Wednesday, July 1, 2015

HC orders inter-district transfer of teachers

The Gujarat high court on Wednesday pulled up the state education department for misinterpreting word 'vibhag' as medium and not division and ordered the director of primary education to act on inter-district transfer applications made by two primary teachers.

Bhavin Patel an English medium teacher from Kubernagar English School and Prachi Korjani who teaches English in a Gujarati medium school in Bordi village in Kheda, had in July last year sought a mutual inter-district transfer at a camp.

Both were denied transfer on grounds that the mediums of their teaching are different and rules say mutual transfer cannot be made in different 'vibhag', which means medium. Both teachers moved the HC and Patel said that though he teaches in English medium school, he also teaches Gujarati his mother tongue.

Korjani submitted that she graduated with english literature and was competent to teach in the chool. After hearing the arguments, Justice J B Pardiwala told the authorities that word 'vibhag' means division and refers to primary and upper primary sections and not medium of instruction and ordered them to take decision on the transfer within a week.

Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), has no power to regulate the tariff

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the gas distribution regulator, Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), has no power to regulate the tariff at which gas is to be sold by entities, such as Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL), to the consumers.

Quashing the regulations framed by the PNGRB to determine network tariff for city or local gas distribution network as well as compression charge for CNG, the top court held that the PNGRB Act did not accord to the regulator authority to fix tariff.

A bench led by Justice Dipak Misra noted that the function of the Board is of regulating the inter-se relationship of entities under the Act and not to regulate the relationship between the entities and the consumers.

It rejected a plea by the PNGRB to give a purposive interpretation to the Act in the consumers’ interest and let it regulate the tariff. The court said that the intent of the legislature was clear in not giving this power to the Board and a court can not now frame laws in the guise of an interpretation.

The bench clarified that the PNGRB’s power was confined to provide by regulations the transportation tariff for common carrier or contract carrier or city or local natural gas distribution network and the manner of distribution of such tariffs.

With this order, the bench also nixed the Board’s order in 2012, asking the IGL to to cut prices of piped cooking gas and automobile CNG in the national capital and to refund excess amount charged from consumers since 2008. This order had said the actual network tariff and compression charges that IGL could levy in the capital was Rs 38.58 and Rs 2.75 against the Rs 104.65 and Rs 6.66 respectively levied by the company.

The IGL had challenged it in the Delhi High Court, which said that PNGRB was not empowered to fix maximum retail price of gas and that it could monitor prices only if the marketers of gas in a particular area have formed a cartel or are indulging in any other restrictive trade practices. The Board appealed against this in the apex court, which affirmed the High Court order and said that PNGRB cannot provide for regulations which are not permissible under the Act.

Supreme Court says no to compromise, mediation in rape cases

Days after the Madras High Court favoured mediation in a rape case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday held that it would be a “spectacular error” to adopt “any kind of liberal approach” in sexual assault cases.

“Dignity of a woman is a part of her non-perishable and immortal self and no one should ever think of painting it in clay. There cannot be a compromise or settlement as it would be against her honour, which matters the most. Any kind of liberal approach or a thought of mediation in this regard is thoroughly and completely sans legal permissibility,” it said.
Stating that any proposal by the accused to marry the victim was an attempt to put pressure, the court said: “We say with emphasis that the courts are to remain absolutely away from this subterfuge to adopt a soft approach to the case, for any kind of liberal approach has to be put in the compartment of spectacular error. Or to put it differently, it would be in the realm of a sanctuary of error.”
The bench asserted that sexual assaults are offences which “suffocate the breath of life and sully the reputation” of a woman. “Such an attitude (favouring mediation) reflects lack of sensibility towards the dignity and the elan vital of a woman… it ruptures the sense of justice and punctures the criminal justice dispensation system,” it said.
Last week, a Madras High Court judge referred the case of a minor’s rape for mediation between the victim and the accused, and granted interim bail to the latter. The victim, whose parents are no more, is the mother of a child who was born after the rape. While the victim refused to participate in the mediation, the high court order sparked off an outrage over its legality.
In the Madhya Pradesh case which came up before the SC bench today, the accused, Madan Lal, had sought to compromise with the parents of the seven-year-old victim but the trial judge junked his plea. It held him guilty and sentenced him to jail for five years in 2009. The high court, however, converted the charge into molestation and reduced his sentence to the time that he had already spent in jail, which was little over a year.
The state government challenged this order in the top court. Setting aside the high court order, the bench said the high court judge appeared to be influenced by the compromise between the accused and the victim’s parents, which was impermissible.
The bench referred the matter back to the high court for hearing it afresh. It also asked the police to take the accused into custody during his appeal.

