Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Govt defers judges accountability Bill - Union Cabinet Refers It To GoM, Faults Inquiry Mechanism Against Judges

New Delhi: Billed to be the solution for alleged corruption in higher judiciary, the fate of the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill hangs in the balance as an overwhelming majority of Union Cabinet on Monday expressed serious reservations over the efficacy of the proposed mechanism to inquire into allegations against judges. They said that the provision of committees proposed in the Bill to look into complaints of misconduct and corruption against judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court was fraught with the risk of jeopardising their reputation and leaving them hobbled on the basis of allegations that may not be proven eventually. This could also cut into their independence that is the pre-requisite for smooth functioning of judiciary. The apprehension of senior members of the Cabinet, who were quite familiar with the working of the judiciary, stemmed from the fact that the Bill proposed setting up of scrutiny committees in HCs to look into complaints against judges.If they found any substance in a complaint, then they would forward it to judicial oversight committee for proper inquiry. The latter could either recommend censure of the concerned judge or recommend initiation of impeachment motion in Parliament. What bothered the legal brains in Cabinet was that once a judge was known to be facing inquiry or was censured,then his judicial career would virtually get over for loss of public faith in him.Either you have a judge or no judge at all.You cannot have a halfjudge was the sentiment strongly expressed in the meeting of the Cabinet,which finally decided to refer the Bill to a GoM for suggesting necessary changes.

This is the second unsuccessful attempt by law minister Veerappa Moily to bring in a legislation for transparency and accountability in higher judiciary.Last year,he had to withdraw from the Rajya Sabha a Bill on declaration of assets by judges. Though most members of the Cabinet said that there was a need for a legislation to replace the archaic Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, they opined that the tone, tenor and content of the Bill must be such that in fastening accountability it should not appear that executive was impinging on the independence of judiciary. Apart from these provisions,the Bill also proposed to make it statutorily mandatory for judges to declare their assets.Till now,judges have been doing so voluntarily following an inhouse resolution of SC judges in 1997.

It also proposes to take away the unlimited time that is put at the disposal of judges to write judgments.
Delhi HC tells govt to clear stand on former SC judges giving legal advice

Opening a new front in the battle for judicial accountability,the Delhi high court has directed the Govt. to take a stand under oath on whether retired Supreme Court judges could give advice to litigants and whether they could also take up arbitration work while they are holding official positions. A bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Mukta Gupta asked the Union Law Ministry on March 10 to file an affidavit on a PIL filed by Delhi-based NGO Common Cause alleging that former SC judges were violating the Constitution in letter and spirit by tendering legal opinions which were being produced in various forums of adjudication to sway their judgment. This matter was first enterta-ined last month by the then chief justice of the high court, AP Shah, who had just before his retirement asked the government the to respond to the PIL. In the subsequent hearing, Justice Lokur came up with the direction for the affidavit as the government had failed to disclose its stand even orally. Arguing on behalf of Common Cause,advocate Prashant Bhushan said that the lucrative chamber practice among retired SC judges of giving legal opinions was contrary to Article 124(7), which forbids them to plead or act in any court or before any authority within the territory of India. TNN
Bill seeking amendment to Cr PC tabled in Lok Sabha

New Delhi: The government on Monday introduced in Lok Sabha a Cr PC amendment Bill, seeking to make it compulsory for the police to record reasons for making an arrest or not making an arrest i/r of a cognizable offence for which the maximum punishment is up to 7 years. 7 years or less is maximum penalty for a host of offences, including attempt to commit culpable homicide, robbery, attempt to suicide, kidnapping, voluntarily causing grievous hurt, cheating, outraging a womans modesty and death caused by negligence. The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, introduced by home minister P Chidambaram,will also make it compulsory for the police to issue a notice in all such cases where arrest is not required to be made under the relevant Section (41) of CrPC. The amendment followed a suggestion of the Law Commission, which had recommended that if a person, to whom notice under the law had been issued, was not identifying himself or herself, then it could be a ground for the police to arrest that person.

