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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

LEGAL NEWS 02.05.2012


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Supreme Court grants time to Italian government to specify stand

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN May 1, 2012, 02.46PM IST
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today asked the Italian government to tell it by tomorrow if it would ensure the presence of four naval guards of its merchant navy ship Enrica Lexie in India during criminal proceedings against their two colleagues, accused of killing two fishermen off Kerala cost.
A bench of Justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale put the matter for tomorrow after the Italian government's counsel and senior advocate Harish Salve said he needs time for a specific instruction from his client on the issue.
Salve said he wants to be very clear before making any submission about the Italian authorities' stand on if they are willing to accept the jurisdiction of the Indian courts as there is also a question of sovereign immunity involved in it.
Appearing for Kerala, former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium had yesterday sought imposition of stringent conditions for release of the ship and compel the presence of the crew and marine officers during the proceeding against their two colleagues.
The court reiterated its concerns that the criminal proceedings here should not be defeated.
The apex court on Monday had termed Italy's compromise with the kin of two Indian fishermen shot dead by its naval guards, as "illegal" and "astonishing" and had said that they were "playing" with the Indian process of law and felt Kerala should have filed an objection.
The bench said the mouths of the families of the two victims - Jalastine and Binki - have been "locked" by the Italian government by paying each an amount of Rs 1 crore, defeating the Indian legal system.
The apex court had also sought the Italian government's stand on the question of releasing the impounded ship with certain conditions after the owner of the vessel claimed that their detention had cost the company Rs 200 crore.
Subramanium had, however, told the court that Kerala was not a party to the compromise and had reserved the right to challenge it before higher forum.
Kerala yesterday had sought imposition of stringent conditions for release of the ship and wanted the court to ensure the presence of the crew and marine officers during trial of their two colleagues for allegedly killing the fishermen in February this year.
Counsel for Kerala government had said it would not oppose release of the ship provided stringent conditions, including bank guarantee, adequate bond and security were imposed on the marines to secure their presence during trial as charge sheet would be filed in another 15 days.
Attorney general G E Vahanvati had yesterday sought to distance himself from the controversial stand taken by additional solicitor General Harin Raval that the Kerala government had no jurisdiction to deal with the issue.
"I don't stand by the statement that the Kerala government had no jurisdiction. Even the ASG had clarified it on the other day. It was his personal view. That statement was also not an issue before this court," he had told the bench.
Earlier on April 23, another bench of the apex court had sought replies of the the Centre and the Kerala government on Italian government's plea to quash the criminal cases against its two merchant navy personnel.
In its petition filed under Article 32, the Italian government had asserted that the Kerala government has no locus standi to register any criminal case as the alleged offence ought to be treated under international law and covenants as India is a signatory to the UN charter.






Telenor India unit cleared to challenge auction plans

NEW DELHI | Tue May 1, 2012 12:07pm EDT
May 1 (Reuters) - Telenor's Indian unit said on Tuesday the country's Supreme Court has allowed it to file an application challenging the telecom sector regulator's proposals for a 2G airwaves auction, which have been widely criticised by mobile carriers.
The court has asked the Indian government to redistribute airwaves through an open auction by August, after ordering cancellation of all permits that were awarded to carriers in a scandal-tainted allocation process in 2008.
Telenor is among eight carriers that are set to lose some or all of their zonal operating permits after the court order, and the auction would be their last chance to win back those licences.
But in another blow to the affected carriers, the sector regulator has suggested an auction starting price that is nearly 10 times higher than what companies had paid in the 2008 sale.
The regulator has also proposed that less than a fifth of the airwaves available be put up for auction, which risks driving up bid prices, and also means that only one or two of the carriers whose licences are being cancelled can win back the permits.
Telenor's India unit said in a statement on Tuesday that it had sought clearance to argue that the auction proposals were not in line with the court's earlier order.
"The Court has allowed us to file an application and stated that it is open to hearing our arguments," the company said, without elaborating. A company spokesman declined to comment beyond the statement.
The regulator's proposals are not binding on the Indian government and a panel of ministers have the final say on auction rules.
Telenor, which has written down a total $1.4 billion of Indian assets, warned on Monday it would exit the Indian market if the current plans for the auction go ahead. ($1 = 52.7000 Indian rupees= 5.7283 Norwegian crowns) (Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)






NCW stinker to Didi on West Bengals rising crime rate

Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 9:00 IST
By
DNA Correspondent | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA
The National Commission for Women (NCW) has sent a stinker to West Bengal government pointing towards a steep rise in crime against women in the state in recent months.
The NCW had constituted an inquiry committee to look into the recent incidents of crime against women in the state. A three-member committee which visited West Bengal during first week of April, also met the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, observed that incidents of such crimes coupled with a set of unpreparedness among the officers at the level of public contact may actually make the crime a nearly risk-free business for criminals.
The Commission expressed unhappiness over transfer of two key officers - Damyanti Sen, DCP, Kolkata and Pranab Kumar, SP, Bankura - who were transferred before the investigation could be completed in the Park Street gang rape case and the Bankura case of sexual assault on a deaf and mute girl.
It also recommended review of the convention presently adopted by the Comissionerate of Police, Kolkata, which requires an order of a Court before a victim of rape is subjected to a medical examination. The Commission pointed out that this convention is not present in other police organisations including the DGP, West Bengal, and is against the spirit of law and recent judgments of Supreme Court and high courts which clearly indicate that neither the medical officers nor the accused should get advantage in the process and valuable medical evidence against the accused is lost in any matter.
The NCW quoted an analysis of recent cases conducted by a NGO network called Maitree which pointed that West Bengal recorded the 2nd highest number of rape cases in the country and the rate of increase in reported cases was twice the national average. Moreover, this state had the second lowest conviction rate.
It said girls from the age of 7 to women of 72 were subjected to rape and that in 44% cases of gang rape 39% victims were minor girls; 17% of victims were mentally/physically disabled; 8% rapes happened in hospitals/trains; in 44% of cases, accused is still absconding; in 17% of cases, women’s character, or the veracity of cases were publicly questioned; about 39% of rapists were known to women; in about 25% of the cases, FIRs were not filed at all, or filed later due to public pressure or court orders to this effect; and that majority of the case took place in the districts and small towns and villages.








Green Tribunal to hear farmers NGO against Nirma cement plant

PTI | 05:05 PM,May 01,2012
New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal today agreed to hear a body of farmers and villagers in the case filed by Nirma Ltd against environment ministry's decision to revoke the green nod for its Bhavnagar cement plant in Gujarat, rejecting the company's opposition. Nirma had moved the Tribunal challenging the December 1 order of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) revoking the environmental clearance granted to it on December 11, 2008 for its 1.91 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) capacity cement plant, 1.5 MTPA coke oven plant and 50 MW captive power plant at Bhavnagar. An NGO, Shri Mahuva Bandhara Khetiwari Paryavaran Bachav Samitee, which claimed to be affected by the project was made a party after it had sought impleadment contending they have taken part in the movement against the project and raised protest from "day one" when the project was proposed to be installed. The NGO's plea was strongly opposed by Nirma Ltd saying it is "neither necessary nor proper party" as company's appeal relates only to revocation of environmental clearance by MoEF which is "capable of protecting the order passed by it". The Tribunal, however, allowed NGO's application saying the records revealed that they have been an interested party from the beginning. "It (NGO) has not only raised objections but also moved the Gujarat High Court and thereafter Supreme Court, for redressal of its grievances. "Thus it is clear that the members of the applicants association are not strangers to the 'lis' (suit), on other hand they have taken part in all stages of decision making process," said a bench headed by Tribunal Acting Chairperson Justice A S Naidu. The bench directed Nirma Ltd to serve a copy of appeal along with relevant documents to the NGO within two weeks and listed the case for hearing on May 30, 2012.