SC orders Tamil Nadu to pay Rs 1.7 crore compensation to girl who lost vision

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a compensation of Rs 1.7 crore to a girl who lost vision soon after birth due to medical negligence by doctors of a government hospital in Tamil Nadu.

A bench of Justices J S Khehar and S A Bobde awarded a compensation of Rs 1.3 crore — one of the highest ever in the country — and topped it with an additional amount of Rs 42 lakh to take care of the medical treatment that the 18-year-old girl would require.

It asked the Tamil Nadu government to pay the compensation after holding the doctors of the government hospital in Chennai’s Egmore guilty of gross medical negligence. The girl was born prematurely at the hospital on August 30, 1986. She was placed in an incubator in the intensive care unit of the hospital for the next 25 days.

Even after her discharge, the hospital’s doctors kept visiting her but at no point in time they prescribed a test for the disease, Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), which is frequent in cases of premature births. By the time private doctors could flag the problem, the disease had reached its terminal stage and the girl lost vision.

The bench found no justification for why the necessary tests were overlooked by the doctors and held them accountable for negligence. It agreed with the argument by advocate Nikhil Nayyar, who represented the girl and her family, that the girl had remained under constant care of the hospital’s doctors and hence the liability had to be fastened upon them and the state government.

Nayyar had pointed out that one Dr Duraiswamy, who was working in the Neo-natology unit of the hospital, visited the girl at least six times between October and November, 1986 but he or any other doctor never told the parents that a premature baby is prone to a higher risk of retinal detachment, nor were they informed that an internal examination of eye by an ophthalmologist was required.

Accepting the lawyer’s contentions, the court dismissed an appeal by the state government against the order of compensation by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, while simultaneously allowing a plea by girl’s father V Krishnakumar to enhance the damages.

The Commission has granted a compensation of Rs 5 lakh in 2009, which also remained unpaid by the state government till date.

UGC releases list of fake universities

The University Grants Commission, the apex body for higher education, on Wednesday published a list of fake universities in the country for the benefit of students.

A total of 21 universities have been listed by the UGC. Eight of these 21 fake universities are in Uttar Pradesh (the highest in the country) while six others are in Delhi.

Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and West Bengal have one fake university each.

According to the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, only a university established by the Central/State/Provincial Act or an institution deemed to be university under Section 3 of the Act is allowed to call themselves as university.

Thereby, any institution that does not comply with the above rule is prohibited from using the term 'university' under Section 23 of the Act.

"Therefore, students and public at large are informed that such 21 self-styled and unrecognized institutions, functioning under the contravention of the UGC Act are declared as fake, and are not entitled to confer any degrees further," the UGC said in its notice.

Here is the list of the fake universities:

1. Maithili University, Darbhanga, Bihar

2. Varanseya Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya, Delhi

3. Commercial University Ltd, Delhi

4. United Nations University, Delhi

5. Vocational University, Delhi

6. ADR- Central Juridical University, Delhi

7. Indian Institution of Science and Engineering, Delhi

8. Badagnavi Sarkar World Open Educational Society, Belgaum, Karnataka

9. St. John's University, Kishanattam, Kerala

10. Kesarwani Vidyapith, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

11. Raja Arabic University, Nagpur, Maharashtra

12. D D B Sanskrit University, Putur, Trichy, Tamil Nadu

13. Indian institute of Alternative Medicine, Kolkata, West Bengal

14. Mahila Gram Vidyapith, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

15. Gandhi Hindi Vidyapith, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

16. National University of Electro Complex Homeopathy, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh

17. Netaki Subhash Chandra Bose University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh

18. Uttar Pradesh Vishwavidyalaya, Uttar Pradesh

19. Maharana Pratap Shiksha Niketan Vidyalaya, Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh

20. Indraprastha Shiksha Parishad, Noida-Phase II, Uttar Pradesh

21. Gurukul Vishwavidyalaya, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh

Sunday, June 28, 2015

School could not be compelled to give admission: Madras High Court

The Madras High Court today ruled that a school management could not be compelled to admit a student if it is not satisfied with the pupil’s character and discipline even though he or she is meritorious. Dismissing a petition filed by the father of a girl who scored 489 out of 500 in the class X examination, seeking a direction to the school management to admit his daughter in class XI, Justice S Vaidhyanathan said the school authorities were right in denying admission for her girl, who was allegedly” disobedient and disrespectful”.

