority. A shocked family then sought compensation from the accident claims tribunal, arguing that it was negligence on part of the owner of the vehicle which led to Singh’s untimely death. The insurance company argued that no liability rested with it, but the MACT court calculated the compensation amount taking into account that at the time of his accident Singh was the sole bread winner of the family.

State could get its own High Court soon: chief minister
The Imphal Free PressIMPHAL, Dec 6: The state will most likely have its own separate High Court in the state as the Union law minister has taken serious count of the demand for establishing a separate High Court for the state.This was mentioned by the chief minister O Ibobi Singh while attending the Diamond Jubilee celebration of the Guwahati High Court Imphal bench this afternoon at the JN Manipur Dance Academy hall. The function was organised by the celebration committee of the Guwahati High Court Imphal bench and the chief minister was the chief guest of the function.The state chief minister further said that it had become a must for the state government to establish a separate High Court for the state considering the number of cases lodged with the Imphal bench of the Guwahati High Court.The chief minister further mentioned that the Guwahati High Court Imphal bench had been established on January 21, 1972, and now the state was in the process of constructing a High Court complex attached to the Capitol project at Chingmierong in Imphal. The state government as a consequence is now planning to have its own separate High Court in the state and the Centre was ready to give its green signal, he said.The chief minister further said there was a move by the state for installing the High Court as soon as the existing High Court complex is completed at Chingmeirong. Establishing such a separate High Court in the state would reduce the grievances of the people who are in need of better legal aids and also would assist in finding ways for maintaining peace and harmony in the state by delivering justice to the people.In connection with the observation, the chief minister released a Diamond Jubilee souvenir of the Guwahati High Court, Imphal bench.Justice Jasti Chelamesware, chief justice of the Guwahati High Court, in his presidential speech, observed that it was a must for the court to deliver justice on every appropriate complaint put before the courts and sometimes it may hamper the government activities. All democratic countries use judicial powers for protecting the rights of the citizens and truth remains the cherished objective for all such countires, he added.The function was attended by many retired judges of the state, advocates and other officials of the state law department.

Ethical hackers plan PIL, want govt to counter terrorism
Chandan Haygunde
Posted: Dec 07, 2008 at 0155 hrs IST
Pune The ethical hackers have come up with a public interest litigation (PIL) to force the government to take stern steps to counter terrorism. The ‘hackers’ came together for a discussion on ‘cyber terrorism’ at ClubHack 2008 — the second international convention of hackers at the International Convention Centre on Senapati Bapat Road on Saturday.
In the wake of the recent terror attacks in Mumbai, a panel discussion on cyber terrorism was held during the convention. The panel comprised of US computer security expert Chris Goggans, who broke into the FBI criminal database in six hours while doing a penetration testing in May 2008, cyber law expert Rohas Nagpal and founder of ClubHack Rohit Srivastwa.
Nagpal appealed to the ethical hackers to pen down what they think that the government should do for cyber security and countering terrorism and then file a PIL with the Bombay High Court. “The court might order the government to take up proper measures to address these issues,” Nagpal said.
“Earlier, a lot of work was initiated by the government on environment issues following the court orders based on the PILs filed by citizens. Similarly, we need to file PILs on national security,” he said.
The ethical hackers also debated on ‘cyber terrorism’. US expert Goggans said that there is no such concept as cyber terrorism. “If we receive a piece of paper carrying a threat message, we don’t call it paper terrorism. Similarly, there is no cyber terrorism. There can be terrorism including cyber aspects,” Goggans said.
However, Nagpal and some ‘hackers,’ said that they believe that cyber terrorism does exist. For example, a terror mail, which was received after the Mumbai terror attack, threatened to blow up the Bombay Stock Exchange. This is a kind of cyber terrorism,” said a ‘hacker’.
Srivastwa observed that use of cyber space for wrong purposes may or may not be cyber terrorism, but it is certainly a crime. The panel, as well as hackers, agreed after which the discussion focused on giving solutions to the problem when Nagpal put forth the idea of filing PIL.
Goggans shared information about information security systems in the US and other countries. Earlier, experts like Aditya Sood, Ajit Hatti, Aseem Jakhar, Karmendra, Atul Alex, Nibin, Jhonson and Harshad Patil spoke on various information security issues during the first day of convention. Sessions on cyber crime investigations and wireless security will be held on the second day of convention on Sunday.
Earlier, a lot of work was initiated by the government on environment issues following the court orders based on PILs. Similarly, we need to file PILs on national security Ethical Hackers

Silence is Golden and a Human Right – SC on Noise Pollution
Farhd K. Wadia v. Union of India & Ors., Civil Appeal No. 7131 of 2008. Date of Judgment 5-12-08Sunday, December 7, 2008
Dismissing an appeal against the rejection of a petition for certiorari, seeking direction to the Maharashtra Government to grant permission for music concert in “silence zone” (as per Rules 2 (e) and 2(f) The Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000,) the SC reminds us about the value of silence.
Interference by the court in respect of noise pollution is premised on the basis that a citizen has certain rights being `necessity of silence’, `necessity of sleep’, `process during sleep’ and `rest’, which are biological necessities and essential for health. Silence is considered to be golden. It is considered to be one of the human rights as noise is injurious to human health which (sic) is required to be preserved at any cost.
The court highlights the judgment of the Calcutta High Court in Om Birangana Religious Society v. State of West Bengal [decided on 11th August, 1998] and the guidelines issued therein”(a) There will be complete ban on the use of horn type loud-speakers within city residential areas and also prohibit the use of play back of pre-recorded music etc. through such horn type loud- speakers unless used with sound-limiter.(b) In cultural functions which are live functions, use of such pre-recorded music should not be used excepting for the purpose of announcement and/ or actual performance and placement of speaker boxes should be restricted within the area of performance facing the audience. No sound generating devise should be placed outside the main area of performance.(c) Cultural programmes in open air may be held excepting at least before three days of holding Board/ Council Examinations to till examinations are completed in residential areas or areas where educational institutions are situated.(d) The distance of holding such functions from the silence zones should be 100 meters and in so far as Schools, Colleges, Universities, Courts are concerned, it will be treated as silence zones till the end of the office hours and/ or the teaching hours. Hospitals and some renowned and important Nursing Homes will be treated as silence zones round the clock.”
The present appeal was rejected on a technical ground. The rejection of permission to conduct the concert by the Government was because of the decision of the HC of Bombay on 25.09.2003 in a PIL filed by Dr. Yeshwant Trimbak Oke & Ors. Which sought direction to the State to curb noise pollution in general in the city of Mumbai and particularly during the festive seasons. The present appellant is not a party to that suit and nor has the petitioner of the PIL is impleaded in this proceedings. Therefore when “[t]he High Court in the earlier public interest litigation, being Writ Petition No. 2053 of 2003, admittedly passed an order of injunction. If the said order was required to be modified or clarified and/or relaxation was to be prayed for and granted in regard to Rang Bhavan, the appellant should have filed an application in the said proceeding. An independent public interest litigation to obtain a relief which would be contrary to and inconsistent with the order of injunction passed by the court was not maintainable. Inter alia, the doctrine of comity or amity demands the same.”
Posted by Jasmine Joseph

Safety breather for bike makers
New Delhi, Dec. 6: Bike companies have moved the Supreme Court against a Madhya Pradesh High Court order banning sale of motorcycles in the state unless they had handgrips for the pillion in the middle rather than the rear.
The manufacturers won a reprieve after an apex court bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan stayed the order yesterday.
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the bike makers — including Bajaj Auto and Hero Honda, two of the country’s largest bike manufacturers — said a grip in the middle would make the pillion susceptible to groin injury whenever a rider brakes hard.
“World over the handgrip for the pillion rider is provided at the back (above the tail light). Even in scooters, the earlier middle grip is now gone,” Rohatgi said. “The high court it seems is yet to outgrow that feature.”
He also questioned the court’s powers to pass such an order and said it was up to automobile experts to decide the positioning of the grip.
The apex court then issued notices to all the parties in the case and fixed December 19 for the next hearing.
This is not the first time that a high court has intervened in matters concerning those riding pillion. On August 24, Kerala High Court urged the Centre and states to consider a ban on wearing saris while riding pillion. It said saris could be risky while riding pillion as they could get entangled in the wheels.
The court also suggested that the pillion straddle the back seat rather than perch on one side, making it difficult for the rider to maintain balance.
Manufacturers later installed sari-guards for women.
A petition is also pending in Bombay High Court. The PIL followed a newspaper report that said there had been a rise in the number of bike accidents in the state. The petitioner, Gyan Prakash, 60, said manufacturers were putting lives at risk by not providing adequate safety features.

Human Rights Race in Delhi on Sunday
New Delhi (PTI): To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) is organising a Human Rights Race here on Sunday.
The Commission will also release a postage stamp on December 10 as part of the commemoration function.
Tomorrow’s race being organized in collaboration with the Directorate of Education, Delhi, will be flagged off by Commission member G P Mathur, an NHRC release said.
Direct interaction with the field-level functionaries in 28 districts with a view to spreading human rights awareness at the grassroots is one of the major programme being pursued by the Commission during its year-long campaign to commemorate the anniversary, it added.

LEGAL NEWS 6.12.2008

SC gives reprieve to Pawar, BCCI officials in perjury case
Posted on : 06 December 2008 by Shambasiv
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and five other BCCI officials received a reprieve with the Supreme Court staying a Calcutta High Court’s directive to initiate criminal proceedings against them for filing “false” affidavits in the Jagmohan Dalmiya expulsion case.A bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam stayed the impugned judgement after upholding the plea of Pawar and the BCCI officials that the High Court acted erroneously in passing the directions for criminal proceedings.Pawar and the other BCCI officials took the plea that the High Court did not give them the opportunity to present their view and thus violated the principles of natural justice.The bench said it was wrong on the part of the High Court to have passed such an order as legally it was supposed to have conducted an inquiry into the allegation, recorded a finding and then directed registration of a case.”The High Court has to conduct an inquiry and was bound to record a finding and then make a complaint,” the apex court observed when senior counsel K K Venugopal, who appeared for Dalmiya, opposed the stay.The bench rejected Venugopal’s argument wherein he cited an earlier Supreme Court ruling that had upheld a similar direction for registration of criminal cases for perjury.The said case referred to by the counsel related to an issue where the trial court had recorded a finding on the basis of which it had directed registration of a criminalcase, the bench pointed out.Besides Pawar, others against whom the Calcutta High Court had ordered registration of criminal cases were BCCI president Sashank Manohar, former secretary Niranjan Shah, Ratnakar Shetty (Chief Administrative Officer), N Srinivasan (Secretary) and Chirayu Amin, junior Cricket Committee Chairman.The Calcutta High Court had on 12th November directed initiation of criminal proceedings against them for allegedly filing false affidavits in the Dalmiya expulsion case.The court’s order had come eight months after Dalmiya, a former BCCI president, alleged perjury against Pawar and Board officials and sought criminal proceedings against them for producing “false” documents.All the accused BCCI officials have challenged the ex-parte order directing the Registrar (Original side) to initiate criminal proceedings under section 195 of the Cr P C (prosecution for contempt of lawful authority of public servants for offences against public justice and for offences relating to documents given in evidence) at an appropriate court.

