Thursday, October 30, 2014

Habitual traffic offenders in Ahmedabad may lose driving licence

 Repeated violation of traffic rules can lead to suspension of driving licenses or their cancellation. It is with this in mind that the state transport department has initiated steps to acquire handheld devices that can read smart card driving licenses. These devices will be linked to a master server which has data of all driving license holders. Officials said that the devices will keep a record whenever a traffic policeman apprehends a habitual offender and points will be deducted from the driver's account kept on the main server.

Government set to allow abortions till 24 weeks

 The Indian government has proposed an increase in the abortion limit from the present 20 weeks to 24 weeks and even beyond in case of fetal abnormality.

A draft Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment),Bill 2014 was put up on the ministry of health website on October 29.

The draft says that pregnancies can be terminated up to 24 weeks if there is a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of injury to her physical or mental health or if there is substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from serious physical or mental abnormalities.

The draft added that if the fetus was diagnosed with substantial abnormalities then pregnancy can be terminated at any stage. " this means the fetus can be terminated even beyond 24 weeks if detected with an abnormality" said Dr Nikhil Datar whose patient Niketa Mehta highlighted the need for a change in the last.

Child's passport: Unwed mother

While applying for a passport for her child, an unwed mother will have to declare how she conceived, the Union government told Bombay high court on Thursday.

The reply was to a query by a division bench of Justices V M Kanade and Anuja Prabhudessai, which heard a petition by a woman challenging the passport authority's refusal to include her step-father's name in her passport. When the HC was parting with the matter, Justice Kanade asked, "We were wondering what happens in case of unwed mothers?"

Advocate Purnima Bhatia, appearing for the foreign ministry, said an unwed mother must file an affidavit stating "how she has conceived" and "if she was raped" and why she does not want the father's name included. She added the details are in the passport manual, a classified document.

The judges exchanged surprised glances and murmured. Sania Akram (21, name changed) move d court challenging the refusal of the regional passport officer to issue passport in the name of her step-father as recorded in her school/college certificates, saying she must obtain a court order appointing him as her guardian. The officer also refused to alternately include the name of her mother, who has permanent custody of Sania.

Madras HC fines school teacher Rs 50,000 for pinching student's cheek

The Madras high court has imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 for pinching her student's cheek as a punishment. The order was issued by the first bench of HC comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan.

In 2012, Rama Gowri, a teacher at Kesari higher secondary school in Mylapore, pinched the cheek of a class VII boy for not doing his homework and he sustained minor injuries.

After Meharunnisa, the boy's mother, took the matter to the State Human Rights Commission, there were several proceedings besides a criminal case filed against the teacher.

During the hearing before NHRC, the teacher reportedly claimed that she had only twisted the boy’s ears. Her argument was that the boy's cheek was injured when he tried to move away while she was holding his ear.

In May 2013, the commission imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 on the Mylapore school for violation of human rights. But the boy's mother decided to appeal the Madras HC, complaining of the school management for delaying the issuance of transfer certificate and demanding an increase in the quantum of compensation .

She had also filed a fresh complaint against the teacher before a magistrate court in the city.

Meanwhile, calling all these multiple proceedings a harassment, the teacher moved HC seeking help. However, on Thursday, HC ordered the teacher to pay a compensation/fine of Rs 50,000 and approach the judicial magistrate court, Saidapet where the case was pending against her.

HC upholds ban on liquor in Kerala

The high court on Thursday upheld the ban on liquor in the state, in view of the state government's revised abkari policy.

The court ruling, however, allowed four-star and heritage bar hotels to remain open. But, the court did not allow the petitions filed by two and three-star hotels as well as unclassified bar hotels.

Through the abkari policy, the stat government had limited sale of liquor to five-star bar hotels and government-run retail outlets.

Three and two-star hotels form the majority of the bar restaurants in the state.

Interfering with the government's decision and ruling in favour of four-star bar hotels and heritage hotels, justice K Surendra Mohan said the government didn't consider the recommendations of the one-man commission report and consideration of its recommendations are not reflected in the revised abkari policy.

Therefore, the government had no material to make the classification regarding limiting sale of liquor to five-star hotels, the court said.

The court declared that in such circumstances, the government's decision was arbitrary and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution (Right to equality) and the abkari policy will stand modified to that extent.

