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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Modicum Of Justice - Top cop gets 18-month jail term in Ruchika case

The wheels of justice might move slowly,but it does deliver. The Chandigarh district court sent former Haryana DGP SPS Rathore to jail for 18 months, up from the 6 month sentence handed by a special court in end-2009, for molesting teenager Ruchika Girhotra 20 years ago. Ruchika subsequently committed suicide. The sentencing of Rathore would probably have never happened if media had not highlighted the case. Just as with the Jessica Lall, Nitish Katara and Priyadarshini Mattoo cases, the media played a critical role in building up pressure to bring Rathore to book. What was common to all these cases was the way in which rich and powerful people tried their best to subvert justice. In the present instance, evidence was brought to light on the brazen manner in which Rathore used his position and clout to harass the victim and her family. It was only after several media reports and a public outcry that fresh FIRs were lodged, documenting how Ruchikas brother and father were intimidated so as to withdraw the molestation charge against Rathore.As a result, Rathore now faces additional charges of abetment to suicide,attempt to murder and illegal detention.

The Ruchika case should be used to have a relook at our laws on sexual harassment, molestation and rape. A new sexual offence Bill, which is on the anvil, has kept the punishment for sexual assault or outraging the modesty of a woman in Indian legal parlance at a maximum of two years in prison while the maximum prison term for sexual insults or eve-teasing has been increased to seven years. This is an anomaly that needs to be addressed. The Indian Penal Code also has no provisions for child victims of sexual molestation. While there are special provisions for child victims of rape, there are none for victims of sexual abuse. The Law Commission had recommended in 2000 a provision recognising and punishing child abuse with imprisonment up to seven years, something that needs to be urgently considered. But ultimately, its not just laws but how they are implemented that is really important. While the media and public pressure played a crucial role in forcing a fresh investigation of the Ruchika case, that cannot be a substitute for a tardy investigating and judicial process. Indeed, this could be only a short-term remedy to making government agencies more responsive and could lead to charges of trial by media. If such situations are to be avoided, the police and courts have to get their act together and deliver justice efficiently and without fear or bias.
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(source-toi editorial)

Relief for policy holders, LIC rule quashed

Mumbai: In a relief for thousands of persons who pledge their insurance policies to raise loans, the Bombay High Court quashed a three-year-old rule by the countrys biggest insurance provider, Life Insurance Corporation, to charge a fee for assigning insurance policies to financial companies. The service charge/fee is not authorised by law, said a division bench of Justice FI Rebello and Justice JH Bhatia, while ruling that LICs demand for a fee violated the fundamental right of financial companies who advance loans on insurance policies to carry on trade and business. The circular levying a fee of  Rs 250 if a policy holder assigns his insurance policy in favour of financial organisations also infringed on the Constitutional right of petitioner Dravya Finance Pvt Ltds by depriving it of its property without the authority of law, the high court held.As per rules, a policy holder can transfer his interest in the life insurance policy to another person or institution as a security for a house loan or just emergency cash. These institutions reap windfall gains in the form of tax-exempted returns, according to LIC. Trading in life insurance policies, where a company purchases insurance policies from policy holders and then sells it to banks and financial institutions,is a lucrative business worldwide.

Earlier in 2003, LIC tried to rein in the practice by banning trading in insurance policies. The HC in 2007, however, set aside the rule and held that insurance policies are movable property that can be traded and assigned freely. According to Dravyas lawyers, rule was intended to make the assignments of life insurance policies in favour of finance organisations so onerous that it restricts and prohibits the practice. LIC contended that it was right to charge the fees for administrative purposes. The insurance company pointed to 2005-06 figures showing that in the Western Zone alone, it had received over 77000 applications to transfer assignment of insurance policies. They said that the assignment of policies involved tremendous manpower and high cost of administration, which justified the nominal service fee of Rs 250 per assignment.
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CBI arrests CMD of coal firm for graft

New Delhi: In a major embarassment for Coal India Limited,CMD of South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) in Bilaspur has been arrested by the CBI for seeking Rs 1 crore from a private firm. CMD MP Dixits four bank lockers in Delhi yielded Rs 1.55 crore. It has been alleged that the CMD demanded and agreed to accept an amount of Rs 1 crore from the officials of one of the companies (Bilaspur based) which agreed to pay this amount to a person nominated by the CMD. The agency said that this amount was to be paid as a reward for showing favour to the private company in its matters pending with SECL. CMD of SECL has asked managing director of another private company having official dealings with SECL, to detail one of his employee based in Delhi, to collect the money in Delhi on his behalf. CMD also gave a pseudo name to the said employee. In the follow-up of this conspiracy,an amount of Rs 80 lakh exchanged hands, a CBI official said. The managing directors of two private firms have been arrested. They were identified as Sanjay Singh and Surojit Samanta.
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(source-toi)

Arundhati punishment black spot in judicial history: Judge

NEW DELHI: AFTER taking on the Chief Justice of India and Supreme Court collegium for “blissfully remaining insensitive to public opinion/reaction”, Karnataka High Court Judge DV Shylendra Kumar has opened up once again, this time blasting the higher judiciary for refusing to be accountable to anyone and also for “phenomenon of tyrannical and abusive exercise of power for punishing people for contempt”.
Delivering endowment lecture at SDM Law College, Mangalore on Saturday, Kumar said punishment awarded to author Arundhati Roy for contempt of court "will remain as a black spot in the judicial history of this country forever". "I am of the personal opinion that the day when Supreme Court punished Ms Arundhati Roy for contempt and sentenced her to undergo a day's imprisonment and sent her to Tihar Jail in the case, was the darkest day in the history of the Indian judiciary. I, as a judge, through this expression, offer my personal regret and apology to Ms Arundhati Roy for judicial tyranny let loose on her by the most improper use of power to punish a person for committing contempt of court," he said. In his address, Kumar also said he was of opinion that power to punish people who commitcontempt of court proceedings and orders was a"very drastic power without even reasonable safeguards, but more disturbingly without adequate remedial measures at all".
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(source-MSN News)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crash draws attention to dismissed PILs on air safety

The Mangalore air crash has exposed more than just laxity in civil aviation.It calls for a serious rethink on the part of the judiciary about its growing aversion to public interest litigation (PIL). This is because of the cavalier manner in which the Karnataka high court and Supreme Court appear to have dismissed two PIL petitions that had meticulously brought out safety violations in the very location of the ill-fated tabletop airport. Environment Support Group (ESG), a local NGO, filed the first PIL way back in 1997 when the second runway abutting the gorge into which the plane fell was still in the planning stage.(FULL TEXT OF WP).  Rather than giving it the attention that could have saved the 158 lives that perished in last weeks crash, the high court accepted the contention of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) that the petitioners were merely busy bodies and meddlesome interlopers who have no interest in the promulgation of the project and asserted that they were not canvassing any public interest. In its 1998 verdict, HC bench comprising Justices Y Bhaskar Rao and AM Farooq were content to go by the false assurances given by AAI claiming that the fear of petitioners that the runway is insufficient for any emergency landing of a plane is without any basis since before project is to proceed, the authorities will be meeting recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. (VIEW JUDGEMENT)
Glossing over PILs central concern that the site gave little scope for compliance with ICAO regulations, HC asserted, We are sure that the respondent will be taking all necessary measures, before proceeding with the project in question. It added that PIL was premature as the petitioners had rushed to this court before the commencement of the project itself.

