Thursday, August 27, 2015

India loses solar case against US at WTO; to appeal

India has lost another case against the US at WTO as the body ruled that India's domestic content requirements under its solar power programme were inconsistent with the international norms.

India will now approach the appellate body of the Geneva-based WTO against the dispute panel's ruling, an official said.

Last year, the US dragged India to WTO on country's solar mission plan.

The US alleged that India's programme appears to discriminate against the US solar equipment by requiring solar energy producers to use locally manufactured cells and by offering subsidies to those developers who use domestic equipment.

 US drags India to WTO on solar mission programme

It also alleged that forced localization requirements restricted US exports to Indian markets.

On January 11, 2010, India launched its national solar policy Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.

The country has an ambitious target of generating 20,000MW of solar power by 2022.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Whether Courts could direct a state to rebuild religious places damaged due to its failure to maintain law and order'

The Supreme Court on Wednesday faced a tricky constitutional question -- 'whether courts could direct a state to rebuild religious places damaged due to its failure to maintain law and order'.

The question was faced by a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant as it started final hearing on a petition filed by the Gujarat government challenging a high court order that the state was duty bound to reimburse the cost of restoration of shrines damaged during the 2002 communal riots.

Appearing for Islamic Relief Centre, Gujarat (IRCG), senior advocate Yusuf Muchala said the state government had completely abdicated its constitutional role to maintain law and order and protect lives and property of citizens during the communal riots and hence, it was its secular duty to restore the mosques and dargahs damaged by mobs.

"The National Human Rights Commission had directed the state to conduct a survey of damage to places of worship of Muslims during the riots. A defiant state which had failed to protect the religious places belonging to minority community has conducted no such survey even after more than a decade. The religious minority suffered gravely. Attack on religious places was an attack on the religious identity of the community. The motive was to inflict humiliation on the minority," Muchala said.

For the state, additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the bench that a scheme was framed by the government to pay compensation to religious places at the rate applicable to damaged residential and commercial properties.

However, Mehta put a constitutional caveat, "Right to practice, profess and propagate any religious belief is part of fundamental rights. But right to worship from a particular place is not. Is giving compensation to rebuild religious places part of the secular scheme of governance?

"Under the constitutional scheme, a court cannot direct a state government to utilize taxpayers money for religious purposes. Most of the damaged religious places have been restored with community funding. Even if the state was directed to meet the expenses incurred, whom should it be paid?"

The bench had a different concern. How could the HC designate district judges as special officers and task them with assessing damage to the shrines and quantify the cost of restoration, it asked.

"Asking district judges to send a report on damaged places of worship is one thing. But under what procedure of law will the district judge gather evidence about damage, examine witnesses and allow their cross-examination and quantify the damages? Moreover, in civil law, there is a time limit for claiming compensation. That time limit expired a long time ago. A court cannot extend that period of limitation," the bench said. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Send babus and netas' kids to govt schools: HC

The Allahabad high court on Tuesday took a serious note of the pathetic condition of primary schools in the state and directed the chief secretary to ensure that children/wards of government officials/servants, those serving in the local bodies, representatives of people and judiciary, etc., send their wards to these schools.

"Only then would they be serious enough to look into the requirements of these schools and ensure that they are run in good condition," the court observed.

Student washing utensils in school suffers electric shock, NHRC notice to UP govt

Hearing a slew of writ petitions filed by Umesh Kumar Singh and several others, Justice Sudhir Agarwal directed the chief secretary to take steps within six months so as to make the aforesaid directions effective from the next academic session of primary schools.

The court also directed him to submit a compliance report immediately after the lapse of six months.

The issue involved in the writ petitions was with regard to appointment of assistant teachers in state's 

During the course of hearing, the court noticed the deplorable condition of these schools and observed that although they are catering to the needs of 90% population of children, their condition could be described as "shabby."

The court further observed that as officials responsible for running these primary schools are treating them in a shabby manner, these schools have given rise to multiple litigations.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

No alimony if woman divorced over adultery, HC rules

A woman divorced on the ground of adultery cannot claim maintenance from her ex-husband, the Madras high court has ruled.

The judge made the observation while allowing a criminal revision case filed by a government staffer challenging a lower court's order to pay a monthly maintenance of Rs 1,000 to his former wife, whom he divorced in 2011 on the ground of adultery.

"Just as a man has an obligation to maintain his divorced wife, the woman also has an obligation not to have illicit relationship with another man," Justice Nagamuthu said.

"The divorcee would suffer disqualification from claiming maintenance if she had relationship with another man. She was entitled to get maintenance from the person with whom she had relationship and not from the ex-husband," he said.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Suspended Advocate Son held for giving client fake HC order

City police on Friday arrested Homi Maratha, a resident of Ambavadi, for creating a fake Gujarat high court order by forging the signature of the then judge, Justice HK Rathod. Crime branch officials said Homi's father, Navinchandra Maratha, who is a suspended advocate, is also an accused in the same case.