"Though the abkari policy proclaims that it has been issued considering the One Man Commission Report and the report of the secretary (taxation), except for a passing reference, no consideration of the recommendations of the Commission is available in the policy. It is no doubt true that the government is not bound by the recommendations of the One Man Commission. However, the government should have at least stated that it was rejecting the recommendations. The abkari policy 2014-15 ignores the recommendations of the One Man Commission altogether. Therefore, it has to be held that there was absolutely no material before the government for the classification that has been adopted, of picking out hotels having five star classification and above for the purpose of the preferential treatment of granting FL-3 licences or bar licences," the 137-page judgment stated.

Monday, October 27, 2014

HC relief for deserted wife of GEB staffer

Prashant Mali, an employee of the state's electricity company in Vadodara, faces a pay cut of a different kind. The Gujarat high court has ordered that a certain amount be deducted from his salary and given to his wife and minor daughter whom he has refused to look after for nearly a decade.

According to case details, Mali deserted his wife, Priya, and little daughter, Sakshi, in 2005. Since then, Priya has lived at her maternal home. To look after her daughter, she became a salesgirl for a salary of Rs 1,500. However, she was unable to maintain herself and her daughter on such a measly amount. She then moved the Vadodara family court and sought Rs 800 as maintenance for Sakshi, and Rs 1,200 for herself.

In his defence, Mali argued that he did not have a stable job while his wife was earning. In 2011, the family court ordered Mali to pay Rs 800 per month towards maintenance of his daughter but refused to order any payment for his wife on the ground that she was a working woman.

Priya moved the high court last year and questioned the order passed by the family court. The high court criticized the family court for not taking into consideration the poverty of the woman and the hardship she faced in bringing up her little daughter.

"Unfortunately, the family court failed to appreciate the evidence with reference to the wife when there are several allegations against the husband regarding ill-treatment, desertion and failure to maintain them for a couple of years," the high court observed.

The HC also pulled up the family court for not paying attention to the divorce claimed by the husband, when the evidence suggested that the signature of the wife obtained on the divorce document was taken by force. The high court also took into consideration the changed circumstances when Mali got a job with the Electricity Company after his father's death. He was then earning more than Rs 12,000 as salary.

The high court further noted that Mali had not paid any money to his wife and daughter despite the court's order. The arrears were of Rs 1,38,000. Finally, the HC asked Mali's employerthe GEB to directly credit the maintenance amount to the wife's account first Rs 4,000 till the arrears were paid and then Rs 2,000 every month. This included Rs 1,200 towards maintenance for the wife too.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gujarat mulls 6-month ban on fresh auto registrations

The more than 1.25 lakh auto-rickshaws plying on city roads have become a problem not for commuters or the state government but for auto-drivers themselves.

In fact, the drivers' fraternity has demanded a freeze on registration of new auto-rickshaws because the large number of three-wheelers on city and state roads is making it difficult for their drivers to make a decent living.

Sources said in response to the drivers' demand, the state government is thinking of stopping fresh registrations of auto-rickshaws for six months to begin with.

State transport minister Nitin Patel said the state government has received several representations for a ban on new registrations of auto-rickshaws. "There are issues like lack of parking space, congestion on roads and, most importantly, a fall in the income of auto-drivers. We are looking into their demands but the final approval is yet to be given," said Patel. Ashok Punjabi, president of Gujarat Auto-rickshaw Driver's Action Committee, said the association is concerned about the fall in number of passengers per rickshaw.

"We have requested the state government to ban registrations of new rickshaws at least for a year, to allow existing drivers to earn a decent livelihood. In the past two years, the income of drivers has dropped from Rs 600 per day to Rs 400 a day," said Punjabi.

Transport experts say auto-rickshaws constitute 5% of the total 31.96 lakh vehicles in Ahmedabad city. On an average, 6,000 auto-rickshaws are added to Ahmedabad streets every year, which is an average annual growth of 7% in their numbers. In the state, there are 6.38 lakh rickshaws, which is 4% of 1.70 crore vehicles.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

High Court reduced maintenance allowance from Rs 50,000 to Rs 20,000 payable by an army colonel to his divorced wife, who is a dentist by profession.

The Bombay High Court has modified a family court order by bringing down the monthly maintenance allowance from Rs 50,000 to Rs 20,000 payable by an army colonel to his divorced wife, who is a dentist by profession.

A bench of justices A R Joshi and Vijaya Tahilramani recently ordered Col Joseph Philip to pay Rs 20,000 per month to his divorced wife Ritu from June 21, 2012 to November 21, 2014, within a period of six weeks.

The court also asked him to continue paying Rs 20,000 per month to Ritu even after November 21.The couple had married at Hisar in Haryana on August 30, 1990, and were blessed with a daughter two years later.

