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Friday, August 27, 2010

Property statements of civil servants not confidential: CIC

Rejecting the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) contention that property statements filed by civil servants should not be disclosed,chief information commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah on Thursday said these were not confidential and can be disclosed after taking the views of concerned officials as per the provisions of the RTI Act.

It is clear that the property statements are statements regarding private individuals serving in government and (they) become part of Government records, he was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.Habibullah said these records cannot be treated as information held in confidence by the government.He said these records come in the category of personal information the disclosure of which could amount to invasion of privacy and would attract section 8(1)( j) of the RTI Act.There are 10 exemption clauses provided under the section 8(1) of the RTI Act,which exempt disclosure of different categories of information.Section 8(1)( j) exempts personal information from disclosure unless larger public interest is demonstrated by the RTI applicant.

The case relates to an RTI application filed by Shyam Lal Yadav where he sought details of property statements filed by bureaucrats and their relatives.Habibullah said in cases where information of personal nature is sought,section 11 (1) of the RTI Act also applies.Issue notice to third parties within five working days of receipt of this decision notice and proceed to disclose the information sought by appellant,if no viable objection based on exemption under section 8(1) is received within 10 days of the date of issue of such notice, he said.
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(source-toi)

Panchayat rulings have no legal sanctity: SC - Reverses Divorce Granted By A Village Panchayat In 1997 Saying It Has No Value

In a significant ruling,the Supreme Court has held that there is no legal sanctity attached to verdicts of village panchayats,including khaps,that touch personal lives of couples,even if the community accepts such decisions. Handing out this ruling in a case where a village panchayat in Uttar Pradesh had granted divorce to an Army man from his teacher wife,a Bench comprising Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan not only reversed the 13-year-old divorce decree but also said it had no legal value. Justice Chauhan,writing the order for the Bench,agreed with the Allahabad High Courts decision that dissolution of marriage through panchayat,as per custom prevailing in that area and permitted in that community,cannot be a ground for granting divorce under Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955.

Mahendra Nath Yadav and Sheela Devi were married in May 1990 but differences arose soon after as Yadavs job requirements meant there was no normal family life.In 1995,a Varanasi court allowed an application by Sheela directing the husband to pay her a maintenance of Rs 400 per month. She also initiated criminal cases under Section 498A against her husband and his relatives. As the relationship between the two deteriorated further,there was an attempt to settle the matter.Later,Yadav moved the panchayat for a divorce.

The panchayat on June 7,1997,decided that Yadav should pay a sum of Rs 30,000 to the wifes family.Once that was paid,the panchayat prepared a document,which was signed by the parties,stating that the marriage had come to an end. To give legal effect to this document,Yadav persuaded Sheela to move court for divorce by mutual consent.She did not agree.When the husband filed a divorce suit in a local court on grounds of desertion and cruelty,she sought restitution of conjugal rights. The family court in September 2000 decreed the suit mainly on the ground that the marriage stood dissolved through panchayat and dismissed the wifes plea.However,the HC allowed the wifes appeal and reversed the family courts order.

When the husband appealed against the HC order,the SC issued notice to the wife but she did not respond.Deciding the appeal ex-parte,the SC held that if there was any legal sanctity to the panchayats decision,then the husband would not have moved the family court to get it formalised. Filing the petition itself means that none of the parties was of the view that the ruling of the panchayat held any legal value,and hence they approached the family court, the SC bench said.
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(source-toi)

Chiru to act as whistleblower

Prajarajyam chief Chiranjeevi on Thursday vowed to cleanse the state of corruption by acting as a whistleblower and shielding those who are willing to fight the menace. He said he would become the weapon and provide armoury to those who take up cudgels against corruption. Making a fiery speech during the party plenary here on Thursday,he said blood doesnt fetch money but mining does.Taking a dig at Jaganmohan Reddy,he said some leaders are looting the poor and amassing crores by mining the resources of the state. Raktam ammukonte kotlu raavu,ghanulu ammukonte kotlu vastai (By selling blood one doesnt make money.But crores will fall into your lap by mining), he thundered,drawing a huge round of applause from the 4,000 and odd party functionaries.He further said government properties and peoples assets were being pillaged by certain leaders.

Challenging his detractors to prove the allegations that he had sold tickets during 2009 elections and made money,Chiranjeevi said the day it was proved he wont exist as a person.During his 40-minute speech,Chiranjeevi hurled bouncers at his political opponents to stop playing with the lives of the people. He pooh-poohed the claims of his opponents that he lacks political maturity by claiming that sensitivity is his strength.Chiru said he likes challenges.The challenges give me enormous strength to fight against all evils in the society, he boasted. Reeling out a dialogue from his hit film Indra, he said he is not a spent-force but would rise like a phoenix.No question of going back in my fight and I am not going to be cowed down by my detractors, he said.He warned his detractors against making baseless allegations against him.

He targeted TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu and described him as a backstabber to bring down NTR.Taking a dig at Naidu,he said: Do you think backstabbing or earning a name like World Bank agent is what political maturity is all about.  He said politics cannot be taught in universities.There are no master degrees to teach politics.Politicians should have kindness and good heart to respond to peoples problems, he reiterated. Chiru tried to prove his integrity in public life saying that by acting in a single movie he would earn crores of rupees.
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Chiranjeevi re-elected PRP chief

Amidst loud cheering from party functionaries and delegates,Chiranjeevi was re-elected as president of Prajarajyam Party during the plenary here on Thursday.The star politician was the unanimous choice for the top PRP post with three sets of nominations being filed and seconded by party leaders.When returning officer Uma Malleswara Rao announced the result,the leaders and workers clapped and cheered Chiranjeevi,who smiled heartily.Several leaders and activists congratulated Chiranjeevi on his re-election.Accepting the greetings,the PRP chief said he would strive hard to take the two-year-old party to new heights.My responsibility has only grown and I will work with honesty and sincerity, he told the partymen.Chiranjeevi said he would spare no efforts to strengthen the party and live up to the expectations of the people and the party workers.
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(source-toi)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

(source-andhrajyothi)

Now,HC judges to retire at 65

New Delhi: A Bill to raise the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 and bring it on par with the retirement age of Supreme Court judges was introduced in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. The measure is likely to help around 630 judges of 21 high courts across the country. The Constitution (104th Amendment) Bill, 2010, tabled by the law minister, seeks to amend Article 217 and 224 of the Constitution to increase the retirement age of high court judges. The two articles deal with appointment and retirement age of judges.

A Constitution amendment needs support of two thirds of the members in both Houses. ========================
(source - TOI)

Copycat judges suspended by HC

Five judges belonging to the states subordinate judiciary were suspended by the AP High Court on Wednesday for allegedly copying while writing their LLM examinations at the Arts College of Kakatiya University in Warangal on Tuesday. The judges were doing this course under distance mode from Kakatiya University as the degree would help them gain some increments in their careers.Those placed under suspension include K Ajitsimha Rao,senior civil judge,Ranga Reddy district,M Kistappa,principal senior civil judge, Anantapur,P Vijayendar Reddy,second additional district judge,Ranga Reddy district,M Srinivasachary,senior civil judge in Bapatla of Guntur district and Hanumantha Rao,the additional junior civil judge in Warangal.

They were allegedly caught red-handed in the act of copying on Tuesday by the authorities and upon receipt of this information,the high court suspended them from service pending an inquiry.The HC would soon launch disciplinary proceedings against all these judicial officers,sources said.
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(source-toi)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Patent pundits - A CAREER IN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS IS FAST GAINING MOMENTUM AS NATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS REALISE THE IMPORTANCE OF INGENUITY AND THE NEED TO PROTECT IT.ANJANA MOHAN GIVES CRUCIAL INSIGHTS INTO THIS BOOMING FIELD

>> INDUSTRY OVERVIEW

Human intellect is the most important resource and intellectual property rights seek to protect innovation. The object of intellectual property law is to confer protection to the products of human creativity that meet the three-fold test of innovation,nonobviousness and usefulness.Hence,intellectual property rights (IPR) are rights that ensure that the inventor or author reserves the rights of the utility of his/ her product.The term IPR broadly includes patents,which confer rights over an invention,copyright that pertains to rights over an original literary work,and trademark that regulates distinctive indicator unique to an organisation or an individual in business.Industrial design that caters to protection of any innovative design, semi-conductor integrated circuits and layout design,protection of plant varieties and farmers rights and trade secrets which are protected by judicial decisions for the lack of a statutory provision too come under the purview of IPR, says Krishna Kedia,an advocate whos worked in the field of IPR.