"We could not find him at his residence," said a police officer. "We are searching for him."

Assistant Commissioner of Police, crime branch, KN Patel said Sanjay Dalal, an army officer then based in Ahmedabad, had approached Homi Maratha to file a petition against the Army denying him promotion to the rank of Colonel.

"Dalal had come to know about the advocate while surfing the Net," said police inspector J S Geddam. "Nevertheless, posing as an advocate, Homi accepted the case and took Rs 1.60 lakh from the Army Officer as advance payment of the total fee of Rs 3 lakh."

Crime branch officials said later Dalal was transferred to Rajasthan and even promoted to the post of Colonel in Bikaner.

"However, when Dalal inquired about the outcome of the petition, Homi mailed him the fake high court order with forged signature of Justice HK Rathod," said Geddam. "The court order was in his favour. Homi took the remaining Rs 1.40 lakh of the fee."

Sources in the crime branch said that when the Colonel demanded the original copy of the order to submit it to the army, Homi began giving excuses.

"The Colonel became suspicious," said a crime branch official. "When he checked the status of his petition, he found that the petition number given to him by Dalal was of some other plea." Police officials said correspondence with the Gujarat high court registrar also revealed that no such petition was filed.

Later, the Colonel approached the city crime branch and lodged a complaint against Homi and his father Navinchandra.

"During investigation, we found that the fake court order was mailed by Homi and, hence, we arrested him," said police inspector Geddam. "We are searching for his father Navinchandra who has been suspended by the Bar Council in connection with 14 cases of cheating lodged against him at Dholka police station."

Uber rape case: You are trying to destroy criminal justice system, SC raps accused

The Supreme Court on Thursday slammed the accused in the Uber cab rape case, saying he was trying to "destroy criminal justice system" by seeking re-examination of the victim who has only been "embarrassed and insulted" by him in her earlier deposition.

The bench headed by Justice JS Khehar came hard on the accused while reserving verdict on two pleas of Delhi police and the victim against a Delhi High Court decision allowing the accused cab driver to recall 13 prosecution witnesses, including the girl in the trial.

"You are, in a way, trying to destroy the criminal justice system of this country. You are saying that let this person sit on our head. You are trying to say that the criminal should be honoured and he should get everything which he wants," the bench, also comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said.

"Don't play fool with us. We are used to counsel. We are used with the jugglery of words," it said at the fag end of the day and asked the counsel for accused to show one "good" ground for recall of witnesses including the girl.

The bench may also lay down guidelines as to whether an accused has right to get witnesses recalled for re-examination in a criminal trial.

Referring to trial court records, the bench said, "You are asking totally irrelevant and nonsense questions in the cross-examination."

"So far as the occurrence of crime is concerned, in the three days of the cross-examination, there was no relevant questions were asked by you," the bench, also comprising Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said.

The prosecutrix gave a "perfect answer" to question asked about the cab's picture taken by her and "For three days you only embarrassed her. You only insulted her," it said.

"We feel you have all nonsense at your hand. For three days what you did except to humiliate the prosecutrix who made the allegations,"

The bench said the counsel for accused "wasted three days to come to the most crucial questions "related to the offence.

"All your questions doesn't matter to the crime. Whether she spoke to her mother before making complaint does not matter here," the bench said.

During the day-long hearing, the apex court also raised questions on move of accused Shiv Kumar Yadav to seek recall of witnesses including the victim and said that this man is "master" in playing legal tricks.

The meticulous planning done by accused is usually unheard of a person like him, it said.

Despite being a judge of the Supreme Court, such ideas don't strike us, one of the judges said, while referring to the steps taken by the accused to prolong the trial and demolish the case of the prosecution.

Referring to the change of defence lawyers and the move to seek recall of witnesses, the bench said that it seemed that the accused is getting "perfect" legal advice in the case.

The delay of several months in the trial has led to unnecessary harassment of the victim as it is very traumatic experience for her to come and depose again and again, it said, adding that the accused has "misused" the process of law.

At the outset, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Delhi police, opposed the plea of accused that he was rightly allowed by the High Court to recall the witnesses.

He said the accused cannot seek this on the pretext that his lawyer was a "novice" as he has been familiar with court proceedings.

"We have to weigh both sides. If we say that incompetency of a lawyer is a ground to recall witnesses then a lot of similar cases will come to us.

"If we do not do this, then it may cause injustice to some of the accused. So we will have to weigh both the sides," the bench said.

Rohatgi then said, "This accused has faced criminal trials earlier. There are three rape cases including the present one against him and in addition to these, there are several other cases in UP.

"The idea is to show that the accused is familiar with the court proceedings."