SC stays HC’s order on Commonwealth Games Village
Posted on : 06 December 2008 by Shambasiv
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed all proceedings pending in the Delhi High Court regarding construction of 1,100 flats for Commonwealth Games village near the Yamuna river bank.The High Court had earlier on November three refused legal sanction and appointed a committee to assess the ecological impact of the project.A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan stayed the proceedings after Solicitor General G E Vahanvati made a mention of the High Court order.The Solicitor General submitted that the conduct of the Games would be in jeopardy if the order of the High Court was to be implemented.

Scrutiny of 2007-08 returns to take place in current fiscal
Posted on : 05 December 2008 by Y.Prakash
In a major departure from the usual practice, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has issued directions that scrutiny of the self-assessment returns filed by September 30, 2008 for the financial year 2007-08 will be taken up in the current fiscal.Fall in tax revenues and failure of many companies to pay their dues by September 30 have acted as a trigger for the CBDT to issue a circular to this effect to the income-tax offices across the country, sources said.Usually, September 30 is the date by which every company is expected to pay the final tax return for the said financial year. A company usually pays taxes in the form of advance taxes spread across the four quarters of a financial year. If the amount is not paid, it can be paid with the interest penalty under Section 234 (b) and (c), before filing the final return.In the normal course, tax returns for the financial year 2007-08 or assessment year 2008-09 should have been filed by September 30, 2008, and taken up for assessment next year (2009-10). These cases, which become time barring by 2010, will now be picked up for assessment and the demand will be raised before the end of this financial year for speedy recovery.Sources said this was due to a high rate of default in tax payments where the assessee has just filed the return form with the due amount, and in some cases even after calculating the interest penalty. Such defaults run into thousands of crores of rupees at a time when the government is facing a decline in yearly tax collections for the first time since 2003.Therefore, the tax department is preparing to serve notices on almost all the companies which have filed returns without paying the full taxes under Section 140 (a) (3) of the Indian Income Tax Act, 1961. Under Section 140 (A) (3), an assessee is issued a notice as a tax defaulter.“The finance ministry is of the view that since the tax data are available online under the annual information return (AIR) system, recovery for this year could be started immediately. Earlier, when it was a manual process, the compiled and processed information took time to be made available from the field to the decision-making authorities,” said sources.They added that it was an easier strategy for boosting revenue collections since the assessees had defaulted for no particular reason. The Income-tax Department is of the view that there is no reason for this default since the amount of tax is incidental upon the amount of income. Therefore, losses or decline in income for the current financial year could not be a reason for tax default for the last year.Interestingly, lack of funds has been cited as one of the reasons for the default in tax payments.

Indian to be tried for murder of wife today
Posted on : 05 December 2008 by Aravinthan Ganesan
New York, Dec. 4: Indian national Jo-seph Palli-purath, who drove all across the US from California to New Jersey to kill his 24-year-old wife, has been brought to Georgia to face trial. Palliparuth, a native of Kerala, who was shackled as he was taken off the plane on Wednesday night, is expected to be arraigned on Friday. Twenty seven-year-old Palliparuth had confronted his wife Reshma James, 24, who was said to be trying to escape from an abusive relationship, shot her and two others in a church frequented by the Indians in New Jersey on November 23. The injured were identified as Dennis John Mallosseril, 25, who tried to intervene and Reshma’s cousin Silvy Perincheril, 47.Reshma died four hours later, Mallosseril next day and Perincheril is lying in coma in the hospital. They were married in India about a year ago and then moved to California. Pallipurath, the police said, drove from their home in Sacramento in California on the West Coast to New Jersey on the east coast to confront his wife who had left him and was staying with one of her relatives. She had obtained a court order restraining him to come near her. The police said he would undergo psychological evaluation.

TN govt vows to curb illegal constructions in hill stations
Posted on : 05 December 2008 by Aravinthan Ganesan
Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government has told the Madras high court that it would enforce relevant rules and regulations to ensure that unauthorised construction activities, including digging trenches and road works, did not take place in hill stations such as Ooty, Kodaikanal and Yercaud.An undertaking to this effect was given before the first bench comprising Chief Justice A K Ganguly and justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla, when a public interest writ petition filed by Elephant G Rajendran, managing trustee of In Defence of Environment and Animals (IDEA), came up for admission.Citing the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Hill Area (Preservation of Trees) Act 1955, Rajendran submitted that the legislation banned tree felling. He said that as per Section 4(1) no person should use any land having morethan 30 degrees slope for any purpose other than growing trees. In violation of these mandatory provisions, district revenue and forest department officials were permitting roads and tree felling in the ecologically-fragile Ooty, Kodaikanal and Yercaud areas.Expressing concern at the unabated deforestation in these hill stations, Rajendran wanted the court to direct the authorities not to allow anyone to lay road, construct any buildings or levelling the slopes. He said the forest and revenue authorities shall be mandated to prevent use of these lands for any purpose other than the ones specified in the act.Government pleader Raja Kalifulla told the court that the government would follow the acts, rules and regulations for the preservation of forest in the hill regions. The judges, noting that strict action should be taken against violators, said Rajendran too could furnish specific details to the authorities for necessary action.
Source : Times of India –

Bombay HC verdict strengthens IT department: CBDT Chairman
Posted on : 04 December 2008 by Y.Prakash
The CBDT, Chairman Shri N.B. Singh said that the decision of the Mumbai High Court in favour of the Income Tax Department in the case relating to transfer of securities of Vodafone Essar Limited has strengthened the hands of the Income Tax Department.In a writ petition, the validity and legality of the notice issued by the Income Tax department was challenged. The Hon’ble High Court has dismissed the writ petition with cost. Yesterday, the Hon’ble Mumbai High Court had delivered its judgement on the writ petition filed against a notice issued by the Income Tax department under section 201(1) of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to Vodafone International Holdings BV, asking it to show-cause as to why it should not be treated as an assessee in default for failure to deduct tax on payment made in respect of transfer of securities relating to Vodafone Essar Ltd. Shri Singh said that the judgement has strengthened the hands of the Income Tax department in its attempt to bring to tax in India, the transactions involving transfer of assets situated in India between entities located outside the country. PIB

Court rejects plea for probe into ‘Hindutva terror’
Legal Correspondent
Have you got evidence against any of them, CJI asks counsel
Malegaon blast being probed with a closed mind: JUH
Asks CBI to expedite probe into 2001 riots
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday rejected at the admission stage itself a writ petition filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind(JUH) Delhi unit president Maulana Arshad Madani for a probe by an independent agency into all acts of “Hindutva terror” from 2001.
A Bench consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam dismissed as withdrawn the petition, saying the prayer could not be granted.
The petition expressed concern over the involvement of Hinduva fundamentalists in the recent bomb blast at Malegaon in Maharashtra and said the investigating agencies were conducting the probe with a closed mind. The petition sought a direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation to expedite the probe into the 2001 Malegaon riots and pleaded that it be monitored by the court.
The petitioner said the state investigating agencies did nothing even after clear evidence emerged of the involvement of Hindutva fundamentalists. The Chief Justice told Mr. Madani’s counsel: “It is for the state to do what it wants. They [police] are conducting an enquiry and it is being done by a special team. Have you got evidence against any of them [Hindutva groups]? How can you say that investigation is not being conducted properly?

HC asks for Todi’s medical report
6 Dec 2008, 0445 hrs IST, TNN
KOLKATA: Calcutta High Court on Friday asked for a detailed medical report of Ashok Todi. The court asked the superintendent of Presidency jail to furnish a health report of Todi since his first day of admission to the jail hospital. Only after going through that will the court consider his bail petition. The report is to be submitted to the court on Monday. The court also dismissed a writ filed by Todi, challenging the notice issued by the Regional Passport Authority (RPA) to impound his passport. Opposing the bail plea, CBI counsel Ranjan Roy argued that his health was not bad and he had never been hospitalised since his bypass surgery in March 2007. It was only after he was taken into custody on December 1, did Todi get admitted to the jail hospital. So, he cannot be granted bail on health grounds, Roy submitted. Earlier, Todi’s counsel Jaymalya Bagchi pleaded for his client’s bail on the grounds that he was a cardiac patient, who had undergone bypass surgery. The court adjourned the hearing till Monday when the jail authorities will produce the report on Todi’s health. In another case, Ashok Todi, his brother Pradip and cousin Anil Saraogi challenged a notice issued by the Regional Passport Authority that asked the Todis to showcause why their passports would not be impounded. Immediately after non-bailable warrants were issued against the Todis, CBI issued a notice to RPA. On the basis of that, RPA issued the showcause notices. After hearing all parties, Justice Indira Banerjee dismissed the Todis’ applications. RPA counsel, Asish Ghosh, said a look-out notice has already been issued.