Since the subsequent construction failed to comply with the prescribed safety norms, ESG filed its second PIL in 2002.(FULL TEXTT HERE). This too was promptly dismissed by HC, which said, No doubt in an appropriate case, this court can issue directions, if there is gross violation of fundamental rights or if the issue touches the conscience of this court.

Brushing aside the fears of the petitioners, HC certified rather gratuitously that the second runway was in the interest of the public. When ESG appealed against this HC order in 2003, the apex court too bought into the safety claims made by authorities.In its five-line order, a bench comprising Justices SN Variava and BN Agarwal held, We see no reason to interfere with the impugned order. (VIEW SC JUDGEMENT).

Though the very nature of the site ruled out the possibility of compliance with norms, SC washed its hands of the matter saying that the government should observe all the applicable rules. The dismissal of the petitions related to the Mangalore airport is part of the larger pattern of the PIL concept, which was devised by SC judges in 70s and 80s as an innovation that won accolades around the world, coming increasingly under attack,partly because of its misuse,from the 90s onwards. One of the first policy statements of the new Chief Justice of India, S H Kapadia, was to make it even harder for PIL petitions to be entertained.
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(SOURCE-TOI, WPs/JUDGEMENTS-AN NGO, ESG ENVIRONMENT SUPPORTGROUP)
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AMERICAN CENTER ATTACK -Apex court stays death sentence of Aftab Ansari

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the death sentence of Aftab Alam Ansari, the mastermind of the terrorist attack on American Center in Kolkata on January 22, 2002, that left six policemen dead. A vacation bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and CK Prasad admitted the statutory appeal filed by Ansari, who challenged his conviction as well as sentence. The SC asked the West Bengal government to file its response to the petition within 16 weeks. Ansari was deported to India from Dubai in February 2002 after police identified him as the man who planned the indiscriminate spraying of bullets by motorcycle-borne assailants on American Center. The Calcutta HC, in its Feb 5, 2010 verdict, upheld death sentence for Ansari and Mohd Jamiluddin Nasir, but acquitted Adil Hasan and Rehan Alam, both of whom were given capital punishment by the trial court. The trial court on April 27, 2005 had awarded death sentence to Hasrat Alam, Musharat Hossain and Shakil Ahmed. The three were given life term by the HC.
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(source-toi)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Now, legal clinics to the rescue of ignorant villagers - Will Be Situated Near PHCs, Lawyer To Help Solve Disputes

For long, villagers have been at the wrong ends of justice being unaware of the functioning of courts and also sent on a merry-go-round while trying to procure a document be it a ration card, birth or caste certificate from panchayat or block offices. No more, for the National Legal Services Authority is forging ahead with its plan to set up legal aid clinics (LACs) of permanent nature at the taluk level whose function would be akin to that of primary health centres (PHCs) and will meet the basic legal requirements of villagers. In fact, these LACs, to be manned for 12 hours a day from 8 in the morning to 8 in the evening by a trained lawyer deputed by the district legal service authority concerned, will function in close proximity to the PHCs. Panchayats and block offices have been requested to give some office space to the LACs to enable villagers to seek unhindered guidance from the deputed lawyer to help solve their disputes and other requirements like writing an application for a ration card, Antyodaya Anna Yojana card (BPL card) etc, says NALSA member-secretary U Sarath Chandra. At present there is one PHC covering about 30,000 (20,000 in hilly, desert and difficult terrains) or more population. Many rural dispensaries have been upgraded to create these PHCs. Each PHC has one medical officer, two health assistants (one male and one female ), and health workers and supporting staff. Chandra says the basic motto of NALSA, as defined by its executive chairman and Supreme Court judge Altamas Kabir, is to deliver justice at the rural folks doorstep and these LACs would help make people confident about seeking from the authorities what is their due.

The basic purpose of the LACs would be to encourage villagers to settle their inter-personal disputes amicably and not to litigate,he says. As the rural folk have a a lot of inhibition to get in touch with babus in panchayat and block offices, the lawyer manning the LAC would help them write applications and suggest ways to get the required documents from these offices. And the free legal advise would be available to one and all. In the urban areas, the free legal aid under the NALSA and State Legal Aid Authority is limited to the poor. We presume that most of the villagers are poor or handicapped by distance to get proper legal advice. So LACs have been advised to cater to all segments, Chandra says. But, finances have been a real difficulty in making LACs operational on a daily basis, says Chandra. So, to start with, the lawyer deputed to hold LAC would go to the taluka office once a week. Gradually the frequency would be increased, he adds.
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Whats Gotra Got To Do With It - If modern leaders back medieval traditions, India will regress rather than progress (Chetan Bhagat)

I dont know my own gotra. I didnt even know what gotra meant until recently. Many people still dont, but calling it a subcaste is a good proxy definition. I dont know why it was invented, or why it is still relevant. As if it wasnt good enough to divide people on caste, we needed one more level of sub-caste slicing to ensure as many Indians hate each other as possible. However, this time it isn't being from different gotras that is a problem, it is being from the same one. Unlike inter-caste marriages that are considered problematic, the problem lies in intra-gotra marriages. These, according to some, will completely tarnish a familys reputation and pose health risks to kids of the wedded couple, due to genetic similarities. People from the same gotra arent blood related, but marriage between them is not encouraged (read: death sentences are passed).

Leading the no-same-gotralove T-shirt brigade are the khap panchayats. The khap system is thousands of years old, and our erstwhile British rulers lived with it and probably encouraged it,to avoid the judicial system being flooded with petty disputes and enabling these to be solved at the local level. The British left 63 years ago, but khaps have survived, aided by the patronage of local political parties which in turn find them nice little rural vote banks. The khap justice system is neither as rigorous as nor always consistent with the Indian legal system. Nor has it been reformed.However, given political patronage, khaps still thrive in parts of north India. One of the most controversial khap diktats is the no-same-gotra-marriage, something the youth in rural areas find quite baffling. Desperate for reform, the youth had hoped a young leader like their MP Naveen Jindal would come and change draconian rules. But he backed the khaps demand to turn no-same-gotra-marriage into a law. While shocking and disappointing to many, one can see his motivation in backing regressive ideas. It is always easier to tap into traditions and win support. It is much harder to be progressive, change thinking and still take people along.

