Mobile, cable operators looting people: SC
Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 10:36
New Delhi: When the Supreme Court on Monday said that “mobile and cable operators are looting people”, it probably reflected a deepseated popular perception.
This means the grievance of troubled consumers of being subjected to inflated bills from mobile telephone service providers and local cable operators has not escaped the notice of the apex court, particularly that of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan.
This observation came from a Bench comprising the CJI and Justice P Sathasivam during a high-voltage hearing on a petition filed by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) alleging that the striking down of its tariff regulations had put people at the mercy of broadcasters who generally club a popular channel with several not-so-popular ones and offer them as a bouquet with a ‘take-all-or-none’ condition.
Trai’s counsel, senior advocate Harish Salve, said the regulatory body was willing to rework the tariff guidelines but opposed the plea of broadcasters that in the interim, the tariff structure of 2004 should be in place. He said if 2004 tariff was put in force, then 13 million new subscribers and 260 new channels that came into existence after 2004 would be out of the purview of the regulation.
Broadcasters, represented by senior advocate Fali S Nariman and C S Sundaram, said while Trai had put a cap on the tariff of channels while making bouquet system nonoperational, it did nothing to save broadcasters from the irrational carrier and distribution charges demanded by cable operators.
Nariman said when the tariff of channels had been frozen, cable operators demand had been raised from Rs 9 crore to Rs 33 crore. This left the broadcasters high and dry, he said.
While fixing April 30 for the interim arrangement as well as arguments on the distribution charges demanded by cable operators, the CJI said, “We only know one thing mobile and cable operators are looting people.”
Maharashtra challenges indictment for shielding loan shark
Apr 15th, 2009 By Sindh Today
New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) The Maharashtra government Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging a Bombay High Court ruling which indicted it for former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s alleged move to shield a money lender.
Appearing for the state government before a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, senior counsel U. Lalit apprised the court of the lawsuit filed by the state government and pleaded for its urgent hearing.
The bench, which also included Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice J.M. Panchal, however, refused to take up the lawsuit for urgent hearing, saying it would hear it in the due course.
The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court, while finding “gross executive interference from the executive” in shielding a private financier belonging to the ruling party, in its ruling had imposed a fine of Rs.25,000 upon the state March 5 and had directed it to pay it within six weeks.
On Lalit’s plea, the bench gave the state government a small concession - it allowed it ignore the high court’s deadline for paying the fine in case the apex court registry did not slate the hearing within six weeks from March 5.
The high court indicted the state government after finding that then chief minister Deshmukh’s private secretary Ajinkya Padwal twice called up the Khamgaon city police station in Maharashtra May 31, 2006, to enquire about a complaint against Congress legislator Dilipkumar Sananda’s father Gokulchand Sananda, a private money-lender.
The high court also found that Deshmukh’s secretary had also ordered the policemen against taking any action on the complaint against Sananda.
The complaint was filed by Sarnagdharsingh Chavan and his brother Vjaysingh Chavan, who said they took a loan from Sananda, but were unable to pay it back due the exorbitant interest he levied.
The two brothers also said they took the loan after pledging their farm land to him and their failure to pay back the loan has resulted in confiscation of their land.
The high court later indicted the state government, while adjudicating the lawsuit filed by the Chavan brothers, who also alleged that legislator Sananada met Deshmukh June 1, 2006, seeking protection for his father against criminal prosecution.
Chavan told the high court that on Sananda’s plea, Deshmukh summoned the Buldhana district collector and allegedly asked him not to take any action against Sananda and other money lenders in the district without consulting the higher authorities.
The Buldhana district collector, in turn, conveyed these instructions, orally issued by Deshmukh, to the district’s superintendent of police. A letter of the district collector came on the records of the high court.
In its lawsuit, the state government told the apex court the so-called PIL was filed with support of Bhausaheb Phudnkar, leader of pposition in the state legislative council, of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The state government denied Deshmukh’s secretary had ever called up the police station. It, however, admitted that Deshmukh had a meeting with the Buldhana district collector, but that was only to instruct him that action against money-lenders should be taken as per due process of law and it should not be based on motivated complaints.
Jethmalani plans PIL to force govt to act on tax havens
15 Apr 2009, 0202 hrs IST, M Padmakshan, ET Bureau
MUMBAI: Noted jurist and former Union minister Ram Jethmalani said he would file a public interest litigation soon to persuade the government to take steps to bring back Indian money stashed away in various tax havens across the world. Mr Jethmalani's statement coincides with reports in western media regarding Swiss bank Credit Suisse planning to close the accounts of 2,500-5,000 US citizens who have not informed the US government’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Swiss bank UBS, too, has given out names of 250 US citizens who hold accounts with the bank. “If we do not bring the money back to India, it will soon disappear," Mr Jethmalani told ET. He said that he would wait until the elections were over. This is the first time that a senior lawyer has spoken out against tax havens. Money stashed away in these destinations have drawn the attention of world leaders, many of whom blame offshore havens for deepening the financial crisis and the current economic slowdown. The issue featured prominently in the recently-concluded G-20 meeting held in London. Three Indian political parties — CPM, BJP and JD(U) — have included the issue in their manifestos. LK Advani, BJP's prime ministerial candidate, recently said that Indians have parked close to $5 billion in these accounts, a part of which would be sufficient to pay off the country's foreign debt. The idea about bringing back this money has captured the attention of some of the Indian political parties after the February 2 edition of ET published the contents of a document submitted to the Prime Minister's Office and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) by former chief income tax commissioner KVM Pai. Some of the tax havens are beginning to relax their tight secrecy laws following a campaign by IRS of the US for more transparent banking laws. Deviating from their age-old tradition of preserving client confidentiality, some tax havens have bowed to IRS pressure and released the details of 250 of their account holders. On the other hand, Germany has offered the government details of Indians having deposits in LTG Bank in Liechstentein, a small principality that also serves a tax haven. While it's not possible to come up with a precise figure of the total money stashed away in all the tax havens, the Tax Justice Network, an international organisation that has an observer status with the United Nations, has estimated it at over $11 trillion.
Bhatia files PIL on metro rail
14 Apr 2009, 0452 hrs IST, TNN
PUNE: Independent Lok Sabha candidate from Pune city Arun Bhatia has filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court requesting transparency in the implementation of the proposed metro rail project. He also suggested broad-gauge with wide coaches for the ambitious plan. Bhatia along with four other individuals have urged the court to restrain the Pune Municipal Corporation and the State government from inviting bids till the petition is heard and disposed. The petitioners said that PMC was considering the adoption of standard gauge with imported coaches at abnormally high cost. By adopting standard gauge instead of broad gauge, the project cost will increase exorbitantly. With standard gauge, the project cost would be Rs 230 crore per kilometer, as against Rs 180 crore if broad gauge is adopted, the petition states. They have asked the PMC and the state to adopt a comprehensive and informed decision-making process and that no proposals be finalised without public participation. The petitioners include Manohar Basrur, Vijay Kumar Rane, Ketan Gokhale and Narendra Chugh.
Locals write to PM over Powai lake desilting
Posted: Apr 15, 2009 at 0045 hrs IST
Mumbai Members of Save Powai Lake campaign have requested him to direct BMC for ‘more planned’ cleaning
Powai lake, one of the most picturesque spots of the city, becomes a cause of concern to its nearby residents every monsoon. With just a couple of months left for the onset of monsoons this year, locals are trying to put pressure on the civic body to speed up its desiltation process in the lake.
Members of the Save Powai Lake campaign, started in 2000 for reviving the disappearing lake, have written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and urged him to direct the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to execute the process of cleaning, desilting and plugging of the sewer lines in a more planned way. “The Centre has set aside Rs 637 crore for National Lake Conservation and Desiltation and Beautification works. Work at the lake is being done at the cost of Rs 90 crore. The lake has survived for about 118 years and can see more such years if citizens and the civic body work together for its revival. We have written a letter to the PM as he is also in charge of the environment and forest department,” said Sudhir Shetty, campaign member and general secretary, BJP’s South Cell region.
The residents are miffed with the BMC’s “half-baked” way of working by starting desiltation without proper planning. “Since 2000, we have been observing the work done by the civic body at the lake. Earlier, they planned bio-remedial process to revive and beautify the water body but they stopped the process in between. About Rs 2 crore were used in the work,” said Shetty.
He added that the main desilting work in the lake has not been carried out properly. “The civic body started desilting immediately after the deluge. We have seen that the work is not done at the centre of the lake, but only at its periphery. The sediment is kept on the sides, which again gets washed back into the lake in the next monsoon, thereby defeating the whole purpose of the exercise,” said Shetty.
The residents had suggested the BMC to use the sediments to make gardens in and around the area. “But our suggestions were not taken seriously. Instead they have planned cosmetic changes like musical water fountains which would spoil the natural sanctity of the spot. We don’t want such artificial facets. What we need is planned desiltation before the monsoons which will ensure that the area doesn’t get flooded,” said Shetty.
In 2000, residents with the support of former MP Kirit Somaiya had filed a petition in the high court to direct the BMC to take up the beautification and desiltation work in a systematic manner. “Though a lot of desiltation work in the Powai lake is over, a lot still needs to be done. Around 300 acres of beautification work has been completed but we need to go stronger with desilting work before the monsoons. Earlier, we had suggested the civic body to undertake a two-way desiltation work which ensured that the whole area and not just the peripheries gets free of silt. This process has been carried out effectively. But since the area has a tendency to get flooded during monsoons, we need to systematically desilt it before the rains,” said Somaiya.
The group plans to take up the issue even more strongly after the general elections. “If the BMC doesn’t take proper action and ensures that the money is spent in the correct manner, we will take further action after the elections. We might file another PIL in the High Court. We need to know how the tax payers’ money is utilised and what civic body plans to do with this important lake,” said Somaiya.
Powai desiltingThe BMC has started desilting work from April 6. It has appointed around 44 contractors for clearing major and minor nullahs of silt, and claims to complete the work by May 25.
The civic body will be spending around Rs 45.13 crore on the project.
The desilting of water entrances and road side drains will be carried out by their concerned Ward agencies.