 The bench was hearing an appeal filed by Col Philip against the impugned order of the family court which granted a divorce decree to the couple but ordered maintenance of Rs 50,000. The husband filed an appeal challenging maintenance.

The Mumbai family court had ordered Col Philip to pay Rs 50,000 per month to his estranged wife after going through his salary slips. However, the high court brought it down to Rs 20,000, observing that the maintenance was exorbitant.

“Taking an overall view of the facts and circumstances, we are of the opinion that the amount of maintenance granted by the Family Court in the sum of Rs 50,000 per month is exorbitant and needs to be reduced to Rs 20,000 per month,” said the bench in its order on October 21.

The court noted that the appellant’s 22-year-old daughter was undergoing a veterinary science course in Nagpur for which he was spending money on her hostel accommodation and studies. And this, he did, despite his daughter having an independent source of income from a family business of her maternal uncle. Hence, the daughter was not dependent on Ritu.

The court noted that Ritu was a dentist and also earned some amount out of a trust she ran in the name of ‘Highways Infinite Public Trust’.

Besides, she had a flat and car in her name. The flat was purchased for Rs 15 lakh and half of this amount was contributed by her husband. She also had bought a land in 2008 and sold it for Rs 2.52 lakh, the judges observed while disposing of Col Philip’s appeal.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cycle sellers asked to take identity proof of buyers

 The city police has directed all cycle sellers to ask for the identity proof of the buyers.
The dealers selling battery-run two-wheelers have also been told to issue a proper invoice before the delivery of the vehicle and also collect the identity proof of the buyers.

City police commissioner Shivanand Jha said in a notification that during a terror attack on a mall in Kenya many of those killed were Gujaratis or people from other states in India. Mall owners are directed to take proper security measures, including installing of CCTV cameras and checking of vehicles.

2010 Delhi's Dhaula Kuan gang rape: All 5 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment

Additional sessions judge Virender Bhat awarded life imprisonment to the five men Shamshad alias Khutkan, Usman alias Kale, Shahid alias Chhota Billi, Iqbal alias Bada Billi and Kamruddin for the offence of gang rape.

The court also sentenced the convicts to seven years imprisonment for abduction charges, five years rigorous imprisonment for charges of criminal intimidation. The convicts would undergo the jail terms concurrently.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 each on all the convicts.

The quantum of sentence was pronounced in a jam-packed courtroom amidst high drama with one convict Shahid fainting in the courtroom. Some relatives of the convicts also broke down in the court room and termed the verdict as miscarriage of justice, saying they would challenge the verdict in the Delhi high court.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bihar CM threatens to chop off hands of lax doctors

Bihar chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday warned he would chop off hands of doctors found neglecting poor patients.

"I am ready to face the consequences, but cannot let doctors play with lives of the poor," he said while addressing a public meeting after inaugurating a hospital in East Champaran district.

SC issues warrant against Pondy sisters for defying its order

The Supreme Court has issued a warrant against five sisters, all inmates of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, for defying its orders to leave the premises by July 31 and for failing to appear before it on October 13 following contempt of court notices to them. The sisters Jayashreee Prasad, Arunashri, Rajyashree, Nivedita and Hemlata have been litigating against the ashram for over a decade alleging harassment.

Justices Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya and ?S A Bobde, while hearing a contempt of court petition filed by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, directed the superintendent of police to execute its order and posted the matter for further proceedings on December 2. "In spite of service of notice, respondents have not filed affidavit nor appeared in the court. In the circumstances, we issue bailable warrant against alleged contemnor respondents. Copy of this order be forwarded to superintendent of police, Puducherry, for execution of the court's order," they said in their order dated October 13.

The court refused to buy the argument of the sisters that they were ready to appear before it but had no money to pay for their tickets, boarding and lodging. The SC assistant registrar, in an office report, said the contempt notice had been served to the women by Speed Post and through the district court. He said the service report had been received from the district court with endorsement, 'Alleged contemnors 1 to 5 served in person'. "A letter has been received from all the respondents stating therein that they have received the notice on September 22 and ready to appear before the honourable court but they have no money or income to pay for their tickets, boarding and lodging," the assistant registrar said in his report.

With seizures up, Indian gold smuggling loses its shine

Gold smuggling into India, the world's second-biggest consumer of the precious metal, is becoming more risky for couriers following a surge in seizures and less profitable for the gangs behind the practice. 

After being caught off guard by a jump in smuggling on the back of a hike in import duty last year, government agencies have stepped up seizures to the extent that couriers are demanding more money to carry in gold, according to customs intelligence officials and an industry analyst. 