Vodafone to move SC against HC’s verdict
6 Dec 2008, 0513 hrs IST, ET Bureau
MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has come down heavily on Vodafone International for “suppressing facts” regarding the $11.2-billion purchase of stake

in Vodafone Essar and said in such a scenario, the court can dismiss the petition without entering into the merits of the matter. UK-based telecom major, Vodafone International, has now decided to move the Supreme Court within the eight-week period granted by the high court for filing any appeal. In their 165-page order, put up on the high court website on Friday, Justices S Radhakrishnan and Anand Nirgude said: “The petition totally lacks particulars as to the nature of agreement dated on February 11, 2007. And all other agreements preceding or following the same entered into by Hutchison Telecommunications International (HTIL) and the petitioner (Vodafone International). The essential facts, supported by the necessary documents as proof of such facts, have been conveniently kept away from this court.” In a statement on Friday evening, the telecom behemoth said: “The exact details of the basis of the order will be evaluated by Vodafone. The telecom major confirms that it intends to appeal to the Supreme Court within the eight-weeks period granted by the Bombay High court.” Vodafone had paid $11.2 billion for buying a 67% stake in Hutchison Essar from HTIL in February 2007. The Income Tax department, which had sent a show-cause notice to Vodafone on September 19, 2007, had asked the company why it should not be treated as an “assessee in default” as HTIL, which had made profits on the disposal of the stake in India, was no longer present in the country. If tax authorities are able to prove that Vodafone is an “assesse in default”, the telecom giant will have to pay $1.7 billion as capital gains tax, an equal amount as penalty and interest on these two at 18% per annum, taking the potential outgo to over $4 billion. The I-T department had contended that it demanded a copy of the agreement entered into by both companies. However, Vodafone had not been able to provide it, the department said. Vodafone claimed that, “no such request (for a copy of the agreement) has been made in the proceedings before the court” or it would have provided the same to the tax authorities.

Apex court stays HC order of stay on Games Village work
Express News Service Posted: Dec 06, 2008 at 0234 hrs IST
New Delhi: Following a High Court order for setting up a committee to assess any possible environmental damages that might be caused by constructing the Commonwealth Games Village, the Supreme Court on Friday provided relief to the Delhi Government by ordering an interim stay on it.
The interim order came on an appeal filed by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). The DDA had challenged the November 3 High Court order of setting up an expert panel, headed by Nobel laureate R K Pachauri, to review the alleged ecological impact of the ongoing construction of 1,100 flats at the Games Village, on the Yamuna riverbed.
Solicitor General G E Vahanvati, appearing on behalf of the government, urged the apex court bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan to grant an ex-parte stay as the High Court’s directive would “seriously jeopardise the very idea of holding the 2010 Games in Delhi. He contended that the government has already invested Rs 500 crore on Games-related works. Vahanvati said the High Court had erroneously come to the conclusion that construction was being carried out on the riverbed. The High Court had also disregarded the voluminous scientific literature and experts’ opinion that the site in question was not located on the riverbed, the court was told.
The SC bench agreed to temporarily suspend the High Court directive and asked the latter not to pass any directions till further orders.
The matter will now be heard on December 15 by the apex court.
Questioning the High Court’s verdict following a host of PILs filed to oppose the construction of the Games Village, the government counsel also pointed to the “unusual and unconventional” manner in which the two judges of the HC bench — Justices A K Sikri and Rekha Sharma — delivered their verdicts separately after hearing the matter together.

HC revokes Roche’s patent
6 Dec 2008, 0202 hrs IST, Rupali Mukherjee, TNN
NEW DELHI: In a first-ever instance of a patent being revoked after being granted, the Madras High Court has set aside pharma major Roche’s patent on key drug, valganciclovir on procedural grounds. A patent on valganciclovir was granted to the company in June 2007. Valganciclovir is a treatment for cytomegalovirus (CMV), a virus that often attacks the retina of people with lower immune systems, such as AIDS patients. In addition, it is crucial for prevention of CMV infection in patients who have received organ transplant. The court has cited the failure of the Indian patent office to comply with the patent law and remanded the matter back to the Patent Controller. The judgment was delivered on a petition filed by civil society groups Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS (INP+) and Tamil Nadu Networking People with HIV/AIDS (TNNP+), who had challenged the Indian Patent Offices decision to grant a patent without hearing the pre-grant opposition filed by them. In July 2006, INP+ and TNNP+ had filed a pre-grant opposition before the Chennai Patent Office objecting to the grant of patent to Roche and requested for a hearing. Under the Indian law, if an opponent requests a hearing, the patent office is required to provide the opponent an opportunity to be heard. However, this was not done. PI At Roche’s maximum retail price of over Rs 1000 per tablet, a patient who has to take a treatment course of approximately four months for CMV retinitis in India would have to pay over Rs 2.5 lakh. This puts the treatment unafforable for those who need them. The grant of patent to Roche allowed it to continue charging exorbitant prices and also prevented the entry of generic versions of valganciclovir. Hwoever, in May this year, Cipla launched the generic valganciclovir in the domestic market at a price of Rs 245 for a tablet. Under law, a generic producer can challenge the patent by taking the risk of launching a generic version after obtaining marketing approval. In response, Roche filed an infringement suit against Cipla in the Bombay High Court in September seeking an injunction, which is till pending. The dispute between the companies hinges on “patentability” of the drug. The validity of the patent is in question under the country’s patent laws that do not allow patents on new forms of old drugs, also known as Section 3(d). Experts pointed out that valganciclovir is a hydrochloride salt of an old drug `ganciclovir’ and hence not patentable. The generic producers of the drug, Matrix, Ranbaxy and Cipla have also filed post grant oppositions. While the opportunity to oppose the application is only granted to the patient groups, it is likely that Roche’s injunction proceedings against Cipla for launching the generic version will no longer have a legal basis as the patent is now revoked. Whether the Mumbai court will keep the infringement proceedings pending remains to be seen, legal experts say.

Paternity suit: N D Tiwari moves HC against order…/394872/
Express news service Posted: Dec 06, 2008 at 0117 hrs IST
New Delhi: Veteran Congress leader and Andhra Pradesh Governor N D Tiwari, who is facing a paternity suit filed by Rohit Shekhar, the 29-year-old grandson of a former Union minister, on Friday moved the Delhi High Court against its direction for his personal appearance.
Raising objections against the summon for December 16 on various grounds, Tiwari sought stay of the order saying that his appearance would prejudice the constitutional post he holds.
“Appellant is Governor of Andhra Pradesh, a constitutional appointee and it would gravely prejudice him and his office, if he is directed to appear in person, especially when suit is liable to be rejected on the ground of limitation and lack of jurisdiction,” senior advocate S B Sanyal, who was appearing for Tiwari, submitted.
A single-judge bench of the High Court on November 25 had directed him to appear before it on December 16 for in-chamber hearing, considering it to be a family matter.
Tiwari’s personal appearance was directed by the court on a suit filed by Shekhar, grandson of former Union minister Sher Singh, claiming that he was born out of a relationship between Tiwari and his mother Ujjwala Singh, who is also associated with the Congress. The 85-year-old Governor has however rubbished the claim.
Appearing before a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Manmohan Singh, Tiwari’s counsel termed the direction as “premature”, for his personal appearance was not required at such an initial stage.
The four-time chief minister also expressed his displeasure over treating the matter as a “family matter” and said in his petition, “… by no stretch of imagination, the present matter can be said to be family matter as the plaintiff (Rohit) is alleged to be born during the wedlock of his mother and B P Sharma and I cannot be their family member especially when I had denied all the allegations in the plaint.”

Company shut, HC comes to workers’ rescue
6 Dec 2008, 0041 hrs IST, TNN
AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat High Court has dismissed a petition by Union Bank of India objecting to workers’ claims that the bank alone cannot take possession of all assets of a closed company as per law. This has brought relief to 400-odd workers of a company that they would be paid their dues. As per case details, city-based Kiran Processors
Ltd shut down its operations rendering about 400 workers jobless. However, the company was closed without obtaining necessary permission of the labour commissioner. And the bank, being one of creditors, took possession of all the assets to recover the dues. Against the bank’s move, the workers’ union moved a labour court questioning how the bank can take possession of the property of the closed company. The union also made the bank a party, to which the bank objected. When the labour court refused to remove the bank from the list of respondents, it approached the high court urging that it should not be impleaded as a party. After hearing arguments from the union’s advocate Dhimant Vasavda, Justice Jayant Panchal dismissed the bank’s plea observing that though the company was not ordered to be wound up, at the same time it has closed down its operations and a large number of worker have lost their jobs. Therefore, they are entitled to receive their legitimate dues as per the Securitization Act as well as various provisions of the Company Act.

HC orders HMC to clear dump
Statesman News ServiceKOLKATA, Dec. 5: Howrah Municipal Corporation was directed to demolish illegal structures at the Belgachia trenching ground of Howrah and clear it by 15 January, 2009, by the Division Bench of Mr Justice SS Nijjar and Mr Justice Sanjib Banerjee of Calcutta High Court today. A series of orders had been passed in this matter to destroy houses, factories and a Kolkata Municipal Development Authority (KMDA) office but the HMC has not carried out the court order leading to pollution, the Division Bench observed. In 2003, the HMC and the state government were directed to explore an alternate spot for dumping garbage. In October, 2006, the matter was brought to the notice of the court by Mr Subhas Dutta of Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samity that no alternative dumping ground has been explored and 40 per cent of the existing trenching ground has been encroached. The court directed the HMC to draw up a scheme. In August, 2008 HMC was fined Rs 20,000 for not complying with the court order. Mr D Mukherjee, the HMC counsel expressed the inability of his client to comply with the earlier court order. The court further directed the district magistrate of Howrah to render necessary assistance to HMC to carry out the order.

Dodging tax: HC seeks help from Mattewal
Express News Service
Posted: Dec 06, 2008 at 0014 hrs IST
Chandigarh Realising the sensitivity of the case involving two Ludhiana-based companies that have been accused of evading verification or stamping fees worth crores of rupees, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has sought the assistance of Punjab Advocate General H S Mattewal in the case.
The case came up for resumed hearing today before a division Bench comprising Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Jasbir Singh. The Controller of Legal Metrology, Punjab, was present in the court, as directed by the court on Thursday. The two tape-manufacturing companies — Freemans Measures Limited and FMI Ltd — are in the dock for allegedly evading stamping fees for the last four years.
The issue had come to light after a petition was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court by advocate N K Jain. The petitioner has sought action against the alleged large-scale evasion in the stamping fees in connivance with the officers of the Controller of Legal Metrology department.
“To manufacture three metres of measuring tape, a stamping fee of Rs 18.75 fee is to be paid,” said the petitioner. The petitioner alleged that by dodging stamping fees, the two firms were selling their product at cheaper rates in the market and making huge profits.

