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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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. email@example.com
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
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. email@example.com
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)