NHRC notice to U.P. DGP

Special Correspondent
In a shocking incident, an aged woman, who was lying on the road after being hit by a vehicle, was mauled to death by stray dogs, even as the local police personnel were embroiled in a turf war and failed to take her to the hospital.
The incident which happened on April 21 in Hapur in Uttar Pradesh, was highlighted by the media and now the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to the State Director-General of Police, returnable in four weeks, seeking a report on the case.
The media reported that her cries of agony did not evoke any sympathy in the cops and she died on the spot after being bitten by the dogs.
The Commission observed that, if the reports were true, the cops had violated her human rights by not rushing to her assistance.







NHRC pulls up Jammu and Kashmir Chief Mnister Omar Abdullah for blocking flag hoisting

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has pulled up the Omar Abdullah-led government in Jammu and Kashmir for "disallowing" BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and a host of party supporters from hoisting the national flag in Srinagar's Lal Chowk on Republic Day last year.
"Every citizen enjoys the fundamental right to go to Jammu and Kashmir and hoist the national flag in Srinagar on Republic Day. This right is guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution. It is not the case of the state government that the petitioners (BJP) were trying to flout any provision of the Emblems and Names Act 1950 or the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971," the commission said.
The three leaders were surreptitiously detained at Jammu airport when their chartered flight landed there on the eve of Republic Day. They were to proceed by road to Srinagar to hoist the Tri-colour the next day.
The incident reached a crescendo when Swaraj tweeted: "Arrested - cars - separate - don't know where to?" They were forcibly escorted away from Jammu and released in Madhopur on the Jammu and Kashmir-Punjab border. A livid Jaitley then claimed that action was illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic.
More than a year later, a full bench of the human rights commission, headed by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, said the state government violated an apex court order that states that hoisting the national flag was a fundamental right.
Issuing a notice, it asked the state government to explain within two months why it defied the Constitution. The NHRC said the arrests or preventing anybody wishing to hoist the flag was tantamount to taking away his fundamental right.
The party's youth wing, the Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM), had organised the Ekta Yatra (unity march), a campaign to hoist the Tri-colour at Lal Chowk on January 26. The BJYM president and BJP MP, Anurag Thakur, moved the NHRC following the state government's highhanded action.
Separatist groups in Kashmir Valley and militant organisations had opposed the BJP's campaign and threatened to foil it by any means. The NHRC wanted to know why no action was taken against those who threatened to stop the Ekta Yatra.
The BJP contended that the Ekta Yatra would show the separatists that Kashmir has been and will remain an integral part of India.
This was also one way of pitting national sentiments against the separatist discourse as Lal Chowk became a symbol of Kashmiri plebiscite when Jawaharlal Nehru made such as promise there in 1948.
Successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir have used force to prevent hoisting of the Tri-colour at Lal Chowk, citing law and order. A similar ban was enforced last year when Omar Abdullah's government feared that the BJP's campaign could whip up frenzy among the separatists, who had already vowed a similar counter-march.





SC transfers to itself Rajiv case convicts' pleas

J. Venkatesan
Important issue: the question for consideration is whether long delay in deciding on mercy petitions entitles convicts to seek commutation of death sentence
The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that the writ petitions filed by three convicts facing the death sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case — Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan — be transferred to itself from the Madras High Court.
A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhaya passed this order on petitions filed by L.R. Venkat, president of the G.K. Moopanar Peravai, affiliated to the Congress, and two others, for shifting the case on the ground that the atmosphere in the Madras High Court was not conducive to a fair hearing.
The three convicts had filed the writ petitions challenging the rejection of their clemency plea by President Pratibha Patil after 11 years. The High Court on August 30, 2011 stayed their execution.
The Tamil Nadu government and some of the private respondents controverted Mr. Venkat and others' assertion that the atmosphere in the State “is highly surcharged and fair hearing of the writ petitions filed by the convicts is not possible in the Madras High Court.”
They pleaded that there was no impediment to the hearing of the writ petitions by the High Court and these should not be transferred merely because a similar issue was pending before this court. They also questioned the locus standi of the petitioners to seek transfer of the writ petitions, alleging they were merely busybodies and interested in publicity.
Writing the order, Justice Singhvi said: “Although, the parties have made diametrically opposite assertions about the atmosphere which prevailed in the State after rejection by the President of the mercy petitions filed by V. Sriharan @ Murugan and two others, we do not consider it necessary to decide whether the support extended by the political outfits and others to those who were found guilty of killing the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, may impede fair adjudication of the writ petitions filed by them warrants transfer of the three writ petitions from the Madras High Court to this court.”
The Bench said: “However, keeping in view the fact that an identical question is pending consideration before this court in the writ petition filed by Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and Mahendra Nath Das, we deem it proper to exercise power under Article 139A (1) of the Constitution.”
Similar plea
The Bench said “There is no dispute between the parties that the question which arises for consideration in the writ petitions filed by three convicts is, whether long delay in the decision of the mercy petitions entitles the convicts to seek commutation of the death sentence. This case is similar to the one raised in the cases filed by Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and Mahendra Nath Das. In our opinion, that question is of substantial general importance and a decision thereof is likely to affect a large number of persons who have been convicted by the competent courts and sentenced to death and whose mercy petitions have remained pending for years together. Therefore, we are satisfied that it will be in the interest of justice to transfer the three writ petitions pending before the Madras High Court.”
The Bench directed the Registrar-General of the Madras High Court to send the records of the three writ petitions to this court through a messenger within two weeks of receipt of communication from the Registry of this court.
The transferred cases would be listed for July 10 for final disposal. Notice should be issued to the writ petitioners that their case would be taken up for hearing by this court on July 10.






Law College order upheld

CHENNAI: A division bench of the Madras High Court has upheld an order of a single judge, which directed the State government to grant No Objection Certificate (NOC) to Vanniyar Educational Trust to start a new law college in the name of Saraswathy Law College at Tindivanam. The Bench upheld the orders dated September 23 last year of the single judge while dismissing a writ appeal from the Law Secretary.
“We find no infirmity in the impugned order and accordingly, we dismiss the writ appeal directing the appellant/State to consider the application made by the Trust for issuance of the NOC........,” the Bench said on April 25 last. The Trust had complied with all the conditions, which were required for getting an NOC, the bench noted, and directed the government to pass appropriate orders within four weeks.