>> AN ASSORTMENT OF ALTERNATIVES

The field offers diverse career options to interested candidates.Subsequent to the opening up of the IPR regime,followed by the amendments to the legislation in 2000,litigation in the field has increased mani-fold. Consequently,a legal career in IPR is now a lucrative alternative.Manoj Menda,an intellectual property lawyer,provides insights into a legal career in IPR.One can broadly choose from three options in the legal field concerning IPR,viz working in a law firm,a legal process outsourcing firm or a corporate house.Since the deliverable product is client-specific,the work is specialised and clientele is concentrated to a particular aspect of IPR,such as the pharmaceuticals,software or entertainment industry. However,the nature of work undertaken within specialised IP might vary.For instance,in a law firm or a corporate house one could explore litigation pertaining to IPR with an LPO.The work is most often restricted to drafting, prior art search,document review or litigation review.

Another option available to graduates,which is being increasingly explored,is to start off with the Govt. as a patent or trademark agent.Contrary to popular perception,the pay packet of an agent is quite high.After gaining some experience as an agent,one may shift to a corporate house.Says Anuradha Maheshwari, Director, NMIMS Institute of Intellectual Property Studies,Mumbai,Consultancy in IPR can be pursued by professionals with a technological or scientific background so far as patents are concerned.

She adds, For non-technical IPR such as copyright and trademark a graduate degree in any field with an understanding of the law is sufficient.The scope of the work of an IPR agent broadly covers drafting,filing of patent,establishing novelty,countering oppositions on non-obviousness and usefulness,etc.One not only requires being adept at the scientific nuances of the invention,but also needs to be proficient at IPR management and cater to the commercial requirements of his/ her clientele. Tulsidas Nair,Administrative Head,Krislaw Consultants,a leading IPR firm elaborates on the work done by a consultancy firm.A firm dealing in IPR generally deals with a host of rights rather than specialising in a single one.By and large,all of them handle registration of trademarks,copyrights,patents,designs,geographical indications and amendments,and renewals of the same and initiation of litigation in the event of an infringement.The protection of intellectual property law deals with innovation and a professional in this field gets the opportunity to interact with a wide range of clients from small business owners to the top management of law corporations and from garage inventors to prize winning scientists! This vocation is best suited for those who can understand the nature of invention,the nuances of the rights pertaining to the intellectual property and its effects on the clients business.An IPR agent earns anywhere between Rs 15,000- 30,000 per month.This figure varies depending upon the area of expertise and the range of work undertaken.


The requisite qualifications for a trademark agent are prescribed in Trademarks Act 1999 and Trademark Rules 2002.Advocates and company secretaries are entitled to represent their clients before Trademarks Registry without the need for appearing in the Trademark Agent examination.However,any graduate may qualify in the examination in trademark law conducted by the registry and be registered as a trademark agent.In the case of an Indian patent agent,on the other hand,a degree in science,engineering or technology from any university in India is a pre-requisite.The IP pertaining to design caters to a clientele of fashion designers,interior designers,architects,automobile designers and the like.Since unlike a patent application which is technical,a design is an aesthetic product,and hence,any agent can file a design application. Although,being a graduate would technically suffice for being registered as an agent, an in-depth knowledge of IPR would make a huge difference in terms of employment quotient,especially for a fresher. Today,there are dedicated courses in IPR and hence professionals whove pursued a specialisation or a super-specialisation have an edge over those without an academic qualification.Courses in IPR give a holistic view of the field covering a gamut of proficiencies ranging from hands-on training in drafting and filing applications,oppositions,commercial and management aspects of patenting and a thorough insight into technology transfer and patent licensing by mock-registry sessions and similar simulations, adds Maheshwari.

A lesser explored aspect of IPR in India is the open source and the creative commons arena.Unlike the traditional conception of reserving all and sundry rights over the IP,a Creative Commons (CC) license would give an option to reserve some rights while granting some freedom to the users, opines Dr Shishir Kumar Jha,Project Lead of Creative Commons.This is the age of digital economy which is based on sharing.A CC license gives the laxity to the author to decide the scope of the use of his work for third parties.Thus,it has introduced a different perspective to the traditional restrictive IPR drafting leading to client specific drafting of licenses; it has mandated that lawyers look at these issues from an open perspective, particularly since worldwide CC litigation has caught up.It has also collaterally impacted the economy by enabling professionals whove just entered the profession and whore looking at projecting their work to increase their visibility. Akin to it,although geographical indicator is an IP that has been long recognised,it is one of the few that is not explored as much.The authenticity of the product is a driving force for the demand in the market and this ensures that registration of geographical indicators is sought after by communities.Being a community IP,its a matter of national pride and hence,the scope of career for a person specialising in geographical indications is mostly in the international market.

>> FUTURE PROSPECTS

New developments in the intellectual property law such as in trade mark law,copyright law,patents law, industrial designs law,information and communication technology law and various convention agreements like Bernes and TRIPS,have increased the demand for legal practitioners and consultants in this field of law.The potential for IP is enormous because of the extensive R&D being undertaken in India, especially down south.At the end of the day,one must remember that the field is economy oriented and so long as there is a positive growth in market the industries are open to explore and invest in IPR and consequently the demand is created.But there are certain inherent limitations on certain rights,like in case of software patenting,where although software industry is a major contributor to the Indian economy,Indian law doesnt permit software patenting unlike the US,unless it is linked to a hardware, quips Menda.

>> LAST WORDS

The revenue amassed by IPR is tremendous.Rs 2,26,63,01,039 in 2008-09 out of which patents alone had generated Rs 1,56,14,63,824 and this figure has progressively grown.A career in IPR is not just a buzz word but an exciting prospect that has immense capacity,yet to be explored and is monetarily rewarding.
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(source-toi)

Crime Patrol - THE FIELD OF CRIMINAL LAW IS LUCRATIVE BUT DEMANDS IMMENSE HARD WORK AND DEDICATION

Law offers diverse opportunities to students.One such rewarding option is criminal law which though calls for a willingness to work hard,proves the efforts worthwhile.

TRAINING GROUND : Any student with a LLB degree can opt for a career in criminal law.However he/ she should have a thorough knowledge of certain legal areas such as the Indian Penal Code and procedural laws such as the Code of Criminal Procedure and Evidence, says Kavita Singh,Assistant Professor,West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences.

The minimum eligibility to secure an admission to a renowned institution for the fiveyear BA LLB programme is 10+2 with a minimum of 50 per cent in aggregate.Certain institutes base their admissions on the marks scored in entrance tests such as CLAT,National Law School of India University (NLSIU) Entrance Test,LSAT - India,etc.

ON THE JOB :- Lawyers engaged in criminal law practise independently or as government prosecutors. They work at trial or appellate level. A criminal lawyer must possess skills of investigation, counselling, fact finding and legal research, says Joshi.Communicating well with clients and adaptability are important too. A student might intern with a judge in a criminal division or serve as a research assistant in an institution. NGOs working in the areas of prisoners rights,protecting victims and cases of capital punishment have a panel of criminal lawyers working for them.

Criminal lawyers fresh out of law school usually receive a significantly small income and are often required to accept jobs they are overqualified for.However,with considerable experience one can easily charge Rs 50,000 per bail application.

SKILL SETS :- Criminal law is the most glamorous of all legal practices. However, it is also the most demanding one. One needs to be quick-witted and has to be able to come up with questions in courtroom that nobody else would even think of, says Dr Setlur BN Prakash, Adjunct Professor,National Law School of India University, Bangalore. Advises Dr Shashikala Gurpur,Director Symbiosis Law School and Dean, Faculty of Law,Symbiosis International University,Pune,Professionalism is the foremost virtue. Keep an open mind,do not be a judge of your client and do not take advantage of his/ her vulnerabilities.

OVERSEAS OPTIONS :- Those who wish to practise abroad with a law degree obtained in India have to appear for various law tests conducted by each country.To practice in England and Wales students have to take the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Test (QLTT) exam.To pursue a graduation in criminal law in the US, students need to have a bachelors degree in any subject (four-year degree) as well as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) exam scores, says Karan Gupta,a study abroad consultant.

FUTURE FOCUS :- With the huge backlog that the Indian judiciary is often criticised to have future of criminal lawyers is bright.My experience in lower court is that there are less lawyers and more work. A criminal lawyer can start earning from the very beginning of his career but in civil he has to wait for many years to specialise in his field.Criminal law is very lucrative and challenging, says Singh.

INSTITUTE WATCH  - NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, Symbiosis Law College, Pune, ILS Law College, PUNE(Indicative listing).
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(source-toi)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

HC relief for 3 IAS officers in Vizag port land scam

Hyderabad: In a huge relief to three senior IAS officials charged with embezzling public money in the famous Vizag port lands compensation scam,Justice S Govindarajulu of the AP High Court has dropped the criminal cases against them and virtually set them free. The officials who were discharged from the criminal case slapped against them by CBI nearly 13 years ago are M G Gopal,Vijay Kumar and T Gopala Rao.While the first two are still in service,Gopala Rao retired from service six years ago.
Delivering a common judgement,the judge opined that there are no grounds to frame charges against the three officials.The whole case is about paying nearly Rs 14 crore for two pieces of land measuring 33 acres in Kancharapalem area of Visakhapatnam.This land was first taken over by Vizag Port Trust from the land owners in 1972 for the purpose of constructing staff quarters.This possession was shown only on paper. Though the state government declared this land as surplus land and said that no compensation requires to be paid to the land owners,the latter went to the high court and challenged the states decision.The HC struck down the states decision in 1995 saying that the authorities cannot make such a decision after a gap of 14 years of taking over the land even on paper.It was at this stage that the land was freshly acquired by the revenue authorities in 1995 under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act and the issue settled in a quick way by setting up a negotiations committee and paying compensation.