Fears of genetic similarities leading to offspring risks do not hold. Apparently, there are historical roots between same gotra people and hence there could be genetic similarities. Those roots may be 10 generations old, and anyone with basic knowledge of genetics and mathematics will tell you that in 10 gener- ations, less than 0.1 per cent of DNA may be sibling-like between two offspring of the same roots. Legality is also a non-issue. Many communities have marriages between cousins, without any legal issues. While chances of the nosame-gotra diktat becoming a law are extremely remote, outright support of medieval traditions by modern era leaders make one shudder about which direction politicians are taking our country. Jindal had earlier fought in court for every citizens freedom to hoist the Indian flag. When a crusader for individual freedom backs a proposal preventing two human beings to be in love and make a future together, one wonders what our politicians will do to get a few extra votes. Did he make a calculation Did the number of older people versus younger people (those who actually vote) go in favour of the older people Is that the only criterion for making political decisions Or is it about doing the right thing and leading the country to progress. We live in rare times where conflict between the thought of the old and new generations is at its peak. We have Indian women leading global corporations. We also have Indian parents who dont want their daughters to study further. I was in Gora-khpur last week, where a young girl in a semi-rural area confessed to me that her father didnt want her to go to college unless it was within a five-kilometre radius of the house. There was no consideration for what the girl wanted to become in life.This is just one example.

From khap rules to individual rules,India-old and India-new battle everyday. India-old is powerful- khaps wield power. However, India-new has better ideas for progress.India-old has dominated thought for the last six decades and, to put it bluntly, not achieved much. We are, despite all our missile and satellite launches, one of the poorest nations on earth. Our biggest cities dont have basics like good water and power. With such a poor report card,it is suprising India-old still makes and imposes rules. The only reason it can do so is difference in power. This is where politicians come in. Politicians have power which they can lend to India-new and back them all the way. They can take a stand, embrace progress, back individual freedom, uphold modern laws and focus on real rural issues (corruption in NREGA, for instance). This will lead to a more prosperous country and a better life for all Indians. Jindal had a chance to do that, to play a part in history, be the role model for rural Haryanas youth. However, he blew it, with his short-sightedness to remain in power. What use is power when it isnt used to help others.  Meantime, pass whatever diktats and make whatever laws none of them can take on Mother Nature, and prevent two people from falling in love. Try as much as you can. Meanwhile, I still dont know my gotra. And I hope I never find out. (The writer is a best-selling novelist.)
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(source-toi)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Afzal case: Delhi govt gets another reminder

In another "routine" reminder to Delhi government over the Parliament House attack convict Afzal Guru mercy petition case, the Centre has asked it to send its "opinion" to the Union home ministry so that the matter can be processed before being finally sent to the President for consideration. A senior home ministry official said: "A letter to this effect was sent to the home department of the Delhi government nearly a month back. The content of the letter was almost similar to the over 10 such reminders sent in the past including one sent in January this year." He said: "The ministry has been sending reminders to the Delhi government every threefour months ever since the mercy petition was filed in 2006." Officials in the ministry, however, remained tightlipped as to why the Delhi government has so far not been able to process the file. They merely said the city government was supposed to submit its opinion after processing all the papers relating to the court judgments trial cort, high court and Supreme Court as well as reports of his conduct from the Tihar Jail where he is lodged. Afzal was awarded the death sentence by the local court in Delhi on 18-12-2002 after being convicted of conspiracy to attack Parliament on December 13,2001
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Unrealistic judicial activism leading to Naxalism: Moily


The Union law minister Veerappa Moily on Monday asked the judiciary to restrain from admitting PILs and said "unrealistic judicial activism on the part of the judges is one of the main reasons for increased Naxalism in the country". Talking to reporters here, he said the Supreme Court judgment in the Goda varman case, which in his words was against the ground realities and prevailing conditions in the forests, led to the displacement of a large number of tribals forcing them to join Maoist groups. "If the court had exhibited restraint and gone according to ground realities, today the situation in the forests would have been totally different," he said, adding that even the new Supreme Court CJ had raised the point. In the Godavarman case, the SC had expanded the scope of the term "forest" and included within its scope forests mentioned in the government record as well as forests in the dictionary meaning irrespective of the nature of ownership and classification on December 12,1996. Moily said his concern was that when judges admit PILs and deliver judgments, they should be realistic and go by the ground realities instead of believing arguments. He echoed Congress leader Dijvijay Singh's on "Salwa Judum" and said it was a blunder committed by the state government to deal with the menace of Naxalism. There is no difference of opinion in the UPA government on the issue of tackling Naxalism, he claimed. "The UPA's stand is (that), it should be a multi-pronged approach while dealing with Naxalism. He said UPA Govt. has its own stand and policy to tackle Naxalism and it has no need to depend on BJP's support. "On one hand Maoists, who want to subvert constitution, should be dealt firmly on other hand  people and tribals who have joined them should be weaned away by both economic and political actions, he said and denied that Congress was joining hands or seeking BJP's support to tackle Naxalism.
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(source-TOI)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A FEW JUST MEN WHO RAISED THE BAR

Judges can make a huge difference, writes Manoj Mitta, four days after K G Balakrishnan retired as CJI  and S H Kapadia took over. KG Balakrishnan,whose tenure as CJI ended last week, was the first Dalit to hold the post. But his time in office was marked by a near-Brahminical resistance to the transparency triggered by the Right to Information Act. High court judges across the country, however, displayed great spunk in standing up to Balakrishnan in a break from the judiciarys notoriously servile culture. The unintended consequence of Balakrishnans style of leadership was that HC judges had an impact at the national level like never before. This was not just on issues of accountability but also in the way they upheld the letter and spirit of the law in the course of their work. Remember the challenge thrown to Balakrishnan by Justice Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka HC and Justice K Kannan of the Punjab and Haryana high court when they publicly dissented with his line that disclosure of assets belonging to judges would compromise the independence of the judiciary The novelty value was enhanced by the medium of their revolt: blogs!

The lead taken by Kannan and Kumar, along with Justice K Chandru of Madras HC, had a salutary effect. It put pressure on their seniors in Supreme Court to disclose their assets. Even as Balakrishnan accused him of being publicity crazy allegedly for speaking out of turn, Kumar hit back by calling him a serpent without fangs. This was in the context of the bungled move to elevate P D Dinakaran, CJ of the Karnataka HC, to the Supreme Court. Kumar evidently felt justified in such irreverence as the stalemate over Dinakaran had paralyzed his high court. Balakrishnans reluctance to drop Dinakarans candidature despite serious charges of corruption and the Supreme Court collegiums decision to deny promotion to A P Shah, the Delhi HC chief justice who had made history by decriminalizing homosexuality, exposed the rot in the system of appointments. As if that were not bad enough for Balakrishnan, Justice Ravindra Bhat of the Delhi HC, and then a division bench, comprising Justice Shah and Justice S Muralidhar, dismissed the Supreme Courts appeals against the RTI order passed in the assets case by the Central Information Commission.

