Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

AFFECTING DEMOCRACY - PM, Sonia fret over judicial backlog

New Delhi: The Congress leadership on Saturday expressed concern over mounting judicial pendency with Prime Minister Manamohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi saying they were robbing the sheen from the democratic system which aims to provide speedy justice to common man. The top Congress duo,while seeking a way out from the halting wheels of justice,said Gram Nyayalayas Act would prove a big step in removing the pendency.The PM urged the states to take immediate steps to operationalise the law.Sonia Gandhi said 2.5 crore cases were pending at various levels across the country. In a telling comment,PM mentioned the concern over judicial backlog while adding that democracy will have little meaning for common man if he could not secure basic rights and easy access to speedy justice. Calling the legal and judicial system as presenting a contradiction,he said the Indian legal system was admired the world over and had lawyers who are the best.However,all these strengths are somewhat diminished by the arrears and backlog of cases at every level of our judicial system, he said.

The PM,who was addressing conference organized by AICCs legal department headed by Abhishek Singhvi,said the consumer of justice was the main stakeholder whose access to speedy justice depended not just on settling of backlog but also on weeding out of outdated laws. He promised to walk the extra mile in steps taken by the Bar and the Bench at oiling the system but said the lead (for judicial reform) has to come from within. While Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was mild in her observations,she added that speedy,effective and affordable justice was a party objective.She said Gram Nyayalaya Act would bring justice at the doorsteps of rural masses.It will add 5000 courts for which Centre will give Rs 1400 crore,she said,adding that they will cut the arrears which stood at 2.5 crore. In the midst of concern over backlog and judicial reform,the collegium system on appointment of judges also provoked comments. Union minister Jaipal Reddy said the collegium system was marked by charges of nepotism and favouritism.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bogus ST Certificate Lands The Official In Trouble

Hyderabad: The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) on Wednesday directed the Union finance secretary and the Hyderabad zone chief commissioner of central excise to withdraw all the benefits extended to a non tribal employee under the Scheduled Tribe (ST) quota. The bench comprising CATs vice chairman justice P Lakshmana Reddy and administration member R Santhanam,while delivering its verdict on a petition filed by a retired administrative officer of central excise,however,set aside the order issued by the authorities dismissing her from service for furnishing a fake ST certificate to secure her job.

The petitioner, B Susheela Devi, claimed the scheduled tribe status and joined the department in 1971 as a lower divisional clerk (LDC) and in the next three decades rose to become an administration officer under the quota.When criminal proceedings were launched against her after it was found out that her Schedule Tribe status was not genuine,Susheela Devi opted to take voluntary retirement in 2004.But when the authorities rejected plea,she approached the A P High Court contending that it was her father who got her registered as belonging to scheduled tribe in school records and that she genuinely believed it.The high court,after taking a written undertaking that neither she nor her children would use the ST status in future,directed the authorities to drop the criminal proceedings against her.

The CAT too issued a similar direction to the authorities and asked the authorities to revert her status to open category (OC) and calculate her growth in accordance with that proposition. Any promotions or incentives or benefits given to her under the ST quota should be taken back and pension fixed accordingly,the bench said and gave six months time to the authorities to implement the order.

Don't dismiss personnel while appeal is pending: CAT

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has advised the Delhi Police against terminating services of personnel who are already convicted for an offence but whose appeals are still pending before higher courts. The Tribunal passed the order while giving relief to a former Delhi Police constable, convicted in 2007 by a lower court but was granted bail by the Delhi High Court in 2009. "Normally, a person who is undergoing imprisonment, will not be entitled to get reinstatement, as the two concepts do not go together. But that does not automatically mean that the Deputy Commissioner or Joint Commissioner were within their rights, to pass orders terminating the services of the applicant on the basis of the conviction, when an appeal was pending before the High Court," the Tribunal said.
'Govt employee has fundamental right to be considered for promotion'

The Supreme Court has ruled that a Government employee has a fundamental right to be considered for promotion and it is mandatory for the Centre and States to carry out cadre review of eligible officers for promotion to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). "The right of eligible employees to be considered for promotion is virtually a part of their fundamental right guaranteed under Article 16(Equality of opportunity in matter of public employment) of the Constitution," a bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and A K Ganguly held in a recent judgement. The apex court passed the judgement while directing the Centre and the UP Government to consider the promotion of two State cadre officers-Hemraj Singh Chauhan and Ramnawal Singh to the IAS. "We hold that the statutory duty which is cast on the State Government and the Central Government to undertake the cadre review exercise every five years is ordinarily mandatory subject to exceptions which may be justified in the facts of a given case," the bench said.
(source- cg employees news)(source-eenaadu)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No illegality in live-in relationship, says SC

A much-publicised statement of south Indian film actress Khusboo on pre-marital sex,virginity and live-in relationships came for some favourable comments from the Supreme Court, which said there was nothing illegal in live-in relationships between adults. When Khusboos counsel Pinky Anand read out a portion of her interview to a fortnightly magazine whose translated version in a Tamil newspaper created pandemonium and led to filing of 23 complaint cases against her all over the country,the court wanted to know from the complainants as to what was so abhorrent in her view. According to an agency report,the court drew on the mythology of Radha and Krishna living together to substantiate its point.
When they argued that it was virtually inducing others to commit an illegality,a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan shot back saying in that case they should also sue the apex court,which has held live-in relationship between adults as legal. Referr-ing to the development of law with the dynamics of social behaviour,the Bench also referred to the recent judgment of Delhi High Court legalising consensual sexual relation between adults falling in the category of lesbian,gay,bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) group.After a day-long hearing,the Bench reserved its verdict on Khusboos appeal.