SC takes serious note of lack of fire safety norms in schoolshttp://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?48925565-db81-4c38-a4d3-dbb852a83695
The Supreme Court took a serious note of the total lack of fire safety measures in schools across the country and directed that all schools should observe and implement National Fire Safety Norms to ensure the safety of school children against such incidents. A Bench comprising Justices Lokeshwar Singh Panta and Mr Alveer Bhandari issued the directions on a PIL which was filed in the aftermath of an incident in which 400 small school children had died when fire broke out in Lord Krishna Middle School, Tamil Nadu. Another incident had taken place in North India in 1995 in which large number of school children lost their life when fire broke out in their school. Justice Bhandari writing judgment for the Bench also directed all the State Governments and Union Territories to file compliance report within a month .The Apex Court also directed that teachers in the school will also be given training in fire fighting measures within one month .Expressing serious concern and anguish on the utter lack of fire security measures in hundreds of thousands of school spread all over the country where lakhs of children go to study, the Apex Court told the authorities to strictly implement the directions of the court to ensure that such gruesome incidents do not occur in future risking the lives of innocent school children. The apex court also directed the schools to get installed fire safety equipments so that damage to lives and property in such incidents can be minimised. The SC also directed that in future no recognition would be granted to schools which do not confirm to national fire safety norms.UNI
Getting leaders to disclose wealth was a big victory
Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 AT 12:04 PM
Even before we start questioning the utility, or futility of making the politician declare his wealth before contesting elections, it must be remembered that making the politician do so has been one of the biggest victories of the people of this nation against the political class.
It took the combined effort of several NGOs to collect extensive information about undesirable elements who had become people’s representatives during the ‘98, ‘99 and 2000 and file a PIL in the Delhi High Court pleading for mandatory disclosure of criminal, financial and educational backgrounds of candidates contesting elections. In 2001, the Delhi HC ruled in favour of the Association for Democratic Reforms which had spearheaded the fight and had filed the PIL.
Not surprisingly, the HC order was opposed by almost all political parties. The matter went to the Supreme Court. After a long hearing, the SC delivered a landmark judgment upholding the HC judgment and directed the Election Commission to issue orders making it mandatory for candidates contesting Parliament and State Assembly elections to submit affidavits along with their nomination papers giving information about criminal cases pending against them, their own financial assets as well as that of their spouse and dependents, their financial liabilities and educational qualifications.
In a bid to scuttle the full effect of the judgment, the government issued an ordinance amending the Representation of People’s Act, to only partially implement the SC’s directions. This was also challenged and finally in September 2003, the SC struck down the amendment as un-Constitutional and restored its earlier directions. Several State Election Commissions have also passed orders making such declarations mandatory even for Panchayat and local bodies’ elections.
But the battle is not yet over. Merely forcing candidates to declare their assets has only enlightened the voter about the stupendous wealth some of these ‘leaders’ posses. The real issue is - was it procured by fair means or foul ? In a nation which is notorious for its lax laws which make it so convenient to hide wealth, how credible is the candidate’s wealth declaration ?
Human Chain to protest the tree-felling and despoiling of Lalbagh
Wed 15 Apr '09, 06:00 pm To 07:00 pm
Here's an announcement from Hasiru Usiru and Environment Support Group:
Earlier this week(April 13 and 14), the Bangalore Metro Rail corporation(BMRCL) demolished over 500 feet of Lalbagh's wall and cut down 5 eucalyptus trees inside Lalbagh. BMRCL proposes to have a Metro station inside Lalbagh itself!
Lalbagh is protected by a separate, stringent law. In a highly undemocratic move, the Karnataka Government changed the law by moving an ordinance to acquire LalbaGh land for the Metro, rather than prefer a debate over the changed law, in the Assembly. The opposition has also failed to protest this undemocratic move.
Lalbagh and Lakshman Rao Park on R.V.Road, (also called the AC Road, Nanda Road ), both major landmarks and heritage of Bangalore are being destroyed for the Metro. This when the High Court is hearing PIL over alternatives in Metro alignment.
What seems like a minor portion of Lalbagh gone today will surely lead to greater portion of the park being taken away to create parking zones and malls that the Metro plans at its stations.
When they sought clearance, Metro authorities claimed trees on Nanda Road will be pruned, and not felled. Now they want to cut 323 trees on Nanda Road(R.V.Road) alone.
The BBMP Tree Officer has confirmed that the tree felling in Lalbagh was not cleared by him. This makes felling of Lalbagh's heritage trees, daylight robbery!
Don't be a mute witness to this wanton destruction and illegal desecration of our parks and open spaces.
Come out and protest. Demand from candidates standing from Bangalore South to make their stand clear on the issue.
Let us stop the illegal construction of Metro in Lalbagh.
Join the Human Chain to be formed at the illegal demolition site(at R.V.Road, near Lalbagh westgate) on Wednesday, April 15, 6.00 pm.
Be there. 6 pm. .......
GSM players to move SC a/g TDSAT
14 Apr 2009, 1826 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: GSM operators' body COAI will challenge in the Supreme Court the recent order of telecom tribunal TDSAT, which rejected its plea against government's dual spectrum allocation policy. According to industry sources, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) would file its petition this week before the apex court challenging the judgement of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT). COAI has been critical of TDSAT's judgement, which has held that the GSM operators did not have vested right to hold spectrum up to 15 MHz. The tribunal also rejected COAI's allegation that while allocating GSM spectrum to Anil Ambani group firm RCom, the Department of Telecom (DoT) on October 18, 2007 disturbed the level playing field of the sector and questioned the manner in which Telecom Minister A Raja had implemented the decision. "We are unable to agree with COAI that the DoT's impugned order of October 19, 2007 has disturbed the level playing field," TDSAT said in its judgement, adding that "we hold that there is nothing irregular in grant of 4.4 MHz as start-up spectrum to respondent (RCom)." The tribunal had also rejected the GSM group's contention that as per licence condition and National Telecom Policy of 1999, they had the right to hold spectrum up to 15 MHz.
Tribunal notice to DoT in RelCom spectrum allocation case
Published: April 15,2009
New Delhi, Apr 15 The telecom tribunal TDSAT has issued notice to the Department of Telecom (DoT) on a plea by Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communication, which was denied start-up spectrum in six circles by DoT, as its subsidiary company Reliance Telecom was already providing GSM services.
Admitting a review petition, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) issued notice to DoT and directed it to file its reply.
Reliance Communication approached the tribunal again by filing a review petition after TDSAT had rejected its petition on January 12 observing that the company had already accepted the money refunded by the government&aposwithout demur&apos(any objection) and hence it lost ground.
However, in the review petition, RelCom submitted that it accepted Rs 112.56 crore meant to be the entry fee for the spectrum in these six circles in protest.
In the petition, the company had further submitted that despite giving in-principle approval for six circles -- Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Kolkata and West Bengal -- on October 18, 2007, the Department of Telecom had withdrawn its clearance after a gap of over one year and that their action was"arbitrary and without any rationale".
Incest crimes: court to guide investigators
Apr 15th, 2009 By Sindh Today
New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday said it would draft guidelines for investigators of incest crimes so that they are sensitive to the emotions of the victims.
This followed complaints that investigators and prosecutors of such crimes, whose incidence had gone up sharply in recent times, acted often insensitively, particularly when dealing with child victims.
A division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Neeraj Kishan Kaul considered framing of guidelines after Delhi Police submitted their line of action for sensitising people investigating the case.
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) had submitted the draft guidelines that can be implemented by investigating agencies and trial courts.
Delhi Police counsel Mukta Gupta told the court that police have planned training of judges, public prosecutors, doctors and police officials to sensitise them on various aspects of incest crimes.
“We will conduct the training in the phased manner. We are also printing a detailed brochure for all the concerned people who are in any way deal with such kind of cases,” Gupta told the court.
The court was hearing suggestions of DCW in its public interest petition seeking direction to the state to issue guidelines for investigating agencies in such cases.
A woman officer should be sent to the complainant or the victim’s house besides creating a friendly atmosphere for the victim to express herself fearlessly, the Commission has suggested.
It said the child should be kept under the care of the Child Welfare Committee and there should be a special court room for hearing of incest cases with video conferencing facilities to record the victim’s statement.
Citing a rape case where the trial court has acquitted Lalit Pandey of the charges of raping his four-and-half-year-old daughter as the victim’s mother and elder sister had retracted the complaint, DCW counsel said the court should also issue guidelines for trial courts so as to strictly deal with such type of cases.
Pay-off CaseHC issues notice to govt for April 30 http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090416/punjab.htm#17
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 15Fair probe into alleged payment of bribe to the Punjab Revenue Minister and three other high officials is not possible, till the minister is removed, a non-government organisation has claimed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Seeking judicial probe into alleged corruption in the state Revenue Department, the Amritsar-based Khalra Mission Organisation has referred to statements of naib-tehsildars Arvind Prakash Verma of Ludhiana and Salwinder Singh of Mullanpur Dakha also in Ludhiana.
Referring to media reports, the complaint said Verma was caught by the state Vigilance Bureau and he had said Rs 3.50 lakh was paid to the minister and three other high officials.
The complaint said after spending10 days in jail, Verma was posted at Ropar and was not even suspended.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Hemant Gupta on Wednesday issued notice of motion for April 30 to the state of Punjab and other respondents.
Speed up work on over-bridge
The Punjab and Haryana HC is for speeding up work of railway over-bridge on the Ludhiana-Amritsar rail track.
On the petition of non-government organisation, Resurgence India, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Hemant Gupta directed work on over-bridge in Ludhiana should commence in six months of receiving the order’s copy.
The petitioner had earlier sought directions for the completion of the over-bridge, which was to replace the wooden bridge, closed to general public in 2001.
Plot Allotment INLD leader under judicial scanner http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090416/haryana.htm#1
Saurabh MalikTribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 15Indian National Lok Dal’s state vice-president Phoolwati’s alleged action of getting a plot allocated in Panipat, after projecting herself as an industrial worker getting monthly paltry wages of Rs 1,950, has come under the judicial scanner.
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today came down heavily on the inquiry officer and asked him to look into the matter before submitting a supplementary report. The Vigilance Bureau, Rohtak range, is already looking into the allotment of 68 plots to non-industrial workers in Panipat Sector 25.
The matter was brought to the high court’s notice by trade union leader PP Kapoor. As it came up for hearing before the Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Hemant Gupta, counsel for the petitioners, HC Arora, asserted the allottee in case of plot number 1376 was not an industrial worker, as found out by the inquiry officer. She was rather a political activist and vice-president of the INLD, apart from being an advocate.
Arora said Phoolwati had even contested the Haryana Vidhan Sabha elections from the Samalkha constituency in 1991 and 1996, and was functioning as honorary general secretary of the Haryana State Council for Child Welfare at the time of applying for the plot. He also handed over certain documents to the inquiry officer in support of his contentions.
Taking up the matter, the Bench observed in the open courtroom that the inquiry officer shall do well to look into the contentions and submit a supplementary report on the subject.
The Bench also took on record the contentions of state counsel Randhir Singh. He informed the court that the report’s copy had been forwarded to the state government. Appropriate orders would be passed expeditiously, but not later than two months.
The inquiry officer, DSP Sajjan Singh, has already recommended cancellation of plots to 34 individuals after observing that they were not falling within category of industrial workers. Criminal prosecution against 15 has also been recommended on the allegations of producing bogus certificates or resorting to other fraudulent practices. The matter will now come up for further hearing on July 6.