At the same time, a drop in the gap between local and global prices also means there is less profit to be made by smuggling in gold, giving banks more business and higher revenue for a government struggling to rein in a fiscal deficit. 

"Gold smuggling was highly profitable ... but now with the drop in premiums and tight security, legal imports are increasing," said Milind Lanjewar, additional commissioner of customs intelligence at Mumbai international airport.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

DNA test can be used to prove infidelity: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a DNA test can be ordered by courts as a “legitimate and scientifically perfect” tool to establish adultery in divorce cases.
“DNA testing is the most legitimate and scientifically perfect means, which the husband could use, to establish his assertion of infidelity. This should simultaneously be taken as the most authentic, rightful and correct means also with the wife, for her to rebut the assertions made by the husband, and to establish that she had not been unfaithful, adulterous or disloyal. If the wife is right, she shall be proved to be so,” said a bench of Justices J S Khehar and R K Agrawal.
The court, which upheld an order allowing a man’s plea to have a DNA test conducted on a child born to his wife, said that but for the test, it would be impossible for the husband to establish and confirm the assertions of adultery made against him in his divorce petition.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Senior cops can use flashing lights on official vehicles: HC

Gujarat high court on Thursday asked the government to permit police officers above the rank of PI, to keep their rectangular multi-colour flashing 'lightbars' on the top of their vehicles.

Following a PIL and then a contempt proceeding, the police department ordered its officers to take down beacons, but now the HC has permitted them to use flashing lights on their vehicles the way PCR vans use them.

Tamper-proof e-passports to speed up travel

The passport division of the ministry of external affairs has initiated the process for the public roll-out of new-age e-passports. The technology will make the document more secure and also substantially reduce the time required by the holder for immigration.

While the look and feel of the passport will remain largely as it is now, an electronic chip, containing identidfication data, will be embedded in its back cover. The necessary procurements have been initiated by India Security Press, Nashik, and the actual change-over to the next-generation passport is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2016.

The e-passport would contain all the data currently given on the second page of the paper-only passports, including photograph, personal and biological data (finger-prints), besides the country's digital signature used to validate the genuineness of the document. The chip can be sealed only once with the signature of the Passport Issuing Authority (PIA), thus making these e-passports virtually tamper-proof.

Friday, October 10, 2014

India's Kailash Satyarthi and Pak's Malala Yousafzay win Nobel peace prize

India's Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan's Malala Yousafzay were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "showing great personal courage" and their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.

The committee said Kailash Satyarthi maintained Mahatma Gandhi's tradition and headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain. He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on children's rights".

Snoopgate probe comes to an end, Gujarat HC scraps panel

Gujarat high court on Friday quashed the probe panel setup by the state government to look into the reports of stalking of a young architect by ATS sleuths at the instance of then MoS home Amit Shah in 2009.

The HC quashed the probe panel's appointment in response to a petition filed by the architect's father Pranlal Soni, who demanded to put an end to the issue on the ground that the existence and functioning of this commission are in breach of his family's privacy.

Soni filed the petition on Thursday and Justice Paresh Upadhyay heard the case, sought the state government's opinion and quashed the setting up of the probe panel.

The probe commission comprising Justice Sugnya Bhatt and retired IAS K C Kapoor was set up on November 26 last year after two investigative news portals - and had uploaded audio tapes on November 15 claiming that Shah had ordered the illegal surveillance of a woman at the behest of one "Saheb".

This was exposed after IPS officer and an accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case G L Sighal's pen-drive, which contained more than 250 audio files, was recovered by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The probe panel began inquiry and got three extensions till date.

It summoned Singhal and Shah, but none appeared before it.

On the other hand, Soni made representations before various authorities to wind up the inquiry including human rights commission on the ground that it is in violation of his family's right to privacy. He finally moved HC.

Soni submitted that the surveillance was done with the consent of his family, and he is not a victim in this case. But the most important aspect is continuing inquiry amounts to breach of his privacy. His lawyer argued that section 3 of the Inquiry Commission Act mandates the government to commission such inquiry when there is grievance or when the issue is of utmost public importance.

But in this case, the information was gathered from various media and though there was no complainant, the inquiry was set up without thinking that it is a personal and private matter and not of the public importance or national importance. He urged the court to trash the inquiry being violative of Soni's fundamental right to privacy.
The HC asked the state government, which did not dispute the facts of the case. When there was no objection found from the side of the government, Justice Upadhyay quashed the order for setting up of the inquiry into the case.

Before this, two PIL were filed questioning the scope and reference of this inquiry commission on the ground that the government should order inquiry into interception of all mobile calls, and not only in this 2009 incident.