“Teachers are the best judges” to evaluate the character of a student and not parents, the judge said. ”Education was the panacea for all the evils in the world, but education without moral values and behaviour will definitely vouchsafe reversal attitude. Knowledge was not given but earned and character was not granted but cultivated over the years,” the court observed.

The court could not compel the management to admit the girl as the school had stated that their institution was known for integrity, discipline, values and virtues. If the student got admission on the court orders, she would not feel comfortable. There would not be a healthy atmosphere in the school for both the student and the teachers, the judge said.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Mexico’s top court quietly legalizes gay marriage

A court has decreed that it is unconstitutional for Mexican states to bar same-sex marriages. Whilst no official legislation has been brought forward in parliament to introduce marriage for gay and bisexual couples, the court ruling represents a precedent which will require courts throughout the country to follow suit. This means that same-sex marriage has effectively been legalized throughout Mexico. 

Estefania Vela, a legal scholar at a Mexico City university told the New York Times of the ruling: "Without a doubt, gay marriage is legal everywhere. If a same-sex couple comes along and the code says marriage is between a man and a woman and for the purposes of reproduction, the court says, 'Ignore it, marriage is for two people'." 

The Supreme Court in Mexico has legalizedsame-sex marriage in a landmark legal ruling. 

US Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage is legal across the United States

The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the US Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry in a historic triumph for the American gay rights movement.

The court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the ruling, gay marriage will become legal in all 50 states.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of the court, said that the hope of gay people intending to marry "is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

There are currently 13 state bans in place, while another state, Alabama, has contested a court ruling that lifted the ban there.

The ruling is the Supreme Court's most important expansion of marriage rights in the United States since its landmark 1967 ruling in the case Loving v. Virginia that struck down state laws barring interracial marriages.

Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

North Korea appears to have blocked Instagram

North Korea has apparently blocked access to Instagram within its borders, jeopardizing one of the most popular ways for journalists and foreigners to document life in the hermetic country. As the Associated Press reports, users who open Instagram on the Koryolink 3G network have reported seeing a message that reads: "Warning! You can't connect to this website because it’s in blacklist site." A warning in Korean adds that the site contains "harmful content."

The AP reports that the photo-sharing app was still usable on some mobile devices despite the warning, but posting photos or viewing user profiles was impossible on other devices connected to the 3G network. The warnings have also appeared when accessing Instagram on desktop computers with LAN cable connections.

It's not clear what spurred the apparent blacklisting. Koryolink, North Korea's only 3G operator, says it wasn't notified of a change in policy, and the government has yet to issue a statement on the matter. There is speculation that the Instagram block may be a response to a fire that erupted this month at a popular hotel in Pyongyang. The incident wasn't reported by North Korea's state-run media, though images spread across social media.

The new income tax return forms

If you have capital gains or foreign assets or are seeking treaty benefits, you will have to file detailed income-tax returns, though you don't have to give details of foreign travel. The new income tax return forms, notified on Monday for assessment year 2015-16, are, however, much simpler in many respects. These do away with the requirement of mentioning one's dormant bank accounts. However, one's passport number has to be provided. For active accounts, one need not state the balance; IFSC codes will suffice.

Earlier, the had taken flak for coming out with complicated income tax return forms.

While notifying the forms, the I-T department bifurcated the ITR-2. Earlier, those with capital gains, foreign assets and income, seeking treaty benefits, and with more than one property had to file this form. However, now, those with more than one property have to file ITR-2A, while the others will have to file ITR 2. Those with capital gains have to mention the rate being applied for to arrive at the tax liability, as well as past capital gains, if tax wasn't imposed on those.

Madras HC grants rapist bail for 'mediation'

In July 2012, a mahila court in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu found a man called V Mohan guilty of raping a minor girl. Besides imposing a Rs 2 lakh fine, the court also sentenced him to seven years in prison.

The victim was an orphan who was living with her adoptive mother. She had become pregnant after the rape and had delivered a child in July 2009.

After the mahila court verdict, Mohan appealed to the Madras High Court for bail.

And in a shocking verdict which is probably a new low for the judiciary, the Madras High Court judge Justice P Devadass granted interim bail to the accused on the condition that he go to the mediation centre attached to the High Court to settle the matter with the victim under the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR).

The judge also said Rs 1 lakh should be deposited as fine by Mohan and it should be kept in the Indian Bank, Thittakudi, Cuddalore District as a fixed deposit in the girl's name.

