Friday, December 19, 2014
Thursday, December 18, 2014
A bench of Justices Kailash Gambhir and Najmi Waziri also ordered New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to carry out a survey within a week to identify pavements and footpaths that have been encroached upon by hawkers so they can be removed. "By definition, footpaths are meant for pedestrians and the latter have the first right over these. The rights of pedestrians can't be compromised in the name of providing livelihood to hawkers in metropolises," the bench noted.
The high court expressed shock that NDMC had failed to comply with an earlier order to conduct a survey on encroachments.
The court was hearing a plea by one Suman Lata who had sought directions to NDMC to renew her lease for running a pan stall. The civic agency had found the premises were being misused because hazardous material like gas cylinders were being stored improperly and the stall was encroaching on public land. Dismissing the plea, the single judge had directed NDMC to carry out a survey and file an action taken report in 12 weeks. The deadline fixed by the court ended last week. On its part, NDMC informed the bench that surveys are being carried out on various roads and it has so far examined 257 sites.
However, the division bench was not satisfied, and termed the current state of affairs as "horrifying" since occupants of kiosks carried out various activities "beyond their allocated spaces and blocked spaces meant for pedestrians."
A single-judge bench of Justice Surya Prakash Kesarwani passed the order after clubbing five petitions from couples hailing from Siddhartha Nagar, Deoria, Kanpur, Sambhal, Pratapgarh and Mau in Uttar Pradesh.
The court said that the conversion of a person, “without any real belief in the religion to which he/she is converting, was null and void”. Such a marriage was against the tenets of the Quran and also the rulings of the Supreme Court on the issue, it added.
While dismissing the couples’ pleas, the court said: “The alleged conversion of petitioner No. 1 (girl) in each of the writ petitions cannot be said to be bona fide or valid. The religion of petitioner was converted at the instance of petitioner No. 2 (boys) to marry with the girl. The petitioner girls have stated that they do not know about Islam. In the writ petitions, as well as in the statements on oath made before this court, the petitioner girls have not stated that they have any real faith and belief in the unity of God and Mohammed to be prophet. They all stated that the boy got their religion converted with sole purpose to marry with her.”
Concluding that these marriages were “ against the mandate of... the Holy Quran”, the court said: “Thus conversion of religion to Islam in the present of facts of the girls, without their faith and belief in Islam and at the instances of the boys, solely for the purpose of marriage, cannot be said to be a valid conversion to Islam religion.”
The petitioners (girls), most of whom were aged around 18 or 19, had earlier submitted before court that they “did not know anything about Islam; they were not in the room when their religion was converted; and that they converted only because the boys wanted them to.”
The boys had also submitted before court that they were not aware of the paperwork regarding conversion. But they did admit that they had got the women converted for the sake of marriage.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Friday, December 12, 2014
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Welukar, 55, was appointed on July 7, 2010, for five years. His appointment has been challenged by three persons, including one of his rivals for the V-C's post.
The division bench's judgment will be placed before a bench headed by HC chief justice Mohit Shah that originally heard the challenge for further orders.
The Justice Shah-led bench had made a reference to the division bench on only two points of the overall case. First, whether the three-member search committee's selection of Welukar as an eligible candidate on an essential criterion—five (out of 12) research publications must be post-PhD, peer-reviewed, published in international research journals and referred for study in higher education—suffers from non-application of mind. Second, should the HC in its extraordinary discretionary jurisdiction direct the search committee to reconsider Welukar's eligibility? The division bench of Justices P V Hardas and Anuja Prabhudessai answered in the affirmative for both.
In August 2011, a division bench headed by Justice Shah gave a split verdict on petitions challenging Welukar's appointment by differing on the five research publications. Subsequently, a single judge could also not decide on it. Hence, a reference was made to another division bench.
In a strongly-worded judgment written by Justice Prabhudessai, the bench said on Thursday that since there is no statutory requirement for the search panel to record reasons, it did not mean its decision should not be based on reason. It also did not confer upon it "any immunity from application of mind to all relevant considerations and exclude irrelevant consideration".
In Welukar's case, there is no material to indicate that the committee considered if seven of the 12 submitted publications were discarded and the remaining five fulfilled the eligibility criteria. Even in court, it could not specify which five publications were considered, said the ruling.
The judges said the facts lead to the conclusion that the search committee had abdicated its functions by accepting Welukar's claim disclosed in his resume at face value or relying entirely on notings prepared by a nodal officer without independently ascertaining whether the publications fulfilled the requirement of research publications and, consequently, whether Welukar possessed the minimum requisite eligibility. "This in our considered view is an error touching the decision-making process," they added.