Another conscience keeper who ended up damaging Balakrishnans reputation, however inadvertently, was Justice R Reghupati of the Madras HC as he complained in writing about an attempt made by a Union minister to interfere in a case pending before him. Rather than ordering an inquiry, Balakrishnan hushed up the affair on the technicality that Reghupati had not actually spoken to the minister during the mobile call made from his chamber by a lawyer trying to fix the case. Balakrishnan was equally evasive when it came to following up on the categorical recommendation made by an inhouse committee of three senior HC judges that Justice Nirmal Yadav of the Punjab and Haryana HC was unfit to remain in office for her alleged complicity in the cash-for-judge scam. This time he took refuge in the technicality that the then attorney general had opined that no corruption case had been made out by CBI against Yadav. Balakrishnan however remained tightlipped on what had stopped him from taking any administrative action against Yadav, including the kind of recommendation for impeachment proceedings he had made to the government against Justice Sowmitra Sen of the Calcutta high court.

In another mystifying rollback of accountability, Balakrishnan recommended to the President to bring back the Allahabad HC judges who had been transferred out in the wake of the Ghaziabad provident fund scam. All that is known to have changed though since their transfer is that the main accused in the case, a court employee, died mysteriously in judicial custody. Balakrishnans tenure was redeemed to an extent by a slew of path-breaking verdicts, not just by Supreme Court judges but also by their HC counterparts. Just before his retirement,he struck a blow for human rights by outlawing the practice of forcing out the truth from suspects through narco analysis. Such progressive decisions were a silver lining to the dark cloud of falling standards in judicial probity.
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SETTING A BENCHMARK - Recent examples of innovative decisions by HC judges

Justice G Raghuram of the Andhra Pradesh HC raised the security establishments hackles by ruling that policemen be booked in encounter killing cases and that they be allowed to plead self defense only during the trial. The Supreme Court, however, stayed the verdict pending the appeal. Supreme Court judge SS Nijjar, when he was chief justice of the Calcutta HC, embarrassed the West Bengal Govt. by striking down the regulation under which the police had fired indiscriminately in Nandigram. He found that the clause was designed to crush the demonstration rather than to disperse an unlawful assembly.

Justice K Chandru of the Madras HC directed that the posts of cooks in Anganwadis meant for child welfare be reserved for Dalits and Adivasis, saying that for a Dalit to feed children of different communities would go a long way in removing social disparities and practice of untouchability in different forms. When he was in the Bombay HC, Justice Bilal Nazki took exception to the arrest of a couple of activists ostensibly to prevent them from holding a demonstration against a planned visit of Hillary Clinton. He said such overreaction raised questions about Indias self respect. Justice Bader Durrez Ahmed of the Delhi HC held that begging, based on sheer necessity, was protected by the free-speech guarantee. Likening it to a commercial advertisement, Ahmed asked, Does the starving man not have a fundamental right to inform a more fortunate soul that he is starving and request for food.
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(source-toi)

Facing contempt of court charge Say sorry early - No Merit In Delayed Apology, Rules SC

Facing proceedings of criminal contempt of court You better apologise unconditionally and that too swiftly. Any dithering will be fraught with the risk of you landing in jail,the Supreme Court has warned.
An apology in a contempt proceeding must be offered at the earliest possible opportunity, said a Bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly in an order which toughens the already stringent laws dealing with criminal contempt of court. Criminal contempt of court is a higher degree of offence compared to civil contempt, and is invoked against those who brazenly slander a courts reputation.
Justices Singhvi and Ganguly, however, stressed that the courts needed to exercise the power to punish for contempt with restraint.Contempt power has to be exercised with utmost caution and in appropriate cases, it said, underlining this was why the contempt power has not been vested in lower courts. The lower courts have to make a reference to the concerned HC for initiation of contempt against a person for his contemptuous behaviour.

The Bench rejected a delayed apology by one Ranveer Yadav, who was sentenced to two months imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000 for creating a ruckus in a Khagaria court in Bihar forcing the trial judge to leave the court room. His apology came long after trying to justify his misbehaviour in the court on the ground that other accused in the case had provoked him. His misconduct was aggravated by his earlier misdemeanour of being discourteous to public prosecutors coupled with his flaunting of political connection and criminal antecedents.
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Colleges to serve legal notice on govt


Hyderabad: The state government will be served legal notices by colleges in the state demanding release of funds pending under the fee reimbursement scheme (wherein SC,ST,OBC,EBC and minority students get a complete reimbursement of their tuition fee). In a general body meeting of Consortium of Private Engineering Colleges Managements Association of AP (CPECMA), it was decided that the colleges would first serve notices to the state government on May 17 and later give them time till May 25 to pay the pending fee.The colleges threatened to go on strike from May 26 if the government failed to pay up the fee until then.The managements claimed that the government has to release over Rs 2,000 crore towards the pending fee amount. If the state government fails to release the funds, we will not reopen the colleges. Examinations of first year students which is scheduled to begin on June 1 will also be stalled, said P Rajeswar Reddy,secretary, CPECMA. Representatives said that even MBA, MCA and Pharmacy colleges will go on strike on the same day.
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DV Act can be used against women: Govt


The central government says the Domestic Violence Act, enacted with a view to protect women, can also be used to prosecute women. Backing the recent decision of some courts in Delhi to invoke the civil law against women, an affidavit filed in the Delhi high court by the women and child development ministry says that the main purpose of the Act is to protect women from domestic violence but not solely protect them from male persons, right of the victim against domestic violence cant be guided by the gender of the perpetrator. The governments stand came in response to a petition by a widow questioning the invokation of the Act against women by a few courts in Delhi. Varsha Kapoor through her lawyer Arvind Jain had urged the court to strike down a section in the Act that allowed courts to sanction prosecution of women. Justifying the stand of the government, the affidavit adds,the main purpose of the society and law maker is to provide certain protection to the women so that they can live with honour, the legislature never wanted to exempt women from prosecution- if any crime is committed by a woman she is liable to be prosecuted irrespective of gender. In her petition, Kapoor, who has been booked under the DV Act on the complaint filed by her estranged daughter-in-law, has also challenged a lower courts order against her.