With the actress sitting in the front row and appearing to be immersed in the interesting arguments and exchange of views,her counsel Anand said her clients comments in 2005 to a news magazine was in response to a survey on premarital sex in big cities in India and was a bonafide opinion. The Madras High Court,reflecting on the hue and cry raised in Tamil Nadu over the controversial comments, had refused to stay the proceedings in trial courts in the 23 complaint cases. Terming the complaints as false,frivolous and malafide,Anand said her clients fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression could not be curtailed by persons with vested interest,who had systematically unleashed a series of complaints against her. Khusboo said her comments to the news magazine were distorted by the local media in Tamil Nadu and published in a manner making it appear provocative and misleading.
The petitioner understands and believes that the issue has been twisted by persons having inimical feelings towards her as a measure to meet their selfish and vested motives, the actress alleged in her petition.
Kicking daughter-in-law no offence - Apex Court Ready To Reconsider Its Ruling With NCW Filing Curative Petition

After stirring a controversy by ruling that a mother-in-law who kicks her daughter-in-law or keeps threatening her with divorce attracts no punishment for engaging in cruelty under Section 498A of Indian Penal Code, the Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider its judgment given last year in a matrimonial dispute case. Immediately after the pronouncement of verdict on July 27, 2009, women's organisations had raised a banner of dissent. The lead was taken by CPM leader Brinda Karat who met law minister Veerappa Moily and urged him to take steps to correct the flaw in the "retrograde"judgment. The National Commission for Women (NCW),through counsel Aparna Bhat,moved a curative petition requesting reconsideration of the judgment in the case between Bhaskar Lal Sharma and his daughter-in-law Monica. Curative petitions normally have a 99% failure rate in the apex court. The NCW said the SC ruling that kicking a daughter-in-law by mother-in-law and constant threat by parents-in-law that they would convince their son to take divorce did not amount to cruelty as defined under 498A of the IPC would defeat the very purpose of the provision to protect women from cruelty and harassment in matrimonial homes.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and justices S H Kapadia,Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph issued notice to both parties -- Sharma and Monica. This means the curative petition will now be heard in open court for the parties to point out the anamoly in the July 27 ruling and suggest corrective measures.The NCW had reflected the views of Karat expressed in her letter to Moily.The CPM leader had said the apex court's decision would only "further deepen the miseries of women and undo the effect of various legislations passed for the emancipation of women". "Such a judicial under-standing of cruelty will be a licence for domestic violence, both mental or physical. It may also encourage wife-beaters. If unchallenged, it will undo the positive steps taken by government and Parliament to provide a just legal framework to address the increasing number of cases of domestic violence and protect the lives and dignity of women within the domestic sphere, "Brinda had said. The NCW said in its petition,"The manner in which 'cruelty' is defined makes it clear that each condition is exclusive to each other. Hence,section 498A is not confined to dowry demand.It includes demand for dowry and resultant harassment caused to women but also includes cruelty in matrimony caused to the women without the demand for dowry." In this case, Monica had filed cases of cruelty and breach of trust against her South-Africa based husband Vikas Sharma, his parents Bhaskar Lal and Vimla. Monica had filed cases under Section 498A and 406 (breach of trust) against the husband and in-laws.
Unruly air passengers will be tried under Indian laws

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is mulling new rules to punish unruly air passengers with a one-year jail term. Legally speaking, three activities, smoking, having alcohol (domestic flights only) and using mobiles are banned in an aircraft. But there is at present no written rule that forbids passengers from harassing or assaulting crew members or other passengers. Similarly, there have been instances where unruly passengers were handed over to the police only to be told later that since their rowdy behaviour happened in foreign airspace,they cannot be tried under Indian laws. DGCA chief Nasim Zaidi is learned to have modelled the rules on the lines of international best practices and recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization.Accordingly, DGCA proposes to amend Aircraft Act 1934 by inserting specific clauses that prohibit passengers from threatening, either verbally or physically or assaulting crew or doing any thing that prevents the crew from discharging their duty.Similarly,the new rule will stipulate that passengers cannot do anything barred by the commander that could affect flight safety. Under the proposed changes, if a passenger on a non-stop New York-Delhi flight tries to outrage the modesty of an air hostess over the Atlantic,he would be handed over to the police here and tried under the new rules.This amendment could help air hostesses as there have been instances where airlines have advised them against filing complaints to avoid getting a "passenger-unfriendly'' image. "Since there is no specific law at present,we are told that filing a complaint will not lead to any real action,so why bother.Passengers try to touch us as they feel buying an airline ticket gives them the right to do so.Some airlines have male cabin crew and we tell them to serve those passengers,but many carriers now fly with an allair hostess team and there even this defence is not available,'' complained a 24-year-old air hostess.