Following this,a PIL was filed in HC by one Gundu Appala Raju,a resident of Vizag,who charged the authorities with entertaining a middleman called Koganti Krishna Prasad in the negotiations for extraneous reasons.He also charged the authorities with misappropriating the maximum share of the compensation.The then HC chief justice called for separate reports from the then police commissioner of Vizag and the district judge and after persuing their reports,entrusted the matter to CBI.

The CBI found that out of the first instalment compensation of Rs 5.80 crore,an amount of Rs 3.18 crore went into the Karur Vysya Bank account of K Krishna Prasad and charged the authorities with several offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.Prasad later died in September 2003. Justice Govindarajulu who heard the contentions raised by senior counsel C Padmanabha Reddy for the accused and the CBI counsel P Kesava Rao held that the CBI could not make out a case against the authorities. Moreover,though the Centre has accorded permission to prosecute then district collector M G Gopal and joint collector Vijay Kumar,the state had not granted such a permission saying that it is the policy of the state to settle land acquisition matters in a swift way. Even the entry of Krishna Prasad,the alleged middleman,in the negotiations committee was found valid by the judge because he was holding a sale agreement copy issued to him by the land owners.The CBI could not prove the trail of money from Prasads account into the accounts of anyother public servants.The judge did not agree with the CBIs view that the land rates were unduly hiked by the authorities.

Saying so,the judge discharged the three officials from the case which is currently being heard by the special CBI court in Visakhapatnam.
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Satyameva Jayate link missing in charge sheet


The CBI, which took up Vizag port lands scam and made spectacular progress by securing irrefutable evidence from the government security press in Nasik against the key accused in this scam,surprisingly shied away from recording the same in the charge sheet it filed before court.Koganti Krishna Prasad, accused number six in the case,was a strange entrant into the negotiations committee headed by then district collector M G Gopal.He sat in the meetings of the committee with the help of the sale agreement he entered into with the owners of the land allegedly in the year 1963.This agreement was written on a non judicial stamp paper. Doubting the genuineness of the stamp paper,the CBI sent it to the government security press in Nasik,Maharashtra,for verification.The security press authorities,who were the sole suppliers of such papers to the entire country,concluded that this paper was printed in 1995 and not in 1963 as was claimed by Prasad.

The security press authorities could establish the year of the printing of the stam paper in question by checking for a slogan embossed on the papers for each year. For the year 1995, the solgan was - Satyameva Jayate.It was this slogan that brought the darker side of the story out. By this effort,the CBI could pinpoint the crime angle in the case and had it made this effort a part of the charge sheet,the judge could have seen the story from that angle,legal analysts say.By deliberately deciding to keep this issue in dark,CBI has deliberately led the case to a natural burial,they say.
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(source-toi)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ensure Due Process - Dowry laws need safeguards

It is welcome that the Supreme Court has asked the Law Commission and the law ministry to review anti-dowry laws.The apex court has rightly taken cognisance of the rising number of frivolous cases throughout the country under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.The section defines the offence of matrimonial cruelty and was inserted in 1983 to act as a deterrent to dowry violence and dowry deaths. Undoubtedly,these are heinous offences.But the degree to which Section 498A has helped correct them is uncertain.At the same time,it has had perverse effects.Successive court rulings have reiterated the notion that its a law open to abuse.And among the worst sufferers from such misuse have been women.

The most controversial feature of dowry laws is that they contravene principle of due process of law. In normal criminal cases,an accused is considered to be innocent unless proven guilty.Section 498A being a cognisable offence allows police to arrest a person/his whole family without a warrant. Moreover these come under the category of nonbailable and non-compoundable offences. Clearly, there exists considerable scope for the laws misuse for ulterior motives. Ironically,there is no provision to deal with false complaints except the law against perjury, which is hardly taken seriously in Indian courts. Therefore, it is important to introduce better safeguards in the anti-dowry laws in the light of changed social realities.The solution to domestic violence may not be draconian laws,but greater awareness and improved functioning of law enforcement authorities.
=============================
(source-toi editorial)

Settlements leave women high and dry

A new trend is emerging in the city where more and more women,financially dependent on their husbands,are being given a short shrift by their separating spouses under the guise of amicable out-of-court settlements. Often,cheating husbands seeking separation trick their wives into signing certain documents with the promise of an outside the court settlement.The same documents are later being used against these women by the husbands to get a divorce, says a divorce lawyer.

In the case of Arti (name changed),her husband filed for a divorce after he fell in love with a colleague.As a recourse,she sought the help of a lawyer.Soon after,Arti got a call from her husband asking her to see his lawyer to sign certain documents after which he would withdraw the divorce case.Arti went up to her husbands lawyer and signed on papers which said she was at fault which is why he had filed for a divorce.Later,the same papers were produced in the family court by the husbands lawyer to get a divorce.

Often,such women are financially dependent on their husbands and think of settling outside the court.There is a rise in such cases where women are being duped to strengthen the husbands cases, said Vani S,senior advocate at Hyderabad family court. Interestingly,many such cases in the city revolve around government employees,who risk losing their jobs if charged with bigamy.Conning their wives in the name of an assurance to withdraw the divorce case,they are taking advantage of the fact that the wives too do not want the marriage to end,say lawyers.

The woman is getting a raw deal in the process.First,she is being served with a divorce notice because the husband wants to separate from her.Later she is made to sign on certain documents stating that her fault has led to seeking a divorce, said P Sunderaiah,senior advocate of Hyderabad family court. Vaishali, a homemaker is another case in point.She was asked to sign on documents saying that she was into an extra-marital affair,the reason why her husband is seeking a divorce.She was also assured by his lawyer that the divorce case will be withdrawn and that they should now make attempts to reconcile their differences and get back together.Happy at the turn of events,she appeared before the family court for hearing only to know that the documents where she put her signatures have only helped her husband strengthen his case with better chances of winning.
========================
(source-toi)

Fill up vacant public prosecutor posts: HC

The law secretary on Tuesday appeared before justice N V Ramana of the A P High Court and admitted the fact that as many as 194 public prosecutor posts were lying vacant in the state as of now and sought time to fill them up.The law secretary was here following a direction from the judge who was hearing a petition that brought to the notice of the court the sorry state of affairs in the judiciary due to lack of public prosecutors to represent the cause of the state. Disinclined to grant anymore time to the state, justice N V Ramana directed the government to fill up the posts of the prosecutors of all cadres vacant at subordinate courts in an expeditious manner.

The judge was dealing with a petition filed by K V N Thammanna Setty seeking a direction to declare the action of the authorities in not appointing public prosecutors and additional public prosecutors to the courts concerned in Vizianagaram as illegal. It may be mentioned that on August 12,the judge ordered notice to the chief secretary to respond on the insensitivity of the home department in filling up vacancies. The secretary to the law department appeared before the judge and submitted details of vacancies and sought four months time to fill up the posts stating that there was a litigation pending before the court.He,however,admitted that there was no stay by the HC.

According to the report of the law secretary, there are 194 vacant posts of public prosecutors and proposals for sanction of 38 posts are pending. The law secretary admitted that the court did not grant any stay on appointment of public prosecutors considering the urgent need of appointment of prosecutors in the courts. The judge was not inclined to grant any time to fill up the posts as sought by the law secretary and directed to fill up the posts by constituting departmental promotional committee or by issuing the notification to recruit the prosecutors.
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Reserve sand quarries in scheduled areas for local tribals only, says HC

A division bench of the A P High Court comprising justice Goda Raghuram and justice Reddy Kantha Rao on Tuesday admitted a writ petition seeking a declaration that the sand quarries in scheduled areas shall be reserved in favour of local tribals,organisations of local tribal youth or local gram panchayats only. The writ petition was filed by Kunja Radha,a sarpanch from Khammam,and another person.They contended that at present the quarries are being given off to any person who is a scheduled tribe.
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(source-toi)























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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

SC for own budget to revitalise courts - CJIs Proposal Comes In The Wake Of Govt Delays In Refurbishing Courts

The Supreme Court under Chief Justice SH Kapadia's stewardship appears to have stolen a march over the Centre with its proposal that a national budget be created by accumulating all court fees,costs and fines to improve judicial infrastructure. Monday's proposal comes in the wake of delays in refurbishing the infrastructure,and the huge pendency faced by trial courts. The government had on October 24 last year released its vision statement proposing huge funding for lower court infrastructure and a special purpose vehicle,identical to what the CJI proposed in the form of national budget. Law minister M Veerappa Moily on July 21 had announced pumping in Rs 14,000 crore in the next five years to make lower courts user friendly for all- judges,lawyers and litigants.