The DV Act is a benevolent piece of legislation aimed to provide for more effective protection of rights of women under the constitution who are victims of violence of any kind within family, the petition argued, pointing out that such a law cant be allowed to be misused against women. Saying that a lot of confusion on the concerned provision has been generated due to conflicting verdicts by several high courts across the country, Jain said that HC needs to clarify the law in this regard so that the same can be applied by lower courts. The above stated conflicting, confusing, absurd and unconstitutional provisions have created such a mess and chaos that interest of justice/ends of justice are not available to the petitioner to rescue her dignity and honour, the petition states.
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High security registration plates to cost less after apex court verdict


Now, buying a high security registration plate (HSRP) for your car wont burn a hole in your pocket. For, this judgment from the Supreme Court will help you in getting an HSRP manufactured by an Indian firm for Rs 500 instead of paying Rs 1200 for the one made by a foreign multinationals Indian venture. The SC has dismissed appeals by foreign multinational backed Indian firms Shimnit Utsch India Private Ltd and Tonnjes Eastern Security Technologies Pvt Ltd claiming that state governments had no right to change the conditions laid down in the Central law proposed notice inviting tenders for HSRPs. Indian HSRP manufacturers had protested against the experience and certain minimum turnover clauses attached to the notice inviting tenders and alleged that this was tailor-made for foreign multinationals to bag the contracts for supply of HSRPs. West Bengal and Orissa had effected changes in the NITs doing away with the clause requiring previous experience in manufacturing of HSRPs to qualify for submitting tenders. The changes were challenged unsuccessfully by Shimnit and Tonnjes in the Calcutta and Orissa high courts respectively. Both had moved the apex court against the decisions of the HCs. A bench comprising Justices RV Raveendran, RM Lodha and CK Prasad on Wednesday said that the Centre had only issued guidelines as far as NITs were concerned and that the state governments had the power to modify them. The bench noted that As a matter of fact, the Central government has clarified the position in its communication with the states/UTs that draft tender conditions circulated by them are only suggestive. Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Lodha said that even the apex courts decision in the Maninderjit Singh Bitta case validating the central law for HSRPs was of no help to Shimnit and Tonnjes.

It is important to notice that the bids pursuant to the second NIT have been evaluated by authorities in West Bengal and we have been informed that  lowest bid per HSRP unit for a vehicle is Rs 469 while the offer made by Shimnit is of about Rs 1200, the bench said. Such a huge difference in the rate per HSRP unit shows that the action of the state government in doing away with the conditions of experience in foreign countries and prescribed turnover from such business has been in larger public interest without compromising on safety, security and quality or sustainable capacity, the apex court said.
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Change of guard takes SC by surprise - CJI Kapadia Hears 37 Cases In 29 Mins; Frivolous PILs To Incur Costs

Justice S H Kapadia marked the inauguration of his tenure as Chief Justice of India on a stunning note by reversing a longheld practice of morning mentioning of urgent matters by lawyers. Later, he went a step ahead and said all frivolous PILs would incur costs from Thursday. If that was not enough to announce  change of guard, he also conducted hearings into 37 cases in 29 minutes flat. Within hours of assuming office, CJI Kapadia virtually stunned a crowd of advocates who had queued up before a three-judge Bench headed by him for mentioning petitions/applications for urgent listing, a long-standing practice, by bluntly telling them that henceforth, there would be no mentioning out of turn in the morning. The silence that followed was audible. For just a minute back, the CJI sworn in by President Patil on Wednesday morning was being congratulated and being promised cooperation from attorney general GE Vahanvati and Bar Council of India chairman and solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam. When advocate KK Mani did the same on behalf of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), a smiling Justice Kapadia said, You are a good Bar. But I want a proactive Bar, not a reactive one. But what followed after the silencing of the usually vociferous advocates queuing up for morning mentioning was equally stunning. There were 37 petitions listed for hearing before the Bench headed by the CJI and comprising Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar. The preliminary hearing in all of them were over in just 29 minutes. Many a lawyer who had work in other courts was seen inquiring whether the CJIs court was yet to sit. But when told that the days business in CJIs court was over, there was disbelief writ large on their faces. During the hearing, the CJI made clear his no-nonsense fast-track approach. No more frivolous PILs. This is the first day,so we are not imposing costs. But from Thursday, costs would be imposed on such PILs, Justice Kapadia said. But amid the no-fuss approach, the CJI also showed his humane side. In a matter relating to revival of a sick unit, the CJI made it clear that all workers who had lost their jobs had to be accommodated first and permission to commence production would be given only on this condition. We will see that workers do not lose their jobs, he said.
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Kasab may be hanged by the end of this year

Amid concerns that Ajmal Kasabs hanging may be delayed like many others who were awarded death sentence,the government on Tuesday said the matter would be fast-tracked and he may be hanged by the year-end. Referring to Kasabs death penalty, Law Minister Veerappa Moily said cases of these kind could always be fast-tracked whether it was in the High Court or in the Supreme Court. Moily was quoted as saying by a TV channel that even the President would speed up the process and Kasab would be hanged soon. A similar statement came from home secretary G K Pillai. If there is no petition from him challenging the sessions court verdict in the higher court, he can be hanged by the year-end, Pillai was quoted by a news agency. Kasab was awarded capital punishment on May 6 by a Mumbai special court which held him guilty of mass murder and waging war against India, by carrying out the terror strikes in November 2008.

The death sentence to Kasab has to be confirmed by the Bombay High Court where the matter would come up automatically. Kasab will,however,have right to appeal the high courts view in the Supreme Court and subsequently file a mercy petition before the President of India. Many convicts, including Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru, have taken this route and thereby have been spared of being hanged for years. On being asked about the status of Afzal Gurus mercy petition, the home secretary said, it is with the government for consideration.
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A non-Muslim girl has to convert to marry a Muslim: HC


The Allahabad High Court has ruled that a non-Muslim bride must convert to Islam to marry a Muslim. Failing that, the marriage would be void as it would contradict Islamic dicta and tenets of Holy Quran, the court said. The ruling on Monday by a division bench comprising Justices Vinod Prasad and Rajesh Chandra, came on a writ petition filed by Dilbar Habib Siddiqui. The petitioner had sought quashing of an FIR registered against him on March 17 under Sections 323, 366 and 363 of IPC in Allahabad and prayed that the court not interfere in his peaceful matrimonial life with Khushboo Jaiswal.

The primary question for adjudication was whether the FIR could be quashed or not. The FIR was filed by the girls mother, Sunita Jaiswal, who alleged that the petitioner had abducted her daughter. She contended that Khushboo never converted to Islam and there was no documentary evidence to suggest so. In our above conclusion we are fortified by the fact that in the affidavit and application filed by Khusboo herself, subsequent to her alleged contract marriage, she has described herself as Khushboo and not by any Islamic name. As Khushboo, she could not have entered into marriage, according to Muslim customs. In those referred documents she has addressed herself as Khushboo Jaiswal daughter of Rajesh Jaiswal, the verdict said. Thus, what is conspicuously clear is that Khushboo Jaiswal never converted and embraced Islam and therefore her marital tie with the petitioner Dilbar Habib Siddiqui is void since the same is contrary to Islamic dicta and tenets of Holy Quran, the court ruled.