Allow KKNPP meeting, police told

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the police to permit a person to hold a public meeting to register protest against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) either near the Koothapakkam Murugan temple or in a ground adjacent to K N Pettai Draupadiamman temple in Cuddalore.
In a writ petition N Sundar had sought to quash an order dated March 20 of the Inspector, Tiruppapuliyur, refusing permission on the ground that it may create a law and order problem.
When the matter came up, the Special Government Pleader said the petitioner could hold the public meeting in the aforesaid places.
In the light of the submission, the petitioner’s counsel agreed to shift the venue of the meeting and to suggest a suitable date. Disposing of the petition, the Justice K Chandru directed the Tiruppapuliyur police to grant permission to the petitioner to hold the public meeting at any one of the two places.







Two government officials arrested in illegal mining case

Press Trust of India | Updated: May 01, 2012 15:09 IST
Bangalore:  A senior Karnataka forest official and a retired mines department official were arrested by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sleuths in connection with the illegal mining case involving Associated Mining Company owned by former minister and mining baron G Janardhana Reddy and his wife Aruna.

A CBI statement identified the arrested as S Muthaiah, then Deputy Conservator of Forest, Bellary District, the seventh accused in the case, and SP Raju, the then Deputy Director Mines and Geology department, Hospet, Bellary district, and the 22nd accused.

Mr Muthaiah, Conservator of Forests (research), Dharwad, is currently under suspension, while Mr Raju has retired.
The duo was produced before the 47th Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge and Special Judge for the CBI cases who remanded them to police custody for 10 days.

On April 27, the CBI court had extended the judicial custody of Janardhana Reddy and his personal assistant Mehfuz Ali Khan, the two main accused in the case, till May 10.

The CBI had filed a criminal case on the directions of the Supreme Court of India dated October 10, 2011 against Janardhana Reddy and others under various Indian Penal Code sections, Prevention of Corruption Act, Indian Forest Act and Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act 1957.






Samajwadi Party's Abu Azmi gets 2-year jail term for hate speech

Mid-Day.com | Updated: May 01, 2012 16:59 IST
Mumbai:  A local court on Monday convicted and sentenced Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA Abu Asim Azmi and four others to two years of rigorous imprisonment for allegedly delivering provocative speeches to incite communal violence.

The Mazgaon Metropolitan Magistrate's Court convicted the accused under Section 153 (a) and 153 (b) of the Indian Penal Code. Apart from sentencing them to a two-year jail term, the court also imposed a fine of Rs. 11,000 on each of the accused. The court, however, suspended their sentence, allowing them to approach the Sessions Court to challenge their conviction.

The case dates back to February 2000, when Azmi had allegedly delivered provocative speeches at Mastan Talao Maidan at Dr D M Dimtikar Marg in Byculla against Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and the then Sena leader Narayan Rane. "He had spoken about Balasaheb Thackeray and India in an undignified manner," said the complainant, Ganpatrao Madgulkar, who was then the personal assistant of Rane.
 






Fiat to Army: decide on trial or court-martial

J. Venkatesan
Supreme Court order on fake encounters in Pathribal, Kamrup The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Army to decide whether its personnel involved in fake encounter killings in Pathribal in Jammu and Kashmir and Assam should be court-martialled or tried in regular criminal courts.
If Army authorities were not keen on court-martial proceedings, the Central Bureau of Investigation could seek sanction from the Centre for prosecution of the erring officers, said a Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar.
The case of killing of five civilians in the March 2000 Pathribal encounter has been pending in a Srinagar trial court with both the Army authorities and the officers challenging the Magistrate's order which asked the Army to explain, under Section 125 of the Army Act, whether it would try its men or wanted the civilian court to do the job. As the Jammu and Kashmir High Court ruled against them, the Army personnel appealed to the Supreme Court.
The CBI maintained that no sanction was necessary to prosecute the erring officers under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) as the cold-blooded murders could not be said to fall within the ambit of their official duties.
In Assam, the CBI completed the investigation and filed charge sheet against seven Army personnel in the Court of Special Judicial Magistrate, Kamrup, under Section 302/201 read with Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code, for killing five civilians in a fake encounter. In this case, the Centre maintained that sanction from the competent authority was required for the prosecution of Army personnel.
Writing the judgment, Justice Chauhan said: “The competent Army Authority has to exercise his discretion as to whether the trial would be by a court-martial or a criminal court after the filing of the charge sheet and not after cognisance of the offence is taken by the court. A conjoint reading of the relevant statutory provisions and rules makes it clear that the term ‘institution' contained in Section 7 of the Act 1990 means taking cognisance of the offence and not mere presentation of the charge sheet by the investigating agency.”
Rejecting the Centre's stand that the Army personnel facing the CBI charge sheet could not be tried as they were discharging their official duty, the Bench said: “Facts of this case require sanction of the Central government to proceed with the criminal prosecution/trial. In case option is made to try the accused by a court-martial, sanction of the Central government is not required.”






MHA nod must for prosecution in AFSPA cases: SC

Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2012, 8:00 IST
By
DNA Correspondent | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA
The Supreme Court has ruled that in a case of `fake encounter’ killing by an army personnel in an area which is under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, an investigating agency would have to seek the home ministry’s sanction to prosecute the accused. However, there’s no need to secure the sanction if the personnel is court-martialled under the Army Act.
In a first-ever ruling that distinguishes between the code of criminal procedure - which regulates criminal proceedings under the Indian Penal Code and similar laws - and the Army Act, the court on Tuesday held that sanction in a criminal case such as the encounter killings of seven innocent persons allegedly by army personnel in Pathribal, J&K, 12 years ago, is necessary.
Sanction is required to “assess the act complained of.This would also include the assessment of cases like mistaken identities or an act performed on the basis of a genuine suspicion,” said the court.
“We are therefore of the view that such immunity clauses have to be interpreted with wide discretionary powers to the sanctioning authority in order to uphold the official discharge of duties in good faith and a sanction therefore has to be issued only on the basis of a sound objective assessment and not otherwise,” the top court said while issuing a slew of directions in fake encounter cases by army personnel in J&K and the insurgency-affected Kamrup in Assam in 1994.
The trial of suspected army personnel has been unduly delayed due to the prolonged litigation on whether a civil court could take cognisance of the grave offence committed by the army personnel, without sanction from the appropriate authority.
While in Pathribal killings, five armed personnel were involved in the crime, in the insurgency-affected Saikhowa Reserve Forest in Kamrup, Assam, army personnel were accused of killing five local residents under the pretext of exchange of fire with armed insurgents.
According to CBI lawyer Ashok Bhan, “This ruling is guidance for the civil and army authorities when they face cases relating to suspected fake encounter killings by the armed personnel.”
The Judges granted two months to the army authorities to take a call on whether they want to invoke the Army Act, otherwise they must inform the respective chief judicial magistrates so that the process of trial under the IPC could be resumed. But, the court martial proceedings must start immediately, judges said.