SC stays HC order on Commonwealth Games construction row
New Delhi, Dec 5 (PTI) The Supreme Court today stayed a Delhi High Court judgement appointing a committee to assess the perceived adverse ecological impact arising out of the construction of 1,100 flats for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games near the Yamuna.A bench of Chief Justices K G Balakrishnan and P Sathasivam stayed the November 3 High Court order after Solicitor General G E Vahanvati during the “mention time” assailed the judgement on the ground that it would seriously “jeopardise” conduct of the games for which crores of rupees have already been invested.Appearing on behalf of the DDA, Vahanvati said the High Court had erroneously come to the conclusion that the construction was being carried out on the river bed.In doing so the High Court has disregarded and ignored voluminous scientific literature and opinion of experts that the site in question was not located on the river bed, the DDA submitted.According to Vahanvati, already Rs 500 crore had been spent on the project and the High Court’s judgement may have the effect of disrupting the construction as no buyer would come forward to purchase the flats.On November 3, the High Court refused to approve the construction and appointed a committee to assess the perceived adverse ecological impact of the project. PTI

Editor’s PickCyber theft and the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885
Puneet Shukla
Internet is believed to be full of anarchy and a system of law and regulation therein seems contradictory. However, cyberspace is being governed by a system of law called Cyberlaw. As the Internet grows, numerous legal issues arise. One of the most important issues concerning cyberspace today is that of Cyber crime.

Since the beginning of civilization, man has always been motivated by the need to make progress and better the existing technologies. This has led to tremendous development and progress which has been a launching pad for further development. Of all the significant advances made by mankind from the beginning till date. Probably the most important of them is the development of Internet to put in a common mans language internet is a global network of computers, all speaking the same language.

Internet is believed to be full of anarchy and a system of law and regulation therein seems contradictory. However, cyberspace is being governed by a system of law called Cyberlaw. Cyberlaw is a generic term which refers to all the legal and regulatory aspects of internet. Publishing a web page is an excellent way for any business to vastly increase its exposure to millions of individuals world-wide. It is that feature of the Internet which is causing much controversy in the legal community.

Cyberlaw is a constantly evolving process. As the Internet grows, numerous legal issues arise. One of the most important issues concerning cyberspace today is that of Cyber crime. The world over cyber crime has taken deep root and the use of cyberspace by sophisticated cyber criminals has assumed serious proportion today. Criminals and terrorists associated with drug trafficking, terrorist outfits are employing Internet for anti social, anti national and criminal activities with impunity. There can be no one exhaustive definition about Cybercrime. However, any activities which basically offend human sensibilities, can also be included in its ambit. Child Pornography on the Internet constitutes one serious Cyber crime. Similarly, online pedophiles, using internet to induce minor children into sex, are as much Cybercriminals as any other.[1][1]

Cybercrimes can be basically divided into 3 major categories being Cybercrimes against persons, property and Government. Cybercrimes committed against persons include various crimes like transmission of child-pornography, harassment of any one with the use of a computer such as e-mail, and cyber-stalking.

The second category of Cybercrimes is that of Cybercrimes against all forms of property. These crimes include unauthorized computer trespassing through cyberspace, computer vandalism, transmission of harmful programs and unauthorized possession of computerized information.

Hacking and cracking are amongst the gravest Cybercrimes known till date. It is a dreadful feeling to know that someone has broken into your computer systems without your knowledge and consent and has tampered with precious confidential data and information. Coupled with this, the actuality is that no computer system in the world is hacking proof. It is unanimously agreed that any and every system in the world can be hacked. Using one””s own programming abilities as also various programmes with malicious intent to gain unauthorized access to a computer or network are very serious crimes. Similarly, the creation and dissemination of harmful computer programs or virus which do irreparable damage to computer systems is another kind of Cybercrime. Software piracy is also another distinct kind of Cybercrime which is perpetuated by many people online who distribute illegal and unauthorised pirated copies of software.[2][2]

The third category of Cybercrimes relate to Cybercrimes against Government. Cyber Terrorism is one distinct kind of crime in this category. The growth of Internet has shown that the medium of Cyberspace is being used by individuals and groups to threaten the international governments as also to terrorise the citizens of a country. This crime manifests itself into terrorism when an individual cracks into a government or military maintained website.[3][3]

In this assignment, we are basically concerned with the second type of Cybercrime, i.e. Cybercrime related to property since it is property which can be stolen. In this assignment, we shall discuss whether cyber theft can be covered under the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 or not.

The Indian Ielegraph Act of 1885 and Cybertheft

Before the Information Technology Act of 2000 was passed, India faced one of its first cases of Cybercrime. A Krishan Kumar was arrested by the Delhi police for having stolen the Internet hours of a Col. (Retd.) Bajwa. He was booked under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. The main contention was whether the provisions of the Act would be applicable to such a case.[4][4]

First, we must discuss theft. Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code defines the punishment for theft under Section 378 as follows:-

Theft – Whoever, intending to take dishonestly any moveable property out of the possession of any person without that persons consent, moves that property in order to such taking, is said to commit theft.

It can be argued that it will be very difficult to bring the cyber crime of stealing of internet hours or for that matter, using stolen internet hours, within the ambit of the criminal law. Section 378 of IPC defines theft and section 379 and talks of the punishment for theft. However, section 378 of IPC defines theft as stealing of moveable property. Section 378 makes it clear that moveable property is one which is severed from the earth. But can internet time be brought within the ambit of property, moveable or immoveable? It can be argued that time has never been considered as a property at any point of time in history. Clearly, theft of Internet hours could not be brought under the ambit of IPC since for an offence of theft to be committed, the property should be moveable and must be severed from the earth. Internet hours will certainly not fall within that ambit.

We do have many old laws like the Indian Telegraph Act, which date back to 1885. The Information Technology Act 2000 has not amended the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 .The important thing that arises for consideration is whether the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 in its present form is capable of being interpreted in todays cyber age to include cyberspace within its ambit.[5][5]

The Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 was enacted 121 years back with the main object being to give power to the Government and to any company or person licensed under section 4 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1876, and specially empowered in this behalf, to place telegraph lines under or over property belonging whether to private persons or to public bodies. The preamble of the Telegraph Act says that it is an Act to amend to the law relating to telegraphs in India. Section 3 of the Indian Telegraph Act defines telegraph as following:-

telegraph means any appliance, instrument, material or apparatus used or capable of use for transmission or reception of signs, signals; writing, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, visual or other electro-magnetic emissions, Radio waves or Hertzian waves, galvanic, electric or magnetic means.

It is pertinent to note that the definition of telegraph is wide enough to even include a large number of modern gadgets. However, the crucial issue is whether do we interpret the law out of the context of the time and against the aims and objects of the law. The Indian Telegraph Act was enacted, as a law on telegraphs and in my opinion, cannot be extended beyond the ambit of telegraphs.

Section 25 of the Telegraph Act, which has been alleged to have been invoked in Indias first cyber trial, talks of intentionally damaging or tampering with telegraphs.[6][6] The said section says:-

If any person, intending – (a) to prevent or obstruct the transmission or delivery of any message, or (b) to intercept or to acquaint himself with the contents of any message, or (c) to commit mischief, damages, removes, tampers with or touches any battery, machinery, telegraph line post or other thing whatever, being part of or used in or about any telegraph or in the working thereof, he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
The definition of telegraph, though loosely defined, cannot be stretched so much as to include internet and cyberspace. In any case, in todays scenario, telegraph and internet are two separate concepts, each having their own separate meaning and implications. In case, we endeavour to include internet within the definition of telegraph, the same shall be an extremely dangerous exercise.


From the discussion above it is clear that the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 is not equipped to deal with the complex issues involved in cybertheft and more generally, cybercrime. In any case, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 is sought to be repealed by the proposed Communications Convergence Bill 2001, which is presently pending before the government, after the Parliamentary Standing Committee has given its recommendations about the same. What we must keep in mind is that as time passes and new challenges emerge, law will have to change with time so as to retain its flexibility and relevance.

Basically, information and knowledge are sources of empowerment for the citizens, enabling them to effectively participate in decisions affecting their lives and livelihood, and in ensuring accountability and transparency of those in charge of the institutions of governance. For the government information and knowledge are vital to the formulation of the appropriate policies, the delivery of the essential services and the promotion of human development. ICTs in general and e-governance in particular can play a very critical role in empowering the people.

We must note that e-Governance is not a panacea for Indias overnight development, though. Governance is a process; and the electronic is merely a tool to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the process of governance. Hence e governance is not a substitute for good governance or democracy. It does not substitute for the principles of good governance or those of democracy. E-governance is about transformation that helps citizens and those in business explore new, efficient and effective ways of getting things done in the evolving global knowledge society and economy, and in responding to the challenges and opportunities of globalization. What is needed is a clear road map and overarching strategy for e-Governance, a strategy that can address and overcome the obstacles of infrastructural constraints, quality of human capital, financial inadequacy, potential for cyber crime and societal handicaps. A working coalition of all groups in the country, the State and the public sector, the private sector, foreign collaborators, non-governmental organizations and active participation and involvement of civil society itself backed by a strong and supportive legal framework with the appropriate laws, can help realize the dream of electronica in governance. The possibilities are two. One, ICTs will emerge as a fleeting window of opportunity for us Indians to leapfrog into the 21st century world of science and technology or two, it could well be just another lost opportunity irreparably dividing our people into unjustifiable groups, the technologically rich and the information-poverty-ridden poor, a separator and a marginaliser of the populace, a bane for any nations forward progress towards change for the better. The choice is ours.