Monday, March 22, 2010


What is plea bargaining?
In simple terms, a plea bargain is a deal which is offered by the prosecutor to the accused in which the accused gets some incentives for pleading guilty. Typically, the incentives are either lesser charges or less than the maximum sentence to the original charge. It is seen as an attempt to reduce the burden on the justice system as a case is solved even before going to trial. Apart from this,supporters also cite its information gathering value about the other accomplice of the accused. Recently, the Pakistani-American terror suspect David Coleman Headley pleaded guilty and agreed to share information about fellow Lashkar terrorist Tahawwur Hussain Rana.In exchange, he will escape the death penalty, which was the maximum sentence in six of the 12 counts of charges against him.

What are the different types of plea bargain?

There are three types of plea bargaining, namely charge bargaining, count bargaining and sentence bargaining. In charge bargaining, the defendant pleads guilty to a less serious crime. For example, a person accused of burglary might be offered to plead guilty of attempted burglary. In count bargaining, the accused gets the punishment for a lesser number of charges. For instance, an accused charged with drunk driving and driving with an illegal license might be offered to plead guilty just for drunk driving. Sentence bargaining is used for relatively fewer incidents only after it is approved by the trial judge. The sentence bargain helps the prosecutor in conviction of those accused with serious charges, while assuring the defendant of an acceptable sentence less severe than the maximum penalty for the crime.

Which countries allow plea bargaining?

Plea bargaining is most commonly used in the US, where it is said to be the most common method of case disposal. Other than the US, it is also used in England, Wales and Australia,where it is permitted to the limited extent of allowing the accused to plead guilty to some charges, in return for which the prosecutor will drop the remaining charges. Plea bargaining was introduced in India by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2005, which amended the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and came into force from January 2006. It applies only to cases in which the maximum punishment is imprisonment for up to seven years. However, offences affecting the socio-economic condition of the country and offences committed against women or children below the age of 14 are excluded.

What are the criticisms against the procedure?

Using plea bargaining to reduce the burden on the judicial system is criticised as a sacrifice of legal principles for administrative considerations. It is argued that plea bargaining is soft on crime as the guilty are not punished properly for the crimes they commit.Others argue that it takes away the right of the accused to a fair trial,the counter to which is that the accused are adults who should be given the option of foregoing the right in return for benefits and that it was not for the state to force the right upon the accused.

What does the prisoners dilemma have to do with plea bargaining?

Prisoners dilemma is a problem in game theory demonstrating why two people might not cooperate even if it is in their best interest. Suppose two people are arrested for a crime and the police are not sure they have sufficient evidence to prove it. The prosecutors offer deals to both of them. If one testifies against the other, the other will get a 10-year sentence, while the one testifying will be set free if the partner remains silent. If one confesses to the crime and testifies against the partner, the confessor gets a 5 year sentence, while the partner gets 10. If both remain silent, a six-month sentence is all that they will serve. It is quite obvious that the third option is in the best interests of both.However, game theory shows that the most rational action for each is to testify against the other. The worst possibility is the case of a guilty and an innocent person arrested for the same offence. Here, game theory suggests that the chances are that the guilty person will confess and testify against the innocent, while the innocent person will remain silent and hence be awarded the maximum sentence.
LEGALLY SPEAKING - Dont we need law to punish politicos for breach of trust

The great Indian political factory has never failed to spring surprises on common man. But giant anacon-da shaped garland made up of Rs.1000 denomination currency notes has surely caught leaders by surprise. They are surprised not by the number of notes in garland, for they have seen similar amounts being donated to their parties by industrialists, but by the ingenuity of the explanation about the source of the money a token of love and affection to the "beloved leader" from Dalits who are poorest of the poor. A vast section of poor still live below poverty line and survive on ration irregularly distributed through a system that stinks of corruption. He could hardly have seen a single note of Rs 1,000 denomination not to talk of possessing and then donating it. Did wisecrack say the common man and his brethren donated these seemingly uncountable number of currency notes to their "beloved" leader. Political leaders getting elevated to the status of demigod is nothing new in India,a practice abhorred by none other than the greatest Dalit leader, B R Ambedkar.But, that is a little later. For, the common man deserves first mention. The common man, since independence, been handing over the keys of governance to politicians thinking these merchants who sell dreams would one day make these a reality for him. Mired in those dreams, he continues to endure hardships which have become intrinsic to his life with unfathomable resilience. How else could one explain his silence when prices of food articles and sugar went up sharply Why did he ignore an important politician's teasing comment,  no one would die if he did not consume sugar.