According to the CBI chargesheet in Pathribal case,the then Col Ajay Saxena ,MajorBrajendraPratapSingh,Major Sourabh Sharma andSubedar Idrees Khan `hatched’ a conspiracyto cover up the fake encounter killings. It also said in the chargesheet that innocent persons were killed in Pathribal soon after the terrorists had gunned down 36 Silkhs in village Chittising Pora, District Anantnag on March 20,2000.





Family court inaugurated at Patiala House Courts complex

PTI | 08:05 PM,May 01,2012
New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) The Delhi High Court's Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri today inaugurated a family court at the Patiala House court complex here. Besides Justice Sikri, several judges of the Delhi High Court and trial courts too attended the inauguration ceremony. The family courts are set up with an objective to tackle a heavy backlog of cases pertaining to the family matters and hear them in a congenial atmosphere, different from the intimidating ones at regular courts. The family court, opened at the Patiala House court complex, would would deal with family cases of New Delhi district area. During the ceremony, a play based on family theme, was also staged. The family court would ensure a congenial environment to deal with matters such as marriage, divorce, alimony, child custody and others. The family court at Patiala House court complex would be in addition to the existing family courts in the city at Dwarka, Rohini, Saket and Karkardooma court complexes. The family court at Patiala House would also have full-time counsellors to guide the families.





Supreme Court grants interim bail to sexual assault victim

Special Correspondent
Made an accused by Jaipur Police in a counter case to hers against the police
The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted interim bail to a paraplegic and alleged victim of custodial sexual torture from Jaipur. The girl had been made an accused by the Jaipur Police (District East) in a counter case to hers against the police.
Justice C. S. Thakur and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra of the Supreme Court, who heard the matter, noted that the girl was a “living corpse” and she deserved dignity and not custody. Quoting from the order, the Judges said that the report from the board of doctors constituted under the orders of the High Court showed that the petitioner was a complete paraplegic. “Her left leg has been amputated above the knee. She has also lost voluntary control of bowel and bladder, and is completely dependent for all her activities of daily living. She has permanent disability of more than 80 per cent”.
The girl was represented by senior counsel Colin Gonsalves. The State of Rajasthan was represented by Additional Advocate-General Manish Singhvi.
“Mr. Gonsalves submits that keeping in view the medical condition of the petitioner and the fact that she has been in custody for past 63 days, this court could consider granting interim bail to her. Dr. Singhvi does not seriously oppose that prayer and submits that pending. Final disposal of the petition and filing of objections by the respondent, the court could grant interim bail to the petitioner,” said the Judges.
“In the circumstances, therefore, we direct that the petitioner shall be released from custody on her furnishing bail bonds in a sum of Rs. 10,000 with one surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of the trial court .This order is only an interim arrangement and shall remain subject to the final outcome of the SLP,” they said.
The case dates back to January 23, 2011, when the girl was sexually abused allegedly in police custody. She had taken to the police station in the name of interrogation in a missing case of one of her friends. Shattered by the sexual abuse the girl threw herself in front of a train next morning. She survived the suicide attempt, becoming a paraplegic.
The policemen allegedly involved were arrested following the public outrage. When the girl's friend returned on May 4, 2011, after having spent time in Mathura, she was made to give statements against the victim. Consequently, victim and two persons who witnessed her sexual torture were arrested. The girl was arrested on the February 29.
“The law on bail clearly gives powers to police and magisterial courts to grant bail u/s 437 (1) (2) ‘if such person is under the age of 16 years or is a woman or is sick or infirm' but in the case of the victim, neither did the investigating officer of the case, nor the Magisterial court/ the District court granted her bail when she was a fit case of bail at all levels,” said Kavita Srivastava, General Secretary of People's Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan.





Bofors appeal: NDA delayed and UPA denied

Ritu Sarin : New Delhi, Wed May 02 2012, 01:27 hrs
For all the UPA vs NDA noise over the Bofors case in the wake of Sten Lindstrom’s interview, what neither side will say is what lies buried in voluminous case files and notings by key CBI investigators and law officers. These reveal that between 2004-2006, the CBI was forced to toe the line of its political masters. So much so that it watched as two crucial court judgments in the Bofors case went unchallenged in the Supreme Court.
On Feburary 4, 2004, an order passed by Justice J D Kapoor in the Bofors case in the Delhi High Court quashed all charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act and bribery under the Indian Penal Code. Confidential files accessed by The Indian Express show that the CBI moved quickly to challenge the high court order in the apex court. The first noting on the file was made six days after the verdict — on February 10, 2004.
Subsequent notings were made on February 19, by which time key CBI officers, Keshav Mishra and A K Majumdar wrote on file: “Draft material for SLP (special leave petition) has been prepared...’’
Several weeks then passed in obtaining the opinion of noted criminal lawyer N Natarajan, which came in as late as April 21. And three days later, the CBI got a crucial input from its Director of Prosecution S K Sharma: “Both the counsel (U S Prasad, additional legal advisor, CBI and Natarajan) have recommended to go in for SLP against the order of the Delhi High Court. We may act accordingly and send a proposal to the Cabinet Secretariat for instructing the Central Agency Section to file the SLP in Supreme Court.’’
This file — along with the draft SLP — was sent to the cabinet secretariat on May 6, “with the approval of Director, CBI’’.
The draft SLP, also with The Indian Express, is a 28-page document argued that the High Court “erred.”
Even as the CBI worked overtime to file the SLP, the country voted to elect a new government. On May 20, 2004, the UPA came to power and the very next day, key CBI investigator Keshav Mishra was asked to hold a meeting on the subject of filing the SLP with O P Verma, Deputy Legal Advisor in the Law Ministry. Mishra recorded the meeting on file on May 25 by which time Manmohan Singh had been sworn in as Prime Minister.
The CBI files reveal that subsequently, it was the Law Ministry that piled up one opinion after another — reversing the stand of the CBI — against filing of the crucial appeal. Verma’s own opinion is dated June 1, 2004 and ends with ...”no substantial question of law is involved, which may require any intervention under Article 136 of the Constitution. Thus it does not appear to be a fit case for filing of an SLP in the Supreme Court.’’
The next crucial opinion was that of Union Law Secretary, R L Meena, dated June 22, 2004, which was dispatched to the Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training. The operative part of his four-page opinion: “The judgement of the Delhi High Court appears to be unassailable both from factual as well as legal point of view. Therefore, this is not a fit case for filing SLP in the Supreme Court against the judgement.’’
The final nail in the coffin was the opinion of newly appointed Attorney General Milon K Banerji who, in a brief one-para opinion wrote on July 5, 2004: “I have perused the papers, in particular, the careful summary prepared by R L Meena, Law Secretary. I agree with the view of the Law Secretary that this is not a fit case for filing a Special Leave Petition.’’
The final noting on the file is that of the then CBI Director U S Mishra who on July 7, 2004 wrote: “Received a communication that Attorney General has vetted the opinion of the Law Department. In view of clear opinion of AG no SLP need to be filed.’’
Asked why the SLP wasn’t filed when he was Minister, Arun Jaitley, NDA Law Minister in 2004, in an interview on CNN-IBN, listed reasons such as vacation in the court and paperwork that needed to be done by the CBI. And he said: “We did not know we are going to lose the election.’’