(Author is an Editor at Indlaw Communications Pvt. Ltd.)
[1] Atul Kuma, Cyber Crime- Crime without Punishment,
available at
2] Sharique M. Rizvi and Dr. Madhvendra Misra, Computer Forensics-New Vistas In Evidence Technology, available at
[3] Pavan Duggal, Cybercrime, available at
[4] Anupa Sarah, Information Technology and Governance, available at
[5] Pavan Duggal, Handling Net Stalkings, available at
[6] Pavan Duggal, Cyber Theft and the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885,
available at

LEGAL NEWS 05.12.2008

No loan granted, but bank wants interest
MS Kamath
Monday, November 24, 2008 03:31 IST
In a case which occurred in Kolkata, a man was repeatedly asked to pay interest on a loan which he never took, leading to a complaint decided by the West Bengal State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in The Manager ICICI Bank and others vs. Sri Kalyan Kumar Sur.
Sur had a Gold Credit Card from ICICI Bank with an add-on card in the name of his wife. From December 2004 to November 2005, he made some transactions and got into a dispute over an alleged late payment in which he got into protracted correspondence with the bank. Suddenly, on November 3, 2005, his card statement showed a sum of Rs43,267.95 as outstanding on his name. In the January statement, this amount rose to Rs47,024.52.
Sur contacted the bank manager for an explanation of the amounts debited to his account and was told that he had taken a loan of Rs33,500 from the bank on the basis of his card in April 2005. When the protests form the consumer went unheeded, the matter landed in the District Consumer Redressal Forum at Kolkata. The Forum concluded that no such loan was ever received by the consumer and asked the bank to reverse all the entries in the credit card statement and ordered that he be paid a sum of Rs1,00,000 as compensation.
The bank appealed to the state commission on the premise that the customer was entitled to a loan of Rs33,500, which he had availed as part of advances given to customers holding credit cards. The bank could not produce the transaction papers when asked to. Referring to the Reserve Bank of India guidelines, the commission observed that there was a clear directive that when a person had refused to accept a loan, it was for the bank to withdraw all subsequent penalties and action against him. All these actions were never initiated.
Upholding the Forum’s order, the commission scaled down the compensation from Rs1 lakh to Rs30,000. It passed an order that a copy of the judgment be sent to the governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

Banks told to ensure ATM card delivery
MS Kamath
Monday, November 17, 2008 03:18 IST
Electronic systems of carrying out bank transactions have led to newer forms of crime. So, the bank must be very careful and take responsibility in case of any flaw in its actions, says the Uttar Pradesh State Consumer State Dispute Redressal Commission in State Bank of India vs. Om Prakash Prajapati and others.
Prajapati opened a savings bank account with SBI in Naini, Allahabad. He also filled up a form asking for an ATM card. A few weeks later, Prajapati learned that Rs2,79,000 had been withdrawn from his account by using an ATM Card in his name.
He immediately informed the bank that he had not undertaken any such transaction and also filed a police case against the fraudulent withdrawal of money. When he asked the bank to return the money to him, the bank stated that they had sent the Card by Skypak Couriers and they were not liable for it.
The consumer filed a complaint in the Allahabad Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum. The bank stated that maybe the ATM Card had fallen in wrong hands and that the withdrawal may have been fraudulent but it also said that it believed the consumer may also have drawn the money himself.
The District Forum passed an order asking the bank to refund the sum to Prajapati with interest at the rate of 9% and costs of Rs500.
The bank appealed against this order to the State Commission which observed that the bank had failed to give any evidence to show that the consumer had received the card. The courier company also provided no proof of delivery.
Castigating the bank for not setting up a foolproof system of delivery and carrying on the litigation for three years, the appeal was dismissed and the State Bank of India was directed to compensate the consumer with a sum of Rs5,000 in addition to the money decreed by the lower Forum.

ICICI asked to compensate for claiming interest for an un-availed loan
By Ankit Sharma
Nov 25, 2008
ICICI Bank was directed by the West Bengal State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission to compensate for harassing a customer by asking to pay interest rate without the loan being granted.
Kolkata based Sri Kalyan Kumar Sur, a customer with ICICI bank was repeatedly asked to pay interest on a loan which was never availed by him. Sur had taken Gold Credit Card from ICICI Bank with an add-on card in the name of his wife. He had made transactions with the card from December 2004 to November 2005 and since then been involved into an argument with the bank which mentions an alleged late payment. All of sudden the monthly credit card statement of November 2005 showed the outstanding amount as Rs 43,267.95 which increased to Rs 47,024.52 in the month of January.
On seeking information from bank regarding this amount, Sur took a loan of Rs33,500 from the bank on the basis of his card in April 2005 and was debited to his account. He objected for having taken any of such loan but was left in vain by the bank authorities. Following this he approached the District Consumer Redressal Forum at Kolkata.
The forum investigated the matter and found that no such loan was availed by the complainant. The forum therefore directed the bank to reverse all the entries in the credit card statement and also pay Rs 1,00,000 as compensation charges.
On the other hand, the bank claimed to the state commission that the customer was granted a loan of Rs33,500 by the bank which was availed as part of advances against his existing credit cards. However the bank could not produce the transaction papers on its defense. Also as per the RBI guidelines, there is an instruction that explains that if a person refuses to accept a loan, the bank should withdraw all consequent penalty and action against him but no such actions were ever followed.
To keep with the forum’s order, the compensation has been reduced to Rs30,000 from Rs 1,00,000 by the commission.
Besides, there is an order for sending the judgment copy to the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

Car owner has right to registration papers
MS Kamath
Monday, November 10, 2008 03:28 IST
A person buying a two-wheeler or a four-wheeler is required to register ownership of the same with the Road Traffic Authority (RTA), failing which he is penalised severely. However, the RTA officers are often arrogant and fail to issue the papers for a long time. That is counted as deficiency of service, and actionable under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, says Kerala State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission in connection with the regional transport officer vs. George Thattil case.
Thattil, an insurance investigator, wanted the particulars of registration of a car, which was registered with the RTA at Thrissur. The owner stated that he had purchased the car, but had not received the Registration Book (RC Book) from the RTA for a long time. The investigator took it upon himself to collect the book and details based on an authority letter received from the original owner.
The RTA at Thrissur took over a year to deliver the RC Book and other details to Thattil. Thattil filed a complaint in the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum, alleging deficiency of service by the RTA, and claiming Rs10,000 as compensation.District forum heard both parties and concluded that one year was too long for re-issuing a RC Book, and ordered RTA to pay Thattil a sum of Rs5,000 as compensation, plus Rs1,500 as cost of litigation.
Dissatisfied with the verdict, the RTA took the matter in appeal to the state commission. RTA stated that the building in which the papers were being processed was under repair and this was why the papers could not be processed speedily. It stated that the delay in issue of the certificate did no cause any loss to the owner, as he was already in possession of the certificate, which declared that the transfer of ownership was under process with the RTA, and that no specific action had been taken against him for non-possession of the RC Book.
The commission did not accept the statements. Castigating it for the delay, the commission stated that the excuse that the office was undergoing repair could not be accepted. Further, it stated that the car owner had stated that he needed the RC Book for the purpose of making an insurance claim and this was mentioned in the application made by Thattil to the authority concerned.
Confirming this as a case of deficiency of service, the commission confirmed the order of the forum.

Consumer Forum directs Canara Bank to pay Rs.20,000 to NRI couple
Saturday, 15 November 2008
NAWANSHEHAR: The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum here has held the local branch of Canara Bank responsible for negligence in service towards an NRI couple and has asked the bank “to credit Rs 9.63 lakh in their account with interest rate payable on fixed deposits”.
The Forum has further directed the bank to pay a sum of Rs 20,000 to the complainants by way of compensation for “mental as well as physical harassment and litigation costs suffered by them”. The complainants Balwant Kaur and his husband Jasvir Singh of Kulam Road here had approached the Forum stating that on February 1 this year they were having a balance of Rs 9,64,938 in their joint saving bank account and that they had got a cheque book issued bearing numbers from 261871 to 261880 and that only two cheques bearing numbers 261871 and 261872 were used by them out of this cheque book.
Balwant Kaur remained out of the country from December21, 2007 to June21, 2008 and on her arrival back here when she checked her account with the bank, she found that a sum of Rs 9,63,000 had been withdrawn from it in instalments on different dates in the period from March 10,2008 to April 8,2008. It was alleged by the complainants that the aforesaid amount had been withdrawn by the officials/employees of the bank illegally. Apart from lodging a complaint with the bank manager, an FIR No 91 dated July 7, 2008 under Sections 420/465/471/474/120-B of IPC was also lodged by the complainants who in their petition before the Forum had claimed “to have suffered huge monetary loss as well as mental tension on account of negligence” of the bank and deficiency in service towards them.
The Forum comprising President S.M.S.Mahal and Member Sukhdev Singh, in its order dated November 5, 2008 has held that the bank in its written version filed before the Forum “had challenged the maintainability of the complaint on the ground that the Forum had no jurisdiction to entertain and try this complaint” though “on merits, facts with regard to withdrawals were not disputed”. The bank, however, denied that there was any negligence or deficiency in service towards the complainants. The bank rather contended that the complainants on their request were also provided another cheque book and that Jasvir Singh, in conspiracy with his brother-in-law had withdrawn the amount for their use and had levelled false allegations against the bank.
Both the parties submitted affidavits and other documents as evidence before the Forum which held that the bank did not dispute the withdrawal of Rs 9.63 lakh and that the bank failed to produce the “request of the complainants” for issuance of 2nd cheque or any other documentary evidence in that respect. As per the order, the perusal of the account statement indicated that the amounts in dispute had been withdrawn through cheques bearing nos. 152092 to 152096 and 152100 by a person named Bhinder Singh.
The cheque bearing number 152098 is said to have been encashed by the complainants themselves. The said cheques were not brought on record to show that Bhinder Singh was in any way related to the complainants or the cheque bearing no 152098 was issued by any of the complainants. “In such circumstances, we find no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the amount of Rs 9.63 lakh had been withdrawn either with the connivance of the officials of the bank or due to the negligence in not verifying the authenticity of the cheques,” said the order.

Consumer forums’ chiefs:
The Governor of Punjab has appointed presidents for three District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums, Pritam Singh Dhanoa from Hassanpur village in Mohali district, Paramjit Singh from Ludhiana and Sanjay Garg from Sangrur. According to an order of the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Punjab, Sanjay has been posted president of Ferozepur forum, Pritam of Mansa forum and Paramjit of Kapurthala forum.