But the apex court headed by Justice Kapadia doesn't appear too enthused with the government's plan.
It wants to have full control of the national fund created out of the revenue collected through litigation fees, fines and costs imposed by courts which at present goes to the consolidated fund of the Govt.  Even in raising the query,a Bench comprising the CJI and Justices Aftab Alam and K S Radhakrishnan cut out the frills and asked solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam,"Can we not have a national budget for judicial infrastructure under the aegis of the Supreme Court. It is just a thought.Amounts presently collected in court in terms of fees,costs and fines go to the consolidated fund and virtually nothing is allocated."

The SG was in a piquant position.For,attorney general G E Vahanvati and the SG had helped in drafting the law minister's vision for judicial reforms that included giving boost to infrastructure including creation of an SPV from the court fees and other levies.He maintained that the government was committed to provide adequate infrastructure to judiciary. The Bench asked the SG to get the Centre's response within two weeks to the proposal for creation of a national budget under the control of the apex court. It also asked chief secretaries of states to respond within four weeks with details of infrastructure available in each district and subordinate court under a proforma given by the apex court which sought every possible information --from availability of diesel generator sets to toilet facilities and libraries.
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(source-toi)

VERDICT ON AUG 25 - Ayesha Meera murder trial ends

Vijayawada: The verdict in the sensational Ayesha Meera murder case is likely to be pronounced on August 25 after completion of the trial proceedings on Monday. The womens special sessions court on the final day of proceedings,however,refused to entertain a petition filed by the lone accused,Pidathala Satyam Babu,to grant more time to question the prosecution witness as a separate petition was pending in the high court.After dismissing the defence counsels plea,sessions court judge P Srisudha posted the case to August 25,the day final judgment is likely to be pronounced. Ayesha Meera,a first year B Pharm student of a private college at Ibrahimpatnam on the outskirts of Vijayawada,was found murdered in her hostel room on December 27,2007.Subsequently,an autopsy report confirmed that the girl was raped before being killed. Though police surmised that it was an act of a psycho killer,the parents of the girl and human rights activists said Aye s h a was murdered only to hush up the misdeeds in the hostel to which the victim was said to be a witness.Shockingly,the girl was killed just hours after she reached the hostel from a vacation in her native place of Tenali in Guntur. The incident created ripples in the state with the parents alleging the role of some ruling party leaders.The police investigation was also mired in several controversies.Ironically,the police filed a chargesheet against a notorious dacoit Balvinder Singh alias Laddu naming him as the main accused and sent him behind the bars.

After the AP Forensic Science Laboratory (APFSL ) authorities disapproved their claims,the police brought Satyam,a small-time offender in Jagg a i a h - pet,into the pict u re.T he ch a r g e against the police was that they deliberately made efforts to save some political leaders in the case at the behest of late deputy CM Koneru Rangarao.Police negligence in protecting the scene of offence itself came in for criticism. The prosecution questioned as many as 34 witnesses though they had named nearly 49 persons in the chargesheet.They produced 61 documents to prove the charges against Satyam,who was arrested on August 16,2008,almost a year after the incident.
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(source-toi)

Dowry harassment : SC steps in to stop its misuse by women

The Supreme Court has plainly told the government to take a relook at the anti-dowry law Section 498A of IPC saying it has been misused by women to lodge false or exaggerated complaints against husbands and their relatives accusing them of cruel behaviour.Such is level of exaggeration of cruel behaviour on the part of husbands and their relatives that to find out the truth is a Herculean task in a majority of these complaints, said a Bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and KS Radhakrishnan. Expressing concern at the rise in number of complaints under Sec 498A, the Bench said,We come across a large number of such complaints which are not even bona fide and are filed with oblique motives. Advising extreme caution in dealing with such complaints,the Bench said courts must take pragmatic realities into consideration while dealing with matrimonial cases.It was high time that the legislature considered and made suitable changes in the law taking into account public opinion,the apex court said,sending a copy of the judgment to the Union law minister to initiate the process.At times,even after conclusion of criminal trial, it is difficult to ascertain the truth, it said and gave examples of cases where the woman in her complaint had roped in the husbands relatives,who lived in different cities and rarely visited them,of cruel behaviour towards her.

Such accusations invariably led to husband and his relatives remaining in jail for a few days, breeding rancour,acrimony and bitterness and ruining all chances of an amicable settlement,said Justice Bhandari in his judgment. The significance of the SC directive goes beyond what happens to Sec 498A.It marks a conceptual shift,a turn away from the culture where women were seen only as victims who were incapable of levelling false allegations.The conception of women as the silent suffering sort who could do no wrong has influenced the administration of justice in both open and subtle ways.The assumption of womens innocence is apparent in laws devised to deal with rape and other crimes against women where the presumption of innocence is not available to the accused. Section 498A and other laws were meant to help women get their due.But with instances of their misuse rising,SC has been impelled to draw the governments attention to revisit the issue.
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(source-toi)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kashmirs crisis is symptomatic of the larger malaise afflicting the Indian state

Multiple Mutinies Now


The Kashmir valley has been burning,once again.This time its the new generation of young Kashmiris pelting stones at the might of the Indian state.They are venting their anger at a government that has been unable to capitalise on the stability of recent years to provide them with economic opportunities and political reconciliation.The telegenic,much-hyped chief minister of Jammu & Kashmir took 55 days to reach out to the people of the state directly after more than 50 people had already died in street protests and police action. Meanwhile,New Delhi fiddled while the situation in Kashmir deteriorated.After squandering various opportunities for making real political progress over the last few years,its only substantive response was to deploy the Indian army again after a hiatus of 15 years.The vicious cycle of killingsprotests-killings continues with the government unable to intervene effectively.Even as the security forces have complained that their hands are tied in dealing with stone-throwing mobs,the demand to reduce the footprint of the security forces has come from the state government itself.

The situation in Kashmir today is symptomatic of the larger malaise afflicting the Indian state,which is facing a crisis of credibility on multiple fronts.The situation in the north-eastern states is serious with blockades and political turmoil.The challenge of Maoism is gathering momentum with Mamata Banerjee giving the Maoists a legitimacy that the government of which she is a part is trying to deprive them.The turmoil in the neighbourhood is readily evident as New Delhi becomes marginal to the evolving strategic milieu in Af-Pak.

The Commonwealth Games that were to be Indias coming out party as a rising power have become a symbol of all that is wrong with Indias political system.The stench of corruption and the governments inability to take action against politicians running the show is corroding whatever enthusiasm ordinary Indians may have had for these Games.The UPAs inability to come to terms with multiple challenges is stark despite opposition disarray. Just last May,when the Congress won 206 parliamentary seats in the elections,it had unleashed a wave of optimism.That feelgood is now a thing of the past.One year into its term,UPA-II seems to have lost its way and momentum.Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has the office but no power;the Gandhis have all the power without holding any formal office.The authority of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi rests on their distance from power and they have failed to use their political capital for anything except trying to maintain their own charisma.The prime minister,however,is in power because he is weak.There was a mistaken belief that the division of labour between Sonia and Singh she would take care of the party and he would run the government would work well for the nation.Exactly the opposite has happened.

The Congress has become callous and arrogant and the government is finding it hard to push forward any of the prime ministers priorities.Singhs cabinet colleagues are more interested in earning brownie points with the Gandhis and have openly expressed their contempt for the hapless prime minister.In the process,the Congress has perhaps irreparably damaged the office of the prime minister of India. Not surprisingly,there is a whiff of fragility and under-confidence in the air,as if at any moment the entire facade of India as a rising power might simply blink out like a bad idea.Those who seek to challenge the Indian states authority feel emboldened to take advantage of the paralysed decision-making in New Delhi.Maladministration,dithering and incompetence are making India ungovernable with a growing loss of respect for all major state institutions.Corruption is having a corrosive impact on the social fabric by undermining the trust of ordinary Indians in their political system,institutions and leadership.

Kashmirs recent turmoil has merely brought to the fore the fragile state of Indias domestic affairs.The world media and Indias elite talk about Indias rise,often not realising that the state beset with rising Islamist extremism,Maoist insurgency,and growing and conflicting demands of myriad interest groups is rapidly losing the ability to have its writ run over a large swathe of its territory.Though the Indian economy has continued to grow despite internal security challenges and foreign investors have not yet been discouraged by sporadic terrorist attacks,it may soon face the consequences of the grim security situation if investors find the Indian state too weak to wield due authority within its borders.

As a liberal democracy,India must acknowledge the aspirations of Kashmirs people.Yet theres little likelihood of this conflict getting resolved anytime soon,and the trouble for India is that its heavy-handed effort to keep the lid on Kashmiri demands will continue to besmirch its reputation as the worlds largest democracy and a claimant for global leadership,including a permanent membership of the UN Security Council.India definitely needs to resolve Kashmir crisis but there are multiple mutinies that also need attention.Its not entirely clear if New Delhis present political dispensation is capable of doing that.Thats not a promising thought for a country that has just marked its 64th Independence Day.