1st woman judge of HC Justice Amiya Padhi dead

CUTTACK: Eminent jurist and first woman judge of the Orissa High Court Justice Amiya Kumari Padhi passed away at her Bhaskosh lane residence here following illness on Monday. She was 79 and is survived by her husband and former DGP Shyam Sundar Padhi, two daughters and a son.
Daughter of late Justice JK Mishra and niece of former Chief Justice and Governor of Odisha Justice Gati Krushna Mishra, she was born in Dhenkanal on September 15, 1933. She completed her matriculation in Sambalpur and graduated from Ravenshaw College in 1953. She went on to pursue law education and enrolled at the Bar in 1964. Justice Padhi was elevated to the judge of the Orissa High Court on April 18, 1988. She retired on September 14, 1995.
However, she continued to lead a very active life till the end. She was the member NSA of the Orissa High Court. She was also a member of the Ethical Committee of the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC), Bhubaneswar. Judges of the High Court, Advocate-General Ajay Mohanty and senior lawyers visited her residence to pay their last respects





Sohrab case: 2 constables move HC for bail

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 19:00 IST
By
DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
Two constables accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case moved a bail petition in the Gujarat high court on Monday. Their plea will come up for hearing on June 15.
Ajay Parmar and Santram Sharma, both of whom were constables with the anti-terrorist squad, were arrested by CID (crime) which had investigated the case before it was handed over to the CBI.

According to the prosecution case, the two men had played an active role in the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and the disappearance of Kausarbi.
“We have sought bail for both the constables as they have been given a clean chit by the CBI on the ground that they had acted on the instructions of officers,” said Punit Juneja, counsel for both the constables.
“Earlier in the case, the CBI had given a clean chit to VA Rathod who later got bail from the Supreme Court. Hence, Parmar and Sharma should also be given bail on the ground of parity,” the lawyer said.
Sohrabuddin Sheikh was killed in 2005 in a fake encounter by the ATS of the Gujarat police. His wife, Kausarbi, was also allegedly murdered by the ATS personnel. The Supreme Court had hand over the probe first to CID (crime) and then to the CBI after hearing the petition filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother, Rubabuddin.
More than 16 policemen, including four IPS officers, are behind bars in connection with the case. Former Gujarat minister of home Amit Shah was also arrested but he was granted bail.






Were pre-fabricated structures for liquor sale permitted on green belt, HC asks UT

Express news service : Chandigarh, Wed May 02 2012, 00:54 hrs
To ascertain whether pre-fabricated structures for sale of liquor had been allowed to come up on the green belt or on land reserved for expansion of road, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday directed the Chandigarh administration to furnish the required information.
The court on the last date of hearing had made it clear that any allotment of license to pre-fabricated structures for sale of liquor would be subject to outcome of a public interest litigation (PIL) pending before the court.
A few residents had moved the High Court against grant of liquor licenses in a “pre-fabricated temporary structure” at various parts of the city.
The High Court had issued notices to Chandigarh administration and Municipal Corporation on the petition filed by Amit Jain of Industrial Area Phase I and other city residents.
The petitioners have sought directions of the administration and MC authorities to discontinue the grant of liquor licenses at a “pre-fabricated temporary structure”, alleging that it was not only illegal, but also hazardous to public, as it endangered free flow of traffic movement, because of the location of the structures.
Senior lawyer Chetan Mittal, counsel for the petitioners, also sought directions to quash the excise policy of the administration in respect to such sale, which had been named as “L-14-A” licenses as per the excise policy for 2011-12 or in the alternative to discontinue the same in future excise policy commencing from May 1, 2012.
Mittal also contended that taverns had become a frequent source of traffic hazards, parking woes, drunken brawls, accidents and crimes.





Schools can’t increase fees without Board nod, says HC

Express news service : Chandigarh, Wed May 02 2012, 01:30 hrs
In a significant development and respite for parents, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today restrained the schools in Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana from hiking fees without obtaining prior permission from the Education Boards and Councils they are affiliated to. “No fee and other charges shall be enhanced by any school situated within the territorial jurisdiction of this court and affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, Punjab School Education Board and the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education, without prior approval of the respective Board/ Council”, a division bench comprising Justice S K Mittal and Justice TPS Mann held today.
The Bench has also issued directions to ensure that no books other than NCERT were prescribed in Punjab schools. The schools have been directed to take their respective Education Boards into confidence before any fee hike. The Bench has also directed that schools would submit their profit and loss statement for the past five years to the Central Board of Secondary Education, ICSE or Punjab School Education Board where they were affiliated.
Also, no CBSE affiliated schools would prescribe books published by publishers other than NCERT. The directions were issued on three PILs filed raising the same issue.
One of the petitions has been jointly filed by 10 students from Malerkotla while two other petitioners were city-based NGOs Anti Corruption and Crime Investigation Cell and All India Crime Preventing Society. Senior lawyer Pawan Kumar, counsel for the petitioners, sought directions to authorities to curb the menace of irrational and whimsical school fee hike by the schools.
The petitioner, referred to several Supreme Court judgments which hold that each school would maintain the account of the schools on the principles of non-business organisation.
Citing the example of a school in Punjab, the petitioner stated that in academic session 2009, the school was charging fee that included admission fee of Rs 3,500, annual charges of Rs 4,500 besides quarterly tuition fee, computer fee, science fee, conveyance fee and building fund amounting to total of Rs 5,000.
The fee was subsequently hiked in the following years. In academic year starting in 2012, the fee had been hiked to annual charges Rs 11,000, development fee Rs 2,000 besides other fees charged on quarterly basis.
The petitioner stated that as per calculation, in 2010, total amount of Rs 1.08 crore had been collected by the school as annual charges while the same was Rs 1.87 crore for the session in 2011. This is besides the students being forced to buy stationary and school dress from school shops.
The bench today issued directions to Punjab School Education Board, ICSE and CBSE to file affidavit about the schools in their jurisdiction and also that have all the schools’ filed profit and loss account for the past five years
The Boards have also been asked to file their responses as to it was being ensured that teachers were getting salaries as per norms and Right to Education Act was being followed by these schools.