According to the verdict, the punishment for the rape of a minor is as follows: Deposit Rs 1 lakh in the victim's name and mediate with the victim who was sexually abused to reach a compromise.

Australia introduces laws to strip citizenship from terrorists

Dual nationals who help terrorists could automatically lose their Australian citizenship even if they have never stepped foot out of the country under new laws introduced to parliament on Wednesday.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton introduced legislation to amend the Citizenship Act as fears grow about the number of Australians fighting with jihadist groups and concern about the threat at home from radicalised individuals.

It specifies three mechanisms and a series of grounds which could lead to an Australian, even if born in the country, being stripped of their citizenship.

They include a person convicted of a terrorist act by an Australian court and anyone found to be engaged in terrorist activity.

It also extends an existing provision covering fighting for the armed forces of a country at war with Australia to also cover fighting for a terrorist organisation.

There are currently 20 such groups on Canberra's list of terrorist organisations.

"This bill emphasises the central importance of allegiances to Australia into the concept of citizenship," Dutton said in introducing the legislation.

"Citizenship is to be treasured. It's a common bond that unites us all, whether we were born here or chose to make Australia our home.

"The world has changed so our laws should change accordingly," he added.

Dutton said citizenship could be lost for not only engaging in terrorist acts but providing or receiving training linked to terrorism, as well as recruiting or financing for jihadist groups.

But he stressed that noone would lose citizenship unless they were also a national of another country as this would render them stateless and be in violation of the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

"Automatic loss of citizenship will be triggered whether the conduct takes place inside or outside Australia," he added. "The loss of citizenship will be immediate, upon the person engaging in the relevant conduct."

It was initially planned that Dutton himself would have the power to take away citizenship, without trial or conviction, but this has been dumped after advice that it would be unconstitutional.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Indian nurses may be forced to leave UK

Over 30,000 nurses from India and other non-European countries employed with Britain's state-funded National Health Service (NHS) may be forced to leave the UK under new immigration rules.
The UK's Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has warned that a new salary threshold of £35,000 a year could hit more than 30,000 nursing staff from non-European nations.
India is the second-largest supplier of nursing staff to the country after the Philippines, with over 15,000 fulfilling nursing shortages within the NHS.
"The immigration rules will cause chaos for the NHS and other care services. At a time when demand is increasing, the UK is perversely making it harder to employ staff from overseas," said RCN general secretary Peter Carter.
The Conservative party-led government is planning to introduce new stricter requirements for non-European migrants, including a minimum pay bar for workers, which means they would have to leave the UK after six years if they are not earning at least £35,000 per annum.
The cut-off date for the new rules has been set at 2011, meaning the first batch of nurses earning less will be sent home in 2017. "The UK will be sending away nurses who have contributed to the health service for six years. Losing their skills and knowledge and then having to start the cycle again and recruit to replace them is completely illogical," said Dr Carter.
An NHS staff nurse who trained in Belgaum, Sandeep Duggani, warned that NHS Trusts are continuing their hiring drive in India despite this impending job insecurity. "I don't think they realise they will have to leave their jobs after six years. It's very sad. I have done all these training courses and now, after six years, I have to go back," Duggani (29) said.
The UK Home Office claims the new rules would help reduce demand for migrant labour. The move is part of the government's effort to control net migration into Britain but RCN warns that by 2017 more than 3,300 NHS nurses could be affected.
Nurses in the UK on average earn salaries of between 21,000 and 28,000 pounds a year. Due to cuts to nurse-training places, trusts are being forced into relying on overseas recruitment as well as temporary staff.
The RCN says the only long-term solution is to train more nurses in the UK, but in the interim, foreign nurses will be required to fill the gap. Employers had had four years to prepare for the changes, a Home Office spokesperson said, adding "There are exemptions to this threshold where the UK has a shortage".

Friday, June 19, 2015

Petition against Tendulkar's Bharat Ratna admitted by Madhya Pradesh HC

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has admitted a petition seeking stripping of the Bharat Ratna awarded to cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar for allegedly using the "fame" of the honour in "earning money by endorsing commercial products".

A high court bench comprising Chief Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice K K Trivedi on Thursday issued a directive to Assistant Solicitor General to find out if there are any Supreme Court guidelines (do's and dont's) for Bharat Ratna awardees and get back to it in a week's time.

The petitioner V K Naswah, a resident of Bhopal, stated that Sachin is a popular figure as has accomplished many a world record in the game of cricket for the country.