The judges directed a speedy probe into the marriage of Siddiqui and ordered the separate Khushboo cops to Jaiswal, who was lodged in Nari Niketan, and hand her over to her parents. The HC further observed that the petitioner had suppressed relevant material in the court: that he was already married and had three children from that wedlock. Dealing with the issue of bigamy, it ruled: We are of the view that such a religious mandate (marrying more than one) has been given to all Muslims for a greater social purpose. If a Muslim man is not capable of fostering his wife and children then he cannot be allowed the liberty to marry other women as that will be against the said Sura 4, Ayat-3.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

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All Pay, No Work - MPs dont deserve a five-fold salary hike

The stage is set for a five-fold salary hike for MPs. A joint parliamentary committee has recommended that an MP's salary be hiked from the existing Rs 16,000 to Rs 80,000,which would be at par with that of a secretary to the Union government. On the face of it, an MP's current salary might not seem high. But when one factors in perks such as virtually free accommodation, phone calls and healthcare in addition to a daily allowance when Parliament is in session, constituency allowance of Rs 20,000 per month, 34 single air journey tickets and a free first class railway pass, the picture is quite different. According to back-of-the-envelope calculations, an MP's real salary, including freebies, adds up to an impressive Rs 38 lakh per year.

Our MPs clearly don't deserve a salary hike. Any pay raise must be linked to performance. But the track record of Indian MPs in the recent past has been poor, to say the least. They have neglected one of their basic duties crafting and debating legislation. The figures for business conducted by Parliament speak for themselves. The number of sittings of the Lok Sabha has come down from a yearly average of 124 in the first decade of 1952-61 to 81 between 1992-2001, a decline of 34 per cent. For the same period, the decline for Rajya Sabha was 20 per cent. This has had a direct impact on the number of Bills passed by Parliament. The annual average of the number of Bills passed has come down from 68 in the first decade to 50 between 1992-2001.

This hasn't got any better in the past few sessions of Parliament.The government could only get six of the 27 planned Bills for the budget session passed.The number of pending Bills has shot up to 70. And even when Bills are passed, they are done without debate since MPs are busy shouting slogans or creating mayhem in the House.

In such a situation, it is absurd that the MPs get to decide their own salaries and the quantum of pay hikes.Instead, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's suggestion that an independent commission look into the question of MPs' salaries and make recommendations must be taken up. That way we might arrive at a more realistic revision of the salary structure for MPs.
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Monday, May 10, 2010

HC verdict to give a boost to consumer rights

In a boost to protection of consumer rights,Bombay High Court last week observed that penalty of imprisonment or fine for non-compliance with the consumer forums directive was applicable to interim orders and not just final orders. In matters pertaining to consumer protection, law must be interpreted in favour of the consumer, said the court. Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act states that any person or trader who fails to comply with any order given by the District Forum, State Commission or National Commission, will be imprisoned for a term not less than a month or fined up to Rs 2,000. Stating that Section 27 makes no distinction between an interim and final order, a division bench of Justice Ferdino I Rebello and Justice J H Bhatia said, To give protection to the consumer and to make the execution of orders effective and less expensive,which is the object of Act,and to provide for speedy justice, we see no reason why the provisions contained in Section 27 should be restricted only to final orders.
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

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Kasab gets what he gave: Death - Declines Last Chance To Speak;He Cant Be Reformed: Judge

Mumbai: You have been sentenced to death on four counts. You will be hanged by the neck till you are dead. Yeh hamara tareeka hai (This is our way),  judge M L Tahaliyani told Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab, bringing him to justice 17 months after he and his nine accomplices held Mumbai to a 60 hour siege and killed 166 innocent men, women and children. The mood in the courtroom was sombre. Kasab did not react. He kept his head down and was immediately whisked away. Throughout the after-noon, the baby-faced killer sat absolutely still in the box while the judge gave detailed reasons why it was necessary to give him the harshest possible penalty. This man has lost the right to get any relief, Tahaliyani observed.

The court held that in view of the depravity of Kasabs crimes, any chance of his reform or rehabilitation was totally ruled out. Describing the 22-year-old LeT terrorist as a menace to society, Tahaliyani alluded to the 1999 Kandahar case, when an Indian plane was hijacked to free dangerous terrorists who were imprisoned at that time. Keeping him alive would be a constant danger to the state, he said.

JUST DESSERTS FOR TERRORIST - 5 Counts On Which He Got Death Rap

For seven people killed directly by bullets fired from Kasabs AK-47

For 65 other deaths in which he was an accomplice of Abu Ismail

For LeT conspiracy which led to 166 deaths

For waging war against the Indian state

For a terrorist act under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act

5 Counts On Which He Got Life Term

Attempt to murder

Kidnapping of boat Kubers navigator

Conspiracy to wage war against India

Collecting arms etc. with an intention to wage war against the government of India

Under the Explosives Act

WHEN WILL HE HANG

Under Section 366 of the Cr PC, the death sentence will be automatically sent up to the Bombay high court for confirmation. If its confirmed, Kasab could file a mercy petition before the President. There are 50 such petitions pending over the years. Experts say govt need not insist on chronological order and can fast-track a petition depending upon its urgency.

Times View

This paper is philosophically opposed to the death sentence but ever so rarely there comes a crime that is so cold-blooded and so heinous that it forces us to make an exception. The manner in which Kasab and his partner walked into one of the busiest railway stations in the world and gunned down defence-less men, women and children in plain sight left no room for even the shadow of a doubt about their guilt. Some would argue that the death sentence serves our basest instinct for revenge, that it is not the answer to crime. But terror is unlike any other crime. Besides,keeping Kasab alive runs the risk of another Kandahar, when a plane was hijacked to extract the release of three dreaded terrorists.
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Keeping him alive is a danger to state: Judge

Judge M L Tahaliyani, while handing out a death sentence to Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab on Thursday, said Keeping him alive would be a constant danger to government and the state. The judge made special mention of the merciless way in which people were killed at CST. Brutality was writ large on Kasabs face when he fired indiscriminately at people. It was visible in the photographs taken of him at CST, he observed. In a message to terrorist organisations which target India, the judge made it absolutely clear that every man who wages war against India forfeits his life to the Indian state. Kasab voluntarily went to Lashkar-e-Taiba and offered his services as a mujahideen, he said. Throughout the proceedings Kasab sat quietly ,face nestled in his palm,and looking down at the ground. He spoke to a guard just once to ask for water. Before sentencing him, Judge Tahaliyani gave him one last chance to speak. He explained to him that his crimes warranted death, and he could tell the court if there was anything on his mind. Kasab, however, declined the privilege and slumped back on his bench slowly.