MET vice chairman moves HC seeking CBI probe against Bhujbal

PTI | 08:05 PM,May 01,2012
Mumbai, May 1 (PTI) In a fresh trouble for Maharashtra PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, a criminal petition, seeking a CBI probe into the role of the senior NCP leader and his family members into alleged misappropriation of trust funds and property, was today filed in the Bombay High Court by Sunil Karve, founder trustee and vice chairman of Bhujbal's Mumbai Educational Trust (MET). Karve, who moved the high court through his counsel Sayaji Nangre, demanded CBI inquiry against Bhujbal and his family members for allegedly embezzling the trust funds and property for their personal benefit. The high court yesterday issued a notice to Bhujbal seeking his reply on a PIL filed by a freedom fighter alleging that the minister's trust, which runs the Bhujbal Knowledge City in Nashik, charged exorbitant fees to the tune of Rs 8 crore from students since 2010. Karve had filed a plaint on February 1 with the city police's Economic Offences Wing (EOW) seeking investigation against Bhujbal, his wife Meena, son Pankaj, daughter-in-law Vishakha and nephew Sameer. However, when EOW did not initiate any inquiry, Karve approached the high court seeking a CBI probe. The petition states that the "possibility of bias in investigations can not be ruled out" since Bhujbal is a cabinet minister, Pankaj an MLA and Sameer an MP--all belonging to the Nationalist Congress Party--which is a ruling coalition partner in Maharashtra and controls the home ministry. According to Karve, since 2005, Bhujbal and his family members "dishonestly" occupied the entire tenth floor of the city-based Trust building. The petition is likely to come up for hearing tomorrow. PTI SP NSK





No celebratory firing in UP: HC

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 00:32
Lucknow: Concerned over the "brazen display and misuse of arms" in public places and during celebrations, the Allahabad High Court today restrained the arms license holders of Uttar Pradesh from using their weapons for celebratory firing.

A division bench at Lucknow, comprising justices Abdul Mateen and Sudhir Kumar Saxena passed the order in a criminal matter, showing serious concern over the misuse of arms in public and private functions like marriage, birthday and victory procession.

"We direct that henceforth the arm license holders of state are restrained from using arms in celebratory firing on the occasion of marriage, birthday, victory procession or similar gathering. Should anyone violates this order, he will be personally accountable and will be dealt with in accordance with law by this court," the bench said.

It also directed principal secretary (home) Director General of Police (DGP) to appear before the court on May 3 and apprise about the stand of state government with regard to celebratory firings incidents reported in last one year and action taken there on under the arms act as well as the penal statute.

"They will also specify the steps the state government is contemplating to arrest such brazen display of arms in functions as well as in public places like highways, government offices, circuit/guest houses," it directed.

On behalf of state government advocate Rishad Murtaza, contended that the state government has already taken steps to check misuse of arms.

The court fixed the next hearing of the matter on May 3.
"Since it is a matter of public importance, we direct assistant solicitor general of India to appear on next date of assist the court," the bench said.






PCI moves apex court HC's media gag order on troop movement

PTI | 09:05 PM,May 01,2012
New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) The Press Council of India today moved the Supreme Court against an Allahabad High Court order, which banned media from reporting troop movements. On April 10, the high court bench of justices Uma Nath Singh and Virendra Kumar Dixit had directed various Central and state government authorities "to ensure that there is no reporting / release of any news item by the print or electronic media, namely the movement of troops." The directions were given to the Union Home secretary, the Information and Broadcasting secretary and the principal secretary (Home) of the Uttar Pradesh government. The petition filed through PCI Chairman and former apex court judge Markandeya Katju's office, submitted that the order was in violation of the fundamental right under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution, granted to the media and every citizen of the country. The high court order had come on a PIL filed by a social activist relating to a report in The Indian Express on April 4, 2012. The report pertained to purported movements of some Army troops towards New Delhi. Katju earlier had said, "With great respect to the high court, I am of the opinion that its order is not correct. The media has a fundamental right under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution to make such publication, as it did not endanger national security. Katju had also maintained that the Indian Army is not a colonial army, but the army of the Indian people who pay the taxes for the entire defence budget. "Hence the people of India have a right to know about army affairs, except where that may compromise national security. The media did an excellent job in exposing the Adarsh and Sukhna scams in which senior army officers were involved, and they were well within their right under Article 19(1) (a) to do so,” the PCI chairman had said Katju's contention is that such reporting can be prohibited only near the border and during war times.







Parity row: HC reserves verdict on plea of pilots of ICPA

PTI May 1, 2012, 05.27PM IST
NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court reserved its verdict on a plea of a pilots' body of erstwhile domestic carrier Indian Airlines seeking parity with their counterparts at Air India.
"The order is reserved and will be pronounced on Friday (May, 4), Justice Suresh Kait said after hearing arguments on behalf of lawyers of ICPA ( Indian Commercial Pilots Association), Air India and the Ministry of Civil Aviation on the petition of the pilots' body.
Earlier, ICPA had moved the high court alleging that it has not been dealt with "at a par" with Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), an association of pilots of Air India.
Seeking parity in training, the pilots body, in its plea, alleged the commanders (head pilot) of basic aircraft of former Indian Airlines have not been considered by Air India management for training of commander of advanced aircraft like Boeing 747, 787 and 777.
However, even co-pilots of Air India were considered for the training of advanced aircraft ahead of Indian Airlines commanders, ICPA said.
Lalit Bhasin, counsel for Air India, said the management of the national carrier was willing to impart training for flying advanced aircraft to pilots of both ICPA and the IPG.
"One each from ICPA and the IPG can be trained at a time for flying Boeing 747 and 787 aircraft. However, the pilots of ICPA cannot be trained to fly Boeing 777 as the training process for this category was over," Bhasin said, adding that these are policy decisions and cannot be interfered with by the courts.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Civil Aviation told the court that it may implement the recommendations of the Justice Dharmadhikari Committee, instituted in November last to look into grievances of ICPA, within 45 to 60 days.






Full marks for wrong questions? HC reserves verdict

Express news service : Ahmedabad, Wed May 02 2012, 04:50 hrs
The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to assign 100 per cent marks for certain “incorrect” questions in the mathematics question paper of this year’s Class XII (science stream) board examinations to all the students who appeared for the test.
The petitioner, one Dhiru Patel from Ghatlodia area of Ahmedabad who is an author of mathematics books, moved the PIL saying the questions were not only “incorrect”, but were also not as per the general guidelines issued by Gujarat Secondary & Higher Secondary Education Board.
A division bench of HC comprising acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala had constituted an expert committee of three noted mathematicians to give its opinion on the subject.
The three members have been identified as Dr M H Vasavada, Dr A M Vaidhya and Dr J C Sharma.
Patel’s lawyer Digant Popat said the expert committee had opined that out of the total questions disputed by the petitioner, a sum of five marks was incorrect and all the students who attempted these till three steps should be given full five marks for the same. “For the rest of the questions, the expert committee has opined there were some minor mistakes but, those mistakes cannot be called such which could have confused the students or because of which they could not answer the same,” Popat said.
The examination for the mathematics paper of Class XII was held on March 14 this year.
The petitioner has contended that the question paper contained apparent mistakes and incorrect questions of a total of 12 marks. He has also argued that the question paper was not as per the the board’s guidelines to the extent of 44 marks.
Highlighting the importance of Class XII examination in a student’s career, the petitioner contended, “The future of a child and his career is dependent upon the result of this examination. A difference of a single mark would matter to the student who has worked hard for his future.”
“The mistakes in the question paper cannot be taken lightly and will have serious effect in the life of a child,” he added.
He also cited a recent incident when a 17-year-old girl committed suicide after her class XII board exams did not go well.