But the moot question is: Should politicians be allowed to continue selling dreams to gullible common man Politicians have business interests in almost every kind of industrial activity, from slaughter houses to sugar factories, from mining to money lending. The contrast between wealth of the politicians and plight of the common man is starker than day and night. There is not yet a law or a legal machinery which would fasten liability on a politician who reneges on his electioneve promise. Defeat in the next election for non-performance is no punishment. It is just a consequence. Why should politicians who trick the common man to hand over the keys of governance on the promise of bringing them prosperity be not punished for breach of trust. Most politicians do not appear to even know the basic amenities which a state must provide to the common man.  It was crystallised nicely by the Supreme Court in 1983 in the Bandhua Mukti Morcha case [1984 (3) SCC 161]. It had said every citizen was guaranteed under the Constitution to lead a dignified life, which included "protection of the health and strength of workers, men and women, and of the tender age of children against abuse; opportunities and facilities for children to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity; educational facilities; just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief".
Recall communal violence Bill: AIMPLB Claims It Would Lead To Curtailment Of Civic Rights As It Gives Blanket Power To Police, Govt Officials

Lucknow: Calling on its constituents to drum up public support against the draconian piece of law in the making, All India Muslim Personal Law Board has demanded recall of Communal Violence (Prevention and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill 2009. A resolution condemning the Bill which would in effect curb the civic rights of the minorities was unanimously passed at the 21st annual convention of the prime body consisting ulema,scholars and members of civil society. Nothing short of scrapping the Bill will do, board general secretary Abdul Rahim Qureshi announced on Sunday. What is urgently required is a complete redraft in consultation with the representative bodies and secularminded people. The basic objection pertained to an unbridled authority granted to the police and administrative officers under the Bill, Qureshi said. Conferring such power on law-enforcing agencies would only amount to curtailment of the civic rights. It will also result in untold misery to the Muslim community which has always suffered worst during any riot or communal skirmish, he said quoting the resolution. The board, he said, has convened a meeting of its select delegates including its MP/MLA members in Delhi in mid-April to have further discussions on the issue. Later, a memorandum will be sent to the Centre for desired action, he said. The apex body of Muslim outfits also berated the harassment and witch-hunting of Muslim youth in the name of counter-terrorism measures.Number of fake cases implicating this class are growing, said Qureshi. There are umpteen reported instances in our knowledge where young men from minority community were arrested, tortured and put behind the bars though later released by the courts as the charges couldnt be substantiated.This must stop, he said, adding that the same abominable trend being observed globally was also a matter of grave concern.

Significantly, AIMPLB which mulled everything touching the minorities within and beyond the national boundaries, failed to address the concern of 50% of the populace. The long-standing deadlock on the triple talaq has been allowed to persist with body's stout refusal to entertain any debate on it. Similarly, any mention of the womens reservation Bill was also skirted under the plea of jurisdictional lacuna. Qureshi reiterated the AIMPLBs limitations of stepping beyond its mandate which confined it to Shariat and family matters alone and recounted instead inclusion of greater number of women in the boards executive bodies as a gender-friendly act to allay the female fears.

Babri title suit

The 60-year-old Babri title suit could soon be over. The status report on all the cases concerning the mosque, presented before the AIMPLB by its lawyer and senior member Zafaryab Jilani, hinted at the possibility. The high court has already expressed hope that if the arguments are wrapped up by May 2010, the judgment would be delivered within next three months, Jilani stated in the 11-page document.

Muslim panel okays more women representation in its executive body

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has amended its constitution to increase the representation of women in its highest decision making body. The move would increase the number of women in AIMPLBs executive council to five. Earlier, Begum Naseem Iqtedar Ali, a founder AIMPLB member, was the only woman in the bodys executive council. Rukhsana Lari and Safia Nasim from Lucknow, Noorjehan Shakil from Kolkata and Hyderabad-based Asma Zohra were nominated to the board at its general body meeting on Saturday. The move is seen as the 37-year-old AIMPLBs attempt to counter the rising popularity of the bodies like All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board and Akhil Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, which have defied AIMPLB for its male-centric approach. The separate law board for the Muslim women was set up in February 2005. An increase in the strength of women in the body would make the body more gender sensitive, said a source. The lone female voice so far was hardly heard. But the increase in the number of women would change the scenario. The boards constitution was also amended to increase the strength of its executive committee from 41 to 51 during the boards three-day 21st national convention. The board president would nominate 10 new members, while the 40 others in the executive committee will be elected.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