Express Highways Too many crossings will defeat purpose: HC http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090416/haryana.htm#1
Saurabh MalikTribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 15The Punjab and Haryana High Court today made it clear that “large number of openings” could not be provided on the express highways. But construction of underpasses and foot-over bridges could alleviate the sufferings of the pedestrians.
A Division Bench also directed expeditious completion of underpasses and foot-over bridges on the national highway from Delhi to Rajasthan, passing through Gurgaon.
The ruling came on a petition filed by residents of six villages in Gurgaon district. The petitioners, belonging to Khandsa, Mohamadpur, Jharsa, Narsinghpur, Begumpur Khatola and another village, had contended six points within eight kilometers distance had been closed.
The petitioners, Madan Pal and others, had also sought directions to the respondents to make suitable arrangements for opening the road crossings at these six points. Directions were also sought to the state of Haryana and other respondents to make provisions for under-path, flyover and T-junctions on the national highway.
Taking up the petition, the Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Hemant Gupta ruled: “The express highway has been provided to cater to the heavy traffic on NH 8.
“The individual rights of the petitioners have to give way to larger public interest. Some inconvenience to the petitioners to go across the road by a shorter route is outweighed by larger public interest”.
In its detailed order, the Bench asserted: “If large number of openings are provided -- as sought by the petitioners -- it would defeat the very object of building an express highway. The movement of the traffic at a high speed will, in fact, endanger lives of the pedestrians”.
The Bench, however, took notice of the hardships to the residents and ruled these too were required to be mitigated, as expeditiously as possible. “We deem it appropriate to dispose of the writ petition with a direction to the respondents to immediately take steps for completion of the work of foot-over bridges and underpasses as early as possible,” the Bench asserted before parting with the orders.
Dera manager’s disappearanceCourt orders CBI probehttp://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090416/haryana.htm#25
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 15Nearly 18 years after Faqir Chand went missing under mysterious circumstances, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the CBI to probe the Dera Saccha Sauda manager’s disappearance.
Justice MMS Bedi ordered the probe, while taking up the petition filed by Ram Kumar Bishnoi. The petitioner had, at one point of time, served the dera as manager along with Faqir Chand. Justice Bedi also asked CBI counsel Ajay Kaushik to submit to the court a report within three months. Seeking CBI probe, the petitioner had earlier referred to the confessional statement of Gobind Singh, the driver of the dera head.
In his statement aired by the channel, Gobind Singh had alleged Faqir Chand was beaten to death at the instance of dera head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.
The petitioner also submitted a number of representations to the police and the CBI for registration of a criminal case against the dera head.
The counsel for the petitioner had argued due to enormous influence and clout of the dera head, Haryana police had not even registered a case on the complaints made by Ram Kumar Bishnoi. As such, there were little prospects for a fair investigation.
Policy on pipelines
The high court wants Haryana to formulate policy for laying underground pipelines through public land.
The Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Hemant Gupta observed: Undisputedly, large number of individuals are making requests for laying underground pipelines through public land. Therefore, the state government is well advised to prepare a policy and prescribe conditions for grant of permission for laying underground pipelines through public property.
Police told not to arrest couple http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090416/j&k.htm#16
R SedhuramanLegal Correspondent
New Delhi, April 15The Supreme Court today restrained the state police from arresting the couple, Anjum Hussain (18), alias Bhawani, and Khemraj (23) from the state, who reportedly got married in Delhi on March 26 against the wishes of their parents.
A Bench, however, allowed the police to continue with its investigations on the basis of a complaint filed by the parents, alleging kidnap.
The court issued the order after senior counsel Colin Gonsalves mentioned the matter before the Bench, which included Justices P Sathasivam and JM Panchal.
Anjum reportedly got converted to Hinduism and assumed the name of Bhawani before the marriage at the Arya Samaj Mandir here with the help of the Guild of Service headed by a former chairperson of the National Commission for Women, the petition said.
In the petition, the couple alleged that their parents were conspiring to cause physical harm to them and that two policemen from the state were camping in Delhi to arrest them.
Check infiltration from B’desh: SC to Centre http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090416/nation.htm#3
R SedhuramanLegal Correspondent
New Delhi, April 15Acknowledging the Centre’s efforts to check illegal immigration and infiltration from Bangladesh, the Supreme Court today directed the government to “continue to take steps” to prevent the influx of people from across the border.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and JM Panchal issued the order while disposing of a PIL filed by the All India Lawyers Forum for Civil Liberties that had sought the court’s direction for stopping infiltration.
“In view of the steps taken by the government, no further order is necessary. The government should take all possible steps to prevent illegal infiltration,” the Bench said, while recording in the order the fencing and other work already done by the Centre.
In a status report, filed at the instance of the apex court, the Home Ministry said fencing work was pending only on a 3.2 km stretch involved in the first phase (857.37 km). This was due to the fact that this small stretch was still not demarcated.
Under the second phase, fencing was midway through, with the work over on 1,783.1 km out of the sanctioned length of 3,579 km. Funds for the remaining work were being sanctioned. The Centre had also set up an additional 21 tribunals for detection of illegal immigrants, taking the total to 32.
The Border Security Force (BSF) was maintaining round-the-clock surveillance and there was a proposal to set up “Outposts” for effective border coordination, the Home Ministry said in its status report.
At the time of the last hearing on January 15, the court had suggested imprisonment of illegal immigrants as part of a series of drastic steps to deal with the serious problem. Among the proposals mooted by the court, in its oral observations, was denial of basic facilities such as education, employment, healthcare and ration cards.
“You should send out a deterrent message by putting illegal non-citizens in the jail” to discourage infiltration, the CJI had told the Centre’s counsel Amrinder Saran.
Code ViolationFIR registered against Sanjay Dutt http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090416/nation.htm#10
Shahira NaimTribune News Service
Lucknow, April 15The state police has registered an FIR against Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt and others for allegedly violating the model code of conduct in an election rally in Mau district.
According to Additional Director-General (Law and Order) Brijlal, the Samajwadi Party (SP) had organised an election meeting at Azad ground under Dakkhin Tola police station in Mau yesterday.
During the meeting Dutt made a communal speech mentioning that when he was in the police custody under TADA he was given third degree because his mother was a Muslim.
“I have suffered because of you people, you people should vote for the SP and make its candidate Arshad Jamal victorious”, he is quoted by the police press release to have said at the meeting.
Present on the dais were senior party leaders Amar Singh, Jaya Bachchan and candidate Arshad Jamal.
The actor and the candidate have been booked under Section 171 A of the IPC and 125 of the Representation of Peoples Act.
Delhi HC curtails civilian quota in ACMS All MBBS seats can be filled with wards of Army men http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090416/nation.htm#15
Vijay MohanTribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 15Striking down orders by a single judge, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court has ruled that the Army College for Medical Sciences (ACMS) is entitled to fill up 100 per cent seats for the MBBS course from wards of serving, retired or deceased Army personnel.
The ACMS was set up in Delhi by the Army Welfare Education Society (AWES) to cater to the professional educational needs of wards of defence personnel.
The bench, comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, has held that the policy for filling up 100 per cent seats from wards of Army personnel was not unconstitutional and the AWES could not be denied the right to decide from what source the admission would be made.
Earlier, acting upon a petition filed by some civilian students, a single-judge bench had ordered last year that 21 seats out of 100 in the ACMS be thrown open to general category candidates on the basis of the common entrance test. Holding that a reservation of 79 seats out of 100 for wards of Army personnel would serve the purpose for which AWES was set up by the AWES, the judge observed that a large number of seats in the college were vacant.
Further, the student petitioners claimed that they were higher in the merit list than wards of Army personnel who were granted admission. The students had also contended that it was unconstitutional to reserve 100 per cent seats for wards of Army personnel in a government institution.
The bench held that the ACMS was not a government-aided institution and it was for the AWES to lay down the eligibility criteria. Stating that from the nature of things it was not possible to throw the admission open to students from the general public, the bench ruled the admission policy pertained to the numerous difficulties faced by wards of army personnel who were at disadvantage while competing with others.
The bench also ruled that the AWES’s policy for allocating 100 per cent seats to wards of Army personnel could not be equated with the usual form of communal reservation. It merely classified the source from which students would be drawn for the course.
Judge sacks Kasab lawyer, terrorist seeks Pak counsel
MUMBAI/KOLKATA, April 15: The trial of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist captured in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, began today with a major twist, as his assigned counsel, Ms Anjali Waghmare, was removed on grounds of “professional misconduct”.Kasab, who went on trial today in a specially-built bomb-proof courtroom inside the Arthur Road Prison in central Mumbai, asked the designated special court judge, Mr ML Tahilyani, for a lawyer from Pakistan to defend him, but this was instantly rejected by the judge as foreign lawyers are not allowed to practise in Indian courts.The special judge earlier revoked his order appointing Ms Waghmare as Kasab's counsel on grounds of “professional misconduct” and “conflict of interests” as she was also found representing one of Kasab’s injured victims, Mr Harishchandra Shrivardhankar, who has hired her to fight his case for suitable compensation from the government in another court. Mr Shrivardhankar, who was hit by a bullet, is also one of the 2200 witnesses named in the trial.Mr Tahilyani ruled: “It will not be appropriate for Waghmare to represent Kasab. I revoke her appointment as Kasab’s lawyer.” The court was unhappy that she did not reveal she was also a lawyer for one of the witnesses in the case. The judge asked assistant defence lawyer Mr KP Pawar to step in in place of Ms Waghmare. The court also asked the president of the Mumbai Bar Association to appear in the court to facilitate appointment of a fresh defence lawyer. With regard to Kasab’s request for a Pakistani lawyer, Mr Tahilyani said a lawyer from Pakistan could assist Indian defence counsel but could not appear and plead. Two other co-accused, Fahim Shaikh and Sabahuddin Ahmed, who are mainly charged with providing logistic support to the 26/11 terrorists, were also present for the trial, which is taking place under a heavy security blanket.Pranab responseExternal affairs minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee today made it clear that India has shared all necessary information with the Pakistan government regarding Kasab. “If the information does not satisfy the Pakistan government, I cannot help it,” Mr Mukherjee said in Kolkata. n SNS
Sahu’s bail plea awaits hearing
PHULBANI, April 15: The bail petition moved on behalf of BJP candidate for Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency Mr Ashok Sahu, in the court of the district and sessions judge, could not be heard today due to delay in obtaining the lower court record.The bail application was moved by lawyer Mr Biswajeet Patnaik and others. As tomorrow is a holiday, the application will again be moved on Friday, sources said. Mr Sahu, the BJP candidate and state president of Hindu Jagaran Samukshya (HJS), was arrested and produced before the SDJM, Baliguda yesterday. The court had rejected his bail application. The former Assam cadre IPS officer has been charged under Section 153, 125, 505 and 295 of the Indian Penal Code.It may be noted here that the Raikia tehsildar had lodged an FIR against Mr Sahu for his alleged "objectionable" and "inflammatory" speech against a certain community at a public meeting at Raikia on 5 April. The Election Commission of India (EC) had subsequently examined the taped version of the speech and directed to slap two more sections in his case. No untoward incident over his arrest has so far been reported, sources said. n SNS
High Court orders release of prisoner
CHENNAI: A former Naik in the Army, who was languishing in the Vellore Central Prison for eight years after being sentenced to life on a charge of murder, was on Wednesday ordered to be released by the High Court.