The judge reminded the defence lawyer that evidence showed that Kasab had several opportunities to leave the LeT training camp but was determined to stay on and attack India. When the strike was delayed and group was told to stay put in Karachi, Kasab was anxious about when he would get an opportunity to attack, Tahaliyani said. Describing the extreme terror Mumbai faced on 26/11, the judge referred to recordings of telephonic conversations between the gunmen holed up at various locations and their handlers sitting in Pakistan. There was no remorse at the killing of so many people. The gunmen had come prepared to die,  he said. The Supreme Court has said that while sentencing a man to death, the judge must prepare a balance sheet of mitigating and aggravating circumstances. In Kasabs case, Tahaliyani said he could not find a single mitigating factor.
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Thursday, May 6, 2010

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SC signs death warrant for narco, brain mapping tests-Tests Unconstitutional, Accused Cant Be Forced To Undergo Them

The Supreme Court on Wednesday held as unconstitutional forcible narco-analysis,polygraph and brain electrical activation profile or brain-mapping tests, in a blow to cops who were increasingly using the procedures as investigation tools even when the findings could not be used as evidence. In an order which virtually spells the demise of the practices which have become popular with cops, SC said they cannot be used even on those accused of serial killings and bomb blasts as they are violative of the fundamental right of a citizen not to incriminate himself and his right to privacy under Aricles 20(3) and 21 of the Constitution,respectively. No individual should be forcibly subjected to any of these techniqu-es in question, whether in the context of investigation in any criminal cases or otherwise, the apex court said. On the face of it, the development is a jolt to investigators,considering that the tests in question have fetched them leads leading to breakthroughs in major cases, including terror-related ones. But not every policeman was happy with the reliance on these unorthodox methods which led investigators to neglect more rigorous methods whose results would clear legal scrutiny. Some investigators often found statements made by the accused undergoing tests as flights of fancy which sent them on wild goose chases. The compulsory administration of any of these techniques is an unjustified intrusion into the mental privacy of an individual. It would also amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment with regard to the language of evolving international human rights norms, said a Bench comprising Chief Justice K  Balakrishnan and Justices RV Raveendran and JM Panchal.The judgment was reserved by the Bench over two years ago on January 25, 2008. While this judgment left the police and other agencies to legitimately employ DNA test for investigation, the apex court did not clarify as to what would happen to those cases where the prosecution had solely or to a large extent relied on the evidence gathered through the three faulted tests. Legal experts feel that with the SC ruling that it was a violation of fundamental rights, those convicted on the basis of evidence collected through narco-analysis, polygraph or brain-mapping could move the court for retrial of their cases.

FAILING THE JUDICIAL TEST

The Ruling:  SC holds narco-analysis,polygraph and brain-mapping tests on accused as violating two fundamental rights: Article 20.3 that disallows self-incrimination and guarantees right to silence Article 21 that guarantees right to privacy

What It Means

Virtually ends role of such scientific & drug-induced tests.Even if accused consents to the test, results won't be admissible as evidence.Also,tests with consent will have to follow NHRC guidelines

Cases Affected - These high-profile accused won't undergo narco test now

Ramalinga Raju & V Srinivasan in Rs 7,000cr Satyam scam case

VG Vanzara in Sohrabuddin fake encounter case

Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in Aarushi murder case

Kobad Ghandy, Maoist leader

Santokben Jadeja, Gujarat's godmother'

Kosaraju Venkateswar Rao, accused in Krushi bank scandal

These accused underwent tests and prosecution depended on corroborative evidence based on narco. Will they seek re-trial

Surinder Koli, Nithari serial killer
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Indian courts swift with trial in high-profile cases - Most Big Cases Took Less Than Two Years

The much maligned trial courts, widely seen as the main villains delaying justice, have been surprisingly swift in delivering verdicts in most big and famous cases since independence. Be it the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse or that of PM Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, or terror attacks on Parliament and Mumbai, the trials have been superfast compared to other cases,which have an average litigational life of 15 years.

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by Godse on January 30, 1948. Godse was immediately arrested. The FIR was lodged at Tughlaq Road police station the same day by Nandlal Mehta, who was an associate of Gandhi and eye-witness to the incident. But the trial of Godse and his associates could begin in a special court at Red Fort only on May 27, 1948. In less than nine months,the trial was over and the verdict was pronounced on February 10, 1949 .Godse got death penalty.

Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguards at her 1, Safdarjung Road residence on October 31, 1984. The trial started on May 10, 1985 after a notification issued by Delhi High Court identifying Patiala House complex as the venue for proceedings. The trial proceeded at a fast pace and the verdict was delivered in less than a years time on January 22, 1986.

In terror attack cases too, trial courts have gone through huge volumes of evidence with alacrity and pronounced verdicts earlier than expected. The attack on Parliament took place on December 13, 2001 and the trial commenced in February 2002. But trial court judge S N Dhingra, now an HC judge, pronounced the verdict in less than a year against Mohd Afzal, Shaukat Hussain Guru, S A R Geelani and Afsan Guru on December 16, 2002.

In the 26/11 Mumbai attack case, trial judge M L Tahiliyani was appointed to try the case on January 13 ,2009. But the trial could begin for all practical purposes after May 6, when charges were framed. Going by this, even this trial did not last more than a year before the court pronounced its verdict.
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Rowdy gets lifer for killing lawyer

A history-sheeter, who killed a lawyer in broad daylight in the city eight years ago, was handed down life imprisonment on Tuesday by the metropolitan sessions court. Ayub Khan and his accomplices Habib Qureshi, Khalid Vainevar, Fayaz and Rafooz were sentenced to life imprisonment by metropolitan sessions judge K Vijayalakshmi. The convicts killed advocate Mannam Ghori on July 10, 2002 as he refused to pay a mamool of Rs 2 lakh demanded by Ayub and his accomplices. Ayub and his gang waylaid the lawyer, who was travelling on a two-wheeler along with his brother, near Hussaini Alam and killed him on the spot.Maksood Ghori, the brother of the deceased later filed a complaint which led to the conviction of the accused. All the accused were imposed a fine of Rs 1000 in addition to the life term given to them.
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10 CRORE BOOTY-IAS officer held in DA case

Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) investigators on Tuesday arrested an IAS officer for possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income here. At about 5.30 am, ACB investigators began simultaneous searches on the offices and Banjara Hills residence of Ranga Reddy district joint collector M Jagan Mohan. The searches resulted in unearthing of alleged disproportionate assets worth over Rs 10 crore registered in the name of the joint collector and his family members. His wife, Aruna Kumari, is an RDO rank officer with Chief Commissioner of Land Administration (CCLA), Hyderabad. During the searches,the officer and his family members were present at their official residence at IAS officers quarters, Banjara Hills. ACB investigators found that the joint collector had two houses in New Nallakunta, Amberpet, worth Rs 1.3 crore ,six flats in Himayath Nagar, Shaikpet, Visakhapatnam, all worth Rs 1.07 crores, eight plots in Kondapur,Himayathnagar, Gopanpally, worth about Rs 1.4 crores, Rs 15 lakhs cash, three kgs of gold ornaments worth about Rs 30 lakhs, Rs 12 lakhs bank balance, Rs 15 lakhs investments in LIC, NSS, Kisan Vikas Patra, an Opel Corsa car worth Rs seven lakhs and household articles worth Rs four lakhs.