UNCERTAINTY ENDS FOR 1562 COURTS-Fast track courts get one more year

The uncertainty hanging over the functioning of 1,562 fast track courts (FTCs) across the country ended on Friday with the Centre informing the Supreme Court that it has sanctioned Rs 75 crore to keep them alive till next year. The anxiety was palpable as there had been no news from the Centre about the fate of the FTCs, which otherwise would have ended on March 31. However, solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam gave a good certificate to these courts and promised all support to them while lauding their role in fighting the monstrous pendency slowing down the wheels of the justice delivery system.
"I have got reports from all the high courts about the functioning of the fast track courts in all states. The FTCs have liquidated a large pendency and fulfilled the purpose for which they were set up,"the SG told a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and justices Deepak Verma and C K Prasad. But, amicus curiae and senior advocate P S Narasimha was a little sceptical about the tentative decisions being taken on the fate of the FTCs and wanted to know from the court and the SG whether a detailed target-oriented plan could be framed. The SG said he would prepare a detailed chart identifying the states that needed special attention and submit it for appropriate directions from SC. Gujarat counsel Hemantika Wahi raised a point of vital importanace. She said that her state wanted the concept of FTC to take root at the magisterial level, where the pendency was maximum. The Bench accepted the point saying the situation is more or less similar in all the states.
Firms cant sack disabled staff: HC

Bombay high court has directed Shipping Corporation of India to reinstate an employee who developed schizophrenia four years after he joined the PSU in 1993 as a trainee nautical officer. Concerned about the apathy shown to the employee,Edward D'Cunha,who was made to run from pillar to post and "suffer an ordeal for about six years'' even before the government-appointed commissioner for persons with disabilities passed an order against him in 2006,the HC bench of justices Ranjana Desai and Amjad Sayed held the SCI guilty of discrimination and for coercing the employee to resign. At a time when at least 8.4% rural and 6% urban households have one disabled member,the judgment penned by justice Sayed called for better and stricter enforcement of the law meant to protect the rights of persons with disabilities and to prevent their "deepening social marginalisation.'' Directing SCI to give D'Cunha a "light on-shore job with same salary'',the judgment quoted Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore who said,"The problem is not how to wipe out the differences but how to unite with the differences intact.''

The judges also censured SCI by observing,"At a time when the government is coming out with several schemes,we'd expect SCI which was conferred navratna status to lead by example and act reasonably and fairly.'' "D'Cunhas is a case that may be among the many that die down without a fight,'' said his lawyer Pradeep Havnur. And the judges too noted that "despite the misery faced by him,the petitioner pursued his grievances throughout.It eventually led to his victory,''said Havnur. The Mumbai resident was a second mate,when in 1997 he had to sign off a SCI vessel as he fell sick.He went through such bouts of mental illness and had to sign on and off several ships till 2000 when a captain coerced him to resign by promising him an onshore job.Unaware of his rights under the Persons with Disabilities Act,he resigned only to be told glibly by SCI that it had "no policy to offer shore cadre posting''. That's when his long fight for justice began.He filed a complaint alleging discrimination with the Disabilities Commissioner based in Pune and attached a letter by renowned psychiatrist Dr Y A Matcheswalla in April 2002 certifying that he was fit for shore duties.


The UP government has sacked over 145 government lawyers. This is seen as UP CM Mayawati's move to go back to the Dalit agenda. Most of the lawyers who have been removed are close to BSP National Secretary SC Mishra, who is the BSP's Brahmin face, and had brought in a sizeable number of his supporters to the BSP fold before the state election. The move to sack his supporters has been taken, hardly a week after Mishra was appointed head of the BSP legal cell. Analysts say its a move by Mayawati to trim the clout of upper castes in BSP, which draws most of its support from Dalits.
I-T dept to probe funds received by BSP

New Delhi: Widening its probe, the income tax department which is looking into the source of money used in a garland presented to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati, will also investigate funds and donations received by the Bahujan Samaj Party in the last few months. Sources said the probe into the funds would provide them with necessary information on the income of the party which like other political parties is exempted from paying taxes under Section 13A of the Income Tax Act. Political parties file their Income Tax returns by September every year the sources said adding the department will check if the donations and other modes of funding are recorded in the account books maintained by the BSP. The probe has been launched in both incidents where Mayawati was presented garlands made of currency notes, a source said. If the donations are unaccounted that makes a fit case of tax evasion, a source said. The previously audited account records of the party will also be checked. According to sources, the tax department has also sourced the video grabs and photographs of the garland that was presented to Mayawati on March 16 at a Bahujan Samaj Party rally in Lucknow to celebrate the partys anniversary.PTI
Integrity of gallantry awards in jeopardy: HC