Setting aside the conviction, Justice K. Chandru said the respondents – Ministry of Defence represented by the Chief of Army Staff, The GOC, Counter Insurgency Force Delta, C/O 56 APO and the Commanding Officer, 8 Rashtriya Rifles (Madras) C/O 56 APO – had not conducted the court martial within the ambit of the Army Act and rules.
The Supreme Court had categorically stated that the law of evidence would apply to court martial proceedings. It had also been consistently held by the apex court that if there was miscarriage of justice or improper trial, then the High Court, under the power vested under Article 226 of the Constitution, could exercise the power of judicial review over such proceedings. With a thin evidence, it was highly improper and unjust to convict the petitioner with life imprisonment, Mr. Justice Chandru said.
The petitioner, D.R. Sri Raman, joined the Army in October 1984. During his last tenure in Jammu and Kashmir in 1998-99 he was posted to 8 Rashtriya Rifles in Madras and was at the Panyala Post for counter-insurgency operations in Doda district. The post was manned by Subedar C. Nalinakshan and 15 other ranks together with 5 SPOs.
It was alleged by the Army that on July 27, 1999, the petitioner consumed country liquor and was engaged in a heated argument with the Subedar which ended in exchange of abuses and fisticuffs.
When the petitioner approached the Subedar for his signature in the duty roster, the latter refused and asked him to come later, resulting in another quarrel. An infuriated Sri Raman fired two rounds from an AK-47, killing the Subedar on the spot. The incident was not reported to the superiors at the headquarters in Gundha. It was informed that the Subedar was killed in firing by militants. The respondents’ stand was that Sri Raman killed the Subedar. A Summary General Court Martial convicted the petitioner. The sentence was confirmed by GOC, Counter Insurgency Force Delta.
In the petition, Sri Raman challenged the legality and propriety of the proceedings and the verdict of life sentence, reduction in rank and dismissal from service, and sought quashing of the same. He sought a direction to the respondents to reinstate him with attendant benefits.
Partly allowing the petition, Mr. Justice Chandru said the petitioner was kept in the custody of the respondents and even chained to the window bar. The extraction of extra-judicial confession was shrouded in mystery inasmuch as the petitioner who was unfamiliar with writing in Hindi in Devanagiri script was made to write Hindi sentences using English letters.
There was no date in the confession. The witnesses who affixed their signatures had also not given any date. The evidence of two prosecution witnesses varied with reference to the place of writing of the confession statement. The doctor who deposed spoke about the injuries on the petitioner’s body and the treatment given to him.
There was considerable delay in lodging the FIR. Further, the bullets and the rifle used for commissioning the offence were also not properly accounted for. Mr. Justice Chandru set aside the conviction. The court was not inclined to interfere with the petitioner’s dismissal from service and reduction in rank, the Judge said.
The Second Additional Junior Civil Judge Court here on Wednesday ordered the attachment of property worth Rs. 50,892 of Chanumolu Rajeev, Praja Rajyam candidate for the Vijayawada Lok Sabha seat, at his own house located at Velagaleru village. After completing a trial in a civil case filed by Bharat Auto Enterprises (Hyundai division), the court ordered the attachment of property.
Meanwhile, a group of people reportedly approached the Mylavaram police with the intent of lodging a complaint of cheating against Mr. Rajeev, stating that he owed them Rs.22 lakhs.
High Court directive to GVMC authorities
HYDERABAD: Justice C.V. Nagarjuna Reddy of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday advised the GVMC authorities to take action against buildings that violated the master plan and other byelaws.
He was allowing a writ petition filed by EAS Sarma and others of Gokhale Road, Maharanipeta, complaining that the corporation had not acted upon their complaints.
They said that a big hospital had come up in their area though it was against the master plan. They said that the building was illegal as only three floors were permitted but the fourth one had also come up.
The respondents said that this was not bona fide litigation. The judge did not appreciate the stand of the authorities in this regard and came down heavily upon them.
He said that unauthorised portions be demolished and then see that it was not put to use for purposes other than permitted.
High Court grants advance bail to Kagodu
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday granted anticipatory bail to senior Congress leader and former Minister Kagodu Thimmappa.
The Sagar Town Police in Shimoga District had registered a case against Mr. Thimmappa for making an inflammatory speech in an election speech on March 30. BJP worker and Alalekoppa resident Ananda had filed a complaint with the police that Mr. Thimmappa had made remarks that the hands of Hindu fundamentalists should be cut off.
A local court had denied anticipatory bail and Mr. Thimmappa moved the High Court. He said he was being targeted by BJP workers as he was campaigning against the son of the Chief Minister who is contesting from Shimoga. Justice K. Bhaktavatsala granted anticipatory bail and asked Mr. Thimmappa to obtain regular bail within a month.
Court disposes of Seetaram’s plea
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday disposed of a petition by B.V. Seetaram, chairman and managing director of Chitra Publications, and S. Rohini, managing director, seeking quashing of FIR lodged against them in Panambur and Sagara police stations by Raja Verma Ballal and Rajashekar, respectively.
Justice N.K. Patil disposed of the petition and gave the petitioners liberty to file applications for quashing the FIRs before the jurisdictional courts.
— Staff Reporter
Lawyers keep off courts in Madikeri
Madikeri: Advocates in Madikeri court on Wednesday stayed away from work to protest against the “high-handed” behaviour of Kodagu District and Sessions judge Srikanth Babladi and decided to continue to abstain from work in all courts in Madikeri till April 18.
President of the Madikeri Bar Association B.J. Chinnappa told The Hindu that members of the Bar could no longer tolerate the behaviour of the judge, who he alleged “humiliated them as also the litigants”. He said representations had been submitted to the High Court against Mr. Babladi on three occasions earlier, but to no avail.
Court seeks explanation on status of accused
D-G of Tihar and DRI authorities asked to file affidavits
Counsel for Tihar jail and the DRI make contradictory submissions before court
DRI had arrested the accused and recovered more than 4 kg of heroin from his possession
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Director-General of Tihar Central Jail and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence here to explain how an accused booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was still at large despite dismissal of his application for extension of his interim bail and direction to surrender.
Justice S. Muralidhar asked the Director-General and DRI authorities to file affidavits explaining the dereliction within two weeks.
Interestingly the Court came to know that the accused, Satpal Juneja, was still out despite the dismissal of his application for extension of his interim bail and direction to surrender before the court concerned when counsel for the jail and the DRI made contradictory submissions before it about the status of the accused.
The DRI informed the Court that the accused was in jail while the Tihar Jail authorities contradicted its claim submitting that there was no prisoner of this name in their prisons.
Counsel for the jail and the DRI were addressing the Court in reply to notices to them on a fresh bail petition filed by the accused.
The Court was surprised to know that the accused had the temerity to defy its orders and brazenly file a fresh bail petition.
The DRI had arrested the accused here in 2001 and recovered more than 4 kg of heroin from his possession.
Before being enlarged on an interim bail in May last year, the accused was in judicial custody and facing trial in the case.
The Court had released him for a limited period on medical grounds. It had also once extended his bail period in October.
However, the Court had later refused to further extend his bail, asking him to surrender before the court concerned on February 28 when his interim bail was to expire.
It had also asked the DRI and the jail authorities to ensure that the accused surrender within the stipulated time period. But the accused refused to surrender defying the Court orders.
SC approves seat-sharing arrangement
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday approved the quota and fee structure agreements entered into between the Karnataka Private Medical and Dental Colleges Association and the Karnataka Government on sharing of seats for medicine, dental and engineering courses in government and private colleges during 2009-2010.
A three-Judge Bench comprising Justice B.N. Agrawal, Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice H.L. Dattu gave its nod to the agreement after hearing counsel, Bina Madhavan for the association and counsel Sanjay Hegde for the State. The Bench asked the parties to go ahead with admissions for the undergraduate courses on the basis of the agreement.
According to the agreement for undergraduate courses, private medical colleges will fill 58 per cent seats and surrender 42 per cent of the seats to the Government. Of the 58 per cent seats, 38 per cent would be filled by general merit candidates through COMED-K conducted entrance test and remaining 20 per cent for NRI quota. For dental colleges, the managements would fill 65 per cent seats (including 20 per cent NRI quota) and 35 per cent would be filled by the Government.
For engineering, they would surrender 50 per cent seats to the Government and fill the remaining 50 per cent themselves.
While seats in private colleges will be filled through a Common Entrance Test (CET) conducted by the Consortium of Private Medical, Engineering and Dental Colleges of Karnataka (COMED-K), seats in government colleges will be filled on the basis of a CET conducted by a State agency. A similar agreement has been entered into for admissions to postgraduate courses, but with a different percentage and fee structure.
The fee for the government candidates is Rs. 35,000 for medical, Rs. 25,000 for dental and Rs. 15,000 (for poor and meritorious) and Rs. 25,000 (others) for engineering courses.
For COMED-K candidates, it will be Rs. 3.25 lakh for medical, Rs. 2.3 lakh for dental and Rs. 1.25 lakh for engineering courses.
High Court imposes fine on DDA, official
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has imposed a cost of Rs.25,000 each on the Delhi Development Authority and one of its officials for opposing the applicability of a Supreme Court judgment to a case pending before the Court and later retracting from the stand.
In this case the petitioner, Sudesh Gaba, had sought quashing of a demand letter issued by the Authority imposing a surcharge of 20 per cent with interest on the then cost of a flat booked by her.
Her submission was that the Authority had imposed the surcharge and charged interest from her despite a Supreme Court ruling barring it from imposing surcharge and charging interest from an applicant for a flat.
In response, V. P. Bansal, DDA Deputy Director (Self-Financing Scheme), informed the Court that the submission made by counsel on behalf of the Authority was actually at the instance of the former incumbent of the office.
However, when Justice Hima Kohli summoned the retired officer, Mr. Bansal changed his stand and submitted before the Court that his earlier submission was erroneous because it was he who had actually advised the counsel to argue that the judgment was not applicable to the case. Mr. Bansal also amended his view on the applicability of the judgment, submitting that the judgment was actually applicable to the case.The Court accepted an unqualified apology tendered by the official subject to payment of Rs.25,000 by him to the petitioner within four weeks. It also imposed a fine of Rs.25,000 on the DDA “for compelling the petitioner to approach the Court in respect of a decision, which was admittedly applicable to her case and not examined and implemented by the Authority at its end”.