(by Harsh V Pant -The writer teaches at Kings College,London.)
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(source-toi)

LEGALLY SPEAKING - Is govt ready for uniform civil code after 63 yrs

Just imagine the scenario in 1955.The nation had been independent for just eight years.Parliament functioned for five years.The Kashmir problem was already giving a headache to the first PM, Jawahar-lal Nehru. There was so much to do for the country after nearly 300 years of colonial rule. He had his hands full. Yet, he thought of attempting codification of Hindu rituals and customs as part of his reformist vision.The process had already begun in the Constituent Assembly.A select committee had been formed to draft a new Hindu Code to systematise social practices.The orthodox elements violently opposed this and recommendations of the committee could not be made into a law. But Nehru was convinced about it and brought in the Hindu Code Bill in 1955,which gave birth to a host of legislations including Hindu Marriage Act,1956.

When the debate was raging on the Hindu Code Bill in Parliament in May 1955,a valid question was raised by many members including JB Kripalani, that is, why only codify Hindu rituals and customs and not those of Muslims. The response from Nehru and his law minister was that Muslims were not ready for reforms.

Ridiculing this argument, Kripalani had said, It is not (Hindu) Mahasabhites who alone are communal; it is the government also that is communal,whatever it may say. It is passing a communal measure. I charge you with communalism because you are bringing forward a law about monogamy only for Hindu community. Take it from me that the Muslim community is prepared to have it but you are not brave enough to do it.It is not the Hindu voice that is raised against the prime minister of Pakistan for having married a second wife.If you want to have (provision of divorce) for Hindu community,have it;but have it for the Catholic community also. Poignant words, werent they? He accused the prime minister of lacking in courage to bring in reforms by codifying the Muslim law.

Exactly 50 years later,the Supreme Court delivered the Shah Bano judgment,applying the secular provision of Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code to rule that Muslim women could not be allowed to be rendered destitute by denial of maintenance by their husbands citing the customary laws of the community.Another prime minister,Rajiv Gandhi,rushed to enact Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act,1986.But it turned out to be an overt act to show that the government did not have courage to initiate reforms in Muslim personal law and it would not allow even the apex court to interfere with it.

But, as time passed, the Supreme Court continued to rule in 2001 in Danial Latifi case,in 2007 in Iqbal Bano case and in 2009 in Shabana Bano case that Muslim women could not be deprived of the benefit of Section 125 of CrPC.The December 4,2009 judgment is most categorical.It said,Even if a Muslim woman has been divorced,she would be entitled to claim maintenance from her husband under section 125 CrPC after the expiry of the period of iddat as long as she does not marry. So,after 63 years of independence and 60 years of the Constitution,our political leadership has not been brave enough to introduce reforms in the social practices of Muslim community.Ironically,Article 44 of the Constitution says,The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout the territory of India. Sadly,none of the governments from Nehru to Manmohan Singh had the courage to attempt UCC,and that too after repeated admonition and expression of anguish from the Supreme Court.

In Shah Bano case,the SC said in 1985,A common civil code will help the cause of national integration by removing disparate loyalties to law which have conflicting ideologies. In Sarla Mudgal case,the SC said in 1995,Where more than 80% of citizens have already been brought under codified personal law,there is no justification whatsoever to keep in abeyance,any more,the introduction of uniform civil code for all citizens in India. Yet again in 2003,in John Vallamattom case,the SC highlighted the desirability of achieving the goal set by Article 44 of the Constitution.

But the same Nehruvian argument continues,the Muslim community is not ready.
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 (soure-toi)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

FIR against mantris for united AP - Petitioner In Favour Of T Accuses 16 Mantris Of Trying To Divide People

In a development that could once again precipitate the divisive regional conflicts within the state,the Saifabad police on Friday evening registered an FIR against 16 ministers for their alleged remarks while opposing the bifurcation of AP in their representation before the Srikrishna Committee on Aug.6. The 16 ministers hail from Andhra and Rayalaseema.

The cases were booked under Section 499 of the IPC (defamation),Section 500 (punishment for defamation) and Section 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion,race,language etc).The FIR was registered following a directive from First Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at Nampally,Shaik Peeria Ismail,on the basis of a complaint filed by the Telangana Advocates Joint Action Committee (TAJAC).

The 16 ministers are: Gade Venkata Reddy,Kanna Lakshminarayana,Dharmana Prasada Rao,Vatti Vasant Kumar,Pilli Subhash Chandra Bose,Anam Ramnarayana Reddy,Md Ahmadulla,Ramachandra Reddy,Galla Aruna Kumari,Mopidevi Venkataramana,Manikya Varaprasad,Balineni Srinivas Reddy,P Viswaroop,P Balaraju,Pitani Satyanarayana and Parthasaradhi.

In his complaint, TAJAC co-convenor T Sriranga Rao claimed that the ministers insulted the people of Telangana.According to him,in their Aug.6 representation to the Srikrishna Committee,the ministers described those seeking division in the name of self-rule and selfpride as anti-nationals.The ministers termed this as the most reprehensible ground for formation of a new state under Article 3 of the Constitution while urging the committee to rule against bifurcation,Sriranga claimed.They also described our aspirations as equivalent to waging a war against the Indian Union, Sriranga said.He also accused the ministers of criticising the Centre for appointing a committee to look into these anti-national demands.The petitioner,while batting for division,instead accused the ministers of creating a division among people by their demand to keep the state united.The complaint listed four members of the Srikrishna Committee VK Duggal,Ranbir Singh,Ravindar Kaur and Abusaleh Sharif as witnesses.Cops have been given time till Aug.28 to file a report.The ministers alleged statement had come in handy for the TRS which recently created a furore.TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao even trooped down to meet governor ESL Narasimhan two days ago to press for their removal from the state cabinet.The ministers,however,have insisted that they never made the remarks attributed to them.
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DIVIDE AND RULE

The cases were booked under IPC Section 499 (defamation),Section 500 (punishment for defamation) and Section 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion,race,language etc)

The 16 ministers are: Gade Venkata Reddy,Kanna Lakshminarayana,Dharmana Prasada Rao,Vatti Vasant Kumar,Pilli Subhash Chandra Bose,Anam Ramnarayana Reddy,Md Ahmadulla,Ramachandra Reddy,Galla Aruna Kumari,Mopidevi Venkataramana,Manikya Varaprasad,Balineni Srinivas Reddy,P Viswaroop,P Balaraju,Pitani Satyanarayana and Parthasaradhi
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(source-toi)

Friday, August 13, 2010

JUGULARVEIN - Take a tip : We should learn from the US that baksheesh is not bribery (Jug Suraiya)

Without referring the matter to me, the porter in the New York City hotel picked up my bag six inches and put it on a trolley. He wheeled the trolley five feet to the elevator,and pressed the button for the 5floor.He wheeled the trolley 10 feet to my room,opened the door and pushed the trolley in.He held out his hand.Bowing to the inevitable,i put $5 which i could ill afford into it.My bag had travelled 10,000 miles with me free of cost,its conveyance covered by the price of my air ticket.However,its journey of less than 100 feet in a NYC hotel was not covered by the price of the hotel room and cost me an extra five bucks by way of a characteristically American institution known as the tip.

Though not unique to US culture, giving a tip for services rendered is the bedrock on which American capitalism is based.According to folklore, the word tip,as in gratuity or baksheesh,is said to be derived from the initial letters of the phrase to insure privilege.To insure privilege,or good service, from a waiter in a restaurant,say,you gave the chap a tip over and above the price of the meal consumed.This custom was soon extended to other areas of daily commerce so that everyone,from taxi drivers to tour guides,hotel porters to Wall Street multinational bankers,expects a tip for services rendered though in the case of the Wall Street bankers its not called a tip but an incentive bonus,which is often in excess of a million dollars a year and which might well have helped to nudge the world into the global economic crisis.

Crisis or no crisis, almost everyone I encountered on a professional basis in America cabbies, bartend-ers, the folks who served you fast food and the people who pointed out to you the local sights of interest on a hop-on,hop-off tourist bus not just expected,but often demanded,a tip for doing whatever it was that they were supposed to be doing anyway,and for which presumably they were already being paid.And just in case you missed the point,sometimes theyd even do the arithmetic for you and tell you on a restaurant bill,for instance,exactly how much the tip worked out to if you left a 15 per cent tip,a 20 per cent tip or a 25 per cent tip.But 15 per cent was the absolute bottom line.If you tried to get away with anything less than that it was likely to be interpreted as an overt act of hostility liable to provoke an appropriately warlike response.

It got so much that whenever I found that once again i had lost my way which I have a great knack of doing,in America or anywhere else;why is it that the place im looking for is never in the place that im looking for it but in a totally different place altogether i wouldnt ask passers-by for directions.What if the person i stopped turned out to be a professional,unionised directions-giver and demanded a tip for the benefit of telling me that where i wanted to be wasnt where i was,and where i was wasnt was where i wanted to be Fifteen per cent,minimum,just to hear that Get lost.Which is exactly what i did.