HC ruling on Vodafone to enable I-T Dept to look at similar deals
TDS amount in Vodafone case estimated at close to $2 billion.
Our Bureau
New Delhi, Dec. 4 The Income-Tax Department estimates that tax deducted at source (TDS) amounting to about $ 2 billion had not been paid to the exchequer in the $ 11.2-billion Hutch-Essar deal.
The Bombay High Court decision to dismiss the writ petition of Vodafone International Holdings (VIH) has also strengthened the hands of the department to look at other offshore transactions/cases involving transfer of assets situated in India.
“The Bombay High Court move has definitely encouraged us and strengthened our hands in bringing to tax in India transactions involving transfer of assets situated here between entities located outside the country,” Mr N.B. Singh, Chairman, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), said here today.
Although the TDS amount involved has been pegged around $ 2 billion, official sources noted that the amount is subject to final computation by the department. Also, the notice issued does not put an exact number on the TDS amount that was not deducted and paid to the Government, they added. .
“We will be democratic….”, Mr Singh said when asked if the tax department would now pursue or open up assessments on other transactions that were undertaken offshore with Indian assets. He declined to name or put a number on the cases that would come under the department’s scanner after the Bombay High Court decision.
Meanwhile, Mr Singh also said that the CBDT has decided to file a caveat before the Supreme Court to ensure that no ex parte stay is granted on the Vodafone matter without hearing the tax department.
The Bombay High Court had on Wednesday dismissed the writ petition of VIH challenging the validity and legality of a notice issued by the I-T department on failure to deduct tax at source on payments made in respect of transfer of securities relating to Hutch-Essar Ltd (now Vodafone Essar Ltd)
Mr Prakash Chandra, Director General (International Taxation), said that the High Court decision would open the doors for the I-T Department to look into the entirety of Vodafone transactions and then decide whether they attract tax or not and also what nature of tax.
He highlighted that the law was very clear in the sense that once payment was made, tax had to be deducted at source. Mr Chandra pointed out that Vodafone had come through FIPB and as part of the clearances it was specified that it would be on its transactions subject to Indian laws, including those on TDS.
“Till now, the moment we issued notice seeking further information and details, the writ petition was filed by them. The department was restrained to proceed during the pendency of the writ petition. Once the writ petition has been dismissed, our right to look into the details of the case has strengthened. We want to see the agreements between the parties, the valuations made by them. All these had to be looked into before deciding how much taxes are to be paid”, Mr Chandra said.
He, however, said that the tax department would wait for eight weeks because the Bombay High Court had extended the earlier stay for this period. “Vodafone unfortunately had not filed the copies of the original agreement before us. We had asked them to do so. Unfortunately, they did not file it before the Honourable Bombay High Court. That was one of the reasons why the High Court imposed cost on them”, Mr Chandra said.

Paradigms of Judicial Independence
Thursday, December 04, 2008
I am glad to post here the lecture delivered by the former Chief Justice of India, Justice J.S.Verma recently at Patna. Justice Verma, the author of the Supreme Court’s Judgment in the Second Judges case (Advocates-on-Record vs. Union of India, 1993)has been maintaining that his judgment was much misunderstood and that the judgment looked at the appointment process as a joint exercise between the Judiciary and the Executive. He does not, for instance, agree with Justice Chinnappa Reddy’s prescription for primacy being accorded to the CJI rather than to the collegium. Speaking to our blog about the recent controversy over the SC collegium’s move to ignore the seniority principle while recommending three Judges for appointment to the Supreme Court, he said, the 1993 judgment did not make it mandatory for the collegium to consider the seniority principle. But the collegium must explain to the judiciary, even if it is not for public consumption, why a junior person is far more meritorius than the senior candidate. The process he visualised in the 1993 judgment is participatory and integrated. Interestingly, the Law Commission’s recently released 214th Report proposes reconsideration of the judgments in the First, Second, and Third Judges cases. The report says that the Supreme Court has completely eliminated and excluded the executive in the Second Judges case, and the Court reaffirmed this view in the Third Judges case (Special Reference No.1 of 1999) – a view which is contrary to Justice Verma’s interpretation of his own judgment. In fact, the report cites my recent interview with Justice Verma (gives the year of the interview wrongly as 1998)wherein he sought a rethink on the issue, but reaches a conclusion which is contrary to what he would suggest: a legislation to restore the primacy of the CJI and the power of the executive to make the appointments. In this recent article,[pp.9-10) R.K.Raghavan observes that we will be interested in knowing whether the SC collegium gives detailed reasons for supersession of High Court Judges, while recommending appointees to the Supreme Court.
Posted by V.Venkatesan at 7:38 PM

HC relief for 45 suspended cops
4 Dec 2008, 2248 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: The High Court on Thursday granted relief to 45 suspended police officers which directed the Delhi Police to re-induct them into the service. All the suspended officers are from the lower rung of the police force and were originally dismissed from the service on corruption charges. Acting on a batch of petitions filed by one Brij Pal Singh a bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Suresh Kait reinstated them in the force and also asked the police commissioner to pay Rs 1,000 to each petitioner as a token amount. In December 2002, these policemen were convicted by a trial court for corruption charges which related to accepting bribes and thereafter removed from service after they were awarded two years imprisonment. In between they approached Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) challenging their removal from service. CAT asked the police department to keep them under suspension instead of dismissing them. This prompted Delhi Police to approach HC challenging CAT verdict. On its part the police department cited a 1995 Supreme Court judgment and went ahead to issue a circular in 2005 according to which all suspended employees of the department were removed from the force. The department said bribery was reason enough to dismiss these men. But HC brushed aside this defence and maintained that the cops had even undergone their conviction, asking the department to take them back again. HC upheld the tribunal’s decision, also slapping a total of Rs 45,000 on the police department as litigation cost.

Ensure public safety, health: HC to govt
5 Dec 2008, 0057 hrs IST, TNN
BANGALORE: The high court on Thursday directed the government, BBMP and the Bangalore police to take necessary steps on regulating hawkers in the city to ensure public safety and public health. A division Bench headed by the Chief Justice passed the order while disposing off a PIL filed by city resident K Ranganath seeking setting up of separate hawking zones. “In Bangalore, there are no measures to check the sales of food items on footpaths and roads. These roadside eateries not only create health problems but also add to traffic woes apart from posing a threat to the economy. The public are forced to walk on the streets risking their safety. The Supreme Court had already issued 16-point guidelines, including that of the setting up of separate hawking zones by forming a committee headed by experts,” Ramesh Chandra, counsel for petitioner, told the court.

HC lauds peon’s rise to vice-principal
4 Dec 2008, 2256 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: Ganesh Chand’s hard work, determination and merit saw him achieve a remarkable feat become the vice-principal of a school where he began his career as a peon. And now, Chand will continue to inspire his students

at Hardcourt Butler senior secondary school in the capital after Delhi High Court recently dismissed a petition which assailed his appointment on a flimsy procedural ground. “Every person has a right to progress in his career. The efforts put in by Chand after he joined the school as a peon in 1975 and thereafter his various promotions from time to time need to be commended and require encouragement, as he has risen in his career from the post of a peon to a vice-principal on his own merit,” noted justice S N Aggarwal while dismissing a petition challenging his appointment. The petition was filed by another teacher from the same school who claimed his vice-principal acquired further degrees and did higher studies without taking prior permission from the education department. However, HC took a dim view of Neera Yadav’s arguments to stake her claim to the vice principal’s office. It noted, “the matter regarding taking of permission or not taking permission at best may be a procedural lapse on behalf of Ganesh Chand and cannot be given wieghtage in the facts and circumstances of the case.” The court then tossed out Yadav’s petition, labelling it as a “highly misconceived one” which was only “an abuse of the process of law.” Chand joined the school in 1975 as a peon and continued his focussed quest for knowledge. That very year, he also enrolled himself as a regular student in the same school and went on to complete his senior secondary. He completed his Bachelors in Education followed by Masters which later made him eligible to hold higher posts in the school. By 2000, Chand had been promoted as a post graduate teacher and his career touched a new high when the education directorate decided to appoint him as the vice-principal earlier this year.

HC cancels bail of 19 life convicts
Mohamed Imranullah S.
MADURAI: Mass absence of counsels to argue criminal appeals in the Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday led to the cancellation of bail granted to 19 life convicts from Madurai, Karur, Pudukottai, Virudhunagar and Tuticorin districts.
A Division Bench comprising Justice R. Regupathi and Justice R. Subbiah passed the orders as it was irked over non-appearance of all but one lawyer, who appeared in the afternoon and sought apology, to argue the appeals listed for the day.
Passing separate but identical orders in the criminal appeals, most of which were pending since 2001, the Judges directed the High Court Registry to issue non-bailable warrants (NBWs) against all the 18 persons convicted in different murder cases.
On receipt of the NBWs, police officers from the five districts were directed to arrest the convicts and produce them before the Judicial Magistrates concerned for remanding the appellants to judicial custody. “When the matter is taken up for final disposal, it is the bounden duty on the part of the appellant to instruct his counsel to pursue the case. It is unfortunate that… the counsel is not ready to cooperate with the court to dispose of the appeal,” the Bench said. Of the appellants, six were from Tuticorin; four each from Virudhunagar and Karur; two from Madurai and one each from Tirunelveli and Pudukottai. The list included three women of whom one was 13 years old while committing the offence in 2000.

Bombay HC sends notices to Maharashtra, Centre on terror PILs
4 Dec 2008, 1659 hrs IST, PTI
MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Thursday issued notices to Maharashtra and Central governments asking them to file affidavits explaining the steps taken or to be taken to prevent terrorist attacks in future. ( Watch ) The directive came in response to two PILs filed in wake of the November 26 attacks in the metropolis that killed 170 persons and injured over 300. “Please examine whether constitutional rights to life also cover right to live with safety and a sense of security,” a bench headed by Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar said. In an apparent reference to media coverage of the terror strikes, the Chief Justice said exposition of security plan by “media” had gone too far. It would be an issue to be examined in one of the PILs, he said. The PIL filed by advocate V P Patil alleges that there was a systemic failure which allowed the terror attacks to happen. Another PIL, filed by Society of India’s Law Firms, sought setting up of a citizens committee to tackle the menace of terrorism.
The court has given the state and union governments two weeks time to file their replies.

V G Patil case: Calls before murder could be significant, says HC
Press Trust of India
Thursday, December 04, 2008, (Mumbai)
The calls made to the accused a day before the murder of Jalgaon-based Congress leader Vishram G Patil would be of “great significance”, the Bombay High Court remarked on Thursday.The High Court is hearing a petition filed by Rajni Patil, Vishram Patil’s widow, seeking to make G N Patil, President Pratibha Patil’s brother, an accused in the murder case.The case was probed by CBI, which filed two chargesheets this year, but said there was no evidence against G N Patil.Rajni Patil’s lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani on Thursday argued that there were calls between the chargesheeted persons and G N Patil a day prior to the murder and on the day of the murder, and this was enough to implicate G N Patil.Following this, division bench of Justices-F I Rebello and R S Mohite queried if CBI had questioned G N Patil about the calls.Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam then produced statements of G N Patil on this point.Perusing them, court observed that Patil should have been specifically asked about calls on September 20 and September 21, 2005, the day of murder.Calls were made by G N Patil to Damodar Lokhande and Leeladhar Narkhede. Lokhande and Narkhede figure in chargesheets as the ones who hired killers.Justice Rebello observed, “Calls made to the accused would be of great significance, specially on or around the day of murder.”But the discussion remained incomplete as court hours ended. The argument would continue on Friday.