Naswah accused Sachin of exploiting the "fame" of the highest civilian award to promote commercial products and earn money which he said was against the dignity, legacy, and tenets of the highest civilian award.

Naswah said that Sachin should return the award on moral ground and if he fails to do so the central government should strip him of the honour.

Sachin recommends more than 12 brands including Aviva Life Insurance, Boost (malt-based nutrition drink), MRF, Luminous and realtor Amit Enterprises.

Can’t be allowed to re-appear in exam on ground of being

The Delhi High Court has upheld cancellation of admission of a student to third year of an under-graduation course at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU), saying there is no question of giving him another chance only on the ground of being a Scheduled Caste.

“In the instant case, since the appellant was found ineligible after second academic break, his admission stood automatically cancelled. Therefore, there is no question of any further chance only on the ground of being an SC/ST,” a division bench of Justices Mukta Gupta and V P Vaish said.

Dismissing the plea of Gourav Joshiya, who was pursuing Bachelor of Technology from Amity School of Engineering and Technology, the bench said he was ineligible for admission to third year as he could not clear the previous four semesters.

It upheld the single judge order refusing another chance to the student for clearing the exams and said the opportunity would have been given to him if he had been able to satisfy the necessary eligibility criteria.

“To attain an egalitarian society, we have to urgently remove socio-economic inequalities. Therefore, in order to promote these weaker sections of the society an educational institution must take all endeavours by providing any form of additional assistance in order to bring them up at par with general category students.

“The appeal of the appellant may have been allowed on this ground alone, if he would have been able to satisfy necessary eligibility criteria for continuance of his admission with the respondents,” it said.

Gourav had challenged a single judge order of May 25, 2015 denying him a chance to re-appear in the examinations to get admitted to the third year.

In his appeal, the student, who got admitted to the college in 2010, had claimed he had sent a mercy application to the university’s committee concerned in October 2014, but through a notification on November 7, 2014, it was rejected and his admission was also cancelled.

He had contended that the single judge has misconceived that he had to appear in 10 papers in May-June 2015, whereas he had to appear in five.

The university, however, said there was delay in filing the writ petition by the student as he filed it in April 2015, but the admission was cancelled in November 2014.

It also told the court that during academic year 2012-13 and 2013-14, the appellant had reappeared in the failed papers of first year and second year but could not clear them and hence failed to secure minimum credits for promotion to third year.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Student denied admission as his SSC is not from the state

A student, who cleared his SSC exams in Gujarat and HSC from Maharashtra, has approached the Bombay High Court after his online application form for admission to an engineering course was not accepted.
Justice Anoop Mohta and Justice V L Achliya observed, “Why should there be an insistence on passing SSC from Maharashtra. It is unjust to hold it against a student just because his education was from some other state.” The court, while adjourning the hearing on the petition to Wednesday, has directed the government to clarify its stand on the rules.
The 17-year-old student has scored 96% in the SSC exams given in Gujarat and 94.3% in HSC in Maharashtra. Advocate M Vashi appearing for the student said, “The student was born in Mumbai and cleared his HSC exams in Maharashtra. This compulsion for a SSC certificate from the state board is unfair.”
The petition filed by the student requests for directions to the authorities to allow him to participate in the admissions process that closes on June 18.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

India 2nd on list of forced marriage cases in UK

India has emerged second after Pakistan in terms of countries of origin where British nationals are forced into marriage, a crime in the UK.

Forced marriage was criminalised under British law exactly one year ago and the UK's Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) said it had handled cases involving a range of different countries including Pakistan (38.3 per cent), India (7.8 per cent), Bangladesh (7.1 per cent), Afghanistan (3 per cent), Somalia (1.6 per cent), Turkey (1.1 per cent), Sri Lanka (1.1 per cent), Iran (1 per cent) and Iraq (0.7 per cent).

"We made forced marriage a crime to better protect victims and send a clear message that this brutal practice is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the UK. We also hope that criminalisation will act as a deterrent," said Karen Bradley, UK minister for preventing abuse and exploitation.

Monday, June 15, 2015

AIPMT 2015: Supreme Court cancels test, orders fresh dates

The Supreme Court on Monday cancelled the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) in the wake of grave irregularities in conducting the exam on May 3.

A bench led by Justice R K Agrawala ordered the CBSE and all other authorities to conduct the exam afresh within four weeks from today.

It asked all the educational institutions and other agencies to lend cooperation so as to avert any further delay in conducting the exam.