Earlier in 2008, the Govt. had brought an amendment in Section 41 of CrPC, divesting the police of the usual arrest powers in all cases where the maximum possible sentence is 7 years or less. As a result, the police, instead of arresting the accused, was supposed to issue him a notice of appearance for any offence punishable with imprisonment up to 7 years. Under Sec.41, as it originally stood before 2008 amendment, a police officer may, without an order of a magistrate and without a warrant, arrest any person who has been concerned in any cognizabale offence.The radical change in Cr PC had, however, drawn a lot of flak from a number of bar associations across the country. The lawyers apprehended that the amendment (in Sec.41) doing away with the mandatory arrest provisions in offences punishable up to seven years would remove fear from the minds of criminals who would misuse the provisions under the garb of personal liberty.
Apex court denies bail to Raju

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the bail application of disgraced Satyam founder Ramalinga Raju, the main accused in a multi-crore fraud case. "When serious crimes are committed, people are bound to be in jail," a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan,Justices Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan observed. The Bench was in no mood to relent and said that Raju being the main accused has the propensity to influence the witnesses and hence his bail could not be granted.It also rejected Raju's argument that he was entitled to bail as the CBI had already filed the third charge sheet in the case and that he was suffering from serious health ailments like cardiac problem and hepatitis. The Bench noted that Raju was also getting proper medical treatment.Senior counsel S Andhiarjuna submitted that Raju was languishing in jail since January 2009.The trial court would be required to examine 671 witnesses and peruse 1.60 lakh documents further extending his stay in prison,he said.He also submitted that several other accused including some senior auditors have been enlarged on bail and hence Raju was entitled to the same on the principle of parity.

The Bench rejected the repeated plea of Raju that the CBI should at least be given a notice on Raju's bail application.The apex court said Raju cannot be released until the main witnesses in the case are examined.It said Raju can file an appropriate application for his bail at a later stage when all the main witnesses are examined.PTI
CRUEL PUNISHMENT -SHRC orders Rs 1L compensation to girl

Hyderabad: The AP State Human Rights Commission on Monday directed the West Godavari district collector to sanction an ex gratia of Rs one lakh to Pemmaraju Sree Manasvini,who lost vision partially in her left eye due to alleged corporal punishment of her teacher. The child's mother N Jayalakshmi in her petition to SHRC alleged that Y Sridevi, the teacher at Akshara Public School in Tanuku, thrashed Manasvini in the name of discipline. Manasvini, who lost vision up to 75% in the left eye, is undergoing treatment at L V Prasad Eye Hospital.The commission also directed police to provide protection to the complainant and her family members and ensure the presence of the principal and the correspondent of the school before it on April 30.
Govt decides to make rape law gender neutral

New Delhi: The government has decided to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC),replacing the word rape with sexual assault in the existing law in order to broaden the ambit of crimes covered under sections and make the provisions gender neutral. The home ministry is working on a draft Bill. It will soon be brought in the public domain for detailed discussion over all the provisions relating to sections covering rape, said a senior home ministry official. Making sexual assault gender neutral will imply that relevant sections of IPC can be slapped on accused of any gender who has committed the crime. The provisions can be imposed on sexual crimes inflicted on women,men and children thus broadening the reach, said the official. As per Sec.375 of IPC, penetration is sufficient to constitute sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape but with the proposed replacements coming in,sexual assault will also cover crimes like sodomy, fingering, and other similar offences.
HC dismisses PIL on IAS deputations

Hyderabad: A two judge bench of the AP high court comprising chief justice Mohammed Nissar Kukru and justice P V Sanjay Kumar on Monday closed a public interest writ petition complaining of a Govt.  action in retaining officers of the central cadre in the AP cadre IAS position. Petitioner, Muralikrishna, a practising advocate, listed a few IAS officers like Brahmananda Reddy, MVGK Bhanu and Ratna Prabha in his writ petition. The bench took on record a recent government order which laid down guidelines to ensure against possible abuse of the facility.
HC denies bail to TDP activists

Justice T Swaroop Reddy of the AP high court on Monday rejected the bail application filed by the Telugu Desam supporters who were involved in the beating up of advocates in the city. It may be recalled that advocates demanding a separate Telangana were roughed up by Telugu Desam supporters near Indira Park. The honourable justice directed the petitioner to approach the appropriate court.
Stay on land acquisition

Justice CV Nagarjuna Reddy of the AP high court on Monday stayed further steps in the acquisition of land on the Hyderabad-Vijayawada Highway at Narketpally opposite Kamineni Institute of Medical Sciences.Sattayaiah and 19 other plot owners complained that the authorities,while acquiring land for road widening,did not acquire lands from both sides of the road thereby exempting the medical institute to their decrement. Justice Nagarjuna Reddy made clear that it was open for NHAI to realign the land from the centre of the road and proceed with acquisition accordingly.

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