HC rap for Dera head choking city
5 Dec 2008, 0508 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday voiced the concern of many when it expressed its displeasure over thousands warming towards Dera Sacha Sauda chief who arrived in a convoy of 150 vehicles, creating traffic snarls at various places and bringing the city to a standstill on Wednesday. Calling it a sheer misuse of law and order, justice Ranjeet Singh verbally observed, “It is not tolerable that an accused comes to the city and overrides law and official machinery, causing inconvenience to the entire place.” The matter surfaced during the bail application hearing of Inder Sen and Krishan Lal who are accused along with Dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh of murdering a former Dera employee and Sirsa-based journalist Ramchander Chattarpati. While Gurmeet Singh was in city to join investigations in a case registered against him by Bathinda police for posing as the 10th Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh, his followers had started camping here since the previous night, forcing UT administration to beef up security. As many parking lots were sealed and traffic diverted at various places, commuters went through a gruelling time, especially at light points near Piccadilly in Sector 35 and Sector 20. Some 1,500 policemen patrolled the streets to keep trouble at bay during the time Gurmeet Singh stayed in the city. Even as 15,000 followers were confined to Sector 25, a score managed to breach security and reach Sector 9 that houses Punjab police headquarters where the Dera head was quizzed. When CBI counsel sought time to file a reply in bail applications of Lal and Sen, Justice Ranjit Singh, while fixing the next date of hearing on December 17, verbally observed, “Why is CBI not filing a bail cancellation application for the Dera head who is a prime accused in the case, whereas the two co-accused are in jail.”

Indian law firms file PIL seeking police modernisation
Published on Fri, Dec 05, 2008 at 09:55 , Updated at Fri, Dec 05, 2008 at 10:11 Source : CNBC-TV18
Mumbai has been attacked over 15 times in the last two decades, each attack exposing flaws in the city’s security systems. The November 26 attack has led to considerable anger and anguish among Mumbaikars. But a number of people have converted this anguish into constructive action. They have supported the Society of Indian Law Firms in filing a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) in the Bombay High Court seeking immediate implementation of police modernization measures. Noteworthy among them include Cyril Shroff, Managing Partner, Amarchand Mangaldas; Amit Chandra, MD, Bain Capital; Cyrus Guzder, CMD, AFL; and Lalit Bhasin, President, SILF.

Here is a verbatim transcript of the exclusive interview with Cyril Shroff, Amit Chandra, Cyrus Guzder, and Lalit Bhasin on CNBC-TV18. Also see the accompanying video.

Q: I understand that the PIL was filed on December 3, 2008. Conceptually, what is this PIL all about?

Shroff: The PIL is about seeking the assistance of the court as a matter of judicial activism to step in and help the city and citizens of Mumbai in coming up with a constructive programme, which the court can then monitor to make sure that not only the police reforms but all such measures required to meet this threat are taken. We look upon the court to help monetary actions by the government that, at a conceptual level, is basically what it is all about.

Q: Why police reforms? In the last week since this horrible attack happened, there has been considerable anguish against politicians as well. There has been a lot of name calling, the blame-game has continued. I think the anger has been directed at the people who may have been perceived to have let us down and yet I think the path you all have chosen is instead to help modernize the police force. How did you all come upon that as the action plan?

Chandra: When we researched this problem, what was evident to us is that along with the judiciary and media, the third critical pillar of a functioning democracy is actually the police. Without a functioning police force, effectively society will degenerate, and we cannot make progress.

We were very clear that we wanted to have constructive action. What we found out in our research was that after each of the blasts over the last 15 years and even at various other points of time, there have been specific recommendations made to specifically address this kind of event.

Unfortunately, those recommendations have largely been not acted upon and have been ignored. The events have only got bolder and bolder, culminating in this very unfortunate event of this month.

So, we basically said let us ask the government to work under the court supervision to come up with a concrete plan to implement the recommendations of various committees that it has basically appointed.

Q: There have been numerous reports over the years regarding police reforms, administrative reform, and modernization of the forces. Some of them are not so outdated, but very few have been implemented. If they have been implemented, it has been done in a watered-down way. So, why do you feel confident that this effort will actually gain momentum and will help the Mumbai police?

Guzder: It is true that there have been many efforts ‑ public as well as in the courts ‑ in areas related to police reforms, judicial reforms, and other reforms. Our petition wants to stay clear of many of those administrative issues. We are concerned and I think the citizens of Mumbai are showing a great deed of rage and anguish. We have spent little time over the last few days thinking about what one could do in a focused way to try and bring some actionable results to the Mumbai’s security.

So, what we are looking at in this PIL is the upgradation, improvement, strengthening, and all the things that people have been calling for. If you get an admission and favourable judgement from the court, then the judiciary has the opportunity to assist citizens, who filed the PIL, to get a time-bound implementation of their programme.

One, as businessmen we have tried to find something that is actionable. Two, in going to the court in a thoroughly constructive way, there is no blame game, no responsibility pinning, but just focusing on things that need to be done. We want a time-bound programme. Third, we want to draw in citizens of Mumbai and a great deal of experts.

One of the recommendations in the PIL ,which we hope the court would be sympathetic to, is to create a larger citizens committee which covers various sections of society. Finally, we are heading for elections. We already have a coalition government and might end up with another.

So, if there are good judicial orders, they guide the bureaucracy with a steady hand at a time where maybe politics is in a flux.

Q: Are you emboldened by the fact that the instrument of public interest litigation has been used very effectively previously in matters of environment or law and order to help reflect the citizens’ voices?

Guzder: I think there are so many examples that you can give. For example, Delhi got its air pollution quality under control. In Mumbai, at a small level, the way Chowpatty beach was cleaned up. It is just that we try to use a mechanism of getting a crisp set of recommendations within a timeframe, with some degree of monitoring and supervision. At the end of the day, we should not be rushing to the court. The court in a way is an effort of last resort, but if you have an executive which keeps making promises and doesn’t act, then in a way this is one useful and appropriate remedy.

Q: Why did this SILF (The Society of Indian Law Firm) decide to spearhead this effort?

Bhasin: The SILF is readymade think-tank of the top three law firms of the country. We thought that this is not only an opportunity, but a need, a requirement that we must mobilize the intelligentsia to take up this issue.

Ward war in court
Cuttack, Dec. 4: Fresh dispute over ward reservation has cast a shadow on the civic polls and the formation of a new council for the Cuttack Municipal Corporation.
The dispute raised before Orissa High Court assumes significance as the term of the last council expired on September 30.
Election was not possible due to legal disputes over notification of ward delimitation issued by the government on February 20.
In May, the court had nullified the government’s notification increasing wards from 48 to 54. The court granted the government time till October 8 to issue a final notification. This week again, the issue reached the high court when a fresh PIL challenged the notification. The petition was moved by Advocate D. Lenka on behalf of a former corporator.

Ind body BCCI joins PIL for Mumbai police modernisation
Published on Thu, Dec 04, 2008 at 17:15 , Updated at Fri, Dec 05, 2008 at 10:07 Source : CNBC-TV18
As Mumbai marked a week to the terrible terrorist attacks yesterday, a PIL sought immediate police modernisation. The Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry has now joined the PIL.
Here is a transcript of Menaka Doshi and Natasha Parekh’s comments on CNBC-TV18. Also watch the accompanying video.

The PIL has been filed in the Bombay High Court headed by the Society of Indian Law Firms which is supported by a group of concerned citizens and business leaders. The PIL seeks modernization of the Mumbai Police Force that includes measures like more training, modern equipment, better coordination, enhanced resources and an elite force that can deal with situations promptly.

The PIL also seeks court assistance in ensuring that all measures are implemented. It requests the Bombay High Court to direct the Union and the state (both, either/or wherever applicable) to guarantee ‘right to life’, as in Article 21. The state should take all appropriate measures to meet the security threat to Mumbai, the PIL said.

Further, there has been demands of permanently stationing a NSG unit in Mumbai and wherever else required in Maharashtra and also to provide sufficient coastal security coverage. It request to establish coordination mechanisms across intelligence agencies and to assist, train and equip police to meet new age terrorist threat. The PIL wants the government to formulate and implement a crisis management plan and also procure and provide adequate equipment, vehicles, machinery, etc. One of the important requests in the PIL asks for the implementation of the McKinsey report and appointment of a citizen committee comprising eminent citizens.
Experts react:

Lalit Bhasin, President, Society of Indian Law Firms, said,”There should be more stringent laws, there should be more coordination between the police and other security agencies and also there should be like a single line of command to coordinate all the efforts, in case of such eventualities had risen in Mumbai recently.”

Iqbal chagla, Advocate, said, “The legal status is that the government has been asked to respond and the matter has been kept for hearing December 15 immediately on the question of the establishment of the council. And they will have to file a detailed affidavit on all the other aspects.”

Udayan Bose, Chairman, Thomas Cook, said, “It is to protect ourselves that we will certainly go to the Secretariat but more than that- go to the court and say these are the essential things that a citizen needs and you High Court becomes the point of coordination. A point who says to the bureaucrat that you are accountable- they are not accountable they make statements and walk away. So, I think that is why the industry has come together.”

Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC, said, “There are number of things, which we are supposed to do, which we have not done like – giving better equipment to our police personnel, giving more intelligence to our police personnel, giving them better working environment in the police.”

Homosexuals are men of perverse mind, says govt
The government said that homosexual traits are reflection of perverse mind, which could adversely impact Indian culture if it is decriminalised. In India, as per an estimate, there are 25 lakh gays who are struggling for gay rights in a peaceful manner..
CJ: Dr. Lalit kishore , 1 day ago
HOMOSEXUALITY OR gay sex is a criminal offence in India under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) with a punishment of up to life imprisonment. Gay rights activists, by filing a PIL in Delhi High Court, had contended that the present law was infringing upon their fundamental right to equality.

Earlier, contradictory stands were taken by the health and home ministries in this regard and the court had asked for a unified government view. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) PP Malhotra has now filed a 100-page written submission in the Delhi High Court with certain pleas and challenged the court’s power to legalise gay sex.

The following passages from the written submission reported in the Press clarify the government stand on gay sex:

1. It is a serious question of culture and morality of the society and the court should not interpret our Constitution in such a manner to thrust foreign culture in India where the morality standards are not as high as in India.