The bench said neither the committee nor the chancellor was entitled to relax essential eligibility on research publications.
Passing the matter to the other bench, the judges said it is unable to decide if the five publications of Welukar meet the stipulated requirement; it is for an expert body to assess, review and determine.
Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) on Thursday registered a case against Finance Minister K M Mani in connection with the allegation that he had accepted bribe from a bar hotel owner to renew liquor licence.
Mani, chairman of Christian-dominated regional party Kerala Congress (M), is listed as the first accused.
Mani termed the case as an outcome of a political conspiracy and turned down the Opposition demand that he should quit. Kerala Congress (M) and Congress rallied behind the beleaguered minister, one of the senior leaders of the ruling coalition United Democratic Front. Catholic Church and upper class Hindu Nair leadership too rushed its support for Mani. Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council chairman Cardinal Clemis doubted whether registering a case would make Mani a corrupt politician. Nair leader G Sukumaran Nair said he did not think that Mani was corrupt.
Last month, prominent bar hotel owner and their trade body working president Biju Ramesh levelled the allegation that he had paid a bribe of Rs 1 crore to Mani in two installments against the minister’s demand for Rs 5 crore.
Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan soon rushed a letter to Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala that a case be registered against Mani as per the Prevention of Corruption Act. Accordingly, the VACB went for a quick verification report. Its sleuths recorded the statements of 29 persons and found that prima facie a case could be framed against Mani as per sections 7 and 13 (D) of anti-corruption act. The VACB mainly depended on the statement of Ramesh driver Ambili, who had allegedly gone to Mani’s house in Pala in hand over the money.
While VACB’s quick verification was in the process, two LDF leaders had moved the high court seeking a directive to the agency to register case against Mani. The court rejected the petition, with a rider that VACB director should take a decision based on the quick verification report. The legal adviser at the VACB reported that an FIR could be registered against Mani.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Monday, December 8, 2014
Friday, December 5, 2014
Heavy drinking while pregnant is NOT a crime Unborn children have no rights, appeal judges decide A CHILD left disabled after her mother drank her way through pregnancy has been refused compensation – because the girl was ‘not a person’ at the time. The council now caring for the seven-year-old argued she had been a victim of violence after the alcoholic mother downed half a bottle of vodka and eight cans of lager a day. But Lord Justice Treacey said: ‘Parliament could have legislated to criminalise the excessive drinking of a pregnant woman – but it has not done so.’ The Court of Appeal decision to deny the girl a payout from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board comes as a blow to other children who have Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. About 3,000 babies are born with the condition in Britain each year and lawyers were ready to bring 80 claims had the council won. The girl in the test case is being fostered and suffers from development, memory and behaviour problems. Neil Sugarman, who represented the council in the north-west of England, said: ‘Everyone involved with the case is disappointed with the outcome and will need time to digest the judgment and consider their options. ‘I am pleased that this case has raised awareness of the dangers of drinking during pregnancy.’ The judges’ decision was hailed by women’s rights campaigners who said that, had the girl won, mothers could have landed in court for doing anything harmful to a foetus, such as eating soft-boiled eggs. Ann Furedi, of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said last night: ‘This is an extremely important ruling for mothers everywhere. ‘Women must be able to make their own decisions about their pregnancies.’
Gujarat high court on Thursday directed the chief secretary to see that the district collector's initiative to curb illegal mining of limestone are facilitated with additional manpower.
The HC has intervened in this issue in response to a PIL filed by Dilip Modhwadia through advocate Sandhya Natani. In the past, the Porbandar collector had asked 224 lease holders of limestone mining across the district to put up a fence around their lease land in order to identify and curb illegal mining of limestone. In absence of any demarcation of lease lands, the leaseholders start mining in adjacent land without permission.
When the leaseholders failed to fence off their tracts, the administration snapped electricity connections and other facilities. This led to 15 leaseholders to put up fencing around their plots. The electricity connection was restored in their case.
After the PIL was filed raising the issue of illegal mining, the HC asked the district collector about precautionary steps taken by the administration. The authorities got into action suddenly, the collector ordered measurement of lease tracts and to put up fence around them.
As the proceedings went on before the HC, the court also asked the petitioner to make some of the leaseholders party into proceeding. On Thursday, 114 members of the association of limestone leaseholders moved the HC and requested to become part of the litigation. The HC has allowed them to be joined in the proceedings. Further hearing is kept on December 16.