Hyderabad: Stating that the Union home ministry should thoroughly scan the recommendations made by state governments for awarding gallantry medals to police officials,the AP High Court on Friday asked the central government to reexamine and decide if it was right to award gallantry medals to three IPS officials,A Sivasankar,Sriram Tiwari and Nalin Prabhat.The three officers were awarded for their alleged bravery displayed in an encounter with the Maoists a few years ago. The division bench comprising Justice Goda Raghuram and Justice G V Sitapathy, while disposing of a petition filed by K N Rao, a HC advocate who sought action against the three alleging that they never participated in the said encounter, found fault with the state government for concluding the enquiry against these officials midway. The bench, however, did not pass any order on this issue as the petitioner did not challenge the dropping of the action against these officials in November 2007. The bench held that the Centre did not verify the claims of these officials nor did it examine the recommendations of the state for awarding the prestigious medals. The Centres stand that it merely went by the recommendation of the state was not accepted by the bench. The Centres behaviour in this regard has put the prestige and integrity of the medals in jeopardy. The obligation to ensure that the prestige of the medals is protected rests with the Centre and cannot be delegated to the state, the bench said.Such delegation is nothing but the abdication of responsibility and outsourcing of responsibilities, it said.
Three education bills get the green signal

After the recess, Parliament will be inundated with legislations from HRD ministry with Union Cabinet clearing three bills on Friday. To add to it, there is a pending amendment to the Right to Education Act. While the Foreign Education Providers Bill was cleared last week,Cabinet okayed Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, Educational Tribunal Bill, and National Accreditation Regulatory Authority Bill,2010.All four bills are likely to be referred to Parliaments standing committee after introduction.Unfair practices bill makes charging of capitation fee by any institution a cognisable offence, allowing the police to arrest erring administrators without a warrant,and the guilty would face imprisonment of three years or a fine of Rs 50 lakh. Capitation fee charged by any institute will be a cognisable offence. People will be prosecuted without fear and favour, HRD minister Kapil Sibal said. Charging of any fee other than those disclosed in prospectus of  institute will be considered a cognisable offence. The bill classifies malpractices into two categories. While capitation fee will be cognisable offence,others will be treated as non-cognisable and just attract fine.Civil offences will be adjudicated in the proposed educational tribunals,while the cognisable offences will be dealt by courts.
Death penalty for hijackers

In an attempt to tighten anti-hijacking laws in the country, Union Cabinet on Friday approved death sentence for hijackers in keeping with the recommendations made by the civil aviation ministry. The Union Cabinet today approved a proposal of the civil aviation ministry to amend the Anti-Hijacking Act of 1982, I&B minister Ambika Soni said after the Cabinet meeting. The UPA had earlier constituted a group of ministers (GoM) to look into the proposals which called for complete no-negotiation policy with hijackers. After the UPA came back to power last year, a new GoM, headed by home minister P Chidambaram, was constituted to further look into the proposals. The GoM also included law minister M Veerappa Moily, HRD minister Kapil Sibal and civil aviation minister Praful Patel. Sections 3 and 4 of the Act, which deal with the definition of hijack and punishment for hijacking, are proposed to be amended to include death penalty. Currently, the law provides for life imprisonment and a fine as punishment. The GoM earlier examined the proposals to amend the existing law to include these aspects as well as the conspiracy to hijack an aircraft. The amended law will allow the Indian Air Force, when ordered by a competent authority, to intercept a hijacked aircraft and force it to land. A hostile plane can also be shot on evidence that it could be used as a missile to hit a vital installation. The amendment also calls for immobilising a hijacked aircraft on Indian soil if it has not taken off already. A new clause will also be inserted for punishment to those who launch a conspiracy to hijack an aircraft.

Proposed Changes

Aircraft can be shot down if hijack is established and that hijackers intend to use it like a missile as in 9/11 attacks Aircraft can be immobilized and disallowed from taking off if hijack occurs on Indian soil No negotiation with hijackers on demands IAF fighters to be scrambled if hijacked plane remains in Indian airspace

Friday, March 19, 2010

Discharged for being HIV+, airman reinstated after 10 yrs

March 16 : Over 10 years after an Air Force NCO was invalided out of service after being wrongly diagnosed as an AIDS patient, the Armed Forces Tribunal has ordered that he be reinstated in the service with all consequential service and medical benefits, including full back wages along with 12 per cent interest. The petitioner, then holding the rank of corporal, was invalided out in December, 1999, after the medical authorities assessed him to be HIV-positive along with having pulmonary tuberculosis, thereby falling in the definition of AIDS. “It appears that the medical board has gone wrong in considering that the petitioner was HIV with pulmonary tuberculosis and they have wrongly boarded out the petitioner. Since the petitioner was not found to be suffering from TB, it appears that his discharge was wrongly advised by the medical board,” the tribunal observed after considering the opinion of a radiologist summoned by it. In April, 1994, the petitioner was admitted to the Command Hospital, Bangalore, because of swelling on the neck. He was referred to the Command Hospital, Pune, where he was confirmed as HIV-positive. In August, he was called for medical review and was found fit. With annual medical reviews advised, he was given two promotions till 1997. During medical review in October, 1999, Command Hospital admitted him to cardio-tuberculosis centre for chest evaluation, where he was suspected to have TB. Medical authorities recorded that it was a case of HIV infection with pulmonary tuberculosis and he fulfilled the AISD defining criteria. Stating that he was, therefore, unfit for retention in the service, the medical authorities placed him in category “E” and recommended his discharge. Subsequently, he put in a request for special medical investigation and on the basis of the reports, contended that he was not infected with TB. His discharge orders were not changed. His claim for pension was also refused. He moved the Delhi High Court, which directed the pension authorities to consider his case. The appellate committee dismissed the appeal holding that his disability was neither attributable to nor aggravated by the Air Force service. Thereafter, he filed afresh petition claiming that his diagnosis had been incorrect and merely having HIV with TB does not mean having AIDS. He contended that he did not fall in the definition of AIDS as defined by the WHO.