Going around in circles in America, I realised that we in India also have a long tradition of giving tips.Except we dont call them tips.We call them guru dakshina,or tatkal,or speed money,or ghoos.Or just plain bribes.Which we perforce pay to service providers like cops,and babus,and politicians,and the guy who replaces our empty LPG cylinders,to make sure that they do indeed provide the service that they are meant to provide to begin with.And because we think of these things as bribes,we beat up on ourselves,and the world beats up on us,for being corrupt.No one beats up on Americans for being corrupt,not even those Americans who happen to be Wall Street bankers.Its a question of vocabulary.Change the word bribe into tip and corruption becomes capitalism.

So next time you have to make a hand-out to the LPG delivery man,or to your friendly,neighbourhood CWG contractor,dont think of it as a bribe.Think of it as a tip.As in a totally innocent practice.

jug.suraiya@timesgroup.com
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(source-toi)

3 awarded death penalty for killing 10 in Bihar village

Ara: A local court on Thursday awarded death sentence to three convicts and life imprisonment to eight others in connection with the massacre of 10 CPI-ML supporters at Nagari Bazaar village in Bihars Bhojpur district in 1998. The court of additional district and sessions judge Ajay Kumar Srivastava had earlier acquitted four accused while another accused,Bashishtha Pandey,died during the trial.The massacre was said to be a result of a war of attrition between CPI-ML and Ranveer Sena,a private army of upper caste landlords. Alleged Ranveer Sena goons gheraoed the village in the night of November 11,1998 and gunned down 10 CPI-ML supporters and injured two others.Altogether 55 people were named as accused in an FIR lodged in this connection.However,police chargesheeted only 16 of them.The court acquitted four of them.
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Unrecognised colleges must refund fee to students: Apex court

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the order of consumer fora that a college is bound to refund the fee of a student as it lacked recognition,a lacuna which amounted to deficiency in service.The apex court agreed with the contention of the student that she suffered loss of an academic year and mental harassment due to the unrecognised status of the college which forced her to withdraw her admission.A bench of justices Markandey Katju and T S Thakur directed the Vinayak Mission Dental College to refund the entire fee of Rs 5.15 lakh with interest to the student.It however set aside the order of the fora which had directed the college to pay a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh.The apex court passed the order while disposing of the colleges appeal challenging the concurrent findings of the Delhi State Consumer Commission and the National Commission which had held the college guilty of deficiency in service. While the state commisssion had imposed a fine of Rs 6.15 lakh besides asking it to refund the Rs 5.15 lakh fees the national commission pruned the compensation amount to Rs 2.5 lakh. Aggrieved, the college appealed in the apex court.

We are of the opinion that refund of the amount of fee deposited by the student with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum with effect from July 31,2000 till the date of payment meets the ends of justice, the bench said.The college had argued that there was no evidence that Khare had suffered any prejudice or inconvenience upon taking admission in it. The complainant refuted the contentions saying that the commission was justified in holding that there was deficiency in service on the part of the college. Khare had earlier filed a complaint with the Delhi State Consumer Commission alleging loss of an academic year and harassment by the unrecognised dental college in which she secured admission in the dental course.
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(source-toi)

Cong to mull mechanism to oversee CWG - BJP,CPM Demand Kalmadis Removal,Congress Distances From Kalmadi Saying OC Is Autonomous

New Delhi: With the spotlight relentlessly trained on the sleaze enveloping Commonwealth Games, Congress leadership has been forced to explore the feasibility of setting up a mechanism to oversee preparations for the mega event. The issue is to be discussed by the Congress core group,the partys top decision-making body,at its meeting on Friday.The government had ruled out the option of creating an oversight panel,with sports minister M S Gill turning down the demand made by nominated member Mani Shankar Aiyar in Rajya Sabha earlier this week.But with skeletons tumbling out of the cupboard of Suresh Kalmadiled Organising Committee with alarming regularity,the party appears to be bracing to revisit the issue.Signs of a rethink come amid Oppositions continued onslaught on Kalmadi.On Thursday,BJPs deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde demanded Kalmadis resignation citing the strictures passed by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and T S Darbaris statement that the OC chairman was involved in all the controversial decisions.CPMs Sitaram Yechury said the government should sack Kalmadi if it had any shame. It will be a tough call to take,and opinion is sharply split on the matter.A strong school in the government is in agreement with Gill that the OC should continue to run the show and government should not get identified with the controversy-ridden and,perhaps,a failing enterprise. Kalmadi has handled preparations almost as his personal show. But now that preparations have been exposed as shoddy and corruption-ridden, many see the arrangement as buffering the Govt. against the torrent of adverse publicity.On Thursday,the autonomy that the OC has enjoyed helped Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan fend off questions on the CAGs indictment of the OC for the unnecessary expenses on a number of counts.It is an autonomous body, she said at a media briefing.

The Congress again distanced itself from Kalmadi in light of fresh revelations of wasteful expenditure by the OC.Natarajan shoved aside questions based on Kalmadi being a Congress MP.He is in the OC in his role as the chief of Indian Olympic Association, she contended.
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QBR consultancy given to highest bidder,finds CAG


Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (OC) chairman Suresh Kalmadi may have to find another fall guy to stave off fresh corruption charges emerging in award of consultancy contract for prestigious Queens Baton Relay (QBR). This time,the probe by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed that OC awarded consultancy services work for QBR to the highest bidder an unknown Maxxam International for Rs 8.01 crore against all laid down norms.Those who were bypassed in the tender process after qualifying in the technical round included PricewaterhouseCoopers and Brilliant Entertainment Networks.While PricewaterhouseCoopers had quoted Rs 1.91 crore,the lowest bidder Brilliant Entertainment Networks had asked for Rs 1.85 crore to do the job that was finally awarded to Maxxam International for Rs 8.01 crore.

Interestingly,the OC cited prestige and honour of the country at stake among other reasons for backing Maxxam International.Brazenly,the OC cited rapport (of the firm) with various stakeholders and clear understanding of the requirements as reasons for awarding the contract to the highest bidder,sources said. This was,however,not the first consultancy firm that bagged the award despite being the highest bidder.In another similar favour made by the OC,it had awarded broadcast rights consultancy to London-based Fast Track Sales Ltd.Fast Track had been favoured against another bidder Sports Marketing and Management (SMAM) despite quoting a higher commission rate of 15% compared to SMAMs 12.5%.In the Maxxam case,the OC had invited tenders for providing consultancy services for QBR in May 2007.Three firms had responded to the advertisement,and a five-member committee was constituted to examine the tenders.After examination of the technical bids,three firms were called for presentation of their final bid in October 2007.After evaluating the three firms,the committee decided to award the work to Maxxam International,the highest bidder.
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Games funds were directed to renovate IOA Bhawan: CAG

Misuse of funds meant for Commonwealth Games 2010 was not just restricted to award of contracts to the highest bidder.In some cases,taxpayers money was channeled to unproductive and unrelated work.
A recent inspection report of CAG said the Organising Committee,headed by Suresh Kalmadi,had allocated special funds to renovate the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) building.Kalmadi is also IOA chairman.Since IOA had no legitimate claim to any CWG funds,it rented office space at the IOA building.The area rented was only 34% of the total office space at IOA Bhawan but that didnt deter OC from allocating funds for renovation of the entire building which cost it more than Rs 4 crore.OC undertook renovation work of the entire 20,000 sq ft of IOA Bhawan although it had actually acquired only 6,750 sq ft (33.75%) of space, the CAG report said.The renovation work was completed in Nov 2009,after a delay of about 20 months,while by September 2008,the OC had started shifting furniture from IOA Bhawan to NDCC Tower,which it had rented as the Games headquarters.TNN
==================================
ED may not quiz OC chief till Games end


Preliminary findings of the probe carried out by the Comptroller and Auditor General had revealed that undue favour had been made to London-based Fast Track Sales Ltd solely on the recommendation of CGF president Mike Fennell and OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi. ED officials may call suspended OC finance committee head M Jaychandran for questioning in the next few days seeking details on payments made to all foreign consultants.Sources said Kalmadi may not be called for questioning till October 13,the day the Games conclude.But efforts will be made to investigate all leads based on payments made so far to all foreign consultants by the OC.

Besides T S Darbari, ED has already questioned deputy DG of OC Sanjay Mohindroo for transactions related to AM Films.Joint DG and head of OCs finance committee M Jaychandran will be the third official who will be questioned by ED.The three of them had been earlier suspended by the OC on allegation of irregularities. The OC had approved the international broadcasting sales consultancy to Fast Track Sales Ltd only on the basis of suggestions made by the president and CEO of the Common wealth Games Federation (CGF) and chairman of the OC, according to documentary evidence gathered by CAG officials during the initial inspection of CWG books.The OC had signed agreements to the tune of Rs 208 crore ($46 million) with different agencies,including agreement in process amounting to over $3 million with British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for the broadcasting rights in UK.The commission to Fast Track on these broadcast rights was 15%.