Concerned at rising pendency of cases older than five years in high courts, Chief Justice of India Justice H L Dattu has written to chief justices of all HCs asking them to ensure that such cases are not pending in any court, including the subordinate judiciary under them.
Pendency of over five-year-old cases has significantly increased in high courts, with 30-40% of such cases in many of them. In the Allahabad high court, country's largest HC, this pendency is as high as 60%. Interestingly, pendency of such cases in subordinate courts has come down to 4%-6%.
Sources said the CJI had written to the CJs of HCs last month as pendency of old cases had substantially gone up in many of these courts. In several judgements earlier, the apex court had expressed displeasure on the subordinate judiciary giving repeated adjournments, prolonging trial.
In order to enforce SC orders, the government had even brought in relevant amendments in Section 309 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and suggested the idea of imposing cost on judges for giving unnecessary adjournments in civil cases. It was, however, never done.
The amendments in CrPC, intended to give speedier justice, were notified effective November 1, 2010 and provide for no more than three adjournments. Sources in the law ministry said it is not being implemented by courts and resulting in uncalled for increase in the pendency of cases.
Section 309 of CrPC provides that "every inquiry or trial shall be held as expeditiously as possible and the recording of examination of witnesses shall be continued on day-to-day basis unless the court finds the adjournment of the same beyond the following day to be necessary for reasons to be recorded".
With subordinate courts bringing down the pendency of older cases, the focus of the apex court is now on HCs to clear all cases older than five years, many of which are cases of heinous crimes against women and children.
The Delhi high court has been informed by the city government's food safety department that samples of rice dishes collected by it from two popular eateries here have been found to be unsafe.
In an affidavit filed by the department, it said that the presence of artificial colour rendered the dishes "unsafe" for human consumption.
Samples taken from KFC's restaurant at Scindia House in Connaught Place of its "Rizo Rice" showed it to be unsafe due to the presence of artificial colour, the affidavit said.
Rice samples collected for testing from Sagar Ratna restaurant in Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar also were found to be unsafe.
The response of the government came on a petition seeking ban on the sale of fruits, vegetables and food items with artificial colours and pesticides.
The affidavit said legal action has been initiated against the offenders.
It also said samples of ghee collected from various eateries were found to be of "sub-standard" quality and were "misbranded" to mislead the public.
Samples of fruit and vegetable chutney picked up from the Bikanerwala restaurant at the ITL Tower in Netaji Subhash Place also showed addition of artificial colours.
After the high court's direction, the department has been regularly inspecting fruits and vegetables in markets here to detect colours and pesticide residue in them.
A total of 1,420 samples of various edible items were taken since the court issued the direction March 5. Five of them showed the presence of pesticide residue above the prescribed tolerance limit.
The court had acted suo motu on a report by NGO Consumer Voice, which in 2010 found that 35 varieties of vegetables and fruits, picked from Delhi markets and tested for pesticide content, had toxins beyond permissible limits.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
This is the first time the Supreme Court will have a dedicated bench to hear cases pertaining to public interest and all fresh PILs may be heard by the new bench from now. Currently, such cases are scattered over different benches.
Notifying the constitution of a two-judge bench on Wednesday, the CJI, through an official note, expressed concern over pendency of several cases in the Supreme Court without a proper hearing.
Cases that relate to problems in society and those which have a direct impact on the rights of the people are the areas where the constitutional mechanism has to play a proactive role so as to meet the goals of the Constitution, according to the note.
“Honb’le the Chief Justice of India is of the view that these cases shall be given a specialised approach for their early disposal so that the masses will realise the fruits of the rights provided to them by the constitutional text,” stated the note, adding the CJI’s order aimed at securing social justice — one of the ideals of the Constitution.
Secretary General VSR Avadhani told The Indian Express that the CJI has directed that the Social Justice Bench would start functioning from December 12. The new bench will devise a procedure to expeditiously deal with the issues and would continue to sit on every working Friday at 2 pm to monitor the implementation of its directions to authorities concerned.
Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Uday U Lalit would comprise the bench, which will hear not only the pending cases but also all the fresh matters on the pertinent issues. Out of around 200 such cases pending in the court, 65 cases have been identified to begin with and the cases, already pending before other benches, may get transferred to the special bench on the directions of the CJI.
Release of surplus food grains for people affected by natural calamities after framing a comprehensive scheme for public distribution, rehabilitation of sex workers, prevention of untimely death of pregnant women and children due to malnourishment or lack of medical care, hygienic mid-day meal, shelter homes for the destitute and homeless and education for the children are illustrations of the kind of cases that the new bench would take up.