HC asks panel on pesticides to frame guidelines by mid August

PTI | 06:05 PM,May 01,2012
New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today directed an experts committee set up by it to frame guidelines within three months to check presence of pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables available in open market in the city. A bench of justices S K Kaul and Rajiv Shakdher also accepted a plea of pesticide manufacturers seeking a direction to the panel to allow their suggestions while framing the guidelines. The court directed the six-member committee of experts to file its report containing the guidelines by August 17. The bench also included Dr Sandhya Kulshrestha, Secretary of the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee, in the panel. Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report, the court had set up the committee in May 10, 2011 to periodically examine the fruits and vegetables available in the open market to check if they contain pesticide residues. Filing an affidavit before the court, the Centre had informed that the experts committee would be headed by the joint director of the Agriculture Ministry. On February 14, the Agriculture Ministry had convened a meeting of its senior officials with those of the food safety and standards authority of India (FSSAI) and the Delhi government's health ministry on the issue, the affidavit said. Besides chairperson Sarita Bhalla, others members include FSSAI director Dhir Singh, scientist N K Sharma, Delhi government's food analyst S M Bhardwaj, Union Agriculture Ministry official Vipin Bhatnagar and senior advocate V K Rao in the committee, it stated. The court also suggested eminent scientist M S Swaminathan as an "outside" expert for the panel. However, Swaminathan informed that his hands were full and he was stuck in too many assignments at this present juncture. As per the media report, some NGOs had conducted a survey and claimed that vegetables and fruits sold in the city's markets contain poisons capable of causing cancer and harming the nervous system and liver.






HC wants guidelines on pesticides in vegetables

New Delhi, May 01, 2012
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed an expert committee, set up by it, to frame guidelines within three months to check the presence of pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables sold in Delhi markets.
The court also accepted a plea of pesticide manufacturers, seeking a direction to the panel to allow their suggestions while framing the guidelines. The Bench directed the six-member committee to file its report containing the guidelines by August 17. The bench also included Dr Sandhya Kulshrestha, Secretary of the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee, in the panel.
The committee was formed on May 10, 2011 after NGOs submitted media reports, including that by the Hindustan Times that vegetables and fruits finding their way to Delhi markets are a toxic cocktail capable of causing cancer, heart disease and infertility. They also claimed that fresh produce sold in the Capital contained four banned pesticides and insecticide.
Filing an affidavit before the court, the Centre's lawyer Meera Bhatia informed that the expert committee would be headed by the joint director of the Agriculture Ministry.
The ministry had convened a meeting on February 14, attended by food and safety and   Delhi government officials.






HC restrains schools from fee hikes, except with boards' nod

Sanjeev Verma , Hindustan Times
Chandigarh , May 01, 2012
In a major respite to parents of school children, all schools in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh have been restrained from enhancing fee and other charges by Punjab and Haryana high court, except with the prior permission of concerned education boards like Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) and Punjab School Education Board (PSEB).

A division bench comprising justice SK Mittal and justice TPS Mann also directed the two states as well as the UT to ensure that no books other than prescribed by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) were forced to be used in schools affiliated to CBSE.
All the schools were directed to submit their profit and loss account statements for the previous five years to the boards to which they were affiliated and the boards would file status report before the court.
The bench also asked the education boards to apprise the court as to how they were ensuring that teachers were getting salaries as per laid down norms and the schools were following provisions of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
The directions came during hearing of three petitions filed by two NGOs -- Anti Corruption and Crime Investigation Cell and All India Crime Preventing Society -- and students of Sita Grammar School, Malerkotla.
The students, including Pranav Goyal, apprised the bench that Rs. 1.08 crore was collected by the school as annual charges in 2010 while the amount was Rs. 1.87 crore in 2011. It was further claimed that students were also forced to buy school uniform and stationary from school shops.
The bench was apprised that in the academic session 2009, the school charged fee, including admission fee of  Rs. 3,500 and annual charges of Rs. 4,500, besides quarterly tuition fee, science fee, conveyance fee, building fund and computer fee amounting to Rs. 5,000.
However, the school further enhanced the fee in subsequent years and for the academic year 2012-13, the fee had been hiked with annual charges of Rs. 11,000, development fee of Rs. 2,000 besides other fee charged on quarterly basis, the court was informed.
The case was adjourned for hearing to the last week of May.




HC refuses to quash case against bank

HYDERABAD:Justice KC Bhanu of the high court has refused to quash criminal proceedings against Kotak Mahindra Bank by Punjagutta police here, saying that prima facie an offence of misappropriation of Rs 15 lakh had been made out against bank officials.
Kotak Mahindra Bank, represented by its vice-chairman and managing director and two others, filed a petition in the High Court seeking a stay of all further proceedings, including their arrest, in a criminal case registered by the police on a lower court’s directive. The lower court’s directive followed a complaint lodged by Khaja Azeemuddin, a city resident, alleging that he had been cheated by the bank.
Khaja said in his complainant that he had paid Rs 15 lakh by a banker’s cheque in January 2009 to the bank as earnest money deposit (EMD) to purchase a piece of land at Vijayawada which was put on sale by the bank. The bank cashed the cheque without informing him whether his offer to buy the land was accepted or not or when he had to pay the balance amount. When bank officials refused to meet him, he approached the lower court. The bank filed a petition before the HC seeking quashing of investigation into the case.
While dismissing the bank’s plea, the judge, in his order, made it clear there were no grounds to quash the proceedings. Having accepted the pay order amount of ` 15 lakh they ought to have addressed a letter to the complainant to pay the remaining amount on a particular date. No such communication was made by the bank. So, the way in which the bank officials cashed the amount and later allegedly transferred that to the account of another was nothing but misappropriation of the amount, he noted.






HC seeks details of 60 officers’ land

Express news service : Chandigarh, Wed May 02 2012, 01:35 hrs
To find out the nature of land which is in possession of 60 high-ups in Chandigarh’s periphery, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today gave two weeks to the Punjab government to specify the same. A week back the Punjab government had apprised the HC that it was probing whether land purchased by nothing less than 60 high ups in Chandigarh’s periphery was public.
The directions were passed today during the resumed hearing of a public interest litigation arising of a suo motu notice taken by the High Court on the issue of alleged illegal properties owned by influential people in the periphery of Chandigarh. Unimpressed with the investigation carried so far, the High Court on the last date of hearing had asked the Chief Secretary Punjab to submit an affidavit as to whether the investigation of the case be handed over to a Judicial Commission or shall remain with the Punjab Police.
As the matter came up for hearing, Punjab law officer sought four months’ additional time for coming out with a response. Refusing to grant four months, the Bench made it clear to the government that the Chief Secretary would have to put in an appearance in case the State fails to furnish a response.
The Bench, on the last date of hearing had observed that a Commission could probe the matter independently and fairly. The Bench had also equated the gravity of the case with the infamous 2 G spectrum case.
On the last date of hearing, Punjab Chief Secretary Rakesh Singh had stated in an affidavit that “as per an affidavit dated November 29, last, filed by his predecessor, it was submitted that in case of 60 officers - serving or retired - who had land in Chandigarh’s periphery, information was not clear as per the investigating officer’s report. Consequently, the investigating officer was asked to further probe the matter and report within a month. Finally, the information officer, vide letter dated January 6, submitted that as per the information collected by the them and as per the revenue record available, no public land was under illegal occupation of these 60 high-ups”.
The case will now come up for resumed hearing on May 15.