According to an official release, the documentary value of the movable and immovable assets possessed by the conferred IAS officer is about Rs 4.6 crores, but market value could be more over Rs 10 crores.
ACB is yet to open bank lockers belonging to the officer. A DA case has been registered against the joint collector. He was arrested and would be produced before the principal special judge for SPE & ACB Cases, Hyderabad. According to sources, Jagan Mohan has been working closely with several politicians including an advisor to the former state government. Jagan Mohans predecessor, Sheshadri became a hurdle for land mafia and industrialists. Sheshadri made several industrialists, Tollywood producers and politicians vacate thousands of acres of land occupied by them in Ranga Reddy district including 127 acres of land in survey numbers 36, 124, 262 of Gopanpally, five acres of land in survey number 57 of Kondapur and hundreds of acres in Miyapur, Hyderanagar and Hafeezpet areas. According to sources, in such a situation, much to the delight of the land grabbers, a minister brought Jagan Mohan,  who was working as joint collector in Vizianagaram district to Ranga Reddy in place of Sheshadri.

During his tenure,Jagan Mohan issued No Objection Certificates (NOC) to claimants of occupied lands and his wife, who is a deputy collector in CCLA, used to apply urban land ceiling act to those lands and turn illegal into legal, an ACB officer said. The raid comes days after CM K Rosaiahs snub on ACB being soft on complaints against All India Service officials. During a recent meeting with ACB DG K Aravind Rao, CM K Rosaiah reportedly expressed dissatisfaction over ACBs slow investigation of 22 cases against top government officials, including 15 IAS, IPS and IFS officers in the state.
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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010


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National Green Tribunal Bill passed - Paves Way For Setting Up Of Tribunals That Would Adjudicate Green Laws

The long-pending National Green Tribunal (NGT) Bill was passed in Lok Sabha after environment minister Jairam Ramesh accepted some key amendments to proposed legislation that parliamentarians cutting across party lines had suggested. The bill, meant to set up special omnibus tribunals that would become the sole adjudicators on all 'green laws', had got stuck with both the Left and BJP raising objections to the legislation besides civil society also raising concerns about its impact. A key change incorporated in the Bill is to create benches of the tribunal on a circuit basis, which would make them mobile and allow the green benches to hear cases at places beyond their original location but within their jurisdiction. The amendment came with many complaining that the benches would become difficult for people to approach from far flung places. An amendment has also been introduced to alter the criteria for who can file a case before the tribunal. Earlier, the Bill allowed any representative body or organisation functioning in the field of environment to file a case. This has now been amended and 'any person aggrieved, including any representative body organisation', would be allowed to file an application for the grant of relief or compensation and settlement of disputes.

The environment ministry has also included three basic principles that have become part of green jurisprudence with several apex court orders establishing them. The polluter pays and precautionary principle will now be the basic framework against which the tribunals will adjudicate. While the first puts the onus on the polluter to pay for any financial liability arising out of an incident, the latter requires that the tribunal put the onus on the group or party under the scrutiny to prove that their actions will not cause harm to public or environment even though complete and absolute scientific clarity on the possible impacts of such actions does not exist. The government has decided to change the provisions of the Bill and allow appeals against the tribunal to be heard by the Supreme Court. This was not permitted in the earlier Bill and had raised concerns at several levels about setting a new precedent.
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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Info commissioner in dock for rubbishing RTI query

It was a complete shock for ND Prasad from the city when the state information commissioner rubbished his queries under the RTI Act by stating that those were motivated. The commissioner went on to rule that the information was not required to be provided to him. Responding to a bunch of appeals by Prasad, state information commissioner A Subba Rao in his April 3,2010 order said that the request for the information was motivated. The commissioner expressed impatience even over the number of queries. In all these appeals,the questions are more than 90 in number. The tone and tenor of the request is in the nature of roving enquiry and appellant by making such requests is trying to fish out something he himself is not aware of, the commissioner said. Subba Rao ruled that After carefully traversing the record, it is to be seen that answering questions does not fall within the ambit of RTI Act, 2005. Prasad had sought following information about the agriculture and cooperative department. Whether there was any provision to give promotions to the officers on humanitarian grounds; if the superintending engineer had required educational qualifications to hold the office; whether there were proposals to grant fire stations in market yards; whether the marketing department had issued all its advertisements through a particular ad agency, and the like.As the public information officers (PIOs) failed to respond, he filed appeals with the Commission.

Now, Prasad lodged a complaint with the chief commissioner against the commissioner for overstepping his brief. According to Prasad,the commissioner was not supposed to attribute motives to a petitioner.
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Saturday, May 1, 2010


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Justice Kapadia to be next CJI-First Judge Born Post-Independence To Head Judiciary;Oath On May 12

New Delhi: Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia was on Friday appointed as the next CJI by President Pratibha Patil. He would take oath as CJI on May 12 to succeed Justice K G Balakrishnan. If Justice Balakrishnan was the first from the Dalit community to head the judiciary, then Justice Kapadia would be the first CJI born after India gained independence. To be exact, Justice Kapadia was born 45 days after India became independent. Justice Kapadia is going to head the judiciary after a long journey, which started in the corridors of the lower courts of Bombay nearly 36 years ago in Sept.1974. He was appointed as a judge of the Bombay High Court on October 10,1991, and as chief justice of the Uttarakhand HC on August 5,2003, before being elevated to the Supreme Court on Dec.18,2003. He is due to retire on Sept.29,2012.

On the day he was designated as next CJI, three more judges Justice H L Gokhale, Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra and Justice AR Dave took oath as judges of the Supreme Court. Most CJI-designates have articulated their concerns, priorities and future plans about judiciary on the day they were designated as CJI. Not Justice Kapadia, who believes in implementing his blueprints quietly, away from the media glare. But his blueprint has a major portion devoted to improving the pitiable working condition of the trial court judges fighting the menace of nearly 2.8 crore pending cases. My heart goes out to the trial court judges who in remote areas are working even without a fan in this scorching summer, Justice Kapadia had said just a few days back. Unlike many judges, his reading habits are spread over subjects as myriad as religion, philosophy, economics, physics and finance. And unlike many judges, he has had a strong liking, rather affinity, for money matters taxation and finance. There is hardly a lawyer who could get away spinning economic or financial jargon in a taxation matter before Justice Kapadia, who in a Bench for last several years has mainly concentrated on deciding such cases.
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