NHRC finds no fault in police probe into Batla House encounter
NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday submitted before the Delhi High Court that though it had found no irregularities in the Delhi police’s investigation report submitted to it on the Balta House encounter in the Capital last year, the investigating agency should not fight shy of ordering a judicial inquiry into the incident.
Counsel for the Commission made the submission during the hearing of a petition by a non-governmental organisation seeking a judicial inquiry into the encounter.
He submitted that according to the Commission’s guidelines every encounter should be investigated by a judicial officer.
The Delhi police from the very beginning have been opposing the demand for a judicial inquiry into the encounter.
Justifying their opposition to the demand, the police last week submitted before the Court that a judicial inquiry might cause demoralisation among their officers.
The petitioner, Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, sought a judicial inquiry into the “encounter”.
Bringing justice to torture enablers
Jorge Heine & Ramesh Thakur
Those who exploited the post-9/11 fear to take George Bush down the wrong turn to violate fundamental American precepts and international laws against torture now have cause to fear international justice.
When, after his 16-month arrest, General Augusto Pinochet was sent back from London to his native Chile, Geoffrey Robertson, a constitutional lawyer, was asked whether it was likely that the general would spend any time behind bars. “No … but a fate worse than prison awaits him. He will spend the rest of his days surrounded by lawyers” — which is exactly what happened.
The Spanish judge who hounded, humiliated and ultimately humbled Pinochet was Baltasar Garzón. He now has the torture enablers of the Bush administration in his cross hairs. The development comes with the confluence of three forces.
First, humans have a powerful sense of justice for the satisfaction of which they are prepared to pay a cost if need be. Where wrong has been seen to be done and the decent opinion of mankind has been outraged, punishment is demanded. Second, in a deeply globalised world, with an internationalised human conscience, justice too has a global domain. Citizens expect and demand accountability for overseas and domestic acts of criminality, and foreigners demand it for criminal acts committed within domestic jurisdictions. And third, where wrong has been done to fellow-citizens, and institutions and regimes in whose jurisdictions the crime was committed are unwilling or unable to bring the perpetrators to justice, people want their own governments to reach on to the world stage to inflict punishment and exact justice.
President George W. Bush tapped into these sentiments in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when he promised that whether the murderers came to justice or justice came to them, justice would be done. How fitting then that those who exploited the post-9/11 fear to take him down the wrong turn to violate fundamental American precepts and international laws against torture now have cause to fear international justice.
Judge Garzón is gearing for a criminal investigation of the Bush lawyers who constructed the legal scaffolding for Army and CIA interrogators to engage in torture. The principals involved — Alberto Gonzales, Douglas Feith, David S. Addington, Jay S. Bybee, William J. Haynes, John C. Yoo — should not take this lightly.
Every day, the evidence that is released of what happened in the so-called “black sites,” under the legal umbrella provided by the legal memos of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel, is more disturbing. Waterboarding, beatings and locking up in coffin-like boxes seem to have been established practices — all of these aided by medical personnel.
When Judge Garzón, by now a legendary figure in the Spanish-speaking world and the subject of an acclaimed documentary film (El Caso Pinochet by Patricio Guzmán), started the criminal proceedings against Pinochet in the mid-1990s on the basis of a complaint filed by a human rights NGO, he was widely derided as a latter-day Don Quixote taking on a general 10,000 km away, with no jurisdiction over problematic cases that, if at all, fell under the purview of the Chilean judiciary.
Yet, slowly but surely, he kept building up his case. In a remarkable case of deploying the law to bring about both criminal and, in the deepest sense of the word, political justice, the lawyer behind that case was Joan Garces who, 25 years earlier, as a freshly minted political scientist, had been Salvador Allende’s political advisor and speechwriter, and got to know Pinochet in the days when the latter put on his mask as a strict constitutionalist and ardent supporter of Allende.
When Pinochet, after leaving his position as Army Chief, and taking up the one as appointed Senator he had engineered in his own 1980 Constitution, was imprudent enough to travel to London in October 1998, shortly after the 25th anniversary of the military coup that he led to topple President Salvador Allende, under the false impression that a diplomatic passport and his friendship with Margaret Thatcher would provide him with immunity in a country he much admired, Mr. Garzon pounced.
Contrary to what is sometimes argued because he was ultimately not convicted of any crime, that arrest marked the end of the Pinochet legend and the halo that had surrounded him until then, as the dictator who had opened up the Chilean economy and brought modernity to his country. Upon his return to Chile, the Supreme Court lifted his parliamentary immunity and he had to face hundreds of criminal cases. In 2003, the government appointed a Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture to investigate the human rights violations that had not fallen under the mandate of Chile’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the early 1990s. A few years later, a U.S. Senate investigation on the financing of terrorist activities uncovered hundreds of bank accounts of his at the Riggs Bank, leading to further prosecutions. By the time he died a few years ago, his reputation was in tatters.
In a vivid proof of the “snowball effect” these legal precedents have internationally, the Peruvian courts recently took this one step further. After extraditing him from Chile, where he had sought refuge, they convicted and sentenced the former dictator Alberto Fujimori (known popularly as “Chinochet”) to 25 years in prison for the human rights violations committed during his two-term presidency, mainly for excesses in the repression against the Maoist Shining Path guerrilla movement. This group was a bad lot but the Peruvian courts decided that even the imperatives of the struggle against such a cruel terrorist movement did not justify state actions leading to torture and illegal killings.
Why should a Spanish judge take on a Chilean dictator, and now a bunch of U.S. lawyers?
The answer is “universal jurisdiction:” the legal capacity to bring to justice human rights violators anywhere in the world, and one of the most encouraging trends in international human rights law. Although as a rule criminal jurisdiction is determined by the crime’s location rather than by the nationality of the victim, in today’s globalised world strict territorial jurisdiction is less clear-cut. Pinochet was the first former head of state arrested for crimes committed at home, followed shortly by the indictment of Slobodan Milosevic: the first sitting head of state, and that too in the midst of war. The recent international order for arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), has made world headlines.
The United States, which did not ratify the Rome Treaty that established the ICC in 1998 — it has by now been ratified by 105 countries, a majority of the United Nations members — has not exactly been in the forefront of this trend (having gone to the extreme of actually unsigning this treaty). Yet, it has not been totally estranged from it either. In October 2008, a Miami court convicted Liberian strongman Charles Taylor of torture crimes committed in Liberia, a decision praised by the then U.S. Attorney-General, Michael B. Mukasey.
Spain’s 1985 law allows for universal jurisdiction in crimes against humanity if there is a Spanish connection. In the case of Spanish citizens living in Chile who travelled to Argentina, were kidnapped there, and sent back to Chile to be tortured and killed, the question who prosecutes the culprits did not have an obvious answer — until Judge Garzón stepped in.
What about Spanish citizens or residents of Spain kidnapped somewhere around the world, forcibly taken to Guantanamo and tortured there? Given Guantanamo’s legal limbo (which is precisely why the detention camps were set up there in the first place), the answer is not obvious either.
Practices such as waterboarding, beatings and placement in coffin-like boxes, described in detail in a leaked ICRC report about the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody, could constitute war crimes and/or violate the 1984 Convention Against Torture, to which the U.S. is party.
In arguing against a truth commission to investigate torture practices under Mr. Bush, Senator Arlen Specter said, “This is not Latin America.” Well, in some ways it is. “Enhanced interrogation techniques” were originally exported by U.S. specialists to Latin American military regimes, including Pinochet’s, in the 1960s-70s to help fight the enemy of the day — communism. They were then applied at home to fight the new enemy of choice, terrorism.
There are some 50 former senior aides to Pinochet, both military and civilian, who have been advised not to travel abroad if they want to avoid being arrested. They have not dared to leave Chile for 10 years now. If Judge Garzón were to go ahead with his criminal investigation of the former Bush administration lawyers, it is unlikely these defendants would be extradited to Spain. But it would probably be advisable for them not to leave the U.S.
(Jorge Heine is Professor of Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, whose founding Director is Ramesh Thakur. They are both Distinguished Fellows at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, Ontario.)
SC orders release of Varun Gandhi on parole for 2 weeks
16 Apr 2009, 1108 hrs IST, TIMESOFINDIA.COM
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the release of BJP leader Varun Gandhi on parole for two weeks till May 1. The apex court, however, put stringent conditions on his speech and directed Varun to give an undertaking to Etah Jail authorities that he will not make any "inflammatory or provocative speech that causes communal disharmony" and is against community, religion, race and could disturb public order. After his release from jail, Varun, who has been detained under the National Security Act, will also have to file an identical undertaking before the Supreme Court by Monday. The Supreme Court said it was not satisfied with the contents of undertaking given by Varun on Tuesday when he promised not to make any provocative speeches. "Having regard to the facts and circumstances, we are inclined to release him on parole for two weeks on condition that he will give an undertaking before the superintendent of Etah Jail that he will not make such speeches during the parole which is likely to cause communal disturbance and hatred among any caste and community," a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said, PTI reported. The BJP leader has to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties of like amount for his release on parole. He had also been ordered to inform the district magistrate in Pilibhit of his whereabouts in Uttar Pradesh. The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday had accepted the Supreme Court suggestion on the undertaking by Varun after the apex court described the detention under the stringent NSA act as a "drastic step." The court had said Varun's plea for bail could be accepted only if he comes out with a promise that he will not make provocative speeches during his campaign. Varun was detained under NSA on March 28 on charges of inciting communal passion by making provocative speeches during election meetings in Pilibhit on March 7 and 8. He was lodged in the district jail in Pilibhit and later moved to Etah prison for security reasons. The filing of nomination papers for Pilibhit starts from April 17.
Waghmare's action leaves legal community fuming
16 Apr 2009, 0043 hrs IST, Swati Deshpande, TNN
MUMBAI: As the legal aid counsel for Pakistani Ajmal Amir Kasab — the lone surviving accused in the 26/11 terror strike on Mumbai — made her ignominious exit from the trial on day one, it left a bad taste in the legal community. Anjali Waghmare, the advocate who emerged out of nowhere into the limelight as Kasab's defence lawyer, has breached professional ethics say legal experts. "The issue here is entirely of impropriety and professional ethics," says ace defence counsel Ram Jethmalani. "Even if a witness has not instructed a lawyer, she or he is expected to know that there might be some conflict of interest if the next person on her list is an accused in the same case. Usually, a victim as a prosecution witness is supposed to be deposing against the accused; she should have known that unless she is very raw," said Jethmalani. Lawyers, in fact, say that Waghmare's actions have only served to hold up a trial that is already fraught with delay.