Disclose Kudankulam nuclear reports, CIC tells govt

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 01, 2012
In an order that can open up nuclear installations for public scrutiny, transparency watchdog, the Central Information Commission, has asked the government to release safety analysis report of Kudankulam nuclear power plant minus information of strategic importance.
It all started when the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) refused to provide safety analysis report and site evaluation report of reactors I and II of the Koodankulam plant to Right To Information (RTI) applicant SP Udayakumar, who is also leading the agitation against the nuclear plant in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Kumar, who has been accused of using foreign money to fuel the agitation, filed an appeal with the transparency watchdog claiming that the information sought was wrongly denied on the ground that it was “classified”.
Information Commission agreed with Kumar’s contention that terming a record as “classified” has not been stipulated as an exemption under the RTI law.
NPCIL’s public information officer SK Srivastava had also claimed that information contained in safety analysis report was of strategic, scientific and security importance and cannot be shared.
Gandhi, however, said that the officer had failed to give specific reasons, as required under the RTI law, for applying these exemptions. In addition, similar information is disclosed on the government websites in United States, United Kingdom and Canada and denied of such information would amount to treating Indian citizens differently, he said.
Srivastava’s only explanation was that the report contained designs of Russian manufacturers of the nuclear reactor, disclosing which may amount to breach of commercial confidence.
“The PIO can severe such design details which has been provided by the supplier as per the provisions of the Act,” the CIC order instructing the NPCIL to place the information on its website, said.
On the larger issue of putting such information in public domain, Gandhi said that disclosure of the reports would provide a comprehensive perspective to the citizens about holistic understanding of the Koondakulum nuclear power plant and will enable citizens to voice their opinions on nuclear safety issues.
“All Safety Analysis Reports and Site Evaluation Reports, Site Evaluation reports  and Environment Impact Assessment reports prepared before setting up nuclear plants should be displayed suo motto…such practice would be in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of the RTI Act and would result in greater trust in the government and its actions,” the CIC order said.








Supreme Court to hear mercy plea of Rajiv Gandhi's killers

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will hear the mercy plea of Rajiv Gandhi's killers. It transferred the pleas from the Madras high court. The Supreme Court had rejected their mercy pleas last August but convicts Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan had sought a stay on their execution on the ground that the President had taken 11 years in deciding their mercy pleas.

MDMK chief Vaiko, who has been fighting to save the three convicts, said he would continue with his efforts. "There is no political interference in Tamil Nadu. I will continue my efforts to save the three,'' he said.

Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy too welcomed the Supreme Court decision, but wanted the death penalty awarded to them to be executed at the earliest.

He said in a statement issued here on Tuesday that he had decided to seek implead himself in the case in Supreme Court to oppose any further leniency to the convicts who came to India to carry out the assassination. "They must be given death penalty at the earliest,'' he said.

A bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi directed that their petitions, pending with the Madras high court, be sent to it and listed the case for hearing on July 10. The court passed the order on a petition by one LK Venkat seeking transfer of their pleas out of Tamil Nadu on his fears that the free and fair hearings would not possible in the state due to the surcharged atmosphere, favouring the death row convicts.

The Tamil Nadu government had on October 10, 2011, opposed the plea to shift the case out of the Madras high court, denying the allegations that the atmosphere in the state was too "vitiated and surcharged'' to hold a free and fair hearing in the case.

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the three death row convicts, too had opposed the transfer plea on the ground that Article 139A (relating to transfer of certain cases) gives power only to the Attorney General or the aggrieved parties to file a petition for transfer.

Venkat's counsel had, however, submitted that a free and fair hearing of the proceedings could not be held in the Madras high court owing to the "surcharged, hostile and vitiated'' atmosphere prevailing there.

On a petition by the three death row convicts, the Madras high court had earlier stayed their hanging and had issued notices to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government. The three convicts had challenged the death sentence awarded to them before the high court, notwithstanding the fact that it had been upheld earlier by the apex court.





Aarushi case: Court to decide on Nupur Talwar's bail plea today

Agencies
Ghaziabad, May 02, 2012
Nupur Talwar, the mother of murdered teenager Aarushi, spent another night in jail as a special court in Ghaziabad on Tuesday had reserved till Wednesday its order on the dentist bail plea in the double murder case. On Tuesday, special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Judge S Lal heard arguments from Nupur Talwar's lawyer and those of the CBI on her bail plea and reserved the order till Wednesday.
Nupur Talwar, who spent Monday night at the Dasna Jail, was not in court as her lawyers argued that she be given bail. Her dentist husband, Rajesh Talwar, who is already out on bail, was not in court either.
Nupur Talwar's lawyers argued that there was no scientific evidence against her in the twin murders of her 14-year-old daughter Aarushi and their domestic help Hemraj May 16, 2008, at their Noida residence. While Aarushi's body, with her throat slit, was discovered first, the body of Hemraj was found later from the terrace of the house.
If the main gate of the house was bolted from outside, they said, how could the CBI justify its stance ruling out involvement of an outsider. The third point put forward was that Nupur Talwar was the mother of a child and she had bought her a camera just a day earlier, so how could she be a suspect in the killing of her own daughter.
The CBI argued that the Talwars had tampered with evidence and opposed Nupur Talwar's bail.
Nupur Talwar's counsel GP Thareja said that the CBI in its closure report submitted on Dec 29, 2010 that "after consideration of evidences during investigation no sufficient evidence was found against Dr Rajesh and Dr Nupur Talwar hence a closure report is being submitted".
Praveen Rai, another counsel defending Nupur Talwar, said: "When it (CBI) submitted the closure report and clearly mentioned that there was no sufficient evidence and the chain of events was not complete, how could it turn its closure report into a charge sheet with strong evidence."
"No scientific tests, including brain mapping, psychological examination, narco-analysis, DNA test, polygraph and other forensic tests, including finger prints matching  and matching of blood stains on clothes, have indicated their (Talwars') involvement in the crime," he said.
Seeking bail for Nupur Talwar, her lawyers said that her passport was with the court and there was no apprehension of her fleeing the country.
Thareja highlighted the merit in her bail plea and said other suspects, including  Krishna, Vijay Mandal and Raj Kumar, were granted bail by then CBI Special Judge Rama Jain. Rajesh Talwar was also granted bail, so Nupur Talwar should also not be deprived of her liberty.
Opposing Nupur Talwar's bail, CBI counsel RK Saini said the Talwar couple had tampered with evidence by dressing up the crime scene.
He said her lawyers were trying to mislead the court and the Supreme Court's direction  for expeditiously hearing the bail plea was not a binding on the CBI special court as it was related to another magistrate court.






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