Lawyer, 3 others held for CJ threat letter

Hyderabad: The Charminar police late on Wednesday night picked up an advocate and three others for writing a letter to Andhra Pradesh HC Chief Justice Nisar Ahmed Kakru, threatening to physically harm him if he tried to block the agitation by lawyers fighting for the cause of a separate state. Justice Kakru fresh from Jammu & Kashmir HC had expressed displeasure over the boycott and disrution of court proceedings by lawyers seeking Telangana. Highly placed sources identified the advocate as B Jagan Mohan Naidu, a notary practising at the Ranga Reddy (RR) district courts in Kothapet.Of the remaining three persons detained,Sudhakar and Vishwanath are two brothers working as typists operating from a mobile van at the RR courts while the third is yet to be identified. Incidentally, Naidu did not try to disguise his letter he signed it off with his name. But now he has claimed before the police that although the signatures were his,he had no knowledge about the contents.The threat letter was received by the CJs office last weekend and police sources indicated that the four picked up would be charged on Friday. The High Court is located in the jurisdiction of the Charminar police station.Advocates at the RR courts told TOI that Jagan Mohan was active in organising Telangana protests.Sources said that Naidu told the sleuths of the commissioners task force who had picked him up that he was innocent.I had signed and given some blank stamp papers to typists who work outside the RR court.I did not write the letter, he claimed.

His wife Vijaya Kumari, who works as a stenographer with a judge at the City Civil court, also said that he was innocent and that he had never resorted to such type of acts till date. Jagan Mohan is a resident of RK Residency in Saleem Nagar Colony Malakpet.
Threat letter to chief justice condemned

Hyderabad: Bar Council of India member and convener of Telangana Lawyers Joint Action Committee M Rajender Reddy condemned the threat to the AP High Court Chief Justice and said that no Telangana lawyer would do such a thing because there is no culture of violence in the region. P Sreenath, bar association president of Ranga Reddy courts, said that father of typists Sudhakar and Vishwanath, who were detained by police, had sought help from him for his sons, implying that they had been picked up in connection with the threat letter. The detention took place after the CJs secretariat lodged a formal complaint with the city police on Wednesday.Following that,the Charminar police registered a case under (whoever sells or offers for sale any printed or engraved substance containing defamatory matter). It is learnt that the police would send the suspect advocate to remand in a day or two.
Nizam kin files case against OU vice chancellor

Himayath Ali Mirza, son of Fatima Fouzia and great grandson of the last Nizam, Osman Ali Khan, on Wednesday, filed a criminal case against the vice-chancellor of Osmania University (OU), T Tirupati Rao, under Section 156(3) of Criminal Procedure Code (which allows police officers to investigate cognizable offences committed beyond their local jurisdiction). The complaint, filed in the court of the principal special judge, accuses Rao of granting permission to MJ College of Engg. and Technology to function illegally, for 30 years, without any land documents a per-requisite as per All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) norms. The complaint alleges that Rao deliberately ignored the recomm-endations of a committee, formed to look into the M J College case,which submitted that permanent affiliation to the college should not be renewed.The vice-chancellor ignored this report and even removed these committee members to appoint new people who passed a decision in favour of the college, Himayath Mirza alleges in the complaint.

Apart from Rao,the complaint also names members of the Sultan ul-Uloom Education Society (SUES), that runs the college,for allegedly bribing OU officials to illegally grant them affiliation. The court, on Thursday,referred the matter to the special police establishment and Anti-Corruption Bureau, for further action.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

1995 Dabwali fire: SC tells DAV to pay Rs 10 cr interim relief to victims kin

New Delhi: Families of 446 persons, including 230 children, who were charred to death at a school function in Dabwali, Haryana, can expect some interim compensation after 15 long years as the Supreme Court on Monday directed DAV School Society to pay up first tranche of Rs 10 crore. Not appreciating the attempt by DAV School to further delay paying the compensation amount fixed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court by moving an appeal against it in the apex court, a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan asked the school management to deposit Rs 10 crore within six weeks. It also asked the interim compensation amount so deposited with the additional civil judge (senior division ) at Sirsa to be proportionately distributed among victims after proper verification.The Bench clarified that this was an interim amount that was needed to be deposited by the school and that it would be subject to the final outcome of the appeal filed against the HC order.