The OC secretary general,Lalit Bhanot,has defended the award of the contract to Fast Track saying it was a well thought out decision as they did not want all works to go to SMAM.In a statement issued on Thursday,Commonwealth Games Federation CEO Mike Hooper also defended the decision of the CGF president in recommending Fast Track saying that though the federation did make this suggestion,but it was ultimately for the OC to select consultants for New Delhi CWG. Although the CGF supported the appointment of Fast Track, it strongly refutes any inference that it interfered in the selection process, Hooper said.
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(source-toi)

WASTE NOT,WANT NOT - Why not give foodgrains free to hungry instead of wasting it SC

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday agreed that foodgrains were rotting due to record procurement in the last three years without matching storage facility prompting the Supreme Court to suggest free distribution of foodgrains to millions of hungry instead of letting it rot in the open. The remarks came from a Bench comprising justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma after additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran read out food secretary Alka Sirohis affidavit virtually admitting shortage of storage facility. The Bench said: If this is the position,then increase the storage facility by constructing godowns in every district.But not a single grain of food should be wasted.If due to lack of storage facility foodgrains are rotting and getting wasted,then distribute it free to those hungry.The government could also increase the allocation to families covered under BPL and AAY schemes.

The court also took a serious view of the Centres allegation that though it was releasing adequate quantity of foodgrains,the states were not giving the assured 35 kg of grains per family per month under the public distribution system (PDS).It asked the state governments to file an affidavit within a week on this anamoly.Responding to the courts query for abolition of subsidised foodgrains to those above poverty line (APL) category under PDS,the Centre said that foodgrains at very cheap rate were first made available to BPL and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) category families.

Only when the requirement of BPL and AAY category were met,that the APL category families were provided foodgrains, Parasaran said.The Bench said if that was the position,then there was no need to abolish APL category which get grains at a price higher than BPL and AAY category.The Centre also said that it would consider implementing the apex courts suggestion to allocate foodgrains to poor families on the basis of the size of the family rather than a fixed quota of 35 kg a month.The Food Security Act will take this as well as the National Advisory Committees suggestion to treat the entire population in half of the total number of districts in certain backward states as BPL and give foodgrains accordingly, it said.The Centre also agreed with the courts suggestion for total computerisation of the PDS foodgrain supply mechanism to weed out rampant corruption and pilferage.

Parasaran told the court that the government has set up a task force,National Informatics Centre,which would include representatives from Unique Identification Authority of India,department of food and public distribution,FCI and select food secretaries from states to work out the modalities for integration of existing projects.
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(source-toi)
























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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Marriage of minor couple valid,says HC

In a rare judgment that may have far-reaching consequences,Delhi High Court on Wednesday came to the rescue of two minors who had got married against their parents wishes,ruling that their wedding was valid. The court ruled that though the marriage flouted one of clauses in Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act which lays down the minimum age of marriage as 18 years for the bride and 21 for the groom this in itself did not make the marriage void.

A division bench comprising Justices B D Ahmed and V K Jain said the clause which laid down the minimum age (clause III,section 5),wasnt one of the conditions stipulated in the Hindu Marriage Act that would render a marriage void.A Hindu marriage solemnized in contravention of Clause III,Section 5 of the HMA... does not fall in the category of voidable marriages, the bench ruled.The court said that even under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act,the marriage involving minors had not been declared as invalid.The Act just says that the marriage can be annulled on this ground if a plea is made by the minor partner.

It is clear that where,earlier,a child marriage may not have been voidable under personal law,as in the case of the Hindu Marriage Act,by virtue of the Section 3 of the Prohibition of Child marriage Act,it has explicitly been made voidable at the option of the child spouse.But nobody other than a party to the marriage can petition for its annulment, the court said.It said the legislature while drafting the provisions of the Act had consciously left out marriages in contravention of the age stipulation from the category of invalid marriages.

The petitioner,Jitendra Kumar Sharma,who is not yet 18 years old,had sought the courts intervention after a criminal case was registered against him on the complaint of his 16-year-old wifes family.They alleged that the boy had abducted her.

The court ordered quashing of the FIR,stating that Poonam (the bride) has stated that she left her home on her own and of her own free will... continuing proceedings pursuant to them would be an exercise in futility.
(source-toi)

























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Wakf Board says APIIC,Emaar deal null and void

The dubious deal between the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) and Emaar Properties PJSC is getting murkier with the Wakf Board on Wednesday alleging that the agreement between the two parties was null and void.Their claim: The 535 acres of land in Manikonda village given to Emaar by APIIC is part of the 1,654 acres and 32 guntas belonging to the Wakf institution, Dargah Hazrath Hussain Shah Vali,and not the government.Hence,as land owners,a deal signed without the boards consent is illegal,they say. For three years now,the Wakf board has been fighting a legal battle with the government over this land,but to no avail.However,with the APIIC-Emaar deal coming under cloud,they hope to make a breakthrough in the case that has been pending in the High Court.The charges made by the Wakf Board in the case are as follows: Illegal possession of Wakf property by the government;selling of this land to private parties without the consent of the board;non-payment of compensation,either in the form of land or money,to the board in return for the property.

To begin with,the legal counsel of the board allege that the government,in defiance of both a Nazim-e-Atiyath order (of 1957) and a High Court judgment,transferred the entire property on its name.The board was not aware of the development at any stage.The lawyer claims,the High Court judgment of both 1961 and 2007 clearly states that the above mentioned land belongs to the Wakf Board.The government ignored both of them. A copy of these orders are in the possession of TOI. Further,the government,under APIIC,sold close to 80 per cent of this land to private parties without the consent of the Wakf Board the legal owner of the land.The right of the board over the land is not disputable under any law.Yet,APIIC signed the deals without the knowledge of the board.This clearly makes these deals illegal, the counsel said.

Worse,APIIC did not make any offer to compensate the boards loss.It is a prime property worth at least Rs 20 crore per acre.But not a penny has reached the board coffers so far.The boards demand that the entire property be returned to it has also not yielded any result, said the source from the board. As things stand now,the Wakf Board has been kicked out of its own land and is left to fight a longdrawn legal battle.Each time the case comes up for hearing,APIIC brings up a different excuse to get the hearing posted for a later date, the lawyer added. Meanwhile,with the APIICEmaar deal coming to the fore,activists and politicians fighting for the Wakf s rights are gearing for a fresh battle.This case has exposed the illegal dealings of APIIC and now it is only a matter of time before the government loses the case against Wakf Board too, said MIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi adding,As for Emaar and other private groups functioning on property,they can turn tenants of the board and pay rent for using the land.
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Decision on murky deal at board meet

Reacting to the 535-acre Emaar land deal controversy,B R Meena,vice-chairman and managing director of the APIIC said that the final decision on Emaar properties misdoing would be taken at the next board meeting of the corporation.Emaar has sold its stake in the Boulder Hills project at Gachibowli (which came up on land leased out to Emaar by APIIC) to Emaar MGF,an offshoot of the Emaar group.At the Tuesdays board meeting,we have already discussed the matter at length.We will take a final call on the case at the next board meeting,the date for which has not been fixed yet, Meena said.Further,he rubbished claims that the APIIC top brass was in the know of things about the Emaar-MGF deal.

As part of the 2003 agreement with Emaar Properties we did have two representatives on the board of  APIIC-Emaar joint venture.But these officials did not have any authority to take a decision on APIICs behalf.Emaar should have separately informed the government body about this deal, Meena said.
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(Dource-TOI)
(source-saakshi)
(source-saakshi)
(source-saakshi)

Cabinet approves bill to protect whistleblowers

A proposed legislation to protect whistleblowers and provide for severe punishment to those exposing the identity of people disclosing information was approved by the Government on Monday. The Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, 2010 provides the Central Vigilance Commission powers of a civil court to hand down harsh penalty to people revealing the identity of whistleblowers. The bill was approved at a meeting of the Union Cabinet. The bill, which has provisions to prevent victimisation or disciplinary action against whistleblowers will cover, Central, State and Public Sector Employees.

The Bill is expected to encourage disclosure of information in public interest and people who expose corruption in government. The bill has clauses which provide fine and penalties to people, who punish those exposing corruption. The CVC will be the nodal authority to handle complaints against the state, Central government or PSU employees.

According to reports, the CVC will also have powers to punish those making frivolous complaints in accordance with the bill's provisions.
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(source-Lawyers club of india)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SHRC chiefs post falls vacant

The office of the chairperson at SHRC falls vacant on Wednesday with incumbent B Subhashan Reddy retiring after a fiveyear term.As the government has not found a successor to Subhashan Reddy,M Rama Rao,who was chosen as the judicial member of the commission,would be temporarily holding charge.
In a new development,Pera Reddy took charge as the administrative (non-judicial ) member of the commission.Significantly,the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Tuesday vacated the stay on Pera Reddys selection.Last month,the selection committee had chosen Pera Reddy as the nonjudicial member,but human rights activists had moved the court against the nomination.