The first FIR against this man was lodged way back in 2001 and he has been acquitted in one of the rape cases, the AG said.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Indian company gets High Court stay against Audi to desist use of ‘TT’

The Audi TT is a dream car for many people in the world. However, German auto maker Audi cannot use the brand name ‘TT’ to sell accessories, bags, leather and faux leather goods, or toy cars in India, as it violates the trademark of Delhi-based garment firm TT Industries.

The Delhi High court in an order issued on July 21 has issued an ex parte interim injunction restraining Audi from using the name ‘TT’ as a brand name for its goods in India, after TT Industries proprietor Rikab Chand Jain filed a plea under the Trademarks act alleging that the German firm was violating its internationally known trademark.

The bench of Justice Najmi Waziri in its order has issued the injunction after noting that TT Industries had “made out a prima facie case for an ex parte ad interim injunction and in case such an order is not passed at this stage, irreparable prejudice would be caused to them.”

TT Industries, which mainly manufactures garments, threads and yarns and other consumer goods, has claimed in its plea that its “goodwill” in the market was under threat. The company has sought court orders to permanently restrain Audi GM from using the TT brandname in India.

The company has also sought Rs 25 lakh in damages from Audi GM for “selling car and the related accessories with the mark ‘T T’ clandestinely in Delhi.”

The court has issued an interim stay on the use of the TT brand name by Audi AG, and has directed Audi AG Germany as well as its India office in Mumbai to file their reply to the plea by November. Speaking to The Indian Express, advocate Shilpi Jain Sharma said that the court notice for trademark violation had been sent to the Audi offices in Germany as well as Mumbai.

The Bombay HC order for Maggi

The Bombay high court on Thursday lifted the ban on Nestle's flagship instant noodle brand Maggi.

However, Maggi will not be up for sale in the market immediately.

Maggi samples will have to go through fresh tests and if results are fine, only then can Nestle manufacture and sell Maggi in India.

Relief for Nestle, Bombay HC sets aside food regulator's ban on Maggi

As per the HC order, Nestle will have to send five samples of each variant of noodles for fresh testing to three labs in Punjab, Hyderabad and Jaipur.

If lead content is found below permissible limit by the three labs, Nestle will be allowed to manufacture Maggi noodles.

While passing the order, the Bombzy HC said that "principles of natural justice was not followed while banning Maggi noodles".

"Laboratories where tests were performed were not authorized," the HC said.

So, consumers will have to wait a while longer for Maggi to be back on the shelves.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

SC stays Gujarat HC proceedings against 27 judges

The Supreme Court today stayed proceeding against 27 retired and sitting judges initiated by Gujarat HC for allegedly getting plots in violation of law.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Datu stayed the proceeding on a plea of a retired HC judge challenging Gujarat HC order.

The case was mentioned before the bench in morning and the CJI agreed to grant an urgent hearing and posted it 12:40 PM. The bench took up the matter at noon and stayed the HC order after a brief hearing.

In an unprecedented move, the High Court had on Monday issued notices to sitting as well as former judges, including that of the Supreme Court, over allotment of residential plots to these judges by theGujarat government in Neetibaug Co-operative Housing Society in Sola area in Ahmadabad.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Don't want to open Pandora's box: Gujarat Chief Justice on judges scams

A division bench of Gujarat high court comprising acting Chief Justice VM Sahai and Justice Mohinder Pal on Tuesday referred the hearing of a suo motu PIL on allotment of plots to 27 judges to a three-judge larger bench of Justice Mohinder Pal, Justice J B Pardiwala and Justice Paresh Upadhyay, which will take up the hearing on Wednesday. 

The move came following allegations levelled against the acting CJ for having "personal interest" to own a plot. 

Justice Pal became part of the division bench after justice RP Dholaria opted out after the proceedings on Monday. The new bench framed 10 questions to be decided by the larger bench-main query being whether the allotment of land to Neetibaug Judges' Cooperative Society near the HC campus in Sola and its development was carried out as per law. 

In a jam-packed court room, the questions were framed amid loud protests by advocate general Kamal Trivedi and other senior lawyers, who have been hired by the judges. The issue of allotment of plots to HC judges took an ugly turn when justice Sahai threatened the state government to unearth many more scams in the high court allegedly involving other judges. 

This happened when the advocate general requested the division bench not to limit the scope of the PIL to allotment of plots only. He was hinting at a letter written by advocate BT Rao, who not only objected to allotment of plots to judges, but had also taken exception to 60-odd appointments made for posts in Class III & IV in the high court by the acting CJ exercising his powers under Article 229 of the Constitution. 

Gujarat HC took suo motu cognizance of the land allotment issue after two former HC judges - Justice BJ Sethna and former Bombay HC Justice KR Vyas - wrote letters taking exception to the process. 