Chaturvedi case: Court slams cops
16 Apr 2009, 0149 hrs IST, S Ahmed Ali, TNN
MUMBAI: The recent sessions court verdict acquitting Provogue owner Salil Chaturvedi has come as a huge setback for the Mumbai police. The court held that evidence produced by the investigating officer was neither "reliable nor trustworthy''. In its findings, the court clearly concluded that, "There appears to be much force to the contention of the defence advocate that the accused (Salil) was involved in this case falsely.'' The judge had found serious flaws in the case and questioned the veracity of the prosecution charge that 3 grams of cocaine was found at Chaturvedi's residence. "The evidence does not inspire confidence and does not go to prove the guilt of the accused on any point,'' said judge A T Amlekar. What may rile the prosecution the most is that the judge came down on the testimony of the investigating officer in the case, Subhash Kenjale. "The evidence of Kenjale is not consistent, reliable and trustworthy on any point in order to prove (that 3gm of cocaine was recovered from Salil's residence),'' said the judge, adding that the police had not complied with the investigation guidelines laid down under the NDPS Act. The judge even remarked that the sampling, testing, sealing and labelling of the cocaine allegedly seized was not "reliable''. Advocate Rizwan Merchant, who represented Chaturvedi, told TOI on Tuesday that there may now be a need to probe whether the drugs were planted on Salil. "Where did the three vials of cocaine come from? The officers must be held accountable and should explain the source of the drugs.'' Chaturvedi was arrested on August 2, 2005, and the police claimed to have found the cocaine later that day from his residence. The judge remarked that it seemed to be an exceptional case in which a person is arrested first and thereafter, a search was carried out at his residence and office to seize drugs. The court observed that Chaturvedi's arrest itself was wrong as investigating officer Kenjale had arrested him on the basis of mobile phone printouts showing that he was in touch with co-accused in the case Vishal Meghnani and Allywn Sequira. "(Meghnani and Sequira), being employees of Chaturvedi, it is not uncommon or objectionable feature that the three may have spoken to each other.'' The court also minutely scrutinised the alleged seizure. Kenjale had stated that he and his officers had offered to be personally searched by Salil's wife before the raid. "It is shocking as to how the police officers and panchas, who were male members, were offered for personal search to a lady, and not to a male member present in the house,'' the judge said. The court further pointed out that constable Bhosle who had allegedly found 3 vials of cocaine from Chaturvedi's bathroom was not a gazetted officer and his statement was never brought on record.
Bombay HC orders DD to pay Rs 10L to filmmaker for plagiarism
16 Apr 2009, 1030 hrs IST, PTI
MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court asked Doordarshan to shell out Rs 10 lakh as compensation for plagiarizing a part of well-known documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan's 1975 film. Patwardhan had dragged DD to court, alleging that the government broadcaster used part of footage from his film 'Waves of Revolution' in a 2003 short film
entitled '26th June 1975'. Justice Roshan Dalvi, in the verdict last month, accepted Patwardhan's argument, and asked DD to pay him Rs 10 lakh. Patwardhan's film was about students' movement in Bihar, led by Jaiprakash Narayan, prior to the Emergency. DD acquired rights to the film, and telecast it in 1977. In 2003, DD asked one of its employees to make a film to mark the anniversary of imposition of Emergency. The film, entitled '26 June, 1975', was telecast on 26 June, 2003. The film used footage from Patwardhan's 1975 film, without his permission. Justice Dalvi found merit in Patwardhan's case, and awarded him damages. The judge also restrained DD from re-screening '26 June, 1975'.
SC judge recuses self in contempt case
16 Apr 2009, 0144 hrs IST, TNN
The senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, Justice B N Agrawal, on Wednesday recused himself from hearing the contempt of court case against four members of the Boss School of Music, one of whom had hurled a shoe at a judge on March 20. The matter would now be placed before Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan who would have to constitute a fresh three-judge Bench.
Banks move HC over poll duty
16 Apr 2009, 0148 hrs IST, Shibu Thomas, TNN
MUMBAI: Three cooperative banks have approached the Bombay high court to challenge a decision by the Maharashtra government requisitioning 70% to 80% of its staff for election duty. The government has claimed that it has no option as it requires over 51,000 employees for poll-related work in Thane district alone. A division bench of Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice Vijaya Kapse-Tahilramani has now asked the state to sit together with the bank management and work out a "rational'' formula which will involve lesser requisitioning of staff. The deputy collector had asked the banks__Thane District Cooperative Bank, Kalyan Janata Sahakari Bank and Dombivli Nagarik Sahakari Bank__to make available 1,078 persons of the total 1,438 staff for poll duty. According to banks, their work would come to a halt and their consumers seriously affected. The petition also claimed out that a general manager of the Kalyan bank had been asked to work as a class-IV employee during the elections. Assistant government pleader Rajesh Bhere opposed the petition and told the court that under the Representation of People Act, the authorities could seek the services of employees of the Central government, state government, and public-funded institutions for election work. The advocate further pointed out that Thane was a huge district and had five Lok Sabha constituencies and 22 assembly constituencies. The state needed 51,358 persons to conduct the polls in Thane, and had requisitioned the services of 16,680 state government employees, 24,136 public sector undertaking staff and 1,674 central government officers. The government further said that poll duty comprised of two days of training and duty on election day. "These are public bodies, you cannot stop their work for the sake of elections,'' said the judges, adding, "Are you ready to compensate them for the loss caused to the banks and the general public?'' Last week, the HC had stayed a directive of the collector seeking the services of 85% of the employees of APMC for election duty. The court had asked the APMC to make available 25% of its staff for such work.
A confident Kasab asks the court to account for his cash
16 Apr 2009, 0313 hrs IST, TNN
MUMBAI: Ajmal Amir Kasab caught the court by surprise on Wednesday when he enquired about the Rs 7,000 he had on him at the night he and Abu Ismail, his fellow terrorist, killed 56 people at CST. He was aware of his legal right that the cash seized from him was his p16P5-4.TIMissue came up when Kasab reiterated his demand to have access to newspapers. Kasab (K): Main akhbar padhna chahta hoon. (I wish to read the papers) Judge (J): Why do you want newspapers? They print what happens here in court. K: Sahab, mujhe custody mein padhne ke liye chahiye. (I'd like to read them while in custody) J to Ujjwal Nikam: What are the legal provisions on the issue? Nikam: Sir, I went through the Jail Manual and it says that under-trial prisoners have to pay for the newspaper. Only convicts get them free of charge. J: How can he pay? I will consider the plea K (grinning): Sir, jab mera arrest hua tha, tab mere paas cash tha. Woh kahan hai? (Sir, on the night I was arrested, I had some money on me. Where is it?) J: It is in our safe custody. K: Thank you sir Kasab was then escorted back to his cell Kasab (K) when produced after lunch: Good afternoon, sir Judge (J): Your lawyer's appointment has been cancelled. Some issues came up and we did not feel that she could continue with the case K: Mujhe Pakistani lawyer chahiye (I want a Pakistani lawyer) J: A Pakistani lawyer cannot appear here. Similar laws are there in Pakistan that don't allow Indian lawyers to appear there K: Main Pakistani government se lawyer mangunga (I will ask the Pakistani government for a lawyer) J: You have written to them once. They did not reply. We will help you get a lawyer The judge then has a long discussion in English with special prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. Nikam requests the judge to explain the same to Kasab J to Nikam: He follows what is happening. J to Kasab: Aapko samajh mein aaya? (Do you understand everything?) K: Pakistani government lawyer nahin de rahe J: Yes. We have already written to them K: Sir ek baar aur try kar lein (Can you try again?)
Second lawyer took train to work
16 Apr 2009, 0318 hrs IST, Kartikeya, TNN
Mumbai: It is an irony of sorts that while one defence advocate for Ajmal Amir Kasab, Anjali Waghmare, came to court in a bulletproof car surrounded by police guards, the second defence lawyer, KP Pawar, travelled with virtually no protection in a packed local train at peak hour on Wednesday morning. TOI took a ride with him and found out that Pawar has a reason to be scared. "My misfortune is that I live in Navi Mumbai and the local police is not acting on the Mumbai police's request to give me adequate security,'' said Pawar. His plea for protection has, however, been shunted from one police commissionerate to another. Let alone being given a vehicle to travel in - which Pawar has been demanding - he does not even have enough men to come to his rescue in case he is the target of a mob's ire. A lone constable travelling with him on the train was negotiating for space in the packed local train. "I am not even asking for dozens of gun-toting men, but at least give me basic protection. The police admit that I am under threat, but cannot even arrange for a vehicle to take me to court. Are they waiting for something to happen to me?'' he asked.
Nithari verdict likely on April 25
16 Apr 2009, 0450 hrs IST, TNN
GHAZIABAD: The judgment in the case of the last known Nithari victim, six-year-old Arti, is likely to be delivered on April 25. Arti had disappeared at 1.30 pm on October 25, 2006, and her remains and the clothes she had worn were found in a dry drain at the rear of Moninder Singh Pandher's house, D-5, Nithari. The Hitkari School kindergarten student's body was identified by her clothes. The CBI has accused only Pandher's domestic help, Surendra Koli, for the rape and murder, while giving Pandher a clean chit. And unlike the case of Rimpa Haldar, in which her father had accused Pandher through his own counsel, Arti's parents have not accused Pandher.
Telgi, former ACP held guilty in stamp racket
16 Apr 2009, 0451 hrs IST, TNN
BANGALORE: The CBI special sessions court on Wednesday convicted Abdul Kareem Telgi, former assistant commissioner of police Sangram Singh and seven others in the multi-crore stamp paper racket. Former minister Roshan Baig’s brother Rehan and assistant sub-inspector V A Khan were acquitted. CBI special sessions court judge Chandrashekhar Patil, after recording Telgi’s statement through video conferencing, convicted the nine persons. But the quantum of punishment was reserved. On Thursday, the judge will hear arguments of both defence counsel and public prosecutor on how to fix the quantum of punishment. It will either be equal punishment for all the convicted in the case or could be fixed on the basis of involvement of each individual. The punishment is likely to be announced either on Thursday or Friday. The CBI had filed chargesheets against 12 accused in the case, including Telgi’s brother Abdul Rahim Telgi. He died during investigations. The other accused are Badruddin, Anand Thorat, Ilias Ahmed, Sohail, Sadiq Ibrahim Hudi and Syed Moiuddin. The case dates back to 1997 when Sangram Singh, then inspector of the K R Market police station, raided Shalimar hotel and arrested five people, including the Telgi brothers. While filing the chargesheet, the police omitted the Telgis’. And arrest documents were destroyed. After taking over the case from Stampit, the CBI filed an additional chargesheet in 2005. The CBI stated that though Sangram Singh, Rehan Baig and ASI Khan were aware of the racket, they failed to initiate action against the culprits. Besides, they destroyed the evidence that would have led to early detection of the case.