2. The court is not the authority to decide what should be the law or what should not be the law. These are the functions of the Parliament and the will of the Parliament is represented by its members.
They know the will of their people, the difficulties of their people. It may not be proper for the court to assume the role and will of the people or to act as a Parliament to change the law…What are the laws and what could be the law should be left to the wisdom of the Parliament. Neither are the courts equipped nor is it the function of the court to decide what the law should be. The courts have only to interpret the law as it is….

The government said that homosexual traits are reflection of perverse mind which could adversely impact Indian culture if it is decriminalised.

In many countries, including India, gay rights have not been granted. The sexual orientation and preference is now being regarded as a right by many countries and the citizens suffer no discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. In India, as per an estimate, there are 25 lakh gays who are struggling for gay rights in a peaceful manner.

Society of Indian Law Firms for better security measures
Friday, 5 December, 2008
The Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) has filed a PIL in the Bombay High Court urging for establishment of better security measures, its members want the state to set up a quick response team to tackle terror Echoing the city’s frustration at the government’s inability to ensure citizens’ security.“The petitioners are seriously concerned about the lack of security and safety of the citizens of Mumbai and Maharashtra in the wake of the terrorist attacks,” the petition filed by SILF, an association of the country’s top law firms, reads. “There is a sense of great insecurity in the city. It is impossible for trade, business or arts to thrive in such an atmosphere when even the basic sense of safety and security is weak or absent.”The PIL is likely to be heard on Thursday along with another PIL filed by a city lawyer seeking the appointment of an enquiry panel to probe the terror attacks.SILF’s petition seeks the setting up of a Quick Response Team, proposed by the state government in 2002 to tackle terrorist-related threats, and stationing of a permanent unit of the National Security Guards (NSG) that led the rescue operations in the recent attacks. It points out that between March 1993 and September 2006 the city has faced over 10 terrorist attacks. “The impunity and frequency of these attacks has now created a sense of frustration, despondency and deep insecurity.”Contrasting this to how New York City (NYC) tightened its laws and upgraded security measures post 9/11, the PIL says the measures taken by NYC have ensured that there has been no recurrence of terror attacks.The petition seeks better protection of the state’s coastline, setting up of a crisis management plan and citizens’ coordination committees and installation of CCTV cameras at key sites. The petition has also sought implementation of the recommendations made by the National Police Commission Reports and the McKinsey Report (2006) and a time-bound plan to train and better equip the police and security personnel.

Rs 100 too less, pay Rs 10,000 to compensate customer, Piccadily told–pay-Rs-10-000-to-compensate-customer–Piccadily-told/394527
Express News Service Posted: Dec 05, 2008 at 0222 hrs IST
Chandigarh: Setting aside an order of the District Consumer Forum in which Piccadily Cinema was directed to pay a compensation of Rs 100 for harassment meted out to a customer, the UT State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has enhanced the compensation amount to Rs 10,000.
The compensation was awarded for the harassment and inconvenience faced by a customer due to uncomfortable seats.
The forum asked the theatre to ensure due compliance with its directions with regard to the removal of deficiencies in the facilities availed of by consumers.
The theatre has been directed to get the seats repaired so as to spare consumers the ordeal of watching a movie sitting on torn seats after paying due charges and pay Rs 1,000 as litigation costs.
The complainant, J K Babbar, and his wife had gone to Piccadily Cinema on July 29, 2007, for the evening show of the film, ‘Partner’, which was to start at 6 pm.
He paid Rs 80 for the upper-stall tickets. The complainant said he was aggrieved with the bad condition of the seats allotted to them.
He said while the cloth cover was entirely torn, a few nails were protruding. He also alleged that the seat numbers given to them were of the lower stall, though he was charged for the upper stall.
In his complaint to the District Consumer Forum, Babbar said he had requested an attendant to change their seats but the latter behaved in a rude manner. He even went to meet the manager twice but he was not present in his chamber.
While the Piccadily theatre failed to send a representative to appear in the case, the Chandigarh Administration, which was also made the opposite party, said through the ADC that the facilities were checked after regular intervals.
The Piccadily authorities were then directed by the forum to refund the amount of Rs 80 (the costs of two movie tickets) and pay a compensation of Rs 100 to the complainant.
Aggrieved by the meagre amount of compensation, the complainant moved the UT State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, which ruled that the contention of the appellant had merit. The commission based its ruling on an inspection report of the Administration that said the condition of seats at the theatre was “good, except for a few in lower and upper stalls which need repairs”.
“From this document, the case of complainant or appellant is adequately corroborated,” the Commission said on Thursday.

More NRIs turn to consumer courts
Aneesha Sareen Posted: Dec 05, 2008 at 0211 hrs IST
Chandigarh: With a quick disposal rate in UT, they are ready to spend time in the country fighting their cases
Residing in foreign shores, but not completely severed from their roots in India, they are crippled by a sense of insecurity and restlessness, coupled with lost peace of mind. With their businesses, houses and properties still here, legal tangles keep them occupied during their visit home.
Consumer forums in the UT are receiving an increasing number of cases pertaining to NRIs.
The cases being filed at the forums range from embezzlement of shares, fraud by real estate companies and deficiency in services by banks to those against interior decorators, airlines, travel agents and capital firms where their investments are at stake.
Their problems with unscrupulous recruitment agents and the roadblocks they face in setting up businesses, too, find way to the forums. And most of the NRIs don’t hire a lawyer. They prefer to fight their cases on their own.
Most of these complainants are in the age group of 40 to 60 and according
to consumer experts, they are usually from Australia, Canada, France,
New Zealand, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
The experts say false documents and unreliable title deeds, even after validation by advocates, have seen many NRIs taking the builders to court.
“Though there is no such data available, we are witnessing more cases pertaining to NRIs. It is seen that most of the NRIs don’t have any local knowledge and thus easily fall prey to dubious property frauds or lose their stakes in investment,” says K C Gupta, president of the UT State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.
With UT consumer forums having a quick disposal rate, many NRIs are ready to spend time in the country fighting for their rights.
Cases in the UT forums * Working in Sweden for the last 35 years, Damini Chadha, a resident of Sector 10, has filed a complaint against a popular interior decorator company, alleging that they took Rs 50,000 from her to install water-proof doors for her 5-kanal house but used poor-quality wood. The NRI has been the chief executive officer of a Telecom company for 10 years in Stockholm. * A case was decided on November 28, in which a US citizen, Karamjit Singh Rudra, was granted a compensation of Rs 1 lakh from a popular tour operator. The complainant, who lives in Mohali, undertook a tour to Switzerland with his daughter for 13 nights and 14 days in 2007 and paid Rs 2.04 lakh to the tour operators, SOTC. Being US citizens, they didn’t require a visa for European countries, but the SOTC charged Rs 8,000 for the purpose. He also accused the SOTC of other harassments during the tour. Even as the SOTC denied any deficiency, the forum held that the visa amount was not required to be charged. * In a case decided earlier this year, the UT Consumer Forum directed Omaxe Limited, HSBC Bank and ICICI Bank to shell out Rs 3.5 lakh to an NRI for not paying the equated monthly instalments (EMI) to the builder of his house in time.

BSNL asked to pay up for billing broadband charges before activating it
Express News Service Posted: Dec 05, 2008 at 0212 hrs IST
Chandigarh: The UT District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to pay Rs 20,000 as compensation for causing harassment to a customer. The Telecom major had allegedly charged a subscriber for broadband usage even before the connection was activated and sent him an inflated bill the next month.
The forum detected “gross deficiency” in the services rendered by the BSNL and asked it to pay up.
In 2007, S B Sharma applied for a telephone and broadband connection from the BSNL and deposited Rs 500 for the purpose. The phone started functioning from October 20, 2007, but the broadband connection was activated only on December 17, 2007.
It was alleged that the rental for broadband was included in the bill sent in November. Sharma said he got the bill for the month of December in January 2008, and to his shock he was asked to pay more than Rs 1 lakh. The bill showed Internet usage of 101403 MB. It was averred that the complainant never exceeded the usage of 01 GB, which was free for a month.
The matter was taken up with the BSNL and a representation in this respect was also submitted. After Sharma refused to pay the inflated bill, his phone was disconnected in March.
Following his complaints, he was given an average bill for the entire period, which he paid on March 26, 2008, after which the services were restored. The phone was, however, disconnected again in April, without any notice. The complainant alleged that the telecom company had not settled the disputed bill of more than Rs 3 lakh.
In its reply, the BSNL said the bill issued in November 2007 was corrected after deducting Rs 83 as broadband rent between November 21 and 30. They said the excessive bill for the month of December 2007 and January 2008 was due to the misuse of broadband by another subscriber.
The forum, headed by president Jagroop Singh Mahal, said the complainant faced harassment due to the negligence and deficiency in rendering proper services on the part of the BSNL. “The inflated bills were enough to scare him (Sharma) and give sleepless nights. When the broadband connection was provided on December 17, adding the usage prior to that date could not have been possible unless there had been a gross negligence on the part of the company,” said Mahal.

Delhi HC fines insurance companyfor not following the MACT order
The Delhi High Court imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the insurance company National Assurance for not honouring the Motor Accident Tribunal (MACT) order which awarded Rs 1.5 lakh to the family of a person who lost his life in an accident two years ago.Justice V B Gupta said the award given by MACT was totally justified.Directing the company to pay the compensation to the family of one Leela Dhar who had died in a road accident, the court directed it to pay an additional fine of Rs 25,000 to the family for dragging the case.The case pertains to 45-year-old Leela Dhar, who was riding a bicylcle on the GT Karnal road when he was hit by a truck. He died on the spot.The truck driver and the owner also face trial and the case was referred to MACT, which directed the insurance company to pay the compensation to the family of the deceased.UNI

NHRC: Child labour rampant in the country
Posted on : 04 December 2008 by Y.Prakash
NHRC has directed Aligarh District Administration in Uttar Pradesh to submit within 4 weeks its report on the rampant child labour by the lock industry.NHRC in its order issued yesterday has taken serious note of its study carried out by Aligarh Muslim University and investigation carried out by a leading English daily from New Delhi alleging that around 14 thousand children in the age group of 5 to 16 years are presently working in Aligarh.A complaint was filed by Radakanta Tripathy , an advocate who had demanded action against the employers of child labour for violating the human rights of children.NHRC in its order has said in case Deputy Magistrate and Labour Commissioner Aligarh failed to submit report NHRC may proceed to take such action as it may deemed fit.
Source : UNI

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