The acting CJ also told the lawyers that he wrote a letter to all sitting judges seeking their opinion on the issue. "They felt that I don't have guts to take action. I waited and waited, but no reply came," the judge said. 

Upon resistance by AG against taking two former judges' letters as PIL, Justice Sahai immediately replied, "A scam is a scam. You made me do something I didn't want to do... If you raise this issue, many more scams will come and names of 3-4 other judges will come. The chief justice has all information. I don't want to open a Pandora's box." However, Justice Sahai accused a sitting judge of allotting the laptop purchase order worth Rs 2.79 crore to his nephew.

Supreme Court refers Aadhar card matter to Constitution Bench

The Supreme Court today referred to a Constitution Bench a batch of petitions challenging the Centre's ambitious scheme to provide Aadhar card to all citizens and decide whether right to privacy is a fundamental right.

Allowing the Centre's plea, a three-judge bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde and C Nagappan, framed various questions, including as to whether right to privacy is a fundamental right, to be decided by the larger Constitution Bench."If yes, then what would be contours of the right to privacy," the apex court said while referring the matter to Chief Justice H L Dattu for setting up the larger bench.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Raj HC holds Jain practice of fast-unto-death illegal

The Rajasthan high court, in a judgment pronounced on Monday afternoon, held Santhara or Sallekhana - the controversial Jain practice, where a person gives up food and water till death - to be illegal and directed FIRs to filed against persons undertaking this practice.

The court has equated Santhara with suicide while deciding on a petition which likened it to sati.

The Jain community reacted with outrage. Jain studies scholar Manish Modi told dna, “It is deeply disappointing to hear of this judgement. Santhara or Sallekhana is an integral practice, custom and tradition of the Jain religion and has been so for the past thousands of years.”

According to him, “There is enough scriptural evidence in most ancient Jain texts composed in Prakrit, Sanskrit, Apabhramsha, Tamil, Braj, Dhundhari, Kannada, Marathi, Maru Gurjar, Gujarati etc. to show that Sallekhana was considered an ideal way of shedding the mortal coil. From ancient times till today, many Jain ascetics as well as lay followers have given up their body through sallekhana/santhara with faith in the scriptures.”

Calling the opposition to this religious practice a vilification, he said: “More can be said once the judgement is read in detail but one wonders if the opposition to the practice is part of a larger conspiracy to subvert minority religions in India.”

“Whether it’s the Christmas controversy with which the Centre tried to needle the Christian community or the Maharashtra government’s decision to ban beef, which was clearly done to target Muslims, it seems like its achche din only for the majority community,” said a senior Jain monk. “It’s like they want to browbeat us all minorities into accepting Hinduism and its way of life,” he said.

Others like Supreme Court advocate Rishabh Sancheti told dna how his phone has been ringing continuously since the judgment. “I have received several calls from across the community, seeking to challenge the decision. The outcome of the case comes as a shock to anyone who knows the core values of Jainism. Prima facie, the outcome does not appear to be correct,” he said.

Despite its historical and religious significance, Santhara has been opposed by activists, citing abuse and coercion. Among them is Jaipur-based lawyer Nikhil Soni, who filed the petition.

This native of Churu in Rajasthan – reputed as the world’s Santhara capital for its highest per capita incidence of the practice in recent history – recounted how, for years, he quietly watched many such fasts-unto-death. That was till September 2006, when Soni heard of one Bimla Devi being coerced into Santhara by her family.

“Diagnosed with terminal cancer, the elderly Bimla Devi was too weak and depressed to protest as her relatives went about publicly announcing ‘her decision’. In her final hours, when she started screaming in a last-ditch effort for food and water, her cries were drowned out by loud bhajans sung to the accompaniment of high-decibel dholaks,” he said.

“Bimla Devi’s case convinced me that Santhara is suicide, masquerading as a religious practice wrapped in the mantle of hoary tradition. At its worst, Santhara came across as nothing but ritual murder, devised to rid a family of the economic burden of caring for its elderly, seen as a burden on the family,” he said.

Mumbai-based journalist-filmmaker Shekhar Hattangadi has brought the focus sharply to this religion with his documentary Santhara (which won awards at both Bengaluru and Kolkata short film festivals). He said, just like his film, he would not want to take sides for or against the judgement. This visiting faculty at two Mumbai law colleges, explains: “Santhara, for me, is a classic example of the challenge that all faith-based societies face as they adopt modern, secular norms of governance, and the challenge is to reconcile individual freedom and personal liberty as well as a minority community’s religious rights on the one hand, and, on the other, with the need for state intervention in matters of religion.”

He pointed out how the HC has gone by the Supreme Court ruling in the Gian Kaur case of 1996. “The apex court had then ruled that Right to Life cannot mean Right to Death. The Rajasthan HC seems to have gone by that ruling,” he said.