Defamation case: Jaya summoned on June 2
16 Apr 2009, 0431 hrs IST, TNN
CHENNAI: The principal sessions court here on Wednesday summoned former chief minister J Jayalalithaa to appear before it on June 2 to face a criminal defamation case filed by the Tamil Nadu government against her for her comments on the fate of public funds collected for the welfare of Sri Lankan Tamils. Principal judge P Devadoss took the complaint filed by the city public prosecutor on file and ordered the AIADMK general secretary's appearance. The complaint pertains to her remarks published in newspapers on January 23, criticising chief minister M Karunanidhi's initiative to collect funds for the welfare of Tamil civilians caught in the ongoing war in Sri Lanka. According to the complaint, she had said that the people had started to doubt whether the funds would reach the needy Tamils or the family coffers of the chief minister. Jayalalithaa had also termed Karunanidhi's efforts to ensure a ceasefire as mere eyewash. The state government's public department issued an order on April 1, according permission to the city public prosecutor to initiate defamation proceedings against her on behalf of the chief minister. The complaint contended that her allegations were false and baseless as the amounts had been collected in the form of cheques and drafts in favour of the Sri Lankan Tamils Relief Fund' and had been sent to the needy Tamils through the International Red Cross Society.
Call for guidelines to deal with child sexual abuse in schools
16 Apr 2009, 0421 hrs IST
CHENNAI: In the absence of a protocol for handling allegations of child sexual abuse (CSA), there is a great need to frame such a policy which would address the needs of different school streams in the state, said stakeholders in school education. "The proposed Integrated Child Protection Unit (ICPU) scheme, which has been cleared by the planning commission and the cabinet can look at having a protection officer for every district," said Andal Damodaran, honorary secretary, Indian Council for Child Welfare. "The Child Welfare Committee (CWC), which is in charge of ensuring juvenile justice, and enjoys magisterial powers, does not have the mandate to punish the offenders," said Damodaran. The five-member CWC has a protection officer, but in many cases two or three districts are clubbed together. "A dedicated protection officer would be of great service to children," added Damodaran. She made these observations at the end of a workshop on Responding to allegations of CSA in school settings' organised by Tulir, Centre for Healing and Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. Many educationists recalled instances of CSA involving their students, and emphasised the need to draw up a framework for handling the cases. The national survey of CSA 2007 found 21.9% of child respondents faced severe sexual abuse," said Vidya Reddy of Tulir. "However, the mechanism for handling the allegations are still in a state of infancy, and civil society alone cannot handle this. We need a nodal organisation for the same," she said. Offering children a forum to discuss and report CSA should be the first line of defense in responding to such allegations, said Vidya Sagar, an official with UNICEF. School education director P Perumalsamy felt that factoring in information on CSA in teachers' training curriculum and having a dedicated CSA helpline would help. More vigilant bandobast of isolated corners in schools and taking proactive steps to report abuse by a colleague and display of informative bulletins on CSA in schools would help raise awareness of CSA, felt school representatives.
HC reserves hearing on Nano land case
16 Apr 2009, 0007 hrs IST, TNN
AHMEDABAD: After a lengthy hearing, Gujarat High Court on Wednesday reserved its order in connection with local farmers petitions demanding compensation for 1,100-acre land sold by state government to Tata Motors for its Nano car project. Farmers of Khoda and Bol villages in Sanand taluka had approached high court in last December claiming ownership of the land of Northcote Cattle Farm and asking government to disburse compensation towards market value of their land. Court asked government to produce records. Government asserted ownership of the land by an acquisition executed in 1911, but it could not produce the copy of the notification which is a must under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act. Government's inability to produce this document made senior counsels Prakash Thakkar and Yatin Oza to place their arguments primarily on this. Farmers of Khoda village, who claim to own 865 acre land, contended that the land was given on lease for 99 years for protection of Kankreji cow, and upon completion of the lease time, they made representations before various authorities to return the plot. In this process, Anand Agriculture University, which was in possession of the land last, informed them that the plot was actually acquired by state government. Their advocate, Oza argued that various government departments have not been able to provide evidence of ownership of the land, since there is no record of acquisition as well as compensation given to farmers. Claiming 960 acre of land back or compensation, farmers of Bol village argued on similar lines. However, they also claimed that government has no document to prove that they were dispossessed from the land. Division Bench of Chief Justices KS Radhakrishnan and Akil Kureshi also told their counsel Thakkar that onus to provide evidence lies on them, since they have approached the court. Meanwhile, court separated PIL filed with similar prayer and kept hearing on it next month and reserved its order on these two writ petitions filed by farmers.
SC turns the heat on schools
16 Apr 2009, 0003 hrs IST, Bharat Yagnik, TNN
AHMEDABAD : The heat is on - for schools across the country. Supreme Court made it mandatory for them to have fire safety equipment in place within six months. No new government or private school should be granted affiliation if it doesn't have earthquake resistant structures or fire safety measures, the apex court has directed. In the wake of this ruling, it may come as a shock that 46 per cent schools in Ahmedabad and 50 per cent secondary and higher secondary schools in Gujarat - government, government-aided and private - are unsafe. This is as per Gujarat education department's own survey conducted last year. Schools don't maintain fire safety equipment or have quake-proof structures. Disaster drills are not taken seriously. Moreover, none of the schools consider it necessary to conduct safety audit of their buildings. And, to top it all, they don't meet safety rules of National Building Code 2005. For instance, only 46 per cent of secondary and higher secondary schools in Ahmedabad had at least two windows per classroom. This figure was just 16 per cent in Vadodara. Most schools don't meet minimum requirements of 1.05-m wide staircase necessary if kids rush out in panic in case of a disaster. Only five per cent secondary schools with more than one floor in Ahmedabad comply with this law, while it's just three per cent in Rajkot, Vadodara and Surat. Only seven per cent schools have two staircases on each floor in Rajkot. Surat shows a 13 per cent compliance, while there are 47 per cent schools with this feature in Ahmedabad. Besides, despite several reminders to install miniature circuit breakers (MCBs) and electric leak circuit breakers (ELCBs) to avoid fires due to short circuits across schools in Gujarat, only 12 per cent complied in Vadodara, while the figure was 28 per cent in Surat. Chemistry, physics and computer labs are prone to fires due to short circuits or blasts. Yet, just 22 per cent schools in Ahmedabad had fire equipment in labs, while in Rajkot the figure was a dismal five per cent and in Vadodara 12 per cent. The only silver lining is that almost 80 to 90 per cent schools in the four cities are constructed in grade-1 concrete, one of the many norms required.
HC puts Rabri on notice for contempt
15 Apr 2009, 1953 hrs IST, Ravi Dayal , TNN
PATNA: The Patna High Court on Wednesday issued a show-cause notice to former Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi in connection with criminal contempt of court petitions filed against her for her alleged remark at an election rally in Saran that chief minister Nitish Kumar has full control over the judiciary. A division bench comprising Chief Justice J B Koshy and Justice Ravi Ranjan issued the notice on the petitions filed separately by HC lawyers Ashutosh Ranjan Pandey and Awadhesh Kumar Pandey, and adjourned the cases for hearing at admission stage for a month during which Rabri has to file her reply to the notice. Ashutosh submitted before the court that the utterances of Rabri were highly derogatory and contemptuous. The statement sought to scandalize the judiciary and lower the prestige of courts of law, he added. He said Rabri made another derogatory speech against judiciary at an election meeting in Jamui on April 14, displaying total disregard for the judiciary. Awadesh filed his petition after getting consent from the advocate general. Being the convener of state BJP's legal cell, Awadhesh first sought the consent of the advocate general and was given the go-ahead to file the petition as a lawyer and not as a partyman. Awadhesh's counsel Suresh Prasad Singh and Gyan Prakash Ojha submitted before the court that Rabri's remarks were against the judicial system. The judiciary also plays the role of common people's guardian by intervening whenever Constitutional provisions are ignored by the executive. “If such tendencies of leaders like Rabri are not checked, people may think that politicians are above the law,” the counsel added.
HC directs MSU to remove inquiry head in Panikkar case
15 Apr 2009, 2213 hrs IST, TNN
VADODARA: In a significant twist to the obscenity' row at MS University's Fine Arts faculty, Gujarat High Court on Wednesday ordered that the university remove a professor who is heading the inquiry committee probing the case of suspended professor Shivaji Panikkar. MSU has agreed to replace the professor within four weeks. Panikkar is under suspension ever since the obscenity' row rocked the faculty two years ago. It was in May 2007 that a student
Chandra Mohan's work came under attack by a BJP leader who alleged that his paintings depicting Gods and Goddess in the nude was obscene in nature. Following a ruckus in the faculty, Panikkar, who refused to apologise, was suspended by MSU authorities as part of disciplinary' action against him. The suspended professor is fighting the legal case since then. On Wednesday, the HC's order brought some relief to Panikkar. Justice MR Shah directed that MSU should remove professor GC Maheshwari, who is heading departmental inquiry in Panikkar's case, with immediate effect. "At the same time, the HC has also ordered that if MSU gives any adverse order on Panikkar, then he can challenge it," said Mukul Sinha, who is fighting Panikkar's case. "The order of removing the professor from departmental inquiry was with consensus." The HC has also ordered that the proceedings in the universities tribunal should continue without interruption irrespective of the proceedings going in the high court.
HC sounds poll panels on teachers plea
15 Apr 2009, 2243 hrs IST, TNN
ALLAHABAD: The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday asked the Election Commission of India (ECI) and its state counterpart to seek instruction and if necessary file a counter-affidavit on a PIL seeking court's direction to restrain the two bodies from assigning poll duty to teachers of primary and other schools in the state. Appearing for the ECI, its counsel B N Singh stated in the court that the commission will abide by the decision/ direction of the Supreme Court given in this regard. The Supreme Court in the case of Election Commission of India Vs St Mary's School and others had passed an order directing that all teaching staff shall be put on duty of roll revisions and election works on holidays and non-teaching days. The counsel also gave an undertaking that the SC decision will be complied with in LS polls. The SC had also directed that the teachers should not ordinarily be put on duty on teaching days and within teaching hours. The apex court had held that non-teaching staff, however, may be put on duties on any day or any time, if permissible under the law. The PIL has been filed by Shikshadan Diksha Foundation of Azamgarh. The ECI, state election commission and principal secretary basic education have been made party in the PIL. Petitioner's counsel Anoop Baranwal pointed out in the court that if teachers were assigned election duty, students would be deprived of education, which is their fundamental right under the Constitution of India. The order was passed by a bench of Justice S R Alam and Justice Rajesh Kumar and the case will come up for hearing on April 17.
Court orders inspection of under-construction chambers
15 Apr 2009, 2247 hrs IST, TNN
KANPUR: The additional district and sessions judge Sriprakash had asked the executive engineer PWD, to inspect the under-construction chambers, its material and submit report before the court on April 28. Meanwhile, in another case being heard simultaneously, regarding the injunction of allotment of chambers, April 18 has been fixed for order.