The school management had challenged a November 9, 2009 decision of the HC, which fastened the liability of the school finding it amiss in its duty to ensure safety of the children and their parents at the schools annual function at a banquet hall in Dabwali on December 23,1995. The fire caused by an electric short circuit soon turned the entire polythene and plastic sheet enclosed tented area into a furnace,leaving all escape routes blocked. If 446 people could not escape the fire, 200 escaped to tell the story of horror. The HC had appointed a one-man commission to inquire into the incident and work out a compensation package. Based on its report, the HC had directed the school management to shoulder 55% of the total compensation package of Rs 47 crore along with 6% interest. The state authorities Electricity Board, Municipal Committee and Deputy Commissioner had accepted their liability to pay up the remaining 45% of the compensation amount.

Critical of the school for not paying up till date and instead blaming the banquet hall owner, the Bench said, You must ensure that the place where you conduct such functions is safe. Do not say you have no liability. If the schools counsel senior advocate L N Rao argued that his client could not be burdened with such a huge compensation, lawyer Anju Arora, appearing for the victims association, said the school encashed on the sympathy following the incident and utilised the funds collected.

Wait Over

Short circuit in schools banquet hall killed 446 people on Dec 23,1995 HC directed school to shoulder 55% of total compensation package of Rs 47 cr School challenged the HCs order and appeals in SC Interim amount would be subject to outcome of appeal filed against the HC order
Woman in stray dog mishap gets Rs 1.5L compensation

Chennai: A woman,who was injured when a stray dog jumped in front of a two-wheeler she was riding pillion with her husband,is set to get compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh from the insurance company.Passing an order to this effect on Friday, the motor accidents claims tribunal here said a compensation of Rs 1,49,500 should be paid to S Lalitha, 31, who met with the accident in 2004. Her husband N Sriraman was riding his friend H Sundararamans bike when the stray dog jumped in front of the bike near Sathya Studio on October 24,2004. Sriraman lost balance and fell. As a result, Lalitha suffered grade-II fracture in the right leg besides severe injuries all over the body. Lalitha, who was a tailor earning over Rs 4,000 per month, had lost her income. She was unable to stand, squat or walk fast. She was also unable to fold her leg, the tribunal was told. Her counsel VS Suresh sought a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the pain and mental agony, besides the loss of income.

The New India Assurance Company Limited filed a counter raising doubts about the age, income, place and date of the accident and the nature of injuries of the victim. The compensation claim was excessive, it argued.

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.

Gram Nyayalayas

17:40 IST-Rajya Sabha

As per the provisions of Section 3 of the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008, it is for the State Governments to establish Gram Nyayalayas in consultation with the respective High Courts. Since the coming into force of the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008, the States of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Rajasthan have notified 95 Gram Nyayalayas, out of which 47 have started functioning.

The Central Government has requested the State Governments to set up more Gram Nyayalayas in consultation with their respective High Courts. As the Gram Nyayalays are to be established for every Panchayat at Intermediate level, it is estimated that nearly five thousand Gram Nyayalayas would be ultimately set up, the locations of which are to be decided by the respective State Governments.

This information was given by Dr.M.Veerappa Moily, Minister of Law and Justice in the Lok Sabha in a written reply.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Courts need 320 years to clear backlog cases

Hyderabad: It will take Indian judiciary 320 years to clear the backlog of cases.That staggering admission came on Saturday from someone who very well knows the way courts work - Justice V V S Rao of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. Thats the time itll take to clear 31.28 million cases pending in various courts,including high courts,he reckoned.If one considers the total pendency of cases in the Indian judicial system,every judge in the country will have an average load of about 2,147 cases, justice Rao said in a speech at the AP Administrative Tribunal. India has 14,576 judges as against the sanctioned strength of 17,641 including 630 high court judges.This works out to a ratio of 10.5 judges per million population,Rao said.The Supreme Court in 2002 had suggested 50 judges per million population,he added.If the norm of 50 judicial officers per million becomes a reality by 2030 when the countrys population would be 1.5 to 1.7 billion,the number of judges would go up to 1.25 lakh dealing with 300 million cases.

A recent study indicated that the number of new cases has direct relationship with increasing literacy rate and awareness,the judge said.Citing the example of Kerala,a high literacy state,Rao said with awareness,28 new cases per 1,000 population per annum have been added,whereas in Bihar,which has a relatively low literacy rate,the figure stands at just three,he said. Justice Rao summed up the Indian situation by quoting a para from the journal of International Law and Politics which said: The typical life span of a civil litigation in India presents a sad picture.Records of new filings are kept by hand and documents filed in court house are frequently misplaced or lost among other papers.Lawyers crowd the court room and wait for their cases to be called.Even when called the judicial attention is frequently deferred by innumerable adjournments. It also said: There is a little likelihood that the judge (who hears a case) will be the same one to issue a decision because the judges are transferred more quickly than the legal dispositions are made.Judges are so under paid and over worked that they often adjourn and delay the preparation of a case.