The two members along with the outgoing chairperson are expected to form a bench and hear a handful of cases slotted for Wednesday.On the penultimate day of Reddys tenure,only 33 cases were heard,against an average of 300-odd cases everyday.This,the officials at the SHRC said,was to ensure Subhashan Reddy gets to enjoy a light day.Pera Reddy heard around five cases along with the SHRC chief on Tuesday afternoon,thereby pushing the number of pending cases further.

With a large number of cases pending before the commission,rights activists are wondering when the next chairperson will assume charge.Also the choice of the candidate is equally important,point out activists,as the cases pending before the commission for a long time need to be disposed at the earliest.
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(source:toi)

Subhashan Reddy retiring on Wednesday





















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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

(source-saakshi)

Cabinet okays bill on whistleblowers - CVC Will Act As Civil Court To Prosecute The Wrongdoers

The much awaited legislation on protection for whistleblowers got the goahead from the Union Cabinet on Monday.The Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, 2010, provides the CVC powers of a civil court to enable it punish and penalise people revealing the identity of whistleblowers. As per the Bill, which is likely to be introduced in ongoing session of Parliament, the onus will be on the CVC to protect the identity of citizens who provide information about the misuse of governmental authority and funds.

While the CVC will be empowered to take action against those who reveal the identity of the whistleblowers or those who threaten them,those who make frivolous complaints will also be liable to be punished.The Bill also proposes that no court can interfere in the case and can have any powers over the decision made by CVC. The law,which was conceived in the wake of the gruesome murder of NHAI engineer Satyendra Dubey who complained against corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral project,was supported by the Law Commission in its 2002 report.The apex court had also asked the government to come out with a proper legislation to protect whistleblowers.

The Bill,which has provisions to prevent victimisation of whistleblowers and shield them from so-called disciplinary action,will cover central,state and public sector employees. It has clauses which provide for fine and penalties to people,who punish those exposing corruption.The CVC will be the nodal authority to handle complaints against the state,central government or PSU employees.

In the recent past,there has also been a rise in the number of attacks on RTI activists across the country.In the latest incident,activist Amit Jethwa was shot outside the high court in Ahmedabad last month.Jethwa had named BJP's Junagadh MP Dinu Solanki while exposing illegal mining in the Gir forest area in Gujarat.
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(source-toi)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

(source-saakshi)

Citizens’ forum to support whistleblowers -Citizens Forum Against Corruption supported by SKDF

When Executive Engineer SK Nagarwal reported corruption in railway track laying in West Bengal, his saga with colluding officials and contractors began. Now, supported by the SK Dubey foundation, a citizens' forum has sprung up to protect Nagarwal and other whistleblowers. (Varupi Jain reports. Varupi Jain is pursuing a graduate degree in Small Enterprise Promotion at the University of Leipzig, Germany. She is a freelance journalist, and writes regularly for India Together.)
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03 March 2005 – A railway official is murdered for reporting corruption in a railway project. Another official who dared to do the same is running for his life. Corruption, as always, is corroding official machinery. Can those who dare to speak out expect anything other than victimization, transfers and threats to life? A forum of eminent citizens has come together to find an answer.

S K Nagarwal was Executive Engineer working on the Eklakhi-Balurghat New Railway Line (in West Bengal). On reporting corruption in this project to his superiors (including the Railway Board), the letter of complaint was leaked to the contractor mafia who have threatened to eliminate him and his family. He was transferred many times and his bosses tarnished his Annual Confidential Reports. Official facilities he receives like a vehicle, supporting staff, telephones, etc., were withdrawn. Besides this, his superiors forced him to work under a junior officer to him and he was insulted before his subordinates. The new track was designed and constructed for a speed of 100 kmph. However, the Commissioner of Safety approved the track only for a speed of 60 kmph. At some places, the quality is so poor that almost 40 km of the total stretch of 87 Km could be approved for a speed of 10 Km per hour! Contractors used sub-standard ballast & blanketing material in the construction and this could easily cause a derailment. The line sinks severely at several places during the rains.

Nagarwal complained. On getting no positive response from General Manager/Construction, he wrote to the Advisor/Vigilance, Railway Board with evidence. However, his complaint was routinely forwarded, along with his identity, to the Northeast Frontier (NF) Railway Vigilance Department despite there being clear instructions from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) against identity of complainant being disclosed during investigations. But the vigilance department of NF Railways did conduct raids on the Eklakhi-Balurghat Project. However, the contractor suspects soon managed to influence the Vigilance Department and later also threatened Nagarwal.

According to CVC rules, Nagarwal's case should have been taken over by the CBI. However, officials have worked together to violate these rules. In July 2003, Nagarwal was transferred to Katihar from Malda (West Bengal) and his complaint was quietly dumped and forgotten. Then, within three months, he was transferred to Guwahati. His movements and those of his family members who were living alone at Farakka were being traced while another whistleblower, Satyendra Dubey was murdered in similar circumstances – reason enough for Nagarwal to apply for security.

The Guwahati High Court which had directed protection for Nagarwal. However, this has not been provided even six months after this order has been passed. When NF Railway authorities disobeyed the court's orders, Nagarwal had to file two contempt petitions to force railways to comply. He asserts that what he has now is inadequate.

Under Supreme Court directions, the Central Government had recently issued an order making the CVC the nodal agency to protect whistleblowers. According to this order, if any whistleblower makes a complaint of corruption to the CVC, the CVC would be required to provide protection to the whistleblower against any physical attack and administrative victimization, to protect the identity of the whistleblower and to ensure proper investigation into charges of corruption. Citing this order, Nagarwal sought protection from the CVC in August 2004 but in vain. Also, the CVC has issued detailed rules in the form of vigilance manuals, which should be followed by all vigilance agencies working in Central Government Departments. According to these rules, Nagarwal’s complaint – containing strong evidences of corruption, forgery and falsification of records – should have been entrusted to the CBI. This has not been done so far.

The Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of the Indian Railways is an important internal functionary in these matters. (Many departments of the government have their own internal vigilance wing, but under the administrative control of department.) The CVO should have transferred all officials suspected to be guilty in this case. Ironically, however, Nagarwal himself was transferred twice. The CVO, Indian Railways and the N.F.Railway have worked together to violate the rules. It is to provide a credible support to whistleblowers that a group of eminent and concerned citizens have come together as Citizens Forum Against Corruption (CFAC). The forum was formed in October 2004. CFAC boasts of members from diverse fields: Admiral R H Tahiliyani, Ajit Mozoomdar, Arvind Kejriwal, Colin Gonsalves, Justice Leila Seth, Kamini Jaiswal Muchkund Dubey, Madhu Bhaduri, Prabhash Joshi, Prashant Bhushan, R Parmeshwar, Ramaswamy R. Iyer, Sanjay Parikh, Sudhir Verma, Shekhar Singh, S K Jha, SP Shukla and Vinod Khanna. According to CFAC spokesperson T K Naveen, the forum typically invites cases of corruption from whistleblowers who have information and evidence and who would like to report such a case anew or who have already reported such cases but have not received adequate response from the government. A working group of the panel scrutinizes the evidence and presents a summary document to the panel.

Says Naveen, "much energy during the initial two three months was spent on putting some sort of system in place." Most of the expenses are borne by various individual members. There is also some financial support from the S K Dubey foundation. There are no other funds. Nagarwal's case is the first case in which the forum has acted. In the Nagarwal case, for instance, the forum has approached the CVC and concerned authorities enquiring about the nature and quantum of action taken until now and action proposed to be taken. For other cases which are currently being processed, the final decision on represenation has not been taken. "CFAC will take up only those cases which have a serious impact on public interest where significant amounts or serious illegality is involved, or which involve high offices held by the person's involved and also those cases revealing gross systemic deficiencies," says Naveen.
CFAC says they will ensure complete anonymity to officers do not want their identity revealed. But for the cases that have come up before CFAC presently, officers are willing to put their name out in the open. But "CFAC members have reputation to have dealt with the sensitivity that is needed in such cases", says Naveen.

For each case that the panel decides to take up, the panel will first write to the concerned department, CVC, CBI and other investigative agencies to inquire and to take adequate action. If CFAC does not receive adequate response or see sufficient action it may make the matter public to expose concerned department or vigilance agency. As a last resort, CFAC may decide to take the case to court. India is the world's largest and over half-a-century old democracy. It is also here that government servants can be murdered for speaking the truth against government. If civil society initiatives like the CFAC have a few successes that include justice for whistleblowers, it will inspire confidence among more whistleblowers to come out and report corruption. This is both the hope and promise.
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( CFAC, TK Naveen, (Mobile-09810243553), (e-mail - tk.naveen@gmail.com)
C-67 Sector 14,
NOIDA.
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(source - Whistleblowers India)