EDITORIAL COMMENT Don't Pass The Buck
16 Apr 2009, 0000 hrs IST
That the trial of Ajmal Amir Kasab was temporarily adjourned due to a technicality defence lawyer Anjali Waghmare advised a victim of Mumbai's 26/11 assault and therefore couldn't be allowed to defend an accused as well shouldn't throw the trial off course. It's, in fact, a sign that Kasab is being accorded due process, indicating the robustness of the trial procedure. The evidence that the 26/11 attacks were planned in Pakistan and executed by Pakistani nationals is compelling, even though they may have had a few local contacts facilitating the assault. Kasab's trial will, no doubt, proceed after another lawyer is found to represent him. But the evidence points to others involved in 26/11, including its masterminds, being in Pakistan itself. This is where Islamabad's delaying tactics are showing. India handed over a comprehensive dossier of evidence in January, which included over 400 pages of documentation as well as CDs containing conversations between the attackers and their handlers in Pakistan. US and British security agencies, too, have provided evidence to back up this material. Instead of taking the investigation further, however, Islamabad's primary response has been to engage in fault-finding in a petty manner. In response to the CDs, for example, Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik got back after three months by asking why transcripts of the conversations have not been provided. DNA samples of two suspects, apparently, are identical in all respects, which shouldn't be the case. Such technical issues, however, can easily be settled by quiet cooperation between the two sides. They don't require Malik to go to the press, pointing out that clinching proof hasn't yet been handed over by India. Such proof can only be established in a court of law. But matters have to be allowed to get to that stage first. While Pakistani authorities have detained five persons in connection with Mumbai, they have yet to officially notify the arrest of the two main accused Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commanders Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah. Neither have they passed on to India any information about what their interrogation of suspects has revealed, despite incessant demands made that India reveal more information than has been passed on. New Delhi sees a stable, prosperous and democratic Pakistan as being in its own interest. But stonewalling on the 26/11 investigations makes the task of resuming dialogue with Islamabad tougher. Moreover, there's increasing evidence that Taliban insurgents in Pakistan are linking up with Punjab-based terror groups such as the LeT. Any attempt by Islamabad to shield LeT by separating "good" jihadis those who only export terror abroad from "bad" jihadis who inflict mayhem back home, poses a serious threat to the stability and existence of Pakistan itself.
SLP(C) No. 3052/08 etc.
ITEM NO.66 COURT NO.10 SECTION XVII
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
Petition(s) for Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No(s).3052/2008
(From the judgement and order dated 06/08/2007 in RP No. 1392/2006
of The NATIONAL CONSUMERS DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION, NEW
BAR OF INDIAN LAWYERS Petitioner(s)
D.K.GANDHI & ANR. Respondent(s)
WITH SLP(C) NO. 3053 of 2008(With Office Report)
SLP(C) NO. 11539 of 2008(With office report)
SLP(C) NO. 8786 of 2008(With prayer for interim relief and office report)
Date: 13/04/2009 These Petitions were called on for hearing today.
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE LOKESHWAR SINGH PANTA
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE B. SUDERSHAN REDDY
For Petitioner(s) Mr. Anoop G. Choudhary, Sr. Adv.
Mr. Jasbir Singh Malik, Adv.
Ms. Monika Shram, Adv.
Mr. Ruchi Kaushik, Adv.
Mr. Daya Krishan Sharma,Adv.
Mr. Jasbir Singh Malik, Adv.
Mr. S.K. Sabharwal, Adv.
Mr. Preet Pal Singh, Adv.
Mr. Sanjeev Sachdeva, Adv.
For Respondent(s) In-Person (NP)
Mr. Daya Krishan Sharma, Adv.
Ms. Monika Shram, Adv.
Mr. Ruchi Kaushik, Adv.
UPON hearing counsel the Court made the following
Leave granted in all the special leave petitions.
Printing dispensed with. The appeals shall be heard on the SLP paperbooks. Parties may
file additional documents from the record, if any, within six weeks.
There shall be stay of the impugned order of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal
Commission, New Delhi during the pendency of the appeals.
(Ajay Kr. Jain) (Usha Sharma)
Court Master Court Master
NATIONAL CONSUMER DISPUTES REDRESSAL COMMISSION
REVISION PETITION NO. 1392 OF 2006
(From the order dated 10.3.2006 in Appeal No.1815/2000 of the State Commission, Delhi)
PS, National Institute of
22, Sham Nath Marg,
Delhi-110 054. … Petitioner
Delhi-110 009 … Respondent
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE M.B. SHAH, PRESIDENT
MRS. RAJYALAKSHMI RAO, MEMBER
For the Petitioner … In Person
For the Respondent … In Person
Dated the 6th August , 2007
O R D E R
M.B.SHAH, J. PRESIDENT.
The State Commission, Delhi, by its order dated 10.3.2006 in Appeal No.1815 of
2000 held that the services rendered by the Lawyer would not come within the ambit of Section
2(1)(o) of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, as the client executes the power of attorney
authorizing the Counsel to do certain acts on his behalf and there is no term of contract as to the
liability of the lawyer in case he fails to do any such act. The State Commission further observed
that it is a unilateral contract executed by the client giving authority to the lawyer to appear and
represent the matter on his behalf without any specific assurance or undertaking.
Against that order the Complainant has preferred this Revision Petition.
In our view, the reasoning given by the State Commission is totally erroneous.
The ambit and scope of Section 2(1)(o) of the Consumer Protection Act which defines ‘service’
is very wide and by this time well established. It covers all services except rendering of
services free of charge or a contract of personal service. Undisputedly, lawyers are rendering
service. They are charging fees. It is not a contract of personal service. Therefore, there is no
reason to hold that they are not covered by the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
The State Commission approached the question totally in an erroneous manner by holding that by
executing power of attorney the client authorizes the Lawyer to do certain acts on his behalf and
there is no term of contract as to the liability of the lawyer in case he fails to do such act. It is to
be stated that a Lawyer may not be responsible for the favourable outcome of a case as the
result/out come does not depend upon only on lawyers’ work. But, if there is deficiency in
rendering services promised, for which consideration in the form of fee is received by him, then
the lawyers can be proceeded against under the Consumer Protection Act. Further, it is totally
erroneous to hold that it is a unilateral contract executed by the client by giving authority to the
lawyer to appear and represent the matter. Apparently, it is a bilateral contract between the client
and the lawyer, and, that too, on receipt of fees, lawyer would appear and represent the matter on
behalf of his client. To hold that contract is unilateral is to ignore the fact that even after
discussion the client may not engage the Advocate or the Advocate may refuse to accept the brief.
Hence, such a contract can never be said to be unilateral.
Further, it is not necessary to refer to judgments on this well settled law, still, we
would refer to the case of Lucknow Development Authority v. M.K. Gupta, (1994) 1 SCC 243 ,
at pages 254-255, wherein the Apex Court observed as under:
“The concept of service thus is very wide. How it (the concept of ‘service’)
should be understood and what it means, depends on the context in which it has
been used in any enactment. Clause ( o ) of the definition section defines it as
“ ‘service’ means service of any description which is made available to
potential users and includes the provision of facilities in connection with
banking, financing, insurance, transport, processing, supply of electrical
or other energy, board or lodging or both, housing construction,
entertainment, amusement or the purveying of news or other information,
but does not include the rendering of any service free of charge or under
a contract of personal service;”
It is in three parts. The main part is followed by inclusive clause and ends by
exclusionary clause. The main clause itself is very wide. It applies to any
service made available to potential users. The words ‘any’ and ‘potential’ are
significant. Both are of wide amplitude. The word ‘any’ dictionarily means ‘one
or some or all’. In Black’s Law Dictionary it is explained thus, “word ‘any’ has a
diversity of meaning and may be employed to indicate ‘all’ or ‘every’ as well as
‘some’ or ‘one’ and its meaning in a given statute depends upon the context and
the subject-matter of the statute”. The use of the word ‘any’ in the context it
has been used in clause ( o ) indicates that it has been used in wider sense
extending from one to all.
The Court held that the importance of the Act lies in promoting welfare of the
society inasmuch as it attempts to remove the helplessness of a consumer as he faces against
powerful business; “producers have secured power” to “rob the rest”. The might of public
bodies which are degenerating into storehouses of inaction where papers do not move from
one desk to another as a matter of duty and responsibility but for extraneous consideration
leaving the common man helpless and shocked.
To what extent the aforesaid observations apply to various professions in the
country is to be imagined and it is a matter of guess work.
Thereafter in the case of Indian Medical Association v. V.P. Shantha and Others
- 1995 (6) SCC 651 the Apex Court discussed whether medical practitioner would be covered by
the said definition. For this purpose, it was observed that in the matter of professional liability,
professions differ from other occupations for the reason that professions operate in spheres
where success cannot be achieved in every case and very often success or failure depends upon
factors beyond the professional man’s control. In devising a rational approach to professional
liability which must provide proper protection to the consumer while allowing for the factors
mentioned above, the approach of the courts is to require that professional men should possess a
certain minimum degree of competence and that they should exercise reasonable care in the
discharge of their duties. If there is negligence on the part of medical practitioner, the right of
affected person to seek redress would be covered by the Act. Medical practitioners would not be
outside the purview of the provisions of the Act.
The same principle would apply in case of service to be rendered by a lawyer.
Lastly, in Kishore Lal vs. Chairman, Employees’ State Insurance Corpn. (2007) 4
SCC 579 the Apex Court observed:
“It has been held in numerous cases of this Court that jurisdiction of the
Consumer Fora has to be construed liberally so as to bring many cases under it
for their speedy disposal. The Act being a beneficial legislation, it should receive
a liberal construction”.
Finally in the case of Jacob Mathew vs. State of Punjab – (2005) 6 SCC 1 (para
18) the Apex Court has held that in law of negligence, professionals such as lawyers, doctors,
architects and others are included in the category of persons professing some special skill or
skilled persons generally and a professional may be held liable for negligence on one of the
two findings: either he was not possessed of the requisite skill which he professed to have
possessed, or, he did not exercise, with reasonable competence in the given case, the skill which
he did possess.
Further, this Commission has taken a consistent view that if there is deficiency in
service rendered by the Lawyers, complaint under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is
For the reasons stated above, the impugned order passed by the State
Commission is set aside and the matter is remitted to the State Commission for deciding the same
- Kamal Kumar Pandey (Adv. Supreme Court of India)
- Lawyer Practising at Supreme Court of India. Court Experience: Criminal, Civil & PIL (related to Property, Tax, Custom & Duties, MVAC, insurance, I.P.R., Copyrights & Trademarks, Partnerships, Labour Disputes, etc.) Socio-Legal: Child Rights, Mid Day Meal Programme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, Women Rights, Against Female Foeticide, P.R.Is, Bonded Labour, Child labour, Child marriage, Domestic violence, Legal Literacy, HIV/AIDS, etc. Worked for Legal Aid/Advise/Awareness/Training/Empowerment/Interventions/Training & Sensitisation.